Mhenlo carried the still passed out Cynn on his back, so we could only advance slowly. But after some time, we finally reached the city walls.
“Stay here, I’ll check the inside”, Aidan vanished between the broken walls. It didn’t take long before he returned to us.
“There’s a lever just behind the drawbridge. But there’s also a lot of charr in the middle of the city. We should be able to avoid them, but we mustn’t make a sound! Only two of them stand between us and the gate. We must make sure to take them down quietly.”
“Only two charr?”, the necromancer pondered, “That should be fine. Aidan, Greywind, you two take the first one. I’ll deal with the other one. Devona, come with me.”
The group sneaked towards the gate. The two charr stood in front of them, but had their backs turned towards the humans and hadn’t noticed them yet.
“Ready!”, the necromancer whispered. He picked up a small rock and threw it up into the air. Devona raised her hammer and struck the rock with all her might. Like a ball, the projectile was fired into the enemies’ direction.The rock hit one of the charr into the back of his head. Stunned by the sudden shock, the warrior stumbled forward. His companion turned around immediately, but was struck down by two arrows. Slowly, the axe fiend regained consciousness, but as he raised his weapon, the undead minion, once Breena Stavinson, now a pile of bones, impaled the charr. Whimpering, the mighty axe fiend hit the ground.
We looked towards the main group of charr; luckily, they hadn’t noticed us. We rushed towards the gate and lowered the bridge.
“Finally”, the prince arrived, “You took some time, did something happen? Oh, I see you’ve met up with Aidan and Devona.”
— “We met some … rather nasty charr along the way.” Mhenlo told the prince what had happened. “Cynn’s still unconscious, but she’ll be fine. We have to hurry though!”
“You’re right. Erol, could you please show us the way?”
— “The charr blocked the main route, but we should be able to find another way around and avoid them. Look, over there at the right!”
On the right side, there was a small path. Silently, we followed it until we reached a wooden gate.
“Sssht. I hear something on the other side.”
— “That voice – Erol, is that you?”
“Yes, it is! What’s the situation over there?”
— “Mannel died a few days ago. The other three of us are still here, but they took all of our equipment from us. Did you kill the charr guarding this place?”
“No, we managed to get past them. Hold on, we’ll get you out of there!”
“The gate is not locked, it’s just heavy”, Rurik stated. “Everyone, pull!”
Slowly the gate opened. Once inside, the flames of Sohothin made quick process of the mages’ handcuffs. But when we left the cell, we were greeted by a deep voice.
“I see you, humans. You killed quite a lot of my soldiers. But now, we will have our revenge!”
We looked around and were shocked as to notice a group of about two dozen charr looking at us from atop a nearby hill.
“Hunt the meat! All of them!”
The charr stormed at us. We just turned around and ran.
“Quickly! There’s a gate just over there!”
“There’s no time, we won’t make it!”
“We have to! Devona, help Mhenlo carry Cynn!”
We ran for our lives, but the charr that followed us on all four feet came closer and closer. Just in time we reached the inner walls of Drascir.
“Lock the gate! Fast!”
The next moment, the charr ran against the gate. The wood was creaking and screeching, but it did not break. Finally, we could take breath.
“That was close! I thought we would never make it.”
“Don’t think it’s over just yet! We’ll have to hurry before the charr break through the gate or find a way around!”
“He’s right. I have a plan.” Everyone turned towards Rurik. “As a boy, I studied at this academy. It’s been some time but if you can hold off the charr I can activate the old runes and open a gate that could save our skins.”
He walked towards a huge gate at the center of the place we ended up in. With a deep voice he started his chant:
“Come to the fore, O sons of Ascalon.
We fight once more, the battle lines are drawn.”
“Alright, we’ll have to lock this place up. There’s another gate over there but the one in the middle is broken down. That also is where the main group of charr is; let’s hope they haven’t been alarmed yet.” Aidan reported the situation, his skilled eyes scanned the destroyed place.
“It’s too late. Look, that charr from before alarmed the others.”
“Damn them! What are we going to do?” one of the mages shouted, fear written large in his face. He had been prisoner of the charr all this time. Would this be his end?
“The charr are storming from the main gate. Knowing them, running off sideways won’t work another time. There’s only one option left for us.”
