Path of the Sojourner
Far from the forest he had traveled without being impeded. Weeks, maybe months, it didn’t really matter. He had not feasted upon souls in quite a while, and his hunger was starting to bear down on him. Far in the distance he sees a small town beneath the setting sun. His deep red eyes look out from behind his mask of bone with determination. He speeds up his pace, wishing to drink the sweet souls of mortals.
Lasandir finally reaches the town at night fall. He grins slightly as he moves up to the closed gates. Lasandir bends his long legs and he pushes himself off the ground, bounding over the twenty foot gates and landing on the other side with cunning grace. He stands at his full height and looks around. No guards were patrolling the gates, perhaps because this town is so remote. Mountains are to the north and east and a wide river to the south and west.
A rush comes through him as he sniffs the air, the strong scent of souls coming to him from all around. He walks down the street casually, scanning the buildings on either side. He turns and walks to a building on his right. He once bends his legs and jumps into the second-story window of the house. He lands gracefully in the bedroom of a couple and walks over to the bed of the sleeping cover. His movements make it seem as though he is floating.
He hovers over the body of the female and thrusts his hand towards her neck. His hand plunges into the woman’s throat, and he tears from it her vocals cords. Her eyes open and she attempts to scream with the few seconds she has to live, but without success. Blood begins to spread along the covers as she writhes. Her husband awakens from the movements and feels as, with a swift movement, Lasandir crushes his jaw and lifts him into the air. He kills the man before he knows what is happening. Ever since his companions left him his hate had risen slightly. He drinks deeply of the souls of the couple and leaves through the window, a maniacal grin on his face.
That would suffice him for now. He needs somewhere to think and calm himself. He felt so free as he drifted away from evil.
Lasandir finds himself deep within a forest. His travels brought him here over time. Thinking and resting seems to take up most of his time. He doesn’t mind the lush forest about him as he rests his back on a large tree next to a calm lake. As he sits there a voice enters his mind, he knew he recognized it, but he could not name the voice. It says, “Come deeper into the forest, I’ve been waiting for you.”
This voice instantly piqued Lasandir’s interest. He stands slowly and moves farther towards the center of the forest. He continues cautiously, and through many trees he sees a grove. He walks into it slowly. As he reaches the center he feels something pulling at his leg. As soon a he looks down to see the source of the problem he feels vines tightening and pulling taut. The vines bind him into this spot and he hears a whistling noise in the distance. It becomes louder and louder until he sees the object creating the sound.
An enormous great axe flies horizontally towards his head. He moves his head down just in time as his eyes widen. The axe tears through a tree behind him, shattering its middle and causing it to fall. The axe gets caught in another tree directly behind that one. Lasandir recognized the weapon even as it flew towards him, the Tarrasque. Sedaria had found him.
Lasandir quickly breaks free of the vines and draws the Sentrallion. He turns to where the axe impacted in the tree to see Sedaria standing there, wielding it with both hands. His deep green armor blends in with the forest. He moves with much greater speed than Lasandir remembers when he still served Asmodeous.
Sedaria speaks with a grimace, his eyes flaming with a dark green, “Lasandir, damn traitor, you should know all whom oppose the great Asmodeous eventually fall.” He thrusts the Tarrasque into the ground and a fissure begins to open, heading towards Lasandir’s feet.
Lasandir jumps high into the air just before the fissure sends an explosion upwards. He lands in the branch of a tree and replies, “And did you know all who serve under the great Asmodeous eventually fall as well?” He conjures a ball of flame above his palm, and continues, “Houranies taught me a few new tricks, as will you when I take your soul!” He jumps from the tree and throws the ball of fire at Sedaria, landing on the branch of another tree.
The rival arch-devil dives from the explosion radius and stands up slowly, yelling, “You’re on my turf now Lasandir!” The tree Lasandir is perched on begins to writhe violently, as if trying to swat Lasandir off. He nimbly avoids the swinging branches and jumps to the ground. He charges Sedaria with the Sentrallion and just before his sword slices through him a great wall of earth rises from the ground.
