There are moments when one does not wish to contemplate the evil that exists just beyond the comfort of the campfire or the porch lamp. I nearly had the misfortune to experience one of these as I was running through the streets of Shard in my all-together. Just moments before, I had awoken upon the altar of Elyhaar within the temple of Light. Despite the weakness of my flesh, the weariness of my spirit, and the goosebumps that swiftly rose from the cold, fall winds, I sprinted through the night for the red glow of a distant Glyph of Warding.
There are dangers that lurk within the city of Shard that slink just beneath the surface. I must admit I am always uneasy in this crystalline city. It is too beautiful and cold, with all too much rot beneath its pretty facade. It has accepted the duality of mortal nature with its two temples dedicated to both the light and the dark aspects ... and I find such complacency abhorrent.
The twin knives of dawn and dusk serve to draw the razor thin line between Shard's dual natures. During the day, it is a place where children laugh and people trade and live with the freedom that the Gods granted them. At night, doors shut against the shadows, and any who travel through the streets do so at peril of their lives. Press gangs of ruffians and criminals kidnap and abscond with any unfortunate soul they come across. It was my luck to run through the streets, staying to shadows for humility's sake, during the wrong edge of the twilight. It would have been too ironic if I had been so captured, but I managed to escape the city without incident.
My skills as a ranger are as well honed as my skills as an empath. That is to say, I swiftly found myself lost once outside the east gate. My destination was the Barrows where the Adan'f Mages and Warriors hunt, for I had found opportunity to face these lizard humanoids. I had traveled to that area in company with a dear friend by the name of Danara and her worthy husband Jebadia. I must admit, temptation got the best of me for, being so close to these foes, I decided to forego Undershard today in order to attempt them.
My earlier adventure with Adan'f had been short lived, and so it was I now found myself dodging jackals and Rock Trolls south of Shard as I searched for the path that led westward back into their territory. I count myself fortunate to not have fallen there, for they reached melee range twice to my slow responding body. I do not think I could handle the Rock Trolls' snickering if I had fallen in my unclothed state. Fortunately, I ran across three Guild-Brethern: Halfstaff, Caerin, and Brraukk who had a clearer concept of the way back. A hurried bow and I was swiftly to my glyph.
Oy, wounded vanity; I have lost my mustache for the moment.
If I had only waited for my Muse to get to my side before tackling these creatures, we may both have survived the night. As it was, my wounds were so terrible, Damaria herself was slain in trying to prepare my corpse for resurrection. Let it be a warning to any who would follow my lead: These creatures are not for the unprepared. Their attacks are deadly and made more so when they appear in great numbers.
The Adan'f are a race of bipedal lizards, more bestial than the S'kra Mur. Their necks are much longer, and the scales tend from green-black for warriors to a reddish-black for mages. Their serrated teeth are surpassingly sharp and, like sharks, are set three rows deep. They are tool-users and the shhrtel hammers they use have (I can attest) great impact. Disarming an Adan'f will not end its threat, for their hands are tipped with deadly claws and their tails are spiked.
I knew these beasts by reputation alone and figured them to be beyond my skill in combat. I could not let this deter me, but I strove to face them upon terms of my own choosing. I played the bobcat to them, trying to lure a lone Adan'f Mage to a battlefield where I had detected great quantities of holy mana.
I had prepared myself as much as possible, entrusting my courage to Peri'el and weaving a glowing aura of Anti-Stun around my shoulders. When facing the Adan'f mages, I swiftly discovered I could not hit them for their speed, but nor could they strike me with their jackal skull-tipped staves. What they could do, however, was throw their dark nooses of razor- sharp shadows at me. At first, the wounds they made were minimal, but each successive hit increased the danger of drawing blood.
I dropped the lone Mage to its knees with a powerful Smite Foe. Even in a room with glowing streams of Holy Mana, I was forced to empty all my reserves to even affect the reptile. The stun was what I needed to gain the slightest of edges, and as it tried to regain its composure I managed two bone-crunching hits upon its torso. I had...incorrectly, it turned out...a sense of impending victory.
Where I had before played bashful and skipped from the field whenever more than one Mage made itself known, I decided to press what advantage I had despite the arrival of two more Adan'f. I had but a moment to realize that one of these bipedal lizards was a Warrior when it began to render me into so much ground meal. The first hit stunned me for what felt like an eternity, slipping past my raised shield with quite some ease. Had I mentioned that I had lost the aura of Anti-Stun some time ago?
I had a moment's breath to attempt to raise a Banner of Truce, but where the Adan'f Mages could not hit me, the Adan'f Warrior did not even seem to exert himself. I believe the only reason I lasted beyond the fourth hit was Peri'el's courage upon me and the extra vitality it had offered. Shortly thereafter I was contemplating the foolishness of misplaced confidence while my corpse was being dragged to a location of safety.
I had been foolish to hunt alone, and more so to let blood lust get in the way of my battle plan. My thanks and appreciation go to those who helped rejuvenate me and to raise Damaria. Adept Chioce, Ianhanse, Sir Bartholomue, Sympath Traevan, Wayune, Father Nacon and Acolyte Janyl were instrumental in getting us both breathing again. My apologies go to my Healer for my impatience and for worrying her to the point of fatal distraction. I will strive to practice a little more wisdom in those ever more dangerous conflicts in which I will shortly find myself.
On the morrow, I will strive for the reaches of Undershard. Until then, Good Reader, I bid you safe dreams and safer paths...