Hunt - Chapter Thirty-Six
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27 Arodus, 4692 AR; Grey Garrison 3rd Floor, Kenabres
27 Arodus, 4692 AR; Grey Garrison 3rd Floor, Kenabres
She could feel the cold uneven stone under her cheek. Her body was pounding. Not with pain. It was hard for her to grasp the feeling that pulsed throughout her system. The best thing she could come up with was that something within her was trying to burst out as it no longer had room within her. In time with her heartbeat, her skin felt as if it was stretching and while it was not painful, it was uncomfortable. She needed to release whatever was within her as soon as she could. That desire burned within her like the brand on her chest.
With a groan, she pushed herself to her knees. It was a slow process and as she did, she could see Snaga and Mordria to her right doing the same, letting out similar groans.
â€œEveryone alright?â€ Shaylis asked, her voice sounding deeper than normal.
â€œI think so?â€ Mordria answered, â€œNot sure what is going on anymore.â€
Shayliss looked around her. Along with Mordria and Snaga, the rest of their group except for Irabeth were struggling to rise. Irabeth, kneeling next to Strune, held her longsword out toward a vague form floating in the air. What surprised Shayliss, though, was that the half-orc was caked with a dark powder. It was a familiar color and it took her a few seconds to realize what it came from. As if to confirm, she moved her gaze to the altar where the Wardstone Fragment had stood.
The Wardstone was gone. The only signs that it had been on the altar in the first place being fine powder of stone covering the altarâ€™s top and some bits and pieces of its remains sticking up.
She then realized why the floor was so uneven. Chunks of the Wardstone littered the ground, radiating from the altar. Most of the pieces were stuck into the floor and wall, leaving a webwork of cracks running along them. Hanging against one wall, pierced by dozens of shards, is the corpse of Jeslyn, the half-elf demon. About twenty feet to Jeslynâ€™s left hung the corpse of the minotaur, already dead by the time the Wardstone exploded but still pierced by many shards.
Yet, she and the rest of her group were untouched save for stone powder covering their bodies.
Before she had a chance to really think more about that, the floating form Irabethâ€™s sword was pointed at started slowly descending back toward the ground as if the succubus was going to land. Instead, she made it to about five feet from the ground and stared at the group as a whole.
â€œYou insects can be trying.â€ The succubus growled, â€œBut you only delay the inevitable. Now that I cannot turn the Crusaders, I must go-â€œ
Irabeth let out a roar and charged at the demon, sword ready to piece the formâ€™s midsection. Even if she hit the form, she would not be able to do much other than maybe disperse the Sending. Speaking about turning the Crusaders must have sparked something in her instincts.
The succubus, as if expecting the charge, waved a hand in front of her. Shayliss could see some kind of power radiate from the hand, only visible by the way it deformed and distorted the area around it. She was not sure that Irabeth could see it as it wrapped itself around the half-orcâ€™s neck.
By her reaction, the spell had tightened itself around her neck. She fell to the ground, dropping her blade and shield to rake at her neck. Her fingers could clasp nothing, the spell intangible but effective at shutting off her airway.
The remaining power raced by the half-orc, aimed at the rest of the group. A tidal wave coming to descend upon them. Shayliss did not have time to do anything but watch the surge race toward her, prepared to do to her what it was doing to Irabeth. She braced for the physical force of the spell as it tightened around her own neck.
But it never came.
She felt the spell roll around her like water around a stone. There were tingles of energy brushing against her skin, leaving lines circling her neck, but there were no invisible fingers clamping down. Looking around, Shayliss could see that no one else was affected by the spell and were forcing their way to their feet. She did the same, trying to ignore the strain against her whole system.
The succubus gives the group a look of annoyance that holds a hint of surprise within it.
â€œYou will not just fall over and die, will you?â€ She whispered, barely audible, â€œNo matter.â€ She raised her voice, â€œNo matter if the Wardstone is protecting you. You will fall soon enough to my slaves.â€
While holding the spell upon Irabeth, the succubus held out her second hand toward the side of the altar. At the spot she chose, a long red and black line ripped through the air, distorting reality around it. A second later, the line widened into a tall imperfect ellipse as if it was a door opening up. Through it, ten skeletal humanoid demons stepped into the chamber.
While it had been a while, Shayliss recognized the grey skinned Babau demons from the initial invasion of Kenabres. She and the group had been able to kill them, but it was a six against one fight and it could have killed them easily. The only reason it did not was most likely because it was playing with them. These babaus do not look like they are wanting to play, though.
Behind the babaus, more demons prepared to enter. There were demons that looked like a crude and ugly mix between vultures and men, four armed towers of flesh, muscle and cruel intelligence, and demons that were a cross between woman and snake with six arms and claws that seemed a mile long. All of them emitted auras of power, confidence and bloodlust. Even without Struneâ€™s gasp of surprise and despair, Shayliss could tell that if they were to get out the hope of survival in the next few seconds would dissipate.
They had to figure out a way to close that portal and fast. The problem was that she could still feel the power within her bursting to get out. It was straining her system and preventing her from being able to move more than twitches.