“Mhenlo! Get near to Rurik. You should be able to aid us from back there. Once Rurik opens the gate, we will flee that way.
Greywind, Aidan, you two spread out. We really shouldn’t be balling with that many foes around. Fire at will.”
— “Mr. Necromancer.”
“What is it?” Blaik turned around and towards Erol.
— “There are some obelisks there. They haven’t been in use for years, but we might get them to work.”
“Good plan. Take control of the obelisk that’s closest to the gate!”
— “Alright. As long as I control this obelisk, I will strike any foe who ventures near.”
Blutfaust took a deep breath while he focussed his mind on the enemy that was charging towards the broken gate in front of him. “Devona. Once the charr reach the plaza, charge at them. Warrior’s go first. Use the Earthshaker, buy us time.”
“Alright”, she returned and grabbed the hammer with both hands as she took a running stance. “I’ll be ready.”
“Praised be Grenth if this works.”
The necromancer, now calmed down completely, opened his eyes, his gaze overflowing with bloodlust. He threw away his coat and tiny wounds opened along his arms, uncountable in their numbers. As blood leaked from his wounds, he once again closed his eyes in order to concentrate. Slowly, a pitch black aura emerged from his body and, merging with the blood on his arms, surrounded him in a dark shroud of red. As in slow-motion, he opened his eyes, their irises now glowing in a devilish green. If I hadn’t already brought some distance between the two of us, I certainly would have done so now. This was unlike any necromancer skill I had seen so far, and it scared me, the undead, like the darkness that scares the child.
“Blutfaust”, Mhenlo asked carefully, as he was not even sure whether or not he was still talking to the necromancer. “Are you alright?”
— “Death. Good.”
“Great, he’s finally lost it! And just at the right moment!” Aidan cursed. “What next, is he going to turn against us?”
“Yes, that’s right”, Mhenlo tried to convince him. “Charr. They’re the enemy. We’re your allies.”
“Brace yourselves”, Aidan shouted, “they’re almost here!” Aidan was right. While we worried about Alistar, the charr already advanced towards the plaza and now were in attack range. I fired my arrows at the gate’s direction – given the numbers of charr, it didn’t really matter where I shot. Devona lifted her hammer and rushed head-first into the charr soldiers who came storming at the rest of us, and the necromancer’s minion followed after her.
She brought the hammer down on the first charr’s toe. Whimpering in pain, the creature dropped dead as the warrior reverted the direction of the blow, lifted the hammer at an almost unbelievable speed, and hit the beast’s head from below. Meanwhile, Aidan and I barraged the invaders’ spell casters and the minion had ended up wrestling a charr: both of them were rolling on the ground while hitting each other. Erol and the other mages were still trying to get the obelisk to work, so we were the ones to keep the attackers from them. From the corner of my eye, I saw Devona swinging her heavy hammer in a fury, breaking the back of two charr at once. But for every charr she slew, another one appeared right in front of her. As her swings got slower, she barely managed to evade the charr’s blade but then tripped over a dead charr’s corpse. In vain, the Mhenlo watched the mighty charr raise his sword once again. The monk was too far away. Even if he now chanted a Shield of Absorption, it wouldn’t appear in time. But then, a dark figure appeared behind the charr. It raised its hand above the attacker’s head who, just as we, hadn’t noticed him until that very moment.
“Kurepîru!” the voice ordered. At an instant, the charr dropped his weapon. The mighty beast began to shout; it shook its head, covered its two pairs of ears with its claws, desperately trying to ignore the voice resonating inside of its head. A single capitalized word was written large on the animals face. Fear. The fearsome creature, with fangs like claws and claws like daggers, screamed in fear and pain. In torment, the creature released a last, desperate cry as its eyes oozed out of its skull and it finally dropped dead.
Then there was silence.
The charr next to the dead took a step backwards. The very next moment, the battle-proven creature dropped its weapons, turned around and fled the battle. Shocked, Devona lay next to the dead charr and could not move a limb. Those creatures might have been her life-long enemies, but to watch them die in such a way and right in front of her simply was too much for the warrior.
Then, a voice of hope broke through the silence.
“Come on! The gate is open! Quickly, this way!”