Arcanis: Gonnes, Sons, and Treasure Runs (COMPLETED) - Page 16
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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 2a: Uninvited Guests

    They arrived at the senator’s home at Quintus’ direction.

    “Something’s wrong,” said Quintus.

    “What?” asked Vlad.

    “The gates,” he said. “They’re closed and locked, but the guards that should normally be stationed here are missing.”

    Kham threw back his overcoat; five flintlocks were visible dangling from a bandolier across his chest and waist.

    “I see you still have your handgonnes,” said Quintus. “Good, I was afraid you might be useless.”

    Kham reached into one of the many pockets inside his overcoat and pulled forth a dagger instead. “First of all, they’re flintlocks,” he said as a small rod popped out of the back of the dagger. He shook the dagger, and lock picks sprung out of the rod.

    Kham inserted the lock pick into the lock. With a flick of his wrist, Kham turned the dagger’s handle and the gate swung open. “Second, I’ve got plenty of skills you don’t know about.”

    Quintus didn’t say anything as Kham bowed slightly, with one open palm towards the senator’s home.

    As they approached, it was clear that the main door had been warped and shaped to create a circular opening.

    “Trouble,” said Quintus. He lifted his spear and charged forward towards the door.

    Vlad shrugged and ran after the legionnaire, sword out.

    “What are you doing?!” hissed Kham as he drew two of his flintlocks.

    “Saving the senator!” he shouted. His longspear struck the door and rammed it open.

    Just inside the foyer, five guards lay strewn about. One particularly plump guard was snoring loudly, his hand still clutching his gladius.

    There was a loud slap and a grunt from the adjoining room across from the atrium.

    “Hurry,” came a woman’s voice, “this is taking far too long,”

    Quintus didn’t stop. He and Vlad ran into the atrium, with Kham in tow.

    “For the last time, senator,” said a harsh voice, “where is the boy?”

    Within the room, tied to two rather expensive-looking red lacquered chairs inlaid with lion-shaped engravings, was Augustus Tensen-Balin. Another man they’d never seen before was with him, although by his swarthy complexion and hairstyle, he was probably of Myrantian descent. Both showed signs of a beating. The Myrantian had a black eye and swollen jaw.

    Gathered around them was a small group of men. The leader wore a golden-striped toga. He reclined on an upholstered chair, with a golden goblet in one hand. Providing the beatings were a pair of burly Ulfilans wearing leather armor and broadswords strapped to their backs. A demon familiar was perched on the shoulder of the impatient young woman, mimicking her every move.

    “Letum infernus!” shouted Quintus, lowering his spear and charging at one of the Ulfilans. Vlad advanced on the other.

    It was all the two Ulfilans could do to draw their swords. “Kham,” shouted Quintus, “take out the woman!”

    “And he’s back to giving orders,” said Kham with a sneer. “Look, I don’t want to hurt you,” he said to the woman.

    “Oh, but I want to hurt you,” she said. She chanted, “magicus telum” and a glowing bolt of magical energy seared Kham’s chest.

    “Ow, dammit! Now stop that!” Kham swung at her with the butt of his pistol, but she ducked out of the way.

    The leader pointed at Kham. “Acid sagitta!” A spiraling bolt of acid splashed onto Kham’s coat, burning through the leather.

    Quintus blocked a blow from one of the thugs with his large shield. “Just shoot her!”

    “Fine, we can do this the hard way,” said Kham. He dropped the pistol and lunged for the woman.

    Magis attrecto!” said the woman, pointing at the pistol.

    Behind Kham, the unattended pistol slowly rose and pointed at the back of his head.

    Vlad was pulling his longsword out of the corpse of an Ulfilan when he looked up. “Kham, DUCK!”

    Kham ducked just as the telltale KA-BLAM! of his pistol went off. When the smoke cleared, the woman had a large red hole in her head. She fell to the ground.

    “Finally,” said Quintus. He yanked his spear out of his dead opponent.

    “That’s just about enough of that,” said the leader. “Fuco aspergo!

