[Vfw-times] MK Winter Assault part 76

COkane8116 at aol.com COkane8116 at aol.com
Sat Jan 5 01:54:54 CST 2002

   With Misha at their head, the group rushed down the corridor as quickly as 
possible. They moved together in silence, no one needed to urge them onward. 
All knew that the lives of fellow keepers were at stake. Padraic and Caroline 
side by side with him. Going through all their minds was the question about 
what was happening at Long House. All of them had friends and family there. 
Thoughts of them pushed everyone to move faster. To get there before it was 
too late. 

   Suddenly the vulpine stopped and peered down the corridor. "Advance and be 
recognized," he said into the darkness ahead.

   The shapes of Danielle and Finbar materialized out of the blackness and 
moved towards them. Ten feet from the group, the pine marten morph and the 
ferret morph stopped.  Finbar held up his hands towards Misha, palms down and 
fingers splayed downward.

   Misha mimicked the ferrets gesture but only with his left hand. 
"Recognized," he said dropping his hand to his side. "What's the situation?" 
he asked as the two joined the group.

   "Quiet," Finbar said.

   "Quiet?" Kortel asked.

   "Explain," the vulpine ordered.

   "They beat off the attack and destroyed all the Lutins," Danielle 


   "It's easier if you see it," Finbar replied.

   "All right," Misha answered. "Let's go see."

   It took a minute of marching to reach the first bodies.

   The foxtaur stepped over three lutin corpses. He noted the crossbow bolts 
in their chests and wondered who had done the shooting. It took careful 
walking to avoid stepping on the caltrops that were scattered everywhere. A 
few steps on there were three more bodies, also killed by crossbow bolts. A 
fourth lay nearby with it's chest ripped open by some unknown weapon.

   The next bodies were four piled in a heap in the middle of the corridor. 
Unlike the previous ones these hadn't died by missiles. Misha realized that 
this was where the barricade had been. These four Lutins had been the first 
to reach it and had died at the hands of spear wielding Keepers. But the 
wooden barricade wasn't there. The foxtaur moved onward. Splotches of blood, 
and dead Lutins sprawled on the floor marked the retreat of the barricade and 
it's defenders.

   Finally they came upon the shattered remains of the barricade itself. The 
large table was laying in a heap upon the floor. There was also several large 
pools of blood as well. One pool was so large that Caroline had to hop to 
keep from stepping in the blood.

   Next them came upon four Lutins all skewered by one of the massive bolts 
from the ballista. Such was the power of the weapon that it had passed 
completely through all four bodies before burying it's tip in a wall.

   Misha gave faint notice to the corpses as he stepped over them.

   "Hold!" a voice announced from up ahead. "Who goes there?"

   "Misha Brightleaf with relief," the foxtaur answered.

   "Advanced and be recognized," the voice ordered.

   He stepped forward slowly, passing three more dead Lutins in the process. 
Up ahead he could see the doorway to the hall. He also saw a woman holding a 
spear looking at her.

   "That's close enough," the woman ordered and Misha stopped. Brea suddenly 
appeared next to the woman and ran towards him.

   "Misha," the squirrel said with obvious delight and hugged the foxtaur.

   "Is everything all right?" Caroline asked.

   Brea released the hug and the happiness disappeared for a moment. "We 

   "Most of us did," the spear armed woman added.

   "I see George's idea for the ballista worked out," Caroline said looking 
at a spot on the wall. A lutin was pinned to the wall by one of the javelin 
sized missiles from the siege engine. It was four feet off the ground.

   "Report," Misha said calmly. "What happened?"

   "They came at us down all three corridors at once, all three hundred of 
them," the squirrel explained. "The barricades held at first, but then they 
started pushing us back by sheer weight right into the hall itself . . . "


   Brea was going to die. That much he realized as he parried a sword blow 
with the dagger in his left hand deflecting the blade downwards and away from 
his body. The squirrel lashed out with his long sword, catching the lutin 
across the stomach. The creature tumbled backward only to be replaced by two 
more. Around him a dozen keepers fought against scores of Lutins. There was 
no chance of winning this battle or even surviving it. All Brea could hope 
for was to kill as many as possible before he died.

   In one corner of the hall a black robed figure stood silently unnoticed by 
the combatants who filled the room. He began to move his arms in slow, 
complex gestures. His voice was soft, barely a whisper and spoke a language 
that few in the world remembered now. It was long dead to most. At first 
nothing seemed to happen, then a pale gray smoke began to form. It was thin 
and wispy, almost invisible first. But it grew in strength and density every 
second until it surrounded the figures legs like fog in a forest. Then the 
fog began to move despite there being now wind to shift it. 

   The gray fog snaked away from it's creator towards the battle like a smoky 
snake. It seemed to hesitate for a moment as if trying to decide who to 
attack first. Then it shot forward towards Brea.

   The squirrel had managed to work his way to one of his fellow Keepers, a 
woman wielding a spear. Now the two fought back to back against a dozen 
Lutins. He felt something brush his leg and then a burning sensation that 
ended as suddenly as it had begun. Risking a glance down he saw a gray smoke 
wrapping itself around the legs of the lutin in front of him.

