Part 7: Get Into Vallenheim - Mara and Lioniel Adventure Notes

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Mara and Lionel work their way slowly towards the western wall. From experience, Mara can see that it’s in the best condition of all the defences. The least likely to be attacked in this assault. Embracing all her elven traits and guard skills, she leads Lionel to the side gate. She was right. It’s poorly defended. Based on the current assault, they’ve left two of their youngest and greenest recruits here—a boy and girl at best, barely old enough to hold their weapons—both terrified. The boy’s sword longer than his body, and the girl’s armour poorly fitting.

“Lionel, I need you to distract them. I heard a rumour long ago that certain bards can be so captivating that they can lure their listeners to sleep…..”Mara questions the barb hoping he can deliver on more than just a fancy turn of phrase.

“You have heard right, my friend.” replies the bard. “One of the first things we learn in Bard School is to control the emotions of the crowd. Bring them alive like they have not experienced before and then return them to sleep with our words and songs. Allow me to demonstrate. You best cover your elven ears.”

Lionel pulls his flute from his boot and begins to play a tune that is akin to a songbird. The melody meanders peacefully and then seems to take on a mind of its own. The guards initially captivated suddenly start to waver in their duty. Their eyes begin to close, and they slump down asleep.

With the guards out of the way, Mara moves to the door. Not one for prayer. She merely hopes that the fates are kind and the gate is unlocked. Success!

The gate door swings open with only a faint metallic sound. Sneaking her head around the corner, Mara can see that the area is almost deserted. Unsurprising when the fighting rages to the North & East.

Beckoning Lionel to join her, they enter the city into a street filled with smoke and ash. The cries of people in despair can be heard coming from ahead of them, along with inhuman growls and snorts.

“We should make sure they remain safe,” says Mara as she moves over to the now sleeping guards and shuffles them behind some barrels. She then turns towards the buildings.

“I’m sure they will be fine.” says Lioniel. “After you, my dear. Don’t let me upstage this amazing performance of yours,” he finishes dryly.

Mara shakes her head, his flowery turn of phrase exhausting her remaining nerves. Moving quickly and watching for the attacking horde’s movements, they begin moving through the streets of Valaheim. Blood scatters the ground around them, yet bodies are not lingering here. Mara is uncertain whether this is due to the enemy eating the victims or merely inflicting flesh wounds.

They head closer to the centre of the city, the noise increasing with each block they pass. The carnage is becoming more evident as bodies litter the ground and doors are ripped from frames. Steeling herself for what she will see, Mara clenches her pommel tightly.

“Not again,” she says, not realising she has spoken aloud.

“Do this often?” Inquires the bard.

Mara suddenly realises that she is lost between places and times. The noise and the signs of struggle, they overwhelm her. Her breathing speeds up. Her heart begins to race. Red crashes across her eyes.

A man and young girl race into the street in front of them, the girl’s mouth is open in a silent scream. Her eyes seeking the scene they have just left. A monster appears, crashing into their path. Its size is overwhelming. The smell emanating from its hide reeks of blood and death. The pair race past Mara and Lionel, seeking escape from certain death.

“Not again,” Mara says as she draws her sword and steps in front of the creature.

“Again? Oh, aren’t you a woman of many hidden tales?” cries the bard curiously as he draws his sword. “We should definitely speak of this more!”

Slashing at its side before it has a chance to realise that these were not victims, they were warriors! Or at least one of them was. The beast slashes back at Mara’s side, aiming at her tender midsection, filled with juicy pleasures that the monster feasts upon. Leaping back from the slash, Mara dodges the beast’s grasp.

Lioniel circles around behind the creature, and ahead he spots a church standing alone in a square. Doors are open, and people are beginning to barricade the entrance.

“One thing at a time, old boy,” he says to himself. He then thrusts his sword deep into the back of the creature as it attempts to slash at Mara. “Why did I not put armour on today? Why is there never time for a costume change?”

The creature rears back in pain as Lionel’s sword strikes true. It dances forward to slash at Mara again, but her training comes to the fore. Preventing its attack and slicing it deep into its throat. The creature gargles, blood pouring from the wounds.

Mara stands over the dead monster. Her breathing shallow. Lionel slaps his hand upon her back.

“Did you see how I impaled that creature! I didn’t even put on my armour today!” Lionel smiles widely at his own success in combat.

Mara, appearing to return to the present, looks at Lionel. So strange do her eyes appear that he steps back.

“You did well, bard, I thank you”, Mara returns to herself, smirking gently in her fashion. “ The church over there, we need to go towards it. Mayhap the others made it in?”

Lionel searches her face for only a second and resumes his smile, “Onwards!”