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219 Fundamentally pronged

 "Run!" Dave turned away in a random direction and sprinted as fast as he could.

TNT scattered in different directions. Perfect Shot leapt back up to the tree limb and started jumping from tree to tree to escape the fiend. Fortress and Flanker were the lucky ones, the Fiend didn't pursue them. Instead, the prong fiend chased after Dave, maybe because he was the first to run.

"Ahh, C'mon!" Dave groaned.

He jinxed and juked, jumped over rocks and under fallen trees, leading the fiend on a merry chase. The monstrous stag just shattered through every obstacle in its way, homing in on Dave and closing the distance like a guided missile.

"Guys, sound off. Status?" Perfect shot asked over the party chat.

"Me and Fortress are good, the fiend chased after Skelly,"

"Stroke, you alright," Perfect shot asked worriedly.

"Can't. Ugh, talk now," they heard Dave grunt in reply.

"Follow him guys, if he dies, we die too,"

"Alright, he's headed north, let's go," Pussy Flanker said.

'It's going to catch up to me any second. Damned limited Stamina crap.'

Apparently the fiend agreed, as it lowered its head and made an attack run at him with renewed speed, the sharp prongs of its antlers pointing at his vulnerable back side.

Dave rolled away, miraculously evading the antlers. The fiend crashed headlong into a boulder, its horns stabbing deeply into the rock.

While the fiend struggled to release itself from the boulder Dave ran in the opposite direction.

The fiend growled a grumbly complaint and jerked its head up and away, shattering the top part of the boulder and releasing itself. It turned and resumed chasing Dave.

"For fuck sake!" Dave cursed. He jumped and grabbed a tree branch, pulling himself up to safety.

The Fiend just charged and crashed into the tree, turning the entire thickness of the tree trunk into flying splinters.

As the tree toppled Dave fell from the limb onto something soft, he waved his arms and legs around wildly not understanding at first, then realizing what happened. He'd landed on the antlered monster's back.

"Oh shit!"

The Fiend tried to shake his inadvertent passenger off, bucking like a crazed rodeo bull.

Dave grabbed onto an antler near its base. The stag shook its head and charged through the forest like a self-propelled wrecking ball, destroying everything in its way.

Suddenly, TNT were in front the monster. Shocked looks flashed across their faces when they saw the prong fiend bearing down on them with their friend riding it.

Dave shouted at them, "GET OUT OF THE WAY!"

The antlered monster charged directly at Pussy Flanker, the priest yelped and ran.

"Don't run in a straight line, Flanker. DODGE!" Perfect Shot shouted. He aimed a [Binding Arrow] at the Fiend's hind legs. But the snaring effect didn't take, neither stopping nor slowing the prong fiend.

The fiend lowered its head as it charged the priest with its antlers to impale him, but Dave pulled the fiend's head to the side as hard as he could. Surprisingly, the fiend's head changed direction, right toward a tree.

The monster struck the massive tree trunk unprepared, staggering and disorienting it. Dave was thrown from the fiend's back and tumbled across the ground several times.

[-50,000]

"Motherfucker, that hurt!"

The fiend shook itself, pawed at the ground with its front hoof then charged at Dave once again.

Dave swapped weapons, equipping his Sworn Stalwart's gauntlets.

Dave got into a ready stance as he shouted to TNT over the party chat, "I'm going to try something! Be ready to run!"

When the antlers were only meters away from Dave, he used [Immortal Apparition] to teleport himself onto the prong fiend's back again.

Dave grabbed an antler in each gauntleted hand and activated [Aura].

[Aura] did flat damage, so even with the level difference the fiend's HP decreased. But slowly, oh so slowly.

The beast groaned in pain as its antlers burned and turned black from the scorching heat of Dave's gauntlets. Unable to shake Dave off it howled and rampaged like a roid-rager as [Aura] slowly chipped away at its HP.

"Guys, just keep going," Dave said.

"What about you?" Fortress asked. He could see Dave desperately clinging to the fiend.

"I'm going to lead this guy away." Dave grunted as the fiend slammed into a nearby tree.

"Let's go, we'll just slow him down," Perfect Shot said. He pulled Pussy flanker away and they were soon out of sight.

[Aura] used a lot of mana, his bar was getting low Dave released one hand, grabbed a mana potion from his inventory and slammed it back. It reminded him unpleasantly of all the shots they'd done the night before.

"Alright you damn bastard, let's see who lasts longer, your HP or my 200 mana potions!"

It took Dave a while to get the hang of 'riding' the fiend. Whenever the monster stag tried to scrape him off against an obstacle, he shifted himself to its other side so the fiend only damaged itself.

After interminable minutes of getting jounced and thrown around on the prong fiend's back Dave noticed it was slowing down. It was getting tired. Finally, it dropped to the ground, wheezing and foaming at the mouth, exhausted from the struggle.

***

The prong fiend has been subdued, you can now use it as a temporary mount.

Due to the forest fiend's nature as a wild animal you can only ride it for 24 in-game hours.

It will become hostile again after that time and will not allow you to ride it.

***

New title received!

Wild Rider:

Increases the chances of subduing a wild animal to use as a temporary mount.

***

The fiend's name tag turned from red to green.

"Ha ha! Awesome!" Dave turned [Aura] off and dropped to the forest ground. "Never heard that title before. This is gonna be fun."

He waited until the fiend recovered and lurched back up to stand, towering over him, still menacing in appearance, but now as docile as a pet.

The fiend lowered its head and Dave grabbed an antler to swing himself back up onto its back.

"Go straight,"

The fiend stalked forward.

"Hey Skelly, everything alright?" Perfect checked in through the party chat.

"Yeah, I'm good. Wait where you are, I'm on my way."

"Roger that."

Dave guided the fiend toward where the map marker indicated TNT were waiting.

Dave was surprised at how agile the fiend was now that it wasn't chasing him. It deftly avoided trees and boulders as it galloped through the thick forest. Its Rage state and aggression had probably reduced its Agility significantly, he'd been lucky.

As they got closer to the marker, the little devil on Dave's shoulder prompted him to whisper in the fiend's ear, "Let's give them a scare."

As if it understood him the fiend increased its speed, bursting through the trees and into the clearing where TNT were patiently waiting for Dave. The prong monster growled its grumbly battle call and TNT jerked around and stared then scrambled about in a panic. Flanker extricated himself from the tangle and ran screaming into the trees, while the other two tripped over each other and sprawled on the forest ground looking up fearfully.

Dave was laughing at their antics as the antlered monster came to a sliding stop right over the other two players.

"It's okay guys, it's friendly now, look at its name-tag," Dave said over his chuckling.

When the TNT saw the green name-tag they breathed out in relief.

"That was just mean, man. How the hell did you get it to be friendly?" Perfect Shot asked.

"Luck," Dave said. "Now I can use it as a mount for a day. This will make it easier to cross the Wilds."

"Hey let me ride with you," Flanker said, approaching the fiend.

The fiend however grumbled low threatening growls at him, it didn't seem to like the priest much. Flanker backed away quickly.

"Good boy!" Dave stroked the fiend's head.

***

You unlocked a new feature:

Wild Animal Affinity.

Affinity with Forest fiend increased.

1/10

Ride time increased by 1H

***

"Cool, I can increase the countdown time," Dave laughed.

"Will it fight for us?" Perfect Shot asked.

"I don't know, guess we'll have to find out the hard way," Dave shrugged. "Let's keep moving, it's a long way to Ashkar's Tomb."