Ephirea's eyes twinkled in the flickering torch light of the common room. Then, leaning forward to listen to Quillion, she said, "Yayenger's Blood! It's about time we got down to business."
The rest of the companions turned and looked at her with flat stares. She put on her best innocent and vulnerable face and said with a sweet voice, "What did I say?" Through her travels over the years Ephirea had learned how to read and manipulate people's emotions quite well. She had perfected the many tricks she had learned from her mother as a child, as well as a few she had developed on her own. Her facial expressions could change so rapidly and so drastically as to completely catch another person totally off guard. They would cause the person to show concern for her or to hesitate with uncertainty. She used each one of her practiced body language moves like a sword through the heart of another person's resistance towards her.
She watched her latest ploy have little to no effect on the companions, though, so she decided to give it up. The companions all turned back to Quillion who had been watching the scene with undisguised amusement. Ephirea just glared at him, grumbling to herself. Quillion always thought he was so cool and detached from everything. Well, Ephirea was going to snare him one day and she would just dangle him like a rope when she did. Ephirea gave the Half-elf a little sniff before turning her full attention towards his words.
Quillion's expression promptly changed from amusement to deadly earnest. He pulled a map of Mer from his pouch and placed it on the table in the center of the companions. Ephirea could see it was a fairly recent map, for it showed very little signs of wear and the print was still very legible. Most maps one found anymore were hardly decipherable. She could see her home country of Sondori on the map, and her birthplace, the city of Ameryst on the Eastern coast labeled in Elven. She had always loved the Elven script with its graceful, flowing curves. One advantage she had gained by being a hired guard was that she came in contact with many races of people and learned to speak, read, and write their languages. Elven was no exception.
Quillion pointed towards the map, indicating the island across the Black Channel to the north of the main continent, D'Akimar Island. "Everyone here knows what city lies on this island, but I'll go over it again anyway." "Here," he indicated, tapping his finger on a black spot in island's mountain chain, "is where the capital city of Mirdas Morgal lies. The home city for the majority of the God Braquast's foul worshipers. Ever since the armies of Mirdas Morgal were driven back three hundred years ago from Hogun Wrath, this dark country had stayed pretty quiet. That is, until about four seasons ago. Reports had been coming back to Hogun Wrath of armies massing in the mountain valleys of Mirdas Morgal, presumably preparing for an attack to be spearheaded from Hellsport, the city on the Southern shores of the island. In actuality, none of the spies that came back had ever actually laid eyes on the armies. The reports were more whispers of rumors than they were hard facts. Most people dismissed the tales as flights of fancy from the spies. Lord General Elgion of Hogun Wrath was not a stupid man, though, and he did not dismiss these rumors as easily as most others had. He knew when things had the ring of truth to them, and when they did not. He began marshaling his forces to the city to ready the defense of the land, as Hogun Wrath had always done for centuries."
Ephirea smiled inwardly as Quillion took a pause for a moment to scan the companions' interest. She watched, fascinated, as the Half-elf resumed his tale. With every word he spoke, he became more animated, more emphatic that the companions understand the stakes he was outlining. She had never seen Quillion like this before, and it was a little frightening to see the often times cold, rational leader of the group become so intense. This very fact made her listen to his words with more interest.
"I had heard rumors of armies assembling on D'Akimar Isle shortly after we all went our separate ways. I also knew that in the three centuries since the last real war was fought on the continent, most of the battle leaders who had seen real bloodshed had long since died. I decided to travel to Gypsyroam where I, for all intents and purposes, lived in the great library there, studying the documented military tactics of the great leaders throughout history. In my conceit, I believed that I could be of aid to, and possibly be the savior of, the forces at Hogun Wrath as a battle leader.
"I made a journey to Hogun Wrath to offer my services to Lord General Elgion. Unfortunately, I kept getting put off and delayed by the politicians there and was never actually granted an audience with the esteemed leader. Disheartened, I eventually left the City of First Defense and made my way South, intent on returning to Frenyndale. I knew in my heart that as strong and powerful as the army of Hogun Wrath was, they were just as inexperienced, and they had been growing complacent, not having a real threat to focus on. They never actually believed that they would be attacked, they felt their numbers were just too great. It was on that journey back to the Elven homeland that realization dawned on me. If I couldn't get the leaders to listen to me, then I had to find someone to whom they would.
