Turn 17 -- Triumph in the Darkness

25th day of Alturiak. Mid-Morning. Caverns of the Slaverers.

Ortho, exhausted, leans on Druckner as the dwarven warrior helps him to the cavern wall where he sits down hard. Reaching for the metal container at his waist, Ortho opens it and pulls forth the last of his special cocktails. Handing it up to Druckner, he says, "'Ere, Druck. Use it if ye need ta. The mist won't last long. 'Ave Ras get ta the mules fer oil ta burn the vermin. Ah'm all in."

Druckner takes the container, nods, and gives Ortho a friendly cuff on the side of the head. "'Nother close on, say a prayer of thanks ta Moraddin fer me."

The tired dwarf then grips his axe tightly and turns to approach the webbed Trolls as Ortho closes his eyes to prayer. Druckner lifts his axe over his head and starts chopping viciously at anything that moves or twitches. Screams of pain and howls of rage emanate from the webbing as the sharp axe of the dwarf cuts into the flesh of the beasts.

Druckner looks to his right as a small figure materializes out of the fog around him. Seeing the hard eyes of Ras and the firm set of his jaw, he says nothing to his companion as the halfing walks forward, a short sword in his right hand and bloody dagger in his left. Without a word, Ras assists Druckner in the mutilation of the trapped Trolls. Ras succombs to the rage inside him as he thinks of the fate that must have befallen his companion, Kre. Thrusting his sword and dagger repeatedly into the mass, his rage slowly subsides as he works to introduce the Trolls to what it feels like to be a shishkabob, a fate many of his kin have suffered at the hands of the vile creatures.

Beleg removes his helmet and runs a hand through his sweat-soaked hair, Troll's Bane glowing brightly in his left hand. The fog of Ortho's enchantment rolls around him, obscuring his vision beyond his immediate area. Looking around him, he sees the mutilated bodies of several Trolls lying dead at his feet, smoke and stench rising from the wounds inflicted by Troll's Bane. Of more immediate concern, he glances down to see his surcoat and tunic ripped to shreds, his family crest now unrecognizable. Green Troll blood stains the remaining cloth and beneath his plate mail is clawed and scarred in several areas. He frowns deeply as he sees this, knowing that several of the protective plates are now loosening and the effectiveness of his armament weakening.

Gazing once again at the carnage centered around him, he wonders if he could have done more. Unaware of how many of his companions remain alive, he takes pride in the knowledge that any of them still live. Outnumbered two to one and surrounded, the company reacted quickly to his final command to retreat toward the wall. Sadness comes over him as he considers the maneuver and realizes that Kre was trapped outside of the protective circle. "It couldn't be helped. He never should have left the protection of the wedge," he thinks in a feeble attempt to comfort himself. Despite the loss, he takes heart that his fellow Chosen would be proud of the account given by the Red Feather Company this day.

"Do you want me to deal with the webbed Trolls or shall I go search for Kre?" he asks as Talimar walks up beside him. "I can go alone if need be, though it would be easier if someone came with me in case we have to carry Kre."

Gnore glares at the trapped Trolls and his companions hacking away at them and re-affirms his grip on his bastard sword. He turns to the frowning Talimar in response to Beleg's question. "Are we burning the vile beasts or shall we save our oil? I'll gladly volunteer to assist hacking the goblin vomit filth if need be." Gnore spits through clenched teeth. He glances back at the sleeping form of Garth to make sure none of the Trolls harmed him further and waits for Talimar to decide the fate of the webbed Trolls.

Watching Druckner and Ras eagerly hack away at the three Trolls, Talimar changes his initial words and decision to burn the creatures. "Take care of these with your sword," he says to Beleg. "Make sure they will never bother us again."

Nodding to his accepted leader, Beleg steps forward to gaze at the bloody mess left by the winded Druckner and Ras. Mutilated Troll bodies lie scattered amid the tattered remains of the magically created web. Being careful not to slip in the large pools of blood, he steps forward to bring Troll's Bane to bear on the neck of each of the creatures, severing the head and ending the life of each of them.

As Beleg finishes the somber task, Talimar looks toward Ras, "Please make a quick scout for Kre. If you are discovered, run."

The subdued halfling nods toward Talimar and quietly slips through the fog and into the darkness beyond. Druckner watches as his friend disappears into the shadows, "Ah'll go find the mules," he says to a nodding Talimar. Hefting his bloody axe to his shoulder, he heads through the fog himself as he heads toward the western passage and hopefully, the mules.

Glad to see that the Trolls have retreated and that the companions have at least time to take a breath or two, Kersath leans against a wall and too dizzy to walk, asks the group, "Can any of you priests spare some divine power? I hate to be a nag, but I'm afraid I'm simply going to fall down in a few minutes..." As if speaking the words actually took the strength from his limbs, the dark elf slowly slides to the cavern floor, his back to the cold wall of the tunnel.

