“Bring them to me!” rasped the bone creature.
The undead broke into motion. They were fast! The front rushed forward in a wave of rotten flesh their rusted weapons held overhead, mouths opening in a collective desiccated howl.
In one smooth motion Rain stepped forward and his foot freighted up under the crouching Kobold’s rump. The Kobold only had a moment to scream in surprise before he was punted forward like a stone from a catapult. He went flying through the air tumbling out of control and crashed into a particularly rotten looking undead snapping its spine, he hit the one behind it breaking it too, then he smashed into a third undead in a tangle of limbs.
Rain charged in behind as Opal, still atop Rain, smoothly drew her cutlass and rapier, one in each hand.
Rain’s paw swept forward, swiping at the head of an undead Human. The force of the blow caved its head in and it collided with a trio of undead behind it bringing them down too. The undead were not slow to react to Rain’s sudden aggression however and they swarmed him. Dozens of smaller undead latched onto his legs, their claws and teeth and knives piercing his tough flesh with varying levels of success, the taller undead howled and chopped down with their rusted blades at his arms and torso, and the weaponless lunged at him trying to climb toward his throat.
He could only struggle, his paws lashing out and crushing rib cages, snapping necks, and fracturing skulls, but there was always more and more and those who weren’t completely broken always came back.
Opal’s blades swished through the air, each slash ending with a meaty ‘shunk!’ as she chopped down those trying to climb her wolf steed. It was not enough to stop the swarming numbers and soon Rain was at the center of a hurricane of undead spiralling in on him, crawling over each other to claw and rend and tear his flesh.
Despite the weight of countless bodies dragging him down he managed to, slowly, heave one foot forward, then he heaved the other foot forward, taking another laboured stride, each heavy motion physically dragging the entire chaotic swarm along with him. He strode slowly, heavily, toward the many skulled bone creature, his eyes locked on, blood washing down his body, the weight of over a hundred undead furiously trying to hold him back and failing against his power.
“My you are a determined one,” the many skulled bone creature sneered.
It raised its staff overhead and the undead hurricane with rain as the eye of the storm seemed to double down on their fury even as they were dragged against their will. As the seething mass neared the bone creature the undead seemed to avoid touching it, shifting away even as Rain took another leaden step forward.
Rain simply snarled back at its words and brute forced his way forward through sheer strength, dragging the entire spiralling heaving crowd of undead with him and somehow succeeding. He was getting near.
“You aren’t a leveler, you have no skills or magic, you are simply another monster. Give your body to me and gain a little worth as one of mine.”
The bone creature swung the staff down at him. Rain didn’t hesitate, he ripped his arm free from the undead trying to hold him back and grabbed the staff mid-swing. The teeth cut at his paws causing agony to shoot up his arm but he held on, he held onto the staff! With a snarl he heaved it toward himself dragging the boney creature into his clutches, or at least that is what he expected to happen, instead the staff parted halfway down its length leaving the boney creature where it was and Rain holding half the staff.
“You would not believe the number of levelers who have fallen for that old trick,” said the creature, its hood tilting to the side and the skulls within rattling and grinning in cruel joy.
Rain could only look on in dismay as the half staff he held in his hands unravelled into dozens of spines covered in razor sharp teeth and began winding themselves up his arm, the teeth cutting long bloody furrows through his fur.
Rain turned his head in time to see the undead Panthara reaching for him. It was taller than him and its talons reached over the undead on long arms to latch onto his shoulder. Its half missing muzzle and one remaining eye seemed to snarl in evil cruel glee as the talons sunk deep and hit bone, the species as foul hearted and malicious in undeath as in life. Rain shuddered and gasped in pain, for once he was covered in blood not of those he ate but his own. He could feel his body failing, pieces of him being sliced away by innumerable wounds and stabs and rending claws and teeth, grinding him down with sheer numbers.
“Fuck you! You can’t have him!” screamed Opal and he thought he felt her lunge over his head toward the boney creature. He opened his mouth to yell for her to stop but instead of appearing in front of him she lunged from his side, the longsword unsheathed from her back and swinging through the air. It came down on the Panthara’s rotten shoulder like a guillotine and sunk deep.
“Use it!” he heard her scream before she vanished over the Panthara’s shoulder and into the crowd of undead.
His paw shot out and gripped the Panthara by the upper arm. With a savage roar he twisted his whole body and wrenched on the arm so hard that it was ripped from the creature’s rotten shoulder in an explosion of gore. With wild wrathful eyes Rain turned back on the boney creature and with a snarl drove forward in desperation, muscles straining, using every ounce of strength he had, each step dragging tons and tons of writhing undead flesh with him.
