Session 14 (Part Three)
Quintus cursed as he saw a trio of reddish bolts slam into Rosë. He ducked behind the partially opened double doors and clawed at his laden belt for a scroll case. Drusilla sailed past him, gladius
in hand, seeking to tumble around the mass of enemies surrounding the barbarian just past the threshold. Lew, who could just see into the room, closed his eyes and began a rhythmic chanting.
The Brigante roared in pain and anger as the arcane bolts slammed into him. He vented on a lightly armored Shadowblade, sending the sallow-faced young man hurtling backwards in a welter of blood and brains. His place was taken by two more gladius
wielders, eager to skewer the barbarian. The very number of Rosë’s opponents hampered their effectiveness, however, as they jostled and bumped each other in their eagerness to get to him. His most serious opposition was a trio of warriors clad in lorica squamata
, bearing spathas
and further protected by scutums
, angling in on the barbarian’s left flank.
One of them pivoted and thrust at Drusilla as she sailed by. The spatha
punched through her light armor and dipped a handsbreadth into her midsection. Her momentum tore her free from the blade, but she landed in a heap with blood pumping from the gaping wound.
(DM’s Note: I use a house rule that adds the BAB of the person you are trying to tumble around to the tumbling DC and rolled really bad for Drusilla. The resultant AoO was a critical hit.)
Quintus found the scroll he was searching for and stepped into the doorway, shouting the final words of the spell. A flickering ball of flame, one and a half paces across, erupted next to the enemy mage, searing him with flames. Whatever fell magic the Shadowblade wizard was calling forth sputtered and died as the man frantically sought to extinguish his flaming robes. Quintus grin widened as Lew finished chanting behind him and a pair of badgers, bearing the tell-tale bluish-white aura of Osirian
, appeared behind the enemy battle line and tore into Rosë’s opponents.
(DM’s Note: During the rescue of Rosë, Sextus, Lew and Rowan, Quintus “liberated” an enemy spellbook and several scrolls. The party traded the spellbook to the ship’s mage of the Sea Eagle for a cache of low-level scrolls.)
Drusilla slumped against the wall, holding her entrails in with one hand and fumbling in a pouch with the other. She fished out a crystal vial, pulled the cork stopper out with her teeth and sucked down the opaque liquid inside. The powerful healing draught immediately closed her hideous wound, restoring her to full health. Finally arriving on the scene, Rowan and Sextus charged past Lew and Quintus, smashing into the enemy’s right flank.
The arrival of reinforcements gave Rosë the distraction he needed and his arcing blade flashed between the helm and armored shoulder of one of the warriors, shearing through the man’s neck and leaving it hanging by a mere thread of flesh. Several of his opponents recoiled as their companion’s gore spattered them. The Brigante, his face resembling a horrific red mask, grinned a wide grin.
The enemy spellcaster tried desperately to evade Quintus’ Flaming Sphere
, with little luck. Although the mage did not torch up as the sorcerer desired, the flames prevented him from concentrating on anything but self-preservation. The holy badgers tore into the Shadowblades, although one was quickly dispatched. Lew readied his staff and moved forward to support his friends. Rowan covered Rosë’s right flank and Sextus passed the barbarian on the left, swing his dual gladii
He countered the attack of one Shadowblade with his off-hand blade and struck the man solidly in the midsection. Drusilla, undeterred by her earlier mishap, tumbled under the man’s desperate cut, stood up behind him and thrust her sword through his kidney. She flashed the bard a quick grin then spun away, seeking other foes. Rosë’s axe sent another victim crashing to the floor and Rowan severely wounded another. The Shadowblades, so confident a dozen grains earlier, began to waver.
Quintus, dissatisfied with the effect of the Flaming Sphere
, ceased concentrating on it and prepared to cast another spell. The wizard, momentarily free of the blazing ball’s attention, raised a slender wand and sent another trio of bolts slamming into Rosë, staggering him. His malicious grin of satisfaction was erased as Quintus returned the favor with two Magic Missiles
of his own. The mage stumbled, crying out in pain.
Sextus leaped forward, adding to the wizard’s pain with a gash along his ribs. Then Drusilla was there again, dodging past the mage’s clawed hand and driving one of her blades through his left lung. The doomed man’s eyes widened as he looked down to see the point of her gladius
protruding from his chest, then they rolled back into his head as he collapsed in a heap. Sextus cursed under his breath, ‘That’s two kills she has stolen from me!’
The combined pressure of Rowan, Rosë and the remaining badger splintered the half-dozen strong Shadowblade line. The second of the armored warriors fell to sword and axe and several of the gray cloaks turned to flee. Quintus paused for a moment, noting that the chamber they were fighting in was some type of training room, with archery butts, practice weapons and stuffed dummies lining the walls. The irony of the battlefield brought a wane smile to the sorcerer’s face.
He counted several exits from the room, including a huge set of double doors across the room. Several of the Shadowblades broke for that portal as the line gave way. Quintus shouted at Lew to follow him and sprinted around the remnants of the melee in pursuit. The remaining warrior and a pair of gray cloaks stood their ground, hacking at Rowan and Rosë.
Sextus and Drusilla moved in tandem, angling to cutoff the fleeing enemy. Quintus paused and summoned forth a Sleep
spell. The magic had minimum effect as only one of the Shadowblades slumped to the ground. The trio that remained turned before the large doors and prepared to meet the onslaught of the companions. Rosë and Rowan each dropped one of their foes. The ranger left the last man to the barbarian and raced towards the knot battling before the portal.
The concerted efforts of Sextus, Drusilla, Lew and Quintus quickly dropped one of the gray cloaks, but the other two used their companion’s sacrifice to slip through the doors. Behind them, the Brigante’s axe smashed through the defenses of his final opponent. Howling with glee and tongue hanging wolf-like from his mouth, Rosë sprinted forward.
Rowan saw the last pair of gray cloaks slip through the slightly opened doors. Without breaking stride, the woodsman hit the narrowing opening and burst through, yelling madly. A grain after Rowan disappeared into whatever room lay beyond the doors, Quintus heard the shouts and cries of renewed combat!
To Be Continued…
Next: Session 14 (Part Four) – Fateful Decisions
~ Old One
PS – The title of this installment – Twenty-One
– will make more sense next time