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  #16  
Old Jun 1st, 2024, 03:06 AM
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The screeching Storm
The companions found themselves at the top of the first stone pillar, an island of rock in a sea of never dissipating fog, clinging on the ground of the valley. Some of them were panting from the exertion, gulping down as much air as would fit in their lungs. Others were rubbing aching limbs or wiping off the sweat of their brows. Isandril, in particular, realized that no amount of rubbing could undo his most recent mistake. Hope’s gentle touch and the blessing of the Gray Voyager she had bestowed upon him, had taken much of the pain the elf experienced, but had done little to diminish the rapidly expanding bruise.


Though the mage would never complain to others about physical discomfort, he frowned when he pictured how clumsily he had fallen off the half-ruined staircase carved on the sides of the badly eroded stone pillar. Though his fighting prowess had been improving for some time, the same could clearly not be said about his climbing skills. It was only now that he realized why the mages of old had spent so much time researching spells that allowed one to climb vertical surfaces with the ease of a spider, temporarily negate gravity and rise up in the air or even bend all natural laws in granting the gift of true flight to a wingless creature. He wished he possessed such knowledge. He wished he could have uttered a few arcane words to bypass this whole humiliating process. One day, he promised himself. One day.


Talia, ever fearless, leaned over the edge of the cliff and curiously looked at the ground below. Or rather she didn’t look at the ground below. She couldn’t because it was covered by the mist that was one of the charming features of the cursed valley. From her current vantage point, she had the impression that the mist was continually moving, swirling around certain points and slowly expanding to reach others. Kender were famously immune to fear, but Talia could not help herself from feeling a certain revulsion. She pictured herself being surrounded by the mist, feeling its moist, unnatural touch against her skin, and she shivered. She was glad she was up there, beyond the reach of the veil hugging the valley like a shroud. She even considered sticking out her tongue to the mist, but knew that the gesture wouldn’t be appreciated.


Turning her back to the ground below, she focused on the bridge ahead of her. Now that was something worth experiencing! From below, the narrow stone arch had looked impressive, but up close, Talia’s eyes widened in delight at the prospect of rushing across the bridge and being the first of the companions to reach the gloomy watchtower. She was, after all, the undisputed scout of the party! She only wished Aric were here to see her. He would have stared at her in envy and disbelief and muttered under his breath and she would have graciously accepted his praise with a kind word as she always did. A pity that he was back at the Mikku camp, napping, while pretending to watch over Zendra. After all, why would a sleeping individual need to be looked after? The boy was lazy, she concluded, and wouldn’t hesitate to say so to his face the next time she saw him.


Not waiting for the others, who were being as slow as a peg-legged ogre, Talia dashed forward, watching with excitement as some of the small stones that covered the bridge fell off the edge and landed somewhere on the ground below. She felt the air tussle her hair and let out a cry of jubilation, thrilled that the walls of the canyon and the valley proper repeated her cry, enhancing it in the process. The kender grinned and clapped her hands. An echo! Hurim never stopped surprising her, it seemed. It really wasn’t such a bad place after all.


Turning around to urge her companions to join her in bringing some fun and vitality to this decidedly dead place, she thought she spied tiny black spots close to the nearby cliffs. She rubbed her eyes, but even this time-honored method didn’t make the spots disappear. On the contrary, they appeared to multiply and become larger. Not only that, they also seemed to be making some kind of high-pitched noise. Talia cocked her head, thinking. Birds?, she wondered, before soon changing her mind. Bats! Hundreds, thousands of bats, rapidly approaching them.


It should be said that Talia had nothing against bats. They were fun to watch and even more fun to catch and release in a room and then have a good laugh when everyone inside started screaming and covering their hair with their hands. It was a classic prank, one she would have loved to play on Aric. She briefly considered adopting one of them and naming it ‘Pno’ like Aric had ‘Kay’, but soon rejected the idea. These particular bats seemed strange, their flesh shriveled and in places missing entirely, bones sticking out of them. Their wings were tattered, as if eaten by moths, and their eye sockets empty, emanating a soft reddish glow. And by the gods were they ugly!


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One of the undead bats

"They’re dead!", Talia promptly warned her companions, doubting that they would come to this conclusion on their own. "They see by sound!", she continued yelling. "Make enough noise and it might confuse them?", she wondered loudly. It seemed only logical to assume.


Whirling her trusty hoopak high over her head, Talia’s weapon produced a constant thrumming noise that was similar to… well, a hoopak being played as a musical instrument. Truth be told, it didn’t seem to accomplish much and Talia wished she also had a battak, a chapak and a whippik. A quartet of kender musician-adventurers would have driven away these nasty, undead bats in less time than it took for a gnome to explain the physics behind their latest invention.


