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Shadows lifted, Part Threeby Daniel Mayer
"You just destroyed a whole garrison of loyal Traladaran soldiers, scum!" a hissing voice reached the combatants. Aurelius, Elaya and Flosi now stood in a triangle position in the midst of many, many bones. All three were sweating right now, at some places on every body blood mixed up with the sweat. Slowly Aurelius felt tired. [Damn! Where are the elves?
Thrandir said they would come. Or are they watching us if we stand a chance?] Aurelius wasn't delighted. They just killed nearly all lesser undead they expected and at the horizon ghostly figures waited to be commanded to the battle. He chopped the bony head of another mummy of it's shoulders and with that gained a pause. No enemy in direct reach, Flosi and Elaya already prepared for something more challenging. "But... oh." the voice pretended to recall a long lost memory "isn't there a nice spell I know which could make the losses worth it? We shall sssseeeee.." the voice trailed off.
Suddenly the bones under Aurelius feet moved. In fact ALL bones lying around began to move. Flosi made a dramatic sigh. "I hate such surprises. Does anybody know that spell? Thrandir perhaps?" No one answered. "Thrandir?" Flosi asked again. The elf should be off ground in some tree to give the ground combatants tactical information. "He's nowhere and we don't have time to look after him.", Elaya stated, "But it seems that bone-mending spell there isn't our only problem. In my opinion that voice was from this ugly being there" pointing one blade of her to the right flank. A large winged Nightmare appeared from between the trees. They saw one some time ago in Glantri and nearly had lost all their lives then. "Hmm. Reinforcements would be a great pleasure to me.
But as always the mage meddles somewhere, the elf takes a nap and the work is to us. Flosi, we should fight it with Elaya guarding our backs against these spectral beauties coming from the left." Aurelius suggested. "Yes, sir! At least Laren doesn't try to countermand this.
Should get a clean fight this time." Flosi answered jovially. The two giants moved towards the Nightmare. "Yes. Leave to me the rest.
'Spectral beauties', pah! 'And don't forget that bone-thing, Elaya, we can't do everything by ourselves.'" Elaya mimicked Aurelius' voice. She took a spear-point position between a handful spectres and the still growing pile of bones, relaxing her muscles during the few paces.
The Nightmare suddenly attacked with frightening speed, using claws and it's great maw, howling loud. Aurelius parried the first claw attack while a cleave from Flosi killed some air.
A full score of elven Protectors silently moved through the wood, nearing the dim battle-sounds slowly and cautiously. Over thirty drawn blades shimmered in the night and waited to do their duty. "Finally!
Hurry up, there's no need for stealth anymore, the battle gets interesting sooner than we anticipated!" The urgent speech of Thrandir instantly got the elves to increase their movement speed. They hurried through the woods with Thrandir joining them after a few seconds from ahead. Thrandir held a delicate longsword now, the blade covered by ancient runes. The leader of the elven force, an experienced fighter named Galadan, made some signs with the left hand when the enemies got in sight. Instantly the elves parted into a curved line with Thrandir and Galadan in the middle, who would reach the enemies first. From behind. [Was a fine addition to the battle plan when we created it. But somehow we forgot the cannon-fodder-philosophy: The back may be surprised, but consists of the strongest foes...] Thrandir grinned in a way that promised final death to the unliving wights and others ahead.
Who where just realising the attack from behind. White fire blazed at many clawed hands now, and the undead greeted the newcomers with a disturbing wail.
Two hands reached for Thrandir. He made a unnatural speeded dodge while bringing the blade between his opponents arms. A short circled move with the blade, and both arms fell to the ground. He whirled around beheading an unidentifiable creature before it could grab his right arm. Another dodge under a swung blade saved him from the same fate. Two parries and the sounds of his vibrating blade finally mixed up with similar sounds coming from other melee fights. The being he fought was good in swordplay and made some impressive attacks with it's four arms. The quadruple blades where blocked in a flurry blow of the hasted Thrandir, with no one getting through the defences. A quick step to the right brought Thandir too near to another enemy which just wanted to bring it's blade into the game. He reversed a swing, opening his defence, and brought the blade in the back swing through the body of the disturber.
