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Long Roads Ahead (Back to Square One)

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On 9/20/2019 at 12:59 AM, Jotnotes said:

"These are really old explosives, Torie." Priscilla warned. "It's possible they might not blast at all, or the fuse might burn out too fast. We can start with the explosives, but we need to be ready to come up with a plan B if something goes wrong." Except, Priscilla couldn't think of a Plan B, herself. So, she shrugged apathetically and gave her assent. "Anyway, here's hoping the explosives work. I don't have any better ideas."

Aaric took a quick look at the explosives. Other than having a layer of dirt on top of them, it seemed that they were kept dry. "The fuses on the explosives should work as long as they've been kept dry. I've got a fire-starter that can help light them fairly quickly."

On 9/26/2019 at 5:38 PM, Venus Sprite said:

“We are ready,” Shank said.

 

“Go on, then,” Torie said. She waddled over to the side of the mine’s entrance, where she could surprise the salamanders without moving too far. But then she turned to Aaric. “Do you want to go with them? Stick to the back and don’t let the salamanders see you. Just so one of us knows the layout of the mine, at least a little.

"Sure thing." The wayfarer gave a foxy grin. "Keeping to the shadows is my specialty after all." 

As the kobolds started their incursion into the mine, Aaric followed behind a certain distance away from the group. If they were lucky, the whole plan would go off without a hitch and everyone would survive. If not, he was sure some of the kobolds might not make it out alive. Then again, the three of them were simply duping the kobolds for their own purposes. 

Within seconds, the shadows enveloped the former assassin and Aaric melted into the darkness. 

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11 hours ago, Vetanoob said:

Aaric took a quick look at the explosives. Other than having a layer of dirt on top of them, it seemed that they were kept dry. "The fuses on the explosives should work as long as they've been kept dry. I've got a fire-starter that can help light them fairly quickly."

That was reassuring, Priscilla supposed. If the explosives were in good condition, perhaps they'd be safe for use, or at the very least safe enough to throw before they exploded. She set the box aside for now. Nearby, a few of the kobolds eyed the box curiously, but didn't move all that much. They stood where they were, eyeing everybody. 

There was also the matter that the kobolds weren't really that armed. Would Shank and his merry crew be safe if things turned ugly? Did she have an obligation to make sure they were protected? Torie had already laid out a plan for resolving this issue as safely as possible, but there were always drawbacks.

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“Plan B is fighting tooth and claw,” Torie said, face scrunched up in worry. “I’m not sure if they’re armed, but I bet they are, given they can build a portal. The best thing you can do is get them wet. It won’t hurt them permanently but it will slow them down.” She looked up. “A shame it isn’t raining.”

The kobolds seemingly took this into consideration, and moved far enough away to talk in their gravelly, gutteral tones. She didn't understand any of it, but they seemed animate. Following that, they gave a fierce, if small battle cry and brandished various weapons.

Priscilla blinked. Were they carrying those the whole time? She didn't recall, but hey, at least they were armed. That was good.

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“Go on, then,” Torie said. She waddled over to the side of the mine’s entrance, where she could surprise the salamanders without moving too far. But then she turned to Aaric. “Do you want to go with them? Stick to the back and don’t let the salamanders see you. Just so one of us knows the layout of the mine, at least a little.

 

11 hours ago, Vetanoob said:

"Sure thing." The wayfarer gave a foxy grin. "Keeping to the shadows is my specialty after all." 

As the kobolds started their incursion into the mine, Aaric followed behind a certain distance away from the group. If they were lucky, the whole plan would go off without a hitch and everyone would survive. If not, he was sure some of the kobolds might not make it out alive. Then again, the three of them were simply duping the kobolds for their own purposes. 

Within seconds, the shadows enveloped the former assassin and Aaric melted into the darkness. 

Torie turned back to Priscilla.

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“Priscilla, you should arm that crossbow and get on a roof or something,” she added.

"Right. I don't know what you're up to, but I'll keep an eye on you if I can." She promised.

Priscilla turned back towards the other building, the one Aaric had entered prior. She darted on over to it, the weight of her crossbow slapping against her back, a familiar pressure that was equal parts comforting and distressing. The weight would be lifted, and her skills put to the test, most likely. She'd need to shoot true, if she could. 

The runesmith climbed to the top of the roof easily enough, and walked over the crest of the roof before laying down. She unslung the weapon, and steadied her hands against the point where both roofs met. It was a good spot to watch from, and it hid most of her. She didn't have terribly much ammo, but if she was a good shot, it might last her until this entire ordeal was over.

