Turn 16 -- Darkness Descends

Backs against the cavern wall and surrounded by the evil Trolls, the hearts of the Red Feather members sink as they begin to realize the fate that inevitably awaits them. For the moment though, all minds are on their companion Kre as he struggles outside the confine of their protective circle. Before Beleg, several Trolls snarl and growl at the great warrior as he waves Troll's Bane before him, almost daring the vile creatures to get close enough to feel it's bite. For the moment, the beasts are unable to muster the courage to attack the Paladin.

However, to Beleg's left, Druckner is not as lucky as two Trolls launch an attack on him. The red-bearded dwarf is not quick enough to avoid the numerous attacks and is clawed by each of the beasts. Deep wounds open to the shoulder of Druckner as he fights to ignore the pain in his now blood-soaked limbs. A quick strike from the bloody axe of Druckner lands solidly into the right arm of one of the slower Trolls. Flesh and green blood fly from the cut in the limb as Druckner's axe slices through.

Across the chamber, Kersath raises his swords high to defend against the Trolls before him. "Ras, Ortho, this is the time for one of your little cocktails! Quickly, as long as they are still blinded! We have to get Kre or else the poor lad will surely perish! Quickly, all of you who can still stand, light up some torches and let's start burnin' Troll meat!" The shouts of the dark elf are cut short as two of the vile beasts rush his position. The nimble elf avoids the clumsy attack of the first Troll but avoiding the numerous blows puts him in an awkward position as the second attacks. One claw sneaks through to rake across the chest of the Kersath, opening a deep gash and tearing at his cloak and clothes.

Angered at the success of the attack and the pain, he sidesteps the beast and with a backward thrust plunges one of the blades deep into the back of the offending Troll. Turning on the ball of his left foot, he swings around to deal the death stroke to the Troll. A severed head is Kersath's reward as he grins at the Troll falling to his feet.

In the center of the protective circle, Ras hears the words of Kersath and quickly looks into his backpack for one of the magical concoctions of Ortho. Seeing none, he quickly realizes that he used his only one in the battle days ago with the other clan. Cursing under his breath, he prays that Ortho has another. Fighting back the fear gripping his throat, the young halfling draws his shortsword in his right hand and takes up a dagger in his left. Inwardly hoping to live to see his mother safely moved to Milbourne, he looks for a hole to fill in the circle of his comrades.

Gnore stabs his bastard into the dirt before him. He grasps the armor of Garth and drags the dwarf back in order to position himself between the Trolls and the dwarven priest. Hefting his bastard sword on his shoulder, he gazes past the company members before him letting his eyes fall on Kre. He shakes his head as he surveys the scene.

"We may not get to Kre in time but he will survive. I have faith in him," Gnore states as his vision blurs from his weakened state. Kersath's words help to re-focus his thoughts while the weight of his sword forces Gnore to let it's tip fall to the ground.

"I don't think any of us have oil to burn and, if we did, it'd be on the mules. I pray that I am wrong and wouldn't mind bein' proven so. I do hope Ras or Ortho still have their concoctions..." Gnore trails as he sways and his eyesight dims.

Taking advantage of the momentary lull in the Troll's attack, Beleg shouts, "Bring the two most wounded to me, quickly!" While he waits for the wounded to be brought, he never takes his eyes off the temporarily confused Trolls.

Hearing the command of the Paladin, Snagger grabs a hold of Gnore, "We may be able ta help some more," he tells Gnore. The quiet dwarven warrior momentarily frowns in anger as Snagger pulls him from his guard over Garth. After listening to Snagger's request, he eases somewhat and nods his head. The thought of once again being able to help the Company spiritually rejuvenates the dwarf's mood yet he still realizes how frail his health is. In all truth, Gnore would rather die with bastard sword swinging than watch from the rear as his companions battle the Trolls with honor and glory.

"We're da weekest dat can still do some good oot ther," Snagger says to Beleg. "I don intend ta let dem uglies get da best o' me."

Beleg looks quickly at Snagger as the dwarf makes his appeal. "Talimar," shouts Beleg, "shall I heal the warriors or the priests?"

Talimar, in the midst of casting a spell does not hear the Paladin nor offer any response. Chancing a look over his shoulder, Beleg realizes this and decides to heal the dwarves before him. The young Paladin gently touches the tip of Troll's Bane to the chest of Gnore and speaks a word of power in the tongue of the North. The blade's glow intensifies momentarily as it's healing strength flows through the blade and into the body of Gnore. The dwarven warrior instantly feels strength return to his body as the energy courses through it. Fatigue fading, Gnore smiles to the Paladin as he raises his bastard sword before him again as he rushes to the side of Talimar and Kersath.

