Half of the elemental beasts that moved in on the party were sentient magical cyclones known as dust devils. The deva Jurgen stepped forward and waved his right arm across his body and then pushed forward. His own arcane wind issued forward in a powerful blast, disintegrating the dust devils on contact. This blast was little more than a breeze to the more immediate threat, a set of minor fire elementals.
“Spread out!” Wiliken shouted as he dove for partial cover behind one of the cages. The flame creatures were easy to control, and that made them perfect for Iuzian military operations. A single flame could summon its own small inferno, but as more and more congregated, the size of the destructive wall of fire grew exponentially. Wiliken remembered a flame battalion large enough to burn down a whole village in one concentrated flame burst.
His friend Jurgen, the beast-charmer Douglas, the druid Jean-Baptiste, the dragon-born Morgan, Dusk the half-elf sorcerer, and the healer named Grace did not react quickly enough to Wiliken’s command, and found themselves engulfed in flame due to their folly. Rather than moving away, Morgan had actually stepped toward the fire, placing his entire mass directly in front of Dusk. The flames that licked and tormented Jean-Baptiste had no effect on either the dragon-born or the half-elf he shielded. Wiliken heard screams as his other companions battled to find a way out of the forest of flame, which pulled at them as they attempted to exit.
Wiliken shot a couple of arrows at the flame creatures. While they were mostly composed of ethereal magic flame, there was such thing as a center-mass to these beasts. Each one had a small semi-solid heart floating around within their own personal furnace. It would be hard to hit, but the githzerai had to try – his allies might not survive another inferno.
Soon, Wiliken’s allies emerged from the fire. Dusk was the first to push forward. In one fluid motion, he stepped out of the flames that gripped him and moved in on the towering demonic minotaur that had stood several steps back from the destroyed dust devils. The monster had allowed these smaller elemental beasts to sacrifice themselves for the sake of some immediate damage, likely waiting to destroy each of the heroes one by one. Dusk advanced fearlessly with his hand held forward in a claw shape. He muttered strange incantations, but Wiliken was able to make out the words “subject to the maw.” A near-invisible stream coalesced between Dusk and the minotaur, and it appeared to the githzerai that his half-elf ally was siphoning off the beast’s vitality in order to restore his own. Jean-Baptiste soon joined the attack on the minotaur. In his camel form, he charged the beast awkwardly, slamming his shoulders and long neck against the demon beast.
“Jean-Baptiste!” Douglas shouted. “Behind you.”
The flame creatures had begun to ignore the threat of Wiliken’s arrows and advance on Jean-Baptiste, who was already injured from their first assault. Jean-Baptiste wheeled around to face them, decided they were too much of a threat to charge, and transformed instead into a mouse in order to run away. Without the threat of their flames, Wiliken stepped forward and fired several arrows at the living flames. He’d had little luck before when he was firing off a couple of arrows and then ducking back behind the cage, but now that he could just stand still and shoot he found himself wildly accurate. He pierced the hearts of most of the fire beasts before the remainder of the crew turned their attention back to him. It felt as if he had learned his lesson from the previous battles – Do not charge into battle. Take cover and strike tactically.
As Wiliken fired off arrows at the remaining flame beasts, he noticed his allies were getting massacred by the minotaur. The big, dumb beast hadn’t seemed like much of a threat at the beginning of the fight. Once the elementals were disposed of, they could all simply mass on the minotaur and treat it as one giant target. They’d release their entire arsenal on him and make short work of him, but the beast’s had used his massive swinging arms to batter the companions. One by one, he struck a blow on each of them, scattering them throughout the room and leaving them to nurse their wounds. Grace escaped unbloodied and danced from one ally to another in order to treat their injuries.
Wiliken attempted to make a run toward the minotaur in order to assist those he fought beside, but a blast of flame prevented his movement. He ducked back behind the cage and hoped his allies could survive until he destroyed the two flame beasts that remained.
It was the dragon-born Morgan who stood up to the terrible demonic minotaur when none other could. He was just as injured as the others, moreso than many, but he stood tall and exchanged blows with the beast. The minotaur struck Morgan, and Morgan struck back, the minotaur struck Morgan, and Morgan struck back. They continued this way for some time, leaving Morgan so brutally beaten that Wiliken had wondered if he’d died three minotaur strikes ago and his ghost had stepped in to continue the fight. While Morgan was certainly on his last legs, the githzerai also noticed that the minotaur had been significantly weakened. Just when Wiliken believed the dragon-born might gain the upper hand, a fist slammed down on him and knocked him to the ground.
Morgan laid there for far too long, and Wiliken could not tell for certain, but the man looked broken. He still drew breath, but his body had twisted unnaturally. The noble fool had gotten himself killed, and Wiliken could do nothing to stop it.
But in that moment of doubt, Morgan surprised all present by getting back to his feet. He landed one more blow on the minotaur, a powerful uppercut which knocked the beast’s head back with such powerful that there was a sickening crack. The near-dead dragon-born had snapped the neck of a demon minotaur with one well-placed punch, likely the last blow he’d had the strength for. Their fierce enemy fell to the ground with a boom, and their fierce ally did the same one moment later.
Campaign Stories continues in Wiliken 13.