Mind splintering and running down different tracks, Arthur kept shuffling to the side in the dense primary forest. Not a lot of light down here, but that was fine with his Enhanced Eyesight trait. An advantage of increasing his Body attribute had been an overall increase in that ability too. Along with that, the trait allowed him to pay attention to multiple areas and develop ideas at the same time.
Which was why, when he was sufficiently far away from his initial attacker, he chose to plant his feet, twist, and launch his spear one-handed at the injured creature even as he sunk as much energy as he could into a Focused Strike. The spear flew through the air, embedded in the charging creature’s body, and sunk deep within, even as the cultivation technique faded. It was not, after all, meant to work as a ranged attack but rather in contact with Arthur’s body. Still, the additional sharpening of intent and the energy carried through the spear tip as it flew through the air was enough to pierce the monster’s thick hide.
The long-tusked babi ngepet roared in anger and yet barely flinched. The spear remained embedded, bobbing with each movement. Lowering its head, the devil boar prepared to charged. Arthur, now feeling the thunder of incoming hoofs from both behind and ahead leapt up, using his now-free hand to grab the branch above and haul himself up a tree.
Beneath, the pair of monsters ran into one another. With great bulk came great momentum. Unable to steer themselves aside, the thundering crash shook the surroundings and sent leaves and branches shaking. The impact even sent ripples through bunched muscles and hardened skin. Arthur watched as his spear haft bent, nearly snapping as the monster stumbled and drove the tip further in and additional blood spurted from the wound.
He noted that the third monster boar was still pawing the ground, in misery at its missing eye. Whether wisdom or distraction kept it from the skirmish, it didn’t matter to Arthur. More importantly, he had something insane to try.
He let himself drop, landing on shifting flesh beneath his feet, letting his legs bunch up beneath him as he crouched and jammed the kris into flesh below. Then, having found momentary purchase, he thrust himself away, hopping over to the next monster and using his kris as a piton that stabbed deep into flesh as he rode the bucking, oinking creatures.
For a few glorious seconds he managed to bounce back and forth, stabbing and throwing himself upon them, the monsters crashing into one another again and again in attempts to strike him. They twisted their massive bodies but were unable to reach him as he stuck to their backs.
Until a mistimed jump, a blood-slicked body, and bucking made him miss his grab. Even the kris sunk into flesh was not enough this time to give him the purchase to throw himself away and he found himself sliding down, between both the pigs.
Eyes widened in fear as he forecast a rather messy and painful future. Rather than keep hold of his kris that was slowing his fall, he let go, leaving it impaled in the fleshy body. Falling, his head bounced off the ground and he tried to flatten himself as best he could.
Above him, two heavy bodies crashed together, feet scrabbling on muddy earth to find purchase and stomp on him. One foot came down hard on his calf, tearing skin and punching through half his flesh before he jerked away reflexively. It left a gaping wound there, nearly as bad as the wound caused by the foot that came down next on his forearm, cracking one half of the bones.
His hand found a swinging tail, and gripping it tight as it twisted and the bodies pulled away, Arthur was pulled along. At the same time, one fleshy wall of monstrous pork gave way and collapsed, the kris having punctured a lung and leaked cursed energy that drained strength.
The other boar twisted and spun round and round, trying to shake Arthur off, like a cat chasing its own tail, but much less cute and far more murderous.
His blood- and mud-slicked hand lost grip as centrifugal forces threw Arthur aside. He was airborne briefly before he crashed into a tree and then bounced off it to land on the ground and slide down a hill.
“That went a lot better in my head.” Arthur spat dirt from his mouth, pushing himself to his feet. Motion caught in his peripheral vision had him duck low. A dart passed over his head, parting his hair as it passed.
Energy poured into his hand as Arthur threw himself into a roll towards a nearby tree. Another dart crossed the ground he just was on—this time he saw that it was a real dart, not an energy-made one like his. He managed to make himself scarce behind the thin trunk moments before a third dart arrived. Then he burst out in the direction he had come from, anticipating correctly that the fourth dart would come streaking towards the opposite direction.
Hand raised and finger pointed, Arthur released the Refined Energy Dart he had formed, the cultivation technique striking his stalker even as they scrambled to grab another throwing dart from their chest. Unusual weapon, Arthur noted; these darts were translucent in the center where a liquid sloshed within.
Poison or a toxin of some form. It didn’t matter as Arthur had no desire to find out yet. However, it did mean that he shifted his attacker from “annoyance” to “lethal danger,” and he now aimed his Energy Dart at the stalker’s face rather than limb or torso.
Bursting through the air, the dark blue formation of energy struck his opponent before they could react properly. Arthur was not, of course, intending to stop with a single attack. However, pounding hoofs came. Two steps into Arthur’s charge-turned-desperate-leap, an angry babi thundered down the slope, nearly clipping his heel as it passed by beneath.
Hand flailing, Arthur only just managed to snag a branch. He let his weight pull it down, then yanked himself upwards, using the branch as a springboard and feeling it crack under his movement as he thrust himself higher. Moments later, the entire tree shook as the pig slammed into it, attempting to knock the climbing monkey of a human off its perch. Soon, the other pig arrived.
Caught below, the stalker—a man—was struggling to recover after being struck in the face by the energy dart that had burned through his skin. To Arthur’s surprise, the man’s camouflage ability worked fast, fading the cultivator into the shadows and blending into the greenery.
The problem was: the pigs were not particularly gentle. They smashed across the ground all around the tree that Arthur perched upon, inadvertently knocking over the retreating stalker. And once the man was down, extracting his own dagger was no use; it was all but over as the creatures stomped, crushed, and gored him.
Rather than watch the poor man’s demise, Arthur scurried off to the first beast’s corpse, extracting his cursed kris from its body.
Then he returned to the battle, and saw that—for all the futility of fighting—before dying his stalker had managed to stab one of the pigs to death, the same one that Arthur had buried his spear into.
Leaving only one creature, the one missing an eye and whose rage did it little good against its faster, more dextrous, and only partly banged up opponent.
A few minutes later, Arthur was done prying cores from bodies. He retrieved the spear and rolled a babi corpse off the trampled body of the other cultivator, curiosity driving him to peruse the remains.
After all, you never knew what goods you might find.