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COLDEVEN 6 CY584

THE BATTLE ON THE DUNES

Samuel Kong, Warrior Priest of Heironeous, was beginning to tire. Three man scorpions were upon him, and every time he tried to call forth the power of his god his foes would distract him, ruining his concentration, and making him lose the spell he had spent so much time praying for.

"Ugly things", he thought trying to loose his long sword from it’s sheath, "Ugly and quite insane." The man scorpions were gibbering senselessly, their beautiful human faces corrupted by snarls as they tried to bash his brains in with obsidian clubs and poison him with their wicked stingers.

His feet slipped in the sand as he finally got his sword free, slashing wildly in an arc and driving the two foes in front of him back a few feet. His joy was short lived however, as the third creature hit home with his club. Luckily the armor Kong wore took the brunt of the blow. But it still hurt like hell.

"Behind you Sam!" yelled a small voice from above. Chancing a glance, Kong looked up to see the gnome Questrix pointing and yelling from his perch on their magic carpet. His old friend Tyson, the dwarf standing beside him, an unhappy look on his bearded face. "Thanks for the tip", Kong mumbled to himself, as if I didn’t see it. Why don’t you come down here and try to survive this mess."

As he slashed with the sword again, drawing a nasty cut on the monster in front of him, his face softened. He knew his friends would be beside him if they could. Unfortunately some magical force held them trapped on the carpet, preventing them from moving, casting spells, or helping for that matter. He knew that Tyson was seething with rage, unable to help his friend and condemned to watch the proceedings.

Questrix was deep in thought and the strained look on his face showed the fierce concentration as he mumbled words unfathomable to most ordinary people.

"Ulan vas damanya"

He opened his eyes and slowly tried to make the magical carpet known as "Key" move forward at his mental command. The carpet did move…….a total of six inches before once again being stopped by the unseen magical force surrounding them. The gnome slumped back down, his fellow carpet companion Tyson giving him a pat on the back, a most unusual gesture for the usually surly dwarf. Questrix was forced to watch the scene unfolding below them.

Elesser was riding a magical steed full force up the side of a massive sand dune. A massive man scorpion clad in armor and wielding a nasty double bladed sword was right on his tail, swinging the weapon closer and closer. The elf was furiously trying to remove something from his belt pouch and continue to stay mounted at the same time.

Dragor and Breorn stood side by side at the top of the dune, almost surrounded by man scorpions with another swarm screaming as they ran towards them, obsidian clubs waving menacingly in the air. Breorn’s bow sang as for after foe charged up the dune. He was lucky to be getting his bow knocked, for as one monster fell, the next was immediately upon him.

Dragor slashed with his sword, the magical blade singing as it hit home. While Breorn’s bow sang metaphorically…Dragor’s sword actually sang out loud. "The blood of evil, it makes me shiver," it sang in a menacing voice. "I slice my foe right through the liver!" Dragor grimaced at the sound as another man scorpion fell before him. "As a poet it’s one hell of a sword". he thought, bringing Blaze around again.

They felt a sweltering heat from behind them, as a twenty foot high wall of fire sprung up out of no where, cutting off any hope of a withdrawal.

Strategic or otherwise.

As suddenly as he had disappeared during the initial man scorpion assault, Silverhoof, the company’s new Desert Centaur friend reappeared at the top of the dune. Two large wolves beside him charged down the dune at his command. They headed in the direction of Elesser and the man scorpions leader.

Pulling his longbow, Silverhoof knocked an arrow. It looked like no normal arrow. This arrow was special for it was made out of bone……man scorpions bone. The tip dripped a noxious smelling paste. The centaur smiled to himself as he aimed at one of the creature’s attacking Sam. "Wyvern poison" he thought, "just the thing to ruin a man scorpions day."

Allowing himself a quick glance, Ellesser looked over his shoulder. His eyes widened as he saw how close the man scorpions leader had gotten to him. Elves have small eyes, yet his grew wider still as he saw two large wolves bearing down on them. Turning forward, the elven wizard was greeted with another surprise…..He was rapidly riding towards a twenty-foot high wall of fire.

"Celene guide my hand." He whispered to himself, finally freeing the object he needed from his belt. He pointed the small piece of wood at his pursuer. "VAS DAS MADANYA!" he yelled, marveling at the feeling of power in the wand. A forked bolt of electricity shot forth….hitting the abomination square in the chest. Ellesser’s smile of triumph quickly turned to shock, as his foe never even slowed down. The last thing the wizard saw was a cruel blade ripping open his back.

The elf fell crumpled in the sand.

