Thursday, 14 September 2017

Abnormaliroll - Fighter Part 4

The sound of an oath cut through the air, making Reezka pause in cleaning the blood from her axe. Quickly glancing around she realised that the source of the noise was Asla, being jolted back into consciousness by Machi and his snakes. Suppressing a smile, Reezka went back to removing the clotted blood from the edge of her axe, and honing it back to the original sharpness. The druid’s methods were not the most orthodox but they did seem to get results. Hesh and Verina had joined her, Machi and Alsa on the small rocky plateau, which was now littered with bodies. Perhaps now would be a good time to decide on their next move, possibly by the time they had decided, Stei & Badger would have rejoined the group. That would definitely be an advantage, Reezka was sure that there would be more of these ambushes set up to try & discourage them from following the cult members. She was determined though that nothing would keep her from finding Cyanwrath. She was so looking forward to returning his sword after all…..

It had all gone wrong somewhere around 1am. Once the drake had been dealt with, the small band had regrouped in the keep. Asla had reappeared with Machi but then Stei and Badger were called away to help another of the townsfolk with another problem. Reezka wasn’t sure what but the woman had sounded frantic when she had asked them for aid. Before she could follow the pair, there was a shout from the top of the battlements. Nighthill had realised they were back and had called them up to bring him up to date with the events since they had left the keep. Stepping past Billy, who was sat on the keep stairs munching a corn on the cob, the group made their way to the battlements. Whilst Asla was questioning Nighthill over the lack of available siege weapons in the town,Reezka scanned the area surrounding the keep for any sign of Mondath and her elite retinue but could see no trace of the woman.

A sudden shout from Hesh made Reezka look up, just in time to see the dragon diving down once more towards the battlements. Quick as a flash they all flung themselves into the cover provided by the narrow walkway, all except for a few unfortunate guards who were not fast enough to escape the breath of the dragon.

As they emerged from underneath the walkway, Reezka glanced over the edge of the battlements to see another mob of cult members making their way towards the keep, many of them carrying torches. A chill of fear shot through her; did they mean to burn out the keep? But it quickly became clear that this was not their intention as they halted some way from the keep, all save a lone figure who stepped out in front of the mob. The creature, for it was most certainly not a human, was over 7 feet tall, was covered in blue scales with the muzzle and claws of a dragon. Fixing its gaze on the battlements, the creature hailed the group on top of the keep;

“Defenders of Greenest! This has been a successful night, and I am feeling generous. Do you see these four pitiful, useless prisoners? We have no need for them, so I will trade them back to you. Send out your best warrior to fight me, and you can have these four in exchange.”

Glancing behind him, Reezka saw several kobolds with spears prodding four bound and gagged humans into the light. There was a woman, a boy who looked to be about half grown, and to Reezka’s absolute disgust, two children. She growled angrily, who were these scum to pick on small children? While Reezka was no fan of most humans, she understood that picking on the weak members of the town to be the move of a coward. Suddenly there was a small scuffle from behind her and a woman dashed to the edge of the battlements screaming “My sister! That’s my sister! Someone do something!” Glancing over at the woman, Reezka recognised the woman whose mate had been cut down by the kobolds earlier in the evening. Before anyone could make a move, the woman let out a scream of rage, grabbed a spear and helmet from the nearest guard and charged down the stairs clearly intent on facing the half dragon horror herself. Nighthill had cast an imploring look at the group and begged one of them to face the half dragon as none of his militia would have a chance of defeating it.

Without even stopping to think, Reezka grabbed her shield and raced down the stairs after the woman. Once she reached the bottom of the keep staircase she found that Machi had managed to prevent her from rushing out of the front door. Barely pausing for breath, Reezka wrenched open the door and strode out to face the half dragon. She was barely aware, through the red haze of rage and fury, Machi and Asla following behind her and she felt a faint sense of gladness that they had come with her.

As she stepped towards the creature, the kobolds quickly closed the circle behind her, blocking Machi and Asla out of the makeshift arena. Looking directly at the half dragon, Reezka was startled to see a slight smile cross the creature’s lips. He had introduced himself as Langdedrosa Cyanwrath and had proceeded to set out the rules for the combat. There would be no interference from either side. The children were released, as a sign of his good faith he claimed, but the woman would be held to ensure that there was no outside aid from either her companions outside the circle or up on the balcony. If such a thing was to happen, Cyanwrath said, then his kobolds would immediately slay their prisoner. Reezka nodded grimly, while she didn’t trust the half dragon as far as she could throw him, he had released the children. Maybe he would hold to his honour.

