A shapeless, tumorous mass of flesh, perhaps 2 meters in height and half that in girth, floats in a cylindrical, transparent glass tank in front of me. Tubes, filled with flowing, murky fluids, plunge deep into that mass of flesh at seemingly random spots, their other ends plugged into the whirring, blocky machines surrounding the tank, on each of which is encased a red jewel, glittering brightly. Scattered bubbles sometimes escape from the points where the tubes meet the flesh, as if this repulsive thing is actually breathing and living. Following the bubbles, tendrils of black blood slowly uncoil from its skin, growing and rising up through the water like algae taking root on an underwater rock and blooming to life. The tendrils don’t last long, though. Quickly, they dissipate and fade away, drawn with the water as it cycles out through the drain and in through the pump the tank is equipped with so as to keep it clean. Every now and then, a small shudder runs through the mass of flesh, making its folds and bumps quiver and shiver disgustingly.

Right.

Disgusting.

That’s what it is.Continue reading

“Boss! Hey, Boss! A little help, here! Boss, boss, boss!”

I frantically dodge the clawed swipe of the snarling, slavering demon trying its very best to tear my head off my shoulders. I duck under its arm at the last second and hear it buzz past my head, the wind of it ruffling my hair in a chilling reminder that it was just that close to cutting my face into ribbons.

“Boss!”

“Sif,” I hear the Major say in an infuriatingly calm voice, “if you don’t stop screaming right this second, I really will leave you to die. As it is, I might leave you to die even if you continue talking, so do try to put every chance on your side and stay silent, will you?”Continue reading

Ugh, damn…

I stay on the ground for a while. A corner of my brain realizes that doing so constitutes a death sentence, but the rest of it doesn’t seem to care. Maybe it’s too busy listening to the complaints coming in from my body. Everything is still attached, and I suppose that, technically, I’m not injured, but I feel like I was just squeezed through a meat grinder. At this point, I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be better to just die.

That bitch kept kneeing me in the stomach with earth-shattering force – literally, earth-shattering. Fortunately, all my clothes are defensive artifacts that increase the power of my shielding magic, or I would definitely have died right then and there. Even then, I could still feel my defenses breaking apart with each blow, and the residual vibrations from the shockwaves punched me in the gut like a battering ram.

I feel nauseous…Continue reading

Stay calm.

Calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm, calm.

Focus on the fight.

There is nothing else, right now. No pain. No anger. Just the fight. How to most efficiently decompose these two gods in front of me into their constituent parts. Making them suffer is not on the table. Only killing the two of them is important.

First step toward that went rather well.Continue reading

The village of Dorn, destroyed beyond recovery, lies in the valley below. Streets that should be filled with people are now empty and deserted. The only visible remains of the humans who used to live here are the corpses I can see dotting the ground, here and there.

I grit my teeth as my gaze falls on the figure standing on the rooftop of one of the few buildings left standing.

Wherever devils pass…

“Should we attack, sir?” Carla whispers from right behind me. Reflexively, I almost shush her, but I hold myself back, knowing that her voice won’t be noticed. Still, I have no doubt that, were it not for the thin vacuum barrier surrounding us, our target would have heard her from all the way down to the village.Continue reading

[…No.]

The answer comes instantly, without a shred of hesitation.

And for some reason, these idiots seem shocked by my decision.

I mean, there was really no way I would have agreed to such an unreasonable request, now, was there? That should have been obvious.Continue reading

The village of Dorn is tucked low between two tall mountains. Their bulk is enough that the sun only shines upon the village for a scant few hours every day.

Apparently, this has made it rather unpopular with humans, leading to a low – and still declining – population. And since this place does not exactly possess any sort of great strategic significance, Finram believes that soon, there likely won’t be any village here anymore.

After a little more than a day of travel – Finram flying and me running – what quickly becomes apparent is that the ‘soon’ in the previous prediction can be turned into a ‘now’.

The first vision of Dorn are the four corpses hanging from the rough stone arch marking the entrance to the village. All are human. The two corpses on each outer side are of a man and a woman, while the two in the center are much smaller, most likely those of children. The bodies are quite battered. They were probably treated rather roughly even prior to their deaths.Continue reading

“Dead? What do you mean, dead?”

“I’m sorry, sir. When we lost contact with them, we sent a few men to investigate, but they failed to find any survivors.”

“Are you sure they’re dead? Did you find the bodies?”

Jarod hesitates for a moment before replying. “While we didn’t find any bodies, as such, we did find… some sort of black goo.”Continue reading

They wanted me, but since I wasn’t there, they took Lilly instead?

How on earth does that make any sense?

What was their criteria for choosing the person they wanted? Gender? Apparent age? Body size? Did they just want to pick up a little girl, without caring who in particular?

And what ‘return’? Am I some sort of object that people pass around at will? That is very rude. No wonder devils have a poor reputation.Continue reading

Why do people insist on lighting fires, when spending the night in the wilderness?

Isn’t that dangerous? Wouldn’t it reveal one’s position to whatever threats might be out there? Wouldn’t it be much better to dig a hole between the roots of a tree and hide there silently, stealthily, until the sun comes up?

Also, it’s fire.

Which is hot. And thus, bad.Continue reading