Dungeons of the Abyss and the Unchosen Heroes
The clouds had since parted after the long, rainy day, allowing the stars and moon to shine through. The streets, beneath the lights of the night sky, were especially bustling that night, filled with figures moving about, figures that seemed human at first glance, but would soon reveal themselves to not be quite so upon a closer look.
"I'm home... I'm home... Let me in..." said one of the figures, banging on the door with his head and scratching it with his fingers. When the door would not open even when his forehead was bloodied, he moved on to the window. Those inside, too afraid to do anything, could only watch in horror as the window slowly crack open.
"Good morning... How are... Husband?"
"My son... Next week... Getting married..."
A street over, two women can be seen chatting, or at least appeared to. They spoke stiffly and without emotions, as if they were reciting them from a script and even then, they didn't seem to be talking about the same thing. Even their eyes did not meet one another's and were instead pointed at seemingly random directions.
At another corner, a man could be seen watering the plants in front of what could be assumed to be his shop. He looked normal at first glance, but there was something wrong with the way he moved. As he moved up and down to water his row of potted plants, his arms and legs twisted and turned at unnatural angles. Not to mention, the man had been repeatedly watering the plants so much that they're all drowning in their pots. It's almost as if he didn't understand what he was doing as he performed the same action over and over again.
Such strange sceneries could be seen all over the old town, with the Mimics on the streets seeming playing out the daily lives of the townsfolk they inhabit. And while they were strange, they were also very dangerous, as they would go after anything that was not one of them with violent vigor. Once caught, the victims would either be eaten alive to satisfy the hunger that possessed these creatures or have the Mimics invade their every orifice and be made into a new host.
"What the shit is this? They're everywhere!"
Atop the roofs, there were Henrietta and Gertrude, with Henrietta hanging onto Gertrude's back for fear that her only way out of here might leave her behind.
"I thought it took days for them to take over a body. How are there so many of them already?"
Henrietta found the great numbers to be rather odd. As far as she understood, even if a person is infected with the Mimics, it would take a while for them to proliferate to the numbers required to take over a body.
"Yeah, something is up..."
Not that it was Henrietta's job to figure it out. At the moment, she had other conundrums on her plate.
"Henri, where to?" asked Gertrude, curt as ever.
"I told you, I haven't a single idea. Maybe if I have a look at the street signs, but..." Henrietta took another gander at the streets and noted the amounts of Mimics running around. "Yeah, I like it up here a lot bet-"
But Gertrude had already stopped listening after Henrietta mentioned the street signs. Without a single bit of hesitation or even forethought, Gertrude leaped off the roof and landed right onto the streets, into the midst of the Mimics.
"What are yer doin'!? Have yer gone and lost yer mind!?"
The moment they saw them, the Mimics came rushing over. Henrietta's yelling, of course, did nothing to help the matter, attracting more Mimics from another street over.
"Eek! To your right! To your right!"
Heeding Henrietta, Gertrude formed a fist with her right hand and swung to her right just as a Mimic was about to grab her, hitting it on the side of its face. A cracking sound could be heard as the Mimic was promptly sent flying, crashing through an entire row of its brethren before coming to a stop. Then, lifting her right foot, she swung to her left, catching another Mimic with her kick. In the instant before her kick made contact, her right leg spontaneously increased in bulk, and when it landed, it sent the Mimic into the air, flying away at a speed that was almost too fast to be caught by the eye. The resulting shockwave even pushed back the Mimics that were slowly surrounding them, knocking some onto the ground.
"I... I'm, uh, I'm sorry about that... F-for saying that you've lost yer mind I mean..." Henrietta, upon feeling the shockwave hit her body, was once more reminded of the kind of monstrous strength she was dealing with and quickly gave out her apology before she too, end up at the receiving end of that kick.
However, Gertrude did not seem to be listening as she went on to grab a fallen Mimic by the leg. The Mimic made an unintelligible grunt in protest, but Gertrude heeded none of it and began swinging it around like a person-shaped club, swatting away everything in her path as if they were but a swarm of flies as she made her way to the nearest signpost.
"Um, okay, let's see..." Henrietta leaped off Gertrude's back and began reading while Gertrude took care of the Mimics. "Right, so it's that way. Come on, let's go!"
Gertrude, however, did not respond. After tossing away the Mimic she was using as a club, she fell onto her knees.
"Wait! Hold on! What's wrong? Did they bite you? Did you get hurt?"
Again, Gertrude was not saying anything. Instead, the response came in the form of a low growl, one that came from her stomach.
