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Daughter of Krypta
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:32 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Lydith and Yellow Sky were greeted at the door of the Warrior's Guild by a warrior of discord wearing a woman's lacy nightgown. "Ooo lookie what we have here?" giggled the insane warrior.

Lydith tried not to laugh at the ridiculous sight while Yellow Sky bowled over in an uncontrollable laughing fit. "I'm looking for Gameth", she said, trying to distract the warrior from the cultist rolling on the floor.

"Ooo Gameth!" The warrior of discord turned around and started calling out the warrior's name in a shrill voice. "Gaaameth! Gameth? There's a giiirrrl here to see you!"

After a while, the cultist finally got himself under control and Gameth appeared at the door, thankfully wearing normal clothing and armour. "Lydith?" he said in a startled voice. "What are you doing here?"

"Gameth!", Lydith let out a breath of relief at the sight of the aged warrior. "Thank Krypta you're here! Aunt Daedra needs our help!"

"Good heavens, girl! How did you get out of the Convent?"

"Ooooo I see that your taste is for convent girls, hmmm?" The warrior of discord's head appeared from the side of the doorway.

Gameth grimaced. "Shut up, Damious. And go away."

Damious raised his hand to his chest in seeming shock. "I'm deeply offended, Gameth! I thought we had something special between us!"

Lydith broke in. "Don't ask how, but I know that Aunt Daedra is in trouble. And we have to get to her before it is too late."

Gameth nodded. The warrior was apparently used to emergencies like these. "Let me get my things."

"You need things to get yourself started, Gameth?" The warrior of discord hooted in laughter like a deranged hyena.

Gameth winced and faced the giggling warrior. "Oh look, Damious! You've hurt your head again!"

Damious squinted upwards. "Where?" Gameth punched the warrior of discord across the side of the head with his gauntlet fist. Damious looked back, crossed his eyes, and fell unconscious on the floor.

"Is he okay?" asked Lydith with slight concern.

"Was he okay to begin with?" growled Gameth. "Come on, let's move before someone else sees you."
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:33 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

The garden of the Temple to Krypta was quieter than graveyard in the middle of the night, with even the absence of chirping night insects one might normally expect. There was a slight scuffle as a dark figure dropped down from the ten-foot high garden walls. Peering around carefully, the figure treaded its way slowly towards the temple building and entered an open archway. It glanced left and right, as if deciding which way to go, before moving down the left corridor.

Suddenly, there was a squeak of a rusty hinge as a door further down the corridor opened. The figure swiftly stepped behind stone pillar and watched as Keera exited from the door and carefully closed it behind her. As the door shut, the figure could hear the resounding snores of someone in the room. The servant then proceeded further down the corridor before disappearing into another room.

Breathing out in relief, the figure started to move out of its hiding place, just as a leather gloved hand clamped over its mouth. The figure gave a muffled shriek and tried to turn to face its assailant, but the point of a dagger into the small of its back made a edged suggestion to stop struggling.

“Who are you and what is your business here?” a voice growled into the figure’s ear. The hand released its grip on the figure’s mouth, but the dagger remained.

“I.. I’m not here to hurt anyone,” stuttered the figure. “My name is Kievan and.. and.. I wasn’t going to hurt anyone, I swear!”

“Not so loud!” hissed the voice into Kievan’s ear. “There are a few who do not sleep in this place.” Kievan could feel his captor look around to see if anyone had heard them. “If you are here to steal, Kievan, you are a fool for not finding out more about the layout of the temple grounds. The temple vaults were on the right at the archway.”

“Oh.. really?,” stammered Kievan, a little wide-eyed.

“Fifty meters straight and then down the second stairs guarded by half a dozen skeletal guards,” continued the person behind him. “There’s probably more wards or guards within the vault itself. The priestesses always like to surround their valuables with little undead surprises.” The dagger point eased back a little. “Perhaps you were a lucky fool to have taken the wrong turn at the archway after all.”

He let Kievan go and the thief turned around to face him. It was hard to see, but he could make out a lean man standing next to the pillar. The man was dressed in dark leather, with a hood that shadowed the top portion of his face. Kievan then saw that it was not a dagger that had been pressed against his back, but a sleek, black crossbow.

Kievan raised his hands in submission. “I apologise for bumbling into you, sir. There was no word at the guild that someone was attempting a job in the Temple.”

The crossbow pointed itself to Kievan’s head. “You part of the Guild?”

Kievan cursed himself inwardly. He should have guessed that this man was an independant. The guild treated non-member thieves harshly whenever they found one. “Please, sir – I am new in the guild and I won’t tell a soul that I saw you here.”

“Only a fool would trust a rogue’s word.”

Kievan closed his eyes, fully expecting to feel the cold metal shaft pierce through his skull. However, he heard the rustling sound of robes instead. Immediately, the leather-gloved hand grabbed Kievan by the front of his tunic and pulled him into the shadows.

Both of them watched as a robed priestess walked down the corridor, accompanied by two skeletons. The priestess stopped in front of a door that was opened by someone from the inside. She did not enter the room, but stood where she was. “The girl has left, favoured one,” she said reverently to someone in the room.

A raspy voice replied, so cold and lifeless that it made Kievan shudder, “Very good. You have done well, sister. Give yourself some excuse to leave the temple and make your way to the caverns in time for the ritual.”

The priestess bowed her head in affirmation. “I will offer to go after the girl when her absence is discovered.” The priestess looked up. “What of her father?”

“Our useless allies in Centuria have failed to locate him. He knows not who we are, but he is surely coming after his daughter. However, by the time he finds her, it would be too late.” The voice suddenly stopped. “Wait,.. I sense.. someone here..”

