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    The Silver Wolf-A Light In The Dark: Chapter Twelve-Darkness Falls
    Posted on Thu, October 05, 2017 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "

    At that moment, the seven people walking down the passage they had not entered yet all shared the same desire.

    To make the monsters pay with blood.

    Chapter Twelve

    Darkness Falls

    The passage Ma’non’go was following soon led him into a large circular chamber from which several more passages branched off. To his surprise, he saw the rest of his companions emerging from some of those passages. A look of relief crossed his face when he saw that, while the rest of his companions had seen battle, they were still more than capable of continuing.

    “That’s the way forward, then?” Amyalla asked, pointing with her dagger at the one passage none of her companions had emerged from. “Where they’re waiting for us?”

    “We can’t go just yet,” Luna said. “I need to prepare us.”

    Please, Lord Pelor, she thought to herself, as she reached into the pocket of her robe and retrieved a vial of holy water. Show us that your light can shine even down within the recesses of the oerth. Help me help these people, whose goals are the same as yours and who seek nothing more than to bring the innocent home.

    Help me…help them, she continued, as she dipped her finger in the flask of holy water. She began to chant, her voice rising gently as she touched her wet finger to her forehead. She repeated the ritual with Seline and Ma’non’go, who both realized what she was doing.

    Weimar accepted Luna’s touch with little more than a raised eyebrow. Airk, Revafour and Amyalla looked at one another as Luna turned towards them, their expressions wary. The look in Luna’s eyes did much to dispel their concerns, and Amyalla stepped forward to be blessed as well. Airk and Revafour followed suit, and the joy they saw on Luna’s face was a light indeed in the dim underground tunnels.

    Once her blessing ritual was done, Luna began chanting again, this time pointing to Seline’s staff. Its tip suddenly glowed a bright gold in color, and the glow soon expanded into a flash as bright as the sun itself. The caves were brightly lit around the adventurers, as they steeled themselves for whatever was coming next. The light of Luna’s spell all but announced the adventurers’ coming, but they continued on determinedly. They knew the monsters, the villains who had made victims of these children, were waiting for them.

    At that moment, the seven people walking down the passage they had not entered yet all shared the same desire.

    To make the monsters pay with blood.

    The adventurers had expected horror in the large cavern that the passage led them to, but what they saw was something out of a madman’s nightmare. The cavern was filled with dozens of corpses, many of them with rotting flesh still hanging from their bones. The flesh and the bones alike of the bodies were riddled with bite marks, as if something had started trying to eat them and then finished halfway through.

    The scene was similar to the one the adventurers had encountered in the first cavern. In some ways, it was worse, as many of the bodies were posed in ghoulish scenes. Some of the corpses were committing lewd and obscene acts to one another. Others looked as if they were conducting some blasphemous religious ceremony dedicated to one of the evil gods, or some devil lord or demon prince. Still others were posed in silent screams, looking as if they were begging for mercy from some unseen monstrosity. Towards an opening in the far wall, there was another line of corpses arranged in a mocking, laughing salute, as if mocking the hopes of anyone who passed into the darkness.

    Luna’s light spell exposed the full horror of the cavern for the adventurers, further heightening their disgust and anger. The sickening feeling the adventurers had felt throughout the Bearded Lord’s Hollow grew oppressive now, almost tangible in the air, even as a mocking laughter began to ring out.

    Seven creatures stared back at the adventurers, in front of the opening in the far wall. Two of them were the ogres Droolord and Hahaduh. Two more were verbeeg, one of them the maimed Bruddelmort. The second verbeeg was Gnorf, whose drooling face and dull eyes registered an intelligence so slow it was a miracle he remembered to breathe.

    The ogres and verbeeg were not the ones laughing, however.

    The three remaining creatures in front of the opening in the cavern’s far wall called themselves the weird sisters. They were better known to humans and other races as hags, creatures that resembled decrepit old human women with wild hair. The hags could never be mistaken for elderly humans, distinguishing themselves by the unnatural strength in their limbs, the ugly colors of their skin, the malicious look in their eyes and the sharp points of their talons and fangs.

    The greenhag Dorbella had an ugly olive-green hide, with greenish-black hair and glittering orange eyes. She was dressed in ragged noble’s finery that she had no doubt scavenged from her past victims. The annis N’arghenn was taller, with deep blue skin and dull green eyes. Her clothes were those of a peasant, only more ragged and smeared with excrement and mud. The sea hag Ublodine hissed and spat at the adventurers, her ugly, almost fish-like appearance making them physically ill. Her skin was colored an aqua green, and her clothes were made of rotting shark skin and dolphin hide.