With his speech finished, Cyanwrath stepped forward, stabbing his spear into the ground as he did so. Clearly he meant to fight with the greatsword strapped to his side. So be it, Reezka said to herself and leapt towards the half dragon, channelling her rage into a mighty swing of her battleaxe. To her surprise, the half dragon was far more nimble than his bulky frame suggested and he easily stepped out of the way. Reezka was even more surprised when the blue half dragon made no attempt to draw his sword. Instead he moved towards her with inhuman swiftness and headbutted her.

Her vision blurred and her ears ringing, Reezka desperately tried to make sense of the world around her. At one point she thought she could hear panpipe music but shook her head, convinced it was just the ringing in her ears. She took another strong swing at the blurred form of Cyanwrath but wasn’t too surprised when he again, almost leisurely, stepped out of the arc of her axe. What WAS a surprise to Reezka was the force behind his fist as it connected with the side of her jaw, enough to send her crashing to the floor. Cyanwrath looked down on her prone form as she struggled to rise, disdain clearly written on his scaled face. With a last contemptuous sneer he spat on the half-orc and then, with a swift movement, he unsheathed his greatsword and rammed it deep into Reezka’s chest. As she bellowed in agony he turned and strolled leisurely out sight. And that was the last Reezka knew for a while as everything dissolved into a dark void.

The next thing Reezka was aware of was extreme agony as Asla, assisted by Priestess Falconmoon, was tending to the large wound in her chest. The half dragon’s greatsword was lying by her side, stained with her own blood. Reezka gazed at it in some confusion. Why had he left it? Was it now tainted because of her half breed blood? But no, Cyanwrath was a half breed so that couldn’t be it. Her musings were interrupted by a chorus of shouts from the battlements followed by a slightly muffled yell. Struggling to a sitting position, Reezka looked up to the top of the keep to see none other than Billy; standing on the very edge of the battlements, his holy symbol in one hand and what looked suspiciously like a cooked leg of some sort of meat in the other. He was facing down the diving dragon, chanting some sort of spell. His holy symbol began to glow with a bright light as the volume of his spell casting increased, albeit slightly muffled by the meat he was chewing. Just as the dragon reached the top of the battlements in preparation to breathe it’s electric breath all over Billy, he stumbled and fell with a shriek from the battlements. With her injuries rendering her immobile, Reezka was forced to do nothing but watch as the hapless boy, still bathed in bright light, tumbled towards the ground. At the moment he seemed to hit the ground there was a small flash of light that hid the boy from sight. Once it had cleared, Billy was on the ground, unharmed and seemingly none the worse for wear. Other than the fact that Billy….wasn’t Billy anymore. Reezka stared in bewilderment as Billy, seemingly quite unfazed that he was now a goat, placidly bent his head and started nibbling at the weeds that grew along the edge of the keep. It was at this point that Reezka once more slipped into the realms of unconsciousness and knew nothing more until morning…..

The following morning had dawned over the keep, revealing that not only the dragon, but all the members of the cult, had cleared out from the town. Standing by the window of her room, Reezka could see more townsfolk emerging from their hiding places and making their way slowly to the keep. Turning aside from the window, Reezka began to don her gear once more. To her surprise, along with her battleaxe and shield, she found Cyanwrath’s greatsword. It was a well made weapon, to her eyes, made of a blueish steel with a dragon engraved on the blade and scales carved into the hilt. Her eyes narrowed. She would keep this blade. And she would take great pleasure in returning it to Cyanwrath, blade first.

Slightly later that morning they had gathered in Nighthill’s map room. He had thanked them for their efforts the night before but had wanted to ask them for one final favour. He would pay them 250 gold coins each if they would follow the cult and find out where they were headed and what they were doing. Hesh, Verina and Asla had agreed quickly while Machi had seemed out of sorts and unmoved by the promised reward. As for Reezka she was pleased to hear talk of a reward but her thoughts were still centred on Cyanwrath. She would find him, she vowed. And he would die.
During their council with Nighthill, a young monk had stumbled into the room and introduced himself as Nesim Waladra. He was clearly distressed and had blurted out something about his Master having gone with the cult. Once he had been able to calm down, he told the full story. His teacher, an older monk named Leosin Erlanthar had disappeared at some point during the cultist attack last night. Nesim had tried to look for his master but all that he had found was his broken staff and choker. Nesim didn’t know if Leosin had been taken prisoner or had infiltrated the cult, as studying cults was a specialty of his, but he was worried his master was in danger.

