The Night is Freed



(The ravening forces of the Night Wing enjoy their new measure of freedom, flying through the forests with relative impunity. They ravage homesteads and chase travellers through the woods. A force of eight of the nightmare beasts tear through the air seeking prey, and find it.)

(They swoop low over a single traveller, hoping to send them into a panic. They circle back and land finding a calm, collected and unworried traveller.)

(The lead Night Wing draws its poisoned spears, and grins menacingly. There is a pause of a second and then the other Night Wing follow suit. The figure smiles slowly with thin lips, and the lead Night Wing catches his eyes. Primal, ageless, OLD. As bleak and cold as the sea under a midwinter sky. There is a moment of shocked recognition from the Night Wing, and then they flee.)

(The slim man’s thin smile broadened as the Night Wing took off. Two of them shrieked in mid air, crashed and shattered into myriad frozen body parts. One’s wings suddenly rimed with ice and crashed into a tree at full speed, killing it instantly. Another landed heavily having been similarly afflicted. It tried to rise again but couldn’t because of its frozen wings. Cramping pain bit into its gut and it collapsed. The pain began to grow and spread and the Night Wing started to convulse and scream as the agony grew, and it had to watch as its exoskeleton cracked and burst in places as its freezing insides expanded and grew. The other four lost control and fell towards a frozen lake that as they watched, suddenly unfroze. They impacted into the below freezing water with an almighty splash, and the lake refroze. One was caught completely beneath the ice and pounded on it futilely until the roaring and gonging in its ears grew too great and it sank into the purple dimness. Two more were caught half in and half out of the ice, but between two separate ice flows. The two flows moving against each other slowly crushed them, the screams, shrieks and cracks echoing across the still frozen ice. The leader of the Night Wing patrol was in a far odder position. His head was sticking out of the ice, but only from his nose upwards, trapped in a thick ice floe and totally unable to move. He heard footsteps. His eyes moved as far up in their sockets as they could go and saw the slim traveller watching him with a friendly smile. He started to walk away. It started to rain. The freezing sleet landed on the ice floe and pooled before freezing, building up the ice slowly and beginning to block the nostrils of the Night Wing Leader. His panicked burbling muffled cries built up as his air supply began to be cut off and he sucked more frigid water into his lungs. After twenty minutes of paralysing fear and terror, they were shut off. The area was once more completely calm, noiseless, and pristine. Of the slim traveller, there was no sign.)

(Cut to the heroes.)

(When they left the buried Guardian, Severen continued his policy of ranging out ahead into the forests, his left hand bandaged from the burn when he tried to pick up the knife blade that he’d thrown at the shadowy figure watching them previously. Periodically he’d return, carrying a bag full of weapons, or gold, or leading horses. No one said anything, but it was assumed, or hoped, that he’d merely been running into bandits in the woods and dealing with them in his quiet, private manner. Eventually they caught up with him, with startling suddenness. He was standing in the middle of the trail so still it was as though he’d been frozen. The horses panicked briefly when he turned to look at them, having assumed he was a tree. His axe was drawn and at his side.)

Severen: Be ready.

Altas: For what?

Severen: Night Wing.

Scarlet: Where?

Severen: (calmly) Out there. Heavy weapons work best, shattering their shells.

Intruder: How the hell do you know that! We only just encountered the things!

Severen: (gestures to the axe, visibly covered in chunks of black shell) I’ve been experimenting. I’d ambush them, but they listen more than people do.

(No sooner had he finished that statement than they arrived. A large swarm of the black beasts, leg by Shamaroth, who roared over the buzzing din of his minions, “I TOLD YOU I’D BE BACK!”)

(Scarlet disintegrated or merely set fire to three of the beasts as they came towards her with a negligent wave of her hand. Severen was a dervish of splattering mayhem, smashing the insects heavily to the ground with his axe and shattering their shells. Atlas was slicing at the buzzing horde and killing some, but the sword was not the most efficient way of dealing with them. Fortunately, his and Glitterspike’s armour largely saved them from the venom attack. Intruder was a different story. He was flailing wildly with his staff, occasionally charging it with arcane energy and blasting the Night Wing into camphor-smelling chunks. They weren’t giving him enough time though, and he was already wounded. Cobalt was doing what he could, but just wasn’t dealing enough damage. Mercy and Triesque were also having minor difficulty, due to the sheer numbers of their foes. And above the din, the screams of the horses, the cracks of the dying Night Wing, and the buzzing of the foe, Shamaroth roared continuous encouragement to his horde.)

Shamaroth: KILL THEM ALL! WE’LL FEAST UPON THEIR BLOODIED FLESH!

(Severen heard and started moving towards Shamaroth, smashing any Night Wing that got in his way with rapid blows of the axe.)

(Shamaroth saw the dark man’s approach and roared “LET HIM COME!” drawing his massive halberd.)

(The two dark combatants closed the gap between them, Shamaroth’s face drawn in a snarl of anger and elation in combat, Severen’s face expressionless but grim and head lowered, staring out at Shamaroth from under his eyebrows. Shamaroth swung first with an animal roar, but the axe blocked it so fast it almost appeared not to cross the intervening space. Still Severen advanced. Shamaroth swung again, only to be blocked by the axe materialising to the left, and was tipped off balance by Severen’s lightning swing of a sword that had appeared in his free hand. Shamaroth snarled at being outwitted and stabbed with the spike on top of the halberd. Severen’s two weapons caught it from their side, and Severen kicked him heavily in the knee. Shamaroth pressed the attack, despite his injury, heavy sword blows forcing Severen back. Severen countered with an overhead swing of the axe, blocked by the shaft of the halberd, but leaving an opening for Severen to punch him twice in the face with the butt of the sword. Shamaroth spat clear blood and lunged forward. Severen ducked under the blow and swung his leg sideways, knocking Shamaroth’s legs from under him, leaping to his feet and swinging the axe at where Shamaroth lay. Shamaroth rolled out of the way and punched Severen heavily in the gut with one of his free arms.)

(The rest of the battle was well under way. Scarlet was laughing ferally and burning Night Wing left and right, and Intruder had come into his own, beams of dark light draining from all the dead Dark Wing and giving him power.)

(Shamaroth dragged himself to his feet pointed to the winded Severen and roared “Kill him! My favour to he who bleeds out his life!” The hordes that were currently unengaged whipped around Severen in a mob, the wind from their passage whipping his long hair around his face. He shattered those he could with his axe, and with the numbers flying around him, he didn’t even need to aim. He slowly moved forwards towards Shamaroth again, green eyes locked on him. Shin hacked himself clear of the host too, clearly intent on correcting his mistake. Shamaroth saw the dark man hacking his way through his forces towards him and the rest of the group fairing well, he leapt into the air, and his minions followed him.)

Severen: (looking up at the sky where they had disappeared) We have to stop him.

Intruder: Why us? Can we rest a while first?

Severen: (still watching the sky) We started this, we have to finish it. We’re supposed to.

(He walked off through the battlefield as if that had finished the discussion, and the rest of the group bandaged themselves as well as they could, picked up their belongings and followed him, after a time.)