By Jaap-Peter Hazelhoff
Chapter 63 - Breaking Bones
Berdusk 1371 DR, Eleint, 11th day (Penultimate Thunder: Hoar), mid- morning
Groaning, Emlyn goes along with the blow and quickly rolls over to where Tempest lies. Not having the slightest idea if this will work, but having seen more wonders of faith today she places one small hand on the large half-orc’s forehead and one on the battered bronze disk of her holy symbol, muttering a prayer of healing to Ilmater.
Seeing Emlyn dive behind the undead for Tempest, Matteo fluidly moves into the space she occupied in an attempt to distract their opponent from attacking the small priestess. It also positions him to intercept the second undead that suddenly materialized. As the Sembian moves in for a strike, a loud crashing and screeching noise sounds from higher up in the warehouse, making Matteo hesitate for a moment and spoiling his aim.
Matteo is not alone in his effort, hoping to distract the skeleton from the fallen priest; Puddy once again lunges with his dagger, scoring a blow this time as the faerie manages to dislodge the creature’s collarbone. No time to rejoice in his victory, Puddy buzzes quickly out of arm’s reach as the undead’s hand once again seeks to swat him out of the air.
At the sudden attack out of nowhere the lanky bard’s attention wavers from the undead he was battling to the new threat. Seeing Emlyn scoot to the wounded half-orc’s aid, Nik hesitates only for the briefest moment. Then he steps warily away from the now damaged undead to meet the second one as the sounds from above send a shiver down his spine. Partially distracted, the second undead to appear hesitates in its strides towards the bard at the sound of some sort of animal coming from above.
With the halfling on the floor, and Nik moving in to protect Emlyn and Tempest, the damaged skeleton seems totally focused on Portia; the bloodstained sword dancing in menacing patterns through the air followed by the priestess’s mace as she parries. Yet one of the moves catches the red-head off guard and the sharp edge of the sword slices across her arm, blood welling up in its wake.
Moving in to face the wounded skeletal warrior, Telsom’s facial features harden his eyes growing distant. “Everyone out!” The paladin shouts seemingly content to stay behind to allow the others a chance to escape.
When Emlyn finishes the plea to her god, she looks up, renewed fires in her eyes at Telsom’s words. “NO! No heroic deaths! Let none fall to the evil of the walking dead!” Yet despite her words, she notices that her aid for Tempest was to no avail, his Lord must have taken him into His realm.
Portia grimaces in pain and knows that events are growing out of control. “I can handle this one!” She grunts, ignoring the paladin’s order to get out, “Help Tempest!” The cleric snaps another blow at the first skeleton, hoping to put it down fast. Maybe her anger helps her focus; the mace passes the undead’s defenses and smacks against its lower jaw, sending the skull almost rocking on the spine.
At the back of the warehouse, Ditalidas reaches for another arrow and knocks it on her crossbow and Immerine lashes out at the man with her staff. In his attempt to dodge the blow, the wounded man hits his head against the door jamb a little too hard and his eyes momentarily cross before he passes out.
Again the young lady Jalarghar aims at the wounded figure, but holds her shot back and waits for the reaction of the figure on Immerine’s lash and words, then, as she sees the man pass out, she lifts her aim.
From her position near the door opening, Immerine can squint into the shadowy interior of the warehouse. Though not able to make out any details, she clearly hears – and Ditalidas as well – the raised voices of Portia and Telsom… as well as the unmistakable clang of steel on steel.
Growling in pain, Portia holds her ground and slams the mace home once more. The priestess’s mace slamming the undead’s blade to the side and connects solidly with the thing’s pelvis. A satisfying crack indicating a significant amount of damage dealt.
The little fey whistles in glee as his dagger strikes home, then screeches with rage and sorrow when the declaration is made of the half-orc’s death. He circles back once more for an attack on the undead thing. As the undead waivers, Puddy sees a chance to strike, and quickly darts in to completely dislodge the damaged collarbone. The bone slide down into the undead’s ribcage only to get stuck and partially immobilize the undead further, allowing the bleeding paladin of Sune to deliver a crippling blow, which drops the thing altogether.
Seeing the first undead crumple and clatter to the floor after the combined blows of Portia and Telsom, Matteo quickly looks around to asses the situation. Seeing Nik facing off alone with the second undead, Matteo steps past the remains of the first one to come to the bard’s aid. While moving, something draws his attention upwards.
From above, where the crash sounded, pieces of wood come raining down, clattering on the stacked crates and barrels below the hoist opening. Ignoring the sounds and debris coming from above the skeleton steps closer towards the lanky bard, lunging with its sword past Nik’s defenses. The bard’s eyes momentarily widen as the longsword plunges straight into his abdomen.
For a moment terror is stark on Nik’s gaunt face, and the tip of his sword wavers with the tremor that shakes him. But rather than taking to his heels like the coward he always proclaims himself, the tall bard roars an incoherent cry of fury and lunges at the undamaged skeleton.
