The first thing Dave saw above him when he opened his eyes after logging in was red leaves slowly moving past, Realizing he was lying down he tried to sit up but couldn't move, he was restrained. Turning his head, he saw his friends tied to broad wooden planks being carried by groups of doll-sized figures. The tiny manlike creatures had bushy hair, dark skin and wore little more than breechclouts. They were small but obviously very strong for their size, they carried the players with very little effort, like groups of ants carrying much bigger objects than themselves.
Flanker was being carried right next to him. When the priest saw Dave moving he said, "Hey Stroke, thank god you're back, we're in some deep shit."
One of the little figures bared tiny shark teeth and poked Flanker with its spear, gibbering incomprehensibly in an angry high-pitched squeak.
"Oww! Stop that you little monster- Owww."
"Flanker, what happened? And where's Spike?" Dave asked through the party chat.
"Fuck, that hurt. Yeah, these buggers just suddenly appeared all around me while I was cleaning Spike. HE ran away, the big wuss. I tried to talk to them, but these little fellows no understanda de Englees."
Dave struggled for a while but he couldn't loosen the ropes or get free, and all his skills were grayed out.
"Can you use your skills?"
"No man, they all went gray when they tied me up," Flanker said.
Dave checked his battle logs.
You have been Restrained and Captured.
As long as you are Restrained, you cannot use any of your skills, and your inventory is locked.
Dave thought for a moment then tried to see around him as best he could, he looked at one of the small creatures and inspected it.
Danger Level: ☠
Base damage: 10-20 (Flat Damage)
[Impervious Band] (Passive) +0.1% Damage Negation for every nearby tribe member.
[Tribal Frenzy]: attacking one Smollzy incurs the wrath of the entire tribe. Base attack speed and movement speed of all tribe members increased by 200%.
The smollzies are a primitive tribe of creatures of unknown origin. They are weak individually but are extremely resilient to magic and physical damage. When in large groups they are some of the sturdiest and most difficult creatures in the Wilds to kill. Their flesh is so tough and they taste so badly, no denizen of the Wilds bothers to hunt them. For that reason they are able to thrive and multiply in the Wilds. Their real name is unknown as no one who has survived an encounter with them long enough to learn anything, or if they did they were unable to escape in the end. The moniker 'Smollzy' comes from an incomplete description of the creatures given by a fellow who did survive to escape. The escapee was found dying at the edge of the Wilds, pincushioned with tiny Smollzy bone spears. The unfortunate fellow uttered, "So many small zeeee-" then died on the spot.
'The more there are the tougher it is to kill these smollzies. Each one only does a tiny bit of damage but it's fucking Flat Damage, and if there are more than a thousand of them in one place they're invulnerable.'
Ralph woke up in his avatar and looked around. "What the hell is going on? Owww!"
"We don't know man. Use the party chat to talk, these little bastards get stabby when you say anything out loud," Dave said.
"Thanks for the timely 'warning,' bro," Ralph replied in-chat, glaring at his friend.
"Sorry, Ralphie," Dave chuckled, he figured they were even for the pizza now.
Flanker chimed in, "I feel your pain, man. These little monsters stab where it hurts!"
"Hey, all my skills are grayed out," Ralph said.
"It's from being tied up, status 'Restrained,'" Dave informed his friend.
The girls logged in, their avatars waking up. Dave and Ralph explained the situation to them over the party chat.
Mercy did not take being tied up well at all.
"What's the plan? I really want to try my daggers out on these Chuckie motherfuckers," she snarled over the chat.
"Nothing for now. We aren't dead, so we have that going for us," Dave answered with grim humor. Maybe this was an event or they were going to die. Either way, without being able to use their Skills they could only wait and see.
The smollzies zigzagged their way through the forest, never travelling in a straight line. Half an hour later, the smollzies stopped and placed the players down. Dave looked around, he was in a village made up of hundreds of small huts. The smollzies had placed them within a circle of carved totem poles that surrounded an enormous firepit at the center of the village.
From the trees near the village, a group of smollzies emerged, carrying a huge black cauldron. They positioned the big iron cauldron over the firepit at the center of the village and placed smollzy-sized ladders against the cauldron.
Flanker gulped nervously, "Where did these low-brows get a metal cauldron? They don't have any other metal items."
"Has anyone read Gulliver's Travels?" Perfect asked.
Ralph cursed, "Damn. They're seasoning the pot and we are the main ingredient."
Flanker started to panic when he saw the smollzies climb the ladders and start adding water, herbs and vegetables.
