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Daughter of Krypta
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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Chapter 11

Lydith stared in horror at the figure in front of her. Slowly, it picked itself up from the ground, its limbs blackened with rotting flesh partially visible through the tattered remains of the priestess robe. All this while, its eyes gazed upon the stricken girl, burning with an intensity that dominated its gaunt face.

Its face. Lydith could not tear her eyes away from its face; a face almost faded from memory but always cherished throughout Lydith's childhood. Her lips formed the word while her mind screamed in denial.

"Mother?"

The creature that was once Lydia smiled ghastily. "Lydith..."

Gameth came up beside her, his blade raised protectively in front of them both. Lydith could see that even the aged warrior had trouble getting words past his throat. "Lydia?" he managed. "What has happened to you?"

The lich looked at the warrior. "Gameth,.. what a pleasant surprise. I must thank you for taking such good care of my daughter.. and for delivering her to me.."

Gameth stared before shaking his head. "No, you're not Lydia. You're using her body, but you're not her."

A hissing laugh sounded from the lich's bloodless lips. "And why should that stop you, Gameth? Didn't you once crave to touch your lips against mine? You told me that yourself-"

"Stop it!" bellowed Gameth, his face contorted with anger. "Lydia is dead! You are not Lydia!"

The lich ignored the fuming warrior and turned its gaze upon Lydith who by now had recovered from her initial shock. "A good choice you made, child, bringing him here. When you have fully attained the favour of our Dark Mistress, he will make a fine Lazari."

Lydith closed her eyes as memories swept through her like a flood, of her mother preparing dinner for Tomas and her, of her mother singing her softly to sleep, of her mother instructing her on the art of sewing, a skill she never ever mastered. For months after, Tomas had mercilessly jibed her at her first and last attempt at sewing him a new coat, which had one sleeve tighter than the other and buttons with missing corresponding holes.

The warmth and joy of those memories filled her soul and by the time she opened her eyes to look at the face twisted with evil on the lich, she knew that she could not accept this creature to truly be her mother. Like the undead baker she had raised back in the Temple, her mother's soul had long departed from her body, leaving an empty shell of flesh and memories. And now, something else had taken over. The creature before her was an affront to life, and even death, itself. She grasped Gameth by the arm and they both started to back away. "I'm not here for you," she replied stiffly. "Whatever you are I swear, by Krypta, that you'll pay for what you've done to my mother's body."

She almost bumped into Yellow Sky as she stepped back. The cultist was motioning frantically at her. "Not good," groaned the little man, "Not good at all." Clustered around the cultist, his giant spiders skittered nervously in response to the little man's anxiety.

Surrounding them were the undead. Zombies, skeletons, they emerged from the shadows, blocking the only exit from the cavern. Among them Lydith could see several priestesses, but these priestesses seemed somehow different from the ones she knew from the Temple. It's their eyes, she thought when she worked it out. That almost fanatical gleam in their eyes..

"Come child," rasped the lich, coming closer to them. "Enough of this wasteful nonsense. Come and accept what Krypta has ordained for you.."

The blade of Gameth's sword hissed through the air in a menacing arc. "Come any closer and you'll regret it," he growled to lich and priestess alike.

"Foolish old man," uttered one of the Inner Sect priestesses as she lifted her staff that was already alight with a deadly glow.

The surge of Kryptian magic filled the air, and the priestess screamed as a life draining globe hit her from the side. Turning to see where the blast had come from, the Inner Sect priestesses were greeted by the sight of Sister Shadowlife standing at the cavern exit, her own gaunt cadavers surrounding her. "Let them go," the priestess ordered, her staff aimed at the lich.
 
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TaleSpinner



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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Sister Shadowlife's control over her undead was tentative at best. The half-dozen skeletons which had accompanied her group was meant to be controlled by at least two priestesses, but with Sister Fallowmoon out of commission, she was left with little choice. She stood at the cavern exit, her staff raised defiantly at the lich on the far side of the chamber, determined not to let any hesitation show.