As soon as Ortho hears the plea of the brave Drow, he breaks his meditation and crawls over to the dark elf. Fighting back the nausea and pain, he casts one more spell of healing before once again collapsing against the cool stone wall and resuming his meditation and prayer.

"Thank you kindly," responds Kersath to his companion. "I know this is a burden for you, but we'll move quicker if you don't have to carry my body."

Ortho smiles to the elf before closing his eyes on prayer. A wearied-looking Dain moves over to offer some much needed water to the dwarven priest as well as Kersath. Setting the waterskin aside, he bends to work on the wounds untouched by the healing of Ortho.

Gnore watches as Beleg walks back to his companions after finishing with the Trolls. It really didn't matter to the dwarf who did the deed, only that it was done right. Satisfied with the Troll's fate, he sheaths his blade and walks over to Garth, Beleg at his side. Seeing his dwarven companion still unconscious, Beleg kneels beside his friend. Laying a hand on the prone dwarf's chest, he closes his eyes and offers a silent prayer to Forseti. Quickly his hand glows with a soft blue nimbus as the power flows through the Paladin and into the dwarf. As the intoxicating power of his deity flows through him, Beleg fights the urge to draw in more, to keep the power contained within himself.

Much too soon, the flow ceases and a minor sense of weariness courses through his body. Looking down at the dwarven priest beneath him, Beleg smiles to see Garth return to the waking world.

"Thank you," offers Garth as he places a hand to his temple, thankful that the pounding in his head had ceased.

"You are most welcome," replies Beleg warmly. "My Lord has granted me a bit of healing power. Is there anyone else in need of such?"

"P'rhaps Snagger could use it," replies Garth as he bends down to offer water to Garth. "He's o'er there."

Beleg follows the direction of the dwarf's pointing finger as he tries to make out the image of their new companion through the fog. Finally eyeing the body of the dwarf he rises to move to his side as well. Moments later a jagged tooth Snagger rises from his prone position on the chamber floor to take a more comfortable seat.

Looking over the battered and bleeding members of the RFC, Talimar speaks, "We retreat. We have reduced their numbers but we cannot survive another battle. We must rest and heal before cleaning out this nest of Trolls. Let's move as soon as possible before the Trolls attack again."

As the elf finishes speaking, a white-faced Ras walks slowly back into the center of the companions. "H-H-He's gone..." is all the halfling can stammer as he plops down rather awkwardly on the cavern floor.

All the companions frown deeply at the words from their friend, each knowing exactly who the halfling means. A long pause follows as they all think about the fate that must have fallen the thief before finally succombing to death.

"Was there no body?" asks Talimar finally.

"Nothing. Just some tattered remains of his clothing and a lot of blood. There was also some bits...bits of...his flesh I believe."

"I think I'm gonna be sick," responds Ras as he fights the urge to vomit. Taking a flash from Dain, he takes a quick swig of the wine inside.

"We should be moving out. There's nothing more we can do for him now," responds Talimar. "They will surely be seeing to it that there is nothing else remaining."

Despite the harsh words of their leader, each of the companions knows the truth to them. The Trolls would have surely ripped Kre's body to shreds in their battle over the meat and substanance that it will provide them. But make no mistake about it, each of them were now swearing their desire to exact Kre's revenge on the vile beasts.

A few hours later and the Red Feather Company has once again set up a make-shift camp in the former central chamber of the Topknot Troll clan. Ras returns from setting several booby-traps around the perimeter of the camp as Beleg and Gnore stand guard. Garth, Snagger and Kersath sleep deeply after having a quick meal to regain their strength. Talimar and Dain talk about the days events as well as the company's future plans. Druckner walks back from the end of the chamber after seeing to the mules as Ortho is off to himself praying and meditating.

"Hear me, Soul-Forger. Hear me, Ah beg ye. 'Ave Ah lost favor in yer Sight? Ye seem unusually distant and it was all Ah could do ta reach yer Power fer these last two spells. 'Ow 'ave Ah erred, oh Great One?" Ortho continues the prayer for several more hours as he tries to commune with his deity. Although receiving no answer or confirmation, he continues on. Finally, a feeling of comfort washes over the dwarf. His fatigue washed away, a new energy and confidence courses through his body. Offering up his thanks to Moraddin, he rises from his position of prayer to join the others.

"We should use some of the healing potions and scrolls to see to the wounded," offers Ras as the discussion of plans continues. "We can always get more if we live through this."

"That is a good idea," replies Talimar as Beleg and Ortho begin to follow through with the plan.

"When the others wake in the morning, we will have to discuss our next course of action..."

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