A long vaulted corridor lay before them. At varying points along its course galleries overlooked it transit of the cloisters. A large wooden door with a wicket stood at the far end. It hallway received some subdued light from narrow windows but this was made even dimmer by the coloured glass panes which filled the frames.
In this gloom, the party could make out what seemed to be three additional prone bodies about fifty yards away. They lay clustered together just shy of the wicket. The “sisters” cautiously began their way towards the figures.
“Something is not right,” said Breena to the others.
“I feel it too,” Maya said in confirmation.
Then there was a scraping, grating sound from the ceiling above them. They paused and looked up, but nothing but the stonework could be detected. The slowly resumed their passage. Suddenly a shadow passed across the corridor near the closest gallery, and a Harpy jumped up and perched on the stone railing overlooking their path.
She screeched loudly and two others appeared in other balconies along the way. The first jumped and hovered, her wings nearly filling the width of the passageway. Thilda was quick with an arrow which caught the creature in the shoulder causing her to land in the hallway. Gwendolyn fired a bolt which struck the figure in the hip. It recoiled and raised a razor-sharp talon preparing to strike. A second arrow from Thilda almost simultaneously struck the Harpy’s breast. It screamed and retreated, trailing blood behind her.
As it passed under the next gallery, the second harpy took her sister’s place. As she landed, Maya began to rapidly spin her left index finger in a circular motion. She then pointed at the Harpy and a whirlwind shot from her fingertip expanding as it approached the fiend. It struck her squarely in the chest and lifted her with such force that she slammed into the ceiling, showering the corridor with feathers. The creature quickly recovered and once again advanced towards the party. It was met this time with a bolt from Gwendolyn’s crossbow which struck her firmly mid chest. She screamed and attempted to rush at Gwendolyn before she could reload. The beast knocked Maya aside as it lunged for “The Washer Woman,” only to receive a sharp stab from Maya’s twisted kris in its flank. The creature tumbled onto its face just short of Gwendolyn.
The third Harpy joined the fray. Its advance was slowed by an icy blast from Breena, who then prepared her quarterstaff. It moved amazingly quickly, and jumped in a zig-zag pattern from wall to wall in its approach. This would have been an impediment to a lesser archer than Thilda, but she skillfully placed an arrow into the creature’s stomach. Gwendolyn’s shot, however, struck stone and ricocheted down the corridor. As the Harpy reared to strike at Breena, she laid a surprisingly forceful blow across the creatures face. This set the Harpy back for a moment, and allowed Maya to bring in her kris for a blow to its chest. She struck well, but not without receiving three parallel cuts across her own thigh. Maya fell to the floor, but another arrow from Thilda struck the harpy in the eye before it could pounce of the stricken Maya.
The party now had to turn its attention to the original attacker, which had backed up against the far door, and stood hissing at the comrades. Caution seemed the sensible strategy, so rather than a frontal attack, the party finished the creature off with missiles from the distance.
Maya’s leg wound was bleeding profusely, and needed Breena’s immediate attention. Thilda and Gwendolyn prepared their weapons, and diligently scanned the galleries for any other movement. Breena applied pressure and the bleeding slowed, and it was then bathed with a water and wine. Her silk wrap had stopped one claw from doing serious damage, but the remaining two looked bad. Under the circumstances it seemed the perfect time to test the effectiveness of the “Reviving Potion” they had discovered. A small amount was mixed with water, and Maya took small sips. The wounds began to close on their own accord, and while it left two thick white scars, and a thinner mark behind, she was “cured” within ten minutes.
“This is astonishing,” Breena said. “Far more powerful than I had expected. I am glad I diluted it.”
“I am just glad it worked,” Maya replied.
There was much to do in the hallway. The arrows needed to be collected. The Harpies needed to be confirmed as dead. And the figures near the wicket needed to be examined as well.
When they arrived at the far end of the corridor, it was confirmed that the figures on the floor were three Ralulee warriors. Each like their earlier colleague has wounds consistent with the harpies’ talons, and their organs had been devoured. One of the figures was wearing robes rather than armour, and the staff next to him seemed to Maya to be a rather second rate standard. He had a couple of scrolls in a pouch which too were of rather amateurish quality.
“We have a novice conjurer, here,” Maya said after examining the man’s belongings. If they were trusting him for protection, it explains the results”
The other men included a man of about twenty-five with gilded armour, and a well-groomed pointed beard. The other was a man of about fifty, whose belongings were rather ordinary.
The doorway behind them had several deep gashes as well which looked as if the Harpies had tried to gain entry.
“I wonder if anyone made it to the other side?” Gwendolyn said. “It would explain the marks.”
“Only one way to find out,” Thilda said, as she gave the door handle a hard turn. “It’s locked. Looks like a Gwen job.”
This tale follows: Threshold