The lich narrowed its eyes. "You dare interfere with the Dark Goddess, Shadowlife? Your meeting with Her is long overdue." It raised its arms, just as Sister Shadowlife hurled another globe at it. The globe hit, but instead of surrounding the lich, it wavered and surged back at the astonished priestess. The globe would have slammed into the priestess, if not for one of her skeletons leaping into its way. The skeleton disintegrated immediately into a thousand fragments.

Gritting her teeth, the priestess mentally ordered her remaining skeletons to charge into the cavern as she moved to get out of the open.
 
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TaleSpinner



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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Gameth had taken full advantage of the distraction and was already charging at the undead blocking the exit. Bellowing mightily, the aged warrior chopped into the first line of the undead, bone and rotting limbs scattering in all directions as the warrior attempted to carve his way towards the exit. Meanwhile, the spiders around Yellow Sky spread out attacked the undead nearest to them. Yellow Sky hooted as he pulled Lydith to follow Gameth.

The Inner Sect priestesses had taken only an instant to react. Chanting their evocations, some directed their undead skeletons and zombies towards the warrior, cultist and girl while others blasted their life draining globes at where Sister Shadowlife was. Gameth could see that the priestess had already taken cover behind a large column near the exit and was preparing to hurl her own globes back at them. Her skeletons engaged some of the Inner Sect's undead, both sides slashing and hacking at each other with equal force.

There were a few Inner Sect priestesses who aimed at different targets though. A life draining globe hit one of the spiders as it ravaged a flailing zombie. The spider squealed as it crumpled to the ground, its legs cringing in its death throes.

Witnessing the spider's death, Yellow Sky threw back his head and howled. At first, Gameth thought that the little man had gone mad (if that were further possible), but then his breath caught when he saw brown hairs springing out from the cultist's body. His howl turned into an awful roar of rage as the little man swelled over twice his size and transformed into a huge hellbear.
 
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TaleSpinner



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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Lydith was crouching next to Yellow Sky when the little man changed his form into a hellbear the size of a small hut. She watched as the roaring beast charged at a group of priestesses who were frantically hurling life draining globes at it. The globes hit, but only served to further enrage the massive bear as it tore into skeletons and zombies with its dreadfully long claws.

Beyond that, the girl could do little to help because of the screaming voices in her head. They came from all directions, words filled with hate, spite and pain searing across the fore-front of her mind. Must kill all!.. Death to living!.. Tear flesh from bone!.. Aah, the pain, such endless pain!.. Lydith tried to block out the mental screams as she struggled to keep up with Gameth. The aged warrior was leaving a trail of dismembered bodies and bones in his wake and she stepped over the remains of a zombie's arm, almost tripping as it clawed at her feet.

The undead. There were just too many of them. She was unsure how many Inner Sect priestesses were there, but there must be quite a number of them to commandeer the horde of undead which was in their way. And even when chopped down, some of the undead skeletons were picking themselves up, their priestesses' magic rebuilding their broken ribcages and limbs. Already she could see that the aged warrior was tiring, while his undead opponents just kept mercilessly hacking in return. And Yellow Sky, even in his raging form, was too busy being harrassed by the undead while the priestesses blasted him with their globes.

Kill the living!.. Squeeze the life from their necks!.. Die!! All must die!!..

Desperately, she raised her hands to her head and screamed, with her mind and her mouth.

"STOP!!"
 
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TaleSpinner



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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Gameth chopped through two more zombies before he realised that the undead were not moving. No, he corrected himself, they still had movement, but they were just standing there with their arms swaying and heads craning, as if listening for something. Beyond them, the warrior could see the Inner Sect priestesses looking astonished as their evocations failed to command their undead.

A low, hissing laugh filled the cavern. "Excellent, my child, excellent," crooned the lich. It had not moved throughout the entire fight. "Accept what the Dark Goddess has given you. Fulfill Her wishes and use your gift as it was meant to be."

Lydith was panting, her hands still on the sides of her head as she struggled to keep standing. All around the cavern, the undead were staring at her, as if waiting for her to say something. The Inner Sect priestesses were getting panicked now, their efforts on their evocations re-doubled as they sought to wrest back control over their immobile undead.