Two other blades found a way to the side of Thrandir, slashing two bleeding lines in his left side. Thrandir winced and paid this Sword-Demon more attention.
The air cracked by the release of another searing spell unknown to Laren. But this time neither the Spell Turning nor the Spell Immunity held. Pain shot through Larens body while he flew backwards against a wall. The pain of the impact was soothing against that. [Shit, I lost the spell!] Laren felt angry with himself. Another good spell wasted. He still held his staff and swung it in a circle to deflect some fast following missile-spells. He murmured some syllables and threw the staff against the lich. The staff caught blue fire in flight and headed for the centre of the liches body. The lich raised a hand in an attempt to ward off the staff but whatever he tried didn't seem to work. The staff pierced the spell shield and the body of the lich just to set forth it's flight nearly undisturbed. The lich staggered a step backwards.
[Five to One!] Laren regained some hope. This was the first spell the lich didn't seem to know. And it was the first time Laren gained a hit...
The short moment was used by Laren to check the situation. He was already wounded by real missiles, spell missiles, claw attacks from a summoned beast and an interesting touch spell. He knew he could take more damage in his excellent physical condition, but the 5-1 score had to get even in the near future. [Time to try the big baddabum] He cast another Spell Turn to gain some time and began to cast a Deryth's Energy Net spell. Two nearly simultaneous spells rebounded from his defence.
After Laren clapped hands above his head a bright net of light appeared between them. Andrès saw this and quickly made gestures himself. When Laren threw this powerful net of positive energy against Andrès, the lich pointed at it. The net began to shimmer on its way and turned into green light when it hit the lich. Andrès glowed a short time green and then grinned evilly. "To turn positive energy into negative energy is one of the things a man has to master to become a lich. I thought you more intelligent than that, manling." the lich chuckled roughly and began a complicated spell himself. Laren slapped himself in thoughts and quickly thought about a defence against the next round.
Elaya danced between mummies, wights, skeletons an other scum. Both blades hacked and slashed without interruption. Already Elaya bled from many wounds. Though most of them are only small ones, the sum does it. Elaya felt herself slow down more and more. With that even more hits the immense mass of enemies did to her. When a punch in her back disturbed her, she whirled around to face her new opponent. "Hold! It's me!" the urgent voice of Thrandir spend new hope to her. [He's alive!] With new energy they went against the wights. A sudden light flared, almost blinding them. A few spirits dissolved in this light, leaving a heavy breathing Aurelius in a cleared space. "Only 30 elves! I hoped a few more would come. About 200 in fact. Not good!" An unlucky undead was pressed forward from behind and was cut in half by an upward swing of him, holding his avenger Durandan with both hands. "Killed that Nightmare?" Elaya shouted into his direction. "Don't know, Flosi made a personal fight of it. Few minutes ago he spoke of 'trying a wrestle'." Aurelius answered. In this moment a great roar was heard anywhere behind them. A more human roar of the same strength answered "YOU THINK YOURSELF STRONG, AREN'T YOU?!!!??!" Then a loud 'knock' was heard followed by an unhuman groan "AND YOU MIGHT THINK ABOUT WHAT'S LIKE A PUNCH FROM ME IS WHEN I'M REALLY ANGRY!!!" During the following roar Elaya needed her attention for her own enemies again. A new line of them has formed, walking or drifting slowly against them. Aurelius, Elaya and Thrandir stood side-to-side and waited for them when suddenly a cloud of arrows flew over their heads against the undead. Each glowed blue and all of them hit. Deadly. The first row almost instantly was destroyed.
Five ghost of some sort flew on and entered combat with the three heroes. Behind them, a great explosion rocked and brought even the ground into movement.