    Staring at the creatures in disgust and hatred, Seline recalled what she’d read about hags. They possessed formidable magic on their own, but when three of them united in a covey they were far more dangerous. Hag coveys could cast magic that allowed them to animate the corpses of the dead, to haunt the dreams of their victims and to disguise their minions or their lairs.

    “How do you like our artwork?” Dorbella asked, as her eyes flashed. She suddenly took on the appearance of a beautiful human woman, which contrasted all the more with the ugly appearance of her sisters, the rags she wore and the horrors with which she’d surrounded herself. “We find it gives a certain poetic beauty to these stark, ugly lands.”

    “Kill ‘em and die! Kill ‘em and die!” Ublodine said, drool running down her chin at the thought of fresh meat.

    “Soon enough,” Dorbella said with a wicked smile. “You’ll all make fine meals indeed, and indeed,” she said, as her eyes flashed hatred at Amyalla, Seline and Luna, “you’ll need to be prepared appropriately. Should I rip out your hair, or just peel your faces off?”

    “You can indulge your vanity later, Dorbella,” N’arghenn said. “Lord Orcus grows impatient, and demands his sacrifice. All we desire from them is their deaths.”

    “KILL THEM!” she screamed, as the weird sisters’ minions attacked. The giants and ogres whooped eagerly and charged forward, as the adventurers braced themselves to meet them.

    All of a sudden, the light Luna had cast on Seline’s staff was snuffed out, plunging the cavern into darkness. The adventurers were caught off guard, unable to move or swing their weapons too fiercely for fear of hurting each other. They heard still more laughing, this time interspersed with birdlike squawks and the sound of flapping wings, erupting from above them. A chill came over the adventurers, as they felt something otherworldly approaching, showing no mercy as it brought death from above.

    Chanting frantically, Seline conjured a collection of multicolored lights. She spread them out so she could widen the area they lit, and gave the adventurers a good look at the source of the birdlike squawks. The sources of the squawking were a pair of horrifying monstrosities that looked like a cross between men and vultures, radiating malice and hatred. They were vrock demons, disgusting creatures from the Abyss that lived only to make humans and other mortal races suffer.

    The vrocks not only possessed terrifying strength, but dangerous magic as well. They had cast the darkness had snuffed out Luna’s original light spell, and now used their magic to raise a large stone. Cackling malevolently, the vrocks magically threw the large rock at Seline. Luna sprang over as quickly as she could to try and deflect the rock with her shield. She could only brace herself for the impact, grunting with pain as the rock bounced off her shield, sending her staggering back. The vrock demons squawked in annoyance and came down to attack, hissing eagerly at the chance to destroy one who could channel the holy power they so hated.

    Across the cavern, the hags and their minions charged the adventurers, and battle was soon joined.

    Airk charged at the heavily scarred Bruddelmort, eager to finish the fight he had started. Unfortunately, as he swung his morning star he was forced to stop short as Bruddelmort vanished. Airk could hear Dorbella’s cackling as Bruddlemort disappeared, and he realized that her magic was no doubt responsible. He tried to determine where Bruddelmort had gone, but he was rudely awakened as the giant hacked at him from the side. Airk took a vicious slash that sent him staggering back, and he would have been finished if he hadn’t turned to face Bruddlemort. Gasping with pain, Airk was fortunate indeed to get his shield up to deflect Bruddelmort’s next few blows.

    Revafour swung mightily at the verbeeg Gnorf, who returned the favor with his hammer. Their weapons clashed loudly, and man and giant were soon caught in a shoving match as they each tried to push the other back. A loud cry caused Revafour to turn his head, wondering if one of his fellow adventurers was in distress, but instead he saw Ublodine’s face leering at him. Revafour felt a sick sense of disgust rising up within him, as his heart began pounding wildly. For a moment, Revafour wondered if his heart would tear out of his chest. The sickness Revafour felt was replaced with a deathly chill that caused him to stagger, as his grip on his sword seemed to slacken.

    Seizing his advantage, Gnorf pushed Revafour back, and slammed his hammer into the Flan warrior’s chest with a brutal two-handed swing. At that moment, Revafour was grateful for his heavy armor, realizing full well that without it the giant’s blow would have crushed his ribs.

    Gasping for breath, he tried to raise his sword and strike back, but his limbs trembled as his heart continued to race.

    What had that sea hag done to him?

    Weimar grunted, buckling briefly under the blow Hahaduh slammed into his shield, before striking back with his axe. He could only give a frustrated sigh, realizing that his enchanted axe was better suited for battling the vrock demons than most of his companions’ weapons. His heart ached at Luna’s cry of pain, but then a smile crossed his face as he heard her mace struck one of the demons and it wailed in response. His spirits fell again as he heard the alarmed cries Amyalla was making as Droolord tried to chase her.

