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Friday, March 23, 2012

3.1.7.5. Strife in the Ice - Part 4



Human vs. Orc Duel, as depicted in Quest Club Games
A mild light shines down upon Iris, Robert, Carol, Chiel and Sheena, and a blue layer of light glows once on everyone.
‘Now you’re all protected from magic and anything that tries to manipulate your brain. Careful, the effect only lasts a full day. And here’s more. An Eshmyria Aschi!’
Iris raises her hand up and a giant shadowy figure appears above her head. She just summoned the Spirit of the Wind, Eshmyria, a deity guardian of wind and air, servant of Enia. She looks like a beautiful fairy with four green wings, green skin and wearing a beautiful green dress to match. Her eyes are also green like emeralds – just like Iris’ eyes.
‘Infer Raduyev Eshmyriad!’
Suddenly Eshmyr’s wings flutter and a small typhoon erupts around her. It blows the mist away like a giant rotating fan continually in a short range. Robert and the others are impressed and thankful that they finally have a complete solution for what lies behind lies.
They now walk on, the mist and the mirrors can’t bother them anymore. Chiel releases some more hunters, Adler and Paliades, Orlevant and Eidos, and then Alexis and Hernan from the spell when they are fighting against each other. Adler must face the truth: he has his butt kicked badly by Paliades and was in a brink of losing his life.
Hernan’s condition gets worse as he got some more wounds from Alexis. He is too weak to walk about, now he’s severely injured. Alexis, feeling guilty of what he has done in his state of trance, takes out his healing salve and applies it on Hernan’s wounds. Seeing that Hernan is not out from his critical state yet, Alexis cries out, ‘Is there a healer around? Please, help him!’
‘I’m a healer,’ says a mysterious hunter who doesn’t look like a healer or anyone at all, wearing shabby grey hood and robe, his face is hidden as well. Then he lowers his hood and reveals himself, a Vadisian monk. ‘Let me work at him.’
Robert is a bit surprised to see this. A Vadisian monk! He must be a spy dispatched by Pope Xylen to see the progress of this mission. But why it’s so secret? Pope Xylen’s way of thinking is enigmatic. I must keep my eyes open and keep this in mind at all times. This will help me solve the puzzle.
The ‘search and rescue’ squad moves on. They rescue Andreas who can also cast Dispel Magic but the Mirror of Illusions affected him before he can do anything, and he only masters physical protection spells. And he was in fight with a satyr, neither can hurt the other. Now with Andreas’ help, they can do things more quickly now.
‘That’s the advantage of having many people in one time,’ says Andreas.
As they walk along, they find an elf guide wandering about alone, searching for others. From her looks, she is the elf sorceress who guides Hernan. Iris recognizes her and calls, ‘Ney’varíth!’
Ney’varíth sees Iris and the group and greets Iris politely ‘Enia’s blessings be with you, my friend. I see you saved lots already! But I only protected myself against this awful magic! I can’t free everyone from it!’
‘Oh, no, no,’ says Iris. ‘It’s Chiel the little micha here who saved us. I’m not adept in Dispel Magic too – but even I neglected to protect myself and others from magic when we went in. You certainly did better than me, Ney!’
‘Well that’s too bad, but praise Enia that little darling saved you anyway. Ah!’
Suddenly Ney’varíth moves quickly, hiding behind Iris.
‘What’s wrong, Ney?’ Iris asks her, puzzled.
‘It’s… it’s that Hernan guy,’ Ney whispers. ‘He can’t get his hands off me since I gave him the letter. I tried to avoid him so many times, that’s why I didn’t join you guys deciphering the runes. Oh, how I wish I didn’t volunteer to guide him!’
‘Hey, he’s all over us too! Me, Carolyn, other elf girls, and any pretty girl he runs into! Ohhh, he’s so horrible! If he is not married, maybe I’ll be flattered but… I heard his wife is King Jaime’s niece! The most beautiful woman in Escudia! What more can he expect?’
