The group stopped not far from where they had seen the Madness-Touched, in a copse of misshapen trees. The Range Commander made a few signs to his men, indicating who was to go where, and then softy spoke.
“Remember, the essential thing is to retrieve the amulet. If you must flee with it while others die, do it. We cannot allow this to continue. We know not how much worse this could grow.”
All nodded their heads solemnly (except Zakhin’Dakh). Then, with a quick gesture, the Commander ordered them forward.
They charged forwards in an odd silence, the Rangers moving with soft steps even as they broke from cover. Zakhin’Dakh, however, made no such attempts. His shrill war shriek would have woken the dead, much less a pack of wary monsters. Garkhen would have shaken his head, but chanting a spell-prayer of protection while holding on to the saddle took all his concentration.
The Javni’Tolkhrah had not needed Zakhin’Dakh’s cry to alert them to the attack. As soon as the first Ranger broke from cover they had charged forward, a mass of twisted flesh and scale and claw barreling down upon them on land and in the air. Somewhere behind the beasts, a man cackled madly, his laughter almost as chilling as the death coming towards them.
The Rangers fanned out as their foes charged, and arrows flew humming through the air to strike the warped creatures. They focused their fire on two of the Madness-Touched, bringing one down with the first volley. But there was no time for a second, for the Rangers had to evade the deadly claws, fangs, hooves, horns, and worse.
Zakhin’Dakh, on the other hand, plowed right into one of the creatures, some demented hybrid of deer, lion, and pig. It had lowered its head to gore him with its antlers, but Zakhin’Dakh caught it with his talons, their impact snapping off a couple of prongs. They struggled for a moment, but the griffon was larger and stronger, and he soon was able to twist his prey to the side and then go for its neck with his beak.
While they fought, Garkhen dismounted to cover Zakhin’Dakh’s flank, for another Javni’Tolkhrah was charging towards them. The Warder called on Bahamut for strength, chanting a spell-prayer that made him swell up to twice his height. He met the monster’s charge with his shield, claws digging into the ground as it crashed into him. The beast’s claws and fangs shrieked as they scraped on his armor, louder then they should have, but then Garkhen struck back, Silverflame crushing and burning one of its too many paws.
Almonihah had, somehow, slipped between two of the Javni’Tolkhrah, and was now running towards the insane, robed man who was standing alone, holding the amulet aloft while keeping up his insane laughter. The amulet itself… pulsed, almost as if it were a beating heart, colors flickering and glowing all about it.
The bronze-scaled half-dragon fired at him, his arrow flying true right at its target… until it suddenly veered away, followed by another bout of insane laughter. Almonihah snarled and continued to close, firing another arrow with the same result as he did. Looked like it’d come down to blades…
And that’s where I decided I should go to bed.