I stepped back, much to his surprise. The look of shock on his face was a thing of beauty. His mouth formed the question, “How,” before his throat emitted a shriek of pain as I brought my mace up, shattering his elbow and sending the wickedly hooked gutting knife spinning from his spasming fingers.
His instincts were strong. Years of running away from a losing fight had ingrained a strong sense of self preservation in him and he turned to flee. As I mentioned previously, slow wizards who did not have large burly folk to hide behind did not live long in the real world. Oh, they were amazingly powerful and totally worth their reputation of bringing mass carnage and destruction to their enemies, they remained frail arrow-catchers. Interrupt their elaborate intonations, hand gestures or concentration and they become a liability for those who have the responsibility of keeping them alive. Most stories I’ve read are clear on the amazing utility and criticality of having a wizard when going on a major expedition, but that a group leader who wants to survive will balance carefully the pros and cons of bringing along one of the twitchy, temperamental flowers.
Of course, I had a wizard with me and he was doing a yoeman’s effort when it came to taking out frogs. Leviathus made it to the edge of the froggy line and turned, cradeling his arm against his body, and made a gesture with his good hand. That one I recognized as well, with a bit of personal nuance: mystical force missiles. The shards of aether spun from his hand and flew through the air, arcing around a frog warrior that stumbled away from Bÿglar, holding his guts in his hands, and flew at me. Magic sucked went it is used against you.
I tensed, expecting to feel the barbs bypass my armor and lance into my flesh, but when they struck, it was no more than a hot breeze. The smug look of absolute victory on Leviathus’s face turned to further astonishment as I looked at him with a grin. I don’t know why I wasn’t skewered, but I was not looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Roaring a battle cry that I had heard Bob use before, something Dwarfish that roughly translates to “I’m going to kill you so hard your mother dies from the blow”. Leviathus turned and began pushing frogs out of his way in a vain attempt to escape. No matter, if he managed to go beyond my reach, I’d just hunt him down.
Then I realized Liz was not moving. I forgot the wizard, vowing to make him pay later, and turned to assess the room. Bÿglar was holding his own amid a sea of froggy bodies. Liz lay behind him, unmoving. Sparkle was against the far right side of the dais, using her twin swords to great effect before dashing over the dais and to the other side when a large group of frogs attempted to rally against her onslaught. Smart girl.
Bob and Rufus where on the dais. Bob keeping those brave, or foolish enough to charge the wizard at bay, while Rufus cast his own versions of death and carnage against those who grouped together in a scrum larger than three. Bob’s great axe cut a wide swath of death all around him and the bodies stacked before the throne grew ever higher. I could not see Magda, but she was small and quick, so I had no idea where she would be.
While we were greatly outnumbered, we had superior skill and experience. The courtly frogs, sycophants and functionaries had either been cut down or fled. Warriors flooded into the hall from three doors from the north. Nothing came from the doors to the south, which made sense as that was the direction of the prisons.
I looked for the lizard folk and found them in the back of the room, struggling. Jira fought like a wild thing, screaming in obvious pain as she slew frogs around her. The others, bound by magic, fought with their enchantments, choosing to kneel and pose no threat, rather than join the fray. Obviously they were still controlled by the frogs wizard. I wonder how Jira had managed to break their bond.
Bÿglar was being pressed hard and with Liz unmoving, there was a real threat of him being overwhelmed. I had to help him, but one mace would not be enough. I thought back to wizard Tim and how that first time I met him he animated his two fallen companions to follow us away from that ruined keep. Clerics of other orders were reported to be able to raise the dead as undead and command them. I decided it was time to try something unthinkable.
I pulled in divine and contemplated my actions. I was not going to raise the dead back to the living. Rather I wanted to bring a sort of animation to the frog corpses and have them fight for me. Seemed like something I should be able to do. I began to weave divine energies into a web of sorts and cast it out over the nearest dead frog. I could see no wounds on it, so I was unsure how it had died, but it looked big enough to cause some havoc. As the divine settled over the mottled corpse, it twitched, then rose. For a moment it stood there, as if it could not think what to do, which was precisely the case.
“Go kill my enemies,” I commanded and it swung its head around and lumbered toward a knot of frogs that had been gearing up to charge Bÿglar. A thing about an animated corpse, it didn’t feel pain or fear. The frogs it attacked, however, could feel both. The knot of six frogs fell far quicker than I had anticipated, giving Bÿglar a reprieve. I rushed in, grabbed Liz under her arms and dragged her back, allowing Bÿglar to make a controlled retreat back to Bob and Rufus. I looked around frantically for Sparkle, but saw three frogs drop to my left and knew she worked her blades from the shadows.
The frogs began a riotous retreat, trampling the slow and wounded in an attempt flee the undead frog. In the desperate retreat, the lizard folk vanished. Were they trampled or did they retreat ahead of the frogs? Where were the wizards that directed their actions?