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Singing and staggering back across the Rubble

Freezeday, Illusion week, Fire season - evening

The numbers

Egil has decreed that the route taken is going to be the most direct between the pens and the camp, taking the normal route but staying about 50m off the paths and roads, and so they follow the path towards the Real City to start with. They will then skirt that to the east, passing Vur's old base, and join - or not quite join - the road from the Zebra Bridge where it turns south-east, following that until the fork to the south west that will bring them "home".

It's not fully dark yet, but it will be soon - as dark as it gets, with a clear sky and a half-moon. The group have some sources of light with them - in particular, Santhis' spear is glowing wiht a gentle, and he looks at it with with delight, evidence of Hereward's blessing, and the promise of Yelmalio's favour to come. Sextus the trollkin takes one look at it, whimpers, and scuttles to the far end of the group.

Abul's Carmanian magic shows as a white light in the blackness, and provokes no such reaction.

Meanwhile Egil's sword is shining with the Deathlight, viisble to the Humakt but to no-one else, and even then not really enough to light the way at any distance, and Yenda is using her newly acquired powers from the Legion wyter to Illuminate Darkess - one of her favourites, since she discovered how easy it made reading Jalmari scrolls, but now used for a less scholarly pursuit.

The journey towards the New City passes without major incident - the minor irrtants to be found in this area, rubble runners, muggers, and the like - know better than to attack a group this size, or one that includes Humakti.

Egil and Gerras, experienced scouts, move silently, avoiding obstacles even when they can't see them, but Yenda, far less experienced, tends to trip over unseen obstacles, of which there are plenty. Half-demolished walls, undergrowth, rabbit holes - this would be easy enough in daylight, but is much harder at night, a tiome when Yenda expects to be safely inside a temple, or guarding a camp from a stationary position, and Santhis has similar issues.

Abul has more experience at moving silently, and has the size and agility to be unobtrusive, but is distracted, in part by his pounding head, and in part by the stories he had been remembering earlier about demons in the darkness. His pauses and inadvertant noises are more to do with checking for and reacting to enemies, in particular one large bush that he had supposed to be a bear.

Abul, feeling reponsible, tries to stay as close as possible to Yenda to help her if needed. Since his childhood, he has developed a very keen expertise on hiding from the feared darknesses, but however in a low and bass voice he orders to Sextus his trollkin: "Stay alert, keep watchful and warn me if you detect danger around, make sure that we arrive safe at the camp and I give you my word that I'll get you something really good to eat as well-earned reward."

Despite his heavy and buzzing head, he closely checks the surrounding areas and beyond, hoping that the shadows nests there are just filled with nothing more than his own imagination's effects... but doubts remain.

Yaren has travelled in the dark before, and proceeds in a quiet and competent manner, as does Sextus, here in his natural enviroment.

They pass the Real City without incident, and approach the road, and Vur's former base.

"Right everyone, lights out unless we come in to contact with something that wants to fight us. Having lights on is about the surest way for that to happen here so we'll go in the dark unless your god lets you see without lighting the place up for all to see." Egil keeps his voice low to avoid attracting attention, "Keep your weapons and magic ready though, no telling what's behind the next wall."

Obediently, Abul immediately dispels his harsh white Idovanian light and takes the time to accustom his eyes to the night. "Let the trollkin go first, Yenda, I'll be the shield at your back," he offers to the young Humakti warrior. "Sextus will guide your footsteps quite surely, he is cautious when it comes to survival and will be quite cunning to get the food I promised him..."

Yenda complies, dropping the illuminate darkness and drawing her sword to generate more deathlight.

Santhis is thoughtful for a moment until suddenly his face brightens. "I just remembered an old trick my sergeant used to use." He takes a square of leather from his pack and wraps it round his spearhead forming a narrow cone. He ties the cone tightly below the spearhead and demonstrates that the light doesn't pass through the leather but form a narrow, weak beam that he point to the ground, the length of his spear ensures that only a small area is lit. "This should be sufficient for those of us who can't see by your deathlight," he confidently predicts. "Also the level of light is so low as to be virtually undetectable. What do you think Egil?"

