Bitter 411

There were twice as many banshees this time. They swirled around Derik, who was doing his best to appear menacing. The glowing eyes helped, the short stature, not so much.

It was hard to tell on the video, but it looked like there was more wind and noise. A banshee blizzard was coming.

The banshees were blind, or at least, the previous batch had been. This new group had a much more decisive air about them, like they knew exactly where everything was. Their heightened senses appeared to be linked to Derik and his red eyes.

“Ready to launch,” shouted the king. “Fire!”

Small bottles were thrown into the air from all directions. Derik yelled out something, still waving the book around with one hand. The banshees formed a circle around him, turned facing outwards, and screamed.

The bottles of holy water only got halfway across the bridge before they were shattered. Their contents fell in a fine spray, but nowhere near the banshees. The wind that had sprung up since their entrance blew the mist back across the bridge.

“Go!” said Derik.

The banshees circling him peeled off and headed across the bridge.

“What do we do?” said Flawed.

“Nothing,” said Mark. “We watch, see if we can spot an attack pattern. They’re going to have a weakness. Some kind of opening. We just have to work out what it is.”

“Can’t you use some more bombs?” Lady Da asked, looking into the camera, which was also Dad’s face.

“I can try,” said Dad’s voice, “but they’ll probably do the same thing. What we need is a diversion. Something to keep their attention, so they don’t notice a secondary attack.”

The camera panned around the crouched party, their faces pinched with concentration.

More shrieks filled the air, and rubble fell around them.

“Fall back! Fall back!” called out the king.

Kobolds ran towards the tunnel at the back of the cavern. They threw rocks and fired slings. More bottles flew through the air, but they couldn’t make it through the wall of sound the banshees pushed ahead of them.

Behind the banshees, Derik walked across the bridge, chanting alien words, waving the book about.

“What about the book?” said Lady Da.

Mark snapped his fingers. “That’s it. The book — we need to get that book.”

“Leave it to me,” said Flawed.

“No, wait,” said Mark, “we ha—” His mouth continued to move, but no sounds came out.

Dun Kirk started talking, but no sound came out of his mouth, either.

Flawed was grinning. “Don’t worry,” he mouthed with exaggerated lip movements. “I got this.” He gave them a thumbs up, and then ran off.

“—understand what’s go… Oh,” said Lady Da. “My voice is back.”

“Hello, testing,” said Dun Kirk. “Mine too.”

Flawed was running directly at the banshees who had crossed the bridge, and were now taking aim at the sounds of kobolds fleeing. They were blind, so they couldn’t see Flawed coming, but they would have normally heard him.

Not this time. He seemed to be in some kind of silent bubble.

“Is that new?” asked Dad.

“Must be a Level 2 skill,” said Dun Kirk.

They watched him from behind the relative safety of their boulder. He skipped between the banshees like a mixture between a rugby player and a ballerina, dodging from side to side, then spinning to avoid outstretched arms.

The banshees seemed to know something was happening around them, but they couldn’t tell what.

It was a useful skill to have in this particular fight. Britta could see it as an easy pick if it had been offered as one of his new skills. But it was still quite a low-level ability. If the banshees aimed one of their sonic blasts at him, she doubted he’d be able to silence it. His best bet was to avoid them, and get to his real target.

Derik wasn’t blind, but he had a bunch of banshees floating about in front of him, making it hard to see.

When he saw Flawed, it was nearly too late.

“Turn around,” he screamed. “There, shoo—” His high-pitched, panicky voice disappeared as Flawed jump on him.

The banshees all turned around, as commanded, but there was no follow-up order. They hung there, waiting for instructions.

Flawed and Derik were rolling around on the bridge, making no noise. Both had a hand on the book. There was no real fighting, just a tug of war with the occasional elbow or knee thrown in.

“Now’s our chance,” said Dad. He looked down. He had a vial in his hands, glowing red and ready to go. He stood up to throw it.

“No,” said Mark. “Let me.” He took the vial, tucked it under his arm, and made what looked like a bunch of random hand signals at the kobolds cowering behind the rocks all around them.

They seemed to know what he was saying. They were nodding, and had determined looks on their faces.

Mark ran out, head down, shield up. At the sounds of his feet hitting the ground, the banshees turned. At the same time, kobolds charged from the flanks, screaming battle cries as loud as possible.

The banshees blasted them left and right, but Mark sprinted down the middle. He brought out the glowing vial as he reached them, and slid along the ground on his front.

He released the vial and held his shield in front of his face. The vial exploded.

The banshees were blown apart. They weren’t dead, but they were heavily damaged, and hung immobile.

“—back!” screamed Derik, his voice returning.

“I’ve got it. I’ve got it,” shouted Flawed gleefully. He had the book in his hand and was waving it as he ran towards them. His big smile froze on his face and his eyes widened. He fell forward, the hilt of a dagger sticking out of his back. A red eight floated away, flashing. Critical hit.

Flawed lay on the ground for a moment, and then he faded away, leaving behind a couple of daggers and the book.

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