I awaken to something moving pass me.
I sat up slowly and watched as Daniel left the group, speaking something odd to something that flittered above and in front of him. Ah his bat. He walks further away, I look to Asra and mentally ask her to remain in case we found trouble. Send help. She chittered and slinked to where the others are. I got up and followed.
He moved quietly along, then turned down the side tunnel that Psyren and I went down before I went to revery. He continued to move along and I heard movement. I kneeled down and looked for scat and foot prints. There was some. Trouble is here.
I pulled out my scimitar and began to close the distance when suddenly a light spell was used.
Damnit! There goes my dark vision. It actually stung.
As a carrion crawler comes out to attack Daniel, I get attacked by a rust monster. It’s actually kind of cute…. but I put my scimitar away and proceed to punch it. I don’t have much in the way of metal on me, so it must be confused. I keep an eye on Daniel. He has stated repeatedly he’s squishy…
I have to finish the beastie quickly as I see Daniel’s limbs slow in their movement. I try burning it but the scales don’t catch. I kick then punched it again, the head caves in around my fist. I move to assist him but he manages to kill it himself. Good.
Daniel. You alright? I ask. He seems surprised that I’m there. I told him it’s not safe for him to wander. Then I notice Clarence, he’s somehow found us. Then I hear Jern. There’s a rust monster on Clarence, then a carrion crawler behind him, but the beastie fled. Jern is also in a fight. I elect to help Jern while Daniel went for Clarence. Clarence has fallen over. Not my concern, as I hear Daniel call him meat shield. He’ll keep the human alive.
I flew to assist Jern, but he needs it not as he beats down the crawler. I turn to look at Daniel as Jern starts that way. He’s falling over!
Oh Hells no! I fly pass Jern, and slice through the crawler’s face, dropping it. I land upon Clarence, kneeling upon his chest, I ask where he’s been. I contemplate running my blade along his throat, but it would be good to fight him. I’m putting my blade away as Jern intercedes on his behalf. I agree with his council and turn to study Daniel.
Poor Catling. I search my pouch for a cure to the paralysis. I have 4 such vials. I carefully pour one down Daniel’s throat. I don’t want to drown him. The potion takes affect and he’s able to talk. Words are spoken and I almost smack the bat that flew out of his cloak. I apologise to Daniel when he says it’s his familiar. He oddly says it’s okay and that he’ll burn or cut Jeff. Very odd. I help him to stand, watching him for after affects.
I look back to Clarence. Daniel vouches for him…. doesn’t mean much. Jern then vouches for him. That means more. We can’t leave him. We must take him back. Jern takes his feet, I take his arms. We pack him back and place him well within our camp.
Osozo makes inquiries and I repeat what I know, and leave it at that. I trust Jern to watch Clarence and take action if necessary. I look at the egg. I pet it gently. I ask Jern and Gronx who’s turn it is to carry the egg. Jern says it’s his, but Gronx smiles and takes it. I return the smile. The fight has cleared my sight and hearing. This is good.
We break camp and begin to hasten to travel. I’m leading the way. No problem, no sights, no smells of blood. It’s good to be in darkness. I do not hesitate to take paths.
I have him. He’s bleeding. He’s barely lucid. And damn he’s heavy. I’m dragging him with me, we have to get away. I’m running. Running as fast as I can. The tunnels are so dark. I can’t see, my magic so weak from the blood loss, but I managed to cast light when we left. But outside the light I see nothing.
He’s after me!
I shift Chang to better hold him. I stumble, I roll. Something has me! I can’t see it, but I feel it. I try and break free. I try to cast magic missile, but my blood is too weak. Nothing happens and then I’m stabbed. I scream in pain, I fight it off, and I move to grab Chang and get out of here. I pull and drag him up into standing, then I pull him to start stumbling forward with me. I will not leave him to be tortured to death by that beast!
I crash into something. I roll with it, Chang gets tossed and I again get him to his feet. There’s nothing there. I get moving again. Then something cuts deep into my back and I fall forward. I smell blood. My blood. The beast approaches and kicks Chang hard, I hear his ribs break. He comes to me and grabs me by my hair…. the fangs. The fangs lead to red drenched darkness.
