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Daughter of Krypta
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:07 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

"Wait here, child. I will speak to Mother Darkfriend alone before calling for you." Aunt Daedra left Lydith in the dusky library and disappeared down a hallway. Upon entering the Temple to Krypta, Aunt Daedra had asked around Mother Darkfriend, the Convent Mother of Krypta, and they had been directed to the library where Mother Darkfriend's study was located.

From what Lydith had seen, much of the interior of the Temple was defined by the somber grayish-yellow stone that was visible from outside the building, along with dark red carpets and drapes. The Sanctuary, where they had first entered, was a huge hall, it's ceiling supported by six large pillars. High up near the ceiling were tall narrow windows which let in only minimal light. A thick, dark red carpet was spread on the floor, along with matching small cushions which Lydith presumed were kneeling cushions. An ominous, pale altar stood on an upraised portion of the floor at the end of the Sanctuary.

Many passageways led from the Sanctuary; the one they took brought them to a small gallery which itself eventually led to the Temple's library. The library looked under-maintained - books were left carelessly open on wide tables while many of the bookshelves had gaps which suggested missing volumes. Lydith stood next to a study table which had books piled up higher than herself.

"Hi, my name's Karyn. What's yours?" came a sudden whisper.

Lydith almost jumped out of her skin. She turned to the study table and saw a young girl in an Initiate's robe, half-hidden behind the pile of books. The girl was slightly thin, had shoulder-length hair and a timid but friendly look. A huge volume was open in front of her. Lydith managed a polite smile as she answered back, "My name is Lydith. Didn't see you there - you startled me when you said hi."

"Sorry about that," replied the girl sincerely. "After some time here, you tend to blend into the background."

"Oh, that's alright. I've been feeling rather jumpy ever since I got here anyway." Lydith suddenly felt that she needed a friend and Karyn seemed like a nice person. She glanced over at the huge open volume in front of the initiate. "What's that you're reading?"

"What, this? It's one of the Archives of the Order of Krypta, where they record down the names of all ordained priestesses of Krypta. I'm trying to find the correct name of a priestess which I'm sure is wrong in the Kryptian Histories although Sister Lifesteal, our history tutor, insists that it's correct even though.."

A noise from the hallway made the initiate retreat back behind her barricade of books. Aunt Daedra appeared. "Come, child. Mother Darkfriend will see you now. Remember to greet her when you see her."

Lydith looked back at Karyn who was industriously poring over her volume. She then obediently followed Aunt Daedra down the hallway, through a half-open oak door and saw her first undead.

It was about six-feet tall and was armored in a grayish-black plate mail with studded leather covering the parts which the armor did not. A grated-face helm protected a skull which had eye-sockets that glowed bright red. The undead's gauntleted hands rested upon the pommel of a huge broadsword pointed downwards, it's tip resting on the cold floor.

The undead turned it's head to face Lydith who gave a small shriek and moved behind Aunt Daedra. Aunt Daedra just glared at the undead and walked past it, guiding a terrified Lydith along.

A dry voice sounded from the other end of the study. "You have nothing to fear from Karn, child. He is completely obedient to me and will only harm those who seek to harm me."

Lydith turned to face the speaker. She saw a broad woman dressed as a priestess, just slightly shorter than Aunt Daedra. The woman could have passed for a plump and friendly innkeeper's wife, except for the hard set of her eyes and mouth that commanded discipline.

A slight, expectant movement from Aunt Daedra's head brought Lydith's senses back in a flash. "Krypta's blessings, Mother Darkfriend," she half-blurted hurriedly.

The Convent Mother of Krypta approached the two and stared intensively at Lydith. "Have you not seen an undead before, child?"

"N.. no, Mother Darkfriend."

"Then you are more fortunate than many to have seen Karn. He is my Lazari."

"What's a.. Lazari?" asked Lydith without thinking. She then realised her imprudence and bowed her head submissively.

Mother Darkfriend arched an eyebrow at the girl. "I suppose untamed curiosity should be expected from an initiate. A Lazari is better known to common fearful folk as a Death Knight. One is only bestowed by Krypta to the most loyal of her servants." Mother Darkfriend gestured at the motionless skeletal being. "Karn here was given to me long ago, as a reward for my obedience to the dread goddess."

Lydith nodded, not knowing what to say.

Mother Darkfriend continued her piercing inspection of Lydith. "Your Aunt Daedra has spoken well about you. We shall see how right she is after a few months." She paused for a moment. "What do you remember of your mother?"

"Not very much, Mother Darkfriend," replied Lydith truthfully. "I was very little when she left us."

The Convent Mother of Krypta nodded. "Your mother was a fine asset to the Order of Krypta. Her early admission to the realms of Krypta is envied by many, but her presence is still missed by us all." The Convent Mother of Krypta stared hard at Lydith. "I expect nothing more from you than to try to match up to her standards."

"Yes, Mother Darkfriend."

Mother Darkfriend then turned away and walked back to her desk. "You may go, child. Your Aunt Daedra will show you to the Initiate's Hall where you will be outfitted for your Initiate's robe. Someone there will instruct you of your daily duties." With that, she waved a hand and dismissed them.

"Come, child," said Aunt Daedra as she led her from the study. A short way back up the hallway, Aunt Daedra noticed Lydith's drab expression and gave a small laugh. "You look like you have just swallowed a toad! Smile, child - becoming a priestess does not mean you have to frown all the time."

Lydith smiled and managed a small laugh. However, she could not help but feel that in Mother Darkfriend's study, the undead Lazari Karn was staring at her throughout the entire time.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:09 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Chapter 5

A blanket of ants covered the ranger's remains. Yellow Sky estimated that the ranger must have met his unfortunate end less than a week ago.

"What killed him?" Lydith asked. She prodded the ranger's dilapidated leather armour with her staff, causing an sudden wave of activity as ants and various insects scurried away.

The cultist grunted. "Hard to tell. Dead things decay fast in this forest."

"Spiders, most likely," Gameth picked up a badly abused leather pouch and pointed out several odd bite-marks on the surface.

Yellow Sky scratched his chin. "Could be. But pouch could have been bitten long before the ranger got dead."

"There is one way to be sure. Stand back." The priestess raised her hands and prepared to chant.

Yellow Sky grimaced and took two steps back while Gameth frowned. "Is this necessary?"

"If we know where the spiders are, then we can avoid their nests," came the reply from gritted teeth as Lydith concentrated.

A red glow slowly spread over the corpse, sending more of the insects scurrying away. The corpse suddenly jerked and started to sit up. Half-decayed flesh fell off, hissing as the power of Krypta ate it away, causing a stomach-churning stench that had Yellow Sky and Gameth backing away hastily. Finally, the skeletal remains of the ranger stood before the priestess, still clad in its leather armour.

What is your name? Lydith queried in thought.

Brinneck TrailBlazer, came the reply. The skeleton turned its head slightly over one side, as if waiting for a response.

My name is Lydith, the priestess offered politely. I brought you back from the realm of Krypta. She was careful not to directly ask what caused the ranger's demise.

