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Blog 226: Campaign Novelization

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Anddddd it's a boss battle! A boss battle that the Mathal and Moris aren't really equipped to handle, not necessarily through any fault of their own.

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Chapter 37: The Bearable Lightness of Being

Bone snapped and muscle tore. Mathal didn’t have to look to know the vampires noticed. Moris screamed and threw himself at Sivanshin. Two hands of force stabbed their claws into her brain. Her aura flared rust red. Jair and Vahn’s mental domination spells burned to nothing.

Mathal roared and pushed off the table into a twist. She landed right-side up on all strengthened fours.

Sivanshin flung Moris off at a massive stone pillar. He ground his feet to floor and skidded short of a collision. Sivanshin, Jair, and Vahn vanished.

“Mathal! The stick! Get the stick!”

Moris raised his hand to the air. Metal whistled through the air in the distance.

“Got it.”

Mathal clapped her palms together. Her aura condensed into a buzzing, whirling swarm of wasps. She wasn’t done. When she opened her eyes, her sight pierced through magic itself. The vampires couldn’t hide.

The doors burst open behind them. A wickedly curved blade flew straight to Moris’s hand. A horde of paralyzing shadow beasts stormed in after in a vortex of liquid black.

Moris and Mathal screamed. Silana ran off the end of the table into the air. They spread their arms. The same liquid black flowed over them. Tens upon tens of shadowed witchlocks and tentacles shot out from behind Silana at the the army of shadows, whipping, spearing, and forcing the beasts back to the doorway.

“Don’t just stand there! Get the [redacted] stick!” they screeched.

Vahn spun into a vicious kick in the swarm at Mathal’s head. Jair’s sword slashed at her back. Mathal’s witchlocks slammed into Jair’s blade and threw him off. She caught Vahn’s heel in her hand. She dug in her nails and snapped the flailing ankle.

Moris floated off the ground. He shifted between Jair and the wasps at her back.

Sivanshin drew a long, thin blade. As the rapier left its sheath, black shadow flames lit over the metal. He flew into a lunge at Mathal.

Mathal’s witchlocks batted away the foot kicking into the swarm and both hands gripped Vahn’s stung and broken ankle. She flung the one vampire at the other vampire.

Vahn screamed. Sivanshin swatted his ally into a pillar as though swatting a fly. Vahn crashed and snapped against the stone. Sivanshin’s charge never slowed. His blade pierced the swarm of wasps. Its black flame flared up in every direction, consuming.

Mathal jerked out of the path of the blade. The edge of the shadow fire caught her sleeve. It burned a smokeless hole through the fabric.

“Iron!”

The lunges came hard and fast. She threw up her metalled nails against the barrage. Sparks sprayed only to wink out in the black fire. Scale by scale, the rapier ate away her metal coat.

Sivanshin forced her back. The last of the wasps disintegrated back into her aura. Mathal yelped and crashed into a pillar. Her metalled witchlocks clung to the gaps between the stone.

Sivanshin grinned. He barked a laugh and stabbed in a blur of steel and shadow.

Mathal roared and shoved her arm between her ribs and the rapier. The blade punched through her left arm, shadows eating as fast as her hexed body could repair itself.

Sivanshin lunged into her. Their skulls cracked against each other. His rapier thrust through her arm, her ribs, her lungs, her back, and dug into the stone of the pillar itself. It cut off her scream with a spray of blood over his shoulder.

But with his side crushing hers, the bat-topped baton was well within reach. Mathal’s free hand yanked that stupid stick off his belt.

The shadows stopped eating into her repairing flesh. Instead, they crept up over her, slick as oil, from the hole in her chest, her arm, and the hand gripping the stick. The hand of her pierced arm grabbed Sivanshin’s crimson lapel. His eyes widened at her glove of shadow. He jerked away, but Mathal held the vampire elf in place.

“Break.”

The liquid and flaming shadows froze. Sivanshin screamed. They shattered. Shadow exploded harmlessly through Mathal. The force threw Sivanshin back. He crashed against the cracked table. It snapped in two, heavy stone collapsing to the floor a cloud of dust.

Mathal’s witchlocks scraped down the length of the pillar. She hopped down the last few feet, landing lightly. She tossed the un-magicked relic over her shoulder.

Sivanshin climbed out from the table ruins, rapier in hand.

“Uh, Moris? What exactly was breaking that stick supposed to do?”

“He’ll...die...like any other...vampire,” Moris grunted as he fended off Jair’s clones and blades.

“You mean he’s still--”

“An almighty lord of the vampires, yes,” said Sivanshin, cracking his neck.

He looked down at his unlit blade. He sneered in distaste and tossed it over his own shoulder.

Mathal cursed. Sivanshin flew at her. Her body surged with hastening magic. He never slowed. The only difference was that Mathal could see every terrifying frame of flight at full speed.

She threw her arms up in a desperate guard, feet bracing against the dining room floor. As she blinked, liquid black shadow blurred from her side and solidified in humanoid form in front of her.

Sivanshin skidded off from Silana. It was possible they’d thrown him off. He floated up off the floor, the skin of his livid face stretched skull-tight.

