“Get into formations! Double time! Bows at the ready! Don’t fire until my command! We’re not letting a single one of those pig fuckers get close to our walls! Private Rum, you’re late! Get into position! Move!”
Max leaped up the stone steps to the town’s battlements like he was walking on air. His body just felt so light and responsive! He knew he was physically fit, but this was something else. He jumped the last seven stairs like a superhero, simply for the joy of it, landing in a crouch in front of the drill sergeant from the barracks.
The sergeant was not impressed by Max’s theatrics and simply barked at him to, “Move! Move! Move!”
Max couldn’t bring himself to care about being shouted at as he darted to the one open space in but one line of hundreds of heavily armed bowmen. He stared up and down the formation in awe. Every one of the men on either side were armed and armoured from head to toe in magical gear, just as good if not visibly better than his own.
In his dash to the town walls, he’d passed thousands of spear and swordsmen, all taking up positions in front of the city gates, and all equality bristling with high-level gear.
A row of bearded wizards started to file in behind the bowmen, all wielding staffs inlaid with jewels and dressed in identical white robes, inscribed with mystic runes that radiated power so dense that Max felt the pressure noticeably push him into the battlement parapet.
Max started to wonder exactly what the point of his even being here was. This memory was so grand and so epic in its scale, he couldn’t see what difference this man alone could make. He was just a single archer in a sea of soldiers so powerful that any one of them could destroy Max, Wildflower, and Thorax without even breaking a sweat, were they to meet in the outside world.
This feeling was only exacerbated moments later when a man clad in golden plate armour arrived on the battlements and wove his hand in a complex pattern in the air.
— Ping! —
You are affected by commander’s aura.
20% of bonus stats from commander granted to all beings under command.
Be Aware: You have discovered a new stat.
Intellect: Determines your mana pool and magical potency.
Mighty is the sword, and mightier still, some say, is the pen. But a mage will tell you that these are but mere workshop tools, compared to the true might that is the staff. Control the flow of mana to enact great wonders, Master Builder, but never forget that power flows to whatever ends the wielder wishes. Take care that such an end is not your end.
You currently have 980/980 mana.
Max was quite sure now that there was no world record, back in his old world, that he now could not easily break. The extra boost to his stats from the commander’s auror energised his muscles even further. He was now more than human. He was a super human in an army of super humans.
He also decided right there and then, that the next time the opportunity came up to get his hands on a magic spell, that he was going to do just that! He wanted to throw lightning around. He wanted to throw fireballs.
Max could just imagine facing a horde of enemies trying to attack his village and simply pointing a finger to unleash a blizzard of razor-sharp ice-shards. Gods, it would be glorious.
He was interrupted from his musings by another loud horn blow from far off in the distance, out across the planes in front of him.
“At the ready,” the sergeant shouted.
Max stiffened. the time for daydreaming was over. The enemy was here.
— TbC: Book 1 —
They came in a massive green wave. Goblins.
Max wasn’t sure what he’d been imagining when Wild-Flower mentioned it was the goblins that had captured her. Maybe something small and spindly, dressed in rags and wielding bone clubs.
Maybe that was indeed what Wild-Flower had faced in the near Neolithic state of Isolation today.
That wasn’t what Max, and the thousands of soldiers around him, faced in this far-flung past.
The horde that marched onto the planes in front of the town walls was anything but naked. Armour was everywhere. Many of the goblins wore full plate. Others wore chainmail. Many carried halberds with nasty-looking spikes all over. Others carried crossbows. Yet more carried great-swords or the more traditional spear. None of them looked in any way the kind of being that Max would want to encounter in a dark alley at night.
And there were a lot of them. Max tried to do some basic calculations in his head as the green horde slowly made its way forward, keeping well clear of the river to their right, and the mountain cliffs to their left.
There had to be hundreds of thousands.
Suddenly, their couple of thousand didn’t seem nearly so impressive.
And that wasn’t the worst. Gargantuan mammoths accompanied the main army, carrying thousands more goblins on their backs, almost to the height of the wall itself. Giant triceratops that looked capable of battering the gates down just by themselves. Terrifying meat-eating dinosaurs that would easily be able to swallow a man whole.
Even as he watched, one of the T-Rex like beasts snatched up a goblin that got too close and crunched it to death in its jaws, screaming, armour and all.
He could only see all this because his new archer skills gave him eyesight that let him see in minute detail for miles. But no one needed eagle-eyes to hear the vast rumbling din the host made as it trotted ever nearer, its eagerness to close with the enemy clear to everyone for miles around.
