Afterwards, Blaze and Aurora, with Veraka and Drakin on their backs, were hurtling towards back down the trail that Veraka and Drakin had originally made their way up to Lunien on.
Both the paladin and assassin were anxious, they’re worry so palpable that one could almost taste it.
As the two raced along, the sun started to rise, its great beams of light flooding through the forest trees, as Blaze’s hooves and Aurora’s claws dug into the ground and propelled them along at breakneck speeds.
Blaze thundered down the forest trail, his deep, thrumming breathes a testament to his loyalty and devotion to a worried Veraka; all the while, Aurora blitzed right alongside Blaze, Drakin on her white, furry back, her winter wolf stamina nowhere near giving out.
For the next half-hour, the two mounted fighters charged through the forest, unyielding and unrelenting in their momentum. When Veraka and Drakin arrived at their destination, the aasimar felt his stomach turn inside out.
Many of the cottages were on fire, the orange flames of death revealing a scene that chilled the blood of both seasoned and battle-hardened fighters. Bodies lay on the cobble stone street, their blood pooling into the cracks. Men lay with swords broken, ripped to shreds. Children lay with screams of torture frozen on their faces, gazing unseeing up at the blue sky that they should have been laughing at. The women lay not far from the children; many of them had their clothes ripped from their bodies, indicating that they had suffered far more than their husbands or even their children.
As the shock of the scene set in upon the two friends and then left, Veraka felt his anger sore as his rage took over; a deep, guttural growl emanated from him as he charged into Tapiel. Drakin followed, though a bit more slowly, but fast enough to keep up with the giant paladin, so that he wouldn’t fall behind the enraged aasimar.
As the two made their way through the town, closer to the center, scenes more horrible than the one on the outskirts became more and more brutal. Bodies, completely naked, were frozen into grotesque sculptures. More bodies lay strewn about on the ground and hanging off rooftops, all of them with skin completely gone.
But, the worst appeared when they searched the center of the town. Underneath the statue of Chauntea lay what remained of the villagers. An altar of human, elven and half-elven corpses, with the sacrificed bodies of several infants put upon the top.
Veraka let out a howl of anguish and rage that rivaled that of an elder dragon, whilst Drakin whispered a few chosen words against those who would slaughter such innocence.
The aasimar tore his eyes away from the unholy scene before him and looked across the square to where his house lay. He breathed a momentary sigh of relief at the sight of it still standing. That was before fear gripped his heart to new heights as he saw the door was nearly lying of its hinges.
They both ran inside, weapons drawn.
Inside was completely demolished. Tables and chairs lie overturned about the floor, evidence of spells in the form of scorch marks on the walls, a couple more bodies of some of the townsfolk lie crumpled agasint the wall; but no sign of Veraka’s family.
“NERIAH!!” he screamed, his heart pounding like a hammer, in fear for his family; “Alasse!” “Dante!”
Veraka began running room-to-room, leaving his friend to keep watch. He shoved aside bookcases and other pieces of furniture in his search for his children and where they could be hiding; he prayed that they were.
The aasimar ran across a small room devoted to his god, Bahamut, when he heard it.
“Daddy?!” came a small child’s cry; “daddy, is that you?”
The trapdoor! He had nearly forgotten the about the hidden cellar that Neriah had him put in. Veraka nearly hit himself; he must have run over it at least five times.
“Alasse?!” Veraka exclaimed as he skidded to halt near the top of the hidden latch that led to area where he heard the child’s voice. Placing an armored glove on the handle, Veraka pulled; nothing happened.
He heard a frightened scream emanate from below him. That was enough to spike his anger; a raging howl burst forth from the aasimar as he yanked on the handle with all his might, and tore it clean off from its hinges. Down below, a set of small, light-coppery eyes starred right back at Veraka’s intense, radiant silver-hued orbs of fury and concern.
“DADDY!!” came the young girls voice as she rushed up the stairs and into Veraka’s armored body, though the aasimar was both relieved and frightened as he closed his massive arms around her little form.
Veraka lifted the little half-elf girl up and out of the cellar and held her in his grip as only a loving father could for a several minutes, as she closed her small, yet surprisingly strong arms around his neck.
“Alasse, I thought I had lost you too.”
