Celebrin’s heavy metal boots clinked and crunched atop the soil of the massive hive network. Behind her was the scraping sound of one wooden pole as it dragged in the dirt. Celebrin groaned, carrying a heavy load upon the make-shift stretcher-like apparatus. On the other end was Andulin’s silent familiar, its blue arms grasping one end of a wooden pole while letting the other drag.

The tall magistrix Andulin spun about at the sound, her heavy battle robes swishing and lightly clinking as she scowled, “That’s a bomb! Lift it off the ground you useless sack of arcane bubbles!”

At that, Celebrin, in her shiny over-the-top golden armour, turned around and let her head slump back and released a loud groan, “He keeps doing that, Andy!”

Andulin scowls and looks around the wasted hive area, noticing only the occasional movement of drones and workers. Looking down at the ground at her feet she nods, “Here is fine.” Heaving a sigh of relief Celebrin looks ready to drop the bomb load when Andulin’s eyes widen and she speaks in a shrilly startled voice, “Bomb, Cele! Remember! Bomb!”

Celebrin suddenly jerked upright, then gradually lowered the bomb and its stretcher to the ground with care, smiling uncomfortably, “Right.” She pauses, “I know!”

The magistrix places a hand over her chest and tilts her head looking relieved, then exhales a long held in breath. “Okay.” She crouches down, bending over the bluish metallic bomb, her long slender fingers working nimbly at it as she assesses her work and prepares it for detonation. Her voice comes out stern but soft, “Now Celebrin, keep an eye on the area. As it’s starting up this thing might draw some attention. And we have to hold them off long enough so that we make our escape just before it blows. It’s still experimental, you see, and I didn’t have time to rig up that protective layer.”

The old sorceress kept up her warnings and magic-babble as Celebrin raised her sword and shield, “Andy…” repeating herself louder, “Andy.” And again, “Andy!”

Andulin snapped her head up, looking cross, “I’m done already!” As the bomb hummed louder and louder beneath her, she saw the ring of large silithids ringing around them, their numbers large and varied, having crawled out of the numerous nesting holes. She watched as Celebrin raised her green-glowing blade of ancient elven design high and swung it at their opponents, “I’ll get that portal ready.”

 

Shortly after, in the Swamp of Sorrows, just outside Stonard by a watch tower, a gateway through the nether opened up. An orcish scout peered in through, then reeled his head back, seeing along the horizon the image of tall swarms of silithids arrayed in endless numbers. Before the orc could turn or cry out, a tall Sin’dorei mage toppled through onto her chest, “–n’t push me, Cele!” Followed by the ‘oof’ of impacting the ground.

Shortly thereafter another elven form came through, this time the armoured knight stumbled out of the portal walking backward, her heavy plated boot catching on Andulin’s foot, eliciting a squeal of pain. Celebrin toppled back, tripping, and the magistrix rolled out of the way just in time so that her bulky companion struck the damp swampy soil. All the while, the broad orcish scout watched in utter bafflement.

Clambering to her feet, Andulin bent over and tugged at Celebrin’s arm, her grip slipping a bit in the bug gore that had plastered on her, “Come on! There’s no time!” Celebrin, looking about to sulk, suddenly widened her eyes and sprang up, grabbing a hold of Andulin and shoving them both to the side away from the gateway as fast as they could go.

The observing orc, noting this, then seeing the forms of the silithids across the gate, turned and started running himself.

 

Back in the hive, the large blue-metal blue shifted from a loud hum to a shrill squeal, until finally the stale air over the hive seemed to somehow grow stiller, and all the chattering chitin beings about it paused.

In a flicker of a moment, the depression that contained the hive lit up with a blue-white flash that drew the attention and blinded many direct onlookers all across Silithis momentarily. As the flash receded a blue cloud rising from the hive could be seen, which then faded to brown and gray as the light from the explosion dissipated entirely. In a great ring surrounding the pillar of smoke were the littered and dismembered bodies of numberless silithids. Some still alive, limbless or shattered, oozing green or yellow fluids, struggling to right themselves.

 

A few moments later back in the swamp, the bit of smoke and energy that blew through the portal was small–by the standards of the explosion on the other side. However, it still took some time before it cleared enough to see the portal exit way clearly again.

Celebrin and Andulin stepped carefully back around and peered into the gateway. Through the portal they saw a massive, gaping, bowl-shaped crater, almost perfectly round except for the holes that led into former passageways in the hive below the surface. Thick smoke still filled the air, but they could clearly see the carnage that was wrought on the other side.

Clenching a fist at her chest and grinning wide, Andulin declared loudly, “Yes! Now that is what I call a peace offer, Celebrin!” As the magistrix laughed happily, Celebrin stared wide-eyed and stunned.

As her arcane-inclined friend cackled giddily, it was Celebrin who first noticed the creak of wood. Twisting her head around she saw the watch tower teetering over in their direction, its thick wooden posts nearest the portal blown out or weakened.

The crackling sound of wood caused Andulin to whip her head around and cry out in fright, disappearing in a blink of an eye out of practiced reflex. Celebrin screamed and as the tower fell; a flash of light went out as she attempted to run away, slowed by her heavy armour.

Before the dust settled, Andulin waded back in, crying out, “Celebrin?! Celebrin?!”

In response there was only silence. Then a cough. Followed by Celebrin’s squeaking voice, “The light bubble wore off, I can barely breath!”

Andulin held out her palm and created a cone of cold air, blowing away the dust and dirt in the air. Amidst the wreckage it revealed Celebrin in her gold armour, squirming amidst the wooden poles and debris, otherwise looking very unharmed. She groaned, “Oh, it’ll be forever before I can get myself out!”

The sorceress sighed in relief, “Oh Cele…” After a pause she quickly reached into her pocket and grasped her talisman, speaking out loud excitedly, though she usually only used her thoughts with the device, “We did it! And now Celebrin needs help!” She felt nothing. She took the talisman out of her pocket and shook it, but quickly noticed the faint trails of blue arcane energy rippling over its surface, having disabled it entirely.

Immediately Celebrin cried out in alarm, “ANDY!” She looked in wide-eyed terror at Andulin, “I feel something tickling my foot!”

From beneath the golden Knight a loud, somewhat orcish groan emitted from the rubble.

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