Into Shadow

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Royal Blood
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Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:12 am

Into Shadow

Post by Royal Blood » Sun Mar 12, 2023 11:53 pm

My mind wanders far. Over grassy hills and rolling planes with clouds in the sky that float by casually. I see the surface animal, a cow, grazing upon grass the dull eyes appearing at peace. Content with what it has. To live and be as it is. The creature undisturbed with the world around it. The animal has its place.

My mind is with my familiar which is a spider that traveling in the morning sunlands. I feel the warmth of that sun without its usual sting and the legs of my spider as it skitters through the grass. Despite the mission I am on being one of violence, I find myself at peace.

My peace is disturbed by the words of my companion before I closed my eyes and let my mind wander. "We were spotted. They may be here soon." The words claw at the back of my mind. I decide to continue on, just a moment more. I pretend that I might spot something useful, but I am temporarily enchanted by the surface. Enjoying a world denied to me otherwise. Abundant life is rampant around me. There is something about this place that feels natural. An old calling awakened inside of me when my mind was shattered by the Elder Brain. A remembrance of a time now long dead but retains some grip on me. Like a seed planted in dirt now just sprouting.

The clawing in my mind of the warning grows into more of a loud beckoning. Begrudgingly, I pull myself back to my natural body. As I do, my senses return to me piece mail. I smell the bitter scent of death and burning. Old stone and dark magic. But something new. Something fresh. My ears twitch, I hear combat. I hear the thud of bows. The tearing sound of arcane spells and I feel the ground trembling shake of divine magics. My heart begins to race. My eyes come to me next, I open them and find that I am alone. The combat is nearby. Just a chamber away.

My heart pounding, I lunge to begin to run but my feet do not move! I panic thinking I have been paralyzed by a mage and already captured. My mind begins to cloud, I wonder how many of my own are still alive? Are any alive? Are we winning? Have we been defeated? Is there still time to extract? Should I flee? My mind turns through thoughts as fast as a river over-flowing from recent rains. Abruptly, my training kicks in and I focus. I realize what has happened. Time Stop. A Spell. Of course. The realization dawns upon me as I abruptly find the capacity to move.

Quickly, I cast wards then run at full speed from behind a wall, down a corridor and into the main chamber of Stone Hold. As the chamber comes into view and the thick smog of battle clears my heart drops. I see my enemies, all kinds of races, many more than I can count, surrounding us. As I take stock of the situation a large half orc pushes by me, realizes who I am, then abruptly swings. Instinctually I block the blow and return my own. I abandon most of my thinking and focus on combat. There is an energy in the air. Chaos. Lolth watches. She is here. She is watching me.

As the half orcs weapon cracks against my wards and shield my blade slithers out dealing her a wicked blow. We exchange blows until she finds she cannot harm me and parts to attack one of my companions. As she moves away, I tear her wards asunder and re-engage. Without wards, my blade finds flesh more frequently. Soon, the enemy cannot endure and falls to the ground. What once was alive is now dead. My head snaps back to the chamber, I find my next target.

A dwarf, wounded gravely, is crawling away from the battlefield. Inch by inch he pulls himself forward. But he will not make it. I drive my sword through his wounded body and see the life drain from his muscles. I turn then to a hin, arrows fly at me bouncing off my wards. Quickly I close the distance between us and my blade strikes true. Not long after, that creature is also dead. I scan the battlefield and note more of my companions were alive than I suspected. A desperate battle is occurring on a bridge that leads from the main chamber to the central gate. Magic is thick and quickly clouds view of the bridge combatants. I cannot tell who is winning. I engage nearby elves, we trade blows, they retreat from me. Combat seems to go on forever.

Suddenly, I hear the thrum of wards. Fresh wards. Wards still vibrant and not reduced by combat. I turn and see a paladin rise from a nearby stair-case that led to a ley-line portal. His blade glows with divine light and his presence radiates like the sun! I feel the sting of his presence and determine I cannot allow him to reach our mages who are desperately attempting to keep the opposing army from crossing the bridge. The paladin sees me, and I him and we rush at one another blades and shields raised!

