Cleric Journal: Day Three Hundred and Fifty One




When wizards cast a lightning spell, the bolt travels across from the wielder just as a crossbow bolt may travel.  It is generally not like a natural occurrence which lances downward out of the sky.  Oh, I know that both Rufus weasel gnome and Wizard Tim can call lightning from the sky, that is a certain flavor of the spell.  But with many combat wizards, the act of attacking a close in enemy usually means a bolt of energy arcs across the area between caster and intended target with the wink of an eye.  If the wizard is skilled and very lucky, he or she can split the bolt of lightning, striking multiple targets.  I have also heard that if bolt were to strike a solid object it will rebound.  This makes the spell risky for a novice caster who can throw a bolt of lightning that will travel three to five rods, only to have it strike a stone wall and rebound upon the caster and his or her party.  I mentioned before that not many wizards live to become successful adventurers.

This caster was cautious and threw a single bolt directly at me.  It sliced through the air between Lilith and Ingrid, causing their horses to dance back to either side of the road.

Only the caster had moved.  The others remained frozen as they had first appeared.  She was tall and thin, with nutmeg brown skin and white paintings across her body which resembled the bones beneath her flesh.  She held a wand in her right hand and a crystal in her left.  The word she uttered I later learned was fulmen the word in their language that means lightning bolt.  It’s all rather mundane when you get right down to it.

The act of cutting my hair had been a dangerous and awkward action.  I had needed to grasp my knife in the same hand I pulled my hair taught.  Basically I got the hair between the sharp edge of the knife and my thumb, then pulled downward.  Not the most efficient, but it did the trick as I only have one hand.  So, as the smoke from my sacrificial hair was still a blue smudge on the sky, the lightning wielder had cast her bolt toward me.  I, of course, reacted on instinct, and threw the blade toward the caster.

The pale sun of that waning day reflected off the burnished steel of that blade in flight.  It dazzled flickered as it spun, catching the eyes of the eleven.  The blade flew true, guided by the hand of Kithri my angel, or Semaunzilla (may she protect fools such as I), or even perhaps Thunder Jack himself.  The bolt of lightning split against the very edge of that blade and arced around me to splutter to an end, the preponderance of its energy wasted.

I was not spared, by any means.  But I was not killed, and that, I think, is the key to this tale.  The power of that split bolt still managed to throw me from my great mount where I bounced off the cairn and settled at the base in a crumpled heap, stunned but not out.

Lilith got the right of her mount and turned toward the eleven, swords drawn.  Ingrid struggled with her mount, letting it carry her eastward for a ways before she got the beast under control.

We would all have likely died if not for one pure heart: Brindel.  The moment the leader of the eleven cast her spell, the great hound had launched himself from my side with a mighty bark.  He had lost one master and was not inclined to lose another.  I say master in context, for in my eyes the beast was an ally, not a possession.

Regardless the eleven were startled and fell back, cowering, some turning to flee, others falling to one knee and covering their heads with their long thin hands.

Only the caster remained on her feet, her fierce visage a defiant challenge to all.

Brindle barreled forward, pushing against the haunches of Lilith’s horse and causing it to veer to the left.  Then he was upon the woman, bowling her over and standing on her chest with his great jaws around her throat.

He did not rip out her throat, however.  Instead he held her there, growling deep in his chest while he waited for guidance.  I staggered to my feet and stumbled across the intervening ground, nearly losing my footing before I reached Brindle’s side.  The remaining ten had not moved, which surprised me, but my head was a bit addled by the shock of the split bolt.  My helm had fallen off and my rather shaggy hair stood on end.  Apparently I was drooling and my insides felt as if I’d swallowed a hive of honey bees.  I tried to speak but nothing more than a moan came out of me as I slid down beside Brindle, my whole arm over his great neck.

As my knee hit the ground, I heard a sharp crack and I glanced down to see I had broken the wand the caster had dropped when Brindle bore her to the ground.

This close I could tell that these were not humans, elves, gnomes, goblins, or any of the other people I had the experience of meeting.  They were taller than most, and thinner than all, with knees that bent the wrong way and faces longer than a horses’.  Her bark-like skin had gone from brown to ashen with Brindle sitting on her chest.

Lilith dismounted and walked to me, placing a hand on my hair, pushing the wild tangle down, and watching as it sprung back outward again.

I glared at her and she grinned, sheathing her swords and bending to take up the crystal this bird-like woman had dropped.

Finally, with my encouragement, Brindle backed away, leaving the woman’s throat intact, if sodden from his drool.  She had fainted, not that I could blame her.  Brindle at my throat would be a cause for a change of small clothes.

Speaking of which, none of the eleven wore more than a bit of jewelry here and there to accompany the paint that adorned them.

By the time Ingrid rode back, I was sitting on the ground, scratching Brindle behind the ears and Lilith was standing over the caster, her hands on her bent waist, examining the woman’s features.

The entire scene was too surreal for me.  I closed my eyes and buried my face in Brindle’s fur, realizing for the first time that it also stood out in thick bristles, a by-product of being nearly struck by the lightning.

“Get up, you lot,” Lilith called to everyone, not being picky who obeyed.

I glanced up at her through one squinty eye and she smiled.  “These are Ezekiel’s people,” she said.  The ten whimpered in unison at the name.

Who in the name of all the holies is Ezekiel?

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