The priestess immediately spun around, her staff at ready. With a deft flick of her hand, she ordered her two skeletons to search the pillars. The pair of gaunt cadavers moved swiftly, one armed with a sword and the other with a dull metal mace.

We’re going to die, thought Kievan just as the figure beside him stepped out of the shadows, crossbow held up. The skeletons immediately started towards him, just as a fiery bolt left the crossbow to hit the sword-wielding one in the skull. The undead gaped as it burst into flames.

“Kill him!” shrieked the priestess as she raised her staff to blast a life-draining globe at the leather-clad figure. However, the man was quicker as he leapt forward and kicked the burning skeleton back into the priestess. In one fluid motion, he turned and ducked as a mace swung harmlessly over him, its undead wielder snarling silently.

Kievan gaped unbelievingly as the man ran back. “Run if you want to live,” the man shot at the thief as he passed the pillar. That brought Kievan’s senses back as he too turned and sped off after the man.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:35 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Chapter 8

“Ye gods, cultist! I swear if you don’t keep this thing away from me, I’ll tie all eight of its legs around your neck!” bellowed Gameth as he scrambled to get up.

Yellow Sky wrapped a protective arm around the giant spider as it backed away from the fuming warrior. “Look what you did,” he said reproachfully. “You’ve hurt Chompalot’s feelings. He really looks up to you, you know.”

“I don’t care!” raged the warrior. “I’m sick of waking up in the mornings to the smell of spider breath all over my face!”

“That’s how he shows his affection,” began the cultist, just as Lydith stepped into the clearing where they had spent the night.

Gameth turned to regard the girl. “And where have you been? You shouldn’t be wandering off by yourself – it’s too dangerous! And you!” he fumed again at the cultist, “How can you let her go off on her own!?”

“I didn’t go far, Gameth,” replied Lydith before the cultist could answer. “I just went to get some water.” She held up a filled canteen. “And Yellow Sky could see me all the while.”

Gameth took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I’m sorry, Lydith,” he said. “I didn’t mean to go off on you like that. It’s just that we’re getting closer to the caverns every day and we’re entering regions where creatures worse than goblins can be found. And I’m not really a morning person as you might have noticed.”

“Gameth always in bad mood in the mornings,” observed Yellow Sky.

“Shut up, cultist.”

“There is something else, Gameth,” said Lydith uneasily. “I feel like something’s been here before. I don’t know what it is, but it reeks of death and passed here a few days ago.” She gave a worried look to Gameth. “I’ve been feeling traces like this the closer we get to the caverns. I fear that this more than just the three of us can handle.”

“The seven of us!” corrected Yellow Sky, arm still around the spider.

Gameth frowned, ignoring the cultist. “More undead roaming around this area is bad news. And if Daedra is in trouble in a place like this, then we’re going to have to get her out. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find her before anything else finds us.”
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:36 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Getting out of the city of Necroselluem in the middle of the night proved easier than Lydith had anticipated. The city guards at the gate were acquainted with Gameth and hardly asked any questions regarding the warrior’s sudden departure from the city. After a brief friendly chat, a guard at the gate opened a small door built into the gate itself and let them through.

Once outside, Lydith proceeded to tell Gameth about everything she had experienced while in the convent. Gameth listened intently while Yellow Sky followed along in an uncaringly gleeful attitude, distracted by anything he found curious. The full moon provided enough light for the three of them to walk without need of a lantern.

Gameth was silent until Lydith told him about her ability to ‘hear’ the undead speak. He hesitated before he spoke. “I’ve.. heard about this ability of yours, Lydith.”

“You have?” said Lydith in surprise. “My friend Karyn and I have scoured over every book in the temple library and we didn’t find any reference to it at all.”

“I don’t think you would have. The priestesses keep records of it in a much more secure place. But even they do not have much on it, save that it is an ability bestowed by Krypta herself.” He looked at Lydith. “Your mother had this same ability.”

Lydith stared at him unbelievingly. “You never told me,” she managed after a while.

“I was sworn to secrecy,” replied Gameth. “By your own mother. She told me that she found it more a curse than a blessing. Anyone who knew of her powers, especially other priestesses, tended to keep their distance, too fearful of her abilities, yet too astute to let her be. She never wanted a different life from anyone else, but this ability forever kept her apart from others.”

“But Aunt Daedra was not distant from her,” Lydith pointed out. “And neither were you.”

“Ah, girl,” sighed Gameth. “I don’t think it was the distance of other people that affected your mother; it was more the discomfort of being treated differently.”

They walked for a while in silence, Lydith deep in thought. What her mother had faced before was potentially what she would have to face in her own future and the prospect troubled her. After a while, she firmly pushed those worries aside - she would cross that bridge when she came to it. Meanwhile, she had to turn her attention to more urgent matters. “Gameth?” she queried. “Do you think that this ability is somehow linked to why I feel that Aunt Daedra is in danger?”

Gameth shrugged. “It is possible, I suppose. As I said, even the priestesses do not know much about it,” he replied. “But just knowing that she is in danger is not enough. What more can you tell me about this place you see Daedra in?”

The details of her dreams were etched in Lydith’s mind, so she described them as best as she could. “She seemed to be in a cave or cavern, some place under the ground. The walls and ground were reddish-yellow, but it could have been because of the red light from the web she was trapped in.”

“Reddish-Yellowish Caves!” The cultist bounded up excitedly. “Yellow Sky has seen such caves! Yellow Sky can take you!”

“Not so fast, cultist,” growled Gameth. “We can’t go running after every cave you’ve been to just because you think they looked red or yellow or purple.”

“Reddish-Yellowish rocks!” insisted the cultist. “From sacred priestess caverns up north!”

