As Lady Babylon opened her mouth once again to bite at him, her eyes burning with anger, Ma’non’go honestly wondered if it would be enough.
Enter The Dragon
The fire in
Lady Babylon’s eyes was just as intense as the cone of murderous orange, red
and white flame she breathed at the companions. The companions could feel its
heat from down on the ground even when it was still in Lady Babylon’s maw.
pounded frantically as she reached into her pocket and retrieved her magical wand,
which allowed her to conjure great blasts of steam and fog. Pointing it in the
air, Seline chanted and released a great blast of steam at Lady Babylon’s fire
breath. The steam and flame collided in a great burst of smoke, which formed a
screen that separated Lady Babylon from the companions.
It took Lady
Babylon only a few moments to blow the smoke away with her wings and swoop down
among the companions, but they used those few seconds to scatter. They were all
around the park, and Lady Babylon realized she wouldn’t be able to slay them
all with her fire breath. Instead, she lashed out at them with her deadly fangs
and claws, which were as deadly as any human or dwarven sword.
back as Lady Babylon’s maw lunged towards him. To his immense relief, her jaws
slammed shut scarcely five feet from him. He didn’t let his relief weaken his
resolve, as he slashed at Lady Babylon with his trident. It tore a
vicious-looking gash just beneath her mouth, leaving a trail of purplish-red blood
dripping on the ground. Ma’non’go had poured a dose of one of the potions
Seline had made in Naerie on his weapon. The potion enhanced the sharpness of
any edged or pointed weapon, giving it temporary magical properties. That
potion’s power, combined with the power Ma’non’go received from the Crown of
Arumdina’s blessing, made his blows all the more powerful.
As Lady Babylon
opened her mouth once again to bite at him, her eyes burning with anger, Ma’non’go
honestly wondered if it would be enough.
hadn’t had to use her full powers in decades, preferring the guise of a human
wizard and enhancing it with her magical spells. Not all dragons could cast
magic, any more than all dragons could speak, but Lady Babylon was skilled
enough to do both. She often passed her fire breath off as magic, but she could
cast a few true spells.
She used the
first of those spells now, as her entire body seemed to glow fiery red. The
enchantment she was using caused anyone it affected to age a year from the
strain it often put on their systems. Most lesser races were reluctant to use the
spell, but dragons like Lady Babylon grew more powerful as they aged.
started to move with a surprising speed for a creature so large, her limbs
flexing with a catlike grace. She whirled in place, turning her face away from
Ma’non’go and slashing at him with her left foreclaws. The Olman warrior tried
to dodge, but Lady Babylon’s strike caught him along his back and down his leg,
knocking him flat. Lady Babylon led with her right foreclaws, hitting Weimar in
the shield and knocking him onto his back, but she fixed her glare on Luna, who
was grasping her holy symbol and chanting a spell. Lady Babylon wasn’t having
it, as she caught Luna in her jaws.
in agony, her spell lost. Fiery pain tore through her back and into her limbs
as Lady Babylon’s teeth tore into her. She’d managed to get her shield up in
front of her right before Lady Babylon struck, and that kept her from being torn
in two. Lady Babylon tried to apply some more pressure, intending to finish her
opponents’ healer first, but suddenly she was the one screaming in agony as
Revafour hacked into her rear flank. Luna fell out of her mouth, leaving her
fangs stained with blood, as she turned to the right again, intending to face
the Flan warrior.
Airk struck at
her with his morning star as she turned. His attack skidded harmlessly off her steel-hard
hide. Her counter, again with her right foreclaws, was blocked by his shield.
