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Wednesday, January 23, 2008 Survival of the Swiftest - Part One

Oliver MacLair the Assassin - Source:

On the way to Valanis, Rael’charon and his small band of ex-monster hunters ride swiftly. As all are riding human-breed horses, Robert’s Paeldagrin gallops the fastest.
All their faces are serious, except the elf archer Lavennia Iris whose face is gloomy and whose eyes are a bit out of focus. She can’t help thinking about the possibility that his lover, Cristophe will marry Princess Eloise of Lore. She wanted to ask Chris about his view towards it a few times, but she always restrained herself not to, as there’s a more important and pressing matter at hand: Robert’s trial.
They encounter several monsters along the way. They ignore neutral or harmless beasts such as flobbers, giant ants, unicorns and kobolds, and kill aggressive monsters that attack them, like giant bats (Iris’ Wind Shear wipes them out), zombies (Andreas’ Healing Spell kills them instead), giant carrion caterpillars (Chris and Robert do most of the work), even a werewolf (Rael’s flying dagger in his eye is enough to make him flee). Carolyn also contributes by roasting a giant boar with a single shot of Fireblast.
The group takes a longer road around the Black Forest, avoiding the treefolks’ wrath. They’d rather take the road along the shores of the peninsula to reach Valanis as long as they can still ride their horses. Robert, who took the route before, confirms it.
Iris rides in front of the group – as always. She scouts the perimeter with her far-seeing and super-senses abilities. Although she is rather distracted at the moment, she sees a ravine far ahead and warns her comrades.
‘Guys, we are now entering Wyrmspine Pass. We got to be extra careful this time, or we’ll never come out there alive.’
‘Right,’ says Robert, ‘We’ll walk in our usual formation now. Only this time Rael’charon will be in the middle with Andreas. I’ll take the front and Chris the rear. Carol and Iris on the left and right flanks. Scout according to our positions and take care of each other. Look out for ambushes and traps.’
‘Just like old times, eh, Rob?’ says Chris rather cheerfully. ‘Yet again, we better move quickly. This place gives me the creeps.’
Iris and the group ride in Wyrmspine Pass carefully, but not very quickly. The ravine is seven kilometers long, narrow and windy with cobwebs and turns. So far, no sign of ambush there. Robert has passed through it during his run without any trouble.
They reach the sixth kilometer after a long walk and still no attack comes. Smile comes on Chris’ face as he talks.
‘Haha! Looks like this is our lucky day! No enemy is stupid enough to ambush us here, as we are so near to the exit. Vadis is smiling upon us, blessing us with a smooth ride to Ascension. Tell me...’
Before Chris can finish, suddenly Robert shouts, ‘HALT!’
The next second, he shouts again, ‘DISMOUNT AND ON GUARD! ENEMIES INCOMING!’
All dismount. The horses instinctively run back, sensing the danger ahead, with Paeldagrin leading them.
Silence. All faces are tense.
Then, suddenly...
The sky becomes dark. Is that an eclipse coming? Or a work of great magic? Apparently, no. Something blocks the sun, but it’s not a natural phenomenon or magic.
Bat wings.
‘Dark elf*) assassins!’ Robert shouts. And Father Andreas quickly casts, ‘Omnigalatr!’
Glowing force barriers of light cover the group as the bat wings, namely the dark elves throw projectiles at them like showering black rain from the sky. They repel most of the projectiles, and the rest are deflected by the force field and armor, causing only minor grazes on their skins.

(* Dark elves have dark, brownish skin, a different sub-race next to the blue-skinned Terranovan night elves. A hundred dark elf assassins can take down a thousand well-armed soldiers, leaving none alive. Well, there are a hundred of them here, so what can our heroes do?

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