The Whisperer in Darkness
Without further hesitation, Grimlock leapt back, dug his heels into the ground, readied his axe for a powerful swing and surged forwards, launching himself at the construct and using the momentum to cleave his mighty weapon through the air with bone shattering speed and power. CLACK. The onlookers stared in The General’s direction, struggling to see through the dust cloud kicked up by the dragonborn’s energetic assault. Silhouetted figures became visible through the brown murk – both Grimlock and the construct stood stock still, getting the measure of each other, the axe was being readied again, though it seemed that it had merely ricocheted uselessly off of the creature’s outstretched arm.
The construct made a sudden movement, bringing it’s other arm up and over in a huge arc, in an attack that could perhaps kill the dragonborn outright. Grimlock moved with impressive speed, his axe lashed out from his side, batting the colossal arm away. The two were locked in seemingly even combat.
Tarkus moved swiftly, tearing up the soft ground underfoot as he went to his companion’s aid. Two quick and powerful strikes from his axe were aimed for the beast’s midriff, and parried with alarming ease by a single arm, as the other one continued to engage Grimlock.
As an arrow fired from Euven whipped over his shoulder, going slightly wide of the target, Greil readied a spell he had not used in some time; a burst of freezing energy formed a cloud around part of the construct, aimed so as to wound the foe but to avoid hitting the battling mercenaries. Greil thought it likely that damage would have been done by the attack, though if this was the case, the colossus showed no sign of caring. Gregg felt much the same as one of his prayer’s also hit home.
Sudden bouts of arcane energy surged at the end of the two flanks, positions being covered by Gregg and Euven. Both combatants spun, the invoker having felt the energy and the elf having heard a mysterious whooshing of air, as if the earth itself had inhaled. Dirt, dust, soil and rocks began to rise from the ground a few feet from both of them, whipped into a twisting frenzy by miniature vortexes. But these constructs were not the same as before, being twice the size and surrounded by an arcane aura considerably more potent. Euven reacted in an instant, throwing his bow to the ground and swinging his sword in a quick slash in the same movement used to remove it from its scabbard. His target merely swirled around the blade, dodging it as if sucking in its gut and the elf heard a deep, throaty cackle on the wind as it rippled over him.
For several, achingly long, moments, battle was locked on all fronts, no combatant gaining ground against another – Grimlock and Tarkus kept the stone beast at bay as Greil continued to assault it with the freezing cloud, which petered out seconds later, Euven dodged and slashed at the swirling demon facing him, whilst Gregg muttered prayers which failed to take hold of his vortex.
The stalemate was broken on all fronts at the same moment – Euven landed a hit on his opponent, finding a solid mass as the twister’s centre, an upward swing from Tarkus caught the stone construct off guard and dug deep into it’s stomach area, sending large chips of rock cascading through the air, Greil, having switched his focus, scorched Gregg’s foe with a gout of flames from his hands and the invoker himself launched an orb of searing light from his own hands, connecting dead centre with the beast, which let out a howling wail of pain. Grimlock even managed to remove a small chunk of the stone monster as he ducked a powerful swing from one of the huge arms.
Unfortunately, the tide did not change for the mercenaries alone. Seconds after being burnt by the pair of magic user’s dual attacks, the vortex facing the two rushed forward as it’s constant revolutions suddenly increased in speed and intensity. Energy exploded from the whirlwind as it came face to face with Gregg, the invoker was thrown almost ten feet through the air by the concussive blast and came to rest roughly on the hard ground, shards of rock and shrapnel embedded in his face and chest. Greil, having narrowly avoided the onslaught, quickly glanced at the downed invoker and saw that he was making no attempt to stand; medical assistance was required.
On the mercenaries’ other flank, Euven bore the brunt of an attack from his whirlwind, as it slammed in to him at incredible speed, buffeting him with swirling chunks of sharp stone. The elf gritted his teeth and retaliated, seeing an opportunity, being that he was essentially in the eye of the storm. His sword slash hit home and the vortex retreated several feet away. The two foes watched each other, both injured but unwilling to give ground.
Needing to buy some time, Greil snapped his fingers and wreathed the advancing whirlwind in flames, whilst nearby, Tarkus and Grimlock continued to chip away chunks of the rock beast between dodging it’s powerful swings, knowing that just one hit could spell their doom. The battle was about to take a turn for the worst.
Tarkus landed another powerful hit on the creature’s stony side, but the energy that had gone into the swing had come at the expense of his peripheral vision; a gargantuan stone fist clouted him across the side and sent him sprawling into the dirt by the monster’s feet, pain flourishing in his chest as several ribs snapped. The goliath assumed the foetal position and gasped in air, hoping that Grimlock could hold his attacker’s attention.
