Monday, May 23, 2016

Page 1218

Then, how the--?’ Hector needed a second to locate the question he wanted. ‘What? How are they alive, then?

They’ve got something that functions like a soul, at least for them. We call it “ardor.” Or “the planet force.” Because that’s where it comes from. It’s like a normal human soul, except MUCH more powerful.

Hector’s eyes widened as he let his imagination run with these ideas. ‘...I feel like you should’ve told me all this a long time ago.

Eh. What would’ve been the point?

I... well, I mean...’ He couldn’t find the words.

Anyway, the point is, golems are very strong. They’re pretty docile, though, so we generally don’t need to worry about them. In fact, occasionally, they’ve been known to protect humans.

For real?

Yep. But you know what we DO need to worry about? Worms.

Hector cocked an eyebrow inside his suit. ‘Worms?

Ugh. Worms are the worst. They have ardor, too, and they are definitely NOT friendly.

...Worms, though? How can a worm be dangerous?

Oh, you innocent child. Worms on the surface are harmless. The worst you’ve got are parasitic ones--which, admittedly, are not fun. But in the Undercrust... oh... Thankfully, the really big ones are rare.

Hector was almost afraid to ask. ‘How big are we talking, here?

Garovel paused, perhaps thinking it over. ‘What’s the biggest animal you know of?

Uh... elephant?

Bigger than that.

No, wait, uh. Blue whale.

Bigger than that. Well, longer, anyway. Maybe not heavier. Yeah, a blue whale is a decent comparison. They’re similar sizes.

How is that possible?’ said Hector. ‘I mean, what do they eat?

Everything.

Agh...

Including people and reapers.

AGH.

Oh, and it gets better. Some can generate electrical currents so strong that they can barf lightning at you. Or acid. Or lightning AND acid--which can combust. And their bodies are all squishy and slimy and tough as hell, due to the ardor.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Page 1217

I think the problem with that is their “sensing range,” as you put it,’ said Garovel. ‘Once they memorize your soul, they’ll be able to track you no matter where you go.

Hector paused again. ‘No, that doesn’t make sense.

Garovel gave him a look. ‘What do you mean?

Well, earlier, you said that if they sense us, they’ll try to kill us. So if their sensing range is like half the planet, then they should always be sensing tons of people.

No, when I said that, I meant “sensing us within their territory.” I’m sure their ability to sense souls goes beyond just their chosen territory. The fact that they usually keep away from cities is pretty strong evidence.

If that’s what you mean, then that’s what you should’ve said. How am I supposed to understand all these explanations that you love so much if you don’t say what you mean?

Alright, Captain Pedantry, calm down. I apologize.

Apology not accepted.

Wow, Hector.

Hector could feel the vigor wearing off. He’d needed it just to get inside the elevator. He was beginning to notice, however, that whenever the vigor wore off, it didn’t leave him feeling quite so exhausted as it used to. Perhaps his body was finally getting accustomed to it. Frankly, he thought it never would.

A different question popped into his head. ‘So, uh... are there any other terrible hellbeasts of the Undercrusts that I should know about?

Oh, definitely. A couple are even comparable to feldeaths, actually.

Are you serious? Like what?

Golems, for one. Rock beasts.

The fuck is a rock beast?

Exactly what it sounds like. A big ass monster made of solid rock.

Like a bunch of rocks held together by a soul?

No, they don’t have souls.’ Garovel paused for a pensive expression. ‘Or at least, not really.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Page 1216

The thing about feldeaths is that, as long as you don’t antagonize them, they’ll only take a swat at you. Like how a dog snaps at flies buzzing around its head. That’s pretty much how feldeaths see us, I’d wager. Annoying bugs.

Hmm.

They’re actually kind of animalistic, in many ways. Even though they’re arguably the deadliest creatures in the world, they’re not necessarily a big threat to humanity.

They aren’t? But couldn’t they just waltz into a city and kill everyone?

They could, and that’s what everyone worries about, but historically speaking, that’s an exceptionally rare occurrence.

It is? Why?

Well, for one thing, they tend not to wander around very much. They just kinda hang out in their own territory. And annihilate anyone that gets close.

Huh...

Unfortunately, their territories can be pretty enormous. These days, though, Sai-hee famously devotes a lot of resources to keeping track of feldeath movements and protecting cities from them. The Vanguard helps out quite a bit, too--oftentimes, Sermung himself, as I understand it.

Hector couldn’t even imagine what a fight between a feldeath and an emperor-level servant would look like. ‘Geez...

Anyway, the takeaway from all this, is that you don’t want to attack a feldeath, even if you’re doing it defensively. Because that’ll make it mad at you, and if it gets mad at you, it’ll chase you. And you never wanna be chased by a feldeath. Ever.

Are they super fast or something?

Yes. But also, they don’t give up. They’ll chase you to the other side of the planet, if they have to.

Hmm.’ Hector paused, thinking. ‘That’s weird..’

What is?’ said Garovel.

Well, uh... I mean, if you get far enough away, shouldn’t they give up? Like, once you’re out of their... sensing range... or whatever? They wouldn’t know where you are anymore, right? So how could they keep chasing you if they don’t know where to go?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Page 1215

In the past, there were a lot of isolated places in the Undercrust. Communication and traveling were so difficult that people just didn’t do them. In fact, I’m sure that’s still the case, to a large extent. Advancing technologies make it easier and easier, but still. We’re talking about solid rock that is so thick, a man could spend his entire life trying to tunnel through to the other side and still die of old age before he gets there. And what happens when there’s a cave-in? Which is a frequent occurrence, by the way.

So you’re saying the Undercrust is a breeding ground for these feldeath things?

Sadly, yes. By now, I imagine there must be tens of thousands of them down there.

How... uh... how dangerous are they, exactly?

Depends on how many souls they were born from and how old they are,’ said Garovel. ‘But, broadly speaking, if you happen to see one, and your name’s not Sermung, you should probably just run.

Seriously? They’re that strong?

Potentially, yeah. And since there’s no real way to gauge their strength until you’re neck-deep into a fight with one, running is the preferred solution. But there is some good news.

Really? Are some of them friendly?

Garovel laughed. And then kept laughing. ‘Ah... no.

Fuck.

The good news is that they’re only REALLY dangerous if you piss them off.

What does that mean?

It means don’t piss them off.

Yeah, I got that. I meant, more like... how do I avoid pissing them off?

Well, don’t attack them.

Wasn’t really planning on it.

Also, don’t be named Hector. They hate that.

Garovel.

No, they like Garovels just fine.

Please stop.

Ask me a good question, and maybe I will.

Agh. Alright. So... as long as we don’t attack these feldeath things first, they’ll leave us alone?

No no no. If they sense us, they’ll try to kill the shit out of us. But they’ll only half-ass it, is the thing.

You’ve lost me.