"I had read, during my studies in Gypsyroam, that the great battle leader Vormeastion had disappeared from the face of the planet shortly after leading the armies that had retaken Hogun Wrath. After a long while, everyone just assumed that he was dead, but I ran across a few obscure passages from books printed in recent years that led me to believe he was not. I had ignored them at the time, convinced in my own ego that I could lend my newfound knowledge to the leaders in Hogun Wrath. I ignored them no longer as I recalled the text stating that the author of the book had seen and talked to Vormeastion fifteen or so years ago while on a pilgrimage to The Moon Sea.
"I knew then what I had to do. I had to find Vormeastion and convince him to return and help the world defeat the armies of Mirdas Morgal. I knew, though, that I was going to need help. I immediately halted my journey to Frenyndale and sent out messages to all of you, asking you to meet back here this night. While I waited for the messages to reach you all, I traveled to Three Corners and researched where the sage Oheniies, the man that had written the book, had since settled down. All along I took the greatest pains never to mention Vormeastion's name so as not to attract attention to myself or my quest. It seems though, that I wasn't the only one looking for Oheniies. While I was there I had heard rumors from some very reliable sources that some spies from Mirdas Morgal were looking for the sage as well. I left Three Corners as quickly as I could to make it here on time. I never saw any signs of pursuit, but those nagging rumors of Mirdas Morgal spies never left my mind on the ride here.
"Which brings us to now. Vormeastion needs to be found, and I cannot do it alone. I need the help of all of you, and I cannot, in good conscience, ask you to go with me. Therefore I will..."
Quillion's sentence broke off as he heard the same noise coming from the front that Ephirea had, the sound of a scream. The companions exchanged but a glance, then stood up, readying themselves for fighting. Ephirea nocked an arrow in her longbow. She had received the bow from a wealthy wizard whose life she had saved when he was attacked by a party of river raiders. It had been enchanted so as to shoot harder and farther than any normal bow possibly could. It was her most prized possession, as well as her deadliest.
There came sounds of shouting and someone barking orders from outside the common room door. Boot steps were heard thumping along the porch just before the door was kicked off its hinges. It flew inward and bounced off the bar, crashing into two men who had been playing chop at their table, knocking them to the ground. Ephirea spared a quick glance at the men. One of them looked to be shaken up, but otherwise unharmed, the other was probably seriously hurt, blood trailing out of his nose and mouth. She had seen enough severe head wounds to know the signs to look for.
She shifted her gaze back to the door and saw two men in black splinted mail armor rush in and take positions on either side of the door, watching the crowd. They only held her attention for a moment, though, as a large, impressive looking man strode into the room, his cape swirling behind him and his ornately lacquered black scale armor reflecting the lamplight. He radiated self confidence and self importance as he held his helmet under his right arm and a black scimitar in his left. His smooth face was stern as he swiveled his head, scanning the room. His blue eyed gaze settled upon the companions and a sneering smile twisted his handsome features. When he spoke, it was in a deep, commanding voice, the voice of a man who was used to having his orders followed. "Well now, it appears we have found who we're looking for."
Quillion took one look at the figure standing haughtily in the doorway and felt dread seep into his bowels. He knew this man who was now looking at the companions with undisguised, malicious glee. It was Emiriak, the leader of Mirdas Morgal's finest legion of soldiers, the Czak Myar. Long ago he had run across Emiriak and his troop of black mailed hounds and had barely escaped with his life. It looked like Emiriak still held a grudge about it. If Emiriak was here now, then he must have been following Quillion, and more than likely knew of his plan to find Vormeastion. Quillion's head lowered as he glared at Emiriak from under his eyebrows. That meant that the companions had to escape from this filthy inn. They could not be captured or soon Windsong would fall under the thumb of Mirdas Morgal.
Quillion drew upon his reserves of determination and steeled himself for battle, recalling training from long ago that taught him to focus on the details of the situation and never let his fear be a factor. The black scimitar that Emiriak carried was a magical weapon of incredible power. Quillion remembered seeing demonstrations of its might on the unsuspecting villagers in the town where he had been captured by the Czak Myar. The black blade had some type of strange necromantic energies that allowed Emiriak to cause horrible wounds on people simply by touching them with it. Quillion had watched in horror as the ugly, curved sword drained its victims of their very essences, leaving nothing behind but the dried husks of bodies staring blankly at the sky. Quillion had been powerless to stop the carnage then, but with the might of the companions on his side, he might very well survive this encounter.