But surprisingly, the skeleton seemed to understand why it raised. It lifted a skeletal arm and pointed further into the forest. Many spiders, the undead's voice echoed in her head. A large colony ahead.

Lydith nodded. We want to get around them. Is there any way?

A hidden trail. Behind those trees.

Lydith glanced over where the skeleton pointed and registered the copse of trees. Thank you for your help. She raised her hands and prepared to dispel her magic. Goodbye, Brinneck TrailBlazer.

Goodbye, the skeleton echoed. Lydith.

The red glow of Kryptian magic faded and the skeleton crumpled to pieces on the ground. Lydith lowered her hands. "There's a hidden trail further on behind those trees. It will lead us around the spider colony ahead of us."

"How nice it must be to be able to talk to the undead," mused Yellow Sky admiringly. "I didn’t know priestesses could do that."

"Not all of them," murmured Gameth distantly. He bent his head in thought. "Whose is it?"

The question caught Lydith by surprise. "Whose is what?"

"The hidden trail. Whose trail is it? If it’s a hidden trail, who’s responsible for hiding it?"

Lydith kept quiet. She had not thought to ask.

Gameth grunted. "Well, I suppose we’ll find out soon enough."
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:11 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

The answer to Gameth’s question came clear in time. The hidden trail was cleverly concealed between two thick rows of trees and brambles and was wide enough to accommodate up to five men to walking abreast. They had followed the trail and now came across a few dead and decaying mules along with their packs. There was no sign of their owners. After scouting around a bit, Yellow Sky checked the mule packs personally and then let Gameth survey them.

"Elven mule packs," said Gameth pointing at the faded colours which once decorated the packs.

"Found this in most of them," grinned Yellow Sky as he lifted a small half-rotten paper package. Inside were dried plants which gave out a fragrant smell.

"Elven pipeweed," confirmed Gameth. "According to the Sovereign’s law, caravans carrying pipeweed must travel on the designated royal highways and this certainly isn’t one of them. This trail is probably being used by Elven smugglers."

"When were these killed?" asked Lydith as she gestured at the mules’ remains.

Yellow Sky shrugged. "A few days ago maybe. Why? You can talk to dead mules too?"

Lydith was about to give a sharp retort to that when a creaking sound filled the air. Gameth drew his sword just as a massive tree branch smashed into his chest, flinging him into the ground ten feet away.

"Gameth!" Lydith rushed over to the groaning warrior, just as a massive being stepped unto the trail. The being was a huge tree with two large branches serving as it’s arms. It walked on two short tree trunks and stared at them with evil eyes which were bored into the main trunk.

Lydith looked at the horrific monster. She had only heard of tales of such creatures, fearfully named Daemonwoods, and from what she had heard, they were extremely difficult to destroy. The daemonwood took a menacing step towards them, just as another figure appeared on the trail.

The second figure was smaller and undoubtedly female. Her green skin and immodesty over her unclothed state identified her as a dryad. "Take them both," the dyrad commanded as the daemonwood continued towards them. "And try not to break them."

Both? Lydith looked around. There was no sign of Yellow Sky. The daemonwood stepped over them, blocking out the sky, and Lydith shut her eyes as the gnarly branches reached down towards them.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:12 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Not for the first time, Ryand vowed that he would retire by the end of the year. As Hallmaster of the gambling hall of Centuria, Ryand had seen enough of wealth, greed and desperation to fill several lifetimes.

“I don’t know what kind of a shady business you’re running here! I want my money back now!” bellowed the dwarf in front of him. Several of the Hall’s bouncers were standing behind him, some sporting bruises that were already starting to turn purple.

“I’m truly sorry, sir, but the Hall does not refund tokens to clients who have played and lost them in a fair game.”

“The dealer was cheating! I saw him switch cards with my own eyes!”

“That is a very serious accusation,” replied Ryand in his business tone. “We strive to maintain a high level of honesty among our staff – one found doing what you have just mentioned can lose his job, incidentally along with the use of his hands.”


“We apologise for your frustration and loss, sir. Perhaps a free drink will help calm you down.”


Ryand quickly side-stepped as the raging dwarf charged at him. The dwarf’s mailed fist swung into empty air, just as Ryand smashed a small iron truncheon to the back of the dwarf’s neck. His eyes widened slightly when the dwarf did not fall down as expected.

The dwarf looked up, eyes a little unfocussed. “I’ll get you for tha-“ Ryand brought the truncheon down again, and this time the dwarf fell heavily on the floor. Ryand breathed in slowly as his hand absently re-concealed the truncheon back into his wrist sleeve.

“Throw him out back,” said Ryand to the bouncers. “It’s best not to worry the other customers.” The bouncers nodded and proceeded to drag the heavy body of the unconscious dwarf out of his office. Ryand sat back down behind his desk and started to massage his wrist. It would probably ache for days, perhaps some of that soothing cream that the Agrelians sold at their Temple would help. Healers might be gentle and kind, he mused, but they certainly drove a hard bargain on their products.

“Seems like you’ve done pretty well for yourself, Ryand.”

The truncheon slipped out into Ryand’s hand within a split second as Ryand sprang up and looked around for the intruder. A dark figure stepped out of a corner of the office, Ryand could have sworn that he’d seen no one there earlier. His eyes widened in recognition of the figure. “Tomas? Tomas, is that you?”

Tomas raised his hands to show that he was holding no weapons. “Yeah, it’s me, Ryand. Been a while hasn’t it? Nice work with the dwarf there.”

Ryand grinned as he lowered his truncheon. “All part of the trade, Tomas – you should know that.” He started to massage his wrist once again. “I should have been able to take him out with one blow. That was a bit embarrassing.”

“Don’t flog yourself over it. Some dwarves have thicker skulls than trolls.”

Ryand gave a short laugh as he kept his truncheon again with one flick of his wrist. “Good to see you again Tomas, I always knew that one day you’d turn up again. A lot of things have happened since the last time you were here.”

“I can imagine.” Tomas sat down on one of the chairs in front of the desk. “Like your promotion to Hall Master. A fair jump for a fellow rogue in the Guild.”

Ryand produced two glasses and a bottle of wine from under his desk. “Yes, I have managed over the years,” he said modestly. “The late Master Karrigan was very generous to me.”

An eyebrow raised over Tomas’s eye. “The late Master Karrigan?”

“It seems you have been out of touch for quite some time, Tomas,” said Ryand as he poured the both of them a glass of wine, “Guildmaster Karrigan left us for the realms of Krypta last year - may Krypta forever keep his dark, cynical soul in Her cold grasp.”

“Is that so,” Tomas narrowed his eyes in thought. “So who’s in charge now?”

“A colleague of yours. One of the former Shadows - Malvon, remember him?”

Tomas frowned. “Yes, I remember Malvon. And he probably remembers me very well since I gave him that scar along the side of his face.”

“You gave him that? Always wondered how he got that scar, should have known it might have been you.”

“It was an accident,” replied Tomas dryly. “It should have gone around his throat.”

