So, my dear Alia, we caught our collective breath amongst the corpses of our former foes. After a minute of contemplation – OK, mostly looting on the heroes part – the heroes decided to push on. Probably eager to find their missing comrade, Kobe. Heh. I was in complete agreement with this plan and waited eagerly while our stoic elven friend Beros scouted ahead. He returned with a report of a warehouse ahead, and what he thought was Kobe, chained up in the back. That was enough information for me. I took the lead. The Queen would expect no less.
I rounded the corner, burst through an open doorway and found myself in a large open room filled with metal boxes. Lots of metal boxes. Each was tall enough that I could just see over it, though in some places they were piled two high, blocking all sight. Luckily, the villians had been nice enough to provide a spotlight on our little halfling friend. Kobe was in a small cage, suspended more than 30 feet in the air. I’m no engineer, but it sure looked like the chain next to him could be used to pull his cage up or down. I grunted and headed in. The little fellow was naked as a jay bird and must have been unconscious. Otherwise, I’m sure he’d find some way to grab the chain swinging only feet from where he was confined and lower himself. Frack, all he’d need is something about 3 feet long and prehensile. Heh.
I heard Beros pull up and say something about a ledge up behind us, but I continued on into the darkness. Guss followed me. He jumped up on one of the metal boxes though and started making his way across them instead of running between them. Maybe a more direct route. Guess he was as eager as I to save our little friend.
Neither Guss nor I had gotten very far when the door we’d entered by slammed shut with a boom. From behind us I heard a guttural voice yell in Giant, “Dinnertime!”, followed by “Kill the lightbearer first!” Frackin’ orcs had set a trap for us and Kobe was the bait. Guess they’re smarter than they look. The heroes started to scatter through the warehouse looking for cover. In the dim glow cast by the spotlight on Kobe I noticed some movement on the chains above him. Frack. Rats. I’m really going to kill those orcs…
Ron’s magehand floated out into the warehouse, carrying a sunrod and casting weird shadows off of the surrounding crates. I heard Kleister yell something about oil and then start screaming about arrows. Sounds like the orcs had archers. Frack. If that wasn’t bad enough, I noticed that not only were rats swarming down the chain towards Kobe, there was a second swarm heading up from below as well. At least Kobe had woken up though. The little guy was busy trying to rock the cage back and forth. I’m coming little buddy I thought to myself and whispered a prayer to the Queen to protect him. My prayer beads tingled with sudden cold as I grabbed the chain and gave it a yank. Guss took up a defensive position beside me as I hauled on the chain, pulling the cage and Kobe closer to the ground with each pull.
From across the warehouse’s open space I heard Kleister shout my name. Frack – the rats were swarming all over Kobe. I swung my frost blade through them, slicing one in half and scattering several others. More quickly took their place though. I guess that’s why they’re called a swarm. Heh.
I heard shouts from behind me as Ron took cover behind some crates and our dwarf started running back towards the orcs. That’s when the orcs loosed their second volley – this time at Kobe. One arrow struck his leg, another grazed his head and a third thumped solidly into his left shoulder. My prayer beads froze and pain washed over me. I shook my head. Despite the hits, my friend still stood. I thanked the Queen silently and wound up to strike the lock from the cage door. I hesitated as Sunny’s voice called a challenge to the orcs. I looked over my shoulder and saw her standing atop a crate flinging magical bolts at the orcs on the ledge. Crap. Hopefully she’d be smart enough to duck back behind some cover. Like Beros had been doing. In the second I spent looking back I saw him dart out, fire an arrow into an orc on the ledge and roll back into cover. Frack he’s good I thought. Too bad those arrows aren’t much help against rats. Rats. Yeah, two swarms of them fell on us then, Kobe, Guss and I. Guss took off running – yelling something to me as he left about a large platform coming up from below with gods knew what riding on it. Frack. Rats weren’t enough? I grabbed Kobe, told him to follow me and took off after Guss.
