Game Date: 9/30/09
With a slight click, the door to the tower of magic shut. Outside, dusk was falling and the streets were teeming with life, the work day at an end.
The five men, newly outfitted and equipped with items pertaining to their various arts, powerful items, strode down the short lane to the market streets. A noticeable spring was in their step. The casual observer would not have realized that they had only had a six hour rest after their hellish churn through the forest and the encounter at the bridge. Of course, where this crew was concerned, there were no casual observers.
After a short discussion, the retrieval of the magical dragon hoop was given priority. The men made their way along the main thoroughfare connecting the markets with the giant wolf’s head gate serving as the maw to the ancient city. Along the way, the slight elf was one minute amongst them, the next not. In his place, walking by Dex’s side, was a large mastiff, coolly surveying the crowds about, both canine and man alike.
It was the mastiff who first sensed the trouble. As the party proceeded down the street, the presence of dogs disappeared all together, something as oddly out of place in this city as their overwhelming presence would have been in any other. Then, the crowds began to thin. No longer were there common folk out and about at the end of their day. Those sidling down the street in this particular area lacked both the refinement of the cosmopolitan and the simplicity of the common. Out for a drink, seemed to be the message they were proclaiming.
More likely, out for a score.
Sebastian’s hackles rose. Then Dex sensed it too. The great mastiff herded the party into a short alley beside the broad avenue. To the front lay the street and it’s implied menace. To their backs, an empty market square. It’s waist high stalls, closed for the night, surrounded a small bubbling fountain.
Luke and Horatio took up positions across the back of the alley, forming a wall to greet any potential threat. Dex slipped stealthily into the stall to their left, Erevis behind the one to their right. The mastiff was gone. The only thing on four legs in the vicinity was a large cow, it’s bovine tail swatting at flies. The only thing to betray it’s true nature were it’s ever alert eyes scanning the marketplace for danger.
The threat soon materialized. A group of common ruffians, sporting knives and clubs began to coalesce across the mouth of the alley and the stalls to either side. Across the marketplace at their backs, two figures appeared behind the fountain. The first was a soldier – halberd, chain and crossbow well-used but cared for. The second was mysterious and cloaked, it’s hood drawn up, concealing it’s face. It was in this brief moment that Sebastian caught one more thing out of the corner of his eye. Across the far side of the square, leaning against an alley wall, stood the dark Eladrin that had haunted them since the first tower. He watched them. Patiently.
The two figures by the fountain prepared to take action. Sensing a greater threat in these two than in the rabble, Sebastian acted. The two enemies were stunned as the placid cow suddenly lurched into action. It’s great mass hurdled across the market square and leapt to the lip of the fountain. From there, it reared up on it’s back legs, it’s front hooves clawing at the air, and emitted a moo of such terror it threatened to flatten nearby stalls. The two enemies flinched in pain and shied away from the agonizing sound. When they glanced back up, stunned, the bovine was gone. In it’s place stood a monstrous gorilla, it’s giant fists exultantly beating across it’s chest.
Unfortunately, a glance to the shadowy corner where the dark Eladrin had stood showed it be empty. He had disappeared once more.
Across the square, Horatio, seeing no need for the burdensome pretense of negotiations, set his legs slightly apart and grounded himself in the muck-scuffed surface of the cobblestone alley. What came next had more than likely not been heard in the great city in centuries. And certainly not directly following an epic moo. A draconic battle roar echoed and magnified amongst stalls and ancient building alike. When the dragonborn warrior finished, the hooligans stalled their advance. Fear registered on their faces. It was soon however replaced by an even greater fear. Something spurred them forward once more.
Perhaps inspired by the might of his ancestors architecture, Horatio belched forth enough flames to engulf a large portion of the thugs. Still, they came on. And when they came, it was the dregs that swarmed first. Filthy, ragged nothings. Armed with broken bottles and boards of wood. They brought Horatio to the ground for a moment before he was able to cast them off.
Erevis, following the sounds of Sebastian’s Battle Moo, sprinted across the square and landed a deep gash through the robes and flesh of the hooded enemy.
They ruffians in the alley came from everywhere, converging on the group over the low walls of the surrounding stalls. One clever fellow tried to come at Luke from behind. He skirted the stall right beside a still unseen Dex. Dex’s new staff whipped out from the darkness, crushing the man’s windpipe and clothes lining him to the stone.
The shadow game was over for Dex. He now shared the stall with a crazed mob suddenly aware of his presence. He moved to shift out of the doorway and harm’s reach but they lunged for him, all sticks, glass and teeth. And then, Dex found a secret door into a power that had so eluded him before, his Eladrin fey step. It had confounded him throughout his life to be so full of pure magic but unable to do a thing even the simplest Eladrin child could do. Well, no longer.
Blinking out of existence, leaving a dozen hands clawing at empty air, he materialized thirty feet away beside the fountain. The magic still coursing through him, he redirected it’s energy, sending it screaming into the market stall to explode amongst the mob. Not a soul survived.
Then he turned to the two in the square. Frowning at the inconvenience, he stepped into the shallow waters of the fountain and whipped the butt of his staff in an arc before him. As the energy hurled out and struck the two in the face, he raised the staff above his head and slammed it down. The resulting wave of thunder sent a spray of water from the fountain and across the square. The two enemies stood for the briefest moment, nothing left above the neck but a fine red mist, and crumpled the ground.
Back amongst the stalls, the mob poured in, threatening to overwhelm Luke and Horatio by sheer numbers. The two fought back, keeping the crush at bay. Sebastian and Erevis rushed back in to hold the line. The latter once again sprinted across the square. Skidding beneath Horatio’s huge arms, his blades easily opened up the necks of many foes at once.
Still back by the fountain, Dex raised his eyes and arms to the sky. Drawing radiant light from the stars above, he brought it crashing down amongst the last throng of ruffians. The square was quiet once more.
The men quickly gathered to discuss a plan of action. A quick inspection of the thugs revealed a horn-shaped tattoo behind an ear of nearly each one. Sounds of the Wolf’s Deep Watch began to clatter ever closer from down the avenue. The discussion would have to continue on the move. A decision was made to seek the Temple of Arthas first, go for the hoop or plan the alternative from there.
As night finally descended on Wolf’s Deep, the five men slipped back amongst the buildings and disappeared into the shadows…