Gameth and Lydith exchanged glances. “Well,” admitted the warrior. “The cultist is probably referring to the Caverns of Shovah-Ukran north from here. Massive limestone caves which have some red clay impurities that streak the yellow walls with reddish lines. But anyway, the priestesses consider it a holy place and dislike people from going there. Not that many would want to – the area around those caverns are not particularly safe for anyone.”

“Except Yellow Sky!” declared the cultist. “Yellow Sky can lead you there, past all dangers and bad creatures!”

“I suppose that’s all we have now, Gameth,” said Lydith. “At least until I remember more details from the dreams.”

“Very well,” said Gameth. He scowled at the grinning cultist. “Meanwhile, I’ll be watching you. I don’t trust you, or your folk and if this turns out to be one of your pranks, I’ll make sure you’ll regret it more than I will for taking directions from a cultist.”
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:37 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

A deep resounding bell began to toll as Tomas landed on the pavement outside the temple walls. He looked around for any pursuers just as Kievan landed beside him.

“The temple bell!” gasped the thief. “By Krypta’s blood, every priestess and undead in the city is going to come stalking now!”

Tomas scanned the area once again. “Can’t stay in the city then,” he remarked.

“There are many ways out,” said Kievan. “You can try the Hungry Varg tavern on the south wall – they’ve got a tunnel to the outside which they’ll let you use for a reasonable price as long as you don’t sound too desperate. I’ll find some place to lay low for a while until the commotion dies down.”

Tomas leveled his crossbow at the thief. “And you’re coming with me.”

Kievan swore to himself. “Listen, sir,” said Kievan. “I’ve already told you that I’m not going to tell anyone at the Guild about you.”

“The only way you’re staying behind is dead and hidden in an alleyway,” replied Tomas. “Once we’re both some distance from the city, you can go.”

Kievan threw his hands up in frustration. “Okay, fine, I’ll come with you,” he snapped. “But at least tell me what your name is.”

Tomas paused for a while before he replied. “Tomas. My name is Tomas.”

“Tomas, eh?” said Kievan with slight sarcasm. “Named yourself after the Taker, did you?”

Tomas smiled in amusement. “Something like that.”
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:38 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Tomas's comment of a few who did not sleep in the Temple of Krypta might have been based on a number of rumours that circulated even amongst the Temple servants themselves. It was said that no one had ever seen the Convent Mother Darkfriend sleep. The servants whispered that although the official sleeping quarters of the Convent Mother were located next to her study, and that it was cleaned out every morning, the bed itself remained unslept in.

Of course, the more sceptical would state that the Convent Mother either made it a point to make her own bed every morning, or kept very bad sleeping habits on her study room chair. Nevertheless, Sister ShadowLife was slightly taken-aback when her tentative knock on the Convent Mother's door in the middle of the night was immediately answered by a curt response to enter.

The priestess entered the dark wood study room, her head bowed respectfully as she moved towards the polished desk where the Convent Mother is busily writing into a large tome with a goose feather quill by the light of a desk oil lamp. The Convent Mother did not look up from her writing as she spoke. "Good evening, Sister ShadowLife. Here to report on tonight's occurances?"

"Yes, Mother Darkfriend," nodded the priestess. "There were intruders this night in the servant's wing. Thieves, most likely, and they were pursued to the gardens where they escaped over the wall."

"Thieves, you say," sniffed Mother Darkfriend. "Even when the city's rogue's guildmaster is too afraid to even relieve himself against the Temple's outer wall? Something is not quite right, Sister ShadowLife."

"Yes, Mother Darkfriend," admitted the priestess.

"Send word to the guildmaster. I will have words with him about these.. thieves."

"At once, Mother Darkfriend." Sister ShadowLife hesitated as she ventured to speak again. "There is.. another thing, dread Mother. The initiate Lydith has disappeared from her chambers. No one knows where she is."

The quill stopped as Mother Darkfriend peered up sharply at the priestess. "In Sister Daedra's absence, I thought I made it clear that the girl was under your supervision, Sister ShadowLife."

Sister ShadowLife did not look up to meet the Convent Mother's piercing gaze. "I apologize, Mother. I was-"

"What you were doing is inconsequential," said the Convent Mother sharply. "You will form a search party and find the girl. She is too valuable to be lost at this time."

"Yes, Mother Darkfriend," replied Sister ShadowLife.

The Convent Mother frowned as she leaned back on her study chair. "Two things happening on the same night.. almost seemingly by chance. I do not believe in co-incidences, Sister ShadowLife." She focused on the priestess before her. "I want those thieves apprehended and brought to me."

"Do you wish me to inform the Guildmaster and the City Watch?" asked Sister ShadowLife.

"No," said Mother Darkfriend thoughtfully. "We will deal with this ourselves."
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:40 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

"Eighteen gold sovereigns, and not a copper less," stated the elven tavern keeper while examining his carefully manicured finger-nails.

"What!?" exclaimed Kievan. "Last time, you charged me six when I used the tunnel!"

"Last time, me and my household weren't woken up in the middle of the night, and you didn't have a suspicious-looking character with you," sniffed the elf disdainfully as he observed Tomas who was standing behind Kievan.

"If you think that I'm going to pay three times the price-"

"Pay him," uttered Tomas over Kievan's shoulder as he looked around the empty tavern. It was a modest establishment and like most elven businesses, it offered one or two highly illegal services, in this case access to a tunnel through the city walls which also conveniently doubled as the tavern's backroom wall. There was a saying that elves could make gold from selling air.

"Pay him!? Are you deaf? He's charging us eighteen gold for a stroll through a hole in a wall!"

"You could keep your gold and stroll through the city-gates," suggested the elf smoothly.

