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Return to Eberron - 5e
36. The Burning Farmstead
36. The Burning Farmstead

Alfrigg felt, more than heard the sound of the massive, ebony coloured horse striking the ground. It reminded him of the time that his great-father’s chimney had collapsed, scattering a cloud of ash upwards in one massive and gritty wave. Alfrigg coughed and waved a hand to clear away the greyish cloud and felt a brief wash of heat and the creature died as he ran onwards. He only had eyes for the doorway before him and he’d be darned if some infernal, flaming horse was going to get in his way. He’d trust to his fellow party to fell the beast and the bloody tentacle-faced creature astride it. These blasted creatures had boarded up the entire farmstead and left the occupants inside to roast like potatoes in a pan! Alfrigg seethed with anger at the cowardice of it and gripped his axe tighter as moved. That doorway was boarded up good, but luckily for him, he’d brought his own key. 

Thysper took a deep and calming breath. His sharp elvish eyes focused down-range while his thoughts raged inside him. At the corners of his vision he could see the flames burning; dancing with glee, feeding upon the thatch like some hungry and malicious fiend. It was alive. It hungered and fed and consumed all before it. How could it not be alive? Thysper’s heart beat fast in his narrow chest and the irises of his eye’s flickered from purple, to amber, purple to amber. He took another deep breath. Be one with the arrow. There is nothing but the bow. The arrow and target are one. He loosed. The greenish projectile streaked through the air with a faint whizz. Thysper moved, ducking to grab his pack and running towards the flames. He did not look upwards as he ran down the ridge. The beast awaited him, it’s orange tongue flicking like some fiery serpent, it’s flaming maw agape and hungry. He could not see it. He would not fear. In the distance, the wizard fell. 

Cedric moved with what urgency he could as the strange humanoid thumped to the ground ahead of him. Selph looked largely unharmed from the icy blast the tentacle-faced wizard had unleashed, though he had been hit squarely by the spell. The gnomes attempt to counter the arcane magics had been washed aside in the frozen fury of the spell, but the gnome had stood firm, almost defiant. Aernard had not feared so well. Cedric looked upon the frozen form of the ranger – a translucent statue frozen in time, bow-raised against his fiendish foes, as defiant as Selph if not as resilient. Cedric grasped his talisman, the holy symbol already seeming to gather in and reflect the light of the day. He whispered a prayer to Dol Arrah and thanked her for her blessing – a whispered benediction to her who grants solace to all who walk in the light. Moments later a loud crack sounded, followed by a tinkling sound, like glass upon a table.
“Yes my friend,” Cedric replied as Aernard moved awkwardly out of his frozen prison, shaking and shivering, doing his best to stride forward and raising a hand towards the still burning roof. “Fiends.” 

Selph cast a quick glance at the half-frozen form of Aernard. That word. He was talking nonsense again. Cold? Selph didn’t know what the elf was complaining about? The spell wasn’t that bad. If anything it was getting a little warm standing this close to the fire. Selph watched as the small elemental creatures began to crawl forward towards Alfrigg, scrambling across the ground and roof like some magmatic primates. The building was aflame and only getting worse and if something wasn’t done soon, the dwarf would be pulling well-done corpses from between the charred timbers. As always, it was left to him. Well, if heat was the issue, maybe a little rain would dampen down the conflagration. Selph saw it form in his mind. It was not thought. It was real. He knew it was real. There was no gap between thought and reality. Rain. It fell; thick, fat droplets like the tears of the sky itself. First in smatters, then increasingly heavy, and soon, a mighty torrent like a ship-sinking cemaros in the Sea of Storms. Selph watched, transfixed, a calm and sense of peace coming over him. He marvelled at the creation. The flames danced it fits, drowned by the waters and tamped by the sudden winds. It retreated from the roof with a smoky hiss. Selph watched as the small magmin’s looked up, bemused by the sudden downpour, before rushing forward to swarm Alfrigg, who had made his way to the door. An anger suddenly gripped Selph, growing out of the calm. Darn those creatures and their fiery hearts! He motioned with his hands, slashing them down as though trying to cut the air. The temperature around the house suddenly dropped and a tinkling sound filled the air. The magmin’s squealed as icy spears shot downwards from above, piercing their skulls and popping them like lava-filled bladders. Selph watched as Alfrigg shielded himself from the hot magma. Something felt right about that iciness. Selph reached a hand out again, trying to grip that feeling. He looked at his hand. Turned it over. I look great he thought, the feeling of rightness fading.

Aernard read the strange note over Cedric’s arm as the tall, armoured cleric held it out. Cedric read it aloud in his clear, deep voice, but Aernard gave it only half an ear. He recognised the handwriting. Many a time he had held a similar missive from Rean and his ranged ahead of the unit as a forward scout. Orders in one pocket, a cipher in the other. There was no cipher needed here, but the script was unmistakeable. He looked down from the note to the spread-eagled corpse they surrounded. Venmore. His cowl had fallen back to reveal his face and instead of showing some tentacled monstrosity, the face was now cold, dead eyes above a hollowed-out section, as though his nose and mouth had been scooped from his face. This land continued to throw up the unexpected. He should expect no less for such a hapless soul. If you associated with fiends, your soul was already damned. He gripped the pommel of his short sword, tamping down his anger. He used his foot to raise the cowl again. There were children about and this was not a sight for young eyes. He looked up from the body and caught Selph staring at it. The gnome looked up, some hint of understanding in his eye. Aernard watched the gnome warily. If what his elvish brother said was true, then Selph was hiding something, and a tingle had started to develop in Aernard each time he thought upon it. There was much happening. They were trapped in a strange land, their time short, their task urgent. Danger was all around and they were alone. All they had was each other to rely upon as they sought to face down whatever evil the Gatekeeper spoke of. Aernard took a sip from his flask, using the crimson liquid to warm the coldness he still felt from the wizards spell. Yes, only ourselves to rely on, he thought, casting a glance at Selph, and maybe not even that.  

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Epic × 3!


Yep ditto on the lol. Awesome writing Carl. I only spotted two autocorrect misses, which is also pretty good going for in the train. :)