The blow was so strong, however, that it sent Airk flying back to crash into
the broken remains of a statue and roll past it to the ground. The gnome barely
managed to get to his hands and knees, his head throbbing from the blow, as
Lady Babylon continued past him to face Revafour.
warrior returned her hateful stare. He slashed at her again, aiming just below
where Ma’non’go had struck her first blow, but again her hide proved tougher
than her enemies’ weapons. Lady Babylon lunged at Revafour, seemingly ready to
bite him in two the way she nearly had Luna. Seline wore a determined look as
she chanted her next spell, but the dragon had keen hearing. Seline cast a powerful
lightning bolt at Lady Babylon, but the dragon retaliated with magic of her
lightning bolt streaked towards her, Lady Babylon seemingly vanished as her own
spell took effect. The bolt flew right through where she’d been standing, streaking
past Amyalla. The halfling cried out in alarm, as much by Lady Babylon’s
disappearance as by Seline’s lightning bolt. Amyalla had nearly gotten into
position for a good strike at the thrashing dragon, but now the dragon seemed
to be gone.
Babylon suddenly reappeared, as Amyalla realized what kind of spell the dragon
cast. She lunged again at Revafour, who was too startled by her sudden
reappearance to get his defenses in line. Swallowing hard, Amyalla charged in,
driving her dagger up to the hilt into Lady Babylon’s side. Her attack was
strengthened by Seline’s sharpness potion and the Crown of Arumdina, and did
enough damage to force Lady Babylon to stop short of biting Revafour.
it also angered Lady Babylon enough for her to lash out and catch Amyalla with
her claws. Lady Babylon only struck Amyalla a glancing blow, which was further
weakened by the Crown’s power, but Amyalla felt a wave of hot agony as her
lifeblood streaked across her torso and arms.
spun as he struggled to his feet, his entire body aching from the Scarlet
Woman’s blow. To his surprise, the Crown of Arumdina was still on his head, and
didn’t seem at all damaged from the hit he took. Its gems continued glowing
brightly, and his body still radiated the golden light the Crown originally
imbued him with.
But out of the
corner of his eye, he saw Weimar frantically tending to Luna, who lay in a
bloody heap. Directly across from him, he saw Amyalla drinking one of the
healing potions Luna had brewed back in Naerie, in an attempt to stanch her
Airk picked up
his morning star and shield and ran to help Revafour, who was facing Lady
Babylon head on. Revafour swung a mighty blow, one that would have cut even
Lady Babylon’s tough hide, but she briefly vanished and his sword slashed
nothing but air before she suddenly reappeared and lashed out at him.
heavy plate armor gave him better protection from Lady Babylon’s bite than
Luna’s chain armor did, but his cry of pain still tore at Airk’s soul. He
finally caught up to Lady Babylon and slammed her left foreleg, the
enchantments of the Crown and a dose of Seline’s sharpness potion strengthening
his weapon. Lady Babylon winced at the blow, and lashed out at him with the
claws on her left foreleg. Those claws viciously cut Airk, but they didn’t take
him down. He retaliated with another blow to her foreleg, but it didn’t seem to
Airk realized that
it truly didn’t matter when Lady Babylon turned to look at him. Her eyes
seethed with an inner fire, and Airk could see it welling up in her throat. She
was going to breathe her fire all over him, killing him in one blast.
wearer, the Crown of Arumdina’s power would fade, and Flinthold’s defenders
would lose its blessings.
Airk knew then
that all was lost, as the voice he’d been hearing in his head started to speak
to him again.
And this is
how it ends, doesn’t it?
brought death and despair to your brothers in arms because Kalrek Burunne
played you for a fool.
murdered Laessar Bradon because you let Kalrek escape.
Then you divide
your kin and let them suffer at this monster’s hands.
you’ve led your so-called friends, people foolish enough to spend more than a
day with you, into the literal jaws of death.
Glittergold must be so, so proud!
Airk saw the
golden light around him start to fade, as the Crown’s gems started to lose
frantically to pour one of Luna’s own healing potions into her mouth. Her bite
wound wasn’t mortal, but Weimar knew the companions needed her back in the
battle as soon as possible.
Luna coughed as
she rose to a sitting position, and her wounds closed rapidly. Unfortunately, Weimar’s
relief turned into alarm as he saw the look of dismay on Luna’s face, as if
she’d lost something important. A moment later, Weimar felt it too, as the
strange sensation he’d felt since the battle began, a sensation that gave him
courage and determination, faded away.
