Verrater was glad he had sent others ahead of him toward the cave’s entrance. The bird towered over all of them and was clearly preparing to peck. Grogar, the only one of them who was even a mildly realistic threat to such a beast was ten metres below him, slightly dazed after an awkward fall. He stood and began to make his awkward way back up to the outcrop.
Stern, quick to realise when he was in significant danger, quickly began to cast a protective spell over himself. Calvin leaped eagerly into a position by which he would be able to stab the bird’s face as it stabbed at Scrooge. Scrooge, feeling himself to be in a fairly compromising position, decided a ten metre plunge was a better option than a beak in the face and dove from the platform. He landed softly and, now beyond harm, began to prepare a simple spell.
Stern’s magic fizzled out and he swore as he noted the danger he was most certainly in. Uzume, stepping backwards to avoid the very same danger, fired an arrow. It grazed the bird, which squawked and, spreading its wings, leapt into the air. Calvin swore. It seemed he would have to wait to get a shot in.
Verrater, feeling as though he ought to do something, weighed his dagger in his hand. Sighing heavily, he thrust the dagger at the bird. It sailed unthreateningly beneath the creature’s legs. By now Uzume had managed to get another shot off, but this one simply bounced harmlessly off the bird’s feathers.
The bird clawed at Calvin, who leapt aside. Grogar was, by now, shoving his way along the outcrop, trying to reach the bird. Stern swore as yet another protection spell fizzled out pointlessly. Perhaps he should have practised his spellcasting a little more… Uzume, pulling back yet another arrow, felt a surge of warmth spreading up from the wooden shaft. She glanced down to see Scrooge halfway through a chant.
Verrater, meanwhile, had just noticed a concerning sign. The bird was approaching him. Fast. He tried to raise his shield, but it was to no avail. With a sickening tear, the bird disembowelled him. He tried to clutch at his innards, but it was no good. The others watched as Verrater plunged the ten metres to the ground, unconscious.
With a yell more of fear than of concern (she was not keen to meet a similar fate to her companion), Uzume fired the warm arrow. Her fear seemed to guide her aim, and the arrow shot between the feathers, reaching deep inside the bird’s right leg before exploding as a result of Scrooge’s spell. The stench of scorched flesh and feathers assaulted everyone’s nostrils. Calvin barely noticed it, however, as he swung his grapple up and latched it around the bird’s body. Grogar had a less fortunate time. In his enthusiasm to take a swing at the bird, he felt a snap in the armour around his right arm. The metal clanked to the ground, but not before its momentum startled him onto his backside.
Scrooge, who had begun to make his way back up to the outcrop, turned his attention to keeping Verrater alive. He managed to stop the bleeding, but the Lunar diplomat would need a great deal of rest. Grogar was still sitting, confused, while Stern, concerned that he was now decidedly exposed and giving up on the spellcasting, decided to jump. His jump lacked the grace of his avian companion, and he cried out as his leg twisted with a sickening snap. The bird barely noticed these, or Uzume’s incessant arrow fire. It started to rise, pulling Calvin up with it. Calvin, swinging helplessly from the now dangling rope, could see no other option than to clamber up. He briefly wondered how on earth he thought he would be able to pull the bird down in the first place.
Verrater still lay insensible, but Scrooge could see he was no longer at risk of death. He turned his attention back to the battle above his head, where Calvin was just clambering onto the bird’s back. Grogar grabbed at the rope dangling at his head, but his strength was not enough to bring down the enormous, powerful beast. Uzume fired another arrow, and Calvin soon learned the danger of close combat when her arrow found its mark in his chest.
Calvin grimaced, but didn’t allow this to stop him from taking one final swing at the bird’s exposed head. It was an easy shot, the crown being directly in front of him as he straddled the bird’s neck, but he could only manage a glancing blow.
Yet the bird had already taken quite a beating, and this glancing blow was enough to put it over the edge. With a screech the bird plummeted. It was about this moment that Calvin realised the folly in knocking out the only thing between you and a twenty metre plummet. The ground rushed towards him and … suddenly, he was drifting away from the falling corpse. He looked down to see that Stern had finally succeeded in casting a spell, and had saved him from a very painful drop.
After the battle, the gang needed a rest. They took a twenty-four hour recovery, making use of a considerable stock of their ointments and food.
While his companions were recovering, Calvin took the opportunity to take a peek down the cavern that was their destination.
Within he saw an entire flock of these great birds being tended by a reptilian lizard-like man.