Laurel shot at a flying ape on one of the eastern ledges hitting it squarely in its back, Wulf followed suit with his longbow piercing another's bat like wing. Ssinkar rushed across the plateau towards Jan who had crashing to the ground like a meteor falling from the sky, landing on one of the ledges where a winged ape commander was overseeing the attack.
Having slaughtered their initial Aarakocaran targets some of the winged apes swooped down to attack the heroes. Styx was soon engaged and struck at one with her short sword. With enemies closing in on her Laurel tossed aside her bow and drew her scimitars cutting down her nearest foe with a whirl of her wickedly sharp blades. Undeterred by losing his beloved sword, Wulf flicked his dagger out of its sheath flipping it between his hands as he chose his moment to strike, plunging the dagger into the winged ape's chest. Tcho'eh was set upon by another flying ape which clawed viciously at his scarred skin. Wulf's opponent was joined by another and both cut deep into the barbarian as they tried to overpower him.
Jan picked himself up only to find himself beset upon by a flying ape commander. The quick witted mercenary cried "Parr" and shot skywards from the melee like a cork from a bottle.
Across the field of battle Nyx whirled her three segment nunchuck staff at another winged ape striking it squarely in the shoulder.
With Jan gone, the winged ape commander leapt from the ledge and into melee with Ssinkar clawing at the Salamankari like a vicious beast.
Laurel engaged with a fresh enemy making a solid strike. With a holy word Ssinkar channeled a prayer of Hold Person on the commander freezing him to the spot. The creature attacking Tco'eh struck the birdman's beak and recoiled in pain at the shock of his hand hitting the hard keratin. Wulf's foes continued their assault on the Euborean raining a bevy of battering blows on top of him. Luck was not on Laurel's side as a strike from her enemy temporarily blinded her. Fortunately Tarigoz was close at hand and he leapt into the fray slaying the creature with a mighty blow worthy of a bard's tale.
Above the Clouds
The sword Maragbhur pulled Jan screaming skywards, piercing the black cloud layer and emerging into clear bright sunlight. As he arced gracefully over in a backflip he could clearly see the minarets, turrets and battlements of a small castle floating atop the castle. Winged apes scuttled around the ramparts and flights of creatures assembled for yet more waves of attack. Just as quickly as he had emerged from the clouds he reentered their dark embrace to return to the fight below.
Armed with one of Styx's short swords and the shield he scavenged from the Northern gatehouse tower at Fanjr, Tcho'eh pressed his attack and with more luck than skill lunged at his opponent lodging the point of his blade in the creatures eye socket. The top of the creatures head exploded in a mess of blood and brains as the Aarakocaran claimed his first kill.
The Temple of Tikka Ti-Jarra is Lost
A huge explosion rocked the mountain top as a great bolt of lightning cracked from the heavens crushing the top of the temple like a spoon on an egg. Great chunks of what passed for Aarakocaran masonry rained down on the combatants below.
Blinded but unbroken, Laurel calmly waited for Tarigoz to lead her to the next enemy to be slain.
Blood filled Wulf's eyes as the rage swelled inside him. Armed only with the small dagger he u
sed to peel fruit he attacked the nearest winged ape who grabbed his wrist turning the blade against Wulf himself and the barbarian felt the blade slowly pierce his flesh.
The tide of battle was turning against the heroes as a winged ape flew in to protect its leader striking Ssinkar on the head and knocking him unconscious. Nyx's enemy struck her with a battering blow of its clawed fist. Wulf's rage was fading as one of two apes attacking him struck him across the face whipping his head from right to left, blood and sweat streamed from the barbarian as he fell to the floor vanquished.
A winged ape fresh from killing a family of bird people swooped down upon Tcho'eh and floored him with a single blow. Tarigoz turned towards the beast and ferociously swung at it with a strike worthy of a hero cutting the abomination in two.
Through clouded eyes Laurel stumbled over to the downed figure of Wulf in a desperate attempt to stop the creatures from attacking her fallen comrade, blindly flailing with her scimitars.
