Aidan screamed. The bard swung helplessly at the flesh-eating insects, trying to keep them off of Tristram’s body, but they were too small, too numerous. Stomp as he might, he could never hope to kill the millions of creatures that assailed him. As the creatures began to crawl up his legs, biting and stinging, he balked. He ran…or tried to run. Overcome by nausea from the pain, he stumbled out of the swarm, dropping his sword, and leaving the creatures to devour Tristram.
Within moments Tristram’s body was gone.
Sir Robert grabbed Aidan by the arm and drew him away from the churning mass of bugs. “There’s nothing you could have done. We have to get out of here, call in reinforcements…” The two ran for the gatehouse to seek cover, Aidan casting spells of curing over them as they went.
Above them on the walls, the rain of arrows seemed unceasing. Sir Fallon was the first up the tower, kicking open the door and taking the stairs two at a time. As he reached the top, his axe burst into flames. With one blow he took the head from the nearest skeletal archer.
Brother Justice stopped at the first landing. Looking out an arrow slit he said a brief prayer to Mitra, pronouncing his judgement upon the foul undead creatures that assailed them, and fired his crossbow, catching one of the skeletons on the opposing tower full in the face with the blessed quarrel.
Sir Willem dashed through the tower, pushing open the far door and continuing to run on. “Finish here, I’m taking the next one!” he called to the others. As he ran he called out to Mitra for might, growing to twice his size and swelling with courage. The arrows continued to fall as he charged. He caught two on his shield, but a third took him in the leg. He stumbled through the door to the second tower and paused to draw out the projectile and heal himself.
Behind him, Brother Justice’s second bolt also struck true, clearing the archers from the far tower. Sir Fallon swung wildly at the second archer near him, missing on his first swing, but knocking the creature from the battlements with a quick reversal, sending it to shatter on the cobblestones below. He turned and withdrew back into the tower, taking two arrows from one of the other towers.
He and Brother Justice regrouped with Aidan and Robert at the base of the tower.
“Tristram is dead,” Robert told them matter-of-factly. “Aidan and I have both exhausted our capacity for healing, and he is without a weapon.”
Brother Justice shook his head and handed Aidan his sword, “Here take this, I’ll cover you all with my bow. I still have power left. We’ve cleared two towers, which leaves only four left, but its a long dash in the open to the others.” Just then they heard a roar of victory from Sir Willem and the clatter of bones in the courtyard. “Make that three towers left…”
Brother Justice cast a blessing over the party and resumed his position at the arrow slit. The others ran on to the second tower, joining up with Sir Willem just as he reached the bottom. Regrouped, they ran for the third tower. Then they heard a deafening roar behind them, followed by Brother Justice’s screaming…
Brother Justice turned away from the arrow slit to reload, just in time to see 500 pounds of angry cat charging up the stairs at him. He reached for his sword, but found it missing. Then the beast was on him and passed him, two claws raking his face and leaving horrible scars. It stopped at the next landing and pivoted, turning for another charge. He managed to load his crossbow and plant a single bolt in the creature as it plowed into him, grabbing his arm in its massive jaws. He barely had time to scream before the creature ripped out his throat.
The others rushed back, but were too late. As they neared the first tower they saw the lion, perched atop the tower, dangling Brother Justice off the edge by its jaws. They watched in horror as the beast dropped his body to splatter on the walls at their feet. Then it leaped…
The party readied themselves, expecting the beast to crash into them, but strangely, it seemed to pause in mid-air, unleashing a laugh-like roar…and then there were five of them. The party scattered as the pride of lions came crashing down onto to the wall, only Sir Robert holding his ground to strike at the creatures as they landed.
The first one he struck vanished without a sound. “More illusions!” The others looked closer and saw that only one lion was real, the others looking like ghostly outlines. The one lion though, went strait for Sir Fallon, unleashing a roar that sounded disturbingly like his name. The lion landed a single claw on the knight as it sped by, but the one wound seemed to blossom, opening a horrible gash in his side and immediately necrotizing the flesh around it.
Sir Fallon sniffed the air as the thing went past and his face went white, “The lion’s a witch!”
Aidan began singing an inspiring song and the friends charged the monstrosity. Sir Fallon and Sir Willem each landed blows on the thing, but it leaped off the battlement, landing easily in the courtyard below and ran into the keep. “Sh*t!!!” Sir Fallon exclaimed.
The arrows kept coming.
The party grabbed what was left of Brother Justice and ran into the tower, slamming the doors behind them…