Beleg nods to Gnore and motions for Snagger to step forward, but he is unable to complete the healing as the Trolls finally muster their bravery and attack. The large Paladin just has time to raise his shield and meet the attack of the creatures as Snagger steps back from the fray. Cat-like reflexes and the strength of his shield-arm allow Beleg to avoid the dangerous blows of the three Trolls before him; the bright glow of Troll's Bane working to keep the beasts away as well.

To Beleg's right, Talimar completes the working of his spell and once again points to several of the creatures before Beleg. Speaking the arcane words, a large sinewy web springs from his fingertip, expanding as it flies forth to quickly entrap four of the creatures. Talimar smiles despite the weariness that washes over him as he sees their enemies taken down for the moment at least.

Standing beside Talimar, Dain smiles at the success of his friend's casting. Concentrating on his own spell now, he calls forth the magical energy from around him, collecting it into his body as he moves his hands in an intricate pattern. Pointing to an advancing Troll, he speaks the magical word to release the energy and four bolts of magical force fly at the beast. All four strike home into the chest of the Troll as it howls in pain from the bolts. Smoke rises into the air from the burns in it's chest.

"Victory to the Red Feather!" challenges Dain as he ignores the pain in his head and coming fatigue.

"Badger!" shouts Druckner, "Ya speak thar foul dialec'. Challenge tha varmints ta single combat in ma name! If Ah lose we leave, Ah'll fight whom they wish. Quickly! Afore they get Kre."

Snagger quickly does what Druckner asks as he challenges the Troll before them. The ploy does not work however as the creatures with no true leader and no organization do not halt their attack. Answering the challenge of Snagger and Druckner with snarls and curses, the Trolls viciously renew their attack.

"Ortho, Ras, ya heard Kersath," shouts Druckner as he sees his challenge isn't going to be answered. "Get yar oil out if'n ye still have some. We can try mekkin' a diversion an' run fer it!"

Caught up in the battle around them however, the dwarf and halfling apparently haven't the chance to get to the oil. Ortho, taking advantage of the cover provided by his companions, calls upon the beneficial powers bestowed upon him by Morradin to cure himself. After a disturbing amount of time in prayer, the dwarf's call is answered and he can feel the healing energies flowing through his body. Quite unexpectedly, the power is not as strong as he had anticipated. His body still aches and a number of wounds are still open and bleeding on his body.

Having no time to contemplate the meaning of this, the dwarven priest drops to one knee to look through his pack for one of his potions. Finding one, he stands and scans the battle, looking for a suitable target to deal the most damage.

As Garth slips into unconsciousness, his pain and cares seem to slip away. Looking up, he sees a beam of moonlight that bathes his face. Though no voice speaks to him, something in the light calls to him, promising him a sure cease to his cares and worry. His heart lifting at the thought of meeting his goddess, Garth stands and raises his arms to the light, waiting to be carried away. As he does so, something tickles at his ear. Brushing it away thoughtlessly, he continues to wait with arms uplifted. Yet the tickle keeps coming back and soon it is followed by a very small sound, like a bee trapped under a drinking glass or the sounds of a busy crowd, many miles distant.

Distracted now by the sound, Garth lowers his arms and looks around. Outside of his patch of divine moonlight, darkness reigns. The buzzing and tickling seems to be inside his head now. A memory stirs, very briefly, a thought really. "I have something to do, I think," ponders Garth. The moonlight is paler now. Looking longingly at it, he wishes it back to its full luminosity. But the thought that he has something he needs to finish first won't go away now. The moonlight has fled to a single point somewhere above him, very, very far away now, but hasn't left entirely. Out of the darkness, the buzzing sound has grown, different, less pure lights are seen to flicker from the corner of his eyes and mind.

Feeling suddenly very fatigued, Garth sits down again. If only he could remember what it was he had to do...

A steady calm begins to come over Druckner as he stands to face the two Trolls before him. Moving in and out to avoid the deadly claws and teeth of the vile beasts, he once again manages to land a hard blow to the earlier wounded Troll. He begins to smile as he sees the pain and fright clear in the eyes of the beast.

