Alhorn was holding the dagger wielding man at bay. I prepared to go up behind and attack the man- a false sense of chivalry wouldn’t do us any good- but the warrior with the shield moved to cut me off.
“Socks!” Halette called out as she quickly fired an arrow at the enemy mage, “Takedown!”
The enemy mage was clearly concentration on a spell, and their cleric was edging closer to some of the weaker adventurers. I wanted to do something about both of those- but I couldn’t just ignore the warrior in front of me. The room wasn’t large enough to just run around him, and I doubted he would just stand still and let me past. I stepped forward and swung my heavy mace at him. He blocked with his shield and counterattacked with his own one-handed mace. At the same time, I activated Martial Trance to get a better handle on the situation. With that, I just barely avoided his attack- and his downward swing meant to crush my skull barely connected with my armor as I stepped away.
I hadn’t known how dangerous he was so I had been cautious- but even so his attack had been closer than I expected. If I had put my full weight behind my swing I wouldn’t have been able to step away in time.
We faced off against each other for a few more blows, trying to find an opening, but neither of us got the advantage. That said, if we kept going as we were I would likely lose. It took a good bit of stamina to swing my heavy mace- but more importantly I had to repeatedly use Martial Trance to avoid attacks. The warrior wasn’t a pushover. Though he looked like he was low level on the surface, I was beginning to doubt it. His Strength had to be 300 or more, but he didn’t look like he was deficient in other areas. More importantly, he was good, but not young. He would stay low level for very long. On the other hand- if they weren’t actually here for the dungeon, why would they be low level? I was just glad that he seemed to have unremarkable equipment.
I noticed the fireball flying at me just in time, and my first instinct was to swing my mace at it. The results were… rather satisfying, if not exactly optimal. I managed to hit the fireball dead center- which just made it explode further away from me. Flames swirled around the head of my mace, almost like they were being eaten- but a large part of the flames also swept past and over me. I instantly felt my skin scald from the flash of heat. If I had been hit directly… I wasn’t sure if I would have been able to handle it.
Around me, more battle was still happening. I heard a shout of surprise from Kasner- I wasn’t sure what was going on behind, but apparently it was stopping him from flinging any spells out front. Socks was currently wrestling the enemy cleric on the ground- she hadn’t been able to reach the mage, but leaving the cleric to go attack the other injured adventurers wasn’t a good idea anyway.
Kantrilla had moved past me and the warrior, and in the brief moment I had to glance over at her she clocked the dagger user on the back of the head, and he collapsed to the ground. I didn’t see any experience come out… so he probably wasn’t dead- but maybe I just hadn’t looked long enough. I still had to fight the warrior in front of me.
I started on an exaggerated swing. As I thought, he moved to block with his shield. I had a brief snapshot of that and his counterattack. To avoid his attack, I would have to pull back my own blow… except I had another option. He had consistently dodged, blocked, and deflected my attacks… but even if he didn’t get injured, the cold from my mace was starting to affect his shield arm. The shield itself was already covered in ice. I changed a regular swing into a full force Bash, stepping forward to add power instead of away to dodge.
My attack had started first, and though my mace was heavier and nominally slower to accelerate- that was only if we had similar levels of Strength. While I didn’t have twice as much as he did… it wasn’t far off. Combined with Bash that increased the speed of my attack, I struck first.
Just before my attack connected, his shield glowed and his stance steadied. I wasn’t the only one with skills, and clearly he had some shield skills of his own. Then, there was the collision. There was a resounding clang as shield and mace met, and it felt as if all time and momentum stopped.
Then there was a horrible cracking sound and he was flung backwards. His mace still managed to come down into my shoulder as he flew back- but it only grazed it. However, I was already off balance from my all out attack so I fell forward onto the floor.
I wasted no time rolling to my feet, and as I did so I got a glance behind me. There was another person we hadn’t seen. He had a grip on Kasner, reaching down to grab around his neck from behind. It wasn’t a great position, but he didn’t need much Strength to hold onto a halfling. Halette held an arrow at the ready but hadn’t fired yet. With his other hand, the man behind Kasner pulled out a dagger… but I didn’t get to see what he was going to do with it, as he suddenly started spasming as Kasner placed one hand over the one on his neck and one behind him on the man’s waist.
It all happened in a moment, but since the situation seemed relatively under control, I had to turn back toward the warrior. As I took my stance, my shoulder hurt more than I thought… But I didn’t immediately need to worry about it. Alhorn had been standing near where he was knocked down, and I saw him pulling his sword out of the eye slit of the man, covered in blood. Well, that solved that problem. Unfortunately, there was yet another man entering from the far side of the room. It seemed they had lookouts- or backup- in every direction.