This is it. This is the final chapter of TnT. The story I started way back in 2001 now finally sees its completion. It's a weird feeling and, to be honest, there were times when I thought TnT would never be finished. But, here it is. The final chapter. I want to thank everyone who stuck with me over the years, old readers and new. It's been a wild ride.
Of course, I'm not done with Laska yet. I'm still posting updated chapters at fanfiction.net and I'm planning a series of vignettes which will serve as an epilogue for the main story as it will chronicle parts of Laska's life afterwards. Those will need some work yet, so look for those around February (yes, in this year or 'current year' as the meme goes. )
Without further ado, I hope you'll enjoy the last chapter of TnT
Edit: And it turned out the chapter was too long to post. I'll just add a second post to this topic.
Tankards and Tempers
Chapter 254: Gimme the Prize
When Laska opened her eyes, she was no longer in the cathedral. Instead, she stood on a circular platform which was floating high above the cathedral. The bright green platform seemed to pulsate under her feet, as if it was alive and breathing. Three smaller platforms floated alongside the larger platform, a stream of white energy being siphoned in what seemed to be some sort of raised crystal platform in the middle, high enough to be out of reach.
Far above them, the gathered Bhaal essence turned over their heads in a deceptively calm manner. But looks were quite deceiving; the energy raged and thundered, eager for release. Laska no longer felt the pull on her spirit. Instead, she felt herself pulling the power towards her. It wanted to be with her. It wanted to be part of her so badly; To be whole again. Next to her, Sendai, Imoen and maybe even Sarevok were feeling the same thing. She could tell from their expressions.
However, it was hard to miss the elephant in the room; Melissan. She stood with her back to the party, quickly chanting. She wore a long brown robe and a feathered hood while a staff was attached to her back by manner of a series of belts. Most strikingly were two oversized metal gloves covering her hand and fore-arms. During her chant, Melissan raised her gloves high. The Bhaal essence reacted violently to it, sending arcs of green lighting from the maelstrom of power into the metal and into her body. Melissan let out an almost orgasmic scream as the power assimilated into her body. So far, the woman hadn't noticed her.
“Hey!” Laska called out. No reaction.
“HEY!” Laska tried again, this time after picking up a small stone and throwing at her. Melissan let out a slight gasp as the pebble hit the back of her head.
The woman spun around with fire in her eyes. “WHO DARES... Oh,” her eyes widened in surprise when she found the seven opponents standing there. “Oh my, this is so precious! You are all here to witness my ascension to godhood! Truly, a performer is nothing without an audience.”
“I'm not here to be entertained by you, Melissan!” Laska snarled. “This ends today!”
“This ends today?” Melissan threw her head back and let out a loud cackle. “Such a cliche. You are such a precious creature, little elf.”
Her gaze turned upward, to the gathered Bhaal essence. “Beautiful, isn't it? The Great Wheel, my former god named it. Ever turning. Such concentrated power in one place. Of course, it would be even grander if you hadn't messed up my plan and let the minor Bhaalspawn die along with the rest of Saradush. It would be time for you and Sendai to finally lay down your lives. Between the two of you, you account for almost one fourth of Bhaal's essence. But I think that is a problem that will solve itself soon, hm?”
“Melissan,” Laska called out. “We're here on behalf of the crown of Tethyr, on behalf of all the people who fell to your machinations. You're coming with us, either in chains or in a body-bag! But I really hope it's the latter.”
“If it is, you can carry it back to the palace,” Viconia muttered under her breath.
“Precious,” grinned Melissan. “And you've played your part so well, Laska Leafwalker. I know the Five would eventually descend on each other. It was inevitable. You've been the... problem solver I sought. There was no way I could lose. Either the Five killed you and then each other while freeing up your energy. Or you'd kill the Five and make their energy available to me.”
“Your ruse was clever, human,” Viconia nodded. “But are you sure you have all angles covered? You boast about your victory, yet we are here ready to tear you down!”
“Bah!” Melissan raised her chin in the air. “What can you do? I am becoming a Living God! Can you truly stand against me! I will crush you like bugs! I will tear you to shreds! I will become so exalted that the world will finally truly love me for the great artist I am!”
Jan glanced at Laska, turning his finger along the side of his head. “Cuckoo...” he muttered.
“And you, little Sendai,” Melissan laughed. “I must congratulate you. I never expected you to be the Five's final survivor. Truth be told, you were always meant to die. You were my contingency if the Five were to turn upon me instead of each other. Your body contains enough essence for me to have gained the upper hand. It's ironic that lived when the others didn't. You… pathetic… whimpering… little… useless…”
A crack sounded as a small rock collided against Melissan's forehead. The ex-priestess was utterly stunned for a moment, until she brought up her metal gloves and let out an agonized cry. Unfortunately, the sharp metal of the gloves did further damage by cutting up her face on her cheeks.
