13 Spring, 2979
Feloryn motioned with his hand silently to the rest of the group to stop moving. He moved to crouch behind a boulder and motioned up ahead. The rest of the group took cover behind rocks and brush and looked beyond the path to the mountainside and the temple to the Moon. The structure was built into the rockface and appeared to span two stories. The rock carved walls contained reliefs of gothic design of wyrms and gargoyles along with steep, sharp and angular walls. The entrace to the temple was flanked by two stone statues of winkar, one of a priest, the other of a templar.
Seeing the massive and secure building, the group pulled back a bit to speak without giving away their presence. Jarett was the first to speak up, “That’s going to be a tough nut to crack,” he said. “Those walls are solid stone.”
“We are not going to be assaulting the wall, just the priests inside,” replied Vaar.
“What I’m saying is that it could get messy, and we could get trapped in there; not to mention the traps and wards that could be enscribed into walls like that.”
“I think you give these Lunites too much credit.”
“Enough. The question is whether we attempt to be diplomatic or raid them,” growled Hedge. “I say we raid them. They don’t deserve quarter.”
Vaar gave a nod of her head, “I would agree. The Moon shows us no mercy, so they do not deserve it in kind.”
“So you want us to drop to their level?” asked Feloryn. “We’re better than that.”
“Still wouldn’t get us anywhere. You want us to walk in a say ‘Hey! We want your cup! We’ll even pay!’” Hedge laughed, “Yeah right, and I’m a parrot.”
Feloyrn gave a sigh. “Look, all I’m saying is th-” he began to say but was interrupted by a loud commotion coming from the temple. The group immediately got quiet and crept back over to see what was going on. As they approached, they saw a gathering of winkar in front of the temple, preparing to leave. Three of the winkar were dressed in the traditional garb of the Moon priest. The other two were dressed in heavy armor with their deadly scythes nearby. Along with the group was a covered wagon, its contents unknown.
The group whispered to one another, “Looks like a party is going down somewhere.” whispered Hedge. Vaar and Feloryn nodded in agreement.
“Perhaps we can follow them…ambush them and question a survivor,” offered Jarett as he eyed the group preparing to leave. The others looked to the half-elf with approving looks. “Right then, let’s follow.”
Quietly the group waited for the winkar to start their march southward and after they gained a good distance, began to follow. Vaar suggested that they get a good distance away from the temple so the fighting would not bring unwanted attention from the temple, and the others readily agreed.
They followed the group along a downward path to the south, and as they drew farther south, the scenery opened to reveal Lake Yoshiro, where they could see some floating lights in the distance, most likely ships on the water. Closer however, they caught the sight of an orange glow at the bottom of the path. Moving slightly off the path, the group saw in the distance what appeared to be a small fishing village along the lakefront. Fire was rampaging along several of the buildings with glee. To further complicate things, from the ambient glow they could see a fog beginning to roll in from the lake.
“We have to help them,” stated Feloryn to the group.
The others nodded slowly. “Yeah…yeah we do,” said Hedge, and then looked to the winkar they were following had quickened their pace. “Looks like we found the reinforcements. Let’s make sure they don’t get to join the fray.”
The grop drew their weapons and began to move in on the unsuspecting winkar quickly but still within the shadows as best as they could. As they drew within charging distance, Hedge nodded to Jarett who stood straight, drawing his rod up and pointing it at the winkar. “In thy name I call thee, show them the burning light,” he commanded. A radiant fire erupted forth, enveloping one of the priests. He then took several steps forward, his rod still pointed forward. “Beg for forgiveness and the Sun shall hear you,” he growled, and the winkar howled in pain and dropped to his knees as more fire coursed over his body.
“Looks like Jarett’s back to normal,” muttered Hedge as he brought his dusk blade forward and charged another one of the priests. Vaar laughed in response and brought her two blades to bear, charging one of the templar winkar. The dark dwarf was only barely able to block the coming attack, which sent chips of his shaft into the air. Feloryn moved in behind Vaar, using his spear to catch the templar off guard, allowing Vaar to slip in a third strike, this one shearing off a portion of the winkar’s scaled armor.
