Part 1 Part 3
Jaela caught sight of the witches zooming towards whatever screaming madman was making such a racket and hastened to follow halberd in hand. So the witches were looking for an insane barbarian or something? Probably the dragonborn she’d heard about in Eveningshire. She’d go and back them up then. She was excited to make friends with these witches and finally have some companions! Besides Erathis of course.
Speaking of which… This is the right thing to do, right my lady? Prayed/thought Jaela. She felt a little embarrassed for not asking until now. These are good witches right?
Yes Jaela. They are champions of civilization and justice. Said Erathis. Well alright then
Thom was having fun. He chopped and slashed and stabbed as Blood Drinker absorbed the gouts of blood that arose from the gnolls who dared challenge him. Yesssss! Said Blood Drinker. Give me blood! Blood! Blood! BLOOD! Something was happening though. He was enjoying himself too much. One of the gnolls had bloodied him and the mixture of his own blood and the blood of his enemies rose around him in a rich aroma that was making him feel slightly dizzy. He wasn’t sure why though; he’d been bloodied plenty of times before. Maybe it was that he kept thinking of little Bucky, stolen by the gnolls or maybe it was because there was no Aludra here to have his back. And no Harper. Thought a traitorous part of his mind.
That made him angry and he threw himself even more into the bloodlust, the glory of combat. His vision was soon tinged with even more red than was usual for combat and he could hear his heartbeat so loudly in his ears that he was effectively deaf to all that wasn’t a part of the Iron Dance.
The shadow watches and waits.
Lex landed as she saw Thom decapitate what looked like the last of the gnolls. She dismounted her broom and pranced over towards him. He always was beloved of the moon she thought as she observed the bodies of the fallen gnolls all around her.
“Good to see you Thom!” she said as she glided the last few steps towards him. “Seems like you didn’t even need our he-”
But the end of her sentence was cut off as Thom, unfocused eyes burning red and filled with hatred, stabbed Blood Drinker deep into her chest.
“Thom…” was all Lex managed to say, a look of deep hurt in her eyes as she watched her friend murder her in cold blood. Thom pulled Blood Drinker out of her chest and Lex’s body hit the ground.
Jaela heard a new scream rend the air, this time one that sounded higher, more feminine than the earlier battle cries. “Lex!” shrieked the agonized voice. Jaela redoubled her speed and crested the top of the hill just in time to see a tall musle-y dragonborn man (with no pants for some reason?) decapitate one of the witches as she charged towards him. The witch’s head dropped right next to what she realized with horror was the other witch. Jaela couldn’t be sure, but she thought she saw the gleam of tears on the face of the decapitated witch. No new friends to be found here she thought, raising her halberd and preparing to charge. Only another monster to put down.
Thom shook himself as the bloodlust began to wear off a bit and his grip loosened ever so slightly on Blood Drinker. He glanced down, frowning at the two corpses in front of him. Those didn’t look like gnolls. In fact, they both almost looked familiar….
The blade of the halberd would have taken his head off if he hadn’t heard the quick padding of feet and gotten up Blood Drinker in a defensive stance in time. Some purple woman who was almost as tall as he was seemed determined to kill him. Had he killed any purple people? Not that he could remember. Then again it was possible- he killed a lot of people.
They began to dance the Iron Dance together, sword against halberd, feet moving back and forth as their weapons whirled about. Thom liked to think that when it came to chopping people up, he was one of the best. He certainly had the best weapon that he knew of. But he had the disturbing feeling as the fighting got faster and faster that he was in presence of someone who was at least as good as he was, if not better. This purple lady’s halberd had a longer reach than Blood Drinker and she kept sweeping the pommel at his legs trying to trip him and keeping him off balance. She struck with such ferocity that maintaining a solid defense cost much more of his concentration than was typical for him. He usually spent most of his energy figuring out how to put his sword into the other person.
The woman gritted her teeth and hissed with a look of determination on her face, “I name you my true enemy. I do swear this oath.”
“Woah,” said Thom, “Let’s talk about his.” He began to backpedal as her assault became even more relentless, and his counterstrikes and attacks became fewer and fewer and she forced him onto his back feet. He was already tired from fighting all of those gnolls, so this wasn’t the time to be having a duel to the death. He was about to say something else when she abruptly changed tactics and slammed the pommel of her hard against his sword, jarring his arm and nearly making him fall. She took advantage of his flagging defense by delivering a chop downwards unto his shoulder, cutting deep into his armor and even biting into his flesh. He grunted in pain and watched horrified (but also faintly aroused) as the purple woman raised her halberd and prepared to deliver the killing blow.
“Thom!” cried a voice from the other side of the hill, distracting the purple woman for a key moment. Thom backed away and regained his footing just in time to look up and see Aludra coming towards them, hammer raised high to defend her friend.
Jaela watched this newcomer approach, blonde hair suddenly covered by a layer of rapidly freezing frost and a cold wind following her as the dwarf prepared to swing her hammer. Kill them both Jaela. Said the voice of Erathis. They both helped cause the opening of the portal into the abyss. They are responsible for the deaths of the thousands and soon millions of innocents as well as the destruction of civilization all across Drunkeros. Kill them both now.
Jaela dodged the blow of the adorable, busty dwarf woman and felt deep melancholy. How could such a beautiful woman be responsible for so much evil? It didn’t matter. You have to do what you have to do though, and this dwarf was clearly the companion of the dragonborn who had murdered those witches.
