2.1 – Bone-Faced Worg

Canis Osvultus, or the bone-faced worg. Often colloquially called a skulldog or a skullwolf, the bone-faced worg is smaller than its worg cousin (Canis Vargr). Hardier in nature than true worgs, with notable regeneration, the bone-faced worg is an often difficult enemy to face. Bone-faced worgs are characterized by dark brown to black fur with little to no fur on their faces–creating a skull like appearance–as well as what many have said to be glowing red eyes. 

– Compendium of Monsters, 778

 

Some may call me an angry man. They’d be right, and they’d get a broken arm for it. It isn’t my fault my father is Curo Llid. The Curo Llid, greatest wall commander in all the Seven Sisters. Ha. People talk about him like he’s some kind of hero, all because twenty years ago, he managed to drive off a dragon. It was only a lindwyrm.

What’s so great about driving off a lesser dragon? Killing it would’ve been better. People who disagree with me can shut their trap, or I’ll shut it for them. Sure, tell me I have anger issues. If you have a problem with that, you know where to find me: Third stool from the wall at the bar of the tavern The Lamia’s Scale, located in a worse part of Celaeno.

Tonight, I’m on my third mug, and the thing I hate most right now is being disturbed, with my father as a close second.

“Dicter! Dicter Llid! Is Dicter Llid in here?” I studiously ignore the man, but my fist tightens around my drink. Whoever it is stomps into the room and asks a regular the same question, then continues his floor-bruising march in my direction. A hand slams down on my shoulder.

“Are you Dicter Llid?”

“Tsk. Can you be any louder?” I can feel the man scowl as I stare into the amber liquid of my drink.

“Are you Dicter Llid?” He repeats.

“What’s it to you?”

“Your father is Curo Llid?” I nearly punch him then and there. This man. My taboos. He did both. He interrupted my drinking, and then, he had the gall to mention my father to my face.

“Again,” I say through clenched teeth, “what’s it to you?”

“He’s missing. We would require your help in locating him.” I feel the blood beginning to rush to my head. The heat that’s always burning in my chest stirs.

“I don’t know where he is.” I work my jaw, trying to keep what little control I have over my temper.

“That does present a problem, but you still are our best lead at the moment.”

“Go ask his men.”

“We have. According to his lieutenant, you are apparently the last person to have seen him.”

“So what.”

“We would ask that you come with us.”

“No.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said no. I’m not going with you. I don’t know where that bigot is, and frankly, I don’t care.” I felt the man shift a little.

“Sir, I’m sorry, but I have to insist. Your father is a good man. Shouldn’t you be more worried that something might have happened to him?” He’s judging me. I feel the grip his hand on my shoulder increase like a vise. His fingers dig deeper.

That’s it. I plant a solid foot on the ground and whirl around, launching my fist into his face. He releases me as he staggers back with blood dripping down his nostril. I almost charge at him, but instinct tells me to stop. I find a sword pointed inches from my throat.

I look up, slowly raising my hands in the air. King’s Guard. There were three of them in the room and probably several more waiting outside the tavern, all donned in utilitarian armor picturing a seven-starred crest. The one I punched glowers at me while holding his hand to his nose. He’s younger than I thought he was. Standing next to me is the guard with his sword to my throat. He hasn’t lowered it. Just behind him was the third, an older man looking through a satchel around his waist.

I hadn’t seen them with my face in my drink. I’m an idiot. I punched a freaking King’s Guard. That’s enough to get tried with treason. The older guard finds what he’s looking for: a pair of iron handcuffs.

“Dicter Llid, you are hereby under arrest by order of the King’s Law. You will come silently and with no resistance or be put down without trial.”

I grind my teeth and briefly think about running. Likely if I try, I’ll just wind up with a sword in my back. I’d rather not make more holes for myself. Reluctant, I hold my wrists out for him to strap on the iron cuffs. Instead, he pulls my arms around my back and slaps the cuffs on. I feel a tingling sensation. They’re runed. I feel the strength and mana pour out of me. I growl under my breath. I hate the feeling.

They take me and stuff me in some coach. Four hours and a crick in my neck later, I’m in the city Maia, where I’m let out to take a leak. They don’t uncuff my arms, which are sore from having to lean against them awkwardly in the carriage, so I’m forced to stand there while a guard lowers my pants for me. When I’m done, he pulls them back up without so much as a flicker of the eyelid. Clearly, he’s done this before. I pity the man.