    A bright cone of colors flashed from the man’s hand and washed over Vlad. He fell to the ground, stunned.

    “Man, I hate Sebastian’s color magic,” said Kham. He picked up Jessica. “I’m not going to be as gentle with you,” he said to the leader.

    Stand in awe before the might of Illiir!” shouted Quintus, pointing his spear at the man. He instantly froze, bound by Quintus’ divine command.

    Kham sauntered up to the leader and socked him in the jaw. He went down in a heap.

    “I knew you named your pistols,” said Quintus. “But I didn’t know they could fire on their own.”

    “Me neither,” said Kham. Then he lowered his voice to address his other pistols. “Don’t you ladies get any ideas.”
    Last edited by talien; Monday, 28th July, 2008 at 07:01 PM.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 2b: Uninvited Guests

    The leader of the thugs, Solanius Dorin, spat in front of Quintus. Vlad held both of Solanius’ arms behind his back and forced him into a kneeling position.

    Quintus turned to Augustus. “What would you like me to do with him, senator?” His hand rested on his gladius, leaving little doubt as to what he was willing to do.

    “He should be arrested and await judgment,” said the senator. He turned to lay a hand on the Myrantian’s shoulder. “My old friend Menet came to me earlier this evening with news that rogue elements within the Sanctorum may attempt an attack upon my person in the hopes of taking my son from me.”

    Quintus peered at Menet’s swollen jaw. He had yet to speak.

    “Your jaw is broken,” he said. “Hold still for Illiir’s blessing.”

    Quintus put both hands on the man’s face. An incantation and glow later, the swelling had disappeared.

    “I quickly sent my wife and young daughters to our Villa in Salantis along with the lion’s share of my guards,” said the senator. “I had planned to leave with Menet for another locale, but I had to safeguard my Imperial Seal and could not leave until it was safe. Unfortunately, the villains attacked before we could take our leave. I can only assume that they cast some sort of enchantment upon my guards.”

    “If it’s anything like what hit me,” said Vlad, “I can understand why they were not awake when the attack came.”

    “Worry not,” said Augustus. “We revealed nothing. I would sooner die than let scoundrels such as these have my son.”

    “Your methods were effective,” said Quintus. “I have been in search of Cassicus for weeks now, to no avail.”

    “We all have,” said Kham, idly reloading his flintlock pistol.

    “What happened to him after we returned him to you?” asked Quintus.

    “My son became progressively worse,” said the senator. “I knew not whom to trust after Theron’s betrayal.”

    “Oh yeah, I remember him,” said Kham. “The kid’s hopefully less…transparent these days.”

    The senator continued. “I began to seek out my contacts in the Sanctorum, trying to find old friends and comrades. I finally contacted an adventuring companion by the name of Livinus. It seemed that the old man had decided to retire from the affairs of man and took up the task of training young mages while indulging in an old passion of his: archaeology.”

    For the first time, Kham looked interested. “Go on,” he said.

    “Livinus told me that he had set up a Sanctorum in the lost city of Balamshal, in the trackless wastes of the Hinterlands. He said there were ruins that even the Elorii considered ancient. Most importantly, there was a sacred well that restored vitality and healed even the sickest among them. So I entrust my son’s well-being to him and prayed for his recovery.”

    “The boy is dying and there is no way to save him,” said Solanius. “Let him at least die for a noble cause than a meaningless death.”

    Vlad shoved Solanius with his foot for good measure.

    “That explains why he was so difficult to find,” said Quintus.

    “It was only a few weeks ago,” said Augustus. “I had thought him safe, but since this attack, I fear for his safety.”

    Quintus thrust out his chin. “Then we must hasten to his side. Is there a portal nearby?”

    Kham began patting himself down.

    “As far as I know, there are no known portals in that area,” said Augustus. “But I have other means. Before he left, Livinius gave me a scroll with a spell upon it that will transport us instantly to the outskirts of Balamshal. Menet can transport us to Balamshal with it.”

    Quintus looked at Kham.

