The hint of a satisfied smile tugged at the corners of Jal’s mouth as one ankheg fell to the fan of sickening colors he had unleashed but he wasn’t fool enough to think that this battle was near over. Even as the big bug toppled into unconsciousness it was replaced on the field by a fourth ankheg that had finally managed to burrow up through the earth and, perhaps worse, two more of the mantis-folk had appeared, one of whom appeared to be a mage.
They’re like enormous grasshoppers, Wynter observed as Jal watched the thri-kreen leap skyward and reposition themselves, and they move so quickly!
“Yes, my love,” Jal muttered, his fingers dipping into the pouch, once again, to fish out the necessary component for his next spell, even as he tried to anticipate which formula he would call upon after, “something may need to be done about that…”
“Char! Spellcasters,” he heard the Knight cry out, “Focus your efforts on the thri-kreen!”
Arien and Talas, he noticed, were continuing their attacks against the ankheg while Char and Dapple were still engaged with the mantis folk nearest to them. Kilgrim looked to have taken a burst of acid from one of the giant insects but seemed as if he would manage despite the damage and Valentine was already charging the bug with the mage-staff… as the spellbinder’s gaze swept around the battle, Wynter alerted him to one of the thri-kreen who had landed closer to him, thus selecting his target… Behind you, my spellbinder.
Jal spun around, an ancient, guttural chant whispering passed his lips, and stretched his fingers towards the nearest mantis. As the last syllable was uttered a volley of magical projectiles burst from his fingertips and streaked towards the bug. Even as he hoped that the magic missiles would serve their purpose, though, the urchin-mage had already begun preparing his next spell… if this thri-kreen leapt again, it might take it a while to land.
((OOC: Okay… magic missile against the nearest thri-kreen and, if possible (next round, I’m guessing), if the thing tries to jump, let’s see what happens if we hit the cock-a-roach with feather fall – floating target, perhaps?))
As Talas completed his charge and turned Magma around he saw that once again his strength of arm and Serenity had downed yet another foe.Through covered lightly in Acid blood and with a small wound he was in no way hindered by such.
His trained eyes quickly taking in the battle so far he heard the words of the Knight Arien yelling of a bug mage having joined the battle. A fast scan and to his left was spotted a Thri-kreen weilding a staff instead of a true weapon. Ahhh there you are Talas thought to himself urging Magma once again into a charge the Ex-Gladiator readied his sword to strike once again.....
(OOC: Ok if the bug Mage should leep out of my way I will continue my charge and attack my secondary target the 4th Ankheg.)
Posted on 2006-11-13 at 16:45:20.
Edited on 2006-11-13 at 16:46:21 by TannTalas
Raven Resident Finn RDI Staff Karma: 68/3 982 Posts
Kilgim grinned in triumph as he witnessed the effects of Clangeddin's power. As he had feared, one of the ankhegs dove directly at the ill-fortuned brothers as if the gigantic bug had known them to be easier targets. But the dwarf's joy was short-lived as the monster quickly changed its prey and decided to turn Kilgim into it's dinner instead.
Fortunately the cleric's light, but strong mithril chain mail blocked the bite of the mandibles, but an armor made of rings wasn't exactly the best thing to stop acid from reaching his skin. The burn was terrible, but not enough to take the sturdy dwarf out of the game just yet. The kids might have been safe for the moment, but if Kilgim would have stopped to take care of the acid, he'd leave the nasty monster free to attack himself or someone else. And that would not be nice.
The bald dwarf (though wearing a steel cap to cover his head) was very much a priest of the war god, but he was even more a warrior. The Ankheg had attacked him, even hurt him, but it would never hurt anyone else. With a pain maddened growl, Kilgim drew his second axe as well and charged under the raised head of the giant worm aiming at its soft belly.
Posted on 2006-11-14 at 06:17:40.
Alacrity The Tired RDI Staff Karma: 291/33 6220 Posts
Found some time, did some combat, don't hate me ....
The Mantis Mage is ready with staff in hand, firing a blue beam of light at his foes – Adrian and Talas. Adrian feels his muscles tensing, stiffening up as if moving were impossible. Through sheer will power and determination, he throws off the effect of the spell and continues to move forward. Talas also finds a way to resist the paralyzing force of the magic but unfortunately, Magma does not have such luck. The great horse finds itself unable to move while in mid gallop. Talas and Magma crash to the ground, and the gladiator is thrown some distance, rolling to a stop at the feet of the Ankheg that just raised itself up. Whatever his plan was, Talas has no choice now but face the creature over him. Sheer luck (and one heck of a saving throw) has protected Talas from serious injury and Serenity close to his hand when he landed. The warrior snatches it up to defend himself against the beast.