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Torie waited silently as the sun rose.

She could see Priscilla on the roof, and gave her a hearty grin. Like a cat by a mouse hole she lay ready to pounce, tail flicking above her back, tongue flicking over her lips. She might actually look the part too if it weren’t for her girth. As it was, she looked more like part of a circus act. But looks weren’t everything.

The waiting was making her more and more hungry, and she began daydreaming, imagining what it would be like to bite into that hot salamander skin. She would have no time to eat on the fight, but afterwards they would all feast together. She couldn’t wait.

It was worth a battle to the death. Wasn’t it?

Faintly, she heard some cries from inside the cave. Animal cries, serpentine, like fighting reptiles. Then out ran a kobold, too fast for her to see which one. It kept on running, past the buildings and down the road, and Torie sat up with a start.

“Hey,” she shouted.

As one out ran the last four, though with Shank’s order they all turned about and faced their legless enemy. Moments later there slithered five large, red, serpentine creatures with the bodies and torsos of men, but the tails of a snake and the head of a sea serpent. They were armed with spears, and armored with strange-looking metal.

Was that mithril?

The kobolds began picking up rocks and throwing them at the salamanders, ensuring they were distracted, and so Torie crept around between them and the cave entrance to cut off their escape. She glanced over her shoulder – where was Aaric? – then grabbed the tail of the nearest salamander and yanked hard.

The torso part flopped down into the dirt, and Torie placed one giant paw on the centre of its back. Chainmail armor gave no resistance, and as she leaned down she felt its ribs popping. One of the other two noticed and hissed something in words Torie didn’t understand, but not before she reached down and crushed the neck vertebrae of the first between her jaws.

“Delicious!” she said, right before the next salamander plunged a spear into her flank.

Edited by Venus Sprite

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Spoiler

 

Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap! Aaric cursed to himself as he sped as fast as he could back towards the entrance. Damn you Shank! If only you held your men back we would have taken them by surprise!

Everything was going well when he followed Shanks and company into the mines. It didn't take long for the Kobolds to find the Salamanders; the slimy red creatures were holed up in a large expanse that was filled with shiny silvery veins that dotted the walls. But before Aaric could reappear and take control of the group, Shank went ahead and let out a vicious war cry and ordering his fellow lizards to pelt them with rocks and draw them towards the entrance. 

Aaric immediately knew this quest was going to get out of hand. He noted the silvery implements that the Salamanders had on their bodies and hands. Somehow they managed to generate enough heat to smith the mithril ore into weapons and armor for themselves. They weren't equipped for an opponent of this level! Everything happened too quickly and the wayfarer had to quickly note down the location of the mithril on his map before dashing back to his party to assist. Shadow walking helped him immensely, but it would sap his strength if he used it for too long.

As he neared the exit, he could only watch from afar as one of the red-skinned reptiles slither up to Torie and plunge a spear into her flank. A pained roar escaped from the Tigress' jaws as the attacking Salamander raised his body upwards in preparation to skewer the vulnerable changeling.

Oh no you don't! The former assassin growled as he came up from the Salamander's behind and cocked his wrist-bow. With feather-light steps, Aaric ran up the creature's tail and back, taking the salamander by surprise by sitting on it's shoulders. Before it could react, the wayfarer pointed his wrist-bow straight into it's face and gave a sharp flick. 

Pweet-chick! A single bodkin-pointed bolt shot itself point-blank into the Salamander's eye. Said Salamander hissed and roared as it dropped it's spear and thrashed around, it's arms desperately trying to catch the human who blinded it. The force of it's thrashing was too much for Aaric and he was flung off its shoulders and dropped onto the ground. Aaric broke his fall with a roll and he sprinted towards the bleeding Torie. 

"Damn it! Hold on Torie!" Aaric cried as he fished his hand into his utility belt and pulled out a clear glass bottle with a sparkling blue liquid inside. "This is going to sting a hell lot, but your wound's gonna heal up real fast!" And he poured the contents of the entire bottle onto the open wound. 

Loud hissing noises made Aaric spin around as the now one-eyed reptile charged towards him, fully intent on making the human it's personal kebab. Quick reflexes saved him from being speared through as he drew his twin blades and parried each successive thrust. The wayfarer back stepped as he led the enraged red reptile away from Torie. However he couldn't see where he was going and he tripped on a stone and fell onto his back.  

