"I like your attitude sir," he says. "Ma'am, if you and your companions would care to follow me." He heads towards a rough cut stairway in the rock wall, that leads to a small chamber. Through a narrow crack in the rock wall it overlooks the top of the hidden trail and the entrance to the dwarf hideout.
Even as the group watches, Schattenstein and ten of his blue dwarves arrive at the stones that mark the entrance to the hideout. The Cobalt Dwarf stops, fingers his blue stone for a moment.
"Brother dwarves," he calls out. "I address you in the Common tongue so the humans you have with you can understand. Hand over the human woman to me. She is nothing to you, and I have no wish to shed your blood, but I will if I have to. You have until the moon reaches that outcropping," he gestures with his arm to a rock pillar behind him. Given the current position of the moon this is about five minutes.
"He is a dwarf without honour, to make such demands," say Kupferbart.
"Assuming he's a dwarf at all," Arcata says with a frown, eying how he handled that amulet. "There's spells that could conceal his true nature...or other spells that could take his mind from him. His fixation on that amulet is..."
She tapped her chin, just below her bottom lip, face set in thought.
"We should try to get that amulet away from him. More even than killing him. Dead, he's useless, but alive and without that object, he might tell us a great deal about the powers that are conspiring against these lands."
"I am not not sure I would count on that, Lady Arcata," says Brother Comoray with a grimace. "With dark powers at work there are often things more terrible than pain or death." Giving a quick check over to make sure his gear has all been properly fastened, he then draws his sword and intones, "May the Lady Magnificient smile upon us in the battle hence. Always do we seek her glory."
"I don't care if he's a dwarf. Or a demon lord of the Nether Realm, for that matter. No one lays claim to 'the human woman' without her consent unless and until he manages to rip my heart out of my chest. I am a Sangue; my blood guards every last drop of hers," Bastian growls, hands gripping his broadsword.
He takes a breath, adding in a calmer tone, "I'm not promising anyone lives, milady, but I'll do what I can. For now, it seems clear there's nothing worth negotiating for. Kupferbart, you as ready as I am to show this sky-colored whatever-he-is what we think of him?"
Sh'aah crouched and surveyed the opposing force while the others talked. The strange blue dwarf and his bodyguards were obvious. What he watched for were skirmishers on the flanks - given the main force location they could easily be at or through the opening by now.
"Aye," says Kupferbart. He utters some words in dwarven, and a volley of crossbow bolts lands just in front of Schattenstein. "A warning, Cobalt Dwarf," he calls out. "Your answer is no."
Sh'aah can see no sign of anyone attempting a flank - it seems that all of Schattensteins small force is concentrated in the narrow defile before the dwarf sanctuary. But even as he scans the steep pine-covered slopes, something like a mist seems to emerge from them, coalescing into dark serpentine forms that fly through the air, borne aloft by a soft blue glow. Schattenstein's hand is on his blue amulet.
The spirit snake things suddenly rush forwards towards the sancturay entrance. From below come cries of alarm, one of them cut off suddenly.
Thinking that the blue dwarves were about to waltz into the first chamber unopposed after that particular piece of magic, Sh'aah gives a yelp of alarm and disappears back down the staircase. Double axe held firmly and more than ready to fight magical made-up spirit things.
"This is all for nothing if they get you," Bastian says to the Lady Arcata. "I'll not say no to any magics you can use against them, but promise me you stay back and run if necessary. Stupid heroics are for my kind, not yours."
He gives a dry chuckle as he adds. "We need your kind for all the decrees of valor after we get our fool heads lopped off." With a wink, he charges after the other two down toward the mess, broadsword held high.
Arcata curses as the thing goes out of sight. She trots after Bastian, jaw set stubbornly.
"That thing might be a spirit, or something else your sword can't strike," she said. "I don't have a shot at it anymore from the top, so I'm coming with you. Regardless of what you might think, you are not expendable."
"I suppose that neck of yours wouldn't be much worth protecting if you weren't the sort who went sticking it out for your people," he offers, a bittersweet grin breaking his features for a moment. "Just try to keep your head attached to it?"
Brother Comoray can't see that the Cobalt dwarf actually cast a spell to call these serpent things up, possibly it was some property of the blue amulet that he wears. He's not sure either if these are summoned or conjured creatures.
Sh'aah and Comoray are first down the stairs, closely follwed by Bastian and Arcata right behind him. Cassie and Menexes the Copper Dwarf follow on behind. Fyfe is a little slower to act.
