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J. A. Horton

The Sea Cave Monster (Dawic) [quest]

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Alistair Deoward had been traveling for days, tracking a pack of roalites across the area around Dawic, with no luck. This was not the normal area he hunted in, but he heard there was a vendor in Oasis City who was paying a high price for roalites’ pelts, and no other high paying jobs were being thrown his way. After six days and nights tracking this pack across the swampy lands around Dawic, Alistair was running low on provisions and patience. He decided to give up the trail and head into Dawic to pick up some supplies and get some well-needed rest. He would set out again in a couple of days to try and pick up another trail left by a pack of roalites.

Alistair slowly walked through small but confusing community getting lost every so often, having to ask the scarce military soldiers for directions. Although it was night and slightly drizzling it was a beautiful region. Eventually, after walking past rice field after rice field Alistair made it to a small bar called Sally’s Swamp Bar. He lumbered into the bar, water dripping off his cloak, and walked up to the bar and placed down money asking for beer and food. He turned back around and sat at a table with a candle at it, providing him with some light as he pulled out a small journal. It was a small leather journal, held shut by a piece of twine. Alistair opened the journal and flipped through the pages until he came upon a page that said Dawic at the top. Under it had a hand-drawn map of the region with notable landmarks that Alistair had come across. He scribbled a little building onto the map and wrote the initials SWB next to it. He closed the journal and put it back in its pouch as the bartender brought out his beer and food, with a nod, he took his meal and began to eat.

The Bar was relatively empty with only a few other individuals in it besides Alistair. There was a drunk couple all over each other at the bar, two old men playing a card game and smoking near the door, and one man in relatively nice clothes staring out the window, nervously playing with his nails. This piqued Alistair’s curiosity, but the rumble from his stomach was more important than his curiosity at the moment.

All of the sudden, a man in a tattered jerkin covered in blood. The man next to the window stood up, eyes filled with fear and anxiety. The bloodied man walked over to him and yelled, “They’re all dead, my whole crew! That thing is a bloody monster, take your money back, I don’t want it!” The man threw a coin purse on to the table with a heavy thud and the clear clink of coins smacking against coins, lots of them. With that, the man stumbled back into the night rain and disappeared.

Alistair might have been hungry; however, this instance seemed very intriguing to him. There was a stressed man near the window with a sack full of money and what seemed like a job that had not been completed. Alistair finished his beer and took one last bite of his meal and walked over to the man’s table. The man was slouched down in his chair staring into a mug of beer. He didn’t look at Alistair, but he addressed him nonetheless. “Not in the mood to talk so bugger off pal.”

“Interesting,” Alistair started in a calm deep tone, “Well maybe you’re in the mood to listen then.” He pulled out a chair across from the man and took a seat. “From what I just witnessed, it seems like you’ve got a problem that needs fixing, and that last guy didn’t exactly get the job done. So, I’m here to offer my services.”

The man erupted into laughter and looked at Alistair for the first time, taking notice of his rugged wilderness appearance and the hilt of his sword on his back. “What do you think you can do with one sword that ten men just failed to accomplish? What they embarked on is no task that one ranger could accomplish. So, do us both a favor and go off to your table!”

The man began to reach for his beer, but before his hand reached it a dagger stabbed into the table with a loud thud has small trendies of electricity rolled off the blade. The man sat up quickly with a glimmer of fear in his eyes. Alistair stared at him, his eyes glowing blue with energy. “Let’s get one thing straight, I am no ordinary ranger. I have faced horrors that would rip twice as many men apart as you sent on that quest, and I’ve come out unscathed.” He ripped the knife out and sheathed it behind his back and sat back down. “Now, you have a problem, I need money, let’s see if we can’t help each other out, no?”

“Fine, you seem capable enough,” the man started, “My name is Gerald Lorfquik. About a year ago my wife and son were wandering around the sea caves exploring on my son’s birthday. They had been gone for some time and had not returned, so naturally, I became worried. When it was almost dusk, I set out to see where they have gotten off to, expecting the worse, but not nothing like what I found. I found my sons body, torn to shreds; it was horrifying. I only found remnants of my wife’s clothing, no one has ever found her body.”