Tomas placed a pouch on the bar counter and slid it to the elf. "Here's twenty. A little extra to ensure that it is a quiet stroll, if you take my meaning."

The elf quickly poured out the contents of the pouch on the bar counter and proceeded to count the gold right in front of them. After collecting the gold back into the pouch, the elf smiled oily. "Pleasure doing business with you gentlemen. If you could please follow me."

They both followed the elf down a short corridoor which ended at a wooden door. Entering through it, they found themselves in a storage room for large casks of wine and ale. Several of these have been pushed back to reveal a solid-looking trap door next to the back wall, with metal bolts sealing it shut. Two other elves were here as well, standing next to the trap door.

Kievan caught a glance from Tomas and quickly asked, "What are they doing here?" refering to the two elves.

"Oh, we are expecting some visitors to our fair city tonight," replied the elven tavern keeper off-handedly. "We always station someone here to welcome visitors, as well as to collect their gold of course."

"Didn't you just tell me that you and your household were all sleeping when we came here?"

"He's such a charming boy, is he not?" smiled the elf to Tomas.

Kievan angrily held up a warning finger. "Don't call me 'boy', you pasty-faced p-"

A sudden knocking from beneath the trap door interrupted the young thief. The two elves waited until a sequence of knocks had completed before unbolting the trap door.

Tomas's instincts began to knaw at him. "Stand back," he said to Kievan who was already backing away.

The two elves lifted the trap door. "Welcome to Necroselluem," called the elven tavern keeper as the opening revealed the surprised faces of Sylas, Krut and three other rogues from Centuria.

Last edited by TaleSpinner on Tue Sep 07, 2004 9:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:42 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Chapter 9

It is said that Helia, the Goddess of the Sun, hides her face from places that have somehow gained her disfavour. If that were true, thought Lydith, then this part of the forest must have displeased the fiery goddess a long time ago. Even though it was early in the afternoon, the sunlight seemed dim and waning, and the gnarled branches of the twisted trees around them strove to give the atmosphere a forbidding sense of gloom.

"Come on! Not far to go!" came Yellow Sky's bright shout ahead of the girl and the warrior, a stark contrast to the depressiveness of their surroundings.

Gameth swore under his breath. "I'm not surprised if he's woken every creature in the forest with all that noise!"

Lydith gave the warrior a tired smile. "But at least we haven't encountered any 'bad creatures' so far." Her feet were sore from walking and she leaned against her pale staff to rest for a moment.

"Only a matter of time," grunted the aged warrior, fingering the hilt of his sword absently. "There are reasons why even rangers don't travel in here alone."

A sudden joyful shout sounded ahead of them. "Look! Come quick and see!"

"Can't that cultist keep his mouth shut?" muttered Gameth as they moved towards Yellow Sky's voice. They finally broke through the line of dark trees and saw the small man hopping up and down gleefully as he pointed.

"See!? Yellow Sky told you that he knew where the caverns are! See?" hooted the cultist happily. The four giant spiders skittered around him, perhaps intriguied by Yellow Sky's enthusiam.

The sight took Lydith's breath away. Ahead of them rose a cliff wall of limestone, higher than any of the buildings she had ever seen, even in Necroselleum. Cutting into the stone, like a gash made by an enourmous axe, was the entrance to the caverns of Shovah-Ukran. What was impressive, however, were the carvings on the walls around the entrance itself. Statues had been carved out from the limestone rock, along with words and verses, too faded by age to be coherently made out. To the left and right of the entrance rose two horn-shaped pillars that pointed accusingly at the dreary sky, their sides decorated with carvings of bones and skulls.

Lydith recognised the architecture with a sense of dread. The caverns were an ancient Temple to Krypta.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:45 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

“Don’t be silly spiders, you silly spiders!” snapped Yellow Sky crossly as he stamped his feet on the ground. In front of him, the spiders squealed their nervous response.

“What’s wrong with them?” asked Lydith, standing in front of the cavern entrance.

Yellow Sky snorted. “They don’t like this place. They sense bad things inside.”

“Then they’re got more sense than most people,” replied Gameth as he peered into the darkness. His sword was already drawn as he scanned for movement within. He turned to Lydith. “How certain are you that this might be the place?”

Lydith stared at the walls of the cliff face. The yellow, crumbling limestone was streaked with reddish lines of clay, an effect that made the walls look similar to that in her dreams. “I think so,” she said hesitantly as she ran her hands on the brittle stone.

Gameth grunted. “Thinking so is all we have now, I suppose. Come on.” He led the way in.

Lydith gave a quick glance at the cultist who was still arguing with the spiders before she too followed the aged warrior into the darkness.

Yellow Sky glared at the spiders, which in turn stared back at him. Sixteen pairs of eyes versus one eventually caused the cultist to haughtily turn his back and march after the other two. “Some warrior spiders you are!” he called over his shoulder as he disappeared into the entrance. The spiders peered after the little man and skittered around indecisively.

Lydith’s eyes eventually got used to the darkness. Somewhere above, light had managed to penetrate the cavern roof, perhaps through some cracks in the stone. However, the light that filtered down was cold and lifeless. Still, it was enough for them to see and Lydith looked around, her uneasiness mounting with every step. They were in a huge natural hall, almost as large as the Sanctuary back in the Convent temple. The walls of the hall were dimly yellow, and everywhere, reddish lines streaked the walls and ground, in some places almost gruesomely like blood. The details of the whole thing caught her breath; it was exactly like the cave in her dream.

“Look there,” muttered Gameth before she could tell the warrior. He gestured towards the far end of the great cavern. In the dim light, a pale altar rose from the ground, cut from the stone itself. Lydith spotted something near the altar. “Gameth,” she whispered as she pointed. There, lying on the ground in front of the altar was a crumpled figure wearing a faded priestess robe.