Weimar and Luna
exchanged worried glances, realizing that the Crown of Arumdina was losing its
realized what was happening, that his wavering resolve was weakening the Crown’s
power, he felt something break within him. Rage at Kalrek Burunne for his
betrayal, rage at the Steelheart dwarves for massacring his brothers in arms, rage
at Lady Babylon for what she and her minions had done to his home, rage at the
thought of his kin and his friends dying, and rage at himself for allowing it
all to happen.
way to white hot anger within Airk as he charged forward. He didn’t care if
Lady Babylon killed him-it was no less than he deserved-but he’d be damned if
she slew any of his friends.
His body glowed
brighter than ever as the Crown of Arumdina’s power returned. Lady Babylon
breathed a horrific cone of flame at Airk, but he raised his enchanted shield
above him. Airk’s shield and the Crown’s power protected him from the worst of
Lady Babylon’s fires, but those flames still raised painful burns on his face
and scorched his plate armor. Emerging from the flames, his armor gleaming red
with the heat, Airk slammed his morning star into the side of Lady Babylon’s
neck. She roared in pain from his blow, and blinked out of sight to avoid his
started to leap into the air, intending to breathe on Airk again, but then
Seline completed her next spell. A large bluish-white wall of glacier ice
appeared above Lady Babylon, landing squarely on her head and neck with a
sickening crunch. Lady Babylon screamed as she fell back to the ground, and her
scream turned into a roar of anger as Weimar, Ma’non’go and Revafour each
charged her from a different side.
Weimar was the
first to strike, chopping into her left flank, and Lady Babylon’s speed allowed
her to strike him back. She blinked out again as Weimar fell back, leading
Revafour and Ma’non’go to miss with their blows, but as she moved to counter
them she felt herself slowing down. Luna dispelled the spell Lady Babylon had
cast to speed up her movements, and she couldn’t react as Airk, Amyalla and
Ma’non’go all struck her again.
again in pain and rage, Lady Babylon prepared to breathe on Airk. Seline cast
another blast of steam from her wand just in time, snuffing out Lady Babylon’s
flames and raising a large cloud of smoke in front of her. Airk charged through
the smoke to attack her, but Lady Babylon expected that. She recoiled and blinked
out of sight, causing him to miss his blow. When she reappeared, she plunged her
head back into the smoke, intending to bite Airk in two and be done with it.
was so focused on Airk that she didn’t notice Revafour running into the smoke
from her right.
The rest of the
companions heard her snarling as she lunged down at Airk, but that snarl turned
into an ear-piercing shriek. Lady Babylon recoiled out of the smoke, thrashing
violently as the companions fell back. They realized Lady Babylon was dying, and
they saw the cause when they noticed Revafour’s sword protruding from her
breath ran ragged as he severed the head of the hobgoblin he was battling. His
fatigue nearly caused him to drop his axe, and he wondered how much longer he
could go on. Even with the Crown’s blessings, he’d suffered several painful wounds.
It was all he could do not to collapse.
when he heard a loud, bloodcurdling shriek, a scream of despair and death. The
scream unnerved him, but its effect on the monsters was far greater as they
realized what it meant. They seemed to lose all heart for the battle, as some
of them turned to run while others simply sank to their knees in despair.
death destroyed her minions’ will to fight, but it gave new heart to the gnomes
and the Kutunachke. The gnomes who’d suffered and lost so much to the monsters,
exacted a brutal revenge on them. The Kutunachke, horrified by the destruction
and death they’d seen the monsters inflict on Flinthold, were more than willing
to help the gnomes avenge their pain.
gasping for breath and soaked with blood from the wounds he’d suffered fighting
Lady Babylon. He was grateful for the healing spell Luna cast on him, but his
gratitude was quickly replaced with worry for Airk’s fate. Luna shared his
worry, and they joined their other friends in running towards Airk, who was on
his hands and knees.
Airk looked up
at his friends. They were shocked at his injuries, from the burns on his face
to the bloody gashes he’d suffered from Lady Babylon’s claws. What disturbed
them most, though, was the exhaustion and pain he was clearly in.
Luna knelt down
next to him, casting a healing spell that filled him with cool, soothing
energy, but if he felt any relief he didn’t show it.