Following the kender’s example, which was always a risky endeavor, Redwaters, Isandril and Devari joined in, hoping that they could generate enough noise to drive the bats away. The plainsman, feeling the connection with Chislev and her children stronger than ever before, shed his skin and turned into a fierce wolf that started howling with more passion than the Abanasinian could have matched in his human form. Isandril too, weaving the energies of the moons and turning them into sound, released them as a cacophonous blast towards the fast-approaching bats. At the same time, Devari tried to use her wooden bow to make the kimanjah produce as high-pitched a sound as possible, hoping to blind the undead creatures to the presence of her and her companions.


The undead bats twitched unnaturally when confronted with the ‘music’ of the impromptu band, but they didn’t halt. If anything, the noise seemed to irritate them and make them all the more eager to reach its source, their wings flapping with increased intensity.


Seeing that the initial plan had failed, Xihue attempted to run across the bridge in the hope that he might be able to lure the bats away from his friends. The rubble covering the narrow stretch of stone made the going dangerous, however, and he had to stop or risk slipping and falling off the bridge. Realizing the futility of his attempt and with the cloud of bats almost upon him, he flattened himself, lying down on the hard, rocky surface in an attempt to make himself invisible to the flying vermin. He hoped that his plan would work and that his companions would imitate him.


He would soon find out whether his plan was effective or not. The screeching storm was already upon them!



Calendar23rd Day of Aelmont (Winter) 422 AC / 38 SC, Morning

Solinari: 17/36 (High Sanction)
Lunitari: 26/28 (Low Sanction)
Nuitari: 7/8 (Waning)

Boons/Penalties:
White Robes +1 spell DC, ADV on spell attack rolls | Red Robes -1 spell DC, DIS on spell attack rolls | Black Robes -


 


 
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Old Jun 2nd, 2024, 02:07 PM
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Talia Dawnstar
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Talia watched her friends scrambling for safety but they seemed to be moving in slow motion. Even as Isandril took a tumble, the kender watched it as if a spectator at a play. Oh… wow… ouch…yep… that had to hurt.

Still, the air was filled with swarms of undead bats and so she, nor the mage, could stop to enjoy Isandril's misguided acrobatics and misfortune. In fact, Isandril recovered quite quickly and Talia saw a buildup of icy magical energy pulsing near the mage.

Talia nodded in grim determination, knowing she did not have any magic up her sleeve. She would have to fight the old fashioned way. She loaded a bullet into her sling and took aim at the swarm near Xihue.

As her bullet flew through the air, she turned to fluffy Redwaters. "Watch my back!" she said as she loaded another bullet.


OOCNatural 20 (27 to hit / 22 damage resistance to 511 normal + resistance to 25 sneak + 4 ice doubled)(No Aoo - fancy footwork and she has alert)
 

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Old Jun 2nd, 2024, 03:19 PM
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A kenders best friend
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Wolfwater's howl ends abruptly when one of the stray bats takes a divebomb to his head, indicating their combined cacophony was clearly not working. Then another bat causes him to twitch. Then another. Dammit, he yelps.

Xihue was the next to offer his solution, one involving stillness and silence. He turns back to see the monk picking his way through the rubble of bridge and then lie flat.

No! he barks, realizing he cannot be understood. They prey on sleeping animals, he whines, desperately wanting to explain. They can still see you.

In fact, there is a whole entire elaborate arms race of adaptations within the natural world that borders on the supernatural just to combat the sheer predatory edge of echolocation, be it natural sound dampening bio-design, distraction ventriloquy, irregularly textured camouflage combined with complete stillness of the vitals, and even warning clicks emulating higher predators. Right now, I may have gone down a late-night rabbit hole researching the matter. Fascinating stuffXihue is a buffet.

"Watch my back!" Talia demands, causing Wolfwaters to snap back to the immediate situation.

He looks about, unsure of really what he can do, but knows he doesn't have it in him to flee to leave his new pack behind.

"Wuuf," he nods in the affirmative and steps behind her and then turns to stare at the incoming storm of leathery wings and fangs. He lowers his head and raises his hackles, teeth bared in kind.

If I'm going down, you're all going with me, he snarls with sinister menace...


 


 
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Old Jun 3rd, 2024, 04:24 AM
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Isandril Moonsilver, Wizard of High Sorcery
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Earlier...

"It does stand to reason that another attack after that one would not have been surprising, yes," Isandril agreed with a nod of his head. "I too am not sure why we were granted such a reprieve." The elven mage shrugged. "It could be that the act of summoning or controlling such an entity was not without a price and the whole ordeal, perhaps especially given its ultimate failure, took its toll on the one behind it. Or perhaps the creature did serve its purpose after all, though what that purpose could be if not our demise or the capture or destruction of your sister's spirit I cannot say." A sigh escaped the Silvanesti's lips. "Another possibility for not being attacked again would be to lull us into a false sense of security in an attempt to make us complacent and then take advantage of that when we least expect it. Or..." He paused as he looked at the cursed valley the group was approaching, the setting of the next part of their quest. "Or they, whoever they are, simply expect us to perish here and save them the trouble."

