Rise of the Runelords

 

Retaking Fort Rannick (Part Two)

 

The adventurers continued their way through the tunnels as they neared Fort Rannick. Xiha was in front leading the pack as he quickly held a hand up to stop the group as he motioned to some of the lizards up ahead. The fetchling turned back towards Vale “Thought it wasn’t mating season.” The dark skinned man stepped forward, his two axes strung to his back. “It isn’t mating season but this is their home. As long as we tread carefully and follow the right wall we should make it to the fort unmolested.” Xiha nodded as they moved slowly through the tunnels watching the shocker lizards. What Vale said appeared to be true as they seemed more interested in taking care of their young and as long as nobody went too close to the lizards they were calm. The group followed Vale’s instructions and soon they were at a dead end with what appeared to be a stone wall.

“Would you do the honors?” Xiha said looking over at Vale. The Black Arrow member nodded as he moved up to the secret wall and glanced back at the group. “Are you all ready for whatever awaits us in here?” The Sihedron Knights confirmed they were ready as he opened the door. Behind it they saw what appeared to have once been a prison area with its cold stone walls but had been remodeled since then. The room was filled with silken tapestries that lined the walls, plush pillows and an assortment of rugs laid out about the room. A smell of incense delightfully filled the air as the group stepped through the door and saw a figure standing there. It was a female wearing an elegant red dress that complimented her red hair, both contrasting her alabaster white skin. She smiled as she saw them come through.

“So nice to see you all. Please come in, I’ve been expecting you.” The woman invited them in as the group of adventurers cautiously entered.

“You seem quite calm for being in a fort taken by ogres. Who are you?” Rion asked, his eyes not leaving her to make sure she doesn’t try anything.

“My name is Lucrecia. I’ve stayed down here to be out of the ogres’ way. They don’t bother me long as I don’t bother them. But I’m curious to hear about you all. I’ve heard stories of a brave adventuring party that had saved Magnimar. Be that you?” The red haired woman responded.

The group looked at each other debating what to do before they confirmed that they were in fact that same group. “You all must be very powerful then! My master Mokmurion would love to meet you all.”

“Who is Mokmurion?” Xiha said, not hearing that name before. Lucrecia looked at her and smiled. “A very powerful individual if you wish to know more you can ask him yourself. All you have to do is throw down your weapons and kneel. Just to be safe.”

The group listened to her words and were beginning to feel threatened by them. Xiha moved towards Jakardros as he whispered to him. “Do you recognize her?” The male ranger shook his head as he said that he never saw her and don’t know who she is. That was what they needed to hear as they motioned to Rion. The rogue drew his bow as he fired two arrows directly at the woman. Lucrecia calmly stepped as both arrows passed by her and she let out a sigh. “I guess we will do it the hard way.”

The adventurers prepared for battle as they engaged the woman known as Lucrecia. The red haired lady smirked as her body began to enlarge and grow. While the upper half of her body appeared to stay the same the lower half of her was now long and covered with green scales. At that moment the group recognized it as another lamia matriarch similar to the one they had fought in Magnimar. Lucrecia pulled out two daggers as one of them ignited into flame and the other chilled the air around it. “Last chance. Surrender now or I’ll kill you where you stand.”

Shalelu, Rion, and Jakardros set up in the room to begin firing a barrage of arrows towards the lamia while Xiha, Chester, and Vale charged forward to confront her in close combat. As the rest of the Black Arrows came into the room Lucrecia smiled once again as she saw Kaven. “Ah Kaven so good to see you again darling. If it wasn’t for the information you provided these ogres would’ve never taken the fort as easy as they did.” Vale and Jakardros turned back to look at their fellow Black Arrow. “What did you do?” Jakardros said in a quiet tone. “I knew there had to be a traitor among the Black Arrows.” Vale said. Kaven looked concerned as Lucrecia called him out to his friends as they turned on him knowing that he had betrayed them.