Sendai stood defiantly, having thrown the stone. “I am not afraid of you anymore!” she shouted in a voice louder than the party has ever heard. “I want a life of my own! And you're not going to stand in my way any longer!”
“HAR HAR!” Korgan laughed. “Well done, lass!”
Viconia gave Sendai an appraising look. “Seems like our little weakling has found her spine.”
“Well done, sis!” Imoen raved.
By now, Sarevok had had enough. The hulking warrior took a step forward. “It's not going to work, you know?” he spoke calmly. “The power will not obey you. It never will. Even the little power you have absorbed struggles to escape you.”
“Lies!” snarled Melissan as she raised her staff high, only to have it struck by more green lighting. It surged through her, her eyes glowing bright green. “I AM A GOD!”
“Bhaal was a god too,” Laska challenged, pointing her sword at her. “More god than you are. And he certainly died.”
Melissan looked ready to jump down to confront them. She stood at the edge, smirking down at them, assured of her victory.
“Enough! DOOM AWAITS THEE… gurk!” A rage-filled battlecry caught in her throat and died on her lips as a bloody gurgle. Crimson fluid spurt from her mouth. In sheer disbelief and pain, Melissan looked down to see the bloodied tip of a serrated bajonet sticking out of her chest. Red, warm blood quickly started to spread out through her brown robe.
The party could only watch in stunned silence as a familiar huntress was stood behind the now dying Melissan. The huntress hooked an arm around Melissan's neck as the ex-priestess was already starting to go weak in the knees.
“Well, well, well...” sounded the huntress. “Look who we have here.”
“Illasera? I… I…” Melissan gasped, choking on the blood now dripping from her mouth. “This is... this is not...”
“Illasera?!” Laska blinked. “But you are...”
“Obviously not dead,” Viconia rolled her eyes.
“Tsk, tsk,” Illasera grinned, ignoring the bickering and posturing of the party below. This was her moment, something she'd been waiting for since meeting Melissan. They would not ruin this. “You were never meant to claim the power. You never could. Only a true child of Bhaal can claim it. It will never answer to you.”
“No. No, I am the puppet master! I am in control! It was I who set it in motion!” Melissan held out her arms to the sickeningly green energy revolving above her around an unseen pillar. Her expression went from determination to desperation. “No... No... it won't answer me. It won't heal my wound!”
Illasera pressed her cheek against that of Melissan, grinning a wicked toothy grin. “Ssssh. Sssshh. It'll all be over soon. I thank you for your efforts. But your role has been played out. It is time for the actress to take a bow and exit, stage left.”
Tears started to roll over Melissan's cheeks. “You can’t… you can’t just… No. Not... like this. Not like this!”
“Awww,” Illasera mock-pouted. “You are just… TEARING ME APART, Melissan!”
There was a flash of anger in her eyes when being mocked with the now infamous line from her ill-fated masterpiece of a play. But she knew it was over. Melissan cried out in agony when Illasera violently withdrew the bajonet and let it slide back into her crossbow. The ex-priestess slumped to her knees in utter defeat.
Illasera spoke calmly, her face grim. “On your way, then. Onward to oblivion.”
With inhuman speed and strength, Illasera grabbed Melissan by the robe and threw her into the air. Melissan's scream of terror was violently cut short the moment she touched the Great Wheel. Her body was instantly shredded and the Great Wheel turned blood red for a few seconds as every cell of her body was evenly spread out through the thunderous divine energy.
Finally, Illasera turned her ire on the party below. Those who would defy her. “And here we are, Laska. Child against Child, as it was always meant to be.”
“Give up, Illasera. It’s seven against one,” Laska shouted, her swords drawn.
A snarl broke through her porcelain mask. “HAH! Unlike you, I’ve made every effort to study the lore. I know how to manipulate every molecule of this place! I know how to wield the power of the Great Wheel! Though I agree, seven against one is rather unfair. Let’s even the odds.”
Illasera winked before she jerked her chin to one side. At that moment, the flapping of huge leathery wings was heard as a familiar dragon slowly rose towards the platform. Blinded in one eye, Draconis now quite resembled his father; more muscular than he used to be, with spikes jutting out of his flesh. The one-eyed dragon let his baleful eye roam over the platform, eager for revenge. “Enter the dragon!” Draconis roared, opening his maw to release a massive jet of flame.
The party dove in separate directions, with Imoen yelping and hurriedly raising up a magic shield to protect herself and Sendai from the searing dragonfire. Laska dove to one side, rolled over the ground and jumped to her feet swords in hand. The dragon, at least, had gotten much smarter. He hovered away from the platform, flapping his wings to stay in place where the party's stronger melee fighters couldn't get to him while getting ready to bathe the platform in flames once more.
