The horned owl-wolfs jaws clanked together loudly, just missing my throat as I stumbled clumsily out of the way of its deadly teeth. Another wolf leapt at the opportunity, striking from behind me using its jagged horn which protruded from its skull, aimed for my torso. I spun to face it, but slipped on a wet root, sending me tumbling forward. The horn whizzed past my face harmlessly as I fell face first into the dirt. Snarls filled the air followed by scrambling feet as the wolves snapped into motion to take advantage of my blunder.
I twisted around on the ground, my heart beginning to beat furiously with adrenaline as I sought to get up on my feet. A heavy weight knocked me painfully prone once more as sharp claws cut through my shirt and into my chest painfully, warm blood flowing freely from the wounds. I let out a wail in pain as I struggled for my life.
The beasts snarl echoed into the air as it snapped its mouth open and shut, struggling eagerly to taste my meaty flesh. Instinctively I must have thrust my axe up when it had attacked, so now my weapon was the only thing between my face and the endless chomping void before me, the owl-wolfs wheezing breath undercutting each snarl as the shaft of the axe pressed defensively into its throat.
With a groan I pushed harder, to which the owl-wolf reacted by doing the same, locking us into a dangerous game of reverse tug-of-war. Gripping the axe yet harder still, I pushed, desperate to not die… But as I did so, a single finger slipped, causing one of the metal strings to be thrummed, giving life to sound.
A deep electric guitar note trembled into the air, and then into me. Strangely, a previously never before felt vibration ran through my body, surging my muscles with strength and stamina that transformed my sweaty grimace into a calm smirk.
Oh wow, I guess this weapon IS badass after all… I considered mentally as I slowly pushed back at the beast more and more.
Suddenly, the owl-wolf snapping at my face felt less a threat, and more an annoyance. Thrusting my axe up, the beast flew backward with ease, crashing with a yelp into the tree behind it. Barks and howls filled the air as I stood confidently, ready for round two! As I did so, I noticed a small blinking orange light in my periphery.
Buff: Bardic Strength! +5% strength
I whistled, impressed with myself as I took up the combat stance that Iros had shown me previously, Bloody Melody suddenly feeling light as a feather over my head. The Owl-Wolves attacked all at one this time, three of them leaping into the air, their protruding horns cutting through the air as they each aimed for a different part of my body.
Spinning to my left, I pivoted and thrust my hips and axe into the strike, becoming a clumsy whirlwind of death. Dirt slipped and twirled under my heels as I spun. The axe careening through the air like a top, easily bisecting the head of the first owl-wolf and crunching into the seconds midsection with a gut wrenching
The third beast connected, its fangs sinking deep into my right leg as I came to an abrupt halt. Searing, stabbing pain erupted within my leg as pain blossomed like a spring flower. My axe was still firmly stuck within the second owl-wolf so I instead punched the side of the beasts head violently.
It wouldn let go and I began to panic… The other owl-wolf was back on its feet and ready to take its revenge. My mind reeled in desperation when an image of Boris back on earth came to the forefront of my thought. His massive hands wrapped around the head of some poor schmuck that owed him money. his thumbs jabbed disturbingly into the mans eye sockets.
Gooseflesh trickled down my spine as I recalled the mans pleading screams… Wailing for his mother, for help for… -I shook the disturbing thought from my mind- and quickly went to work, jabbing my own finger into the beasts eye.
Its release was both swift and immediate as it back petaled out of reach, my now slick thumb coated in its blood, giving me the opportunity to release my axe from the carcass of its kin.
Slamming my bare foot into its fur, I shoved the bladed edge free, twisting and striking just in time to meet the teeth of another attacker. A screeching of metal and bone filled the air as the owl-wolf kicked its clawed feet off of me, its jaw tightening on the axe as if it was attempting to pull the weapon away and disarm me.
I gripped the haft of the axe tightly and thrust downward, stepping into the beast and pushing further with the weight of gravity behind me.
The bladed end cut through the head of the beast as it landed backwards into the ground, me and my weapon landing atop it. A pile of limp flesh beneath me, I pushed up and stood once again.
One. Two. Three. Four….
Four more wolves snarled their displeasure and desire to kill at me as I gasped for air, my stamina running dangerously low.
This wasn going to work.. They would wear me out before I could kill them all, and they knew it.
”Your ultimate, Lord Kenneth. Use it. ” Iros called out lazily from afar, as if he was only half watching.
Glancing left and right at the stalking predators before me, I considered his advice… Though we had practiced that riff exclusively for hours… Nothing had happened before, there would be no guarantee of its success
Once again I forced myself to thrust aside those kinds of negative thoughts. Iros was a natural denizen of this world and understood its functions and these types of situations clearly. If he thought it would work… Then I needed to trust that it would…
But then again… Trust? A stranger that I had barely known for a single day? A sludge boiled within the pit of my stomach as I considered why we were out here in the first place. Out in a dangerous forest in the dark of night… To lie and cheat my mother out of heartache she would eventually feel no matter what…
”RRRRGGHHHHAAA ” I shouted with increasing shame, refusing to run from my failure as a son. Taking up the guitar I twirled it into its instrumental position. This was my chance at a better life, I couldn fall into old self serving habits, and so… Placing my fingers on the frets I plucked the first note of my ultimate ability.
~Duuuuun~ A grungy metal sound strummed free from the guitars pickup. A surge of strength welled up within me once more as I played the first power chord. And somehow I knew that this time, I could do it.
~Do-do-dooo, Dado dado, do-do-dooo, dado dado do-do-dooo~ My fingers stretched wildly and blazed through the notes as my other hand picked the strings with precision.
(A/N for readers who would like to know and even listen to the song Ken is playing right now, tune your audio to the song ”Master of puppets, by Metallica ”
Power welled up within me as my fingers took on a mind of their own, lost within the magic of my ultimate ability as note after subsequent power note filled the air. A rumbling shook beneath my feet as soft earth began to pitch and sway.
A single bone white arm broke free of the ground first, followed by a second, then a third, then a fifth, tenth, twentieth, hundredth… Sweat began to dribble from my head as a rocking sway took me over, lost within the performance. The bone arms took the horned owl-wolves in their grasp, preventing them from fleeing as the music grew.
The skeleton arms continued to multiply under the entire forest floor until I stood rocking out atop an undulating sea of bones. I felt the sea forming to my will, to the will of the notes played. Willing the wave forward, I surfed atop the bones until they washed over the first owl-wolf, a mist of blood spraying up and over me. Spinning around three hundred and sixty degrees, the wave swelled and rose, taking in the second and the third owl-wolves, disbursing them into another bloody mist.
Just one more horned owl-wolf remained, its missing left eye weeping blood as I commanded the wave onward. My eyes met its remaining one, and it seemed to almost plead for its life…. The final note rang out into the cold misty night air as the sea of bones thrust me high into the sky. Twirling Bloody Melody in my hands I slashed downward in an arc, thudding into the horned owl-wolfs skull with a final
As the music faded into the forest, I stood there heaving and panting, awash in the gore and viscera of dead wolves. A small clap lilted into my ears, pulling my gaze away from the single glassy eye of the dead owl-wolf.
”Lord Kenneth. I do believe THAT is a skill worthy of a god touched. ” He said with a faint smirk.
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