Egil nods his approval, "Seems fine to me, as long as you can put it out the instant I give the signal to it should be ok. We might get unlucky and something see it from straight ahead but then they'll run into me first and I'll have my sword out."

"No problem, just watch." Santhis agrees and thrusts the spear into the ground neatly quanching the light.

Egil shrugs, "That works for me even if it is as pervy as Mav in a Uleria temple."

In the dark, Abul smiles and agrees. "But it's allowed at night by Karmanos' laws..." he just mutters with glittering eyes.

Egil gathers the small group around him and gives a quick lesson in fieldcraft, showing a few hand signals to help move silently. This way, follow me, stop, take cover, run and on me being a few examples. Just enough so that speaking will not be necessary. When he is happy that everyone seems reasonably competent he leads off into the darkness.

Holding Barzaad's Tooth, its Deathlight illuminating the ground in front of him, Egil begins picking a way through the rough ground ahead of him. He spots well in advance sticks, rocks and small holes that can catch out the unwary and create unwanted noise. As they approach tumbled down ruins of buildings he leads them around avoiding more noise creating things to stumble upon. Every time one of the group trips or stubs a toe or lets out a hissed curse in the darkness Egil cringes and pauses to allow everyone to catch their breath and settle before staring off again.

As they move further through the Rubble towards Vur's old place Egil becomes aware of movement at the edge of his vision. He pauses to look around before continuing on. After a while he comes to a halt and gathers the group around him. Talking as quietly as he can he whispers "There are trolls all around us. We are pretty much surrounded but at the moment they aren't showing any signs of attacking us. We'll keep going as it's better than just waiting here if they are going to attack but be ready to fight at a moment's notice. Any of you who can cast light spells have them ready first. The bigger and brighter the better, we'll be able to see by it and it could scare of any enlo who are going to join an attack. If we're really lucky some of the Legion might come and investigate."

He stands up and begins to lead the way again trying to avoid the larger concentrations of trolls.

"Trolls... trolls everywhere," thinks Abul with apprehension "Trolls are darkness demons... but darkness demons with a mortal shape and which can be controlled... I even have a small one at the end of a leash..."

A little bit reassured, paradoxically Abul is quite happy to go hidden by the night without having to mask his own fear in front of his fellows. Having more possibility to concentrate, he rolls in his mind the prayer against fear while walking cautiously in the Rubble listening to Egil's orders.

The group proceeds as quietly as possible beyond Vur's old base, and alongside rather than on the road, keeping perhaps a bow-shot away - it's hard to tell in the dark. The only light visible to normal sight now is the glow from Santhis' wrapped spear, and that only casts light on the area near his and Yaren's feet. Theyr'e more accustomed now to moving in the dark, and the only sound is from Sextus the trollkin - he knows he's surrounded by trolls, and is whimpering with fear and trying to cling to Yenda, who's holding his leash. They've spread out somewhat, and Abul realises that there are now trolls between him and Yenda, circling her but ignoring him. At the front of the party Egil comes to a similar realisation - he and Gerras are now separated from Santhis and Yaren.
The members of Hereward's Legion are starting to feel the wyter alerting them to preparations for an attack.

Abul knows that he's got only one advantage versus full armoured trolls in the Dark : his capacity to hide from them. One year ago, reasonably he should have hidden and waited in anguish for better warriors to solve the case, but now he was a warrior himself and he had pledged under several circunstancies to defend his fellows, humakti legionnaires, especially Yenda...

In silence he adjusts his Humakt-blessed sword and thinks 'Hum'Akt, I swore to you to defend your followers, so give me your strength!"