    “…twenty,” said Kham. He nodded back at Quintus. They both turned to Vlad.

    Vlad dragged Solanius to his feet as the other guardsmen awoke. He shoved his bound captive towards them, such that he stumbled and fell at their feet. Then he took a deep breath. “I’m in.”

    Menet began intoning the arcane spell. They slowly dissolved into green mist…

    …only to coalesce in front of a pair of crumbling giant statues. The two statues had outstretched arms meeting high overhead to form an archway. Beyond the archway was one of the most alien and ancient ruins they had ever seen.

    “So this is what Balamshal looks like,” said Kham.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 3: Arrival at the Sanctorum

    “I can lead the way,” said Augustus.

    “No senator, we’re not sure if it’s safe,” said Quintus. “I will lead.”

    Quintus stepped in front, but before he could move much further towards the ruins, an enormous wall of flames erupted in his path.

    A booming voice commanded, “Stop! Identify yourselves!”

    Quintus kept his shield between the senator and the flames. “I am Quintus Aurelius Ignatius of the Legion of the Triumphant Rays of the Invisible Sun. I am safeguarding Senator Tensen-Balin.”

    “That’s twice today you’ve gotten to introduce yourself, Quintus,” said Kham. “You must be having a great day.”

    The flaming wall immediately disappeared and a small group of men stood before them. The leader stepped forward and bowed deeply. Judging from her snow-white hair and pale skin, she appeared to be a Kio.

    “I am Yvgine’, current leader of this Sanctorum.”

    “Yvigne’?” said the senator. “Where is Livinius?”

    “I fear I have grave news senator,” said Yvigne’. She led them towards the ruins. “Most of the hierarchy has fallen gravely ill. It began as nothing more than a common cold, but after a few days, they grew worse and worse. Livinius was the first to fall. He died just last night.”

    “Died?” asked Quintus. “How?”

    “He began to convulse violently, then raw arcane energy leaked out of him, wreaking havoc on his surroundings. He destroyed two buildings before his final spasm.”

    “Destroyed buildings?” asked Kham. “As in, exploded?”

    Yvigne’ nodded. “He collapsed and immolated before our very eyes. He was ashes in moments.”

    “And Cassicus?” asked Augustus.

    “He is safe for the moment, but he too is in the hold of whatever plague Neroth has visited upon us. Even the most potent of our magical cures do nothing more than alleviate the pain for a short while.”

    The senator almost fell backwards. Quintus steadied him with one hand.

    “Easy senator. Would you like a moment?”

    The older man put one hand to his forehead. “No. No I’ll be all right. How many have been infected?”

    “Almost a score,” said Yvigne’. “The majority have been masters and a handful of students.”

    “When did this plague start?” asked Menet.

    “Shortly after the boy arrived. It was at about the same time as when we found the Elorii deep in the ruins.”

    Quintus’ gaze snapped from the senator to Yvigne’. “An Elorii?”

    “One of our team found a female Elorii in the ruins. She was in the interior of a collapsed structure near the Obelisk Honeycomb. Her body was smoking, but oddly enough, she was very cold to the touch.”

    “So you’ve got a dead elf on your hands,” said Vlad.

    “Quite the contrary,” said the Kio. “We healed her as best we could, enough that she was able to speak. But she was fluent in a language we did not expect…Ymandrake.”

    “I should like to speak to this Elorii,” said Quintus.

    “One of Master Livinius’ last orders was for her to be kept under constant watch and isolated until we could determine how she came to be here and what her intentions are. Until we understand this plague, it’s best if she remain under quarantine.”

    “I think I’ve heard enough,” said the senator. “Yvigne’, please treat my escorts as honored guests. Menet, I’d like to see my son now.”

    “Of course, senator,” said Yvigne’. Quintus made to follow Menet and the senator, but Menet spun on his heel.

    “We’ll be fine, Quintus. We’ll call you if we need you.”

    Quintus stopped, uncertain, as the pair walked off.

