The group made Arthur return to the village, and for the rest of the time, it simply made Von become lost in his thoughts. Until they had already entered the caves, and Von could feel eyes on his back. It was enough to send chills down his spine, nothing with living blood was watching them at this moment, "whose eyes are those eyes?" He whispered. Yet, when the group encountered the drake, this was enough to focus his eyes on the prize. If an unknown watchful eye gave him chills, the full roar of the drake made the Templar's jaw drop in amazement, and it's fire would take hairs off Von's arms.
"Amazing." He simple said, and his weapons were already up in position. Remembering his training and want to aid, Von raised his Templar long sword above his head. "Everyone, in this battle, there is no darkness! His voice bellowed. Those words were been to everyone in the group, allowing them to feel a little less of the drake's heat. Feeling a little more protected, and more faithful to his Maker, Von charged in as Kari was hit aside due to the drake.
Remembering the plan, Von ran on the other side of the drake from which Kari attacked, he could feel the energized air around him, and definitely heard the sound from Ash's last lightning spell. Almost praying that did something, Von focused on his own attack. Running toward the legs.
"Now would be the time to stab it more!"
"Got it!" Von yelled through the battle adrenaline. He ran besides the drake, stabbed it in the front leg, of course a short dagger wound would not exactly be the greatest of hits, but afterwards, Von used his speed and ran quickly towards the back, where he stabbed the longsword at the back leg.
Of course, this was not all, if he did not have the attention of the drake, he would still attack. Using the momentum, the next attack was with his unique dagger, and aiming it like a bee sting, he struck it into the rear of the drake. Of course, the hide of a dragonkin is tough just like the beast itself, and Von wanted to make a lasting impression upon it. Using his ragged breath, Von muttered, "Souchet." The dagger suddenly burst into life with a lightning enchantment.
Knowing he was done with his current attack, Von wanted to back out of the attack zone of the drake. Trying for a last attempt at more damage, the Templar tried to tear downwards, but instead he had caught the brute force of a tail to his chest. This sent Von flying backwards towards Ash, and down hard into the dirt. Already he could tell the bandages on his hand were torn, and he might possibly have a broken rib or two. That's what his now hard breathing told him. "I can still fight!" He muttered in a rough tone.
Looking down, he then noticed that he did not have his dagger on him, it was still stuck into the drake. Looking to Ash, he gave a smirk. "That looks like a great lightning conductor, doesn't it?"
"Everyone, in this battle, there is no darkness!"
Ash could feel that Von was doing something, but he didn't know what. It wasn't magic, or at least, the kind he knew, but it had some sort of effect. While he was curious about where the other might have picked that little trick up, he wasn't eager to ask, Ash knew better than to question people about their skills. Besides, it wasn't exactly the time or place to ask questions.
"That looks like a great lightning conductor, doesn't it?"
"It looks like it'll do nicely, yes," Ash said, and smirked as well. He didn't know how much damage his previous attacks have done, but if the dagger had struck through the drake's scales... yes, it did look as if that was the case.
Might as well go all out then. It'll be the only thing I can cast for a couple of minutes.
It wasn't the magic that bothered him, but the fact that using lightning magic made him feel physically tried as well. Even so, he took some time to concentrate, and cast the strongest lightning-spell he knew. The air in the cave feeling static even to him, who was the furthest away. The rest of the group would probably feel their hair stand up as well. For a moment, there was an unspoken anticipation.
And then it hit the dagger, crackling. As he did, he made sure that the others wouldn't get harmed by it. As far as he could make sure of it, at least. Ash could hear his own breath grow heavy, he would need to gather himself, or find a way to use another of his non-blood magic spells.
For now, let's just watch.
The same way they were.
The Drake lashed out with claws and teeth at the blades biting into its scaly hide, but while its blows could drive back the warriors the lightning Ash blasted at it was not so easily deflected. The dagger in its hide caused the lightning to shoot through the Drake's body, for a moment it's limbs spasmed and it roared in pain. Its writhing tore Nola's wound open wider and yet more dark blood flowed from its neck. The lightning stopped as Ash's mana ran dry and the Drake surged back to it's feet, stumbling from the wounds inflicted to its thighs but still able to move.
It gave a fearsome roar, momentarily stunning it's assailants from the sheer volume of it, and blasted a gout of orange flame at Ash. The templar's ability seemed to ward off some of the intense heat, but not all of it, and as the flames faded the Drake began to charge towards the mage roaring again in pain as the wounds to its thighs bled more from the exertion.
The watching shadows seemed to be in a frenzy of activity, some seeming to gather around the Drake as if they were attempting to cling to it. Others seemed to vanish as if fleeing from the deadly confrontation. Ash could tell more than any other though that the Veil felt thin here, thin enough that something might slip through.
"...give up now, the village is mine, the mages are mine, and I will feast."
When the voice called out, chills ran through Berund's skin. It was disturbing to say in the least, and even more unsettling was its appearance. The dwarf's stomach lurched when the cadaverous abomination came into view, and turned even more when it drained something out of them with its gnarled hand.
"Ahahaha, strike or I shall!"
While Berund was certain the elf meant well, goading the creature into striking first, it didn't seem particularly intent on killing them off by any physical means. And the dwarf wasn't about to see the monstrosity's plan to the end. He tightened his grip on his weapon and took to his heels, closing the distance between the wolf-headed horror, powder kicking up behind him as he flitted through the snow. He released a mad cry as he leapt and swung his maul downward, determined to crush the abomination's head beneath it.
It wasn't as if Ash had forgotten that the drake could breathe fire, no, not at all. It wasn't even him being unprepared that caused him to stand still as the fire burned, not close enough to set him on fire, but certainly close enough to hurt, a lot. However, Ash's movements were sluggish to say the least, the lightning taking everything he had of energy and most of his mana -what he had left could barely create the smallest little spark- and he hadn't been able to move out of the way in time.
That would definitely leave some red marks, the skin under the metal parts of his armour fairly singed. He didn't know about the rest of his body, furs and leather tended to be better at protecting your skin. Of course, if it had only been that, Ash would've been fine. Instead, he realized that the dragon was headed for him, and he had nowhere to go.
