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    Return of the Spider Queen, Part 1
    Posted on Tue, September 13, 2011 by MysticWhip
    Flint writes "Aalas -- Son of Agnure of Hommlet -- begins to lead his company away from the Fane of Tiamat, but he quickly realizes that he has little choice but to return to the Fane in an attempt to free his imprisoned step-father.

    Grim Duty


    7 Coldeven 579

         I led the company as far as I could from the Fane before nightfall. We camped within the ruins of a watchtower which overlooked the rocky Elsir Vale.

         Forwen quickly fell into a deep sleep, but only after telling us some of what had happened to her within the den of the dragons. I was certain that she had not revealed all to us. The wyvern that had fled from us during the battle in the temple chamber had let forth enough such a screech of alarm so as to draw the remaining dragons away and so give my sister a chance to escape. For that much, at least, I felt gratitude towards the wretched creature, if for nothing else.

         Soon after Forwen had fallen asleep, the rest of us quickly decided that we had to return to the Fane, in an effort to save Thaddeus. The recent terror of the dark the place still loomed large within our minds, but we knew the effort had to be made, for we each knew that Thaddeus would have done the same for any of us.

         We split the night watches between the five of us, allowing my sister her much needed sleep. I took the first watch, as the wind began to howl through the darkness which cloaked the vale. Snow began to fall steadily upon the high mountain shoulder where the ruins stood, but my watch remained quiet and, upon my relief, I was finally able to sleep. I can only hope that, in time, Forwen will tell me all of how she suffered in the cave where she had been imprisoned. May Pholtus grant her the strength to bear these new burdens.


    8 Coldeven 579

         I thought that the ruins of the watchtower had hidden the fire from prying eyes, but I was wrong. The dragons came down on us in the morning, as we were busy making our breakfast from the last of the dried meat and bread brought from Mittleberg.

         Trellara saw them first and called out to us but even as she did. The green and black wyrms which we had fought at the Fane landed upon a rocky outcropping, just beyond the tower ruins. I looked to Forwen, who had slept past the dawn, and then drew my sword, hurrying to meet the black they called Regiarix. Forwen had told us of him and while he was young for one of his kind, he apparently had high ambitions. While my sister had cowered at the back of the dragon cave, she had heard Regiarix hiss vengeance against men, elves and dwarves for the death of his father. This dragon had apprently dies by the hands of what Regiarix had called "warriors and a sorceress from the east." I found myself wondering if the "sorceress" had been my mother. Trellara counsels me to remain calm, reminding me that I have no way of knowing for certain.

         Regiarix was perhaps the size of a carriage and typical of his kind, with night black scales on the back of his upper body and dull grey ones upon his belly. His horns curved forwards, from behind his eyes and leveled off with his snout. His mouth was filled with needle-sharp teeth. The black wyrm’s eyes glowed amber, with a fury that would likely only ever be quenched in death.

         Ozyrrandion, the green wyrm of the Witchwood, was smaller by comparison. Sleeker than the black and covered in scales of pale green that -- if the tales of the Tiri Kitor were true -- would darken into emerald as the decades and centuries passed. Forwen said that the green had always had more of an air of menace about him, but she thought him secretly a coward. Seeing Ozyrrandion standing upon a rocky outcropping, well behind the larger black, convinced me that  Forwen was right in her judgment of him.

         “We can call the others if you’d prefer,” hissed the young green. He was talking about the two other dragons that had shared the high roost above the Fane. “But you’d find it easier on all of you if you surrendered to us alone.”

         "Ah, our plaything awakes,” snarled Regiarix. I sensed my sister stirring behind me. “If we returned with her in one piece, it would bode well for the rest of you.”

         “We surrender on the condition that none of our lives are forfeit,”  Ferzth ejaculated, before any of the rest of us could speak.

         I looked back, aghast as the githzerai threw down his sword and sank to one knee before the two dragons. I knew that I could never join him in surrender, so I turned and fixed my eyes back upon the black wyrm, resolutely raising my sword.

         “We can’t win here,” Ferzth hissed quietly. “The last time we fought these wyrms, your sister was taken. Who will be next?”