“Ah, an old rival,” said Ryand as he sipped his wine. “And you are going to correct that now, I suppose?”

“No, no. Nothing like that.” Tomas leaned back. “What I’m interested in is why the Rogue’s Guild wants my daughter.” Tomas briefly explained the events on the night of his temporary capture.

“Sylas and Krut, eh?” Ryand snorted. “A nastier pair you’ll never meet – those two scrape at the very bottom of the barrel of self-respect. It’s no surprise that Malvon sent them on such a task.”

“Any idea why they were sent?”

Ryand thought for a moment. “A week or so ago, a group of strangers arrived in Centuria and sought audience with our esteemed Guildmaster Malvon. After a closed meeting, they left again, and it is rumored that Malvon has made some sort of agreement with them. Sylas and Krut must have been sent after that. These strangers might be behind Malvon’s sudden interest in your daughter.”

Tomas sipped his wine thoughtfully. “I don’t relish another meeting with Malvon – especially now that he knows that I’m still alive. These strangers – where did they go? If I can find them, perhaps I can find out their intentions.”

“A logical deduction,” admitted Ryand. “But not necessary the safest. The strangers that spoke to Malvon were priestesses. If you’re planning to go after them, I dare say that you will soon be flirting with death.”

Tomas smiled grimly as he lifted his glass to Ryand. "My kind of work."
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:14 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

One of the first things that Lydith learnt at the Convent was that Initiates were ranked the lowest of all who dwelled in the Temple of Krypta. Even the Temple servants were given better treatment and privileges; servants did the general cleaning and waited upon the wishes of the priestesses while Initiates were expected to do the many other menial tasks, most of which she soon found out consisted of dealing with large amounts of dirt and scrubbing.

“I think I’ve scrubbed enough robes to last me several lifetimes,” she complained wearily to Karyn as she drenched another crimson robe into the large tub in front of her. The Convent’s laundry room was cramped due to the mountain of dirty robes piled up along one wall. A huge vat of boiling water and soap suds occupied the center of the room.

Karyn smiled in reply as she stoked the flame under the steaming vat. “Don’t think that this is bad – there’s far more worse tasks that an Initiate can be assigned to.”

Lydith carefully wrung the robe she had been scrubbing and threw it into the vat. The wet outfit smacked ungracefully on the soapy mixture before sinking into the boiling depths. “Who would have thought that so many robes can get dirty within a day! How many robes do the priestesses each have!?”

“One for every day of the week, I suppose.”

“Krypta spare us!” groaned Lydith at which Karyn laughed.

Karyn, the initiate from the library, was the first friend Lydith made ever since entering into the service of Krypta. Karyn's parents were both librarians and had instilled the thirst for knowledge into the young girl during her early years. The girl found herself captivated by the enigmatic death magic wielded by the priestesses of Krypta. So, prompted by her insatiable curiosity, and the fact that the Temple of Krypta had a library of ancient Kryptian scrolls, she enrolled herself under the Convent of Krypta in Necroselleum and spent as much time as she could studying the Temple's collection of scrolls and tomes in it's dark library.

Lydith wiped the sweat from her forehead and handed Karyn the brush. “Here – it’s your turn to do the scrubbing. I think my arms are going to drop off.”

“Okay, but wait – let me get this off first.” Karyn proceeded to remove a tiny gold ring she wore on her right index finger.

“Oh, that’s pretty,” said Lydith admiringly.

Karyn beamed as she showed her the ring. “It’s a gift from my parents on my fifteenth birthday. I wear it all the time. Except when I’m doing something like scrubbing clothes – I don’t want to accidentally scratch it.” She kept the ring in her belt pouch. “How about you? Do you have any jewelry?”

“Only this,” Lydith bent her head and drew out the necklace which she kept under her robe.

“That’s very beautiful,” said Karyn as she leaned forwards for a closer inspection. “It looks like a ruby all smoothened out although I’ve never seen a ruby glow like that before. But then again, I’ve never seen a lot of rubies either.” The girl studied the jewel as it spun slowly on its gold chain. “That’s strange.. I could have sworn that I’ve seen pictures of this jewel before.”

“Pictures?” said Lydith in surprise. “Where?”

“In the library. I think they were pictures of bloodstones from centuries back. I only happened to see them because I was looking for references to ancient sacrificial artifacts which the priestesses don’t use anymore, or at least I hope they don’t because some of them really can turn your stomach inside out when you learn how they were used back in those days when-”

“What’s a bloodstone?” interrupted Lydith.

“Oh, bloodstones? They are very rare. I only know what the section wrote about them. They’re not really natural gems – they’re created by some tedious method involving drops of the creator’s blood over a long period of time.” Her voice lowered to a conspirational whisper. “It’s said that a bloodstone binds the creator of the bloodstone to the bearer. The ancient necromancer kings used to create them and bestow them to their generals to ensure that the generals don’t betray them. After the Necrolyte Wars, when the last necromancer king was finally defeated, all his bloodstones were destroyed because it was feared that he could use them from beyond the grave.”

Lydith stared at her friend, trying to work out if she was pulling her leg. “Do you think it’s possible that this is actually a-“

“What are you two doing!?” screeched a voice from the next room. “At this rate you’ll never finish by dinner time!”

Both the girls immediately jumped to their tasks, Karyn scrubbing the robes for all she was worth while Lydith stoked the fire under the vat, making sure that it did not burn out before their task was done. However, her mind swam with thoughts of her necklace, bloodstones and necromancer kings reaching out with claw-like hands from their graves.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:15 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

At first glance, one might think that no living plants grew in the gardens of the Temple of Krypta. Although much of the garden was defined by swirling shades of gray sand flowing around islands of rocks and walkways, there were some trees with bone-white trunks and dark leaves. Even though the Temple and its gardens were located in the midst of a large city, the gardens retained a silence that could only be appropriately regarded as 'deathly'.

A scuffle of footsteps broke the quietness as Aunt Daedra walked into the heart of the garden. As she went deeper, she heard another sound – the sound of something metallic scrapping the soil. Mother Darkfriend came into view – she was wearing a dirty apron over her robes and was on her knees using a small hand-spade to clear out some soil at the foot of one of those strange trees. She looked almost like a portly farmer’s wife rooting about in the vegetable patch. Not far away from her stood her death knight Karn, it’s glowing red eyes watching Aunt Daedra as she approached.

“Krypta’s blessings, Mother Darkfriend,” intoned Aunt Daedra respectfully as she got closer.

The Convent Mother of Krypta looked up from her task. “Ah, Daedra. You respond quickly to a summons.”

“I was not doing anything of great importance,” replied Aunt Daedra. “What prompts you to summon me?”

“A message came from our sources in Centuria today,” said Mother Darkfriend. “It appears that the Inner Sect have made another appearance – this time to the Guildmaster of the Rogues in Centuria.”

Aunt Daedra frowned. “It has been a while since they last appeared. And they seem selective with the people they meet. Is the Guildmaster working with them?”

