The Stampede is an event known by many names across the continent. A collection of monsters driven into a frenzy and rushing towards the nearest settlement. No one knows what causes this or why they always seek out settlements. But this is the bane of any village on the frontiers of civilization.
And on the Alook Islands, these are considered walking calamities. One Stampede can easily wipe out an island’s settlements, leaving no homes for anyone. Whenever a Stampede is approaching, it is often a habit to prepare as best one can for it. Sending the young, old, sickly, or simply weakened off the island while the more able-bodied work to defend their home.
However, a sudden stampede with no sigh or warning is the worst probable scenario. And a scenario that the people of Jubert Island have experienced once before and dreaded the day such an incident would happen again.
As the sounds of howls and cries grow closer, people rush about. Some rush to hide in their homes. Others scramble for their weapons, armor, and any useful tools. Some form makeshift barriers out of whatever they can get their hands on. And even others work to protect what valuables they can hide away in various ways.
“Sir! We’re preparing as best we can.” A guardsman says, saluting the commander.
The commander stands in the middle of the village with an enormous sword on his back. His eyes observe the chaos as he turns his head towards the chief sitting on a bench.
“I’d feel better about things if you would evacuate with the civilians.” He says.
The chief laughs. “Sorry about that. But I feel like I have to see this through. I am the one in charge here.”
“To think I’d see two Stampedes in my lifetime.”
“You were still nothing more than a captain during the last one. That poor girl she suffered so much because of that.”
“I think we’ll be in for worse when this is over.” The commander says.
“True, they will be in a panic. But we can worry about that after we deal with this mess.” He says, standing up. “Here they come!”
A roar echoes through the air as a large hound with tendrils emerges from its back. It opens its mouth and lets out a large roar, with numerous smaller monsters rushing around it. The mass of monsters charges ahead as the guards rush forward.
“I see your target.” The chief says.
The commander steps forward, drawing his sword. “I’ll take it out and that should lessen some of the burdens.”
“Just keep yourself down and don’t hurt yourself.”
“Oh, trust me, I’m aware of how old I am, unlike that brother of mine. But I’m still quite a competent mage.”
Elsewhere out in the field, Mila launches fireballs out from her tails as Glyn stands behind her. In front of them, a crowd of monsters rushes forward. A large four-limbed humanoid charges in and throws a series of punches as Mila leaps into the air, avoiding the attack. She comes down, bringing down her sword and slashing through the monster.
“Are you okay?” Mila asks.
“Fine. Just keep it up!” Glyn yells out.
Mila nods and dodges as a monster lashes out at her. “But this is too much!”
Glyn watches her as he climbs up a tree. “Damn it, she can’t keep this up. Soon she’s going to pass out if she keeps throwing attacks around like that. But there’s no end to these monsters.”
Glyn opens his book and takes in a breath. “I might have to act on my own. As much as I hate to show off this early on.”
Mila launches another attack as a monster charges in, slashing into her with its claws. As another comes in, she guards with her sword, only for the beast to slash through breaking her sword. She swings her tails and throws out two fireballs burning away the monsters as she collapses onto her knees.
“That’s it.” She says, struggling to breathe. “I can’t keep fighting anymore.”
Glyn ignores her, staring ahead as he focuses on the distance. “Please hold out a little longer. Please don’t die!”
As Mila struggles to breathe, a trinity of monsters rush toward her. As they come in close, Mila’s body grows hotter and small flames erupt around her tails. She lets out a loud inhuman cry as the monsters freeze and she stands with fires dancing around her.
“Mila!” A voice screams out through the crowd.
Miller rushes in, forcing his way through the monsters and cutting them down and making his way to Mila. He wraps his arms around Mila, taking the flames and squeezing her tight.
“Mila, calm down. You're safe. I promise you're safe.” Miller says.
Mila trashes about before calming down as the fires die down around her. “Brother.” She says as her body goes limp.
Miller turns his gaze upwards to Glyn as Glyn holds out his book. “What’re you doing up there? Can you not fight at all?”
Glyn takes in a breath as his eyes go white and storm clouds gather up in the skies. “I call upon the ancient pact. Spirits of nature bend to my will and smite my enemies for me. Strike them down with the wrath of the ancients. Indignation!”
The clouds go dark and blacken the skies as the darkness envelops everything. Thunder crackles in the sky before bolts of lightning fly down from above. The bolts strike through the crowds of monsters disintegrating them upon contact.
In the village, the chief watches from a distance as he stands on a rooftop. He notices the darkened skies away from the village and nods. He smirks happily as he rubs his chin.
“Interesting. This one is such a strange child, isn’t he?” The chief says with a smile on his face.
In the field, Miller puts Mila on the ground and turns to Glyn. He looks up at Glyn as the clouds fade away and the daylight returns. Glyn stands motionless on the tree, unmoving, as Miller stares up at him.
“I thought you couldn’t use magic? Or was that a lie?”
Glyn doesn’t respond, sitting motionless.
“Hey! Am I not good enough for you!? Answer me!” Miller yells, kicking at the tree.
Glyn falls from the tree face first as Miller rushes to him. He notices Glyn lying motionless as Miller turns him over to notice he’s passed out.
“What he’s unconscious?” Miller looks at Glyn and then at Mila. “Well, this is going to be annoying.”
He stands as a small group of monsters rush towards Mila. Miller slashes through it, killing it instantly as another monster comes in. Miller takes his breath and holds out his sword.
“I’ll make sure both of you can see through this. But when you wake up lordling, I’m going to need some answers out of you!” Miller yells as he charges monsters.
He swings his sword, cleaving them apart as they howl and scream at him. As he cuts through them, his sword grows larger and sharper, absorbing the blood around the blade. He takes in a breath and focuses on himself.
“Looks like you’re having your fill today. You damned greedy sword!” He yells out as he charges ahead for another attack.
Hours later, after the sun sets and the moon sits high in the sky, Glyn opens his eyes, realizing he’s found himself in a bed. He sits up, noticing his book at his side as he rushes for it. Breathing a sigh of relief, he checks himself, realizing that someone cleaned him while he was unconscious.
“Oh, don’t be so shy. It was only for your health. Although it has been a long time since she’s touched such a young man, she was a little excited.” A voice says next to him.
Glyn turns his head to see the village chief next to him. He smiles and moves to the edge of the bed.
“You must be the chief of this little village?”
“That I am.”
“Good, I have a ton of questions for you.”
“I’m sure you do. I’m willing to answer as many as you’d like to answer. As long as you answer my own.”
Glyn pauses and nods. “Fine, but can my first two be free?”
“Oh. That’ll depend. Ask away and I’ll let you know.”
“First is Mila, okay?”
Glyn turns his head. “She’s a fox-type Beastkin who was assigned to watch over me for the time being. I was already deep in a trance when I cast the spell. I couldn’t check on her to make sure she got out of that, okay? So, tell me, is she okay?”
“Alright, I’ll give this one to you for free. Mila is fine. She’s unconscious and resting at her home peacefully.”
Glyn breathes a sigh of relief. “Good. I was worried for a second.”
“No, I assume you’re wondering where you are?”
“I’m in the manor, aren’t I?”
“The walls are damaged and I’m pretty sure that was a recent patch job for the wall over there. Not to mention that ever-present moldy smell.”
The chief laughs. “Perceptive. I had wanted to play with you a little. But I guess I was mistaken. There is a brain behind those ears.”
“Of course. My looks aren’t the only thing I have going for me. Now, shall we begin with the questions?” Glyn asks with a smile.
The chief nods as he taps his staff against the ground. “Of course. Let’s play our brief questions and answers game. Let’s reveal each other’s deepest secrets.”