Felghanis was hustling along through the snowstorm. The wind would have frozen their lips shut but Kalista’s spell protected them so well it felt like a cool autumn wind. Still, their visibility was cut severely by the heavy fall of wind driven snow, and what sounds they could hear were only from a few yards away. It was like the world had gone grey all about them even the colour of the sound had been washed out and lessened.
“Jonas is in the Sipran Keep. I just know it,” Felghanis said. “If you can Locate Object for a Ursa Bellor heraldry piece we’ll know.”
They debated briefly but Kalista did as Fel’ suggested.
“Odd. There’s one that way. On the other side of that mill, I guess.”
“It could be Thiridea.”
“It could be Jonas. They’re the only two with the Ursa Bellor heraldry who could be anywhere near here. So much for Jonas being in the Sipran Keep.”
Felghanis pushed the pace and the form of the keep loomed above them in the white-grey of the snowstorm. As soon as the young necromancer saw the path leading to the gatehouse he broke into a full run, but the path was treacherously icy and he slipped. It jarred his wrist but he stood up and pressed on. The others took it slower and safer.
The gates were open, it seemed to Fel, but as he closed to a distance where detail was apparent he realised the half a foot of oak was severed as if by a massive chopper; the wood might as well have been nothing more than straws of carrot. Guards lay about in pools of blood, their bodies cleaved open in a pile of still steaming innards, each looking like they were cut down in a single massive blow. When the others arrived at the gate Felghanis was already in the main hall; guards, men, maids and children were in blood-drenched piles.
Somewhere above an inhuman voice laughed, “This door will not stop me.”
“Coward!” Felghanis yelled in challenge, the most real feeling of anger he had sensed in years. He moved past the dead and saw bloody hoof prints led up the stairs. Don, Kalista, and the dwarves caught up to him.
A splintering sound echoed from above. Screams and the smashing of armour reached the party’s ears. Together they raced up the steps in time to see an onyx skinned figure draw its double handed sword from the body of a retainer.
It faced back towards them and laughed. “More to the slaughter. Kill everyone in the keep.” It began to rush forward.
Felghanis uttered the curse of Blindness but it seemed to shrug off the magic. Don’s dogs were invisible, they could smell the infernal stench of the creature, and even though scared the hounds leapt into the battle.
Kalista wavered in her resolve. This… fiend was responsible for all the carnage and now it was bearing down on them. It was so strong, its blade swung almost impossibly fast, and it tore their defences to shreds. Even Kellor’s normally stalwart shield-work was no match for its dusky great-sword.
“Coward?” It laughed mockingly, eyes on Felghanis, and slipped past Don’ to fell the necromancer in a single stroke. “You cannot prevail.” It laughed again, berating them with its amusement at their efforts.
They stabbed at it and the hounds bit its legs trying to pull it down. Too strong, too steady on its feet, shrugging off the dogs’ attempts neither of the hounds managed to upset its balance.
Don’s shield shattered and the female dog used its Dimension Door ability to avoid what would have been a lethal blow to its skull. Felghanis hit the demon with a Ray of Enfeeblement and it visibly sagged. Kalista’s summoned dire ape battered at the fiend with little effect until the demon dispatched the conjured creature with a rapid volley of slashes.
Kellor’s shield was shattered, the dwarf knocked prone, and then in a blink of the eye Don’ was disarmed then felled also.
“I’ve been so stupid,” Kalista admonished as she drew one of the oils of curing they had after bartering with Madam Lim. With a few well-placed lobs and one passed to Aenir Felghanis and Don’ were healed enough to fight back.
But it was not enough. Kellor was trying to fight from the ground, as was Felghanis, and suddenly Fionnghal used his Dimension Door to escape the battle.
Kalista screamed, “We must run!” But she had to heal her friends, or at least try.
Aenir tumbled along the wall and got to the animist mage’s side. “You’re right, girl. Can you stop it chasing us?”
“I might be able to,” Felghanis commenced the summoning of a powerful undead creature from the nether plane.