A guard throws me a loaf of bread while the rest change horses. The bread bounces off my chest  bread lands in a puddle of mud. I glare at her. She did that on purpose. I don’t stoop down to try to pick it up. Better to starve than to put myself through even more humiliation than I’ve already gone through. It would have been almost impossible anyway.

“Up,” the older guard says. I turn and look at him. He’s leading a jumpy looking horse.

“What?”

“Up. We’re riding for Alcyone.”

“Why can’t I just take the carriage again?”

“We’re taking the direct route.” I groan. The direct route is too craggy to take a coach. From Maia, the direct route is seven hours to Alcyone. Most people take the old road, a remnant of an era gone by. It’s paved, mostly, and smooth going, but it takes around fourteen hours winding through the hills. I’d rather have taken the old road. Besides, the direct route is known to break horses’ ankles, and coincidentally, it’s also known for its frequent monster attacks.

“This is going to be a joy,” I mutter. The female guard that threw the bread at me leans over and smacks the back of my head.

“Cheer up, daddy’s boy, I’ll protect you if any monsters come running. Of course, I might let them have a nip or two first.” I snap my teeth at her, trying to bite her retreating hand in spite.

“Haha! What are you, a bunyip? You’re cute,” she said with a mocking smile. She slips an arm around my waist, and for a moment I stare at her confused before she launches me into the air. I land with a thud on the horse’s back, draped over it on my stomach like a sack of potatoes. She laughs hard as she mounts her own horse.

I’m forced to ride like that for more than an hour, and by the end of it, I’m hissing in pain every time the horse takes a step. Finally, the old guard stops the group and helps me sit in the saddle properly.

You have gained the title [Unconventional Rider]:  +2 endurance, +5 speed when riding this way.

 

I cursed and promptly shut out the world. This day couldn’t get any worse.

Of course, fifteen minutes later, it starts raining. The guards pause once more to bring out oilskin cloaks. There wasn’t one for me. After forty minutes riding in the miserable drizzle, it starts hailing. Thirty-five minutes after that, the hail changes from pea sized to cherry sized. It doesn’t stop until half an hour later. I stand corrected. I’m soaking wet and shivering; my cuffs haven’t stopped chaffing, and the water didn’t help; I have a rash and several bruises from riding like a stolen wife; and now I have so many more bruises forming on almost every part of my body that it looks like someone targeted me with a slingshot from every possible angle. Now, now it couldn’t get any worse.

And fate had to prove me wrong once again. A howl sounds off in the distance. Worgs. It had to be worgs. And not just any worgs, bone-faced worgs. Hardier than regular worgs and impossible to scare off. I could see them in the slowly forming mist. They stared at us, half a dozen or so, their red eyes glinting in the dark the only thing that made their ghastly white faces stand out from the fog. Did I say how much I hated worgs?

They circled around us a few moments longer, the guards slowly tracking them with their eyes, and then they launched themselves at us, running almost too quick for the eye. The first few impacted with the guards in front. One went straight for the horse’s neck, but got sliced nearly in half from the sword the guard riding atop. It hurriedly backed away, it’s wounds healing at a visible rate.

Of the other two, one went for another horse’s hind leg, bringing the horse down. The guard somersaulted in the mud and lashed out at the worg with his sword, just missing. The other worg ignored the horse, and instead directly attacked the rider, knocking them both to the ground to wrestle in the mud. I cracked a grin to see that the rider was my female friend. I had wanted to shove her off her high horse myself, but I guess a worg doing it for me is good enough. It’s good to see her with a face full of mud. My grin grew wider…

That is, until I got tackled from the side. I rolled over quickly in the mud. A quick glance around found me with a worg a few feet from my face. I scramble to my feet as it runs towards me, and I manage to catch it in the side of the head with my foot, launching it a yard or so away. Not far enough, but it’ll have to do. With a pop and a painful twist, I dislocated my left shoulder to bring my hands to my front. It’s not my first time in handcuffs, but I hate doing that, so it’s usually my last resort. Facing a worg is a pretty good reason to use it.

