In Haven's sewage network, 150 meters away from the Red Circle -
Darius Fletcher grimaced as he squinted his eyes at his new and dark surroundings. He could not see in the dark, but he could generate enough light from his body to understand that he was somewhere underground.
Specifically, he was inside a huge rectangular pit of some sorts, deep enough that the edges of the pit were several meters taller than he was.
The ceiling above was made of stained reinforced concrete and decorated with a network of pipes. Several large pipes yawned open towards the pit.
The conflicting dual smells of rank human feces and strong antiseptic chemicals filled his nostrils.
Darius knew where he was. The sewers.
"Ah, so you have made it here, as was previously planned," came a smooth, deep and neutral voice. A small aquatic echo rang underneath the voice, as if some part of it was uttered from under the sea.
Darius immediately looked at the end of the pit to see…to see…
What the fuck was that?
It was a tall, lanky, humanoid figure, maybe about six foot four (193 cm) with slimy mauve skin wrapped up in eerie black robes. Its fingers were long and prehensile like little tendrils, and its face was reminiscent of an octopus with a large, bulbous, nerve wreathed head, three beady red, square pupiled eyes, and a mouth that ended in several curled tentacles.
"A mutant class are you?" said Darius. "You some kind of mercenary Casimir dredged up from god knows where to to fight me?"
"Fight you? Dear me, no, I am not too fond of risking my body for violence. And I am no mercenary, such an occupation is far too brutish for my tastes," said the octopus man. "And a fight? You are sorely misguided, my friend. This is no fight. This is an execution, and I am merely here to bear witness."
"Execution? Big fucking words. Let's see if you live up to them!" Darius slammed his hands together and fired a combined stream of magma at the mutant.
The octopus mutant stood calmly with his hands behind his back, his tendril fingers interlocked together, as the magma splattered against a bright orange-red barrier that became visible only when the magma made contact.
The magma hissed as it spilled over the barrier, unable to penetrate it.
"Curious," said the mutant as he looked at the magma, then at Darius. "You are capable of transmuting your body into an entirely different element.
Functionally, you are quite similar to the Elementals I am familiar with, especially Magma Elementals, but unlike them, you are not a form of spirit, you are purely physical.
Thoroughly human, too. This defies the Theory of Elemental Spirituality that Archmage Velenthel wrote of…"
"Forcefield?" Darius droned out the octopus mutant's rambling and immediately analyzed the mutant, trying to find out what tech he was using, but the mutant did not seem to be wearing anything remotely resembling technology. Just robes that looked like they belonged to a medieval reenactment fair.
That meant that most likely, the mutant's power was linked to the forcefield.
Darius, however, did not want to waste too much time here. If this mutant was not going to fight him, then he would just melt his way up to the surface. He looked up and jumped, but as soon as he tried to leave the filth caked floor of the pit, he felt himself dragged right back down to it, anchored to the surface by some invisible force.
"I told you, did I not, this is an execution," said the octopus mutant. "The noose is already tied to your neck. There is no stepping away from the gallows at this point, I am afraid."
"Yeah? You just gonna sit there and talk me to death?" said Darius. He looked down to see what was holding him but could not find any discernable hints. What he did notice with a fair amount of surprise was that the floor beneath him did not melt even in contact with his superheated magma body.
Instead, a flickering orange barrier seemed to be wrapped around all the points of contact between Darius and the ground, preventing it from melting.
"This your power!?" said Darius.
"Power? I suppose you could say that, yes," said the mutant. "I shall go into specifics, for as a dead man, you will not spread my knowledge. This is a spell called [Flame Ward] that allows me to imbue objects with high fire damage resistance.
In this case, it prevents you from boring your way down to escape while the strange specimen known as the 'Antlion' beneath prevents you from reaching upwards."
"Antlion!?" Darius had no idea what the mutant talked about with spells, but he did know what an Antlion was.
With its extremely powerful anti-flight gravitational field, it prevented anyone from leaving a pit it nested within. And because the entire pit here was reinforced with the mutant's barrier, Darius could not melt his way down to kill the Antlion either.
"So what!?" Darius shouted. "You've trapped me here, but what else can you do?"
Darius had a better understanding of where he was in Haven's sewage system now that he had time to process things. Specifically, he was inside a large treatment vat where sewage would get purified and transported to be reused for fertilizer or biomass.
