We found ourselves at the beginning of a long tunnel. The floor was that same dark red color and springy texture we’ve seen through out Occipitus. The walls looked similar. Acgar, who takes an interest in such things, ran her hand lightly down one wall. “It’s very firm, muscular. I’d say that we’re entering something like an esophagus.”
Myntilly drew her cloak a little closer to her. “That’s really gross.”
As Acgar started to reply, Cinder interrupted. “There is a light down there! Just past the bend in the tunnel.”
Ever since the angel has told us about the fire giant, I’d been thinking about how to fight it. When I heard Cinder’s words, I cast cold shield on myself. Whenever the giant attacked me, he would take some chilly damage right back. I hoped that, as a creature of heat, the cold would hurt him that much more.
We quietly walked down the tunnel. At the bend, I took a deep breath and walked around the corner. My lantern showed two figures. A fire giant and a tiger-like creature. The tiger also held a lantern. The beams of both lanterns shown farther up the tunnel. The words of the mummy rang in my head — I wanted to avoid a fight, if possible. I set the lantern on the floor and raised my hand in greeting.
The tiger nodded quickly, but did not move. The fire giant shifted his weight. I realized I’d been holding my breath. I exhaled.
I felt Sadi move behind me and to the left. Alek came to stand at my elbow. “Don’t worry” he whispered to me. I looked down and saw a fireball bead in his hand. Before I could stop him, he lobbed it between the two creatures.
In the small space the blast from the fireball was loud. My face felt tight from the heat. In the blink of an eye, the giant threw a boulder at us. He was aiming for Alek, but I got in the way. The giant threw two more in rapid succession.
Myntilly used the chaos of the boulder attack to go invisible. She slammed the tiger and the giant with sonic damage. It really upset the giant. That combined with the cold that hit him when the boulder hit me, and he was in pain. The tiger did not move until Myntilly’s spell hit him. Suddenly he disappeared. Sadi let two arrows fly to the place where he’d been a moment ago, but they both bounced off the walls of the tunnel.
Cinder shot her two arrows at the giant. One hit his arm and he brushed it away like a bothersome insect. Acgar had narrowly missed being bowled over by one of the giant’s rocks. Later she told me that she decided that she might not get a cleaner shot at the giant, so she unleashed her breath weapon and covered the giant in acid.
Myntilly, who looks different now that Pelor has touched her soul, helped me out from under the rocks. Since she was still
invisible, I knew it was her only when she spoke. “We have to do something different or we’re going to die.”
No sooner had she spoken but the floor and walls began to move in a wave-like motion. Everyone except the giant and Acgar was pushed back towards the opening of the tunnel. Myntilly grabbed my hand, “Use magic! Stay away from the giant!”
I’d had an idea in the back of my mind and I decided to try it. Since I was now effectively behind the battle, sheltered by the boulders, I had time to attempt a difficult spell. I glanced down at my holy symbol. “Pelor, shine your face upon me.” And then I cast dismissal on the fire giant. In theory this should send him back to the plane of existence that he came from. I’ve successfully cast the spell before, but it was on a small extraplanar creature who’d been summoned to Cauldron. The giant, however, was 10 feet tall, almost as wide and had come to Occipitus of his own free will. This would be no simple feat. I imagined the hand of Pelor pushing the giant off the plane, through time & space and back to wherever he’d come from. I gripped the holy symbol tightly, concentrating.
Later, possibly in a bid to make me feel better, Sadi told me she thought the giant looked almost transparent at one point. “That must have been when you were casting your spell. It almost worked.”
Alek had been standing beside Acgar through most of the fight. He, like Sadi and Cinder, was shooting arrows at the giant and, when he’d been visible, the tiger. Myntilly moved up beside him to cast another bout of sonic on the giant. She heard Alek muttering to himself. “Too weak, too weak.” He dropped his bow, pulled out his sword and charged the giant.
It was a beautiful move. From where I was, I saw the giants eyes get wide. Alek took a running leap and slashed at the giant’s face. He almost succeeded in blinding him, I’m sure of it. But the blow was not quite strong enough. The move almost turned Alek completely around. He landed badly; he seemed to twist and almost fall. The giant roared and brought his fists together over his head. He smashed them down on Alek, who crumpled to the floor. As the giant raised his fists to smash again, Cinder and Sadi both fired arrows. The arrows found their marks in the soft flesh under the giant’s arms. He staggered and fell.
I’d forgotten about the tiger. The reality of Alek’s death was heavy and it wasn’t until Kaurophon spoke that I remembered. I heard Kaurophon say “It’s over. Show yourself.”
The tiger suddenly appeared right in front of Kaurophon. Myntilly walked up. “You might have noticed, we just killed your friend. Surrender or we’ll kill you, too.”
In a guttural voice, the tiger said, “He offer me to join! All time in fight, he say ‘join us. Join us'” He was pointing at Kaurophon. Sadi turned her notched bow at Kaurophon.
“He’s wrong! That’s not what I said. Or rather, before Alek threw that damned fireball I was trying to negotiate. Why waste time fighting them when we could join forces!?”
The tiger began to speak again and I cut him off. “My friend (I pointed at Myntilly) has a very short temper and if you want to live, you will leave now without another word.” I stepped out of his way, to clear a path out of the tunnel.
After the tiger left, we pulled the giant off of Alek. I knelt beside his body. I prayed: “Sleep, for now, favored son, Alek Tercival in the safe embrace of St. Cuthbert” and I cast gentle repose on him. If we can get back to Cauldron before 10 days pass, I can resurrect him. I couldn’t save him from himself, but I will do my best to return him, whole and healthy, to Jenya.
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