The divine hunter was coming to the conclusion that maybe this wasn’t the best idea he’d ever had. " ‘Undead on the road to Giant’s Toe’…that was an understatement," he thought as he dodged yet another strike from a club larger than his entire body. And another. “Time to gain some distance again.” Cottar spun on one foot, the sling staff balanced on his off side to counter, and took off down the road.
Unbroken snow lay before him; obviously no one smart was traveling this road today. A glance behind him gave him ten good reasons why that was so…the giant and ogre skeletons were slowly falling behind his best pace. Unfortunately, Cotter knew from very recent experience that no matter how far he ran, sooner or later he’d have to slow down; and they wouldn’t. At least this last time he’d had a chance to trade blows, before the others had reach. His ribs stabbed him with each breath; he’d have to stop soon and lay on hands.
He should almost be at the fork to Giant’s Toe. “Look for the lodestone ridge,” he muttered, running over the route in his mind, “and follow the road to the inn at the bridge.” Well, he obviously couldn’t lead a pack of giant skeletons into Giant’s Toe, even if he could use some help. No, he’d have to direct them away from town at the fork and hope he could slip back past them at some point. If he could keep up the pace.
After the mob of undead they’d faced that evening, everyone had been prepared for a repeat on the section of road ahead. However, nightfall found them unmolested against the base of the next set of switchbacks. Merena pronounced that these woods “sounded right” before rolling up in a set of blankets and starting to snore. Others followed her over time into sleep.
Morning came; and with it the aches and pains of the prior day’s battle. After repeated attempts, Hiriko managed to engage her wand sufficiently to heal most of these. Other morning tasks and ablutions were accomplished without incident before breaking fast and camp. As had come to be normal, Merena and her great cat took the lead, followed by Helmon and Hiriko flanking Greer. They headed up the switch back and onto the last bit of road before Giant’s Toe.
“Alright, maybe THIS wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had,” Cottar groaned as he was crushed between a pair of blows. He’d thought ducking around the stone ridge and pausing for that much needed lay on hands would be no big deal; a good chance to catch his breath for the next leg. He’d never expected one of the hill giant skeletons to cut around the ridge and box him in. Now he found himself flanked by a pair of them, with that lousy stone giant version coming around the corner. “This is exactly where I did not want to get caught up.”
He was entirely too close to the Giant’s Toe fork to even think of standing face-to-face….ok, face-to-kneecap….with even a single giant skeleton. He needed to break from combat and continue to lead these monsters away from town. It was going to hurt, but best now while he still could.
The first blow missed, but the second one surely didn’t. Luckily, it threw him further up the road and as he rolled to his feet, he saw the way was clear. At least, it was clear when he started to run; when he looked up again he found a large sleek animal had appeared in the center of the road.
Helmon noticed them first; a glimpse of bone high through the tree line. As the team snuck further down the road, it became obvious the giant skeletons were concentrating on something at their feet near the fork. Just as Merena, Hiriko, and the cat reached the curve in the road and clear line of sight, a small figure streaked from between the giants.
The halfling took a hard blow and tumbled down the road before rising to its feet again. Meanwhile, Helmon planted his feet firmly between the roots of a mighty oak and placed a cluster of blunted arrows in the right shoulder joint of the nearest skeleton. A mighty crash sounded as Greer fired both barrels and smashed in the side of another skeletons skull. As they struck from range, the melee fighters closed and formed a line of support against the trio as another giant came round the ridge to make a foursome.
Cottar had no idea where these people had sprung from, but he was extremely glad to see them. He flinched as a loud ‘CRACK’ echoed across the battlefield, but it did not affect the trajectory of the slug he flung at the skeleton he’d last traded blows with. It gave him great satisfaction to see the limbs lose their animation as the great carcass slumped to the ground.
His new partners in adversity made short work of the towering threats, the archer in particular wreaking havoc against the clear targets. In fact, the field was nearly empty of movement as the first of the armored ogre skeletons appeared. There were many more claps of thunder that seemed to correspond to skeletal damage, though he never quite caught the cause; “must be a wizard, invisible lightning or something.”
In fact, it seemed like magic how well this team functioned and how they took command of the battle. He’d swear the archer never moved anything but his arm over the entire encounter, as consistent as a waterwheel. A group like this, should they welcome him, would be of great help in freeing this region from the grip of the undead.