A horrible location for Darius as his only real weakness was getting submerged in liquid.
But Cubehead's power had limits to its transportation effect.
First, the effective range for its warp was within two hundred meters. In addition, he had to warp people into an open location. Hence, he could not just warp enemies inside walls and kill them. Not only that, but the location that anyone was warped into had to be capable of housing an empty cube ten meters by ten meters in dimensions, so it was impossible to just dump someone into a tub of acid.
At the very least, by virtue of Cubehead's known restrictions, there was no water in the immediate vicinity.
"Crabs, do me a great favor and lend me your assistance," said the mutant.
All of a sudden, water began to pour out from the large pipes above, slowly filling the pit.
Darius immediately fired globs of magma at the pipes, trying to cover them in molten rock, but they were covered with the orange barrier too. The magma just bounced off the barriers, landing back into the pit below.
"Sh*t!" Darius readjusted his aim, instead trying to shove magma up into the pipes themselves to clog them.
"That simply will not do," said the mutant as he pointed at Darius's arms.
Darius saw a sudden combustion explosion burst in his arms, exploding outwards and stopping his attack.
"Antlion, you must try harder than this to earn your place in the Elder's circle of trust," said the mutant.
Darius buckled down to a knee as he felt the gravitational pressure intensify. Every movement felt five or six times harder to make. Any projectile he tried to fire at this level of intensified gravity would just come straight back down.
His feet sizzled as the water reached them. The water roared violently as it instantly evaporated against Darius's intense heat output. So long as he could instantly evaporate the water as soon as it made contact with the vat, he could prevent the water level from building up.
"Crabs, enhance that water flow with your skills," said the mutant. "You used them so freely against me, why hold back now?"
All of a sudden, the flow of water coming down from the pipes grew tremendously, roaring downwards like violent waterfalls. The vat quickly began to fill up with water, and within seconds, Darius found the water level reaching up to his ankles.
His white core intensified in brightness as he generated as much heat as he could, spreading out his magma in a pool beneath him. The water bubbled, hissed, steamed and roared, but the water level still built up.
This was no ordinary water, either. It had a slight murky tinge to it and its evaporation point seemed dramatically higher than normal, preventing Darius from flash steaming it easily.
"That is water from the murky Swamps of Nilgath said to be tainted by the mud of a Clay Demon, and, unfortunately, most demons have some resistance to fire from their infernal native homes," said the mutant, spouting more nonsense.
Darius ignored the mutant and quickly strategized. He could last at least a minute under this flow of water, and while the water level built up, he would continually layer magma beneath his foot, eventually creating a solidified platform of rock which he could use to gain elevation and escape the gravitational field.
"Excellent strategy," said the mutant. "Were I blind, yes, but unfortunately, my friend, I possess three eyes."
The mutant aimed a finger below Darius, and another targeted combustion explosion destroyed the cooled rock platform Darius was trying to build up, sinking him right down to the floor below. The water level now reached to his waist - fatally high.
"No!" roared Darius as the water reacted to his magma, super heating instantly into steam explosions that bubbled inside his magma body, breaking it apart from within. Large globular bubbles formed all throughout his molten legs, bursting apart and scattering his body as he tried his hardest to regenerate and form more magma to compensate.
By generating magma, he could also stave off solidifying himself into a coffin of rock.
But there was only so much magma he had.
Eventually, several minutes later, Darius was neck high in water, his body below that solidified into blackened rock scattered with giant round globs from the remnants of countless little steam explosions that had gone off within his body.
"This won't kill me!" roared Darius desperately as the water kept coming and coming, spelling his doom by encasing him in a coffin of his own molten design. If at any time he wanted to stop his molten form, then he would just get his unenhanced head blown off by this mutant. "You - I'll find a way out of this, I swear, and when I do-!"
"I wonder how many humans raved of vengeance before their nooses tightened at their execution? It is quite amusing how your fragile human minds operate exactly the same despite the wondrous powers you possess. I suppose human fragility is universal. But your monologue tires my ears."
With that, the mutant flourished his hand, and an explosion blew up in front of Darius's face, blowing off his face to stop him from speaking as the water engulfed him, solidifying him inside an eternal prison of rock from which there would not be escape.