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Magara, The Gathering Steam, Car Twenty-Five
Tettra was on the planes, covered with sparse trees and golden grass. There in front of her was a crude wooden cart called a vardo, for traveling. It was breaked for the day, the beasts of burden tied to a leafless dry tree, feeding. A fire was set up nearby and the vardo was deployed, the expanding canvas and porch were pulled out from it’s brightly colored hull. Nearby the vardo, there were people sitting by the fire. Four toad-people, to be exact. Or to be more exact, The Ranidae, a race of demi-humans. They were shouting, laughing and enjoying the fire. Two of the burlier ones were males, while the thinner petite ones appeared to be female.
“This quest was most beneficial, yes!” One of the burly ranidae said. He had a long white handlebar mustache, making him the patriarch. He was clothed in a long extravagant burgundy coat, a rapier by his side and a mailbreaker in a sheath. He had a sweeping burgundy hat with a feather affixed. He had a chainmail shirt underneath.
“I feel the imps are getting easier, papa!” The smaller of the petite ranidae added. By how she addressed the older one, that made her possibly the daughter. She had a crozier that sported an attached gem. She was dressed in a white robe.
“Well they aren’t getting weaker, you’re getting stronger, sis!” The larger of the ranidae responded. He was a massive one, who could probably eat Tettra with a gulp. His soft voice belied his size. He carried a large mandolin crooked to his shoulder and resting on the ground, it was taller than Tettra. He was also well dressed in a flowing coat and hat like his father.
“But all in all, this was a fortuitous job. We’ll make a good load of BP when we get back. Hopefully, those are blueprints the local vendors need, which will give us even more value.” The older petite ranidae said.
That was the matriarch. She was robed in azure with a staff of ashwood. She had a calmly grin on her face. The ranidae race sported massive grins.
“Where is Bouffant?” The Matriarch asked.
“He stepped out to stretch his legs, he took the brunt of the battle afterall.” Responded the patriarch ranidae.
Tettra walked gingerly, she looked down to see herself in her pastel yellow dress with the poofy skirt and shoulders. She skirted it right up to the fire where the family sat. A sound caused all of the Ranidae to look her direction gripping their weapons, at Tettra. She freezes.
“Uh… Hello! My name is-” Tettra is interrupted before another voice broke the silence behind her.
“You ill-bred vermin… This will not be your victory…” A man stated.
Tettra turned to see a man grasping his stomach, blood flowed to stain his white and red robe. Ha had been bleeding for some time, his bald head was pale and looked shriveled. Memory damage was setting in, the wound must have been enough where it wouldn’t heal on it’s own. He stumbled forward, glassy-eyed.
“She gave me this… It was her most treasured gift. I’l-” He coughed and gasped as the blood loss nearly took him. He simply revealed a black gem, it looked solid, yet flowed like bubbling tar.
“Wait, get him quickly!” The older matriarch demanded.
The Ranidae patriarch had a dagger thrown almost on instinct, a croaking grunt echoed from him as the power behind the dagger was large. The dagger branched into three more phantom daggers, all homing in on the robed man.
It was too late to stop his dark scheme.
The man crushed the gem as the daggers struck, flowing past and blowing out black tar. The man simply bubbled and fell apart like oil with a gurgling, leaving his bloodied robe. The Ranidae family circled up around the fire. All of them giving out different shouts for spells.
“Circle of Protection.” The matriarch shouted. A blue shield half spheres formed around each member of the party.
“Holy Armor of Gabriel.” The daughter ranidae shouted. Silver shields spun around the individual party members before vanishing.
What got Tettra was the larger ranidae strummed his massive mandolin, singing a tune,
A golden aura emitted from the group from the song the larger ranidae sang.
“Is that a bard?” Tettra asked out loud, almost oblivious to the battle.
A bard could energize a party through song and story. They were largely uncommon. In this ranidae’s case, uncommonly large. The group was back to back to back to back, waiting for the entity to strike.
Three black spears of oil tar sprouted from the ground shooting at the larger bard ranidae. The group broke up, spreading out at the attack. the first was caught by the shield of blue, frozen still by the protective sphere. The second broke through the blue shield, being caught by the silver shield. The spear of tar froze and shattered in white light against the shield. The third punctured right through both protective measures, spearing the larger Ranidae through.
“Raredaredare!” The father shouted.
“Mother…” The larger ranidae sputtered, the spear had run him through the stomach to the top of his spine. Black tar oozed from his mouth and eyes as he dropped. The others looked on in horror, the matriarch shrieked.
“I can help him!” The smaller daughter ranidae stated as her hands began to glow.
“No! get away!” The patriarch commanded.
Another pillar of black tar rose from behind the smaller ranidae, many limbs sprouted, flat like blades. It spun like a whirlwind, the only motion the tiny ranidae saw as she turned in horror was a flurry of bladed tar-like limbs.
She could say nothing as the magical enchantments instantly broke, her body tore apart and splattered to the grass. Her crozier bent in half, spinning into the verdo’s hull and sticking. Flames from the matriarch’s staff engulfed the pillar of tar, burning it. It let out an inhuman shriek as it twisted and churned. It split off and flowed along the ground, the burning tar left behind as a smoking pile of refuse.
The matriarch lost all fight upon seeing the bodies of her son and daughter. She dropped to her knees, her staff fell to the wayside. She stared at the patriarch as he ran to her, eyes wide in terror.
“I love you, Benedict.” She murmured.
Black tar formed from her mouth and eyes. She gagged and coughed as the black oil took her. She fell apart, dissolving into black oil.
“My love…No….” The patriarch murmured in shock.
A massive mound of black tar formed, luring over the patriarch. A red vertical slit eye formed, glowing menacingly.
The patriarch roared in defiance, his eyes wide in equal parts fury and agony. He flung daggers from his coat, the oil rippling from each blow. The ooze blasted apart, the knives detonating. It did nothing to help against the dozen ooze spikes that shot up, impaling the patriarch.
“Rosamund…” The patriarch murmured as he went limp.
His sweeping hat floated off to the ground. The patriarch broke down into black oil, being absorbed into the host. The mound of oil surveyed the scene, It’s eye changing from a slit to a three-pointed star. Its eye then changed again to a five-pointed star, then to a circle. It saw no other threats, its eye changing to a vertical slit as it flowed away into the brush.
“Just like the dream with the skeleton; that living tar,” Tettra said aloud.
Some time had passed for the grisly scene to settle.
Another Ranidae ran to the scene, panicked.
“Mother, father! Where are you?” He said, panting. He was fully armored, wielding a greatsword like it weighed nothing.
He saw the gear and remnants of a fight. He knew they were gone. He stood there in shock, unthinking, unfeeling.
Tettra walked up to him, strangely apathetic to this tragic scene. The ranidae fell to his knees, a loud keening bellow echoed out.
The dream began to pull her away and that comforting voice of a father greeted her.
“The love of a friend can heal. You will be the friend he needs.”
Tettra listened, confused by what the voice meant. Confused at even having these dreams.
The dream ended with more questions.