Trying to stay undetected in the night, he looks for the most dangerous troll threating Yenda and prepares himself to strike him in a vicious down slash from behind in the hope to cut a Achilles tendon, perhaps not a deadly attack but an effective one to put quickly someone out of the fight. Next move would be to cut a throat on the fallen troll or if missed to hide again in order to strike by surprise another time. "Remember Abul, you're protected by Spolite magic," he keeps thinking in a nearly magical mantra. "They can't detect you, they are as blind as you..."
Should he strike the first or wait for Egil's signal? Opportunity will tell...

Egil stops and shakes his head in frustration, this seems like it will end badly and not likely for the fools crashing around like a herd of aurochs. He signals to Gerras and then begins to head back towards the others. He readies himself for combat, his face contorting into his grim battle look, and tries to see if he can reach Santhis and Yaren while avoiding the trolls.

Egil is going to try and get as many people into a group as he can, if that is not possible to do he will just launch an attack. Attacking is not his preferred option as he is unsure of how many trolls he is facing and where they all are. So if he starts to fight an unknown but possibly very large number of trolls he has to stay to the end (being geased to do so) which would make it his last battle. His deathsong is already running through his head as he makes his way back.

As the import of Ashar's warning sinks into Yenda's mind she reacts quickly. Grabing Sextus and fliping her cloak over him she calls on her new wyter to hide her and and to hide their nature to something less eadible for the trolls. She is hoping that because Sextus is under her cloak that he will be hidden too.

As Abul tries to discern Yenda in the night, he perceives in front of him the enormous mass of a warrior troll. Very Slowly, his sweaty hand tightens on the hilt of his sword. He wants to strike, feeling quite sure that the demon doesn't detect him, but it's a demon after all... what will happen if he misses?

This is not the right question. Abul knows it as soon as it flourishes in his mind, but during night terrors his imagination is always wild and boundless... will the night creature summons Shades? Will he changes his shapes to grow sharper fangs and longer tusks? Will his weapons be able to shatter bones like rotten wood ? Will it kill ?

In his mind, unexpected memories arise now: slow whirlwinds of vaporous blackness, thin arms with sharp cutting talons, gaping throats pouring streams of blood, family members engulfed into darkness and reappearing as dismembered flying parts of their own body... silent murders and madness.... Silence exactly like now, with just his own heartbeat like a deafening drum in his ears...

Abul is now motionless, lost into inner visions catching all his attention, cursed with a creeping fear shaking his body like a spiritual possession. Then the voice comes back into his mind. In every panic crisis, it comes like a lullaby, the sweet alternative "Run, Kovis" it says. "Run and don't stop running".

Abul is now trapped between two opposed poles fully paralysing him: on one side, a blind Yenda requesting his help, on the other side a mute voice inviting him to a safe escape...

Creeping through the dark towards the dim light of the spearhead, Egil can see several trolls heading in that direction. Making sure to avoid them he walks stealthily up to Santhis. He grabs the spear and thrusts the illuminated tip into the ground. "Trolls coming. Put out the light and follow me. Be ready to fight. Silence from now on," he says in a low whisper.

Egil moves to where he hopes or expects Yenda and the trollkin to be, checking regularly behind to make sure he hasn't lost anyone.
Being unable to find them he raises Barzaad's Tooth above his head, so the deathlight is more visible to anyone who can see it. Then hoping that Yenda is looking in the right direction he makes the signal for "On me" and waits for the woman and the trollkin to make their way to him.

Yenda is relieved to see Egil approaching, but as she sees him looking about she realises that the magic of the tenth is working well. When she sees the assemble signal she immediately starts forward.

As they reach him he pulls out his dagger and thrusts it into the ground to create a Silence of the Grave. His demon-like face gives her a start and terrifies the trollkin to screaming but the sound is killed by the magic.

"Orders?" she signs to Egil, her free hand shaking slightly, having lost all of her earlier bravado. But, despite her fear, her mind is still working, even if communication is hampered by the need to use swordspeach. She thinks a moment longer and deliberately blows the doomwind at Egil then signs. "Attack enemy. Query enemy attack or retreat?"

