It Takes a Villain (Part 5)

Spindler and Ponce, the two xvarts in the group, managed to limp to Tabeetha and each took one of the pearls she had plucked from inside of the roses. In exchange for this they gave her ten brand new gold coins, and the child danced around for joy. This is how it is when one doesn’t have a clear sense of the value of something and why the uninformed are so easily duped by those more cunning and well read.

Gilla slipped the glowing green stone into one of the pockets in her robe and took stock of the situation. They had gotten what they had come for, so in that the mission had been a success. The bags that were being carried by the xvarts and Lendler’s kinfolk though were not being taken back empty. The huntsmen in the group were busy removing the teeth from the green dragon’s corpse, and September claimed a sack of her claws. Elliott, the human huntsman, managed to salvage some of the scaly hide for use later. None of this was unusual. Adventurers always took whatever they could whenever they felled a dragon.

The two shadow elven archer lords kept a wary eye on their surroundings with arrows nocked. The enchanted arrows they had shot into Untote Druuna had been destroyed on impact due to the powerful magic they had been imbued with. While this limited their ability to fend off another attack they were still well stocked with “normal” arrows. What bothered the eldest shadow elf was that they didn’t any of them know what might be lurking in these woods. Haven’s version of Forêt Verte was just accurate enough to be unsettling.

Baron Chaverin, the priestly drider, healed the wound in Gilla’s back and gave her a pat on the top of her head. With a smile he said, “The hardest part is over. Let’s go finish looting the beast’s cache and get out of here before something even worse happens.”

Gilla cackled in agreement, and the group formed up and made their way towards where the dragon’s lair was. Tabeetha happily skipped ahead of the sinisterly minded adventurers. Not only did she know the way by heart, but she was happy to have people here to talk to. Most of her time in Haven had been spent playing hide and go seek with unwary and unaware playmates. They were chosen by Gilla the night hag and communicated with Tabeetha via some sort of mental telepathy. There had been the mummy guy in the green robes, and then the dragon that they just killed. For a while she had been trying to find and follow a half elven banshee but that hadn’t worked out and the banshee had managed to evade Tabeetha. Finally, the wee little girl had people that were aware of her and wanted to chat and give her gold coins.

Upon arriving at the huge stone gazebo that sat atop a rocky cliff overlooking the river, Tabeetha exclaimed happily, “This is where the dragon slept and kept all of her goodies!”

Baron Chaverin came up quickly, his spider legs clicking on the stone pathway. “Stay here, little girl. There might be trouble.” he said quietly. Casting a protective spell, the drider began to glow with a slight purple hue. He moved forward with his mace in his hand ready for action.

As he warily stepped inside the gazebo, the group was shocked and forced to take a pace or more backwards as Chaverin was completely encased in fire as if he had been doused with oil and had napalm dumped on him from an invisible bucket. With a short scream of agony, the drider stumbled backwards and collapsed in a flaming heap of bone and cartilage. The archer lords and the goblinoid huntsmen drew their bows and aimed for the arched stone doorway of the gazebo should an enemy appear. Everyone else in the group scrambled to take evasive measures.

Chaverin’s corpse continued to smolder as a figure stepped into the doorway. Clad in a bright crimson and white robe with a hood and wearing a mask of pure alabaster to cover its face, the entity held up its right hand. The arrows that flew at him simply bounced off of an invisible barrier. In a hollow voice that echoed slightly as though whispered from a great void, the red and white robed person said, “The property within belongs to the Church. You are trespassing.”

September started to take a step forward, but Gilla placed her hand on her arm to stop her. The night hag raised her voice and asked, “Just who in the deep abyss are you?”

The robed person held out both of their hands towards the group and said simply, “Return.”

There was a snap as if the group had been struck by lightning, and the feeling of being thrown violently by unseen giants into a maelstrom. One by one the group tried to regain their footing and struggled to open their eyes. Elliott was the first to speak, and said breathlessly, “What happened? Where are we?”

September was face down in the dirt in what appeared to be a meadow. Several hundred feet away the two goblinoid huntsmen were trying to get out of a shallow river. Elliott was upside down in what turned out to be an old fallen tree. One of the xvarts was sitting in the water right along the riverbank, and the other one was hanging by his belt about thirty feet up a tree on the other side of the river. Lendler was about forty yards from September tangled up in some sort of berry bush in the meadow. His brother Galen was up against a tree on the other side of the meadow and had a nasty head wound. Lucien and Azriel, Lendler’s nephews, were on top of each other and under another fallen tree. Lendler’s son Gerard was laying on his back on a rock in the middle of the river, blood running down his arm into the water. The two shadow elves were on the other side of the river, the youngest trying to stand up against a tree and the older one seemed to be looking around for his missing arm.

September spit the dirt out of her mouth and said weakly, “Where is Gilla?”

Her inquiry was met with pained groans. One of the goblinoid huntsmen managed to get out of the river and collapsed on the ground nearby. “That could have gone better.” he said with a wince and pulled a small stick out of his leg.