Arien rides in again to attack the other Ankheg. With flaming blade alit he dodges and weaves the jaws of death until the prefect spot presents itself. Then he drives the sword deep into the bug with a satisfying crunch and a spurt of insect goo. The creature collapses dead as the knight rides out of its wake.
Dapple faces the critically injured Mantis. She strikes with a solid kick to its side which it blocks easily, but then the rogue spins rapidly on her foot, circling around to land the kick on the other side. The boot connects with carapace, crushing the head and making life no longer worth living for the Thri-Kreen. It drops to the ground.
Talas rolls out of the way and come up with a sharp swing. The blade connects but doesn’t bite deeply. The gladiator jumps back as the Ankheg tries to bite him in two, leaving merely inches between it and Talas.
The red mage Adrian faces the mantis and attacks with his bastard sword. The mantis mage is swift but he gets a good blow in to its side. He moves in for a backhand at the exposed arm when he feels the grip of his sword shift. It is like a moment frozen in time for the mage as the sword flies out of his hand and continues out of his grasp – a good 10 feet away. The insectoid spell-caster takes the opportunity to leap backwards and begin casting a spell.
Kilgim moves to attack the remaining ankheg, when he finds a mantis warrior landing between him and the boys. The dwarf knows his magic will not fool the Thri-Kreen so he throws himself in harms way. The double headed polearm and axes parry and feints back and forth for a moment - then the mantis gets his weapon caught in the dirt as Kilgim deftly dodges a blow. When the gods give a cleric a gift, he doesn’t ask why. One attack slices upwards and over, taking off two of its arms at the shoulder. The blackaxe buries itself deep in the thorax of the creature and continues out the other side. It falls to the ground dead.
Dapple is attacked by a Thri-Kreen who leaps into the fray. She dodges the razor sharp edges of the weapons three times before one of the edges cuts her shoulder. The thing leaps back out of reach before Dapple can retaliate.
Char sees the injured Thri-Kreen die at the hands of Dapple, so finds another target. The mantis leaps towards Char, so he fires at it as it flies. It can’t dodge the missiles in the air, so both arrows find their target. But the creature still lands and attacks. Char defends himself as best he can, but the Thri-Kreen strikes him hard twice before leaping away again.
Jal finishes his spell and fires a volley of magic missiles at a mantis warrior. It staggers with the attack, and then turns its attention to Jal.
Beware my love Jal hears from his ghostly companion, but it is too late. The Thri-Kreen attacks Jal with a hard thrust which takes him deep through the side. Jal staggers back, seeing so much blood pouring from the wound. He collapses to the ground, holding his side trying to keep his life from flowing out of the wound. No! My spellbinder! Not yet! he hears faintly as struggles to remain conscious. The mantis leaps away from him, as if he is already dead.
“I …” Jal tries to reassure Whyter, but he can’t make himself speak properly. His eyes are drawn to a pair of dark withered hands that seem to be coming out of the ground, grasping at the feet of Wynter, as if to drag her down.
No! Jal! You must live!
OOC: At this point:
Arien – Still dirty, that armour will take weeks to polish, uninjured
Talas –Lightly wounded
Kilgim – Lightly wounded
Adrian – Uninjured but unarmed
Jal – CRITICAL and heading towards death’s door.
Dapple – Lightly wounded
Char – Seriously wounded.
Three Ankhegs dead, Two Mantis warriors dead
Three Thri-Kreen injured lightly, One Ankheg wounded seriously
Note: Only Arien and Kilgim are aware of Jal’s plight
As well, Only Dapple and Char are aware that Adrian has lost his weapon.
Posted on 2006-11-15 at 12:16:12.
Edited on 2006-11-15 at 12:19:50 by Alacrity
Bromern Sal A Shadow RDI Staff Karma: 142/11 3803 Posts
Char gasped as the first blade struck home, then winced with the solid blow from the second. He knew that he’d feel the pain in a moment; right now his body was dealing with the shock. Focus, Char-lad, he thought as he watched his foe leap away with a bit of a sinking feeling. Only moments earlier he’d seen Valentine lose his sword as though it were ripped from his hands, and Da’ Moon wasn’t having her usual luck with her fancy footwork either. ’Ow, in da name o’ all da gods’re we ‘posed t’ ‘it dese bastards? He had the sinking feeling that the bow, though most practical for the bouncing insects, wasn’t the solution. The thin bolt of the arrow wasn’t doing enough damage; he needed to get in there with his kukri. Of course, that meant facing all four arms, but he was facing them anyway, just without the ability to retaliate.