Some of the watching shadows were clinging to the drake, trying to get through the veil, perhaps? It was thin, very thin, and he didn't know what they would have to face if they got through. He wasn't even concerned with that it might not be real, everything hurt and burned -though, not as much as he expected- and he saw them, the shadow creatures moving around.
"No, no, no," he muttered, taking a step back, but no more, he was in front of the entrance to the cave, after all, and letting the drake out would be even more disastrous. What were the shadow-creatures doing anyway? Helping the dragon?
"Get back," he told the shadows, and got his knife out. "I'm warning you... don't do it, get away from the drake..." he noticed its open wound, if he used Blood Wound, it would be an excellent way of first boiling, then forcing the blood out. And, he could get the shadows, should they try to get through the veil.
I've got to do this.
The others were there, they would see... but if he didn't, he might not even survive. And if the shadows got through the veil... they wouldn't either. Within a split second, he cut open a vein, blood pouring out, but never hitting the ground as it became a fine mist around him, a crimson shade colouring the air. Then he focused on the spell, hopefully the blood wound spell would keep the drake still for a mere second, that was all he needed. Boil the blood of the drake, and, if necessary, the shadows, then force it out. Even if he could feel his own blood leaving his body, powering his mana, Ash felt powerful.
It was just a shame the others would probably leave him behind now, if not even worse.
I can't think of that now.
It was a mere distraction.
As the drake convulsed from the bolt of lightning Nola stood, shaking her arm. The drake's assault had locked her arm up, causing the muscles to become stiff. The lizard and nearly bit through the thick steel of her shield, and she felt one of the straps loose. Good, noticeable flaws. Those I can fix. She thought bring her shield up again. She hunched her shoulders as the Drake let out a roar, trying to keep the agonizing sound from reaching her ears. When Nola looked back up she narrowed her eyes as the drake turned and let loose a gout of flame.....at Ash.
"Oh no ya don't! It's me you want lizard!" Nola called rushing after the drake. If they lost Ash they lost their ace in the hole. Then she noticed Ash was doing something. A red mist had enveloped him and the drake froze, twitching as the blood that seeped from it's neck and legs began to boil on it's scales. Perfect. I have to buy the mage a drink sometime. She thought circling back around to the front of the drake. "Remember me, lizard" She taunted the drake. "What's wrong, dwarven smithing too tough for ya?" She swung her ax across the front of the drakes neck again, where it connected with the chest.
Charging in for her next attack, Kari was kind of close to the impact point when Ash's lightning connected. She gasped in pain, and her step faltered momentarily as her joints ached from the after effects of the bolt. Gritting her teeth, she pushed through the pain and continued her attacks.
"Now would be the time to stab it more!"
"Really!? I was going to invite it for tea!" She hollered back, watching Von ram a dagger into a soft spot in the beasts hide. Dodging a tail swipe, she cringed as Von seeped to catch the brunt of it; out of the corner of her eye she was glad to see him still moving. Hmm, humans are tougher than I give them credit. Even as she was doing that, she zeroed in on her target, the hilt of Von's dagger, the rune still arcing into the Drake's flesh; as she closed, another bolt from Ash connected, another wave of pain rippled through her because she was too close, but she pushed through the pain once more, striking the hilt with the flat of her blade, driving the charged blade deeper into the flesh.
As it flailed in pain, a claw caught Kari square in the chest, the impact hurling her deeper into the cave. The only thing saving her from a mortal wound was the vitaar she'd soaked her armour in, no plain leather armour, no matter how good would have stopped a dragon's claw. Hitting the stone hard, her vision went blurry as her head connected with a solid thwak. Bleeding from several gashes to the back of her head, and barely able to see straight, she still staggered to her feet to counter attack; staggering a few steps, she was driven to her knees and the beasts roar overpowered her battered senses.
Gods, my head...can't think...gotta kill dragon...everything's blurry...get up, gotta move. Still reeling from the abuse to her body, she forced herself up and took a deep breath, clearing her head...somewhat. Unable to see Ash or Von because of the Drake blocking them from sight, she did however see Nola rushing the creature. "No way is some rock licker going to show me up in a fight!" She muttered with a grim, spitting more blood onto the ground. Bellowing a challenge of her own, she connected with the opposite leg to where Von had stuck his dagger, as Nola's strike threw the Drake off its stride. Something else was up with the beast was well, but there was no time to worry about that. Striking as hard as she could manage, she was rewarded with the sight of blood welling from a long gash to its inner thigh.
Staring down the abomination with his remaining strength for even a few second's had exhausted Jarrett's patience. He was ready to charge when he heard the snow behind him being kicked up. Glancing to his side and seeing Berund charge, Jarrett smirked and jumped backwards allowing his friend to get a clear attack.
Berund's strength was obvious and would likely distract the walking nightmare combating them. Jarrett moved quickly and as soon as Berund and the abomination would engage each other he would duck past the abomination and backstab it, hoping to catch it off-guard so the group could overwhelm it.
Quickly reacting to the new blast of flames from the Drake, Von took a jump back just in case. The fire licked at the ground a meter ahead of him. He held his chest, which emitted the feeling of nausea. Taking a knee, the templar sword stuck into the ground as Von threw up violently, and the cavern floor was stained with a white substance which was whatever he had for the morning. Spitting multiple times, Von scowled at the drake. "Damn beast, but now at least I have a taste for dragon!" He yelled.
Remembering that the mage lingered neared him, Von got up, and tried to look for him. Even the pain in his chest could not stop him, but as his eyes found his prize, what he witnessed might have changed much to Von. Crimson mist was dead in the sights of Von, and as if time had stopped again, memories of that fateful day when Mages and Templar truly started a war against each other. That day, he was still known as Selthen Von Souchet to himself, the brutality of Templars, and the dark arts of the Mages had touched his mind, scarring him for what seems to be an eternity now.
Coming back into the battle, Von now saw the drake in red state which only spelled, "Blood magic ..." Von said quietly. Grunting, he switched his sword to his other hand, for he could feel the blood leaking onto injured hand that he now currently had thanks to the wolves before hand. The more important fact stared at him, and Von knew his prioritizes, yet again, he felt as if he were a gladiator in a arena, with things spectating around him.