He quickly pulls the Sentrallion from the wall and looks up. Sedaria had leaped the wall and was falling towards him at a high speed, the Tarrasque held down in front of him. Lasandir manages to knock the axe to the side but it catches his upper arms. His pitch black armor tears away and the Tarrasque grazes his flesh. He winces from the pain but recovers quickly. He jumps back away from Sedaria and begins to weave a spell after sheathing the Sentrallion.. His daemonic chant begins to fill the clearing and Sedaria charges him, his long braid of hair trailing out behind him.
Just before the Tarrasque slices Lasandir in half he teleports to another spot in the grove. He continues to weave the spell as his voice becomes louder and his hands move more quickly in their pattern. He completes the spell and then draws the Sentrallion once more. He raises it into the air and at its tip a small green dot appears. The dot expands to a fist sized ball and three beams of green light spiral down around the sword and around his body. Sedaria begins to charge him again. Just before Sedaria reaches him the three green beams shoot upwards to form a triangle of points around his head. He jumps through the triangle and each of the points expand into a black portal. Sedaria stands, looking up at Lasandir. The portals begin to spew a black and green liquid. Sedaria attempts to jump out of the way but some of the liquid fall on his armor.
The liquid begins to melt through Sedaria’s armor and onto his skin. It melts away the flesh of his lower leg where it contacted. Sedaria howls in pain and narrows his eyes, surmounting it. Lasandir lands again and Sedaria begins to conjure a spell of his own. It is a quick spell, and after he finishes a large bolt of lighting is shot from his chest. It hits Lasandir in his chest and pins him up against a nearby tree.
Lasandir’s face contorts into expressions of pain as the electricity wracks his entire body. A scream pierces the grove as his eyes burst into balls of purple fire. Lasandir steps through the side, the bolt tearing through his innards as his wrenches himself from it. He staggers for a few seconds and stands straight. His grim mask of daemonic bone dissolves into his face. Those old scars become all too apparent as he bears a toothy grin. A maniacal glint enters his eyes as his body begins to turn to mist.
Sedaria charges him with his axe but his swing flies right through the misty form of Lasandir. Sedaria looks up at the last seconds as the Sentrallion plunges down through his skull with the force of Lasandir behind it. Lasandir falls to the ground and looks down at the heavily bleeding Sedaria. Blood pours from every orifice of his body like small waterfalls. The Sentrallion pins Sedaria to the ground, and his own green blood pools under his feet. Sedaria gasps, “Lasandir, you are powerful, but you will never defeat Asmodeous.” A large spout of blood exits his mouth as he coughs. He continues, “You may steal my soul and the rest of the brethren’s souls, but Asmodeous’ power is infinite.”
His voice trails off as his body slides forwards and through the sword. His back lies face up, split open. His body and blood slowly turn to a misty form along with the Tarrasque by his side. They enter Lasandir’s body and he feels the memories and power of earth enter him. His body quakes with power and his vein feel as though they will explode. His injuries begin to heal a little but not much. He pries the Sentrallion from the ground and sheaths it. He begins to tremble as he stands there. His body gives out and he falls to the forest face first. Rest was needed before his continued.
Lasandir had awoken and traveled from that forest with desperate haste in the dead of night. Asmodeous would send the Inquisition to the forest once he realized Sedaria was dead. That would not take long. Lasandir walks calmly through plains of tall grasses all around him. The grass goes up to his chest, so that he could not see the ground around him. He wonders what he is doing, wandering around aimlessly. Having no purpose other than avenging himself was starting to become quite boring, especially without the slightest inkling of where he would find the next arch-devil.
A sound comes from his right, a rustling in the grasses. He snaps his head to the right but he does not see anything. After a few moments he continues walking. The grasses begin to rustle again and he plunges into the grass. He looks around, still unable to see through the thick strands. The rustling sounds approaches at a very high speed now and Lasandir draws the Sentrallion. He cuts through a large portion of the tall grass and an elf enters his view.
