To The Last

Maruc beat a path through the foe, it mattered not that they were badly outnumbered. Pain from the wicked stroke drove him to a wild frenzy. The magic aura of his new mace leant it unerring accuracy, it felt light in his hand but it fell like a sledgehammer. Gnolls literally parted before him. Halav must have blessed him because he had landed several incapacitating blows in as many seconds. Adrenalin coursed through his veins as the frenetic battle appeared to slow. Dog breath faces loomed out of the mist. Slavering lines of spittle arced slowly through the air. The spray of blood and ravening cries punctuated the bazaar tableau of melee that was drawn before the priest. Brushing aside a ridiculously slow sword thrust to his midriff Maruc back handed his shield boss into the gnoll that leapt toward him. It skidded off balance at his feet he stamped on the creatures ankle and it snapped under the armoured heel. It yelped pathetically, Maruc ignored it and spun as a flash bright elf silk caught his eye. Hasan was bleeding but valiant in his assault his deadly blade dancing about the enemy.

“Well met,” breathed Maruc as he absently crushed the skull of the crying Gnoll. “You don’t look so good.” He spun and jabbed the end of his mace into the snout of a charging gnoll. Blood spatted and it reeled back grabbing at its face. Maruc turned and grinned at the elf. “Don’t die on me, I’ll be right back.” The priest kicked the legs from under the stunned gnoll and roundhoused its shield knocking it off balance. He smashed his mace into its knee as it struggled to its feet. “There’s no escape from the might of Halav!” he cried.

The cold hard damp stone Miklos had inelegantly collapsed on was deeply uncomfortable. He leg had folded beneath him at an awkward angle, again he cursed his bad luck as pins and needles flooded his leg. The battle ebbed and flowed in the mist he caught glimpses of grey shapes as they fought to and fro. The battle got quite close at one point and he had got trodden on but his leg was quite numb by that point to cause him further discomfort. At least the paralysis had stopped him crying out in pain. But, he thought, he wouldn’t have been under a battle if he had the power of movement.

Miklos’s twisted body waited on the floor for release.

Blood flowed from a nasty gash on Ludo’s shoulder. The Gnolls were tough fighters and were not prepared to give way. After running through his latest opponent, he looked around. The battle seemed centred on a whirling mass of blades and battle cries surrounding Feldard and Stephen. I doubt they need my help was the thought that flashed through his mind. Keeping low and with his sword extended he ran to Hasan. With Maruc’s spell of silence aiding his approach, his attack was deadly; an overhead swing deeply cleaved into the thick hide of a Gnoll, it squealed in pain and staggered away from the melee, life blood flowing from its mortal wound. The other Gnolls attacking Hasan were surprised by his attack and were stunned for a few vital seconds giving Hasan some much needed breathing space.

The morale of the gnolls was impressive to Feldard. It put his foes into a whole other class of opponent. It wouldn’t save them any from the bite of his axe but he could admire their unity.

The young dwarf, kept up his end of the battle; swing after swing, carving out chucks of gnoll flesh, dodging the attacks from the gnolls. If Feldard had been hit, he didn’t feel it – not yet anyways.

Hasan watched Maruc, Stephan and Feldard strike into the mass of the gnolls with a ferocious impact. Their attack was so fierce, it separated gnolls into individuals, and one of them came the elf’s way at speed! The din of the gnolls battlewail in his ears, the elf fired one arrow from point blank range, watching as the arrow buried itself up to the goosefeathers in his foe’s chest. But the dogman staggered into an attack nonetheless. Hasan dodged some, but not all of the club that whistled through the air to the elf’s thin shoulder. But the elf had managed to draw his sword. Standing between the gnoll and Miklos’s prostrate form, Hasan gathered himself and attacked, with a slicing feint to the gnoll’s shoulder quickly turning–through two whirls of steel too fast to see clearly–into a viscous thrust into the beast’s gut. The dogman choked as he slid away from the blade, leaving only deep red arterial blood behind.

Another of the giant humanoids

Stephan lost track of his companion dwarf. He continued to fight in the raging sea of gnoll fury.

