Rise of the Thrall Lord
The Road to Lukescros - Part 3
The pure, clear tones of Maya’s voice gave the foul undead momentary pause, and heartened the beset heroes with a dwarvish battle chant, The Path of Axegrind. It felt almost like the song was made to lead up to the wild war cry of the blue mountain tribe as Brum charged the largest group of ghouls.
It was a dangerous, but very effective gambit. Brum wanted to be in the midst of as many of the ghastly creatures as possible, his massively powerful attacks cleaving through all that were within the reach of his greatsword.
In the rage of combat, Brum was focused entirely on offense and an easy target as the rest of the pack swarmed in. And the real danger wasn’t their claws or teeth; it was the paralytic touch of the ghouls. Even the fortitude of the mighty Brum would not be enough if the creatures where allowed to swarm him.
That is where Ral moved in. Tumbling easily through the midst of the enemy, nimbly dodging their attacks, he was wherever needed to keep the creatures from flanking his companion. His expertise with the blade insured he missed no opportunity to strike those who mistakenly thought the huge barbarian a more dangerous threat. Normally his well placed rapier strikes were more effective, but a sudden blade through the heart was of no extra effect to the already dead flesh of his foes.
There is a flow to battle, and as long as everyone remembers their roles, strengths and weaknesses that flow is generally a good one. Ral had fought in many groups, and knowledge of each others’ combat style is perhaps even more important than knowledge of the enemy’s.
So, he was totally shocked when Maya waded into the ghouls with almost the same ferocity as Brum, and perhaps even less care for defense. No shape shifting, no magic, no dodging, just a little girl running into the midst of voracious undead with no more than a small dagger.
A pair of ghouls was on her in seconds and Ral realized that she must not know about the ghoul’s paralysis attack!
He moved to her rescue, repeatedly eviscerating a trio of creatures that got between them until the repulsive carcasses finally ceased their unholy existence. Leaping over the quivering bodies, he was able to see Maya slash a ghoul three times in rapid succession dropping it to the ground that was already littered with a half dozen similarly carved foes.
As he feared, the kid was bloody and battered, having taken enough damage to kill a schoolhouse full of normal children, and yet still stood; seemingly equally unaffected by the wounds or paralysis touch. And Ral suddenly realized she was still singing! During the battle so far her voice had never faltered.
Then her battle hymn stopped as she looked over towards Brum. He was slumping over atop a veritable mound of stinking dead, only a handful having escaped being sliced in two by his attacks. But that was enough, his numerous wounds had finally taken their toll and even Brum’s massive constitution couldn’t hold off the paralytic effects.
Ral felt sickened by more then the overwhelming stench of the ghouls; he had left his friend to try and help this inhuman creature in the guise of a girl-child and a massed swarm had brought him down.
Both Maya and Ral raced to the fallen barbarian’s side, piercing and slicing the remaining ghouls around Brum. In his haste, Ral didn’t make sure of one on the ground, and it bit his leg as he moved by.
Ral felt his muscles simultaneously tighten and go limp. He grit his teeth and fought off the effect as he watched Maya get hit by a ghoul twice over without a flinch before the flashing knife in her hand brought it down. He was not going to let some ghoul paralysis take him down while this kid was still standing!
He made sure to personally dispatch the last of the ghouls while Maya knelt beside Brum.
“Oh dearest Brum, don’t die!” the kid lamented. She chanted a pair of quick spells, touching the worst of Brums bites with a faint blue glow of healing around her hands. The wounds closed and stopped bleeding to her touch.
When he still didn’t move, she looked stricken and launched into an elvish dirge of loss and death.
Ral recognized it as the Fall of Galinthrae; interestingly it was sung with a strange twang reminiscent of sea elf dialect. Big tears were rolling down the girl’s cheeks, and she sang it with such heart-felt sorrow that Ral bit back the laugh and witty remark he had prepared.
Touching the girls shoulder with uncharacteristic gentleness Ral said, “He’s not dead.”
“Really?” Maya looked up hopefully.
“It’d take a lot more than that to kill the mighty Brum; he’s just temporarily paralyzed,” Ral’s tone was a lot more nonchalant than he actually felt; he had been seriously worried about his friend. “The effect is probably already wearing off, and the big lug is just lying there faking it and enjoying your song.”
Ral gently kicked one of Brums legs that didn’t look too injured. “Come on and get up, you’re worrying the kid and making us look bad!”
A faint groan and mumble came from Brum that sounded vaguely like “don’t cry” and “getting up now”. But he could only twitch a little.
“Paralyzed?” Maya asked quizzically, and then gasped in sudden realization. “Oh, these must have been ghouls! I’ve read about them.” Her reaction would have been just like some school kid who had suddenly remembered her times tables if it weren’t for the blood and splattered ichors covering her from the fight.
“So you don’t feel the slightest bit numb from any of those bites or scratches?” Ral asked as he tried to stomp some feeling back into his leg. He immediately regretted it being successful as the bite on his calf began to throb.
“Nope,” she said cheerfully. “They sting a bit, but I guess the paralyze thing doesn’t affect me.”
“Figures,” he muttered as he awkwardly tried to bind his calf.
“Here, let me see that,” Maya said casting another healing spell.
Ral walked back to pick up the saddlebags he had dropped, not limping nearly as much as he otherwise might have been. He was just thinking to himself how the kid wasn’t so bad and that she might be pleasant and useful to have around for a while when her sharp piercing wail set his teeth on edge and shattered his brief feelings of contentment.
“Oh No! My dress!!”