    Angrily, he ducked under Hahaduh’s next blow and charged in, hacking away repeatedly at the ogre’s leg as he tried to fell his opponent. The dumb creature began shifting its defenses to block its leg, which was just what Weimar expected. Changing the angle of his attack, he drove his axe into the monster’s chest.

    If Weimar expected that blow to finish Hahaduh, of course, he was badly mistaken, as Hahaduh struck back. Weimar got his shield up to block it in time, but the sheer force of the ogre’s blow made him stagger. Shaking his head vigorously, Weimar gritted away the pain his shield arm felt from absorbing Hahaduh’s blow and chopped Hahaduh in the chest again, knocking him off balance. Raising his shield, Weimar rushed at Hahaduh, driving the shield into the ogre and sending it staggering back.

    Luna did her best to ignore the pain from her bleeding side as she struck again at the demon. Her mace glowed brightly with a golden light, and an uncharacteristically wicked smile crossed her face. The mace she wielded had been a sacred gift from the head of a temple of Pelor in Idee, given for the help she, Seline and Ma’non’go had given them some time ago. The mace was specially made to destroy the undead and profane, and Seline intended to show this demon what her weapon could do. Unfortunately, the demon was a canny opponent, swiftly dodging her blow and striking at her again. She managed to stop this latest blow with her shield, but fatigue was beginning to set in for her even as the demon raised its claws for yet another attack.

    Beside her, Ma’non’go was having more luck, as he tore his trident through one of the creature’s arms. The vrock howled, and Ma’non’go continued to show no mercy, ripping his trident free and then plunging it into the creature’s gut. Black gore oozed over Ma’non’go’s arms as the creature staggered, but the Olman warrior did not relent. Yanking his trident out of the vrock’s gut, Ma’non’go’s eyes flashed wickedly as he plunged his weapon through the vrock’s beaked face. The vrock screeched and fell back, starting to dissolve into nothing as it began to return to the Abyss.

    Luna redoubled her efforts against her own opponent, whipping her mace at the side of the vrock’s head. The creature jumped back and broke off its attack, and instinctively began to prepare a veil of darkness. That was all the distraction Luna needed as she charged in and swung her mace again, this time right at the vrock’s face. Her mace caught the vrock dead on target, causing it to scream in agony as the mace’s sacred power flooded through its body. Luna struck at it again and again, an angry look crossing her face as she pounded the obscene thing with all the strength she had left.

    Seline had often been frustrated by the way magic worked. Wizards were generally required to learn and prepare their spells long before casting them, and had to anticipate exactly which spells they would need. Coming into the Bearded Lord’s Hollow, she was not sure what to expect, and so she had not prepared as many destructive spells as she probably should have. She hadn’t yet used her most powerful one, however, and she realized that now was the right time to do it. She held a bit of fur and a tiny crystal rod in her hand, which faded to dust as she gestured and chanted. They were replaced by a bright sphere of blue-white energy as Seline finished her spell.

    Amyalla ran in front of Seline as she cast her spell, smiling wickedly as she saw what the mage was doing. Glancing behind her, she saw that she had lured Droolord right into position in front of Seline.

    Seline thrust her hand forward and the sphere of energy she was holding roared forth as a bolt of pure lightning, ripping through Droolord and killing him instantly. The ogre Hahaduh, reeling from Weimar’s latest axe blow, was the next one struck down by Seline’s bolt. Finally, the bolt struck Gnorf in the side, knocking him flat on his back.

    Revafour didn’t waste the opportunity, hefting his sword with all the strength left to him and slashing Gnorf’s throat. Despite the chilling exhaustion Revafour felt, he raised his sword once again and charged at the hags. Dorbella advanced to meet his challenge, no longer focused on the vicious fight between Bruddlemort and Airk.

    The battered gnome bled from several wounds, but he hardly felt the pain as he struck his giant foe in the chest with his morning star. Bruddlemort swung again, but this time Airk was ready as he threw his shield up above him to block the blow. Striking again with his morning star, Airk caught the giant square on the hip. As Bruddelmort staggered, Airk drove his morning star straight into the verbeeg’s already-wounded face.

    Howling in agony, Bruddlemort dropped his sword and fell to his knees, clutching at his face. Airk smiled a terrifying grin as he slammed Bruddlemort across the back of the head with his morning star once, twice and then three times, crushing the giant’s skull and leaving him a bloody corpse on the ground.

