The Elemental of Surprise

If experience has taught me one thing, it’s that when you enter a desecrated crypt where an icy mist swirls around a scorched sarcophagus the situation is likely to turn very nasty very soon.

I was expecting trouble: maybe a wraith, maybe a vampire, maybe some other form of hideous undead. What I wasn’t expecting was a rock clad earth elemental to rise out of the floor and pound towards me like an enraged landslide.

Nevertheless, I have a code that I follow in such situations, a mantra that guides me through those deadly first seconds – if in doubt, fireball.

I let loose a burning bolt which engulfed the rocky rapscallion in a sphere of florid flame. To my disappointment the beast burst through the fire. Akra hurled lightning at the fiend and tendrils of electricity crackled over its craggy skin, but it kept on coming.

I tactically advanced away from the enemy, seeking cover behind the sarcophagus while Hundur, our tame and to date moderately ineffectual, barbarian drew his axe, raging hard.

The beast thumped Hundur with a fist like a sack of stones, and to the barbarian’s credit he didn’t let it put him off his swing. His axe clanged off the beast’s thigh sending a shower of rock chips flying across the tomb.

Lunar lurked closer and stabbed with her rapier, but the fine blade merely twanged from the creature’s stony skin. The freezing fog swirling around the tomb grew colder. It bit into my fingers affecting my aim, so I could hardly be blamed for the misplaced fireball I detonated around the monster, which also may have tickled Lunar and Hundur a tad.

The creature roared, smarting at my onslaught and the power of its cry dislodged a deluge of rocks and earth from the ceiling. A sizeable chunk glanced from Lunar’s skull and she collapsed to the floor unconscious, which under the circumstances may have been quite fortuitous as the beast thumped Hundur again, sending him reeling.

I can only assume that the blow to the barbarian had somewhat discombobulated him as instead of holding his ground in true warrior fashion, he grabbed Lunar’s tiny form, turned, and then fled, seeking refuge behind me.

It has often been said that the safest place in a battle is behind Tarquin The Honest and I am indeed renowned across the land for my bravery, but it is at times like these, when your party’s barbarian is cowering behind you, that you realise things have started to go badly awry.

I loosed a lightning bolt at the elemental that now thundered towards me and slung a small skeletal statue onto the rough rock floor. With a fan-fare like a femur drawn along a ribcage the awesome power that is Clatterbones sprang to life. And when I say awesome power I of course mean moronic undead skeleton with half the wit of dumb chicken.

The earth elemental swung its heavy fists in an onslaught of fury. I blinked my eyes closed, expecting to hear the splintering of myriad bones but all I heard was the beast grunt. My eyes flicked open. Unbelievably the hapless skeleton had dodged the blows and indeed taken a goodly swipe at the elemental with his longsword.

Encouraged by this turn of events I fired a volley of glowing darts into the beast while Akra doused it with a bolt of magical acid.

Our brave barbarian still whimpered behind my robes unlike the glorious Clatterbones who seemed to be getting into the swing of things. The plucky skeleton ducked under the elemental’s wild haymaker punch and with wide grin on his face (to be fair he always had a wide grin on his face) he gave it another wallop with his longsword.

To my left Lunar groaned and staggered to her feet. In her hand she clasped her crossbow, the dangerous end swinging wildly back and forth as she struggled to focus. With a twang the bolt shot forth, striking the elemental between its coal black eyes. The beast tottered, then its head crumbled to earth, its body pooling into a muddy mess.

I tugged my robe free of Hundur’s trembling fingers and went to pat Clatterbones on what passed for his back. Together we grinned, knowing that I, Tarquin The Honest and my faithful companion Clatterbones, had once again saved the day.

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