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125 Evolve!

 Dave's hands vibrated with excitement as he opened his prize:

Double Edged

Learn the Skill to Whistle a summoning call for a Minhocao from deep underground. Duration: 1 second.

The Minhocao is hostile to the summoner and the summoner's allies and enemies. The summoned entity will attack from underneath the ground, engulfing an area with a radius of 20 meters in a single bite, then it will disappear.

Damage: 20,000 flat damage + 20% basic weapon damage to each object and individual within the affected area.

Bestiary:

The Minhocaos are vicious, universally hostile creatures. They are rumored to be the ultimate and final evolution of 10,000 year old earthworms.

Cooldown 20 minutes.

Would you like to learn this Skill? Y/N

Dave's mouth twitched into the customary smirk when he read the description.

"OF COURSE I WANT LEARN THE EPIC SKILL! Yes!!" The Skill transferred to the draugr with a flash of light and the book crumbled away into glowing motes. Impatient to see his new Skill in action, he looked around for a place to test it.

He chuckled at the irony when he found the place. With the everpresent Bud following, he moved to stand at the edge of the large bowl shaped clearing in the cave floor where the Shadow Worm had nested. Then he whistled to activate the new Skill.

Immediately the cavern started shaking and he used [Vertical Slash] to jump back to avoid whatever doom was coming in response to his summons.

The earth continued to tremble and like an enormous sinkhole, the ground dropped down and hundreds of fangs each bigger than a dunlord burst up from the rocky floor all around the edges of the circular depression. Then the sunken circle of ground disappeared completely, sucked into the maw of whatever was surfacing from under the ground to engulf it.

From the hole it had created, a creature emerged like a whale breaching the ocean surface. Almost touching the ceiling high above. It turned over on itself in midair to dive down and burrow back underground.

Dave felt a paralyzing wave of terror pass through him, he came out of his slack-jawed state of awe and shock as he watched the tail end of the worm disappearing down the hole it left after its attack.

The thing was just a worm, gray and scaly. But it was the size of an oil tanker!

"Holy shit! It's hostile all right!"

Shaken, he returned to the battalion to continue with the extermination quest.

"We're going back to explore the other branch of the cave," Dave ordered. They backtracked toward the the intersection of the tunnels.

While they traveled Dave wrestled with a problem. He wanted to improve the battalion's effectiveness.

He already knew having more numbers would let them deal more damage and handle higher level enemies. But he needed a way to keep the units he had active and in the fight. There would inevitably come a time when he couldn't afford to keep the battalion protected from a situation that would expose them to high damage amounts and rates. He had to improvise and adapt somehow, not all his units were as tough or deadly as the dunlords. Heh, or as scrappy as Dog the Zombie.

To keep his Undead in the fight and 'alive' he needed a way to heal them, during battle and after. Under normal circumstances the Undead regenerated HP slowly. The ghouls were an exception, they got a boost to their recovery from eating their enemy's flesh, but even they couldn't stop in the middle of a fight and pig out on the fleshy goodness of their fallen victims.

"I need some way to help the Boyz recover from injuries during and after battles. Healers for the Undead..." Dave pondered, "Holy light heals humans but it's deadly to the undead. I wonder if the casters can heal the Dunlords," Dave then ordered one of the casters to use their basic dark orb spell on a wounded Dunlord.

[0]

A big fat zero.

The dunlord growled and fingered his ballista's trigger, glaring at the caster that threw the spell.

The Undead mage stepped back quickly, frightened. Dave chuckled and made a calming gesture at the pissed off scorpion-man

"So it doesn't work on Dunlords. Well, they don't look like they're dead anyway. Hmmmm."

Dave looked around and spotted Dog, barely keeping up with the marching battalion. Much to Dave's amusement, Dog was carrying around his chewed-upon and battered head under his arm, like a rugby ball.

Dog the Zombie earned his name for, well, his dogged persistence in not giving up the fight after being crushed and mauled by a bloodworm. He never stopped trying to kill the worm even after the worm decapitated him by munching off his head.

It occured to Dave that there were all kinds of name possibilities for the zombie, maybe he shouldn't have settled on just plain 'Dog.' He considered Ichabod...or would it be Headless? Maybe he could get a pumpkin and a zombie horse for the guy somehow. Then there was 'Energizer Bunny,' it would have been just as appropriate an appellation, 'cause he just kept on going and going.... But the damn bunny was annoying, and 'Dog the Zombie' was much cooler sounding anyway. ... Okay, 'Dog' it would be, now back to business.

Dog's HP was low and he was slowly losing more points, he would die soon if he wasn't healed. Dave had no compunction about experimenting on him a little if it benefited the battalion. He'd give the zombie a medal or something later when they were safely back at HQ.

He barked an order at the same caster, "You! Attack Dog the Zombie!"

The caster didn't move and looked distinctly unhappy about his latest order.

"Well what are you waiting for? Hit him with a spell already!"

The caster gulped nervously and cast an attack at Dog.

[+450]

"It worked! But why didn't it work on the dunlord? I guess that means the Dunlords are alive somehow, or at least not Undead, even though they are under the command of the Undead. There must be a story behind that."

Dave ordered the caster to keep 'attacking' Dog to heal the zombie.

The casters filled the zombie's HP up, but Dave noticed Dog was still carrying his head under his arm instead of having it back on his neck where it should be.

"Dog, can you put your head back on?" Dave gestured like he was putting a helmet on, "You look...weird like that."

'Not to mention all the other zombies in the battalion are going to make fun of how it smells if he keeps his head shoved into his underarm like that. But I won't say that out loud, it might scar him for his Undead life. Heh heh.'

Dog just glared back at Dave from the safety under his own arm, and pulled his head back further like a child playing keep-away.

"C'mon Dog, don't make things more awkward."

Dave was puzzled, why the hell would the zombie not want his head back in its proper place? Was the head injury making him... NO. No. He was not going to go there. He'd already wasted too much time having fun at this guys name.

"'volving." rasped Bud.

"What was that, Bud?"

"See..." Bud pointed at the Zombie

Dog was vibrating at high frequency like he had grabbed some high tension electrical wires and was being electrocuted to death.

Suddenly he screamed in pain, then he shot up, growing rapidly in size. He grew half again as tall as he had been, he was now of a height with the dunlords. His shoulders widened and grew heavier with slabs of muscle. In fact the whole emaciated and decrepit zombie-look was gone. He'd filled out with muscle all over, bigger in every dimension. He looked like frickin' Conan the barbarian...without a head.

He was still carrying his damned head, but his eyes were now glowing a virulent green. He was once again glaring around at everything from under his newly buff and muscled arm in what was obviously the barely controlled rage of madness.