After an hour or so of searching the area around the cave, since it wasn’t advisable to actually enter into the cave, the group found their first monster. Monster was more of an apt description than Jules had anticipated. He’d expected something animal like, like the plyks. However, upon thinking about it, having creatures that actually looked familiar was somewhat of an odd thing to begin with. In addition, the creatures that came from underground were always called “monsters” by the locals, not “animals” or “beasts”.
All of these thoughts went through Jules’ head, only to settle on the final thought that he now understood. The creature they saw only bore the slightest resemblance to animals he recognized, and that was its quadrupedal form, like a wolf or bear. It also had a somewhat similar head, filled with sharp teeth, but even that was only similar, since instead of regular eyes it had eye stalks that were somewhere around 50 centimeters in length. These seemed to swivel around as they pleased, writhing somewhat wildly, though probably not randomly. Instead of fur, it had something more akin to porcupine quills covering its entire body.
There wasn’t any time to plan strategy since it noticed them at the same time that they noticed it. Jules didn’t know what it was called, but he decided to think of it as a “spined horror”. The group opened fire with their guns, but the creature was smart enough to move erratically so that they couldn’t hit as they pleased. However, as it approached the distance between them, it still took some injuries, though attacks were somewhat deflected or absorbed by the spines. Once it got close, Jules saw it was definitely close to the size of a bear.
Mary stepped out in front of the group, and Ray switched to his hammer as well, as the spined horror got close to the group. Mary slashed at it with her sword, and Ray knocked it back with his hammer. The monster didn’t dodge at all, instead letting itself get hit, the sword mostly scraping off its scales, and the hammer barely slowing its momentum before it barreled forward again. It seemed its method of attack was to just try to hit its body on whoever was in front of it, impaling them on spines. It wasn’t too fast, however, so both of the melee combatants were able to dodge out of the way, and it was even opened to a few shots from Jules, Ursula, and John.
However, though the party was unscathed, the monster was only slightly injured as well. The battle continued much the same way, with Mary and Ray attacking as they could, slowly trying to get through its spines, and then avoiding its attacks. However, after one time they dodged out of the way, one eyestalk focused on each of them, and spines shot out of the monster like arrows. Since they weren’t prepared for such an attack, and were already dodging, they couldn’t avoid them. Ray’s chestplate stopped all of the spines there, but he still had his arms scraped up by some, and one hit his leg and lodged itself there. Mary didn’t have much in the way of armor, but managed to twist herself so that the spines could only hit her side, a narrower target. However, she had several spines hit well enough to stick into her, and one was in her left arm.
This surprise attack wasn’t good for the group, but Ray was still in good shape, just a little slower, and Mary could fight even with an injured arm. After another exchange, though, it became obvious that the front line was getting tired, since they had to be constantly running around, and they were losing some blood as well. However, John noticed something important. “There are empty areas where it launched the spines! Aim there!”
Indeed, it had launched spines as a group from regions on either side, so it didn’t have them to help defend there. That was why it hadn’t used them earlier, since they were also defenses. Mary took the advantage to slash the relatively less sturdy hide underneath, and made the first large wound on it. Ray, meanwhile, just focused on being prepared for the next time it launched spines. As it grew more wounded, it launched spines more frequently, however Ray was prepared to deflect them with his shield, and both melee combatants had adopted tactics where they would dodge in and out, so that they could be further away if the spines were launched again, making them easier to dodge, since there was more time to react and the spines were more spread out. Mary didn’t have much to block with, however, so Jules used telekinesis to help deflect the spines launched at her, at least a few from each attack.
Eventually, they managed to kill the spined horror, but it wasn’t an easy victory. The first thing they had to do was treat Mary and Ray’s wounds. They had basic items for first aid, and even some training, but the spines were a problem. If they just pulled them out, the wounds would get much worse, as they had barbs that would tear out the flesh. However, the group had one advantage that normally wouldn’t be available. Jules could use telekinesis, allowing him to create forces in places that couldn’t be reached normally. He could even “see” inside the wounds, and could “push” the flesh away from the spines. It was rather hard to do, but he managed to at least reduce the amount of tearing. Then they bandaged the wounds. It was at least enough to keep them from getting worse, and they could remain functioning. In addition, because of the “game system”, the injuries actually helped them train their toughness and constitution. Ray had already intentionally put points into such things from levels, so he was actually less injures, since the spines didn’t pierce into him as much, as well as the armor protecting him.
The group set up camp, since it would be night soon, and it wouldn’t be good to get in another fight and reopen the wounds before giving them any chance to heal. They didn’t just end up with wounds for their effort- there was a bounty on this type of creature, and it also gave another benefit, experience. Jules was the only one to gain a level, since he was the lowest level of the group, with Mary’s party being in the 10’s. Jules looked at his new statistics, for level 6.
|Power||Strength: 81||Intelligence: 142 (↑2) + 20||Luck: 99|
|Finesse||Dexterity: 88||Wisdom: 145 (↑2) + 20||–|
|Durability||Toughness: 95||Willpower: 137 (↑1) + 10||–|
|Quantity||Constitution: 96 (↑4)||Focus: 136 (↑1) + 10||Quantum Flux: 127 (↑1)|
In addition to his statistics, his levels as an adventurer (3) made him about 3% better at… everything. Or almost everything, but it wasn’t clear what it covered, except various types of combat skills. Meanwhile, with the 3 levels he had gained since he switched to telekinetic, he got a 9% increase in telekinesis related abilities, much more effective in that area, but not as widespread of a benefit. Jules could continue to get levels as an adventurer if he wanted to, but his total level seemed to determine the experience required, so he was more interested in the benefits from telekinetic.