Alex did his best to flush the grimy flavor of an old toe bone out of his mouth as James considered what would happen if he activated his Jump Strike at such a close opponent while he was in a building with a rock ceiling. He knew that when he jumped on a close opponent he often flew high into the air, but he had no desire to flatten himself against the ceiling, or worse, break through it and attract attention. Luckily, a disgusted Alex reacted to the charging skeletal woman before he could. Alex blinked a few paces forward and rolled right into Sorrell’s tibia. It happened so fast that she didn’t have a chance to react, and tumbled to the ground.
James sent out a Firebolt to welcome her as she regained her footing. He let his hands continue moving and cast firebolt in rapid succession. One after the other impacted Sorrell and splashed against her calcified body. She attempted to dodge and would have succeeded if it wasn’t for James’s curse that attracted the Fire Bolts to her. Sorrell was quite nimble and fast, especially considering that she didn’t have any muscles to propel her.
“Okay, okay…” Sorrell said as she waved away the smoke and flames still licking her, “It’s my turn now!”
James looked at the lower part of his peripherals and realized he was out of mana. He smoothly unsheathed his two short swords and took up a fighting stance to meet the stalking skeleton. Just as she was less than a dozen paces away, Patrick activated his bulldoze ability and charged. As the ability activated, a pulse of sound slammed into James’s ears, causing them to ring. He winced, but was still able to see Sorrell start running away from Patrick. At the last moment, she jumped onto the red-head. A second later she used his momentum to propel herself into Alex. The veteran let out an involuntary, “Oof” as the flying skeleton impacted his chest. An even louder pulse of sound echoed through the chamber as Patrick impacted the far side of the Keep, causing the cobblestone wall to crack.
The veteran and the skeleton rolled to the ground in a heap, but somehow the muscle-less skeleton was able to wrestle herself to a dominant position. Sorrell straddled the quite bulky veteran.
“That was too easy!” She said, before bringing down her hands in a hammering motion.
Alex blinked away before he could be hit. Sorrell sat on the ground, disappointed and confused, "Fine, you aren't my type anyway."
She stood up and motioned to her platoon of guards. As James ran to meet Sorrell, he could see that only three of her guards survived Patrick’s bulldoze. The skeletons he ran over were busy reforming. One of the intact guards responded to Sorrell’s command and tossed her a long pike.
She twirled it around, getting a feel for the long weapon. James slowed just outside of the weapons range and waited for Alex and Patrick to surround her.
“Why are we doing this again?” Alex huffed.
“You mean other than for the fun of it?” Inquired the skeleton as she whirled her pike around, discouraging the party from attacking her.
Alex shrugged, “Yea, sure.”
Sorrell sighed, her body language becoming friendly and playful, “It’s this stupid pendant. I can't leave this building or take it off until it is destroyed. I also have to defend it. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to wrestle with you men under normal circumstances,” Sorrell turned to James and gave him another wink, “you especially. But in this case, I have no choice. It's honestly not as fun when I HAVE to do it, ya' know?"
“So what is the easiest way to destroy it?” Patrick asked, ignoring the skeleton and getting straight to business.
Sorrell turned to the redhead, and with quite a bit of attitude, said, “Well, I don’t know ya big rock, I’ve never destroyed it before!”
Suddenly, a bigger rock than Patrick fell from the ceiling and smashed into Sorrell. James looked up to see what happened and noticed a large crack that traveled up the ceiling from where Patrick impacted the wall. Stars could be seen through the hole in the ceiling where the boulder had once been.
“Oops,” Patrick whispered, “think she is okay?”
“I am not sure I care,” Alex said before glancing at the now fully reformed platoon of skeletal guards. James followed his gaze and was relieved that they didn’t seem to want to avenge the attack on their master.
“Mmmgmmm!” A mumble was heard beneath the large rock between the party.
“Let’s move this thing!” James said as he saddled up to the boulder. He grunted and heaved, but even with his party's help, he couldn’t lift the large rock. James struggled to find purchase for his hands. He gripped the mortar that still stuck to the side of the boulder, but it simply fell away when he put any strength behind his grip.
“Move aside!” Patrick bellowed.
James and Alex stepped aside as Patrick took a few ponderous steps backward. The red-head lowered his shoulder and ran full speed at the boulder. James could tell that Patrick didn’t activate his bulldoze ability, but he was still impressed by the speed the large man was able to muster.
Patrick’s shoulder slammed into the boulder, causing it to shatter. James's jaw dropped.
Before he could ask how Patrick’s feat was possible, Sorrell’s boney hand raised from the rubble, holding a shattered pendant.
“Good job Perturber, let’s get out of here before the rest of the building falls on me,” Sorrell said as she clambered to her feet, “C’mon,” she commanded to her guards with a wave of her metacarpals.
