Vokos had picked up the trail. It was easy for one such as he. He sent one of his brothers back to the gate to inform the Master. It was not long before the others joined him. He tried to stay back out of ear shot, a difficult task given that one of the prey was an elf. It was made easier when Jolenta arrived. She told him that the Master would give the signal to attack and then she cast an incantation of silence, allowing them to creep close to their quarry.
Already fully transformed, he had to concentrate fully on keeping his composure as the bloodlust grew inside of him and his brothers.
* * * * *
The screamed command from above startled the dwarf. He heard Miklos cry out but it all seemed distant and far away and as there was nothing he could do for Miklos at the moment. The yellow robes from above made too tempting a target and the dwarf fired off his crossbow bolt towards the cowardly mage.
“Hasan, can you return the sentiment?” the dwarf called out as he switched over to his battle axe.
Hasan grinned at Feldard’s crack and directed his own arrow at the marauding mage. He had expected to see him aloft upon Cardia’s Carpet, but the mage was flying via his own spell, as he had when he had fled from the tower in Xitaqa. The arrow flew fast and true, slicing through the mage’s robes. He shouted in pain, and then quickly flew out of range.
Hearing Golthar cry out, Ludo had ducked and waited for what seemed like eternity for oblivion. Then, realizing he was still alive, he stood up, and waited for the charge of his enemies. He knew this would be fight to the death.
The first to emerge from the brush were a pack of four rat creatures. Stephan well knew that lycanthropes were a common threat in the wilds of Karameikos, and immediately recognized them to be wererats. Behind those, two wild-eyed humans ran out ahead of a band of warriors. From the looks of them, they were the brainwashed cultists known as Hounds of the Iron Ring. Ten humans in chain, were commanded by a large fighter who Ludo recognized as Sligh, the agent that Golthar had dispatched earlier. Last was Jolenta. A tall woman with short hair and piercing blue eyes, she wore a blue cloak over chain and wielded a mace.
Even as the enemy charged from the forest, silence still ruled the forest a byproduct of Jolenta’s enchantment as all the sounds of those around her were stilled. The unnatural absence ensnared the party all around, until the ratmen got further away Jolenta and their viscious snarls echoed through the night air.
Maruc had considered casting his own silence spell toward Golthar, but the mage was flying out of range. Instead, his arm snaked out to steady his wounded friend. “Halav bless thee Miklos!” he cried, casting one of his precious cures. Next, he turned and raised his fist to the skies. “Flee if you value your treacherous skin, Golthar! We have what you seek, and we will burn it before you lay hands upon it!” Maruc’s gaze swept the moving bushes and he readied his flail and shield.
“Thank you,” Miklos sighed. And then the wizard crept close to the sturdy cleric, gripping his staff, hoping he wouldn’t need it. The healing balm took the burning sensation away from his chest. The young mage’s eyes narrowed. But that he’d have had time to memorise another lightning bolt spell. He doubted a sleep incantation would work on a mage of Golthar’s power and he was at the limit for the range of a web spell. He glanced at the foes emerging from the bushes, and prepared a sleep incantation. He targeted it to where it would do the most damage, the middle of the group of charging warriors. Shields and swords fell all about as the entire force of ten fighters fell instantly asleep.
Meanwhile, Feldard charged to take on the first of the two Hounds. Time seem to slow down and in slow motion he saw Feldard charge the attackers. As the first of Golthar’s crazed lackeys rushed in, the dwarf met his attackers head on.
Stephan dropped his shield and readied his short bow. The mage was out of range, so he fired off two arrows at the large warrior that seemed to be the leader of the ground forces. He was not sure if one or both of the arrows he hastily knocked and shot were the enchanted ones he kept in the quiver with the others.
Then, the ground attack was on. Stephan rolled, dropping the bow and retrieving his shield. The familiar sound of a quickly drawn sword reverberated in the dim wood as he engaged Sligh.