The white-robed wizard turned to look at Hope again with a little smile. "If that is indeed the case, I would very much wish to prove them wrong." His smile widened ever so slightly. "I take it you are of like mind, yes?"



Now...

"Ligiis frigio draconis."

Unlike the cacophony of the various attempts to deal with the undead pests by overwhelming their senses with loud noises and sounds, the incantation was spoken in a clear voice as the one who uttered it commanded magic and the elements to bend to his will. As soon as the last word had left Isandril's lips a torrent of crackling ice and numbing frost materialized in front of the white-robed wizard's outstretched hands, enveloping a trio of bat swarms. Two of them quickly vanished from sight as their tattered wings froze over, no longer able to keep them aloft over the chasm on the two sides of the stone bridge. The vermin forming the third one, however, proved more resilient. While they were hurt by the frost, they nevertheless managed to keep themselves, still menacing the group of adventurers.

The mage glanced behind him. While two had indeed perished, many more swarms remained all around them. Tegan stood fast to repel them but the elf could not help but wonder how effective his sword, even though it was no ordinary weapon, would prove against these types of foes.

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Old Jun 3rd, 2024, 06:09 PM
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Sharp Teeth and Tireless Wings
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The storm was upon them…
Dark clouds surrounded the companions from all sides, clouds moving with great speed and mindless determination, their inhuman screeches echoing in the valley and in the ears of those who dared to stand bravely before them. The storm could no longer be outrun. It had arrived and it hit with a fierceness born of a deep, soulless hatred for all living creatures.


Though the whirlwind of sharp teeth and tireless leathery wings could no longer be avoided, the companions were not caught by surprise. Blades had already been drawn and shields were being held defiantly, prayers were whispered and arcane words had been engraved deep into the minds of those who had understood them. With ice and fire, stone and fang, the heroes would face the storm. They would fight and they would prevail. They had to. Too much depended on them for them to fail so soon, so tragically.


Isandril wove the magic of the moons, drawing upon the unnatural cold of the valley and enhancing it tenfold until frost started covering his slender fingers. Ignoring the numbness and the pain suddenly plaguing his hands, he channeled the extreme cold towards the fast approaching bats and watched with satisfaction as their misshapen bodies and tattered wings instantly froze. As if swatted away by the mighty hand of a god, hundreds of bats fell to the ground below, their suddenly unmoving wings unable to keep them afloat, their icy bodies shattering as they stuck the rocky earth.


Refusing to be outdone by a mage with dirty ice tricks, Talia put her faith in her trusty hoopak. The bats were frail, she realized, and a well-aimed stone could easily destroy or cripple a dozen of them, perhaps more. The kender pictured Aric’s face when he would hear about Talia’s heroic feat - recounted by her, of course! - and decided to settle with nothing less than a full score of bats with a single shot. She scowled at the undead monstrosities, aimed carefully, the tip of her tongue sticking out of her lips, and released the stone. The missile flew with great speed and force, crushing the heads, bodies and wings of at least two dozen flying vermin before it exploded, showering the whole swarm with sharp icicles. The bats that hadn’t been crushed to a second death were now impaled by needles of ice, their screeching ceasing instantly. Very few survived and they veered away from the deadly kender, descending upon Xihue instead.


Another swarm of bats approached Talia from behind, but Redwaters snapped at several of them before they had a chance to reach her, breaking their fragile bones with his powerful wolf’s jaws. Their bodies were like the husks of long dead animals left to rot in the desert, all juices that had once filled their living bodies drained a long, long time ago. Nausea overcame his sharp senses and he was quick to spit out the remnants of the bats, stepping with his heavy paws on anything that appeared to be moving.


Though the heroes had already destroyed hundreds of bats, the storm didn’t appear to dissipate. On the contrary, it grew in fury and intensity as the undead creatures fell upon the companions like dark hail, biting with tiny fangs and tearing with sharp claws. What was even worse was that they were so small that they could easily slip through protective plates of metal, squeeze themselves between tears in leather armor or cut their way through fabric to reach the tender skin beneath. Redwaters howled in pain as his wolf’s hide grew bloody within moments, large pieces of fur getting torn and discarded by the fierce creatures.


Xihue too, appeared to be fighting a losing battle as he desperately tried to dislodge a bat that was tunneling inside his ear. The pain was excruciating, but even worse was the intense feeling of vertigo. For a moment, the Alan-Atu didn’t know whether he was still lying on the stone bridge or falling headfirst from the back of a dragon. He let out a scream, but all that he could hear were the high-pitched noises generated by the bat that was attacking him.