The other winkar finally recovered from the initial attack and moved to engage the heroes. The priest farthest from the fighting moved quickly toward the covered wagon, calling out a prayer in the dwarven tongue as he brandished his holy symbol. A dark mist began to collect along the wagon and moans began to issue forth from the cover. Hedge arched a brow and called out to Jarett to set the wagon ablaze as he barreled into the priest he had charged. Using his shoulder and weight to his advantage, the cushani knocked the winkar backwards, stumbling dangerously close to the edge of the path where a fifty foot drop awaited him. Taking in the excitment and the thrill of the fight, Hedge gave forth a mighty roar that shook the core determination of the winkar and broke their concentration.
Jarett did not acknowledge Hedge’s call and kept walking towards the winkar with hatred filled steps. He raised the rod again where fire erupted from the tip once more and coiled along his arm. He pointed the fire to the winkar priest. “Die,” he growled, and fire shot forward like an arrow, piercing the chest of the priest who cried out in pain. The lance of fire burned away his robes and set his skin ablaze before burning a hole into his chest and scorching away his insides. The winkar fell over screaming as he died. The warlock then turned to the wagon to see a writhing mass of something underneath the cover surge forth from the wagon and breaking free of its confines. A creature of the undead tore the wagon apart, howling with rage.
The abomination looked like it was multiple people sewn together. The creature uncurled its six arms and roared at the heroes with saliva that burned the ground as it dripped. Vaar and Feloryn were the nearest to the creature and stared at it in amazement before quickly backing up. This allowed the templar to regain his defenses and press an attack of his own. Though he fought as a trained combatant, he proved to be no match for the training of the dragonborn fighter. She neatly parried his attacks and launched a counterattack of her own, batting the scythe to the side and slipped her shorter blade into the winkar’s ribs. The winkar didn’t fall but stumbled back, allowing Feloryn to move in with his spear, striking true to his gut, dropping him to the ground in pain.
The third priest and his templar slowly backed away from fighting, taking the opportunity given by the abomination to run for the town. Hedge noticed the flight and tried to call out to his friends, but he was cut short by a swift attack from the priest in front of him. Growling in anger, Hedge refocused his attention and moved in close, taking away the reach advantage of the scythe. The priest threw an awkward attack that bumped harmlessly against Hedge’s shoulder. The cushani gave a toothy grin and grabbed the weapon by the shaft and lifted the winkar up off the ground with his superior strength. With another roar, Hedge heaved the winkar into the air and over the edge of the path to the craggy rocks below.
The heroes regrouped together before the massive undead. Vaar moved in first, using her twin blade style to keep the creature focused on her as Hedge and Feloryn moved about the flanks of the creature, distracting it with off timed attacks, giving Vaar opportunties to strike true against the dead flesh of the creature. As they battled, Jarett moved into position behind the creature and raised his hands to the sky. “Father Sun, before you is one of the damned. Give me your strength to burn its soul away from this place to be judged!” the warlock called out to the sky.
Holy light bathed the area in a golden glow in a circle around the undead. As Jarett continued his call to the sky, the circle began to close in around the abomination, growing hot with holy energy. The rest of the group quickly backed up as the circle enclosed the undead creature. Jarett then lowered his head to look at the abomination. “I judge you unworthy,” he stated and clenched his fist tightly. The circle of golden light erupted into holy flames around the creature, burning away flesh and bone. The monstrosity howled and writhed in pain. It burned hot and only moments later incinerated into dust.
“That never gets old,” chuckled Feloryn as he kicked at the ashed of the undead.
“Quick, two of them got away!” yelled Hedge who quickly dropped into a run towards the town. The rest of the group said nothing more and ran after the two fleeing winkar.
The two winkar quickly raced into town where the townsfolk were running away from the burning buildings. Where they expected to find their Faithful soldiers in charge, they instead found the pile of bodies littering the ground. Among the bodies stood a single person, covered in the blood of the Faithful. He stared at the two winkar with anger in his eyes. “You’re next,” he said slowly, pointing at the two.
“Shit,” growled the priest who immediately raised his hands to the sky and called out to the Moon, “Oh Father, lend me your servants to squash these peasants. Answering the call of the priest, several of the Faithful soldiers began to raise as faithful undead soldiers. The man quickly backed up in surprise and went into a defensive position as the undead creatures rushed him.
