The Eilythry World
Week 9, Storming the Stronghold
The baron's troops arrived and attacked at dawn. There were about 100 well-trained fighters, in heavy armor, but they didn't know much about guerilla warfare. They started learning. When Eilythry attention was concerntrated on the battle, so far as we could tell from bird's-eye views, we headed in for the center of their stronghold.
We went in various ways. First, we sent in the Naza, disguised as a LARGE bear. Tom and David on the flying carpet, together with Cantrel, Aphron, and Dr. Wu on flying belts, went in, timing their take-off to arrive at the wall of thorns together with the Naza. Lorelei stayed behind in the pantope, running the scouting operations via bird and keeping us informed.
A couple of Eilythry notice the Naza-bear trundling through the woods, but had better things to do than annoy giant carnivores. She didn't attract attention until she reached the wall of thorns. She then looked around for a tree of the right size. She soon had it uprooted and, using it as a club, she beat down the thorn hedge. Once past it, she started running for the center as fast as possible.
Now the Eilythry noticed. A couple of spearmen came out to chivvy the bear away, but this bear wasn't having any. Neither was her air-support, who now came blazing in. Soon, we were all at the center of the Eilythry stronghold.
At the center of the stronghold is a ring-shaped hill. Within the ring is a circle of thirteen trees. At the center of the circle is one great big tree. Standing beneath it was an Eilythry in white robes. Flitting about under cover were an indeterminate number of other Eilythry. The robed one called out, "Die well, Eilythry! The hour of the beast is come!" (Anything to oblige.)
Before we could do much about it, all the Eilythry in the circle apparently filtered to the base of the central tree and vanished therein. Inspection revealed a hollow in the base of the tree. Aphron did a fast fly-by and lobbed in a gas grenade, collecting a spear in return. (Eilythry are fast, too.) Then Cantrel dove in and, after a few blows back and forth, subdued a guard who was trying not to breathe. He sent another grenade down the spiral ramp that led from the hollow downward.
Soon, the three fliers were heading down the ramp, with the Naza bringing up the rear. However, she paused before entering, to try and turn around, just to see if she could. (She had to go back outside to turn around.) Tom took the opportunity to pass her the diadem detector, since he and David were staying outside to guard the entrance against any Eilythry coming in from the battle. As he stepped into the tree, he noticed something odd. On reflection, he realized that the tree was more than hollow; it was bigger on the inside than on the outside. An Eilythry pantope? Something similar was clearly going on. He passed this information on the others.
Proceeding down the ramp, Cantrel came to a prone Eilythry. Whether it was dead or unconscious, Cantrel meant to take no chances. He now tried the mystery weapon he picked up in Lorelei's homeworld -- a "multi-phase deframmisizing disflorger" the Serving System had called it -- and disflorged the Eilythry. A large section of brisket exploded and the Eilythry was unarguablly dead.
Shortly, they reached the bottom of the ramp. It opened on a large domed chamber. On the far side wasa niche containing two concentric crystal spheres and, at the center, a shining white statue of an Eilythry. Between the niche and the door were about eighteen Eilythry.
Cantrel immediately shot the statue.
Just as immediately, the statue shot back, blasting Cantrel with a bolt of blue light. "The hand of the beast has struck!" the Eilythry priest declared. Then he and many of his kin fell on their faces, because the whole dome was wracked with earthquake and convulsions. Tom and David could feel in upstairs, in the clearing.
Pfusand took a reading from the diadem locator, and STILL couldn't be sure where the part was. We were all hoping it was the statue, of course. She gave it to Aphron, who flew above the dismayed Eilythry, dodging spearcasts and watching the brightness. It got brighter near the statue. Accordingly, Wu dashed over and tried to snatch it. And got fried. As he staggered back, the Naza decided she was the only one who had any chance of taking the statue and not falling over. Accordingly, she marched out onto the floor, through the now-stunned ranks of Eilythry, and up to the statue. While the three fliers did their best to cover her, she picked up the statue, got fried, held on, and started marching back.
The convulsion in the dome redoubled and got steadily worse. Fortunately, Nazas have a lot of traction. The flier flitted back to outside and Pfusand came trundling after. Ten seconds after she emerged from the tree, the earthquakes stopped and the great hollow collapsed to a crack. And the diadem locator pointed steadily at the statue.
Tom gave it as his opinion that the locator could not give a clear location for the statue earlier, because the statue was not clearly located. Everybody said "mm-hm" vaguely and we started back to the pantope.
On the way, we met Tecker. He told us that the Eilythry had withdrawn completely from battle some time ago. We told him that we thought there probably weren't any Eilythry anymore. We told him that we were going back where we came from now, and to please give our apologies to the baron for the unfortunate misunderstandings at his castle last month. Tecker eyed the bear carrying the strange, gleaming statue of an Eilythry and said he might have to edit this message, but he would deliver it. We may try to get Cantrel's equipment back, now, though this may be an idle dream born of the elation of victory.
Meanwhile, we have one more segment of the diadem.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.