Thursday, December 3, 2009

Paladin-Part 15

Though each party suspected it, neither James and his band of brothers nor the sextet of champions for the infernalists knew if the other party noticed their presence- not until they caught sight of each other. The keenest eyes on both sides locked together for but a moment, but that was enough. "Contact!" each man yelled, and instantly both parties joined battle.

Jaja cut loose her mutant cat upon the White Tower warriors, and then she dove behind a nearby tree. As her cat drew forth a couple of warriors, she calmed herself, bent around the tree, took aim with her relic of a weapon and gently squeezed the trigger. A sharp crack reverberated throughout the forest, echoing for miles, and one of those young men slumped to the earth with a clang and a thump; the shot blasted through his helm, bored through his skull and went out the other side. Her cat fared worse, for while Jaja lined up her next shot on the next warrior engaged with that mutant feline an already-furious Cavil cleft the cat with a single mighty blow and split its skull asunder. This shocked Jaja just enough for her second shot--now at Cavil--to merely graze his helm; furious flew fast into a red rage as Cavil caught the sound of the sniper's weapon, and a murderous mist fell over Cavil's eyes, mirrored in the careless charge and boar-like bellow of battle.

Thomas, seeing now that this was the time, finished his spell of detection and up went the magic meant to make enemy infiltrators manifest. Alas, nothing could be done for the slain soldier, save for wrecking the weapon that wrought his death, so quickly the White Tower warriors formed with Cavil in the lead and charged Jaja's position. Without her cat to assist and cover for her, Jaja knew herself to be very vulnerable and wisely withdrew- but to no avail. Thomas's keen-eye saw her fleeing figure, fast-figured the range and quickly exercised his mastery of magic; a moment passed and with it a bolt of blue-white power flew from the mage's palm and puissant power put Jaja's flight to a halt. A moment later, Cavil's charge reached a frozen female figure; a moment after that only shattered shavings of snow and ice remained where Cavil's cleaving sundered and slew the cultist sniper that shot his brother in arms. Only the warrior woman's wondrous weapon remained.

Too late did the rest of the cult champions arrive. The Pale One already senses that Jaja moved too soon and, in underestimating the enemy, fell before the enemy's might.

"Foolish and faster to act than think, much like her father." the Pale One said, "Now things will go much differently."

They did. Seeing that battle already joined, he made a virtue of necessity and put himself within sight of Jaja's slayer. The devious death-dealer took a narrow place, easily choking the flow of men to one or two at a time, as it was a log cover a rift overlooking a stream some scores of feet below. Sensing that Cavil was mad with rage and lust for blood, the Pale One decided to break the White Tower formation by using a spell of necromancy to pull Cavil directly to him. With the spell coming forth from one outstretched pale-as-death mutant hand, this more cunning and patient fiend had plenty of time to choke up on the massive weapon he bore in the other hand; Cavil's face fractured with the first blow, and despite his hot-blooded fury and will to fight Cavil's form failed him- and flung forth from the log-bridge Cavil fell into the waters below, and hence he passed from the notice of men and monsters alike.

The fair one, Dezikon, arrived next with a host of barbarian warriors--those not yet ambushed and slain by James and his men--and down he rode towards the Pale One. But James and Thomas, though taken aback at Cavil's deft devastation and defeat, did not lose their guts just yet. Quickly they reformed and rallied around their leader, in the formation of an impenetrable tortoise, and it was in that moment that another of their preparations proved potent. Thomas ordered water and dust scattered, and that revealed the presence of plain-faced Nathan and his needle-like daggers; James took no time in turning his spear to this fleet-footed and silent-stepping murderer. One thrust with the butt speared the assassin's spleen, sprawling Nathan to the ground, and instantly a dozen more spears--those leaf-bladed lances--struck and skewered and slew him in swift slaughter.

This too proved more fortunate than it seemed, for now the one called Red arrived with the rest of the remaining horde and caught the White Tower warriors between the two. Now surrounded, James signaled for the signature strategem of the White Tower: hold until told and rage for the mage. Thomas, knowing that time was short--as the enemy's most potent champion, and only magician, had not arrived yet--drew deeply into himself and his knowledge of magic and lore. For a seeming eternity those young men fought against the rampaging mutant wildmen, with only steel shield and iron will keeping their foes from cleaving or crushing their flesh and severing soul from body. Yet, within moments, Thomas sang and held a low, deep tone as he concentrated on channeling the power of the very waters below them. In moments the air chilled to the biting cold of mid-winter and spear-like hail fell from the sky, and those sky-shot spear-like shafts skewered and scattered the barbarian mutants and their infernalist masters alike; the log-bridge shattered, sending the Pale One into the stream below--a fitting fate--and the great hordes fled for the hills, with their masters following.

Yet the White Tower warriors did not pursue, for their had their wounded and slain to attend to and issues practical and proper prevented pursuit. This night there would be singing, but not the joyful exuberance of before. This night they would sing of souls slain and souls sent adrift, of loss profound, of death and the dead; this night, they would sing for the first time not as youths, but as men.

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