Edging the battlefield, Von noticed the great effort Nola and Kari were putting into this. Even forgetting his training, Von just wanted to kill this creature. Spotting the spot where his flashing dagger still stung, Von needed it back to make his style work. "Maker forgive me, but allow me to slaughter this creature!" He cried as he raised his Templar sword and raced into battle. Rushing to the stuck blade in his sights, Von couldn't see, but he certainly felt claws graze his sides.
Coming to his dagger, once again Von thrust his sword into the dagger, but not before grabbing it. Letting out an angry howl, Von let out his whirlwind ability, which freed his dagger. Striking the drake multiple times, Von jumped back to assess the situation. "Why can't it just die? How in Andraste's name do heroes do this?!
The abomination hissed angrily at Berund's assault, becoming a blue blur as it darted out of the way leaving a trail of jagged ice in its wake. Even without touching it Berund could feel the painful chill in the air where the abomination had been moments ago. A predatory grin crossed its face and it raised one clawed hand, power gathering around it.
"Fools, at least you will make a hearty meal," it said, raising its hand to unleash whatever spell it had gathered.
Before it could come crashing down on the dwarf Jarrett struck from the shadows, blades biting into its flesh, though they met unexpected resistance in the form of a armorlike layer of ice the monster had gathered around it. The spell vanished from the thing's claws and instead it spun around knocking Jarrett back with fearsome strength. Still it had been injured, if not deeply.
Suddenly the abomination's eyes went wide with shock and it screamed in rage.
"No, they cannot! I will not allow them to destroy it," it ranted seemingly at the air around it, and suddenly began running into the forest away from them, shooting forward with impossible speed at intervals with the same blue blur it had used to dodge the mace "Stop them by any means!"
The monster's barely articulate ranting faded into the forest as it fled too quickly to be followed. Though the jagged ice thrown up by its spell left an easy to follow trail, leaving the members of the group with the choice to pursue it or continue to the shrine.
Ash's spell struck the Drake and suddenly all of its wounds seemed to spray outwards, steam hissing off of its body into the cold air as its very blood boiled. In its pain it lashed out all around it, but Nola's cries grabbed its attention and it bit down at the dwarf, catching her shield in its maw and began thrashing it's head back and forth, tossing the dwarf about while also widening its growing number of neck wounds. Kari and Von's blades bit deep into its leg and the beast faltered, its grip loosening on the dwarf causing it to toss her aside. It flailed about wildly now, clearly in its death throes as it spouted gouts of flame in every direction seemingly at random.
Even with the beast dying it was too soon to celebrate, the shadows only Ash could see pushed and pressed against the veil, seeming compelled by a command only they could hear. Flashes of unearthly green light signaled the arrival of a swarm of lesser demons, a trio of shades pulling together frail forms from the cast off remnants of the Drake's supper, a pair of wraiths seeming to pull their form together from the fading light of their passage through the veil, and finally a despair demon gathering the ice and cold around itself as it hovered over the dying Drake's body, spitting frost magic at Kari and Nola who were nearest to the beast's form.
In awe of the dying beast, Von stepped a little further back, as the flames spewed forth and almost touched the edge of Von. It was an amazing sight, that a small team could conquer a cousin of a dragon. Thinking crazily, Von's wondered about one thing, and the others probably thought the same, ("What would a real dragon fight be like?") Smiling at the thought, Von let out a hearty laugh, not just for that thought, but for the scene that was in front of them.
Feeling a sharp sense, Von remembered, the eyes. It almost felt as if the air was paper thin around them, and Von only shouted, "The veil is thin!" Then the demons burst forth into their world, intruding upon the kill they had earned. Angered by this, Von would see them dead, even if there is a blood mage in front of it. All the more important they die, Von would despise if they took over Ash's form. "We might want to form up here!" He called out to his friends, first of all he searched for them, and found Ash. The Templar tried to make his way to the tired mage.
"So lucky." Von said sarcastically, as he went back to back with Ash. Wanting unleash the Wrath of Heaven, his Templar self cursed the blocked sky and lack of energy. Yet taking a deep breath, once more he raised his sword. "Maker, may we become Champions of the Just in this moment." He prayed to this Maker. Feeling the power rise within him, Von felt the urge to eliminate this taint to the world, and he felt confident that the others would be the same, even if they were tired just like him.
("It doesn't matter if I am discovered. If I can kill evil, it is all worth it!") Von internally yelled, then he lowered his sword. "If you have any mana draining abilities, it would be wise to use them blood mage." Von reminded him in a held back tone, but it contained a hint of faith. Running forward, Von's encounter were the shades. Immediatly he performed a dual-Weapon sweep, where he managed to cut through two of the shades, but not killing them. "I will kill you shadows." He muttered to himself, already feeling the life draining aura of the demons. Then Von used his Templar training, to attack one, and be wary to not be surrounded.
The freezing air that the monstrosity occupied just moments before bit harshly at Berund's face, eliciting a gasp from the dwarf. The frosty air rushed into his lungs and he was thrown into a fit of coughs. He didn't waste any time regaining composure and readied to strike again. His eyes trailed the icy path the abomination left behind and met eyes with the beast.
"Fools, at least you will make a hearty meal."
"You'll find your attempts to consume this dwarf quite the tall order," Berund growled at the creature. He grinned when he saw Jarrett drive his blades into the thing's flesh. His smile quickly faded when the elf was so easily cast aside. It barked orders to empty space before dashing off into the veil of snowy trees.
Berund rushed over to Jarrett and hoisted the lanky figure from the snow to plant him on his feet. "Right, we have a shrine to scout, but I think we have somethin' more urgent to take care of. Whatever that was, it's weak and afraid. We should go after it and finish it off before it gets any stronger!"
Nola cried in pain as the drake flung her from it's dying body. She hit the ground with a heavy thug and the clanking of her armor. She stood as quickly as she could. Pain throbbed through left arm. It wasn't broken, not quite, but it was certainly dislocated. Her shield was useless now, a dead weight. She smiled as the drake finally died. At least now the thing was dead, the village safe, and the scales were as good as hers.
