Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
Another Letter from Balazar
This letter also dates from after his exile but was discovered in the same archive as the others.
My goodness Felicitus, I never expected to experience such excitement in my exile as I have in this rather pathetic land of Balazar! As I had told you in my last letter I was travelling with this ragtag group of barbarians when they were attacked by some Lunar peltasts. After an amazing battle and some trickery at the end the barbarians managed to defeat the peltasts. Once the battle was over the Praxian Greystone came over to talk with me, or rather the spirit that had possessed his body did. He, a Sartarite Humakti named Svart Ulfsson asked whether I could heal their dead and wounded. I told him that I would heal their wounded but that I would not do anything about the dead (not that I could have but there is no point in revealing too much of one's abilities is there?) I healed all their wounds and we agreed to continue on to Trilus. Loading the corpses of their friends on their sole surviving horse we made some haste since they believed themselves to be pursued. The Humakti in the Praxian's body was allowed to stay in that body so that he could regain his magical power. He wanted the other Praxian to surrender the bastard sword he was carrying (as it had originally belonged to him) but that one refused as it was the only weapon he had. After all this was settled we continued on our way and our travel was uneventful for the rest of that day.
That evening however I had a visitor. Gregorius had gone out to answer nature's call and upon his return told me that no less than Merodach the Black was lurking in the bushes, wishing to speak with me. Accompanied by my Groratoran bodyguards I made my way into the bushes (under the pretext of relieving my bladder. Cursing as I stumbled through the bushes I tripped over something I had thought to be a root but quickly realized was the foot of that bastard Merodach. He moved to help me up but my Groratorans quickly intercepted and gestured him aside. I cursed him and the following conversation (as I remember it) followed. "Are you not happy to see a fellow Lunar in this wasteland, friend Fresser?" "Oh certainly, what in all the hells do you want?" "I wanted to warn you not to offer any aid to those fugitives you are travelling with for some inconceivable reason." "My reasons are my own and while I will not interfere with your plans to capture them neither will I assist you in any way." "You realize that it is your duty as a loyal subject of the Empire to assist me in capturing these villains." I snorted and replied, "Since I have been exiled and am travelling as a private citizen I do not believe that you have any authority to give orders to me." This angered him and he started to move towards me while at the same time moving his hands towards his scimitars saying, "Why you fat tub of..."
He stopped when both Groratorans lowered their bows, arrows ready, at him. The sight of a pair of mobile siege engines threatening you would probably stop any sane man and it even gave him pause. He straightened up, slowly, while lowering his hands palm facing towards me at his sides. "Fine stay out of it then. But do not expect that I will forget to tell the Emperor about this." I snorted and said, "Since when have you had access to the Emperor?" He glared and turned on his heels and stalked off. I returned to camp and some well deserved sleep.
The next morning we awoke and had a rather dismal breakfast. The Praxian whose name I cannot recall had spent the whole of the previous evening collecting deadwood for a funeral pyre with the assistance of the beauteous Burning Willow. Once we were ready to leave the pyre was lit. (It was amusing seeing these brave adventurers in action as they pored over the belongings of their deceased compatriots and decided what was worthless enough to them to allow to be burnt). I had assisted them the previous evening identifying some vials as poison that they had gotten from the Lunar they had killed in Elkoi. They poured these out much to the distress of the Praxian whose name I cannot recall who did not seem adverse to using poison. I shall keep my eyes on that one). After the pyre was burning well (they had placed it right across the caravan trail running from Elkoi to Trilus so that the chance of the fire spreading was lessened) we made our departure.
We traveled for half the day and had just had lunch when we became aware of hoof beats coming from behind us. We were down in a slight dip in the road and the barbarians quickly decided to make a stand as there were no trees or cover anywhere near. My party moved off to find a good vantage point and we settled down to watch. The Praxian whose name I cannot recall set up a heavy crossbow that he had liberated from the dead sorcerer and the rest prepared various missile weapons. They did not have long to wait as over the ridge from the direction they had come from appeared six horsemen and seven peltasts. I recognized the bastard in the middle with the black plate armour as Merodach and the other horsemen as his inevitable initiate followers while we learned later from the survivors that the peltasts were the very same ones they had battled earlier. Merodach and his followers had met them on the road and ordered them to accompany him in his pursuit. Merodach ordered them to surrender while the Humakti in the Praxian's body moved over next to the other Praxian and cast some sort of spell on the loaded quarrel. The barbarians refused to surrender and were preparing themselves for battle (or more likely death) when an unexpected development occurred.