‘Maybe that’s because they don’t have any kids. You know, husbands tend to take a second wife just to get them a child! But at any rate, it’s still…’
Suddenly Orlevant the elf guide captain interrupts them. ‘Lavennia Iris! Ney’varíth Ushmiel! Stop chatting, you two, we’re in a mission, for Enia’s sake! And you, Ney! Where have you been all this time? Hiding, eh? So you don’t have to fulfill your duties? Now tend to Don Hernan there, he’s badly injured and is weak in healing process! After this is over, we’ll have a very, very long talk, young sorceress.’
‘But, sir, I have very important information to share with all! I’ve found a way out from this ice zone!’
‘Oh, really?’ says Orlevant. ‘Why didn’t you use it then? You’ve protected yourself from magic and you really need to avoid Don Hernan, so why did you come back?’
‘Because I still have the ones I care of, sir. Iris, other fellow elves, and…’
‘And?’
‘… and you, sir.’
Orlevant is silenced. It’s as though never someone even among his own brethren said care about him before. But to hide the fact that he is touched, he talks loudly, giving an order to Ney’varíth. ‘Well show us the way, then! To all!’ He turns to all other hunters. ‘Our guide here has found a way out! Let’s follow her and be free from this ice prison!’
Without replying, Ney’varíth turns around and starts walking to a certain direction, followed by everybody else, including Paliades. Orlevant looks at Paliades with a smile curling on one side of his mouth, with thoughts of triumph in his mind.
You old hoax! You said you know about Enia Sanctum from A to Z and how to pass the obstacles. Oh yeah, you may know about the mirrors, the mist and stuff, but you only told us not to look at the mirrors and not warding ourselves against their magic. My fellow elf indeed can do better than this! After we get out of this, I suggest you give us, the elves, our job back as guides and the true hosts of this holy place!
Paliades walks silently with the others. He seems upset, and this pleases Orlevant more.
Ney’varíth apparently remembers the way to the exit perfectly, and she arrives at a spot. Orlevant is confused to see his surroundings, saying.
‘Are you sure this is the exit, Ney? I see no door here, only walls of ice!’
The elf sorceress remains calm.
‘Aye, sir. I’m very sure about this. At first, I thought there’s no door here too; I was just looking at my reflection on the walls and mirrors when suddenly at this point,’ she points at a section of the wall, ‘I saw my reflection… and something else.’
Orlevant looks through this section, at a reflection of a different room. He clears his throat, and then talks again in a calm tone.
‘Uhm… very well, then. Now how can we get through this door?’
‘Oh, I just found it, and didn’t try to open it yet,’ says Ney. ‘But since it’s made of ice, I suggest we burn it.’
‘Oh, yes, that’s the very basic way to undo a novice trap. But nevertheless, any idea is worth a try,’ says the elf captain.
‘Let me try it, then,’ says Carolyn.
‘By all means.’
‘Pyroagnios!’
Carolyn tries to melt the ice door with Fireblast, and she keeps the fire flowing for two minutes or so before she successfully makes a big hole on the door, just enough to anyone to walk through. The one Cyclops hunter was lost or annihilated somewhere in the wind tunnels or the chambers of stone, so Carolyn doesn’t have to make a bigger hole for him, exhausting her spirit energy.
Carolyn sips her spirit potion while watching the hunters go through the door she made. She is rather disappointed that none of the hunters thank her for her daring attempt, but feels relieved at once when someone gives her a friendly pat on the shoulder. Carol looks back and sees her best friend (and rival) Iris who has un-summoned her Eshmyria guardian spirit and Andreas with his fatherly smile behind his bushy beard.
But Carolyn’s face instantly changes into surprise. ‘Where’s Rob?’
Iris protests, ‘Hey, don’t you suppose to tail him everywhere? I know you’re developing a soft spot for him, right?’
Blushing, Carolyn retorts, ‘How many times must I tell you? I just think that he’s a REAL man, and every man must be brave and strong just like him, not your ‘Ariel’!”
‘Humph! I don’t care! My Ariel is ten times cuter than your Robby, and as cute as an average he-elf!’
Andreas breaks them apart impatiently. ‘Once again, enough, you two! Stop arguing like babies comparing their candies and let’s find Rob before it’s too late! Look! The doorway is closing!’
