At any rate, just so you can see that I am, in fact, writing stuff, here's a battle scene:
It was about a half an hour later when they heard the groan.
Lorelei had just recomposed herself; Miia and Malcolm had given her a wide berth, and while Radulf had come and lain by her feet, she wasn't talkative. Indeed, the first words anyone in the party had spoken since entering the battlefield were spoken in unison, as Malcolm, Lorelei, and Miia all said, at once, "What the—"
None of them could complete the thought, as there was a sudden tremor, followed by a tremendous quake that dropped them all.
"Swords!" called Lorelei by reflex, bouncing up and forcing herself to hold her feet. Miia was a bit slower on the uptake, but soon enough she had risen to a defensive position.
Malcolm, for his part, was being bounced away from the two Valkyries, hollering bloody murder—until his howls were replaced by terrible howling..
Out of one of the tarry places, a huge tendril had suddenly shot forth, twelve feet high at least. It flowed upward, and stopped in place.
"On your guard," Lorelei called out. "I don't like the looks of this."
"You think?" Miia shouted. "What is it?"
A deep rumbling thrum came from the monolith.
"Lassies!" shouted Malcolm, trying in vain to remain upright. "Get away! He'll kill you!"
The top of the column slowly distorted into three divots. Two at top. A larger one below.
Eyes and mouth.
"Hhhhhhyyyyyyooooouuuu!" the beast cried, and threw a tarry tenticle out, grasping Miia before she had time to react, and lifting her five feet off the ground, her sword clattering to the ground.
"Go, Lorelei!" she cried out.
"Like Hell," came the reply, as Lorelei strode forward. "Drop her!"
The beast roared out something like a cross between peals of derisive laughter and a small earthquake.
"He's not scared of you, lass!" said Malcolm, crawling over to her position. "Your swords can't hurt him!"
"What is he?" said Lorelei, dropping to a crouching position.
"He's a huge tarry monster."
"I can see that."
"He's an ardbeg!" continued Malcolm. "What's left of a shapeshifter after he dies."
"'Tis deep magic, lass. Concentrated ambrosia is just part of the potion involved. The person taking it is mortal—all things are. But the residue of the spell remains for years after the creature dies."
The conference was broken up by a piercing scream from Miia.
"All right, enough chitchat. What kills it?"
"Nothing, lass. 'Tis already dead."
"You've been a lot of help, Malcolm," said Lorelei, leaping to her feet and accelerating toward the beast at full speed.
She looked at the creature, looking for a weakness. Seeing none, she did the best thing she could; she leapt, and struck at the tendril that was holding Miia.
The ardbeg roared in protest as the tar cleaved partially. Unfortunately, Lorelei's sword remained stuck fast.
"That's a problem," she muttered, falling back, hand searching the ground as another tendril shot out.
Lorelei dropped and rolled away as the tar impacted the earth, shaking the ground. She kept her eyes up; the ardbeg's grip on Miia had loosened just enough that her friend was slowly working her way loose.
Another tendril shot at her just as her hand touched paydirt; she grabbed and rolled away, springing up and swinging the sword with wanton abandon at the trunk above.
The ardbeg screamed as the tendril dropped, and hit the ground, bringing Miia in tow with a sploosh.
Lorelei rushed to her friend, who was already busy extricating herself. "Get the steel!" Miia called out, and Lorelei immediately obliged, seeing happily that both swords had stuck to the fallen side of the tendril.
Miia pulled herself free like a kid pulling taffy—she stretched the tar until it broke. She and Lorelei then rushed back to where Radulf was dutifully propping Malcolm up.
"How are you?" asked Lorelei, as she tried to think of some sort of defense.
"Well, I'm sticky and oily," said Miia. "But not in a good way."
"Lasses, I hate to repeat myself, but let's go!"
The beast shot forth an arcing tendril that landed behind them, and it slowly began to pull itself toward them.
"No, I think this one wants to dance," said Lorelei, moving her sword slowly. Then, suddenly, she paused, and smiled.
"I'm going to owe you another bottle of whisky, Malcolm," she said. "Miia, get the flint ready."
But Lorelei was already at her pack, pulling out a bottle of tan liquid and the blue tunic she'd purchased; she hated to lose this already, but there wasn't time to debate. She doused the tunic, pushed it into the bottle, and shouted, "Spark!"
Miia had realized what she was doing; she struck the flint and the shirt ignited.
Lorelei rose and tossed the flaming bottle to the foot of the ardbeg. "Grab Malcolm," she said, "And run!"
Miia grasped Malcolm around the middle, paying no heed to his protests, while Lorelei urged Radulf into a dead sprint. They dove behind a rise just as the bottle exploded.
The ardbeg screamed out in a dull roar as it was overwhelmed by the flames. Slowly, they crept up and down every tendril of the beast, until it slowly melted into a pool of black, which slowly cooled to obsidian.
The party had watched in fear and fascination; it was just as the beast was starting to cool that Miia spoke up.
"Well, that explains it," she said, pointing to a bit of charred cloth and a partially molten bronze ensign in the shape of a cannon.
"He was one of Fowler's men," said Lorelei, laughing. "I bet one you killed."
"Trying to return the favor, I guess," said Miia, smiling in spite of herself. And for the first time in over a week, she laughed.