Author's Note: Hey, due to lack of motivation… And stuff, Tactics of Evil will be updated less frequently. But then again, I am kinda working on 3 major Diablo 2 fics at once; I can't keep all my attention on one! Heck, there was that five minute period where I was considering just not continuing Tactics of evil any more and just focusing on the others…. But yeah, no worry, I'll get all of it typed up before the end of the year… Seeing as it is one of my year's resolutions. Other than that all I ask of you, my reader, is to give me reviews so that I don't go and burn all my New Year's resolutions up… Why are you still listening to me whine? Go read the fic already!
The new morning had brought Ran-ran a new terrible mood, and Necromi and Wolfwind's new game. They all had head out early that morning, heading up the mountain, on a quest Ran-ran refused to tell either of them about, mainly due to her lack of 'happy'.
Through the dim haze that was Ran-ran's hang over, she began to listen to what her necromancer friend and Wolfwind had been saying for the first time since they had left Herrogath that morning.
Both of their voices were calm, as if talking in normal, casual conversion. But before either could continue talking, Ran-ran interrupted them, in a fairly confused voice,
"Hey, guys, are you two, uh... Fighting...?"
Ran-ran looked back and forth between them, as they looked at each other with wry smiles.
"What makes you think that Ran-ran?" Necromi asked light-heartily.
"We were only having a friendly conversation." Wolfwind smiled and looked at Necromi, who smiled also, both of them chuckling at the confused look on Ran-ran's face.
"Oh yeah, haha, very funny." Ran-ran said, bluntly, then snapped her head to look at the horizon, seeing a horde of imp demons heading straight for them. She didn't have to warn her friends of the on-coming danger, as they had already knew.
The skeleton army rushed forth and began slaying the annoying little demons, and the magi held back and attack the ones who had managed to ride atop huge demonic creatures.
As Necromi began to fire off bone spears, Wolfwind took a deep breath and suddenly grunted. His body seeming to go through a transformation, his hands elongated, growing claws, his head became muzzle-like. Necromi glanced nervously at his friend as he fell to one knee, growling in a feral manner, grayish-tan fur growing as Wolfwind finished his transformation into a werewolf.
With a furious growl, Wolfwind leaped from his crouching position to pounce upon an imp, and proceeded to rip its throat out with his teeth.
Ran-ran paused her barrage of bolts to watch the werewolf kill off the rest of the demons.
"Wow, now that is kick ass." Ran-ran said, nodding and smiling.
Hours passed, and by then our heroes had gotten much farther up the mountain, coming upon a cave on the side of what seemed like a great sheet of ice.
"Oooo.." Ran-ran said in wonder as she stood among the dead corpses of the fallen demons all around her, looking up at the swirling multicolored surface of the ice sheet.
"C'mon Ran-ran, you said we had to go into a cave!" Wolfwind said, getting Ran-ran's attention.
"And since you told us that the cave would be on the side of a huge sheet of ice." Necromi stated, making sure his horde complete, and walking to stand beside Ran-ran and Wolfwind. He spread his arms in the direction of the ice sheet and cave entrance. "This is the closest thing we're going to get to what you're looking for Ran-ran!"
Ran-ran then looked at both her friends in turn, then back at the cave, and said as she walked forward,
"I know, I was just looking at the pretty colors."
The two men looked at each other and shrugged, following the young girl, so that a monster wouldn't suddenly kill her.
Entering the cave was like entering a dimly lit prism, and Ran-ran marveled again at its beauty. As our heroes went deeper and deeper into the cave, they killed the demonic inhabitants with near silence between the three of them.
Ran-ran was personally agitated by the silence, ever step she and her friends took was echoed off the cave walls, and the shadows made her think she was in the beginning phases of insanity.
Wolfwind had chose to stay in his werewolf form, and padded along side Ran-ran, knowing that from Necromi's minion's priority to protect the necromancer first, the girl was at a higher risk of injury from ambush.
Suddenly the werewolf stopped and Ran-ran right beside him asked,
"Eh, what's up Fluffy?"
Wolfwind turned to her and said in a rough voice,
"Crying," He gestured with a bloody covered claw down an adjoining tunnel, "From down there."
Necromi looked at Ran-ran and asked,
"I suppose this is apart of that mission you got us into this morning?"
Ran-ran nodded and said,
"Yeah, remember that weird chick, Anya?"
"Yes, what about her?"
"Well, she kinda got all kidnapped by Neolithic-"
"You mean that weird little man that I got into a brawl with that night Forsaken ran off? Then one I kicked the ass of?"
Ran-ran giggled at the memory of the fight. "Yeah, that's him. Well, he's in league with Baal. Fugger gave him some rock thingies -or y'know, something like that- so that he wouldn't have to fight the ancients to get into the Worldstone Keep. So yeah, Anya found out and he kinda... Wait, why the hell am I telling you this!"
Neither of her friends were listening to her scold herself, for they were to busy glancing at each other.
"If Baal is to get to the Worldstone..." Wolfwind began; all of them know the dire consequences of evil breaching the sacred stone.
"Ran-ran, we must quickly finish this quest of yours, then it is absolutely crucial that we make it to Arreat's peak with haste!" Necromi said, grasping Ran-ran's shoulders.
"No problem," Ran-ran said nodding, "Lets just go save Anya and then kill Nelithak!"
With a renewed sense of cause driving them on, down to the deeper parts of the cave.
"ANYA! YOU DOWN HERE!" Ran-ran called, cupping her hands around her mouth to amplify her voice even more than the cave already did.
Our heroes continued deeper into the glacial, following the Frozen River and the sound, and now scent of the one Ran-ran claimed they had to rescue before running off to the summit to save the world.
Nearly an hour passed before our heroes finally came upon Anya, and the demon horde that was guarding her. With a feral battle cry, Wolfwind rushed forth in front Necromi's minions, pouncing upon the yeti-like monsters, digging his claws into its flesh and biting with an infectious bite.
The werewolf jumped out of the way just in time to avoid the wave of magical onslaught made by Necromi's mage, quickly followed by the biting blows of the iron golem and skeleton worriers.
As Wolfwind pounced upon the next monster, Ran-ran and Necromi fought down the lead beast with bolt, bone spear, and much iron golem bashing.
When the last beast finally fell, our heroes rushed over to Anya, who was frozen up to her neck in a solid block of ice. Her teeth were chattering, and her lips were tinted a powdery blue. The small puffs of white breath were the only proof that she was still alive at first glance.
"Hey… Anya!" Ran-ran half yelled. Anya seemed to stir, slightly.
Wolfwind stepped forward, and gently said,
"Miss Anya? Can you tell-"
"Oh for heaven's sake, already told you it was Nilethak!" Ran-ran interjected, shivering from lack of physical movement, and not being use to the cold weather.
"Oh… Oh yeah." Wolfwind said, scratching his head, wondering what to do next.
"Ne-ne-ne-Nelithak! He-he-he was th-the one t-t-to do th-this to m-m-m-me!" Anya managed to say, and Ran-ran slapped her for head, silently wondering how conscious the girl was.
"Okay. Well, I'm going back to town to get a potion thingy from Malah, you guys stay here and make sure nothing bites her head off!" Ran-ran said.
With a sigh, Necromi summoned the portal for her to enter, and then slumped down against the block of ice Anya was in.
"I swear, if we don't get to killing Baal soon, I'm going on strike." The necromancer said, pressing his hands to his cheeks, fighting off fatigue.
"Indeed." Wolfwind said, and sat down next to Necromi.
As Ran-ran appeared on the other side of the portal, she sprinted straight into Malah's office, exclaiming as she stopped just in time to avoid tripping over a wounded barbarian.
"Child!" Malah said gently, putting her hands on Ran-ran's shoulders, "Breath! Now, what was it that you needed? And please, speak slow enough to understand this time."
Taking in, and breathing out a calming breath, Ran-ran said,
"Okay, we found Anya, she's frozen in a block of ice, got anything to unfreeze her?"
"Oh my! Anya's frozen? I'll get you a special thawing potion right away!" Malah said, and rushed over to her wall, which was filled to the brim with potions off all colors, in bottles of all shapes and sizes.
"Oooo, pretty." Ran-ran said, admiring the multiple of colors, and the way they seemed to glow in the light of the morning, filtering through the window.
"Here you go Ran-ran, good luck." Malah said, drawing Ran-ran out of looking at the bottles, handing her a small, odd shaped bottle of yellow-orange liquid.
"Okay, thanks, bye bye!" Ran-ran waved and turned, running back out of the small medical building, jumped over the small flight of stairs, waved at the blacksmith, then into the portal.
"Hey guys! I'm back!" Ran-ran declared, bounding through the portal and slipping to a stop, almost falling down twice.
"Good, and you have the potion?" Necromi asked, himself and Wolfwind standing up.
"Yep!" Ran-ran held up the bottle and then held it out for her friend to take.
With a nod, Necromi took the potion and approached the frozen youth. Uncorking the concoction, Necromi slowly poured it around the top of the ice Anya was encased in. The liquid seemed to make the solid ice steam almost immedietly. Water ran off in streams, the potion seeming to eat away at the ice like an acid. When Anya's body had finally been thawed out enough, Ran-ran's two male companions caught her before she had a chance to collapse to the cave floor.
Wolfwind nodded, gesturing for Necromi to open the portal.
After Malah established that all Anya needed from that point on was plenty of bed rest, Ran-ran was dragged back through the ice caves for more exploration for the exit.
"You guys!" Ran-ran began, as her two companions continued their frantic search for the exit, "Look, how about we sleep on it? We can always save the world tomorrow! Besides, you two look like you're ready to collapse."
"But Baal must be at the World Stone by now, we have to stop him!" Wolfwind said, desperately.
With a sigh, Ran-ran sat down and pulled out her pack of tranquilizer-tipped darts and blow-gun as her two friends rush past her in a search for the exit.
"Geeze, both of you calm down!" She muttered to herself as she aimed and shot the dart into Necromi's neck.
"Huh? What the- AHH!" Wolfwind cried, the sharp tip buried in his neck.
Ran-ran sighed and looked at the remains of fallen skeletons, and then at the iron golem, who was standing near Necromi's fallen form.
"Well, might as well start a fire." Ran-ran said, putting away her dart kit and then pulling out a lighter, she looked around, not seeing anything to start and sustain a fire with. Huffing, Ran-ran put a hand on the ice wall, and walking down the path of the cave. It took a few minutes, but Ran-ran eventually found herself walking up a slight incline, more light seeming to reflect of the walls.
At the first sign of blue sky, Ran-ran burst into a run, greeting the day and the falling sun.
"Oooo, Nifty." She said to herself, slowing down to watch the far off demons, and the rabbits. There was a significant amount of folaig, plenty for Ran-ran to make a fire.
Turning, Ran-ran looked up at the not-to-far-off sumit of Arreat,
"Oh shit, we still have to fight the ancients!" She said with a groan, her heart sinking. She grabbed up several logs and heading back into the cave.