Both moons are waning
There is a camp partway up the mountain, as we approach we see a patrol heading out of the camp, among their number is a figure that towers over the rest, we’ll be facing a giant again soon. There is also a flash of red wing, scaly and bat-like against the dark backdrop of the mountain, that is an all too familiar and dreaded sight.
The gully we’ve been moving through evens out ahead, we’ll be losing most of our cover soon, the ground is rough all around us. Cilka and Coy scout ahead about a half mile out onto the flats. Roughly a mile from the volcano camp, Cilka will cast a spell sending conjured orbs out to the camp to give her a better view of the enemy we’ll be facing.
They come back, shouts ring out from the enemy camp, we may have been discovered…
Cilka did get a decent look at their fortifications, they have rock walls that are well formed, smooth and polished, about 10 feet high. The structures inside are rougher, some with walls half of stone with canvased roofs, some are straight tents. There are telltale scuff marks on the ground, evidence of recent heavy activity, hopefully this is our threshold being moved around. Cilka caught no actual sightings of the threshold itself.
We debate the best way to approach, and decide to try to draw them out, so we can take them in stages. Cilka will send her orbs out again, this time with no attempt at secrecy. When they return to where we are, hopefully a good chunk of their force will follow and we will be able to attack them in two smaller groups.
The plan is moderately successful, and we gather up so Cilka can make as many of us as possible all speedy. Their line advances, a long row of well armored human sized sword and shield wielders, with one giant for good measure. I invoke the rod as we close in.
Keth raises his hands and speaks some words in his unintelligible language, a group of the enemy farthest to the left start milling about in a confused state. We all move forward as Cilka drops a fireball in the middle of the right side of their line. We have fought together so often, these balls of fire falling from the sky, and enemy milling about in sudden confusion, or being entrapped in tentacles springing from the ground has become so commonplace, we barely blink an eye. The enemy on the other hand, is a bit less nonplussed by it all; our first hand to hand blows fall on a shaken and already heavily wounded enemy line.
The giant comes forward, his momentum is somewhat hampered by having to step over the line of his allies that were felled by the fireball. This giant is another of those wielding a spear that appears to made of bone, much like the demon hunters we had fought, then befriended before. It is too bad we have not the leeway to try to right his misconceived ideas of our mutual enemy.
The confusion is taking its toll on the enemy to the left, they are turning and attacking their companions, some are just wandering and babbling incoherently, all while their commander tries to pull them together and coordinate them. Keth chuckles evilly at their predicament. I maneuver around behind the giant, trying to give a flank to my elven friend of the fists and fellow bandit, Coy.
Gertie is an avenging angel upon Star, surrounded by the enemy and laying about with her long spear. Coy steps in, engaging the giant with fists flying while Cilka skillfully places another fireball just behind the center line, trapping them between fire and the blade of Gertie’s spear. I step up behind the giant, opposite of Coy and land two solid blows, I might not be able to reach anything vital, but at least I hit it hard.
Gertie draws her ice blade and levels it at the leader, an ice spear shoots from the blade and hits him a glancing blow. Cilka moves forward a few feet, raises her hands and gestures at the space where their caster had been, where now there is a cloud of gas coalesced. The gas shimmers, flashes solid white and caster appears once again, looking a bit startled at being once again fully exposed. The bunch of confused enemy are still entertaining themselves, fighting with each other.
The giant lands a blow on me, which I shake off, he is not so lucky having already suffered from Dom’s cutting knives, he is losing blood at an alarming rate, and looks much the worse for wear. I hear an unfamiliar voice ring out and the area in front of the giant erupts in a volcanic spewing fiery mess, catching many in a burning mess.
I finish off the poor giant with one blow and follow up with two more blows to the little guy next to him, also taking him out. As I flick my blade, clearing it of the lifeblood of the enemy, I hear Keth’s voice call out, “The dragon comes!”, so much for our relatively easy win, we need to finish these few remaining for the scaly beat arrives to reinforce them.