The Sihedron Knights unloaded into the Lamia Matriach as the arrows and Xiha’s fists drove into the monster’s side. Even though they were landing solid shots with their attacks they could feel a strong resistance similar to what they had felt when fighting Xanesha. Duline began to call upon the elements as dark clouds formed near the ceiling of the room. She invoked nature as bolts of lightning shot down on the lamia to try and scorch her scales while Chester and Kibb dashed out to bite the serpent woman. Vale was doing his best to focus on the threat of the mysterious woman but Kaven was just proving to be a betrayer in all aspects as he thrusted his rapier into the man’s back. The Black Arrow Ranger turned around having enough of it as he let out a heavy swing with axe to cut into the traitor.

Lucrecia smirked as she saw the dissension in the ranks and enjoying the mayhem she caused before turning her attention towards Xiha. She unleashed a flurry of strikes with her daggers towards him with each strike slicing into the skin of the Fetchling before the wound got blasted with flames or ice as Xiha’s body spasmed from the strikes. He staggered a bit before collapsing to the ground from the wounds, his blood pouring freely.

“Xiha no!!” Maiwyn exclaimed seeing her fellow adventurer collapse to the ground. She knew that she had to help him but he was clear across the room and was unsure if she could make it there.

“I got him.” Roccal said as he ran across the room, sliding to get near where Xiha’s dying body was as he placed a hand on the monk. With his other hand he began to cast Dimension Door as he teleported back to the entrance of the room and right next to Maiwyn. The Elven cleric thanked Roccal for his help as she placed her hands on Xiha and began to heal his wounds. Upon seeing her fallen companion, Duline also turned around to focus on healing Xiha and bringing him up to his feet. As they brought Xiha up they turned and saw Lucrecia let out another series of attacks, this time aimed towards Chester. The cuts ran deep as Chester’s fur got burnt and chilled in various places before collapsing to the ground lifeless.

Duline stood there and stared as If the life out of her own body had been taken. Her trusty companion and ally Chester had been killed right before her eyes as she invoked another bolt of lightning into the lamia. It seemed this monster was extremely dangerous as they all began to realize how dangerous Lucrecia really was as they began to debate if they should retreat or fight. Chester had been slain and Xiha was in pretty rough shape. Kaven had fallen to the axe strikes of Vale and as the rest of them were preparing their next move one of the doors opened up as a large ogre squeezed through to check on the commotion that was going on. Lucrecia turned to him quickly as she shouted “These humans are trying to kill your leader and take back the fort!” The Ogre scowled as it heard the words turning towards the group as it gripped its ogre hook firmly ready to strike down the enemy as he charged into them. Shalelu and Jakardros quickly turned their attention towards the Ogre as they let out a series of arrows into his thick side causing him to stagger slightly. Vale had enough of all this as he was heavily wounded as he focused on the lamia matriarch. “For the Black Arrows!” He screamed as he charged forward and swung his battleaxe and handaxe as it cut deep into the body of Lucrecia and the monster was showing signs of extreme pain as the wounds bled and her body strained under the pressure of handling all the damage.

“Crap. Guess retreating is out of the question.” Rion said as he saw the Black Arrows fight bravely or foolishly depending on one’s thoughts for their home. He notched a few more arrows on his bow as he helped to weaken the large ogre as it swung its hook violently towards the party. Maiwyn clutched her holy focus as she called upon the power of Iomedae and suddenly the entire room was filled with holy light as she cast Holy Smite. The blast of divine energy struck Kaven burning him as his body twitched till it collapsed once again. The ogre tried to cover his eyes but it was too late as it blinded him. The energy burned against Lucrecia’s skin as she began to breathe heavier struggling to keep her fighting stance up. It seemed they were close to defeating this monster as Duline stood up and stared at the lamia matriarch as the clouds continued to darken above.

“This is for Chester.” Duline said angrily as another bolt of lightning struck down and into the lamia, sending the electricity through its body before the serpent woman collapsed to the ground lifeless. Lucrecia had been defeated, her body still as they had survived the dangerous encounter. The ogre was no match now blinded and Kibb dragged him to the ground for an easy kill. All that was left Kaven as the Black Arrows surrounded him. Xiha stepped up still recovering from his wounds as he glared at the man. “Let’s snap this traitor’s neck.”