“Holy hells,” Max muttered, a noticeable tremor in his voice.
He startled when he felt a large hand rest on his shoulder.
“Easy there, mate.”
Max craned his head and nearly swallowed his tongue.
He was being addressed by a tall tanned man in a brown leather jacket and a hat that screamed Crocodile Dundee. The man was accompanied by both Max’s sergeant and commander.
“They’re just a bunch of little ones. We’ll clean them right up and be down the bar for drinks soon. Just you wait.”
“Yeah,” Max replied. Not quite believing what he was seeing, he used analyse.
— Whoosh —
Master Builder (Human)
Master Builders represent one of the most influential and feared class of beings in all of Isolation. From where they come, none know. Nor do any know the full extent of their potential powers. But all do know this. When the Master Builders arrive, be ready for war, or be ready to die.
You cannot analyse other Master Builder’s powers.
A storm of quests blew through Max’s mind.
This had to be Johnathan Stone, the Master Builder who built this town.
If he was thousands of years in the past, how did he have such a heavy Australian accent? Had he travelled in space as well as time? Or had this man been sent backwards? Or maybe Isolation just didn’t follow the normal rules.
Max had to ask. “Are you from Earth?” He tried to keep the eagerness out of his voice.
Johnathan tilted his head. “Earth? Never heard of it, Mate. Right funny name for a place, that. I think you mean Dirt. That’s where I’m from. Why’d you ask?”
Max decided to go for broke. This might be the only chance he’d get to ask another Master Builder questions like this. Already the sergeant was giving him disapproving looks, and the commander was looking around impatiently. “I’m a Master Builder from the future living this battle as a dream in a dungeon,” Max said, quickly. “I was wondering if I could ask you questions.”
“A Master Builder from the future?” Johnathan asked incredulously. The man focused on him a bit harder, and Max got the distinct feeling the man was using Analyse. “Core, blimey! You are!” A wide grin came over Johnathan’s face. “That’s something you don’t see every day. Do we win?”
“I don’t know,” Max answered honestly.
Another round of war horns sounded.
“Master Builder,” the commander said urgently, motioning forward.
“Righto,” Johnathan replied. He turned back to Max. “Tell you what. If you do knock ‘em over better than most, I’ll answer one of your questions. Think of it like a quest reward! Always wanted to give one of them.”
— Dong! —
You have been offered a quest
Be a Hero I.
Master Builder Johnathan Stone has tasked you with going above and beyond the call of duty to defend his town from the goblin advance. What exactly this means is up to you.
Reward: The answer to a single question from a Master Builder of old.
Do you accept this quest?
[Yes] or [No]
Max hit the [Yes] button.
“Strewth!” Johnathan said. “It actually worked! Gotta go now, mate. Stick it to ‘em good!”
Max watched on as the Master Builder marched away along the wall, slapping archers on the back and giving one of the mages a nuggie. It was interesting that a being in a memory could handle the knowledge of their existence so easily without freaking out. The real question was, what one question would he ask the man?
The goblin war horns blew again. The horde rumbled forward and as they drew ever closer Max had to amend his thoughts to, ‘how the hells was he going to even complete the quest?’
The sound of thousands upon thousands of feet smacking on the ground echoed across the plane, mixed in with the bellow of the mammoths and the roar of the carnosaurs.
Max fingered the couple of arrows in his magical quiver and licked his lips. The men on either side of him were giving him funny looks, which he only supposed was justified given the conversation he’d just had with their Master Builder.
He’d just have to look for an opening to do something brave and stupid. If there was one thing he had going for him, it was that he knew that if he died here, he’d just respawn outside the dungeon. That should give him an edge over the other archers.
The sound of dice rolled in the heavens.
Of course, there was that too.
The Satyr’s voice boomed in his mind.
— Bong! —
And as the greenskins poured forth to wreak havoc and destruction, the defenders stood stout and proud. What none of them knew, what none of them could know, was that today, one of their number would rise. That one lone archer would prove himself worthy — worthy to enter the Big-Dick Hall of Legends!
Time to first wave: 5:00 minutes
As the voice faded away, Max stared up at the sky with an incredulous expression. “Big-Dick Hall of Legends?”
— End of Chapter Fifteen —
This chapter was released to patrons four chapters before the general reading public and constitutes an alpha release. Any feedback, reactions, or discussion is highly prized.
— Bong! —
You have received a repeating quest.
Head over to the discord server and react to the chapter in the exclusive , patrons-only trial-by-conquest channel.
Reward: A happy LeadVonE