The salamander was onto him in a flash as it raised it's silvery spear, readying for the final blow. 

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From the rooftop, Priscilla's vantage point afforded her a good view of the fleeing kobold. It sprinted well past the mine's entrance, and further and further from the battlefront like the devil themself was chasing after it. Priscilla watched, disbelieving, as it dashed further and further away, and before she could decide to shoot it down for deserting them it was gone.

In the time it'd taken her to watch this unfold, the kobolds had all fled the mine, and were standing to fight. Priscilla glanced back and flinched, looking just in time to watch Torie bite into one of the strange lizards--the salamanders--and have a spear plunged into her flank.

She raised her crossbow, but Aaric stepped in to take action, coming to Torie's assistance. He seemed to be competent enough in melee to keep her safe, which gave her a window to look elsewhere. The kobolds had hurled stones at the salamanders at first, getting their attention, but now that they were in melee, they'd resorted to their weapons again. Shank, notably, was the closest to the fight at all times, and she couldn't help but find his demeanour encouraging. He was very clearly putting himself at risk, but for who? 'Trashkill?' His friends? His honor? She couldn't guess.

Regardless, the runesmith lined up a shot, using the ornate crossbow's sights to good effect. At this range, it was no contest; she lined 'em up, and pulled the trigger. The weapon jolted in her hand, and the bolt sailed true, sinking between one of the salamander's ribs. The monster hissed in pain, and Shank saw an opportunity. He leapt forward with a shout, and jabbed his weapon deep into its soft underbelly. He pulled it out, and plunged it in again, and again, and again, before pulling away again. It was certainly hurt, but it remained standing, and one of the other salamanders swung a spear in his direction. Priscilla watched, totally detached from the violence, as the spear slashed across Shank's face. He reeled back, away from the blow and clutching his eyes, and his companions circled around him. Many of them didn't have their weapons up at all, but a few up front continued to brandish their blades in the direction of their foes. They were brave, certainly, but those spears would prove deadly, Priscilla decided. She took aim again, sighting up one of the salamanders bearing down on the kobolds. Its spear was at the ready; the quivering kobold would stand no chance of striking first.

However, movement to her side caught her attention, and she shifted. Aaric had stumbled and fallen, and Torie was recovering from a serious blow still. A salamander towered over him, weapon at the ready. 

She hesitated. She couldn't shoot both of them, could she?

The salamander made a move to strike Aaric, and she took the shot, on reflex. The weapon pointed at it, the trigger collapsed, and the bolt surged forward. It struck the animal just below the jugular, critically wounding it, the shock of the impact toppling it over. 

Not wanting to break her stride, she fired again, shifting her weight as she sent it out, just in time to watch the salamander stab at the kobold.

Priscilla watched, as the bolt sailed through the air pathetically late, and the spear surged forward. Damn it.

Then, she watched as Shank shoved his companions out of the way. Almost as if in slow-motion, he grabbed the other 'bold by the shoulder and tugged them back. An ugly, bloody gash across his face from being struck once was coupled, then, with another, more grevious wound just above the hip, as the spear sank in deep. She could hear Shank scream as the blow likely grazed against bone before sinking in deep. 

Then, things seemed to return to normal, as Shank took his shank, and jabbed it into the salamander's arm, causing it to jerk back. Behind him, several other kobolds pulled on his tail, yanking him away from the salamander, and taking the spear with him. Shank stumbled over and fell on his back, staring up at the sky. His companions gathered around him, suddenly forgetting there was a fight.

Priscilla hadn't forgotten, yet, and emboldened by Shank's display, decided to rejoin the fray. She stood up on the rooftop, to make a better shot. She took it, and the bolt slammed into the offending salamander again. She reloaded, and fired again. And again, firing at anything she could aim at. 

Her aim was good, mostly. She missed maybe twice, she counted. But the fight wasn't over by a long shot. 

She slung the weapon over her shoulder, and climbed down from the roof, eager to get into melee. But she wasn't too eager to get into melee to ignore proper safety, and took her time getting back down from the roof. Once on the ground, she brushed herself off, huffed, clearly satisfied. Then she pulled her combat knife and rushed towards the fight.

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22 hours ago, Vetanoob said:

And he poured the contents of the entire bottle onto the open wound. 

“It’s alright! It’s not that deeeAAAAAAGGH!”

Torie roared in pain, a sound so loud and vicious it made the remaining salamanders flinch. All except the one engaged in melee with Aaric. Before she had a chance to render assistance one of Priscilla’s bolts thumped into its neck.