Talia and Devari, Hope and Tegan tried to protect themselves from wave after wave of tiny, bloodthirsty beasts, brandishing staff and shield, crossbow and hoopak in a desperate attempt to drive them away. Only Isandril seemed to enjoy any success, however, his magical flaming dagger cutting through the undead creatures with great zeal and precision, directed by invisible hands and a strong will. Leathery wings, as thin and dry as parchment, caught fire that soon consumed the rest of the bat as well. Still, for each creature that was smashed or cut in two or burnt to cinders, another ten, another hundred were there to take its place.


How long would the companions manage to endure the storm? How long would it take before they were completely swept away?



Calendar23rd Day of Aelmont (Winter) 422 AC / 38 SC, Morning

Solinari: 17/36 (High Sanction)
Lunitari: 26/28 (Low Sanction)
Nuitari: 7/8 (Waning)

Boons/Penalties:
White Robes +1 spell DC, ADV on spell attack rolls | Red Robes -1 spell DC, DIS on spell attack rolls | Black Robes -


 


 
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Old Jun 4th, 2024, 11:36 AM
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Hope
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The swarm of bats had come upon the group faster than Hope expected. When Tegan gave his approval to Hope’s idea of calling Gilean’s power, she was too slow to execute it. And in the midst of a chaotic battlefield the bridge was turned into, plans changed. Some of the companions were quick enough to attack the bats before they came too close, Isandril even took out a couple of swarms that were in Hope’s vicinity. As relieved as she was to see this, less targets meant less threats to deal with, the wizard’s attack overlapped with what she was about to unleash.

Hope realised it was a lack of coordination, the companions were not used to what she could bring. It was only the second fight she took part in with them and in the first one she didn’t contribute to anything, at least not directly. She was also still a tad miffed that the white-robed wizard didn’t thank her for her help with his injury, and after seeing his attack targeting the same foe she was, she assumed it was a case of an elf being an elf. She concluded it would take much more than that to earn his trust. And for a brief moment, she wondered if her mother was like that too.

But a battlefield was no place for daydreaming. The threat of these undead bats was very real, and Hope was pulled back to her present when a swarm threw itself at her. The pain of this attack was not intense but it was still sharp. Quickly scanning the layout of the bridge, Hope felt another kind of pain. She realised her best move was to get close to Devari and Xihue in order to repel as many bats as she could. But it meant leaving Tegan to fend for himself, and it almost broke her heart. The soon-to-be Knight was the one she was the closest to in the group, and while she trusted him to be able to deal with a few swarms of bats, she hated the feeling of not helping him.

At that moment, she was reminded of her conversation with Xihue, what the Alan-Atu probably really meant when he said he wanted to protect her. And a large smile grew on her face. She had shown Xihue she was resourceful, she had worked to be able to contribute. Even if she was moving away from Tegan, she had a way to help him against these bats.

Tightly gripping the medallion around her neck, she uttered a prayer to her God. “Knowledge of Gilean descends, in the shape of His weapon, to assist Tegan.” As she finished, the same ethereal staff she had shown Xihue materialised next to Tegan.

Immediately she instructed her friend to be ready. “Tegan, crouch!” Then the staff swung at the bats attacking the Solamnic but couldn’t hit any of the creatures. Hope looked at Tegan with an expression of disappointment, her eyes saying sorry for not being able to be of help.

She didn’t have time to lament on her poor display of skill, there were others too she could help, hopefully with a better outcome, Hope started to run towards Devari. She still hoped both Tegan and Isandril would follow because she thought they all needed to stay close to each other if they wanted to get rid of all the bats as quickly as possible.

Once she was next to Devari, the priestess offered her a forced smile, mostly to try to assuage her guilt over leaving Tegan. Then she said “It’s time for me to start paying you back, isn’t it?”

Hope took her medallion from her neck and raised it above her head, as high as she could. She then called a second time to her God, while looking at the myriads of bats flying around the group.

“Creatures of the past,
Your story has already concluded.
You do not belong to the present.
Away!”


In her thoughts, she was praying harder than she ever did. “Please please please please, make this work.”


 


 

Last edited by Mirasiah; Jun 4th, 2024 at 02:39 PM.
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Old Jun 4th, 2024, 01:39 PM
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How Long Until "Vampires of a Broken World"? Tegan held the rear, as intended. Around him swarms of cracked, dead wings attacked. Tegan did feel fear deep inside, but it paled in comparison to his other fears they had already faced. Yes, these things were horrific, but they weren't the spider from underneath Pashin, nor the massive greatsword of Pegrin. He knew they would persevere. They must.

