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RP:Dagger in the Dark

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This is a Warrior's Guild RP.

Part of the Township Troopers Arc

Part of the The Day I Tried To Live Arc

Summary: Lionel orders the Warrior's Guild to war. The team enters a vast underground cave network in search of the queen of the recent insectoid infestation, but Amarrah -- Khitti's evil 'other' -- has plans of her own. Caught between an endless horde of super-sized bugs and the wicked ambitions of a woman scorned, the Warrior's Guild fights for their lives. In the chaos, all will suffer. In the aftermath, Lionel begins to suspect the guild's latest battle has only begun.

Frostmaw: Snowless Training Yard

Lionel awaits the arrivals. ‘Come one, come all,’ the letter read, but the reality is that the members of the Warrior’s Guild all have lives -- some more hapless than others -- and it’s a busy year here in Lithrydel. Dressed in his thin black silks, but with Hellfire strapped to his back and an assortment of combat knives holstered to his belt, the man looks the part of an oddly casual hero of war. He’s snapped off a big piece of wood and thrust it down into the soil near the northern edge of the snowless training yard, and he hops atop it and watches. Several wyverns, graciously lent by Queen Hildegarde, are gathered on the eastern side. Supplies are nearby. It’s clear to all those gathering that a mission is prepped, if not yet formally announced. And then, once a crowd has formed, Lionel begins. “A week ago, this place was attacked. It was deliberate. They knew what they were doing. We lost one of our instructors but we hit ‘em back and we hit ‘em hard. Thing is, the attackers weren’t soldiers from some nation. They weren’t drug lords or pirates or foreign merc units. They weren’t even saurians. They were frakking big bugs -- I mean, bigger than big, colossal -- and they were tough. I contacted Rorin posthaste. Together with Oline -- raise your hand, Oline, say hi to the class for me -- we scouted a tunnel in the Southern Sage. What we found defied expectations. A massive colony of the things, complete with what looks like a queen. We’re talking hundreds of supersized insectoid freaks. And I can tell you they have acquired a taste for humanoid life. A whole border town’s worth of humans and elves, stripped clean for its every morsel.” Lionel fails to maintain his composure now; a visible grimace surges and he balls his left fist. “We’re going back. Today. Right now. Pack your bags and hop a wyvern -- or run, but run fast -- because the Warrior’s Guild’s strapping up to kick ass and take names all over again, folks, and I doubt these bastards have names for the taking.”

Lionel | A deep breath is drawn. Inwardly, Lionel’s mind is racing, but the burdens of command mean some level of poise, even for someone as spry and snappy as him. “Two teams.” He scans the group, giving Rorin in particular a meaningful nod. The pair had planned for much of this, after all -- laboriously, and long into the night. “One team’s up for distraction. We scour the tunnels and we make some noise. Expect heavy resistance. I’ll be leading this one. Rorin, Ameno, Oline, Manasa. You’re with me. The other team’s the clincher. Infiltration and the assassination of that grotesque queen-looking motherfrakker. We’ll keep ‘em occupied while you stalk your way to the central chamber. Khitti, Valen, Emrith, Eirik. That’s your cue.” The Catalian then eyes his fellow countryman, shrugging. “Ah heck, Brand, you’re not even supposed to be here, anyway -- hop along with them, would you?” Lionel jumps down from the makeshift podium, speeding toward the wyverns and running a hand down one of their necks reassuringly. “Shh,” he whispers. Then he bounces back around and clears his throat. “Rorin’ll fill everyone in on anything else worth noting. Questions, comments, thinly-veiled declarations of our collective insanity -- save ‘em all for the trip. We leave at once.”

Rorin came early. Not surprising since he basically lived in the dorms here and had been for nearly the past week. Rorin wore his armors, a full covering reflective face mask in a plate helm, half plate on his chest, joints, and lower limbs, and his frostmaw coat of ice blue inlaid with winter wolf fur. Silvers and symbols of religious and militia orders as well as the symbol of Arkhen about his neck and two lockets, one on each side of his hips. Finally the gauntlets and grieves were adjusted with the weapons belt around his waist carrying a couple of weapons. His crossbow was a yew-bodied, three track, short headed, wide armed, silver smithed, front lever loaded, collapsible model with full pressure trigger- and his belt carried the 3 12 round magazines loaded with tin auger that went with it as well as special magazine of 6 rounds holding heavy bronze cored aurger bolts. Compared with that his silver broadsword seemed plain at best. Some pouches lined his belt and Rorin was as prepared as the yard around him. Rorin took in Lionels speech from behind his helm with quiet dignity. He hoped not too many people looked at him with the mention of his name but he felt twice as bad for Oline that gentle giant girl. Deep breaths. Literally kingdoms were at risk here. Lionels nod made him try to calm. He was sort of hoping no one found out half these ideas had come from him. His brow furrowed and turned to the crowd. Whoever Brand was at least Lionel seemed to trust him. Rorin approached the wyverns busily with others as they sectioned off and tossed something to; Ameno, Oline, and Eirik, before further explaining. "Right these are your talismans. Each one can be activitated by reciting the enchantment word on the back. These won't keep you safe- they're just for the caves. Deep inside gasses are heavy and I encourage you to use these as we will not be able to turn back and rescue anyone who has passed out due to their own failures. In addition they will also provide a source of light. We cannot use torches nor lanterns once we reach the depths of the cave or the gasses will ignite. That means no explosive magics, no flames, no sparks of any kind- or there will be no remains of us or Kelay either. That said, just turn them on at the right time, you'll know why, and they should work as long as you need them. As far as intelligence goes we know at least three types of enemies. Goliath beetles are giants in armor with extreme regenerative capabilities; you must strike their underside or they are doubtful to even be phased let alone die. Mantis types are fast and their arms are sharp. Be careful, they're crafty, and they tend to be precise. There are others- grubs amd acidic spitters, but our assassins need to mainly focus on the Queen. At the center of the Hive she will be heavily protected by an insane number of these bugs. Your mission is ultimately to kill the Queen while we secure an exit and get everyone home. Each one of us shall not fail in our tasks. Gods be with us," he tried not to follow that with -or we all die- but it was rather difficult considering. As he looked around though he did not see one face without confidence. Everyone would die for their jobs. He prayed they wouldn't have to.

Valen had honestly no idea what was going on for the moment but would listen to Lionel as best he could. He knew enough about the bugs by now, but the Green Hued eyes that were gazing from his sockets. Going back now? Today? Well, it would not be the first time he went into danger for his other half but at the same time, Maldor could honestly have cared less. He was simply in this for Valen, and his safety. Well then, so he was with the red-head that he talked with Rorin about earlier, and the idea to do what Rorin suggested was urging him in the back of his mind but he knew now was not the time or the place. Then that Paladin in question spoke, and he listened to him as best he could. A queen? A nest? Oline had certainly been correct then in that information. All he is doing now in the end, is simply just absorbing all of that information, in silence though anyone that sees him will know he is thinking hard.

Khitti watched on in silence as Lionel dished out the instructions and gave assignments for who goes to which team, dressed in her typical dragonscale attire that she always showed up to these gatherings in. Her line of sight first bore into the Catalian leader, a cheshire-like grin sweeping across her features, hidden in the darkness of that hood. As the minutes drew on, and as Rorin blathered away endlessly about the awful, terrible, no-good insects, she took stock of all those gathered. Rorin, the paladin. His magic could prove to be unfortunate again, but he was young enough--and stupid enough--that he could be dealt with easily. Eirik, the overgrown wolf in sheep’s clothing. Easily distracted by his own rage. Emrith, seems to love the shadows. Shadows can be manipulated. Valen, utter disgrace of a vampire and mage. Easily picked off. She didn’t know much about Ameno, and knew nothing of Oline and Manasa. That could be problematic. Lionel and Brand, they were the worst of all. She’d find a way though...she damn well had to. Regardless, once the order to move out is given, she’d give nothing more than a nod in response, the action half-hearted at best. Just blend in. Brand was forever ignorant of things, how hard could it be to keep the mask up this long? The redhead gave Brand a light hit to his arm, as if to say ‘let’s go’, and then went willingly to the wyverns. Willingly? Strange… Didn’t she hate flying?

Eirik stands near the edge of the training yard, adorned in ashen paint and dressed for war. Blackened chain mail sleeves weave into steel pauldrons which sit just beneath a mound of furs. Scuffed up steel greaves protect the tops of booted feet and die just below the knees. The rest is adorned in silver stitched black leather and cotton drab. True to his heritage, Eiriks scarred visage tells tales of a berserking mad-man, though anger inducing medicines had been left out of his ashen concoction. A simple spear in right hand, steel wrapped round shield in left, and Brann Forbruker lay tied to his hip. He was more than ready. Eyes flick to Lionel as he speaks and shifting to Rorin at his turn. He ignores the matters between the two, deciding this was far more important. The item given is taken note of, but Eirik remains silent. No fire. Right. Silver hues move from one team member to the next. The Northman knew Khitti and Valen, but the other two, well he never had the pleasure. “Understood,” his voice low and grainy. He gave one final check of his own supplies, smiling as hands find each pouch of herbs tied to his belt. It was -minimal- at best, but could at least help if needed. Finally, Eirik shifts to the Wyverns and makes his way, preparing for the long journey.

Ameno was already present in the yard when Lionel had arrived, this only because he had made the journey in advance, His form was not his typical having discovered that he could indeed change form like dragons could no form seemed to suit him long enough so he was eagerly changing at a moments glance. If anything he couldn't make up his mind anymore on it, and would use it as a way to keep from getting antsy. Listening first to lionel's words and then to Rorin's concerning the tailsmans, and also concerning to the bugs, but more importantly the gas, of all people he knew what gas could do, and took that very seriously. He eyed manasa wearily when he remembered her power. Climbing on his wvern he would need to ask rorin as they would make there approach, "Swords are metal, if we accidentally strike them on rock we will be at risk of causing an explosion."

Manasa had received the letter, and thus knew to show up. Coming from the tavern, entering into the training yard, moving to the area she assumed all would be, hence the group of those she did not know yet. Minus Emirth, if he showed up. The ha-naga is six foot three inches, with a tail in length of with seven foot nine inches covered in iridescent scales. The iridescence rainbow reflection patterned with ring like blotches that resemble eye spots trailing behind her. Circlets covered the crown and wrapped around her forehead as a sign of high rank along the nagas. Multiple jewelry covered the female, not only did the scales show on her tail, but in random spots with the same rainbow glimmer to them. Violet hair pulled up into a tight pony tail, hands rest on hips as sparks of lightning flashed out from underneath her silver stained fingertips. The chest covered from view with many beaded necklaces, her tail almost never stopping to move, going back and forth quickly. Copper serpent eyes scanned the others; a smug smirk appeared on her lavender lips, listening to the one that seemed in charge. He went on about enormous bugs attacking the warrior guild home, taking a life with them. Already a hiss was slipping out of her mouth, tip of the tail beating on the ground in frustration. Hearing she would be helping distract, make some noise, oh that would be fun. Lifting her right hand, clenching her own fist as lightning sparks around each digit. “Rorin,” A slow sadistic grin spread over the dark shade of purple lips, that were just lavender, the pupil in her eyes expanding then retracting. “Can I hypnotize them each? Maybe convince one for the other group to follow to the queen?” Unclenching her fist as she sent the lightning back inside her since she couldn’t use the element where they were going, upon her back rest many sheaths. Three Dadao’s, a steel rod and even a shield for later if needed. Moving towards the things they were to fly, again, “Can I just…never mind.. I’ll fly along, but I won’t like it.” What did she like other than fighting?

Dominic || They’re in a rush, to be sure. Odd, then, that Brand detours over to Lionel’s side before joining Khitti. “Those history books you gave me, they were pretty gorram good,” begins the blonde. How is this at all pertinent right now? “My favorite part was the ambush of Craughmoyle. Hidin’ all those mages inside that great wooden contraption, passin’ it off as a gift of surrender? Pure frakkin’ genius.” In a moment so brief that any onlookers might think they’d imagined it, Brand’s gaze flicks away from Lionel to the redhead vampiress hiding under her hood, impatiently awaiting him. “Lucky for us all it’s the sorta thing that only works once, though.” With that, Brand nods a goodbye to his fellow Catalian and mounts Khitti’s wyvern behind her, hands steady on her waist.

Emrith is perched alone on the back of a young-looking green dragon. When the team moves out, the spell-blade will be using his own mount, one he has worked with many times before. She will not be coming below with them, for obvious reasons, but her ability to get the spell-blade where he wants to go is something he takes for granted. He listens to Lionel's speech from his seat, not deigning to dismount when he understands that a quick reorganization will have to take place. When the hubbub seems to have died down, he calls out in his slightly raspy voice. "Listen, and listen well. Stealth is an area in which I excel. The cloak I wear bears a light-bending enchantment which renders me near invisible, and I have recently drunk a potion - a very foul potion, I might add - which masks any sense of smell I might otherwise possess. My olfactory signature will, in fact, instantly match my surroundings. I can give whosoever needs that protection the same boon, using this." Emrith takes out a short wooden staff with a very sharp point, carved all over with runes. "It is fully charged. Those who need it, take it and draw blood on yourself with it. A simple prick from the tip will do. If it flashes green, it has been activated. You will gain the protections I possess, though only for a fairly short time. A couple of hours, that was the best I could do. I have spent days perfecting this for the guild, and I hope it is of use. Rune magic is a powerful but unpredictable thing if used indiscriminately." He gestures with the little staff. "Come, come."

Oline arrived only shortly behind Rorin. She almost looked like a soldier herself decked out in her thickly-padded black overcoat with its blue trim and her brass torc. Heavy leather boots carried her out into the yard where she paused to listen to Lionel’s speech. At ten-and-a-quarter feet tall she’d stood out from a lot of the crowd already, but Lionel’s singling her out brought a faint red flush to her freckled cheeks. Regardless of her embarrassment or whether it had been in jest or not, Oline raised her fist… as well as the massive diamond-studded Kanabo held in it… when told to ‘say hi to the class’. Not one to stand around idly, she followed Rorin’s lead and headed over to the assembled wyverns. One, larger than the rest, had not in fact been provided by the Queen. This was Valkr, Oline’s personal steed. The giantess greeted with a warm smile and a brush of her hand against his enormous scales before quickly throwing her satchel and tying her weapon around the designated mounts upon his saddle. Even with this many gathered, Oline couldn’t help but wonder whether it would be enough to stop the hive of bugs they’d seen in that nest. Lionel had said hundreds, but honestly: With as much meat as that nest was consuming and the sheer size of that horrifyingly bloated Queen, how many more would there be by now? She shuddered to think about it. /Deep breaths… deep breaths… in, out…/ she reminded herself, giving Valkr one last pat before moving over towards Rorin. The talisman he tossed her way, and to the rest of the team, was quickly shoved into her pocket. She listened to explain, for those who had not already seen it first hand, the situation they were walking into. It was every bit as dangerous and dire as he made it sound, and maybe even then some given the sheer number of unknown factors. Oline kept that thought to herself as the speech finished up, opting instead for a confident bow of her head. She’d been training hard these past few days. She had to have hope that was enough. She’d wait until she was sure there were no more words coming before stepping up to Rorin and clapping her hand on his shoulder heavily. “We en’t gonna dah t’day. Ah’mma live foh’a thowsuhnd yehuhs, ‘n yer gonna live foh’a… lahk… hundred’n sumthin, yeh?. No d’vahn intuvenchun needed.” With that, she chuckled warmly and pivoted around to head back over to Valkr to finish her prep.

Kelay: Southern Sage Forest

Lionel nods along with Rorin’s decree. Really, though, a -bit- of fire won’t make Kelay go kaboom. Lionel himself has already (inadvertently) tested that theory. But it’s probably for the best that Rorin overstate these things. Best to avoid flames and sparks altogether if possible. Mid-leap to his chosen wyvern, something catches him in the perpendicular. “Never thought I’d see the day,” he shouts to Khitti, laughing. She’s always been so adamantly -against- flying, after all, but then, maybe all those half-realm sprints are finally getting to her. Lionel himself is quite the distance runner, but Khitti’s jaunts have put him to shame. As it happens, this is precisely when Brand saunters up beside the Knight-Commander and says some things. Lionel’s reaction is equally precise. His lips twist into a smirk, but his eyes narrow and his brows furrow. “Lucky thing,” he agrees, but he stands in place for a couple of seconds, disquieted. With a sigh too soft to be heard over his wyvern’s tender growls, he grabs the reins and lifts off whilst Emrith offers his valuable services to those who might want or need them. The mission has begun. | The journey from Frostmaw to Kelay-Sage takes the better part of the day. The sun had been only midway up into the clouds when Lionel gave his speech, but by the time the extensive team can spot the half-burned, half-verdant Southern Sage in the distance, the sky has begun to redden. Lionel leads the group of flying mounts downward at a sharp but controlled angle near enough to the location of the tunnels; a chill wind gusts in the descent, and a foul stench seems to emanate from the crack in the earth. He’s quick on his feet once they’ve all touched down, and it’s a brisk stroll that brings him to that fissure. “Long, overblown speeches have never been my forte. Many of you have fought alongside me before. I know what you’re made of and I know it’s not to be trifled with.” His glances upon the crew linger meaningfully. “Down there,” he points, “hive of scum and villainy. Up here,” he points, “big gorram heroes come to save the day. You know your teams. You know your goals. Distraction team, with me. Let’s mosey.” A fanciful leap into the hole concludes this short monologue. From the perspective of those gathered, Lionel has vanished until further notice.

Rorin felt something. His half elven ears twitched under his hood. There was an odd sense. A presence. It concerned him that he couldn't pinpoint it but maybe that was just nerves. There was no one worryingly unfamiliar in their ranks. No shadows waited at the sides. So what then? Rorin tried to analyze the guild mates. Didn't Khitti run on the mission to Venturil? She wasn't still injured was she? He tried to shake it off. Eirik, Ameno, and Oline had a deathly need to unerstand him. They would each require a large amount if breathable air to use their various abilities and continue moving. He hoped they took his recommendations to heart. He turned to advise Ameno on the matter, "the oxygenation of your amulets will stop anyone from simply igniting us. If anything, a small enough spark would be snuffed out by the gas, instead of igniting. Still- that does not mean we can go around igniting whatever we wish. We have to be careful." He turned next to Manasa. Of her he only knew what he heard and he considered her suggestion. "I'm afraid that's not possible. There are few among them that could be called intelligent. In reality they are lead by generals- mantises who act as relays- emitting pheromones signaled to them from the Hive mind of the Queen. While large, simple illusions, could be momentarily effective, hypnosis would barely distract them. Beetles and drones do not have the capability to process loyalty, ironically, they follow instinct- not thought." Rorin sure is perceptive to some things. As for Olines suggestion? A simple shrug. Personally, he felt divine intervention sure was nice with some things. He kept quiet the rest of the tril save if anyone had anything specific to say and instead tried to clear his mind for the task at hand. When they dismounted Rorin would hold his crossbow at half rest and take in Lionels words. He rolled his shoulders and just moved forward with a simple let's do this attitude. The time for speeches was over. The time for war has come.

Khitti was pretty much silent the entire way there. That grin of hers had barely faded, for she was so deep in her own thoughts. Thoughts of betrayal. Thoughts of death. Destruction. Oh, it was going to be sweet. None of them, not even the idiot on the wyvern behind her would even suspect. “Zhis is going to be fun, don’t you zhink? You vere right. I definitely needed a bit of fighting to get me out of zhat funk I’ve been in.” She’d peer over her shoulder at the Catalian for no more than a few seconds, offering him a typical mischievous-Khitti grin. Soon they’d dismount, and she’d find a place to stand until the time was given to move out again. Just keep to yourself. You can do this. You’re going to do it. Positive affirmations. You are fire. You are death.

Eirik takes notes of Emriths words and once they land, he will indeed take him up on the offer. Much of the journey for the Northman is spent in silence and deliberate thinking on why he would have been placed into a stealthy mission; obviously not the brutes natural ability. He is a noisy, big, lycan. He knew this, but perhaps that was all in the plan? As the group comes to a halt, landing safely he dismounts the Wyvern. Silver orbs shift to Lionel listening to his commander speak yet again. That man always had words. In fact he truly believed that if Lionel was ever silent, the world would end. He, however, enjoyed that fact. He was the glue that held things together. Finally Eirik moves to Emrith “Can you,” he didn’t have the right words to ask for Emriths particular enchantments, but figures he would gather what Eirik had meant. Once finished, the Northman would wait for someone in his group to claim the reigns of operation.

Ameno wyvern was acting up, midflight, obviously a show off, cause no sooner was he trvaeling the beast seemed to enjoying going upside down flipping over loops and of course dive bombing only to narrowly miss the ground to rocket back up. "I have wings, I hate flying!" He nearly fell out of his seat only for his wyvern to catch him by the tail and swing him back on to its back. Finally getting the wyvern to follow a command he trailed up with manasa, olines, rorins that were following lionel, and was able to finally listen to rorin inform him on the dangers, "I got the oxygne part covered." Not willing to stay another minute he leaps after lionel down the hole. But a thought nagged at his mind, "Never assume everyone is on your side." This was his own motto of caution to himself, he wouldn't let his prek heritage of intelligence go to waste, no sir.

Manasa : The Ha-Naga did not like this, nope. Nope. Flying is not what naga’s do, they stay on the ground her tail squeezed the flying beast half the ride here. Breathing quickly, wanting this ride over, the fact she was scared of heights made Manasa ready to kill something even more now. The scent knocked her fears aside with cringe of nose, “Gross.” Landing she watched Lionel, the one she was ordered to stay with. Following him into the hole without a second thought, she would have to trust each person on the team to get out alive. She didn’t ignore Rorin, but had nothing to say to him or even to look to him.

Dominic || Brand responded minimally to any conversation Khitti provided; his mind was elsewhere. On the combat ahead, perhaps. A simple, “Y’know me, peach -- I’ll fight ‘til the day I die,” was the only statement he offered her. Today would not be that day. It couldn’t be. Once they’d landed, Brand availed himself of Emrith’s staff enchantment and thanked the elf with the slightest bow of his head. This one was Emrith. The giantess, Oline. The energetic paladin -- the one who’d nearly killed Khitti -- Rorin. Eirik, the werewolf Khitti had lost to. Brand committed their names to memory, some distraction from the unease in his gut. They would not die today -- from bugs, or from anything else…

Emrith rides astride his green dragon alongside his comrades until a large bank of clouds provides a perfect opportunity. He mentally instructs his green dragon to spiral into that obstruction, which she does; he has discussed this plan with her, and she has agreed to it, however reluctantly. Once hidden from sight, the spell-blade gives another mental signal, and the green dragon unleashes its potent breath attack. Emrith is ready. The chlorine gas forms a tight, misty ball in front of the dragon's muzzle, and Emrith lifts a peculiar stone jug just as his mount begins a sickening plunge. The chlorine gas seems almost to get sucked into the little vessel in Emrith's hands, at which point, all unseen, it begins to bubble and hiss. What once was a corrosive gas has now become a hellishly potent acid, the runes inscribed on the inner surface of the jug amplifying its properties tenfold even as the wards on the material itself keep it safe. The vampiric elf plugs the dangerous concoction with a similarly enchanted stone stopper, then tucks the whole thing away in his cloak. He now carries a very fast-acting, very potent acid on his person, the sort of thing which would bring death to almost anything organic in mere moments. Whether it is used on the queen, or in some other dire predicament, will be anybody's guess, but now he has it, and feeling better armed against whatever may come, he rides back down to his companions, landing in the forest near the large open pit. He gives his aforementioned protection to all who ask for it, putting particular emphasis on the strike team which, despite working behind an excellent diversion, will still be fighting uphill odds. His voice is softer, owing to their proximity to the point of engagement, but it can still be heard easily by all those still present. "If any in the assassination team knows these tunnels, you may lead. Otherwise, I will. Follow me. Do not bunch close to one another. And when chaos breaks loose, remember the goal. The queen. Keep yourselves safe. Keep one another safe. If this goes well, we should be able to get rather close without these blasted things knowing that we are bringing their doom to them."