Bit by bit, the ice door re-integrates itself. Ice begins to form in the entrance hole. Suddenly a voice chants, ‘an Vyr’me Prdaj!’
It’s an ancient Aurelian spell for the Wall of Fire, the alternative trigger spell for the Valanisian-Parthenian spell Agnioparadh. So it was cast not by Carolyn, but by none other than Akh’mal, the minotaur shaman from Thalag’dhega Mountains, Escudia. He says,
‘Go, now! My wall of fire will keep the hole intact for a while, but don’t be too long! My energy is limited! My bodyguard here, Fargothum will guard me here!’
Fargothum is a large Minotaur (or tauren), He’s bluish-grey leathered, and he has long, large ivory horns. He’s holding a giant club, resting it on his shoulder. Carolyn shivers a bit, but Akh’mal immediately responds to it by saying, ‘Don’t worry, we won’t charge on you whenever we see red. Now go!’
The dwarf priest, the pink-haired sorceress and the green-haired elf immediately run away, searching for Robert together. After a bit of going around, with Iris summoning the Wind Spirit Eshmyria once again to clear the fog, they find Robert there, fighting with Dar’gum. Chiel is there too, flying around cautiously to avoid Dargum’s fellow orcs watching their duel.
Iris talks in a surprised tone, ‘It seems Dar’gum and Robert are both free from the spell, right? But why are they still fighting?’
‘They must be having grudges against each other and want to finish them all right now,’ says Andreas. ‘We must stop them, now is not the right time for settling grudges. We have to get out of here with him!’
But the fight is already over before they can stop it. Robert is lying spread-eagled on the floor, exhausted and bleeding on many spots. Dar’gum is on his top, pointing his Il Khatl J’nadh axe to Robert’s neck.
‘A’bong, my brother, here is your enemy, succumbed at my feet. I’ve defeated him for you, and now I’ll offer you his blood so you may rest in peace.’
With those words Dar’gum swings his great axe.
Carolyn shrieks hysterically, ‘NOOOOO!!!!’
Iris can’t act faster than Dar’gum because she’s still busy concentrating with her summoned Eshmyria. And Andreas – look at his figure and you’ll know – is not quite well-built for situations like this.
Carolyn is horrorstruck. The orc champion’s axe is on the floor, with more blood stains on its blades. The Decapitator has severed yet another head by the look of it. But no! No head can be found rolling anywhere around here. Carolyn takes a good look at Robert at once and feels overjoyed. He’s still alive! There’s a small but deep cut on Robert’s left arm, blood comes out of it ceaselessly. Dar’gum bends, grabs some blood from that cut, and then he lifts his bloody hand in the air and rubs the blood on his chest.
Dar’gum sounds disappointed when he says, ‘Too bad you fought me in such bad shape, while I was lost to Adler with only minor scratches. Bhra’jul!* There’s no honor in killing you that way! Your blood will only be a stain on my brother’s spirit. I disagree with A’bong’s brutal way, honestly, but he is still my brother! So get up, get yourself in shape and finish your mission here. Then come to me again, maybe you’ll put up a fight worth remembering, Orcbane!’
Footnote :
*Bhra’jul: an Orcish expression of disappointment, just like ‘damn!’
Robert stares at Dar’gum in disbelief, while his friends help him stand and Andreas gives him a quick, emergency Vitali spell.
He spared my life! This orc is nobler than humans in general! He understands the warrior’s code of honor, and he can discipline himself and his brethren too! He wants revenge because I’ve slain his brother, but he’s willing to give it up for a better cause! He truly is worthy of my respect. I, on the other hand should be ashamed of myself, surrendered to my berserk instinct rather than trying to understand. Hm, maybe this can change things to the better.
Robert talks to Dar’gum, trying to make peace with him.
‘Dar’gum! There’s another way you can avenge your brother! Since I lost you your kin, let me take his place instead! Treat me like your brother! Maybe we can be friends and support you while we can!’
The orc only answers with, ‘Don’t push it, kid. Ze’boc, Chugal, let’s go!’ And he goes away at once, followed by his two companions.

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