The Half-elf moved to the front of his friends, "Prepare yourselves. These are not ordinary mercenaries here. They're far tougher than anything we've encountered before. Watch out for the leader's sword, it gives him more power than anything you've seen." Quillion could sense, more than see, the companions nodding their heads, silently accepting his knowledge of the enemy. "We've got a serious fight on our hands here. Don't worry about getting into a brawl with these guys, we'll never survive. Just focus on getting out of here alive." The companions silently and swiftly moved into their old fighting positions, pairing off together to gain the most effective combination of magic and steel.
Lysinthia moved over to stand beside Quillion, her face grim. She held her short sword in one hand and in the other, one of her frost daggers, its icy blade freezing the air around it. Melina pulled from its casing, and began to twirl easily, her wicked morning star, a heavy, spiked iron ball attached by a length of chain to a large steel-capped wooden stick. Aramari moved to stand slightly behind and to the side of her, a long hunting knife in one hand and clutching the medallion of Meyasha in her other. Tersiano moved to stand next to Malaryn, who had drawn his broadsword and glared at the black-mailed soldiers. Tersiano held his staff lightly and had the unfocused look to his eyes that meant he was preparing a spell. Quillion hoped it was something really nasty.
A low-throated growl from Quillion's left meant that Ell had changed into her half human, half tiger form. In his head he could picture her body crouched, with claws extended, awaiting the signal to attack. He knew that behind her would be Scintara, with daggers in hand ready to be thrown with deadly accuracy. The bull whip she preferred to accompany her daggers with was going to be ineffective in such a confined environment. Beside her would be Preosha with that unique staff of hers twirling in her hands. The staff had two slightly bulbous ends to it that could contain any number of surprises for unwary opponents. Standing behind the rest of the group would be Ephirea, bow in hand, and Dealyon, who was most effective when removed from the actual confrontation.
The words to the most powerful offensive spell in his repertoire of magic, casting a bolt of lightning, were foremost in Quillion's thoughts. His target was already selected as he was planning on taking out Emiriak as quickly as possible. All he needed was a clear shot and he could fry the smiling fiend right here in this sty of a common room.
Emiriak's eyes met Quillion's for a moment, and Quillion could feel the animosity radiating from them. The leader of the Czak Myar then gestured over his shoulder for the rest of his squad to enter the room. They quickly filed through the door, weapons drawn, and spread out to both sides of Emiriak, who maintained his hateful gaze on Quillion, a fixed, humorless smile on his face. He gestured contemptuously at the crowd of patrons who had either ducked behind their tables or were frozen in fear, staring at the Mirdas Morgal soldiers. He spoke with a voice containing no emotion. "These people are in my way. Kill them all. Now."
Immediately the Czak Myar began attacking the helpless citizens of Two Sands. Swords flashing in the light were soon covered in blood as the troops began to cut down the crowd like a scythe through wheat. Screams filled the room as the people grasped what was happening and tried to move back from the slaughter. The people in the back of the crowd were stunned, not comprehending the sudden outbreak of violence before them and were knocked down to the floor by the other terrified patrons. The crowd was threatening to overrun the companions in their blind panic, and Quillion could hear the laughter coming from the front of the room as he realized that part of Emiriak's plan was this stampede. The mass of bodies from the crowd had effectively removed his chance of hitting the leader of the Czak Myar with his spell.
Cursing to himself, Quillion looked around the area for something to stop the tide of bodies. There was nothing to be found. They were going to be crushed under an avalanche of people and Emiriak will have won without even having had to raise a hand. Quillion's mind was racing for a spell that might stop the crowd when the floor underneath them began to rumble. He could only stare at it in wonder as the wooden planks exploded upward and vines as thick as his forearm rose from the ground underneath. He turned his head and saw Dealyon's hands moving in a pattern as if he were weaving a basket. Quillion could hear Dealyon's soft chanting coming from the darkness inside the druid's hood. The Half-elf turned to survey Dealyon's handiwork and saw that the entire other side of the common room had been closed off by an impenetrable wall of the vines. The weaving was so tight that not even a stitch of torch light shone between the stalks.
Quillion was just about to congratulate Dealyon on his quick thinking when Aramari gave a strangled cry. He turned to look at the horror and grief stricken face of the priestess and she said, "The people on the other side... they have nowhere to run. They'll be slaughtered!" She was right! There was no way the unarmed people would survive against those skilled soldiers. He knew, however, there was nothing that could be done about it. He ordered the companions to search about for a way out and ignore the cries from the other side. There was no back door to the common room and the stairway leading up to the sleeping rooms of the inn was on the other side of the vines. He leapt the table and landed next to the back wall of the room. He put his ear to the paneling and tapped the wood. No good. This common room was built halfway buried in a hillside. There had to be at least seven strides of earth on the outside of this wall.