Oline spent the trek from Frostmaw to Kelay reading up on close-quarters combat forms. Her size put her at a considerable disadvantage to the other members of her team, as she would be forced to not only grapple for space with the enemy but also take care not to take up too much space from the rest of her unit. The tunnels could get claustrophobic very quickly if she weren’t careful. At least she’d been assigned to the group making noise and drawing attention away from the heart of the hive. She had a natural inclination towards that skillset anyway. | Valkr followed in formation behind the rest of her teammates instinctively. Oline barely needed to give the wyvern a nudge in the direction of where the others were landing before he followed suit, touching down with relative ease despite his size and wingspan. Oline dismounted swiftly, hoisted her satchel off his saddle and over her shoulder, and untied her Kanabo from the thick leather strap holding it in place. Over her shoulder the towering war-club went, and then the giantess was lumbering off toward the hole in the ground Lionel had disappeared down. She gave Rorin an affectionate slug in the shoulder and a toothy grin as her long legs carried her past him. The giantess took one look into the darkness before unceremoniously hopping down into the pit after their fearless leader shouting: “Ey, yeh dunghumpin’ bugga sonsuvwhores! Ah’m back! Ennis tahm Ah godda bigga squashin’ stick!”

Valen didnt need any stinking Wyvern, but would take his nonetheless. "Now you listen here, okay? You cause me issues, I bite your face." Yes. Maldor just said that to a Wyvern, but even the Wyvern knew better as he licked the side of Maldor's face, causing the Vampire to smile "There's a good boy. Now fly!" His eyes were always constantly on Eirik as well, as if trying to tell him that he was watching for...something, and only the Lycan would know exactly what. But for now, they had a mission. Idly, he would start singing lines from a song that he had taken to having stuck in his haead. "No no no, put an end to the show. I'm going back to the land where bone flowers grow..." He was also going through in his head about just how to make the perfect recipe for bug stew, and maybe even name one Behemacoytle or something...that seemed a good name for a bug.

Lionel | His fanciful leap takes him down with a gentle thud, but when Lionel O’Connor rises from a crouch, his eyes widen in shock. “Son of a drow,” he mumbles, and then he blinks to the others on his team. “Rorin, notice anything different here tonight?” It’s a somewhat rhetorical question. Three days ago, the men -- and Oline, for that matter -- had come down here and found a largely singular, reasonably straightforward and perilously narrow path. The beetles they’d fought with had visibly shoved themselves through the tight spaces, even. There were a handful of choice offshoot paths, but nothing like this. Nothing like this in the vaguest. Now, the tunnels are wide, and they branch off in two dozen or more directions. It’s a sprawling mega-complex of expansive shafts, zigzagging through the ground. Some tunnels are laced with rough gemstones, carved into by an affiliation of insectoid races seemingly unconcerned for their humanoid-perceived values. Some tunnels are brighter than others, little portholes worth of light peppering in from cracks up above and into the forest canopy. “This is damned peculiar.” He brings both hands back around him and grabs firm hold of Hellfire’s hilt. Sliding the legendary blade free from its prismatic, Frostmawian-engraved scabbard, the Catalian shakes his head and begins to lead the way down an almost arbitrarily-selected tunnel. With Rorin, Ameno, Manasa, and Oline behind him, they’ll make a good clip through the zone, the air growing stiffer and the rank smells more pronounced with each passing step.

Lionel | It’s a dank cavern network, danker with every moment. It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s ugly. And speaking of ugly, let’s talk about that welcome party. At first it’s an ear-piercing screech. Both teams will hear it, and it will rapidly hasten toward them, although after Lionel very loudly shouts something back, the infiltration team will mercifully note those screeches are beginning to veer wayward. Closer and closer they come, and then suddenly Lionel’s team is surrounded. On one side, numerous creatures, thick of carapace and eight meters in length, thick in the middle and with pincers and jaws for wholesale swallowing. “The beetles,” Lionel curses beneath his breath, taking a firm step forward to face them. Rorin and Oline may note these beetles seem even thicker-armored today, and their speed has likewise improved. The sounds of their ruckus reverberate through the tunnels, a great recurring thud that breaks the walls ever-wider as they squeeze their way to the front of the pack. Then, in tandem, they leap ahead in an effort to land on their prey, crushing. Lionel raises Hellfire in a defensive arc, swallowing hard and making a great leap of his own. But the beetles are only half this opening equation. On the other side -- the way forward -- smaller, slender creatures approach. Emerald green and with huge, yellow eyes, they flitter their gazes back and forth in a calculating manner, and then they, too, jump. There’s a veritable small army of these mantises, and their maneuverability is terrifying. Their scythe-like arms are meant for tearing flesh to ribbons, and they hiss like snakes -- or Manasa, for that matter -- as they intercept. What a fine thing for the infiltration team, then, that absolutely nothing bad is happening. What a wonderful day to be an infiltrator. In nearby tunnels, some beetles and mantises and worms and other assorted freaks are narrowing in, sniffing and snorting and snarling, but their covert operation is keeping them from early detection. What a blessing.

Rorin was somewhat louder than Lionel but not nearly as clamorous as Oline! He was about to tell Oline not yet but Lionel got his attention. He had to look around. Extensively. "Where the hell are we?" He tried to ask and knew no one knew the answer. He briefly viewed his map, "this is- this shouldn't be here. It's all different. Damn. They must have reorganized their side tunnels after the front gates partial collapse. We'll have to find another way in. This will make it a tad harder coming out," Rorin is already trying to memorize his surroundings and handling his crossbow a tad nervously. He had no objections to Lionels sense of direction as he sensed a fair amount of danger towards that way. As they're greeted in their descent Rorin readies his crossbow with the stock against the crook of his shoulder. "Louder," Rorin advises to calling the welcome party, "make it loud." He relied on Oline to make the noise as they readily become surrounded. "Eight meters? Damn you buggers sure have gotten fatter," at least they'll grab attention. Rorin readily opens fire on two of them and turns as the second half emerges, "aren't we awful friendly today?!" Rorin taunts as he fires again. One more reload on this magazine and all he could hope was that he'd been precise enough to fell one of the arduous arachnids with each shot.

Khitti gave another silent nod, this time to Emrith’s instructions. She didn’t partake of his enchantment like everyone else had, but also didn’t bring attention to it, giving the stealthy vampire a dismissive wave. Perhaps she had her own way of dealing with such a thing, but she’d not reveal it just yet. Only when they started their descent into the tunnels below was Khitti enveloped in shadows, the magic shifting from dark violets to a void-like black. The vampiress hung back, last in line of the infiltration team, and when they were far enough down below ground, she’d summon up a wave of shadowfire to block off their exit. The fire itself burned to the touch, if one were stupid enough to try, but it wasn’t at all like the sort Brand could conjure up as it was bitter cold and would freeze anything that dare went through it. Down, down, down into the tunnels they went. More fire summoned was summoned up, shadows leaping from the flames. Once it was clear they were getting close to the Queen’s chambers, Khitti curiously stopped, the shadows encompassing her dropping away entirely, letting out the vampiress’ scent for all the bugs to sense. “Well, boys, “ came a distorted voice from Khitti’s throat, the sound ethereal and not at all like the redhead’s, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news for you all, but...this is where you die.” One last wave of shadowflame was conjured up behind her, making it known that things were about to get very, very bad for them. “But, “ she shifted her attention towards Brand as thick black veins made their way up her throat and those one dark green eyes changed to a bright purple, “ you, Firebug, are going last. She would’ve wanted it that way.” A malicious grin appears and the ground begins to quake, skeletal hands popping up from all sides of the tunnel, and even further down in the chamber itself. The moans of the restless dead filled the underground cavern, alerting any and all nearby bugs to the poor, unfortunate souls.

Eirik falls silent as the enchantment comes to life over his form, and taking note of Emriths words. The berserker was ready to ride into the eternal songs of praise; no bug would claim him or his team. Though, he’d have to make it to the queen to claim such lofty praises. As for further movement, he would eye Valen, giving a moment of understanding. Guild matters come first, no matter how badly he needed to find the missing Northman. Ears nearly twitch to the screeching coming from the tunnels, and Eirik prepares himself to move. Sure to follow Emriths lead through the gas filled tunnels. A nod is given to Khitti, Valen and the other and Eirik descends into the abyss below, probably near the front of the line directly behind Emrith. Once reaching the field where Khittis voice rang out, the berserkers attention would shift. Eyes narrow, fixating on the black veins. Is she really summoning the undead and planning to attack the group? Fist tightens over the spear in his hand, gaze flicks to the creatures spawning and Eirik readies himself. Where we all die? The madman smiles, reflecting her own sadistic grin. Oh he would wait for Emrith to call out his orders, but those creatures, would find swift death if they had indeed come for him.

Ameno took in the network of tunnels, and the sounds, but more importantly he took note of the heat. "Ah, feels good, good humidity, sorry Prek half speaking," Then he heard and worse saw the beetles and the mantis coming, until as lionel had put it, they were surrounded. He reached for his quarterstaff only to find it missing. On the surface, a certain wyvern was playing fetch with it. Underground he groaned. Two options on how to fight, one tooth, claw, tail, rubber biology, or two, he let Scraith out, but he thought he might need permission for that. "A sir, Does one have permission to unleash a beast?" He went with claw and tail and strength, punching underneath a beetle sending it hurling away and using his tail to snag a mantis at distance stretching it extreme lengths at its feet and whipping its legs out from under it.

Manasa Once Manasa was inside the hole, fanning sounds came from the pours of her human flesh. The match armor of scales on her tail spread up all over Manasa, fully looking more anthro snake then a half human half snake. The smug smile appeared again, drawing her hands back to grasp onto the two dadao’s. Her tail moving to wrap around the steel rod, ready to wield three weapons at once, if needed she would switch. But for now her personal armor was ready, almost as touch as dragons would be, almost. Either way, she was ready, moving up a higher height of six foot five inches so if needed she could attack the bugs at an above height. Standing beside Lionel, nodding to him, moving along the tunnels behind him with the others near her, she offered a quick nod to Ameno. The half dragon she met once before, but didn’t exactly have a good meeting. The ear piecing screech caused a deep hiss from manasa, then turned into a growl making her show off the four sets of fangs. Shaking her head, she felt vibrations from the ground inside her tail into the jaw bone. Feeling the pest coming towards them, some of the perks of being half snake, pupil thinning horizontal to try to see out into the tunnels more, wanting to see what was coming to know what attack they would move to first. The Ha-Naga couldn’t help but to admire the bugs, they came well and the structure of them was amazing. Couldn’t help but wonder what god had sent them forth into the world of living? Aramoth was good as making odd creations, like her own warrior race. The scythe like arms, she would take some of those with her for a weapon later, they looked too nice to leave to such a beast. Popping her head to the side, leaning back on her jail ready to strike out in a cyclone like spin towards the one she spots moving in behind Lionel, first aiming to knock the legs off if possible. Next to shove it to its back where she aims to send the Dadao’s down into its center, if successful with her strength she would pull the dadaos outwards to the sides making the bug rip in half. Turning around, twisting her upper body as one ot the mantis ones charged leaping upon her. A loud almost shouts of a hiss moves out from her wide open mouth as the mantis hissed back at her, the scythe like arm swung for her tail. Pulling it back almost whipping along lionel back, deciding it was time to change up. The tail began to shrink up, leaving behind a pair of long legs, the scales remain as a skirt for the naga. Crouching slightly she let out a yell, unison in a growl at the creature. The Ha-Naga moving head on into her feral instincts, kill or be killed. Kicking the shield to the wall so she could collect it later, for now feet carried in in a sprint, shoulder low to tackle the mantis into the wall. Once done, a bug came from her side aiming to knock her away from the mantis. She had to avoid the arms of the Mantis, as well try to dodge the bug, another came from the other side of her. Running up the mantis body quickly, pushing off of it to flip backwards and away from the trio aiming to take her own. A smile never faded from her lips for the time being, backing up, and getting ready studying each for how they move possibly how they may attack.