Greil, the offending vortex still approaching lashed out with his staff in a desperate bid for time, wanting to keep the elemental marauder away from his fallen comrade. The attack has little effect. The arcane tornado bore down on the wizard and sucked in a wave of air as it prepared for another explosive blast. Greil fired a look at Gregg again and, seeing that he was out of harms way, teleported as the space he occupied half a second earlier exploded with raw energy.
Euven unfortunately hadn’t the ability to teleport and thus bore the full force of the same explosive attack being fired from his opponent. The elf felt decimated, one more lucky hit and he was done for. He sprinted, mustering up energy from deep within, and took cover behind a nearby tree.
The ground shook beside Tarkus and he quietly sighed in relief; the stone monster had just struck the floor with a boulder-like fist, mere inches away from the goliath’s skull. He saw his opportunity and leapt to his feet, Grimlock had held the beast off for long enough for Tarkus to steel himself for further combat. The goliath stood and was promptly pounded back into the ground by a vertical slam from the other fist. Something ruptured in his head and Tarkus’ rapidly swam into the inky black depths of unconsciousness.
From his new position, Greil witnessed the devastating attack on Tarkus – he needed to end this quickly. The vortex had yet to notice that the wizard had reappeared merely a few feet behind it and was unable to defend the bolts of blue, streaking lightning fired from Greil’s fingers striking it in the back. The construct screeched in rage as it turned and barrelled towards the wizard, whose conjured mage-hand was unable to bat the attacker aside, despite valiant efforts. The beast slammed into Greil.
Having also seen Tarkus floored, Grimlock attempted a devastating swing from behind the creature. As his axe tore through the air, the giant’s thick elbow lashed out towards the dragonborn, hitting him square in the chest and knocking him back, cancelling the attack. Grimlock staggered and remained on his feet, only to suddenly be assaulted from behind, as the vortex which had previously been occupied by Euven drove into his back, buffeting him with sharp rocks and sheer force. The General turned to face this threat in time to see one gigantic slab of sword-sharp granite hurtle towards his chest. There was nothing he could do; a piece of that size travelling at that speed would tear through him in an instant. The chunk slammed into his chest and bounced off with a loud clang. The armour he had taken from his fallen kinsman, truly it had fantastical properties. The dragonborn was stunned.
Fighting a moving battle, Greil slowly made his way towards Gregg, deflecting one particularly powerful blast from the vortex with an arcane shield. This defensive manoeuvre provided the wizard with the slimmest of opportunities, but it was one he took; flying to his knees beside the fallen invoker, he applied what medical knowledge he had, and was able to stabilise Gregg’s breathing.
Grimlock’s attention returned to the stone monster, which had now turned to face him, both seemingly deciding that each other made the worthiest opponent. The General dodged a large strike and took yet another small chunk from the beast, which was now riddled with chips and holes and seemed to be weakening. The retaliation was a new tactic, instead of the lumbering, skull crushing punches of earlier; the construct assaulted the dragonborn with a flurry of lighter but more precise blows, landing a series of hits on the warrior’s chest and chin. Grimlock took it like fucking Rocky as the flanking vortex once again began to slam into him.
The situation was becoming desperate and though stabilised, Gregg had yet to wake up and come to Greil’s aid. The wizard got back to his feet and rounded on the whirlwind, a look of pure malice on his face. With a powerful and well aimed kick, Greil sent the construct flying backwards and wreathed it in a cloud of arcane stench within seconds. The wizard finally seemed to have found the creature’s breaking point; in a diminished and paltry blast of energy compared to earlier efforts, the vortex petered out of existence.
Euven surveyed the battle field. Two of his team mates were down and one was locked in brutal combat with a gargantuan stone behemoth and the swirling nightmare he himself had faced. He had to act fast. Sprinting from cover, a second wind of energy and strength washing over him, the elf grabbed his bow and darted towards the pummelled dragonborn, slashing with precision across the vortex’s back then side stepping nimbly as he entered the fray.
Though victorious, Greil had no doubts about the severity of the situation, he fired an arcane bolt at the rock beast as he turned to face the battle’s final front. Grimlock felt chunks of stone rain down on him as he saw the bolt explode against the monster’s upper-body. He swung his axe over and over again in a frenzy, removing huge sections of rock as he cleaved into the beast, his onslaught dying out however as the demonic whirlwind propelled itself into him yet again. The General was on his last dregs of energy; even standing had become a chore.
The conflict was ended in one fluid movement, so quick that the on-looking wizard, who had the best chance to make sense of what happened, stood in stunned silence as he tried to piece together what he had witnessed. Euven slashed the vortex diagonally, expunging whatever force held it together in an instant, then sidestepped towards the towering golem, bringing his sword up as he did so. Silence. The beast let out a bellowing moan as it teetered to the side and erupted into a pile of rock and stone.