76 Chapter 76 Ice Trolls and Monsters Fleeing the Fog
"I think we should try a different game," panted Joseph, leaning over and placing his hands on his knees.
"I don't know. I don't have any memories of playing with other kids. Do yours?"
"Well, I know what street kids would play. Mostly it was tag, but there was also keep away and catch."
"I'm not thinking those would help us right now."
"You probably wouldn't be very good at catch, anyway." Stella stuck her tongue out and then laughed when Joseph tried to catch her for that.
"Ugh! When we get back, I'm going to make a Kvetz board and teach you to play it."
"Is it fun?"
"I loved it."
"Good, there may be something you're better at than me," she said with a smirk.
"Want to bet on it?" he asked with a chuckle. She would probably figure out the rules and beat him down quickly.
"Don't really like to bet…" she said, uncomfortably.
"How about we bet on the loser making dinner?" he asked, with a grin.
"The chefs cook the meals."
"How about the next time we go camping?" he asked.
Stella finally gave up with a laugh.
They continued walking, their steps slowed by the snow that was now almost up to their ankles. Pausing, Joseph turned to her, and she grinned, pulling out her daggers.
"How do you want to take them?" he asked. His eyes were glowing as he glanced back over the snowy field ahead of them.
There were four ice trolls. They were supposed to regenerate in ice and snow. Semi-translucent, with no heat signature, no smell, and absolutely no movement to give them away, he had only noticed because he had taken to keeping his magic vision on. He had heard from the barbarians they made excellent ambush predators.
Joseph wasn't sure how Stella saw them, she was…Stella?
"I'll stab them, until they can't move, then you can melt them." She didn't wait for his nod of approval and understanding before she took off running across the top of the snow, like he had seen an elf do in a movie in one of his last lives. She jumped at one and stabbed it, before it could attack her.
It was ridiculous. When she stabbed it, it jumped up and screamed. That caused all of the others to jump and try to attack her. Their lungs were powerful, but as soon as their initial burst of energy was gone, Stella just danced around them, slashing behind the knees and on their ankles. Once they fell, she tried to go for the throats.
Joseph could see the snow around them being sucked up into them, as their wounds healed super-fast. As soon as Stella had them all hamstrung, so they couldn't run away, he shouted at her to get out of the way.
CREATE FIRE filled the area they were in, and their screams filled the air. As the fire died back, super thin little skeletons were all that were left. They were made of some kind of crystal that wouldn't melt or burn.
"Think they can heal from that?" he asked.
Stella looked at the skeletons and then back at him.
"Right," he said, nodding. Throwing the skeletons on top of each other, he cast CREATE FIRE again. This time he used the rune within rune to double its power and burned the bones until they blackened. Crumbling into a pile of dust, he waited a few moments for it to cool before collecting some. He never knew when it might come in handy.
"If it's that hard to kill them, its no wonder the barbarians couldn't kill them."
Joseph nodded in agreement before they continued on, as if nothing had happened.
The third night out camping is awful. Neither of them was able to sleep. The monster attacks were constant and wouldn't stop until dawn. They even went ahead and used some of the bags of charcoal so that they didn't get surrounded. Joseph thought it only attracted more monsters though.
The last pack of dire wolves showed obvious signs of fog touch, either missing a piece of tail or having a spot of ice on their body. It melted off quickly with magical fire from CREATE FIRE, or when exposed to DETONATE, but normal fires or IGNITE FIRE on their fur didn't bother it at all.
It took a bit of study for Joseph to figure out, but the mana itself had gained an attribute. The mana around it was also affected and became influenced, or maybe corrupted would be better. At any rate, once he figured out the mechanism for how it spread, he simply forcefully circulated his own mana into it and pull the influenced mana into himself.
Once the ice mana entered his body, he forced it to obey him and it returned to normal almost instantly. Meanwhile, his own mana was displacing the ice mana in the block, so even though the block remained frozen, it didn't have a spreading influence anymore. Once he pulled his own mana back from the block, he found that he had more mana than before he started.
"Why would you do that?" Stella shouted, panic evident in her eyes. "Don't you know that if that hadn't worked, you would have been frozen?"
"What? Like I would be overcome with that puny amount of mana."
"Joseph." The look in her eyes told him that she had been more than terrified.
Reaching over, Joseph gave her a hug and she froze.
"Stella, calm down. I needed to analyze it to know how to protect you when we get to the icy fog. I knew that wasn't dangerous for me. If it was dangerous, then we are all doomed to die long before we can beat whatever is causing this. There is far more to this world, that we have to travel through."
With a sigh she said, "The next time you are about to do something dangerous, that you know is ok, let me know."
"You mean like a tickle fight?" he asked with a laugh.
"No, those won't be ok."
"Wow, that was your, 'I am no fairy' tone."
She didn't respond, but her look told him plenty.