Sam Kong took a moment to catch his breath. The three Man scorpions that he was battling so fiercely lay dead at his feet…. bone arrows sticking out of them like a pincushion. "I thought you abandoned us," he said watching the ranger salvage some arrows from the corpses. "Well, when I yelled to flee, I expected you to all be behind me. When I turned around I was alone. So I took the time to call a few friends…and poison a few arrows."

"Kong!" yelled a voice from above. "Whoever cast these spells is somewhere over there" Sam looked in the direction that the gnome pointed. "I heard him this time!" Yelled Questrix, hopping up and down in excitement in the force field that surrounded him.

"And now he knows that we know." grumbled the cleric. "Heironeous, open my eyes so I might see!"

"Over there" he whispered to the centaur, "about thirty yards to the left…..obviously invisible or something."

"Wait Sam! Oh no!" The fear in the gnome’s voice immediately drew Sam’s attention…ruining his spell in the process. "It’s Ellesser…..By Moradin’s beard he’s down!"

Running to his horse, Sam turned to the centaur. "You know what to do…I must tend to my friend." Jumping in the saddle, Samuel Kong raced down the dune.

Silverhoof quickly called one of the wolves’ back to him. "They have a keen nose." He explained to the gnome, in reply to the confused look on his face.

He quickly knocked an arrow and let it fly in the direction Kong had pointed. He smiled as he heard it hit home, knocked another and grinned again. The arrows now pinpointed the as of now unseen spell caster.

The ranger knocked another arrow and as he aimed was able to see the cone of ice and snow howling towards him. He turned just in time, missing the full force of the magical attack. His haunch had taken some of the magic’s effect however, and he grimaced as the cold began to numb his back legs.

One of the wolves had closed with the first man scorpion that stood between Kong and the lifeless form of his friend Elesser. He saw club and stinger and fang clash as he rode past. The huge scorpion leader now blocked his path….Kong simply ignored him and guided Redhoof to go around it.

He pulled the horse to a stop, jumping out of the saddle while still moving. Kneeling down beside the elf…he saw the situation was grave indeed.

"Heironeous grant me the power of your healing hand", he said, laying his hands on his friends wounds.

Blue fire glowed from the clerics hands……and miraculously the wounds began to close. The flesh mended and the blood flowed back into the elf’s body.

Sam smiled and quietly thanked his god for saving his friends life. Ellesser's eye’s fluttered open, and in a weak voice he said:

"Kong, lookout behind you."

Silverhoof was beginning to think he had a problem.  Even with the wolf's keen sense of smell, he was still having a problem pinpointing his invisible foe.  His arrows seemed to strike true but would fall helplessly to the ground after hitting their target.  Obviously the unseen spell caster had taken precautions to defend itself.

"SHAKALAH" screamed a shrill, inhuman voice that made no effort to conceal the words of power.  The centaur reeled as a magical field passed over the area, the effect being not unlike a small atomic bomb.

Miraculously he seemed to be unhurt.  Looking around, he noticed the wolf he had summoned was not so lucky.  All that remained of the faithful beast was a smoldering pile of charred fur.  Dropping his composite longbow, Silverhoof pulled a gleaming sword from a sheath strapped to his back.  He charged in the direction of the spell caster....and when you have the body of a horse, a charge can be impressive indeed.

"UVE RAS MAKARAH!"

A crackling bolt of blue lightning pierces the centaur in the chest.  Smoke steams from the wound.  He never slows down, but raises the sword over his head.

"RAS FLAM!"

Fire erupts all around him now, singeing his hooves, burning his flanks.  Silverhoof's face contorts into a mirror of pain and anger.  "By the blood of my ancestor's!" he bellows, "make my sword see what I cannot!"

The mighty blade crashes down with the force of a desperate arm.  The rangers face softens as he feels the weapon strike thin air.  Unbelievably his rugged face is serene.  The sword falls helplessly to the sand from his open palm.  "I have failed you my friends." he whispers, closing his eyes.  "I have failed you my father."

The last thing Silverhoof hears is the gnome and dwarf held captive above him screaming his name.  Then all is electricity, burning pain, and darkness.

 

Somehow Samuel Kong is able to avoid the club that swings unseen behind him.  He manages to whisper a quick prayer to his god and his Ellesser is almost made whole again.  A few small cuts is all that remains of the deadly wound, a blessing compared to the gaping hole across his back visible only seconds before.  A mortal wound.  He sees Sam drive the crazed scorpion man back a few steps with the priests sword, "Wyrmslayer" in hand.  It gives the elf enough time to stand up and prepare some magic of his own.