A second jet of flame shot out at those who could get to him; the spellcasters and archers. Before Jan could get a shot in with his crossbow, he was forced to run to avoid having his arse set on fire. Draconis dropped more fire to keep them from retaliating, while an insane cackle could only mean one thing; Illasera had entered the fray.
Sarevok was the first to raise his sword to try to swipe at her. Illasera was took quick and too strong, however. With inhuman speed, she collided with him, sending him hurtling to the ground as if he were a piece of tissue paper. With crossbow in hand, she zipped across the battlefield harassing the fighters, toying with them before the kill.
Korgan let out a yell of frustration as the huntress either deftly sidestepped him, or parried his axe with the extended bajonet of her crossbow. “Stand still, ye bloody grasshopper!” Korgan roared, just before being treated to a crossbow stock to the face delivered with inhuman strength.
Meanwhile, Laska's ranged friends weren't doing much better. Even spread out, Draconis moved quickly and on this platform there was precious little in the way of cover. Jan, Imoen, Sendai and Viconia were too scattered to form a proper like of defense. Meanwhile, Illasera was making life difficult for everybody.
“She’s completely crazed!” yelled Sarevok as the huntress zipped back and forth between him and Laska, before eventually focusing his attention on the tattooed elf.
“You!” Illasera snarled as she slammed her bajonet onto Laska's crossed blades. “You cut off my fingers!”
“You seem to have gotten better!” Laska said as she felt the strain on her wrists from the force of the blow. Laska was no stranger to fighting strong opponents, but this was something else; Illasera seemed to move as a blur, and Laska found that parrying her attacks became increasingly difficult, both to deflect and to predict.
The tattooed elf let out a yelp when she felt a boot connect to her jaw. There was blood in her mouth when she was sent crashing into the floor, only rolling away from the serrrated bajonet at the last moment before Laska could become a permanent fixture to the platform.
Then, it was Viconia who struck first blood on Draconis. The drow took up a position near the center of the platform as a disk of destructive magical energy formed in her hand. Instantly the disk shoot towards the dragon, slicing through scales and embedding itself deep into the dragon's flesh. Draconis howled in pain and frantically looked around whom had injured him. Viconia, emboldened by her first strike, got ready to throw another one when she saw a glint from the corner of her eye.
Instinctively raising her shield saved her life; the drow was knocked backwards as a crossbow-bolt penetrated her shield, piercing the magical steel and knocking her down. Over the edge of her shield, she saw an enraged Illasera taking aim once more.
Laska came to the rescue, however. The elf let out a yell as she jumped into the air with both swords pointing downwards, hoping to land onto Illasera and impaling her from the back. Illasera was, unfortunately, way ahead of her. As the elf approached, the huntress swung around her axis and was prepared. Laska didn't even have time to yelp as Illasera treated her to a vicious uppercut while she was still in the air.
Laska let out a whimper as she was sent flying backwards and landed on her back, near one of the smaller platforms, where she lay groaning as she drifted in and out of consciousness.
Korgan suffered the same fate, being kicked right into Sarevok and sending both fighters into a heap.
However, those fighting the dragon were having considerably more luck, as Imoen had found out something crucial. “He's blind in one eye!” shouted the pink-haired mage. “Shoot him from his blind side!”
Imoen and her friends did just that. Sendai approached him from his blind side and hit him in the neck with a devastating spell which exploded against his scales. The dragon roared in agony and sought out the culprit, but to do so it had to turn his entire body in mid-air, giving the three friends an opening to attack him from the other side. Spells, bolts and arrows collided with Draconis' belly, causing blood to spew forth. The dragon roared and retaliated with fire, but due to lack of proper depth perception, his aim was way off and the jet of flame overshot Jan by a country mile.
“AH!” sounded Illasera as she was effectively singed. “WATCH IT, YOU IDIOT!”
“HELP ME, YOU FOOL!” Draconis roared. “Keep them off my back!”
“Oh, poo,” Jan laughed. “Trouble in paradise? Might I suggest couples counseling?”
Illasera let out a snarl as she pressed the attack. “BE QUIET, YOU HORRIBLE LITTLE MAN!”
Meanwhile, a groaning Laska forced her aching body to cooperate as she tried to get to her feet. Illasera had knocked her about something fierce and she knew she had to get back into the fight. She sensed something near; something which begged her to come closer and taste of it. Near her, between the larger and smaller platform, was a stream of greenish Bhaal essence. The tattooed elf understood now; the platform was a like a fountain of divine energy. The smaller platform collected the energy fallen out of the Great Wheel and funneled it back into the fountain of power through the central crystal.