Her gaze quickly went to the the lump of what she could only describe as shadows began to pool over the dragon and a shriveled figure in a cloak formed above it. It eyes shown a pale blue, like the flesh of a frozen corpse. "By my Ancestors what is that thing!" She said before the thing shot a beam of ice towards her. She knew enough that touching that would probably spell nothing good. She dove to the side and felt the beam brush across the back of her head. It was cold, very cold. Deadly cold.
"The veil is thin! We might want to form up here!"
She turned to where Von's voice had come from. The quiet man held himself with a new posture. Now he looked more than just a scared man in armor, he looked a proper warrior. As he prayed to his maker, she felt an odd warmth spread to her arm. She readied her ax again. "Alright smart guy, you seem to have an idea on what to do about this thing. But after this we might need to talk." She recognized the fighting style of a Templar easily. Seems those quiet man had been hiding something. But that would have to wait. She shrugged her shield off her use less arm. Not much sense in having an extra weight on her already useless arm. "C'mon then creature! You like to use magic? Try it on someone who doesn't give a shit." She taunted as she swung at the shriveled demon.
Kari let out a cry of triumph as her blade bit into the creature, though that quickly turned into a yelp as it began to breathe fire everywhere. Scrambling aside to avoid the death throes of the drake, she barely avoided total immolation as burst of fire just grazed her; and if that wasn't bad enough, something appeared to be coming through the Veil.
"OH COME ON!" She yelled as the spirits manifested themselves; this fight was getting to be a bit more than she'd been expecting. Unfortunately her outburst drew the attention of the daemon which appeared over the drake's body, the spirit sending a blast of freezing cold magic Kari's way. Using her sword to block as best she could, Kari avoided getting a face full of cold, but little else was protected. Hissing in pain, she staggered as she got hit, the cold so painful it brought tears to her eyes.
"We might want to form up here!"
"Y-yeah." She replied, reeling from the hit. Making her way towards Ash and Von, Kari was glad to see Nola was still on her feet after the thrashing she'd had...though her shield arm did seem to be out of commission. As the dwarf taunted the daemon, Kari formed up on her weak side. Focusing on her own pain, Kari's mind became calmer, more focused. "Never killed a daemon before." She said with a blood flecked grin.
The thing that Ashtalan had feared happened, just as they were working on finishing the drake off. A demon, some shades and a pair of wraiths came through the veil, and he frowned. Should he have told the others about it? Or did it even matter? Von made his way over to him and muttered a phrase, sarcastically.
Ash frowned, bloody mist around him moving away from Von as a sort of courtesy. It was clear that the other was upset with him, and that didn't feel great. Especially if the other couldn't put aside that kind of thinking for after the demons
"If you have any mana draining abilities, it would be wise to use them blood mage."
"I'm not "blood mage", my name is Ash," Ash said, visibly hurt, as he crossed his arms. It was mostly a reaction, not because he was going to be difficult, but because he was tired, and now he was cold as well. He was glad he wasn't as close to the despair demon as the two women, that had to be way worse.
"And I don't know any mana-draining spells, only life-draining ones. Of course..." he looked at the drake. It was still moving around, it's desperate last attempt at surviving made him think of something. Where Ash stood right now meant that he was the only one who could attack the thing, and the way the shadows had been clinging to it. He closed his eyes for a brief moment, and spoke.
"I think the demon is here to keep the drake alive, to take it for himself," he told the others. "So I'm going to do whatever I can to finish the thing off, you take care of the demons... and hurry, because there's a lot more there, behind the veil, trying to get in. I can see them... pushing and clinging to the drake."
Raising his hand, he cast a final lightning-spell, a large one that centred around the drake, but hurt any demons or shadow-creatures standing close enough to it as well, which, in this case meant just about everything. The lightning spell kept draining mana, and that in return meant the blood-magic filled it up with the effects of his blood. For a moment, it was about as powerful as one'd expect. However, it didn't last too long. His head and body was feeling lighter, and Ash suddenly lost his standing, barely protecting his face before he landed on the ground, exhausted and confused.
"Ah, I..." he trailed off, and made his way, slowly, to one of the cave walls, using it as a way of supporting himself. It wasn't far from the others, though. The blood magic ability had stopped working, and he found himself with no mana or stamina left. Raising his short-sword, he held it up.
"I'll stab them if they get close," he muttered, half delirious.
In a momentary daze, Jarrett recounted to himself the previous few seconds in his mind. He had plunged his daggers into the abomination but the attack was weakened by what appeared to be ice. He was then launched and then heard the abomination ranting.
"No, they cannot! I will not allow them to destroy it. Stop them by any means!"
The abomination was talking with someone or something. The abomination could just be insane but Jarrett dismissed this as nothing would change by assuming that. "'They cannot, allow them, stop them'." Jarrett noted it's wording. Could it have other resistance? Jarrett chuckled to himself at the idea considering the abomination previous ranting about having control. But the 'It' the abomination referred to piqued Jarrett's interest.
It was only then that he realized his own position as Berund lifted him from the snow. Jarrett took a second to stretch in an uncanny manner and swallowed a gasp for breath after being winded.
"Right, we have a shrine to scout, but I think we have somethin' more urgent to take care of. Whatever that was, it's weak and afraid. We should go after it and finish it off before it gets any stronger!"
"Problems shouldn't stagnate." Jarrett nodded to Berund in agreement.
"Problems shouldn't stagnate."
"Couldn't have said it any better myself," Berund chimed. He gripped his maul, looked off into the direction the abomination went. It moved fast, but the dwarf believed it wouldn't go very far. Whatever it was protecting had to be nearby, he though, considering how urgently it left. The trail of ice was clear enough, so wherever it was flitting off to, it seemed they could follow. Berund looked back at the elf, could see no grievous harm had been inflicted which meant he'd most certainly be ready to give chase. "All right, tall one, time to move those beanstalks you call legs. We've got a beast to catch. And do keep up,eh?"
Without another word, Berund turned on his heels and hightailed it after the jagged, frozen path. His legs were almost a blur, and they moved with experienced agility. He bounded over tall roots and rocks, aiming to keep his own path as straight as he could, not keen on the idea of losing any more time or distance than whichever power at work had permitted. Great Ancestors, let me catch this creature that dares to have me run harder than I have in years so I may put an end to its troublesome existence...
