Last IceBreaker

From: Andrew Joelson (joelsona@cpdmfg.cig.mot.com)
Date: Wed 07 May 1997 - 02:23:24 EEST


                      The Last IceBreaker, Part X III

        The Jarl stalked to the far end of the Dueling Grounds, then
stepped three feet in. He stopped and chittered a weird cry. Harlios
could not understand it; a hollri word that had no human translation.
It stood still, it's eyes glittering.
"Here it comes," Harlios told Drel. They watched together; the
pair of extra eyes graven into the iron helm were quite functional on
the HeroPlane. Drel could see clearly without impeding his friend.
The air around the Jarl darkened, and the temperature in the Arena
plummeted. Frost appeared on the grass near the hollri, as it vanished
in the ever increasing pool of darkness it was creating. It cast no
spell; it was extending it's own aura.
        Harlios felt the cold air, the hair on his arms stood up.
Fully a third of the Dueling Grounds were covered in shadow, and the
darkness crept forward. But though the darkness increased, the form
of the Jarl became clear again. The goose bumps on his arms relaxed;
the air seemed pleasantly cool. His left foot burned of fire and acid,
but these were only symptoms. In truth, Fire coursed through his very
blood, his body had required only a moment to adjust to the changes
in his surroundings.
        Still the Jarl put forth his strength, to no purpose.

"It's going to be a very surprised-looking hollri in about a
minute," snickered Drel. "Go and kill it."
        He brought his sword up to guard and strode forward. A cry of
dismay came from the Jarl's followers, who were no more blinded by
darkness than their master. The cold failed and the shadows fled away,
as the Jarl realized that it was wasting it's strength. It too strode
forward, crouching with it's clawed arms extended. Long, sharp spines
projected from it's limbs. Longer than it's followers, Harlios noted,
but apparently no sharper.....

        The two circled and feinted, measuring each other. The ice demon
jabbed with it's claws, Harlios slashed with his sword.
"Get the Healing ready, this is going to be a tough one."
"And you complained about the uzhim being too easy," Drel replied.
"Drel, it's faster than I am. Not by much, but faster. Ichor
gives me greater reach, but is difficult to stab with. It's mostly suited
to slashing and wholesale cleaving. And we don't know how strong the Jarl
is. At least the spines tend to sweep back along the arms, it'll have
trouble trying to gouge me with them."
        Harlios set his jaw and picked up the pace. The Jarl matched
him, it's claws stabbing relentlessly. The spines spun back and forth,
as the hollri twisted it's arms. The sword was flicked aside again and
again.
        Harlios drew Ichor further back, for a long hard sweep. He twisted
slightly, to deflect the blow he knew was coming. The Jarl jabbed him
hard in the ribs, the angle deflecting only part of the blow. Then his
sword came around, and caught the retreating limb solidly. It rebounded
from the ice demon's arm with the 'ting' of a bell.
        The Jarl's arm exploded with a musical crash. The air was filled
with the ringing of chimes, as fragments of hollri collided with each other
and fell to the ground.
        Shocked, both enemies stood still for a moment. Harlios leapt
forward, thrusting his sword straight out. The Jarl danced back, but the
tip of Ichor clinked into it's breast. Which promptly burst into a thousand
singing shards.....

"Did you _see_?" demanded Drel. "Just for a moment, before the
demon shattered, a putrid wound! A small, shallow cut, yellow around
the edges."
"I saw! It is the same as when we fought the demon riders. Ichor
would not penetrate, it would leave only a shallow gash. But the gash
was yellow on the edges, and it oozed yellow slime. The same wounds
we dealt Tar'shyr! Ichor is always True against a mundane foe, but it's
full powers are reserved for killing demons! Sir Ethilrist lost four
riders that day, and we are going to slay countless hollri. Or perhaps
a northen wind...."

"Let the Sacred Arena be cleared," intoned Harlios.
        The shards of the Jarl began to slide towards Rashtingall, it's
remaining intact limbs born away upon a tinkling wave. The frightened
murmurs of the snow trolls were drowned out by the squeaks and clicks
of the hollri. The ice demons were drowned out in their turn by Valind's
son, who swore in rage. Lighting flashed overhead, thunder punctuating
Hend's fury.
"Will you join me, Hend Valindsson?" called Harlios, his soft
voice cutting across all other sounds. The Host of Winter fell silent.
"No!" roared Hend. "The Jarl's band have all sworn to follow
him, even unto the Endless Fires of the South! You must deal with them
first!"
"Come here!" he cried. The hollri circled about the furious
godling. "Hear me! You have no hope against that sword. Do not try.
Go in there and charge him! Stab him with your spines. Claw him with
your talons, bite him, rend him if you can! You will each get one
chance, and one chance only. Make it count!"
"We die for you!" cried the hollri. "We avenge our Jarl!"

******
Andrew

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