Friday, November 27, 2009

Paladin-Part 14

James, Thomas and the other warriors of the White Tower gasped as they witnessed the beam of golden fire from the direction of their homeland and strike high atop the slope of a still-distant Silvertop Mountain. Quickly they gathered, making no light amongst themselves as they still trailed the now-huge body of barbarian women and children, and took time to marvel at the destruction wrought thither atop the mountain.

"This is it, men." James said, "The Archmage and the Eight Masters just declared war upon the cult and their minions."

Cavil shot James a look of disbelief and irritation, which James noticed and saw through clearly.

"Expect far better opposition, and soon, from the enemy. No doubt that the masters of the cult called for their champions, and even less do I doubt that we shall soon meet them in battle."

"That's not good to hear." Cavil said, "Those villains are strong and experienced in war. Facing them ourselves will mean much pain, even if we win."

This stunned the troupe, as they knew well by now Cavil's regard for might, and all of them knew the tales of their fathers' encounters with the cultists' champions. A generation ago they wreaked havoc upon the nascent nation, and only through persist campaigns and much sacrifice did the People of the White Tower sweep away the cult's mutant minions and seize the lands that are now solidly in the White Tower's hands.

"It's been a long time." Thomas said, "I expect that the few our fathers felled are now replaced with others of similar skill."

The Hamilton Twins murmured, and James now knew that this meant that their minds went to work. A moment later, they spoke in that alternating style, switching off every line: "We are at an advantage; they expect to take us by surprise, even if we correctly see this event as both an attack as well as a sigh to us. With the destruction of so many cultists in this event, that leaves only the barbarians and the cult champions, which severely cuts their resources and options in terms of ambush and control of contact."

Torquil nodded. "Their best assassin will certainly come. If we can't keep him in the open, he will easily slaughter us from behind."

Thomas produced a small book from a shoulder bag, opened it and quickly flipped through its pages. Finding what he sought, he looked up at his comrades: "I have a way to do that. Each of you, hand me your bands."

Without hesitation, the other men took off the bands about their wrists and handed them to Thomas. Sitting, he drew pouches from his belt and went to work invoking a spell upon the pile of bands. Finished, he handed them back to his comrades.

"I've placed a spell on your bands that connects your bands to my amulet as well as to each other. These are now anchors for the next spell I will use, which shall be a detection spell with the outer perimeter being that of the bands and the center being my amulet. Torquil, will you please review the rest of our procedures?"

The wiry scout stepped up. "On command, you shall either pour liquid upon the ground or some form or dirt or dust. Go about yourself first and then toss it as far as you can in the span of a few moments. Come first light tomorrow, and through the day, I expect every man to gather enough sling-sized rocks to fill the palm of his hand; at meals, I expect you to spent time finishing them into caltrops, which you shall also dispense upon command. Finally, strict light discipline must be maintained; fires must be baffled at night and all men shall avoid looking into lights as is possible."

James then let Torquil step back before stepping forward. "Contact should come within a day, maybe two, and our enemies shall not hesitate to use all at hand against us so be alert and mindful."

Distantly, a slim woman stood next to a mutant cat. In her arms she cradled a weapon of the Old World, and through its scope she spied upon the White Tower party. Reading James' lips, she smirked. "Indeed, we shall."

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