Again some sort of spell hit home. At Laren. Exhausted, he slumped against the wall behind him. [Hi to you, wall. Met you few minutes ago, didn't I?] With frightening speed, he ran out of spells, and his staff was already out of charges. His only comfort he took from the fact that Andrès was using a staff now. [If he's going low with spells, I perhaps can start the only hope I have.] He tried another spell, conjuring a ball of acid that speedily flew against the lich. It hit another unseen shield but was not fully absorbed. Some of the acid burned into the already angry lich. With vigorous gestures Andrès cast a spell that sent Laren against the wall again, but this time not as side-affect but in full purpose. Laren had no air left to breathe. His head was spinning and he slumped to ground. Sudden pain shot through his body, the type of pain indicated some draining spell. Now it was quite hard to concentrate on anything.
Through the ringing in his ears, Laren heard a rough chuckle. Pain wrecked his body as he tried to stand up. The stone floor was surprisingly warm and welcoming. He lay on the floor in an embryonal position simply to feel the least possible stinging pain. He made a mental note to thank all gods he knew for the arrogance of that damn lich. Every black mage would have finished the job moments ago. But not this guy. Andrès' magical abilities were much better than legends told.
But just one joker was left. And it was time to play it. Now or never.
"For long years I didn't have such an amusing distraction. Yes, you were quit good, young mage. You even used some spells I didn't know. But I feel your fear, fear for your life." A man in his old-fashioned Traladaran robe turned again to his side, chuckling. "Yes, the fight was a fun I almost never felt before. But before I finish you, to my regrets, I have to kill your friends outside. They decimate my pawns too much. Especially these to fighters with their divine help." His mouth began to move for a complicated spell. The wrinkled hands moved with astonishing speed. Laren knew the spell. He found hints of it in an old tome back in Krakatos. This spell was called 'Nightfire' and bound energies from the Negative Plane to the ground of a 300 feet radius or more around the caster, slowly drawing all life of everyone standing in that area. And the spell would be complete in few seconds.
It was the last spell Laren had. He had waited exactly for this moment.
While Andrès activated the strongest version of the spell 'Nightfire', a version permanently bound into a building, Laren cast his spell as silent as possible. Then Andrés finished. A reddish fire rose from the floor, searching for living beings to drain. Less than a second later, Laren had finished his spell. The red flames turned white and even grew larger. Andrès made a surprised yell when those flames unexpectedly turned onto him, beginning at his feet and working themselves upwards.
Pain, never known pain wrecked through the dead body of Andrès. "What's that?! That isn't supposed to be!" he shouted in sudden fear. He tried to shake of the fire, that already reached his hands and spread further upwards.
Laren finally got onto his feets, using his beloved wall for support.
"You know, your teaching some minutes ago about positive and negative energies. I was indeed not that stupid you thought. I needed you to spend all spells able to counter this before I use the Changing spell.
The idea is simple. In fact..." Laren coughed and steadied himself "... the spell's the same you made before. Nightfire can be used with positive or negative energy I read in a book. I wasn't able to invent this spell by myself, but to alter an existing spell... seems to work.
I'm pleased with myself." Laren almost grinned then. Andrès was surrounded by white fire fully by now and burned. The fire was burning everywhere, but only touched the floor. "I hope the spell's as good as described in the book. Should help my friends now. Good bye Andrès, you 'lived' long enough. It's time for the sun shining again at the Lake." The soundless scream of Andrès wasn't even seen now anymore. Only a heap of ash remained.
Outside, the white fire burned everywhere, throwing lesser undead into short confusion before the flames killed them. Stronger undead couldn't fight anymore and tried to flee the fire. They became easy prey for the elves. Some more feet away, Flosi -wounded heavily now- made a earth-shaking roar, and swung his hammer with all strength he could muster against the attacking Nightmare. He hit the monster with the full force at the side of it's head, throwing the head faster to the side than the backbone was able to follow. A loud crack sounded, followed by a thud when the monster fell dead to ground.
The end came fast and deadly. Every undead in the immediate surroundings burned to ashes, while the others were scattered in all directions. No commanding voices united the armies of death.
The fight was won. The tower was captured. And for the first time for almost 1000 years, on the next morning the sun broke through the mists.