         “What’s he doing Aalas?” Trellara demanded of me. Glancing to my right, I saw trellara drawing back her bow, taking aim at Ozyrrandion. “Has the menqualië lost his nerve?”

         The olven word "menqualië" basically meant "foreigner" and was used often used derogatorily. I knew this but, even though Ferzth was a githzerai and said to be from the lands beyond the mountains of the Western Wall, I had never seen his courage fail, until now.

         Just as I started to doubt my own wisdom, in my decision to fight the dragons, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. A figure leapt atop the rocky outcropping directly behind the green wyrm. It was a woman and she was clad in a golden tunic, emblazoned with the red lion of Mittleberg, while her breeches were homespun wool and her boots worn brown leather. She wore her dyed scarlet hair long down her back in two plaits, which hung in front of her ears. In her hand, she held an un-ornamented -- though undeniably brutal -- great-sword while across her back was strapped a crossbow and quiver of bolts.

         “Fear the Blinding Light,” the newcomer shouted as she lashed her huge sword down toward the top of the dragon’s tail.

         The wyrm twisted around, managing to avoid the blow, but as it did so, I completely abandoned any thought of surrendering to the foul creatures. I then charged the black dragon, with a cry that was swept away and turned into a garbled roar by the mountain winds, even as it left my lips. I slammed my sword into the top of the black wyrm’s foreleg, before it had chance to react and then the chaos of battle engulfed us all.

         Behind me I could hear Kiriel shouting a warning -- something about goblins -- then black lightning crackled through the air from the Eladrin’s fingers. Trellara let fly an arrow that drove straight and true into the shoulder of the green.

         By this time, I thought all consideration of surrender had been put aside, but I heard Arianrhod shouting from within our camp. “This is foolishness!” she called out. “We cannot win here!”

         “She’s right you know,” snarled Regiarix, as he drew back from before me, spewing forth a torrent of smoking liquid from its mouth, onto my shield.

         The caustic smell of acid filled my nostrils and caught at the back of my throat as another arrow flew past me on my right. I gagged and staggered back, but managed to ignore the splash of burning liquid that touched my arm and struck out again and again at the black. My blade sliced through air, or struck against scales that were as hard as plate male and seemed to do little harm the dragon. Suddenly, from my left, a blast of light, which could only have been called forth by my sister, seared into the black.

         Ferzth was shouting something that was all but lost on the wind, then he suddenly leapt out of the ruins to joinin  the battle at my side. Regiarix spewed forth more of his caustic acid breath, as he did so the dragon spread its wings, which seemed to dim the pale dawn light, yet my shield held firm against his attack.

         The rest of the battle was a blur, but I remember the green wyrm falling, peppered with Trellara’s arrows and with the red-haired newcomer’s sword driven through its skull. Forwen called down a searing column of light upon the black and, as she did, I leapt forward to plunge my sword deep into the creature’s chest and this drew a roar of anger from Regiarix. He vomited forth yet another torrent of acid, as if to purge his innards of all the rage he felt, but I leapt backwards, just beyond the burning flow. From within the ruin Forwen was heard praying while Ferzth leapt at the dragon upon its left side, forcing it onto its back legs.

         Arrows struck the creature in a blur of movement. I lashed my sword across the wyrm’s snout, as it plunged downwards to snap at me. Regiarix quickly reared back and dived towards me again, forcing me to jump to my left, its teeth tearing a gouge in the earth next to me just before its head slammed into my knight’s shield. I brought my sword down on the top of one of the dragon’s forward-pointing horns and again it drew back, until more of Kiriel’s black lightning seared into its chest, drawing a shriek of pain. It staggered back on its hind legs, bleeding and wounded and then one of Trellara’s arrows slammed into the side of the wyrm’s head, almost to the fletching. With a final shriek, Regiarix keeled over onto his right side and fell to the ground with a crash, throwing up a cloud of snow around him.