My hair is over my face. I’m not moving. There’s voices. My arms dangle and there is something hard pressing into my stomach. Something has my legs.
Someone is carrying me! I stiffen as old fears rise, and something no someone is dropped then gasping for air. I try to get myself dislodged and I’m brought about to face the Brokki who holds me by my arms. I struggle to get down, get away, break free. I bring my feet up and try to kick myself away from him. But he holds tight and brings me in to a crushing embrace.
No no no his voice is quiet, but the arms are strong. I can’t flex my way out. I can’t squirm. His neck is exposed.
I shift my teeth. I bite deep and try to tear a chunk. I’m not going back!
I’m dropping. But he’s hold me. There’s a pause them a gruff curse… then darkness as air leaves my lungs and pain sparks my head.
The floor is hard, dusty. My back and arms hurt. My head aches. I try and keep still, try and see through the pain. A warmth glows through me. Gronx? No it’s too general. Not a spell then, likely a potion. There’s quiet. Who gave me a potion? My memories are still. I rub my head. Why does it hurt? I get up slowly and look around. I’m in an ancient building, made of crystalline stone, carved with vines, leaves and birds. Beautiful. It’s empty save for a shape sat about seven feet from me. My head whips back and I straighten, ignoring the ache and pains I feel. I look at the being. It’s a man, but before I can bolt I realise he’s Phearon. But I don’t relax.
What have I done? My memories are still but jumbled. He asks me how I feel, I tell him I’m fine. He saw my pain though and insists I drink another potion. After arguing he wins.
We talk, for a long while. He tells me what happened, what I did. I sigh.
I’m segregated then. They’ve decided to be done with me then. The thought stung, but it made sense. I was still unruly and impulsive, not to mention that I have a slippery hold on reality.
He seemed taken back and told me he brought me here to talk to me. Selfish reason he admits. He’s keeping his features friendly. They eyes when I meet them are sad, confused, hopeful and caring.
Talking was hard. Part of me wanted to talk, another part wanted to run. I forced myself to talk. I tried to tell him about where I have been. What happened, but it angered him. I decided to stop talking, clearly the wrong topic. I asked him instead how was he alive. He crept closer when I gave him a slight nod. I missed him very much, but I kept to myself. I couldn’t touch him… I could lose it. I found out how it was he is alive. His mother probably had placed a magic item on him and got a group of people to unbury him. They stayed low in Strom while my siblings and I fled. Malek is stuck in beast form and feral. Havaan is on a war path to slaughter anyone he crosses. Great. The last of the Triple Threat have gone mad.
He tells me more about where we’re going to go after Pyrico hatches. It’s underground. Great. I have to endure more time under the earth. Perhaps by the time we get to the dwarf strongholds I’ll be over my dislike. Maybe though unlikely. Give me something to fight and I can do it.
I ask him why he doesn’t hate me. After all, I abandoned him. He flatly refuses to admit that I did or have done anything that would cause him to hate me. He still calls me Prae-kor. I almost melt. I tell him about being gone for 2 years, instead of the 9 that has passed. He suggests theories which scare me. I don’t want to dwell on them. Talking comes easier, but his touch….. I understand that he’s trying to get me to relax like he used to, but…. not like that. It’s too much. He lets go of my head, but continues to pet me gently. That even proves hard to allow and he stops. I can feel the frustration and the anger, not at me but at something beyond me. He wants to hunt down and kill the ones who did this to me.
I tell him about how Gronx decided to force his friendship on me by not forcing himself. He protected me as best as he could given his rank and privileges. I tell him about how Sslith’lac became a friend, how Psyren forced me to accept her company. He asked me if she and I were lovers, I told him I made that choice as it was safe. It was always men who were interested in hurting me, from free men to fellow gladiators. I mention the kind guard, the one who knew the truth of our secret. I mention the elven healer who I convinced to cheat. The wizard who warded the cell…. There are others amongst the gladiators, I realise who watched my back when Gronx was too injured to leave bed.