As the swarms surrounded him on all sides, Tegan realized how many dozens of these blood-sucking vagrants were really on him. His armor was broad and his shield was quick but there were so many of them. His shield slapped at the attackers, but eventually some find a weak spot, just under his coif and bit. It hurt, but it was a superficial wound, Tegan would press on.

"Tegan, crouch!"

Years of training, following orders, especially in combat, had sharpened Tegan's reflexes. As he trusted his teammates words, Tegan lowered himself. Immediately he felt the whoosh as Gilean's staff swung over his head. It unfortunately didn't connect, but it gave Tegan the time to run to catch up with others with fewer bats on him.

Tegan saw a small phalanx forming - Devari and Hope stood over Xihue who had been viciously assaulted at the onset of the swarms. The one who was lagging behind was the wizard. He had focused on his frost magics, but now had bats attacking and clawing at his pristine robes. He was the one who needed help now. Tegan knew that if the wizard tried to run, many bites would welcome the opening, so Tegan would take the bites for him.

Sprinting forward, he needed Kiri-Jolith's strength. As a devout follower, Kiri-Jolith would bless his sword, Tegan knew it. As he chanted against the evil of Hurim, his blades enchantment strengthened miraculously. The cool, luminescent, and comforting aura hovered around the blade, giving Tegan courage, knowing that Kiri-Jolith was with him, even in this place.

Surging adrenaline granted him great balance and Tegan advanced, straight through the swarm that entangled the wizard. The bites and claws attacked and he had already been clawed from the initial swarm he ran through. It was worth every drop of blood. He ran and Kanna sang. It was not enough to destroy the full swarm, but many bats fell by his blade. As he cleared the swarm right in front of Isandril, he could tell that the elf could advance unhindered. Tegan continued to advance, gesturing for Isandril to stay near him so he could protect him from harm.


 
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Old Jun 5th, 2024, 04:59 AM
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Isandril Moonsilver, Wizard of High Sorcery
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Acknowledging Tegan's attempts to shield him, thus taking hits intended for himself, Isandril would not let the opportunity go to waste. Quickly making his way to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Solamnic, he took his eyes from the multitude of bats for but a moment to glance at Hope. Not only had the half-elven priestess' divine power driven away several swarms of the undead creatures, but she had also brought an ally of sorts to aid the group in the form of a quarterstaff made of pure force. The elf smiled. She was already proving a force to be reckoned with in a battle.

Much like Talia, he pondered as his gaze turned to the kender currently being plagued by the bats, their number almost obscuring her small form. Isandril reached within himself and willed them to move. It was not an easy task, not only because of the fact they were bolstered by the curse permeating the valley, but also due to their number and size. Even so, he made the attempt regardless.

Taking a deep breath the mage then turned his eyes on the flying vermin closest to him and Tegan and once again summoned the arcane power to envelop the air in front of him in frost. His fingers still ached from casting the very same spell only moments ago, but he would not let something as inconsequential as a little numbness and pain distract him and stop him from weaving his magic.

"Ligiis frigio draconis."

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Old Jun 5th, 2024, 06:13 PM
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Talia Dawnstar
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Talia lived for moments like this. Moments when she was a blur of movement and instinct devoid of cares about anything other than survival. It was the ultimate rush and it rendered normal day to day life dull and sometimes unbearable.

Hence her need to constantly amuse herself.

But here on the bridge of the dead, Talia was in her element even as she yelped in pain as she felt the chilled claws of the bats cut into her skin. She spared a look towards the other side of the bridge and saw her friends working together, magic and prayer, sword and staff. She beamed with pride at how her small little family was slowly coming together… one bloody fight at a time.

Turning her attention back the swarm of bats harassing her, Talia saw it mysteriously move aside as if pushed away. Not one to question luck, the kender skipped away to the other side of Redwaters, using the wolf as cover. She came around the wolf, her hoopak in a two-handed overhead grip. She swung with all her might as she tried to smash the bats out of the air.


OOC19 to hit / 15 damage (No Aoo - fancy footwork and she has alert)
 

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Old Jun 6th, 2024, 08:44 AM
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While Devari was still fumbling with the crossbow and trying to line up a shot, the bats descended, the multitude of tiny creatures blotting out what little light shone in this valley. All that she could do was cover her head with her hands as she tried to fend them off for a seeming eternity… and then a wave of cold washed over her back and small bodies pattered to the stone at her feet. More came to take their place, but it was enough of a reprieve that Devari was able to look around.