Feeling the brush of death from the Shades, Von jumped back towards the others. He was starting to shiver, and he can't tell if it's from the slippery bloody pouring forth from his hand and sides, or the demons that dare to capture his life for food. Spitting out blood, Von started to breath deeply, hoping that he won't lose control of himself in this time of need. Examining his weakening comrades around him, Von knows he is in the same boat as them.
"Alright smart guy, you seem to have an idea on what to do about this thing. But after this we might need to talk."
"Save that for the person who can make us dance like puppets, and start killing dwarf!" Von yelled over the fighting, his anger now coming into play. His face turned into a more rage-like scowl, especially if he was seen more suspicious than the person who could turn all of their blood into not just a attack against them, but into something thing worse. Hearing Ash 'correct' his name, Von smiled. "At least he's still human." Von spoke under his breath.
"I think the demon is here to keep the drake alive, to take it for himself,"
"I fuckin' knew it!" Von spat out in a gleeful tone, his scowl turned into a devilish grin. Giving out a laugh as he rushed forward once more, not to slash, but give a wide kick to the almost resurrected forms of the drake's former meal. Following it up with a flurry of movement. One strike to the left shade, another to the right, and for the final he slashed both weapons against the demons. They both fell into the ground and seemed to disappear back to wherever they came from beyond the veil, but suddenly an arm struck from underneath Von, sending him falling backwards to the ground. Hitting the ground, he clawed his way backwards, it was the forgotten third Shade that hit him.
Von would recover and stand up, but that hit stole all of his breath. Down to the last run of his strength and energy, he stood up once more, and prepared his fighting form. "Not ... done yet ... you wretches, I'm made for this!" He yelled at the demons, his voice boomed with determination. Even now the Templar side wanted to wander how it became like this, how the veil became so thin that they would be ambushed like this. ("It isn't simple. Something or someone started this.") He thought.
Ash's blast of lightning was enough, the Drake gave one final blast of fire scorching the very stone of the cave wall, and fell still. From its corpse the electricity arced to the despair demon, damaging it but not killing it. The demon would have turned its shriveled visage towards him, but Nola was already charging up the side of the dead beast. Hissing in frustration the despair demon flew backwards, though Nola's blow still struck it, driving it further backwards and wounding it. The despair demon uttered an unintelligible command to the wraiths, who began flinging their strange bolts of magic at the dwarf, attempting to drive her away from the retreating demon.
Von's blades cut down two of the shades with ease, but the third evaded him and struck. It seemed unused to its new form, clumsy even, but its blows had power behind them nonetheless and no sooner had the templar regained his footing did it surge at him again clawing at him as it glided forward.
The abomination set a fearsome pace, moving with inhuman quickness over the snow such that even with Berund and Jarrett's relentless pursuit it was only continuing to increase its lead. The jagged ice it left in its wake continued to leave a clear trail however so there was no danger of losing track of it.
Suddenly they heard a scream from up ahead, a familiar voice even. Breaking into a small clearing in the trees they saw Arthur, lying wounded in the snow and breathing raggedly. Drops of his blood joined the trail of ice leading away from the scene.
"Th-that thing, s-so fast," Arthur said, trying to stand as they approached, his eyes wide and panicked and his lips turned blue from cold "It's headed t-towards the drake's cave."
Unable to stand the hunter fell back to the snow, barely managing to catch himself on a tree he slumped up against it.
"D-don't worry about me, get that th-thing," he said "I'll be f-fine, just rest a, a, bit th-then make my way back to the village. Maker I'm so tired."
In spite of his words it was clear that Arthur needed aid, and quickly. Still the abomination was just ahead, nearing its destination.
All this was a little too much for Raven to keep track of, as the abomination fled and the others set off after it she turned and headed back to the village tavern. Maybe if she drank enough by the time she woke up this would all turn out to have been a bad dream.
Feeling the ground under his feet again made Von truly notice the lack of energy in him. His sword arm was shaking as the muscles within were starting to give. Not allowing the demons to snicker at him from beyond the Veil, Von's look was still strong. Blood dripped from his mouth, but it still took the form of a dangerous smirk. Eyes were shaking too, but instead of fear, it was turning into a crazed determination. If he had the breath, Von would have let out a howl of laughter.
Dropping his main blade, Von was gambling on this last effort."Ooh, what I'd do ... for a draught now." He muttered to whatever was listening. Seeing flash claws before his eyes, Von would regret this decision as he deflected one claw, but the other caught his leg. Hissing with pain as even more blood spurted out, he went for all or nothing, and lunged at the possessed beast. Whatever attacks it dished out, Von was above it, and stabbing it repeatedly until it growled into death.
Almost passing out, Von, who was covered in a wave of blood looked around him, and called out. "Everyone alright!" He said, taking a knee over his latest kill. ("No ... no more!")
As the wraiths launched their attacks, Kari gave Nola a shove out of the line of fire, catching one of the green blasts in the process. Staggering a bit from the blow, her body sagged with a greater weakness than she'd felt before, the tip of her blade starting to droop. Enough of that! Tapping into reserves of Qunari sheer bloody-mindedness, she gritted her teeth and pulled herself together. "Hey frosty tits!" She yelled at the daemon. "Where the fuck you think you're going?" Charging after it, she connected with a few good hits before it leapt away again.
"Fan-fucking-tastic!" She yelled back as the despair daemon floated out of reach. "YOU! YES, YOU!" She hollered after it. "STAND STILL!"
Jarrett and Berund's pursuit of the abomination was an uphill battle. The trail of ice made their goal clear but their was no end in sight. He was impressed by Berund's ability to keep pace. Their chase was interrupted when they came across the scout Arthur and he appeared to have been badly wounded by their prey.
"It's headed t-towards the drake's cave."
The most probable situations came into clear view. The odds of the other group investigating anywhere else, let alone a hypothetical second drake cave was not worth concern. Jarrett however had confidence in his allies even if they had found the worst.
"D-don't worry about me, get that th-thing, "I'll be f-fine, just rest a, a, bit th-then make my way back to the village. Maker I'm so tired."
"Hollow words. Only the last have meaning" Jarrett snapped a glare at Berund. "This man will be escorted to safety." Jarrett's words were uncaring and demanding to Berund, as if their previous camaraderie had disappeared. "We may separate or both aid him. The other will continue the pursuit. You are strong and fast, perhaps more so with less gear. I'm used to light travel. Be aware the trip back may not be uninterrupted." He had taken a forcible hold of the situation, outlining some of the pros and cons of the choices he thought acceptable.
Ash smiled when he saw that the drake was taken care of, though his vision was getting a little too blurry for his liking. While he was sort of out of it, his instincts of mostly travelling alone made it clear that he had to deal with his injuries and be prepared for another attack, which meant getting out one of his lyrium potions.
If I have the oppertunity to do so, I should.
There was no creatures close to him where he stood, and he started going through his bag, looking for his bandages and potions. He found a lyrium potion and used it. As he felt mana surging back into his body, he started cleansing and bandaging his wounds, humming as he did. The others could manage without him for a short moment, Ash had decided.
No one seems to be dead just yet, at least.
Unless this was all some elaborate delusion of his, of course. But that was a given at all times.
Nola grunted as she felt the strange bolt of magic slide off her back. It seems even the magic of demons had a problem pushing through her connection to the Stone. "Not great!" She called as she whirled to face one of the shades. "Got too many of these sodding nug-humpers on me. You want to use more of the Templar training though I won't object!" If he could end this fight, the sooner the better. She needed to fix her arm soon. She had talent with her ax, not much difference between swinging the ax and swinging the hammer, but without her shield she felt incredibly bare.
"Von take care of the last shade now! Kari, Ash, help me herd that damn thing! Lead it to me and we can skewer the bastard!" She called to the others as she moved to circle around the shriveled creature. C'mere nug shit. You like the cold? Lemme show ya the molten iron that flows through me. Finally it jumped closer and she struck, bringing her ax down into the creatures back.
"You are strong and fast, perhaps more so with less gear. I'm used to light travel. Be aware the trip back may not be uninterrupted."
"Yes, yes," Berund responded, waving the elf off. "It's comin' across clear as day. As eager as I am to end that creature's life myself, I would be remiss not to see Arthur here cared for. Go on, off with ya. I've a feeling the others'll need some assistance, certainly if they did encounter the drake. An icy, life-drainin' abomination is hardly supportive."
The dwarf removed a scrap of cloth from his person and a flask of brandy. He coated the cloth in his liquor and handed it to the man. "Press this on the wound," he said. It wasn't much for dressing, though Berund hoped it was good enough for the time being. He took a swig from the flask then stowed it back in its pocket. Berund needed to find a better means of carrying Arthur around than simply carrying him. He doubted the man weighed much, but it wouldn't be good for his wounds to be manhandled the whole way to town. There was a tree nearby with a thick branch of dense pine needles. It would make for a decent sled.
It only took a few moments for the dwarf to pry the branch from the tree. He hardly used any effort, relying mostly on his own mass to rid the tree of the limb. A few moments more had passed as he lifted Arthur onto the improvised sled. They were finally ready to move on. Berund grabbed the lead of the branch and trudged through the snow. It was actually fairly easy, though the dwarf was no stranger to labor. The passage was quiet, far too quiet for Berund's liking. So he decided to strike up a conversation, hoping the trip would pass by more quickly as well. "As untroublin' as it is to make sure you're safe, I can't help but feel a bit remorseful about goin' after that abomination. Would've made for a good fight I'm sure. The thing's head would make for a nice trophy as well. Maybe...actually, come to think of it, I'm not too sure how to feel about that. I mean it sort of is a person an' it wouldn't sit well with me havin' any man's head on display. But then again, that thing...it's not really a person, is it? It seemed more of some entity in the guise of a man. Would it then be appropriate to keep a part of it as an ornament? Perhaps not any of the mannish pieces--feet, toes--but the head like that of wolf? Those monstrous claws? There have been far stranger things worn for show, but not likely coming from anything that walked an' talked as we do. Now I'm not so sure I'd like to keep its head, as good a headpiece it would make. But I suppose I won't have to worry about makin' that decision here."
"As eager as I am to end that creature's life myself, I would be remiss not to see Arthur here cared for. Go on, off with ya. I've a feeling the others'll need some assistance, certainly if they did encounter the drake. An icy, life-drainin' abomination is hardly supportive."
"Thanks." He waved Berund off with confidence in his and Arthur's safety and a returned friendliness to his voice. Jarrett turned and followed the trail of ice the abomination had left behind.
Given the brief delay and the abomination's already incredible speed, Jarrett's only hope of catching up to the abomination before it could wreak havoc was if it was stopped by his allies or the drake they were tracking. This did not deter him from his chase as the others could suffer if he slowed for another moment.
The shade fell apart under Von's assault, leaving behind nothing but grimy rags and a strange unearthly residue. Meanwhile the despair demon leaped frantically away from Kari's swings, which had thoroughly shattered its attempts to protect itself with a barrier, only to find itself meeting with Nola's ax. What defenses it had left were insufficient against the broad steel blade and the demon gave a final cry before it joined the shades in death. All that remained now were the wraiths, which continued flinging their bolts of magic at the party as they pulled back towards the end of the cave trying to gain distance from the group that had slain all their allies.
Just then a wave of cold blew into the cave and at its entrance stood the abomination ringed by jagged ice. Its hateful gaze wandered over the group until its eyes rested on the corpse of the drake.
"Fools!" it screamed "You will regret this transgression! I will gather my minions and your petty town will be devoured, your mages fed to those worthy among my cohorts until something new has eaten them from within and bursts free full formed! This I swear."
Arthur nodded weakly and pressed the brandy soaked cloth to his wounds, he didn't speak and seemed increasingly pale though fortunately had strength enough to make it easier on Berund to set him in the makeshift sled. He was unable to give much in the way of direction back towards the village but fortunately Berund was a scout and even in the unfamiliar terrain was able to keep his sense of direction well enough to find the path.
Heads began to poke out of doorways as the dwarf reached the village, breathing heavily from the effort of running through the snow pulling the sled. In a matter of moments Arthur's body was recognized and voices began to mutter, frightened whispers that the demon wolves had claimed another of their own.
"By the maker, bring him in here," Jacques said, moving out of the inn "magic may be his only hope now, come on."
Jarrett arrived just on the heels of the abomination, its dreadful promise proving plenty loud to lead him to its location. Yet as it finished its rant it raised both clawed hands in the air, power gathering around them, and then slammed them down. Immediately a blinding flurry of wind and snow sprang up around it forcing onlookers to shield their eyes as the whirling cloud of snow not only concealed the abomination but reflected the light of the sun in all directions. The miniature blizzard faded in moments but when it was gone so to was the abomination, this time leaving no trail of jagged ice to follow.
"Von take care of the last shade now! Kari, Ash, help me herd that damn thing! Lead it to me and we can skewer the bastard!"
"Good timing," Ash replied, as he got up. He tested his standings. Deciding that the tiredness wasn't too bad he shrugged, and started walking. "I just got my bandages all set up." Helping keeping the demon in place, Ash didn't exactly mind watching it get slain. If it had gotten away, that would probably have been bad news for the village.
That's that, though. One drake as well as different kind of demons and shadows taken care of.
He thought to himself, and looked to the two remaining wraiths.
They think they can run, huh. Too bad that---
He raised a hand to cast drain life -most of all to deal with the burns- but stopped mid-spell, as something inhuman spoke.
"Fools! You will regret this transgression! I will gather my minions and your petty town will be devoured, your mages fed to those worthy among my cohorts until something new has eaten them from within and bursts free full formed! This I swear."
Ash just stared at it, not sure how to react. Was this a human? Or a demon? It looked odd to him, twisted, strange certainly, but not--
"Oh." He didn't realize it before it had already left, leaving behind more snow and little else of interest.
"That was an abomination, wasn't it?" He had seen a lot, but never really that. Not from beyond nightmares and fears of his own, what could happen to him. They had never looked like that, though.
Of course, it was a long time that had frightened him, now it was simply a worry, eating him from the inside. Absent-mindedly, he finished his spell, and directed it at one of the wraiths, feeling some of his injuries heal as he stole its life energy.
Well, that really hit the spot, didn't it?
Then, he finished off the final one with a well aimed lightning spell. Now there were no more of them. Even so, he felt that the fade was closer than he liked, the connection was far too strong here, and it made him feel bad, especially now that the surge of adrenaline from battle was ending.
"If that's all..." he muttered, and tried to get some of the dragon blood off his armour and into a vial. Sure, he could go over to the drake, but he wanted to get outside, and besides, he was already dripping with the dark blood. What he would use it for was unknown, but surely dragon blood had some fun use.
"Please, let's not stand around for too long. I don't like it here."
Nola's chest heaved as she inhaled the cold air. A drake and demons. Not something she had been fully prepared for. But she came out alive in the end. With a laugh she let her self fall back to the cold ground, her breath making clouds above her. "Ha! Two of some of the most dangerous creatures on Thedas dead. And they didn't take any of us! I call today a win!" She smiled up at the gray sky. And have some fresh drake scales to work with. Nola, things are looking as bright as the day you hauled your ass outta the Deep Roads
She tried to push herself up and winced in pain. Right, her arm was dislocated. She fell back with a heavy thump. "Hey someone wanna come gimme a hand? My arm's dislocated and I need someone else to pop it back in place." She called waving a hand in the air.
Kari let out a cry of triumph as the Fade-spawn died. "MotherFUCKER!" She cried. "That was the most Maker-damned fun I've had in months." Her exuberance was cuts short a bit by her ribs reminding her that they were damaged. "Fuuuuck..."
"Fools! You will regret this transgression! I will gather my minions and your petty town will be devoured, your mages fed to those worthy among my cohorts until something new has eaten them from within and bursts free full formed! This I swear."
"Fuck me running." She muttered as the abomination vanished. "We need to get back." She said louder.
"Please, let's not stand around for too long. I don't like it here."
"Agreed." Hand on her ribs she started to make her way towards the cave entrance, when something in the shadows caught her eye. Moving to investigate it appeared to be a travelling merchant's pack, still relatively intact. Poor bastard must've shacked up here for a kip...hope it was quick. She thought grimly. Rummaging through the pack her eyes lit up at the score; bottles and bottles of potions. Doing a quick count she came back with six healing, one stamina, and three lyrium. Nice Downing one of the red one, she tucked the empty bottle into her belt and grabbed the pack. Ohhhthassnice... She thought as her aches, pains, cuts, and bruises faded away.
"Hey someone wanna come gimme a hand? My arms dislocated and I need someone else to pop it back in place."
"Hang on shorty, I got just the thing." Kari replied, clapping her hands. "Anything else?" After Nola finished her scowl, Kari set to relocating the dwarf's arm. Once that was done, she handed Nola a bottle of healing potion, before pulling out the green one. Taking a slug from it, she passed it over. "Only found one of these so everyone only gets a hit." She said, feeling a bit of her energy returning. Leaving the dwarf's side, she made her way to the other two giving them each a hit of the stamina potion, and a bottle of healing, as well as leaving the lyrium ones with Ash. All that finished, she went to the drake, filling the empty bottle she'd kept with blood, and prying a few teeth free.
"Wretched pest." Jarrett had arrived right after his target and in seconds it escaped. Tightening the grip on his daggers in frustration he did his best to try and distract himself. Lifting his head, he turned and saw a that a complex situation had transpired. He turned and saw Nola injured and it seems Kari was aiding her. Speaking up at them he simply requested, "Summary?"
Nola grunted as the Qunari yanked her arm back into place with a loud pop. Son of a nug-humping whore that hurts! She thought sitting up, stretching her shoulder. She happily took a swing of the stamina potion. She instantly felt the affects, She felt good enough to fight again. Maybe not another drake, but a few bandits or wolves? Let them come! She downed the health potion too, just to make sure any thing she couldn't feel was taken care of. "Thanks for that Giant, couldn't have gotten that back in place on my own." She said grabbing her shield from where she had let it fall.
She turned to face the drakes corpse as the elf walked out of the frozen forrest.