The tattooed elf felt the power, it almost whispered in her head. And she knew she had to take it.
The elf crawled to the edge of the platform and lowered her hand to dip into the violent stream. Laska had to admit to herself that sticking her arm in potentially violent streams of divine power was probably not the smartest thing she had ever done, especially after witnessing what it had done to Melissan, but the moment her hand dipped into the power...
Power. Raw unadulterated power entered her body, sending little shocks through her as she shuddered from sheer orgasmic delight. This was a better buzz that Cormyrian firewhiskey. This was a bigger rush than the most dangerous fights she had ever been in. This was more pleasurable than the best sex she had ever had in her life. Pleasure, power and anger washed over her in equal measure as she was energized as no way before. She felt like she could take on the world and win. She felt as if she could tear Illasera apart with her bare hands! And that was exactly what she was going to do.
She moved as if time herself had slowed. Illasera's bolts looked as if they were moving with the speed of the average tortoise. Draconis' flapping wings almost stood still as the sails of a clipper. The words coming out of her friends' mouth sounded slowed. Illasera had no idea what awaited her. This time, the huntress wasn't fast enough.
Oh, Illasera did notice her. And she did fire a bolt at her. But it simple wouldn't do her any good. The bolt moved so slow that Laska simply threw a sword at it to knock it out of the air. She would tear her apart!
Laska rammed a fist into Illasera's jaw, sending the huntress flying backward. Immediately, the tattooed elf was upon her, straddling her and raining blow after blow upon her. Illasera tried to get her crossbow in, but screamed as Laska clamped a hand around her wrist and squeezed. With her free fist, she kept punching and punching. A sickening crack sounded as the huntress' nose and left eyesocket were cruelly broken.
Suddenly, Laska's power started to fade as the buzz was starting to wear off. A moment's hesitation was all Illasera needed to chuck the elf off her body. The huntress snarled as rivers of blood ran from her nose. Blinded by the pain, she jumped upwards, onto the center of the platform.
“DRACONIS!” shouted Illasera. “Stop her! Stop her from getting to the other platforms!”
“Ah!” Laska laughed at her. “So I need to get to the other platforms! Thanks for the helpful info!”
“AAAHHHH!” Illasera cried in denial when she started to raise her arms to draw more power from the Great Wheel. The tattooed elf knew that she was on the clock now; the moment Illasera was ready drawing the power, she'd have the upper hand again and Laska was now about to let that happen. She scooped up her swords and ran to the next platform.
Unfortunately, it was there that Draconis landed. Apparently having had enough of his own bad aim, Draconis decided to use a tactic which was sure to work. He extended his wings and started flapping forward vigorously. The hot Gehenna air was sent towards them as if it were a wall. Though Sarevok managed to stand his ground, the lighter elf was sent skidding over the platform towards the edge and managed to grab hold of a crease in the organically shaped floor.
The others weren't faring much better. Jan and Sendai had managed to duck behind the central pillar, while Viconia managed to grab hold of the stronger Sarevok's leg.
Korgan and Imoen were not so lucky and caught the full brunt of the wing buffet. Both of them were sent helplessly into the air, hurtling towards the edge. The moment she saw the cathedral below her, Imoen knew that she had been blown over the edge. If there was nothing for her to grab, this would be the end of her. So she started grabbing desperately for anything... anything that would keep her from falling to her death.
Her hand clamped around something coarse and greasy, like a really fat rope. Beggars couldn't be choosers, though, especially when hanging over the side of a cliff. Imoen clasped her bow to her back and got ready climb back up. When she looked towards the platform, she was both horrified and amused to see that she had firmly clasped her hand around Korgan's beard. The dwarf himself had grabbed hold of a spike jutting out from the side of the platform, while his free hand firmly held his beloved axe.
“Ye!” Korgan gasped. “Ye never be tellin' anyone 'bout this. Nay ever!”
Imoen stifled a giggle, but considered she wasn't in any position to complain.
When Viconia's head popped over the side of the platform, Imoen caught a moment of intense fear in her eyes; but when their eyes locked, fear made way for instant relief. That made Imoen smile, even in this insane situation; for Imoen knew that it was the closest Viconia would ever come to telling her she loved her without being asleep or drunk.
While Sarevok and Viconia were helping Korgan and Imoen back into the platform, Sendai and Jan stuck to the central pillar. Draconis eyes them, of course, but he couldn't breathe fire on them without harming Illasera. That was a tactical advantage both were eager to exploit.
“Any plans, your worship?” said Jan while raising his crossbow. “Or we could just needle it to death like uncle Slamis did with his bedbugs.”
