Beasts of the Sea
960 AM, on Sea, Near the Northern Shores of Dyr
-What a day… And we haven’t even started have we? – Erik said.
-Ya ain’t seen nutin yet rookie. – Carl replied.
-Come on Carl, this guy might be green, but he’s a friggin genius. I mean, he might just be B rank, but he is by far the best among the B ranks. He’s cut out to be an able A rank as well I think. – Helga said – What do you think Obz?
-I don’t know, and I don’t care. He’ll probably carry his own weight and that’s what matters.
-We’ll see once we get down. Ye old sea monster can’t be that tough. – With this Carl ended the conversation.
It’s not that they did not want to speak anymore, but it was ill-advised to do so, or so they thought. They were out on open waters in a boat powered by a silenced magicore engine. It was early in the morning, it hasn’t dawned yet. The small party of four got closer to the island, which was so small and insignificant that it didn’t even have a proper name. While the island indeed had no significance, it’s inhabitants did, since sea trade routes were formed in that area between Dyr and Ilial.
No one exactly knew what lived here, but ships kept disappearing in the vicinity. It happened only recently that a few survivors managed to reach Dyrian shores after their ships were attacked. Most of them only gazed around with empty eyes or mumbled gibberish, but one of the survivors managed to describe how their ship sank. Sea creatures never seen before, with appearance similar to the ocean drakes, but as big as cargo ships. Their elongated heads were covered with something that seemed to be seaweed, but it grew from their very skull. Also, they had no eyes anywhere on them, yet they always got their prey with utmost accuracy.
The party had a clear aim: Finding these beasts and exterminating them. A terrifying aim, but nothing less than a worthy task for the A rank mages of Dyr. This assignment might have been futile for others, but they came here with a plan that made this mission possible. They knew from the survivors’ description, that the beasts were surprisingly agile while in water, but once on dry land, their movements became sluggish. One of their members, Helga, had one of a kind talent to manipulate water around her. The plan was a simple one. Once they found a beast Helga removes the water surrounding it, creating a relatively dry area for the remaining three to fight. This allows Obz, Carl and Erik to use their powers the best, and also slows the beasts.
There was only one problem. They almost reached the island and they found absolutely nothing yet. It’s not like the beasts were hiding or anything, but a small boat with four people in it did not seem to be a good enough prey for any of them to show themselves. This made finding the beasts more problematic.
-Once we reach shores, Helga you’ll disembark and aid us from the land, while the rest of us go under and eliminate the beasts. Is this ok with you? – Obz asked.
-Certainly. You’ll be well within my range even on the bottom of the sea. – She replied.
As soon as they landed Helga started chanting, while the other three submerged into the depth. They reached the bottom of the sea within minutes, which was no small feat considering how far they went down, what’s more, due to Helga’s enchantment they could all breathe underwater. As soon as they reached the bottom Obz wanted to know their exact situation.
-We’re at the bottom. Have you found any yet?
-Yes. Just ahead of you there is one. There aren’t any others near here.
-Well then gentlemen, we have our first target.
They started their march towards the beast. There was no need to be hasty, and the target was not far away, yet the unreal surroundings of the undersea world gave off a certain vibe of adventure, which led to an astonishing feeling of mystery and discovery. Seeing landscapes they have never seen before. However, this feeling faded fast, as they approached the first creature. The giant lizard-like creature did not show any interest in it’s newly arrived visitors.
The first to make a move was Obz. He had several different detection spells at his disposal. After a brief moment of consideration, he chose the most appropriate one to find out the weak spots of the creature. He cast his spell, and… The creature has still shown no reactions.
-This might be easier than we thought. If we find them one by one both Carl and I can take these out one on one. – Obz declared.
-Boring! – Said Carl with a flattened expression of boredom on his face.
-Anyways… There are two main external weak points you should know about. One is on the lower parts of their jaws. A proper strike upwards and you basically blew off their heads. The other is their gills. They are located on their backs. while most of their body is covered with scales, that are troublesome to break through, the gills are covered with a much thinner layer of defense. A strong blow there, and they either go above water level or drown. – Obz explained – Rather pitiful for such gigantic aquatic creatures…
-So all I need to do is a good punch to the face. Simple as pie.