The elf has dark skin and says in annoyed voice, “Who are you? You are not of the Krawth’gaa, vile creatures! I can tell from your outfit that you are not aligned with them. State your business or be slaughtered!”
Lasandir stares into the drow’s eyes and replies, “My name is only for those I trust. First you state your business and name, or you will be slaughtered.”
The drow raises an eyebrow and says, “Very well. Perhaps you could join us. The drow stands and with a bow he says, “I am Tal’kranta of the Velve clan. I am returning home, would you like to accompany me? We are always looking for new allies. Please speak with haste, for I am in a great hurry.”
Lasandir says, “Very well, I will accompany you.” He sniffs the air. This one was certainly not a daemon, but he would have to be careful in case he was a spy of Asmodeous. He continues, “I am Lasandir; that is all you need to know.” He follows the drow silently and they do not talk on their journey. In twenty minutes of light running they arrive at a large black castle. It towers over them, casting a long shadow over the land.
The drawbridge lowers as they approach and a guard calls from high on the castle, “Welcome back Tal’kranta.” The guard, obviously understanding that Lasandir is friendly, has the gates raised. “Come, I have a message for our leader, he will recruit you.” While most of the being’s here were drow, there were some variations. A robed creature stands against a wall, a beard of tentacles cascading from its shadowed head. Some larger creatures hulk around the halls, and other creatures dressed in all black lurk in the shadow. No one pays too much attention to Lasandir or Tal’kranta. The black walls are lit by green torches, and after a while they come to two large double doors.
The guards standing on either side of the doors look extremely disciplined. The drow guards wear exquisite black battle armor and carry silver pikes with runes upon their heads. They cross their pikes without looking at the newcomers, barring the doorway. Tal’kranta says, “I have urgent news, please allow me to pass. I have news of the Krawth’gaa!”
Silently, they lift their pikes. The doors open themselves and Lasandir enters alongside Tal’kranta. This is obviously the throne room. Large pictures of the family line hang on the walls and a throne of reflective obsidian seats a drow suited in pitch full plate mail. A long serrated broad sword rests up against the throne and Lasandir can see the hint of blades beneath his armor. Tal’kranta kneels to the drow in the throne and says, “My Lord Kel’han, I bear peace offerings from-“ His words are cut off as a dagger silently tears through his skull and sends his body flying back against the wall from its force. It was hard to follow the movement of the drow’s arm even for Lasandir.
The form of the drow slowly melts into a creature with sickly, pale green skin. It bulging eyes are pure white and red blood sprays from the wound in its forehead. Kel’han stands and says in a calm, deep voice, “Improper protocol, the drow never kneel. Unauthorized presence, he made no appointment for my conference. Annoyance, every second of my time wasted takes away time to slaughter the inferior and superior. And worst of all, peace. All drow know the in darkness there is no peace… only destruction.”
Kel’han walks down the steps leading up to the throne and over to the body and dislodges the dagger from its forehead, serrated broadsword wielded. He returns the dagger to his armor and walks towards Lasandir with long white hair swaying lazily in his wake, saying, “The Krawth’gaa are sending doppelgangers now? Such untrained assassins. They truly are desperate now. Now, give me one reason why I should separate your head from your shoulders.”
Lasandir stares into Kel’han black eyes and replies in his deep, cold voice, simply, “Because you can’t.” He shrugs and draws the Sentrallion in the blink of an eye, parrying off the oncoming broadsword. He admits to himself that this drow comes close to the power of an arch-devil. A strange thought that the mortals of the Material Plane could acquire such powers.
Kel’han steps back and walks up to the throne. He takes a seat and says, “Welcome to Velve. You shall be Sargtlin, First Class.” Kel’han says this without acknowledgement from Lasandir. He sits there, staring, with his dark, unblinking eyes. This drow was extremely battle worn, the most powerful he had ever seen in any of his travels to the material plane.