KithKa, the leader of the man scorpion tribe, sends the last wolf summoned by Silverhoof flying through the air off the end of it's deadly, double sided blade.  It lands an astounding twenty five feet away.  It does not move again.  "Kill humans not pig dogs." it thinks.  "Crush elves. smash man horse.  Slash em' Tear em' Rip em' up.  This creature is quite insane.  It stands over ten feet tall and is just about as long.  Crude armor hangs off its torso, a sign of its high standing among the bizarre scorpion men.  The muscles on its human arms bulge as they heft the double sword.  It's eight scorpion legs move easily through the thick sand.  A black, poison laden stinger thrusts from his tail, a tail capable of extending fully across its human head.  A head with the face of an angel. The man scorpion, formerly a human Suel Prince, advances on Kong and Ellesser.

Dragor and Breorn.  Warrior and Archer, continue to reduce the size of the man scorpion population.  "You alright over there?" yells Dragor to the elf, as he smashes his shield into the face of the creature in front of him, drops it, and pulls a second sword.

"Just great!" mumbles the rogue, backpedaling and still managing to knock another arrow as three man scorpions bear down on him.  He cannot draw his sword, a preferable weapon when your enemies are on top of you.  Instead he must load and fire arrows at point blank range, sometimes from only a few feet away from his foes.  It is not an easy thing to do, although the nimble elf manages to make it look like it is.  Also, Breorn has managed to almost slay one of his foes.  It stumbles around, indiscriminately trying to sting friend and foe alike.  Funny thing about man scorpions.....hit them hard enough and they go into a berserk stinging frenzy.  An attribute of the race that the elf isn't sure he enjoys very much.

Dragor just laughs at his friends dilemma.  He brings his warhorse, Ghost around in a tight circle, so the animals haunch knocks a man scorpion back as the horse turns.  It is a trick that he has taught Ghost himself.  The two work well together, and his mount would even attack on its own, such is the love between man and beast.  Again and again the swords are brought into action, again and again they strike home sending bits of exoskeleton and flesh, blood and black ichor flying.  A club strikes Dragor from behind but glances off his armor, enemies fall before him, Ghost's nostrils flare, and Blaze sings a new song.

"We don't need another sword my lord, why do you use another sword my lord?  Put away that stupid blade my lord, maybe I'll run away I'm bored." It sings in a voice that sounds like icicles.  There is no mirth in the song now....Blaze is obviously jealous of the second sword his master now wields.

Soon there are no man scorpions left alive near Breorn and Dragor.

Once again Ellesser faces KithKa alone.  Sam is busy battling the last normal man scorpion and the mage is left alone with the psychotic leader.  "Not again, thinks the elf, this just isn't fair."  He begins to quickly recite the words to his magic, but the scorpion man is faster.  Ellesser's eyes grow wide in astonishment as that wicked double-bladed sword rips his flesh open again.

Searching frantically in his pouch, the mage quickly thanks the gods as his hand closes on the object of his search.  An exquisitely crafted rope practically leaps out of the pouch, curling around Ellesser's feet like a serpent ready to be charmed.

"Loic Epor", shouts the mage, marveling as the rope snakes forward on it's own towards KithKa.  The scorpion man looks puzzled as the enchanted rope quickly wraps around it's arachnid legs...pinning the wicked tail to the abdomen, and wrapping itself around the human chest and arms.  It hisses in anger and frustration and spits broken common at the elf.

"I should did chop off head tree thing..me nice too the time first.  Me not be nice so again!" growls KithKa struggling to get at Elesser.  He is trying to raise the double-sided sword, but the weapon is as hopelessly tangled as he is.  Remarkably, the man-scorpion leader is still moving forward towards the mage.  There is hatred in his eyes and anger on it's face.

Ellesser calmly steps back a few paces and brings a golden horn to his lips.  Facing KithKa, he begins to blow into it.  You would expect an instrument as beautiful as the golden horn to produce music fit for a king....instead of the horrible, wailing blast that shoots from it like a tidal wave.  A sound that you can actually see as it pounds down on Kith Ka.  The man-scorpion tries to get his hands over his ears, but the rope of entanglement prevents him from doing so.  With a blank look on his face, KithKa stops struggling against the rope.

