Stepping forward to meet the now inhuman form, Gastien heard the monster acknowledge him, “Come…” Gastien was smarter than that however and would not be easily baited into a counterattack. Standing his ground, he watched the glowing clansmen eye him down, no longer the vessel housing a soul that once was.

“I am Gastien, champion of the cult of..”

“Naator!” hissed the clansmen, continuing “I know my enemy, well..”

“As do I.. The influence of evil has you, Let us finish this day.”

Behind, the being, cloaked in shadow, except for its burning runes, shrieked again, signaling the dark champions attack, as the clansmen almost.. Slithered forward, engaging Gastien.

Throwing it’s arm across his shield, the force of the blow knocked Gastien back, but he still managed to stay on balance,  as the clansmen hissed “I am Dragaka, born of Blight!” The clansmen’s arm was deformed from the force of it’s own blow and seemingly began to melt into a longer form of itself, now being thrown at Gastien; jumping back, he saw sparks and ash of a blazing red, whip by, in front of his visor. Gastien’s battle and life experience told him this monster’s range, compared to his own, would give him much trouble and immediately charged to the inside, trying desperately to give chase, as Dragaka’s champion moved proportionately back throwing caustic lashes Gastien’s way, as he tried, unsuccessfully, to make it into attack range, where the whip would be less effective, but instead found him himself on the outside, no closer. Looking to his shoulder, he saw the smoldering of the steel, clearly caused by the whip’s impact.. It burned.

“How long will your cowardice persist!?”

Replying in action, the dark champion launched itself into the air, where Gastien could not attack, but it could, launching a successful attack as the deformed limb smashed against his shield, but forcing itself into a landing that Gastien took advantage of, slamming his hammer into its head; more sparks and ashes flying into the wind from the impacts. Gastien gave chase, getting one more hammer strike onto the creatures shoulder, before it quickly retreated back into a farther range, leaving him to debate the chase once more. Dragaka’s Champion hissed in laughter “Hmph.. There are more eyes upon us than you know..”

Gastien laughed “Good, let them see you fall!”

Behind, a second, large, giant form, obscured by shadow, appeared alongside Dragaka. Laughing, the Blight’s champion announced “Andraka, born of Blight!.. Welcome!”

Smoldering, the dark champion’s shoulder that Gastien smashed, now contorted, sprouting a purple burning visage, smiling, adding a deep purple aura to the deep red one that consumed the clansmen’s vessel. Contorting, it’s other arm now melted with a fierce purple glow, edging itself into a long, pointed edge. Draining, the shred of humanity that the fiend possessed was now gone and the figure that stood before him reminded him of the texts that he had read from so long ago. Gastien knew, this was no ordinary battle before him; the Blight’s influence unlike anything seen in ages.

Burning, the purple smile of Andraka’s influence, now spoke in a deep and booming chord “You should not have crossed the plains, to meet us.. Our influence grows, with every orb..” Turning to the burning red visage beside it, a decaying human head, it asked “Dragaka, shall we destroy these worms?…”

Gastien saw his moment, to perform the unexpected.. To see these two Blights, share a vessel, one with already incredible power before the second even joined, he knew they were confident and maybe even thought he was scared by them.. But he was unafraid. Gastien, opening the satchel on his side, removed a magical orb from it and held it up, yelling “Andraka, Dragaka, Naator, Sutrema!” Gastien watched as blue flames erupted from the orb, ripping through the seams of the physical and spirit world, sucking Gastien’s very soul into the spirit world, leaving his vessel to fall to the ground, lifeless and sacrificed.

Watching the sacrifice happen, the leader knew the act would, at least temporarily, cleanse the physical worlds of the Blight’s spiritual influence, leaving the cleansing of the spiritual world itself, to Gastien’s soul.. Gastien would now battle the two blights, while the knights took the window of opportunity to weaken their hold in the physical world; they would march to the site of the initial orb ritual that allowed the Blight’s spiritual influence into the physical world. The leader once again imbued the knights, his instruments, with his power. “Draetarn!, Go inform the withdrawn forces that the blight is gone.”

Draetarn felt the strain of the heavy armor leave him, as he rose to his feet, aware that time was of the essence, leaving the other knights behind as he ran forward from the canyon’s mouth, into the green fields and began towards the rest of the cultist force, straying until he felt he was far enough and used the leaders power to summon a small fireball into the sky signaling the forces return.

Draetarn waited, until 10 soldiers came into view, all riding their plated mounts. One soldier dismounted, allowing Draetarn his mount, “Report, sir?” the soldier asked, his chainmail clanking as he dismounted.

“Gastien used the Sutrema ritual, send for the wagon, the rest of you, follow me, eye’s open.”

Draetarn left the lone soldier to ride back on Gastien’s horse, as he reared his mount towards the cavern of Blights from whence the clansmen’s forces were originally holed up. Riding hard, the horses shoes clanked against the solid, uneven terrain. Meeting up with the rest of the knights, he saw their leader with his arms raised towards the cavern’s black mouth, his cape, long, flowing many feet behind him, loose in the strong wind. Draetarn heard two soldiers talking “What is the Anthranhall doing?”the other replied “Probably some craziness, I heard they are able to give a full fledged mage a hardship!”

Draetarn thought of correcting the two knuckleheads, but also knew, through being under the Anthranhall’s influence, their leader could hear and feel everything he did. Just then, a wild crack of lightning erupted from the Anthranhall’s raised hands, striking somewhere inside the cavern, but also the ear drums of the surrounding soldiers, the two knuckleheads in particular, falling off their perfectly calm mounts. Draetarn smiled, saying “Those horses have more courage than you two!.. Do not fear your master’s power!” Draetarn was convinced only half of him said that, smiling himself further, into a grin.

“Watch the flank.” Draetarn commanded, as he dismounted and approached the 8 knights, asking “Gastien is struggling?”

Looking onward into the cave, the Anthranhall replied “A delay is expected, he is after all, facing two Blights.. We will wait, anticipating defeat, but hoping for his victory. There is not much left to do, otherwise, other than exercise patience, safety and depart at nightfall.”

Foul, a wind exploded from the cave, giving life to further fears of the blight. Draetarn turned to the Anthranhall once more “Is leaving him at nightfall the best choice? We can handle the Blights at night, a couple fires..”

Cutting him off, the Anthranhall announced “When dealing with Blights, we must remember that the Blights are not the only enemy; there are also those who bring their influence into this world, using the orb rituals to begin with.. Those that worship them, have no qualms with the Blight possessing them entirely.” Continuing “This is a two-front war, focusing on the blight alone is not enough, we must also rely on our counterparts, the Hunters, to find and root out the worshipers of the Blight.. Without them, the Blights influence will be endlessly brought into this world.” Draetarn nodded, acknowledging the Anthranhall’s wisdom.


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