“So, you want me to go find your wife’s body, is that it?”

“No, no, no, don’t cut me off, I’m getting there. Now, where was I? Oh yes, I only found remnants of her clothing, and a trail of blood that led to one of the sea caves. I saw several small alligators around the entrance, but I am not the type of person to deal with such things. So, I promised a small band of mercenaries a reward if they cleared out those alligators and brought back my wife’s body. I waited several days for their return, but they never did. The next group that took the job met the same fate, but the third group, two of them survived. The story they told when they got back, well, it was haunting.” Gerald shuddered and took a big gulp of his drink. “They described a nest of alligators, and at the core of it, a giant monster that devoured anything it laid its eyes upon. Ever since then, anyone who goes near the sea caves of Dawic is never heard from again, except a lucky few. But they are scarred physically and mentally for life.”

Alistair sat back, intrigued by what the man had told him. “This sounds like an interesting predicament you and Dawic are in. Luckily, this is something I am quite good at, hunting and killing creatures.”

“This is no creature ranger, this is a monster.”

“Makes no difference to me Mr. Lorfquick. Let’s talk price though.”

“I can pay you half right now, but no more, that’s not negotiable. When you bring proof back I will pay you the other half. How does that sound?”

“You can just pay me at the end, that shouldn’t be an issue. However, anything I find or take from that nest is mine, can we agree on that?”

“Fine, whatever you want.”

“Good, I will set out in the morning. Where can I find this cave of alligators?”

“Just north-east of Dawic is the coast with several sea caves. The nest apparently moves around from cave to cave.”

“Understood, and finally, how many parties have you sent out before me?”

“Seven, and out of that only three survived. I hope you’re as good as you think you are because not even a party of ten men could take this nest down.”

“I guess, we’ll see how good I am.” Alistair stood up, but before leaving said, “I’ll be back in two days, and if not, well, I guess you can just assume the worst.”

Edited by J. A. Horton

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Alistair woke up face down on a table. He ran his hand through his long black hair as the inside of his head throbbed. He slipped his hand into his pouch and pulled out a small round bottle with a red liquid in it. Taking the cork off with his middle and index finger, he brought the neck of the bottle to his mouth and took a small sip. He shuddered and stuck out his tongue and then corked the bottle and returned it to his pouch.

He walked to the counter and placed currency on the counter asking for five pounds of provisions and then left Sally’s Swamp Bar. The sky was full of clouds, with few breaks for the sun to cast its rays on the ground. The hair was heavy with humidity. He began his journey out past the rice fields nearing the sea caves northeast of Dawic. The region had been full of animals, but the closer he came to the caves, the scarcer the animals became until they were vacant altogether.

Alistair finally reached the sea caves. It was a beautiful sight. The caves were naturally formed from the sea pounding against the rocky coast. They would have been a truly breath-taking sight if it hadn’t been for the stillness in the air. Alistair could feel all the death that had happened in this area resting in the air.

Walking down a hill and sifting through some mud, Alistair entered one of the sea caves. There was a slight stench at the opening of the cave that Alistair knew all too well, rotting flesh. He began further into the cave as the stench grew stronger and the light of day was left behind. He brought his right hand out from under his cloak and concentrated a bright blue electrical energy in it casting out an aura of light around him. What was illuminated around him was sickening. Rotting corpses of creatures and people alike littered the moist cave floor.

Further past the corpses were streaks of blood with footprints out to the side of them. Alistair bent down next to them and sent a bolt of electricity out further to see what was ahead. The trails of several small alligators led around a curve in the sea cave.

“Hm, there are a lot of these things.” He stood up as his voice echoed off the cave walls and cracked his back. “This might be a little more difficult than I imagined.”

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Around the bend, Alistair noticed a glimmer of light off in the distance. He eagerly made his way to it, looking forward to getting away from the rancid smell of the cavern behind him. When he reached the other opening of the cave, he was welcomed with a cool mist as a wave from the sea broke against the rocks at the base of the opening of the cave.