Dominic || Brand has been nearer the head of the infiltration group, more than a few paces away from Khitti, but he immediately stirs into action at the first indication of trouble. Not-Khitti doesn’t know it, but he’s been waiting for her inevitable betrayal since before they’d even met up with the warrior’s guild, waiting to see what she intended. It hasn’t been Khitti. This whole time, it hasn’t been Khitti. Amarrah has the reins, and the shadow creature has the real Khitti trapped in some nightmare from which she cannot awaken -- not without help. “Don’t hurt her; she’s bein’ controlled,” he shouts to the rest of the team, over the din of combat and the screeching of undead. “Get to the Queen, if you can! Leave disarmin’ Khitti to me.” And then he’s sprinting, not down the tunnel toward the Queen but deeper into the undead fray, shooting conjured daggers of ice and sharpened stone every which way as he goes. One pierces a zombie through its eye socket. Another larger one slices through the half-decomposed tendons of an undead’s neck. A gnarled hand grasps at Brand’s ankle from below and the man falls to the ground -- thankfully dodging the bite of another undead that had approached from the side -- and the Catalian kicks to freedom, rolling through a crowd of shambling corpses before righting himself on the other side. This is going to end very shortly in one of two ways, he figures: either he’ll cross the remaining gap to Not-Khitti in time to shut her and her army of cadavers down, and the infiltration team will be one vampiress short while they deal with the mob of giant insects, or the whole lot of them is about to have to choose between being bug grub or zombie food.

Emrith has no idea of the imminent betrayal about to be visited upon their party, but this isn't his first rodeo, not by a long shot. He is an elf who has gotten himself into - and back out of - some extremely tight places already, most of them in the last couple of years. By comparison, this seems to be comparatively simple. The spell-blade channels a brief little skein of mana into the runes in his boots, whereafter he begins to glide soundlessly above the floor, leaving absolutely no trace of his passage. He has no heat signature, being a vampire, and no olfactory residue of any kind clings to him. He is virtually invisible, and not even telltale breath marks his passage; one would have to be gifted with considerable arcane sight in order to detect him at all...unless they bumped into him in the dark, of course. When Khitti's voice begins to echo in the cavern, Emrith's instincts take over; any speech, regardless of the words, is a risk to the entire endeavour. As soundlessly as he can, the spell-blade uses the rough-carved wall to climb upward, until he is hanging from the ceiling, clinging much like a spider. He wedges himself between two knobs of rock, head-down and absolutely still, wedging his elbows outward to maintain his position. Khitti is still speaking as Emrith eases Heleg from its scabbard on his back. Thanks to the enchantment of his cloak, even the sword is within that small warped web, rendering it invisible as well. Using the ice-enchanted blade as a focus, the spell-blade weaves mana into a ferocious counterstroke on the area below. Heavy hammerlike extrusions of ice suddenly begin to drop downward as if conjured from the stone of the ceiling itself; all the humidity of the air makes for a ready source of water. Using his vantage to the best of his abilities and praying he can remain wedged in this little crack, unseen and unnoticed, Emrith bludgeons at all incoming threats where he sees them with those icy spears and blocks. He hopes that the undead horde, at least, will be sufficiently crushed...but as for the insectile swarm which is sure to come running to defend the queen, Emrith will not simply trust to luck. This ice is not of the same character as might be found in the heart of Frostmaw; indeed, it seems to radiate cold at an alarming rate, and any direct contact with it will result in nearly instantaneous frostbite to exposed skin. Bugs, who generally do not like cold, may end up being rendered all but powerless before this frigid onslaught. Once more using magic, this time upon his voice, Emrith speaks one command, using magic to make it sound as if he is someplace on the ground in the melee. "Hit them while they are cold!" With a grim look of finality on his face, Emrith drops from his perch, snatches that dangerous little jug from its previous hiding-place, hits the ground running and makes straight for Khitti, choosing to ignore Brand's demand. No second chances. No compromise. Moving like a ghost in the chaos, using all of his elven dexterity to avoid his own conjurations and the undead trying in vain to end this mission in failure, Emrith cocks his arm, heaves the acid-filled jug toward Khitti's back and weaves a little more magic, a thin spear of ice which punches into the jar just as it is reaching striking distance. Emrith is glad that he is still ten yards or so away when the vessel explodes; if Khitti is unlucky, she's going to be wearing enough dragon-breath-derived acid to quite literally melt her into so much organic mush in less than two minutes, vampire or not. No one betrays Emrith Kohl. No one. Perhaps with the traitor out of commission, the team can once more resume its prior plan of assassination.

Oline could barely believe what she was seeing. Her kanabo, its wood imbued with glowing stone powder, radiated brightly in the darkness. Sure enough, it was exactly as Lionel said. Not only were the tunnels radically wider than they’d been upon scouting them just a few days ago… but the complexity of the structures themselves had changed. /Does that mean the bugs are getting smarter?/ she wondered to herself, giving herself a reassuring ‘thump’ on the shoulder from her war-club. There wasn’t much time to dwell on the question, mercifully enough, as mere moments later the hive’s defenders came swarming in. “’Oly fuggerin balls!” she hollered at a beetle which stood even taller than the rest. It was… it was like the Oline of beetles, towering over everything in the tunnel like a living tower of chitin. Naturally, of course, it had focused its attention on her as well. The giantess literally leapt into the fray, battering a charging mantis aside with a vicious blow to its abdomen rendered even more brutal by the Increased Gravity rune which flared to life and sent the unfortunate insect plowing into the wall so hard it exploded into a shower of meat. Oline let loose a guttural, beastial roar sure to resonate throughout the entire nest. Good news for the infiltrators in the process of being double-crossed… because she was a helluvalot louder than some sodding corpses! Oline plowed through another pair of charging mantises, merely deflecting one with a kick and crushing the other utterly beneath and overhead blow from her kanabo before finally skidding to a stop before the supergiant beetle and staring up at it with a dark, angry smile. “Ah know whutcha thenkin. Ah’m lookin rilla tasty. Funneh thengabowt tha’… Ah’m thenkin’ th’same theng ‘boutchew!” The beetle chittered inhumanly at her for a moment, almost as if in response, before toppling forward in an attempt to crush the snarky giantess under its massive bulk. Both of them disappeared into a dust-storm of dirt and debris as the beetle slammed into the ground with a thunderous WHUMP.

Valen 's ears would ring with the screeching, but with determination and grit, anything could be overcome, as well as given a taste of their own medicine...bug juice medicine. The two-toned red and blonde haired male would take point wherever he could feel the most useful in his group. Watching when Khitti unleashed all hell on..No, Not Khitti. Amarrah...or something similar to that, he had heard the name when Valen spoke with the female, and to say he was interested would be a gracious understatement. Accompanying the necromantic abilities, something -else- that her and Maldor shared in common...He really did need to speak to her about that, the wailing of the very shadows themselves could be heard as if under extreme duress, and pain, adding to the cacophony in the attracting of the bugs, but his eyes had turned to focus on the entity now, clearly not amused once he had heard just what was happening. "You -do- understand...Miss Amarah...that I will not allow this...yes?" As if to prove this point, a disc of pure raw shadow would form in an overhead hand, which he would launch towards the woman. True to listening to Brand, it would certainly not hurt her, but it would most definitely cause interference with the control the being posssessed over any form of shadow, making it extremely hard as the true master of shadows was here, a Shadowmancer, and he did not share power over his domain. The disc would race with renewed vigor, and would reach Khitti easily before Brand's feet could carry, and possibly Emrith...as was the design of the shadows. However, to the elf he would call out with renewed authority of which he had none at least in this group setting "We cannot split the party up any more! Lionel is counting on us, as is the rest of Sage....I thought you of all people would realize that Sir Emrith....but fine, ignore orders...Valen's and my duty to land and queen....are clear." With that, a shadowed club, with shadowed razor wire around the head would be materialized, and he would charge head-first, a mad glint in his eyes as he meets the opposition coming up the tunnels head on. With a swing of the bat over his right shoulder, in a baseball stance, he would give a sadistsic "Batter Up!" BEfore lunging forward, and swinging his weapon to knock the head clear off of one of the oversized insects, twirl, another swing and crack, another head bashed in this time, leaping from head to head to do the same. With a finall yell...hands out in front of him, bat gone, a ball of shadows would appear and instantly be big enough to fill the tunnel on a sphere, and with a blast of engery would launch it down the tunnel, letting nothing stand in it's way as it would keep going and going until it slammed them -out- the entrance, and hopefully into the queen.

Rorin fires his last into the oncoming crowd and stops. Just stops. Slowly his head turns as that beating pulse reaches him. That infinitely evil eye widening feeling. From his feet up he can feel the haunting undead evil deep within the caves. "We need to move! Push forward!" He popped another magazine in and focused on debilitating shots instead of killing, one at a time, one each, whatever he had to do to get inside as he ran forward. At lionels side he erected a divine wall, for a moments peace. "Sir there's something wrong with the assassin team. Something's happened, I'm not sure what but I can feel it," he hoped Lionel understood him from all they'd been through, especially after the earthquake fiasco. "We need your order to move," Rorin prepared to quick turn and shoot whatever he had to to keep them moving forward. Something was Wrong. Rally, please, and Move, Rorin prayed Lionel would trust him.

Lionel | Life is about small comforts. Right now, it’s small comfort to the infiltration team to know that the legions of undead bursting free from now-hollow ground are as baleful toward the fast-approaching insectoids as they are to their more bipedal prey. It’s small comfort, because there are hundreds of them, and hundreds of bugs, and somehow they still have an assassination mission on their hands. It would seem, however, that the most skillful assassin in these tunnels is Khitti -- or whatever it is that compels her. Yet Emrith, for all of Brand’s pleas, is juggling several actions in perfect harmony and his spellcast ice is having an effect. At first, it seems these bugs -- many-meter beetles and impossibly vast millipedes plated in tough hide and with oh so many claws -- are being thwarted completely by the ice. At first, that nigh-endless line is halted. Dozens and dozens of bugs coming in from both sides now, racing one-another to the undead and the intruders both, and they’re all being stopped. Smacked by frostbite, screeching and squealing in shock. Yet something is very, very wrong here. With each coming wave of frosted bugs, there seems less frost, and stronger hides, and more offensive posturing, and in due time, the ice almost seems to partly ricochet off of wet carapaces and slide to the ground like sleet. They’ve adapted. Somehow, some way, these creatures have adapted. And they aren’t happy. From Emrith’s present position, the ground gives way as if more skeletons are reaching out to take him -- but it isn’t a skeletal hand that extends. A million of them seem to spread from the deepest recesses of this network, a million tiny pale worms with a single frighteningly sharp hook at their forefront and no eyes for seeing. They don’t need to see when they can sense. And whatever it is that compels them onward, none of Emrith’s techniques seem to be working as well as they ought to be. They seek to devour him, and anyone else who isn’t moving -- and that means anyone not named Valen, it seems. Come what may for Amarrah and that acid that’s en route to her person, she’s got a plague of grubs hoping to rip her to shreds now, too. In the distance, and closer with every move Valen makes, is a gargantuan open space. Surrounding the queen, so huge and fat it defies explanation, bugs scatter and scramble defensively.

Lionel | Elsewhere, it’s small comfort for the distraction team when the hordes of bugs diving into them seem to tilt their heads into the distance in remarkable unison, suitably distracted for a half-second, a single stitch in time, by the terrible noises hailing from the distance. This is the one unifying second Lionel’s team needs to do their damnedest. Manasa’s strikes, each one, hits true enough, and even when Rorin’s shots both curiously fail to inflict the same damage as was previously the case, the paladin is afforded opportunity to press the attack. Lionel instinctively dives forth and then ducks, narrowly avoiding the meaty swipe of a beetle’s heavy slam. In that duck, he swings a half-circle horizontal slash, and it cracks carapace only slightly, but enough to ward the beetle into a defensive posture. Utilizing this to his advantage, the Catalian blademaster jumps back even as he remains prone, lures the creature in by laying on his posterior, and then -- right as it moves in for the kill -- he rolls to the side and sticks its small black eye with a dagger. It wails, and Lionel stabs repeatedly with Hellfire, leaving behind a corpse for the clutch of mantises descending upon him. They climb over that very dead beetle, but the slick secretions on its husk slow them just barely, and that’s all the time Lionel needs. “Back!” Lionel shouts. “We’re going back!” Rorin’s words haven’t fallen on deaf ears, and yet for how right his squire is, it wasn’t -just- Rorin that’s compelled him to action. In his mind, in his heart, he knows what has happened. Brand’s warning rings true. He understands. “The infiltration team needs us back there, now!” He screams, carving up three mantises with an old sword form -- Cat Avoids the Wolf -- done and dusted, but their fellows are snatching at him with hook-like scythes. With a protective aura around him, the Hero of Hellfire races through the night, through dark spaces, with his team hopefully behind him, and he fends off countless insectoids in the racing. Every second elsewhere is a second wasted. Once, a mantis perceives his singular purpose, and cleverly it uses this opportunity to leap from the shadows and nearly carve off an arm. The hit takes him by surprise, and he allows a small fire to ignite upon the sword, just small enough to avoid the worst of things, and it scorches the mantis completely, and although his wound is deep and blood is bursting, Lionel O’Connor is not fazed. He is upon Amarrah, and the undead, and the frosted bugs and all the rest of them, and his voice rings across the caves. “Seven hells.” And he moves into the fray.