“Arrrghh!” he bellowed as a jagged gnoll blade cut too deeply into his upper chest. Strangely, thoughts of the needed repairs to his armor flooded his head.

“Ooof!” the wind was knocked out of the woodsman this time. And the center spike of a gnoll shield pierced his back.

He went down. The smell of dirt was a welcome substitute to the stench of gnoll breath and blood.

Twisting, Stephan made an attempt to both attack and get back to his feet in one motion. Although he did not regain his feet, he happily saw his sword cut into the back of a gnoll’s knee. The creature snarled, dropping next to him and fiercely lunging to bite his face. Stephan found himself in a desperate grapple with the gnoll. His sword lost from his grip.

Blessed Halav, the thought to himself. Visions of his brothers and father flashed through his mind.

He rolled in a sickening hug with this disgusting beast. The thing kept jabbing its fanged snout at Stephan. The attack was sustained and vicious. He felt the straps on his helm snap and the metal dome skew to the side.

Visions of his mother coursed his brain. A warm fire. A sleeping dog. A breeze in the trees. Suskiskyn. Home. The woods….night.

Black…

Ludo slipped on some Gnoll entrails lying at his feet, as he slipped he felt a Gnoll’s spear glance off his shoulder but at the moment of impact a surge of power from his newly acquired ring softened the blow protecting him from serious harm.

He gasped. The air was thick with death and violence. He could see Gnolls around him snarling and frothing at the mouth in melee with Hasan and Maruc. He saw Stephen fall under an avalanche of blows but could do nothing to aid him. Everything was slowing down, a Gnoll stabbed its spear at him again, Ludo countered but he could tell that his parry was going to be too slow and he braced for the impact. A new thought flashed through his mind, he was going to die here today! Fear of death renewed his sword arm, he fought through the pain and fear, with a cold fury that he had never experienced before. He slashed again at the Gnoll in front of him. If he was going to die then he would die fighting.

The battle seemed to go on forever, and as it did, the large muscled gnolls fought even more ferociously. Every combatant was wounded.

From a peaceful, reclusive clan of elves, Hasan had never been in such a fierce combat. His vision began to blur. What was this odd sensation? He thought as he started to lose consciousness and succumb to his wounds. He tried to raise his sword, but his arms would not listen to the commands his mind was sending. He dropped to the ground and joined Stephan in the dreamworld.

The numbers of both sides were thinning and blood was everywhere. Finally, the tide turned and the gnolls lost their numbers advantage. Maruc and Ludo were exhausted. They were capable warriors, but their specialties lied in other talents. This was Feldard’s realm and he reigned deathblow after deathblow until every last gnoll was slaughtered.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “To The Last

  1. (Hitpoint totals updated in sidebar)

    3:52pm, Nytdain, the 9th of Flaurmont, 1001AC
    Cloudy, cool.

    Maruc: 10xp+10xp+50xp
    Miklos: 10xp+10xp+50xp
    Feldard: 10xp+5xp+50xp
    Hasan: 10xp+5xp+50xp
    Stephan: 10xp+10xp+50xp
    Ludo: 10xp+10xp+50xp

    TOTAL:
    Maruc: 27,655/48000
    Miklos: 27,550/40000
    Feldard: 28,030/34000
    Hasan: 27,075/32000
    Stephan: 27,135/32000
    Ludo: 26,780/40,000

  2. Ludo

    Ludo collasped to the ground; exhausted. He was all totally spent and had no energy left. He felt lightheaded and his whole body hurt. He had never fely so tired before in all his life, He weakly rose to his feet and stumbled over to Hasan and started to staunch Hasan wounds as best he could, “Maruc, Maruc, over here; Hasan needs you”. Hasan was beeding profusely from numerous cuts and abrasions, but by far the most serious wound was where a spear had pieced his armour just over the ribs.

    “Prince, dont you die on me, your royal blood is too precious to be spilled by some dirty filthy Gnoll” Ludo grabbed his canteen and tried to wash Hasans wounds, but that seem to make the blood flow faster. Where was Maruc? Ludo sobbed and, the melee had been the worse fight he had ever been in and he was well aware how close they had been to all being killed.

