@DaakSyde @William_George @MalevolentPixy @strokeybeard
Aronn struggles to his feet and hobbles along on his staff as the party moves out into the central chamber. Nic and Jibril lead, while Ranar covers the flank, armour softly jingling. Thwip and Hawk bring up the rear.
As the party approaches the gloom of the unlit entrance hall, only Thwip sees the black clad figure appear from the tunnel in front. Squeaking a warning, he raises his rifle to his shoulder, but by that time the arrow is already in flight. Before de Courcy can react, the projectile plunges through the centre of his chest, punching several inches out the back.
While Jibril and Hawk momentarily freeze in shock, Ranar roars and charges towards the attacker. Thwip pushes his rifle past Jibril and lets fly; the shot is accurate, but the elf dodges as it retreats into the tunnel.
Snapping out of his shock, Jibril also charges for the bowman. As he reaches the top of the stairwell, he screams and stumbles. He tumbles down the stairs, his sword going flying as he lands at the base with a caltrop spike impaling his foot.
Skidding to a halt with a curse, Ranar shelters behind his shield as he struggles to kick the caltrops clear in the near dark. As he does so, the elf lets another arrow fly, pinning the fallen Jibril to the stones.
As Thwip frantically reloads, Aronn falls to his knees and grabs something from his pouch. Holding his clenched fist to his temple, he begins to chant as Hawk spins to cover the rear, spear and shield at the ready.
Clear of the caltrops, Ranar roars and leaps down the stairs. Landing with a thunderous crash, he charges past the unmoving Jibril towards the deadly accurate archer.
Scrambling further back into the darkness of the tunnel, the elf drops its bow and draws a pair of unusual hooked swords. Ranar follows, axe and shield high.
Back in the main chamber, Thwip reloads his rifle just in time as Hawk shouts a warning. Racing across the chamber from the armoury are what appear to be the other two elves. They move with inhuman speed, and are painfully hard to visually track; it as if they were each blurred into an ever-shifting yard-wide cloud. The effect appears to be similar to what occurred with Ranar during the fight with the centaurs.
The first to close is the one with the strange dagger and flail. As Hawk desperately thrusts, the elf catches his spear with the long tines of its dagger, then whips the short flail over the shaman’s shield. The foot-long club which forms the end of the flail smashes into his unprotected head, crumpling him to the ground.
Snatching his rifle to his shoulder, Thwip whips off another snap shot at the rapidly-closing blur of the second elf. Defeated by the visual distortions, his shot goes astray and the elf leaps forwards, spearpoint lancing towards the goblin’s heart.
Moments before the blow lands, Arron’s staff scythes across in front of Thwip, deflecting the spear into the ground. Springing to his feet with fluid agility, the apparently-once-again-uncursed mage spins into the melee, his staff glowing with its familiar black light.
In the entrance hall, Ranar closes and swings a mighty blow. The elf catches the axe on crossed blades, then spins left and hooks for the dwarf’s knee with his right-hand sword. Ranar himself turns as he pulls his leg out of danger, deflecting the blow with the rim of his shield.
The dwarven warrior swings again, and again the elf uses both swords to defend, then flicks the hook of one sword over the rim of Ranar’s shield. As he uses the hook to jerk the shield aside, his other blade scythes low towards the dwarf’s neck.
Ranar tries to jerk out of the way, but fails to evade. Fortunately, his extensive collection of steel outerwear extends to his neck; the mail and plates collar deflects the blow without harm. Ranar steps forwards again, slamming his axe down once more. This time, he aims his force at the defending swords, smashing all three weapons into the floor with a tremendous crash.
Screaming in dwarvish, Ranar turns his axe and rips it upwards in a blow that would have surely bisected the elf had it not taken that moment to somersault backwards. Landing with perfect poise, the black-clad assassin grins and raises his right sword in salute as he mutters a word in elvish. As he does so, his appearance blurs in a similar fashion to his companions in the main chamber.
In the main chamber, Aronn leaps and whirls, his staff a blur as he stands over Hawk and fends off both attackers. All of the elves move like dancers, in a notably similar style that is both beautiful and deadly. But although their styles are similar, it is clear that Aronn’s skill far surpasses that of his attackers. However, the press of numbers is forcing him to concentrate on defence, and he is unable to land a blow.
Reloaded once again, Thwip squints with watering eyes as he desperately attempts to draw a bead on the blurred, leaping targets. More than once his finger twitches on the trigger only to be stayed by a fear of hitting Aronn. As the battle circles in front of him, he slowly creeps forwards, waiting for a target.
In the entrance, Ranar lowers his shield and charges at his mocking opponent. His ferocious roar twists into a snarl of frustration as he impacts only air. Now behind him, the elf hooks a sword around Ranar’s right knee and tears his leg out from under him. The dwarf crashes to the ground, desperately rolling to free his leg and bring his shield back into play.
Catching one blade on his shield, Ranar swings his axe at the one place where he knows he can find a target: the sword hooking his knee. Stretching to reach past the hilt, he screams in triumph as he feels the blade smash through an elven wrist and sees his target return to normal, un-blurred appearance. Unfortunately, this means that his mouth is wide open as the spurting blood from the elf’s severed wrist sprays into his face.
Creeping to the side, Thwip aims and fires. The shot grazes the left arm of the flail-wielding elf, causing him to drop his dagger. Spinning with a snarl, the elf leaps at Thwip and brings his flail smashing into the goblin’s right arm, snapping it like a twig. Thwip screams and falls, but holds onto his rifle with his left hand.
Aronn catches the spear-wielder’s weapon on the tip of his staff, flicking it offline before leaping back towards the elf standing over Thwip. Extending into a full lunge, he pokes the end of his staff into the flail-elf’s back. As soon as it touches, the black light of Aronn’s magic crackles all over the elf’s body, which suddenly loses its blur and begins to visibly wither and crack under the magical assault. Mouth open in a scream that instantly fades to a croaking hiss, the elf collapses to the ground in a crumpled heap.
In the entrance hall, Ranar rises to his feet with a roar. Leaping forwards, he brings his axe down on the elf’s remaining sword, deliberately hooking both blades together. Pulling the weapons down and away, he steps forwards and slams the rim of his shield into the elf’s throat.
As the elf falls, Ranar drops both knees onto his enemy’s stomach, and continues to slam the rim of his shield again and again into the increasingly unrecognizable elvish face.
Back in the main chamber, the spear-elf recovers its weapon and launches into a lunge that is almost a perfect mirror of Aronn’s move. While his weapon does not carry Aronn’s deadly magic, it does carry a bright and razor-sharp spearpoint. The blade rips into Aronn’s back before punching out through his sternum.
With a shocked gasp, Aronn clutches at the bloody metal. Lifting his head towards Thwip, he croaks “the ring…the Master must not find it…”. Then his hands are enveloped in the familiar black light, which flows into the spearpoint and down the shaft, crackling as it burns through Aronn’s own chest.
As it reaches the elf at the other end, the now-familiar horrorshow recurs; the target screams and writhes as it withers in the black, apparently unable to release the spear. Both Aronn and the spear-elf collapse to the ground and move no more.