Lionel said to Ameno, “Ameno, do your thing!”

Rorin currently had very few comforts regardless of size. Undead were bad. Bugs were bad. Less bugs, more undead. He had no idea what was wrong with who or where or why but he had a selve preserved duty to fall his instincts and slay all evils within his path. That meant pushing past a nigh endless onslaught of diabolically apocalypitcally adaptable bugs. And one thing was for sure- Rorin fekkin hates bugs. That's why as they're distracted he taps into his meditation and perfects his accuracy more than every before, each shot perfectly aligned, though the chinks were getting smaller- the shells were getting harder- he tried to collapse one after another that threatened the Warriors Guild. "Ah, to all hells!" Rorin would curse as he mounts his heavy auger magazine in, a quick whispere prayer alighting the bolts inside. Six shots. He only had six shots with this and he'd need them. As he sprinted down the long caverns he knew that something terrible had happened, the greasy ghastly feel of necrotic magic thick here, knowing the undead were there long before he saw them. Rorin would kick here and even pull his sword there, anything to not waste a precious shot, eventually using holy force to part his path and pick a target at the source of it all. Whoever or whatever it was he found, he would fire- and much to the chagrin of whatever dark beast was in his way- as the three light infused heavy bolts would spin through the air and outwardly shine with holy force easily forming a giant divine drill not based of fire or heat or spark but of the white light of creation itself the sheer diameter of which could fit over a grown man. Rorin would pave a path. He sought nothing if not the end to this.

Khitti ’s assault of undead remains relentless as peals of sadistic laughter echoes throughout the tunnels. “Your little sleeping beauty will never wake up! Do you want me to tell you what’s she’s dreaming of? It’s positively horrid and I love it!” Haphazardly, she throws balls of shadowflames and orbs of shadow down the tunnel, letting them land where they may.. Hopefully no one gets out of the way of those; she’d love to see someone melted right in front of her. Valen’s spell -does- manage to lessen the effects of both, unfortunately, but one must adapt. One must try harder to kill all the things. Especially these damned warriors. “You and her grew old together, Firebug! Isn’t that absolutely disgusting?!” Oh, Emrith hadn’t gone unnoticed, of course. Did he really think that a being from the Shadow Plane wouldn’t have sensed a fellow shadow-user making his way towards her? Or, at the very least, another vampire? Amarrah giggled almost innocently at the elf, “Aw. Silly thing.” At the very last possible moment, just when the one known as Emrith Kohl, he who would not be betrayed, might think that he’d gotten away with his attack, might’ve thought he’d slain the redhead in glorious combat...well...he was sorely mistaken. Another orb of pure shadow is raised up above her and the jug of acid is swallowed within it as it reaches Not-Khitti’s form, like a rather large piece of broccoli in green jello. “Babe, lemme tell you a thing, “ she started as the eldritch ball, the same type of spell that had once been disgusting balls of acidic ooze once upon of time, carefully disintegrated the jar, keeping the acid trapped inside it, “Your acid’s got nothing on -mine-.” The unholy ball of shadow and acid was then pitched at Emrith with every intent to kill, though it’d be quite up to that vampiric elf whether he stays there and dies or runs away like a coward. Thankfully for Brand, however, she’s not noticed his path towards her, and even gets closer as she makes sure to avoid any falling liquid acid that might befall her--can’t mess up Khitti’s pretty body just yet, you know. Valen and Eirik, well...she’d leave those two to the undead and the bugs. She had faith in her zombified and skeletal army, as every good leader does. For the distraction team, the shadowfire that had filled the tunnel behind her soon fell away as Valen’s magic did its thing; Lionel and company would sadly not have to walk through any cold fire any time soon. It was very sad. Very sad indeed. So, instead, an arc of shadowflames is sprayed behind her with one hand in an attempt to keep them at bay as she was once again wrapped in shadows. Not this time, you stupid paladin. Things were not working out of the shadow being, and she was soon realizing that as everyone began to close in on her--especially when she finally took notice of that Catalian ahead of her that Khitti had once professed her love for, that damnable idiotic Brand.

Eirik no longer gives a damn, as the field turns into a veritable haze of ice magic, and shadow bombs. Those three could handle Khitti and instead Eirik shifts mind to the grim task of distraction. The bugs, the undead. Everything. From beneath the visage of scar ridden features the northman sprints into action, death brought on the tip of iron headed spear. The point claims its first target, slamming straight through one of the undead members of society which had been summoned forth by Khitti. Unlike his leader Lionel, Brann Forbrukers flames could not be used. Its fires burned the energy of Eiriks wrath, explaining its explosive nature. For now that spear is ripped free with a barbaric howl. Body ducks low at sudden impact and Eiriks shield launches up and out, followed up with the springboard of his legs. The undead trying to grasp at him flung straight over the top of the mammoth Northman. In an instant spear sails through the air, intent on smashing into a random bug. Runic long sword is drawn, its path scything through the stomach of another creature. He didn’t care what it was. Eirik lurches back, and bellows like a madman. Spittle flying freely from his mouth, in every attempt to set up some kind of distraction. A rally to his side, if any should hear the bestial screams hurtling from his bulging neck. The wolf tore at his mind, rage building. Heart pounding. Eiriks skin boiled in a heat known only by those affected with the curse. It was almost too much. But then, he allowed the shift; stopped fighting and without warning the last thing they needed was on the battle field. Claws shredding through bug and undead alike. One creature or another in his rage, sent reeling, crashing into others. The Lycan was far to busy with the small fries. Weapons and armor, now lay upon the ground as a new threat, what might seem like one to some, is on the battle field

Ameno listened to lionel and with his permission the beast would emerge. As he fought he would grow in size, his skin darkening, hardening, being transformed into a creature that even nightmares couldn't boast creating, his teeth length his talons grow sharp and strong, this beast, freak of nature monster, personfication wrath, its eyes seemingly piercing into the very consciouness of ones soul, its howl unearthly, its bones unbreakable, terrorizing with absoulte malice are its only purpose. It leaps into the swarm slashing, gutting, devouring, leaving an ever rising tide of bug goo in its wake, its jaws open wide and acid spews carving through the rock that barricades it from its prey, it breath draws the air, these bugs beware. It runs along the walls snatching off those that dare enter for carnage of their own is all to be theirs, its tail it lashes out and in a twisted horror actually sucks in a bug through its tip as if it were a second throat, a maw at the end of it body. Fast for it vast size and agile like the devil, This is the beast they have unleashed. A merciless fabrication of annihilation. Scraith has escaped.

Manasa watched, the three were to attack her all at once, smirking she was read, backing up further into the wall. Looking to where she was when she lost the steel rod by changing into a pair of legs, tossing out one of her dadaos to impale one of the beetle like creatures. Using that as out, jumping over it to re-claim her weapon, jabbing the over one into the creature in hopes to kill this one. Dropping to her knees, once more dodging the scythe like arms that went after her again, kicking up the steel rode, using one of her Dadao’s to hit it to charge into the mantis creature. Missing but took off one of its arms, better than nothing. Flipping again, she claims the scythe like arm. Putting up one of the blades and rod up, the shield kicked out to the beetle in hopes it would try to dodge it as she slashed down with the mantis arm cutting the head off of it. Now she held a blade, and mantis arm for weapons, looking back to the group she was with letting the others lead as she took the back keeping them from gathering to close to the back of them. “What’s wrong?” She screamed out, wanting to know why they moved. Constantly moving dodging on going attacks, using the mantis arm to defend against another mantis that went to trying to cut the group off from the others, when she looks back again a stupid choice the mantis and a friend of it both sliced at her waist that was still wrapped from the broken ribs given to her by Emrith, bending backwards and crab walking she barely dodged as each side of her was cut into. The wrap was turning crimson from her blood, but it did not stop her. Back up she went defending, staying caught up with the group. Moving to where they went, she looks on in shock. “Really, undead too? Wasn’t that chick with us in the beginning?” She thought inside him mind. For now, Manasa would work on trying to not let to many bugs pass her to the group taking at the back of them all. (ooc I may have to leave.

Dominic || Bloody gorram vampires. (Heh, ‘bloody’. Brand hasn’t the time to appreciate that inadvertent pun, though.) They always move faster than he -- even Khitti, and she’s hardly a master of her vampiric gifts. By the time Brand has swum through the sea of angry undead and made it near to Not-Khitti’s side, Valen and Emrith have already thrown their attacks upon the vampiress. Emrith’s in particular earns Brand’s dismay; time moves at an agonizing crawl as he watches the acid and accompanying spear hurtle towards her. The seconds only regain their normal march onward as Amarrah repels the attack, once again showing herself far more capable than Khitti herself has ever been. Brand spares a breath to sigh in relief -- funny, that for a moment he’d had to root for Amarrah’s success -- and scrambles the remaining few paces until he can circle around and arrive at Not-Khitti’s backside. Thrusting a hand forward, Brand seeks the nape of Not-Khitti’s neck, all his focus on the place within where her brain stem connects her spine and her mind. Here he’d murmur a prayer that his spell won’t kill her, were he at all religious. If the gods had not abandoned them all. If they’d ever existed in the first place. Summoning a surge of electric power, Brand shoots it into her neck and simultaneously calls to Khitti, the real Khitti, through their link. Please, let it be you who awakens next. You are not abandoned. Out here, time has carried on without you, and Amarrah has been… well, Amarrah, but we can pull you out of that nightmare. Together, we will fix this.

Dominic || Perhaps, his magic has worked. Khitti’s body shudders violently and collapses to the ground, unconscious. Likewise, so do Amarrah’s undead minions, collapsing into broken pieces of bone and rotting sinew and returning to the earth. Brand picks up Khitti’s inert form and, after a single glare afforded to Emrith, made haste toward the arriving distraction team. He’ll have to sit out on any further fighting, assuming he can at all escape the horde of bugs that still surround them all. He has a Khat to protect.

Emrith knows that standing still in the middle of this massacre is going to be the last mistake he ever makes. Even as the jar of acid leaves his upthrust hand, the spell-blade is running, then gliding an inch above the churned ground as it begins to give way beneath him. His boots save him from simply falling into the quickly widening depression from which the worm-thing seems to be birthing itself, but that frightful hook slashes his left calf, drawing blood. Any wonders about how the creature might have known where he was, and might have struck him, pale next to the realization that fighting this way, he is hopelessly outmatched. Speeding away from that hook-headed horror, and thus out of range from the traitor's counter-attack - in truth, the spell-blade had turned his back and does not even hear or know of it in the chaos - Emrith has just enough time to notice that his ice is having less effect than once it had. "They adapt!" he shouts, followed by a very loud curse in elvish which for the sake of all present will not be transcribed. At once, the furious frosty fuselade seems to stop, and the vampiric elf breathes a figurative sigh of relief as the necessity for maintaining that magical conduit is now spared him. With his mind more able to focus on other things besides his magical summonations, Emrith voices a strong telepathic shout to his dragon who, thanks to the bond they share, knows mostly where he is. The cry is wordless, but the imperative in it is simple: Emrith is calling for backup. He has no idea that Lionel has arrived until he catches a glimpse of the knight out of the corner of his eye. All of his efforts now are on being everywhere at once, dancing sword-forms the way he knows how best to do, drifting like smoke on a high wind and bringing death wherever he goes. Above, the green dragon, who is simultaneously disgusted, angry and terrified at what is happening below, begins to dig. For the dirt and roots, her stout claws are more than suitable...but the bedrock is a different story. Green dragons are most at home with natural magic, that of the elements, especially the earth, and while Emrith's bondmate is young, she is fierce and powerful, and motivated by strong emotion besides. Lines of light begin to blanket the area of forest above the hellish hive like a spiderweb, most seemingly focused above the chamber where the assassination went so horribly wrong. They burrow into the ground, those luminous ley-lines, and the earth begins to groan, then to rumble. It may take time, but Emrith's green dragon may be able to give an unexpected escape to the beleaguered band below. Aware of what his dragon is doing but bent fully on his own task, Emrith spares no further thought for Khitti, or betrayal, or anything else. The mission was to kill the queen, and the spell-blade will pursue it now with single-minded determination.