The muffled screams on the other side of the wall of vines rose in their intensity. Aramari turned to Melina and sobbed softly in her arms as she tried desperately to block out the horrible sounds. Quillion put his own hands over his ears to try and stem the noise of the dying, and he saw the others do the same, but it was no use. The only one of the companions affected, outwardly at least, was Dealyon. As Quillion watched him, the druid simply stood stoically in the center of the floor, leaning on his wooden staff.
Just when Quillion was sure he would go crazy from the sounds, they abruptly halted. As if the last dying scream had been cut short at the source. Removing his hands from his ears, he looked around the room at the others, who were doing the same thing. Quillion quickly stood up and said, "If the people on the other side are dead, then Emiriak's going to come after us soon. We don't have much time. Quickly! Look for a way out of here."
The companions began searching the walls, tapping them and listening for any tell-tale hollow spots. Quillion was checking the wall along the edge of the vines when he heard a cracking noise coming from the twisted stalks. He whipped his head around to see its source and saw that the vines in the center were beginning to wither and dry up. Looking at the growing patch of dying vines, he saw the black tip of a scimitar poking out of the center. Emiriak's blade!
"Everyone gather up! We've got trouble coming!" Quillion shouted pointing towards the now man-sized patch of dead vines. The companions took one look at where he indicated and immediately paired off, resuming their fighting positions, with Quillion and Lysinthia in the front. "Ready yourselves and follow my lead. We're going to have to surprise him or we're all dead."
The tip of the scimitar finally pulled back through the wall and the circle of dead vines ceased growing. It was now as big as the ceiling and half again as wide. It gave a shudder as something smashed into it from the other side. Quillion pulled a small piece of flint rock from his pouch and placed it between two fingers of his left hand, which was holding his sword. He raised his right towards the vine wall and opened his hand in a claw shape. The slippery words of magic formed in his mind and he readied his concentration to chant the spell of lightning.
With a loud cracking sound the dead tangle of vines shattered and Quillion saw the outline of Emiriak standing on the other side of the hole, shielding his eyes from the dust that had been stirred up by the impact. Now was Quillion's chance! He began the chant, "Beranye Fitem. Beranye Fitem Moretillinus. Beranye Fitem Yirnat." He felt the heat of the magic surging through his body and focus into his outstretched hand just moments before the arm-thick bolt of lightning burst forth towards its target. However just before the lightning had been loosed, two of the Czak Myar had rushed in front of Emiriak, intent on entering the room where the companions stood. The lightning bolt launched itself between the two of them and split, attracted to the splinted mail they wore. It struck both of the Czar Myar directly in the chest and sent them slamming into the vine wall on either side of the hole. The intense heat from the blast had melted their armor and cauterized the charred hole that it left in their chests.
Quillion cursed his bad luck and switched his sword back to his fighting hand. This was not going to go well for us. He saw Emiriak look at the two charred bodies of his men lying on the ground before him and smile. “Well, now that that’s over,” he said, raising his black scimitar and pointing it towards the companions, “kill them all.” The companions launched themselves forward to meet the Czak Myar that poured through the hole.
Sturk had been listening to this Thimellan creature's arguments about the merits of a having a bar made of pink wood with slack-jawed amazement. He had never seen anyone that could talk as fast as this critter could. When Thimellan would pause to look at Sturk as if expecting an answer, Sturk would just give the occasional nod of his head and try to close his mouth. Why had any of that party not come back and taken this creature? He wished they would hurry up and get over here.
He was just consigning himself to being stuck with this creature for the night when he heard the scream from outside. He looked over the top of the bar and out the window hoping to catch a glimpse of what had made that awful sound. He saw men running past the window towards the door shouting things at each other. This was definitely not the way he had wanted the monotony of the night broken up. Suddenly the door was kicked in by one of the black mailed men. Sturk took one look at the helmet, stylized to appear like the person wearing it was peering between four fangs of a wolf's mouth, and he slipped behind the bar. He looked all around the dusty old area for a place to hide himself away. Sturk was not a brave man, and now was surely not the time to change old habits. It was about then that his slow mind came around to the fact that Thimellan was gone.
However, he had no time to waste looking for the little guy if he was going to find a hiding place. He found an empty ale keg and, with a bit of effort, he managed to fit his small body into it. He sat in the darkness, breathing heavily, for a matter of seconds before he realized he was going to run out of air in the thing. His mind raced, thinking of whether he should risk going back out and getting killed by the wolf-helmet man or suffocating in the barrel. He suddenly remembered the cork on the side of the keg. He popped it out from the inside to give himself a place to breathe from, and he let loose a sigh of relief. Light filtered in through the hole and he realized he now had a way to see outside.
