Blinded and frantic, I ran as fast as I could away from the horde (I hoped) whilst Tiny bounded alongside. As I stumbled and tripped over what felt like every obstacle, bump and uneven patch of ground on my path, I tried to lunge left and right to avoid the fireballs and other spells that continued to be flung my way. The odd explosion actually landed quite close but thanks to Crinis latching onto my mandibles with a tentacle each, she was able to steer me away from the spells that she detected by literally steering me.
It was undignified but I was much more interested in survival than my pride.
I was confused as to what had occurred in that strange confluence of events, but I didn't have to ponder over it until the very real mortal peril I found myself in had subsided, so I persisted in running as far and as fast as I could.
Ouch! I'm under attack! Still blinded and bewildered, my forward momentum was suddenly and forcefully brought to a halt by something blocking my path. An enemy? Feel my wrath!
My jaws flooded with energy as the active skill took effect and snapped them shut on whatever was barring my way. I felt whatever it was splinter and shatter beneath the force of my bite, followed by a vague tingling sensation from my antennae. What is this thing in front of me? I don't detect any heat from it, so it shouldn't be a monster. My antennae are telling me something is leaning over this way?
A crunch of a different sort rang out as the tree I had just felled landed squarely on my carapace, the weight and force of the impact flattening me in an instant and putting several hairline cracks in my exoskeleton. At least those'll heal up fast.
[Are you alright, Crinis? I think I just dropped a tree on us.]
[I'm alright, Master. A little flat, but otherwise fine.]
I felt her shift about on my back for a moment before another downward spike in pressure forced the wind out of me again.
Crinis extended a few tentacles and succeeded in lifting the tree off of us before she threw it to one side.
The two of us lay on the ground in a battered daze for a minute or two, neither of us sensing any danger and neither of us willing to move without a motivating force.
[Are you here, Tiny?]
[Hmm] came the grunted reply.
Fantastic, the gang's all here.
As I lay in a daze, waiting, the white gradually began to fade as my normal vision returned. Blessed light! The power of eyeballs in all their glory! After spending so much time obsessing over my vision in my early days on Pangera, it was more than a little disconcerting to have that sense removed, even temporarily. That lightning had surely been something special. I'd never seen anything like it. The force, the power, the sheer destructive impact of it. I'm not sure even Tiny could have survived such a thing hitting him directly.
So how did I survive?
At that moment, I saw Isaac and his crew approaching.
My weary and still somewhat scattered minds put together the necessary mind mana and I reached out to the former guard captain.
[Well, if it isn't speary mcspearface.]
He halted his step.
[What the heck does that mean?] he asked.
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[Nothing,] I harrumphed, [I was just a little miffed when you threw that spear at my head!]
[If I hadn't done that the lightnin' bolt would 'ave turned you into a crispy husk of yer former self!] Isaac protested, [I was expectin' thanks, to be honest!]
[You mean to say that you threw that in order to make it act as a lightning rod to save me?]
He nodded vigorously.
[Of course! Why would I try 'an kill ya?]
[I've no idea, I just didn't think you'd be smart enough to think of something like that.]
Isaac stared at me for a moment before he muttered something out loud to himself. Then he laughed.
[Well, perhaps I've a little more goin' on upstairs than you give me credit for.]
I could only nod in agreement, still exhausted from my misadventure.
[Thanks Isaac] I told him, [you really pulled my portfolio out of the bear market.]
[You're … welcome?]
[That was one heck of a throw though. I don't think I've ever seen someone with an arm like that.]
Isaac thought for a moment and shrugged.
[Where would you have seen someone throw? I don't think you ants have quite the physiology for it.]
He wasn't wrong, but he wasn't quite getting at what I was saying either. I was speaking of my experience on Earth. Obviously there are tons of fantastical and insane things that are possible in this world that simply weren't on Earth, but the different levels of ability between humans is the one that keeps surprising me. He must have thrown that heavy spear over a hundred metres! An unspeakable feat of strength on my old world
The man in question smiled as he pictured the scene in his mind.
[I wasn't sure I'd get there, to be honest,] he admitted, [I saw the lightnin' buildin' in the cloud over ya head and figured you'd be toast if that hit ya. My throwin' skill isn't the best, so I was a bit worried I might skewer ya but I couldn't think of another way to divert that lightnin'.]
The more he concentrated on the image in his mind, the more his rustic accent came to the fore. It was one of the more interesting things I'd noted about direct mind to mind communication is that a person still tended to think messages in much the same way they spoke them, accents and all.
[Well, let's say I owe you and leave it at that, Isaac.]
[As you say, Anthony.]
The two of us sat in silent contemplation for a time.
[So what's the play now?] Isaac broke the peace first.
[I'm not exactly sure,] I confessed, [we need to keep killing stuff but it's going to get more dangerous the longer this goes on.]
[Danger, I can handle. As for the rest o' my people here, they seem mighty devoted to keepin' your shiny shell in one piece. I think they'll stick around.]
[It's not a shell. It's a … never mind. The first thing we need to do is change our position and wait for the heat to die down. We'll have to be extra vigilant at all times. The Kaarmodo could be scrying us at any time and those mage servants have a habit of appearing rather suddenly in awkward places.]
[We should stay spread out as well] Isaac pointed out. [If they try to spring another cage on us and we all get caught inside, things'll get ugly.]
[Right you are,] I agreed.
With the basics of our next steps planned out, we shuffled off with Isaac and his group to find somewhere to recuperate not far from the horde, but far enough to be comfortable. I desperately need that XP and I'm going to have to keep taking risks in order to get it.