Lasandir replies, “Very well, Lord Kel’han.” His membership to the Velve clan was mutual. He could tell that most who were be directly recruited by Kel’han would probably die first. The blow from his broadsword would have taken most being’s arms off if they had parried it. Lasandir had once again found purpose. He could bend this clan’s will to his own desires if he needed to do so.
Lasandir becomes acquainted with many others in the clan. Everyone seemed annoyed by his high placement when he just entered the clan. After some time he learned the protocol of the clan, how he should act around inferiors and superiors. This clan had a very detailed structure. Everyone seemed to have a purpose, even if it involved the most menial task. There were also training grounds, a huge room in the castle which could be magically changed to create different environments. Instructors constantly taught every type of fighting and magic. The clan was very balanced with magic and mundane fighting, a feat rarely achieved by clans in this age.
After a few hours the clan was called to a meeting. Lasandir hears the message within his mind, and it seems as thought the rest of the clan’s higher ranks experienced this as well. Every high ranking member heads to a certain room, forgetting whatever they were doing. Lasandir follows suit, and it was almost as if he had been within the castle walls for years, for he found his way to the meeting hall without any assistance.
He enters the hall to see most of the meeting’s attendants already seated. Everyone knew there place, including Lasandir. He heads up the enormous table and sits in a seat next to the head of the table, where Kel’han resides. Kel’han greets him with a curt nod and Lasandir looks over to who must be his equal in rank. This one nods to him as well. Formalities were obviously not meant to be handled at this time, for Kel’han stands and speak for all at the table to hear, “This meeting of the Velve Clan shall now commence. Stand and pay homage to the dark Lord Vallen Zek.” All the clan stands and bows their heads, Lasandir follows suit.
After a few moments Kel’han looks up and says, “Be seated.” Everyone sits and Kel’han is left standing. He says to the hall, “In these wonderful days of darkness we wage a war with the Krath’gaa that never relents. While Velve takes pride in war and cherishes every seconds, we must annihilate this annoyance. As most of you already know, we have inducted a new member into Velve. Lasandir is a powerful asset to the clan, and I have decided to have him lead our assault on the Krawth’gaa.”
A low rumble comes over the hall as people turn to those next to them and talk to each other. This is quickly stifled however, as someone in the middle of the table stands and says, “But Lord Kel’han, don’t you think we should send an older member for this mission? Someone with… experience.” The last part of was more of a statement of the question.
Kel’han looks over to the one speaking and says, “After this meeting adjourns, Grelath, you may test yourself in combat against Lasandir. If you win, you may certainly lead the operation. If you do not wish to fight, then kindly hold your tongue and take your seat.” His voice is filled with poison, it seemed he did not like to be questioned. “You all know that my word is final. I feel confident that Lasandir could surpass every one of you in every aspect of this mission. Feel free to challenge him to a fight to the death. Winning will allow you to take his place. Now back to the mission. This will take a small task force of five volunteers. Do not request participation if you do not feel fully capable. I don’t want anyone slowing the assault down. Those who wish to take part in the mission please stand.”
Kel’han looks up and down the table as five beings stand. The one creature with the beards cascading from its hood stands as well as four drow. Kel’han says each of their names as they stand, starting with the strange one, “Flastioch, Felandûl, Ssinta, Shy’nnytha, and Vhauryn.” Both Shy’nnytha and Vhauryn were exceptionally beautiful examples of females of the drow race.