Still trapped in the force cage, Tyson the dwarf lets out a shout of happiness and frustration.  "I must have a head of granite!" he exclaims to his fellow prisoner Questrix.  "All this time there is an invisible foe before us and all I do is smash these invisible walls in frustration.  All this time wasted.  I could have been helping poor Silverhoof.  By Moradin's beard I am dense!"  Reaching in his belt the warrior pulls out a rather plain pair of glasses.  "I should have been wearing the glasses of Derkin!"  He puts on the spectacles and smiles as all that is unseen now is revealed.  If he looks in the right place.

Rishtak, the man-scorpion noble, is trying his hardest not to chuckle out loud and possibly reveal his location.  The invisibility spell he has cast on himself had worked better than he can ever have imagined.  It was worth all the weeks spent translating the tome he had taken off the nomad he had killed.  He smiled as the memory of the human screaming filled his ears...as the memory of the flesh filled his mouth.

Hearing Tyson's shouts, the sorcerer abruptly looks up and spies Breorn charging up the hill towards his hidden location.  He quickly decides another spell is in order and recites the words of power, gesturing with his arms and even some of his scorpion legs.  Rishtak vanishes from the dune and appears almost three hundred feet away.  On the exact spot that Breorn and Dragor have just vacated.  "Perfect" he thinks with a wicked grin, and begins to prepare yet another spell.

Breorn charges up the dune on his horse towards the fallen centaur.  Before his mount can stop fully the elf is kneeling over the body of his friend.  All to quickly he is up again and back in the saddle.  He knows there is nothing he can do to help the ranger...but he knows someone who can.

Samuel Kong is still battling the last scorpion-man.  Again and again his sword hits home, but the creatures resilience is amazing.  Sam knows that a hardened warrior would be having better luck, but he is the champion of Heironeous, and the god encourages his priests to join combat if they are able.  Spiritual words are one thing, Heironeous demands deeds as well.  He catches a glimpse of white as it rushes past him, hears a thud and an inhuman scream.  He risks a glance and turns back to his foe with a smile.  Dragor, on his horse Ghost, has struck down KithKa.  The man-scorpion leader will not rise again.  The scene inspires Sam, and with a mighty roar the priest thrusts his blade through the creatures throat.  It goes down with a gurgle as Kong turns away from his enemy.  Evil the creature might have been, and an abomination as well, but it's face was human and Sam did not like the anguish he saw in that face.  He did not like it at all.

Sam, Elesser, and Dragor regroup a moment thinking they are safe a moment.  Eyeing Dragor's bloody arm the priest says a quick prayer to his god and touches the wound.  The pain in Dragor's face disappears as the wound magically closes.  "Thank you my friend", says Dragor.  "No thanks needed", replies Sam.  The friends talk a moment, surveying the carnage that surrounds them.  Corpses line the dune and blood stains the sand crimson.  The lull is short lived.

Breorn is riding towards the north pointing with one hand and holding an object in the other.  Tyson is yelling as he also points to the north.  Questrix does the same.  With a flash of smoke and a slight rumble, a nightmare creature appears directly in front of Dragor.  All arms and teeth, the summoned Xorn bounds towards the warrior.  Dragor pulls his sword once again and spurs Ghost forward.  Elesser begins to prepare a spell while Kong says a quick prayer and does the same.  Before they can finish however, the sky above them blackens and pounds giant hailstones upon them.  The two spell casters cry out as there spells fizzle away..ruined, but Dragor and the Xorn remain locked in battle.

A dark, noxious cloud drifts from the hidden mage as Breorn approaches.  Listening to Tyson shout directions, the archer approaches as close as he can without inhaling the deadly fumes.  He lets the object he is holding dangle from his outstretched hand.  It looks like a simple chime.  The kind that might hang in the garden of a hobbit.  So innocent looking, how can this fragile thing make any difference what so ever?

The question is answered as Breorn rings the chime.  He grins in satisfaction as he hears the hidden mage let out a curse.  Breorn knows that the chime's magic has worked.

Rishtak desperately tries to cast another spell.  He pulls some rose petals from a pouch, traces symbols in the air, and speaks the words of power.  "------" he yells.  "------?" the mage says to itself.  "-- ----!" exclaims the man-scorpion noble.  His words make no sound...no sound at all.  "What this be? he thinks to himself.  "No sound make can I!"  Think..Think!!  What magic no sound make?

Death spell yes..no no good.  Bring nother bad one?  No No Idiot, that no work.  Freeze?  Poison?  WHICH!!?

The man-scorpion sorcerer noble that is known as Rishtak never sees the fireball streaking towards him, it's origin Ellesser's outstretched palm.  It is to busy arguing with itself, hopping about in anger.  It doesn't see the ball of flame envelope it's body.

But he feels it.         And he lets out a scream of pure terror that makes no sound.