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Into the Mother Lode
“That poncy mage was right… that’s a LOT of blackrock,” Vincent said, hefting his pick.

“And that’s a very LARGE elemental… I hope the mage is as rich as he is poncy,” Peter replied. He unslung his axe and rolled his shoulders. Turning to his companions, he said, “Marcel, thou hast the sharpest eyes – keep watch all around. Theo, Jaxon, flank the beast and wait to loose until we have its attention. Faustus, thou and I must make the kill.”

Faustus muttered something unintelligible. When Peter glared at him, he shrugged. “Come on, brother mine. ‘Tis as good a day to die as any.” With a roar, the fighters charged the blackrock elemental. The three archers waited until they were fully engaged, then sent arrows whistling over the fighters’ heads. Most of the missiles bounced off harmlessly, but some of them seemed to penetrate and bits of blackrock rolled from the creature’s head and shoulders.

Vincent circled wide, heading for the outcrop of blackrock. He was still several paces away when he saw something at his feet. “By the Virtues, it’s everywhere!” he muttered. He dug his pick in the sand, unearthing a large chuck of blackrock, as large as the one the mage Kronos had displayed. He glanced up. Peter and Faustus were circling the elemental warily, dodging its heavy blows. Peter’s axe seemed to be loosening the heavy stones that made up the creature’s torso, and Faustus’s war hammer blasted smaller bits off with every stroke. Vincent kept digging in the soft sand beneath his feet. He pulled up several more chunks before Marcel called to him.

“Vincent! To me! There are more creatures coming!”

Vincent didn’t hesitate a moment before fleeing behind the archers’ ranks. When he risked a look over his shoulder, he saw two hideous creatures, dark as the night – one a terrifying vortex of energy, one a misshapen blob that appeared to be the living essence of pollution. “Peter! Faustus! Hurry!”

Peter heard him and looked past his opponent at the approaching beasts. He turned and swung his axe at the elemental so fast he was able to sever its leg and sink the blade into its chest before it had time to react. Vincent watched wide-eyed as the creature slumped to the ground, separating into rubble as the energy that bound it together dissipated. He started to dash forward to gather some of the precious blackrock, but Peter grabbed his arm and pulled him into a headlong run.

--

“Oh, for a bottle of ale and a friendly barmaid…” Faustus sighed. The group had made it clear of the blackrock mother lode and was slogging through the desert on its way back to Papua.

“Amen, brother,” Peter said. “I will be happier by far when we’re safe in town.”

“Safely drunk, thou shoudst say,” Faustus retorted. “That was a fight I do not care to remember.” He paused and squinted at Peter. “It was a nice bit of axework, though. Didst thou use a Double Strike to kill the elemental?”

“I did,” Peter said, sounding slightly surprised. “I didn’t think I would be able to manage that technique for some time yet, but apparently fighting that creature was… instructive.”

Vincent frowned and peered at the chunk of blackrock he had been examining. “Perhaps not the creature… I felt a strange energy while I was digging – like every motion was slowed so I could understand it more deeply.” Vincent said. “Blackrock is said to have many strange effects... and the Mother Lode must be a very high concentration indeed.”

Faustus shrugged. “I for one prefer a slower training method, with less chance of a messy death.”

Peter laughed. “Come on, lads. To Moonglow!”


Published: December 2006
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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