  3. Hasan

    The stream beckoned, and Hasan followed. Deeper and deeper in the wood. The daylight fell behind, and great pine and oak forest grew thick and heavy. Hasan knew he had never visited this land before, but it was wild forest, so he ws content. He journed for hours, passing nothing living but the silent slurping of the stream. At points, the elf knew not why he followed, but he had lost any choice in the matter. Then the stream rolled its way down a soft clay embankment and tumbled to the right. A hill arose ahead, but beyond the grassy bank the hillside broke to form a great cavern. It was a familiar place. The elements merged, until space and place merged in his mind and remembered. This must have been how the Elyan found their own temple-cave, ages ago. Hasan prepared to cross the stream …

  4. The priests eye’s burned with zealot fervor as he cast about himself for more foes. The groans of the dying filled his ears and the carnal house smell of blood. His heart sank, he watched Feldard as he placed his boot against a corpse and with a practised twisted, released his blade. He nodded to the warrior. “Touch and go there for a minute.” he said stretching his aching shoulder. A dozen wounds suddenly called for his attention but he ignored them. In the press of the battle he’d promised to check over Hasan and he’d fix him up before he treated himself. “Hasan?” he asked, “Anyone seen Hasan?”

    A flash of yellow silk blotched with gnoll blood caught his eye. Swiftly he bend to pick it up and saw the body. A broken spear shaft had wedged into his side. Hasana lifeless eyes stared accusingly at him.

    “No. No you don’t! Do you hear me!” hIs own pain forgotten Maruc wrenched the spear out. Warm blood flowed from the gash, he held his hand over the wound and sent his prayer to his God. “Halav, my lord I seek the soul of my noble friend, Hasan. I beseech you to seek out Ilsundal and beg Him to release Hasan back to us! Return him unto me, that he might still serve our cause and the cause of good and peace in the land.”

    Maruc stared into his face. “Come back old friend.”

  5. miklosdostevar

    Miklos blinked. His dry eyes begging for moisture. He rolled onto his front and pain coursed through his leg. “Ow! ahh. Why did I have to fall like that?” he cursed his bad luck. He stood up letting the prickling sensation subside. He was making his way through the mist back to his friends when he heard Maruc’s heartfelt cry. “What is it?” he croaked, his throat was dry too. Not looking where he was going he stood awkwardly on the blood slicked shield boss and twisted his ankle. “Curses!” he kicked at the shield and fresh pain lanced up his leg. Then he noticed the emblem. The Sukiskyn clan crest. He reached down in morbid fascination dreading what he might see. “Stephan? Are you OK?” Miklos slapped the side of his face. “Come on Stephan, this is no time to be…relaxing.” The woodsmans head lolled about. Miklos put his head on the mans chest listening for a heartbeat. It was faint, and failing. “Maruc?” he shouted urgently, “Its Stephan. Get yourself here now or we’ll be burying him rather than listening him say ‘Da’ when he means Yes! Maruc? Maruc?”

    Miklos sat on the cold stoney ground cradling the woodsman, this was a bitter end.

  6. *** DM: I have incorporated Ludo’s post here and re edited mine. ***

    Ludo collasped to the ground; exhausted. He was all totally spent and had no energy left. He felt lightheaded and his whole body hurt. He had never fely so tired before in all his life, He weakly rose to his feet and stumbled over to Hasan and started to staunch Hasan wounds as best he could, “Maruc, Maruc, over here; Hasan needs you”. Hasan was beeding profusely from numerous cuts and abrasions, but by far the most serious wound was where a spear had pieced his armour just over the ribs.

    The priests eye’s burned with zealot fervor as he cast about himself for more foes. The groans of the dying filled his ears and the carnal house smell of blood. His heart sank, he watched Feldard as he placed his boot against a corpse and with a practised twisted, released his blade. He nodded to the warrior. “Touch and go there for a minute.” he said stretching his aching shoulder. A dozen wounds suddenly called for his attention but he ignored them. In the press of the battle he’d promised to check over Hasan and he’d fix him up before he treated himself.