“You’ve had your fun, witch. Now, stand down.”

Silana shook their shadow-masked head. When they spoke, their voice rang in Mathal’s ears the same as their screech.

“Just let them go, Ilnerik. Mathal and Morosino, too. They’re less than pawns in the grand scheme of things--they mean nothing.”

“Silana--”

“Look what you did to Vahn. Would you destroy us all over nothing?”

“Silana!”

Mathal’s eldest sibling froze. Sivanshin let out a deep, unnecessary sigh. He tossed his dishevelled silken locks back over his shoulder to look Silana straight in the eye.

“I am your undead master. I brought you and everyone else into this unlife. I have every right to take you out.”

Tentacle after shadow tentacle sprouted from Silana’s back. Sivanshin shifted into a levitating ready stance. His fingers beckoned. They flew at each other in a flurry of fist and shadow.

Mathal darted away toward Jair and Moris. The six clone blades knocked Moris’s out his hand. They grabbed him by the throat, sword arms coiling.

Magic surged into Mathal’s feet. She sprang into the air. The real Jair couldn’t hide from her true-seeing eyes. She dug her claws into their arm and back. Her witchlocks wrapped around their screamed head.

Jair poofed in her hands. Moris fell to the floor. Mathal screamed and tore at the white mist sailing through her fingers.

Moris staggered onto one elbow. He held his other hand out toward the punk in the mist.

“Burn.”

A rush of heat and flame streamed from his hand to the cloud. Jair poofed back, screaming and flailing up into the air. Moris’s arm shook, but he kept his hand on the burning cleric. Jair’s body bashed against the stone ceiling. It crumbled away in a rain of black ash.

Moris groaned. He collapsed back onto the floor. Mathal ran to his side and ripped rags off his silk to staunch the worst of his wounds.

Silana and Sivanshin circled, clashed, and forced each other back over opposite ends of the broken table. For every blow Silana landed, Sivanshin tore through a tentacle as his flesh closed over.

Mathal’s guts curdled. Silana wasn’t making headway. They were simply the sole force holding Sivanshin back. From the count of their tentacles, they wouldn’t be able to hold him back for long.

Mathal tied off the last rag and threw the unconscious but no longer bleeding Moris over her shoulder--good enough for now.

“Run!” shouted Silana.

She dashed across the dining room and under the vampires’s feet. Sivanshin roared and swooped down at them.

Silana clapped their freed hands together.

“Ophelia!”

The entire building shook under Mathal’s feet. Stone screamed over the thundering crack of force tearing it apart from the foundation. Clouds of dust and showers of boulder burst up from the yawning chasm. A midnight blue dragon, thirty feet long and sixty feet across at the wings ripped through the rock of the dining room floor and every rock before it.

The dragon’s bone-shaking roar toppled portraits and curtains, Sivanshin and Mathal. Her knees banged the ground. She staggered up onto her hands, but blue lightning blasting from the dragon’s mouth stopped her from rising any higher.

Mathal curled around Moris as tight as she could and squeezed her eyes shut. She couldn’t hear her own magic trigger word.

“Focus.”

Every ounce of weight vacuumed out of Mathal and Moris, too. This time, Mathal was ready. Magic surged into the soles of her feet. She pushed off out through a curtained and bricked window. The force of the magic hurled her through buildings, people, and into the quiet, empty night streets.

Mathal didn’t recognize any building on the block, but at least she and Moris were long gone from the third (and hopefully final) building she’d had a hand in razing to the ground. She floated up toward the faded stars over the cityscape to get her bearings. The bridge off the rich island was miles out to the west. She’d never get there before the wall-walking spell wore out and exposed them to the overzealous night guard of devouring shadows. They had to find shelter.

She floated down the block. Every building in this district was not only lit from within, warding off the beasts, but also a private residence. If the noble owners found her and Moris, nothing would stop them from turning the homeless, penniless trespassers out onto the street. With the last of her etherealness and a growing ball of leaden dread in her stomach, Mathal touched down onto the cobblestones before a heavy, iron manhole cover.

Mathal set Moris down and hexed herself one last time. Her strengthened fingers hooked through the two nearest holes in the cover. She flung the iron disk off into the street. Cobblestones shattered under its weight. The eye-burning, nose-cauterizing wet reek of humanoid waste spilled into the empty street.

She wiped her eyes and did a double take. No shadows flickered in any corner of her eyes. Mathal counted the seconds, breath held. Seconds stretched into minutes. She sunk to her knees, shoulders shaking.

They’d found Gorvio’s relic, and the stupid stick had actually worked. When Mathal broke its enchantment Sivanshin had lost all the shadows he must’ve been controlling on behalf of Oberigo and the Council. There went the night guard.

Mathal threw back her head in a wild cackle. She laughed herself to tears. She laughed so hard that the denizens of the district opened their windows and stuck out their heads.

“Excuse me! You’re breaking the noise ordinance!”

“Where’s the night guard?”

Mathal couldn’t stop cackling. She staggered up and hefted Moris over her shaking shoulders. She walked lone but easy through the city at night.

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