Thursday, April 7, 2016

Knowledge Increases

A girl's best friend, it's said,
yet there are no women in this world.
Work is going well enough, I should think. This is one of the happiest sights one can see, very far below the earth. Diamonds are a rare commodity indeed, but when you find a small lode of them, it almost makes all the effort worthwhile.

Emeralds are even rarer, with only one or maybe two being embedded in any area, and those nearly as far down as one may mine. They haven't much use except for trading with villagers, and villagers do have many useful items... but one must find a concerned villager in the first place. There are none in the desert.

That is to say, someone surely built the temple in which I now dwell. Surely several someones quarried the sandstone, following the directions of other someones who laid out the plans and assessed the territory, and several more someones financed the entire venture (or at least paid the cruel taskmasters who abused a couple dozen more someones into compliance). And perhaps they all died generations before I sailed up to this section of the continent, leaving only their suspicious temple with the carvings of Explodicons, this epicenter to attract horrific monsters.

Oh, and speaking of the monsters, it was around this time that I discovered... well, I made several discoveries, actually. On a whim, I crafted a sword out of diamonds, unaware that such a thing was possible or even feasible. But as it turns out, it makes rather a stout and swift blade that holds its edge for an exceptional duration. I'm quite pleased with this, and now I wonder if I might make an entire suit of armor from the stuff.

Astride his loyal steed Chestnut, Thoreau patrols the land.
I haven't tried yet, but I was messing around on the workbench, arranging materials according to designs of my own creation. Sometimes they make sense, if you place the elemental components in a reasonable arrangement, then the construction of a tool or implement comes clear. In this case, I had a bar of steel left over from previous work and several planks of wood, and after futzing around with the order of these, I managed to create a solid shield. Additional armor! It strapped securely to my left forearm, and I can't overstate what a revelation this was. Primarily my right hand did all the work while my left hung useless and neglected at my side. Now both arms are gainfully employed. I wonder why this never happened before? I suppose it is a strange feature to the physics of this realm, like so many other anomalies.

And with this shield came changes to my martial stance. It is a most effective deterrent against nearly any attack, though at the time I hadn't the opportunity to try it out against every creature. The great spiders leap at me to attack, but when I throw my shield up there is a satisfying—and, I'll confess, comedic—bonk of its solid head smacking against the hardwood planks. It's no good against Explodicons, of course, who only need to stand near you and explode, but it will stall the A.C.M.s long enough for me to prepare a good swipe.

It is especially useful against the archer-skeletons, however. After that dust-up at the desert temple, when the monsters seemed to be hosting a well-populated assembly, I noticed the archer-skeletons among all other creatures began to practice a new technique in their attacks, as though they were possessed of new sentience or learning. After taking a shot at me, they would dodge and weave about me, seemingly to angle for a new shot. That was bad enough, but when I struck at them, they would either retreat for shelter or charge and throw themselves into me.

However, when I held up my shield, their bolts bounced harmlessly off my defense. I can't run to spring upon them (or flee) with my shield raised, but I can hoist it to deflect a shot, then charge forth until I see them nock another arrow and resume my defensive posture.

Even better than this: if I'm right up against an archer-skeleton and it lets fly with one of its arrows, and if I block it with my shield, the bolt somehow redirects and strikes them! It is the strangest effect, but I have noticed it several times, and I should imagine it has assisted me to some degree: the damage is not tremendous, merely a form of scratch or gouge before the arrow falls to the sands, but it's certainly a welcome addition.

Hot archer-skeleton-on-archer-skeleton action!
But best of all is something remarkable to all the nightmare creatures' behaviors: they are now aware of each other to some degree. Where before they would focus their attention upon me and attack, attack, attack, now it is different. It happened that I climbed a dune one night, desperate to harvest some sugar cane for a late-night experiment, when I was surprised by two archer-skeletons. Normally this is a dangerous situation, as they can peg me off at some distance and impede my rush to engage with them, but as it happened one creature stepped in front of the other so we three were all in one line. The archer-skeleton in the rear released a bolt that struck its compatriot in the back of its skull! Yet this surprised me less than what happened next, which was the archer-skeleton before me suddenly spun on its bony, bleached heel and fired a shot at the offender!

I couldn't believe my eyes! Each of them danced left and right, a weak attempt to dodge the other's volley, but as they crept down the side of the dune, they surely shot arrow after arrow at each other, having forgotten about me in the main! I stood, dumbfounded and agape, watching these two monsters attack each other until one perished, at which point I collected my wits and sprang upon the other, much weakened by his foe's assault.

And it's not restricted to them. An A.C.M. lurched toward me and caught a wayward arrow right between its shoulder blades, and it too wheeled around and staggered to hammer at the archer-skeleton with its leaden arms. This is absolutely singular, and it changes many aspects of my martial strategy. Grudgingly I allow that not all change is for the worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment