Though the boars could move faster than our group, we gradually approached the three giant animals. One of them was even bigger than the other two. As we followed behind them, I saw them occasionally dig up a bush with a single push of their snout, or occasionally an entire tree with a bit more effort. Because they stopped frequently, we got closer.
“Alright,” Halette whispered, “We’ll move up onto that hill there. The trees should make it harder for them to charge, and the elevation will give us a bit of an advantage. Aim for their eyes or in their mouth, or even up their snout. Anywhere else will have thick hide. Don’t expect them to go down from a single shot, either.” Halette looked towards Socks and patted her on the head, “Remember, don’t stand in front of them. You can bite a rear leg if they stop or slow down.” Socks nodded, and she was smart enough I knew she actually understood the plan. She just couldn’t talk… being a wolf and all.
We worked out the details of our strategy as we moved towards the hill, and then we started the battle. Alhorn, Halette, and I readied our bows. Our first shots completely ignored the aiming instructions of Halette- the boars were too far to shoot in the eye, and they weren’t even facing us. However, if we could get an arrow through their hide it could still cause bleeding which would help take them down even if not quickly. I pulled back my bow- one of those taken from the elves- and took careful aim. I held back from pulling with my full Strength. At my current Strength, I didn’t really need to be worried about breaking it, but it was only meant to go back so far. Too much strain could ruin the bowstring.
As soon as our arrows struck, the dire boars squealed and turned towards us. I couldn’t see if any our arrows stuck into the hide, and I couldn’t help but feel that our arrows were far too small. Within a few moments the ground was rumbling, even with only three boars charging at us. They were huge, after all- maybe smaller than elephants, but bigger than any other land animal on earth. Maybe about tied with a rhino, but that comparison certainly didn’t make them seem smaller. As the boars charged, branches and even smaller trees were snapped out of their way. Their hooves tore up huge chunks of dirt as they ran, spraying dirt and roots behind them.
I continued shooting my bow. The boars weren’t exactly still targets, so my arrows mostly scraped past their eyes and off of their skulls. One well timed use of Martial Trance let me shoot when one of their mouths opened, though with what light filtered through the trees I couldn’t see if my arrow got inside or got deflected when it closed its mouth.
The hill we were on wasn’t large, but it was quite steep. It was maybe a dozen yards from the base to where we were. As the boars reached that point, I pulled out my knife. As I hefted it I tried to get the same sense as I felt when I used Piercing Spear, twisting and turning and fighting against gravity. I had done it with a mere ball- my knife had to be closer. I threw my knife at a charging boar and it went low, scraping along its shoulder. One of the best qualities of adamantine was its ability to hold an extremely sharp edge, and my knife’s construction took advantage of that.
I pulled my knife back, but it could barely match the speed of a charging boar. Even up a steep hill they moved quickly. They got about halfway up… and then slid down on the ice that Kasner had been busy creating. He didn’t have much time to prepare before the battle started, because magical ice couldn’t last forever. However, it could be quite effective while it did.
The three boars twisted and rolled, one of them driving an arrow- probably one of Halette’s- that had impacted its eye even deeper as it fell. Even so, all three of the boars were soon on their feet again and charging up the hill. At the places where they had stepped, they actually dug through the ice and left holes and breaks in the ground below.
On my second knife throw I targeted the boar that had become the new lead, the biggest one. This time my throw went high, not because I messed up the technique… but because I succeeded. It went so straight my aim was off, merely scraping off the boar’s skull. It left a gouge at least an inch deep, but it didn’t seem as if the boar gave it any mind.
As the boars charged up the hill again, there wasn’t enough ice to do more than slow them down. They didn’t completely lose their balance as they stomped down on the ground… until the entire hillside gave way in a mudslide as Kasner finished liquifying the ground. The boars slid back down the hill, crashing into trees and uprooting them as they went. If that fazed them at all, I didn’t see it in their eyes- though I did see more arrows that didn’t go quite deep enough to reach their brains… or perhaps not important parts of their brains.
Alhorn’s abilities as a paladin weren’t much good against dire boars, but he was still quite proficient with a bow. In fact, I was willing to bet that Khyrmin had been drilling him with a bow almost as much as melee weapons.
Halette was precise as well- not as much as when she was shooting the eyes out of the spiders, but as she began to grasp the rhythm of the boars movements I saw her drive arrows ever deeper into their weak points. The boars were turning into bloody masses, but they continued to rush up the hill at us.
At this point, the hill between us was mostly underlying stone. I could see Kasner’s magic creating a new layer of ice, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough to completely stop the boars. Kantrilla was preparing herself in case she was needed, but for now all she had to do was maintain the blessings she had cast on us earlier.
I readied my knife. This time I would perform the technique correctly and thus didn’t have to compensate for that with my aim. I envisioned my knife going straight through a boar’s eye and deep into its skull… and I wondered how I would get it back out. Well, I could figure that out when it actually happened.