One Dark Night on the Fell Part: 2
Ariel: The Wizard
Feris: The Rogue
Cale: The Paladin
Framrit: The Blackguard
The heavy sound of their feet splashing through the muddy streets echoed eerily.
As they rushed down the back alleys the buildings and lamp posts twisted at odd angles that defied the laws of the prime material.
But this was the shadowfell...
It heeded no such rules.
They had been fighting all night against all manner of foul creatures.
Saving Tilda's establishment, 'The Old Owl Inn', had been the least of the trio's concerns.
The entire town of Duponde was now under siege and to make matters worse the suspected culprits of the dark rituals had been spotted fleeing out the south gates.
With them went any answers as to how to reverse the dreaded shadowfall.
Dusk beasts, leeching shadows, lurking spirits, and dark spider swarms had plagued the streets and the nearby armory. Dead on their feet they had been fighting since midnight and their limbs had begun to grow heavy. Only their new shadowy companion Framrit seemed unaffected by the icy cold of the shadowfell's ever present gloom.
Yet on they ran towards their new destination.
"Blackguard...you said that the graveyard holds a clue to what disturbed the town. How can you know for certain that there will be a lead there to follow? The shadow fiends and lost souls seem to be appearing randomly throughout the town with nothing linking them to the graves!"
"Commmmmon cale there's eeky creepies all over town and you think the graveyard ISN'T linked somehow?"
"I just think we risk much...putting all the villager's lives in jeopardy like this to chase down what could be another dead end. We arrived just in time at both the armory and the city square and he can offer us no proof to his claim other than he senses a 'disturbance' ."
"I tell you paladin...something is there. Whether it will rectify the situation or not remains to be seen but it's presence is not in question. A dark emanation calls from deep within those burial grounds."
"He speaks truth Cale. There is the graveyard! And now that we are closer i can sense magic...strong perverse magic leaking from the center. "
"I do not doubt his ability to sense this energy Ariel, but his claim that he simply wishes to fix it as we do is what doesn't sit right with me."
Framrit's eyes narrowed as he suddenly turned on the paladin.
There was a bright flash and the clash of blades echoed down the side street.
Ferris had jumped aside and Ariel gasped in shock as the bright white and frosty blue swords crossed between them shuddering from the power behind each adventurer's grip.
Cale glared back as the dwarf grated out each word.
"I've helped to save your pathetic townsfolk countless times tonight...and your own miserable lives as well. If it served me to have you dead paladin of Pelor trust that I would have slain you in your sleep before you even knew of my presence."
"Truly the way that any cur would hmm? In the dead of night you'd slit a man's throat like a coward rather than face him in combat."
Ferris broke the tension in the air with a loud yawn as he over dramatically leaned against a nearby barrel, fishing inside to relieve the container of some of its contents.
"Well that would be the sensible thing to do Cale...don't want to go toe to toe with a big bruiser like yourself if you don't needta right?" Ferris said picking his round nose a bit. "Basic survival tip one, only fight when you need to."
Ariel watched in disgust as the halfling flicked the slime and boogers free from his stubby finger and without wiping his hand pulled out a semi rotten apple from the barrel and took a bite.
"Enough you two...put your blades down and use that anger for the night's work...whatever magic is there at the cemetery is not diminishing on its own. And by everything that is HOLY Ferris put that down and wipe your hand you disgusting beast. You'll make yourself sick eating that filth!"
"Mmm *munch* fank you mudder! *munch munch*" Ferris mumbled between bites as he let the half finished fruit tumble to the muddy alleyway.
Cale glanced at his companions and then back to the dwarf as he slid his weapon away, carefully disengaging. Framfrit did the same in turn, but as he sheathed his blade he made the point of flashing his sinister grin at the paladin once more.
Something about him was just... off.
He could feel it though Cale couldn't place it, but something lurked within the pale-skinned dwarf that gave him the shivers.
"Don't think our quarrel is over. I have my eyes on you Framrit, and I'll be making sure you aren't up to anything."
"You can try lad...there's nothing to stop you from trying." He grated back, his words as cold as the dead of a winter night.
