The Jackal’s Price: LoF Session XXXVIII
The battle rages onward underneath the clearing blood-grayed skies of the temple. The waves of gnolls and their psychotic human slaves surged forward into the shelter of the temple. Ce-tan set forth flame with ease unto the incoming wave of 12 men and their large taskmaster; the scarlet heat billowing instantaneously outward. Fahrid cleaved through fur, bone, and hide with several swift slashes. Assad reared upon his hind legs, bearing with claws down in front of him, raking and shaving pieces of the horde – buffeting his wings hard to knock newcomers to the sides. Gassim sweeps deep with his large falchion brandished to survive but wildly misses its marks. Pinned and thought hidden, Glarth began his escape from the stable by mounting Gassim’s camel but is quickly cut down – as by surprise – the gnolls had crept through the back of the stable. Without prompting, the well trained camel continued through the gnolls taking the slumped and aching body of the gnome with him.
The hooves heard in the distance moving away, rounding a corner. The shouts of the madmen spring to life and fill the air with bloodlust and panic. The calls of defense and sharpness of silence danced opposed to one another in intervals. The clang of razor steel rang from beside and behind the unarmed champion of the Battle Market.
Depth and intensity burned from ancient walkers into the forefront. A ferocity of force bloomed from center; an eternal roar billowed inside of his chest. A brilliant white flashed within eyes; the air crackled with a heavy thin heat sweeping and arcing wildly up from the tips of hale fingers to the centers of his face. Blues and whites mingled within the arcs mixing an partial outline of scales covering the body. Air rushed into the maw and into the filling chest of the electrified man. Lightning shot through the jaws of the Suli followed with a concussive force whose severe gravity disoriented those who stood before him. Those broken minded gnolls left standing, Haleen in concordance, slayed without hesitation.
Ce-tan’s inexhaustable fire blossomed outward; engulfing the dark and heretical woman, digusting blood-dried flind, rampantly destructive ettin, and a few gnolls which thought to cling to a shred of life. Glaring mercilessly, the witch woman sneaks a snarl as she was barely phased by such a display of unearthly fire. Following with brandished fluidity, Fahrid charged the ettin, tumbled and drove through its defenses with careful grace. Assad rakes another resilient gnoll and rends him down to bone while again buffeting the rest.
Dark words filled the din and space, whispered from wild witch woman. Murcurial and honeyed the words filled the air with whispers in the wind, dousing the air with quiet orders and deadly consequence. Confused Haleen and Shadi, the slave girl eyes succumbed to the words filling the air with whispers of death and whimsy. The ettin, sounded roar cries of unrelented destruction. He attacked the nimble swordsmith with an onslaught of strikes but is rebuked once by deft parry, twice, and thrice by oblique movement- the forth however claimed a place at Faharid’s ribs causing a gasp and minor coughing fit. The flind too had displayed less in skill as his strikes did not find their way through Zahkmed and his shielded defenses. With a break in the material plane, Glarth mustered resolve and fabrics of within his mind and conjured a pit to hamper the more brutal enemies.
Their attacks heavy; their balance wanting. The flind, ettin, and witch woman finished and alighted by their quick work, stood on shaking ground – their legs betraying them. The woman, held tightly to the ground beneath her feet as she watched as her two heavier and brutal companions fell easily and startlingly into the unknown depths of the pit. Unnerved to find a glimpse of defeat through her marrow, her darkened voice found the wind again and sang a honeyed four-voiced thought to Ce-tan. Its words weighted with sultry command and significance, “Take the scroll and leave.”
An oddity, though unbelieving, Faharid found the words come from Zahkmed. The ever-sensed Khatovar however felt, saw, and heard the words spoken almost mutely from the lips of the heretical woman. Uncertain of its meaning and occupied with the waves of primal minions, he left the greater acknowledgement of such sounds to those who could put an end to her words. And as in unified thought, Glarth appeared from behind the stable corner, conjuring the orb of water that had wrought havoc so many times before. With faerie luck, the witch’s eyes grew surprised as she was encased in her aqueous tomb.