Nola grinned wide. "We came, we saw, we kicked it's ass!" She said resting a foot on the dead drakes skull. "And we took care of a few......what were they? Demons?" She asked looking to Von and Ash. "Whatever, point is, creepy shit went down and we're no worse for the wear. Nothing a few potions and some rest won't cure anyway." She examined the drake a moment before rushing over to her pack and pulling out a long knife. Then she set to slowly pealing off the handful of scales she could find that weren't damaged by the multiple of blades or magic that had been thrown at the beast.
After a moment she stuffed the scales in a separate pouch in her pack. "Bah, damn thing did more damage to it's scales than we did. Barely Have enough to make a pair of boots, a bad pair at that." She kicked the corpse in frustration. "Ah well at least the thing dead. Can't bother the village anymore. Which Reminds me." She quickly turned and went to Ash. "We owe you big time for that kill!" She clapped a hand on the mages forearm. "Next time we're in a decent inn I'm buying you a drink! Or at least a decent room! AFTER the other giant buys me mine!" She called to Kari with a laugh. "But seriously Ash, thanks. That blood boiling thing? Awesome! Us dwarves actually have a saying that fits it perfectly, translated it would be Epic Win." She said with a bright smile up at the Qunari.
The lone figure of Von was still hovering over the remains of the Shades he had slain. There was a mixture of blood and demon essence on him, yet his eyes looked distant, as if his spirit was transported to the Fade. The Templar's figure shook though, the body still remembering all of pain that was inflicted on him. The life in Von had came back to him as Kari approached him, he graciously accepted intakes of both potions, "Thank ... you." He said he huffed out, his tone almost going beyond a wheeze.
Afterwards, he gripped his chest, feeling it up. Suddenly flinching, the pain felt as if he had been hit by Ash's lightning spells, "Part ... partially broken." He muttered to himself, recognizing his tired voice. Knowing that it would be healed thanks to the potion and the hopeful soon coming rest, Von knew that, but the words of the Abomination kept on echoing in his mind. Before knowing it, he was spreading a healing poultice on the scratches on his hands and sides.
The horrid voice still called, but Von's mind pushed the memory of Kirkwall, mostly when the mages were backed into a corner and let themselves turn into Abominations. "No." He simply said, he walked carefully to his sword, picked it up, and went to claim his prize silently. He dug for a couple of bones, not caring about the blood or flesh of the creature, and finally with a stroke of his sword, some scales fell into his bag.
Walking absentmindedly toward the opening of the cave, Von stopped once, to look at a Ash that was being praised by Nola, the look that Von had within his eyes, was pity. In his experience, many people fell to blood magic, and even then he remembered friends that he was forced to strike due to their uncontrolled nature for freedom, some even becoming Abominations themselves. Looking forward, Von angrily closed his eyes, muttered a quiet prayer, and kept walking. He even did not take notice of Jarrett's presence, almost bumping into him. Still, the lone body silently walked, instinctively back to the village.
This was not a battle he shared optimistically with the others. For he knew this would become worse, and that the Abomination kept their promises. To the group, they heard a whisper mixed in with the wind, not knowing if he actually spoke it or not. Yet that tone was cold as it said, "I will see the doors of Hell again."
While Ash was more eager to leave, the others took the opportunity to gather items. He had to admit that it was good thinking, although he still didn't want to stay. Standing a bit outside the cave, having noticed Jarrett but not really finding much to say to the elf, he sort of stood against the wall, waiting.
"Only found one of these so everyone only gets a hit."
Kari said. She had found some potions, perhaps from the remains of someone who had been unfortunate enough to get taken by the drake?
"Ah, no, I'm fine," Ash replied, although it was a mere mutter to himself, and he drank some when he was offered it either way. He did suppose it was better for him to be able to walk to the village, if nothing else. Besides, one sip wasn't too much, and his head still swam a bit. After that he was given a lot of lyrium potions.
"Thanks," he smiled, and put them in his backpack. "I suppose I'd be the one with the most need for them."
Well, where do we begin?
Ash let Nola speak, she seemed to have it worked out already.
"We came, we saw, we kicked it's ass! And we took care of a few......what were they? Demons?"
He nodded, though he didn't speak up, as Nola continued, first with the scales of the drake, and then turning her attention to him.
"We owe you big time for that kill!"
Nola clapped a hand on his forearm, eagerly and friendly.
Is she talking about the drake?
They all took care of that, but he simply nodded.
"Next time we're in a decent inn I'm buying you a drink! Or at least a decent room! AFTER the other giant buys me mine! But seriously Ash, thanks. That blood boiling thing? Awesome! Us dwarves actually have a saying that fits it perfectly, translated it would be Epic Win."
Epic win, huh.
"I... thanks," he said, not sure how to react apart from that. She was praising him for the blood magic that people tended to loathe. His smile grew wider, and he felt warmth fill his body, even as he noticed Von's pitying look. He suppose he was rather pitiful, Ash couldn't really deny that. However, right now, he didn't care, because... well, because it felt like at the very least Nola accepted the less favourable side of him.
"It's about as fun to use as it looks," he then admitted, chuckling, feeling more comfortable with it. "But yeah, you don't know how... how incredible happy it makes me to not be hated for it for once. People get... judgemental, and..." he trailed off, spending some time gathering himself before speaking again. "I'm glad you think it's awesome, not a lot of people seem to do."
I feel like I'm about to cry.
So silly, yet he couldn't help it. Even with what he saw and heard, all the delusions, this stood out. This was definitely real. Standing upright, he spoke again.
"Anyways, we should probably get some rest. If that abomination was speaking the truth, we really should take the time we have to prepare."
Which I'm going to do by closing my eyes and trying to think of kittens.
Though she jumped a bit a Jarrett's sudden arrival, Kari couldn't help but chuckle at Nola...excitability. "Like the short one said. Found the Drake; kicked its ass. Some demons, spirits, whatever showed up; kicked their asses too." Her face darkened as she went on. "Then some pissed off wolf-headed mother fucker showed up and ranted about using those mages to attack the village. Anyways speaking of happenings, where are the other two?"
"Anyways, we should probably get some rest. If that abomination was speaking the truth, we really should take the time we have to prepare."
"Rest back in the village." She said, turning to Ash. "I'd rather be there and maybe head off whatever that fuck-nut attempts, than try and face whatever is the result of him burning through those spell flingers."