Cicero readied his greatsword, while Malvolio charged the mace-wielding figure and swung for its neck, attempting also to cut it underhanded with his dirk. He was rewarded when his blade connected with the creature's neck, knocking it off-balance, but not severing the head. He felt his blade hit bone somewhere underneath the slime, which made it incredibly difficult to take its head off, even in the half-digested, decayed state it was in.
The creature, however, didn't even seem disoriented by the blow, and it brought its mace up to strike - until Cicero saw his opening, lunging forward and delivering a low swing to the monster's midsection while Malvolio moved back. He didn't quite chop through the monster, either, but he did give it a good slice that knocked it off its feet.
Evan charged as well, swinging his sword at one, only for his blow to be blocked by one of the creature's own blades.
Hadrian attempted to light his arrow on fire, but unfortunately, it didn't work very well. Since it was only cloth with no other additives to keep it burning, the arrow wouldn't remain afire very well. Regardless, he attempted to fire it at a tree outside the cave. Unfortunately, given the size of the cave mouth and their distance from it, he had difficulty doing so. His arrow flew too short of hitting a tree, glancing off some rocks and landing within the Creep. The living substance didn't even seem to care about the brief flame that sputtered against its surface before quickly going out, and it seemed to engulf the arrow in an almost absent, lazy-looking gesture.
Kristina charged the figure that had once been the Inquisitor-General, feinting with the torch. The creature flinched at the light, but when she brought her blade around to decapitate it, her sword became stuck fast in what was left of the monster's neck. She managed to wrestle it free while the creature staggered back.
Lucy fired some arrows at the head of another creepling, hitting it straight on with enough force to send it crashing down onto its back. Grey, however, could find no dead trees within the cave to climb up onto as a perch.
Mina rushed the creepling with dual gladii, which Evan had already engaged, and she swung her spear to sweep its legs. The monster crashed to the ground, not expecting the move, and lay on its back - which gave both Mina and Evan a perfect opportunity to assault it with their weapons...
But before anyone could strike again, humans or creeplings, Sarael began to pray to Astra... and her prayers were answered.
When it began, it looked like the light of the rising sun slowly seeping into the cavern, but it grew in seconds. A light flashed, seemingly from nowhere, filling the entire cave. Every Templar present seemed to bask in its glow, even as brief as it was, and they felt their spirits uplifted. Any aches they felt seemed to fade away.
The light did not even seem to blind any of them... although Ben, for whatever reason, staggered and nearly collapsed, leaning against his two-handed axe. The creeplings, however, screeched and wailed, their unearthly screams echoing all around them as they retreated back toward the safety of the Creep.
And, over the path they once used to enter the cave, the Creep began to slip away. It slid back, receding slightly all around them, as if portions of it were retreating deeper into the earth to escape the blinding light... And it left them a path to escape.
They all quickly gathered their bearings and rushed down the path, charging at full speed. As they went, the Creep began to stir again, the light having now faded away...
But great bolts of lightning struck two trees just off their path, setting them ablaze. Directly ahead stood the hunched form of the troll witch, her eyes gleaming in the light of her own glowing magic, her hands emitting a pale blue-purple aura. She beckoned for them to come to her as she brightened the glow around her, turning and running down the path at alarming speed for so stooped and elderly a creature, even one her size.
As they ran, the Creep did not reach out for them again. Whenever it tried, the witch would fling her hand forward, and jets of light or even lightning would fly from her fingers. It wasn't enough to kill the strange creature, but it was enough to drive it off.
Onward they went, stopping for nothing. When they neared the witch's house, she turned to face them again, glanced over them each once... and then grabbed her cloak, sweeping it up over her in one swift motion - and disappearing into thin air.
The Creep was now gone. They had a clear path back to the Moor. Stevan stepped forward and looked back at all of them, saying simply, "There's no time to explain this to the villagers. The Creep is too large a threat. We need to take this back to Killedam and to our respective orders... I don't know how we'll kill this, or if we even can, but we can at least warn everyone that it's out here."
The return journey to Killedam was a rushed event. The group returned to their steeds and took off down the roads, giving the villagers of the Moor warning about the Creep and telling them more aid would arrive soon. When they at last arrived in Killedam once more, they went straight to the respective compounds of the Templars and the Inquisition and gave full reports.
Ultimately, the swamp west of the Moor was deemed uninhabitable. Reinforcements were sent to the Moor in an attempt to set up defenses against the Creep, but it seemed the creature - if that was truly what it was - had learned its lesson. So far, it had made no indication of leaving its already vast territory. Shortly after the Templars, Inquisitors, and Venatori escaped its clutches, the Creep was found to be grey and still, seemingly in a dormant state. No one dared to touch it.
As for Letom, word returned of his eventual capture. He had been hiding in an orcish fortress in the foothills of the Jagged Edge, having taken it over from a rogue tribe of Chaos races. With his defeat, the case was closed, and the members of the respective orders were sent on their way to return to their duties as normal.
((Sorry for the rushed conclusion. Damnatio Memoriae was meant to have a much longer and more robust story than this: I originally planned for us to travel to Pirgos and have a questline there, all of which was planned and ready to go, and then one final quest in the foothills of the Jagged Edge before the final boss fight and conclusion of the campaign. However, to be blunt, I've lost inspiration in this campaign. Time is precious to me, and I would rather spend the considerable amounts of time it would take to finish this campaign doing something else that's more fun for everyone. For more details, see this post.
I'm actually going to close this thread, because this zone is pretty much unusable again due to the presence of the Creep, and this campaign is concluded. Anyone who has survived is free to use their characters again - and you may just feel inclined to do so, depending on how things go with the Caiden campaign I'm planning, as I mentioned in the previously linked post. More details on that later.
Thanks to everyone who continued posting and didn't drop out. I apologize for not finishing this campaign properly, but at least there's some semblance of closure, so you know these characters of yours are available for use again in the future instead of being stuck in limbo. Let this be a lesson to me to not start a big campaign during a graduate semester. Hope to see you elsewhere in Errant!
If anyone desires some closing interactions, feel free to undertake them in the ZONE - Killedam thread, be they with each other or with NPCs.))