The 15th of Mirtul, Year of the Staff
Gate me Home
Jafton launched himself towards the dragon, his katana 'Shadowstar' held high, trying and missing with an overhead slash as the dragon blasted-off the gate with a beat of its mighty wings. The beating white wings kicked up a considerable wind, causing the warrior to wince and squint against the assault to his eyes. Blinking back tears, his eyes strained to see a shadowy blur forming into dark fur and multiple thin legs. It was the spidery form of the creature Marstar slinking into the gate ahead of him.
Jafton turned to the others, yelling and motioning for the others to get through the gate, "Let's get out of here!" He turned towards the skies in case the dragon swung back around, acting as rearguard and waiting until the others were through the shimmering portal. A bellow of rage from the dragon faded instantly as the sound of humming and birds becoming more pronounced, just as the biting cold of Tuern was replaced by the relative warmth of Everlaen. He arrived to see elven archers in a sylvan glade; some looking to him with smiles, others watching the gate hopefully, while two stood over the black eel-headed spider creature, its lips bloody, as it begged pitifully for mercy and asylum.
"I'd get back. There was a rather angry white dragon behind us," Index supplied helpfully as he examined the outfits of these elves.
Jafton only heard the tail end of this, but it snapped him back to the here-and-now as he got his bearings, having gotten confused by the sudden change in environment. The human scrambled forward, noting thankfully that the guards of Everlaen had seen fit to detain the cowering and mewling Marstar, lest the sneaky creature be allowed to run amuck in the elven city. Everyone else followed Jafton's example and soon all were back and hidden. Brinoi grabbed the mysterious key to the gate before following and another elf entered the gate, possibly to warn others against coming to Tuern.
"It will take some moments for the gate to close," Brinoi cried out, flicking her long red gold plaits over her shoulder, "If it sticks it's head through, don't fight it, let the gate decapitate it!"
But a full minute passed before anything came through, but what did was far more terrible than a dragon's head. A wave of red liquid stone pushed its way through, steaming in the forest air and scorching grass and soil alike as a wave of heat radiated forth. Although it quickly slowed in its flow, it was obvious that the beast had somehow sent the gate into the lava river. The lava, which dropped through the gate on Tuern's side, was reoriented upon reaching the forest glade, changing from its alarming horizontal movement to obey gravity in Everlaen. The result was an ever-widening pool of hot, liquid rock that spread out from the gate.
Brinoi's eyes were almost panicked, as she demanded of the survivors she knew what had happened, but guards were again raised as sparks burst forth from the lava, stinging exposed skin and setting small fires. Jafton, Bob, Annuk'nuffy, Marstar, and Quillcrease attracted most of these, each hissing at the pain as some sparks came for them, grouping on an exposed arm or ankle, burning a mark into the skin, an egg shapped sun.
Abruptly, the Door's hum stopped and the gate closed after what seemed an eternity. The lava stopped, its red turning dark very quickly, and rapidly hardening rock the only evidence that something had been amiss.
They had made it home.
Jafton batted off the burning rock from his clothes and exposed skin, not noticing the curious egg-shaped burn that one of sparks had left. He turned to Brinoi, his face haunted by an expression of loss, as he realized that the other team was now more lost to them than comprehendible. He had no words for her demands of explanation.
Across the glade, the priest Kerkstra made strange hand gesture in Brinoi's direction, even as Marstar hissed about assylum in front of him. Brinoi's head snapped round and looked at the spider-like beast and simply nodded back. There was little hesitation in hesitation as she looked over the alien arachnid, with its ugly visage and bloodstained eel-like face.
"Strike!" she called out in elven, even as performed an arcane gesture and then called out a word of power. A black beam of light sprung from her hand and struck Marstar solidly in the body before he had any chance to react or dodge. The light splashed across his body and the creature visably sunk down as his legs struggled to support his body weight.
Kerkstra raised a hand to touch the symbol of Solonor Thelandira which hung about his neck as he made a circling motion with his other, ending sharply in a warding off off gesture, which was curiously inverted. At that same time his lips moved quickly in a ritual prayer to his deity, drawing on his divine power and channelling it through his own body.
"Mercy!" the spider-like creature cried in a shrill hiss, plopping its body down pittifully on the grass, its head low to the ground now. "Spare Marstar, I didn't want to, it was cold! Marstar can trade! Spare Marstar!"
It's black, soulless eyes looked to the returned adventurers. "Mercy for Marstar, saved friends! Drove back dragon."
The human warrior shot up at Marstar's words, the threat of the rapidly cooling and hardening lava all but forgotten as he stormed over towards the spidery-like creature, "You'd best speak your lies elsewhere, where none can dispute them! You are neither friend nor companion, and you were no help against the dragon nor any of our other enemies!" Jafton snarled, approacing Marstar menacingly. He stopped short of the creature, turning instead to its guard, "I respectfully recommend that 'it,'" he spat, "be kept under constant guard, to be later expelled from this place - preferably back to Tuern through the gate," he said, reminding everyone that the gate was submerged in a lava flow in the icy hell.
Even as Jafton spoke, the elves close to Marstar were backing away and all around readied arrows and bows were pointed in his direction. Kerkstra too backed off some way, leaving Marstar alone in an invisible circle, his whines and pleas taking on an even more desperate tone.
With the sobering thought of the Door's fate suddenly striking him, Jafton turned to Brinoi, "Is there a place where we can speak?"
"Of course," Brinoi replied absently, not looking at the human. Instead her attention was focused on the monster and Kerkstra. She tilted her head questioningly at him. He nodded once back with finality and Brinoi responded with a single word.
"Fire," she said crisply. Nine arrows sprung from bowstrings held taught. With the range that it was and the skill of the elven archers it was amazing that any of the shots would not do serious damage. However two actually missed as Marstar leapt back and away, colliding suddenly with an invisible barrier, his spiderlike legs giving him surprising mobility. However, the other seven struck true and in fact two of the arrows struck the creature in the eyes, one in each. Marstar reeled back on his back legs, screaming in agony and shock - then abruptly feel quiet, though continued to stagger about. Kerkstra lowered his hands and it became obvious the priest had cast some spell to enclose the creature in a zone of silence. Around the wound and arrow that peirced it, the egg tattoo on the beasts flank smouldered slightly.
Jafton jumped as the arrows lanced out at the creature Marstar, not expecting the elves pronounce and execute judgement on the creature so quickly. The human strongly believed that Marstar deserved to die, though he did not know for what crimes - though he suspected the dark creature participated more in the bloody scene in the cave than he said. But couldn't the elves seek justice, then, for the many wrongs he'd committed in his own life?
But the human warrior remaind quiet, watching the death throes of the stowaway. He reasoned that the elves may have been right what they did, not willing to risk releasing and consequently the news of Everlaen with the duplicitous creature.
Brinoi and Kerkstra quickly unslung their own bows and within seconds the slaughter was over, and Mastar's arrow riddled body lay twitching on the ground. For long moments all looked on carefully until finally the movements stopped and all present were satisfied the monster was indeed dead.
Brinoi turned to Jafton now and some of the tension drained out of her. "Yes," she said. "Please come with me to men's lodge. You can rest and have refreshment while your wounds are tended. We will want to hear what happened. Who are these newcomers and where are the others you left with? Does Sila live?"
Kerkstra approached and raised his hands to stop Brinoi. "The Door will not open for days now," he said calmly. "The current emergency has been dealt with. Let them answer in their own time. Take them to the lodge please, Brinoi. I will collect Aesil and Tarli. The whole council may as well hear of this at the same time."
Brinoi nodded and motioned for all to follow her.