The priest cackled. “Now then…to deal with these heretics,” he said and motioned to the templar to move ahead. A roar stopped the two in their tracks however as Hedge and the rest of his friends came charging down the pathway. “Dammit!” he cried out and ran deeper into the town, pushing the templar out of the way. “Stop them!” he yelled out.
The templar quickly turned about and engaged Hedge full frontal, catching him off guard. The templar used his scythe to pull the cushani’s feet out from under him which brought him crashing to the ground. Feloryn came in next, leaping over the fallen form of Hedge and brought his spear down onto the templar but missed, hitting the ground instead. The winkar dropped his weapon and grabbed the shaft of the spear, using the force of the strike to pull Feloryn along. The winkar used his low center of gravity and strength to whirl the eladrin around like a disc and then let go, sending him flying and crashing into Jarett who had stopped to prepare another blast of fire. The two fell to the ground.
Hedge quickly recovered though, leaving his blade on the ground and bringing his claws to bear. With a quick reach he latched onto the winkar’s leg with his claws which bit through the soft leather boots. He called out to Vaar who brought up the rear, “Get that priest!” The dragonborn nodded and raced past the now immobile templar after the priest.
Feloryn and Jarett managed to untangle from one another and got to their feet. Jarett immediately cursed the templar, which burned the skin of the winkar with holy energy. As he screamed, the eladrin came in hard and fast with his spear. The templar tried to move out of the way but found that he couldn’t get away from the cushani’s grip. He took the tip of the spear in his shoulder but managed to buck enough to cause Feloryn to lose his grip on the weapon. Then, as he tried to gain use of the spear, Hedge used his superior strength to pull the winkar down and pounced on him. “Lights out bastard,” he growled and ripped open the templar’s face.
Vaar meanwhile, chased the priest through the burning village. The priest looked over his shoulder to see the charging dragonborn mercenary and ran faster, cutting a sharp corner onto a gathering of children and women. With a quick prayer and swipe of his hand, a harsh gust of wind blew forth at the ground like a hurricane. The group had been trying to escape from a burning homestead and instead, found themselves blown right back inside. The priest cackled and charged in after them into the burning building. Vaar cursed and charged in after him.
The priest came to a stop inside the building, turning to face the dragonborn as she entered inside with both swords at the ready. The priest calmly withdrew his holy symbol as his weapon. “Death does not frighten me spawn of dragons. My soul is spoken for,” he cackled and then muttered a prayer. From the holy symbol came forth a dark mist that moved to wrap the priest like a cloak. More forth and began to move like a hungry beast towards the children.
“Death comes for us all, I fear it not,” the dragonborn replied and rushed foward, both of her blades moving in a delicate dance of death. The blades struck true at the chest of the winkar, but he only laughed. The mist that had started towards the children stopped and coiled back to move closer to the dragonborn. Taking advantage of the situation, Vaar called out to the children, “Run!” With her blades, she kept the dwarf close and unable to move. The children blinked and then began to flee.
The winkar growled in frustration. He drew a concealed dagger from his gauntlet and struck Vaar before she could react, sinking it deeply into her gut. She did not move however, using her strength to keep the winkar close. “You will not win,” she uttered through clenched teeth.
“I think not heretic,” the winkar replied and with a single command, withdrew the mist from his body and redirected it to the burning doorway. Vaar’s eyes widened at the turn of events. She let go of her swords, using her now free hands to grab the face of the winkar who screamed in pain as the dragonborn stepped in closer, taking more of the blade into her stomach. With a powerful lunge, she brought her head in and with sharp teeth, bit the face off the priest.
The winkar died instantly in the dragonborn’s arms and went slack. Vaar dropped the body to the ground and turned to the exit which was blocked by the mist. The building was quickly filling with smoke from the burning wood and the fire was growing rapidly dangerous. She sprinted forward to the mist and tried to bat it away but it reacted to her presence, moving out the way before rushing forward to envelop her body.
The realization of what the priest had done entered the mind of the dragonborn. This was not mist. “The Breath,” she whispered. She looked to the children who looked to her with hope and could do nothing but shed a tear as the building collapsed around her in a fiery inferno.