Afternoon of the third day of our voyage. I have thought about what happened, tried to make sense of it all. I am composed and able to write.
We were ready for the lizardfolk last night. Wilhelm and I were on the last watch, and nothing had happened yet that night. Our fighters slept in their light armor and held weapons close, waiting for alarm. If we seemed to have no cares in the world during the day yesterday, when it got dark we felt that same fear from the night before. Expectation of fierce violence, and only our wits and our fellows to see us through the night.
It came to be what some call the hour of the wolf; and our nervous anticipation met satisfaction. It was Will who raised alarm at sight of scaly claws reaching up over the edge of the barge. Even expecting them to come, the real-life sight was a horror in the black of night. At an instant everyone was to their feet and the fight was on.
Pulp cast the Bless spell, and we tingled with additional skill and resilience in the face of harm. A dozen lizardfolk were upon us; half with club and shield, half with crude spears. Our fighters created a cordon to protect spellcasters. Spiritz attempted magic to Sleep a lizardman near him; it failed. Much to my surprise, Reece cast an offensive-type spell on his own weapon. I did not know he was magically-inclined.
Spiritz tried again; targeted a lizardman with another Sleep spell; this one worked brilliantly. Effortlessly, the young sorcerer ducked a poorly-thrown spear from another lizardman. For as well as he handled himself, our young spellcaster would record no kills in this fight.
Will proved himself formidable. I have not examined a lizardfolk corpse to assay their physiology, but the gruesome great-club impact landed by our fighter-barbarian cohort was easily twice the damage required to utterly ruin one unlucky reptilian. I will learn nothing off that particular lizardfolk corpse, as only gooey liquid remains of it.
Calum had the next lizardfolk kill. He wore his opponent down with cunning blows, finished the hissing reptile with expert care. No pausing, grinning as he relished the fight, Calum moved on to the next hole in our defensive line, filled it with his stout bulk, and pressed the attack.
BOB and Pulp both had a kill, and had taken some damage, when Spiritz made a daring move.
He Summoned a monkey to help.
Out of nowhere, a monkey appeared on the back of a particularly sinister lizardman. This was not a large monkey (even as Celestial monkeys are concerned) perhaps not much bigger than a house-cat. What mattered was that it appeared on our Material Plane ready and willing to fight; it scratched and bit its foe mercilessly, setting the lizardman up for a quick death by Reece. Then the monkey leapt off the reptile corpse and brought its screeching fury down upon ANOTHER lizardman !! Pulp, distracted by this impressive showing, shouted out, “Kroist, that monkey is dynamite !”
That was the best the fight would go for us, until it ended. Wilhelm took considerable damage, even in his barbarian-rage state. He fell unconscious, near death. I rushed in, tapped him with a Healing spell, and brought him back to life. I did the same for Calum, who was suffering from multiple wounds and fought on as if they weren’t so severe as they were. Don’t think he knew I was behind him. At this point I was running out of spells. That made me very nervous. Theirs is to fight, mine is to fix. If I can’t fix, they can’t fight. Then we all die.
Then Calum took another hit – an extremely bad one. The fight seemed to pause, weapons and hands and bodies hovering in a silent instant a whole lifetime long. The only sound, a rending crash, the kind of deep thundering impact that one feels through their chest and heart and lungs before the ear picks it from the air. I may be waxing grim and poetic on this, making more of the instant than what happened. But I have seen that moment of Death, seen it come both peacefully, and in combat; both recently, and long ago. This was that moment again, in our midst, visited upon one of us. Heavy and indifferent and permanent.
Calum was dead before he hit the deck. I could not have done anything. The damage was far more than he could bear. I thought fleetingly of the Heroic Domains of Ysgard, implored radiant Pelor himself to carry the soul of Calum to that Outer Plane.
Lunk, Reece, BOB, even Pulp, must have sensed our lives were in grave peril. They fought even harder, pushing past their fatigue and injury. Two more lizardfolk were slain. Two large and fearsome lizardmen remained, much more of a challenge than our side could manage.
For an instant things got much worse; a massive crocodile burst up from the land-side of our barge. A giant of a thing, low and prehistoric and armored, impossibly quick, like a tall tree fallen and animated and borne with wide jaws and a million stone-hard teeth. The barge rocked under its weight as it clambered aboard and made for us.
It went for one of the lizardmen. Just then, the sky split open and a lightning-bolt, brilliant blinding white and generated from cloudless black sky, engulfed the other lizardman. The crocodile did not seem to notice; it snagged the first lizardman in its field of teeth, consumed him, turned on the other lizardman, flashed its teeth and that foe vanished as well.
The crocodile, sated, did not turn on us or pay us any mind. It lumbered past as we pulled back into a defensive huddle, expecting it to attack. Seeming almost bored, the great beast slid off into the river. The barge ducked and lurched from the weight of its passage. We saw the creature re-emerged back on shore. It plodded up the mud and settled to rest at the feet of yet another lizardman, one more that we had not noticed until that moment.
This lizardman was different. It was not dressed like a warrior, instead wearing the adornments of a druid or shaman. And this one looked much more powerful and more intelligent, than had our attackers; but it was calm and impassive, as if relaxing after exertion and with no fear of us. I did not know how to react. None of us did, at first.
Particularly when he held aloft his Guild sash.
Journal of Dr. Marcus Grant
Healing Cleric of Pelor, Order of St-Jude Academy (Silabrek)
13th Day, at Downmarsh Station, territory of Ælim.