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Hero's Song - Chapter Three

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I leaned against the cave entrance, gasping for breath. I had, surprisingly, come out generally unscathed from fighting the gith up to where we now stood, at what was presumabley the entrance to their lair. Most of the blood splattered on my clothing wasn't mine. For once. It was an uplifting feeling.

I caught Neeshka using more of my bandages and groaned. "Neeshka, love, you're going to use all of them at the rate you're going. Can I please convince you to wear heavier armor?"

She shook her head happily. "Nope! Got to be able to move around. Besides, we've already got one walking tin can, and he gives me the holies." She jerked a thumb at Casavir, who looked mildly amused.

I grinned. "And the walking tin can runs faster than you do because...?"

"Hey, his legs are long! I don't see you keeping up when he runs full stride."

I shrugged apologetically at Casavir, who smiled at me, his intensely blue eyes full of good-humor, for once. I cleared my throat and looked into the black depths of the cave that loomed before us. "Well. Are we ready?"

Khelgar finally came running up, panting. "Damn all of you tall people. You do realize I'm a dwarf?"

Neeshka rolled her eyes. I looked around, puzzled. "Where's Bishop?"

"Right here." His mouth was so close to my ear that I jumped nearly out of my skin. He laughed, the first time I've ever heard him laugh, and stepped away from me. "I scouted inside a ways...there's a group of them waiting for us just past the entrance. They know we're here." He lovingly fitted an arrow into his bow-string.

I nodded firmly. "All right, kids," I said, readying my blades. "Let's go greet the locals."

We moved into the cave, and while I could see perfectly fine, I could hear Neeshka swearing to herself as she slammed her foot into a rock. Bishop and Casavir brought up our rear, and Khelgar, since he could see almost as well as I could in the dark, stayed close to my left. The walls of the cave began to open up, and we spread out.

An elaborately dressed githyanki stood in the middle of the cavern, looking fairly unconcerned that we had just hacked our way through his scouts and were now standing before him, bristling with weapons. He stared at me, ignoring my companions. "Kalach-Cha," he hissed, "You've come far just to meet your death today."

"Oh come on, you can think of something better than that." I couldn't help it. I'm a bard for gods' sakes. If I ever met a villain some day that delivered a really good line, I think I'd end up kissing him instead of killing him. I put on my best nonchalant face and pointed a scimitar at him. "Why don't you tell me where Shandra is, and we can go from there?"

"Zeeaire has her, worthless elf."

"What the hell do you want her for, anyway?"

He sneered at me, although the githyanki usually look like they're sneering anyway. "The same reason you do, woman! You seek the Haven, and inside that little human brain of hers, the Jerro woman knows where it might be. And of course...we'll need her blood to get in..."

"Don't lay a hand on her!" Casavir thundered.

My insides churned at bit at the protective note in Casavir's voice. He's a damn paladin, those are the kinds of things they say, I thought. I looked at the githyanki mage, measuring my response. "You know we will take her from you. And even if you hadn't taken her, you have attacked my home, and have hounded me across the coast, for no reason I can think of."

I couldn't read his expression, but the general miasma of hatred radiating from him gave me enough of an idea as he spoke. "Not only have you stolen a githyanki silver sword, but you have the audacity to shatter it and carry the peices with you as some sort of trophy!!" He snarled. "You are the worst of criminals and the basest of creatures on this pathetic realm, and I will see your mind pupled into nothingness for it!" He made a gesture with his hand, and suddenly githyanki warriors appeared out of the shadows of the cave, advancing.

"Here we go again," grumbled Khelgar.

I threw a bewilderment spell at the closest group and charged, Khelgar going for the ones on the right. Then I was in it, and my blood was raging in my veins, and everything slowed down and sped up all at once. I killed one immediately, his mouth a round "o" of surprise as a scimitar slid inbetween his ribs. He fell, dragging my arm down with him and I threw up my other scimitar just in time to block a down-swinging longsword, staring into the snarling face of another gith. I fought left handed while desperately trying to yank my right-handed blade out of the carcass sprawled on the floor. When it loosed, I stumbled ever so slightly, but it was enough...the edge of the longsword caught me in the soft left-side of my midsection, and I let out an involuntary, strangled gasp. Oh damn, that hurt.

My blood boiled, and I hollared something in elvish before throwing myself on him, swinging my blades down again and again. I was vaguely aware that bodies were falling on either side of me from my wildly swinging scimitars, and that words were pouring out of my mouth. Not spell-weave, but something different...was I singing?

I could see Casavir in front of me and a little to my left, fighting back at least three of the githyanki's by his lonesome. He was glowing slightly, and there was this look of fervent, inspired determination on his face. Neeshka ran by me, hollaring bloody murder and chasing a limping githyanki, a trail of dead bodies behind her. She was glowing just like Casavir. And...was Khelgar actually swinging a githyanki around in the air by his leg? They all trailed brilliant light after them, and all carried the same expression.

I turned, to come face to face with a spear head driving towards me. Oh shite...I started to duck, but I knew I wasn't moving fast enough...

An arrow thudded into the side of the githyanki's head, and the spear stopped it's path towards my face abruptly, the gith screaming and fountaining blood as it collapsed to the ground. I looked across the room at Bishop...also glowing. His expression was one of puzzlement, staring at the arrow in the githyanki carcass at my feet, and then down at the bow he held in hands as the glow around him faded. Then he looked at me, and the puzzled expression was gone. Instead, it said I saved your life. Remember that.

I turned just as Khelgar sent a head flying, and the last warrior dropped. They all regrouped on me.

Khelgar spoke first. "What the gods-be-damned hells was that?! I've heard ye sing before, Harper, but's like the music wriggled into my head and was telling me to do all sorts of crazy things!"

I looked to where the githyanki corpse was impaled on a stalactite where Khelgar had thrown him. "I can see that."

Bishop growled, "I don't like anything 'wriggling' into my head, bard." His put his face close to mine...I could see the rugged line of stubble across his jawline, the faint scar on his forehead, and those dark eyes of his, so close... "So whatever it was that you did back there, you'd best not do it to me again."

"Look, I know this was an...experience, but we really don't have a lot of time to stand here, ok?" Neeshka's voice was thin and worried, and it snapped me back to reality.

"Aye, she's got the right of it. Let's go, and be quiet." We moved off into the darkness, all of us unsettled and uneasy in the aftermath of my song. Most of all, me.

Hero's Song - Chapter 3 © Avariel

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