There was a slope to the left of the cave opening that had been trampled down by several creatures. As Alistair followed the path up, he came across a multitude of abnormally large reptilian footprints amongst a cluster of smaller ones. For a split second, his face contorted into a deep frown and grimace as he thought about the sheer size of the alligator that made that footprint.

The trail led back down another slope where there was a calm pool of water that led out to the sea. This pool led into a cave opening on the other side of the slope Alistair was descending. “Trail ends here,” Alistair mumbled to himself as he bent down next to the calm pool. “Guess the nest relocated to this cave after the last attack on them, very peculiar.”

Alistair tensed up as he noticed subtle ripples in the water just ahead of him. As he expected, an alligator ferociously jumped out of the water, mouth unhinged so Alistair could see every single tooth in its mouth. Like an instinctive reflex, Alistair’s body became surrounded in a static aura. The world around him began to move much slower has his reflexes and strength increased. He leaped backward as the alligator’s mouth turned sideways and snapped shut with impressive force.

While in the air Alistair reached for the hilt of his blade and unsheathed the steel longsword as he landed on the ground in a fighting stance. Two more alligators crawled their way out of the sea pool and joined the other on either side.

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Alistair prepared himself as the lizards began to try and surround him. The one that had initially tried to surprise him made the first move, quickly dashing at him unhinging its jaw and attempting to latch onto Alistair’s leg. With ease, Alistair leaped over the beast’s attack and propelled himself off its snout and past it, landing just in front of the pool. His attention was now drawn toward the alligator to his right. This slippery reptile spun around whipping its tail at Alistair. Without hesitation, he swung his sword in a downward motion, scraping the tip against the wet stone floor and brought it up stopping at the height of his shoulder. The alligator’s body finished through with the motion of the attack as its tail flew into the water with a thud, severed by the swift slash of Alistair’s counter attack.

In the middle of this attack, the third gator rushed Alistair’s back, leaping into the air snapping its jaws furiously. Alistair took a step back, spun his blade in his hand, and thrust it forward. Blood began to slowly flow down the central ridge and fuller of the blade as the lifeless corpse of the alligator hung from it. He had in on fluid motion skewered the beast through its brain. With his left hand, Alistair gripped the snout of the animal and ripped the blade out with his right hand, tossing the carcass to the side like trash. No longer outnumbered, Alistair was free to stop playing defense and to make an offensive move.

Closing his eyes momentarily, the static aura that surrounded him dissipated. He did not want to use magical energy unless it was needed. He had no idea how much he would need to dispel a nest of these creatures, especially if there was an enormous one like the tracks had shown. Besides, he wouldn’t need any abilities to dispatch one lonely alligator, this would be child’s play to a skilled hunter like him.

Alistair lowered himself into a low position, preparing to make his move and pounce. He brought his blade low to his right side and slowly brought his left hand to grip just below his right hand, the pommel of the blade resting in the middle of his left hand comfortably. The air became very still as the beast hissed and slapped its tail on the ground back and forth. Both waiting for the other to make a move. Alistair tensed, and then sprang into action, accelerating towards the animal. As soon as the alligator noticed movement, it leaped out towards Alistair, mouth unhinging preparing to strike its final blow. Alistair adjusted his course, moving slightly to the left as his grip tightened on his blade. In one motion, he brought it up into the alligator’s mouth connecting with the back of its jaw. The sharp blade combined with the strength of the ranger sliced through the thick skin and bones of the reptile until it had been completely cleaved into two pieces. One well-placed horizontal slice ended the encounter. Alistair straightened up, slashing his blade in a downward motion to his right, casting an arc of blood upon the ground in front of him, and then sheathed his blade.

Turning around, he stepped into the pool of water. It was knee deep. He waded through it until he reached the mouth of the cave, where he gave out a sigh and said, “Three down, and too many more to go,” and entered the cave, preparing to face a nest of angry alligators that awaited him inside.

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