Battle of the Bridge
With his boots of speed carrying Raphael deep into the forest and the effects of his ring of invisibility long since worn off, the Inquisitor finds himself tired with the painful freezing cold inflicted by the wraith making breathing more difficult than normal. To compound his misery the driving rain and constant dripping of raindrops from the branches above make him cold and famished as his rations were back at the horses. Satisfied that he is alone, the Inquisitor considers his options and is immediately concerned for the safety of Ulric. Fearing the worst for his newfound apprentice, he climbs a tree to gain a better vantage of the possible route back to his original starting point. Climbing through the treetop he is disappointed to see that he is surrounded by taller trees, which restrict his view in most directions. He does however see that there is a slope to his right and remembers that he was running downhill earlier in the flight from the wraith.
Picking his path carefully, Raphael slowly makes his way back towards the site from which he fled. Dusk is settling and the light beginning to fade when he sees the severed knot of the rope he’d used earlier with his horses. Seeing them gone he risks a quick call of ‘Ulric’ and is hugely revealed when he hears movement in one of the trees close by before Ulric appears and jumps to the ground, landing lightly on his feet.
The two quickly discuss the attack with Ulric mentioning that the pursuit was quickly turned back after a Sithe messenger arrived. Ulric, fearing their return remained in the treetops hoping for the return of Raphael.
Assessing their options and with no food, Ulric suggests that they can reach the river whilst remaining under the cover of darkness. They can then assess the situation at the bridge when dawn breaks the following day. As they walk through the forest avoiding the sweeping branches swept up in huge unseasonal gusts of wind, Ulric outlines the distances involved in reaching Netherby if they were to circumnavigate the bridge but Raphael judges that on foot such a detour would cost them too much time. They reach the river cold and hungry with the Inquisitor taking the first watch. Try as he might, the cold from the wraith has a major impact and he finds himself in some pain given his sodden state. With no fire, fearing the repercussions but unsure that the tinder would catch anyway in such appalling conditions, the two sit out a miserable night together, with Ulric taking over earlier than his designated time because of the exhausted state of Raphael.
The dawn provides little respite from the rain, which if anything intensifies. Reaching the edge of the forest the two are able to catch a glimpse of the bridge in the distance where they are heartened to see that a battle has ensued. Deciding to approach via the riverbank they discern that some Templars have ridden out onto the bridge and have engaged some tough looking Araken warriors plus some zombies. A small group has broken through to the far side and is battling Sithe on Raphael’s side of the river. Three figures face off against the wraith although as they approach closer a Templar is run through by a huge two handed blow from the dark, wreathing shadowy figure. Raphael is just about to risk the bridge crossing when he sees that it is Uther, hurriedly pushing Richard behind him who is now facing the wraith. Thinking quickly, Raphael orders Ulric to remain hidden by the dip of the riverbank whilst he aids his Templar friend. Given that the creature is pressing its advantage on Uther, Raphael slips on his ring and approaches the wraith from behind. Despite a moment of agonizing freezing pain as he draws closer, the Inquisitor sprints the last two yards before fixing his hook blade under the helmet of the creature ripping a shard of metal from the face guard in a devastating attack. (He rolled a 20) Swinging wildly with his sgian dubh, the second attack is less effective as the wraith turns to face the new threat.
With Raphael now visible, the swordwraith enters a stunning set of sword moves attacking first the Inquisitor and then Uther using huge sweeping blows. Raphael dodges the blow by a whisker feeling the hairs on his neck rise as the narcotic energies crackle an inch from his neck. Uther is less fortunate taking an enormous blow, which knocks him backward, a gaping scar cut through his armour. Backing off, the Templar takes the time to offer a quick prayer his hands suddenly radiant with golden light, which for a second shines brightly against the dark storm clouds overhead. However, the flickering image is soon dissipated as a crack of thunder seems to once again infuse the wraith with energy. Once again the shadowy creature concentrates on Uther battering the big knight backward. Raphael is unable to capitalize on the wraiths determination to defeat the Templar slipping in the mud in his haste to attack. Meanwhile the wraith pummels Uther with first a thrust to the hips followed by a devastating two handed blow which opens further rents in Uther’s now buckled and in places shredded armour. The knight, exhausted and once again bloodied slips to his knees. In desperation and seeing the desperate plight of his friend, Raphael continues to weave a dance of death with his sgian dubh puncturing the shadowy armour of the creature a remarkable three times. Sensing the growing confidence of his attacker from behind the wraith rounds on Raphael delivering a devastating blow, which splits his leather armour bruising the flesh beneath and winding the inquisitor. From close at hand an ill aimed blinding strike attack lands to the side of the wraith but surprisingly the creature appears momentarily stunned. Turning, Raphael sees Ulric close at hand and demands that the young man return to the safety of the riverbank. Seeing the bravery of the former Sithe prisoner Richard Tarraby is inspired to enter the fray too but a brave albeit clumsy swing of his scimitar is easily parried by the wraith who delivers a masterful riposte barreling past the young knight before approaching Uther for the kill. Remarkably the Templar is once again on his feet the fading glow of his last remaining healing fading from his flesh. Calling to the heavens Uther seems to momentarily grow is size and stature calling for Jesus Christ his savior to give him strength. With an incredible show of skill and determination Uther charges the wraith and with a two handed blow of epic proportions cleaves through the shadowy, metallic protection of the creature’s neck. (He rolled an 18 which is on his new daily power counts as a critical) Yet no sooner had the creature fallen than its sickening dark energies began to coalesce in a brief, intense buzzing before oscillating at great speed and then detonating with shards of metal strewn across the battlefield. Throwing himself to the ground Inquisitor Raphael is able to avoid the worst of the effects whilst Uther absorbs the full blast. Cut and shredded in multiple places the Templar catches himself before staggering across to catch hold of his horse. Raphael and Uther quickly embrace before turning to view the carnage wrought across the battlefield. A Sithe and Templar appear to be supporting one another, sword and dagger impaled: the two bound together in death. Every Sithe and Templar on Raphael’s side of the river lies dead. Turning to view the bridge, a single Araken champion remains, naked from the torso upward, covered in midnight black tattoos he leers down at the survivors barking a challenge in the crude Araken tongue.
In response, both Uther and Raphael reach for their crossbows. A little less certain at this turn of events, the Araken flees but not before both bolts are fired. Raphael’s bolt flies high and wide but Uther, reaching for a blessed bolt given to the pair by the archbishop, hits his target. The Araken screams in frustration before tippling forward into the fast flowing river Eden. He is quickly swept downstream in the fast flowing currents his thrashing arms reaching for the safety of fallen branches. Back on the bridge, strewn with dead bodies the four survivors are beaten by driving sheets of rain surging in from the north as though unseen hands reach out to grasp them!