The Battle of Moonstair
There was a wind blowing in from the west, carrying with it the smell of the sea and of Moonstair. The lights of Moonstair were barely visible and the sounds of the seven eXtraordinares running through the moonlight were barely audible. With a nearly eight hour run ahead of them, all seven adventurers knew that there was not rest that awaited them upon arrival in the city on the peninsula; but instead, there was nothing but the clash of steel and the explosion of spells. War was upon the Barony of Therund.
“Gather yourself Bertha! We cannot take another rest, we must reach the gates of Moonstair before we are too late!” cried Pants as he slowed his run just enough to turn and see his dwarven companion clamber over the rocks he had adroitly scaled a moment ago. A smile crept over his tired face as he saw the fire ignite within his beloved companion.
“Gather myself? Gather myself?!” Bertha unable to afford the breath for anymore words pushed herself forward at a speed which would have made any elf look sluggish. When Bertha wanted something, she got it; however, as she managed to catch up, Pants realized the danger of their continuing on without rest. Without the time needed to nurse the wounds so recently received battling Skalmad, self proclaimed King of all trolls, Pants worried that they might not be much of an assistance in the coming battle with Skalmad’s army.
Nearly a hundred feet ahead, Homunculus wiped his brow of the ever present sweat and managed to deftly avoid stepping into another one of the many quagmires which surrounded the Great Warren. “I could do without ever setting foot in a swamp again.” he quipped to the nearby barbarian. “Agreed, I can barely see. I would be lost without the moon’s reflection off of the top of your head, Warlock.” With that Bruno Bronzebottom shot a quick smile to his tired companion as he searched ahead for his other companions.
“They are so damn fast… I want that” he thought aloud. The armored gauntlet of the cleric of Correlon held aside some low hanging spike vines as he offered to the nearby dwarven barbarian “It is less that they are so fast, it is more that they are so capable of moving that quickly and not getting themselves exhausted like the rest of”.
Squinting, Bruno could barely make out the shapes of his two other companions; Gladanthia and Armereth made the speedy dwarf quite jealous. Nearly three hundred feet ahead Gladanthia sprinted to gain the speed requisite to clear the cliff face which would have surely caught any other traveler by complete surprise; however, Gladanthia had made note of its location several seconds ago. At full speed she thrust herself into the air as graceful as a wildcat, and landed on the other side of the ravine. Pausing for a second, she looked for a means of helping her party across the potentially time wasting gap.
After a few moments she had figured out exactly what to do, she moved quickly to the top of a nearly collapsed great oak and leaned hard on it. The oak’s long branches reached for the other side of the ravine as the weight of the elf pressed upon it. Gladanthia pressed as hard as possible and a second later felt a great heave as the base of the trunk exploded in a burst of blue flames. The tree buckled and gave way, falling to rest on the other side of the ravine exactly as Gladanthia had planned; with the help of Armereth the blood mage.
Armereth stood close by and lowered her staff of storms, smoke rising from the tip of it. By this point the rest of the party had already stared to balance on top of the oak and cross the ravine. Gladanthia tore past Armereth, pushing onwards. A quick smile flashed across her face as she challenged the blood wizards ability to keep up. Armereth closed her eyes, the last image visible being the sight of Bertha shaking the several hundred year oak as she leapt atop it. Armereth began to focus on a hilltop she had seen a few moments ago, far ahead. 500 feet she told herself… maybe more. She concentrated and could begin to feel her skin burn as the cells of her body began pulsing with magical energy.
“Hey Armereth, where did Gladanthia go…” Before Bluto could finish Armereth snapped out of existence. All that remained in her stead was a brief flash of red light and the smell of iron, maybe blood, in the air. “Wizards… can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em” belted Bertha as she patted Bluto on the back. “Come dwarfs, we haven’t the time to tarry. We must press forward” Riverwind said briefly as he took off at a full run again. Nearly 700 feet ahead, Armereth reappeared on the top of hill she had envisioned moments ago. Her skin burned, the miscalculation forcing the need for more magical energy to be channeled. After checking to ensure she hadn’t caused serious damage, she peered through the treeline at Moonstair. The lights of the many houses flickering in the distant moonlight.
“It is a shame that the people have no idea what threat is coming their way” whispered Armereth to herself. She turned her gaze slightly to the east and she could see what they were all chasing, the threatening hare to their exhausted tortoise. Skalmad’s army stirred up quite a large amount of dust as they tore through the Trollhaunt nearly five miles ahead. It would be difficult to catch a rampaging troll horde; however, she knew they would have to push onwards through the night without any rest if they had any chance of arriving in time to do Moonstair any good.
“Come, we must move wizard” the cool voice of Gladanthia cut through the air as expertly as the elf moved. With the sight of Skalmad’s horde held in her eyes a moment longer, Armereth concentrated on a dale a quarter mile ahead. She focused and tried to block the image of the innocent townspeople of Moonstair being slaughtered by the trolls out; however, she couldn’t. Instead of trying to fight the image off, she embraced it. The hate for the evil creatures flowing through her, she disappeared from atop the hill. The smell of blood lingering ominously in the air…
Reaching up with his shaky hand, Bax scratched the top of his head while trying to add up the amount of gold he had spent on elven wine this evening. Ever since returning from the Trollhaunt the only survivor, Bax had committed himself to drinking away the pains of seeing his comrades fall. He had thought dozens of times that he had escaped the pain, that at the bottom of his most recent glass lied the cure to the poison in his soul; however, every morning he awoke with the same crushing feeling. He had abandoned his friends when they most needed his help. He watched Etheran’s face turn to horror as he realized his dragonborn companion didn’t stand with him against the troll king. As soon as Bax had exited the Trollhaunt he felt this horrible emptiness; he knew at once that his god Bahamut had given up on him. He could no longer feel the soothing touch and invigorating spirit flowing through him; fear had stolen his faith.
Cham, the innkeeper stood up from behind the bar, noticing the all too familiar sight of Bax’s empty glass. “Bax, you gotta take it easy. I mean, I appreciate your dedication to keeping the Cloudwatch inn well funded; however, this is getting ridiculous….” Without a reply, Cham knew his duty and came around to fill Bax’s empty glass. He started to pour and the dragonborn looked up with his usual blank stare, then it changed. He saw something in Bax’s eye he hadn’t seen in a very long time. “What is it paladin?”
After a moment of hesitation, Bax realized he had felt something. A familiar presence he hadn’t felt in a great many weeks. As he stared at the halfling innkeeper all he saw was the Platinum Dragon.
“You are needed once again, champion. Rise, and make your way to the gate, they need your help. Ready yourself for war; it is ready for you.”