Vindolanda, Part Two - Scarack Filidh
Arm in arm, the five companions left the chapterhouse together and headed toward the Chapel. As they did so, they were suddenly deafened by a huge explosion from the west! Rushing north to the chapel to ensure the Archbishop’s safety, they saw him in the distance heading to the west, surrounded by a group of priests.
Following him, the group arrived at the western perimeter of the fortress, where a huge hole had been blasted in the wall. The bodies of danagrim legionaries lay everywhere, scattered among the rubble. Through the breach surged a hideous figure, followed by a horde of shambling zombies. Sitting a terrible black steed with wings the colour of night, the leader was a dessicated creature with unnaturally grey, peeling flesh. Wearing a headdress of Pictish origin, made from strands of hair and held together by a headband of gold, it held a staff bound together in a wire net holding tiny skulls. As it advanced, a noxious green gas billowed forth, roiling toward the defenders while at the same time seeming to penetrate and strengthen some of the zombies which followed in the leader’s wake.
The companions scrambled to react. Raphael hurriedly fired his crossbow but the bolt went high. Storm conjured three javelins of ice and they hurtled at the undead leader. Just before impact, they dissipated into steam, leaving the creature completely unaffected! Tector and Sophia also fired, missing, while Uther moved across to protect the Archbishop.
Myrddin and Tegan arrived from the north, just as the gas spread across the area and began to affect the group with a horrible coughing and retching, weakening them. Tegan was most badly affected of all, collapsing to the cobblestones.
As zombies shambled through the breach, Storm conjured his whirlwind, hurling half a dozen into the air and smashing them back into the ground, buying a few seconds. A handful of Templars charged down the street and into the advancing horde, adding their weight to the defence of the Archbishop, who was leading the choir of priests in a chant. As he did so, a golden wall of light slowly began to form in the breach, burning the zombies as they came through. Meanwhile, Myrddin focused the power of the solstice stone atop his staff, trying to turn the undead leader to ice but without success. In response, the creature let out a terrible screech, piercing to the core of the companions and leaving several of them momentarily stunned. Against the odds, Sophia focused her fear enchantment on the creature, and the group cheered as it fled the field, the wings of its nightmare mount carrying it away with amazing speed.
To the left of the breach, several figures appeared on the wall. Raphael recognised them as members of the Scarack Filidh: Conlai Bradach, Quintauch the Pulse, and the Scarack himself! Further along the wall, in opposition to the Scarack Filidh, two more figures appeared. Raphael recognised them as Calais and Ross Quilalen, and called out to them in greeting.
As Conlai mocked Raphael from atop the wall, Storm reacted quickly, hitting the fiddler with a lightning orb. The sithe reacted angrily, playing a discordant tune on his fiddle which blasted several of the group with a sonic detonation. Storm was badly wounded while Manzio and Tector were also caught in the blast.
Sophia rushed over to heal Storm. To her horror, instead of the familiar golden light, green gases flowed out from her hands and her healing failed! The gases conjured by the undead, and the sickness that accompanied them, clearly inhibited magical healing.
As the battle raged before the breach, with Templars cutting down zombies, Raphael hit Conlai in the leg with a crossbow bolt, drawing a curse from his old enemy. A warcry rent the air, and the group looked up to see the Lord Commander of the danagrim legion, Achilleus the Golden, sprint along the wall from the north and leap the breach in a single bound! As he landed, The Pulse turned to face him, unlimbering his massive greatsword. In a single fluid motion, Achilleus hurled his gleaming spear, which flashed with light as it sped through the air, taking the huge sithe warrior straight through the neck! He immediately collapsed, his lifeblood flooding out onto the stones of the wall.
As the danagrim defenders cheered their leader, Conlai took an orb of some kind from a pouch at his belt. Responding quickly, Raphael shot him with another bolt, causing excruciating pain, and Storm followed up with a lightning orb that hit the fiddler square in the face! Letting out a scream, the sithe fell from the wall. As he smashed into the cobblestones below, the orb in his hands detonated, blowing him to bits!
Several of the companions were also hurt by the explosion, with Sophia in particular quite badly wounded. But the friends were amazed that they had taken down the legendary Conlai Bradach! Tector rushed over to heal Storm, who was staggering under the effects of his injuries, while Sophia took a moment to heal her own wounds and Myrddin tended to Tegan, getting her back on her feet.