I turn to my plans regarding my time upon the Prime. After Pyrico’s hatching, figure out the means to awaken the elves then try and make allies of them. As Lheare originally wanted me for my ritual use, she may like having allies who do different form of ritual magic. I may travel to this place that they want us to go, or I may not as my honour exists not. I explain to him that I need to center and ground and that it may take days. I had told Jern that I will go through the mines to liberate the slaves there as well as seek information up in Merlay, heck any of the missing gods. He guessed that I intend to bring back more gods to which I agreed. He laughs, I didn’t change much then, aiming to work on goals too big to succeed, yet finding a way to do so.
But I have a limited time until I’m taken away. He has much to say on this. He doesn’t understand the threat fully…. I push pass it and explain the ritual and the locks my maternal grandfather placed upon the memories. It seems I can’t fully access rituals that are above my ability. Drynarlyn had very protective tendencies towards family it seems. So I think suicide by ritual will be nigh impossible unless it’s interrupted. But the rituals I do have access to will allow me to form a tribe….
At a point he remarks about being denied seeing me in my natural form. I’m hesitant. Does he really know what he’s asking? It takes me many heartbeats to get up. I turn my back to him and take my clothing off. I then shift, in this form, I cannot hide the scars. I lay bear the tale of what happened to me, from the floggings I received, to the blows that almost killed me, from blows that almost took my arm, to the tattoos I never asked for. I turn slowly to show him all. I tell him about how I got some scars. But again his face is clouded by anger, so I face quiet, his eyes scouring my body.
He’s quiet. Uncomfortably quiet. Finally, I pick up my dress and slip it back on as I return to my Ameira face, disappearing most of the scars. He finally spoke, you are still beautiful. I don’t meet his eyes. I don’t see the beauty in my marred flesh. It’s worse than flaws, the marks are reminders of what hell I’ve been through. I say nothing. There are no words.
Have you spoken to Fyraiia about removing the brand? I shake my head. I don’t know how I’ll react to magic being used upon me. Instead I tell him I’m not comfortable around Toza’s former apprentice.
There is much that we have to talk over, but it’ll take time. Again, my nemesis raises its head.
There’s a knock upon the door and it swings open. Jern pokes his head in, and he asks if there’s something I want to talk to him about. His eyes are upon Phearon, and he walks in.
He’s assessing the situation, and conversation is difficult again. We stumble as we move through the motions of conversing. Eventually it turns to what I saw that caused me to run.
The memory was my mother’s. She had Chang who was seriously hurt, he could have healed himself but mother was too weak to give up the amount of blood needed I’m sure. She had taken Chang and fled. Not for the first or last time, to get away from the one tormenting her: Pronkar. I now know fully why mother was always worried when he was around. All he did was drain her to near death, put a potion in her and do it again to torture Chang. I tell them that she was mostly unconscious through the town, so there is quiet here. Up on the surface there are mostly happy memories, except the Kabal had been waging war with the elves. I try to tell them about the shadow hounds,but Jern stops me to ask about when mother was here. He seems surprised.
Phearon is surprised that I still am fond of Pronkar. The vampire never did me harm, he instead saved my brother and I when we were infants and they tried to steal us. He guarded us, I think because mother guarded his nephew, after saving him from pirates who had enslaved him.
Jern speaks about what happened to him. Did he almost die before getting here? Explosions and white flashes sound ominous. Before we can discuss this further I hear the sound of moving armour.
The rest of the group finally arrives. I’m silent and fall in behind them looking at the buildings. Beautiful, what would have driven the elves underground? When? How many eons ago did the event happen?
I move towards the tallest building which is in the center. Jern agreed it was a good position to take being in the center and having a full view. A question was raised as to which tunnel lead to the elven village. I pointed it out.
There’s a fountain, it’s dried up. The flower beds are dead. Pity. I wish I could peak at what it used to look like. Maybe when my magic is stronger I can call upon the past’s echoes… perhaps the dwarves we rescue will like being here? I’ll have to talk to Jern, and the elves.
Watches are set up and I move to a different floor from the group, but find some members up with me. I set a low burning fire to keep the egg warm and slip into the magic flow to commune with the egg to learn the next step. It’s more feelings and fleeting images, but I believe it’s to be at the top of the very tower we are in. I see the plan and slowly find my senses…. and Daniel is seated beside me, watching intently.
Hello, I say to him. His curiosity seems to be killing him as he gets talking. First apologising for stabbing me, he offers a dagger to stab him back, which I decline. I’m not sure the game he’s trying to play at. He then goes on about ritual work, and learning how to do it. I ask him what’s in it for me.
