- -by Mulkanus
Mulkanus leaned over and hugged Lindi one last time before departing.
"I'll see you soon, love."
He gather up the beginnings of a clan that Lindi, his dauthers and daughters-in-law had borne, 20 children and grandchildren of age now, and shook his head in wonder.
"Cloudchaser clan, hearken!" he roared aloud, and for a moment the young and their friends ceased their play to listen to their Elder.
"Today, we seek the furtherance of your training, of your battle prowess, your wisdom. We seek battle with those minions of the Legion that still inhabit the land."
A roar went up from those assembled, and the party began shouldering their arms and armor, arranging in one formation for blessing and approval. Lindi advanced and blessed each one personally with hands upon shoulders and faces, a whispered prayer in each ear, till she stood at last before her husband. She reached up to clasp him in her arms, planting a passionate, long kiss onhis lips, their customary battle send off. The clan cheered their mother and father wildly, till the melding of lips and spirit ended, and the party set off headed to the Felwood....
"All goes well, Mulk." The Elder Mulkanus smiled at his grandson, so like him in temperament and gifts.
"Aye, it does, grandsire."
Demons lay strewn about on the ground. Even in their diseased and warped state it seemed the flowers and plants shrunk away from the touch of fel in each body.
Many in the clan sported wounds, a slice on the arm here, a burn through the chest armor there, none mortal, but it was clear they were tiring, and it was time to fall back, to fight another day.
"Sound the horn, and recall Dreya and Seiryn from scouting. We return home." Young Mulk nodded and moved off to the clan standard, a lion rampant over a silver white cloud, on a green field. As the kodo horn sounded, with answering calls from his daughter and granddaughter, the ground thundered beneath him.
"What...." he began, as the scent of sulfur reached his nose.
Off over the rise to their south, between them and home, strode six demons in lock-step, felguard and infernal alternating, each towering above even the heads of the tallest Shu'halo.
"QUICK. Ogden and Tormon, take up your shields, you will bear the brunt for two of them. Seiryn and Dreya, I am sorry to ask it, but I need you each to keep one busy, while we deal with the rest. Do NOT close into combat range any more than you must." Here he produced a healing vial and some bandages for each. "Kylan, you are the swiftest. The Timbermaw, they will know my name and come to our aid. Run swiftly, son. Go now!
"The rest of you, Lindara shall try to hold the attention of one while we kill the remaining demon. Those of you so named, call out your target."
Each of his progeny called out in order the demon they had sighted. He felt a tug on his shoulders just as he was about to engage.
"What of you and I, grandsire?" Young Mulk asked.
A tight grin. "We heal, Mulk. There is noone else who can."
The clan turned to face the demons as one, snugging gloves tight, murmuring praises and prayers to the Earthmother for guidance and protection.
"It is time. Charge!"
And, just as he had commanded, his clan moved forward, and he lost himself into the ebb and flow of battle once more. The din of blade on blade, the thunder of demonic feet on the ground, the roars of pain and agony wove into a symphony of battle, as the clan slowly whittled away at their enemies....
As the first infernal shattered in a shower of rock, he stood back and noted his daughter and granddaughter running wildly, subtly deflecting the powerful blows of their foes, aiming harsh wounds at the feet and legs of their adversaries and new that it was well with them. A guard clattered to the ground, peppered in arrows and daggers, bearing two of his children with it. They shrieked in agony, the breaking of bones audible even at this distance. But he could not spare a moment for them....
Green pulsed and flowed from his hands willing his son and grandson, the fearsome warriors to stand against the onslaught. "Kill Seiryn's next!" He roared, as she stumbled and fell, and the guard she had baited and teased for so long approached her.
Lightning erupted over head, and a hail of arrows arched into the sky, felling the demon even as he hewed at Seiryn.
"Mulk see to her!" The grandson nodded and rushed off, as he turned his attention back to his beleaguered daughter. "Now on Dreya's!" and the rain of arrows shifted course, walking into the Infernal his daughter had chosen to fight.
We are weakening, but so are they. He cried aloud again to the Earthmother and the ground swelled in chorus. The grass grew green and tall, the flowers uncurled as the Earthmother's blessings flooded the glade with peace for a moment.
The last Infernal erupted into rubble, and his daughter collapsed in exhaustion, leaning on her great wolf.
He cast about again. The Infernal facing Tormon staggered, then exploded knocking Tormon and Ogden unconscious. It pounded up into the small group, sending them flying.
only one left, but he may just destroy us he thought as he sought out his children in thought and wove healing upon them once more, oblivious to the approaching demon, deaf to the ringing steps.
"Grandfather!" Young Mulk came rushing up, white light glowing in his hands, then shining a white pillar on the demon.
For a moment, the Elder Mulkanus was caught, seeking his kin's welfare. they all live, but barely registered just as the roar of his grandson wrenched him back.
He had assumed the bear, calling the demon upon himself, to sacrifice himself for his clan. The demon obliged, and smote the younger druid with its great weapon.
"NO!" he cried aloud. The demon turned upon him, the last one standing. Roots erupted from the ground, twining the demon in place for but a moment.
Frantically he sought out the mind of his grandson, yet there was no answer. Grasping a seed from his pouch, he proclaimed,"In the name of the Earthmother, you shall be REBORN." Young Mulk, newly called from the grave stood suddenly before his grandsire.
"It matters not. Care for the family, Mulk. I shall deal with this one."
"DO IT. Heal the clan, Mulk. Spend yourself for them. I will buy you the time." He laid aside his cloak and staff, taking up a dagger and book in their place.
And as the great demon sawed free his restraints, the Elder Mulkanus was gone, the great bear in his place.
I love you Lindi he called across the wind.
Of that battle little is said. Only young Mulk witnessed it, and he would say little, only that Mulkanus, Defender of the Earthmother, sire of the clan, died at the hands of the demon he slew in combat, and his body was not be found in the aftermath.
And of his children and grandchildren who went with him, they, all of them, returned to the Camp, bruised, beaten, weeping, bearing only his staff and cloak to lay before his grieving wife, who had heard him speak his love one final time ere he departed.