Jakardros stepped forward between Kaven and the monk as he placed a hand on his shoulder. “With all due respect my friend, he is one of us. Let us give him the proper Black Arrow judgement.” As he grabbed a hold of Kaven and pulled him up to his knees, “Vale, do the honors.” He said as the dark skinned man nodded and gripped his battleaxe with both hands before bringing it down and with one solid strike cleaved Kaven’s head clean off. The head rolled along the ground before coming to a stop as Jakardros looked towards the Sihedron Knights. “I’m sorry for the traitor. We didn’t know. His gear is yours to do with it what you wish. He has no place for a proper burial.” He said as he hands over the rapier and dagger to the party.

With the combat over the party was able to finally examine all the corpses more closely. Studying Lucrecia’s body they saw that she had a familiar SIhedron Medallion around her neck and a matching tattoo on her left breast. They moved to examine Kaven’s body and saw that he had a small Sihedron mark on his wrist similar to the one that one of the workers back in Turtleback Ferry. They weren’t quite sure what it all meant but they knew that they had to be on the right track as the familiar symbol kept reappearing. They went through the open door that the ogre came from and saw prison cells lining either side of the main walkway. The cells had dried blood in them but appeared to have no bodies or no one left as they returned to check on the other door. Opening that door revealed a starway that went upstairs and onto the first floor of Fort Rannick.

As they went upstairs they came into a small storeroom with a door. Peeking through the doorway they saw a long hallway with a series of doors on either side. Rion opened the door as he slowly made his way down the hallway to check and see if anyone was around. When it looked clear he motioned the rest of the group to follow as they opened the first door to see what appeared to be the infirmary of the fort left in total disarray. Two large ogres were playing around with some human corpses as they saw the door open and the group of adventurers there. They roared as they grabbed their hooks and started to make a move towards them as Xiha charged and delivered a strong strike into the side of the ogre as the fight broke out. Xiha and Vale proved to be quite a formidable front as they each delivered a series of lethal blows to the ogres. However the ogres themselves were quite strong as one swing of the hook and Xiha felt himself stagger as he was pretty weak. The ranged support from Rion, Duline, Shalelu, and Jakardros proved to also help whittle down the ogres as the arrows stuck in their thick skin like a pin cushion.

However, the sounds of battle were quite loud as a door opened and an ogre stepped out. When he turned and saw a group of humans in the fort he instinctively roared out “Intruders!” As he grabbed his hook and came at them down the hallway. The sound of screaming alerted more ogres as other doors began to open out and more ogres proceeded to flood the hallway. Due to the size of the hallway they were forced to move single file down it as the ones behind would take the time to throw throwing axes at the party. With the initial two ogres defeated, Vale and Xiha split up as Xiha charged into one of the other rooms to deal with an ogre while Vale handled the advancing group down the hallway.

“They just keep coming!” Rion said firing a barrage of arrows down the hallway into one of the ogres.

“Hold the line. We have them!” Vale said as he winced in pain, a hook digging into his shoulder as he retaliated with an axe swing. Roccal and Maiwyn acted like field medics on the battlefield as they darted between their fellow adventurers to heal them of their wounds and keep them up. The arrows were steadily flowing down it as the ogres tried to duck behind each other to avoid the firing. Once Xiha had wrapped up with the ogres in what appeared to be the ruins of the fort library he dashed out and came up by Vale to help him with the advancing ogres taking the time to duck throwing axes and sidestep hook swings.

The battle raged on as more ogres continued to take the place of their fallen allies. Thanks to the combined healing powers of Maiwyn, Roccal, and Duline the adventurers were able to keep standing and fight through the pain as both Vale and Xiha were taking powerful hits with each ogre hook that made contact. Eventually, the place was still as ogre corpses littered the floor and the battle was over. All of them were panting exhausted from the battle that had just taken place and drained of most of their ammunition and magical resources.

“Let’s get some rest before we proceed. We’re pretty drained.” Rion said as he motioned to everyone to come downstairs and back into the lush room of Lucrecia’s. Once down there they shut the door and used the ogre’s corpse to block it so they could properly get some rest. The battle had been intense and deep down they all had that lurching feeling that it would get much worse before they were successful with their mission.

 

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