After a few moments of silence Kel’han’s commanding voice once again overtakes the hall, “Very well, after the meeting you will be debriefed and become acquainted with Lasandir. But now we must discuss-“ Kel’han stop himself and stands completely still, listening to the silence around him. The only sound was the clicking teeth of a strange looking creature within the room. He raises his hands and the clicking stops. He stands for about a minute and yells, “Rally the clan! We’re under attack! Thalinta, guard the front gates. Rithalya, get your archers on every tower and turret. The rest of you know what to do. You five,” he looks to the volunteers and Lasandir and says in a calm voice, “come with me, we’re going to cover the top.” He picks up his broadsword, which was rested against his chair, and bolts out of the hall. Everyone in the hall seems to know where they are going, and Lasandir goes with the other five and runs after Kel’han. He doesn’t speak to them as they follow Kel’han. He draws the Sentrallion and after moving up many stair cases Kel’han traces his finger along an invisible rune on the ceiling at the top of a staircase. The stones lift slowly and move to the side, allowing them to exit. Once they all stand clear of it the stone slab slides back into place with a dull thump.
The top of the castle is an enormous blank space, but there are many towers on the borders of the castle’s roof. The towers swarm with hooded figures bearing huge bows. They fire constantly at rapidly descending winged devils, many of which swoop down and grab the archers by the shoulders, dropping them off the sides of the castle. Lasandir sprawls to his stomach as an enormous devil swoops down over his head. He stands up very quickly and looks up to the devil.
The sky above him swirls with dark clouds, lighting and thunder adding to the chaos above. The clouds spiral inwards to a central point, within which pours a stream of devils. Down below Lasandir can hear the sounds of battle at the base of the castle as well. Flastioch, the robed creature, looks over to Kel’han and casts a spell upon him and he lifts from the ground, flying towards the devils in the air to do battle. The other four draw their and attack nearby devils. Lasandir’s armor allows his enormous wings to burst forth from his back and he slices off the wing of an oncoming devil and then crushes one of its knees with a kick as it awkwardly flies past.
The colors within the Sentrallion swirl quickly as blood runs down its surface. The mind flayer’s power fills the area as a large white eye extends from beneath its hood upon a stalk. The eye shoots a ray of red towards a devil, tearing through its abdomen and causing it to fall to the roof of the castle.
Kel’han plunges two of his fingers into the eyes of an oncoming devil and thrusts his broadsword into its throat. He pushes the devil off of his sword and with a skillful turn he brings a fist into another devil’s chest, breaking ribs. The devil responds with a slash, tearing through Kel’han’s armor and slicing flesh on his arm. With another punch he dents the devil’s skull and it is launched backwards by the force.
Lasandir’s form winks out of view and reappears next to Ssinta, one of the volunteers, and slashes across the torso of one of the devils flanking him. With a nod of thanks Ssinta raises his hands with a grin he swings them towards two devils in front of him. Many, barely visible metal wires propel from his hands and criss-cross along the bodies of the devils. Large chunks of flesh begin to slide off of the bodies as Ssinta runs towards a group of devils assailing a group of archers.
Lasandir looks over to Shy’nnytha, who wields two slender, glistening rapiers. With adroit grace she brings both rapiers vertically upwards along the devil’s chest and, spraying purplish blood all over he body. She thrust one of the rapiers into the chest of the devil and uses the other rapier to remove its wings. Another devil comes up behind her and slashes across her back. She stumbles forward and Lasandir throws the Sentrallion into the air. It disappears and reappears slashing off the head of Shy’nnytha’s assailant before it has a chance to attack again.
Lasandir also looks over to Felandûl, whose long, braided hair swings through the air as he brings a fist across a devil’s face. He follows that with a punch to its gut and he sweeps his leg under it. It falls to the ground and he brings a booted heel into its chest at the same time he brings the back of his fist into the jaw of a devil flanking him.
Finally, Lasandir sees Vhauryn in combat. She raises a hand and chains burst forth from the body of a nearby devil and it begins to writhe in agony as the chains lacerate its body endlessly. She turns to another approaching devil and she points an upturn palm at it. With a few words of a spell millions of insect surge from its orifices, covering its body as it screams, causing many more insects to billow forth from its mouth.