Redwaters and Talia were battling valiently ahead of her. Xihue remained on the ground beside her, cuts and grazes seemingly covering every exposed bit of his skin. The others were gathering closer, led by Hope who promised to repay the debt she had so recently incurred. She was as good as her word, chanting a prayer and causing the nearby enemies to flee. Tegan and Isandril soon followed, the solamnic protecting the wizard as he unleashed yet another blast of cold to devastate the remaining bats behind them. Things seemed to be turning around, but they were still too exposed.

"Good work," she told the three approaching from the back, "let's keep moving."

She nudged Xihue with her boot as she turned her attention ahead of them, where Talia was a whirlwind of movement, leaving broken bodies of bats in her wake.

"Get up," she told the prostrate shepherd as she aimed into the cloud of undead in front of them and pulled the trigger, "we need you."

To her surprise the crossbow bolt speared several bats, sending some of them careening into others and clearing a small space in the greater throng.

 
 
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  #26  
Old Jun 6th, 2024, 10:45 PM
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Xihue of the Alan-Atu
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Failure. It was a familiar friend who's company could be depended upon to either teach the hardest lessons or to confirm the least obvious facts. Failure followed foolishness, capered with caprice, and frolicked with folly, but it could also be honorably met, graciously accepted, and wisely embraced when such failures were tutorial, caused by something missed, the frivolity of chance, or when delivered by a superior opponent.

These bats were small, smaller than any that Xihue had ever seen. The cave bats of the Ilquer mountains were huge, sometimes gargantuan things. Their wing spans were rarely less than half that of a shepherd's. These bats were dead. They didn't "feed" normally, did they? These bats found Xihue to be easy prey because of the monk's ignorance. In that humbling fact, there was little else to be done than to learn from the failure, rise and engage alongside his friends.

They had demonstrated success that, absent the sheer number of miniature opponents, would likely have brought a quick end to hostilities. Cold was effective and the abundance of small targets made even piercing weapons effective. Magic from Isandril and Hope promised victory with enough time. In divine whispers and arcane blasts, swarms were vanquished in seconds.

Devari's soft boot kicked Xihue's ribs. "Get Up. We need you." she casually derided him as he pulled one little, eyeless sky rat corpse from his left ear. It's screaming still had his ears buzzing with a tinnitus that threated to destabilize Xihue's balance. That had been close, a failure significant enough to illicit a prompt and chagrinned response.

Legs spun like a dancer's as Xihue's ki-up gracefully shifted his central balance. With sinuous dexterity, the martial artist soon stood next to his bunkmate and bowed slightly toward her. Both Devari and the Ghan Shen were near enough to benefit from his intent as Xihue focused his Ki, opened the elemental draconic chakra, and drew inner power toward his fists, feet and throat.

The Ancient master's voice reminded the monk of a simple truth: Not all power is given. The greatest is born of necessity and birthed by love. Peace, Xihue. Learn to love everyone and you will become the most powerful of all.


 
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Old Jun 7th, 2024, 08:31 AM
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Ice, Steel and Faith

The bats kept on attacking with unnatural zeal, unperturbed by the scores that had already fallen, their wings working tirelessly, their mouths giving rise to ear-splitting sounds. They were not guided by hunger, for they no longer had need of any kind of sustenance. They didn’t attack to protect their kind, for their simple minds could not even grasp this most basic of concepts. They felt no fear, for such emotion had no meaning to creatures that had stopped living centuries ago. It was instinct that drove them, a twisted, corrupted instinct that made them want to destroy that which was different from them, that which could breathe and laugh and love. They would not rest, they would not stop, not until the companions lay silent and broken and unmoving. Like all the rest who had made the mistake of entering Hurim before the Cataclysm had sealed the entrance to the valley. Like all the rest who had thought that they could lift the curse or benefit from it.


But the companions were not like the ones who had preceded them. They possessed the skill, the courage and the determination to face Hurim’s evil and overcome it. They were heroes, though they did not yet see themselves as such. Some never would. But the signs were there for all to see, signs others before them had exhibited - the Heroes of the Lance, the Heroes of the Chaos War, the Heroes of the Heart. A seed planted would eventually grow into a mighty vallenwood tree, large enough to support an entire community.


Unless the sapling was cut down before it had a chance to thrive.


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The mighty Vallenwoods of Solace

Overcoming the feelings of despair any mortal man or woman would feel when surrounded by thousands of fierce, undead vermin, the companions counterattacked, utilizing all their skills and talents.


Tegan’s blessed sword, radiating a pure, holy light, cut through the dark cloud of bats again and again, while his heavy armor and trusty shield kept him for the most part safe from the undead beasts’ fangs and claws. It was impossible to defend himself from all attacks, but the future Knight of Solamnia was made of stern stuff and could not be bested by tiny cuts and bites. He shrugged off these minor wounds and kept on fighting. It was what was expected of him. It was why he had chosen to devote himself to the most ancient and illustrious knightly Order on Krynn. The Oath and the Measure were more than empty words to this young man. They were the core of his existence.