Just in time, too. As we sprinted away, Ron dropped a blast of fire on the rats. We caught up to Guss who had pulled up at the edge of a large section of the floor that was open. Four chains at its corners disappeared into the darkness below. He peered into the dark and then shouted and pointed. A huge centipede-like creature emerged from the dark, skittering up the chains. It wasn’t alone. Frack. Rats or huge bugs. I started wishing for bigger boots. Heh. Luckily I had Guss. He yelled a battle cry and as both rats and bugs rushed towards him let them all have it with his sword. Kobe, naked as the day he was born and holding a sliver of bone as a dagger, slid past me and planted the bone shard deep into the soft underside of a bug. Green ichor burst out of the beast, coating him. I followed Kobe in, calling on the Queen to bolster us all as I thrust my cold blade into the bug’s tough hide.
The three of us battled the rats and the bugs to a stand still. Thanks to Ron’s ranged support, Guss’ flashing blade and Kobe’s well placed dagger thrusts the bugs soon lay twitching and dying around us. I took a quick look around to take stock of our situation. Beros had been continuing to exchange arrows with the orcs on the ledge. It looked like at least one of the orcs had taken a few of the elf’s arrows. Kleister was battling some rats in a corner. Our dwarf was bleeding heavily as he worked to push some crates towards the ledge. It looked like he’d taken several arrow shots…or something. The back of his trousers were ripped out and his bare ass was exposed. Heh. That was more then I’d ever wanted to see of our gruff bearded friend. Sunny must have been hiding behind some boxes – I couldn’t see her.
We needed to get onto that ledge. Kleister was clearly thinking the same thing – he stepped out from behind a crate swinging his grappling hook. With a heave, he hurled it up onto the ledge and then ducked back behind the crate, pulling the attached rope taut. Nice. Our dwarf ducked behind his pile of crates and fondled his holy symbol. Then, suddenly standing tall he called out a curse in dwarven at the orc leader. The orc spat in reply, yelling something foul in giant. He followed this up with a thrown hammer that took Sunny, who’d just popped out from behind a crate to launch a magical bolt at an archer, down. Ron was…well I couldn’t quite figure out what the frack Ron was doing…something arcane I guess. He seemed to be concentrating and whatever he did got the rats’ attention. Their little noses all started twitching and as one they all turned towards him. Kobe and I both took the opportunity to kill as many of them as we could.
From the corner of the room came a whooshing sound followed by a flash of flame. Screeching rats fled from Kleister as the floor around him erupted with fire. His triumph was short lived though – a rain of orc arrows fell upon him and he dropped. Frack. Guss, Kobe and I raced back towards the front of the room dodging and weaving between crates so the orcs had less of a target. Ron, under attack by archers himself spoke some arcane words and suddenly two of the archers appeared on the ground in front of us. I prayed quickly to the Queen as I passed Ron, lending him some of her grace. She approved, for some of it spilled over to me, bracing me as I flung myself at the two orcs Ron had brought within reach. The orc leader struck again, this time wounding Guss. Ron struck again, too. This time using Baxter the fire falcon to spray magical fire over the orcs on the ledge. The leader needed to be taken down though. I stepped out and challenged him, hoping to get him to come down to face me. No dice. Ron apparently had had enough. He flung a grappling hook up to the ledge. This one took, and he scrambled up the rope before the orcs could throw it back. Kleister was right behind him. Lucky for Ron, the orcs targeted Kleister first dropping him again under a volley or arrows. Frack. I raced up the rope myself and called down the Queen’s blessing on Kleister – it wasn’t his time to die yet. Me first. Heh.
Seeing some of us on the ledge and more on the way, the orc leader did what all orcs do – he fled. His underlings weren’t so quick though. Ron blocked their path and the heroes killed them where they stood.
Once again the frenzy of battle was replaced with the startling calm aftermath. I prayed to the Queen, reflecting on the carnage around me. The thought of someday joining you Alia makes this bearable. OK, that and the cold pleasure I get from taking any measure of revenge for your untimely death and the circumstances that put me in this situation. I know, I know, there’s no fate but what she makes. Doesn’t mean a man has to like it.
