“Mmmmnnnn…” the shadowy figure moans as it drifts towards Lenata’s amulet with an outstretched bony hand.
“Can’t you speak?” Lenata asks it as she steps back nervously. “Is this what you want?” she shakes the amulet in her hand and the creature moans even louder while clutching at its emaciated chest. It then briefly clutches its throat and then covers its empty eye sockets before moaning again.
Hmmn… a hag who can’t talk… I pull the cards out of my sash and flip through them till I find the card that I knew I had seen…The Mute Hag. Maybe this will help… I concentrate and throw the card down on the desk full of crumbling parchment and watch as a faint light appears around the hag and then disappears.
“Maybe if we give her the tongue back,” Ef wonders as he removes his token from around his neck and holds it out in front of him. The hag then lurches forwards towards him while grabbing at her throat.
“Are we sure we want to do that?” Lenata asks worriedly. “We need those tokens to get out of here, right?”
“Look at our past record,” I snort as I work my way behind the hag. “How do all of our encounters with creatures around here end up? We might as well try to get some questions answered first…”
“Let me see what I can read from her,” Vedis offers as she puts a hand to her temple and closes her eyes. “Pain…loss… betrayal… and a desire for bargaining. Definitely not undead, though.” She turns to the hag and calls out. “Shadow of Sonnarae… can you understand us? Nod once for yes.”
The hag nods and then moans again as she clutches her throat and points towards Ef Utan.
“Well, here goes nothing,” he says as he steps closer and holds out the token. He then quickly steps back as the hag snatches it and stuffs it into her mouth. After a moment she convulses and lets out a rattling sigh like that of a death rattle.
“Give me my heart and eyes, and I will give you what you seek…” it whispers hollowly. “You want to leave this place… but you don’t have the skill to use the Black Nib! Restore me, and I will show you the way out.”
“Yeah… I’ve heard that one before,” I snort. “Death is an easy ‘way out’ in any situation, and I’m sure you’d be glad to help us along.”
“Let’s just kill it!” Melchior declares.
“What?” Vedis calls out in confusion. “No… why? We were just…”
The hag gestures with her arms and suddenly a wave of greenish-yellow mist shoots out from her to engulf Vedis and Melchior in a sick-smelling cloud. Sweat beads on his yellowing skin as Melchior drops to his knees. “Told you…” he moans weakly.
I take my moment to strike and try to grab what I noticed to be a feathered quill behind what used to be her ear. Where else do writers keep their pens? That hag is fast though, as she spins out of reach and avoids my grasp before drifting into a corner and disappearing from sight.
Oh crap… I don’t like this!
I scan the area in a panic as Ef Utan swings about blindly in the space where we saw her last, but to no avail. I quickly put my back to a column and gulp down a potion that is supposed to protect me from evil things… at least that’s what the vendor on Greyhawk said, anyway. If something is going to appear out of no where to terrorize me, I want every chance I can have to make it difficult for them.
Good thing, too… as the hag suddenly appears again behind Ef Utan and grabs his head between her bony fingers. He screams as his features seem to melt and change, but manages to push her away with a yell of desperate effort before dropping to his knees.
Dammit… where did she go?
“Oh no… you’re not doing that again!” Lenata yells as she reaches into a pouch and flings a handfull of glitering dust over the area that settles around the outline of the hag just as she strikes out at Melchior.
“MY EYES!” he screams out as he scratches at his face in a panic. “Murlynd help me, I can’t see!”
I would feel sympathy for the blind gunslinger if I had the time… but I find myself suddenly occupied with getting out of the way as Ef Utan mutters the activation word of his sword and sends a fireball into the middle of the fight. Your own fault for telling him how to use that thing, Kenari…
Lenata runs over to me as we take cover behind some of the columns to escape the blaze. “Are you ok?”
“Nothing singed here thank the gods,” I mutter as I peek around the corner to try and pick up on the shimmering outline of the hag. “Do you think he got her?”
I turn and see the silver-haired cleric holding her hands out over my gauntlets and muttering. When she’s done she looks up and smiles. “I pray to Celestian that he did… but just in case, I added a spell to your gauntlets that should help.”
I nod to her in thanks as she leaves, just catching the muttered name of Melchior. Oh gods… I hope he’s allright!
I strap on my newly ensorcelled gauntlets and ready myself to join the fight as Vedis spies the glittering outline and sends it backwards into one of the ruined columns with a fiery push of energy from her outstretched hands. I jump onto some of the crumbled marble and launch myself at the slouched hag hopefully before she can recover. My claws rake across what I think is it’s face and chest before a searing pain rips across my stomach and sends me spinning to the ground in a growing pool of blood.
Shit… shit… shit… this is not how I was hoping to try the new powers the Imaskari gave me… if I live through this I hope they don’t give me crap for not telling them yet!
Vedis and Ef Utan step up with their weapons, giving me a moment to pull off my sash and press it into my stomach as I crawl to a place of relative safety behind some of the marble ruins. With one hand I claw out and pull myself up into a lean against a column as I frantically search for the silver hair of the cleric. There… behind the others… she’s treating Melchior…
“Forgive me, Melchior… but I really need some help right now!” I mutter weakly as I close my eyes and focus my will on the gunslinger and all of the details around him: the color of the grass, the jagged edges of the marble, the loose bricks under his feet and the scent of lavender that always seem to come with the cleric. I focus on those details and how they would feel to me if I was there instead of him… when there is a gentle “pop” in the air and suddenly the smell of lavender isn’t just in my imagination.
“By the Gods, Kenari… what did you just do?” Lenata asks in confusion as I suddenly appear next to her.
“Tell you later…” I joke weakly as I pass out.
“Where the hell am I?” Melchior yells in the distance.
I am jolted back into consciousness by the frustrated scream of Vedis shaking the columns and everything around them with her sonic vibrations. “I think he’s making her angry,” Lenata jokes as she finishes her healing spells over me. “Be more careful next time, ok?”
I stand up gingerly and stretch to find that my stomach is now completely healed. My leathers and sash, however… they could definitely use some help. Images of the black-furred leatherworker waiting for me back on the ship come unwanted to my head. I miss him so much… but I have to remain focused!
With a snarl and a shake of my head I leap back into the fray. It takes all of our combined efforts before the hag seems to weaken… but not before it lashes out with that damn green mist again. Suddenly my fur feels too thick on my skin and I’m struggling to hold down the bile that’s rising in my throat.
Ef Utan swings yet again with his flaming sword, but this time burns a deep cut from clavicle to ribs. “My HEART!” she screams as she falls and the sky grows dark with the rumblings of thunder.
Without warning random bolts of lightning streak through the air into rubble, causing us all to run for cover until the last death throws of the Shadow of Sonneray subside in the now pouring rain.
I almost feel sorry for the hag that was once such a benign and powerful bard… but there just wasn’t anything left than the hatred and revenge that kept what was left of her going. I just hope her soul can finally find peace.