|Garius Forge of the Order of the Faceless Knights as depicted by William J. Kenney|
Blow after blow rang out—hammer hitting staff and vice-versa. Sparks flew from the impact, with neither of the two combatants gaining any ground. For several rounds of blows, they exchanged forceful strikes with their respective weapons, neither of them scoring a hit on anything but the other’s weapon. They finally backed away from one another, simultaneously realizing their futility.The shaman charged Garius again, trying to find an opening in his defenses, but he was denied repeatedly by The Repentant. Garius realized that the brief gift offered from the war-god was fading. He needed to formulate a new strategy.He allowed the shaman to get close, allowing him another wide swing. But, this time he offered what looked to be a blocking motion and instead, sidestepped it. He reversed his grip on the hammer and slammed its handle into his enemy’s exposed gut.Garius realized immediately the folly of his strike. It was like hitting solid stone. A backhand from the powerfully altered orc sent him reeling and he barely managed to hold onto his weapon. His armor withstood the blow, but the sheer force of the strike sent him stumbling away.A repetition of inhumanly strong blows rained down upon him now. Garius finally released the grip on his hammer, again changing tactics in an attempt to defeat this creature. He recoiled under the mighty assault of the mutated orc, who seemed even more animalistic, its bone-like staff continually crashing down upon him, over and over. His blood-red armor was beginning to conform to the power of this creature’s blows.Once more, he found himself faced with an opportunity with which he needed to employ the necromantic power of The Reaper. He uttered a prayer to the god of death, asking him once again for access to the deadly degenerative plane. As the gift was granted, he channeled that energy into a discharge of force that sent the shaman hurling away, landing with a thud several paces from him. Garius felt the energy leech a bit of the orc’s soul into him. He also knew he could not reach his weapon and decided instead to use this brief respite to launch another necromantic assault.Standing once more, he began an invocation, directing the dark energies toward the shaman, who was still getting to his feet. The power welled up inside him, holding it until he could no longer contain it. With that, a loud crackling sound, accompanied by a strange dark-purplish radiance, burst forth from him. It completely consumed the shaman, eating away at his flesh and soul as the shaman’s spirits fought hopelessly to aid him.
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All Artwork and covers by William J. Kenney
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