Dropping his bow, the ranger ripped his two swords free of their belt sheathes. His lip curled as the pain struck him from the blows he’d just sustained. The impact from his body realizing the extent of the injuries caused him to stumble a bit, but he wasn’t through. Running forward, Char’s lip curled as he turned the pain of his injuries into anger. It was a feral growl that emerged, the ranger’s ratty hair flying wildly about his head, his training in the weapons in hand evident in his approach.
Talas found himself on his feet and without Magma beneath him facing the last of the Ankheg bugs. How he had weathered the fall from his horse for the moment was a non issue as the bug before him had his full attention. Yet still with the thought in the back of his mind he could not but hope Magma too was ok.
With Serenity at the ready and he himself as yet lightly wounded, he waited but a moment until the Ankheg was fully committed to its attack then used its own single mindedness against it. Striking for one of two possible places the pit warrior hoped to end his combat with this bug quickly and go to the aid of any of the others who were in need....
(Ok Talas will first see if he can get a strike into its belly if not then he will go for the head area. Afterwards if successful in killing it he will look to see if anyone needs immediate help.)
"You want to play? Your magics are nothing." he taunted the mantis, hoping to throw it's concentration off.
If this spell would take a while, Valentine knew he could take advantage of the Thri-kreen's apparent victory. If the bug was going for an unarmed kill, he would have something else coming.
With a scream similar to the Ranger's, the mage tossed caution to the wind in a rather calculated attempt to get the jump on the spellcaster. Adrian had fooled many casters before with this trick, perhaps it would serve him well again. If not, there was always summon monster.
(OOC: Due to my ignorance of 2e combat rules, Adrian will do one of the following, depending on which will result in the quickest attack:
1) pull his backup knife out of it's holdster and attack
2) hit the bug with a color spray
3) just charge the beast and try to knock him over
Obviously depending on what spell is cast that might change, but Adrian will ultimately take him on with his knife.)
The pain was exquisite and the blood poured like a fountain from the wound inflicted by the mantis’s weapon. Jal’s hands, of course, went immediately to the deep gash in his side, trying to stem the flow of that escaping essence. As the thri-kreen leapt away without bothering to finish him off, though, the urchin-mage realized that the injury was far more serious than simply staunching the wound would cure. As the ground moved suddenly closer, he became aware of Wynter’s voice… it seemed very near, yet, at the same time, strangely far away…
No, my spellbinder! Not yet!
It was becoming difficult to think clearly, as if his mind was shutting down and finally allowing him rest, and his vision waned and returned with each beat of his heart. Nevertheless, his eyes sought out the spectral face of the girl whom, he knew, must be close by. When he found her, her eyes didn’t sparkle with that smiling light that he had grown accustomed to. Rather, they were wide and glossed with… fear?
“I…” Jal had longed for the day when he could at last be with Wynter and, for the briefest of instants, he had wanted to explain that, perhaps, this was the way it was intended to happen. The words wouldn’t come, though, and as he drew nearer to the threshold between the planes of the living and the dead, he found it increasingly difficult to even lift his head…
No, Jal! Wynter screamed at him as his body wavered and started to topple, You must live!
…as his head lo.lled forward, hatefully tearing his gaze away from Wynter’s face and redirecting it to the ground at her feet, Jal understood why Wynter seemed so frightened. He, too, was horrified to see those dark hands reaching up from the earth to claim the ghostly girl and, in that terrifying instant, Jal realized that the Master must still be trying to claim his love. Anger welled in him then and with it came a painful burst of clarity – No, you wretched bastard, he wanted to scream, You can never have her, again! Not while I live!
