Power of the Star

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Before his hand could go more than a few hand spans into the truck, Shawn was abruptly struck from behind with enough force to nearly spill him into the trunk on top of the Weapon of Power. As he reached out and braced himself against the truck's open lid, the young human looked down in time to see a sword tip emerging from the hole in his chest in a spray of blue crystal chips.

Instantly Shawn's Star-given strength was stolen with the lithocoer's destruction. Vision blurring, he fell limply forward, half in the chest and half out. 'No!' he silently howled into the growing shadows filling his mind as Death reached out to once more stake its claim. 'Not again! Not when I'm so damn close!' As the room faded into blackness, he heard a low, hoarse laugh.

<<Fool,>> the Shadowmaster husked as he drew his sword out of the fallen human's back, contemptuously casual as he dusted off a few clinging slivers of blue crystal off the blade. <<Fool to think the Shadow could be so easily defeated.>>

Then it was he who was staggering forward, propelled by a sharp blow from behind. Reaching back over his shoulder he could just feel the hilt of a dagger jutting out between his shoulder blades with the tip of his gloved fingers, pinning his cloak to his back.

<<And you think that will make a difference?>>  he growled, turning to face his new attacker. Just in time to take Dezi's dark elf broadsword off the center of his hastily raised sword, the force of the blow forcing him to take a step back to brace himself against its ferocity.

Instead of making a pithy retort or even growling a promise of vengeance in the wake of staggering the Ka'thesck general, the intent dark elf maiden instead continued her attack with resolute power and speed. Time and time again the Shadowmaster was forced back by the shear force of Dezi's assault, the silvery blade coming closer and closer to removing his head from his body, or the top half from the bottom half. Until, with a brilliant series of thrusts, parries and counterattacks, the Shadowmaster watched as his sword tumbled lazily through the air to fall noisily against a shattered shelf and to the ground, knocked almost casually from his gauntleted hands.

With a spin, Dezi snapped her blade around, intending on removing the Shadowmaster's head. Only to find herself being struck in the side by a fork of black lightning just a shade before her blow landed. Picking her up, the black lightning brutally smashed her through a pair of tattered shelves before pounding her hard against a wall. There the dark elf maiden limply dropped, body burning with pain, onto a pile of rubble heaped against the wall.

<<You incompetent lout!>> Gerumenum growled as he stalked into the chamber, heeled by a strange creature in heavy black cloak and robes, who moved without seeming to move. <<That was nearly two deaths at the hands of children. Thank the Shadow your flesh is protected against permanent injury by the Dark Lord's touch.>>

<<Yes, thank the Shadow,>> the Shadowmaster grated, sounding anything but grateful as he bent to retrieve his sword, sliding it back into its sheath with a rough shove. <<As usual, you arrive just in time to claim the victory your slaves have carved out for you, master.>>

<<As is my right, slave,>> the former cleric tautly pointed out before brushing past the grim creature to stride to where Shawn lay slumped and unmoving over the chest holding the Weapon of Power. As he did so, a gesture from the cloaked creature brought into the chamber a handful of Tjor'riin dragging the unmoving forms of Banik, Thom and Feladorn. They were left just inside the door, dropped in untidy heaps on the dust and rubble-strewn floor.

<<If Mrautt hadn't of acted, there'd be no victory at all to claim.>> Gerumenum bent close to the unmoving human to look into Shawn's face to see his last doomed expression. And in doing so, he missed the slow turn of the Shadowmaster's head to give Gerumenum's cloaked companion a long, hard stare with his red glowing eyes.

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