The dim light flooded down the stairs, glowing an eerie greenish hue, pulsing from the tip of the stranger's staff. He moved as though he was injured or simply favoring his left side but also moved with a certain calm and assuredness. As the robed figure reached the bottom of the stairs he hissed in disdain at the state of the floors.
Pacing through the underground old hallways he casually flicked a hand towards a puzzled guard that had begun to ask him what he was doing there.
In a heartbeat the pour soul's skin melted, peeled back, and flayed to a pulp. Within seconds the robed figure disintegrated the guard down to loose flesh and bare bones as necrotic energy laced through his corpse.
Normally he would have tortured the fool more extensively but he didn't have time for delays nor the patience to understand why ruffians were living at his former abode.
When at last his hazel eyes scanned over the remains of his laboratory that lay strewn about the ruined basement floor his eyes narrowed with rage. The blasted Pelorites had come...they had taken or destroyed everything of worth. They would pay dearly for their attempts to limit his research. Behind and within the hazel orbs that were Nathaire's eyes another sentient presence controlled the half elf's movements and thoughts.
His name had been Vontarin.
A deep violet gleam could be seen behind his iris's as a pale mist leaked from the corners of his eyes. This frail body was weak compared to when Vontarin had been alive but at least this 'Nathaire' possessed enough common sense to recognize the true power he would bring to his body by siding with him.
First he would gather his belongings from the monastery and then he would deal with returning properly to the land of the living. Evard would not have the last say in this...and once Vontarin stood once more returned to the mortal coil he would reap such vengeance on the town of Duponde. Its backwater villagers and quaint cemetery had served as his prison for all these years and he owed them a swift and bloody culling.
He could almost taste it.
"FERIS! Fall back to the crypt! There's too many, their numbers seem endless...if we stay out here much longer we'll be surrounded and overwhelmed!"
"Oh no way... you're not weaseling you way out of this one Cale!" Feris shouted back as he leapt atop a tombstone to get a better view of the hordes of oncoming zombies.
"I told you, two gold says i can take down two with one sling-stone!"
Feris cackled madly as he launched off stone after stone from his tiny sling, most shots smashing through the decrepit skull of one of the advancing undead.
"I didn't even ACCEPT your bet Feris!! Now get over here you delusional little halfing before they reach you."
Cale swung his sword about fending off the raking clawed hands of the zombies.
They were slow and unintelligent undead it was true but brutishly strong.
If one could manage to grab a hold of you the others would mob you in a pack and tear you into pieces. Cale had dealt with the like before...he also guessed these zombies were not alone...
Backing up towards the cracked crypt doors he shouted over his shoulder to their wizardly companion.
"Hows it coming in there Ariel?!? We can't keep this up all day out here!"
"By the makers and everything that is good do you REALLY think the subtle art of the arcane can simply be rushed along by shouting hurry hurry?!? This level of craft takes time!! I am utilizing years of carefully honed skills..."
Feris popped his head inside the door and raised an eyebrow skeptically.
"Really? Because it kinda looks like youre just waving your hands about and humming to yourself...I'm no expert...but I bet I could do that..."
"If you don't want us all dead then by the light get him out of here!!!" Ariel shrieked.
Cale's gauntlet slammed down upon Feris' back and hoisted him up to eye level. Feris sheepishly grinned and Cale scowled furiously.
"So help Pelor...Feris!! If you don't..."
Cale paused as he glanced over at the wall of advancing undead, their numbers swelling by the second as fresh corpses ripped themselves out of the damp earth.
This wasn't working.
They needed them down en-masse.
Ever the quick thinker Cale was not without a plan.
"Feris...if you can kill those zombies...and i mean ALL those zombies...for one night I swear upon my oath as a paladin that I will buy you as MUCH food as you can possibly eat."
Feris' eyes widened like dinner plates and his small mouth hung open. For once in his life the halfling was speechless. The chanting inside from Ariel started back up again as she tried to concentrate her efforts to halt the leaking of necrotic energy that was spilling out from the opened coffin.