“Woo!” she cried.

Of the five salamanders only one was left unharmed. The one she had pinned was dead, as was the one Priscilla had shot in the neck. One thrashed on the floor still, clawing at its own face, a terrible sight that made Torie wince in sympathy. Another had taken multiple blows from Shank’s shank and still sported a crossbow from between its ribs. It swept its spear wildly and the kobolds retreated to tend to Shank.

The healthy one was making a move back towards the cave entrance. But again it’s long tail was a disadvantage. Torie pounced, more of a shuffle than a graceful leap, and grabbed the tail with her claws and yanked hard. This time the salamander was prepared and, even though it fell, turned and stabbed at her with the spear.

Torie roared again as the point found her shoulder. But she had plenty of meat to take the blow. The salamander pulled its spear out and thrust again, but Torie batted the shaft aside. She gave it another tug so it was too close to bring the spear to bear, but it drew a knife from its armor instead and stabbed at her face.

“Ow,” Torie said, as the dagger caught her ear and came back bloody. She let go of the tail and swiped at its face, raking her claws across its cheek and ear in instant vengeance, then moved in for the kill.

Only the salamander had gripped its strong hands about her snout.

Something hot wrapped around Torie’s midsection, and she felt a pressure inside as if she’d consumed a large meal. The salamander had wound its tail around her mid section and was squeezing tight. She still had her forepaws, which she used to rake new gashes over the salamander’s face, but it was ducking and weaving. Few of her blows landed.

Out of the corner of her eye the injured salamander was looming over her, dripping with blood, spear at the ready, looking for a way to stab her without stabbing its companion.

“Mmmm hmm hmm,” Torie said, a growl deep in her throat. It was the best call for help she could manage with her mouth pinned shut, and with the salamander’s tail squashing the air out of her lungs.

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Before the salamander could strike the killing blow a crossbow bolt whistled through the air and struck it in the jugular. The scaly fiend clutched its throat and screamed... or it tried to as blood filled its mouth. Within moments, it crashed onto the ground and writhed and twisted upon itself. Aaric knew for sure it was now out of action and he leapt onto his feet and took a quick look around. 

The Salamanders were being driven back as crossbow bolts whizzed over his head and struck at some of the large reptiles. Their smaller lizard cousins fought valiantly against a stronger foe. The wayfarer was just in time to see Shank push his smaller kin out of the way and take a blow himself, but not before wounding his opponent as well. As the remaining kobolds wrested the salamander away from its weapon and their leader. A well-aimed crossbow bolt struck its forehead to accompany the one on it's ribs and caused it to crash onto the ground dead. 

The remaining lizard-men gathered around their fallen leader as if forgetting about the fight that was going around them. Aaric turned to see Priscilla getting down from her perch and charging herself into the fray. 

Aaric cursed. With the kobolds distracted by their injured leader, they were more or less combat ineffective. That meant Torie, Priscilla and himself had to take out the remaining two salamanders. 

Turning his attention towards the remaining enemies, Aaric's gaze hardened as Torie fought ferociously only to be wrapped up by her opponents tail and her mandibles neutralized by it's scaly hands. 

On 10/8/2019 at 6:29 PM, Venus Sprite said:

“Mmmm hmm hmm,” Torie said, a growl deep in her throat.

Damn it, Torie! Aaric panicked as the tail started constricting itself around the Tigress. He would have charged headfirst if not for the now one-eyed salamander that was between him and Torie. Time was of the essence and he would have to improvise if he wanted to rescue Torie before her ribs were crushed.

Coming up with a quick plan, Aaric charged forward leaving Priscilla and the Kobolds behind him. The salamander in front of him brought it's spear up, ready to skewer him. Before he could come within striking range, Aaric once again delved into his utility belt and fished out a few black pellets which he threw onto the salamander's feet. 

Bang! Poof! And a thick cloud of smoke flooded the salamander's vision. Aaric smirked as he sped past it while it swung its spear this way and that; which turned into a grimace as the salamander got in a lucky shot and slashed Aaric in his back. Grunting in pain but not breaking his step, the wayfarer charged toward Torie's would-be executioner. Said salamander noticed Aaric's presence and tried to move away, but the former assassin leapt into the air and swung his blade at its head. 

But the constricting reptile was too fast; dodging the blade and opening its jaws wide to clamp down on the wayfarer's extended arm. 