"Thar's more o' that, ye vermin. Forward to yer death!"

The Trolls hesitate in their attack on the dwarf as they see the skill and determination in the dwarf before them. Quick moments pass however before empty stomachs force them to renew their attack.

Having been repulsed a number of times by the large shield of Beleg, the Trolls before him team up and try to negate that slight problem. Both beasts grab the edge of the shield and, despite the great strength of Beleg, rip it from his grasp. The Trolls grin wickedly as they toss the shield behind them.

Beleg's anger grows tenfold as he watches the beasts toss the crest of his order contemptuously behind them. Grasping Troll's Bane in both hands now, he launches a vicious attack on the two offending beasts. A quick strike in a wicked downward arc and the head of the nearest Troll flies from it's body, the grin still locked on its face. Beleg smiles to the other as he fights the urge to advance on the beast, knowing that he must hold his place in the protective circle of his companions.

Behind the Paladin, Kersath and Snagger do not fare as well as both are struck hard blows from the beasts facing them. Snagger manages to bury his axe head deep into the chest of the Troll before the beast musters the last of it's available strength and puts a fist into the side of the dwarf. A deep bell rings as stars explode in front of the eyes of Snagger. Stumbling back, he leaves his axe buried in the chest of the dead Troll before he himself collapses on the cold cavern floor.

A dazed Kersath manages to avoid any further blows, but his attack proves futile as he struggles with the chamber spinning around him. Shaking his head, he fights to clear it and right his senses. Keeping his eyes on the Troll, he holds both swords before him, keeping the beast at bay. As he does this, a strange, shrill cry erupts behind him. Not wanting to take his eyes off the Troll before him, he still manages to see out of the corner of his eye a flying Ras land heavily on the chest of an heretofore unseen Troll to his right. The halfling buries first a short sword and then a dagger into the chest of the large Troll as he strikes it. Having jumped from a nearby boulder, the force is enough to knock the beast from it's feet, Ras rolling to safety and coming up with weapons before him. A smile comes to his face as he sees that the creature doesn't rise.

Kersath makes a mental note to thank his companion for saving him as his senses finally return. A sharp whistling sound rushes past him as four more bolts from Dain fly to strike the chest of the Troll once again. The beast is knocked backwards again from the force of the bolts. The dark elf readies his swords as he prepares for the advance of the Troll.

Ortho looks on in horror as the three Trolls previously trapped in the web of Dain finally tear through the webbing and break free. Rising to their feet, they snarl with fury as they move forward with their clansmen to engage Beleg. Angered that the beasts are now free, he thanks the gods that they are stupid and move forward together. Quickly tossing the concoction into their midst, he looks on with satisfaction as he strikes the center beast full in the chest. The breaking of the bottle sends oil flying over the struck beast as well as a few of its companions around it. It also releases the enchantment placed on the bottle by Ortho and fire quickly erupts. The force of the blast knocks the creature to its back as it howls in pain from the flames. Three of its clansmen also flail about in pain as they are quickly set afire also.

Fully healed and angered at being out of the action so much, Gnore increases the ferocity of his attack. A quick strike of his bastard sword and the abdomen of the Troll is sliced open, entrails spilling to the chamber floor. The putrid creature ignores the wound and pain as it futilely attempts to strike at the dwarf. Confidence rising, Gnore releases a string of curses at the creature as he thrusts his sword upward into the chest of the beast, the tip violently erupting from the back of the Troll. Spittle flows down it's chin and onto the sword of Gnore before he quickly pulls it free of the dead beast's chest.

"A fitting death, ye vile dung herding, orc-lover."

Perhaps feeling desperate, two of the Trolls bull-rush Beleg as he stands waiting for them. Troll's Bane flashes out, the light of the sword casting weird shadows on the cavern wall as Beleg's strikes both of the beasts. Smoke rises from the wounds as the creatures sceam in pain before falling to the ground dead at the Paladin's feet.

Confident from his earlier kill, Ras steps forward to face another Troll, swinging his short sword and dagger at the legs of the beast. The Troll proves too quick for the strike of the sword but the dagger opens a deep wound to the front of the beasts right leg. Ras grins at the success of his attack as he avoids a quick swing of a claw. He readies himself for another attack as he hears the whistling of the magical bolts cast from Dain. Another four strike the head of the beast sending green blood flowing from it's eyes, ears and nose. Ras and Dain both look on in grim satisfaction as the beast topples to the ground. Dain drops to one knee as the strain of casting so much finally overcomes him. The pounding in his head intensifies as well.