The grace and caution that had marked his swordsmanship vanishes as Nik stabs and slashes at the skeleton with wild abandon, his eyes full of the rage that pulls his lips back in a snarl. The skeleton tries to ward of the raging bard, but only partially succeeds as Nik’s blade loosens a couple of ribs when strikes a blow past the undead’s defenses.
“When the soul has fled, I can do no more!” With these words, Emlyn leaps up again, leaving Tempest’s silent form at her feet. She readies the staff that is normally strapped to her back once more to engage the blight that has felled the young half-orc. Fighting alongside Portia, she gathers all her strength in the hope to both defend her fellows and exact some swift ad hoc-justice.
As the fight with the second undead guardian starts, at the back of the warehouse, Immerine grabs the unconscious man and drags him inside the building. She then waves Ditalidas inside, shutting the door. No sooner has the door closed or the Rashemi woman picks up muffled sounds coming from somewhere below.
Portia takes a quick step away from the falling creature, eyes glittering fiercely as she readies her holy symbol. Raising the bone-white disk high, she calls on her god. “Lord of the Dead, I beseech you! Take this foul abomination into your arms and end it’s twisted existence!” Even as she does so, she’s barely aware that she’s straddling Tempest’s fallen form.
The priestess’s eyes seem to fill with a cold white light, and she seems to be surrounded by an invisible aura of divine power. As if a shock wave travels through the air, Telsom, Nik and Puddy feel a wave of energy course through them without any effect. However the undead’s sword wavers as the divine power flows over it. Uttering a howl of defiance, the thing turns on its skeletal heels and tries to move away.
Telsom charges the undead, his face contorted in rage. The paladin snarls as he attempts to slam his broad sword home. With the undead turning and making no attempt at defense, the sword drives the point home, sheering off a large section of the skeleton’s ribcage. The paladin taking some satisfaction in the revenge on the un-living abomination.
Turning and moving away from the priestess of Kelemvor, as it is afraid, the undead doesn’t even seem to care about the attacks from the others. Apparently it is linked to Portia on a single purpose – to get away from the divine power the red haired woman is exerting over it.
The tall bard’s rage vanishes as the realization of the wound strikes home. His haggard face pales and he clutches at the wound in his gut with his free hand, looking down in horror at the blood flowing between his fingers. The point of his sword dips to the ground as Nik whispers faintly, “Oh, gods…”
Seeing the tall bard injured, Puddy veers off after his successful attack on the first skeleton, and dives toward the second. “One friend fallen already is, a second not you shall take!” he shouts as he moves to attack the undead abomination, darting left and right in an attempt to dodge the thing’s swatting. However the undead seems almost in a sort of trance as it makes what appear half-hearted attempts to keep the small faerie at bay.
Eyes glassy and face twisted with fear and pain, Nik shakily raises his sword again. The wounded man makes no move to attack; however, every movement of his blade is either an involuntary tremor or an attempt at defense.
Emlyn, having readied her own symbol, sees the effect of Kelemvor’s power as projected by the red haired priestess. Keeping a wary eye out for the retreating undead, the small woman quickly makes her way over to Nik and lays small but soothing hands over the stab-wound in the bard’s abdomen. Calling on Ilmater to remove the suffering inflicted by the undead abomination, the hin-woman channels healing energy into the frail looking Nik. The powers of the Crying God knit torn tissue together again.
Matteo presses warily forward positioning himself between the undead and Nik as he is being administered by Emlyn. Moving carefully, yet deliberately, the Sembian tries to block of a possible escape route for the thing and driving it away from the direction of Immerine and Ditalidas.
Immerine frowns at the noises from above and below. A quick headcount tells her the others are occupied. Knowing she left Jez and Marc on the roof she decides to search out the other noises from below. As Immerine searches through the warehouse, she walks past a small grate of sorts, through which the sounds emerge from below.
It is obvious there is a level below the floor on which they currently are. From her view point, she can see a squat stone structure, like a vault, and a wooden office like structure with pane-less windows. She turns back to Ditalidas when the strength of Portia’s will causes her to look over at the battle. “Lady Ditalidas, our companions need our help. I also hear noises from below…” The Rashemi purses her lips in decision and casts a spell on her staff.
Ditalidas nods at Immerine, showing that she has heard her words. “There seems to be fighting everywhere. Let’s deal with this skeletal creature first.” A tone of hatred has crept in the woman’s voice. “After that I don’t mind checking downstairs.” The black haired lady stops in her tracks and focuses on the undead the others are fighting with. She reaches to that inner source that helped her against undead before. Moving her right hand as if she pushes something invisible away Ditalidas shouts: “Away abomination of evil. Leave my friends alone!”