Gameth saw the figure as well and quickened his step towards it. “Come on, girl,” he said. “By the gods, if that’s Daedra, I’ll gut whoever who’s responsible for-”

Pain!.. Blood!.. Life seeping away!.. Must kill!.. Must kill them all.. Lydith literally staggered back under the wave of bitterness and hate that came flooding into her mind. “Gameth!” she gasped, her fingers gripping her staff, her knuckles white. “They’re all around us!”

And then the undead were upon them. Lurching out of the shadows, the foul stench hit them first before the ghastly view of dead skin and rotting flesh. Lydith quailed at the sight; these were not undead skeletons like the ones she was accustomed to back at the Convent. These were putrid shambling zombies; their decaying limbs reaching out towards them while their gaping mouths seemed to shriek the maddened voices in her head.

Gameth was already stepping forward to meet the shambling mob, his sword slashing towards the zombie nearest to them. His stroke sliced off the creature’s arm, causing a spray of semi-dried blood to spurt in all directions. The zombie clawed at the aged warrior with its remaining arm, but missed as the warrior stepped out of the way, his sword already flashing down with another finishing stroke.

Yellow Sky dashed past Lydith to hurl several of his daggers at an advancing zombie. The small blades all buried themselves into the zombie’s chest, but hardly slowed it down as it continued its awful stagger toward them. “Uh oh,” Lydith heard the cultist say as he backed away.

A piercing squeal filled the air as Chompalot the spider leapt from behind Lydith to land on the zombie, bringing it to the ground. Around her, Lydith could see another spider, Cherry perhaps, webbing a zombie to the ground while the other two spiders viciously tore into the undead’s flesh.

“Heh, always good to have friends like spider friends,” quipped the grinning cultist to Lydith as he sprang off to help his eight-legged companions. A gibbering in Lydith’s mind caused the girl to spin around to face a zombie reaching out at her. The creature staggered as she dealt it a hefty thwack! with her staff and spun wildly before ending up in the waiting mandibles of one of the spiders.

The attack was over as suddenly as it began. Gameth pulled his sword out of a still-moving zombie torso and glanced around in the darkness searching for other dangers. Around the aged warrior were no less than four dismembered zombies, their limbs still flailing uselessly on the ground. Gameth’s breathing was strained and heavy. “Lydith,” he puffed. “Get Daedra. Let’s get out of here before more of them turn up.”

Lydith rushed over to the pale altar and tried to ignore the signs of stained blood covering it. The figure on the ground had not stirred throughout the battle, and as the girl reached it, Lydith could see slight movement that indicated consciousness. “Aunt Daedra?” she whispered as she drew close.

“Lydith...” came the reply. The figure lifted its head and smiled.

And Lydith screamed.
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 PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2004 10:34 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Sylas gaped in astonishment for a crucial second before he found his tongue. "That's him!" he shouted, pointing a finger at Tomas who was already dashing towards the back-room door. "Get him!" Behind Sylas, Krut was struggling to pull out his crossbow while another rogue produced a dagger and threw it in one fluid motion.

Tomas leapt sideways into the doorway, narrowly dodging the dagger which had been aimed low in an attempt to hamstring him. Sprinting down the short corridor, the rogue found himself back at the tavern's taproom. Behind him, he could hear the high-pitched yells of the elven tavern keeper as he was roughly shoved aside by Tomas's pursuers. There was a wood-splintering crash from the back-room, followed by a strangled shout, "Tomas!". Tomas stopped, his hand on the tavern door handle. It was Kievan.

"Walk out of this place, and your friend gets an early tumble with the Dark Lady," came Sylas's sneer from the back-room. Tomas turned as the Centurian rogues came out of the back-room, pushing Kievan in front of them. The young thief's hands were up in submission, and nasty gash trailed blood from his forehead.

Tomas grimaced and raised his hands as well. "Let him go, Sylas. He's just a boy. It's me you want."

Fortunately, Sylas answered before Kievan could make a retort over Tomas's comment, "We'll see about that after we bring you both back to Centuria."

"What is the meaning of all this!?" voiced the outraged elven tavern keeper as he bustled into the room from behind the rogues. "No fighting or smashing things in my tavern, you worms! Otherwise, you can go find another way in and out of Necroselleum! And someone had better pay for that broken cask of wine in the back-room!"

"You will be adequately repaid," replied Sylas, his crossbow still trained on Tomas. "The Guild Coinmaster Ryand will see to it." He smiled at Tomas. "You, for one, should know never to trust a rogue, Taker. Particularly one like Ryand."

Tomas face was grim. "That's too bad. I'll ask him why before I kill him."

Before Sylas could take a step forward, the tavern front door behind Tomas shattered with a tremendous crash. Tomas was flung forwards as skeletons marched into the tavern, armed with various swords and maces. The tavern keeper gave a high-pitched scream as a huge armoured being wielding a massive sword stepped through the doorway, its eyes blazing red through its visored helm.

"Ye gods!" gasped Sylas as he instinctively fired his crossbow at the six-foot-tall monstrosity. The steel bolt clanged harmlessly against the side of the being's helm and buried itself into the remains of the door frame. Next to Sylas, Krut fired a futile shot at an advancing skeleton which simply stuck into the undead's ribcage doing no real damage.

Kievan had fallen down on his hands and knees when the door smashed in. He looked up in time to see a skeleton swinging a mace at him. With a yelp, he rolled aside, the mace landing on the wooden floor with a splintering crack! Rolling unto his feet, the young thief sprang up to face Tomas's readied crossbow. "Let's get out of here," said Tomas, to which Kievan whole-heartedly agreed.