Emrith :: Valen's shadowy conjuring, and its subsequent locomotive rush down the tunnel - presumably toward the queen - are not lost on Emrith, and he speeds off in pursuit, unintentionally missing the trajectory of Rorin's holy attack in the process. It is here, in the dark, underground, that something unsettling happens. Valen's shadowy creation seems to pull Emrith, to tug him toward itself; along with this sensation comes a faint whisper in his mind, as of many unintelligible voices whispering half-heard words. The pull on body and mind intensifies...and suddenly Emrith shoots through the air, into the shadows and out the other side. A mantis is there to greet him, and Emrith dashes backward into the onrushing shadowy orb, somehow using it to shift himself a foot or so to the side so as to strike the angered insect from its flank. The shadowy sphere continues its forward motion, and Emrith experimentally stops moving; the sphere does not harm him, but instead carries him along with it. Whether this is something unique to him alone, or perhaps the result of a heretofore-latent gift from Larewen, his sire, the spell-blade does not know and does not care. He can, at least in limited capacity, use shadows to travel. And this particular shadow seems to be bearing him toward the heart of the matter. It might have enough force and magical clout to mow down bugs, but for now at least, it is a protective cocoon for the vampiric elf, a pitch-black ball bearing true death within.

Oline was extremely uncomfortable. The giantess emerged from the cloud of dust, hurled backwards by the forceful gnashing of enormous mandibles and crashing into the wall hard enough to dislocate her shoulder with a sickening ‘pop’. She’d managed to avoid being crushed beneath the titanic beetle’s hideous bulk, but in all the disarray she hadn’t been made aware of the imminent retreat until she found herself on the ground and scrabbling one-armedly up to her knees in a mad dash after the rest of the unit. /We won’t have time to go back for anyone who falls in battle/ she reminded herself, sparing no glances over her shoulder as she finally took her feet and stormed through the tunnel after the others. About half-way back to the group, an millipede erupted from a side-passage hissing and screaming and billowing plumes of acrid-smelling gas from large holes dotting its body. Oline mantled over the hideous creature and kept right on running, though from the sounds of things she wasn’t going to stay ahead of it for very long. “Ah’ve godda creepie-crawlie enn’Ah kinna shak’im!” the she bellowed down the hall in a warning to Lionel and the others. /As if we didn’t have enough problems/. No sooner had she thought those words than a globule of acidic spittle came arcing through the air from somewhere behind her and splattered across her back. A shriek of pain went up as the backside of Oline’s tunic dissolved away, several layers of flesh beneath cooking and bubbling hideously in a contact chemical burn. She was just a few feet from the rest of the group now, but that damn millipede was seconds from overtaking her… and there were still the other beetles and mantises trailing further behind that. One problem at a time. She quickly lined the shoulder of her limp arm up against the wall and forcibly popped the joint back where it was supposed to be. Considering the pain of her still-sizzling back, the shoulder hardly hurt at all. That said, she quickly pivoted around to face the acid-spewing ‘pede with her kanabo readied and her vision growing redder by the second as her careful control over her rage weakened.

Valen would fight like a man posessed, which he was, that sphere exploding as he caught up with it now, forcing the bugs out of the tunnel and into the queen's chamber with a brilliant explosion of smoke, dust, and shadow debris. The expulsed shadow would harden, solidify, and form floating miniature scythes that levitated in front and around him now, whooshing in all directions as those very sharp and real blades danced mercilessly around him as he moved to square off agains't the queen. "Hi Honey! I'm hooome!" He would say maniacally, energy being expunged from him into the shadows taking a toll, but he could soldier on for now. Looking the giant thing up and down, he would shudder in disgust. "Good god almighty. I had a future mother in law like you once, but it seems you got the better attitude....and looks." With that, suddenly Maldor would perk up with a sickening grin. "You wouldn't happen to have any daughters...would you?" With that, he also remembered that he had sung a song about Bone flowers on the way there...and then Amarrah afterwards had raised the dead...coincidence? Or is Maldor literally becoming the first actual and legit clairvoyant PC? Either way, with that he would line up his shadow and the shadows of the scythes being reflected upon the ground, with the shadow of the queen, and would start walking amidst that flurrying vortex of shadow scythe blades. As the shadows of the scythes, connect with the shadow of the queen, to the giant royal it would unfortunately be as if she had actually started to be hit by the weapons themselves. Suddenly in the cavern, -all- the shadows would seem to cry out as a choir singing a mournful choral dirge. "Cover the mirrors, Love has died, leaving but a starless ruin behind...Shatter the mirrors, so that he can never be called, back from the blessed silence of his sacred vault..." that grim choral refrain would be heard in all of the tunnels, in all of the caverns.

/| Lionel is a stillframe. He watches Brand bring down Amarrah. He watches Rorin’s beam of light cascade through the caverns. He watches the bugs as they adapt, and he watches the Warrior’s Guild adapt in turn to that self-same adaptation. In his mind, a void is forming, a wave of euphoric subtle capable comprehension. This is how the man has committed to his more famous acts through the years -- in this void, where perception rises and battle becomes slow-moving tapestry. The worms, the million tiny worms, give chase even as Emrith vanishes into the shadows. The shadows -- Valen’s shadows -- in the distance they strike the queen and her herd. With a simple, single cant of the head, Lionel, his arm throbbing and bleeding, his allies in danger, and with Eirik in a battle frenzy and Ameno like a hulking mutant, all of this happening at once but Lionel’s expression is unfazed. That one motion is all he needs. And then he’s gone, faded, moving so fast to the tune of the Ishaarite fire spirit within him that it’s a blur that takes him between the insect horde and the assassins at the forefront, and he’s slicing. He’s slashing. He’s cutting a line between them all, keeping the bugs on him, taking damage but pressing on. And then, again, he’s gone, and he’s moved back closer to Emrith and Valen, and he’s fighting the mantises amid the shadows. Lionel’s face, and especially his blue eyes, seems to reflect off of those shadows and the rubies deep within the walls of this massive chasm, and collectively now there is a strange red silhouette, a haze, blood-red shining brilliantly in every direction across the expanse. Behind him, the queen stirs. Struck by Valen’s blows, her howls are infernal, and her minions are marching protectively. She blasts off a volley of ugly green poison, a spew, a streaming spit, and then she blasts one off again, and again, and again, and each mist blankets the bugs, but they react differently. They react diligently. Like a craze, the humming pitch comes from them all, and in that pitch, they move far swifter than before. The queen has possessed them all, and they’re throwing themselves at every combatant unwilling to shed a stray thought for their own survival. Kamikaze is the order of the day, and now those beetles are exploding, and in their explosions, a sticky blue and white poison of their own threatens to cover the guild, disintegrate flesh, rend us all into oblivion. And what of the queen? Somewhat damaged, but still moving. And oh, is she moving. So fat, this one, and as long as a small castle fort. How, then, does she manage to blast her way across the chasm, potentially crushing Lionel and Emrith and Valen in the process? How, then, does she somehow blow across that space, break through the tunnels, break them wider open and wider open still -- hello, Emrith’s dragon, you are now falling through the ground on top of her if you’re anywhere nearby -- and how does she crack open the entire colony’s infrastructure, spewing her poison spot in every direction, seething with rage comparable to Macon’s own? However she does this, she kills so many of her own in the rapture, and she wants the Warrior’s Guild dead, dead, dead. And she screams.

Rorin looked at the pure destruction that his attack had caused and nearly passed out. Khittis shadowflame had countered it, and seemed to have kept her safe, the sheee volume of it cancelling to positive force out with her own negative. Rorin was having trouble catching breath. He'd never done that before. Regardleas he slowly reloaded and allowed other Warriors to use the temporary path he'd created that would soon close. It would take him a moment to catch up but he had enough energy to blade counter if he needed to. He turned to see just a couple others of the Guild struggling equally behind. "By Arkhen, as if we didn't have enough problems?" He put his crossbow and sword away and slowly got up and started walking. "Keep going," Rorin suggested rather tiredly, "I've got this one." Calmly espying Oline, Manasa, and everyone else behind him, Rorins plan was simple. He breathed. He just breathed and brought his hands together. With each breath came a thought of someone he loved, someone he fought for, everything he'd die for. An elvish prayer uttered from his lips, speaking of martyrs and saints, of sacrifice in blood, of all power from the realm of light chanelled through his heart and within him. As his prayer became a chant it issued louder and louder until it reached it's fulcrum. He summoned all his power, all his love, all his strength into one final defense. Rorin would slam his fist into the ground and from him would usher forth divine magic and holy light. Across the cave spread a grand barrier with a white glyph; barring all attackers from further entrance. Rorim did not stay in this position for mere comfort; at this point he barely had the strength to move or walk. Each clash, each thrust, each attack upon it gathered a strong red energy down his right arm towards the center of his bright shield. He could keep them at bay. For now. Lionel blazed around him for a long time as the shield became redder and redder. Rorin felt the skin of his arm melt and warp in reply; forcing him to take some damage while Jaegars bond words realligned. Then he heard it. That infernal scream. The queen moved and Rorin hit the deck quick enough to get the frack out of her way. Quick as could be the red energy collected into him went into his body for fuel for fire for hearts raging desire. She wanted them dead and he felt the same. They could not alow her to escape. Not after they'd come so far.

Khitti :: Deep within Khitti’s mind, within that dream that Amarrah had trapped her in, she heard a voice calling to her. Was it really, truly Brand? “BRAND?!” She’d shout up to those heavens above her, the very same whose colors of reds and blacks and purples matched that of Amarrah’s butterfly form. Lightning began to crash around her as Brand shocked her in the waking world, yellowed streaks of electric magic lighting up the dark world around her. Everything flickered, like a lamp in a storm, the nightmare realm melting away and leaving her in darkness. She’d still sleep as Brand carried her, like that sleeping princess in her fairy tale book, though his name was uttered quietly in her slumber, “...Brand...” It certainly wasn’t Amarrah now, that was for sure--she -never- referred to the Catalian by his actual name.

Eirik is completely lost to the rage within, berserking through waves of beetles, and all manner of bugs. Each time a claw is raised, it is in an attempt to suffocate life from the chittering monsters. It was all he could do to keep these things distracted. If Eirik acted on more than just barbaric instinct he might give pause to the thing Ameno had become; but he does not. He cannot. Nothing beyond the sheen of anger swells in his mind. Though he cannot possibly be everywhere at once. Much to the beasts dismay, a barbed pincer slams into his shoulder, rendering an arm useless in the instant. This is not all, the bug slams Eirik backwards pinning him to the ground in an instant. What comes next is beyond his personal understanding. Bugs. Exploding. The first, behind the creature, sending a wave of monstrous blue ooze onto the backside of the creature on Eirik. The sound deafening to his ears, rattling those eardrums. Hand clasps the spear in his shoulder claws tearing into the flesh of the beast; its pincer snaps and Eirik shimmies free. Suddenly the field is smeared in this grotesque acid, and Eirik, gets the heck out of dodge. Taking his armorless form away from the mess coming at him. The lycan instead finds that field generated by Rorin. Not that his mind would know what happened, but Rorin was protecting the group. Even as a hulking Lycan, he could feel exhaustion stinging at his frame, but like a protective dog, he seeks to rid the beasts from his fellow warriors. To free them. The queen is the last thing on his mind.