   Suddenly the fog shot up and enveloped the creature completely. The lutin 
let out a shriek of panic and slashed at the smoke with his blade but to no 
effect. Then Brea saw something that made his blood run cold. Wherever the 
smoke touched the Lutins skin bubbled and writhed like it was trying to 
escape the bones that held it. The lutin collapsed the floor, screaming and 
clawing as it's face it just melted away. In a moment the creature stopped 
struggling and lay still on the floor. Brea watched in horror as the Lutins 
body just melted away leaving just bone and teeth.

   The fog hovered over the bones for a moment, then split into two and went 
after the Lutins standing on either side. Both backed away unwilling the 
share the fate of their comrade, but they didn't get far. In a moment they 
too were screaming on the floor before dying. The fog split again, this time 
into four, long, powerful snakes of gray smoke. Brea realized that what ever 
it was the smoke was growing more powerful with each murder.

   One tendril of fog shot across the floor to where five Lutins had a woman 
pinned to the pavement. It spread out and simply rolled over all of them at 
once. It paused a moment then moved onward leaving an unhurt woman lying on 
the stones amidst scattered bones that had been living creatures a few heart 
beats before.

   He turned his head in time to see two tendrils advance side by side to a 
score of Lutins. The two swept over them knocking a dozen Lutins to the 
pavement. None of them survived long enough to utter more then a brief 
scream. Four tendrils left the Lutins bones and spread out among the 

   The squirrel watched in rapt fascination as the strange fog went after the 
Lutins. One tendril flowed through the ballista and dissolved the ten Lutins 
trying to get it to work. The siege weapon was left intact, with hardly a 
mark on it.

   A scream echoed over the battlefield over the din of combat and panic 
swept through the Lutins, they had finally noticed the fog. By this time it 
was too late for most of them to escape as the fog had blocked their escape 
routes. Only the north corridor lay open and Brea watched as the terrified 
Lutins stampeded for it.

   Brea saw one agile lutin leap over one tentacle of fog and duck under a 
second and race off to safety. Another one wasn't so agile and lost a foot to 
the killing smoke. It didn't stop the creature or even slow him down and the 
rodent was amazed to see him hop down the corridor. Others weren't so lucky 
as those two. A lutin tried to dive through the fog and a heap of bones 
landed on the floor on the other side.

   Some twenty Lutins were trapped by the fog in a corner. A solid wall of 
the deadly smoke advanced on them. Some wept, some screamed in terror, some 
shouted defiance, and others fell to their knees and pleaded for mercy. Of 
the three hundred who had attacked so boldly a mere hour ago, only this 
handful remained. Suddenly the smoke stopped advancing and hovered inches 
from the green creatures. Then it began to dissipate, slowly at first but 
then with surprising speed. In a minute it was gone leaving twenty Lutins and 
seven Keepers standing in a room full of the dead. 

   There was a clatter of metal hitting the pavement behind Brea. Turning his 
head he saw a black robed figure sitting on the floor with his back against a 
wall. The squirrel recognized the black, metal visage of Omega. He never 
noticed the automaton had even been in the hall. "So that's where the fog 
came from."

   Brea looked back to the Lutins and caught the eyes of the leader. "Leave 
Metamor Keep immediately," the squirrel ordered in a cold voice. "And never 
come back."

   The Lutins ran for the doorway without pause. In a moment only one 
remained, the leader. He stared at Brea for a moment and then turned and 
walked away without saying a word.

None were needed.


   It took a long time to restore order. The fires were extinguished, debris 
was removed, the wounded cared for and the smoke eventually thinned out and 
vanished. And then all that was left was the counting of the dead, a long 

   George, Ferwig, Teria and four other soldiers edged carefully down the now 
ruined and blackened corridor. Halfway down they came to the door where the 
fight had started or at least where the door had been. Instead of a hallway 
and doors they found collapsed rubble and debris. The right hand wall at this 
spot was gone, instead there was a gaping hole twenty feet wide. Cold wind 
was blowing in bringing with it a thick cloud of snow that was already piling 
up on the floor. Looking into the opening Ferwig found himself looking out 
into open air. He could see a courtyard covered in snow and debris laid out 
far below. "I can see the outside courtyard," Ferwig said. "The explosion has 
blown a hole clean through the keep."

   "Any idea what caused the explosion?" Teria asked.

   "There was a storeroom full of oil back here," George explained. "I want 
to know what caused the walls to collapse?"

   "Someone drained the magic out of them," the mage explained. "Drained it 
out of them and everything else."

   "I caught a glimpse of a Metamoran behind the invaders," Ferwig said. "His 
whole body was glowing with power. Maybe he did it."

   "What was he?" George asked.

   "A skunk."

   "A skunk. That must have been Muri," George commented. "He was a mage."

   "Any sign of the skunk?" Ferwig asked.

   "He must have been killed instantly," the jackal replied. "No one could 
have survived that blast."


 end part 76
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