“No,” said Sendai, as she eyed back and forth between Laska getting to her feet and Illasera above them still in a trance while drawing more power from the Great Wheel. “I think... I can draw power from this place too.”
The little drow narrowed her eyes as she raised her arms to the heavens. Almost instantly, the drow was raised from the ground as arching green lighting shot from the Bhaal essence above into her body. The energy swirled around her as Sendai whispered her spell. Of course, Draconis could recognize bad news when he saw it and tried to risk flaming Illasera alongside Sendai. Thankfully, Jan was quick to cast some protection of his own, shielding both himself and the casting Sendai.
The arcane words Sendai uttered were becoming more and more intense as power surged within and around her. Sendai's form darkened and glowed a bright red as she yelled out the final words.
Instantly, Draconis was bombarded with a combination of magical meteors, storms, lighting, acid and even a spell of horrid wilting. The entire platform shook and trembled from the sheer impact as the dragon roared in agony and denial.
“A contingency!” Jan nodded appreciatively. “Well done.”
“Only one... I... had...” Sendai gasped as she did her best to maintain the Bhaal-essence powered spells as long as possible.
Suddenly, a crossbow-bolt buried itself deeply into Sendai's chest. The tiny drow yelled out in surprise as the spells were interrupted and she fell to the ground on all fours, moaning in pain. Jan could only counter-attack to prevent the now invigorated Illasera from finishing her off. Though the gnome had no illusions as he well knew that the wound was mortal.
“SENDAI!” Imoen yelled out in denial.
Meanwhile, the dragon himself staggered and dazed from the impact of the spells. His wings were shattered, bloodied flesh hung from his limbs as most of his scales had been seared from his flesh. Most insultingly of all, the attack had cost him his other eye. Draconis groaned and staggered about.
“Get rid of this bum!” Korgan roared as he and Sarevok rushed towards the dragon and started hacking at his legs.
“Push him over the edge!” Sarevok said as Laska joined in. Together, they hacked at his legs to herd him towards the edge. Draconis, of course, tried resisting by randomly breathing fire or slashing his claws about, but it was too no avail.
Meanwhile, Viconia was tending to the fallen Sendai while Imoen and Jan were playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Illasera to keep the enraged huntress distracted long enough to give the others time to get rid of Draconis.
“HAH!” Jan said as he rushed around the battlefield under the effects of a haste spell. The nimble gnome was fleet of feet and quick of aim as Illasera's bolts missed their targets again and again. “Your aim is worse that Golodon the unmanned! And he was blind!”
“You will pay, gnome! Horrible little man!”
“Neener, neener, neener!” Imoen made a funny face before making Illasera's central platform shake with a spell of her own to throw her aim off further.
Back at the dragon, Laska, Sarevok and Korgan were combining their massive strength to give Draconis the final push. One leg went over and the dragon lost his footing. Draconis dug his claw into the platform as he struggled to get a grip on the platform. By now, all that was keeping him on the platform was that one claw. Laska and her friends shared a look. Two longswords, a greatsword and an axe bore down onto the dragon's toes.
After some creative nailclipping, the dragon slid over the edge, roaring as he did so. Laska and her friends looked over the edge just in time to see Draconis failing to fly with shredded wings. His heavy body crashed into the roof of the cathedral, sending stone and bone flying as he fell right through. Even this high up, the thud of his landing was easily heard. When the dust settled, they could see Draconis' broken and unmoving body lying on the stone floor of the cathedral.
That tattooed elf didn't hesitate and ran straight for the next small platform. She dove to the ground and quickly dipped her hand into the stream to absorb even more Bhaal essence.
Instant sensory overload!
She almost regretted standing up as she immediately went weak in the knees. The power washed over her in waves of unending pleasure. When the spots in front of her eyes faded, she became acutely aware that she was moaning in a rather embarrassingly sexual manner.
“Are you alright?” Sarevok asked.
“Hah,” Laska laughed to herself. “Other than that this Bhaal essence really makes me want to fuck someone, I'm fine.”
“Ugh,” Sarevok could barely mask his distaste. “Leave me alone. Korgan's right over there if you need to sate your urges.”
“Ey?” Korgan frowned.
There was no time for idle chit-chat. By now, an enraged Illasera had felt that Laska had drawn more power and raised her hands to the heavens once more. The energy from the Great Wheel started to churn right before bringing down tendrils of destructive force down upon the platform. Instinctively, Laska willed her own powers to shield her friends from the destructive onslaught. When the storm finally passed, Illasera look down upon them.
“Have you met the Yugoloth? The denizens of this plane?” Illasera grinned as she stood on top of the throne. “There's a Mezzoloth hive nearby. Don’t worry. They’d sure love to meet you!”