“According to our sources, yes, for the time being. At least as long as he finds it profitable to deal with them.” The Convent Mother of Krypta’s eyes hardened as she stood up. “We must find out who these sisters are and what are their intentions. A clique like the Inner Sect cannot be allowed to continue. You must go and try to pick up their trail from Centuria.”

“I will leave at once,” said Aunt Daedra. “I must say that it puzzles me why would Krypta allow a group of renegade priestesses like the Inner Sect to exist.”

“Krypta works in strange ways, dear sister,” said Mother Darkfriend. “Be wary, for I suspect that the Inner Sect has got eyes and ears even here in the Temple. You may go.” The Convent Mother of Krypta turned back to her digging as Aunt Daedra left the garden.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:18 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Chapter 6

A sudden jolt woke Gameth from his troubled rest. “Wh- where am I?” he slurred in a half-conscious state.

“Gameth? Gameth! You’re awake!” A blurred image appeared over the warrior which resolved into the concerned face of Lydith. “Thank Krypta you’re alive!”

“Ah, girl - Krypta would want me more dead than alive,” quipped Gameth as he lifted his head. The evening sky loomed overhead but all around them were walls of thorny vines and scarred trees. “Where are we?”

Lydith looked around. “We were captured by the Daemonwood which seems to listen to commands from a dryad. She had it put us into this prison. I can’t break out of this place, even with your dagger. There’s no opening and the vines are too tough.”

The warrior nodded and closed his eyes. “Don’t worry, girl – I’ll chop our way out of here as soon as I can get up.”

A low, female voice called out. “A feat which you will find quite impossible, my lowly prisoners. These walls are thick enough to bear the damage from your sword. There is no way through unless you have the magic of the woodlands, like me and my sisters.”

The dryad stepped through the wall of vines and wood, as if it were immaterial. About a dozen more dryads appeared the same way as the first, stepping through the wall with no hinderance at all. “In any case, you will eventually be taken from here soon enough.”

“Why have you imprisoned us?” demanded Lydith as she turned to face the woodland creature. “We were merely passing through this part of the forest. Krypta will not be pleased of how you have treated one of Her priestesses. I assure you that even dryads like you will meet with Her when you pass from this world.”

The dyrad laughed, low and evil. “A brave statement, girl. But you are hardly a priestess. I have seen what little power you have – you can barely sustain one miserable skeleton for more than a few minutes! I think Krypta would be more pleased if I dispatched a priestess-imposter to Her instead!”

The dryad smiled over the fuming girl and aged warrior. “As for why you’re both here - the current Queen of the Dryads is at great age and will pass from us soon. But not before she Coronates one of us to be her successor. Her successor must be one of cunning and power.” The dryad drew her head up proudly. “I already control the daemonwoods. And after I show her that I can kill elves and capture humans, she will look upon me with great favour.”

“And after this Coronation, we’ll be set free?” asked Lydith, more out of cynicism that hope.

The dryad detected her tone and laughed. “Even you know the outcome. As the new Queen of the Dryads, my first order would be one of diplomacy – with neighbouring the spider colony. They would greatly appreciate the gift of humans I will send to them.”

“Oh no, they won’t,” called out a familiar voice from above. “Because the big spiders are going to attack and eat you all instead!” Yellow Sky dropped down next to Lydith from the tops of the trees.

Surprise was quickly replaced by anger on the dryad’s face. “Who are you?” she demanded.

“I am the King of the Spiders!” declared the cultist.

“There is no King of the Spiders,” sneered the dryad. “The spiders have a queen.”

“Oh.” said the cultist thoughtfully. He brightened up. “Then I am the Queen of the Spiders!”

Lydith could hear Gameth groan.

“Take him,” glowered the dryad to her fellow dryads. “And surround him so that he won’t disappear from us with his camouflaging tricks.” The dryads spread out and around the threesome.

“What are you doing?” hissed Lydith to the little cultist next to her. The cultist looked around confidently. “If you were smart dryads,” he said to the dryads, “you wouldn’t waste time like this.”

“What are you gibbering about, little man?” said the dryad as the circle of dryads closed in.

“Oh, just that the big spiders are pretty angry back at their colony,” said Yellow Sky. “Especially after I paid them a little visit and killed their.. ah queen.” The cultist puffed out his chest. “That’s why I demand to be paid the full respect due to Yellow Sky as the new Queen of the Big Spiders.”

The dryads froze. “You what?” breathed out the lead dryad. “Where are the spiders now?”

Yellow Sky shrugged. “Last time me checked, a whole bunch of big spiders were chasing me here.”

The dryad gaped for a moment and then suspicion took control. “He’s lying. He’s just trying to-“

And then the spider webs started to fall. Panic and confusion broke out as several of the screaming dryads were caught in the sticky strands. The lead dryad tried to call for order, but was knocked over when the wall behind her burst open to reveal giant arachnid legs and gnashing mannibles. The dreadful, ear-piercing squeal of giant spiders filled the air.

“Come on!” hooted Yellow Sky as he yanked Gameth up and pulled Lydith along. A dryad grabbed Lydith’s arm in an attempt to stop the girl but yelped in pain as the dryad’s slender hand was suddenly withered into an ugly claw. “Priestess-imposter,” muttered Lydith under her breath as the crimson power of Krypta faded from her eyes.

Yellow Sky swiftly led them through a broken hole in the vine wall and out into the evening-light forest, rapidly leaving the chaos and commotion of the dryads and spiders behind.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:19 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

It was some time before he stopped and let them rest.

Gameth was the first to speak. “You crazy cultist imbecile!” he bellowed at the grinning cultist. “That thing about killing the Spider Queen better be a joke, or else we’ll all be in big trouble. Those spiders will tear the forest apart looking for us!”

Yellow Sky laughed. “You mean these spiders?” Four giant spiders dropped down from the surrounding trees and skittered towards them.

Gameth cursed as his sword sang out of its scabbard and was about to advance when Lydith held his arm. “Wait, Gameth. I think these spiders are.. charmed.”

The cultist laughed with glee. “Lydith is smarter than Gameth, it seems! Yellow Sky pulled a good trick, yes? Yellow Sky and his four spider friends!” The spiders clustered around the little man.

Gameth lowered his sword. “You charmed four spiders and got the dryads to believe that the whole colony was attacking them?” He shook his head in disbelief. “You’re crazier than I thought.”

The cultist giggled. “Yellow Sky named them too. Want to hear?” The cultist tapped each of the spiders on the head as he called them. “Cherry, Berry, Merry and Sir Gameth Chompalot.” The cultist tickled the last spider fondly. “He wanted a warrior’s name.”

Gameth groaned as he shook his head. “I don’t know what’s worse – being tormented by vicious dryads or having a spider named after you by a raving cultist.”

The cultist threw his head back and laughed as the spiders squealed along in their nerve-wracking calls.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:21 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Aunt Daedra’s departure from the Temple of Krypta was sudden and unexpected, but the priestess did not leave the place without seeing Lydith first. “Take care, child,” she had told Lydith. “The convent sisters tell me that you are doing well here and that is very good. I might be gone for some time but I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Pay a visit to father and bring me back some news from him,” pleaded Lydith. “Tell him I miss him very much and give him my love.”