This time it felt less like fighting a rabid animal, as it had been against just the dragonborn, but against both him and his dwarf companion it was more like trying to hold back a river. The dwarf woman swung her frost covered hammer, but she also summoned plants all around them to snare and even attack Jaela as they fought. With the dragonborn attempting to flank her and attacking non-stop she might have been finished in seconds were it not for two things: First, none of the dwarf’s attacks seemed to land, and though she was proficient at defense her attacks lacked precision and grace. Second, the dragonborn was both tired and injured.
Neither of these advantages would be enough for her to prevail without some serious improvisation. The two of them began to back her towards the edge of the hill. It was a pretty steep decline so she if she stepped off of the relatively flat top of the hill, she would lose her footing completely. Desperate times. Jaela choose her moment well and knocked aside one particularly wild swipe of the dwarf’s hammer and abandoning her halberd, dove headfirst at the surprised woman. The two rolled on the ground, tussling as they went. Jaela had to stop herself from apologizing when she accidentally grabbed the dwarf’s boob (even over the armor) and she could have sworn that the dwarf was blushing.
Finish it Jaela. Said the voice of Erathis. And she did. Jaela smashed her fist against the dwarf’s face, slamming the back of her head against the ground. Moving quickly while the dwarf was still dazed Jaela popped to her feet and heaved the woman up above her head. She stood for the barest of moments with the flailing dwarf held towards the sky as though Jaela was presenting the dwarf to the world. Dwarves were incredibly dense despite being so short, and the dwarf woman was wearing heavy armor so Jaela had to strain with all her might to give her a proper throw. As Jaela had anticipated the dragonborn had charged towards her, trying to get Jaela while she was on the ground, so the flying dwarf took him completely by surprise. They both hit the ground and the sword went spinning from the dragonborn’s hand and (improbably) sank into the ground blade first. She grinned to herself a little. Not everyone would think that throwing someone was a viable combat strategy. While both of her adversaries squirmed on the ground and tried to regain their grip on reality Jaela retrieved her halberd.
She dashed over her two adversaries as they were in the process of trying to rise. The dragonborn was on his hands and knees when he saw the halberd descending. “Wait!” he screamed, all traces of humor and bloodlust gone from him. There’s no mercy in gravity and steel though so the halberd’s edge split his skull in two.
So passed Thom of House Vidalis. The shadow took note.
The dwarf woman screamed. “Thom,” she said through furious tears, “Thom why no oh fuck oh shit no you didn’t.” She turned hateful eyes towards Jaela. “He was all I had left you bitch.” She got to her feet. “I’m going to make you pay.”
Can’t I stop now my lady? Asked Jaela. Surely this is enough? Even if she caused the apocalypse, this must be enough. She parried and dodged and waited for a response from her god. It was not long in coming.
Your job is to bring justice and order to the world Jaela. Said Erathis. I said FINISH IT. Do not make me say it again. So Jaela finished it.
What happens. Wondered the shadow. When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
The shadow was no philosopher but had to guess it would look something like this. The tall deva danced the Iron Dance as only one who is born to do so truly can. Her halberd was a whirlwind of death itself, striking again and again. Sometimes it glowed with a holy light, sometimes it fell with the simple weight of steel.
However, the dwarf simply could not be put down. Nothing seemed to land solidly on her, and those few blows that did land thudded against solid armor. Even blows that should have dazed the woman left her undeterred as she pressed on with a murderous onslaught. An inaccurate and probably futile onslaught but an onslaught, nonetheless.
Just as the deva could not put down the stout dwarf, the dwarf simply could not land a blow upon the deva. This equilibrium could not hold though and indeed it was clear that it would end soon, one way or the other. The deva’s halberd was beginning to crack and fail against the heavy armor, so great was the strength of the deva and so tough was the armor of the dwarf. The shadow smiled as he saw how this would end. The shadow saw the path of the duel and had to admire a well thought out strategy. Truly they had chosen well.
As the halberd finally exploded against the dwarf’s helm, the dwarf leaped forward, thinking that she finally could land a decisive blow. All she found, however, was the blade of Blood Drinker buried deep in her chest. The deva had manipulated the path of the duel so that they stood next to the weapon at the exact moment that the halberd exploded, and she had grabbed it from where it stuck in the earth. The result was decisive.
Jaela found herself face to face with the beautiful dwarf woman. The dwarf coughed blood, looking down at the sword in her breast. She crumpled, but Jaela, despite herself, caught her as she fell. She cradled the face of the blonde-haired dwarf woman in her hands.
The dwarf grabbed Jaela’s hands and whispered softly, “Bucky… save Bucky… save…” and then she died.
So passed Aludra Wyrmsbane. The shadow took note.
Was this necessary my lady? Asked Jaela, tears in her eyes as she held the strange dwarf.
Yes Jaela. Said Erathis. Nothing more.
And a new voice spoke in Jaela’s mind, malevolent and greedy. Blood. Said the voice. Give me blood.
End of Part 1
Smoke rose over Pelor’s Hope as dull eyed people trudged towards the gates. Shop keepers, blacksmiths, nobles, and peasants all laid low by fires, earthquakes, and plagues that had come one after the other. There was simply nothing left. They walked forward as only those who have utterly given up on everything. They walked out because there was no point in staying. There was nothing left for the living here.
A robed figure appeared at the front of the throng and watched the men and women, but no one noticed at first. It’s hard to notice something like that when you’ve lost all interest in life itself. Even these pseudo zombies had to notice, however, when the figure rose up 5 feet in the air and the wind blew his hood back to reveal a deeply scarred face with long blonde hair.
“I am Lord Titus Harper,” said the figure in a booming voice that carried all the way to the back of the crowd. “and I am here to save you all.”