Rasennan Summer

6.1 - Salzar's End

The murderous agent is backed into a corner.

Opilio and Vesper wait in Potifol’s foyer, Robarto conceals himself behind the doors into the rear gallery, and Ettorio conceals himself in the foliage by the porch. An hour passes since the lighting of the lamp, and then he arrives—a lean man, dressed in a blade’s dark attire, with his pale skin and thatch of white hair sticking out in the moonlight. Salzar steps onto the porch, then turns and addresses Ettorio (whose impatience has somewhat sabotaged his stealth).

“My reputation must precede me. Normally the guards don’t wait in the bushes when I arrive.”

“Just a precaution,” rallies Ettorio. “To be certain you aren’t disturbed.” Salzar seems suspicious, but the Iluni’s silver tongue seems to win out. “Wise,” replies Salzar, and steps inside.

Unfortunately, as he opens the door, it strikes Opilio, somewhat spoiling the nature of the surprise. Salzar immediately notes the peasant, then notices Vesper in an opposing corner even as the Sespech necromancer pronounces her curse. Clearly frustrated, he draws his blade — a blackened longsword that seems almost too dull to cut — and moves quickly.

In the light of the foyer, Opilio and Vesper were able to note that Salzar seemed almost to have too many shadows. The reasons for this make themselves evident, as with a command he detaches two undead shades from his shadow, and sets them on the group. Ettorio immediately thinks of old tavern-tales he’s heard—of killers who bound the shades of their murder victims into their own shadows. Yet Salzar’s powers over darkness don’t end there. He immediately steps into Opilio’s shadow, and emerges from Vesper’s, beginning his assault on the young Sespech. When he cuts her, it’s like being cut by a blade from the Underworld, and he seems to be taking her measure for a finishing strike.

The fight becomes very desperate very quickly. Ettorio’s first strike wounds Salzar, but fails to draw blood—Vesper’s suspicions that the murderer is a revenant seem to be true. Robarto emerges into the fray, but fumbles his alchemical fire and sets light to the manor. To make matters worse, he becomes the target of one of the murdered shades, which leaps into his shadow and begins to claw at him from there. Salzar presses his attack on Vesper, and comes close to finishing her before Opilio takes on his aspect of the Horned Man and smashes the revenant the length of the foyer. Ettorio soon has his hands full with another of the undead shades, and Salzar continues to elude his attackers by leaping from shadow to shadow, even poisoning his blade with his own blood as he strikes repeatedly at Vesper.

But the tables turn. Opilio’s ties to the earth heal Vesper’s wounds, saving her from a murderous shadow-noose of Salzar’s. The Bascho alchemist is forced to quaff his own healing infusions to stay alive, and even fires an acid-infused quarrel into his own shadow to drive out his attacker. Ettorio executes a remarkable acrobatic maneuver, cutting Salzar badly and propelling him into the spreading blaze. Opilio and Ettorio pin him there, while Vesper calls on the bleak light of the Underworld to scour his undead flesh. Finally, the revenant falls, his head a blasted skull, with the words “No… I shouldn’t have…”

Salzar’s death does not banish the shades, and they continue to pursue their wrath against the living. Ettorio falls to the shade riding him, but refuses to slip away, and is conscious again even as Vesper annihilates it with Underworld light. When the alchemist frees himself from the other, Opilio smashes it into the fire. With Salzar’s body in hand, the group flees the burning house. As the flames leap higher, Robarto somewhat nervously announces that perhaps he should pack his things and go lie low in another province for a bit; he’s not optimistic about standing before the Prince having been responsible for incinerating a landowner’s manor.

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