"GAAAAHHH!" The pain was sharp and his arm felt like he was on fire. Was salamander teeth poisoned? He didn't know, but he wasn't going to wait to find out. Summoning his focus, Aaric swung his other arm around and quickly delivered a wristbow shot straight through the gap of the salamander's partially open mouth and upwards into it's brain, killing it instantly. 

The salamander's upper body slammed to the ground, taking Aaric with his arm lodged between his teeth with it. The impact dug the dead salamander's teeth deeper into the wayfarer's arm as intense pain scorched through his entire arm and shoulder. Through the blinding pain, he managed to turn his head to see its coiled form relaxing and letting go of the tigress. 

There was still one more one-eyed salamander left standing.

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Priscilla, embarassingly, was out of breath before she rejoined the party.

In her defense it was a long run. She needed to leap down from the roof, dash on over here, about....not very many feet....and even then the fighting was really close to the mouth of the cave, so it totally was too far for her to sprint without getting winded. She got into range of the fight, but paused, winded and helplessly panting, watching the chaos unfold. 

As she traveled their way, Torie had gotten herself stuck in a rough tumble with another one of the Salamanders. Shank was still being tended to, and was moving to act, himself. Once she paused to catch her breath, he leapt into action, hurling a series of....oh!

She gasped, which kind of sucked because she hadn't caught her breath yet and so it sort of hurt, but she ignored it. He had smoke bombs! She watched, almost entranced as he hurled a series of black beads at the Salamander still standing. He dashed through the smoke clouds and before too long emerged on the other side. Were Priscilla not so entranced by the sight, she might have missed the splatter of blood that struck the walls nearby as a blade sliced across something. She huffed and puffed, and stood up, blood pounding in her ears. She still gripped her knife tightly as she watched, looking to see what he could do.

Aaric immediately moved into combat with the Salamander attempting to strangle Torie, and did so zealously. It swayed away as he went for a slash with his weapon, and went to bite at his wrist, breaking her concentration as Aaric suddenly roared in pain. Soon after, however, he quickly shot it in the head with...whatever, and it flopped down, dead. 

Aaric's smoke bombs had vanished by now, and Priscilla could see that Salamander she'd shot at still standing. She was impressed, really; either she was a lousy shot (she wasn't) or these guys were tough as nails! She was still out of breath, but the Salamander had some distance to close. She figured getting close enough to stab it with her knife would be foolish, given that it had a spear. So on a lark, she decided to hurl her knife at it. The blade slipped through her fingers as she flicked her wrist forward, and the knife sailed true, into the Salamander's long, easy to strike neck. 

The creature hissed unexpectedly, and collapsed, thrashing as it tried to clear the blood from its throat, and then its lungs. Eventually, it gave a last, desperate death rattle, and stopped moving.

Priscilla gave a whoop of victory and clapped her hands where she was, still a bit red in the face!

"Hell yeah! I almost never throw knives that well!" She declared.

Her companions were all in various states of bloodied and bruised, with a few possibly dying. So she stopped celebrating as loudly, and instead wandered on over to help.

Along the way, she yanked her knife out of the monster's neck, and wiped it off on her fingers, which she dried in the dirt.

"Great work, guys! We killed all...like, six of these guys, I guess?" She glanced back towards the tunnel, suddenly aware.

"How many do you suppose are inside?" She inquired.

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“At least seven,” Torie said, getting her breath back and wiggling out of the dead salamander’s grip. She stood up with a groan and looked about, her gaze lingering between Shank’s wound above the hip and Aaric’s bloodied arm.

“Uh-oh,” she said.

“Dragoness, mighty Trashkill, you heal Shank!” said the brown salamander.

“I can’t heal anyone,” she said, but then stopped. Her fur was still wet from where Aaric had emptied the bottle over it, and the wound itself was feeling quite good. At least, compared to how it had.

“Shank, come here,” she said.

Shank walked over boldly, despite the injury leaking blood down his chicken leg.

“Press your wound against my coat here,” she said, looking down as best she could with a tilt of her many chins. Shank was smart. He did so without question.

“It stings,” he said. “It stings good.”

“It’s working.” She smiled at her ‘subject.’ “Aaric, how’s your arm? That stuff you brought is great. Next time though we should soak some bandages in it, rather than just pour it everywhere.” She grinned at him in gratitude, then winced at the gash across her cheek and ear. “If you’ve got another one then Shank’s face and your arm could do with some healing too,” she said. “But don’t worry about me anymore. I can heal myself, once the fighting’s over.”

Just then there was a hiss from the mine, and in the darkness Torie spied more movement. At least four salamanders, shoulder-to-shoulder and spanning from wall-to-wall, spears at the ready.

“More company,” she said, in a quieter tone. “Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll break their line. Then everyone charge.”

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On 10/14/2019 at 2:16 PM, Jotnotes said:

"Hell yeah! I almost never throw knives that well!"

Aaric chuckled at the crossbow girl's remark even through his pained expression. Slowly, he pried open the dead salamander's jaws from his arms and removed it as he winced in pain. Even after removing his bloodied arm, he still felt a burning sensation within which was slowly spreading towards his shoulder. Was it poison perhaps?

On 10/14/2019 at 2:16 PM, Jotnotes said:

"Great work, guys! We killed all...like, six of these guys, I guess?" She glanced back towards the tunnel, suddenly aware.

"How many do you suppose are inside?" She inquired.

"Probably a lot more where they came from." Aaric grunted as he made his way towards Priscilla's side. "If we're lucky, we may have killed all of them.

On 10/15/2019 at 2:00 PM, Venus Sprite said:

“Aaric, how’s your arm? That stuff you brought is great. Next time though we should soak some bandages in it, rather than just pour it everywhere.” She grinned at him in gratitude, then winced at the gash across her cheek and ear. “If you’ve got another one then Shank’s face and your arm could do with some healing too,” she said. “But don’t worry about me anymore. I can heal myself, once the fighting’s over.”

"I'm fine." The wayfarer smiled through the pain as he took out another bottle and threw it to a nearby kobold, who caught it and rushed over to Shank. "My arm's fine... I think. I can go without the medicine. Good idea on the bandages thing. I'll keep that in mind."

On 10/15/2019 at 2:00 PM, Venus Sprite said:

Just then there was a hiss from the mine, and in the darkness Torie spied more movement. At least four salamanders, shoulder-to-shoulder and spanning from wall-to-wall, spears at the ready.

“More company,” she said, in a quieter tone. “Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll break their line. Then everyone charge.”

Aaric gave Torie and Priscilla knowing looks, then drew his dual blades once again. "I'm ready."

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On 10/18/2019 at 3:31 AM, Vetanoob said:

"Probably a lot more where they came from." Aaric grunted as he made his way towards Priscilla's side. "If we're lucky, we may have killed all of them.

 

On 10/15/2019 at 12:00 AM, Venus Sprite said:

“At least seven,” Torie said, getting her breath back and wiggling out of the dead salamander’s grip.

Well, seven wasn't so bad, she supposed. That was a, what, 15 percent increase from the previous fight? That is, if all 7 rushed them at once, at least. The runesmith wasted no time in regrouping as the party recouped from their losses. She plucked bolts from the fallen foes around her, taking care to keep them intact as she did so. She was mostly successful; most of her bolts were intact, save for two, which had shattered upon entry, striking hard bone hard enough to snap the bolts. Her hands were bloodied and filthy by virtue of digging around for her bolts anyway, so once she recovered her knife she had no issue cutting into the salamanders, looking for the bolt tips. She put them all in a little cloth pouch, that she snuck into her pocket. She checked her knife while she was at it, and cleaned it against the sleeve of her jacket. The blade was still shiny and unscarred. Thankfully she hadn't damaged it by throwing it at the salamander.

Once geared up, she assessed the group again. The kobolds were alive, Shank included. At Torie's insistence he'd rubbed his hands against her side before pressing the excess fluid to his own injuries, causing them to heal up quickly. So not only did he look like a hero in the eyes of his  fellow kobolds, but he got to shrug off the wounds almost completely, and do it all again. Priscilla wished, a bit wistfully, that she'd had a potion or two like that when the airship she'd been on crashed. However, those potions only would have helped if her friends bodies had ever been found. To memory, she couldn't recall if any of them had been.

While the rest continued to re-up and rearm, Priscilla took note of the multitude of spears they suddenly had available. She picked one up, and looked it over. The shaft was intact, and the weight seemed fine. She handed it over immediately to the kobolds, then another, and another. Soon enough, almost every kobold--save for Shank--could strike from a greater distance now, keeping them out of harm's way. While she was close by, she noticed that, despite the kobolds being given another potion, they hadn't used it yet. Shank's face was still scarred, the ugly red wound still contrasting against his scales. He caught her staring and turned to face her entirely, reptilian eyes boring into her own. She threw the gaze right back at him, unafraid, before both of them broke the stare and looked into the cave.

