Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Paladin-Part 20

The warriors of the White Tower turned directly for Silvertop Mountain and marches on it for days. On the first night, James ordered that each man set five campfires. Two nights later, James reduced this to four campfires. Four nights later, only three per man. Three days pass, and it's reduced to two. Two days, to one. The very next day, as the men reach another site to camp, James ordered each man to share a campfire. At that time, at last, all of the men understood clearly what their commander intended to do- and at that time they all looked to the mage Thomas.

For these two-and-some weeks, Thomas spent much of his day focusing upon unseen things; at times, he had to be led lest his intense concentration be disrupted by this or that thing he otherwise would've tripped over. In the evenings, when the tax upon his mind eased, Thomas would speak with James; the men noticed these reports, but did not hear any details. However, as the orders regarding the fires became clear in their intent, so has their mage's behavior. While the specifics eluded them, they did discern that Thomas had to be dealing in some form of illusion or anti-divination magic.

Within the steep cliffs of Silvertop Mountain, the remaining leadership of the Cult of Kogone watched the progress of the White Tower's warriors. Suspected a ruse, they sent forth invisible minions summoned from the void beyond the world and sent them to spy upon the hated foes. These minions saw and heard squabbling and dissension, and they whispered into the ears of the warriors to encourage such rebellion. They flew back to the masters of the cult and confirmed that desertion ran rampant; those fires decreased as the numbers dwindled, but the leader stubbornly led on- and that the time to strike was nigh.

On that same night, Thomas nodded to James a signal that the latter awaited. Torquil took two men with him and slipped away from the camp in silence in the night, and in the morning James briefed the others as to the plan. The ruse amused the men, and with enthusiasm they lept into the role of fanatical and expendable dupes. Knowing now that their enemy's champions, backed by the mutant barbarian hordes that they dominate, would once more take the field and come for them, they found renewed energy to march and to work.

James picked a location high atop a hill, with a large and mostly flat grassy clearing surrounding it and the treeline well outside even the range of any other relics of the Old World. Knowing the speed of his swiftest foes, he ordered that the men dig in and build earthworks; this would be where the steel and stone of the men of the White Tower would again exhibit their strength. With Thomas advising, James directed the digging of ditches and erecting of palisades; meanwhile, the cult's best are on their way- again, in a disorganized fashion.

While Nim, Red and a ressurected Jaja lead an army of barbarians forth to meet James and the men of the White Tower the other remaining champion of the cult--Dezikon--has not kept pace. It is this man that Torquil and his two men tracked down, laid in wait and ambushed once he appeared alone.

Dezikon, clad in golden gleaming plate armor, was no weakling. His brilliant might supplemented his martial prowess perfectly. Sword and shield in hand, Dezikon made himself truly terrible against his attackers. He burned his attackers with golden fire, smote them with divine power and soaked stroke after stroke struck upon him; it was not until Torquil drew Dezikon off the latter's line with a flashy feint that the melee ended. The scout struck Dezikon in a critical gap in his helm with the butt of his blade, stunning the man long enough for he and his remaining comrade to grapple Dezikon down and drag him aside. So constrained, they subdued their man.

Then, once away, the two ensured their third's honorable death before they awakened captive Dezikon. Then, and only then, did a hidden forth appear- and then, only to Dezikon.

"I am Sybil, deluded youth, and now I shall reveal the truth hidden from you by your false friends."

At that moment, the demon Kogone knew agony.

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