Instantly, dozens and dozens of jet black bipedal humanoid insects appeared on the platform. With glowing red eyes and gaping maws, thick chitinous hides and magical weapons in their four arms, the tall bugs looked like a true menace. And Illasera was summoning more and more and more.
Still fueled by the rage of Bhaal, Laska tore into them with both swords, sending bits of insect and insect limbs flying. Sarevok and Korgan weren't far behind, as especially Korgan was eager to finally sink his axe into something living. The bugs were fighting back, however, and were blocking Laska's approach to the final platform.
As the fight was raging on the other side of the platform, Viconia was hard at work on Sendai while Imoen shielded them from Illasera's attacks, as well as any Mezzoloth which dared to stray close to them.
Sendai lay on her back as she coughed up blood. The bolt was still sticking out of her chest as blood was slicking her robes.
“Vic?” Imoen dared asked right after she blasted a bug off the platform with a gust of wind.
The drow looked at her grimly. “She's not going to make it.”
“What?!” Imoen sniffed. “No. No! That's not fair. We've only just met her.”
“Life isn't fair,” said Viconia as Sendai coughed. The drow put her weapon to one side and drew a dagger from her belt.
“What are you doing?” Imoen demanded.
Viconia looked at her for a moment. “She's suffering,” said Viconia. “And we can't tarry here too long. I will end her pain and we will join the fight. If we linger here and lose the day, her death will mean nothing.”
Sendai shuddered, coughing up more blood as she muttered unintelligible words. With her final breath, she grabbed Viconia by the wrist, preventing the drow from cutting her jugular. Viconia gasped as tremendous power flowed into her from Sendai. Her healing magic increased in power tenfold. The drow knew what to do: she pressed both hands onto Sendai's chest and let the magic flow. The bolt was ejected from Sendai and landed on the platform with a satisfying clank. Torn muscle, shattered bone and ripped skin knitted together and closed. Sendai's unintelligible mumbling became clearer. “I want to live...” the small drow chanted. “I want to live. I want to live. I want to live. I want to live.”
Viconia grabbed her by the chin. “You are alive,” said the drow. “I am impressed by your will, young one.”
Sendai sat up, her robe still torn and bloody, but otherwise alive.
“Yay!” Imoen smiled and hugged her fiercely.
“Nice,” said Viconia. “Now how about we take out our anger on some bugs?”
“Illasera,” Sendai snarled. “I want to end her!”
“That's the spirit,” grinned Viconia.
By the time the three friends joined the fight, there were already countless black bug-like creatures on the platform, shrieking and chittering as they attacked anything in sight. Laska let out a yell as she tore into the chitinous horde, still strengthened by the power of Bhaal. She bisected one of the screeching bugs as she got closer and closer to the third and final pool, its slathering torso falling to the ground. By now, however, she was starting to feel the heat; Illasera was summoning more and more bug-men and they surrounded her at all sides. Laska let out a laugh as she twirled around her axis with her swords out like a ballerina of death. She sliced through limbs, torsos and heads with equal measure. But for for every bug fallen, there was always another one. Korgan, more near the back, was having a whale of a time chopping up the insects, spreading their goo all over the ground. Sarevok's laugh could be heard as he sliced his large sword through the horde like a reaper.
Piles and piles of dead bug-men lay on the ground. Or semi-dead, as the dying bugs' limbs kept slashing out after death.
“There's no end to them!” Imoen yelled out while she tossed a fireball into the horde. The bugs burned and writhed, but still moved. “She keeps summoning more!”
“When she’s summoning more bugmen, she’s not shooting at us,” Jan said just as a bolt landed at his feet. “Yipes. Now she's summoning and shooting. Curse women for being so good at multi-tasking! Curse them, I say!”
“Argh!” Viconia yelped as she deflected an insect's swipe with her shield and retaliated with with her flail. Her job was to protect the spellcasters, but it was getting increasingly difficult. “I'm surprised none of us are dead yet!”
“I'm not!” returned Sendai just as she bombarded the bugs with another swarm of meteorites. “She’s a hunter. Best from the shadows. These are no shadows and we know where she is because we can SEE her.”
“Point is moot!” Viconia retaliated. “They might be weaklings, but they'll eventually overrun us!”
Among the slathering horde, Korgan raised axe high as he was about to bury it into the skull of an offending bug-man, when a crossbow bolt slammed through his arm at the elbow. The dwarf let out a vile curse, quickly switched his axe to his other hand as his arm hung limply as his side. “I really be 'avin' enough of that bitch with the bleedin' crossbow!” Korgan yelled as he quite literally took the legs out from under the attacking bug-man.