“Of course, child,” said Aunt Daedra warmly as she hugged the girl.

Two months passed quickly in the Convent as Lydith found herself flowing into the routine of the rigid Convent schedule. The days started early with a pre-dawn devotional to Krypta along with the rest of the Initiates and the senior Acolytes. After an almost Spartan breakfast, the Initiates attended classes held by the elder priestesses who instructed the initiates in Kryptian history and theology. The later part of the mornings were spent helping the cooks prepare for the midday meal. After lunch, the initiates were allocated housekeeping tasks which mainly involved cleaning parts of the Temple or Convent, or helping out in the kitchen. Whatever time they had left over between then and dinner was taken up with studies on topics covered that morning. Dinner was followed with evening devotionals after which the weary initiates were allowed to retire back to their rooms.

Lydith spent most of her study time with Karyn in the library. Karyn had a passion for knowledge, especially Kryptian lore. She researched into dusty tomes and books and made her own notes. "There's so much that isn't clear about the Ways of Krypta," she commented to her new friend Lydith, "Although many of the rituals and spells have been passed down from priestess to priestess for generations, the lore behind those rituals and spells have somehow been forgotten over the years. The tomes and scrolls documented some of the lore, but there is still a lot left uncovered." Lydith could see that it was her friend's ambition to fully understand and document all she could find out about the Ways of Krypta.

Towards the end of winter, word went around the initiates that Sister ShadowLife was in the Temple, which itself was much cause for excitement. Sister ShadowLife was one of the most powerful and feared priestesses throughout the land of Ardania. Her exploits during her service to Krypta and Sovereign had gained her a legendary reputation – it was said that her greatest achievement was when she single-handedly routed an entire host of goblins which had been poised to raid one of the major trading towns. Or so did Judith, Karyn’s roommate, state.

“The goblins never even stood a chance,” said Judith with a knowing nod to the two fascinated girls. Judith was a few years older than Karyn and Lydith and would probably become an Acolyte by the end of the year.

“I thought that her greatest achievement was when she defeated two dragons at once with her skeletons,” said Karyn while pushing her spectacles back up her nose.

Not wanting to be outdone, Judith waved her hand irritatedly. “Two dragons? That’s nothing compared to the time she led the destruction of the Unholy Sanctuaries and drove the Evil Octi away.”

“Well, I heard that she’s going to perform a special lecture for us initiates,” said Lydith, hoping to change the subject before the two girls got into a ‘Sister ShadowLife’s greatest achievement’ match.

That was another piece of thrilling news which circulated among the excited initiates like wild-fire. Lectures by Sister ShadowLife were rare and undoubtedly important. It was rumoured that Sister ShadowLife was going to demonstrate to the initiates the art of raising undead, a ritual which the initiates had never witnessed before in detail.

And so, a few days later, the initiates were called to assemble in the Sanctuary. Some of the more observant girls noticed the body lying on the altar the moment they entered the sacred hall. As the group of initiates arranged themselves along the red carpeted floor, they strained to see the unmoving corpse, as if expecting the body to sit up right then. It was clad in a simple brown tunic with a black cloth draped over the lower portion of the body like a blanket.

Sister ShadowLife entered the Sanctuary from the side-door reserved for fully ordained sisters of Krypta. She stared at the girls with piercing black eyes before moving behind the body on the altar. She faced the class and began her lecture, "As the world knows, the power of Krypta is not to be lowly regarded. The power of death strikes fear in all except among the followers of the dread goddess. Throughout the history of Ardania, Kings and Sovereigns have recognised this power and have requested the assistance of the followers of Krypta in more than one occasion. Despite the many religious sects and orders in the world, we the followers of Krypta know that our Order will remain and thrive as certain as death exists, and at the very end of time reign supreme throughout Ardania once death claims all."

She glanced around the assembly and was satisfied that the initiates will all hanging on her every word. "One aspect of the power of Krypta is the power to raise the undead." A nervous sigh of anticipation rippled through the class. "What are the undead?", the priestess continued. "You all know and recite the daily devotionals. What do they speak of? They tell of the elements of the human body. Body and soul. Upon the death of the body, the soul departs this world and enters the River of Souls which flows in the heavens. From here, the soul still can be retrieved and imbued back into the body, a process we call Resurrection, as long as it hasn't sunk too deeply into the River."

"The body remains in the world, waiting to be recycled in the vast circle of Life and Death. However, like a broken tool, it still can be used to a certain level of effectiveness. Krypta knows this and Her power re-uses this tool to serve a new owner."

A tentative hand raised itself. Sister ShadowLife frowned, unaccustomed to being interrupted halfway through a lecture. She stared at the owner of the hand, "Yes, girl?"

Karyn put her hand down and spoke in a timid voice. "Sister ShadowLife, I um.. was just wondering about what you said about the River of Souls. Um.. in the heavens, where does the River flow?"

"The River of Souls is strictly confined within the heavenly realm of Krypta," answered Sister ShadowLife with a tone that echoed finality.

Karyn's nose started to twitch. Lydith had begun to recognise this trait in her friend – it signaled that her curiosity had taken over her mouth. "But, Sister ShadowLife, if the Healers of Agrela can resurrect people as well, won't that mean that the River of Souls could be shared or maybe even acting as a boundary between the realms of Krypta and Agrel.."

"For Krypta's sake, girl! Do you want to become a priestess or a healer?" cut-in Sister ShadowLife sternly. The rest of the class tittered as a red-faced Karyn drew back next to Lydith. "What's wrong with wanting to know?" she muttered silently to Lydith who just smiled to pacify her friend's agitation.

With an irritated sniff, Sister ShadowLife continued, "Today, I will demonstrate to you the ritual of raising the undead. You will not be taught the Words of Evocation until much later, but I can tell you that invoking the Words is no easy task. The words must be recited in your mind, and pronounced properly with correct intonations." She stared at her audience until she caught Karyn's gaze. "No questions until after the demonstration," she said sternly, causing another titter to ripple across the class.

Sister ShadowLife looked down on the dead body before her and raised her hands, a look of hard concentration on her face. Neva, Sorsevarii-antha..

Lydith frowned. That's funny, she thought, her lips aren't moving but yet I can hear her in my mind. Sister ShadowLife's voice had changed as well. Instead of one voice, it sounded like there were at least three voices chanting at the same time, each intoning a different verse of the Evocation over and over again.

Suddenly, a red glow spread itself over the body and, in front of Sister ShadowLife's intent audience, the eyes of the body opened to reveal a red glow from within. Lydith heard the strange voices of Sister ShadowLife soften as the body slowly sat up. The undead stared around, its red gaze sweeping across the awed faces of the gathered initiates. It lifted its head slightly. Without opening its mouth, a raspy voice sounded, Where am I?

Lydith was surprised. She had never been told that the undead could speak. She glanced around to see the reactions of the rest of the initiates and was puzzled that no one else seemed startled by the undead's words.