Seeing his ally fall, the Scarack turned to the approaching threat of Calais and Ross, raising his horn of blasting to his lips. Seeing this, Achilleus leapt from the wall and took cover. Fearing the effect of the terrible weapon, Sophia thought quickly and used her sorcery to negate the magic of the artefact for a short time. Unable to blast his attackers, the Scarack was stunned by Calais. Ross surged forward, slashing the huge cyclops with his longsword, and Storm hit the monster with a lightning orb. Raphael rushed forward, climbing the wall with amazing speed to aid his friend Calais.
Meanwhile, at the breach, most of the zombies had been hacked down by Templars and danagrim legionaries. With the situation there under control, Uther moved back to join the group beneath the shadow of the wall, just as Myrddin and Tegan arrived. Tector charged at one of the remaining zombies, cleaving its head from its body and dodging back as gas billowed forth. Myrddin blasted another zombie with a lightning bolt, watching as the bolt arced to two others, destroying one of them.
The Scarack shrugged off the effects of Calais’ spell and raised his arms in the air, bellowing in fury, grabbing the scian and lifting her into the air. At the back of his head, the skin writhed and another cyclopean eye emerged. The hideous transformation continued as a second pair of arms sprouted from his sides, facing backwards.
At that moment, the nightmare wraith swooped down over the battle from the north. Gas billowed down over the companions, weakening them all save for Tector, whose great constitution allowed him to shrug off the worst of the effects. Raphael and Storm hit the steed with bolts and lightning orbs, while Tector leapt in the air and managed to catch it a glancing blow with his greataxe. Sophia focused her sleep enchantment on the mount, succeeding in slowing it. Myrddin tried to tear the rider from the back of his steed with a vortex of wind but to little effect.
Meanwhile, the Scarack was crushing the life from Calais on the wall, as Ross fired arrows into him with incredible speed. The Scarack responded by gesturing at the elven ranger, slamming him backwards 15 feet to lie motionless on the wall. Seeing his friend in danger, Raphael fired on the Scarak, hitting him in the leg. As it turned to face him, emerald green flames cartwheeled along the wall, emanating from a green-robed figure behind the prone form of Ross. The flames roared into the back of the Scarack, burning him badly. Storm hit the monster with a lightning orb at the same time, and the combined injuries caused the Scarack’s second set of arms to atrophy. He dropped Calais and advanced on Ross’ prone form.
Meanwhile, Sophia had been overcome by the gas and was vomiting violently on the ground. Tegan was calling up the wind to blow the gas from the battlefield. The undead creature flew overhead once more, taking a tiny skull from the net on its staff and dropping in into the midst of the group. As it fell, the Archbishop extended his arm and a lance of brilliant golden light shattered the skull. He slumped, visibly exhausted, as Myrddin spread his arms wide, calling up a powerful blizzard that engulfed the undead leader and his steed, forcing them to the ground.
Raphael hit the Scarack with another crossbow bolt. Storm, noticing the recent vulnerability of the Scarack to the mysterious emerald flames, targeted the cyclops with his wand of fire, grimacing as the heat of the wand burned his hand. Myrddin sensed that the firebolt would miss and used his amulet of foresight to allow the dragonborn to correct his aim. Doing so successfully, Storm watched as flames slammed into the Scarack, burning him badly.
In response, the Scarack glowered down at the group before lifting the horn of blasting to his lips and unleashing a deafening blast. In addition to the terrible sound, a physical wave of sonic energy smashed into them, slamming several of the group to the ground. Storm bore the full brunt of the attack, blood flowing from his nose and ears as he was smashed to the floor, unmoving. Tector immediately called upon the Lord’s blessing, bathing all his allies in golden light and sustaining the spark of life that was about to flee Storm’s broken body. Uther arrived seconds later, dropping to his knees and pouring more healing into the dragonborn. His eyes flickered open, and he lay stunned.
Myrddin struck the Scarack with a bolt of lightning, and Tector hit him with another crossbow bolt. The cyclops was sorely wounded, and starting to resemble a pincushion given the number of arrows and quarrels in him. A ring on his left hand began to shine with a bright intensity, purple energy flowing across his body, and he began to grow in size.