    “Would you like a tour of the ruins?” asked Yvigne’.

    “I’d love one,” said Kham, sidling up to Yvigne’. “My name’s Kham, by the way.”

    Vlad shrugged at Quintus and followed Kham. After a moment, the legionnaire walked dejectedly behind them.

    “If it makes you feel better,” said Kham to Quintus, “I can bark orders at you and you can follow me around instead.”

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    Gah!

    Well, it looks like we lost about 50 posts due to the backup. So to remedy that problem, I will be posting a new update on a steady schedule: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

    That should help get us back on track, eventually. If you think that's too frequent or not frequent enough, let me know.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 4a: Beware the City of the Green Death

    The first stop of the tour was a place known as the Sanctorum.

    “This Sanctorum was originally founded in the Coryani Empire. But it suffered a particularly horrible attack by Harvesters. Lucius Orata, head of the order, left soon after the attack, leaving the Sanctorum in Livinius’ hands.”

    “That’s the same attack where Augustus Balin assisted the mages in fending off the Harvester attack,” said Quintus.

    Yvigne’ nodded. “Master Livinius decided to the move the Sanctorum to a more remote location and found these ruins quite by accident. We’ve been here for over a dozen years.”

    “Tell me more about Balamshal,” said Kham.

    “The ruin’s name comes from the few inscriptions found in the Elorii buildings in this quarter. We think it means ‘The City of the Green Death,’ but we have yet to come across anything matching that description.”

    They passed by the main ruins, which consisted of steep, red-painted ziggurats and associated buildings.

    “These buildings actually predate the Elorii buildings by quite a period of time. The original inhabitants here must have been quite religious, as the main square is dominated by a series of these ziggurats.” She gestured at the pyramid behind them. “We believe them to be temples to some blasphemous false gods.”

    “One man’s god is another man’s demon,” said Kham with a smirk. “I’m sure the elf would agree.”

    “You mean the Elorii we found?” asked Yvigne’.

    “Different elf. Ignore him,” said Quintus, leveling a stare at Kham. “What of the Elorii buildings?”

    They walked passed the eastern edge of the ruins. “These buildings were taken over by the mages as the main living quarters.”

    “There’s nothing green here at all,” said Vlad, looking at the red hues of the surrounding hills and mountains.

    “The only green we found was in a level below the main temple,” said Yvigne’. “We discovered an octagonal room that held seen bronze sarcophagi, which were laid open but empty. There were several copper statues of Elorii in various stages of flight, expressions of terror on their faces.”

    “And those are green?” asked Vlad.

    “The statues were green from rust, as copper is wont to do over the years. After we found those statues, Master Livinius forbade any of us to descend beyond the ground level of any of the temple buildings. Ah, here’s the Main Temple.”

    They entered the largest structure in the ruins, an enormous octagonal room.

    “Looks like some sort of calendar,” said Kham, adjusting his tinted glasses.

    “Very good,” said Yvigne’, looking at Kham with newfound respect. “On each wall are pictographs representing the time and race ascendant in that age.”

    There were a series of undecipherable glyphs on the wall. At its center was a carving of a humanoid creature with two arms and two tentacle-like appendages growing from its side. It seemed to have a very narrow and sharp profile that extended higher and lower than a human’s.

    “If the first wall is any indication,” said Kham, “that founding race wasn’t pretty.”

    Stranger species were carved into the walls, until they reached Ssethregorans, Elorii, and then finally human beings.

    “The final two walls are blank,” said Yvigne’. “And yet, the borders and framing symbols all appear to be inscribed.”

    “The end of the world,” said Vlad.

    “Not necessarily,” interjected Quintus. “It’s possible the original scribes ran out of time before they finished their work.”

    “Always the optimist,” said Kham, shaking his head.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 4b: Beware the City of the Green Death

    They left the Main Temple and proceeded to the very end of the Maine Avenue.

    “Whoa,” said Vlad, pulling up short. He pointed upwards.

    36 cyclopean solid black obelisks were arrayed in a honeycombed shape.