One of the centurian rogues had a shortsword out and was desperately parrying the slashes from a sword-wielding skeleton. A well-struck blow decapitated the skeleton, its skull bouncing hollowly on the tavern floor. As the rogue savoured his triumph, the dark shadow of the armoured being fell over him. The rogue gaped in terror as he looked up into the blazing red eyes within the creature's visored helm before the massive sword split him cleanly from shoulder to waist.

"Fall back!" yelled Sylas desperately as he backed away into the room where the tunnel was. Krut was panickedly reloading his crossbow as three skeletons surrounded him. One of them struck, and the rogue stared dumbly at his crossbow as it fell from his unfeeling fingers. Next to him, another rogue yelled as the armoured being picked him up and hurled him against the wall like ragged doll.

Sylas gaped and turned to run for it, but a blurred slash stopped him mid-stride. The rogue stared at the elven tavern keeper in front of him before he grasped his throat to stop the gush of blood. The elf wiped his long curved dagger clean with a dish cloth as he watched the rogue fall to his knees and collapse face-forward. "Between you and the priestesses, I know which side to choose," sniffed the elf to the corpse as he re-concealed his weapon behind his apron.

Tomas and Kievan backed away cautiously from four silently snarling skeletons which were menacingly flailing their maces and swords. Tomas surveyed the undead assailants and said to Kievan, "The window."

"What window?" Kievan snapped as he glanced back at the empty wall behind them.

Tomas raised his crossbow and fired a fiery bolt at one of the skeletons. The skeleton was thrown back as it erupted into flames, leaving a clear path to the tavern's large, elvish-coloured glass window facing the street. "That one."

They both dashed towards the window and hurled themselves against it. The glass shattered as they landed and rolled into the street beyond. As Tomas picked himself up, he found himself facing with a grim figure in priestess robes standing in the street a few feet away.

Kievan caught his breath as he too got up. "Come on!" he gasped before he realised that Tomas was not moving. The man stared at the priestess, not even reloading his crossbow.

The priestess spoke, her voice sharp. "A fine mess you've made of things, Tomas. I should have kept a closer eye on you."

Tomas shrugged as other priestesses surrounded them. "Only doing what I'm good at, Daedra."
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 PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2004 9:09 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Being practical was a quality that the priestesses continually drilled into the initiates. The priestesses mentoring the initiates had decided that since the temple bell had woken everyone in the Convent, they might as well start the day off early.

Karyn muttered a small curse under her breath as she hefted a large wicker basket under one arm which was half-full with bundles of clothes. She had been given the task of collecting the servants' laundry from their rooms. It was not as unpleasant a task as many others which the priestesses were notorious of allocating, but getting up hours before her normal wake up time made her grumpy. In addition to her dark mood, she was fraught with worry over Lydith. Karyn knew of her friend's intention of leaving the temple in the middle of the night, and as far as she knew, Lydith had succeeded. She prayed that the priestesses would not detect her absence until much later, giving Lydith more time to get out of the city.

Karyn turned a corner and walked down a corridor through the servants' quarters of the convent. Near the end of the corridor was an open archway that led to the temple gardens and Karyn could see the pale dawn light creeping in through the archway. The sun rose early and went down late at this time of the year, again giving rise to more practicality from the priestesses as they ordered more things to be done in the longer day light.

She made her way to the nearest door and knocked on it lightly. After hearing no one answer, she pushed the door open and looked for a bundle of clothes which would normally be left next to the door. Karyn almost jumped out of her skin when she saw a dark figure standing in the middle of the room.

"M-my apologies," she stammered after a quick recovery. "I thought no one was in here."

The figure turned its cowled head towards her. Karyn could then see that the figure was wearing priestess robes, but these robes were so worn and old that they were tattered at their very edges. With mounting horror, she watched as the figure lifted a hand towards her. The hand was gaunt and skeletal with black, withered skin covering it. Fingernails caked with dried blood beckoned at the terrified girl.

"Come to me, girl," the figure hissed, its lifeless voice causing a ripple of cold fear down Karyn's spine. Transfixed and unable to look away, she took an involuntary step forward.

"Karyn!?" called a stern voice from outside. "Where are you, you dratted girl!? They are all waiting for you in the laundry room!"

Karyn blinked, as if out of a trance as the figure withdrew its awful hand. She heard it hiss to itself as it drew its robe around itself, and melted into a mass of swirling black specks. The basket toppled unto the floor as Karyn raised her hands protectively when she recognised the mass as a buzzing swarm of black flies. Before she could scream, the flies swarmed around her and out the door. When she turned, she saw the last remnants of the swarm dissipating through the open archway.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:09 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

By the time dawn crept over the sky, Lydith, Gameth and Yellow Sky had reached the major junction which joined their road to the Kings Highway. Many years ago, when petty feuds were common among the minor lords of the region, the Good King Teevus had ordered the construction of the Highway, mainly as a means for his armies to move around quickly to surpress any blood-letting which his subjects were determined to initiate. Now, not only did it serve as a military means to keep the peace, it also was a major artery into the city of Mayhew, bringing merchants and travellers to and from the fabled city and the other cities in the region, such as Necroselluem.

Mother Darkfriend saw it all, and sat back from her scrying bowl. The copper-hewn bowl was flat and wide, with symbols of Krypta decorating its inner edge. The image of Lydith and her companions shimmered on the surface of the water in the bowl which was mingled with the Convent Mother's own blood. Shortly after she had attained the title of Convent Mother, the bowl had been presented to her by an allied wizard's guild as a treasured find from the ruins of one of the tomb-like castles of the Necrolyte kings. Since then, she had studied text concerning the bowl, and had discovered a few of its arcane uses.