The party, along with a small contingent of skeletons, found Omero laying in the dirt, looking up to the sky and humming to himself.
“Time to go!” James said as pulled Omero up to his feet by his arm. The startled Italian’s eyes immediately fell upon the skeletons that were running up to him. Before Omero could ask any questions, James let him know that they were friendly and they would be joining the party. If the Italian had any more concerns, James didn’t hear them as he was busy sprinting away from the crumbling Keep.
“Do you know the fastest way out of the Outpost?” James yelled as he turned his head back to Sorrell, who was easily keeping pace.
“Nope,” she replied flatly, having no lungs to be out of breath with.
Damn, James thought as he entered the alley they came from. He lead the party down the alley until they reached the hole that Abbadon created. James scouted the streets ahead while he waited for everyone to catch up. What he saw on the streets caused him to curse. The soldiers were pulling their wounded back behind their line, just a few paces from where a contingent of skeletons would soon flow out of the alley.
Shit, James thought. He didn’t expect whatever the soldiers were fighting to make it into The Outpost. James contemplated stopping his party behind him and turning them around to find another way out of the city but was distracted when an injured soldier was thrown at his feet. The soldier looked like a pin-cushion, complete with pins. One inch thick spikes stuck out from his body as he wreathed in pain. James bent down to see if you could help the man, when suddenly, he was cast in a golden light.
“Pull the spikes out!” Sorrell commanded as her hands wove in a complicated pattern that allowed the holy light to fall from the sky. James pulled them out, despite numerous complaints from the pin-cushion. For a second, James thought the soldier was going to bleed out, but the light sealed his wounds. A moment later, the confused soldier was patting his body in awe.
The soldier shook his head, “No…” He shook his head harder and stood up, “NO!” Then his eyes fell upon the skeletal creature that saved his life, “Perturber! Perturber! The keep has failed! A Perturber is on the loose!” He screamed as he ran to join his comrades.
“Ungrateful fool, ”Sorrell said with a shake of her cranium as a contingent of skeletal guards fell into formation behind her, “C’mon, we need to get out of here while they are distracted.”
“Wait,” James began.
“We can’t just leave them here,” Patrick finished.
Sorrell glared at James and his companions before stepping eerily close to them and whispering, “Listen, these soldiers are just as likely to kill you as they are the spiky creatures they-”
“Hegemons,” Alex interrupted, nervously.
Sorrell glared at the veteran before continuing and ignoring his correction, “They are just as likely to kill you guys as they are the spiky creatures they are fighting. Once they figure out what you are, you might as well be a beast as far as they care. You’ve seen it first hand. I saved that soldiers life, and yet his eyes were still filled with hate.”
James glanced at his party members. He had so many questions, but the skeleton didn’t give him time to ask any of them.
“I am leaving, I suggest you do the same.”
“We can’t leave them to die!” Patrick yelled out courageously.
Sorrell turned around slowly and shot daggers at Patrick, “You off all people should know better, Golem.”
“What did she call you?” Omero asked Patrick as the party crossed the drawbridge that separated The Outpost from the Great Savanna.
Patrick caught his breath and answered, “Golem.”
“What does that even mean?” James followed up as he checked the map to see what direction Sorrell was leading them in. He didn’t quite like traveling the Great Savanna at night, especially when it was in an unfamiliar direction, but he figured he had no choice. It wasn’t like they could set up camp right in front of the city gates. They were safe now, but not that safe. Besides, the sun should be coming up any moment now.
Patrick shrugged contemplatively, “I’m not really sure.”
“Keep up Perturbers, Inveiglers, and whatever you are teleporting guy!” Sorrel called out mockingly.
James sighed and ran to catch up to the skeleton and her guards. Running more was the last thing he wanted to do. He wanted to pull out his Ingo skins and finally get some sleep, but if there was one thing that could motivate James and make him run, it was the possibility of answers to his list of questions... or Spiced Cider.
“Okay!” James said as he arrived at Sorrell’s side.
“Oh, are you here to escort me?” Sorrell asked as she wound her radius and ulna around James's arm.
James was too tired to flirt, especially with someone so skinny. He preferred women with more meat on their bones, “No, I’ve seen you fight, and cast spells for that matter - you don’t need an escort. I want to know why you call us Perturbers and why you called Patrick a golem.”
“So many questions and I don’t even know your name!” Sorrell deflected as she walked with James, tangled up in his arm.
“It’s James. That's Patrick, Omero, and Alex. Now can you answer me?”
Sorrell untangled herself from James and pushed away with a sigh, “Fine. I’ll give you your answers. Just wait until we get to my father’s camp. Is that okay with you Captain Serious Pants? He should be just at the bottom of those mountains.”
James had trouble seeing the mountains in the dark, but a quick check of his map told him that it was only a few minute walk.