"They're gonna cook us?! Oi stop that little dudes! You don't wanna eat me, I taste really bad I swear!" Flanker yelled as he thrashed wildly."
A perturbed smollzy jabbed the pervert priest with its spear.
"This sucks. We're gonna die and we're so close to the tomb," Fortress said.
Four smollzies released Dave from the plank, leaving his hands tied. Even Though the creatures only reached as high as his knee they had no trouble pulling him toward the cauldron.
"Someone's gotta do something! Skelly's going into the pot, that's a terrible way to go man," Perfect said.
"Hail Mary, I hope this works," Demeri said then began to sing a sad soulful tune.
"What the hell Demeri? Music with a meal is nice, but why are you singing when we ARE the meal?!" Flanker snapped.
Demeri ignored him and continued singing. As the bard's voice rose over the village the entire smollzy population stopped what they were doing and looked in the direction of the singing human. They dropped their spears and moved in around the singing human. Demeri stopped, frightened by the smollzies crowding around her recumbent form.
"Keep singing, they're loving it like a fat kid loves cake!" Ralph said.
Demeri took a breath and resumed her song, her voice enchanted the smollzies, even without using any of her bardic Skills.
The 'little people' dragging Dave toward the cauldron forgot about him completely and scurried off to listen to the show.
Soon the whole tribe was gathered around Demeri. They sat, entranced by the sound of her singing. Some even tried to accompany her, but their coarse high-pitched voices were poorly received by the crowd and they were soon beaten into silence.
Dave raised an eyebrow, unsure what was going on. But this wasn't the time to hesitate, it was an opportunity to work an escape. His inventory was locked, so he couldn't get his sword out to cut the ropes off. Dave looked around for something else he could use to cut the ropes. Not finding anything suitable, he sighed and headed for the cauldron.
"Don't try this at home, kids," Dave said and put his hands in the fire.
Your character is under the status effect [Overheated]
A continuous stream of notifications scrolled up on Dave's HUD but he ignored them. This was just a game, and even if his hands were burnt to the bone, he could fix them with a potion. His priority was to extract himself and his friends from this mess.
The flames continued to burn both flesh and rope, eventually Dave's hands came free with a snap of the rope parting. With the restrains off, he had access to his inventory, so Dave grabbed a red potion and chugged it down. His burnt hands soon turned to normal and the [Overheated] status effect disappeared.
Demeri's voice was still filling the village, drawing the smollzies complete attention toward her and giving Dave enough time to think up a plan.
Now he needed to think of a way to release his friends.
When Demeri's song ended, the smollzies started waking up, fearing they might discover Dave, she started singing another song,
Dave even recognized the song. He would have clapped if he wasn't trying to be stealthy, "Nice. Leona Lewis' Bleeding Love."
None of the smollzies were paying attention to the any of the captives except Demeri. So Dave was able to slowly make his way toward Mercy. Dave took out his flamberge and cut her restraints. The assassin's daggers were out as soon as the ropes parted.
"Now what?" she asked over the chat.
"I'll create a distraction, when I do you stealth up and release everyone. When the smollzies are distracted, run for the tomb, it's just a few miles away."
"I'm totally down for that, it beats becoming smollzy-doody all to hell," Flanker said.
Dave shook his head he walked away and stood between the cauldron and the smollzies. He glanced over and Mercy disappeared in stealth.
Dave activated [Stampede], ramming into the cauldron. The heat from the fire ate away at Dave's HP, but he didn't care about the pain, he only cared about the results. The cauldron fell over, spilling its contents. Some of the smollzies were burnt by the hot liquid, the pain brought them out of the trance caused by Demeri's music.
When the smollzies looked around and realized their food had been ruined by one of the intended 'ingredients,' their peaceful mood from the music was completely destroyed. They roared and shrieked in rage at the culprit, the troublesome 'ingredient' also had the temerity to injure members of the tribe.
Standing next to the tipped over cauldron Dave grinned and shot them a double fingered salute, "No food for you, little fuckers!"
Then he turned and ran into the Wilds. The tribe rallied and set out after the Player shrieking and howling emptying out of the village.
"Do it Mercy, they're coming after me."
The smollzies swarmed in [Tribal Frenzy] mode, pouring after the source of their ire and injury in a tumbling, jumbled horde of shrieking little-people. Thankfully Dave's strides were long enough that he slowly widened the gap between himself and his pursuers.
Mercy's voice came over the party chat, "It's done, we're heading for the tomb marker, the smollzies haven't noticed our escape yet, the village emptied out. They're after you Dave, ALL of them."
"Good! I'll lead these fuckers away then meet up with you as soon as I can shake them."
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