On 10/15/2019 at 12:00 AM, Venus Sprite said:

Just then there was a hiss from the mine, and in the darkness Torie spied more movement. At least four salamanders, shoulder-to-shoulder and spanning from wall-to-wall, spears at the ready.

“More company,” she said, in a quieter tone. “Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll break their line. Then everyone charge.”

 

On 10/18/2019 at 3:31 AM, Vetanoob said:

Aaric gave Torie and Priscilla knowing looks, then drew his dual blades once again. "I'm ready."

Priscilla unslung her crossbow, looking from Aaric to Torie, then deeper into the cave. She couldn't see terribly well, at first. However, the shapes of the salamanders became more defined before too long, and she lined up a shot.

"I'm ready." She huffed, training her aim on the left-most Salamander first. "I'll do what I can to take pot shots at them before you break the line. I might get lucky."

She focused on her first target, eyeing the rest already. She had enough ammo to hurl at them for a while, but missing here would be costly. These bolts would surely shatter if they missed and struck the stony interior of the cave.

Nearby, the kobolds had mounted up, and were prepared for everything. With spears at hand, they didn't cower behind Shank nearly as much, fanning out a bit. Their weapons quivered, ever at the ready.

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Torie looked back at her friends and smiled. “It’s a good feeling, knowing you all have my back.” Then she turned to the salamanders and charged.

She was slow at first, little legs projecting forth a mass they were never designed to deal with. But it didn’t take her long to gather speed, tail wagging, flesh wobbling beneath her fur like a bear ready for hibernation. The salamander all pointed their spears at her but at the last minute she changed targets.

Sadly, her bulk wasn’t very fast in following. All the spears missed but Torie barrelled forward between the slithering back ends of two salamanders like a bull. She reached out, grabbing some reptilian tail to help turn herself around, but her claws simply raked open flesh. A sharp pain in her left paw indicated she had torn off a nail in her attempt to stop and so she let go, slowing to a trot on the uneven surface of the cave before turning.

One of the salamanders turned to face her.

Torie glanced over her shoulder to make sure there were none coming up the rear, then charged again, swatting the spear aside as she had in the battle outside and doing her best, pathetic attempt at a leap at the salamander’s face. She hit it below the chest, scratching with her claws, trying to find purchase, then found a muscular arm in her mouth, covered in scales.

She bit down hard.

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On 10/28/2019 at 5:50 PM, Venus Sprite said:

“It’s a good feeling, knowing you all have my back.”

Aaric returned the smile and gave one to Priscilla as well. As the tigress bolted forward, so did the wayfarer right behind her. The entire party following close behind them. The former assassin hid inside her shadow with his shadow walking and waited for his moment to strike. 

When Torie slipped past the gap between two salamanders, Aaric jumped out of Torie's shadow and dashed along the perfectly lined-up lizards. He dodged side to side as the fiery reptiles attempted to stab him only to meet the dirt. In return, Aaric gave each passing salamander a quick slash at their exposed underbelly, elliciting sharp hisses of pain. 

The distraction was enough for the charging Kobolds to crash into the salamanders' broken line. Clangs of metal against metal rang throughout the mines. Whilst the Kobolds grabbed the attention of their repitilian counterparts, Aaric would speed from shadow to shadow and strike from their blind spot.  A lucky opening allowed him to shoot another wrist-bolt through the jugular and send the mithril-clad warrior writhing on the ground as it bled out. 

Aaric exited the battle site briefly to have a quick breahter. The burning sensation that was in his arm had now already spread to his upper torso. It was becoming harder to breath. He was definitely sure the salamanders' teeth had some sort of poison. There was no time to concoct an antidote now. He had to fight through the pain and hope he was still conscious before the battle's end. 

Focusing his thoughts once again, he charged into the fray.

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The runesmith loosed a few bolts of her own overhead, but the line of sight made things difficult for her. Without the advantage of standing overhead, each of her companions in the middle of the fray became a liability. It was difficult, to guarantee her shots would go where she needed them without some kind of elevation. Without anything available to her, she held her aim steady, and waited for opportunities to arrive.

Before her, Torie lunged into battle with the grace of a bear, charging past and slashing at the salamanders before turning on a dime to get into the thick of things. Priscilla watched her pounce on just one of them, and bite and claw at it with fury. Aaric leapt out of the cover of dark nearest her and went to work, confronting and slicing at the two lizards their tigress friend passed by. He was quick, and efficient, and Priscilla elected to focus on other targets. 

