I have to tell you, watching Alfred fight the hydra was a little insane. They can be beaten, that is a hard cold fact, but they take a LOT to finish them off. Rufus weasel gnome, being his amazing self helped Blargle to her feet, handed her a potion and turned to blast one of the ogres that were running into the arena. Blargle downed the potion and stood up nice and straight. I knew healing when I saw it, and that potion was a doozy. I think I could use one of those myself. The ogre that Rufus attacked stutter-stepped for three broken strides then stopped moving. Starting at his legs, he turned to stone right before our eyes. Rufus was not a wizard to be trifled with. Four other ogres were right behind the first and they shoved the stoned one to the side, where he fell into the pits below. The sound of smashing stone reverberated up from the depths. Tragic, really.
Alfred’s battle with the hydra was getting out of control for the first little bit. It had only three heads when he started, but by the time Rufus had taken out the first ogre, there were five heads. By the time I leapt over the balcony to land on the sand below, there were seven. Things were not going in the right direction.
But then Blargle was back in the battle and Alfred and I had to scramble back as she cast a column of fire that struck down from the heavens and burned four heads in one attack. Alfred weighed in and then the heads were down to two, then one, then three, then one then none. Blargle was spent, bent over with her hands on her knees, breathing like a bellows. Rufus had cast half a dozen of those mystical missiles as I had suggested, keeping the ogres pinned down while Alfred delivered the killing blow to the hydra.
I cannot tell you what a relief that was. Hydras are not quite as bad as dragons, but by all the gods, they come a close second.
By this point Calladil ran up from the pits followed by Beatrice and half a dozen goblins. Goblins were like rats in this part of the world. Lovely people when you convince them you don’t want to turn them into slaves, eat them, or generally kill them. Granted they are a bit cowardly, but they are also pretty small. What else would you expect from such a puny folk.
That group hit the ogres from behind while Alfred and Blargle joined Rufus on the frontal attack. By the time I had made my way across the huge arena floor, the ogres were down. I wanted to cheer, the goblins were certainly having a great time doing such, but they didn’t see what I saw coming at us.
Blighted men and women, easily two dozen. With the ogres destroyed, the elves had called in their secondary reserve. Unfortunately Blargle was nearly spent, Rufus was flagging and Alfred had half a dozen bites on him that would need tending to. The goblins saw us staring, turned and threw down their spears. Before any of us could stop them they ran back down the ramps and disappeared into the shadows below.
We never found them, which makes me sad. I hope they escaped, but I’m afraid something toothy ate them. Poor little guys.
Calladil and Alfred both know their way around a sword, let me tell you. The first three blighted that landed in the arena from the lower gallery were down before the rest of us moved. Then we were all fighting for our lives. Blargle had expended her fire spells, but she had a few tricks up her sleeves, including being a big gal with fists the size of my head. Rufus turned two of the blighted to stone, but they took much longer to be fully immobilized.
“Where’s Liz?” I asked no one in particular, but Beatrice answered. “Lilith was seeing to her when I saw her last,” she said, dodging a blow from a blighted woman. She stepped in, cut the woman twice with her daggers, then danced back, laughing. “When you’ve been a wart on your sister’s face for as long as I have, anything is exciting.”
I wanted to ask her more, but she ran past the blighted woman who fell to her knees, blood erupting from her slashed throat. Remind me to never get in a knife fight with Beatrice.
The mace and I contributed, in case you were wondering. I managed to wound several of the blighted, but it was Alfred and Calladil that really stopped the assault.
We all stood in the arena with the bodies of our enemies around us and everyone turned to stare at me. I swung the mace round by its leather cord once and grinned at them. It had been a good fight and we had suffered no drastic injuries.
“What happened to your arm?” Beatrice asked, stopping to really look at me for the first time.
I smiled. “Gone,” I said. “No shield for me anymore. At least it was my off hand.”
They exchanged worried glances and Alfred stepped forward and squatted down to look at me closer. “Merric, my friend. What has happened to you?”
I laughed. “It doesn’t hurt or anything.” They all looked dubious. “Honestly, I’ll be fine.”
Then the adrenaline began to wear off and I fell sideways into Alfred’s waiting arms. He lowered me gently, and the rest hovered over me.
“Look,” I said, my head spinning. “There are six elves in the topmost balcony and they are trapped with demonic vines with tiny little yellow flowers.”
Calladil punched Alfred on his elbow and pointed over his shoulder. More blighted were coming. Alfred patted me once and turned to face the approaching enemy.
“I’m serious,” I said, but the others turned away as well, shaking their heads and facing the new foes.