“Give me a second.”
“Hurry the hell up,” shouted Sally as she swung her pickaxe at a swarm of red dots.
Explosions rang out as brown pellets shot out of the swarm. Sally weaved between the pellets, dodged the small impact craters that littered the field, and swung her pickaxe through the swarm.
However, the swarm was huge and the dots were incredibly fast. Only some of them splattered against the flat side of her pickaxe before falling to the ground. For some reason, the brown pellets didn’t explode when they struck Sally’s pickaxe, which annoyed Sally.
“Damned thing, can’t you stop being resistant to magic and be resistant to magical explosions for a bit?” As her lengthy grumblings would suggest, she wasn’t worried about the dots and their bombs, since she hadn’t gotten hit once. Perhaps pissed off would be a more accurate description.
I stood far away from the action, observing the battle with Elenor and Ben by my side. Jerome stood further ahead, just far enough that the dots wouldn’t go after him but close enough that he could jump to Sally’s rescue if he needed to. He was tinkering with a metal ring that could probably fit around my fist.
“Almost done…” he said.
“Do you want me to die to a swarm of specks?” shouted Sally.
“Specks can’t kill someone of your size,” said Jerome.
“They can bloody well try!”
“And there we go!” He tapped the ring and it tingled.
“Gimme,” said Sally.
“Wait,” said Jerome as he gripped the ring from two ends, and looked at the swarm through the hole. “Right, it should be just big enough.”
“Fine.” He threw it to her as she dropped her pickaxe.
Holding the metal ring between her cupped hands, she jumped away from the swarm, and aimed. “About time.”
The ring buzzed and a bright light zapped towards the swarm of specks. There was a flash as it hit, and a loud buzz followed. Charred specks fell on the ground as Sally lowered her arms. She was breathing heavily but her clothes were untouched. Apart from a light dust on her boots, she’d managed to avoid most of the debris from the explosions, too.
“Damn specks. Good thing they went for me or this would have been a lot harder than it was,” said Sally as she handed Jerome the ring.
“Good thing you had me, or you’d have been here all day, trying to swat them outta the air,” said Jerome as he pocketed the ring.
“Oh, like you could have used that thing without me here to distract them.” Sally picked up her pickaxe.
“That’s why we’re a team, partner.” Jerome went up to the carpet of red dots and crouched.
I started making my way over but Ben put a hand out to stop me. I looked at him and he pointed at Jerome.
“I don’t think we got the boomers,” said Jerome.
“Lightning doesn’t go through earth, does it?” said Sally as she joined him.
“Should we let them go?”
“No, they might come back with more specks. I’ll try to use this pickaxe the way it was meant to.”
“You mean kill tiny brown monsters?”
“Yep,” said Sally as she struck the ground with her pickaxe.
My knees shook from the impact and grass was blown all the way to where we stood. A few of the dead specks landed on my feet and I crouched to look at them.
They were red spheres with no eyes, ears, or other discernable organs or appendages of any sort. Their skin was smooth, and the ones who weren’t completely charred black, gave off a glossy sheen. A couple had been split apart, and dripped red blood and entrails.
“And another one,” said Sally as she brought the pickaxe down again.
After a few more ground-shaking hits, Sally wiped the sweat from her brow, and motioned for us to come over.
“Sorry that took so long, these things are always annoying to deal with,” said Sally.
“It’s okay,” said Elenor as she tapped her stick on the ground. “I appreciate the thoroughness.”
“Don’t sense any of them down there?” asked Jerome.
“Did they drop anything?” asked Ben.
Oh, was this like one of those video game worlds where monsters dropped items?
“No, can’t expect a book from pests like these,” said Sally.
“Darn,” said Ben, echoing my thoughts.
Being able to get books from monsters sounded like my kind of video game. If I’d found out that lame game my friends used to play – Choices or something – had stuff like this, I might have tried it.
“Honestly, this is the worst part of going off-road. Monsters rarely come onto the main roads these days,” said Sally.
“Guess it was a good thing we hired you after all,” said Elenor.
“Of course!” said Sally. “We won’t let these things trouble you at all. Just sit back and watch the show, Ms. Cramer.”
“I told you, call me Elenor.”
“As long as you’re the client, I can’t refer to you with your middle name.”
“It’s okay.” Elenor smiled. “It’s my first name.”
“Right, you were a Humanist,” said Sally. “Still, it’s guild policy.”
“What about Val?”
“She’s a part of the client’s party, not the client herself. That’s different.”
“I won’t tell the guild if you won’t.”
“But if someone finds out…”
“Just tell them I was part of the client’s party, not the client herself.”
Sally frowned. “Then who’s the client?”
“Make something up. Say it was Moxy,” said Elenor.
“But it wasn’t…”
“Is anyone going to go ask her?”
“Ask the Broken Witch?” said Sally. “Alright, fine. No one can find the Broken Witch, let alone meet her. Pleased to meet you, Elenor.”
Elenor smiled. “Likewise, Sally.”
Jerome clapped his hands. “Now that that’s settled, let’s get going. I’d like to reach that thicket of trees before nightfall.” He pointed far ahead.
That didn’t look like a thicket of trees so much as a slightly darker line on the horizon. Regardless, we kept walking.