-You’ve got that right Carl. But before that… Erik… Carl and I’ll take them down one by one. You’ll stay back as backup. If needed you’ll stall for time. Don’t interfere until we tell you to do so. Got that?
Helga! Dry up this place for us now! – Obz gave out the first order for attack.
Obz hardly finished talking, the water immediately vanished in a large area around them and Carl was already executing his attack. His magic was simple yet effective. He could project the movements of his body to a great distance, thereby hitting things far away from himself. He combined this with extraordinary strength enhancements, thus creating unbelievably strong blows from a great distance.
He hit the air in front of him with an uppercut, and the head of the creature immediately flew up high as if it was hit by a gigantic hand. The beast roared, with a horrible voice, and immediately sprung up to attack, but it was confused. It didn’t know what to attack. By the time the beast realized what happened Obz finished his first spell. He manipulated gravity, which is a bit more complex than the spell Carl was using, and forced the beast back to the bottom of the seafloor. The giant sea creature struggled, but seemingly it had no chance against the mages.
-Finish it, Carl!
And Carl did. He launched another punch in the air, and the creature collapsed.
-One down! – boasted Carl – This’ll be a cakewalk.
Carl already started celebrating, thinking the mission was over, however things were about to go haywire. All three of them heard the voice of Helga in their head.
-They are coming! Ten of them, and the one in front of you is still alive as well!
-Got that. – confirmed Obz – Carl put a bit more strength in your punches please and finish this off now!
-Hamp! – That was all of Carl’s reply.
Carl struck once again, finally finishing the creature. In fact, the punch was so strong that the lower part of the creature’s jaw was ripped off by the impact. It gave off a final shriek of agony and died. The first beast has fallen.
The crew on the seafloor had no time to rest since the creatures were closing in rapidly. They were prepared for a tough fight, and they had a plan. Everything was clear, everyone knew what to do. The stage was set for the clash with the beasts. And they arrived…
Huge body after huge body plopping out of the water onto the relatively dry grounds. The monumental creatures stormed at Obz and Carl, who launched their own attacks as well. They fought, but several beasts attacking together were harder to deal with than single opponents. The fight went on for a few minutes without any of the beasts falling. At that time Erik noticed something… awkward.
-Helga, how good are your readings on the situation down here? – He asked.
-I can sense everything that’s going on, why? – She replied.
-Why are only seven beasts attacking?
-Three of them are staying behind and are devouring the corpse of the first one you killed. This gives you a bit of extra time to deal with them.
And time went on. The two mages were fighting, but not winning, or at least not as fast as they expected it.
-Carl, start finishing them off! – Obz shouted.
-Easier said than done. – Carl roared while punching the air around him rapidly. – We should call in the rookie to stall one or two of these and I’ll be able to start finishing ‘em off.
After a brief moment, Obz shouted out.
-Hey Erik, it’s your time to shine, stall these creatures, as much as you can at once!
Erik immediately started casting his first spell, and as soon as he finished, he touched the ground at his feet, to unleash his power. He decided to immobilize the beasts by trapping their limbs within the ground. First, he softened the ground below their feet and let them sink a bit, and after that, once they sunk, he formed rings of mud just above their feet thereby trapping them in place. Erik tried to capture four beasts this way. The first three were successfully incapacitated, but the fourth one broke loose.
This was more than enough for Obz and Carl. Now that they had only four beasts to fight they easily overpowered them, and started to kill them one by one. They just slew the fourth beast when something unexpected happened.
A beast that was feasting on the dead rushed at them. Carl, without a special thought, attacked it. What he failed to notice was the fact that Obz could not restrain this beast with his spells. Carl’s attack did affect the creature, but it only knocked it back.
-What the hell?
The creature standing in front of them looked exactly the same as the ones they just fought but it has a different vibe to it. It felt stronger, more robust.
-This one’s tough. – Obz said – I can slow it, but I can’t suppress it as much as I could the others.
-Well, it’s ‘bout time something interesting happened, I was getting all bored.
-Heh… just like you. I think I can deal with them, tho I’ll need a lot of time. If I compress my power and apply it to a very small area I think I can pierce their skulls. I think I’ll need about twenty seconds.
