By Carey Sauerbrun
The massive chandelier suddenly blazed with light, illuminating the entire hall easily. Most of the party cringed back, instinctively trying to avoid being seen. Most, that is, except Weber, who strode forward, whipping his axe about. "About bloody time!" he roared.
"Uh oh." Deagan took a quick glance down the hall, and did not like what he saw. Four figures came pouring out of the door at the far end of the balcony, just above the door leading to the dining hall below. All four looked as if they had dressed hastily, but none of them, it seemed, had forgotten to bring their weapons.
Weber bellowed a dwarven challenge as he charged along the balcony, his fiery axe already beginning to glow. One of the figures, a slight female with short auburn hair, flipped her wrist, spoke a few words and let something fall from her fingers. The balcony was suddenly awash with webs, effectively pinning the charging dwarf in place. Weber's muffled bellows let the others know how annoying he found this.
"Help him, I'll try to get around them!" Deagan quickly became ghost-like, his extra gear, including his ancient sabre, rattling to the floor. Grinning, he pulled his dagger and stepped into the wall.
"I hate it when he does that!" Corina griped, though she was already darting out onto the balcony, quickly dispelling the magical web. With a gleeful shout, the dwarf continued his charge, bits of the rapidly disintegrating web still streaming from him.
The second spell caster, a lanky man wearing a dark green dressing robe, wrapped up his spell, and a fiery wall sprang up in front of the dwarf. Weber snorted in annoyance and, whipping his axe before him, hurtled right through it. His comrades heard the cries of dismay from the four at the end of the hall. Justin and Rilladell, pulling their weapons free, followed the charging dwarf. Corina targeted the foe on the far left, a female armed with a blade, and let loose with an incandescent bolt of lightning. The fighter, the only one of the four that wasn't masked by Corina's charging companions and the wall of fire, jerked and twisted, trying to avoid the strike. Still, she caught the edge of the bolt as it blasted by to score a charred line on the wall. The blade-woman dropped, stunned, to the floor.
Weber faced the last member of the group, a large, black haired man carrying a huge club. The man was bare to the waist, and his loose pants hung over a simple pair of half-boots. His muscles rippled with power though, and he moved his oaken club about as if it weighed nothing.
Weber whipped Endroth'lic up, trying to gut the overly tall human. The man parried the blow, his club sizzling against Weber's blade for a second. The two became engrossed, exchanging blow after blow, trying to get through the other's guard. Out of the corner of his eye, the doughty dwarf could see the two mages both moving into position, ready to cast their foul magics on him. Hope they get here soon, he thought, trying to take the man's feet out from under him. Once again his strike was blocked.
Back at the wall of flame, Justin and Rill crouched. "Ready?" the man asked, his hands inches from the leaping fire.
"Whenever you are." Rilladell pulled her bow taut.
The priest reached out, deftly twisting his wrist. With a barely audible pop, the flaming wall vanished, dispelled by Justin's spell. The instant it was gone, the elf took in Weber's situation and loosed on one of the mages. Smoothly, with a skill born of years of practice, the elf-maid sent another, and yet another arrow trailing after the first.
All three bolts found their target; the man in the green robe slumped into the corner, feebly plucking at an arrow lodged firmly in his chest. The elf and the priest trotted down the hall toward the enemy.
Corina, still back at the stairwell and eyeing the combat intently, began whispering under her breath as soon that the wall of fire came down. A wispy outline appeared before her, filled with an impenetrable dark haze. Without hesitation, the mage stepped through.
She reappeared immediately behind the second spell caster, her dimensional door working perfectly. She took a second to reorient herself, then lashed out with her dagger, trying to take the red haired woman before her by surprise.
Her moment of disorientation cost her though, and mage was already ducking away from her strike. Corina drew a shallow cut along the woman's shoulder, but did no permanent damage. Corina didn't waste time trying to hit the woman again; time was of the essence. She ran through a quick spell, causing four identical images of herself to appear, all holding daggers, ready to take on all comers.
The mage she had attacked spun about as soon as she had room, her hands coming up. Four bright bolts shot out, reflexively aimed, each bolt flying toward a different image.
Three of Corina's identical sisters quietly faded from existence, while the fourth bolt pounded into Corina's hip. Wincing at the pain, Corina returned the favor, sending five bolts right back at the woman.
Corina's bolts pounded the opposing mage to the floor, leaving her unconscious and barely breathing. Corina spun, looking for the fighter she had stunned earlier, and noticed the arrival of the elf and the priest, both moving to help their dwarven companion. Corina barely caught a glimpse of the female fighter disappearing through the doors from which the enemy had originally appeared.
"He's mine!" Weber roared, sweat streaming from his brow to mix with the blood dripping from a gash along his temple, the result of a glancing blow of the huge fighter's club. Both combatants were wounded, and the large human had a number of cauterized wounds across his chest and thighs. Both warriors were slowing, their fury fading as fatigue took its toll.
As the dwarf continued to exchange blows with his over-sized opponent, Corina hurried after the escaping female. She passed through the door, only to find Deagan, his dagger buried deep within the fighter's belly, slowly lowering the woman to the floor. Corina could see that the female's eyes were wide with shock, and locked on the half-elf's. She could also see compassion on the rogue's face, which surprised her. She'd half expected him to be gloating as he watched the life fade from his victim's eyes.
When Deagan finally looked up, the sounds of Weber's engagement had finally ceased. The two comrades hurried back through the door, to find that Weber, sweat and blood streaking his face, had finally finished off his foe. The dwarf leaned warily on his axe, gasping for breath and streaked with sweat and blood. The huge man lay on the floor, a charred gash across his neck.
"Everyone all right?" Deagan scanned the great room. He could still hear the random pounding on the door to the manse.
"Right as rain, boy." Weber winced as he shifted slightly.
Rilladell was kneeling by the auburn haired mage. "This one still lives."
"Good. We can ring some more info out a 'er." Deagan knew the dwarf had suffered from his fight when he did not try to resist Justin's attentions. The priest of Mystra was already attending the first of many wounds.
Corina knelt by the woman she had felled. "I don't think so. If the hobgoblin was feeble-minded to keep from speaking the name of whoever is behind this, what do you think will happen to her?"
"Good point, but we can't just leave her here. When she comes around she'll be off to her master, letting him know we're coming. If he doesn't know already," Deagan said.
Rilladell looked up with a grin. "What if she woke up and didn't know where she was?"
"Another feeble-mind? She'd get torn to shreds around here." Corina looked up at Deagan, catching another clue to his underlying compassion. He really isn't a cold heartless killer, she thought.
Rill was shaking her head. "No, no, nothing like that. We can teleport her somewhere. Somewhere where she won't easily escape but where she won't be harmed either." She looked up at Corina. "Do you have it memorized?"
The mage nodded slowly. "What about getting back?"
The elf grinned. "We," she indicated Corina and herself by quickly pointing between them, "we can both go. I'll teleport us out, you get us back. Okay?"
"I guess that should work." When Corina looked at the others, they all nodded. "Where are we taking her?"
The elf stood, reaching into one of the numerous pouches she wore. "I stayed in Evereska for a short time before heading for Waterdeep. I have a friend there that should be able to keep our new friend from leaving for some time. Certainly long enough for us to find her master and dispose of him. Ready?" The elf held up her components.
"Whenever you are." Corina knelt, taking a firm hold of the unconscious woman's shoulder. Rill ran through the incantation quickly, then reached out to grab her two passengers."We'll be right back--" Corina said, just as the three vanished from view.
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