"You... You're joking right?" Henrietta couldn't believe what she was seeing. "You ate three days' worth of food for dinner alone. Are you seriously getting hungry again?"
Gertrude gave no response, feeling too hungry to even want to talk. Meanwhile, the Mimics, getting back onto their feet after being knocked around, were slowly approaching.
"Why? Why, oh why, oh why!? Why does this have to happen to me!?"
Dragging Gertrude along with her, Henrietta tried to get away only to find herself being surrounded on all fronts with no way out. Stranded amongst a horde of enemies, without her armor or shield, without her party, Henrietta was faced with a sense of helplessness she hadn't felt since her mother was gone. Eventually, she backed into the old, wooden signpost that got them down there in the first place. There were no more places to run.
"It ain't happenin', it ain't happenin' I tell ya! I didn't come all the way here just to kick the bucket!"
Turning right around, Henrietta grabbed a hold of the old signpost and began pulling. She sucked in her stomach and pulled with veins showing up all over her.
With an ugly cry, the old signpost came free of its foundation and without further ado, Henrietta began swinging the thing.
The signboards broke and splintered as they smashed into the horde of Mimics with the thick wooden pole being the only thing that stood strong against the impact as it sent wave after wave of Mimics flying.
"Gah! Persistent shitheads!"
And yet, no matter how many she sent flying off, they kept coming. The kept crawling back up and kept coming at her. Despite having their bones broken or heads smashed in, there wasn't a single sign of them slowing down, even after Henrietta had swung the heavy old signpost till her arms felt like they were going to fall off.
"This isn't fair... I haven't even done half the things I wanted to do..."
Henrietta wanted to cry. Heck, tears were already streaming down her cheeks. She didn't want to believe that she was going to die this way.
"Don't cry. Don't cry, Henri."
As she slowly pushed herself off the ground, her arms shaking and sweating cold sweat, Gertrude grabbed hold of the old signpost that had been reduced to a wooden pole. Taking in deep, ragged breaths, Gertrude stomped right into the ground in front of her and swung with all her monstrous might. The swing was so powerful that a gale of wind followed right after it. The Mimics that got caught in the pathway of the swing got immediately turned into a twisted, gnarly mess before flying down towards the opposite end of the street.
However, that was the absolute last of her strength as Gertrude collapsed on the spot, hitting the ground with a thud and moved no more.
"Geretrude? Oi, Gertrude!" Henrietta shook the girl as hard as she could, but there was no response. "Shit!"
Wrapping Gertrude's arm around her broad dwarven shoulders, Henrietta quickly took the opening created by Gertrude and made a run for it. Henrietta made a promise in her heart, that they were going to survive the night no matter what. Yet, it was not enough, it was never enough. The heart itself could not conquer the overwhelming number of Mimics that quickly swarmed them once more.
"Damn it! Just get out of the way!" Henrietta shouted at them in frustration. "Don't yer lot have anything better to do!"
Of course, it was in vain. The Mimics knew speech but couldn't quite understand them. And even if they did, they had no reason to heed her.
"You shit! You dung nuggets! You ugly worm-infested shiteaters! Stay back! Stay back I say!" Henrietta yelled and cried as she was back into the wall, tucking what she could of Gertrude behind her.
She screamed and shouted at the horde that couldn't even understand her abuses, much less care anything for it. It was very well the only thing she could do, her pathetic last stand.
Like a shooting star, an angel descended from above, her wings sliver and her hair white as snow. No, those weren't wings at all. Those were a pair of swords, reflecting the lights of the stars and moon. The 'angel' crashed into the midst of the Mimics, cutting through them with her two swords as if they were but grass. She spun and slashed, her movements a blur and her slashes came and went like flashes of light. She was like a whirlwind of blades accompanied by a rain of crimson. Before long, the streets were filled with blood and decimated body parts while the snow-white hair of the angel turned red from the shower of carnage.
"Sorry, I'm late," said the 'angel', blood dripping from her person and the white, string-like worms crawling all over her. "But now that I'm here, everything is going to be alright."
When the angel, the woman spoke to her, Henrietta snapped out of her daze. This wasn't a dream or a delusion her mind had conjured during her last moments. This was real.
The woman smiled at Henrietta, her smile comforting and reassuring. Just under the collar of the bloodied shirt she was wearing, there was something like a pin affixed to it. It was an emblem, shaped like a shield cast from silver. Upon it, a star stylized as a sword thrusting downwards was depicted. It was the symbol of the Lightbringers.
End of Chapter 48