Quickly, the sound of metal and magic clash as our warded figures collide. I block, strike, block again, and find myself exposed. There is a thrum of divine energy. A woosh that blows past me as this paladin's god suddenly blesses him. Beneath my hood my eyes go wide! I see the holy blade ignite in righteous flame! I desperately try to block it with my sword, but I am too late! The divine blade CRASHES into my wards sundering them and then finds my plate I can hear the deep THUNK of metal meeting metal and soon feel the pressure of it. His blade sinks into my breastplate and I feel the wind knocked from my lungs and the potent sting of divinity attempting to purge me from this realm.

No. I gasp but this cannot be it. I stumble away from him. He presses on but I manage to scramble past a rock dividing the space between us. Again, arrows begin to pepper me but they bounce off my warded form. My wards, however, will not endure forever. I quickly free a healing draught from my belt and consume it. No sooner do I down it then I find the paladin upon me again. Once more we clash. I do not know what god I fight but he is potent. I struggle to keep up and find myself soon forced to retreat. I do so with more grace this time. A better plan as I pull away from him and find an elf in my path who I quickly lay low.

While separated from immediate combat I look back towards the bridge. Still the fight rages! I see familiar figures amongst the fog of arcane magic that clouds the battlefield. We appear to be holding and killing them off. I turn again to the paladin who is once more charging towards me. As he comes, a breach spell crashes over him and I see his wards fail. Suddenly, I can see his gleaming silver armor and white tabard. Now he is vulnerable.

We clash again but without his wards I am able to hold my own. Our fight remains desperate as both of us take blows from the other. He is pounding against my plate and it is beginning to bruise me beneath but equally, I am wounding him striking furiously with skill trained over many decades. As our fight continues, I see several of my own companions dis-engage from the bridge. They quickly join me and collectively we overwhelm the paladin and put him down. As soon as he is down, my companions return to the bridge. I pause to gauge the situation. We have slain everything in the main chamber. Bodies litter the broken stone-landscape and hell-fire and lava flow around us from broken stone. The heat in the air is crushing and the smell of blood lingers heavy in the air.

I cry out! "LOLTH TLU MALLA!" To let my companions know their leader yet lives. I see a resurgence of their efforts. The elves shout back a rebuttal but they are quickly slain. There is a final effort to claim the bridge and the last of the surface forces stumble away retreating out the large gate-way door. My companions run back into Stonehold, frantic, one of them carries a body.

"RETREAT! FALL BACK" I shout into the impossibly loud stone chamber. While the battle-field was ours there was no way to know how many more surfacers were coming. And if my companions were in the same state as I they would be fatigued and out of magic. "GATHER THE DEAD. FALL BACK" I repeat. We collect the bodies and storm down the stairway making for the leyline. The same leyline that was the door way for our enemies had now become our escape route.

I let several go before me. The enemy is not following. I take the portal. Everything goes black for a moment then I step out into home. Back beneath the earth. Back to the crypt the surface would prefer I stayed in. I breathe in, shakily, my body aching from the combat and blows I had received. I am drenched in sweat. My heart is pounding. As the adrenaline fades, I am distinctly aware of how taxing combat was. I watch as one by one my companions emerge. All of them still alive.

My eyes open. I am sitting cross legged on my bed. Spider silk sheets touch my bare skin. I am alone. In the solace of my chamber buried beneath a citadel of cold stone and metal. In my mind during reverie, I replay the moments of that fight often. Combat to a scale I had not seen before but a combat in which my own prevailed. I breathe in and out. My body tingling with the remains of the reverie I had just awakened from. "Lolth Tlu Malla." I murmur to the darkness as I lay down to find reverie in a different memory that was not so intense.

I am not on a team.
I do not win, I do not lose.
I tell a story, and when I'm lucky,
Play a part in the story you tell too.

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