Sister ShadowLife also seemed unperturbed by this as she continued to speak, "The power of Krypta infuses itself into the bones of the body, giving them the ability to move on their own. The skin and flesh is of no use and just serves as extra weight to the undead. After the Evocation, you will be taught spells to rapidly decay the flesh and skin of the body so that the skeleton can move around unhindered."

"Also," she added with a glare to the class, "it is considered highly disgraceful for a priestess to have a half-rotten undead zombie which stinks to the heavens following her around. If I catch any of you doing that, I'll personally wring your necks and raise your bones myself."

Nervous laughs echoed in the hall as the initiates wondered if the priestess was merely joking or really serious. Lydith watched the undead closely and wondered if she had imagined that the undead had said something.

"You will initially find it hard to control an undead, but with practice, you will eventually be able to handle several more at the same time. What you must learn to do is to always recite the Evocation in your mind, stressing on the fact that the undead are dead and thus belong to Krypta. Observe."

Lydith heard Sister ShadowLife speak those strange voices in her mind again. This time, they seemed stern and commanding.

The undead screamed. Ahhhhh! Stop! The blood! The pain! Stop!!

Lydith stared in shock as the undead shrieked in her mind. All around her, the initiates and Sister ShadowLife seemed to be deaf to the undead's agony. Unable to bear the screams, she placed both hands on the sides of her head. "Stop it!" she screamed, "Can't you see that it's in pain!?"

Startled by the girl's outburst, the priestess released her magic and the undead fell back upon the altar, dead once again. Sister ShadowLife stepped in front of the girl, her hands on her waist. "What is the meaning of this!?" she demanded.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:24 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

It was past midnight and Lydith shifted uncomfortably in her bed. The day had gone from bad to worse after the incident in the Sanctuary. After unsuccessfully describing her experience to Sister ShadowLife, she was given the task of cleaning out the Temple furnaces all by herself, much to the delight of the other initiates who saw it as an indication that they would not need to do it themselves in the near future.

Exhausted and feeling soot-stained despite her rigorous bath afterwards, she lay back on her bed. Her body was tired, but her mind would not let her sleep. The undead's mental screams troubled her, just as much as the question of why she could hear it but the others could not. And Sister ShadowLife's evocation, unheard by the rest, had been clear to her as if she had chanted them herself.

At this thought, Lydith suddenly had an idea. She picked herself out of bed and put on her robes. Carefully, she crept out of the room, down the Initiates' Hall and proceeded towards the Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary was dark with just a glimmer of moonlight coming in from the high windows. The red drapes and carpets seemed almost black in the half-light. Lydith walked towards the altar. The body was still there with no indication of its previous animation.

I'm crazy, she thought as she surveyed the corpse. But I have to know.

Neva, Sorsevarii-antha..

Slowly, she chanted the evocation from memory. It was difficult at first, trying to speak in two and three voices in her mind at the same time was complicated, but she tried over and over, getting an intonation wrong here, a word wrong there. An hour passed and Lydith had lost count of the number of times she had restarted.

Then, her tired eyes noticed something. A dim red glow started to emit from behind the dead face's eyelids. Lydith stared in wonder as she subconsciously recited the final verse of the evocation in her mind. The glow strengthened, and then the corpse's eyes opened.

Lydith held her breath as the undead corpse stared around. It turned its head slightly to face the girl, the red glowing eyes focusing on her. Who.. are you?

Lydith almost jumped out of her skin at the sudden mental question. Quickly, she regained her composure and replied in thought, My name is Lydith. She decided to be polite. And what is your name?

The undead continued its unnerving stare. I am.. Streffen. It's 'voice' was dry and raspy, as if it had difficulty in thinking.

Greetings Streffen, she responded. How did you end up dead?

Immediately, the undead contorted as if in pain. Knife! Darkness! Blood! Spilling in the alleyway!

Lydith gasped at the sudden change and hurriedly thought, And where do you work, Streffen? Lydith almost kicked herself for asking stupid questions.

Work? The undead seemed to think. I worked.. as a baker.

Baking must be a nice thing to do, she thought unable to think of any other response.

Baking.. the undead seemed to pause in thought. Smooth dough.. soft bread.. heat from the oven.. I feel.. the warmth.. The undead's eyes glowed with what looked to Lydith like contentment.

Lydith suddenly understood. The undead not only could remember it's past, it also felt through it's memories. Then, with grim realisation, Lydith understood why the priestesses were taught to control the undead using thoughts of death. The trauma of their own deaths caused severe mental agony to the undead. It was a small wonder why some of them seemed almost mad.

The undead finally shifted its red stare from the girl to its surroundings. Where am I?

You are in Necroselleum, thought Lydith. In the Temple of Krypta.

The Temple.. of Krypta, the undead being paused. Keera.

Lydith frowned. Who's Keera?

My.. living niece. She is here,.. as a servant. The being that was Streffen stared at Lydith with dead eyes. Tell her about me.. about what has.. happened to me.

Lydith felt tears coming to her eyes. I will. I promise.

The undead baker shook its head from side to side as if trying to remember. Tell her.. that the chest is under.. the floorboards.

Lydith waited. The baker did not appear to want to tell her the contents or whereabouts of the chest, so she did not ask.

I will, she repeated.

The undead being slowly straightened itself upon the altar again. Let me.. sleep again.

Lydith nodded and raised the palm of her hand, dispelling the death magic. The red glow in the undead's eyes began to fade away.


Yes?, thought Lydith while wiping the tears from her eyes.

Bury me, came the fading voice. Please.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:25 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

A light but urgent tapping on the door slowly brought Karyn awake. She got up and yawned. On the other bed, her roommate Judith was in a sleep deeper than death itself. Karyn muttered a small curse as she made her way to the door and opened it a crack. Lydith stood outside, her hands holding on to something behind her back.

"Lydith, do you know what time it is?" whispered Karyn crossly while rubbing her eyes.

"I need your help, Karyn."

"Help? At this hour? What have you got behind you?" Karyn glanced behind Lydith and gasped in shock. Lydith was holding on to what seemed to be some red drapes which looked disturbingly familiar. Sprawled awkwardly upon the drapes was the baker's corpse. She must have used the drapes to drag the body all the way from the Sanctuary.

"Are you completely out of your mind!?" squeaked Karyn, horrified into full wakefulness.

Lydith considered that novel thought. Perhaps that would stop her from hearing the baker's words echoing in her head. "I wish I was."

Karyn then recognised the drapes. "Those drapes.. are from the Sanctuary walls?" she asked in a weak tone.

"Yes, and the faster you help me get this body to the gardens, the faster we can hang them back."

There was a noise in the room and the girls froze. Karyn peeked back and saw Judith shift around in her sleep. She turned back to Lydith. "If we get caught, I'm going to say that it was all your idea and had nothing to do with me. In fact, I was just about to turn you in when.."

"Sure, sure.. oh, do you know where we can get a spade?"

"A spade!?"

"We can't just leave it lying on the ground for everyone to see," said Lydith in a matter-of-fact voice.

