"Alert! To arms!" The harsh ring of the town bells jolted Derik to a state of alertness.
"Get on your feet Derik!" Derik took a brief moment to blink and clear his eyes.
"Derik, you better get to the armory right now, or so help me I will detach your head like it were attached to the handle ov a hoe!"
"Yes, sir! Sorry, Sir!"
Derik exited the room with the utmost haste. He dipped down the hallway into the side door that led to the entrance of the arsenal. He took a moment to collect himself.
"How did it come to this?" he pondered to himself.
He reflected on how he originally came to this world two years ago. He was driving home from his job as a human resources manager when he found himself dropped unceremoniously into a grassy field.
He had barely had enough time to adapt to the numbness in his body before he was dragged off and thrown into the local jail by a constable. He had tried to resist, but it seemed he was unfortunately not blessed with any abilities or equipment. All he arrived with was a slightly wrinkled suit, dress pants, and a pair of balmorals.
Derik let out a small sigh. Being coerced into joining the town guard for the city of New Baden was definitely not the welcome he would have expected, but other than the impressment part of the deal, it wasn't that worse from life before. While the world lacked some modern conveniences, at least the commute was great! He learned during his training that the outside of the city held all sorts of baddies. Bandits, monsters, rival nations, and roving bands of mercenaries, oh my. Working as a town guard in a sleepy city seemed like quite a good 9-5 everything considered. Things could be worse.
He grabbed a halberd from the far wall and donned his padded gambeson. It wasn't comfortable. With a quick slip of his wrist, he slipped on the strap for his kettle hat and strode back into the hallway.
Exiting the guardhouse, Derik leisurely strolled to the outer wall. He would be most definitely face a scolding for slacking on a routine drill like this, but honestly, he didn't feel very up to it today.
"I mean, what are they going to do, fire me?"
His eyes took a moment to adjust to the harsh glare of the red sun. He saw scores of his fellow countrymen, if you could call them that, arrayed in loose lines along the wall led by Montag, captain of the guard. Upon reaching the upper level of the palisades, he readied himself for a long-winded lecture on the responsibilities of his position. None came. Everyone was busy attending to the walls.
All sorts of enlarged insectoid creatures swarmed on the central road leading to the city. Ants, spiders, and pillbugs clamored beneath the wooden palisades. They look a lot more menacing than in the drawings he had seen. Frankly, he was surprised that they were real at all.
The splinters flying out from the wall underneath pulled Derik back to reality. The thought of the walls collapsing behind his feet all the motivation he needed. He immediately retraced his steps back down the stairs and ran towards the central marketplace. He heard the bellow of Montag to his left.
"Form a perimeter! Fill the gaps in the walls! Don't let them into the city until evacuations are complete!"
Derik briefly considered Montag's words. He does have an obligation as a guardsman to protect the city. More importantly, he might face capital punishment from his desertion; however, the lifeless body of a militia bowman dragged over the top of the wall pushed him to stick to his original plan. The inner city held a better chance of preserving his life; he would be able to move in any direction at a moment's notice, preferably to the location furthest away from these rabid bugs. He was a normal enough guy, average height (for earth), brown hair, hazel eyes, slightly overweight, and armed with the bare minimum of what someone could consider a uniform. What was expected of him, really?
Derik ran and ran and ran, dragging the ill-fitting gambeson behind him. He pushed on without thinking, shoving and pushing his way against the crowd.
"The tactical withdrawal is a vital tactic in the repertoire of any good soldier," he thought to himself.
After what felt like an eternity, he had finally reached his destination, the main square. He took a moment to catch his breath. The years of training certainly left him in better shape, though not totally what one would consider physically fit. As he observed his surroundings, Derik knew that something was off. The stalls that previously had packed tightly against the side of the street lay overturned, and a spattering of rocks and debris congested the roads. Not to mention the people he ran past earlier weren't armed or armored at all. He would have to say the crowd looked like a bunch of common peasantry and merchants.
He leaned against a wooden beam that had previously lent its support to the local inn and considered his next move. He needed to think of the best way out of this city fast. Derik rubbed his hands on his temples as he tried to recall the layout of the roads. He had a good idea of the different shops in his district from his day-to-day affairs, but the rest of the city was a total enigma.
"I knew I should have paid more attention to those geography lessons. Still my weakness after all these years."
Derik adjusted his gambeson and deliberated on which direction to go. He decided that the simple approach is often the best one, opting to continue moving directly opposite where he came.
No sooner had he finished that thought when a tan ant slightly taller than a car rounded the corner of one of the local financial offices.
"Well, that complicates things."
Derik's eyes darted around rapidly. The ant had not seemed to have spotted him. He needed to find a way out of this area without traversing through the main square.
A side road perfectly positioned directly to the right of him. Derik didn't hesitate and began to sprint down the alley. He made a mad dash towards the light highlighting the other end. He needed to get to the outskirts of the city right now.
The light at the end of the alley began to fade as the shadow of something looming overhead blocked the sun's rays. With a resounding crash, Derik found himself face to face with a spider. It was similar in size to the ant and had lay silver strands of the web strewn up between the surrounding buildings. It let out a cruel hiss, and a viscous fluid began to drip from its jaws as they moved in to grip Derik.
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