For Laska, who was way ahead into the horde, the final small platform was in sight. And not a moment too soon. The bugs were all around her, slashing and cutting at her. Though Laska was strong and killed the mezzoloths by the dozens, her body was starting to feel the strain. A bloody cut on her cheek had blood running down her face. Her armor had been pieced in several places all over her body, leaving small, but aching and bleeding wounds. Laska was starting to pant as pushing through this horde cost more and more energy. Sure, the power of Bhaal coursed through her veins like never before, but these wounds and the increasing fatigue were a painful reminder that she wasn't invincible by a long shot.
But now that she was so near the final pool, she felt re-invigorated. She let out a scream from the depths of her lungs. A bug-man shrieked in her face, only to be grabbed by a mandible, pushed to the ground and getting its head crushed underneath a steel-toed boot for its trouble. All which stood between was a huge mezzoloth with a spear.
The bug twirled his spear and held it over his head, getting ready to impale his elven opponent. This turned out to be a mistake, as Laska made use of the opening to swing a sword into a low arc and slice the bug's gullet open. The elf kicked a bug who tried to attack her from behind in the face, while she dropped her sword and grabbed the dying mezzoloth by the arms. With her great strength, she hoisted the huge mezzoloth over her head, showering herself with mucky white insect-goo. “DOWN YOU GO!” Laska snarled as she heaved and threw the screaming mezzoloth over the edge of the platform to fall to his gooey high-altitude death below.
The tattooed elf didn't hesitate and shot forward, sliding over the now blooded platform to dip her hand in the stream between the two platforms.
An orgasmic scream sounded as more and more power leeched into her body. She hissed through clenched teeth as she fell to her knees and trembled. Vaguely aware of the hissing bug-man approaching her from behind, she felt impelled to do something about them before she could stab her in the back. Instantly, she let out another scream as a wave of power emanated from her. The power rushed through the bugs, killing most of them outright and sending the rest careening over the edge. Laska fell to all fours, panting quietly as most bugs on her side of the platform were now dead. From the screeches and the sounds of battle going on, the fight was far from over. But at least, she had a moment to recover.
And she really did need a moment to recover. By now, Laska had absorbed as much power as her body could handle without bursting at the seems. There was heavy breathing as she tried to center herself. The power was rebellious and she had reached the limit of her control.
She became aware of Viconia kneeling next to her among the piles of dead insects. Soothing healing magic went through her body, taking care of the worst of her wounds.
“Vico,” Laska muttered. “If you come any closer with that soft hair, shapely body and throaty voice of yours, I’m likely to throw you onto that pile of dead bugs, tear the armor and clothes from your body and fuck the tits off of you.”
Viconia frowned. “Just like that? During the fight? At least it would be an interesting experience,” she shrugged.
Viconia and Laska shared a look, then smiled together. Smiles turned into a laughter.
However, there moment was cut shot when a whizzing bolt slammed right into Viconia’s left side, piercing the armor and her flesh. A look of surprise crossed the drow's features, followed by a look of abject annoyance.
“Vico!” Laska yelled as the drow collapsed to her knees. The tattooed elf quickly dragged her behind a pile of dead bugs and propped her up. Viconia grunted in pain and treated herself to some soothing healing magic. “Nothing vital,” hissed the drow. “Looks worse than it is. I’ll be fine. Go get the bitch!”
Laska grimaced and touched Viconia's shoulder. The elf gathered her swords and step onto the pile of dead bugs. The huntress still stood on the raised dais at the center of the platform, taking pot-shots at her friends. “Enough,” Laska hissed. “ENOUGH! ILLASERA!”
That got the huntress' attention. Naturally, seeing Laska standing out in the open made her an enticing target. A shot was taken at her, but Laska angrily swatted the bolt out of the air with her swords.
“Fall! Fall!” Illasera demanded, utterly frustrated that her shots weren't connecting.
The tattooed elf snarled and jumped up, launching herself towards Illasera with swords out. Propelled by the power of Bhaal, she jumped higher, longer and faster than was possible.
Three bolts slammed into Laska's abdomen, piercing her armor and her body. But the berserking elf didn't even notice, much to Illasera's dismay. Right before she landed, she steered a sword into a vicious horizontal arc. Her target was the crossbow and the force of the blow knocked the crossbow out of Illasera's hand while the tip of the blade sliced through her armor and clipped her breast. The huntress staggered backwards as the elf landed, and swiped at her opponent's legs with her other sword. Illasera had her legs swept down from under her and toppled onto the platform below.
Laska jumped down after her as the crossbow skidded over the edge of the platform. An enraged Illasera snarled as she drew two long daggers from her belt.
By now, both Laska and Illasera had absorbed so much divine power that they were both glowing green and energy crackled around them. Both were bleeding. Both were enraged. Both were wounded animals circling each other.