After a brief respite, I shook myself out of my reverie to join the heroes who’d decided to use the large platform on chains to get to the next level up in the abandoned dwarven keep. We hadn’t gone more than a few feet when Ron asked, “Where’s Biz?” Apparently in all of the excitement the heroes had completely forgotten about the young lad. Last I’d seen him he’d been watching the corridor outside the warehouse. The little fracker was probably dead by now. Fate. Sometimes it’s a bitch. I said a quiet prayer for the lad. With a collective shrug, the heroes decided to check their dragon token to ensure they were still on track. They were. So we pressed on. Before long, we found a passageway and a little way down that some stairs. Up. And up we went. At the top we found a large pair of doors covered with some carved runes. Sunny deciphered them for us – behind the doors was a temple to Bahamut. Our dwarf insisted we go in. He threw open the doors, called upon Bahamut’s favor to shield us, and strode into the temple. He was met with a blast of fire. A group of orcs was waiting for us, supported by fiery skeletons.
Ron brushed past me and stepped up next to our dwarf. He flung his arms out in a dramatic gesture and a cloud of billowing green smoke covered half the room. My old favorite – the stinking cloud. Kobe and Guss charged bravely into the fray. Me? I went right for the undead. Frackin’ undead. An arrow skimmed over my shoulder, blasting a hole in its ribcage. Kleister yells at me from the doorway. I duck, see the opening he’s screaming about and plunge my cold blade into the skeleton again.
A large dwarven skeleton emerged from Ron’s cloud, shook its head and looked around. Its empty eye sockets locked in on our dwarf. It charged and the two exchanged blows. That’s when the skeletons started tossing fire again. Frack. Our dwarf took the brunt of it. Luckily he’s got some fancy armor that makes him nigh invulnerable to fire.
I heard Ron chanting again and grinned. The orcs won’t know what hit them. Suddenly I was enveloped in a swarm of buzzing flies. Frack. I’d had my fill of bugs for the day. From behind me I heard an orc cursing in Giant and Beros yelling for help. Sounded like he needed me. I charged out of the flies and scattered the two orcs that had him cornered.
An explosion to my right marked the death of a skeleton. I glanced over. Kleister was yanking his spear out of a burning skull. Nice. Guss had a couple of orcs pinned down as well. One tried to slip away, but Guss manhandled him with his sword, physically lifting him with the blade and preventing him from moving. I snapped back to my own combat as the orc in front of me swung his huge battle axe in a deadly arc aimed right at my head. Frack. Before the blow could land however, a arrow smashed into the creature’s arm, redirecting his swing so that it glanced harmlessly off of my armor. I nodded thanks to Beros.
Fire flew through the air again. This time striking Sunny, who dodged but couldn’t avoid all of the orbs. Her clothing flashed into flame. Kobe took a few hits as well. We were all starting to look a little rough. Frack. Then something struck me in the back…and I had to struggle to keep a grip on my blade as weakness nearly overcame me. I wiped the sweat from my eyes, swung unsteadily at the orc in front of me, somehow managing to hit it, and called on the Queen to bolster me. Her power surged through me.
Kleister slammed the butt of his spear down on the ground and called out to us to stand up and fight. His words invigorated us all. Just time, too. Both of the orcs facing me struck me hard with their axes. One rent my armor on the thigh, drawing blood. The other smashed into my arm. Frack.
Our dwarf, Ron and Sunny concentrated on the dwarven skeleton. Our dwarf’s consecrated ground brings it down after both the magic-users blast it. Then Our dwarf pulled out his holy symbol and called on Bahamut to destroy the foul undead desecrating his temple. The skeletons withered before our dwarf’s blast of righteousness. Ron was literally burning with magic as well. He lit up a bunch of orcs and skeletons and took down the death mage who’d been throwing around the flies and pestilence. Yeah. With the mage dead, we were able to concentrate our attacks on the remaining skeletons and orcs without having to deal with any magical artillery. Things went quickly then and the last orcs died with fear in their eyes. Heh. Now…on to the dragon…