    Amyalla had had all she could handle trying to avoid being crushed by Droolord’s attacks, and she was fortunate indeed to have been able to lure the big lummox into the path of Seline’s lightning bolt. Looking around, she saw that Luna and Ma’non’go had finished off the demons they were battling, and the verbeeg and the ogres were dead. Amyalla also saw that Revafour and Airk were advancing on Dorbella and Ublodine, and Seline and Weimar were moving to join them. The halfling realized that was two of the hags accounted for. Even with their magic and strength, they were badly outnumbered by the adventurers.

    That thought made Amyalla pause.

    Where was N’arghenn, the annis?

    Whirling around, Amyalla could only give a cry of warning to her friends as N’arghenn loomed out of the shadows, swinging at the halfling with her vicious talons. Amyalla shrieked as the claws tore into her shoulder, but she could barely finish her cry before she went flying from N’arghenn’s kick. Landing painfully on the ground, Amyalla saw the annis chanting and pointing a wand at her companions. The hag had taken her time sneaking around though the cavern’s shadows, out of range of Seline’s lights, to reach the place she wanted to be. Now, N’arghenn was ideally placed to cast another burst of steam at her victims, much like the one she’d used in the caverns above.

    The adventurers managed to avoid the deadly steam as it flew out from the wand, Weimar dropping his axe and shield as he pulled the bow off his back. Within a few moments, he had released a flurry of arrows at N’arghenn, who stopped to deflect them. Most of the arrows bounced off the annis’ iron-hard skin, but they held her up long enough for Ma’non’go to make his way around the steam cloud and charge at her. Ma’non’go’s trident made contact with N’arghenn’s arm, but then the silver anklets around the annis’s ankles glowed brightly. The trident skipped off N’arghenn’s arm as her anklets glowed, and the blow didn’t seem to harm N’arghenn at all.

    Lashing out with her claws, N’arghenn forced Ma’non’go back. Before Ma’non’go could strike again, N’arghenn quickly leaned forward and sank her fangs deep into his shoulder. Growling in pain, Ma’non’go reeled as N’arghenn grappled him, preparing to sink her fangs into his neck.

    N’arghenn suddenly released Ma’non’go as a mace of brightly glowing light slammed into the back of her head. Ma’non’go recognized the mace as a creation of one of Luna’s spells. He caught a glimpse of Luna gesturing angrily, using the glowing mace to strike N’arghenn two more times as he regrouped.

    Dorbella and Ublodine only hissed as Airk, Revafour and Seline advanced on them. Seline knew the hags would attack with their magic, and realized she had to act first. Luck was with her as she cast a veil of darkness that surrounded Ublodine, preventing her gruesome appearance from weakening Airk and Revafour anymore. Ublodine cursed as she tried to draw her dagger, helpless as Airk and Revafour attacked Dorbella.

    Dorbella wasn’t bothered at all by the odds against her, easily using her inhuman strength to slash the weakened Revafour and knock him prone. The greenhag then turned her focus to Airk, casting a spell meant to sap the gnome’s strength. The gnome merely scoffed as Dorbella’s spell failed, his race’s innate resistance to magic enabling him to shrug the spell off. Scowling angrily, Dorbella slashed at Airk with her claws, but the gnome easily blocked the blow with his shield. Airk quickly struck back, slamming Dorbella in the hand with his morning star.

    As Airk struck Dorbella, Seline quickly chanted another spell. The young wizard released a series of fiery bursts of energy from her fingers. Some of the bolts ripped into Dorbella, while some of the others blasted the still-helpless Ublodine. To make matters worse for Dorbella, Revafour struggled to his feet and swung his sword as hard as he could, tearing into Dorbella’s hip.

    Dorbella’s cry made N’arghenn realize that the weird sisters had to act, and soon, or else they were doomed. Chanting loudly, she caused a thick veil of fog to rise up, before turning and fleeing from her battle with Ma’non’go. The adventurers were forced to give up their attacks, afraid of hurting one another, but they knew they could not afford to let the hags escape. There was no telling what the hags might do to their prisoners, just to spite the adventurers who had so badly wounded them and slain all of their servants. Most of the adventurers were forced to try and call out to each other, lighting lanterns to cut through the fog.

    Seline gathered the glowing lights she had cast, using them to guide her out of the fog cloud. She soon caught sight of N’arghenn’s footprints, which led up a set of stairs. Calling out to her companions to let them know which way she’d gone, Seline ran up the stairs, hoping that the rest of the adventurers would be able to follow soon. She knew she was taking a dreadful risk in going after N’arghenn alone, but she also knew that the longer she and her friends took to get organized, the more time the hags had to escape or go after their prisoners.

    Seline stopped halfway up the steps, pausing briefly to cast a protective spell, before resuming her run. 

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