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    The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past-Fog Of War
    Posted on Fri, September 14, 2018 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "Luna felt sick at what the companions would have to do, but she knew that the consequences of not doing it would be far, far worse. 



    Chapter Fifteen

    Fog Of War 


    As the companions walked down a long and straight corridor, they heard a horrible bellowing sound approaching them. The bellowing was reminiscent of what an angry bull might make, and the companions immediately realized that they were about to face a gang of minotaurs. Most beings, even gnomes or dwarves, would have had a hard time tracking the companions through the mazelike cave passages leading to Kalrek’s lair. The group of orcs, men and shadow mastiffs the companions had previously fought needed luck to find them. Minotaurs were another story, gifted at finding their way almost flawlessly through labyrinths to track their prey. 

    Nine minotaurs came into view ahead of the companions. They were hideous creatures that resembled crosses between bulls and men, powerfully muscled and wielding large axes and flails. They snorted in delight as they saw their prey and charged eagerly, determined to tear the companions apart. 

    Seline began chanting a spell as her friends cried out in alarm and fell back, distracting the minotaurs from what she was doing. 

    Seven seconds…

    Weimar raised his bow and shot a flurry of arrows, stinging the minotaurs and even felling one. He couldn’t stop the minotaur’s vicious charge, though, as Seline’s friends continued to move back and stepped behind her. 

    Fourteen seconds…

    Soon, all of the companions stood behind Seline, and there was nothing between her and the charging minotaurs. 

    Eighteen seconds. 

    Seline finished casting her spell, raising one finger and pointing it at the minotaurs. A streak of blue-white lightning blasted from her finger, tearing through the minotaurs and causing the entire passage to glow brightly. The minotaurs bellowed in pain, and six of them fell dead, smoke rising from the burn marks on their bodies. The last two minotaurs continued their charge, determined to tear Seline apart. She quickly stepped back as Ma’non’go and Airk came up to confront the minotaurs. 

    Airk swung his morning star at one minotaur before it could bring its axe to bear. He hit the monster right between its horns, crushing its skull and causing it to fall dead on the spot. 

    The other minotaur swung its massive flail at Ma’non’go, but the tall Olman caught the flail’s chain in the tines of his trident. Ma’non’go pulled his trident forward, pulling the minotaur off balance. As the minotaur sought to free its weapon, Ma’nongo’ swung his trident back over his shoulder, causing the minotaur’s flail to fall to the ground behind him. The minotaur snorted in anger and lowered its head before it charged at Ma’non’go, trying to gore him. Ma’non’go was faster than the creature expected, as he quickly brought his trident back down in front of him. The minotaur skewered itself on Ma’non’go’s trident as it bellowed in pain. Blood poured from the minotaur’s mouth as it collapsed, and the surprised look on its face only lifted when the light left its eyes.  


    Seline shook her head as the companions searched the minotaurs’ bodies. She’d noticed how long and straight this passage was, and that it was ideal for her to cast a lightning bolt to destroy any line of enemies coming at them. Her companions had quickly understood what she’d needed them to do, and Amyalla congratulated her on her cleverness.

    Seline considered Kalrek to be cleverer, though. His minions probably wouldn’t have fought well beside one another. By sending his minions out into the cave passages, Kalrek reduced the risk of his minions turning on each other. He also forced the companions to waste their strength fighting the minions before they ever reached his lair. The companions were lucky to have only encountered two groups of Kalrek’s minions, and Seline could only imagine how many other groups were still out there.

    Seline had already used more of her magic fighting Kalrek’s minions than she would have preferred. She wondered how many dwarves and gnomes Kalrek had as his personal guard, knowing all too well how both races were resistant to magical attacks.

    Seline usually enjoyed intellectual puzzles, and the challenge of how to creatively employ her magic in resolving them, but she was not optimistic about the companions’ chances. 


    The passage led the companions into a chamber that contained a breathtaking sight. The chamber was worked and well-crafted, with carved red, green and gold crystals set into the walls. The crystals caught the light of the companions’ lanterns, reflecting the light into a rainbow of colors all around them. 

