chapter seventeen: the cold hand of death.... (or, my familiar is a what?!?)
by, 02-13-2009 at 01:15 AM (2230 Views)
As I write this, my hand trembles. I glance about the camp, but my friends are mostly busy debating details of our next strike, the core ideas of which are settled. There is no one who will see the tremors. I had not thought to think of these traveling companions as friends, but what else can I call them now. None but a friend will forgive a mistake which threatens the lives of all. I did not warn the others when I saw the smoke, for smoke is what it was. If it were not for the dwarves' able help, we might not have made it out of that forge.
The smoke did not clear. Instead, it grew ever more thick. Finally we were forced out, and I was barely able to manage to enspell two more ropes to give us shelter as we worked out a response to our danger. Never had we been so poorly equipped to deal with a threat. After much discussion of our capabilities and options, the only way out seemed to be the flue for the forge. We discover that the entrance to the forge area had been blocked off with a pile of rock and dirt with a large amount of smoldering wood and broken furniture-the source of the smoke. The fire had all but gone out, due to a lack of fresh air. To our dismay, the flue proved to be too small to get far up it, and it did not seem to have any air flowing down it.
The leader of the dwarves, Ulap - I shudder to think what his opinion of us was, he was the only one of us with power over stone. With Sabriel away, there was none other with a strong connection to nature, or the divine. We had no other material or spell to accomplish the job, so we were forced to use the giant's blood for grease. He breathed through dampened layers of cloth and wearing only what equipment carry enchantments that might help, and a minimal modesty required, plus giant's blood. That nightmare journey is not one I ever care to repeat. The dreams are bad enough. Brave Ulap, shaped the natural flue into a wider, passable chute, complete with niches for hands and feet. He made it all the way up to the metal grating covering the top of the flue. Imagine our horror to discover that it had many boulders piled upon it!
There was enough air coming down the flue then to make the area immediately in front of it survivable. If we crawled, and covered our faces. But we were unable to think of any way of removing the pile of boulders on top of the flue grate. After much time, I was contacted by my frantically worried owl. Sabriel had returned early! Later we learned that she had felt a premonition and left Arielle to return to us on her own. After lengthy communication between myself and Mousehunter, we were able to convey through clever pantomime and scratchings in the dirt, our situation.
I am amazed at how much more like a person than an animal that Mousehunter has become. It seems that having the familial link between us has enabled him to poke around my mind, listening in on my thoughts, which in turn has altered his ways of thinking. (i informed him that his name was now Lord Mousehunter the Mighty, Ruler of the Night, Swift Silent Death from Above, and so forth, for his amazing acts of communication and insight; he informed me that it was about time I noticed, and that he was a she....) Amazing that all these years, and I never noticed. Serves me right for paying more attention to books than to her. I will look forward to getting to know her better, as a person.
Sabriel waited till the hours of the dawn, and then shrouded the guards in the tower with a silencing, followed swiftly with a barrier of blades to keep them pinned in the tower. Then she summoned some celestial allies, who agreed to move the majority of the boulders off of the grate. They would only stay a short time, but it was enough. We were waiting below and climbed as soon as Lord Mousehunter indicated that it was clear. Once we reached the top, I unleashed a blast of sound which pulverized the remaining rock and damaged the grating severely. I shaped my will into a sphere of pure force and launched it upwards. It ripped the grate and its collar clear from the surrounding rock, and also swept away much of the rock and dust. However, this exposed me directly to the morning sun. Agony! I closed my eyes against the burning and clambered out, and fell over onto my side, nearly at the feet of an investigating giant!
Sabriel had successfully led two giants off into chasing her, but apparently this one had decided to see if something was going to come out of the grate. Instinctively, I pull around myself the darkness and felt the thump of a club into the rock next to my head. I rolled away, eyes still smarting from the dawn's stabbing light. Gramblin launched himself from the grate and successfully struck the giant. How in the darkness he managed that, i'll never know. A deadly game of blindman's bluff followed. As they moved away, I rolled back out of the darkness, protecting my eyes as best I could. I saw Sabriel sending flight after flight of arrows into the giants she had lured away, who were now running back towards us. I closed my eyes and bent my will to shaping the power within me and lay it like a blanket of mist upon the ground. And shout some preparatory bluffs in Giantish.
The ground took on the appearance of a field of lava. This frightened the two heading towards us into stopping. I heard a ripping sound and Nadem cried out. (Apparently, Nadem's armor straps had caught on a projection left by the grating wreckage. He was freed by a hearty boost from the dwarf underneath him. Next I heard the giant's death cry, and fall. Gramblin had prevailed again. There were much frantic imprecations and muffled dwarven oaths, the giant had fallen upon the opening. I plunged into the darkness and helped Nadem pull the giant's body off. I then gathered up the remnants of my power and laid an enchantment of swiftness upon us all. We quickly climbed out and I led the dwarves away.
Nadem began casting bolts of flame at the giants. As I glanced around, I saw several more dead giants, and Pik and Sabriel flying about dodging boulders and generally keeping the giants from chasing us. Pik must have used his armor's magic to fly. I had nearly forgotten about it. We had that done, ages ago. In the end, we all made it away safely, and insured that we were not followed. I am chagrinned to think how close a call that was. If only I had not assumed that we were safe within our bubbles of otherwhere space.