Karyn covered her eyes with her hand and shook her head in resignation. "What was I thinking when I became friends with you?" she muttered regretfully.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:27 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

The next morning was greeted with a buzz of excitement upon the discovery of the missing body from the Sanctuary. A search was carried out throughout the Temple and Convent which turned out bodiless. There was no mention of the phrase, "It couldn't have just got up and walked out by itself" because corpses in the Temple of Krypta, unfortunately, could. Mother Darkfriend sent word to the city governor to warn the citizens about the possibility of an uncontrolled undead walking the streets.

At mid-morning, the initiates and acolytes were assembled in the Sanctuary. The stern Convent Mother of Krypta glowered at them, as if knowing that one of them was responsible for the entire mess. "It is not only imprudent but foolish to raise your own undead before your sisterhood. Someone can and will get hurt by whatever you bring back from the realm of Krypta, most likely yourself!" Mother Darkfriend's fiery glare swept the trembling crowd, as if trying to burn out the offender. "Pray for Krypta's help, for I will show no mercy to the one who is responsible for this."

Her piercing gaze stopped at the Sanctuary drapes. "These drapes are filthy!" An idea formed in her head. "You will all wash them with your own bare hands! Krypta forbid that any of the servants defile these holy drapes!" The army of initiates and acolytes obediently proceeded to take the drapes down as the Convent Mother stormed out of the hall.
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:28 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Chapter 7

The grave was a shallow one, with a large rock placed as its tombstone. A name was awkwardly scrawled on the rock, the person who wrote it probably used a sharp pebble.

The end of a white staff tapped the rock. “Brinneck.. Trailblazer..”, read Sister ShadowLife with a slight frown. Behind the priestess, her skeletons stood around and stared impassively at the surrounding trees. Another two priestesses searched the clearing for signs of recent passings.

One of them, a young priestess by the name of Sister Mortimia, approached Sister ShadowLife. “A ranger’s name,” she muttered as she too read the tombstone. “Why does the girl make graves like that?”

Sister ShadowLife tapped the end of her staff against the scrawled name. “More intriguingly, how did she know the ranger’s name?”

“Perhaps the ranger traveled with them just before his death,” suggested Sister Mortimia.

Sister ShadowLife shook her head slightly. “No, I can sense the traces of Reanimation. And the remains feel several weeks old. The girl raised the ranger’s skeleton and somehow found out his name.” She turned to the other priestess. “More likely one of his items bore his name.”

“Do you want me to raise this?” inquired Sister Mortimia gesturing to the grave.

“No, leave it. There is no nee-“

A tree trunk smashed down on one of the skeletons with such force that shook the ground and reduced the skeleton into a pile of broken bone shards. The skeleton’s spiked mace flew through the air and stuck on a nearby tree, its wielder’s bony hand still clasped to the handle. The priestesses gasped in shock as a huge daemonwood stepped into the clearing and stared down at them.

The dryad appeared from behind the monstrosity. “Dispel your hideous skeletons and surrender yourselves!” she demanded to the priestesses.

Sister ShadowLife narrowed her eyes. “You are a fool if you wish to deal with us,” she replied in an icy tone. “I am more powerful than whatever pets you have. Leave us now before I lose my patience.”

“Deceiving humans,” spat the dryad angrily. “Just like the ones which tricked us and escaped.”

Sister ShadowLife sucked in her breath. “What did you say? There were others you've seen?”

“Three,” said the dryad. “But now I will have more.” She spoke a command and the daemonwood advanced towards the priestesses and their skeletons.

The priestesses raised their staffs. “So-See-Var!” Three hazy red globes of Kryptian magic blasted into the daemonwood. The monster slowed but still continued it’s pace. It took a swipe at one of the skeletons which nimbly dodged out of the way. The other skeletons started slashing at the creature causing wood chips to fly in all directions.

The daemonwood brought a huge branch crashing into one of its skeletal attackers, smashing it into bits. Another blast of Kryptian magic hit one of the creature’s branches, causing it to wither and disintegrate like rotten wood. The creature roared in demonic anger as more parts of it fell away.

“Concentrate on the legs,” said Sister ShadowLife through gritted teeth as she raised her staff for another blast. The other sisters complied and threw their own life-draining spells at the enraged monster.

A dreadful creaking and snapping sound filled the air as the tree trunk legs of the daemonwood gave way and the creature fell backwards, smashing down smaller trees and flattening bushes as it hit the ground.

The dryad gaped at her fallen daemonwood and turned to flee just as a life-draining globe hit her. The woodland creature fell to the ground and tried to get up, only to find Sister ShadowLife already standing beside her. The priestess grabbed the dryad’s arm, fingernails digging painfully into the green skin.

“You shall tell me where they went,” hissed the priestess in a deadly voice to the wide-eyed dryad. “Or, by Krypta, I assure you that things will get most unpleasant.”
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:29 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

Lydith found herself standing in a cavern shrouded in darkness. No matter how loudly she called, no one answered her back. She then heard a low, buzzing sound, like from the bee-hive behind her house in ThistleWood. She turned to see a red, glowing web stretched across the length of the cavern wall behind her. The web strands shimmered and buzzed with unknown energies. In the middle of the web, there was a figure hanging there, like a fly caught in the strands of the web. Lydith’s eyes widened as the figure lifted its head and when she saw it’s face. “Aunt Daedra,” she mouthed in silent horror.

“Help.. me..,” called Aunt Daedra weakly. Lydith could see that the strands from the web not only were stuck to her skin, but had gruesomely pierced it in some places. A red glow emitted from Aunt Daedra’s eyes as she called to Lydith. “Help.. me.”

Lydith started out of her sleep. It was already near dawn and the Convent’s morning bell would begin tolling soon. She rubbed her eyes and found that her hands were sweating. She wiped them on the sleeves of her nightclothes and took a deep breath. This was not the first time she had had this dream. The dream had started coming about a month after her incident in the Sanctuary. It was faint at first, she could barely remember it the first time she had it, but it came back repeatedly, the details of the dream getting more vivid each time.

“It’s definitely something important,” Karyn said ponderingly when Lydith told her about it that afternoon. They both were in a small corner of the library, hidden behind a barricade of books. “You’ve been getting this dream for about two weeks now. Have you tried telling the priestesses about it?”

Lydith nodded glumly. “I’ve tried telling Sister Shadowlife about it and all she says is that it could be because I miss Aunt Daedra. And none of them will tell me where she’s gone.”

“Do you think it might have something to do with the things you’ve been practicing?” asked Karyn worriedly. Since the night of undead baker, Lydith and Karyn had been trying out her newfound ability in other aspects of Krypta’s power. Lydith now found that she could, with much concentration at first, wither a plant or a piece of wood. She never tried raising another undead again, though – she felt that it was too risky, with all the priestesses around. Karyn had dug through a whole pile of historical text for references of priestesses who could speak to the undead, like what Lydith had done. There were not many.