Having agreed to follow the cultists path to the southeast, as well as try and recover Leosin, the group had gathered their supplies and equipment and set off on the trail of the mob of cultists. The trail was clear enough to follow and soon they began to discern the tracks of smaller groups beginning to join together and all heading in the same direction. Their trek was uneventful enough, despite the terrain growing more & more rocky.  until they reached a point where a small mob seemed to have broken off. They followed this small band’s tracks until they could smell a campfire and some sort of roasting meat. Hesh had snuck forward for a closer look, leaving the others to cool their heels until he returned.

Hesh related what he had found, a small group of cultists and kobolds attempting to cook a miserable breakfast of chickens over a small and largely ineffectual fire. After a short discussion they decided to leave the small mob to their meal and carry on after the main group so as not to lose much time and distance to the mob.

They journeyed on for a short distance until Asla held up her hand and shouted for them to stop on the lip of a shallow valley. As Reezka watched, a large clump of boulders detached themselves from the top of the opposite slope and crashed down into the valley floor.

“Ambush!” cried Asla. Reezka looked to the top of the slope to see a variety of cultists as well as one hulking leader in heavy armour who seemed to be in charge and looking slightly angry that their trap had failed.

With barely a pause, Reezka charged up the slope, although her attention was slightly diverted by the sight of a large black panther racing up the slope & leaping with a snarl onto one of the cultists. Reezka had no time to ponder this development however as she was preoccupied with her axe biting deep into the armour of the leader as he gave a cry of pain. As she did so one of the acolytes behind the leader had murmured some words and the large wound on the leader’s chest ceased bleeding. A healing spell! Reezka roared in rage at the acolyte but before she could do anything, the leader kicked her legs from under her and she landed flat on her back on the rocky floor. As she heaved herself to her feet there was a huge blast of magic that struck the rocks where the leader had been standing a moment previously. Clearly Verina had stayed at the bottom of the slope to try and pick off a few with her magic. Reezka could only hope that her aim was true and none of the party was accidentally caught up in one of those blasts.

Upon clambering to her feet, Reezka was able to easily dispatch one of the cultists. Asla was knocked slightly backwards as one of the acolytes let off a blast of white fire that impacted on her armour. Not to be deterred, the scarred cleric had leapt forward, swinging her axe and had rent a deep wound in his chest. At the same moment there was a loud and pained roar that faded into a groan. Reezka wheeled round to see the slightly battered form of Machi appear in place of the large panther. Reezka marveled at this new skill & bravery that the druid displayed, he had come so far in just a couple of days!

Arrows whistled overhead and found their mark in one of the acolytes who fell to the floor dead, Hesh also seemed to have not rushed into the fray and was covering them with his bow. Whirling around, Reezka maimed another cultist and was just lining up a return swing when there was a mighty thunderclap which made the ground shake in a most terrifying way. Another cultist exploded into nothing more than particles and Reezka looked around in amazement to see that the source of the thunderclap was Machi. It was all too much for the final cultist and he fled in terror. Machi shouted something after him but Reezka didn’t hear what it was, she was too busy making her way towards Asla and the group leader as the latter gave a final scream and fell to the ground, badly injured. Grimly the remaining members fought on, but the leader proved to be a formidable foe indeed. Finally, when Reezka was gasping for breath, the leader who was bleeding and battered, seemed to sag suddenly. It was all the opening Reezka needed and she slammed her shield into his face and followed it up with a swing of her axe. It cut through the air straight and true to sever the leader’s head from his body.

Her attention had immediately shifted to Asla, who was lying bleeding on the rocky ground. Managing to attract Machi’s attention Reezka had sent him over to heal the fallen cleric. They were soon joined on the ledge by Verina and Hesh as they examined the pockets of the fallen foes. A small amount of gold was handed to Verina for safe keeping whilst Reezka was pleased to see that his crossbow was of a superior quality to hers. It joined the half dragon’s greatsword on her back. Sitting with her back against the rock, Reezka began to clean the blood off of her axe. Yes, she thought. The day she could return that sword to Cyanwrath would be a good day indeed…...

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