Isandril’s devotion, unlike Tegan’s, was not to the innocent and the weak, but to his Art. He felt the magic surge through his body, invigorate his mind and guide his every move. He sensed the presence of the three moons not only in the heavens, forever watching over the great present they had given to the people of Krynn, but also inside him. The words of power came to his lips almost unbidden and he spoke them confidently, the arcane sounds creating ripples in the fabric of creation. An intense blast of cold enveloped hundreds upon hundreds of the bats as the magic took the form the elven wizard willed it to take. Many of the beasts were instantly destroyed, their bodies freezing over in an instant, their wings breaking and their bodies shriveling. Others felt their muscles growing numb and rime covering them from nose to tail. Unable to continue flying, they fell on the bridge like hail, where they uselessly snapped at the empty air, unable to advance towards their enemies. Some managed to evade Isandril’s spell, but they were forced to break their tight formation, giving the mage and the squire time to retreat.


On the other end of the bridge, the fight went on with equal fervor. Talia used her hoopak sometimes as a spear and sometimes as a quarterstaff, whirling it over her head before thrusting forward with its pointy end to impale the undead beasts. The chaotic energy trapped within her weapon turned her enemies to ice, freezing over each part of the bats’ body the kender struck. Soon enough, Talia was surrounded by a small mound of ice-encased body parts belonging to the undead bats. In true kender fashion, Talia found the sight both gruesome and utterly exciting. She opened a way through the bats that were all around her, ignoring their bites, and ran towards the watchtower, hoping that she would be able to maintain a distance so that she could shower them with stones.


Devari too chose to attack from a distance, taking advantage of the actions of her companions to do so. She wondered how calm she felt and how capably she aimed every time, her crossbow bolts skewering several bats with each shot. She knew she should be panicking right now, fearing for her life, but she didn’t. She simply didn’t. She would either prevail or be killed, she realized, and she was doing her best to stay alive. What more could she do? Why worry about it, if she already did all she could to have a positive outcome? It seemed that robbing her of her magic spark had allowed her to discover the unshakable valor inside her. The only thing that disturbed her was the fact that this bravery felt so… empty. As if there was nothing remarkable about it.


Hope surveyed the battlefield, trying to understand it. It was what Laurana used to do in all the biographies the novice Aesthetic had read about the Golden General. Contrary to the legendary Qualinesti princess and Heroine of the Lance, Hope didn’t look for ways to intercept the enemy forces or use the terrain to her advantage. She merely sought to support her new companions in the best, the most efficient way possible.


She saw Redwaters resuming his human form and trying to imitate Isandril in utilizing extreme cold against the bats, though with little success. She saw Devari and Talia try to stay away from the swarm of undead beasts, evading the fell creatures as they dove towards them, their fangs glistening. She saw Tegan and Isandril fighting side by side like brothers-in-arms, ice and steel at their command, cutting down the undead vermin. Finally, she saw Xihue realizing his mistake and rising up as quickly as possible, spurred by the songstress’ words and his own inner urge to prove himself against these horrible enemies and keep his friends safe.


The priestess experienced a similar urge. She felt Gilean’s power inside her and she knew she had to somehow turn it into a weapon against the undead creatures. But how? No one had schooled her in her new duties as a cleric of the Patriarch of Neutrality. She had read a thousand thousand stories of the miracles priests and priestesses devoted to one god or another had performed over the centuries, from the dark days of the Dragon Wars to the deceptively bright days of the Kingpriests. She had read about Mishakal’s healing touch brought about by Goldmoon and Paladine’s might exhibited by Elistan, even Takhisis’ dark power Verminaard used to blind and break the will of his opponents. But what about Gilean? What about her? What kind of miracle should she ask her divine patron to perform and in what way would he respond? She had already summoned the god’s staff to fight beside her, but Gilean, though incredibly powerful, was not a deity of battle and war like Kiri-Jolith. His nature was different. He was Knowledge. He was the Past and the Present. He was Balance.


In the end, she realized that she had known all along what to do. She raised her medallion of faith and silently invoked the name of her god, channeling his power in a way she had never done so before.


"Creatures of the past,
Your story has already concluded.
You do not belong to the present.
Away!"


The power surged out of her in all directions, light and non-light, sound and silence, a god’s presence upon Krynn. The fearless bats experienced fear, realizing the wrongness of their existence and fled, beating their wings as fast as they could and seeking shelter in the cracks and the holes and the chasms they called home, waiting for the day when the burden of undeath would be lifted from them. Others proved more resilient, so saturated with the dark energy of the valley that they disregarded the divine command, remaining blind even when the truth was right in front of them. But even these beasts that paid no heed to the will of the one who held the Tobril and with it the fate of every being in the world, felt the god’s power and were left shaken and weakened.


