Battles are funny. Not ha-ha funny, obviously. You can plan seven ways to Sunday and the whole thing can go sideways at a moment’s notice. Unlike brunch plans, sideways means people die. Again, not ha ha funny.
The Alliance forces, comprised of the Grand Concordance of the Wise, Society of the Night, the Adventurer’s Guild, and Da Honorable Guild o’ Free Goblins, stood ready to fight. They were called the Alliance because they could not agree on a name that made everybody happy so the rather unimaginative Alliance was chosen.
Additionally, forces were mixed together. Dwarves next to Orcs, Elves next to Daemons, Holy Warriors of Temple of the Dawn Goddess next to the Undead. Some took this as a positive sign. If foes could put their old feuds aside to unite for a common cause, then there was hope for the future.
What a lovely thought that is. The truth was that no one really trusted each other and each side was prepared for betrayal. The good folk because that is how evil usually operated, and evil because they couldn’t conceive of not betraying when given the opportunity. Not an ideal situation to be sure. And yet, much better than it could be.
On the opposing side, the Abomination horde burbled, screamed, roiled, and gibbered at the gap leading to the Crags of Wantos. The only reason these affronts to nature were not exploding into a feeding frenzy was that they were held in check by an arcane barrier created by a platoon of battle-wizards.
With their customary lack of compassion, the Abominations were pressed up against the magic shield and crushed by those behind them. While some clever person might say, ‘Hey, just keep that barrier going until they all just all mushed up!’
There are two problems with that plan.
One, the strain of holding up the barrier on the battle-wizards would be overwhelming. This sort of cooperative spell work can only be accomplished by those specially trained to cast in concert. Most wizards are not team players. Hence the lonely towers and secret lairs.
Two, as mentioned before, there is an overlap between the Land and the Outer Realms. It started quite small but it’s gotten larger as more and more creatures poured out. So even if they could contain the horde, eventually it would explode like the Land’s largest pimple. Only much more dangerous and even grosser. So, not really viable.
As dawn began, orange light began to creep across the assembled troops, highlighting their armor and weapons in a warm glow. Quite a sight. When the sun fully rose above the horizon, horns were blown and the barrier dropped.
On the front lines, Pyromancers and Daemons unleashed a wave of fire at the Abominations that rushed out of the gap. They conjured flames for a full minute, causing ash to fall like snow. It also created a stench that lingered. While many have tried to fully describe this foulest of odors, let us just say this. Recall the most putrid thing you’ve ever smelled. Then multiply it against itself and keep going. Fortunately for the troops, they had all been issued an unguent that when rubbed under the nose, deadened all olfactory senses. Preparation is important.
Once the Inferno-Squad, as they called themselves, finished, they fell back and let the front-line fighters rush in. It was brutal. Which was not a surprise. Alliance troops cut a swath of destruction and the Abominations gave as good as they got. Those from the Outer Realms had the advantage of an utter lack of fear and the ability to mutate on the fly. From a great height, it resembled a two-sided meat grinder.
Inferno-Squad members had now joined the Elven Griffin-Riders and provided air support. Griffins are not overly fond of fire but are even less enamored of Abominations. Pseudopods erupted out of the horde, knocking Griffin-Riders out of the sky. Those who did hit the ground exploded in flame. So let’s call it a wash.
U’Korr the Destroyer, who last time we visited him, was in the midst of an existential crisis, waded into the melee with gusto. He no longer defined himself strictly as a destroyer and was planning on opening up his own barbecue place once the war was over. His love of low and slow became the fire in his belly, fueling him forward. Only metaphorically, he did not actually eat smoldering coals.
Many mighty deeds were done. Just as many tragic ends occurred. For Bard and Skalds, this was a wealth of tales to be told and songs to sung. Of course, not all of the Bards and Skalds would survive either. But those would be woven into the work of those who weren’t slaughtered. Such is the price of fame.
For a moment, the light faded and a great wind arose. Not great like ‘that’s a nifty wind.’ More in the sense of volume. Above them flew the ancient Red Dragon Desimatix. He flew over the Abomination horde and exhaled.
While everyone was duly impressed by the Inferno-Squad, which was like a guttering candle compared with what this Dragon was laying down. Even the Daemons, who dwelled in a place that was literally always on fire, paused and said, ‘Well I’ll be damned.’
After peeling off, Desimatix left an enormous gap in the Abomination horde. The Alliance forces let loose a triumphant roar and all petty differences were forgotten in that one moment. With renewed vigor, they rushed forward, victory seemed assured.
It was at this point that the overlap was torn open with a sound like a giant metal bird being ripped limb from limb and complaining about it the whole time.
Their Mad Tentacular Majesty, The Orange Prince had entered the fray.
As I said before. Funny, but not ha ha funny.