"Yuan-ti?" Isaru whispered, pulling back from the edge of the corridor. "Why are there Yuan-ti abominations guarding the throne room?"
I frowned, running the numbers through my central processor. "There are estimated to be less than ten thousand of the snake people in Eberron, although census data is severely lacking around the marshes and forests of Xen'drik. It is probable that they were smuggled in by the wizard and coerced into helping him bring forth the nameless god."
"Fat chance," Pip ground her teeth over the words, bristling. "Yuan-ti are all highly psionic, especially the abominations. No, they know something." She rubbed at her horns absently, thinking. "Yuan-ti are all about bringing on the destruction of the world. Which means that they think the nameless god is going to bring it one step closer." The little Tiefling gave a bitter laugh. "They probably volunteered."
Gorma shifted from foot to foot nervously. "I don't deal well with psionics, sometimes they can get me to-"
"We know," Poppi snapped, rubbing at an ugly scar on her upper arm as she scowled at the half-Orc. "We remember the mad Kalashtar of the shadowed tower."
Gorma blinked at her in confusion. "The what? Hey, what are you doing?!" she demanded as Pip jumped up and plopped a strange helmet on the barbarian's head. Several lights lit up and gears began spinning with frenetic energy.
"That should help," Pip said tersely, priming her healing gun. "We need to get in there and disrupt whatever he's doing."
"Very well, mistress Pip." I rose, pulling free my hammer. "I shall do everything in my power to bring down the guards so that we may breach the wizard's sanctum."
"Actually," Pip smiled nervously. "We've seen that he's some kind of necromancer, based on the zombie army and everything, and I was thinking... you should probably be the one to go inside. You know, not being biological and all."
I stared down at the Tiefling as I ran the calculations. There was a non-trivial chance that a wizard specializing in necromancy with the mystical knowledge to attempt something like raising a lost god would have a strong repertoire of spells to corrupt and destroy the living. "I understand. I shall deal with the wizard."
"All right then," Isaru unsheathed his sword, checking the edge. "I guess I'll be keeping the snakes' attention while you rush through." Poppi shifted into her tiger form, growling her agreement as she slunk into the shadows.
I placed a hand on the Genasi's shoulder, meeting his eyes. "I am sure you will be able to hit them." He bristled for a moment, then shifted into a pale green cloud that floated along the ground and around the corner.
"All right," Gorma grumbled, flicking at the odd helmet in irritation. "On the count of three, we charge. One, two." She let out a bloodcurdling scream and sprinted around the corner.
"Calculations might be a little off," Pip muttered under her breath as we raced after the half-Orc.
I tapped into the last of my reserves of mountain thunder, preparing for another thunder step. I would need to time it just right...
One of the Yuan-ti hissed something, flinging forward a hand at our group just as Poppi struck, claws raking into the monster's side. It whirled on her, wicked sword humming through empty air as the Shifter darted away. The second abomination raised its halberd high, cobra-hood flaring as a wave of psychic energy hit us. I braced myself as strange visions danced before my eyes. Pip let out a gasp and slid to a stop, looking around in confusion. I glanced back, then shook my head. Just a few more steps. The mission had to come first.
Isaru materialized next to the second Yuan-ti, his flaming sword weaving a in a blinding pattern that sent the snakeman reeling back in surprise, ending the attack. Gorma gave another battle cry, lifting her tulwar for a mighty cleave. The first abomination caught her strike as its tail lashed out toward her. She danced away, laughing as Poppi closed in for another harrying attack.
"For the Hedgehog!" My voice thundered off the walls, amplified by the power within me, and I activated my thunder step. In the blink of an eye I was past the fight, my hammer crumpling the doors to the chamber beyond. "For I am as the quills of the Heavenly one, that our enemies might know the pointy-" The world distorted for a moment, my systems going haywire as they tried to compensate. I dropped my hammer and shield, stumbling forward, trying to make sense of the crazy readings.
"Mwahahahahaha!" A malevolent laugh echoed oddly around me. "I see you've arrived at last!" The wizard stood with his back to me, gazing up into the darkness. "The nameless one comes, and there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it! For we are within His realm, beyond the petty boundaries of the mortal coil!" I glanced around. This room did seem to stretch out forever. That would certainly explain why my tracking system was insisting that I no longer existed. I tossed a look over my shoulder at the portal I'd come through. Good, it was still open.
"You fools will soon know the- Hey!" the wizard protested as I grabbed him by the robes and started dragging him toward the portal. "You can't stop this!" he yelled shrilly, conjuring some kind of dark energy and flinging his hands at me. "And now you will... um, you will..." The dark flames splashed against my armor with little effect, not so much as heating my circuitry. "Wait! You can't just-"
Without preamble, I threw him back through the portal. "That should do it." I noted solemnly, bending down to collect my weapon and shield. "I expect there shall be no more trouble now."
"No," a dark voice that sounded of rotting flesh and desecrated life swirled through the shadows. I turned reluctantly, already ninety seven percent certain that I wouldn't like what I was going to see. A huge eye opened above me, gleaming in the shapeless darkness. "No, there shall be no trouble ever again."
All artwork is (c) Michelle Corbelli. Do not copy or reproduce.