    Yvigne’ seemed amused. “At first, we though the obelisks were made from either black basalt or obsidian. On closer inspection, we discovered it’s neither.”

    “So what is it made of?” asked Kham.

    “We don’t know. Something we’ve never seen before on Onara. With some experimentation, we discovered that…well, let me demonstrate. Please stand back.”

    They all took a step back as Yvigne’ chanted, “Incensio terum!

    A fan of flames arched from her hands, but as soon as they touched the obelisks, the flames became a conflagration of hellfire. The scorching heat forced Kham to take a step back and shield his face.

    “Wow,” said Vlad.

    Yvigne’ dusted her hands. “Evocations increased in power, but unfortunately, they also become harder to control. It can even rebound on the caster.”

    “A dubious boon,” said Quintus.”

    “Trust me, I know this first hand,” said Yvigne’. “This is one of two interesting artifacts. Let me show you the Gravel Pit.”

    She led them to off to the south of the ruins, to a large gravel pit. It looked to be composed of tiny bits of the same material the obelisks were made of.

    “Let me guess,” said Kham. “It’s not the same effect here.”

    “You are correct,” said Yvigne’. “Quite the opposite.”

    “So you were casting spells here and they didn’t work?” asked Vlad.

    “One of the masters, Master Ecor, had some interest in bees and honey. As chance would have it, a large flower field rests just south of the Gravel Pit.” She pointed to a field of yellow poppies south of the pit. “Master Ecor set up his beehives and such at the edge of the pit and began to notice a strange effect. After some experimentation, he discovered that the gravel acts as a magical suppressant.”

    Quintus leaned down to pick up one of the rocks. “The gravel would make for a powerful defense against Harvesters.”

    “You’d think so,” said Yvigne’,” but when we sent the gravel to other Sanctorums, we discovered its potency only lasts a few hours outside the valley.”

    Before she could say more, a bell rang loudly from the Elorii buildings in the eastern portion of the ruins.

    Yvigne’ took off in a sprint towards the buildings. “That’s the alarm! The Sanctorum is under attack!”

    “I knew I should have stayed with the senator,” said Quintus.
    Last edited by talien; Monday, 28th July, 2008 at 07:07 PM.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 5: The Pride of the Hawks

    As they approached the Elorii buildings that housed the mages of the Sanctorum, they noticed a huge gathering in the makeshift central square. There, a score of mages, Menet and Senator Tensen-Balin faced off against a small group of robed men. Standing at the front of the intruders was none other than Master Theron himself.

    “The traitor!” said Quintus, increasing his speed.

    Master Theorn held up both his hands as Quintus, Yvigne’, Vlad, and Kham closed. “Peace, my brothers. We have no quarrel with you. You have inadvertently loosed a plague meant solely for our enemies and are suffering greatly for it. Let us speak.”

    Quintus huffed up to stand beside the senator.

    “Why should I should not strike you down where you stand!” snarled a furious Tensen-Balin.

    “Because this concerns your son and an oath you made many years ago, my friend. Please, let us speak.”

    The senator looked sideways at Quintus. The legionnaire slowly lowered his spear. “Your son is ill, senator. If he has a chance of saving him, you should listen.”

    Kham looked sideways at Quintus. “Did I just hear him right?” he whispered to Vlad. “Did he just advise peace over war?”

    “People change,” said Vlad. “Especially when it comes to loved ones.”

    “Maybe,” said Kham. “But just in case, I’m going to keep the harem ready.” He patted the pistols concealed beneath his overcoat.

    Yvigne led them to a small side room with a table and some chairs. Theron took a seat, followed reluctantly by Augustus. Quintus stood behind the senator.

    “Many years ago,” said Theron, “during that fateful night when you helped us fend off that devastating Harvester attack, you swore an oath to us that you would do anything to aid us in destroy the threat of the Sorcerer-King and Ymandragore.”

    Augustus nodded his head.