That stops him right there. He’s interested in the magic up in Gronx. Course he is. He acts like prey at times, making me wonder what cruelties have been visited upon him. He talks and I hold a hand up. I remind him that he betrayed me to people we knew not. Trust needs to be earned and there is none between us. Not the type to convince me to take him as a student. It’s part and parcel to my culture, my people, and my family. Would he respect the tradition? Or use it to burn a forest down?
I’ll allow him to figure things out, then Princess Floofypants makes hers and Jern’s presence known. We talk a bit, then Clarence is brought down by her mental voice. Jern teases him about going insane, and I bring him up to date on the sentient warhammer. I begin thinking about how to build the pyre, and the airflow here. There is oddly a breeze, so, again what was this place used for? A refuge?
I come back to the present as Clarence congratulates me. I ask him for what and he approves of the lack of murder and avoiding the archmage. I’m taken back. This is the man I bit, the human that I wanted to cut the throat of…. I’m not sure of what to say. So I say nothing.
I tell those who are awake of what’s needed. And they jump up, ready to go get ancient doors and hot burning minerals for the next step of the ritual. They are excited. Even Psyren who doesn’t approve of ritual work as it can be fatal. Again, I am surprised. Clarence, after asking about what type of cult this is even goes to help and Gronx is taking the egg up to the top. Perhaps we can get this done without waking the others or setting off the orc’s warning rod. I head up and begin to draw the runes and circles upon the roof. They are similar to what I wrote to summon the egg, but are more focused on focusing the flow of energy, charging and purifying it. I saw some of them while in commune. I can feel the air flow here, this is good. The others bring the wood, Jern takes my lead with the mineral powder, and he has found himself a makeshift drum. I shall have to secure him a true drum at some point.
He beats a pattern, I take lead. And the others join in as the mood takes them. We dance and move, setting into a trance and the energy grows. I feel the precise point to ignite the pyre which ignites the runes and circles. Fire flows around us, and then propels itself out and back in when it hits the outer wall. I stop to watch as the egg breaks open and a small phoenix comes out with a screech. The great firebird grows rapidly and flies straight above us to sound his call again. I don’t realise that I’m on my knees til I move to follow my patron out. He swoops for the tunnel that leads for the elf village. I get up and leap off the building and become aware of two important facts: a) I’m naked, I don’t know when that happened, and b) I’m in my natural form. I fly swiftly, keeping up to his tail feathers. We hit surface quickly and I land on a tall tree’s branch. Pyrico again sounds his challenge above the forest and the flow of magic that comes is to guard and protect, then to destroy. Fire falls from the sky, from his wings and body, not burning the trees but destroying that which doesn’t belong. Puffs of smoke rise up in countless places.
An angry scream catches my attention and I turn to where the gods were fighting. Trees are moving, light is being shot and rage gives birth to defiance before the evil flees. Between Warmonger and Pyrico, I doubt that the foul one had a chance.
I turn again to see trees turning green, blossoms blooming, and Pyrico flying to wear I stand. I move to bow my head, but he’s already bowing to me! My patron acknowledged me! I want to laugh, I want to leap, I instead drop to a knee and place a hand upon my heart. It is great to see him again.
With a final call, he turns and flies away, I watch until he’s out of sight. I don’t chase after him this time. Instead I leap off the branch and fly towards the village, when I hear noise. I land on a new branch and spy upon moving elves. They are out of stasis! I want to take a form that resembles my mother and speak to some, but I’m naked.
I believe that they have certain celebrations where nudity is ok, but first meeting is not one. I instead fly back to the tunnel, being careful to not be seen and fly back to everyone. I’m happy! I’m excited! My first quest is successful! Pyrico is back! There is hope. I may survive this.
I almost crash into Clarence and veer up and barrel roll above them. I swoop and twist in the air, and Jern calls to me. I fly down and above him and talk quickly. He begroans not being able to witness and I smile. I call some fire to me and replay all that I witnessed for those gathered. Jern curses his short legs.
I fly up and off, telling him I need to get redressed and back into my human guise. I need to gather the shell fragments. They will be useful.
Today is the start of something. We did the first step!