Emmett starts muttering to himself. "Lessee, Captain, Val, Ibn Fadil, Hiro, Pham. Check. Me, Yestin, Nyala, Alais...Alais...
"Where the hell is Alais?" He glances down at the floor of the large chamber.
A skullbird stoops on Alais--the straggler of the herd--as he passes near the cages, their occupants hidden in shadow; in a rare-self preserving moment he throws himself flat and the fierce talons grip only air as the charnel-house smell of the creature overwhelms him. Heavy wingbeats buffet him as the skullbird climbs for another pass.
Somewhere nearby he's quite certain he just heard the rapid clicks of xixchil speech, but there's nothing anywhere in sight.
Emmett looks at the amassed group, then his own truncated leg. "New plan! Pham, you stay here with me, the captain and Yestin. Everyone else, go get that thing off our mage."
"All right," ibn Fadil says, looking down at the scene with narrowed eyes. With a quick glance around at the others (except for Val, still up above), the half-elf begins running down the ramp toward the prone mage and his airborne assailant. Hopefully, he thinks, it will not be difficult to convince the bird to feast on lizard-bear instead.
"You wait here," Val gives a warning glare at Gorn before heading off to help Alais. He heads down the nearest ramp between him and the beleaguered mage, hoping to get there in time. Instead of going down to the same level as the mage and his attacker, the young sailor stops his descent on the level above, hoping to come parallel to them.
The skullbird dives again with a shrill cry. Missing with both talons as its prey rolls desperately aside, it settles briefly to the ground to stab in with its deadly beak, eliciting a cry of pain. (5 HP on Alais) It dances back again as ibn Fadil races down to attack, although his blade slips harmlessly off the oddly greasy-looking feathers. Alais takes advantage of the thing's distraction to scramble out of immediate range of the grounded bird.
Val's knife spins through the air toward the creature, but misses. Of course, Emmett still has his sword.... Hiro, not suffering such a lack, glides down the ramp toward the new battle with his usual impassive unconcern. His blade flashes in the magical light; for an instant he seems to feel a numinous touch guiding his strike, before the steel bites deeply into the creature's body. (10 HP on the skullbird thanks to Hextor )
Nyala darts in dangerously near the thing to strike with the borrowed dagger, her expression calmly intent, but her blow returns only a feather; no blood.
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© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson