Kaybal ran at top speed through the dank stone hallway, with an endurance one can only get with some sort of drive behind it. Kaybal's motivation? The life of an innocent is in jeopardy, and the clock was ticking.
A Barbarian woman had been abducted from outside Thundermist Village recently, and Kaybal had set out to find her. All signs pointed him to a ruined temple in the Feerrott, where he had discovered the underground passage through which he was currently running.
There was a stone door at the end of the hall. He took out his shield, handed down to him from his grandfather, and held it in front of him. He hit the door at top speed, and smashed right through. Bits of rubble and plenty of dust fell into the room after him.
The room was incredibly dark, but as soon as he entered, torches began lighting themselves. The room was split in half, the half he entered from was the lower half. The raised half was reached by a staircase on either side of the room. There were certainly quite a few skeletons down on the bottom half. Possibly on the top half too, he couldn't see.
Near the ledge of the raised section, Kaybal could clearly see the Barbarian woman he was out to save. She was in a rather curious position. There was a thin stone divider by the ledge. To this, she was strapped, upside-down, her feet near the ceiling, her head a few feet from the floor. She was gagged, and the fear in her eyes was quite clear even from a distance.
Kaybal drew his sword, which was a plain seeming thing, compared with his shield. "Don't worry, I'm going to get you out."
"No, you won't." Came a sinister voice. A figure walked out from around the small divider. It was another Iksar, tall-ish for her kind, with black scales and purple highlights. She wore black robes, and glowing green eyes were shining out from behind a terrifying skull mask.
"Hello, Kaybal. How necessary to see you."
Kaybal took a step forward. "Slithiria. I might've known."
"Yet you didn't, did you? You blundered straight in, so single-minded, so predictable. I probably shouldn't be disappointed."
Kaybal was stoic as he stared up at her. "Let the woman go. She is not part of our squabbles, there is no need to put her in the crossfire, sister."
"DO NOT CALL ME 'SISTER'! YOU LOST THE RIGHT TO USE THAT TERM EIGHT YEARS AGO!" Slithiria's voice echoed through the underground temple. She took a deep breath and brushed herself off. "I'd like to disagree with you, Kaybal. There is much need to put her in the crossfire. She's my bait, and my sacrifice."
Kaybal took another tentative step forward. "She is innocent, Slithiria. She is no threat to you. This is between you and I, and you and I alone."
"Again, I disagree. This woman is fair game. As far as I'm concerned, everyone is fair game, Kaybal. If I have to burn this entire damn planet to kill you, then I will. And by the way, if you take another step toward those stairs, I will kill her, raise her, and make her attack you."
Kaybal sighed shook his head sadly. "You're insane, Slithiria."
She giggled. "I know, that's what makes me so lovable." She reached behind herself and pulled out an ancient looking, ornate mace. "Do you know what this is, Kaybal? It is an ancient relic, known as the Screaming Mace, blessed by our creator Cazic-Thule."
"Slithiria, enough! Please, come with me. You need help. It's not too late for you."
Slithiria rolled her eyes. "Oh please, spare me the goody-two-shoes redemption bullshit. I happen to remember my people's history and heritage, and didn't go off and shack up with our bastard of a grandfather. You know, Kaybal, this could have been avoided if you had just laid down and died. But no. There's too much of him in you. And speaking of remembering our heritage, I just so happen to remember the blood magic that father taught me."
Slithiria shouted something in Thulian, and a pair of Lizardmen armed with spears rushed into the room. They both stabbed at Kaybal, an attack he blocked with his shield. He brought his sword down, cutting off one of their arms.
With one Lizardman disarmed (hehe), the other stabbed again. Kaybal parried the strike and lashed out with his shield, knocking the Lizardman onto its back. He jumped onto the Lizardman, put his sword to its throat, and beheaded it with a scissoring motion.
The one with half an arm jumped onto Kaybal's back, trying to bite his neck, but his teeth were unable to puncture the armour. Kaybal reached back and flipped the Lizardman off of him, then crushed its windpipe with his shield.
He stood and looked up at Slithiria, realising with dismay that she was just completing a necromantic spell. The skeletons rose to their feet around him, as well as the freshly killed Lizardman he hadn't beheaded. Kaybal reminded himself to behead all his foes from now on. The undead totalled more than a dozen, in all.
As her brother fought her disposable soldiers, Slithiria looked down at the Barbarian woman, grinned, said "I dedicate this sacrifice to Cazic-Thule", and swung the Screaming Mace. The Barbarian's head was crushed almost instantly, accompanied by a grotesque splattering sound. Blood immediately began flowing from the body, into a round stone indentation beneath. From there, it flowed through a channel down the wall, to the floor below.
"NO!" Kaybal yelled when he witnessed the innocent woman get killed, and he shattered one of the skeletons. As he fought, he noticed that indentations carved into the floor served as channels for the blood, and it began to fill in a pattern on the floor. Over the sounds of steel clashing, Slithiria chanted in Thulian.
Kaybal felt a stinging sorrow at the loss of the one he had hoped to save. Then, he felt the drive to avenge her. But he could only kill the undead so fast. And Slithiria knew this. She just hoped that her months of studying planar forces would pay off.
As Kaybal knocked the head off the last skeleton, so too the last of the blood rushed out of the Barbarian woman's corpse. The pattern on the floor was now complete, with a small, shallow pool at the center. Slithiria's chanting reached a crescendo, and the pool at the center began to bubble and froth.
Kaybal began to back away, an inexplicable sense of dread washing over him as the torches in the room grew dim.
From the pool burst a writhing multitude of massive, blackened, disgusting tentacles. The floor buckled from the force of their emergence, and they were clearly but the wicked, thorny appendages of some nameless horror lurking beneath.
Slithiria's insane laughter filled the room. "I've done it! I've actually done it! I mean, I have absolutely no clue, what I've unleashed, but that's part of the fun, isn't it? Well, I've got to run. You two have fun together!"
Slithiria turned and sauntered into the shadows. Kaybal turned and tried to run out of the door, but one of the tentacles lashed out, and caused the doorway to collapse. Kaybal skidded to a halt, and tried to run to the side. A tentacle lashed out with impressive speed and grabbed the Iksar guardian, lifting him up into the air.
Kaybal dangled there for a moment, kicking and struggling, until the tentacles all plunged back into the blood pool, pulling him in as well.
Kaybal wasn't sure how long he was under. It could have been seconds, it could have been days. He would only remember tiny flashes afterwards, glimpses of an endless field of terrors, everything we've ever feared lurking in the dark now out in the open, prowling freely. The ruins of countless civilizations, and through it all, the laughter of a faceless god.
There is one moment he would remembered vividly. A moment when the thing to which the tentacles belonged tried to make Kaybal face it, he raised his shield to block his eyes and said "No! By the virtues of Valor, Love, and Mercy, I defy you!"
There was a roar of anger, then a large hand on his shoulder wrenched him free of the grip of the tentacled thing.
The next thing Kaybal knew, he was out of the nightmare land. Jaukoehai Sky'ki held his quivering great nephew in his arms. "W-what? Who's there? Who are you?"
The Sarnak paladin worked a bit of healing magic to ease Kaybal's mind. "I am the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition."
"Jaukoehai?" Kaybal squinted, and was able to make out the features of his great uncle.
"Indeed. Come on, let's get you home."
Ongoing roleplay and fiction.
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