Ameno :: Scraith continued his slaughter in chasing down the bugs down some distant tunnels deeper into the nest, the bug goo from his kills draining down after him. It would be some time before Ameno would be able to take control again, and when he did, wherever he ended up, that area would be drowning in depth of bug goo and carcasses.

Manasa was taking a lot of damage; she was covered in her own blood, her purple hair looking black. The sound of the queen’s pain, the way the bugs now were going even crazier not caring how they attacked. They were insane, the queen didn’t care who died to protect her, but the guild was holding strong. Or so it seemed from the back, with the queen screams, Manasa growled out loud, sending a message back to her. The tail quickly, spinning her eyes found the queen, using much of her speed and force for the attack she had. Placing the Dadao back up she would her steel rod and the mantis arm for this attack, the queen could not leave. Rearing back as her body began to slide along the ground, using the tail like a spring as she shot herself midair. Coming down on top of the queen pest, the mantis arm like scythe was forced into her back. Next the steel rod came, forcing the mantis arm in deep in hopes to send it all the way through making the Queen slower to move or in hopes of death. Taking this chance as she fully lands now, knowing this would hurt she attempts it anyways. Her fist ball up and began to pound at the rod to break in more depth, another scream escaped Manasa, trying to keep the queen from leaving. Tempted to send her hands deep into the queen and send bolts inside of her, but not taking this chance to set off any fires from the gas. Off Manasa went to gather with the others, teeth bearing at the queen, pulling her Dadao’s back into her bloody grip. The ha-naga would need a lot of tlc when this is done, never stopping her onslaught of attacks keeping her tail closer and using the grip on the shield to hammer into enemies. Manasa was growing quickly tired, her energy running out, visibly by the slower attacks and defending. “We need a better plan! If I can get my hands deep enough I can control my bolts to stay within her, cook the queen from the inside out! Anyone else have a different plan?”

Khitti :: Brand would regard Lionel in silence as he passed his fellow Catalian, offering him a side-glance as he carried that woman-who-was-not-his-woman-but-was-definitely-his-woman. The path ahead was clear for the most part, due to the distraction team’s brute force and various magicks, but as the tunnels begin to shake and collapse in on itself, he’d pick up the pace to reach the forest. Khitti’s lone word--his own name--was heard, and he’d spare the briefest of glances down at her, but otherwise said nothing--did nothing, except the running. This wasn’t the time to get distracted by that gorram woman and he knew it, even if she was back to normal. Well, as normal as Khitti could possibly get. The earth from up above started its rain down upon him as the cave-in worsened, the warrior-mage forced now to heft Khitti’s body up onto one shoulder like a sack of potatoes, allowing him to conjure up a sort of ice umbrella to shield both him and her from the falling debris. Nope, sorry bug-queen, you will not deter him at all. Brand finally makes it to the surface, heading to where the group had left the wyverns, draping Khitti over the back of the one they’d ridden here. He’d stay by her side, but would keep watch for both the warriors below and any bugs that might try to escape.

Emrith blinks in confusion when suddenly and with no warning his shadowy method of transport simply dissipates. When Valen appears, and the shadowy scythes begin their hellish slashing, the spell-blade understands, and he realizes that if he does not wish to be caught in the crossfire, further trickery is needed. Sheathing Heleg, the vampiric elf vaults up a column and climbs toward the ceiling. Due to the irregularity of the structure, there are more than enough crevices, nodules and shelves of stone to let the elf move about with a fair degree of nimbleness above the fray rather than risking the maelstrom on the floor below. Weariness begins to tug at him now, whether because of his newfound ability being put to the test or due to all the wanton slaughter, or the taxing nature of the magic he has wrought this evening; no one lasts forever. And so, with careful movements planned more for economy than flair, the elf makes his way above the queen, whose attention does not seem to be focused on what might be happening above her. He is just getting into position when the enormous, bloated thing suddenly goes ballistic. Waves of poison burst forth, bathing those below both friend and foe, and suddenly she is charging away, heedless and enraged. Bugs burst like bombs, spewing acidic ichor everywhere. Emrith can do nothing for his friends right now. The mission was to kill the queen, and kill her he must. When Khitti threatened to derail the operation, he attempted to deal with her so that his path to the objective would remain clear; one way or another, there has been no further trouble to him from that quarter. Whatever anyone else might think, Emrith's target has been the queen of these demonic creatures from the start, and like an arrow loosed from the string of the best bowmaster, he does not waver in his resolve. As the entire subterranean complex begins to break up, Emrith's dragon feels the trembling of the earth and launches herself free of the ground just as it cracks like an eggshell, giving her an aerial view of the enormous matriarch below. Emrith, who is trying his best to follow the queen's backtrail without being shaken or blasted loose from his precarious height, shouts another command, though this one, if translated into words, would be of an entirely different character. "Kill her!" Emrith's dragon doesn't think twice. She drops her seven-and-a-half-ton weight straight down, slamming the queen from above and punching her formidable claws into its carapace. Teeth crunch, tail crashes against chitin, and another blast of caustic breath pours over the queen's head. This may not be a one-sided fight - the queen is certainly bigger and stronger, and not likely to take well to a rider, especially a rider this violent - but dragons are fearsome in their own right, and this might give all and sundry a better-than-even chance of getting out alive.

Emrith :: Here, though, Emrith's own luck runs out. He loses purchase, grasps empty air, then falls, screaming, to the floor far below. The good news is that he is nowhere near the queen or any exploding insects when he hits. The bad news is the bitter snap of bone as his right leg breaks just below the knee. The pain is immediate and intense. Thanks to his boots, Emrith will not be stopped from regaining an upright position and beginning to move, but this much agony, on top of prior exhaustion, will make escape a very difficult endeavour. From far away, a terrific, ear-splitting shriek, followed by another of different character. Emrith's mind-link with his dragon suddenly goes dark. An ominous sign. More mana into the boots. He must move quickly. Weaving, avoiding an explosion of gore. A splash of something hot on his back. Stinging agony there. A new scar, if it doesn't kill him outright. Suddenly aware that a single word is thundering from his wide-open mouth, echoing in the ruined tunnels like a battle-cry, or a lamentation for the dead. "ILAEROTHIL!" The elvish word for "sentinel of the trees", or as near as Emrith's tattered consciousness can get. And something...flickers. The link. It sputters like a forlorn candle in a very dark place. But there is light. She lives.

Oline shuddered as she watched the barrier going up, the red haze diminish as she regained her senses and slowly turned to head towards the brunt of the fighting. She only got as far as the point at which Rorin had slammed his fist into the ground before slumping down against the wall gasping for air. The burn on her back was still getting worse… she could feel it spreading. Grimacing, she clenched her club in her fists and tried desperately to use it to stand back up. This was… unfortunate… because right about that point was when the Queen’s charge began, and the giantess could only watch in shock the speed with which that abomination of insectoid nature moved. There was surely no way that thing was natural… was there? She tried to get up again, to return to the fight, but the burning agony of cooking flesh that was her back refused. Her knees buckled and she wound up on the ground again. “Giddup, damn yeh! Soddin… knees… gotta git t’work! Bugga-Beeyich En’t gonna kill ‘erself!” she snarled and finally, in a last ditch effort, found her feet. The pain was overwhelming, and it took her everything she had just to march forward, but forward she marched… straight into the enslaught.

Valen Valen would be safe as aces from any advancing bugs in that swirling vortex of the vorpal shadows that he had made, but that poison...not so much. As it was, that the choral postlude had ended, and he had now noticed that his actions -might- have endangered Emrith...Maldor would honestly not seem to care one button. Turning to see Lionel, a thin line would purse his lips as he moved towards him...the scythes giving a wider birth to allow the Catalian into that safe-zone. "I hate to do this to you buddy...But uh...Guna need you to trust me on this, unless you want it on your tombstone that a fat bitch turned you into a puddle of goo." with that, he would full Nelson Lionel, wings of more shadow spreading behind him, and lift him up into the air after towards the Queen. If Valen -could- have seen this, he most likely would have died, again, but alas he could not as whenever Maldor was in control, that blonde and red haired bastard, he always made sure Valen was unconscious. "Look man at the risk of sounding like a drag, or sounding like an ass, or even sounding like I'm trying to be funny, would you mind putting your hot sword into that thing quick, and give her insides a good blasting? I kinda have another engagement...and it might just save the guild's lifeif you do this...., so turn up that sword...and heat my shadows." With that, and if Lionel would do so, once the Scythes were properly aflame he would fire them all towards the queen while still hovering, in a last ditch attempt to end her reign of ugliness, as well as the reign of her stank. He -hated- bug smell, and was more than prepared to throw some shade at that. The Dragon landing on the queen was inspired, and in a rare display of sportsmanship, comradery, and overall being a swell guy...he would give Emrith a nod of approval. It had been a very good call, and perhaps it was also an apology for the blasting of the shadows. All that was waiting for now, was for Lionel to do his thing...and once he did, those Scythes would sail all just...float, float on....at great speed of course, and deadly accuracy, taking care to not hit the Dragon, such a good thing. "Also, sorry guy, but I cant set you down. Not with all that down there." In reference to the dissolvant.

/| The queen is swift in her self-righteous sprawl. The queen is singular in her desire for continued survival. What she possesses -- her full remaining horde -- can all be replaced. All of it. She snarls, and feels the many hundreds of layered ribbons of fatty flesh slide across the ground. She feels the earth. It is her home. She does not know how long she had slumbered. She knows not what awoke her, either. But her purpose is to live, and to spread her pack across every corner of the realm, and to feast on the flesh of humanoids, to taste them and devour them and be satisfied. To her, the Warrior’s Guild members are the ants. The insects. The filth. But the filth has fought back. Manasa has used her own buck mantis’ arm against her. The lacerations are a stinging, and an ugly vivid song of pain spirals through her central nervous system. It wounds her. It enrages her. A screech, unlike any other, and it fills the chasm and shatters stone. She leaps, but a crater is forming above her. Curious, that. Free open space. She’s rising. It’s the first time she has seen the forest, Kelay’s Southern Sage Forest, in millennia. It has changed. Some of it has been put to the torch. Some of it has been ruined. Those vile, vile humanoids. They have done this, no doubt. All of them like ants. She hates. Hates. Hates. Hates. Hates hates hates hates hates. It is sickening. And then, something crashes into her, and her ascent is thwarted, and she slams brutally into the floor below. A dragon is on her, and she twists her grotesque form in an effort to smother it in doughy flesh. Her gaping worm’s mouth widens, and she wants to eat its neck, end its filthy wretched interference, but she can’t. She can’t. She’s helpless. Helpless! The queen cries out psychically to her kin, but she cannot establish lock. They’re exploding, or otherwise striking, and in her madness, in her frenzy, they… stop. It is all too much to bear. She’s severed the link. She must regain it! Need! Need! Need! But the dragon has her, and she cannot move, she’s pinned -- she summons the strength. She still has it! This hasn’t ended! But more and more, the guild members strike her. And the dragon is so stubborn, so green and sick and gross, and… a stinging. An impossible burning. Shadowy black fire. She is dying. All of her hate boils to the surface, and her very skin now boils, and blisters, and peels away in mounds, and every last one of her horde collapses, breathless, dead. The queen’s last wail is pathetic, quiet, a low hum barely audible. The hate. The hate. The hate. The queen is dead.

Lionel is in his mental void, perceiving everything as it occurs. He moves willfully from the beetles, from the mantises, from the millipedes. He strikes them, takes them down. He takes a lone step forward; his goal is to help Rorin and Emrith and Oline continue the fight. And then… he’s scooped. Lionel is lifted. He blinks. “What the heck?” Valen is carrying him, or rather, that other self. Why does everyone have an ‘other self’? Lionel had an ‘other self’ 14 frakking years ago. Lionel is a trendsetter, damn it. He mumbles, angstily. “What the heck are you doing? What the?!” Then Maldor’s words reach him. Glancing around, seeing the battle is nearly lost if they don’t act fast, he shrugs. Lionel O’Connor, Hero of Hellfire, Catal’s Last Prince, Knight-Commander of Frostmaw In Her Majesty Queen Hildegarde’s service, literally shrugs. “Sure. No problem. I can do that.” And Hellfire billows a bleak green flame. And that flame is joined by shadow, and between Manasa’s hit and Ameno’s rage and Eirik’s lycanthropy and certainly -- certainly! -- Emrith and his dragon, it’s all too much for the queen. She takes the flame from within, and her own melting girth keeps it from blowing the region sky-high, and she dies. And every last one of her hellspawn dies with her. And Lionel? Well, he blinks again, clears his throat, and jumps down. He will not be held like some fairy princess. He is Lionel, damn it, and he is tired. “Fraksake.”