Even as he moved to place himself between those malignant hands and Wynter’s feet, Jal remembered the potion supplied to him before the party had left Freegate and, in that moment reached for his pouch in hopes of fishing the healing brew out and quaffing it down. If he must live to keep Wynter then so be it…
((OOC: Jal’s Plan A, I suppose, is to down that healing potion and, if possible, get some distance between himself and the combat (not to mention between Wynter and those oogy appendages). Should he manage to do get out of the fray and have the oomph to do it, he’ll watch for any bug(s) to leap far enough away from his companions to be nailed with lightning bolt… damn the trees! I want these bugs cooked! Plan B is, try to heal, get some distance and use lesser offensive spells as appropriate (light, magic missile/ acid arrow) until unable to continue.))
Posted on 2006-11-17 at 08:42:15.
Edited on 2006-11-17 at 08:42:58 by Eol Fefalas
t_catt11 Fun is Mandatory RDI Staff Karma: 346/54 6080 Posts
Arien's stomach lurches at the crunch of the ankheg's carapace, and the spurt of filth from the wound is enough to cause his mouth to go dry, but again, there is no time for such womanness. Fortunately, Winston has no such squeamish response, and the warhorse wheels readily at the knight's command as they seek their next target.
Arien is able to see the sickening event of Jal's terrible wound, and watches in horror as the mage slumps to the ground in a pool of his own lifeblood. Fortunately, Kilgim has dispatched his own foe, freeing him to assist.
"Kilgim!" Arien cries, "aid Jal!" Though neither spellcaster is in immediate danger, Arien knows well that the cleric will be vulnerable as he tends to Jal's wounds, and an interruption could well prove fatal to the strange man - provided that his wounds have not already done so.
Therefore, the knight urges his horse onward to place himself in a position to guard the two of them while Kilgim works on the wounded mage.
If Kilgim is unable to heal Jal, Arien will uncork his own healing potion and attempt to administer it. Otherwise, he will interpose himself between the pair and any who might threaten them. After that, the idea is to kill thri-kreen, rinse, and repeat, making it a habit to keep an eye out for any comrades who may need his help.
Posted on 2006-11-17 at 09:45:10.
Edited on 2006-11-17 at 11:10:10 by t_catt11
Vanadia Den Mother RDI Staff Karma: 111/12 1188 Posts
Once Dapple was fighting, inner demons quieted and she was lost to the rhythm of attack, defend, react. Iron will had forged a fighting figure out of her hated body, and so flesh and bone moved with a unity that heart and mind could not find.
Spin, kick, land, spin again, until the mantis before her fell, it’s head hanging at an unnatural angle from it’s thorax. So, it does have a neck to break…good to know. On to another, little monster. Cold grey eyes swept the battlefield and she noted Adrian facing another mantis with a sword drawn. She watched Adrian and the bug with the detached interest of someone, well, watching bugs, actually. When Adrian lost his sword, Dapple continued her survey of the fighting, assuming that Adrian would simply do something mage-y and blast the bug before him.
A new Thri-Kreen leaped into Dapple’s line of vision and she danced on the balls of her feet, dodging several sweeps before one blade opens a burning line along her shoulder. She clapped a hand against the wound, and the thing leapt away before she could repay the favour.
Need to find a way to stop the damned bouncing around, she thought to herself, scanning for another target. Adrenaline is coursing so hard that her injuries matter little, as long as they don’t affect how she moves. As another mantis leaps at Char, lashes hard at the ranger and leaps away again, Dapple remembers a trick she’d used before.
Sheathing her daggers, she undoes the ties holding her cloak at her neck and gathers the inky folds into her arms. Impromptu net at the ready, she looks for another mantis, preferably one engaged in trying to kill someone other than her.
OOC: Finding a new dance partner, and will try to throw cloak over it and hold onto an edge, hampering it’s ability to jump away again. Should that work, will set to work on it with boots and fists.
Posted on 2006-11-17 at 12:25:34.
Alacrity The Tired RDI Staff Karma: 291/33 6220 Posts
Arien golfs, Dapple flies, Mantis loses big - film at 11
Note - Raven is celebrating his daughter's fifth birthday this weekend so he didn't post but sent me an email.
Now that you have fought these beasts, you have learned of their tactics. They leap in and out, so attacks are best left to when they move in for the kill. Dapple takes this to heart and balances on balls of the feet like a cat ready to pounce. When the insect jumps in to strike, she moves first, kicking it hard once, and again with her boots. She attempts to entangle it in her cloak but to no avail – it moves just too fast. The Thri-Kreen counters with the polearms, which Dapple dodges as best she can – yet receiving another deep cut across her left bicep before it jumps away yet again.
Char also plays it cool as the insect warrior bound in for him. His swords at ready, he attacks with a savage ferocity. The sword strike deep once, then twice and then a third time. It is clearly wounded badly as its attacks are all deflected easily by Char and it is unable to jump away afterwards.
Adrian tries to distract the mage, but it isn’t falling for the ploy. In a split second the red mage realizes that his dagger will be no match for the Thri-Kreen, and its spell could fry him before he reaches. He goes for a fast spell, one that will drop the mantis in its tracks. He utters the spells as fast and clearly as he can, firing off a blast of scintillating colours at the mage. The mage has no defense against such an attack, and staggers briefly before falling to the ground unconscious. Electrical energy crackles on its fingers as it falls, giving testament to the spell it was preparing.
Jal, bleeding profusely, manages to reach into his satchel and pull out the potion that can save him. Yet, as he does, he has to release the bleeding wound and the combined pain and blood lost proves too much for him, and he falls unconscious with healing potion in hand. An ironic death to be sure…
Or it would be if not for Kilgim. He sees the potion in Jal’s hand and makes his move, grabbing the flask then pouring the contents down Jal’s throat. Not the first time the cleric has done this, and it wouldn’t be the last – he pours slowly at first then faster as the healing potion takes effect. The wounds on Jal’s body close over and flesh knits together cleanly. Jal opens his eyes and starts to move on his own.
The mantis warrior that laid Jal low leaps in again to attack Kilgim. The cleric is busy nursing Jal back to health so he can not defend himself. Yet, somehow the gods favour the dwarf on this day and hour. He twists and turns as best he can, deflecting the fury of attacks with armour and helm and the mantis doesn’t find flesh to strike.
Arien rides in, seconds too late to prevent the attack but more than ready to put paid to the actions. His flaming sword strikes the Thri-Kreen across its back, gets its attention and cutting off its flight.
Talas sways and gestures to the Ankheg, almost daring it to pick him off and eat the large morsel of a fighter. The insect, mad with pain bites hard at Talas. He ducks and rolls across the ground, then brings Serenity up and deep into the belly. The Ankheg convulses in pain as Talas drives the sword deep, then pulls out and rolls out of the way of the collapsing worm.
Jal, sees the mantis attacking his savior, and reacts with the last spell he cast – fast and effective he fires a volley of magic missile at the Thri-Kreen. It whirls around surprised. Kilgrim attacks it with battleaxes, hits it hard and deep with two strokes. Still holding on, the mantis warrior move to jump away, but Arien takes off its head with a strong backhand strike which sends the head flying in a arc across the field of battle.
Char moves in and finishes off his enemy with two well placed thrusts; watching with satisfaction as the creature collapses to the ground.
Dapple is tired of this jumping back and forth. When the Thri-Kreen moves to jump, she moves as well – into a sprint directly toward it. After a short burst, she throws herself into the air, feet first. The rogue’s flying kick takes the mantis fully in the chest and both of them come to the ground – Dapple landing on her feet with the bug beneath her, quite dead.
The attack is over. All opponents are dead or unconscious while all of the party remains alive. Jal fights the sleepiness that is natural when one uses magical healing to do so much, so fast. In the middle of the path, the four boys still cower, holding each other for dear life. As they realize the fight is over, Thom’s voice can be heard clearly.
“Told you I saw them. Big Locust like bugs! I was right!”
One Ankheg is unconscious
One Mantis Mage unconscious.
All others dead.
No signs of more coming out of the woodwork.
Posted on 2006-11-19 at 12:47:32.
Edited on 2006-11-19 at 12:51:00 by Alacrity
Vanadia Den Mother RDI Staff Karma: 111/12 1188 Posts
An end to it
The style of fighting that Dapple used was of the uglier sort: a brutal, bruising, bar brawling battery of punches and kicks that left your opponent too battered for opposition. Practiced by someone as fast and flexible as the rogue, however, it had its moments of acrobatic elegance. With a swift run towards the mantis to build momentum, Dapple launched herself, feet first, and spread her arms wide as soon as her heels connected with the bug’s chest. As the thorax caved inwards with a sickening crunch, Dapple shifted her balance, arms windmilling, fighting to remain atop the creature even as it fell. The body came to rest with a crash and the lithe rogue hopped down lightly, as if alighting from a carriage.
Knees sagged slightly with pain and weakness before she stubbornly locked them straight, and she swirled her cloak back around her form before the blood on her clothes was visible as dark shiny patches on the somber black and grey. Her face shiny with sweat and mantis blood, she looked around at the carnage and noted that while some looked badly off, all of her travelling companions were still standing.
“Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?” she asked of no-one in particular, and crouched (slowly so that blood loss and exertion wouldn’t make her dizzy) beside the body beside her. Swift hands checked for belt pouches and other items of interest, as she looked over to the next mantis body.
OOC: Dapple will check all the mantis for anything shiny and spendable (hehehe). If the mantis mage is still unconscious when she reaches it, she’ll finish it off.
Pardon the fast post, but I'll be out of town Monday and Tuesday, with Thursday likely to be my next chance to post.
Talas in full Gladiator mode relished in the fight, though without the sound of a stadium full of cheering masses, the Ex-Gladiator yet felt alive, this had been his life for so long it was without a doubt a part of him, and though he longed for a peaceful life one day, today was not that day.
With an almost total disregard for his own safety he taunted the creature before him, begging it to attack and was ready when it did. Ducking and rolling across the ground the Ex-Pit fighter brought up Serenity into the Ankheg’s belly splitting it wide open. His roll continued he found himself well away as the Ankheg crashed to the ground dead!
On his feet once again he took in the scene before him and could not help but watch as the young boy Dapple in a show of amazing combat skills defeated the last of the Bug Warriors. He had seen those moves before he was sure, but where, and when? As he approached the last breathing Ankheg lying unconscious before him and proceeded to kill it swiftly, he remembered....
Dapple fought like a GREEN!! But how was this possible, the Boy was too small and way to young to have ever been one, something was not right here that was for sure. With a look to locate Dapple to ask him of the nature of this mystery of skill, his eyes did finally see the body of the mage Jal lying as if dead some yards away.
With all thoughts of confronting Dapple gone, the big Ex-Pit fighter did break into a run towards the fallen mage, a Potion of Healing in his hand.....
"You won the battle, bug..." Adrian grunted out, keeping a stray eye on his precious weapon the mage had so caulessly launched to the side.
"Your powers are formidible, I'll admit, but your overconfidence will be your downfall."
His words had little effect. Perhaps Thri-Kreen were not as smart as he imagined.
"You don't speak common? Tough to concentrate with a foreign tongue being spit at you, isn't it, bug."
Still nothing. His mantis arms continued to flail about in a spellcasting pattern.
"Fine, HAVE AT THEE!!!" the former Red bellowed out and sprayed a rainbow of sparkles and glitterdust from his right, off hand. The dagger continued to balance in his left.
The bug immediately collapsed.
Valentine took a minute to sigh, before approaching the unconcsicous body. He sheathed his dagger and placed his foot over the bug's throat, attempting to judge how long it would be out by it's breathing.
Adrian left his foot on his trophy while he surveyed the battle, his side was clearly winning. Perfect time to observe his companions' fighting styles. Dapple was the most interesting. He fought much like the Greens that Adrian used to train with. Of course, as a Red, he wwasn't allowed to sit in on their sessions, and unlike the Gray camp, the elite crew was significantly more aware to people sneaking in. He was far too young to have trained with them though. Still the resemblance is striking.
He couldn't snake the feeling, at least until Talas let out a primal roar and dispatched his bug. He noted that Dapple had finished off his mantis and was looting bodies.
Any notion that Dapple had once been a Green was immediately crushed. He was just a petty theif afterall. Good with his hands, but still a petty theif.
Should everyone eventually make it over there, Adrian will relate his thoughts to the group (still keeping his foot on it's neck). "He will wake soon. We should decide quickly if we want to keep him alive for questioning or put him down. This one is likely the leader, and might be willing to part with some information..."
Posted on 2006-11-20 at 09:07:18.
Edited on 2006-11-20 at 09:53:18 by Admiral
He fought against it, of course – willing himself to stay conscious if for no other reason than to ensure that Wynter escaped the clutches of those wretched hands and that his companions survived the battle with the bugs - but to no avail. Darkness crashed over Jal as he released the wound in his side to retrieve the healing potion and, with a fierce pain shooting through him and Wynter’s pleading scream echoing in his ears, he succumbed to it before he could so much as unstopper the flask. I am finished, he thought, I am sorry, Wynter, my love…Life started spiraling away then, and the eerie peace that accompanied the separation of body and spirit began to settle upon him though spitefully unbidden to do so.