The Zephyr Guard defending the flank with all they had called out outrageously as their sustained wounds accumulated to unbearable capacities. Dispatching the last of the slaves in front of him, Khatovar tried to leap backward to offer reinforcement to the Guard. His plans were cut short; a force as strong as stone, as hard as steel swept his leg. The air thick with magic, however he could not see what had hamper his movement as he fell upon his side. The ony vision he saw falling was of Haleen, with glossy eyes taking her sword and fighting a battle within bashing her head with the hilt to remove intruding thoughts.
Ce-tan began running toward the Gnome, with the Lamasu between them. The witch’s words had invaded his mind as well and in a moment of clarity standing next to the sacred warrior, told all his mind was corrupted. With clarity in hand, Ce-tan reached to his sashes and drank an elixir to suppress the whispers of the evil inceptions of the dark woman. Garavel heading the words of his men healed them with haste with a few items found within the packs. Faharid dispatched two more of the grotesque and broken-minded slaves and watched as Shadi too hit herself in kind like Haleen to remove the blight of dark words from herself.
The roar, guttural and sinister; the growing pitch of the scream darkly high and ominous. The pit filled with the sound of hatred as the shadow of the flind was thrown from the pit unceremoniously and with such strength it flew upward with a force unknown to the strengths of man. The body fell sideways as swiftly as it rose; the last slivers of life clung to the startled expression painted on the flind’s broken jawed face hit the stone of the stairs with stark and ungentle force. The ettin screamed in a fervent rage from within the deepened pit.
Faharid took his opportunity to make a hurricane of slashes against the downed foe, eviscerating the last threads of mortality the flind would have had.
Amazed and panic filled the waves and throngs of barbarous and broken slaved multiraced dogs. Faharid stood above their champion and exacted the final blow, filling their minds with uncertainty and dispair. Like crows scared from the feast, hysteria overtook them as they scattered into any direction directly away from their mightier foe.
The battle of mental fortitude continued as Glarth kept his mind broken in two parts; the witch woman was kept and entrapped in the orb while she was pulled closer toward the pit – as well as pulling in and blowing smoke forcing the hot ash and burnt flame into an ape like existence.
Getting to his feet, Khatovar broke through the veteran line of gnolls who remained loyal in blood to the leaders and asked for aid as Haleen babbled incoherently. Zhakmed attacked his antithesis, disdained by the grizzled gnolls who uncaringly left him with hatred and spite, disregarded the calls for help.
Frustrated at the rate and tides of battle, frustrated that such a lowly desert savage had diseased his mind with her words of loathing Ce-tan grew infuriated. “I grow tired of THIS!” Ripples of reality danced from his center and down his arms. His fingers laced with pure power and force shot forth lines of waking bulleted streams aimed directly the each of the remaining minions. Empowered by pure force, those who were caught unready were blasted by a wave which stopped their hearts with a hard blunt impact. The gnolls, too hardy, were sent to their backs in awe.
Blank and continuing, Faharid wheeled around slashing quickly – uncannily and jumped into the pit fearlessly as his last opponent roared spittle and rage below. The closing quarters tight and hellacious for the larger brute, the size perfect for the deft swordsman. The ettin tried to flail an attack against the man who came down upon him. The tight quarters became his undoing as Faharid rebuked his attacks and countered with his own.
Glarth moved back toward the stable as the fleeing slaves ran. Khatovar moved to attack the woman in the watery orb but missed as she was swept in various directions unable to help herself. Speaking in rhetoric and insularity, Haleen continued to strike herself in confusion – bleeding in the processes of mental defense.
Somewhat dancing still, the ettin had not felt the sharpness of the elongated razor, nor the force of which it came, nor the sensations of his legs. Faharid laid the final blow to the ettin clean from navel to kidney with a soft pull through bone and bravado. Blood rushed from the wound instantaneously, darkening an otherwise darkened place – coating the stone a pool beneath boot and brace. A soft cough and sigh slipped from the man and scimiatar as it shook with a following resonance.
