Chapter Fourteen, Part Five
One of the skeletal bats breaks from the swarm and sinks needle sharp teeth into Arianna’s shoulder. The bite stings and brings with it a ghostly chilling effect which is equally painful.
Deathwish is also bitten once. He collapses limply to the floor and does not move. Bats blanket him to feast on his flesh.
Everyone else is able to guard against the swarm’s first charge.
“Skeleton bats? Who ever heard of skeletal bats? And just how can they fly without proper wings?” Melias asks.
Rastorn casts Magic Missile, centering all missiles on one of the bats attacking SeLiem. It clatters to the floor. “Turn these damn things, Priest!” he yells, as he prepares another spell.
After stripping off her leather chestplate, Claire readies her instrument and searches her memory for a song about the strength of warriors and the weakness of Undead things.
Still in the hall, Melias feels an invisible noose tighten around his neck and is pulled off his feet toward the rafters. A creature of similar size to him has strung a cord over the lowest rafter and is pulling on the other end. The creature was magically invisible a moment before, but is now totally visible to Melias’ Infravision, at least, since it is well-hidden in the shadows. Green, except for patches of red on it’s naked skin, Melias has never seen it’s like before, as it sticks upside down with one webbed foot on the wall and the other pushing against the rafter. Melias’ attempt to shout for help generates only a croaking sound, which is masked by the din of battle. He instinctively reaches for his neck with one hand and his sword with the other. If he can free his sword, he can use it to cut the cord or clang against the stone walls to gain someone’s attention.
“Dammit! Why is there always some stupid monster trying to kill us?” Arianna shouts.
Crying his name as she spots Melias, Claire drops her lute and hoists her crossbow. Unable to get a clear shot, she lowers it and prepares to cast Blindness on the monster choking him.
Kafeera moves to the front of the group, to more effectively utilize her long weapon. She hacks a bat, smashing away one of its wings, but the creature continues to fly unhindered. Magic, not physics, seems to be what has granted them flight.
Claire’s Blindness spell works and the creature hanging Melias screeches, drops the cord, and clutches its eyes.
The agile Melias lands on his feet, sword in hand, and the cord still tight around his neck. Gasping for air, he loosens the noose.
The creature crawls along the ceiling, screaming. It is headed out toward the stairs when whatever magic it was using to Spider Climb ends and it falls to the floor. Though injured from the fall, it quickly regains its feet.
Arianna ignores the monsters attacking her to push her way past the entire party as they fight. She had lost sight of Melias, but heard Claire’s reaction and knows her friend is in danger. Her movement draws the attention of the bats on Deathwish and they rise to attack.
Rastorn tells Kafeera, “They are called Bone Bats! They have a paralyzing bite that Elves are immune to and they take less damage from edged weapons than they do blunt weapons! Holy water doesn’t bother them, either, although they can be turned away by Priests . . . SeLiem!”
“You’re welcome,” Claire shouts to Melias as she follows him as he chases after the monster that tried to strangle him.
SeLiem Turns all the Bone Bats closest to him. They fly away to the far end of the cells. Since they are out of range, the two harassing Arianna continue to attack and she is bitten once more and decides to let Claire aid Melias.
Melias’ vision is blurred, causing his attack to be off-target, but Claire slashes the monster with her longsword.
They easily side-step as it turns to blindly attack with its claws.
As SeLiem orders the other Bone Bats to stay back, Kafeera and Arianna each strike one for minor damage and Rastorn Magic Missiles the one Kafeera is fighting.
Kafeera is bitten by the Bone Bat she is battling, but fights back the paralyzing effect through force of will and her general hardiness.
Claire steps back to don her armor and let Melias take the next shot.
Melias draws his short sword to fight two-handed while speaking to the monster, first in Common and then in Goblinoid. “Surrender and you may live through this,” he says.
The creature calms at the sound of Melias’ voice. It inches forward, shivering, and submissive, before abruptly clawing blindly at the Elf. One claw cuts only air, but the other strikes soundly and rakes Melias’ flesh.
Kafeera shrugs off the minor bite of the bat and keeps swinging, concentrating more on smashing them into a wall or the floor with the force of her blow.
“Have it your way,” Melias says and quietly steps aside to open his foe’s flank for attack. His feint works and he carves the creature with both swords.
The creature is bleeding and barely able to stand, but still hisses and spits blood in the general direction of Melias. It dives and claws out in the direction it believes Melias to be, but instead smashes into a wall. It stumbles back into Claire’s waiting blade. She pushes forward, slamming it back into the wall and skewering the dying monster on her sword.
Kafeera’s attack weakens the Bone Bat’s magic, causing it to burst apart before it even strikes the wall.
Arianna misses once, but connects on her second swing with the flat of her blade for minor damage on the remaining monster attacking her.
Rastorn scurries back into the hallway and says, “Arianna is still playing around with one of those Bone Bats, so could you take the lead and open some of these locked cell doors for us, Melias?”
“DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! Is it possible to kill these stupid things with a woman’s bitchy scream attack?” Arianna yells, as she again tries to re-kill the Undead bat. “Did I just refer to myself as a woman? By Kurosaw – this Curse needs to be reversed and quickly!”