It was then that the second drawback to being in this barrel occurred to him, he could not hear what was happening outside! He had heard some muffled talk while he was popping out the cork, but now he could only hear some shouts and he could feel the floor trembling. Placing his ear to the hole in the barrel, he listened to see if it was safe or not. A loud cracking, sounding like wood splintering, boomed from outside. Sturk pulled his head back from the hole, clapping his hand to his ear in pain. He ended up pulling back too fast, though, and thumped his head into the back of the barrel. He slumped to the floor inside the barrel, semi-conscious, and lay there wondering where all of that screaming was coming from. Surely that was not the people of the bar. He must have hit his head too hard, and was having hallucinations. That was surely it. After a few minutes of lying there, his head felt immensely better and it sounded as if the screaming had stopped. Curiosity finally overcame Sturk’s better judgment and he decided it was safe to take a peek over the bar to see what was happening.
He bobbed his head up over the top quickly and dropped it back down. His brief glimpse of the room showed some strange vine wall had sprung up in its center. Cautiously he raised his head back up and took another look around. One of the black warriors stood just on the other side of the bar with his back to Sturk. Sturk peeked around the warrior's bulk and saw that all of the bar patrons were dead. His eyes grew wide, but a quick glance up at the wolf-helmeted soldier stifled any exclamation. His fear of the strange soldiers that had taken over the inn was much more overpowering than his sorrow at the massacre in front of his eyes.
He heard a crackling noise and looked back towards the wall of vines. He saw a large human standing there, with long dark hair and a black cape draping his shoulders. He was dressed in black scales and had a scimitar with a black blade that seemed to suck the away the light around it. He had shoved the blade into the stalks of the wall. He could see a thinning in the vines appear as they died and crumbled away. The man eventually pulled the sword free and one of the men near him kicked at the mass of dead vines. It gave a shudder but did not collapse. The man in the cape casually slapped the man in the back of the helmet making a loud clang. The man recovered his balance, saluted the caped man, then ran at the crumbling wall, slamming into it with his shoulder. The dead vines snapped free with a crack and the man stepped back to allow his leader to see.
The dust from the collapsing vines billowed up around the caped man and he shielded his eyes from its blinding effects. He gave a gesture with his free hand and two of his soldiers ran into the hole. Suddenly a boom like thunder shook the entire room and Sturk involuntarily jerked up to his full height, his hands clasped over his ears. He watched the two men’s dead bodies lie smoking on the floor. What on Mer could have done that?
Sturk saw the caped man glance briefly at the bodies and then raise his sword, ordering his men through the hole in the vines. Sturk suddenly realized he was standing up in plain sight and dropped back down to where only the top of his head was showing. He could hear sounds of steel clashing and people chanting echoing through the hole. The caped man stood there, with his sword point ground in the floor, looking through the hole with an amused expression on his face.
Sturk dove for cover just as the vine wall exploded outward, filling the room with pieces of the greenery. He emerged on the far side of the bar, next to the entrance, and saw the dizzying scene before him. The people that had been sitting at the table near the back were fighting the black soldiers! Many of the soldiers lay unmoving on the ground behind them, but the group was still hopelessly outnumbered. The caped man stood near the middle of the room laughing, the debris from the exploded vines laying in a perfect circle around him. One of the group of fighters, some type of tiger-like woman, leapt from the safety of the group towards the laughing man. She crashed into something invisible only hands away from him with a sickening crackle. She collapsed to the ground in a smoking heap, unmoving.
Sturk caught a glimpse of movement from the corner of his eye and turned to see Deenia walking slowly out from the kitchen, an expression of horror on her face. Sturk shouted out to her. "Deenia get back. Get back! They'll kill ye!" Deenia turned slowly to look at Sturk with wide uncomprehending eyes, but did not seek cover. Sturk's yelling caught the attention of a black mailed soldier who turned to see its source, his eyes lighting upon Deenia. Sturk noticed the soldier's movement and yelled at Deenia to move, waving his arms and pointing to the soldier advancing towards her. Deenia just gave Sturk a sad smile, the first smile she had ever favored him with.