The kobolds made their move behind the tigress, and rushed into the fray, spears at the ready. They were met, in turn, by the salamanders, equally prepared for combat. They were more numerous, and thrashed about in the throes of combat equally quickly. It was hard there to make a shot as well.

She envied Aaric, somewhat, who had all the space he needed to shoot his wrist bolts at whomever he pleased. Were her arbalest any lighter, and easier to use, she'd seriously consider using it in close range.

Not today, though.

She did notice that despite his ferocity, Aaric just as quickly as he'd leapt into it. From her place behind the combat, she could see the pained expression on his face as he stumbled for a second. 

Strange, she frowned. He wasn't bleeding, anywhere she could see. Was he hurt? Having a heart attack, perhaps? Or maybe it was gas.

Regardless, his temporary exit from combat gave her an opening. As he jumped back into battle, she was able to loose a bolt on the target he leapt to first, nailing it in the ribs. The salamander hissed in pain, doubling over briefly, just in time for Aaric to deliver a punishing blow to it. 

It didn't appear to be that difficult for him to clean up any targets she shot at first, and elected to try and make his job a bit easier. Priscilla followed Aaric around with her weapon, taking shots whenever available to try and soften up targets for him.

Close by the kobolds proved their worth by making effective use of their short stature and long reach to gang up on targets whenever possible. Instead of confronting most of their foes head-on, they circled around, jabbing under the salamander's guard or keeping others at bay, all while keeping their face towards the enemy. More than once, the salamanders grew impatient and made a stupid move, trying to rush a kobold, only to get prodded quite painfully by another kobold. Shank was there as well, of course, doing what he could to keep the others safe, mostly by being loud. The kobold snarled and yipped and shouted obscenities at the salamanders, pulled on their tails when he could. Eventually, he even found his mark as one of them tried to swing for one of the kobolds, and he lurched in, around the spear and stuck the salamander with his shank. It went in deep, to the hilt, before he pulled sideways, opening an ugly hole in the creature's gut. He turned away as blood pulsed out of the wound, and wiped his knife on his arm, focusing on other targets instead.

That didn't mean they were untouchable. The kobolds, as coordinated as they were, still lacked in terms of reaction speed and combat effectiveness. Before long, little nicks and pockmarks mottled their arms and shoulders. None of them appeared to be fatigued, but they clutched their weapons grimly, anticipating the worst.

 

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Four salamanders. Then Torie’s teeth found one’s neck, and there were three.

Three salamanders. Then Aaric’s wrist bolt pierced another’s jugular, and there were two.

Two salamanders. Priscilla’s bolt pierced it in the ribs and Aaric finished it off.

One left. Shank found it, stabbed it in the belly and pulled his little knife sideways. It bled terribly, still clutching its spear and backed deeper into the cave.

Right where Torie waited. From behind she grabbed it just above the elbow with her teeth, and the kobolds swarmed over it with their mismatched weapons, stabbing and slashing until the creature moved and hissed no more.

“Thanks,” Torie said, eyes glittering behind a mask of blood at her little companions. She turned to the others. “Come on. There’s still a bit more than all of these to go. We need to burst the water table, and quickly!”

She turned, shuffling quickly into the cave, breathless but spurred on by adrenaline and hunger. It got darker quickly as they left daylight behind but at a junction there was an ornamental sconce lighting up three passages. She stopped in the middle, ears wiggling back and forth.

“They’re all down that way, I think,” she said, pointing to the right tunnel. A breeze blew up from there, carrying with it smells of scorch and sweat, and a sibilant hiss at the edge of her hearing. It was quite steep too, the path being cut into steps to aid travelers, but the dirt and dust lined with the tracks of snakes.

To Aaric she said, “Take the dynamite up that path. Go to the very end and you’ll come across a dark granite wall. Shove it in the biggest crack, light the fuse and run back here.

“The rest of us will hold here until you get back.” Torie walked to the first step down, then dug her feet in. Her tiger eyes were already adjusting to the dark, and in the lantern light she could see three pairs of glittering eyes peering up at her from the darkness, waving back and forth as they slithered closer.

More and more appeared behind them.

“Priscilla, I hope you have plenty of crossbow bolts left,” she said, breathing so hard her belly pressed against the earth of the cave with each gasp.

Edited by Venus Sprite

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