The eighteen-hour trip to Coven was the longest trip of Hidan’s life. Scorched Peak hadn’t been a bad place to get supplies late at night – the guild had a 24 hour shop for late night departures, so the endless barrage of questions from Nerfidelle had largely occurred while Hidan was either drunk, sobering up, or hung over.
“What is your motivation for becoming an adventurer? Is it to impress one of the potential romantic interests in the party? Are you hoping to break the tension with your long – time friend, hoping desperately to become more? Are you trying to ingratiate yourself to the badass assassin girl? What’s your fighting style? Are you more a tank or a dodger? Offensive or defensive? Do you have a signature move? Please tell me it has a cool name that you shout out when you use it? OOH! OOH! Does it have an impractical yet dramatic charge time? Do you have an arch enemy?”
The bardess beamed up at him. He could swear her eyes were actually sparkling as he tried his best not to notice her cleavage at that angle. Damn gnommish bards and their overt attractiveness.
“Ok. I was bored. Maybe. Probably. Hells, no. Spear-Dancing. Dodger. Both. Yes. No. No. And Oh, my, yes,” he finished, staring at her pointedly.
Nerfidelle counted on her fingers for a moment before drawing a sudden and deep breath that sounded for all the world like the bastard child of a gasp and a squeal. She opened her mouth to ask him about his arch – enemy (these made awesome plot hooks, giving bards something of an obsession with them) before she realised she had promised to remain silent. She made her way to Seraphim, completely oblivious to the fact that the Wild-elf was blushing profusely.
“Barbarian, you heard that conversation, right?” More blushing.
“That’s sooooo mean! It’s illegal to lie to a bard!”
Hidan chimed from the distance, “I wasn’t!” This caused even more ruckus. The next seventeen hours were going to be noisy indeed.
Seraphim, on the other hand, was having none of that. She was off to the bar part of the tavern for a drink and a few rolls of ‘gather information’. There she found Merla, Harkin, and Jarlisle. “How the hell did you guys get here ahead of us?” she shouted more than asked.
“Ok,” she pondered, “Why?”
Merla looked up. “Dungeon crawl. Apparently some undead appeared in the mines.”
Seraphim nodded. “Any info on the Bandit king? “
At this point the lumbering mercenary burst into laughter. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Look. The Bandit makes camp to the south, in the mountains halfway towards rangers’ fall. If you’re going to hit them from above then for loots’ sake take out the guards up there. Finally, do NOT, I repeat, NOT kill the cleric.”
Sliver’s response was to point in a random direction in the distance behind her, not even looking. Sure enough, a squad of goblin raiders, led by a tall, pasty-skinned hobgoblin were making their way straight for them.
He motioned to Sliver, perched on a ledge a few meters above him. They’d picked a point where the rocks clustered and formed a miniature chasm as a place to attack from, and the assassin had immediately found a well-covered vantage point. She emerged from behind a rock, drawing and nocking an arrow. She took her time to aim, making a show of it as she loosed her arrow. In truth, from where she was, the goblin formation looked like one massive blob of target – there was no way she could miss.
Sure enough, the arrow pierced a goblin’s jugular as it whizzed past it and hit a second one in the chest. Lucky, she thought. The first fell, howling, and bled out within seconds. The second was clearly no stranger to being shot – it carried on stoically until she hit him a second time. It was at this point she heard Seraphim and Hedge talking, or chanting, in Hedge’s case. Another arrow, putting down a third goblin and scattering their formation as they got close enough to return fire. She took cover behind her rock, taking careful glimpses around it for goblins who weren’t well-hidden. It wasn’t hard at that height. With a snap of her fingers, a light smoke cloud emerged around her and her ledge, allowing her to take her shots without her assailants seeing her leave cover.
Seraphim was next to appear with a shrill roar, planting her massive axe into one goblin’s ribs, lifting him as she continued her charge and slammed her weapon into the second goblin, the first’s body tearing in two as the second fell to the ground, its body broken. The remaining four looked at her, each with one hand covering their face as the other held a weapon. This distraction was exactly what Hidan was waiting for. Planting the head of his glaive in a goblin’s skull, then into the ground, he vaulted upwards and swung the weapon in the air, flinging the goblin corpse into one of his allies as he brought the weapon down on the leader. The larger goblin raised a greatsword, a sinister-looking spiked blade as tall as the goblin wielding it. The retaliation came quickly – Hidan having to move out of the way despite parrying the blow. This one was certainly faster than Seraphim, his usual sparring partner, but he could still keep him busy until…
The small woman beamed. “That was SO badass! Eleven on four and you guys are barely scratched! And you found a good spot to leave me too, good view, but safe! When did you learn to attack so aggressively? Did you know Seraphim would help you? Would you have been in trouble if you hadn’t? Is it wise to be fighting without a tank? How would you have handled bigger numbers?”
Hidan sighed and raised his hand with a sigh. The bard readied her notes. “Thanks, I know, you’re welcome, as a kid – Seraphim taught me, yes – though I didn’t expect the projectile goblin, Ohh-h-h yes, we do have a tank, and pretty much with the same tactic with a more drawn out execution.”
With that sentence, Sliver exchanged a glance with Hidan, who in turn exchanged a glance with Seraphim.