Lasandir once again rises into the air. He feels his muscles ripple, his armor expanding to accommodate his body. His grip on the Sentrallion strengthens as he looks towards four incoming devils, obviously finding him as a threat. The four are much larger and more feral than the others. Kel’han experiences the same oncoming attack elsewhere. Lasandir moves into a fighting stance taught only to him and his brethren in his five millennia of service. He moves into a low stance, knees bent in mid-air. He holds the Sentrallion in front of him and his free hand is held in the air behind his head. As the first devil approaches he swings the Sentrallion up into its hard skin. It exposes its chest to him as it flies upward from the force. Lasandir flies towards the devil, his wings flapping furiously. He points his feet towards it and smashes each foot into it twice as he runs up its stomach and chest, crushing ribs and bones.
He flips off of the devil and stops himself as another devil shoots towards him. He puts great force behind the swing of the Sentrallion, slicing diagonally across the devil’s body. The two pieces of the devil separate and fly passed either side of him. He then flies backwards and the remaining two devils collide. The fall to the ground and Lasandir sheaths the Sentrallion onto his back. The two devils hit the top of the castle at the same time many bits of flesh and blood hit the castle’s roof, which used to make up Kel’han’s attackers.
The sky above clears as the torrent of devil’s stop as the storm departs, but he could still hear much trouble below. His wings recede into his back and he lands gracefully on the ground. He looks around and sees insect like devils climbing over the sides of the walls. From large ladders lining the roof climb ogres. Many of the ladders are pushed down but some allow ogres.
The insect devils impale drow with long blades that replace their arms. They vary greatly in size and shape. By now the siege was slowing down, for many of the attackers had been slain. After a few more vigorous minutes of fighting the siege is stayed, with minor damages to the castle. They had lost two hundred of the clan and about three hundred fifty wounded. That is nothing, however, to the loss of thousands on the part of the enemy, not to mention major officers being slain. The battle was an overall victory. The dead had their own weapons thrust into their chest and they were all buried with a bit of those weapons sticking out of the ground.
Kel’han did not tarry long on any extra respects to the dead. He brings Lasandir and the volunteers into a small room, where each of them sit in red leather chairs. Kel’han sits on a large black chair, the back rising above his head. He rests his arms on a desk in front of him and says, “This recent attack by the Krawth’gaa amplifies the necessity of this task. We may have killed many, but their numbers are much greater than ours. Those ogres have even allied themselves with devils. While the Krawth’gaa is our enemy, time is a greater enemy still. The faster you accomplish the task, the less attacks the Krawth’gaa can send. The goal in this mission is to remain stealth. We have located their stronghold and have set up a portal leading to a forest on the threshold of their lands. You will enter the stronghold and move through the halls remaining unnoticed as long as possible. We do not know the schematics of the stronghold so you will have to find the place their leader stays without any reconnaissance.”
“We know that they generally do not keep devils within the stronghold for the alliance is very unstable. This may have changed, so be careful. The ogres are very powerful and they have many mages. We do not know what the leader looks like but the place in which it resides will be by far the most extravagant room in the stronghold. Capture him, alive, and we will have him order a strike on his own stronghold with his allies. If all goes well the alliance will be broken, the Krawth’gaa will be destroyed, and we will kill the leader. I will now leave you to get to know each other better. When you are finished Flastioch will bring you to the portal. If you have any questions which require you to consult me on the mission then… don’t ask. May Vallen Zek be with you.” He leaves the room with the signature salute of the Velve, going to accomplish some other task in the clan.
As Lasandir looks around at his fellow clan members his eyes rest upon the mysterious Flastioch. He notices the gaze and lowers his hood. Flastioch has pure white, bulbous eyes. His mouth is hidden by a long beard of four tentacles and he is nearly as tall as Lasandir. Lasandir had failed to notice the many designs on Flastioch’s black robes. Many thin lines of a wide variety of colors create intricate patterns along the fabric. Lasandir’s assumptions had been correct, Flastioch is an Illithid. The strange thing that made him disown this theory is the fact that the drow and the mind flayers were always enemies in the underground.
