Part IV:

(In Which Everyone Rolls Critical Hits or Critical Fumbles, With Very Little In-Between)

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Sandra moved into action. With one hand held palm-out toward The Ravager (whose teeth were bared in the general direction of the coughing noise), she walked cautiously toward the source of the noise, booted feet making not a whisper of a noise.

Altamir swallowed, racking his brain for any possible indication that this could be other than what it sounded like: a sick humanoid. There were certainly spells (quite a few of them) that could reproduce such a sound, and that would mean something intelligent enough to use such spells, something Altamir would have to plan around. To the best of his knowledge, there was nothing supernatural that made such a sound (at least, nothing that had a signature sound of that sort), so if push came to swords drawn, he would likely be useless unless one of his siblings was wounded.

The Ravager growled softly, a steady grating sound that let out enough of her impatience to keep her from immediately attacking whatever it was. Bloodthirsty though she was, stupid she was not. There were things in the world stronger than she, though she loathed admitting it.

Picking her way across the stone, Sandra was one with her movements. She drew her rapier carefully, noiselessly, fangs sliding down in anticipation of what weak, sick being she would find at the other end of the room.

Huddled in a corner (the room, curiously enough, bent about in a near-L, curved around the smaller room they had entered from) were five orcs clutching their battleaxes. They looked as though they had initially tried to take a defensive position, but had mostly succumbed to whatever caused the coughing. Wan, barely paying attention to their surroundings, and still trying to hold off on their coughing, the orcs were no match for Sandra by herself, let alone her and her siblings.

Still, in the interest of sharing the feast with at least Robert, Sandra turned and headed back.

Appearing at the edge of their vision, Sandra held up five fingers, then lifted her sword to indicate they were armed. The Ravager's pupils dilated, her growling grew louder, and Sandra, realizing there was likely no holding her back, stepped to the side to allow her sister to attack.

"Blood for the blood God!" The Ravager bellowed, charging toward the other side of the room.

Sandra heaved a sigh and hustled after her, watching the orcs on the other side of the room stand and brandish their battleaxes. Altamir, startled, stared after them both before remembering he could (possibly) be of help and jogging behind them. Robert and Niki, not quite as quick as their siblings, followed behind as best they could, Niki pulling his crossbow from his back and preparing to call upon Amon's abilities if he had need.

The Ravager swung her spiked chain in a deadly arc, one of the prominent blood-red spikes catching the first orc in the side of the neck and ripping his throat out. Sandra caught up just in time to dodge an axe swing, watching the other three orcs mob the Ravager and cut her down.

Seeing the Ravager fall, Altamir rushed toward her, Robert at his side. Niki took aim and shot the crossbow, the bolt hitting one of the orcs square in the chest.

Sandra stabbed the orc that Niki had just shot, making sure it wasn't getting back up, as the other three focused on her instead, coming within a hair of slicing into her armor.

Altamir skidded to a halt, kneeling next to The Ravager and hurrying through a plea to the Mathemancer. His god heeded his prayer, the negative energy knitting together the sliced-open flesh underneath his hands. Robert stepped in front of him, swinging at an orc only to lose his grip on his morningstar, the weapon flying into a corner.

Niki reloaded and shot a bolt over Altamir's head, the shot striking true and bolt lodging itself into an orc's shoulder. Sandra plunged her rapier into the same orc's stomach, turning to duck out of the way of one orc's swing as the other scored a hit on Robert. Altamir repeated his prayer, touching the Ravager again and breathing a small sigh of relief when she stirred and looked as though she would like to stand up.

Robert drew his dagger, slicing open one of the orc's cheeks. Seeing a clear line without one of his siblings, Niki inhaled deeply, calling on Amon to imbue his exhalation with fire. The second-to-last orc went up in flames, screaming as his flesh roasted before dropping to the ground. Sandra finished off the last orc with a neat flourish, then looked out into the room to make sure nothing else had been attracted by their skirmish.

With a quick reload of his crossbow, Niki trotted in to check the orcs for signs of life. Robert found one that was still breathing (if barely), and pulled it toward the newly-revived Ravager. She immediately grabbed the orc and plunged her fangs into his neck.

Sandra, Robert and Niki, turned outward, watching the room. Altamir swallowed hard against the sudden influx of saliva in his mouth, then took one of the dying orcs for himself, unable to stop himself from drinking until the orc was pale and lifeless, and he was well-sated.

The Ravager laughed and clapped him on the back, hauling herself to her feet. "I shall make a killer of you yet, little brother."

Altamir licked his lips after the last traces of blood, trying and failing to disguise a shudder. He couldn't help but respect his "big sister", but there was no doubt that she scared him, and he knew he was neither the first nor the last to feel that way.

Sandra brushed her elbow along Robert's side, pointing out two doors they hadn't noticed while fighting the orcs. He nodded, thoughtfully tapping one of the spikes of his recovered morningstar. Niki snorted, barely holding in his impatience. His bolts were broken beyond repair, he could smell roasted orc, and he was more than ready to move on from this room.

"Bah." The Ravager kicked at one of the orcs. "Bad iron weapons, armor torn asunder, and daggers I would give not to a halfling to defend himself."

"Then how, praytell, did they overwhelm you so fast?" Brother Robert asked with a smirk.

"Luck." The Ravager bared her teeth, daring him to continue questioning her.

"Um, so... which-which door shall we take?" Altamir asked, unconsciously licking his lips again in a futile quest for more blood. "There are two near the door we came in, and two on this side of the room."


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