I tried to take in a deep breath of air, but the air came in too quickly. I choked for several seconds, turning on my side. Some of the Zebda’s purple blood was violently ejected from my throat.
It took me a bit to get my bearings, but slowly I began to stand up. Everything hurt like hell.
Turned around to see if the Thorn Guard had done anything with the Zebda he was fighting. The second I was standing upright, the Zebda turned to look at me.
It made a high-pitched squeal and charged.
Previous strategy didn’t work, so time for something new.
As the Zebda approached, I held my sword at the ready. The Thorn Guard struck the Zebda from behind with his spear.
The green letters floating above the Zebda’s head told me one thing: in the time it’d taken me to kill the first Zebda, the Thorn Guard hadn’t taken one point of damage.
Fucking useless, I thought, as the Zebda neared.
The moment before the first hit was thrown was often the most important part of the battle. Everything was all about potential in that moment, everything about possibility.
You summed up your opponent, figured out its weaknesses and strengths. Sometimes your conscious mind would figure out the plan, but other times it was your subconscious one.
Thinking about your strengths and weaknesses versus their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the terrain, the psychology, and other limiting factors.
A world of possibilities began to pare down. Striking at the shell wasn’t particularly effective, for instance. So that wasn’t an option worth pursuing.
The infinite became the finite, the mind-boggling impossibility turned from possibility to probability to fact.
The three of us moved in a clockwise motion, the Zebda and I each looking for the prime opening, the biggest weakness.
My abdomen hurt like hell. Though I was soaked in the other Zebda’s purple blood, I was lucky to not be bleeding myself.
The Thorn Guard kept at the Zebda with the spear, hovering near but not actually attacking.
Big fucking help he was.
The silence was punctuated by an angry growl coming from the Zebda. It sounded odd, high-pitched.
Had I killed the thing’s friend? Well, tough shit. It was made to die, anyway.
I swung my sword at its eye — to get it to shut up, if nothing else.
The black eye popped like a grape, purple blood splashing onto the yellow grass.
This Zebda screamed now, too.
Brought a claw down on me, which I blocked with my sword.
Other claw came at me, and I dodged out of the way.
Both claws were swinging at me, in what felt like a rhythmic motion. It felt like a dance.
I hacked at the one claw with my sword.
Saw a scratch, but not much damage.
While that claw got stuck in the dirt because of the force of my blow, I hacked at the other claw.
The first claw wrenched itself out of the dirt. I smacked it away again with my sword.
This method would take much longer than my other one, but at least it was safe.
Second claw came at me; I whacked it away.
In a sense, it was like fighting a man wielding two swords.
Claw one. Riposte.
Claw two. Riposte.
Impatience got the best of me. With half my HP left and what seemed like a bit of room to maneuver, I whacked at both the claws quickly.
Lunged closer to the crab and sliced the eyeball in half.
More gross purple blood. Now it couldn’t even see.
Claws swung wildly. Wildly enough that I couldn’t get out of the way in time.
One clamped down on me.
The pain shot through my torso and into my neck, into my head.
Felt like there wasn’t any possible release, like the pain would pop me like I’d popped the Zebda’s eyeballs. Didn’t have any air in my lungs to scream, didn’t have the ability to sweat in this game.
Seemed like all I could do was die.