Next to Ras, Talimar lands a succession of blows from his sword to the body of a Troll before attempting to move clear of it's claws. Unfortunately he is a step too slow and is struck by both of them. Sharp pain flairs in his left arm and shoulder as the talons rip his cloak and the flesh beneath. He raises his sword in his right arm as he steps back away from the beast. He can see that he hurt it but he knows that it will only grow stronger while he will weaken. Slowly circling, he awaits the next attack from the beast.

Satisfied with the screams of the Trolls as they try to put out the flames on their bodies, Ortho begins to chant in strong dwarven tones and make precise movements with his hands. A cloud of mist begins to emanate from the dwarf and spread outward until it covers a large portion of the cavern. As the party and the Trolls are engulfed by the mist, Ortho unknowingly yells to the unconscious Snagger, "Tell the Trolls that Morradin favors us and has protected us with his breath!"

Pain and weariness quickly overcome the dwarven priest following the casting and he fears the worst when he hears nothing from Snagger. He hasn't the time to ponder the situation though as a Troll materializes out of the fog before him. Raising his shield just in time, he manages to avoid the deadly claws of the Troll. Bringing his axe up before him, he silently prays to Moraddin for the strength to vanquish the beast.

Troll's Bane is the only light evident as the cloud from Ortho surrounds the companions. Slicing through the fog, the light of the weapon flares through the chamber as Beleg swings the blade. Having watched enough of their clansmen fall to the deadly blade, several of the beasts decide the meat of the Companions too tough for their taste and turn to run from the chamber.

With the beast before him retreating, Druckner turns to cautiously walk back into the circle and hopefully his companions. As he does so, he comes upon Ortho engaged with one of the Trolls. Looking at his companion, Druckner can easily tell that he is sorely fatigued and fading fast. Stepping up, he yells a war-cry and buries his axe into the lower back of the Troll. The beast howls in pain as its spinal cord is severed, falling limply to the ground. Ortho smiles to Druckner as he lets his axe fall to the ground, too tired to deal another blow to the creature.

Across the chamber, Talimar steps up and finishes off the Troll ahead of him, avoiding the deadly claws of the beast before silencing it forever. He looks around him warily as he tries to judge what shapes around him be friend or foe. Sword held out before him, he starts to call out the names of his companions.






"Ah'm 'ere! Ortho too!"



Talimar continues as he quickly takes a roll call of his companions, unable to see them through the fog. He steps forward with a stumbling Kersath beside him to gaze upon the three Trolls struggling in his web.

"Burn them," he says matter of factly to Kersath as Ras steps forward from the shadows.

"What of Kre?" asks the halfling of Talimar.

"Don't know. We'd better try and find him..."


Kre fervently looks about, looking for any sort of opening with which he can make a hasty exit from his predicament. Pulling out a couple of small pouches, he tenses up, ready to throw them as hard as he can at the Troll between he and his friends. Knowing that at this range, he cannot miss, he waits for just the right moment before making his break.


Tossing the pouches into the air, they leave small clouds of black powder behind them as they travel toward the horrifyingly ugly face of the Troll. Not caring whether he is caught by his own pepper bombs, Kre shuts his eyes and rushes the Troll that is now blinded. A howl of rage follows Kre as one of the beasts lunges for him. Thin air is the trophy caught by the Troll as Kre pushes on. Unfortunately for Kre however, the now-blinded and enraged Troll begins to flail it's arms in front of it and thrash about. A large, green-skinned leg whips out to trip the hapless thief. Falling to the ground, pain erupts from Kre's kneecap as it strikes a stone on the cavern floor, shattering it. Kre cries out in pain as he grabs at the knee before struggling to turn over and crawl away.

The two remaining Trolls waste no time in rushing the downed thief. Razor-sharp claws and teeth tear and rip at the clothing and flesh of Kre, blood spurting from the numerous wounds as he struggles to free himself from the deadly onslaught of the Trolls. ColdHeart slashes through the air at the face and body of the beasts as Kre tries vainly to free himself. The Trolls are too much for the half-elf however as a hard knock to the head of Kre thankfully sends him into darkness. Kre becomes oblivious to the blows and the pain as the darkness descends upon him. Slipping away, the image of a smiling Laera comes to him as well as the shadowy father that he will now never know...

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