They Paved Paradise (And Put Up A Monsterous Monlithic Sacrifice To Their Demonic Gods)

Prelude to the Summoning

It took the group the better part of the day to ride to Lysaga Hill. By the time they arrived, the sun was already caressing the horizon, providing just enough illumination to silhouette the crumbling ruins of a forgotten tower.

“I’ll never know,” grumbled Vampensh from the back, “why people let these buildings just sit here and rot. Don’t they know that derelict buildings are to ghosts and goblins what an alley is to drunkard?”

Travelling at the head of the column as usual, Huge cast a backward glance at the surly mage. The day’s travel had not been kind to the mage, and he looked haggard and sore, wincing with every tiny jolt. The fact that Tanya rode with him and he was still attempting to bear himself up with a modicum of dignity only leant further humour to the sight.

Huge chuckled, the gravelly rumbling punctuating the otherwise quiet twilight. “Let ‘em come. I’ve not seen an’thing that don’t scream when m’ axe cleaves it.”

“There’s a first time for everything Huge,” said Uther, pointing to a pool of shadows some hundred feet ahead of them.

As they watched, a strange gaseous form billowed out of the ground within the shadows ahead of them. Vaguely humanoid faces floated about in the eerily glowing form, coalescing into a hiedous mass of spirits, a sea of tormented faces silently screaming in undying torment.

“By the light…” A shiver flashed through Uther, and held held his reins in a white-knuckled grip.

Vampensh was the first to react. As the others dismounted from their anxiously whinnying horses, he pulled Tanya behind him, raising a wall of magical force around himself. “Stay behind me.”

Tanya turned as Grul touched her lightly on the shoulder, imbuing her with a similar protective spell. “You, uh, might need it,” he said.

Huge hefted his axe and warily eyed the roiling mass of spirits that floated slowly, inexorably, closer. He raised his weapon in challenge, but before he could move to attack, he suddenly dropped to his knees, clutching his head.

Uther rushed to his side. “What is it?”

The barbarian shoved him aside, beads of sweat forming on his brow. “Yes…” he muttered.

He brought his axe around in a wide arc and almost too late Uther realised he was swinging it towards his own neck.

“Huge, stop!” cried the paladin. The outburst was, fortunately, just enough to distract Huge as he swung, and the blow glanced heavily off his armour. He staggered backwards.

Malakai watched in horror as his companion attempted to behead himself. “What manner of creature is this?” He turned at the sound of moaning behind him, and saw Haradrim crying out.

The rogue’s eyes were bulging in terror and he shivered, wracked with debilitating pain.

Turning back to his foe, Malakai saw the ghostly creature retract a limb that was pointed at the rogue, and turn its attention to him. With hardly a second thought, Malakai brought his hands up in a series of quick somatic gestures, and he focused Corellon’s divine power through the holy symbol at his neck. Once again a searing flash burst into being above the spirit, driving down in a column of flame.

The thing screeched, a grating noise that felt like pinpricks in the mind. To his right, Malakai saw Grul performing the same series of gestures he had, and once again the spirt barely evaded being enveloped in a column of divine flame.

“Whatever it is,” shouted Vampensh above the thing’s screech, “it doesn’t like fire.” He quickly drew spell components from his pouch and uttered a few syllables of power. He pointed at the creature, and a glowing bead leapt from his finger, flying unneringly towards its target.

It struck and exploded with a dull roar into a massive fireball that blasted their foe. It screeched loudly and, with one last defiant howl, was incinerated.

They helped the stricken Haradrim to his feet and regrouped.

“Look,” said Grul pointing to the sky. “The new moon is upon us.”

Vampensh nodded. “That means the summoning is tonight.”

Grul shivered with anticipation. “My masters foresaw this, and I must stand against it. I need to prepare.”



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