The lich took a step towards her. "The will of Krypta is filled with hate," it rasped. "Hatred for the living, their foul stench infecting the lands like a disease." Its voice took a commanding tone. "Kill the living, child. Krypta demands it."

Lydith's head rose as she stared around the cavern, at the undead, at her friends, at the Inner Sect priestesses. She then looked at the lich. "No," she replied. "I don't believe you." And with that, she released the undead to their rest.

With a collective sigh, the undead started to crumble around her. Almost half of them had collapsed by the time the lich screamed with rage. "Foolish girl!" it shrieked. "You will be punished for your insolence!" In its mind, it hissed a command which only Lydith could hear. The girl screamed as she heard it.

The remaining undead went completely beserk. Snarling with mindless fury, they tore into anything around them, other undead, screaming Inner Sect priestesses, and Lydith's friends. Gameth swore as he cut and dodged and parried. Plunging his sword into a snarling zombie, he suddenly found that he could not pull out his blade in time to block a slash from a skeleton in front of him. A crack sounded, and the skeleton's upper torso was snapped aside by Sister Shadowlife's staff. "Get the girl," she said firmly to him.

Gameth nodded and grabbed Lydith who had stumbled along behind him. When they reached the cavern exit, Lydith pulled back at Gameth. "Yellow Sky," she gasped exhaustedly. "He's still in there."

Gameth grimaced but Sister Shadowlife set a stern look. "The cultist must fend for himself," she said. "It is suicide to enter that place again."

Before Lydith could protest, a sudden gale blew out from the cavern as black flies swarmed out of the cavern. The swarm buzzed around them and Lydith could distinctly hear the lich's voice amidst the noise. "You will learn, girl," it said. "The will of Krypta is not so easily thwarted.." With that, the swarm left them and dissipated into the night sky.
 
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TaleSpinner



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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Aunt Daedra arrived at Tomas's quarters to find the man packing rations into his backpack. Tomas was already dressed in his black leather outfit with the orange-rimmed hood pushed back behind his head, revealing his black and grey hair.

"I see that you've already been told that you can go," she said from the doorway.

Tomas grunted and did not look up from his packing. "Mother Darkfriend informed me this morning. That priestess Sister ShadowLife is bringing Lydith back to the temple. They'll be here in a few days."

A brief silence as Aunt Daedra observed Tomas. Many years ago, the man who was one of the most feared members of the Rogue's Guild had packed his backpack in almost the same fashion as what he did now. From what Daedra knew, he was leaving because Lydia had told him to do so. Although Daedra had half-expected it, but she was still surprised when Lydia followed him only a few hours after he had left.

Daedra was almost caught off-guard when the memory nearly trailed a tear down her white-powdered face. She immediately checked herself and focused her attention on Tomas. "I thought that you would have liked to see Lydith before you left."

Tomas closed his backpack and tightened the straps. "I've kept my past from Lydith all this while. I think it's best kept that way. It's hard enough for her to deal with her mother being a priestess, let alone her father being an assassin."

"Lydith cares for you more than she cares about your past," urged Aunt Daedra. "You've left all that behind you years before Lydith was even born."

Tomas thought for a while and then shook his head stubbornly. "No, it's better this way."

Aunt Daedra sighed to herself. "So what are you going to do now?" she asked out of curiosity.

Tomas picked up his crossbow and checked the loading mechanism. "Run a few personal errands, meet up with some old acquaintances, some of them not that friendly. Perhaps they can tell me where I can find those whom you call the Inner Sect. Lydith will never be safe while they are around." He slung the crossbow over his shoulder behind his back.

Aunt Daedra regarded him sternly. "You are a fool to think that you can deal with the Inner Sect yourself. Avenging Lydia's death could spell your own." She then sighed. "Why do I even try? There is no point in warning you. You think warnings are there to be ignored. I can never see what Lydia saw in you."

Despite his mood, Tomas grinned. "Like you said, Daedra, like you said. I ignored her warnings."
 