    To Luna, it felt as if she was almost in the midst of a glowing gemstone, the colors spreading warmth and protection all around her even as they seemed to draw her closer to the gem’s core. Glancing around at her companions, Luna saw that they felt the same comfort she did. Only Airk was different, his expression showing familiarity as well as comfort. 

    “Crystals of protection and welcome,” Airk muttered under his breath. 

    “Was this complex built by gnomes?” Luna asked him. 

    “Aye, though it’s likely been centuries since any of us lived here,” Airk said without looking back as he led the companions through the doorway in the far wall of the chamber. 

    The companions emerged into a passage with the same kind of stonework as the chamber. They admired the care and skill that had clearly gone into the stonework, skill that was reflected in the solidity of the structure around them. 

    After several minutes of walking, the companions came to a junction. The passage continued ahead, continuing to show the same stonework the companions had seen so far. Now, though, a gaping hole had been torn in the wall to their left. Looking into the darkened chamber beyond the hole, the companions saw broken debris and rubbish. Although Amyalla and the human members of the group lacked Airk’s knowledge of stonework, they could see how crudely wrought the stone in the new cavern was. 

    “I take it the new inhabitants have done some remodeling,” Amyalla said. 

    Airk didn’t answer and continued leading the companions down the passage, his expression grimmer than ever. 

    The companions came into a wide chamber full of smaller caves and passages leading off from it. According to Airk, this place would have been the residential area for many of the gnomes that once lived here. The companions saw torches placed beneath the colored crystals, and they saw how recently the torches had been set. 

    Luna felt her heart begin pounding as a chill went down her spine. 

    Amyalla started, and raised her hand wordlessly. Her friends stood still, and then they all recognized the sounds she’d heard. The sounds were of footsteps, laughter and rattled swords, the sounds of armed warriors expecting a fight. 

    Amyalla pointed to herself and then towards the sounds, as her friends nodded. 

    Soon she was gone, vanished among the shadows. 

    Luna agonized with worry until Amyalla finally came back, describing everything she’d seen. 

    Luna felt sick at what the companions would have to do, but she knew that the consequences of not doing it would be far, far worse. 


    The gnomes Durginn and Ludrock were part of Kalrek’s inner circle, those gnomes, dwarves and men who were more devoted to Kalrek than most of the brigands and monsters who made up his followers. Kalrek didn’t send his inner circle into the tunnels along with the rest of his followers, because his inner circle knew that the brigands and killers were only fodder. The brigands were only meant to gather wealth, and to fight and die like the expendable fools they were. Durginn, Ludrock and the rest of Kalrek’s most devoted supporters would exult in the glory he would bring them. 

    Durginn and Ludrock were not surprised to hear the sounds of clashing swords and shouting voices coming from that part of the complex where the lower-ranking brigands stayed. Kalrek had posted guards at all of the main entrances to his personal part of the complex, and directed other soldiers to help them if any of the guard posts were attacked. Already, Durginn and Ludrock could see several gnomes, spriggans and men running towards the brigands’ area.

    “Lord Kalrek’s enemies, do you think?” Durginn asked. 

    “Maybe,” Ludrock said, “but it’s just as likely wanderers pokin’ their undersized noses where they don’t belong. Derro or ogres, per’aps. Not that it matters, of course,” he finished, raising his sword with an evil grin. 

    As the two gnomes joined the guards’ charge, an alarm bell began ringing to alert more of them. Loud cheers echoed throughout the complex, joining with the sound of rumbling footsteps as Kalrek’s warriors prepared to slay the intruders. 

    The first group of guards who arrived in the brigands’ chamber were so eager for a fight that they didn’t think about why the four guards set to protect that portion of the complex were already dead. The chamber was empty aside from the guards’ bodies, with only the sounds of battle echoing around them. 

    The guards looked to one another in confusion, before they understood what was happening. 