Rorin turned amidst the chaos to all those he could see. Complete and utter destruction surrounded him and he had little time to act. Oline. There was Oline and- by the gods what in all this abomination he swore he could see her spine. "Stop moving," Rorin ordered as he came to her as fast he could and held one hand on her shoulder and the other on her back where the true damage was wrought. "This'll sting," he began to pair his faith into her and watched as the magic unfolded slowly. The wound reversed- not in totality- but enoug for skin to regrow. "That'll leave a mark," he warned as he hefted the big girl onto his shoulder. She was the most debilitated out of all this it seemed and so he waited until those who would walk, ran, straight after the queen. "This won't be fun," he told her as he again was forced to summon that good old divine intervention. They would tramp and crash, but it was far better than being melted, crushed, or stabbed. As the Queen died Rorin brought Oline slowly back to the depths of the caves. The bug had made quite a skylight and now things were still. Things were finally, eerily, quiet. The still. The peace after the storm. Eirik, Manasa, and it seemed a few others would do well to come to Rorins improptu healing station of bug corpses surrounding the main wall the Queen had rested against. There was what Rorin truly wished to see. For a moment as the warriors returned or fled his hands felt over it. It was a map; made by the bugs or something else he had no idea. But he knew this place was old. Only now could he see the deliberate design of the pit, no accident, no casual coincidence of nature. This place had been built and the arachnids long slumbered. No time to dwell. There was only the time to pick up the fallen pieces of his comrades and do his best to put them back together. Every one would be walking back to their wyverns tonight with a lot on their minds from the epiphany yet to come.

Eirik , even though a lycan, drew deep ragged breaths. Exhaustion stung at his muscles; pincer still piercing his shoulder. That limb would be useless for now. The hybrids eyes shifting from one member to another, backing away slowly. Pointed ears lean back, the queen was dead. The bugs gone. Everything ended in this explosion of noise. At the motion of Rorins magic, the wolf does -not- approach keeping his distance from everyone. It only took moments, and his trembling sore body had taken too much. Eirik, shifted back, painfully. Shredded pants and shirt covering portions of his body. It takes a minute for clarity to ring in his mind. The barbed item is grasped and he winces in pain. That will have to come out later. “Everyone all right?” He sure as hell wan’t going to be healed by magic. He would do it on his own at a later time. Weapons and armor are scooped up with that one good arm. He would seek his heal elsewhere. “Its been fun.”

Ameno : the floor cracked and shook and then out of a hole that formed ameno who was now normal again climbed out, his scales were still dark and his eyes red and his spines going down his back were still sharp and his dark black wings, he moved swiftly forward. Trying to maintain his approach only to have himself face grounded into the floor as a certain wyvern leapt on his back and started licking him. "UGH Get off." He said pushing up. And wicked gleam in his eye catching the tail of the wyvern. And then glancing at the hole in ceiling. "You like to fly don't you?" The wyvern was panting, and then it was gone sailing into the sky, because ameno threw it. "Stupid ....*curseing under breath* Dragon." Looking around at anyone he can assist.

Manasa was slowing down very much at the blood she was losing from her sides, and other cuts along her form. Glancing back at the guild mates, as the mantis slashed its arm into her leg. Coming back around with her Dadao’s, using the rest of her strength to severe the arm off. Barely able to move due to the object embed into her tail, falling over as the queen was killed panting. Curses slipping out from her, “We won.”

Emrith glides into the makeshift rally-point. He does not breathe or make a sound, merely floats along as if being towed by an invisible chain. Thus, his arrival is far more serene than it deserves to be; Emrith's cloak has a large arterial stain across its back below the shoulder, and his right leg has new dimensions that no elven limb should ever have. Despite his injury, his fatigue, his fear for the green dragon who may at this very moment be dying in service to him, he is the very picture of elven calm as he arrives. His battle-mates, battered and beleaguered and all but broken, each receive a nod and a smile. Some may see him, some may not; the cloak, after all, is still fastened, and Emrith does not have the presence of mind to unclasp it at this point. "Assassinate the queen, he said?" Emrith's voice is harsher than normal, and more heavily accented, as often happens when he is under duress. "Well, she is dead. We did what we had to do. The forest has a scar now, and all of us will bear the marks of our victory ever after, each and every one. But she is dead. The mission was a success." Whereupon the elf falls rather unceremoniously onto his face. Somewhere nearby comes a soft snort, then several more. Something very large and very saurian might just be laughing at the disgraced, unconscious elf. She, Ilaerothil, is bruised and terribly weak. She cannot fly. Her breath is slow and deep and laboured. But she lives, and unless some new devilry should befall the pair, Emrith, the elf who rescued her egg, the elf who is so fractious and impatient and headstrong that she wants to bite granite, will live as well. The two of them have only the heights to fly to from here. All is upward.

Oline was a very difficult girl to keep down. Whether or not her spine was exposed was debatable, how the hells was she supposed to know? S’nawt like she had eyes in the back of her head or anything. All she knew was that the spreading pain had stopped and the burning, intense agony of sizzling nerve endings was replaced with an equally painful mending of those endings insomuch as folks wouldn’t potentially get any glimpses of her exposed skeletal structure anymore. Oline shared Rorin’s interest in that map, however… as well as the chamber it had been in. She’d dwelled on that damn thing since the moment she laid eyes on it. Unwilling to simply sit and recover, the giantess forced herself back onto her feet once again using her kanabo as a crutch and slowly made her way through the mess of corpses into the Royal Chamber. It was a spinetingling thing to behold, and she hadn’t merely chosen that word because her spine was presently tingling due to possible acid-damage. The chamber was a work of grotesque beauty, hauntingly horrific in its mien yet constructed on such an immense scale that one practically had to stand in awe of it all. The dead queen’s husk, whatever remained, became her first destination. With a vicious snarl, Oline jammed the amethyst pike jutting from the head of her kanabo straight into the charred and wasted flesh of the fallen beast before slowly making her way towards Rorin. “Tha’ thengs ‘bin haunti’ m’dreams…” she hissed of the map, before clapping the squire on the shoulder feebly and laughing. “Least th’wunz you en’t takin’ o’er.” Her steely gaze drifted back up to the map. Another sigh, and she’d suggest: “We shuhd probuhlly breng’it back widdus, yeh?"

Valen Would have dispersed the scythyes without so much of a second thought, as well as the wings, and landed on his two feet, fist to the ground, in a squat position right next to Lionel. Standing up he would brush off his armor, before patting the Catalian on the back. "You know...I think I just found a wingman. If you ever need work kid, you hit me up okay? I could use someone like you. Sorry for taking Valen out of the picture, but he hasn't been feeling to well." Leaning in he would whisper something to Lionel before smacking his ass. "Good game." And then go over towards Eirik...and then his vision started to get blurry, a loss of balance as a record scratch happened in that head of his, though would regain his composure as the music resumed. It had been a long time, since he had been without as much blood as Valen had been neglecting to feed, and when you have been trapped in a mirror for seven to eight years...you kind of forget about that sort of thing, let alone your sanity. Either way, once he reaches Eirik, a nod would be given before saying "......Send Jarith to to the school if you don't mind in larket, if you dont mind...dont mind? and give him this." Here, he would produce another flask "The actual...apology. Just....dont say it's from me or he wont take it. Just tell him it's from Valen." And with that, Maldor would start to fall backwards, out of commission for now due to lack of blood, as all that energy loss had finally caught up with him, 'thirst' lines starting to appear in his face, said face starting to sink and wrinkle slowly. Silently, a little shadow stick figure would move to stand on top of Maldor, pull out a shadow trumpet, and start to play 'Taps.'

Lionel stumbles forward, then catches himself on a nearby rock. All around them, the guild sees corpses. Bug corpses beyond count. He bites his lip, and immediately his mind returns to the matter of Khitti. He knows Brand is up there, somewhere on the surface, looking after her. He knows this, but he sighs. Lionel needs to be up there, tending to her also. His aide-de-camp, Briar Kurisu’s replacement after her death at the hands of King Macon’s underling. “It’s all come full circle,” he mutters, and then he spits. No sooner has he spat than Maldor has labeled him ‘wingman’, slapped his ass, damn near called him Sally, and then collapse. Scanning the area, Lionel notes the injuries of his comrades, and he knows he must speak. As it happens, Emrith himself has already spoken, and more eloquently than Lionel himself is prone to do, and now the elf and his dragon companion rest. But still, words must come. Something must be said. “Mission frakking accomplished,” he breathes out. “Rorin, don’t wear yourself out healing the rest of us. Everyone, get to your wyverns if you can. If you need assistance, it’s yours. And we set course back for Frostmaw immediately. We need healing -- badly.” Ameno’s troublesome wyvern flitters around and thrashes and flies back off again even as Lionel mumbles onward. Lionel eyes Emrith, laughs despite his injuries, and And then the Catalian tilts on his foot, and reaches out to hoist Emrith, and hoist ‘Valen’, and he hoists them to their wyverns and sends them off, unconscious as they are. It’s the least a leader can do. Soon, he’s making his way toward the surface, Khitti and Brand filling his worries as much as the wounded. But something catches his eye. Rorin’s artifact. Lionel joins the squire and Oline in observation, and that map Rorin has found -- oh, what a beautiful gleaming mosaic, stained glass and multicolored, and old. So very, very old. Now, however, surrounded as it is by a veritable sea of hideous corpses, it would be impossible to miss. Upon that stained glass map, four images separated into quadrants. Top-left is a forest, and it looks eerily akin to Southern Sage itself. Top-right is a desert filled with dunes. Bottom-left is a nocturnal rendition of a primeval wood that looks an awful bit like the Vailkrin region. And bottom-right is a deep blue sea, a speck of land in the center. An island. Beside the map, there is more. Two entries in an old journal, their word strange, their references to nations undoubtedly foreign to the eyes and ears of the guild. Anyone present may read them, but for now, Lionel scoops them up inquisitively and shakes his head. Fear gnaws at him -- fear that this battle may have only just begun. Why else would one quadrant in four on that map fit this place like a glove? But he won’t voice it immediately. He won’t do that to his allies. His friends. His family. He won’t burden their tired hearts further. As Lionel returns to the surface, orders everyone off and commences the trip to Frostmaw, he is afraid.

Journal Entry #1 “Things are proceeding very well, my dearest Svetlana. We’ve received the appropriate funding to expand our mission by leaps and bounds. Can you imagine it, my love? The wars with Zevus and those accursed avians, over and done with in mere months, not decades. Our children starve in the streets -- we cannot afford decades. My colleagues and I have discovered something truly wonderful, a chance to turn things around and save our great nation of Haath. We’re on the brink, my Svetlana. The brink. I’ll write soon. Know that my thoughts are with you and our beautiful Aeri, always.”

-Magister Llario Selentus, First Moon Twenty-Fifth

Journal Entry #2 “I’ve received your letter and it fills me with hope, Svetlana. Not a day goes by I do not think of you and our Aeri, even if at times it might not seem that way. I am grateful to the gods to know that the capital is safe even now. The work continues, my love. We’ve made great strides. A sword once one meter in length is now ten; while I cannot imagine a ten-meter sword will do much good to anyone, we have begun experimenting on crossbows and the projectile force involved was enough to tear down an entire brick-walled structure. Completely tear it down, Svetlana. This is the sort of firepower we’ve only dreamed of, and it is incredible to consider an army which might make use of massive crossbows capable of launching fire and brimstone. We’d tear down the castles of our enemies and force a meaningful peace. It is the only way, I fear. To say nothing of the enhancements this is causing for our spells. Casters’ might is being amplified at record levels. This is science, my Svetlana, and perhaps it should be said that science is the magic of the future. Our future, my love. We will have one, because of this.”

-Magister Llario Selentus, Second Moon Nineteenth