Atop the surface, a loud garble of words is heard bubbling from the water prison as the witch woman frees her hands from the orb interior and wrenches herself from suffocation. Staring hard and instensely, she eyes Khatovar while gasping for the air she desperately needed. Watching as the muscled man eyed her back, she flitted a few words between air returning to her lungs and made a quick gesture; in an instant, she vanished. Astonished, all who could still see remarked on her invisible flight. Glarth, wide eyed still reeling from the implications turned as both his new found camel friend and Gassim’s long time companion’s head is lolled from its body, gnolls still terrible and threatening hunted the gnome with bitter conviction ensensed and chided, “come here, come here little gnome.”
Like the magic of the stone staircase in the House of the Carrion King; Faharid stood atop the dead body of the ettin, extruding the tip of his sword from the certain death of his enemy, and rose to the surface with all that lay at its bottom. Surveying the change of the field of battle, Faharid watches and listens intently as Khatovar relays to all that an invisible hand is at work to undermine them all. Suddenly startled, the camels and horse bay and kick as they felt an unnerving presence.
Ce-tan knelt and pulled forth bits of sparkling sand, incanted and threw its far into the air. Glittering sand multiplied like moths to a flame, following the currents of the wind and covering a large expanse of courtyard and stable. The shimmer fell over the ground, people, walls, columns, and mounts… most importantly it outlined a figure which crept quickly for a killing blow. The outline pulsated with maniacal laughter and dissolved into blurred contrast, then color.
Shadi, still unable to shake the compulsion and trauma of the witches grasp, attacks Garavel.
Faharid understanding his new target, rolled forward with all the dexerity he could muster and slashes precisely at the Templar of the Wind. Zayifid stood chortling, uncaring – unimpressed, knocking away and sidestepping the swings with ease; and with a flourish stepped backwards melding into the stone beneath hit feet. The only sound left in his wake was the horrible screams; the sounds of the terrible retreating and scattered horde that were burned and lapped with violent blooming fire sent forth by Ce-tan’s wicked hand.
With the horde and enemies at a near end, Khatovar motions to the Zephyr Guard to gather the bodies and the camel, but is slashed from behind by Haleen, her eyes questioning and wild as was Shadi’s. Ce-tan unamused immediately summons her sword to him, wrenching it away with an invisible hand that put the blade into his own, and tossed it aside.
The battle quickly died, the witch’s effects wore away, and the caravan took note of the dead en masse by their hand. With a calm and gentle wind pouring over the sweating and blood laden, the smell of char and festering moved slowly away.
The night sky was lit with a large and yellow-reddened light. Many strange items were found among the bodies; a cloak made of human skin, an odd and cruel kopesh, and a masterly worked suit of chainmail… The cleansing funeral pyre blazed with heat and sorrow and a renewal that removed the taint from the deserts; the caravan slept – weary but wtih peace.
The morning dawned with a new light shining heavenly upon the calm and crystal waters of the oasis. The trees and plants swayed n the winds as the dust moved across the dirt gently nudging the Sunspire. The caravan packed away its items and set its camels, distributing their load. The Lamassu gaze with its hard and stout eyes at the caravan from Kelmarane with resolute thanks and acknowledgement. Assad tipped his head forward, congratulating the so-called Heroes with a cool enthusiasm on the good work and success of keeping all of the caravan’s lives intact despite the known threat and the evil which had grasped the small plot of sand. Faring well, his wings beat with the light wind of being unburdened by a completion of duty – Assad took to the skies and left the caravan with what could be considered a smile.
The caravan head took the lead and watched east somewhere into the horizon’s distance, noting the clear blue sky and wisps of heat tangling and weaving upward from the sand. Unseen, there lie Ketapesh.