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Pixel Courage 20

Two Zebdas down, eight to go.

I trekked through the stale yellow grass. Passed many Zebdas and many Thorn Guards. The wild crab-like things had such simple minds, such repetitive patterns. The Thorn Guards too, really.

As I passed them, I found the Thorn Guards to be even grosser than the Zebdas. The Zebdas at least looked as inhuman as they actually were.

But The Thorn Guards — in their idiocy, in their lack of greater life purpose — seemed like such sad, pale imitations of real humanity.

The sun beat down on me. I kept trying to wipe sweat from my brow, only to remember there wasn’t any sweat in this world.

The haptics of the game were good — so good I could forget. But then the little things, the sweat, would remind me how strange and uncanny this world really was.

I made my way past the NPCs — the brainless Dumb AI — until I was near the spot where I’d died. I walked towards the Zebda, so that I was in plain sight of it.

But of course, an NPC’s perception was always a little skewed. It’s not like they started chasing you the second they saw you. No, you had to come to them. You had to walk within a certain radius of them.

Made me wonder how they even perceived the world. Did they see you, but just not perceive you as a threat until you walked too close? Or did they only see what was a couple feet in front of them?

I could clearly see the Zebda, why did it act like it couldn’t see me?

There was a sort of perversity to the thing. For long moments I stood there, watching the Zebda. It snapped its claws in a certain rhythm. It would crawl a few feet to its right, snapping its claws and looking around. Then it would do the reverse, crawling to the left and snapping its claws. It would look around, look right at me, then repeat its pattern.

My gauntlet hand went towards my sword. My other hand balled into a fist. The power welled within it, growing, surging. The thorns pierced through my knuckles.

Power — it’s the thing that makes any world run. This world more than most.

Out of pity more than anything, it seemed like a good idea to warn the Zebda of my approach.

“Hey!” I yelled.

No need for more than that, really. Wasn’t exactly a man of my words.

Despite the yell, the Zebda still didn’t notice me until I got within a certain radius of its body. Those large eyes practically floated above his head, supported only by the thin antenna connected them to its body.

It skittered, yelling at me with a sort of high-pitched whine.

My sword popped the left eye before the Zebda had a chance to strike me with its claw.

25/30 HP

Tossed the sword from one hand to the other, as the claw came down at me.

Grabbed the claw in my hand; crunched it with my gauntlet fist.

20/30 HP

The Dragon Gauntlet gave my fist such power. The crunching of the Zebda’s claw was so rewarding. It was like I’d balled a large piece of paper in my hand — paper that was just a little too big. But still, I kept forcing the paper into my hand, making it smaller and smaller, tighter and tighter.

It was a pleasure to break the Zebda’s claw.

The other claw came down with not enough time to switch sword hands again.

So I whacked the claw with my sword.

19/30 HP

The claw came at me again.

18/30 HP

The pattern of it was almost a bore. The thing about real life is that it’s messy. People make mistakes. Living creatures don’t repeat themselves over and over without variance.

Not so with this Zebda.

17/30 HP

16/30 HP

15/30 HP

14/30 HP

What would Alex think if she saw me beating her monster with such ease?

12/30 HP

11/30 HP

10/30 HP

To be fair, The Dragon Gauntlet was a powerful object, one I shouldn’t even be in possession of. It was a fluke that I was the one to receive it because I killed The Earth Dragon.

9/30 HP

Still, why bother putting something that OP in the game?

8/30 HP

7/30 HP

The fight got boring, so I decided to make it more interesting.

When the Zebda raised its claw in the air, I didn’t wait for it to come down and try to attack me. Instead I dove under the Zebda, getting a mouthful of grass and dirt for the effort.

Flipped myself over so that my back was on the sickly grass. Then I thrust the sword upwards, so that it dug into the Zebda’s underside. When I pulled the sword out, the growth on the Zebda’s underside opened up.

Its jaw dropped out of the opening, but the jaw didn’t attack me. It merely flopped down, already done in by my sword. I smacked the jaw with my gauntlet hand.

The Zebda fell onto me. It was the only injury I got during the whole fight.

Slowly, eventually, it dissipated. That meant it was just me and the sickly grass for a couple minutes.

Next Chapter

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