Laska narrowed her eyes. “One will stand,” the tattooed elf stated. “One will fall.”
Illasera laughed. “Why throw away your life so recklessly?”
Laska smirked. “That's a question you should ask yourself, Illasera.”
The huntress let out a scream and rushed at Laska. Daggers clashed against swords as the two Bhaalspawn were locked in a fight to the death.
By now, most of the Mezzoloth were either finished off or were avoiding any further fights. The party regrouped and gathered near where Laska and Illasera were fighting. Imoen held on to Viconia as the injured drow limped next to her. All of them were haggard, tired and wounded. Sendai herself, not used to combat, looked ready to fall over.
“We should help her!” Imoen yelled.
“Nay!” Korgan protested. “This be Laska's fight!”
“Are you crazy?” Imoen hissed. “We need to do something.”
“We can do something!” Sarevok narrowed his eyes as a bug-man wandered dangerously close to where Laska was fighting. It was Jan who quickly dealt with him by clever use of an acid arrow to the knee.
“Yeah,” said Jan. “We can make sure it stays Laska's fight by keeping those bug-brains away from them.”
Totally focused on the fight, Illasera and Laska clashed blades, the impact so fierce that sparks came flying forth. With blades locked, Illasera and Laska grit their teeth as their muscles strained. “You are nothing!” Illasera spat at her. “While you were boozing and whoring your way through the sword coast, I was honing my skills.”
“That explains a lot,” Laska chuckled as she pumped her arms against the force Illasera was exerting. “You certainly act as if you've never had a moment of fun in your life!”
“Fun?! I live for the kill! Nothing less, nothing more!” Illasera returned and broke the lock. “I WILL BE THE LAST! I WILL CLAIM THE GODHOOD I HAVE EARNED!”
Laska was treated to a fierce slice to the cheek. The elf yelped and took a step back, giving the huntress the opportunity to punch against one of the bolts still sticking out of Laska's abdomen. The tattooed elf yelled in pain as the bolt was driven further into her sensitive flesh. However, she put the pain to good use. Now having found renewed focus, Laska made a fist around the hilt of her sword and punched Illasera into the face repeatedly. Illasera staggered back, giving the elf enough room to kick her steel boot right into the huntress' throat.
The huntress jumped back, coughing violently as blood came spurting from her mouth. “I still owed you this!” Laska rammed her fist into her jaw in a vicious uppercut, sending the huntress flying back. “SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT!”
The elf and huntress faced each other, swords and daggers out, snarling and panting. Bloody, hurt and staggering. It would be over soon, but from whom?
Both Laska and Illasera let out a yell as the both of them started to rush toward each other, both eager to land the killing blow. All their remaining divine power were poured into this final, deadly strike. Elf and huntress came closer and closer, only looking each other into eyes.
Steel sliced through fresh and bone.
Both stood panting, bloodied, pained and surging with adrenalin with their backs to each other. Time was seemingly frozen, as an ominous silence fell over the battlefield.
Until a loud groan sounded.
Illasera first fell to her knees before tumbling onto her stomach as if she were a ragdoll. The once proud huntress lay moaning in a slowly expanding pool of crimson life-fluid.
The tattooed elf felt her chest and stomach, the point on her body where Illasera had aimed for. To her delight, she found that Illasera's Bhaalpower infused deathblow had not connected. Unfortunately, she also became acutely aware that there were three metal bolts sticking out of her body. For the first time, the elf started to feel the pain. She leaned against the pillar in the middle of the platform and propped herself up.
Laska looked over her shoulder and saw Illasera lying face-down in a pool of her own tainted blood. It was a point of pride to keep standing; it was over now. She was the victor. No more surprises. She placed her hand on her abdomen as blood gushed forth and seeped in and over her armor. In fact, she was starting to feel a bit cold and light-headed.
“Laska!” Imoen came rushing over. Both sisters embraced carefully as to avoid the bolts, while Laska started to wheeze.
“No,” Laska hissed as her friends tried to push her down. “Heal me standing up.”
“Stubborn fool!” Viconia hissed as she still held her smarting but healed side. “You've lost at least two pints of blood and I'll need to pull these bolts out of your body! Lie... down!”
“We won!” Sendai blinked. “I didn't think we'd win.”
“Don’t feel like a winner right now,” Laska muttered and suddenly grinned. “This is the first fight during which I've had an orgasm. Multiple, in fact.”
“First?” Jan laughed. “You're expecting more fights during which you'll have orgasms?”
“Hah!” Laska winked while hissing as Viconia was testing how deep the bolts had buried themselves into her body. “I bloody well hope so!”
“Priorities,” Sarevok rolled his golden eyes.
(Continued in second post)