“Awww, don’t say that, Arianna,” Claire says, striding to Deathwish’s side. “If you did that I’d be stuck ogling barmaids again. At least now I’ve got a sense of taste.”
The battle has made it difficult for Rastorn to get to the cells, so he casts Magic Missiles at the remaining bat, injuring it. Arianna gets two strong hits right after and the Bone Bat explodes into fragments of bone and dust.
“Melias, can you check this door now or do you think we should chase down the remaining Bone Bats and attempt to destroy them while SeLiem has them turned?” Rastorn asks.
Claire moves Deathwish aside, so she can pick the locked cell door closest to him.
Brushing the bone dust off her shoulders, Arianna smiles and heads for the Bone Bats SeLiem is keeping at bay.
Melias wiped off and put away his blades before approaching the concentrating Cleric. “Busy?” he asks through a tight smirk, as he hoists the SeLiem’s mace from where it rested in his belt. “Good, you won’t mind if I borrow this for a little bit then.” He smiles at Arianna as she stands at his side and tells her, “We should focus on one at a time. That way they won’t both come to attack us. Let’s start with the one on the right.” The mace seems big and bulky in his hand. He knows he won’t be able to use it with grace, but if he lands a hit the damage will be significant.
Arianna nods in agreement and they attack the same one. “This would feel like murder if they weren’t already dead,” she says.
“Lets just call it putting them to rest after they were so rudely awakened.”
“No, it’s called killing them. ‘Putting them to rest’ sounds like we’re having a funeral for them,” Claire comments, while attempting to pick the lock.
“SeLiem has a hammer, too. Why doesn’t Arturus use that on the bats, too?” Rastorn asks. He shrugs, then suggests, “Kayfeera, you should stay back since the Elves are immune to the paralyzation and I’m not sure how long it lasts. If this proves to be too dangerous, I can always cast some sort of spell.”
The first Bone Bat is easily destroyed, but it was one that had already taken a lot of damage. It is clear Melias’ attack with the mace was more effective than any weapon thus far.
“Well I didn’t know SeLiem had a hammer. It’s not my responsibility to keep track of his possessions,” Arianna tells Rastorn, speaking over her shoulder, so as not to take his eyes off the enemy. “SeLiem, would you mind letting me borrow your hammer?”
Bored with her inability to open the lock, Claire wanders over to Melias and Arianna.
“Use this. I’ll get the hammer,” Melias says, tossing the mace to Arianna.
Neither is familiar with the weapon they use, but Arianna takes up the magical hammer and strikes the next cowering Bone Bat. Melias misses with the mace and has to dodge as the monster ignores SeLiem and attacks him.
Claire attacks a different Bone Bat, and hits it. The monster retaliates, but she deflects its bite.
Noting how Rastorn is impatiently staring at a locked cell, Kafeera grabs ahold of the door and prepares to force it open.
Melias smiles and says, “That’s the way, Arianna – crush it’s magically flying bones to dust. That’ll teach it not to defy physics!” He swings the mace again as he catches a glimpse of Claire beating on a different Bone Bat. “I just don’t understand women.”
Arianna smiles at both of Melias’ comments, but it is the one about women that truly strikes his funny bone. “I think women are insane and now I personally can vouch for that as truth. This transformation does have it’s uses. In the future, if a woman tells me I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman I can say, ‘OH YES I DO!’ Then I’ll have to explain.”
“Bullshit. We’re just bored, mostly. I gave up on men a while ago and decided to stick with what I understood instead,” Claire says.
Kafeera grips the cell door and attempts to rock it open or bend the bars. Although she feels she’s close to breaking it open, she fails.
Rastorn grips the bars and pulls with all his might. He bends the bars apart! Shocked, he looks to Kafeera and shrugs, “You must have weakened them for me?” The cell with the strange orb within it is now open, but Rastorn refuses to enter until the Bone Bats are all slain and simply stands at the opening, watching the battle.
Melias and Arianna and Claire keep attacking the Bone Bats as SeLiem continues to hold the others back. Each of the three lands a blow, but if they do not destroy it on the first hit it attacks. Since they are able to keep from being bitten, they press on and Arianna smashes the one she was battling. Claire strikes again, but her weapon is doing less damage than those the Elves are using. They are easy to strike the first time, so Melias and Arianna thump another one, causing it to attack Arianna.
Claire continues to be lucky with her attacks and defending and destroys the Bone Bat she was fighting. She steps up to the last one and hits it, causing it to attack her.
SeLiem has no other creatures to Turn and is forced into battle, he hits Claire’s Bat with his morning star, knocking many bones clean off.
Arianna lands another mace attack, dodges a bite, then smashes the Bone Bat to the floor, as Melias swings and misses a couple more times with the heavy hammer. Meanwhile, SeLiem seems to be hitting every time he swings. Claire connects once more, before the monster flies into a position right between all four combatants. Arianna and Melias slam it to the ground, where it shatters.
Deathwish stirs and stands, just as the fight ends.
To be continued in Chapter Fifteen . . .
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