As swiftly as it had fallen, though, the veil of dying was pierced and chased away by a blinding flash and the sensation of falling upwards at great speed. Seconds afterwards, the urchin-mage became aware of his wounds healing and the cacophony of battle assailed his ears again. Even as he sucked in a sharp, surprised breath of air, Jal’s eyes shot open and found Kilgrim hovering over him and on the receiving end of a brutal assault by the very mantis that had opened Jal’s belly.
Blinking in bewilderment, the mage scrambles away, hoping to give the warrior-priest more room to move in response to the bug’s attack. Arien thundered into the fray at that moment, slashing his blazing sword across the Thri-Kreen’s back, giving the cleric of Clangeddin an opportunity to bring his axes to bear. As more a reaction than anything planned, Jal rights himself and angrily unleashes another volley of missiles at the mantis. Again, the spell does little more than stagger the bug but, this time, the momentary confusion costs the bug its life as Kilgrim hacks into it with axe-blade and Arien relieves the creature of the weight of its head with a deft, backhanded stroke. All around, in fact, it appeared the battle was coming to an end. The remaining ankheg had fallen to Talas’ blade, the bug-mage to Valentine’s color spray, and its mundane counterparts at the hands (and feet) of other members of the party.
As Jal’s heavy-lidded eyes surveyed the scene and he struggled to get fully to his feet, he couldn’t help but smile at Thom’s comment… “Told you I saw them,” the boy sniped from amidst the huddle of his brothers, “Big, locust like bugs. I was right!”
His gaze was drawn to the tight knot of brothers as he hauled himself up and leaned heavily on his staff. Hovering close by them, the discorporating spirit of their father offered a grateful smile. The ghost was apparently satisfied that his boys would be safe, now, for, though Charles’ lips moved to form the words “Thank you, sir,” Jal realized that he could no longer hear the man’s voice. “Be at peace, Charles,” the urchin mage whispered weakly in reply, “Join your wife.”
After watching Charles linger with his sons for a moment longer, Jal’s eyes turned to Kilgrim. Surely it had been the dwarf who had aided him; Jal knew he hadn’t drunk the potion himself, after all, and when he had returned from that dark place “in between,” it had been Kilgrim standing over him. “My thanks, Kilgrim,” he nodded, almost yawning the words, “had it not been for your actions…”
It was then that Jal realized he had not heard Wynter’s voice since regaining consciousness, and a terrible sense of dread overcame him. Had those dark hands claimed her? Had she, perhaps, escaped their grasp and fled after Jal had fallen? It made him dizzy to do so but he spun around, searching frantically for some sign of the phantasmal girl; “Wynter?! Wynter, where are you?!”
I am here, my love. Jal still couldn’t see her but he did feel her fingers brush across his cheek and feather into his hair and that, at least helped to chase away the fear that she had been snatched away.
You’re injured, my spellbinder, she cooed, and tired. Don’t worry for me, now. Rest yourself…it is important…
“But what of you, my love,” he whispered, blinking into the air trying to call her face into focus, “What I saw was… those hands…”
Shhh, she answered, pressing a ghostly finger to his lips, you must rest, Jal. Let’s not speak of anything else. See to your friends, put this place behind us, and rest.
No, Jal. Not now, the girl seemed strangely hesitant to discuss what had happened. Look, she said, guiding his eyes towards Talas in an attempt to divert Jal from the subject of the hands, the gladiator seeks to help you. You have made a friend, I think…
The Spellbinder nodded, smiling as he caught sight of Talas approaching with a healing potion at the ready. “Perhaps so,” he murmured, “things much stranger have been known to happen.” He had decided that he wouldn’t press the girl in regards to those dark hands at the moment. Her eagerness to distract him from the topic was obvious and, though he was desperate to know more, he feared that asking any further might chase her away.
“You come to my rescue, as well, friend Talas?” Jal smiled sheepishly, lifting a hand to indicate that the big gladiator should save his potion for a more urgent time; “We can tend to healing soon enough. I think that, now, rest would be as effective as a potion.”
((OOC: Jal will, of course, “follow orders” as they are given as far as the mop up goes. If no one else does, Jal is likely curious after the bug-mage’s staff (and/or anything else of use that the crunchy mana masher might have) and will give it a look should he get the chance. He will also want to tell the boys that their father is at peace before (and if) the siblings go on about their way. Otherwise, I suppose that the ratty little mage will rest as he can… feeling a bit embarrassed at having been brought so close to death…))