Sclerain Swamp, in Canterwall
The 22nd day of Rova, 4711 AR – morning
The party forms a rough semi-circle around Alika and stands ready in equal parts for battle or conversation. Most present have already noticed the finely crafted bolts the woman has for her crossbow; they are of exact same sort of projectiles that slew Variel’s familiar, Glory. Anger swirls in the air like embers from a blazing forge.
Alika does not bother to deny slaying the hawk, and claims that she believed that the creature belonged to Sylle Ru. In payment she draws her dagger and cuts the small finger from her left hand. Her sacrifice in blood does not impress the party. Albia stays mounted, and hedges in close, intent upon cutting off any possible escape attempt on Alika’s part. Josuf dismounts, and eases in close to her other flank. Kymrych draws his sword and stands before her, obviously blazing now with righteous fury. The other members of the band stay back a bit, and prepare arrow or spell. For her part Alika does not seem concerned, and leaves her sword in its sheath – at least for now.
Alika tells you that the hound is dead, and so is Mollock and his whore. There is no reason for you to be enemies. She suggests you ride north with her, and take service with the mayor of Chastel, who is hiring mercenaries for a coming sortie against bandits in the Shudderwood. You are unmoved by this transparent attempt to belaying your hostility; then Akorian surreptitiously casts a mind-reading charm, and sees deep into the darkest corners of her mind. She is here for Albia, and Albia alone.
You are never quite sure who decides to attack first; although in all likelihood it is Variel, who has had an enchanted arrow nocked and drawn for the entire conversation. The death of his animal friend only makes his initiation of combat all the more likely. Whatever the truth of the matter, once steel is drawn, chaos is certain to follow. Alika draws her sword with a speed that is breathtaking to behold; her sword lashes out, and cuts Kymrych badly across the flank. Her blade seems to flash with some sort of unholy light, and Kymrych’s flesh is charred by even the slightest contact with it.
You all attack immediately, of course. But Alika is obviously a master of blades; she seems to dance away from each sword-thrust, or dodge the occasional fleeting arrow. She cannot avoid each attack, of course, but she manages to turn aside most of them, all the while cutting and dodging, and drawing blood with each cut of her sword. Within seconds Kymrych is sliced and gouged in several places, and slowly weakens from pain and blood-loss. Akorian summons the very shadows around you to twist and constrict that fast-moving figure, but she somehow manages to break free – at least for the moment.
Talathel pulls a rope from the saddlebags of Doxine’s horse, and murmurs quiet words of power. The rope, now tied into a noose, floats gently over to Alika, and is slipped around her neck. Nadine takes up the other end and gives it a sharp tug, thus jerking Alika off-balance, and choking her. Variel puts an arrow in her thigh, drawing blood. Josuf cuts her badly in the shoulder, and then Alika manages to slice the rope with her sword. Akorian’s shadows swirl about her impotently, and then Alika begins a slow, cautious fighting withdrawal up the stairs behind her, towards the open doors of Lord Mollock’s manor house.
“Yah!!!!” Steel-shod hooves clatter on chipped stone as Albia spurs her mount up the far left side of the steps. Within moments she has cut Alika off from escape, and circles around behind her. Alika’s blade flashes out, driving the lot of you back, and then she spins about, and plunges her gore-streaked sword to the hilt in the horse’s flank. The piteous creature neighs in agony, and rears back. Albia is thrown clear, and the horse collapses to the steps, shuddering out its last. Albia’s sword clatters across the steps, and she reaches desperately to recover it. Then she feels Alika’s sword at her throat.
“Don’t move, my lovely one.” Alika grabs at Albia’s long, bone-white hair with her mangled hand, smearing it with fresh blood. Within a heartbeat she has worked her way around behind the Chelish knight, and keeps her blade firmly at her throat. Her free, mangled hand remains tangled in Albia’s hair, and forcibly yanks her head back to better expose the soft curve of her throat.
None of you dare move. Not for the moment. Instead you eye Alika, and she eyes you. Then the odd, almost feral woman begins to chant, to murmur words of power, and some of her more severe injuries slowly knit themselves closed.
“All right, Lord Sarani. Now you and I can speak as equals.” Alika smiles, and frothing madness seems to dance behind her eyes. “I’ve come here for the girl. Nothing more, nothing less. You let me go, and she lives. You take even one more step towards me, and I cut her throat. What say you?”