Flastioch, as if reading his mind, says, “I was cast out by my own kind for mutinous thoughts. All of my kind are fools, they did not believe my theories and claimed me a lunatic. I was cast from my underground world and so I came to Kel’han, another outcast of his kind. He gathers a large clan of his own kind and others, cast out from their society. But alas, it has been long since the blood of my own brothers and sisters stained my robes! My revenge was swift and terrible with Kel’han’s aid. He is a very powerful drow, and you are in the right to respect him. Soon enough you will learn to revere him.”
By this time Lasandir realized that Flastioch wasn’t physically speaking, but rather speaking to Lasandir in his mind. After speaking with the others he found out that all of those with him were cast from where they lived similarly to himself. Lasandir, however, had not slaughtered the family as each of them had done.
After some fifteen minutes of getting to know those to accompany him on the task he turned to Flastioch and with a calm, determined voice says, “Let us go now. Remember, stay to the shadows until we capture the leader, and then release we will escape as quickly as possible.”
Flastioch led them through a series of corridors to a large chamber with a massive portal in the center. They move through the churning blackish portal and appear deep within a forest. They can see an enormous stronghold even through the thick trees. From its top billows clouds of smoke, being pumped into the air by some unseen force. A great sound overtakes the forest, both of fire and of screaming as whips lash backs. Slavery obviously kept this place working, which was shortly pointed out as drow prisoners by Flastioch. They take to the trees and become so stealthy that they can barely notice each other. Connected by the mind they contact each other and move from tree to tree towards the stronghold.
Grish’ka never saw the small object dropped at the feet of one of his comrades on the outskirts of the stronghold, nor did he hear the small, quiet explosion which splattered the trees around that comrade with blood and guts.
He walks idly along the halls of the Krawth’gaa Stronghold. The ogre walks with pride, with utter disgust for the devils with which he is allied. His walk is interrupted, however, as he trips on the nearly invisible string of wire from across each side of the hall. His ankles are cut deeply and he falls forward into a netting of the same string. His body slides through the wires and he is chopped into pieces. Small thuds accompany each bit of flesh as they fall to the ground.
After a few seconds Lasandir sweeps over the chunks of flesh and they are gone along with the creature’s soul, floating serenely within Lasandir.
So far the infiltration had gone rather smoothly. They had only killed five of the enormous ogres, all covered in war paint. Lasandir crawls along the ceiling of a long corridor along with the volunteers. Flastioch had allowed them to crawl along walls and ceilings with one of his spells in his seemingly endless compendium. They move along the heavy shadows, their dark forms blending with their surroundings.
They had been crawling for a little over quarter of an hour when Flastioch’s voice infiltrated his mind, “The leader is up ahead, I can feel it.” They continue to creep along the ceiling and they see a set of double doors up ahead. Shy’nnytha drops to the floor behind the guards and two slender rapiers meet flesh. Two head hit the ground at the same time and Lasandir swoops down, stealing their souls and quickly turning their corpses to dust with a few quiet words.
They all retreat once more to the ceiling and Flastioch blinks his eyes. The doors slowly open and immediately four armor-clad ogres rush through the opening. Vhauryn drops in the center of the four guards and raises her arms. With a few quiet words she lifts her arms up on either side of herself and the four ogres feel as their own weapons slice into their abdomens, digging deep and puncturing vital organs. Blood pours from their stomachs and Lasandir watches as the white apparitions float from their bodies into his.
Five of them drop to the ground and walk into the throne room. Many paintings of former ogre rulers line the walls and a throne covered in drow flesh seats an enormous ogre, arms the size of tree trunks and legs even larger. He looks out to the dead guards and then back to the intruders. The ogre stands slowly, ornate patterns covering its body. It speaks in common with a low, evil sounding voice full of discipline and an upright attitude, “Pray tell, why do you waste your lives? I,” he hits his own chest in pride, “Tarkla, shall kill you.” The ogre stands revealing his full height of over twelve feet. He moves with amazing speed, bringing a crushing fist into Shy’nnytha’s face which caves in her skull. Then an enormous knee cripples her rib cage. Her body falls limp to the floor.