    “You may not know this, but the majority of the children taken by the Harvesters are latent sorcerers. Over the years, it stands to reason that the majority of the mages under his control would be sorcerers in turn. By that logic, we developed a spell that would target those who possessed sorcery and destroy only them. The spell was a complex ritual that required the death of many sorcerers. It also had to gestate in an unborn child gifted with arcane power. That night, when so many of our brothers died, Master Orata acted so that their deaths need not be in vain. He knew that you, good Augustus, would be destined for great things. When you vowed that night to destroy the Ymandrakes, Master Orata cast the spell upon you, hoping that one day you would transfer the power of the ritual to your unborn son.”

    Augustus gasped in outrage.

    “Even after Master Orata disappeared, we kept track of you and your career. We even arranged for you to meet your lovely wife. Then, we just waited for nature to run its course.”

    “That’s cold,” said Kham.

    “Villain!” shouted Augustus, slamming both palms on the table. “You dare to use my son as your instrument of death because you are too cowardly to attack Ymandragore yourself!”

    “I would gladly give my life,” said Theron, “if it would mean the demise of that monster. We did what we needed to do; what you vowed to do. I watched and trained the boy myself, and I daresay I grew to love him. But this is war, Augustus, and sacrifices, no matter how dear, must be made.”

    Theron waved at Quintus with the back of his hand. “Unfortunately, these meddlesome creatures interfered with our plans and stopped the boy from being harvested. Had they stayed out of our affairs, the Ymandrakes would be reeling now, ripe for the final blow.”

    Quintus’s eyes narrowed. “Be careful, Theron. I can clear the space between us faster than you can cast a spell.”

    The senator put out one hand to halt Quintus.

    “Instead,” continued Theron, ”the boy was brought here. Now he has claimed the life of Master Livinius and threatens many more. This was not our wish. We desperately wanted to take the boy away from those he would harm.”

    “I’m familiar with your methods of questioning,” said Augusts, rubbing his jaw.

    “You were never in any danger, my lord,” said Menet, head bowed low. “I was present to assure that the interrogation never got out of hand. After a few more minutes, they would have left and I could have been taken into your full confidence and led to the boy. But a fly entered the ointment and more lives were lost.” Menet’s gaze flicked to Vlad, who was advancing on him. “Nevertheless, I was able to slip away while you were with your son and contact Master Theron with the location of this Sanctorum.”

    Vlad stood face to face with Menet. “I changed my mind,” said Vlad. “Let’s kill them.”

    The senator rose to his feet. “Am I such a fool as to always surround myself with liars and spies? Gods!”

    Then the alarm bell rang again.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 6a: Choosing Where to Fight is as Important as When

    “Harvesters!” shouted Yvigne’.

    They rushed outside to witness a heart-stopping sight: Harvesters, scores of them upon flying disks, hovering high above the archway.

    A booming voice from the lead Ymandrake said, “Surrender the Elorii or prepare to be harvested!”

    Augustus turned to Quintus. “You are the only ones who have been true to me and mine. We will handle these monsters, but I must entrust you with the safety of my son. Take him and hide as best you can.”

    “If, by my life or death I can protect him, I will,” said Quintus. “You have my spear.”

    “And my sword,” said Vlad.

    They looked to Kham. “Fine, fine, and my pistols too.”

    “Thank you,” said the senator. “He is in the building nearest the Gravel Pits. May the Gods bless you and keep you.”

    Quintus bowed low and took off at a sprint.

    “Oh, you’re just loving this, aren’t you,” said Kham, catching up to him. “Got a plan?”

    “Yes,” said Quintus. He kicked open the door to the building open with one foot. The boy lay unconscious in one corner of the room.

    In the distance, something exploded and someone screamed.

    Vlad stood in the doorway. “We’ve got two Harvesters following us. And…”

    “And?” asked Kham, throwing back his overcoat to draw two pistols.

    “Something else. I’m not sure, but they’re not quite human.”

    Quintus scooped Cassicus up and ran past Vlad towards the gravel pit.

    “What are you doing?” asked Kham, jogging behind him into the pit.