    Not far away Ludo had collapsed to his knees exhausted. He was all totally spent and had no energy left. He felt lightheaded and his whole body hurt. He had never felt so tired before in all his life, He weakly rose to his feet and stumbled over to Hasan and started to staunch Hasan wounds as best he could, “Maruc, Maruc, over here; Hasan needs you”. Hasan was beeding profusely from numerous cuts and abrasions, but by far the most serious wound was where a spear had pieced his armour just over the ribs.

    “Prince, dont you die on me, your royal blood is too precious to be spilled by some dirty filthy Gnoll” Ludo grabbed his canteen and tried to wash Hasans wounds, but that seem to make the blood flow faster. Where was Maruc? Ludo sobbed and, the melee had been the worse fight he had ever been in and he was well aware how close they had been to all being killed.

    Maruc followed the voice through the mist. A flash of yellow elf silk blotched with gnoll blood caught his eye. Swiftly he bent to pick it up and saw Lodo holding Hasan’s body. A broken spear shaft had wedged into his side. Hasans lifeless eyes stared accusingly up at him.

    “No. No you don’t! Do you hear me!” hIs own pain forgotten Maruc wrenched the spear out. Warm blood flowed from the gash, he held his hand over the wound and sent his prayer to his God. “Halav, my lord, I seek the soul of my noble friend, Hasan. I beseech you to seek out Ilsundal and beg Him to release Hasan back to us! Return him unto me, that he might still serve our cause and the cause of good and peace in the land.”

    Maruc stared into his face. “Come back old friend.”

  7. He could hear his name being called again. “Miklos is that you? Whats wrong?”
    Off to the right the mage called again. “Here! Its Stephan! He’s dying.”
    “Ludo, look after Hasan, I shall return.” Maruc picked his way over the corpses. “Keep talking Miklos, I can’t see you.”
    “Here. Over here. There you are, come quickly his heart is failing.”
    “Have you moved him?” Maruc knelt down beside the body and pulled his eyelids open and checked his throat of blockages. There was no blood, no obvious trauma. “He bleeds within. Step aside.”
    “Lord Halav Incarnate, staunch this wound of you loyal servant Stephan. That he might live to free this place of evil. Stephan! Awake….Awake!”

  8. Feldard’s battle alert mind was slow to accept the fact that the last of the gnolls had fallen. He kept casting about in search of another opponent. But none were found.
    The dwarf could see Maruc calling on his deity’s aid to heal first Hasan and then Stephen. There was nothing Feldard could do to help with that. So instead the dwarf set about ensuring each of the downed gnolls was indeed dead. That included their matriach. Then he checked the perimeter, straining his dwarven eyesight to their max to see into the mist.

    With nothing else seen or heard, Feldard moved back to the others to discuss the immediate future. “How are they doing, Maruc?”
    He could see that both Hasan and Stephen were breathing but beyond that they both looked still worse for wear.

    Feldard shook his head. Things looked grim.
    “We need shelter for the night. I’ll check the hut see if it will do. Miklos do you know much of gnoll customs? Anything I should be looking for in there?”

  9. Ludo

    Ludo gently lifted Hasan up and supported him under the arm to stop him collasping, “come noble Prince, lets get you into the hut, there may be a bed for you lie upon, which will be more comfortable than the cold hard ground” . Ludo guided Hasan to the hut and once Hasan was laid upon the bed (assuming there is one), he collasped against the hut wall and drank deeply from his canteen. Turning to Feldard, “if there are any more Gnolls about we will be finished. Thank Halav that Maruc sundered the Gnoll Shaman, if Marucs spell had failed”… his voice trailed off.

  10. Stephan

    Перебування мого сина. Існує багато належить зробити.

    Stephan woke from his nap. He felt a great peace about him; like the quilts his sisters knitted, the peace lay thick and comforting around him. Sirko, the family dog was there! The grey masstif looked at him with that quizzical look only a canine has.

    “Sirko! You’re back! Oh how I’ve missed you! Are you hungry?” he said rising from his pallet near the fire. “I’ll get my bow and we’ll get some wood-ptarmigan.”

