Beyond the Line
The airship broke through the cloud cover into the upper elevations of the Helic Risers. Ahead, a large island the colour of rust and blood crossed in front of the sun, cast in silhouette. Its rocky spires and angular cliffs sparkled with crystalline deposits, and the low-lying shaded areas showed scrubby plant growth fighting for nutrients on the arid landmass.
The airship dropped my team of Stormchasers on the edge of the unknown island and then settled into a stable current that would allow them to take long-range observation.
“Hey Zandari, don’t forget our bet,” Dray said far too loudly as we gathered our gear after landfall, “if there’s a Behemoth on this island you’re--”
At that moment a rocky outcrop near Dray exploded to life. Rising onto four craggy legs the size of tree trunks, the creature roared with a sound like a crumbling mountain and then crushed Dray flat as a ramcake.
As we bolted for cover, I managed to activate my lantern’s radio crystal to call the airship. “This island is occupied! We need immediate rescue, now!”
I heard nothing in return.
We later learned that the Krolachi called the thing a “Skarn” after a type of rockfall common on their islands. It was an apt name. Ever been pursued by a living avalanche? Seek out a Skarn and you will soon enough.
The Behemoth lumbered after us, using raw aether to hurl a storm of heavy rocks at us with tremendous force. A tree to my left exploded, knocking Fairchild to the ground. I managed to snag him by the collar and haul him back to his feet, and he leaned on me as we staggered towards a thin rock bridge that looked too light for our pursuer to cross.
Storm of Stone
But that escape route disappeared when the Skarn somehow pulled it apart with a surge of aetheric power, creating a storm of floating boulders that penned us in. And still the Behemoth closed in, its heavy footsteps making the ground shake so much I imagined the rest of the island simply crumbling out of the sky.
“Next time,” Zandari gasped in panic as she tried to put on a brave face, “I won’t make any bets about whether we find a Behemoth. If there is a next time.”
I opened my mouth to respond, but lost my words as I saw a shadow pass across the sun. I then realized why I hadn’t heard from our pilot. An airship - not our own elegant scout vessel but a small, sturdy model built to withstand storms and the occasional aether blast.
I turned back to the team. “Oh, there will be a next time,” I said as the quartet of heavily armed and armoured heroes dropped from the newly arrived vessel, their weapons ready.
“Stand back, friends,” their leader announced. “The Slayers are here.”