I pause to take stock, Alaric is facing two, no wait, one, on either side. I decide to make my way to his aid, hoping that something will remain for me to hit. Dom has the same idea, and reaches Alaric ahead of me. Gertie rides Star to the spell caster, circling around him, cutting off his retreat. Coy as his large self runs toward him as well, huge hand reaching out toward the hapless caster’s head.
The dragon appears, angling right toward Alaric, the hound arcon, Dom and I, we are swept into an infernal cone of hell, the fiery breath is too much to withstand and even though I managed to shield myself from the worst of the blast I am still overcome and lose consciousness.
I wake to Alaric’s concerned face over mine, “get up, the dragon will circle back”. We have gone from a quick victory, to uncertainty in the flash of a dragon’s wing. I climb to my feet, eyes scouring the sky for the fire worm, I ready my sword for when it passes by again. The clash comes as it sails by, I am the loser of that exchange, but at least I stay on my feet.
I see a bizarre sight out of the corner of my eye, Coy has taken to the air! With mage struggling in his grasp, he flies over the confused fighters and drops the mage right in their midst. I almost feel sorry for the doomed mage.
The dragon circles round again and lands, knocking Gertie from Star’s back and pinning her to the ground. Coy moves in, and is knocked to the ground, unconscious. I also move in, trying to land a blow, but I miss yet again. Keth has summoned an air spirit that hovers in near the reptile. Alaric, Gertie and I all get another shot at it as it lifts briefly from the ground, hopping away to re-orient itself. We all manage to land our blows, but they seem to have little effect. The bloody beast won’t stay still long enough for us to engage it!
I move in again, taking another snap from its jaws, I manage to keep my feet, but do not manage to hit the damned thing, though I have succeeded in distracting it enough to allow the others to move in as well. The air elemental approaches and harries it from the front. I feel a much needed wash of healing energy pour over me just as the beast turns its head and lets loose a blast of fire, of which I am in the apex, I go down, mind darkening into a fiery inferno. I wake only seconds later, bless our fast acting healers! The scaly beast is almost on top of me. I see Dom from the corner of my eye, rush in, and spring back after slashing it in a series of lightning blows.
Cilka’s little spheres of crackling energy shoot out and pepper the thing, I think that just enraged it further. I scramble to my feet, only to be knocked down yet again. My body screaming with all the abuse it’s taken.
I wake to Alaric casting repeated heals to get me back on my feet. The dragon was finally undone by the slashes doled out by Dom. Given the intensity of the fight, the end was a bit anticlimactic, there was no final mighty blow, good old fashioned blood loss did it in.
We do what we can to prepare to take on the camp, at least the dragon is dead. There are guards at the gate, and at intervals along the wall. As we come up, shouts of warning and alarm ring out. We also hear screams of panic mixed in with the alarms, I smile in grim pleasure, we are truly frightening. Of course if they knew it was mostly our own blood we were covered in, they might not be quite as fearful.
Gertie and I advance in a frontal assault, Dom and Coy move around toward the back, to climb down the cliff into the camp, we’ll flank them between us. The guards at the front gate do us the courtesy of advancing enough to allow me to lunge and cleave through all four that are facing us, I hit them all, but only one goes down.
With my vantage improved by proximity, I see deeper inside the camp, a large bearded troll, covered in barbs, is attacking or is being attacked by guards, and there are ones that have already fallen at its feet. Huh, maybe we were not the ones instilling the fearful screams we heard as we approached. I hear more fighting inside the camp that is out of sight. This is odd, maybe if we had left them to it, there would have been less for us to come in and mop up. This is a puzzle for another time, they all need killing, and my sword is thirsty for the work ahead.
Gertie and Star move in and deal with two of the last three remaining, I take out the other on my way through the gate and continue on my way toward the bearded troll surrounded by dead guards. As Cilka eloquently sums up the situation, “In this case the enemy of my enemy in NOT necessarily my friend!”.
Alaric moves forward and attacks the troll, the beast proves quite prickly, his very skin drawing blood. Cilka’s crackling energy spheres sear through the air, smashing into it and we have its attention.
Now visible to me through the tents are Coy and Dom facing off with a giant icy bug, holding a spear that radiates coldness, it seems all the world has gone mad.