One of these uses was the ability to create blood stones. These were key in allowing her to scry on whomever who held one of the stones created from her own blood. The red pendant which Lydith wore glinted in the center of the scrying image. Mother Darkfriend stared at the image thoughtfully. Sister Shadowlife had left a few hours ago, bringing with her several priestesses to follow the girl's trail. Mother Darkfriend considered informing Sister Shadowlife of Lydith's whereabouts and thought against it. Sister Shadowlife was capable of tracking the girl herself, and it was not wise to reveal her knowledge so openly. She was certain that the Inner Sect were watching too, and there was too much to lose if their plan failed.

Mother Darkfriend narrowed her eyes as she observed Lydith's tired face. "Where are they leading you, my dear girl?" she muttered to herself. Wherever it was, it would bring them directly to the Inner Sect.
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 PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Chapter 10

Sister ShadowLife watched the entrance of the caverns and waited. She had witnessed the girl and her companions enter the dark place, and knew without a shadow of a doubt that they had walked straight into a trap laid by the Inner Sect. She was certain, however, that the followers of the Sect were intending to capture the girl alive for their own purposes. Of the warrior or the cultist, the priestess cared not if they survived. Once the Sect moved out from the caverns with the girl, she would follow them to the heart of their organisation and uncover the leaders behind this mysterious renegade sect.

A noise behind her caused her to turn. Sister Mortimia stepped out from the dimness of the gnarled trees. "The girl has entered the caverns?" she asked as she approached, her staff in her hands.

Sister Shadowlife nodded. "We will wait here until they emerge, and follow afterward." She frowned at the younger priestess. "Where is Sister Fallowmoon? I thought she was with you?"

"She is with the skeletons," replied Sister Mortimia, coming closer. Without warning, the priestess lifted her staff and hurled a hazy life-draining globe at Sister Shadowlife.

Tales of Sister Shadowlife's legendary feats were justified as the older priestess flung herself to one side to avoid being hit by the globe. However, as she attempted to pick herself up, the end of Sister Mortimia's staff cracked against the side of her head, sending her reeling to the ground again with her own staff flying off to one side. Dazed with blood streaking down her face, Sister Shadowlife looked up to see a gloating Sister Mortimia coming closer, her staff pointed at her like a spear.

"So ends the great Sister Shadowlife," mocked the younger priestess. "Krypta will reward the Inner Sect highly for this."

Sister Shadowlife shook her head. "You? Part of the Sect? You must be mad to think that Krypta approves of your acts of defilements."

Sister Mortimia snorted. "It is ignorant thinking like that which is why the Order of Krypta has not dominated Ardania as it should! Krypta has provided the means for Her power to reign supreme, and yet you, so-called follower of Krypta, refuse to even consider using it!" She held her staff with both hands as she prepared to cast her spell. "Consider this a favour from me, sister. Perhaps Krypta Herself will convince you when you meet Her face to face."

A rustle of dead leaves sounded from one side. "Sister Mortimia!" came the surprised call as Sister Fallowmoon stepped into view. "What are you-?"

A half-snarl on her lips, Sister Mortimia swung her staff towards newcomer. Before Sister Fallowmoon could even react, the surge of Kryptian magic filled the air as a semi-transparent, life-draining globe slammed into her. The priestess fell to her knees, mouth opened in a silent scream, as her life-force was drained from her body, dissipating into the globe around her.

Sister Mortimia turned to find Sister Shadowlife already on her feet. However, instead of running to retrieve her own staff, the priestess came at her, pummelling into younger priestess in an attempt to grab the staff away from her. The two priestesses struggled as each attempted to wrest control. Kryptian magic surged and disrupted as both priestesses called upon their powers, only to have it countered by the other.

For a while, it seemed that neither were gaining any advantage, and then Sister Shadowlife saw her opening. Sliding her hands along the staff upon Sister Mortimia's hands, she spoke the arcane verse to a simple spell. Sister Mortimia shrieked as she released the staff, her hands blistered and withering painfully.

"Consider this a favour returned, Sister Mortimia," growled Sister Shadowlife through gritted teeth as she swung the staff to crack against the younger priestesses's forehead. The Inner Sect priestess crumpled to the ground.

Sister ShadowLife went over to check on Sister Fallowmoon who was still groaning on the ground. The life draining spell had weakened her limbs and robbed her body of life-sustaining energy. Some days of rest and sustenance would see her recover, but for now, the priestess was in no condition to even stand.

If Mortimia was one of the Sect, then the Sect would know we are here, thought Sister Shadowlife. They might have known about us trailing them all along. She stared at the cavern entrance with growing apprehension. Krypta's blood, let it not be too late...

Last edited by TaleSpinner on Tue Sep 28, 2004 11:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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 PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Tomas as silent as he observed the red robed priestess before him.

Aunt Daedra sniffed. "You are getting sloppy, Tomas. In the past, you wouldn't have caused such a commotion breaking into the Temple."

Tomas nodded towards an open-mouthed Kievan behind him. "I had someone else along."

Kievan finally found his tongue. "Someone else!?" he blurted. He pointed at Tomas. "You have to be joking - I have absolutely nothing to do with this man."

"If that is so, then you are to be killed," intoned one of the priestesses next to him.

Kievan blinked. "Pardon me - I meant that I had nothing to do with this man until I met him earlier this evening."

Tomas sighed. "Let the boy go, Daedra. He is too young to be mixed up in these matters."