         Our new ally proved to be a woman called Kat, who wore the symbol of Pholtus. She had been sent forth into the west by Tredora Goldenbrow, High Gleaming of Mittleberg, to offer me aid and counsel, for the Lords of Mittleberg had granted me Vraath Keep as a holding, to guard the borders of Sterich. I reeled from this revelation, but I had little time to absorb it, or to find out from Arianrhod why she had refused to fight the dragons for, as the ranger had called out during the battle, hobgoblins had also found our watchtower camp.

         A shaman bedecked typically in bones and skulls led the goblins and behind him came two huge warriors clad all in black. Half a dozen smaller warriors brought up the rear. They rushed forward piecemeal, but the shaman took cover behind one of the statues at the edge of the ruin and hurled a blast of black magic at Kiriel, which sent her reeling toward the goblin ranks.

         Ferzth was the first of us to react, rushing to aid Kiriel and cutting down a hobgoblin warrior as he drew near to her. This act gave Kiriel chance to recover and retreat before she blasted the shaman with black lightning, but a worse threat was looming. One of the black-clad goblins had charged into the ruined watchtower toward Arianrhod. Raising my sword and shield, I rushed to intercept the creature, coming upon it as it reached our campfire and lashing my blade in toward its belly. It lashed the flail it carried downwards and smashed my sword into the dying fire scattering embers into the air.

         I looked to Arianrhod, wondering whether she would now fight and, to my relief, she leapt forward and lashed out with her two swords at the hobgoblin. The creature leapt back to avoid one blade and then lashed out with its flail to throw the other out to one side. The hobgoblin lashed its flail out toward me and I leapt back just beyond the reach of the spiked ball on the end of its chain. I raised my shield in front of me, ready for the next attack but when it came, I could not defend myself for it was the shaman who struck. The hobgoblin leapt from behind the statue it was using for cover and shouted an incantation that loosed a wave of force into my left side. It threw me toward the fire and I could not help but fall atop the dying, hot embers. The flesh on my hands burned as I put them down to cushion my fall, then I rolled. The acid burns I had received from the dragon flared anew as the embers touched my armor.

         I rolled to my feet quickly, rising next to the shaman who, for the first time, showed fear as I brandished my sword before me. The flail of the other hobgoblin came in from my right then as he rushed after me and somehow I ducked under the sweeping weapon. The shaman, at the same time, called lightning to his staff and then lashed out at me but I brought my shield up and smashed aside the weapon, its magic dissipating as I parried it aside. I retreated, but as I did I heard Kiriel chanting a curse behind me. Black, shadowy tendrils burst from the shaman’s body and entwined it, holding the goblin in their terrible grip. The hobgoblin screamed and staggered back and away from me, but I refused to let it escape. Instead, I uttered a prayer to restore my strength and then lashed my blade out toward the creature’s neck. My sword clove through the goblin’s throat and sent its head spinning to the ground in a spray of blood. Its body fell a moment later like a puppet with its strings cut.

         I turned on the big hobgoblin warrior then and as I did, Forwen called down a column of light that seared the creature’s flesh while momentarily dazing it. I leapt forward, as did Arianrhod, but the ranger reached the hobgoblin first, lashing first one and then the other of her blade across the creature’s back as it twisted away from her. With a roar of anger, the goblin brought down its flail towards me and, though I raised my blade, I could only slow the chain, without stopping the spiked head. It struck my helm and sent me reeling away, stunned for a moment and utterly helpless.

         Amazingly, the hobgoblin’s next blow struck my shield and I survived. I lashed out wildly with my sword, a prayer calling divine light to the blade, but the hobgoblin was too quick and leapt back, beyond my reach. There was a shout then, in the goblin tongue, from behind me and with that the hobgoblin sought to break away and flee from us. I lashed out once more at the hobgoblin and then let it go. It fled northward back along the narrow trail that led toward the Fane and with it fled one of its companions, the only other survivor, the remaining black-clad warrior. The other hobgoblins lay dead upon the ground, around my companions.

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    Re: Return of the Spider Queen, Part 1 (Score: 1)
    by SirXaris on Tue, September 13, 2011
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    That was an interesting battle, Flint.  Nice job. :)

    A couple of those names sounded familiar to me (like Arianrhod), though I don't recall where I might have heard them before.  Perhaps in another article of yours or are they characters from some canon source?


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