Continued from the Dark Energy Crystals short fan fiction...
The Molten Mountain Raid:
With the forces of ΛZMΛRÉ decimated and in full retreat, the Lord of Darkness returned to his stronghold. The Dark Energy Crystals were becoming increasingly difficult to extract from the deep fissures of the dark waters, but his forces were now reliant on their powers. The undead priests had at first only harnessed the energy into powerful orbs and potions, but they were now experimenting with a more direct use of the crystals. Creatures such as the mighty pegasus were exposed directly to the raw energy with evil tranformations. Those that survived were conscripted into the forces of Lord of Darkness.
As the supply of crystals dwindled in the dark waters, news of another possible source reached the Lord of Darkness. Scouts reported an increase in activity surrounding the molten mountain in the burning lands. A haunted spirit was dispatched to confirm and slipped past the mountain's ogre guards. The spirit descended down a recently constructed mine shaft with lava seeping from its walls. A steady stream of kobold miners and fire beetles hastily carted loads of crystals up from the core of the mountain.
The haunted spirit returned to the Lord of Darkness with confirmation of the crystals in the burning lands. The lord did not delay in preparing the forces of death, and a raiding party of undead minotaurs and various skeletons was assembled. Lead by Jarlax the Undead, they departed for the mountain with instructions to capture and bring back as many of the crystals as possible.
The raid took the forces at the molten mountain largely by surprise. The kobold miners and fire beetles dropped their carts and rushed for their weapons, as the minotaurs charged the entrance of the mine. The molten ogre guards regrouped after the first assault but were quickly overwhelmed by the onslaught of skeletons. Skeletal warriors shielded the attack, as deadly skeleton assassins and undead archers dealt precise blows. The ogres quickly fell, and the beetles and miners were routed before fully joining the fight. The undead minotaurs loaded all the crystals they could carry and destroyed the mine shaft.
Before the creatures of the burning lands could respond, the raiding party withdrew with their captured crystals back to their stronghold. As their return route lead them to the borders of Anumün, Jarlax increased his scouts and advance guard. His caution proved correct when several of his front line were suddenly impaled by javelins. Sizing up the enemy to be a small band of female warriors, Jarlax ordered a full counter assault.
As the skeletons swarmed towards the javelin thrower's position, the boulders they were using as a shield began to rumble. Four massive stone golems now stood between the female warriors and the skeletons. Caught off guard, the front wave of the skeletons were swept aside by the golems while others continued to fall to the javelins. Realizing he was in danger of losing his entire force, Jarlax commanded half of the minotaurs to drop their load of crystals and support the the skeletons retreat. The dark forces regrouped and withdrew with the undead minotaurs providing coverage. The stone golems lobbed a few additional boulders at the retreating skeletons, but the javelin throwers opted to collect the abandoned crystals rather than pursue.
The Lord of Darkness was not at all pleased with the raiding party upon their return. The burning lands would not be so careless to allow for another easy raid, and the creatures of Anumün now possessed the crystals as well. With the raid unsuccessful and the dark waters yielding fewer and fewer crystals, the Lord of Darkness decided the time was nearing for full scale war.
To be continued...