-Got that Obz, let’s show ‘em what we’ve got!
Obz closed his eyes to concentrate as much as he can. He had to be fast and he had to be precise. Meanwhile, Erik had the three regular beasts pinned down and Carl fought the newly emerged powerful one and two more were still eating the first fallen beast.
Carl fiercely punched the air in front of him. The beast was actually a good match for his strength, he could push it back, but he couldn’t totally overpower it. He stalled the beast until Obz finished his spell.
Obz opened his eyes. He raised his right fist and with a rapid move he pointed upward with two of his fingers. At that moment a burst of energy launched just below the head of the beast, piercing right through it.
-That’s another one down! – declared Obz – Now Carl, finish the ones Erik’s holding down! We might need his help for the two fatties over there.
Carl mechanically turned to the disabled struggling beasts. And he punched the air once with full force. One of the beasts died. He punched again, and the second one followed. He was just about to deliver the third blow when…
-CARL WATCH OUT! – Obz shouted.
By the time Carl could try to evade it was already too late. Both the beasts, that were feasting on the corpse of their fallen kin, ran towards Carl at an amazing pace. Obz, using all his magical power could stop one, but the other reached Carl and gobbled him up. Erik and Obz were both stunned by what they saw. The beast was happily munching on their comrade Carl.
Obz was the first to snap out of the daze.
-Erik, finish that one off and try to immobilize one of the big ones!
Erik did as told, he knew that their weak point was the lower part of their heads, so he aimed his attack there. His spell was a simple one, an earth spike, aimed directly at the soft parts behind the beasts’ jaws. The attack was perfect but slow. By the time Erik started to cast his spell, a big one already dashed towards him.
-Oh no, you won’t! – Obz shouted at the beast.
The beast hit something that seemed to be an invisible wall just before Erik. Obz was forming a wall with his hands in front of him, thus shielding Erik. This gave just enough time for Erik to finish his spell. There were only two beasts left, both stronger than the ones that died.
Once Erik finished his first task given by Obz he immediately started the second. He tried to pin down one of the remaining beasts. He tried a similar spell as the one used on the three that he held a few seconds ago. He knew this spell had to be stronger to hold a beast down, so he used as much energy as he could. And the beast stopped. At least for a few seconds, after which it broke free. This time was more than enough for Erik. He couldn’t restrain the beast for long, but a couple of seconds were enough for him to recast the spell, thus trapping the beast again and again.
Obz was satisfied with Erik’s performance. All he had to do is take care of the unrestrained beast. Once that is done there’d be two of them against a single creature. The victory is in their hands if he defeats one on his own. The situation wasn’t exactly favorable for him since he usually needed a few seconds to cast his spells, and in such a small space against a creature moving that fast a few seconds was a luxury he couldn’t afford. He had a plan, a wild gamble, for gaining those precious seconds. He cast small spells to anger the beast and dashed towards one end of the air bubble. The beast followed. He reached the edge of the dry spot a moment before the creature. He used this time to cast a spell, to repel himself away from there, right between the beast’s legs, thereby arriving behind it and creating a reasonably big distance. His plan was simple from here on. While the beast ran at him he cast his spell, and he hoped he’d finish before the beast reached him.
He did gain some time, but only a few seconds at most. The situation, however, was yet to be resolved. As the seconds crawled on, the creature got closer and closer to Obz, but as time passed, his spell got closer to completion. He somehow managed to finish his spell before the creature reached him. He raised his right fist and pointed upwards with two of his fingers. Ha managed to release his spell.
A staggeringly strong beam of energy launched upwards, just below the head of the beast, and pierced right through it. The beast died, but the momentum of the enormous body did not disappear. Obz had no time to cast any spells as the monumental amount of dead flesh came down falling on him.
Obz managed to kill the creature but died in the process.
Erik mechanically kept casting his spells, to stall for time, but his mind was racing. He kept staring at the place, where Obz once stood, and he didn’t know what to do. There was no way he could cast another spell while stopping the movement of the beast.
-Hey Erik, SNAP OUT OF IT!
-You have to defeat it if you want to get out of there alive.
-I… I know, but I can’t, there is no way I could do this…
-THAN FIND ONE! YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE ALIVE DOWN THERE, YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!
-Calm down, and think, consider your options, do everything possible and survive!
-My options? All I know is that they have two weaknesses, the lower part of their head’s and their…. gills…
-I’ve got it! Listen, Helga, release the barrier holding the water when I tell you!
-What? But then you’ll…
-Just do it when I tell you to.
Erik finally had a plan. Not a promising one, but one that at least had a chance for success, however for this plan to work, he had to let the beast go.
He knew he had little time, once the creature was free. He had only one chance, the gills. They were much harder to hit than the head, but he might be able to do enough damage there, to disable them. Once that is done Helga releases the barrier, and the creature will drown. Or at least that is how Erik planned it.
After taking a deep breath Erik started his plan. First, he had to gain distance from the creature. He could try something fancy, similar to what Obz has done, but his spells weren’t exactly good for that, so he chose the much more demanding, but safe, path. Moving while casting spells wasn’t one of Erik’s specialties, but he could do it. With time he gained the much-needed distance between him and the creature. He released the creature which immediately ran at him. He knew he had only one chance to get both gills.
He prepared his spells, two at once, to attack both sides of the beast at the same time. He launched both spells at exactly the same time. He was precise. The spells were simple, spikes made of earth, and launched towards the gills of the beast. Both shots connected at exactly the same time and the beast roared in pain. This however only made it more angry as it dashed towards Erik.
-HELGA, NOW! – Erik gave the signal, and the barrier that held the water disappeared.
The final thing Erik had to do was defend himself from the last assault of the beast. He didn’t know whether the water would strengthen the beast or not, but he had no other choice, he had to gamble, just like Obz did. While the water was still falling from the collapsing barrier, he formed a hard shell of earth around himself, made of earth. He created the strongest defense he could. The shell had to hold out for one or two bashes from the monster.
He did not know what was going on outside of his shell, he only hoped he’d survive. A single moment passed and the charging beast reached Erik’s defense. Unimaginably loud pounding noise, that was all Erik heard inside, and again, and again and again… And then everything was quiet. Erik was relieved to be still alive, but he also knew the fight was not over. The creature might have started swimming to the surface, in which case he had to stop it. He was trembling in fear, but he had no other choice, if the creature reached the surface he could no longer surface again, and he’d be stuck underwater.
Erik dissolved the earth shell to look around. Much to his dismay, the worst had happened; the creature was swimming upwards. The fight was intense up until this point, he didn’t have much eso left, but he had to stop the monster somehow. Erik concentrated all his energy in his last spell, the one that brought him to this horrifying place, the one that won him his B+ rank promotion: Earth Tide. A giant tidal wave made not of water, but of solid land. He wasn’t sure how it’d work under water, but he had no other option, he had to try.
He cast his spell, and the ginormous wave of earth rose. The wet sea bottom and the endless supply of water around him turned the earth into thick mud, creating a living, moving mudslide. He used all of his power to reach the beast, that swam higher and higher. The wave reached the beast… But it failed at the very last second, the monster was too high up, it was out of Erik’s reach.
There was only one emotion on Erik’s face: Horror. However, in a matter of moment’s Erik saw a glimmer of hope.
A giant bubble of air formed around the lower parts of the beast, rendering it unable to swim. This caused the monster to fall back, and the upper edge of Erik’s mud wave reached it and dragged the creature along. Erik was saved by none other than Helga.
The creature struggled but could do nothing against the enormous wave of mud, which dragged and crashed the beast into the bottom of the sea. The struggle became slower, and finally, the creature stopped. The gigantic sea creature drowned. The last beast was defeated.
Erik felt relieved but was still hesitant about going up. Carl and Obz were still down there. He had to look for his comrades, but his very last spell basically reshaped the landscape, he had no idea where to look. But then…
-Erik, come up, this is the end.
-But Obz… And Carl…
-Come up. They are dead.
Erik fell silent and waited. He did for several minutes, then did as Helga said. Erik just got to the surface when the first beams of lights hit the shores of the small island. He sat on the beach gazing at the morning sky, he said nothing, his mind was empty. He was full of sorrow, yet he felt empty. He didn’t know what to do, so he just sat there gazing onto the endless sea.
On that day Erik Skera successfully completed his first A rank mission.