In the dwarf sanctuary cavern they see the three glowing blue serpents hovering in the air, facing Menexes' dwarf warriors, including Rexun. The nearest one has a dwarf struggling in its coils.
Sorry about the delay - another busy period and it takes a bit of work getting combat set up for these games. Ready to go now though!
Cobalt Dwarves are in blue, with "H" as Haxmar Schattenstein.
Copper Dwarves are in brown, with "M" Menexes and "R" Rexun.
Dulat hench-persons in orange, with "C" Cassie and "F" Fyfe. The purple "C" is Comoray.
Orange blob is the fire pit, hopefully the rest should be obvious.
On seeing the dwarf fighting with the ghostly snake, Arcata incanted...summoning twisting braids of energy that twined up her arm and surged out of her hand. The magical bolt winged out and slammed into the snake spirit!
(OOC - Invis Castle is down, but this is Magic Missile for 1d4+1 force damage; feel free to roll on my behalf. )
[sblock=ooc]Blargh. Sorry. I could have sworn I'd already replied...[/sblock]
Bastian surveys the field, then rushes forward to a point as central to the besieged dwarves as he can, drawing his greatsword in the process. He gestures for the remaining Dulat forces to join the fray, as well
"The snakes aren't the only ones who can coil, boys. Surround them, and we can crush them between us!"
[sblock=ooc]Move action southwest. He's trying to get in a position so that his Tactician ability will cover as many dwarves as possible.
Standard Action: Tactitian. He's going to delay this if possible until the other melee combatants can move inside the 30' range, then pull the trigger: grants Precise Strike to all allies in 30' for 4 rounds: +1d6 damage to their attacks while they're flanking with any other affected allies. [/sblock]
Seen closer, "winged snakes" is not a description that does justice to these creatures. They are more like coiled smoke or darkness, inky black with no features to be seen, and their wings are like shadows sweeping out above them. Their bodies are limned with a midnight blue glow that plays across the surface.
They can evidently interact with matter, judging by the captured dwarf, but can they be harmed by normal weapons? Sh'aah decides to examne the matter, and the answer appear to be yes. His axe tears the substance of the creature, although it seems to meet resistance that slows it as it passes through the dark snake. The creature responds by opening at one end and biting hard on Sh'aah's shoulder, at the same time tightening its coils around the dwarf. The other two shadow snakes bite dwarves facing them, flinging their limp bodies to one side.
They can be affected by weapons, now Arcata tries her magic. There is resistance to her power, but she punches through it, damaging the shadow-stuff of the nearest snake creature.
Sh'aah - axe attack on serpent #1, 19+8=27, hits for 1d8+6=9 damage.
Bastian - move and use tactician. On the map this was the best position I could move him to, the grey area covers his tactician radius so copper dwarves 1,2,3,6,7 and Rexun are affected, as re Sh'aah, Comoray and Arcata.
Snake #1 - constrict dwarf #2 for 5 damage, bite Sh'aah for 5 damage as well.
Snake #2 - bite dwarf #6 for 13 damage, #6 is dying.
Snake #3 - bite dwarf #4 for 8 damage, #4 is disabled.
Arcata - magic missile vs. snake #1, 1d4+1 = 3 damage, must overcome Spell Resistance, caster level check = 19+3, success.
Comoray skirts around the nearest smoke snake to head towards a more beleaguered group of dwarves. As he moves, he invokes the blessing of Velshionne, which spreads across the battlefield to bolster his allies.
Bastian grimaces as the snakes start taking a toll. Deciding he's done enough rallying, he shifts to flank the closest serpant with the dwarf on it's other side, trying to take advantage of the distraction to open it's shadowy underbelly.
The otherworldly look of the beast appears to continue unnerving the cavalier, however, and his swing goes wide.
[sblock=ooc]5' step on the diagonal to the spot just below Sha'ah. I believe that puts Bastian in flank with dwarf 3.
Greatsword: +7, 2d6+4, 19-20/x2 Heavy Flail: +6, 1d10+4, 19-20/x2, disarm, trip Lance: +6, 1d8+4, x3 Lance, mounted charge: +8, 2d8+8, x3 Composite Longbow: +3, 1d8, x3, Range 110 ft. Conditional Attack mods: +level (2) damage vs. Challenge target, +1d6 when flanking with another Precise Striker, +1 confirm critical, +1 high ground when mounted (M or S targets), Power Attack -1/+2
Conditions: Bless (+1 Attack & save vs. fear), Tactician (grants allies in 30' the Precise Strike feat)