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The treads of her platemail boots left stark prints in the snow. The walk between the inn and keep was a welcomed one. Overhead, the aurora borealis was an eerie sight to some, but comforting to those expecting it. Arialynn’s breath left in thick puffs, crystalizing over her eyebrows and lashes. Oddly, the bitter cold roused her strength and woke her senses. Even her hearing felt sharper in the frigid air.

Far below Wintergarde, another scattered set of Scourge darted between collapsed buildings of the destroyed town. Their gnashing teeth and guttural cries carried over the hill to the lady knight’s ears. The sounds roused memories.

—-

Left. Her hammer blindly swung left. It connected. From the ear-piercing shriek and furious clacking of mandibles, Arialynn knew she dealt a decisive blow. But for the ground she gained downing that foe, another took its place. The darkness about her was smothering, shrouding every sense but three. She could smell, but the air was foul and putrid. Her ears rang with the eager clanking of spidery dead. Another sense was far less natural: A paladin’s innate sense of nearby undead. It drove her every move. 

Reaching out with her senses, she felt another arachnoid come toward her. She heard the sharpened pinpoints of its legs scrabble at the dirt as it picked up speed. With a cry, the paladin rose her hammer to meet its charge. With a sickening crack, the spidery creature absorbed the blow, its exoskeleton shattering. It tumbled haplessly, crumbling under the momentum of its own charge and the abrupt blow that halted it.

Swing, strike, crack. Again. Sensing another one near, Arialynn lashed out an open palm, a brilliant flash of Light exorcising from it, searing the flesh of its target. It briefly lit up the cavern, giving sight to the nest of creatures the lady knight stumbled on. They were a sea of eyes, heads, mandibles, legs, and claws.

Trapped and blinded deep inside the nest of the enemy, a sense of desperation injected itself deep within her. She felt it flood her limbs, like a liquid iron threatening to strengthen or freeze her on a whim. Everything slowed, from the chittering, shrieking sounds of the arachnoids around her to the movements of the next line closing in to pounce. Though still blinded by darkness, the brief flash of the cavern gave her the faintest outline of the layout. Her own movements flowed, grew more desperate yet assured. She felt driven by forces not her own and yet completely and thankfully at her beck and call, however brief they would be.

Raising her palm again, she sent an exorcism spell to her nearest foe. Like before, the cavern surroundings flashed brilliantly about her. It cast her enemies in dark shadows and stark light. Hissing, they pounced. With an answering cry, Arialynn swung her hammer against them all.

Author Ari
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