"Do we have a deal Feris...because we don't really have time for haggling..." Cale asked desperately as he glanced to the wall of zombies no more that 40feet away now.
Feris started talking his voice hoarse and unusually distant.
"...you may just be the single greatest paladin in the history...of ever."
"Put me down....I have several hundred meals to earn." Feris said sternly.
The moment his small little feet touched down on the soil he was off rocketing at the crowd. His daggers flashed as he spun his sling about, firing off rocks at his enemies.
Feris was renowned for his trick shots and tonight he set about proving his reputation, ricocheting sling stones off multiple zombies heads at once.
Entire sections of the undead host toppled back to the earth whence they had come.
Darting between zombies legs Feris' bloodcurdling dinner screams could be heard even if the diminutive juggernaut could rarely be seen. He was so fast and quick that all that could be seen of him was the occasional fluttering of his cloak or the glint of his steel in the moonlight.
Cale grinned to himself as he too waded into the combat. Blessing his sword with radiant power and causing his shield to shed the brightest of sunlight he illuminated the surrounding graveyard.
"Fight on brave Feris...fight on. We must buy her as much time as we can..." He whispered to himself as he held the path in front of the crypt.
Ariel's eyes traced back and forth quickly as though in a trance. Her eyes had become milky white orbs as she tried desperately to find the source. The magic here was intense, enough to make any novice enchantress collapse under the sheer magical pressure that the coffin was putting out. Ariel's fingers desperately traced runes into the air as glowing magical lines sprung from her fingertips as she wove containment seals about the room. This was the most potent of dark energies and normally she would not attempt this type of spell without a host of other spellcasters aiding her. But tonight she was doing what she hated most when it came to magic but she had become quite used to this when it came to traveling with her band of friends.
Ariel was improvising.
Cale's head swung about his eyes scanning the tombstones but he couldn't see the dwarf anywhere.
That blasted Blackguard had run off the second that the zombies has started appearing.
No doubt this had been his plan all along...unable to best them three on one he lured them here to the graveyard where his undead minions would tear them apart.
He swore to himself if they somehow lived through the night he would find and take his vengeance upon the sinister dwarf.
The paladin was wretched from his thoughts as he heard a pained howl come from behind one of the tombstones.
"Feris?!? I'm coming little one! HOLD ON!"
Cale fought like a mad man trading blows with the zombies in order to push through them. He grunted in pain as even his full plate couldn't fully protect him from the zombie's gnashing teeth and tearing claws. But his friend was in peril and his own safety meant little.
Hacking through them with little more than sheer will power Cale was just in time to see a gravely wounded Feris darting between the tombstones and monuments with a large ghoul in hot pursuit. The halfling's arm hung limply at his side as he fled helter skelter through the graveyard and to Cale's dismay the ghoul appeared much faster, gaining ground on his companion by the second.
"FERIS!! Over here!" Cale shouted out loudly.
He had to hope that his companion would hear him as Cale took a course that would intercept the pair. But would he be in time?
He rounded a large fountain and was greeted by the dark form of something large slamming into him hard. Cale's lungs exploded with pain as he slammed into the dirt.
He swung above at the heavy form that was atop of him but couldn't connect from the odd angle.
Another ghoul had caught Cale by surprise in his desperation to reach Feris and now had him pinned against the fountain, its teeth diving forward into the side of his neck.
All he could smell was rotting flesh and the putrid stink of the festering sores that covered the vile creature's body.
He stabbed upwards with his sword blindly as the ghoul feasted upon him.
Cale was rewarded with a hiss as he scored a gash along the ghoul's side but the beast quickly shifted positions. Both its hands reached down and wrapped around his neck throttling the paladin as its feet pinned his sword arm to the ground.
Everything became hazy.
His vision swam as he looked about for Feris.
He tried to heave his arm free but he watched in slow motion as his fingers lost their grip on the hilt of the sword.
Somewhere faint and far off he imagined he could hear its metallic clatter as the sword connected with the masonry of the fountain.
The ghoul grinned down at him as the paladin realized that the ghoul's horrid face was the last thing he would ever see.
To be continued...