A ray of pure, silvery white energy bursts forth from Ditalidas’s hand, darting slightly erratic along a path towards the retreating undead. As soon as the ray strikes, the undead lets go another unearthly howl of rage as the silvery white energy flows over and between the bones of the thing, burning some of its unholy essence away.
With the undead turning away and moving back among the crates and barrels while glowing in some pure silvery white light, Telsom uses his momentum of the charge to his advantage and moves along with the walking bones to deliver another blow, shattering the undead’s elbow. The undead’s underarm, still holding the sword falls clattering to the ground.
As Nik’s system now tries to readjust to the fact that it is whole again, sounds from outside filters in through the din of combat; the vague sounds of hooves on cobblestones …
The tall bard looks down at Emlyn, a faint smile of thanks on his haggard face. His eyes are still half-blind with terror, and his gaunt frame shakes uncontrollably. His sword falls from his hand with a clatter as he wraps his long arms around himself, narrow shoulders hunched and his breath coming in short pants. The fear in his eyes is mingled with shame as Nik stares after the fleeing skeleton and whimpers “I… I… can’t… I don’t want to die…”
“Then don’t,” Emlyn answers in a tone she hopes is reassuring. “You will not die, at least not for about a good thirty years…” She moves herself in a defensive position in front of Nik, to provide a few if solid feet of cover for the tall bard.
Bringing her mace up, Portia kneels for a moment at Tempest’s side and rests a hand on the dead man’s shoulder; whispering a brief prayer of farewell. Rising, she frowns as the skeleton, more powerful than any normal skeleton had any right to be, moves away from the power of her god. She moves to follow as it, and her companions, move deeper into the warehouse.
With a somber glance at Portia paying her respects to Tempest, Emlyn kneels as well, and offers a quick prayer as well, beseeching Ilmater to guide the brave half-orc’s soul to the side of his lord and thanking Tempest for his bravery.
A few feet from the kneeling halfling and the trembling bard, Matteo throws a glance in the direction of the advancing Immerine. Seeing that she is effectively blocking any approach the skeleton could make towards Ditalidas, the Sembian moves to block of further escape possibilities for the heavily damaged undead.
As she moves, the Rashemi glances warily about, taking in the rest of the warehouse. Stepping from beneath crates near the back, Portia sees the Rashemi woman approach. Immerine grips her staff in the center and stalks after the undead thing to keep it from harming anyone else. How the Rashemi and Ditalidas managed to enter is not visible from here, yet their addition to the forces arrayed against the skeletal thing is welcome.
Puddy continues to press his aerial attack on the skeletal thing, ensuring that he stays well away from the attacks of the other party members by trying to attack from above. Darting around the swinging sword of the charging Telsom, the little faerie dives in, point of the small dagger leading. Not even a feeble defense is put up against him as Puddy drives the point home, puncturing the undead’s skull.
Noticing Telsom charging at the undead creature and not looking very unscratched himself Ditalidas bites softly on her lower lip “He’s just too damn good looking.” She narrows her eyes tossing the retreating skeleton an angry glance. “That one has had not enough yet…” The young woman whispers. Again she reaches for her inner strength and again she stretches out her hand, opening a channel for another ray of silvery white light heading for the undead creature.
“Don’t you know when you’ve had enough!” The paladin screams at the skeletal warrior as he continues to chase it down, bringing his blade down upon the creature whenever the opportunity presents itself. Despite the blood still running across his faces and obscuring vision in one eye, Telsom manages yet again to strike home, with a satisfying grating crunching sound, the paladin’s sword sheers of almost half’ the thing’s ribcage.
The blow sends the cowering undead staggering in the direction of the Rashemi witch, who quickly takes the advantage to pummel it with her quarterstaff. A fierce light seems to shine in the woman’s eyes as the hellish red light in the undead’s seems to slowly extinguish. Bones rattle as in quick succession Immerine delivers two strikes against the thing, the last one crumpling its skull and toppling it to the floor.
The shadowy armor of the undead seems to shimmer for a moment and transform into a skull-like haze of vapor, before dissolving completely; the pile of broken bones on the floor no longer moving or possessed of any lingering evil.
Time to rejoice in the vanquishing of the undead is cut short by a scream of fear and the sounds coming from above. From above in dark shapes seem to plummet along a line down into the warehouse. The bright daylight from above obscuring any details, though as one of the figures is jerked to a halt – the rope seemingly played out, it shows a second figure falling, its movement only marginally slowed down by the sudden stop of the first.
“Marc!” A familiar voice blurts, as the second figure manages in a desperate move to grab the rope of the warehouse’s hoist. It is Marc falling down, momentum only slightly arrested as the hoist’s pulley system provides some resistance. Jezbodiah above can’t do anything more for the lad as he continues his fall down towards a group of figures below.
Before anyone on the ground floor of the warehouse can react to intercept the falling boy, Marc crashes down amidst a stack of barrels. The young bard’s fall breaking some and sending some tumbling about.
…Then there is only a deafening silence.
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