â€œI donâ€™t think so.â€ The voice of the Wardstone whispered in Shaylissâ€™s ear.
Valtyraâ€™s blurry and translucent form appeared in front of Shayliss. In front of the others, more forms appeared: A cloaked and hooded woman stood in front of Kaira, the un-fused form of Nephalim was next to Snaga who had the real Nephalim fused to him, an angel with armor bearing the Sword of Valor floated on wings of white by Strune and a priest bearing a crest in the form of a woman standing in front of a sunburst stood by Mordria.
All five of the translucent forms pointed hands or weapons toward the portal. As soon as all of them were raised, a surge of power that rocked the Grey Garrison to its core lanced out, converging together halfway between the group and the portal. From that convergence point, a single massive column of holy energy roared across the remaining space, leaving a gash as wide as three Shaylisses heightwise.
The babaus managed to leap out of the way of the energy surge. However, Shayliss instinctively knew that the demons were not the true target of the Wardstone. Not only that, but she was sure that it would not have mattered if they stayed in the way. The column would have just gone right through them undeterred before colliding with the portal.
Shayliss could hear the death screams of dozens of demons from behind the portal, unable to stop the power that spelled their doom. Then, there was a deafening screech like metal ripping under force as the portal disintegrated, leaving only strands of magic flying into the air to dissolve.
Finally, she heard a terrified cry from the floating succubus. She looked up to see that, just like the portal, the succubusâ€™ Sending was dispersing. Before the Sending failed entirely, Shayliss watched as the succubusâ€™ gear was blasted apart, her skin ripping open in multiple spots, and one of her horns pulling out of her head painfully.
Then the image was gone. The portal was gone. The only things remaining within the chamber were Shayliss, her group and the ten babaus who managed to survive the collosal power surge. Irabeth was no longer struggling against the spell that was suffocating her, but she was having trouble rising to her feet. In contrast, Shayliss no longer felt like the power within her was struggling to get out. It was still there, but it was as if it and her body finally reached an agreement to behave. By the expressions and postures of the others, it looked like they were in the same boat.
The babaus let out loud roars that did not shake the Garrison like the power did, but loud enough to discomfort Shayliss. They then raised their arms and something told Shayliss that they were attempting to summon more of their kind. However, the spells failed. The remains of the Wardstoneâ€™s power must have cancelled out their spells and within a second they realized it. Seeing that apparently spells have no effect for them in this room, the babaus charged forward, letting out their roars again.
Snaga and Mordria literally leapt into action. The half-orc summoner landed in front of the charging horde and braced himself as if he was ready to hold back a tidal wave. When the first of the babaus approached him and tried to slide around him, the summoner objected heavily. With one gauntleted fist, he clotheslined the demon, sending it crashing down to the ground. Shayliss thought she could physically feel the impact from where she stood.
Another babau attempted to get past Snaga and failed. However, two moved around him at once and he was not able to catch both of them before they were already past him.
Mordria caught both of them before they could move too close to Shayliss. Her claws lashed out, leaving deep gouges in its torso. When the injured demon turned to face her, she dug her claws into its body, gripped something within it, and twisted her body. The demon went flying so fast that Shayliss did not even notice its trajectory before its body crashed hard against the rounded ceiling.
While it peeled itself from the indent it made, Mordria moved to babau number two. She dipped into its defenses like a brawler and gave the demon two slashes in its belly. It gave Mordria a right hook that bashed into her cheek, but the only reaction she gave was a grimace of annoyance before returning the favor with interest. Her right hook sent the demon crashing and flipping over the center altar, its body limp after landing head first.
The babau Mordria tossed into the air finally pushed itself out of its indent to freefall on top of Mordira. Its progress was interrupted by a pair of holy arrows that pierced a shoulder and leg. It spun in the air to find that Blueeye followed the arrowsâ€™ path and made the twenty foot leap to crash hard into it. They both sailed through the air in a curve that took them beyond where the portal was opened.
Blueeye was sent rolling after landing but quickly got back to his paws and leapt at the demon again. He ripped out a huge chunk of flesh from the demon and then took it to the ground. Another demon, pulling away from the mess around Snaga, charged for the wolf and prepared to bash his spine into the ground. Before it could, though, another pair of arrows slammed home in its head, sending it flying backward and into the ground.
Kaira let another series of arrows into the brawl around Snaga, injuring another demon and pushing it away from the crowd. That demon growled and leapt over the whole group and landed a dozen feet away from Kaira before rushing toward her.
Strune came out of nowhere. Like a cannonball made out of holy energy, she collided into the demon, searing its flesh and sending it across the chamber to crash into the stone wall. The impact shook the whole room yet the demon managed to survive long enough to try to lash out at Strune. Its claws only left scratches in her armor as she pulled back her shield to bash its head in.
Seeing that this was a one-way fight, the other babaus worked to disengage from Snaga. However the half-orc was not having it. He was able to hold two of them back, but the other four managed to get away and as soon as they did, they blinked out of existence.
The two that remained struggled against Snaga, but could not avoid having five people just descend upon them. With quick claws and blade, the remaining two demons were killed easily.
The Siege of Grey Garrison was successful.