Chapter 5:

Horned Mask (1/3)

Path of Pandora – My Worldbuilding System


[ Time until next wave: 0h 0m 45s ]

Shadows reached across the land, engulfing the field with thick black shadows. The tiny birds left their nest one last time to observe the boy before the purple obelisk. He had just finished setting up his defense, and observing the fruit of his hard work, he let out a sigh of relief.

"Alright. I'm ready."

The weapon in his hand was a sharpened stick. Though its length was merely the size of Tanuki's arm, its shadow was the size of a mighty weapon, before…

The sun set below the horizon. The shadows morphed into a dark mist, engulfing the land.

[ Wave Ongoing! ]

[ Active effects: –– ]

[ Enemies left: Goblin (3/3) ]

Ugly goblins appeared on the road. They growled like rabid dogs.

Two entered first. White rugs covered their groins, but surprisingly, they had no weapons in hand. The two of them looked at each other with vicious frowns, then nodded with a common goal: Destroy the Gaia Core.

A third one entered the ring. It was a bit taller than the others, made even taller by a red mask covering its face. The mask looked like the face of an angry demon. Two tiny horns came out of its forehead, possibly made out of goblin teeth.

A thick wool cape covered the goblin from head to toe. Its two red eyes were visible through the small holes on the mask. Besides that, only its hands were visible, holding a large staff.

The staff was made out of dark oakwood. Its head resembled a crescent shape, and two tiny leaves hung from its end.

The masked goblin banged its staff against the ground, and the two naked goblins ran down the road. They screamed ferociously, hungry for blood.

One of them stopped midway towards the Core. It raised its sharp nose into the air and sniffed cautiously.

"(sniff)… (sniff-sniff)..."

Human sweat. It was the smell of human sweat, coming not so far off the road.

The goblin cackled viciously as it ran off the road. The outlines of a human figure appeared in its view and the goblin jumped towards its prey.

"Keeheehee!" It laughed while readying its claws to cut the human's throat.

Then, as it tightly gripped into the figure's chest…

Stab-stab-stab!

Tens of sharp sticks pierced the goblin. Pain shot through its body so suddenly, he was too confused to feel any of that, as it looked down to the sharp things sticking out of its chest.

The goblin fell right into Tanuki's trap. He built a scarecrow out of the sharpest materials of the forest. Sticks, stones, even thorny vines. All of that now resided in the goblin's lungs, as it fell to the ground, choking on its own blood.

[ Wave Ongoing! ]

[ Active effects: –– ]

[ Enemies left: Goblin (2/3) ]

The second goblin rushed down the road without a care in the world. It laughed with the same ugly cackle, that suddenly turned into a painful cry as it quickly recoiled.

Roses were laid across the road, their thorns scattered everywhere. The goblin didn't notice their smell, mainly because of how bloodthirsty it was.

The creature growled angrily and charged the road again, then recoiled as the thorns still hurt very much.

It was getting furious. Clenching its teeth, the goblin charged the road once more. Thorns stuck into its leg, sinking deeper with every step. The goblin fought the pain with all its might… until it couldn't.

"Gaaaw!" The goblin cried out in pain as it fell.

As tiny as the monster's body was, it made a loud thump sound as it hit the ground, and the thorns on the road pierced every inch of its skin. It only became worse, as the goblin tried to roll into safety, only to get more thorns stuck in its body.

"I'm so sorry!" Were the last words it heard, before something sharp pierced its throat, finally putting an end to its misery.

Tanuki left the confines of his fully secured base to kill the monster. He didn't need to, as it would've most likely died to blood loss, but Tanuki just couldn't bear its cries anymore.

"If I could've done it with a single, painless blow, I would've walked that path." He apologized to the goblin's corpse.

He turned to walk back to the Gaia Core, but after only a few steps, he heard something unusual that made him stop right in his track. Something heavy hit the ground. This sound was followed by two shining red dots in the distance, that suddenly lunged towards Tanuki.

"What the––"

Slash-Slash!

Two horn-shaped projectiles flung towards him, making two tiny cuts on both sides of his face. It was only thanks to incredible luck, that his head fit between the two attacks.

"Were those devil horns?"

There was not much time to think though, as another pair of attacks flew towards him.

"Shit!"

The two horns were aimed at Tanuki's chest. He barely managed to evade them, and they shot two holes in his shirt.

"I have to get into safety!" He recollected himself and rushed towards the Gaia Core. It was only thanks to his pink slippers, that the thorns didn't give him the same fate as they gave to the goblin.

The Gaia Core was surrounded by a sharp wooden fence. Tanuki quickly jumped into the inner circle, grabbed a spear, and aimed towards the attacker.

He could only see a few meters down the road. There were no footsteps, nor did the air reek of any odor.

Silence loomed through the land.

Tanuki's hands were shaking. The air turned so dense, he could barely breathe.

Then, from the dark, footsteps came.

Tanuki's eyes widened. It was the first time he saw what the last enemy looked like, and it immediately sent shivers down his spine, not only for its unusually creepy appearance.

"Wait, could it be…"

Two green feet came into view, followed by the bottom of a staff. The goblin stopped there in the dark. Its body was completely invisible, but not its mask, which loomed in the dark, gazing into Tanuki's soul.

At that moment, he finally understood.

Enemies are sorted into groups not based on their power, but simply by their race. When Tanuki saw that three goblins were going to attack, he thought they would be equals in power. He also thought they would be as equipped as the one from the first wave.

But he couldn't have been more wrong.

Two of the attacking goblins were not only much dumber, but they also had no equipment. This pulled down their challenge rating from (0,25) to no more than (0,10).

That meant no matter how strong the third goblin was, so long its challenge rating was less than (0,80), the current wave's difficulty would remain zero, no matter how much closer it might be to one.

"T-This is unfair! I wasn't told one of them is a magic user!"

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[ Wave Ongoing! ]

[ Active effects: –– ]

[ Enemies left: Goblin (1/3) ]