“My Panthara! How dare you! Do you have any idea how much of a pain it is to get one of those nasty horrible creatures! You! Yo-“
Rain’s paw whipped out with Panthara arm held by the stump and its wicked hooked claws caught the boney creature’s rags. The fire in the creature’s eyes died down for a moment as they stared at the Panthara talons snarled up in its clothing.
Rain hauled back on the arm with all his strength and the bone creature stumbled toward him, near enough that Rain could drop the arm and reach out with his own paw. He grabbed a wrinkle of black rags in his fist and dragged the bone creature close.
“Fool. You will still die, you have just sped your end along!”
The skulls began to chant, a whispery dry wind sound, the green fire in its numerous eye sockets flaring up bright. Rain dragged his other arm free, still covered in the crawling spines. His broad paws slapped down on the shoulders of the bone creature and he brought his head back, and back, until he was leaning as far back from the creature’s hood as possible.
The creature’s chanting went up a notch in tone and began to rush, panicked. Too late. Rain brought his head forward and dragged the creature toward him at the same time. The skulls single chant splintered and the smaller skulls screamed as Rain’s head rocketed toward them.
The larger skulls screamed or pled in the moment between but it was too late, Rain’s forehead collided with the horned skull in the center of the seven larger skulls like a blacksmith’s hammer striking an anvil. Bone met bone and the horned skull not being firmly attached to anything blasted backward and exploded out the back of the creature’s hood leaving a hole that could be seen straight through. Green electricity sparked between the remaining howling skulls.
The undead stumbled, seeming to become sluggish, weakened. Rain leapt on the chance and surged forward forcing his paws into the gap the horned skull had left. He grasped the sides and forced his arms apart. The skulls seemed to resist, green lighting dancing between the bones desperately holding everything in place, but with a ripsnarl roar Rain tore through and ripped the creature’s hood across sending skulls and spines pouring out the sides.
He didn’t stop and swiftly tore the creature to pieces, ripping away hunks of cloth and hurling away paws full of bones. Mounds of ribs and spines washed out of the holes in the disintegrating creature to clatter to the floor. The undead fell with it, their motions becoming weaker and weaker until they slumped under their own weight like ragdolls.
Rain tore the thing to pieces until it was nothing but bones scattered across a room with a ripped up pile of rags at the center.
Breathing hard he dragged himself free from the mound of undead, the snake like spines slipping from his torn up arm.
“Opal! Are you alive?!” he roared.
The Goblin squeezed herself from underneath the body of the Panthara where she had hid.
Rain breathed a sigh of relief. But still limped over to her and checked her over. She batted his paws away.
“You’re hurt. Forget me.” She looked over his savaged body with dismay.
“It’s fine, I just, I just need to rest.”
“I hope you die from blood loss you horrible mangy dog!” cried a voice and Rain turned to see the horned skull resting on the stone throne where it had landed. Its voice was a touch higher than when it had been part of a larger body.
While the other skulls littered around the room were immobile and still a crackle of green sparked around this one, its eyes sputtering as it desperately held onto life.
Rain’s eyes narrowed.
“All that work, all the time I put into crafting the perfect collection, and you stumbled in and ruined it all! Damn you!”
Rain stepped toward the skull. “You attacked us without cause, you got what you deserve and you likely had it a long time coming. You were a leveler once weren’t you?”
“You know? Pah. What does it matter.”
“I’ve heard stories about forbidden classes turning levelers into horrible things. Necromancy. You seem like the sort.”
“Yes, I was a great Necromancer, in fact, over level sixty, until that bitch of a Queen found me. I only escaped by transferring my soul to a skull I had secreted away, unfortunately the side effects were… problematic, I lost my status as a leveler and became a level-less undead, more’s the pity.”
“And you spent the centuries down here pissing around and not planning revenge?”
The skull gave him a sour look. “Do you not know what the Queen is? I couldn’t defeat her in a thousand lifetimes. I was retired, you know, this was my retirement you ruined.”
His words bothered Rain for some reason. “If you had just wanted it badly enough you- AAH!”
Rain’s back arched back as something cleaved into his spine and he fell to the ground, a spot of white hot pain burning up his lower back.
He rolled over and tried to scramble backwards with his legs. To his horror his legs didn’t respond, not even a little, he looked down at them, they remained limp and unmoving, paralysed. An image of what he had done to the first Panthara flashed through his mind, helplessness. Panic began to seep in.
A black clad figure holding a long handled axe materialised in front of him out of thin air. The blade of the axe dripped with his blood.
“Oh poor wolfy can’t use his legs?”
She stood over him but not by much. A black leather covered Dwarf, a leveler. Judging by how serious and professional looking her equipment was a particularly high leveled one at that.
Behind him the skull cackled, “It’s karma! Karma I tell you!”