Meanwhile the Flight Leaders eyes could only blink as Jan's flaming sword struck his frozen body. The sell sword landed clumsily on the ledge a moment later.
Tarigoz ran to Styx's side to defend the plucky cat-girl as she boldly fended of an apes advances. She chipped away at its grubby grasping clawed hands. Laurel's sight cleared and she carved a chunk out of the ape who had felled her friend Wulf.
On the ledge, the effects of Ssinkars prayer waned and the Flight Leader's body sagged as control of his muscles returned. Jan struck him again in a blaze of fire and sparks. His attack left an opening for his enemy's subordinate to rain down a flurry of blows which battered the brave sell sword.
Laurel despatched her winged ape opponent and stood over the crumpled barbarian like a mother lion protecting wounded cub. The embattled Jan struck once more with his scorching sword and once again was rewarded with a howl of pain and anger from the flight leader.
A Horn Blast shook the heavens sounding the retreat for the flying apes and with a flap of their bat like wings they attempted to disengage.
As it leapt into the sky, Tarigoz cut down the creature he and Styx were engaged with. It's companion, who had been attacking her sister Nyx, managed to get one foot into the air, the other would never leave the ground as Styx severed it from the ape's leg with a swipe of her short sword. The creature screamed in pain as it clawed its way skywards , the ragged stump spraying a sticky blood trail on all below. The Flight Leader and its subordinate dove off the edge of the ledge and swooped into the air heading back to the safety of the ominous clouds above as they lazily drifted away from the destruction that they had wrought.
Aftermath and Interrogation
Despite being near to death himself, Jan administered Ssinkar's healing draft to the Salamankari cleric, who swiftly returned to consciousness. He began to scour the amphitheatre, that had so abruptly been turned into a battlefield, for dying and injured to treat. Sadly only six male and four female Aarakocara had survived the Cloud Giant's wrath and so he stabilised Tcho'eh's wounds and then said a healing prayer over him. Life returned to the birdman with a sputter. Likewise Nyx who was also close to death received a healing prayer from Ssinkar. Laurel used her healing potion to revive Wulf.
The group helped the Aarakocara in their solemn task of collecting their dead together before turning their attentions to the sole surviving assailant who cowered under shadow of one of the ledges. The heroes attempted to communicate with the beast who could only retort with guttural animal howls grunts and whoops. Nyx thought that the creature might be trying to communicate with them but could only converse in his own tongue. Fortunately Ssinkar remembered that one of the scrolls he recently had acquired contained a prayer which would allow the creature to speak and understand them. As he read out the prayer the words on the page glowed and faded, crawling up his hand like a snake. The beast recoiled from the holy power and tried to escape. Nyx wrestled the creature to the ground and in the scuffle Ssinkar accidentally touched Nyx.
Suddenly the young Phylus could understand the creature and that it was demanding that the group kill it.
"a Ba'atun without wings was as no Ba'atun at all!" cried the creature.
Nyx questioned the creature and it blurted out that they would all suffer the wrath of his mistress the great magic user Yesork Pahyeh. No haven was safe and her cloud castle would return and her Cloud Giant plaything would wreak a vengeance upon all before she turned her attention to the ground dwellers. All would face a fate worse than death.
When the interrogation was over the Ba'atun pleaded once more for death and Jan obliged, clutching the creature around the waist he commanded the sword to lift them into the sky where he promptly dropped the wingless Ba'atun over the edge of the mountain promontory.
After a few hours the Shaman Kirraka emerged from the temple and told the group that he had consumed the seeds which allowed him access to the spirit world and he had had a vision.
The chosen would need to travel to the eerie of the giant eagles who would help them find an ice tower piercing a frozen lake and inside lay a silver sky fish which was critical to the defeat of the cloud giant. He excused Tcho'eh from this quest and instructed his most trusted underling shaman, Ikarrika, to guide them to the eagle's eerie.
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