By the time I’ve finished, the worg is up and almost on me. It leaps for my throat. I raise my right arm as fast as I can, dragging my left arm and still dislocated shoulder with it. I hiss through my teeth. That hurts! But it’s worth it, as I manage to catch the worg right across the mouth with the chain. I can’t put any support behind my left arm, so I push my right arm out further so it does most of the work, keeping the worg from chewing my face off. Drool follows the chain and drips down my left arm.

The worg pushes in closer, its hot, rancid breath heavy on my face. I can’t help but stare at its skeleton-like face smeared with dried blood, the fur not starting until it ears. I struggle to keep my right arm straight, pulling the chain up to get more leverage against the worg. The chain creaks as the worg struggles against it, the worg’s head tilts in an increasingly odd angle as the chain pulls at its cheek. It’s now looking more at my right shoulder than my face.

I’m worried that the chain won’t hold. It’s the only thing keeping me from becoming a chew toy. This day sucks! It’s just sad to say that I’ve had worse.

Annoyed, the worg changes tactics. Seeing my right arm near its mouth, it takes a nap at it, catching a chunk of my arm with its canines. I bellow in pain, but still manage to use its lunge to roll it to the side. In the same motion, I roll over it. In this mounted position, I now have the advantage, and the advantage I will gladly take. Just perfect. I needed something to take today’s stress out on. A worg punching bag. Just my favorite.

I slam my right fist against its face. It yelps and flails, trying to get out from under me. I punch again, and again, and again. The only thing that would make me happier is being able to use both hands, but with the dislocated shoulder and the runed handcuffs… this’ll have to do. I punch harder, and feel its skull give slightly. I grin maniacally.

My next punch comes even harder. I pull at the raging inferno inside and keep punching. This. Is. All. His. Fault. I accent every word of the thought with a punch. Everything! Why couldn’t he just stay the heck out of my life! I never needed him. Why did he keep barging in? Why did he insist on beating me like a dog? That’s not discipline! I don’t need a father like you! Just leave! Me! Alone!

I continued to rain blows down on the worg, lost in my rage. I didn’t feel the skull crack, nor that it caved in, nor the blood and gray-matter covering my fist. Finally, I’m pulled off the dead worg.
“Hey, Bunyip. It’s dead already. You can stop now.” In confusion, I come to my senses. I look up to see the mud splattered face of the lady guard.

“It’s dead?”

“Yeah. You killed it good. Nothing but mush now.”

“Oh.”

And then I get a notification. Not a level up like I’m expecting, but a dark red screen. Redder than any I’ve seen before.

A [Legendary Dungeon] has just been located. The race for its conquest has begun.

~ Quest Log ~

 “A Dangerous Place” – A dungeon has appeared in the Northern Rhew, a being that threatens the world with its very existence. Beat the dungeon in the shortest time possible and claim it holds within.

Requirements: Find Dungeon Core (0/1)

Rewards: 10,000 fame; 1,000,000Â; Dungeon Core (Enchantable)

{Cannot Decline}

 

What is this?

 Status Menu 
Name: Dicter Llid Race: Pict Level: 17 (28,800/28,900)*
Health: 201/270* (34/min)* Mana: 190/190 (10/min) State: Dislocated Shoulder (Strength decreased by half)*
 Strength: 7* Endurance: 17* Dexterity: 10
 Focus: 7 Will: 5 Accuracy: 12
[Ξ]
Fame: 20
Titles: |Hard Hitter| |Trouble Maker| |Powerful| |Celaeno Guard| |Unstoppable| |Heavyweight| |Adventurer| |Barfly|  |Impulsive| |Irascible| |Jailbird| |Mauler| |Unconventional Rider|*
Skills: [Sucker Punch IX] [Charge VIII] [Break VII] [Counter III] [Exploding Fist VI] [Kick Back IV] [Feint I] 

 

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AN- Every dungeon story needs an angry, sociopathic person apparently. Mine just happens not to be the dungeon. I hope the red screens won’t get too annoying…

Tidbit: Dicter Llid, Curo Llid, Nattiq Morlo, Eira, and the Rhew all have actual meanings, while Akhlut is a real inuit cryptid. See if you can figure out what they mean. I’ll give you a hint, Everything but Nattiq (from Inuktitut, but the baby name meanings you can find also sum up his personality pretty well. Dicter as well, actually) comes from Welsh. Those that get it right, I’ll make an animal/monster/race of your choice part of the story.

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