However, as soon as he said that, he heard her starting to sniffle; pulling his daughter from his embrace, Veraka looked her in the eyes and asked, “what’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“They took mommy, and Dante too. They took them both, and mommy was fighting and yelling as they took her,” she sobbed, small tears tracing river paths down her tan cheeks.
Inside himself, Veraka felt the rage of his dark side awaken. The berserker knew that he was in duress and wanted him to harness its dark power; it wanted Veraka to call upon its powerful, yet malevolent abilities to fuel his own rage. However in that moment of agonizing turmoil, the aasimar chose to comfort his crying daughter rather than succumb to his berserker rage, but part of him relished the thought of unleashing its ungodly might and wrath upon whomever it was that had taken Neriah and, their son, Dante, from their home. Part of him wanted to see Marala Vharc’s wicked adamantine edge plunge into their chest and to have them know what it feels like to have the power and wrath of a storm called down upon them to cook them alive.
As the aasimar looked into his child’s eyes, Drakin’s raspy, but very concerned, voice came through the doorway; “Come on, ya big lug, save the emotionally stressing entanglements for later.”
The aasimar’s anger skyrocketed; “WHY!!” he roared back.
“We’ve got company; and the not-in-the-friendly-mood-chatty type.”
Outside, three squads of drow assassins, each teamed with two tiefling warlocks, awaited for their bait to take its effect. The drow were relishing the anger spewing from the huge paladin, whilst, the warlocks were more concerned with the half-drow nearby.
The warlocks silently commanded the drow to ready their hand-held crossbows.
Drakin’s slow, piercing gaze spotted one of the warlocks earlier than they’d have liked, and he narrowed in on that spot.
“Veraka, get the small-fry outta here, NOW!!” the assassin barked, unsheathing his shotel and spurring Aurora into a run, one of which the winter wolf was only too happy to oblige. Just a second later, a dozen drow-poison tipped bolts whizzed in and thudded into tree trunks where the wolf and assassin used to be.
“MOVE IT, PALADIN!!” Drakin shouted as a Fireball
roared in a little too close for comfort. “Now, damn it, NOW!!”
Veraka didn’t need a second saying so to get the idea that someone wanted him dead very badly. Right as he exited his own home, two drow jumped him and pulled out twin daggers each.
“Do you know how much favor this little hunt will gain us with Lolth?” one of the assassins asked Veraka mockingly.
“As much favor as you’ll gain with her dead
,” the aasimar growled back as he, holding Alasse in his free arm, lunged forward, shield bashing the speaker in the face. The force from Veraka’s attack pushed the other drow rogue backwards, dazing him for a split second, but that time was all that was needed for Blaze to raise his front hooves off the ground, neighing violently as he did so, and smash the stunned drow into pulp.
Veraka didn’t have the time to finish off the other drow assassin, as a Arc of Lighting
crackled in. Dodging to the side while shielding his daughter, Veraka dived outta the bolts path, even as Alasse let out a shriek of terror.
The aasimar got to his feet just as Blaze trotted over, and snorted. The storm warrior didn’t need a second opinion as he jumped onto the saddle and slung himself up with Alasse in his arms.
“Daddy, LOOK OUT!!” the young girl screeched, pointing at the drow crossbowmen just as they unleashed a torrent of quarrels. Veraka instinctively raised his shield, covering his daughter completely from the assault, while his dragon armor absorbed the rest of the shots.
“Come on, Blaze; HEYAA!” he exclaimed, spurring his celestial-blooded warcharger into a full-on gallop. The celestial-descended warcharger burst into a sprint, his mental bond with Veraka, multiplied by the aasimar’s anxiety, spurring the stallion on to new speeds. Blaze thundered out of Tapail at full speed, followed closely by Drakin and Aurora, whom were sticking to the shadowy areas, trying to give Veraka, Alasse, and Blaze some time to put a little distance between the attackers and themselves.
Drakin, atop Aurora’s white furred back, waited in silence as the drow hunters and tiefling warlocks drew closer. He dismounted from Aurora, and stalked off into the shadows whilst Aurora found covert to hide from the drow hunters until Drakin needed her.
((Blue dot is Tapiel
, red dot is Lunien
, the yellow path or line is the path Veraka and Drakin took on the way to and from Lunien, the Black path/line is the course that Veraka, Alasse, Blaze and Drakin with Aurora are on now, and the Orange dot is where the campaign/RP begins, or where the players can meet up with or catch Veraka and Drakin))