Aunt Daedra considered the request before shaking her head. "I'm afraid I cannot. There is too much at stake, and the slightest error can ruin everything. You will both come with us to the Temple."
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 PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

And so for the second time that night, Kievan found himself back in the Temple to Krypta. They had both been ushered into a small chamber at the heart of the Temple which consisted of a plain wooden table and four chairs. Reddish tapestries depicting aspects of Kryptian lore decorated the four bone-white walls of the room. Kievan had found (to his mounting despair) that none of the tapestries had any windows or openings behind them. The young thief fretted as he paced around the room like an caged varg.

"They're going to kill us," he said with conviction. "No one breaks into the Temple and leaves alive. At least no one, as far as I know, has tried to break into the Temple at all. I am such a fool to have dared to try. After they deposit our life-drained bodies outside the walls for everyone to see, then people will be able to forever say 'Poor sods. No one breaks into the Temple and leaves alive.'"

Tomas closed his eyes and sighed. In contrast to the young thief, he was seated on one of the chairs with his hands placed calmly on the table. "You worry too much for one so young, boy."

"Don't call me 'boy'," Kievan retorted. "And you place too much trust on that priestess for one so experienced."

"I know her," said Tomas. "I don't think she'll kill me."

"You!? What about me?"

Tomas regarded him critically and answered honestly, "I'm not sure."

"What!?" Before the young thief say anything else, the chamber door opened to admit the familiar figure of Aunt Daedra followed by another priestess. A death-like grip clutched at Kievan's heart as he regarded one who could only be the Convent Mother, one of the most powerful and dreaded priestesses among Krypta's followers. Kings and rulers have probably found themselves as tongue-tied as Kievan at that moment.

"Krypta's blessings, Convent Mother," greeted Tomas almost languidly. He did not stand.

Mother Darkfriend regarded him coolly with her piercing gaze. She briefly looked at Kievan (who had now, in addition to being struck dumb, turned several shades paler) before turning her stare back to Tomas again. "The years have not dulled your abilities, Tomas. Or your insolence."

Tomas smiled. "Some of us never change, do we?"

Mother Darkfriend narrowed her eyes. "No, we don't." She settled herself down on the chair opposite Tomas while Daedra stood just behind her. "Good to see you looking well."

"That's a surprise," said Tomas. "I believe that the last thing you said to me was that if I ever returned to the Temple, you'd animate my bones while I'm still alive and make them tear my own flesh off." Tomas pondered thoughtfully. "I wonder if that's really possible."

"Tomas!" cautioned Daedra. She was about to launch into a sharply worded reprimand when she was stopped by Mother Darkfriend's raised palm.

"That was then," said the Convent Mother. "And it was said mainly because you took Lydia away from us. How you came to win her heart from me, I'll never know, but I was certain that you would have eventually left her, broken and betrayed, and I could not allow that." She lowered her hand. "However, the years have shown that I can be mistaken. And that you can be.. loyal."

"I have always been loyal," replied Tomas. "Only never to you."

"That matters not," said Mother Darkfriend unperturbed. "You have demonstrated loyalty to those you care for. An interesting trait - for an assassin."

By now, Kievan had found his voice. He stared incredulously at Tomas. "You're.. you're the real Tomas the-" He buried his face in his hands in despair. "Oh dear."

Daedra looked at him quizzically, but said nothing.

"So what of it?" asked Tomas to Mother Darkfriend suspiciously, ignoring the young thief beside him.

The Convent Mother leaned back on her chair before she asked, "The Inner Sect. What do you know of them?"

"Enough to know that they want my daughter. And that they hired some rogues from Centuria to track her down and abduct her."

"But what of their ultimate purpose?"

It was Tomas's turn to lean back. "That," he said,"is unimportant to me. I don't care about your Order's internal squabbles or politics. All I want is to get Lydith away from them, and you, and all priestesses in general." He glanced sourly at Aunt Daedra. "Which I probably should have done in the first place."

"You might when you know what these so-called priestesses do," replied Daedra, her voice grim. "The Inner Sect is interested in expanding the power of Krypta to dominate all other religions. We think that they obtained their beliefs from the now-vanquished Lich Queen. Perhaps they, or at least their leaders, were even once followers of the Blighted One. But their idea of furthering the Order of Krypta involves locating women with special Krypta-given powers, whom they refer to as "daughters of Krypta". They believe Krypta favours these "daughters" and that they are to follow the same path which the Liche Queen took when she was once human." Daedra paused as Tomas took this all in.

Tomas drew a deep breath. "So you're telling me that they want to turn Lydith into one of these lich things? All the more I feel that I should take Lydith with me."

"Lydith is not here," revealed Mother Darkfriend. "She left the Temple earlier this evening."

"I know," said Tomas dryly. "I overheard a conversation between one of your priestesses and a lich in one of your rooms."

Mother Darkfriend looked up sharply. "Here? In the Temple?" She hissed to herself. "The Inner Sect is getting even bolder than ever."

"At least now we know how Lydith has been receiving those visions," said Daedra.

"Visions?" Tomas asked.

"The Inner Sect has been sending her visions over these past few months," said Daedra. "She believes that she is going off to rescue me."

"But if you knew about these visions, why did you let-" Then it all clicked together in Tomas's mind. He sprang up, and pointed an angry finger at Mother Darkfriend. "This is another of your twisted schemes, isn't it!? You're using Lydith as bait for the Inner Sect!"

Mother Darkfriend stared impassively back at Tomas. "The Inner Sect must be destroyed by any means necessary."

"And that's what Lydith, me and all of us are to you, isn't it?" snarled Tomas. "A 'means'. Well, you can exclude me and Lydith from your little crusade against this Inner Sect and their lich-making plans."

Not a muscle in Mother Darkfriend had stirred, but somehow she emanated displeasure. "I believe," she said finally. "That you will have some interest in seeing the Sect destroyed, Tomas."

"Yeah? Why?"

"Because of what they did to Lydia."
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