Felandûl screams in anger. He had cared much for Shy’nnytha as Lasandir had come to know, and she was killed so quickly. His eyes become blood red as he begins to assault the leader. He unloads all of his strength into the attack, each blow blocked by an enormous limb. Felandûl kicks at his chest, launches a flurry of punches at his abdomen, brings a normally bone-shattering kick to his head, and on the final punch the leader bring a huge fist into Felandûl’s small one. All of the bones in his arm shatter and he feels the pain course through his body. The enormous ogre grab’s Felandûl’s head and slams it into a wall just as Lasandir brings the Sentrallion into his side. Felandûl’s corpse slides to the ground, headless, as Lasandir wrenches his sword from the hulking figure.
Blood pours from the wound but it quickly closes as he regenerates. Vhauryn completes a spell just as the wound closes completely. Vhauryn sends a bolt of electricity through the ogre, causing it to shake violently. Flastioch ends a quick chant and points a finger at Tarkla. He begins to shake and grab his head but quickly overcomes the spell.
Tarkla once again stands up to his full height and with a few words in his native tongue he waves his hand horizontally through the air. Lasandir and Ssinta charge forward just as some invisible force pushes Vhauryn up against a wall. The force begins to peel her flesh back against the wall and after a few seconds her body explodes into the wall along with a dull sound of snapping bone and a sickening fleshy noise. As Lasandir and Ssinta charge Tarkla he raises a hand as if to block them. Long wires fly from Ssinta’s hand as the Sentrallion passes through Tarkla’s wrist. The severed hand falls to the ground and Ssinta covers the ogre’s body in strings. He attempts to tighten the strings but the ogre’s body doesn’t give way. Tarkla flexes his muscles and the wires snap, leaving only lightly bleeding cuts in his skin. The ogre didn’t even seem to notice the absence of his hand. He just continued to walk towards the two opponents with a bloody open wrist.
Tarkla begins to laugh maniacally as he surges forth, even with Ssinta’s wires lashing his body. Just as Tarkla raises hand to kill the determined Ssinta his body freezes. Flastioch’s begin to bulge as he holds in place, pointing his hands up towards the ogre. His body begins to tremble and words from Flastioch fill his head, “Quickly, bind him! This spell cannot hold against one as powerful as this for long!” Ssinta either heard the message or saw his opportunity. He immediately begins to bind Tarkla in rush of wires. They encircle Tarkla and tighten quickly, covering every inch of his body besides his nose and eyes. Lasandir sheaths the Sentrallion and grabs the bound Tarkla and picks him up with ease. He hefts the weight over his shoulder. The spell fades but Tarkla is unable to move in the slightest.
Ssinta says, “We have to leave… now.” Lasandir nods and raises his hand into the air, palm pointed at the ceiling. He yells, “Cirfeam!” A large hole appears in the ceiling as chunks of debris are thrown onto the roof, revealing the darkness above them. He looks back to Flastioch and sees the many ranks of ogres trying to penetrate the invisible wall of force he had created in the doorway. The three of them jump out onto the roof one by one and begin to run for the edge of the roof. The wall of force disappears just as two ogres try to slam through it again. They fall to the floor as they stumble into the room.
Lasandir, Flastioch, and Ssinta jump from the roof to the ground and run to the portal. A small group of ogre mages stand around the portal, inspecting it. Lasandir raises his hand and the other two stop. He inches forward and with a charges swings the bound body of Tarkla across the group of ogres. They are launched to the side with looks of surprise on their faces and the three members of the small force move quickly through the portal. It closes behind them and their task is complete.