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A priestess manifesting the power of her god

The bats regrouped and attacked anew, opening their maws to reveal their needle-like teeth, but this time they lacked conviction. Their movements were sluggish and unsteady, like flawed gnomish inventions that produced light and smoke and noise but did little else. They surrounded Redwaters, wounding him on his back and arms and several of them attacked Devari, injuring her in her thigh, but otherwise, thanks to Gilean’s presence Tegan prevents 7 points of damage to Isandriland Tegan’s never abating vigilance, they managed to do little harm.


It was clear that though the storm was still raging, the clouds were slowly dissipating and the sky was becoming lighter. A little longer and the companions would have weathered the storm completely. A little longer and they would have overcome their first test in Hurim. As long as they were careful.


As long as no one was hit by an errant bolt of lightning…



Calendar23rd Day of Aelmont (Winter) 422 AC / 38 SC, Morning

Solinari: 17/36 (High Sanction)
Lunitari: 26/28 (Low Sanction)
Nuitari: 7/8 (Waning)

Boons/Penalties:
White Robes +1 spell DC, ADV on spell attack rolls | Red Robes -1 spell DC, DIS on spell attack rolls | Black Robes -


 


 
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  #28  
Old Jun 7th, 2024, 08:57 AM
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Talia Dawnstar
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The bites and scratches from the zombie bats irritated Talia to no end. They both burned and froze at the same time, making her simultaneously sweat and shiver. She did not like it… not at all. Having ducked away from the attacking swarms, the kender surveyed the battle from her new vantage point.

Devari was the closest but she seemed to have a weakened swarm swirling around her… plus she didn't have to worry about any bats getting in her hair… she didn't have any. Redwaters, however, had long, what looked to be quite greasy, locks. If the bats latched on to him, it would take a good shaving to extricate them.

Talia loaded her hoopak and carefully judged her angle of attack. With a quick sidearm flick of her wrist, another bullet exploded with icy shards into the dense swarm surrounding the shaman.


OOC19 to hit / 19 damage (8 w/ resistance) (No Aoo - fancy footwork and she has alert)
 

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Last edited by Begon Ugo; Jun 10th, 2024 at 08:33 AM.
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  #29  
Old Jun 10th, 2024, 07:47 AM
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Hope
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As the bats started to flee when Hope called upon the power of Gilean, the priestess felt a relief. It worked. But this feeling was mixed with another one, a mild disappointment. Most of the bats were still there, unaffected by the wave of power. She had hoped it would have a greater effect, she wanted to help her companions as much as she could. But for now, she would have to be satisfied with the result she witnessed. If she and the party could deal with the remaining bats quickly without getting more injured than they were, then she would have time to think back on her performance and what she could have done better.

Focusing her thoughts back on her present, and the combat that was far from over, she quickly looked at each of her companions. Except for Talia, for the kender was nimbler than even these small bats, every member of the group was assailed by a swarm of the creatures.

Hope willed the ethereal staff to move toward Isandril. The same way she had previously called out to Tegan to move and dodge the floating weapon, she instructed the elf to shift his position. And this time, it didn’t miss. Even better, after the staff struck, all bats around the wizard dropped on the ground. Hope felt joy at the sight, she was being helpful, and she had freed Isandril from the swarm. With a large smile on her face, she couldn’t help but share her contentment with the elf. “This is my answer, Isandril. We are of like mind, indeed; whoever expects us to perish here shall be proven wrong.”

Empowered by her success, Hope turned to the other side of the bridge. Next to her, Xihue was being targeted by a rather tenacious swarm. Focusing her thoughts to once again call on the powers of her god, the priestess let it come in a different form, one much less taxing on her mind. A beam of grey light descended from high above. The half-elf did her best to aim it at the bats closest to her companion, hoping the creatures attacking her at the same time would not be too much of a distraction in her attempt.


 


 
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Old Jun 11th, 2024, 07:35 AM
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With the storm raging around them Devari pressed on, trying to keep Talia in sight in case the kender needed some help. They were definitely making progress, the clouds of bats were thinning, but as she trudged forward Devari found herself the target of another group of the creatures, some of them finding exposed skin and drawing blood before she could swat them away. She realised that the crossbow would be no good when the targets were so close and moving so rapidly, so she pulled out her old sword and swung it at them, lunging wildly in all directions but hitting only air.

"I wish I had a torch," she observed, trying to cast a wry grin back at Redwaters but having to break off as she clawed a bat out from under the back of her armor. "I bet fire would work wonders on these dusty old things!"

She pressed on, still swinging her sword at every shadow, until she reached Talia.

"Little help?"

 
 
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