This story is by Jacie Crump and was part of our 2023 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Faylinn, at my back,” Cyradelle barked out. “Lacina, keep those protections up; we know what they can do, so let’s use that to our advantage. Omaura, they seem susceptible to fire, so keep hitting them with those spells!”
“Right!” they cried out in unison.
The door burst open, and the team raced into the chaos. Flames danced across the floor and walls, licking the rubble; it provided the only light in the corridor. Snarls and howls echoed down the hall, giving away the location of the enemy.
They jogged past the destruction, making it within approximately one-hundred yards of the main room of the fortress when voices filtered down the hall. They were deep and gravelly, common among the wolf shifters that inhabited the area.
Fortunately, two indentations sunk into the nearby walls, surprisingly free of flame. That would provide with the perfect place to hide, Cyradelle thought. The increasing amount of smoke flowing around the party didn’t hurt the situation, either. Cyradelle motioned to the alcove to the left and then pointed to the mages. The warrior and thief could handle the beasts at close range, which would give Lacina and Omaura a chance to fire off their incantations.
Omaura nodded and dove to the side while Lacina grabbed the others’ hands. “Fortifus maxicondi,” she chanted in a hushed tone, giving her comrades a boost of power to fight off the oncoming enemy.
As she bolted to her hiding spot, Cyradelle and Faylinn hurried to the right. Through the smoke, several distinct shadows of the were-creatures emerged.
“I’m counting five,” Cyradelle whispered.
“Same,” Faylinn agreed quietly.
“Can you shift to blend in and take position behind them? Your best bet would be the ones on the left. I see enough of a gap between them I should be able to follow you and attack.”
She studied the approaching figures for a moment. “Yeah, that works.”
“On three… one, two, three!”
Faylinn closed her eyes and disappeared. A tiny white mouse sat where she once was, staring into the hallway with determined blue eyes. The shapeshifter may have nodded before scampering into the haze, blending in. She approached the aliens, who crept closer towards the team.
The tactic paid off; the larger group stopped to investigate something, separating the two units. Faylinn got into position and waited. As the duo passed by her, she shifted back into her humanoid form and swept her foot up in a kick, causing the beast to crash to the ground. Their comrade’s startled shout made the others abandon their examination as they rushed to their aid.
Cyradelle sprung from her hiding spot and raced toward the trio as she looked in the debris for a weapon. There was a mangled piece of metal, which she snatched it up and, without hesitation, leaped into the air to face her opponents. Upon landing, she crouched down, slashing the improvised knife against the leg of the closest wolf.
As his flesh ripped open, he howled, which was enough for two of the others to raise their weapons. As they charged, Cyradelle jumped backward. It was a little close for comfort, as one of their knives slashed at her, barely missing her arm.
The smoke dissipated, and they once again dove towards the elf. She prepared to jump out of the way when they screamed in pain. The lupine beasts shook their hands, trying to drop their blades, which were now a fiery red. A flash caught her eye as Omaura stood slightly out of the alcove, her eyes glowing as she continued to chant.
The warrior used the distraction to rush forward, swinging the shard at the wolf closest to her. It sliced into his torso, causing a giant gash to appear. He growled and tackled her. The metal flew out of her hand, clattering across the floor.
Cyradelle brought her legs up to her chest and pushed them out, thrusting the beast away from the party. He crashed into the wall and landed on the ground, not moving.
Another were-creature came at her as she sprang to her feet. She kicked upward with as much force as she could put behind it, connecting with his jaw. He staggered backward as Cyradelle took a couple of steps toward him and punched him in his ribs, causing him to slump to his knees. The wolf-man grunted as she dealt one last kick to his temple. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as he slid into unconsciousness.
A fireball whizzed past her head at that moment; she pivoted as the last of her adversaries, wounded leg and all, burst into flame. He dropped the knife he was about to thrust into her back as he screamed and collapsed.
Nodding over at Omaura, Cyradelle bolted toward Faylinn, who had disabled one of her opponents. The other grabbed her by her shoulder and threw her backward. Her head cracked against the stone wall; she let out a small groan as she dropped to the floor.
Just as the wolf creature pounced, a glowing dome encompassed her, causing the creature to bounce off. As he tried to regain his balance, Cyradelle tackled him.
All the rage she housed inside came out as she pounded on him as hard as she could. Cyradelle continued to slam her fist into him until he, too, became unconscious. She rose and glared at the fallen beasts, rubbing her knuckles.
However, as angry at the creatures as she was, there was one other that she was even more infuriated with.
“Kevin, what the actual hell?” Jamie shrieked, slamming her hands on the table. Character sheets, dice, and the snack bowls that Mark set out moments before skittered across the surface.
The game master glanced at her from over his cardboard partition, the Legends and Myths logo prominent across the top. “What?”
“You specifically told us that the fight with the werewolves wasn’t happening until we did a few more campaigns. We needed the time to level up our skills, get better equipment, and come up with tactics to take them out!”
“I did say that, but I figured I would introduce you to just a few so you could see…”
“Great,” Charlie muttered, glaring down the table. “Now I have to spend the few resources I did have to heal Faylinn and then get her prepped. Whatever number of missions you were thinking of, add a few more.”
“Not to mention Omaura’s mana,” Sasha interjected. “It’s going to take a lot of time to get that back up to par, since we aren’t near any ley lines. I am assuming the same is with Lacina.”
Mark nodded. “Yeah, the shield spell I used basically was the only thing I could fire off. I have some potions to help heal Faylinn, but that’s about it.”
“Look,” Kevin snapped. “This is the first new campaign Legends and Myths has released in a really long time, and I thought a mini adventure would help me figure out the strength and weaknesses of these new monsters they introduced. This wasn’t meant to be anything major, and, now that I can see the strengths and weaknesses of them, and the team, I can go back and create a storyline that is even stronger. That is going to take time, so we will have several games before that starts. More than enough time for you to recoup and strengthen up.”
Jamie glanced around at her friends at the table. While still annoyed by the situation, she admitted to herself that it really did give some good stats for the team to take with them before the real fight began. There was no doubt they would have a few meetups before then to discuss character and weapon attributes to ensure a better outcome next time.
“Fine,” she groused, closing her player manual. “Let’s call a close to this session. There’s honestly not much more we are going to be able to do right now, and the show is about to start.”
The rest of the crew nodded as they retrieved the snacks from the table and headed over to the living area, chatting about the previous episode and what they could expect.
Kevin put his hand on Jamie’s arm. “Hope you’re not too upset about the campaign.”
She shook her head. “Not upset. Maybe a little frustrated, but it’s a game. Just make sure that, when we face them again, don’t hold back. Because we won’t.”
Jamie grinned at him as she sat down, already planning Cyradelle’s next move.