    Sirko rose and stretched. The fire was weak now in the place. He was in the family sleeping chambrer at Sukiskyn. It was vacant. But surely his mother had been here recently, Stephan thought.

    Throwing back the quilts, Stephan hugged his dog. “You seem very well this morning, Sirko.” Stephan felt the dog’s shoulder. “How’s the shoulder feeling?” he asked while probing for the old wound the dog suffered many summers ago. “Seems much better, I think! I don’t even feel the bone-bump any more! Da! This is good, Sirko! I’ll bet you can run again on it.”

    A single beam of the morning sun shown through the west windhole. Looking around, Stephan asked “Where is everyone, Sirko?” Again the massive dog delivered the endearing confused look.

    “What’s the matter, ‘ol boy?” Stephan ruffed Sirko’s head, scratching behind his left ear. “Seems like you have something to tell me. Well, we can talk about it on the hunt. I imagine the fowl are at the Dairlyn Rock. Let’s go see what we can get for breakfast.”

    Stephan dressed in the trousers and pull-over that bore the Sukiskyn patterns. He grabbed his bow and slung a quiver on his back. Sirko sat looking at him all the while. Stephan reached to open the door and turned to Sirko.

    “Ready boy? What is it?” The dog’s watery eyes gazed at the woodsman, capturing Stephan’s attention. He knelt to be eye-level with him. “You really are a mystery, this morning, Sirko. What you need is a good romp in the woods! Let’s go!”

    Again he turned to the door and this time enthusiastically opened it.

    “Ah!” he exclaimed at the light; his arms instinctively rising to protect his eyes. He felt a presence. Some leaves rustled in a slight breeze. In a few moments, his eyes began to adjust. A crunching sound in the leaves marked someone’s approach.

    “Da?” Stephan queried. “Who is there?”

    “It’s me, son. Papa.” Stephan could not see clearly in the light but sensed a figure in front of him.

    “Papa!” Stephan was overjoyed. He could not find words. Sirko rubbed his head against Stephan’s leg. The elder Sukiskyn did not speak yet a flood of understanding washed over Stephan.

    “It’s okay, Stephan. Believe me. I can’t begin to explain but…just know all is well. And I’m very proud of you. We all are.”

    Stephan felt a tear. “But, Papa…” he could barely speak. He felt the quiver on his back; the bow in his hand.

    “The hunt will have to wait another day, my son. Please, go lay down again in your sisters’ quilts. Sirko will stay with you. Perebuvannya moho syna. Isnuye bahato nalezhytʹ zrobyty,” his father finished in the olde tongue. “Stay my son. There is work to be done.”

    Stephan had been so eager for the hunt but the wisdom of his father was clear.

    “Da,” Papa, “Ya ne pidvede. I will not fail.”

    With a new determination, Stephan closed the door. Sirko sauntered over to the pallet and layed down next to it. The dog’s massive head turned to look at Stephan, inviting him to rest. The fire seemed to have perked up a bit. A single flame rose from the coals; flickering some warm light. Stephan doffed his gear and layed down. He did feel like some more rest. His chest hurt a bit. He curled into the exquisite comfort of the quilts. The fire continued to burn. He turned to look right into Sirko’s eyes.

    “Good boy, Sirko. See you later.”

    The last thing Stephan saw before shutting his eyes for sleep was Sirko’s trustworthy gaze.

  11. Matt

    Interesting use of Ukrainian there …

  12. Maruc

    … in answer to Feldard

    “Their souls are seeking the road home, Feldard. If they will not heed the summons or become lost…. they will not awake.” Maruc gazed at the unconscious woodsman. “However they have not travelled long on that path, Halav willing they will.”

  13. miklosdostevar

    Miklos left Maruc to his prayers. He stalked away, confident that the priest knew what he was doing. He made his way to the hut and took his ease away from the carnage outside. It was hard to concentrate amongst the aftermath of the battle. He flicked open his book and re read out his detect magic incantation. summoning the power with his tired mind. mage sight lifted his vision and he cast about the hut seeking any baubles or trinkets of significance. before the spell expired he spent the last few minutes scanning the battle field corpses.

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