Sturk began to run towards the soldier, but was too late. He could only watch in horror as the sword flashed, cutting across Deenia’s body. All thoughts in Sturk’s mind went towards the barmaid and he rushed to her, no longer fearing the soldier standing over her fallen body. The soldier reversed his grip, holding the sword hilt up and prepared to thrust a killing blow towards Deenia. Sturk knew he would never make it there in time.
Simultaneously a whirling sound was heard from behind the soldier and a spiked metal ball crashed into the side of his helmet. Sturk could only stare in amazement at the leather clad barbarian woman who watched calmly as the body collapsed to the side, its sword clattering useless to the floor. The woman winked at Sturk and said in a soft accent, "You'd better check on her. She might be..." She stopped mid-sentence as a sword blade punctured her side. Sturk saw her look down in amazement at the tip of the blade jutting out from her tunic. He saw the soldier who had stabbed her stick his face over the barbarian's shoulder and hiss into her ear, "Now you die, you stinking barbarian wench!".
Sturk took one look at the barbarian woman's face and a red haze came over his vision. No! This woman saved Deenia! She cannot die! In his rage, Sturk reached, without looking, for the first thing he could find as a weapon, and grasped some type of metal bar. He jumped to the top of the bar and swung with all of his might at the surprised soldier's face. He heard a sickening crunch and the soldier's body fell to the floor, its neck twisted at an unnatural angle. Only then did Sturk look down at his hand to realize he held the large metal hammer Cassell used to drive in taps to ale kegs. Sturk had not even been able to swing this heavy thing before this moment.
A groan below him caused him to drop the hammer and look down in time to see the barbarian woman pull the sword from her side, attempting to staunch the flow of blood. Sturk jumped down to the floor to check on her.
"Don't worry about me" the leather-clad woman gasped. "I've got to go help the others."
"De udders are gonna to get kil't," Sturk said, gravely.
"Not if I can help it. Now please, can you help me up? I've got to get out there."
Sturk nodded his head solemnly and put her arm around his neck, helping her stand. When Sturk stood up and saw what was happening, he wished they could get back down again. The group that had come with the barbarian woman was now completely surrounded by the black armored soldiers and most looked to be wounded. They surely could not hold out much longer. Sturk felt the woman pick up her vicious morning star and heft it experimentally, wincing as her injured side gave her pain.
"I can't use it very well, but it will have to do," she said, her blood-stained face grim.
She shrugged off Sturk's attempts to make her stay behind the bar and walked forward to attack the troops. Just as she was about to leap into the fray, Sturk heard shrill voice behind him say, "Oh, I'd say that's about enough of this!" Sturk felt a tingle pass through his body and he turned to look at the top of stack of shelves behind him. There sat Thimellan, a self-satisfied smile on his face.
"Giddown from dere!" said Sturk. "Dose killers are gonna see ye 'n kill ye!"
"Nonsense," said Thimellan. "In fact, I'd say they were entirely stuck about what to do next." At that, the little pink and green clad man began to laugh hysterically.
Scratching his head, Sturk turned to see perhaps the strangest thing he would ever see. The black soldiers were all frozen in place, as if they had been painted there. They were not cold frozen like an ice block, or anything, they just were not moving. The barbarian woman's group was slowly edging their way past the unmoving troops, a perplexed look on their faces. The druid walked past the black caped man, reaching out to touch the dark cape as he walked past. Sturk heard him say, "Utterly incredible. Even the fabrics have been rendered immovable. It is as if they had been frozen in time."
Thimellan's voice behind him piped out, "You bet it is, grass-foot! That's exactly what happened to them, and from the looks of things you've got about, oh I'd say, three minutes before they become unfrozen. Is that a word? Unfrozen? Oh well, I'll make it one."
The Half-elf wasted no time telling the others to pick up the injured and carry them out. The big man with the sword threw the unconscious tiger woman over his shoulder and headed for the door. He was followed by the Half-elf who had picked up the barbarian woman and was carrying her in his arms. Sturk looked at him and said, "Ye canna forget Deenia! Ye canna! These here mongrels'll kill her dead!"
The Half-elf looked at Sturk for a moment and said, "Mari. Give this guy a hand with the bar wench, but hurry. We've got no time to waste."
The woman in white came over to help Sturk pick up Deenia's limp body and carry her out the door. She said to him with a gentle voice, "Don't worry. She'll be fine once we get out of here."
As they passed by the door, Sturk heard the Half-elf speak to Thimellan, "Are you coming?"
"Not a chance, Pointy," said Thimellan.
"Then I thank you for your assistance, friend. We all owe you our lives."
"Then finish what you started, Quill-boy. Find Vormeastion."
© 1998   C.A. Lutke