Starvale Adventures: A Prelude to Darkness – Chapter 19

Hajima looks outside as the chaos erupts. Seeing that his friends have the situation inside the Boiling Kettle contained, he runs up to his room to grab his long wooden case. He latches two hip quivers to his belt and kicks the button on the case. It springs open and the massive crossbow flies into the air. Hajima snatches it as the arms automatically spring open and lock into position. He runs back downstairs and out into the street to help Tallisk.

At the sound of splintering glass, Tallisk glances over her shoulder and sees the lightning strike the small figure on the street.  “Is this what ya want?” She shouts, “Turn an look ya coward!” Her fists lash out with deadly accuracy in spite of her professing an aversion to violence.

Seeing that the Dwarven woman is resisting Tallisk, and knowing that she is the only person who knows what is really happening here or who devised this sinister plan, he feels that capturing her is of vital importance. He kneels down and carefully aims his crossbow. He holds his breath and fires a single shot directly into the leg of the Dwarven woman.

The crossbow bolt slams into the dwarf woman’s leg and at the same time Tallisk’s fist strikes her in the shoulder with focused precision. The blow spins her around even as the crossbow bolt makes her stumble.  Tallisk forces the woman to look at the dwarf maid convulsing on the ground. “What in th name a th Gods’v ya brought here an how cn we stop it?”

Hajima stands up and approaches Tallisk. “That was some good teamwork, stranger. Can we continue to count on your aid during the remainder of this crisis? You showed some fast thinking and even faster moves back there. You could definitely be an asset to our team, if you’re so inclined.”

“Look, we cn help ya.” Tallisk says gently, helping to support the weight of the dwarf. “But ya gotta help us also ye ken? This needs to be stopped afore it spreads.”

Glancing at Hajima, Tallisk nods in approval. “Nice shootin there.” She tries not to think what would have happened if he had missed.

Hajima reads the unspoken thought in her eyes and grins. “Don’t worry, I never miss.” They bring the Dwarven woman back to the Boiling Kettle and check on the situation with their friends inside.

“M name’s Tallisk, an… an I ain’t really th… hero type.” She says, “Though if ya gotta steady income, I’d appreciate th promise a regular meals sure an I would.” Tallisk makes a strange sign over her chest, roughly translating to ‘never say never ever’

“I’m glad yer aim was true sure.” She sizes him up, knowing he is too experienced to be a mark, but not certain about him yet. “Who’s th ‘we’ yer referrin to?”

Meanwhile, the people who have been struck stand hand in hand forming a circle. They crackle with lightning and the people in the thoroughfare give them a wide berth.  Lanaver looks them over, noting the Safflower necklace, the bow from the Quivering Wood and recalling Rowan’s mention of Safflower oil in the food the half elf Schuyler had been eating.

“I’ve an idea, it’s crazy but, I think it’s the Safflowers!” Lanaver bolts for the kitchen with Rowan hot on his heels.  They begin looking for safflower oil and after a brief search, Lanaver finds a large earthenware jug of it and heads back towards Sebastian at a dead run.  Rowan follows after finding a smaller flask of it next to the cook stove.

Tallisk ducks into the tavern room and shortly emerges with a staff of seasoned ash in one hand and a pack in the other. With a determined grimace, she approaches the circle of folk. “If’n I cn jest find a way ta ground em out.” She mutters, but then quickly dismisses the idea, after all their feet are touching the ground. This is real magic and beyond her experience. All she can do now is keep any others from being infected.

Looking at the half comatose dwarf still in Hajima’s arms, she demands “How do we stop it then? Tell me or by th hellteeth I swear I’ll toss ya in there ta suffer th same fate!”  Her emerald eyes flash with rage that comes as a bit of a shock to Hajima; she looks more like someone’s plump little sister than anything capable of that kind of threat of violence.

“I don’t know.”  The Dwarf says, her face white with pain from the crossbow bolt through her thigh.  “I’m Yanna Hammerbound, a high-level representative of Starvale’s Ironworkers’ Guild.  I was here to purchase the blue dragon tooth from that bastard.”  She points a trembling finger at her former table companion, the first one to succumb to the arcane electrical curse.

As Lanaver runs from the kitchens the lightning finishes with the Dwarven girl. After it leaves her, it strikes the elven man who works at a stall outside the Boiling Kettle where flowers, including the safflowers likely worn by the Dwarven girl, are sold.  The Dwarven girl rises and moves to join the hand in hand circle. A nearby man tries to help her and is jolted and thrown unconscious into the mud.

“Rowan! Sebastian! Follow me!” Lanaver shouts, “If all of us hold on we might share the load and it not kill all of us… We’re basically a living lightning rod and hopefully we can trap the lightning back into the tooth.”

Rowan runs toward the circle, bottle of safflower oil in one hand. She grabs hold of one of her brother’s hands with her other. As she takes his hand, she sings a song of encouragement and their resolve is strengthened by her bardic magic.

The lightning finishes with the flower peddler and arc loudly towards the three friends. The lightning swirls about Sebastian before finally returning safely, for now, within the dagger. The circle of those who were struck ends as they all fall prone. The sound of crackling lightning is no more, only the sounds of panic can be heard as the crowd rushes to help those who were hurt, seeing danger is now abated.

Tallisk stands in shock, speechless for the first time in many moons. These people were crazy! Who in their right mind would put themselves in harm’s way, and in the way of magic, UNKNOWN magic at that? Then she shudders, realizing that she had been prepared to do the same, of only she’d known what to do. Where had THAT inclination come from? Helping others was all well and good, but she had been considering near suicide… But the warm glow she felt when she saw the people who were still alive because of their actions was admittedly nice.

Taking a deep breath, she turns to the group of adventurers. “Tha. Was… well tha was somethin.  What a rush! I… Gods and Demons I need a drink sure an I do.”

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