“Look at this one,” she said while handing Lydith an open book. “Her name was Sister BlackBlood and she was said to have talked to the paladin Angela the Valiant after the paladin was killed by the evil dragon Braxtarius.”

Lydith read the text. “But she conversed with Angela’s ghost which lingered on the world, not as an undead.”

They had both tested this before. A trip to the city’s Mortuary, which was located in the Temple grounds and administrated by the priestesses, had revealed that Lydith could not hear or speak to the dead at rest. However, a visit to the priestesses’ wing of the Temple proved traumatic. Lydith swore she could hear maddened screams and wails from the skeletons as they lurched after their priestesses. They did not go back there again.

Lydith sighed and closed the book. “I don’t know. Perhaps this ability I have is giving me a link to the people I am close to. If that is so, then I’m so afraid for Aunt Daedra. She was in such pain, Karyn. Such pain.”

“So what are you going to do, Lydith?” asked Karyn as she took the book back and re-opened it.

Lydith looked up with tired eyes. “I must find out for myself.”
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 PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:31 pm    Post subject: Daughter of Krypta Reply with quote Back to top

The servant’s entrance to the Convent of Krypta was a well-secluded door that opened into a street which was busy by day and silent by night. After the day servants left through the door in the evenings, the door was locked with a secure bolt and a large iron lock. The matron kept the only key to the door and after firmly locking it, she went straight to bed and snored loud enough to wake the dead.

So it was a curious thing to see the door being unlocked and quietly opened in the middle of the night. A cautious head peeked out before disappearing inside again. The door opened wider and a small figure in a dark cloak stepped outside into the street. It turned towards another person within the doorway and whispered, “Thank you, Keera.”

The person in the doorway whispered back. “I still think you have gone completely mad, miss Lydith. The priestesses are going to discover your absence in a few hours and by this afternoon, you’ll be back here facing the wrath of Mother Darkfriend.”

Lydith ignored the gloomy portent. “We’ll see about that, Keera. But thank you so very much for your help, taking the key from the matron’s room is no mean feat.”

Keera snorted. “Madam Gronstraut wouldn’t wake up for anything short of an invasion of screaming barbarians. And it is you I must thank for giving me poor Uncle Steffern’s message. My aunt and I are both indebted to you for helping us find the deeds to his store – the governor’s men would have taken the place from us within days.”

“I was only carrying out his last request,” replied Lydith. “I am glad that it was timely.” She turned to leave. “You better put the key back before someone sees you.”

Keera waved goodbye and shut the door. Lydith listened to the sound of the bolt sliding into place and the iron lock snapping shut before walking off. By the time she reached the junction at end of the street, she was already confronted with her first problem. She wanted to find Gameth but she did not know where the Warrior’s Guild was and there was no one on the streets at this time of the night to help her. She looked down both ways of the junction. “Krypta guide me,” she muttered while she picked the left one by random and started walking.

After walking for what felt like fifteen minutes and taking several turns, Lydith found herself completely lost. She could not even retrace her steps back to the street where she first started out. Each dark street seemed exactly the same as the other one. Lydith looked in vain for signposts and street names and cursed whoever it was who designed the layout of the city.

“Lost, missy?” came a voice from a dark alley. Lydith turned to see two men saunter out of the alleyway. One of them had an eye-patch over his right eye while the other was short and grubby.

Lydith instinctively knew that she was in trouble. She had heard about the rogues on the streets and about what they were capable of. “My friends from the Warrior’s Guild are expecting me,” she said. “They would find me here soon enough.”

The rogues sniggered. “The Warrior’s Guild is a fair distance from here, missy,” grinned the one with the eye-patch. “I bet they won’t even hear you scream from here.”

Lydith spun around and broke into a wild run down one of the streets. Behind her, she could hear the rapid footsteps of the rogues as they chased her. She ran into what seemed to be a small, square junction and ducked into an alleyway. Her breath was fast and panicked as she watched the rogues run into the square and look around the streets. Suddenly, there was a noise beside her. Lydith turned her head and found herself staring face-to-face with a hideous, grinning fox-head.

“Help, you need?” asked the fox-head to which Lydith screamed. The rogues immediately started running to her alleyway. The fox-head jumped back and Lydith saw that it was really a wooden mask being worn by a small man scantily dressed in animal skins and a tattered loin-cloth. “Follow me!” hooted the man as he too turned and ran. Lydith stared at the retreating figure for a split second before making up her mind and running after him.

They ran out the other end of the alleyway into another street. The small man turned left and ducked into another alleyway. Lydith followed him and almost collided into his back.

"Wait! Stop here!" The small man jerked Lydith to a halt and pushed her against the wall of the alleyway. He then placed both his hands on the wall at both sides of the girl. "What are you doing!?" Lydith demanded in a harsh whisper.

"Shh!" hissed the man as he suddenly changed colour before her eyes. Lydith almost gasped at the transformation, the man's skin seemed to blend into the same dark gray colour as the wall behind her. Sounds of running echoed from around the corner and the two rogues appeared. They looked around and did not see the camouflaged man or the girl behind him. "That way!" ordered the rogue with the eye-patch and they both ran past the hidden pair and down another alleyway.

The small man waited until he could no longer hear the sounds of pursuit. Then he grinned at Lydith and changed back to his normal skin colour. "Nice friends, you got," he quipped.

"If you don't remove your hands this instant, I'll introduce my knee to your loin cloth," said Lydith through gritted teeth. The small man snatched his hands off the wall and jumped back in mock fear.

"Heh heh, and nice humour, you got too," he said with a wide grin. "Yellow Sky is my name. What's yours?"

"Lydith," answered Lydith without thinking. She then silently cursed herself for not being careful.

"Hello, Lydith. Yellow Sky’s from the Temple of Fervus. Where's Lydith from?"

"Not for you to know," replied Lydith sharply.

The little cultist snickered at her defensive response. "Fine with Yellow Sky. Yellow Sky likes puzzles. Let's see, you don't know where you are; that means.. you don't go round this city much. And, Yellow Sky saw you come out from the Convent of Krypta. So Yellow Sky guesses that you are runaway convent girl trying to get to gates of the city to run back home. Is Yellow Sky right? Does he win a prize?" The grinning cultist widened his eyes in anticipation.

Lydith stiffened at the cultist's deductions. The cultist had guessed a little too correctly for her liking. "Thank you for your help, and good bye." She started off down the alleyway.

"Heh heh, don't worry about Yellow Sky returning you back to Convent, Lydith," called the cultist after the girl, "Nothing in it for him, and the priestesses don't like cultists very much, especially Yellow Sky. Bad priestesses probably drain poor Yellow Sky dead instead and raise him as undead servant. Yellow Sky just doesn't like seeing silly people blundering around city at night and getting killed. Just tell him where you need to go, and he'll gladly help you get there." He grinned reassuringly at Lydith.

Lydith paused. The cultist was right about the blundering part; she had absolutely no idea how to get to the Warrior's Guild to find Gameth. And she needed to get there as fast as possible before the priestesses discover her absence.

"Very well," she said as she turned to face the cultist. "I might need your help again."
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