    Quintus placed the boy down beside him and dug his shield into the gravel, such that it stood between Cassicus and the Harvesters. Then the legionnaire used his longspear to trace a wide circle around them. “We make our stand here.”

    Vlad stood in front of Quintus shield, his own shield and longsword at the ready.

    “That’s it? That’s the plan? You’re going to stand out here in the open like a big, fat target?”

    “If what Yvigne’ said is true, the gravel will protect us from their spells,” said Quintus.

    “And what if she’s a spy like the rest of them?” asked Kham.

    “Then we will die with honor,” said Quintus. Kham knew that look. It meant Quintus was committed and would never change his mind.

    “Tell you what,” said Kham. “You three can die with honor out here in the dirt, and I’m going to shoot at people from over there,” he ran low to hide behind a wall of honey pots near the edge of the pit.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 6b: Choosing Where to Fight is as Important as When

    Quintus' gaze was focused on the two things that came shambling into the pit. Their hands were missing: one was replaced by sharpened bone shaped like a blade, the other a large, wide plate of bone in the form of a shield. Fleshy tentacles ringed their torsos. The creatures had indentations where their mouths, eyes, and ears would be, but where otherwise featureless mockeries of humanity.

    “We are more powerful united than apart,” said Quintus. He lowered his spear as the things charged.

    “Don’t bother,” said Vlad. “Kham’s out of earshot.

    Then the two Ymandragoran thralls were upon them. Vlad leaned low and struck at one of the things legs. He was rewarded with the thrall’s screech of agony. Tentacles billowed towards his face, but the thing was slapped aside by Quintus.

    Vlad didn’t have time to thank his companion at arms. The second thrall swung a wide arc at Vlad, forcing him to skip back a step as the other rose to its feet.

    Quintus didn’t give it the chance to get far. He pierced it through the leg with his longspear.

    “I can hold this one,” said Quintus through gritted teeth, “but not for long!”

    KA-BLAM! Kham fired at one of the Harvesters but missed.

    To Kham’s surprise, there was a resounding retort from the Harvester. Pots exploded all around him, drenching him in honey.

    “Son of a BITCH!” shouted Kham. “You ruined my new coat!”

    Vlad parried another swing and then rammed the thrall with his shield. Tentacles waved around the edges.

    “Ahh!” shouted Vlad. He let go of his shield, pushing the thrall off balance. It fell backwards and Vlad stabbed it through the head before it could rise.

    Kham rolled out from behind the honey pots and ran towards a nearby shed at the edge of the pits. The male Harvester chanted something, and a glob of acid sizzled into Kham’s flesh. Or would have, if he wasn’t covered in honey.

    Some of the honey sloughed off of him. “Thanks,” Kham shouted. He slogged forward, catching dust and debris all over his honey-caked feet. “Now if you could just take care of my boots…”

    Vlad yanked the shield out of the thing’s death grip, only to bring it up just in time as the second thrall swung at his head.

    Quintus pointed at the female Harvester. “Jump!” he shouted. At over thirty feet in the air, a jump from her flying disk would surely be fatal. It didn’t work.

    “Weak magic,” said the woman. “Let me demonstrate true power: magicus telum!

    The magical bolt sizzled into Quintus’ chest, causing him to growl in pain. He dropped his spear and drew his gladius.

    Face the Blinding Light of Illiir!” shouted Quintus, pointing at the female Harvester with the tip of his blade. A bright glowing gladius appeared in midair near the woman and swung at her head. Her flying disk moved her out of the way just in time.

    Lubrico!” said the male Harvester. A puddle of greasy liquid appeared before Kham.

    Kham hopped into the slick of oil and, keeping his arms out for balance, slid through it with ease. Honey fell off of his boots.

    “Thanks,” said Kham. “Let me come up there and repay you!”
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    Last edited by talien; Monday, 28th July, 2008 at 07:10 PM.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 6c: Choosing Where to Fight is as Important as When

    Kham grabbed a vial from the many pockets of his coat and took a swig. With a leap, he easily cleared the ten-foot distance to the top of the roof of the shed.

