Her chances were slim, but she couldn’t let that stop her. It was escape or death, and she wasn’t ready to die. The stone golem chasing her, however, was making escape less and less likely.
“Damn this entire forest,” she murmured under her breath. It was as though she had lost all competency in her long rest. She couldn’t even teleport without expending all her energy! And now a single pathetic golem was going to kill her.
Kalthiel kept running, though she was already exhausted. The golem charged through the tree behind her, crashing through the bark and shattering it into splinters, shrapnel flying everywhere. “Nearly impervious to magic,” she huffed, eyeing it for a moment. “Yet dwelling in Verik’s domain. That’s almost blasphemy. How does a construct like you end up in the Feral Vale, anyway?”
But she had no time to consider such questions. Unlike her, the golem had no trouble traversing the terrain. And giant rocks didn’t tire.
Stop the golem. Find the Fountain, she thought. How do you stop a hulking behemoth that is immune to anything you throw at it?
Pulverizing another tree, Kalthiel dodged out of the way. She had no idea what direction the Fountain even was at this point. She could still be a hundred miles away for all she knew. Spinning back around and running in the direction opposite the golem, she grasped the pendant around her neck and whispered a prayer. “Zephirine, guide my path.”
As soon as the golem was able to halt its momentum, it turned to face her once more. How unnatural the creature looked in this wild forest. So rigid and stern. So slow and impervious. Yet she knew with the force it carried, it would only take one strike to end her and all her plans. Ridiculous. How could she be so weak?
It may not be harmed by any spell I throw at it, she pondered. But magic can still affect it indirectly. As it charged again, she prepared to use one last spell. This would be the last of her energy. She would have to rest and hope she arrived in time, lest she encounter anything even more dangerous than a stone golem. It entered within thirty feet of her, and she reversed the gravity in a column ahead.
The golem suddenly started falling up, along with the branches of the surrounding trees and loose leaves and berries. It would only last a minute. She hoped it would be enough, because if it followed her she would die of exhaustion before she could get away. She thought about casting a guidance spell to ensure she traveled in the right direction, but with how tired she already was even that might kill her.
She didn’t even have the energy to run away. Ambling in her best guess at the right direction, she tried to gain as much distance as she possibly could from the golem. Perhaps falling a hundred feet to the ground below would also help slow it down, if it still wished to give chase.
But she had to reach the Fountain. With no guidance, the adventurers would have no direction, and with no direction, there would be no stopping the evils to come. The evils that had awakened her in the first place.
3 thoughts on “Story — (Therros) Stone Golem (225)”
Not bad, overall – I like getting little slivers of Nacre Then here and there. I have some quibble with this one though, but I’m not sure it’s fair or relevant.
This piece is obviously high tension, high stakes, but it’s difficult to grasp them. Generally, when I see something that says “this action will make you so tired you DIE” I will almost always roll my eyes. It takes a huge investment for me to understand something of that nature. For example, if Harry Dresden was doing something of that nature, I would believe it. But I’ve also spent years following those stories and just understand the world and the characters.
Here, though, there isn’t the opportunity to understand the scope of anything, really. At first, I was thinking “it’s alright to ignore it, it’s just a short story, if this were a novel you’d get all that” – but honestly, I think it could be done.
Magical exhaustion is one thing – we really can’t truly understand what that means. But Kalthiel is running hard here. Physical exhaustion. I know what that feels like, and I don’t see it here, so I can’t sympathize with her. Her heart could be thundering, her heart pulsing painfully in her head. Dizziness, being unsteady, even feeling sick and ready to throw up, if she’s really pushed herself too far. All this but blindly, numbly being pushed on to avoid death.
And this bit:
“The golem suddenly started falling up, along with the branches of the surrounding trees and loose leaves and berries. It would only last a minute. She hoped it would be enough, because if it followed her she would die of exhaustion before she could get away. She thought about casting a guidance spell to ensure she traveled in the right direction, but with how tired she already was even that might kill her..”
This feels too slow and tame. The pacing feels off, and the time frames given feel wrong.
1) I feel like that first sentence could be more… colorful? Like you could take a quick second to breathe here since the immediate threat is halted for a moment, and depending on how close the golem is, that moment where it suddenly can’t move forward and starts moving upward instead might feel like it lasts forever.
2) It only lasts a minute? I did some math, and “falling” for 60 seconds at earth gravity would put you at nearly 11 miles at 1,300 MPH… if you ignore terminal velocity, which I couldn’t figure out how to ballpark quickly (it would make a massive difference, to be fair).
3) It seems she’s thinking too calmly and clearly. I’m unable to determine if it’s because she really is this calm and collected under pressure, or if you just hadn’t considered it.
If this is the story you mentioned to me that just wasn’t clicking for you, then sure, you just couldn’t find it within you to tell it the right way. Either way, I feel like I haven’t really critiqued you hard for a while, so I put some effort into it =)
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Of all the things to truly critique, you pick something I have almost zero investment in? Come on. Lol.
That’s probably why I was able to find so much to say on it. It was a lot easier than usual, hah.