    “Wizard’s trick!” one spriggan howled, realizing the sounds that had lured them there came from a magical illusion.

    “Spread away, lads! Don’t be marchin’ too close together!” one dwarf said.

    The spriggan and the dwarf had to shout to make their voices heard over the sounds of the illusion. None of the soldiers heard the wizard chanting, although a few of them saw her as she materialized into sight. They couldn’t react before the wizard waved her wand, releasing a blistering cloud of steam that filled the air. Many of the soldiers howled in agony, scalded by the heat of the steam, and several fell dead immediately.

    Several of the soldiers who survived the steam shot crossbows and threw daggers at the wizard as she quickly backed up. Unfortunately, their missiles seemed to fall short, falling at the wizard’s feet as if repelled by some invisible barrier.

    A few of the soldiers managed to get close enough to attack the wizard with their melee weapons, but then two men came up to block their way. One of them was a huge dark-skinned man dressed in multicolored clothes and carrying a trident. The other was a more slender man with paler skin and hair, carrying an axe and a shield. Kalrek’s soldiers struck at them, determined to cut the men down so they could reach the wizard, but what the two men lacked in numbers they more than made up for in skill. 

    Some of Kalrek’s soldiers managed to avoid the steam cloud, and they tried to find a way around it to reach the two warriors. They were caught off guard when two more warriors emerged from a side tunnel. One of the new arrivals was a large Flan man dressed in plate armor and wielding a huge broadsword. The other warrior was a gnome dressed in plate armor similar to his Flan companion’s, but wielding a bloody morning star instead of a sword. Kalrek’s soldiers eagerly attacked the two warriors, but these warriors were just as skilled as their peers guarding the wizard.

    The wizard began chanting again, using her wand to fill the chamber with thick fog. Kalrek’s soldiers were blinded as they tried to strike at the warriors. Several of the soldiers, half-crazed by anger and pain, began lashing out at each other, and everything fell into chaos. Some of the soldiers knocked each other into the steam cloud that still filled most of the chamber, while others struck at anything that seemed to get too close.

    A few of the soldiers tried to rally their fellows, but their efforts were too little, too late. By the time the steam and fog cleared, over two score of Kalrek’s soldiers were dead. The few survivors were no match for the victorious companions.

    The companions gathered in the center of the chamber, looking to one another with grim satisfaction. Luna reached into her pocket and retrieved a vial of holy water as she chanted a spell. Dipping her finger in the vial, Luna prayed to Pelor to bless their efforts in the coming battle. Luna daubed each of her friends with the holy water, signifying the support Pelor would offer them, until she came to Airk.

    Airk shook his head before Luna could bless him, the shame all too evident on his face.

    “Airk…please…” Luna said. 

    “No,” Airk said, shaking his head. “You know I can’t.” 

    Tears formed in Luna’s eyes as she resealed the vial of holy water and put it away. As she picked up her mace and shield, she knew there was little she could say.


    "
     
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    Re: The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past-Fog Of War (Score: 1)
    by choiceelctrinic on Wed, November 07, 2018
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    The companions gathered in the center of the chamber, looking to one another with grim satisfaction. Luna reached into her pocket and retrieved a vial of holy water as she chanted a spell. Dipping her finger in the vial, Luna prayed to Pelor to bless their efforts in the coming battle. Luna daubed each of her friends with the holy water, signifying the support Pelor would offer them, until she came to Airk.



    Re: The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past-Fog Of War (Score: 1)
    by choiceelctrinic on Sat, November 17, 2018
    (User Info | Send a Message)



    Re: The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past-Fog Of War (Score: 1)
    by choiceelctrinic on Mon, November 26, 2018
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Her companions had quickly understood what she’d needed them to do, and Amyalla congratulated her on her cleverness.



    Re: The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past-Fog Of War (Score: 1)
    by choiceelctrinic on Wed, December 05, 2018
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Tears formed in Luna’s eyes as she resealed the vial of holy water and put it away. As she picked up her mace and shield, she knew there was little she could say.




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