The first we knew of this development was when a booming voice was heard bellowing out some dreadful Orlanthi doggerel about foul chaos, etc., etc. I saw that a group of nine horsemen (and women) of very motley aspect were aligned on the crest of the rise behind the barbarians. The leader of this group, an Orlanthi windlord named Torath Manover (as I later learned) told Merodach that this was not Lunar territory and that the barbarians were now under his protection. Merodach told them not to interfere or he would destroy them all. I could spy covert spell casting on both sides as rune and spirit spells were cast. I could see that Merodach was somewhat unwilling to engage these unknown Orlanthi in battle since he had no idea how many priests or lords were in their party. The Yemalian rode back to talk to the Orlanthi leaving his three compatriots all alone in the middle. A great deal of cursing and name calling went on and Merodach offered single combat. (I learned later that an Orlanthi priestess named Pay Surney talked the wind lord out of accepting the challenge). Finally Merodach ordered his followers to attack. The Praxian whose name I cannot recall fired the crossbow (which of course had been multimissiled) at Merodach but all the missiles bounced off of his armour. Then the three of them started running back to the Orlanthi line. Merodach's initiates fired their bows and then charged down the slope while the peltasts threw their javelins. The Praxian Greystone took a javelin through the arm and the other Praxian was pierced through the abdomen. Burning Willow and Greystone made it up to the Orlanthi lines but the other one fell down and had to lie there while a cavalry charge passed over him. (I later learned that Greystone had regained control of his body.)
A female Orlanthi cast a spell summoning clouds while the rest charged the Lunars (along with the Yeamlian). One Orlanthi was unhorsed by Merodach and a Lunar initiate was demoralized by one of the Orlanthi initiates (Bjorn Windchaser). Only Merodach among the Lunars was armed with a lance and few of the Orlanthi were so armed. The rest were unscathed by the attack. The Orlanthi swept on to attack the peltasts while all the Lunars but the befuddled one charged the priestess. Before they reached her she cast a massive spell that affected all five unbefuddled Lunars summoning thunder from the skies to strike them. Four were killed or badly wounded by this while Merodach (of course) was unharmed due to his protective magics. He and the surviving initiate attacked the priestess who was badly wounded before using more magic to teleport away from her attackers. Merodach and the initiate turned to attack the Orlanthi who had killed or disabled three of the peltasts. The rest seeing most of their side out of the fight threw their weapons down in surrender. The priestess took care of the demoralized initiate with some spell that shot lightning out of her sword and the other one was knocked out of the fight by the Orlanthi runelord. From here on the battle was basically Merodach versus all the surviving Lunars and barbarians.
The windlord and he made pass after pass (since neither would strike at the other's horse) to little effect (though any normal man would have been killed by the massive blows dealt out). Eventually one of the Orlanthi with less compunctions rode up to Merodach while he was busy with the windlord and attacked his horse wounding it. Merodach asked Yanafil for divine favour to heal it! Then it was wounded again and he was on foot versus horsemen. They called on him to surrender but he refused saying that he would kill them all. His skill and magical protection was such that he faced off these foes for quite a while armed only with a pair of scimitars or a bow. (At one point in his anger he threw an iron throwing knife at the wind lord's horse, little good that did though!) He looked to be trying to escape but it was impossible with him afoot and opponents still on horseback. He used a Sever Spirit spell to slay the windlord's horse to even the fight but there were too many remounts available for this to be effective. The Praxian Greystone managed to boost a demoralize spell enough to affect Merodach but this only forced him to cast a Berserk to counteract it.
They called on him to surrender but he refused saying that he would kill them all. This made him even more deadly an opponent as he had had little need to defend due to his armour and magical protection. Firing arrows he finally took out the windlord's second horse and the fight continued on foot. He proved to be a deadly foe and while the wind lord was able to take his blows and survive he had no ability to deal blows like Merodach. At this point they would have let him go but he was still Berserk and would not parlay. Even the Yemalio follower who seemed to be the best fighter of the barbarians was very reluctant to face Merodach. No matter how they manuevered Merodach turned to face at least a few of them. Even striking from behind the Baron was unable to wound Merodach! They tried to surround him but all that got them was one dead and three wounded Orlanthi initiates. The wind lord was reduced to parrying and watching his iron shield and sword slowly getting destroyed by Merodach's blows while others held back because they feared to face Merodach. Finally the beautiful Burning Willow threw a javelin that got through Merodach's protection and the Humakti spirit in Greystone's body and an Orlanthi initiate also got wounds in that struck Merodach down. Unfortunately he called Yanafil's divine favour down unto himself again and was answered! He stood up again uninjured and declared that he was leaving (apparently Yanafil removed his Berserk spell when He healed him so he was no longer mad). The wind lord told everyone to let him go and Merodach stormed off on foot all by himself vowing that we had not seen the last of him!
What a life it is to be an adventurer. Gathering their Lunar prisoners and the dead and wounded we travelled on to the citadel of Trilus to see about getting the dead Orlanthi resurrected. Life certainly is quite interesting (if short) out here in the hinterlands of the Empire.
Yours as always,
GM's Note : Merodach had 21 points of armour/magic in all locations except the chest, abdomen and arms where he had 29 points of protection. With his fine scimitars, Bladesharp 6 and True Scimitar he was doing 2D6+12 plus his 1D6 damage bonus so 22-23 points on average. His attack percentage was 300% with his left hand and 210% with his right or two left hand attacks at 165% and two right hand attacks at 125%!!!
This page last modified February 18, 2000
Last updated September 25, 2016
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