Egil signs back, "Regroup, retreat. If attacked I hold. Keep all silent." He pulls the dagger from the ground and heads off to find Abul.

He can see Abul easily enough, standing still a little further back. He can also see the two dark trolls and six trollkin between them. Estimating chances, he himself could probably sneak past them, but the chances of the rest of the group doing so, especially en masse, are considerably lower.

Before he sets off to gather in Abul, Egil takes a moment to look about at the trolls and trollkins to see if he can work out the size of his problem.

Those two are only a part of the gang - he'd passed two more dark trolls on the way back to find Yenda, there are at least three in Vur's old base, and perhaps another half-dozen in the surrounding area. It's hard to estimate the numbers of trollkin, but three times as many as there are of their masters is normal, and that seems to fit what he can see here.

Egil gives a resigned look to the others and in the quietest whisper he can manage he says "Right, we take those 2 big ones. I'll stay and fight, the rest of you get Abul and run. Gerras will lead you home." He calls up his Great Blow magic while his Visage of Fear ripples across his face, as he asks for the wyter's blessing to make Barzaad's Tooth unbreakable. Then he springs from his low crouch and charges the larger of the 2 trolls swinging his blade at it and hoping the others have obeyed him.

Yenda hesitates only a heartbeat before pressing Sextus' lead into the hand of a surprised trader and charges after Egil. She musters what magic she can starting with Ashar's unbreakable blade, she then puts on her own visage of fear and finally as she executes her swift strike she throws the Doomwind full in the face of the troll.

Egil's face is frozen in its horrific mask as he stands and charges at the large troll, Gerras is half a step behind. His roar alerts the troll. The troll grabs the arm of the nearest enlo and hurls him towards the two men. As they dodge aside from the flying trollkin the troll steps forward swinging its macelow at Egil's legs. He crashes to the ground as Gerras gets shoulder-barged to one side. Rolling to his feet Egil shouts "Follow Gerras home, I'll hold them back!"

At first without a word, jumping from behind, Abul swings his long prepared slashing blow. Hoping to cripple the monster's leg by surprise, he strikes the tendon of the ankle he aims at, putting all his strength and faith in his sword.

Perhaps it is an effect of surprise, preparation or Humakt's blessing answering his cultists' rescue, but the sword bites cruelly into the troll who falls on one knee in a suffering growl.

The combination of the doomwind in his face and a grotesque female warrior attacking him throws off the trolls attack on Yenda. He takes a wild but powerful swing at her. Her quick reactions and Jalmari training allow her to slide under the blow. The mace whistles over her head and, before the troll has any chance to pull the blow, it crunches into one of the trolkin. Yenda digs in her heels and half rises on his right side, which is completely open from his overextension. She decides that reducing the numbers of trolls that can follow would be best and slashes hard at the poorly protected back of his exposed leg. Not killing the troll but badly hampering his ability to chase them down.

Both trolls are now immobilised, but others, alerted by the noise, are moving in.

Gerras has retreated as ordered, and together with Santhis, Yaren and Sextus, is making his way towards "home". Egil, Yenda and Abul form a loose circle, back to back, and as they now realise, surrounded by perhaps a dozen dark trolls and three or four times that number of trollkin.

Egil stands in an attacking posture facing the nesrest troll, his monstrous face leaving him to be replaced by one of rage. He stalks towards the troll and begins to sing in a rumbling baritone swinging his sword as he does, the wind howling a musical accompaniment.

"In a land of darkness
Only war makes them live
No one knows who they are
It's too late to know it
Death warriors without fear
Destroying all around
They are back, back to kill
With violence and bloodshed
Only death in their souls"

Hearing Egil's desperate war song, Abul answers with his deep bass chanting voice by a carmanian-inspired stanza, perhaps to inspire Egil, most probably to find courage for himself :

"In the Darkness, hope remains,
Memories of brighter days,
Risible flinching spark.

But whatever the pains,
Keep on your ways,
Light will overcomes the Dark."

Onward to the arrival of the cavalry

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