    Vlad whirled and slashed downwards at the remaining thrall, but it blocked his blow with its shield arm. He noted in a moment of revulsion that bits of flesh and bone splintered off of the shield when he struck. The creature wasn’t wielding a shield—it WAS the shield.

    Quintus pointed his gladius at the female Harvester again and a piercing beam of white-hot energy sliced through her shoulder.

    The male Harvester turned and fired again at Kham. KA-BLAM! It just missed him, taking out part of the roof Kham stood on.

    With a final blow, the thrall went down. Vlad hacked at it a few more times until its tentacles stopped writhing.

    “Vlad,” said Quintus, “hit the male Harvester, he’s the leader!”

    “With what?” said Vlad. He had no ranged weapons on him.

    ”Anything!” shouted Quintus. He turned to point at the female harvester. “Illiir judges you guilty of harvesting innocent souls!” shouted the legionnaire. “Suffer His wrath!

    The female harvester burst into golden flames even as the glowing gladius winked out of existence.

    The male Harvester chanted “tergus lapideu” and was rewarded with the sound of cracking stone. His skin turned slate gray.

    Kham drew a bead on the male Harvester but lifted his pistol after the spell was cast. “Great,” he said. “I may as well be shooting a statue.” He needed another target.

    The woman flew by, her disk spinning crazily as she writhed in pain from Quintus’ divine rage. “That’ll do.”

    With a KA-BLAM! Kham ended her suffering. She screamed and fell of her disk, crunching to the ground thirty feet below.

    Kham peered over the edge of the shed. “Ouch,” he said.

    When he looked up, the male Harvester hovered before him. “I sense much power within you,” he said. The harvester bared a row of sharpened teeth. “You will make for an excellent harvest.”

    There was a loud CRACK! And a piece of magic-suppressing gravel ricocheted off of the bottom of the Harvester’s disk. He whirled, but the disk’s magical energy sputtered and failed, plunging him to the ground.

    Kham waved at Vlad. “Nice shot,” he said.

    “He’s getting up,” said Quintus. “Careful.”

    The Harvester slowly rose to his feet. His skin no longer looked like stone, but he was otherwise unharmed. The Harvester dusted himself off and stalked towards the center of the pit.

    “Kham, get down here!” shouted Quintus.

    “Yes,” said the Harvester as he rolled up his sleeves. “Come die with the rest of the fools.”

    “Take him Vlad,” said Quintus.

    Vlad needed no further direction. He stepped up to the Harvester, sword and shield at the ready.

    Fuco aspergo!

    “Ah, crap,” Kham said as the coruscating cone of colors washed over Vlad. He drew two more pistols as Quintus crouched low behind his shield.

    Vlad collapsed to the ground, unconscious.

    “You’re out of tricks, priest,” said the Harvester. “And now it’s time for you to show me what you’ve been hiding behind that shield. Lamia attrecto!” One of the Harvester’s hands glowed with a sickly green radiance.

    “I’m not a priest,” said Quintus. He ducked the Harvester’s outstretched hand and plunged his gladius deep into the Harvester’s chest. “I am…” he shoved it deeper with both hands on the hilt, “…a legionnaire!”

    The Harvester fell off Quintus’ blade. The legionnaire helped Vlad to his feet.

    From Kham’s vantage point, he was able to make out the last of the Harvesters being dropped out of the sky by a huge fireball. There was a resounding cheer from the surviving mages.

    Yvigne’ ran up to the edge of the pit. “The Elorii has asked us to convene a Council at once,” she said. “Follow me!”

    Quintus scooped up the boy again and walked calmly towards the center of the town.

    “You know,” said Vlad, falling into step with Kham, “I don’t think Quintus’ tactics are as crazy as they may seem.”

    “He’s a legionnaire,” said Kham, returning his pistols back into their holsters. “They’re all crazy.”
    Last edited by talien; Monday, 28th July, 2008 at 07:12 PM.

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