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TaleSpinner



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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

It had rained the night before in Necroselleum. Pools of rain water turned the street beside the Temple to Krypta into a muddy slush that hampered wagons and sullied pedestrians. The air was filled with the cursing from wagon drivers, and no one noticed the servant's door to the Temple open to let Tomas out. He looked around briefly before starting his way down the street, pushing through the throngs of people who all seemed to think that they each had the right of way.

He had walked down several streets before he darted into a secluded alleyway. Drawing his dagger in one hand, Tomas waited in the shadows for almost a minute before another man entered the same alleyway. Sliding out of his hiding place behind the man, Tomas had his dagger over his throat before growling, "Why are you following me?"

"Tomas! It's me! Kievan!" gasped Kievan as he raised his hands in surrender.

Tomas's dagger did not slice his throat, but did not move away either. "I'm still waiting for an answer, boy."

Kievan's back straightened. "I'm following you because I want to join you," he said stiffly. "And don't call me 'boy'."

Tomas let his dagger linger for a second before lowering it. Kievan turned around to face him as Tomas slid the dagger into a hidden shealth inside his tunic. "Alright, Kievan," he said finally. "Why would you want to do a stupid thing like joining me?"

Kievan took a deep breath. "Because you're Tomas the Taker," he began. "People still talk about you, you know, back at the guild. They say that you could steal a dragon's hoard from right under it while it sleeps." He crossed his arms. "I joined the Rogue's Guild because I wanted to learn to be the best. They told me I was too young, but I've proved it to them time and again that I have what it takes. Now, I've realised that if I want to be the best, I must learn from the best." He gave Tomas a look that was a curious blend of pleading and defiance.

Tomas just shook his head. "You don't know what you're asking for, Kievan. Admiration has lost its meaning to me long ago. It usually brings nothing but some young whelps who think they can make a name for themselves by stabbing me in my sleep."

Kievan stared straight at him. "You wouldn't find me doing that, sir. Despite what the priestesses say, I think I would benefit little from a dead man. Besides," he added, "if what is said is true, I don't think you do sleep."

The noise from the wagons outside filled the silence as Tomas considered the young thief before him. He then turned and walked towards the street. "Don't expect me to dig you out from every tight spot you get yourself into, boy."

Despite being called 'boy', Kievan grinned and hurried after the man.
 
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TaleSpinner



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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Epilogue

It took a full day for Sister Fallowmoon to recover enough to stand up and walk. The priestess was fuming at the betrayal of Sister Mortimia, and was all for re-animating her bones when Sister Shadowlife ordered her not to. It was uncertain how long the lich's power would linger in the area, and she felt it best not to raise any undead until they were much further away.

Throughout the day, Lydith and Gameth busied themselves by burying the remains of the dead found in the caverns. In the morning after the lich had left, the aged warrior had cautiously re-entered the caverns in search for the elusive cultist. He did not find any sign of Yellow Sky, or his spiders, but he did find remains of what were most likely the Inner Sect priestessess and their undead, although by then it was hard to tell which was which. Lydith had insisted on the mass burial while Sister Shadowlife watched on with a bemused look.

When they were finally ready to leave, Lydith turned to Gameth, her concern written in her face. "Do you think Yellow Sky made it out alright?" she asked the aged warrior. Gameth could not answer her, but Lydith was not expecting one either, so they just left it as that.

It was only later while they were passing through the dark forest when he noticed some movement beyond the trees. He thought he made out the hulking shape of a bear followed by a few spiders just as it disappeared into the gloom. Turning to Lydith, the warrior found himself smiling. "The cultist is alright," he told her confidently. "Aye, girl, he's alright."

To his own astonishment, he actually felt relieved.
 
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TaleSpinner



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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Aunt Daedra knocked on the door of Mother Darkfriend's study and was promptly told to enter. The Convent Mother was back at her desk, writing with her goose quill pen.

"The priestesses closest to Sister Mortimia have all been rounded up, dread mother," she informed Mother Darkfriend.

The Convent Mother continued to write as she answered. "Tell them that they have been re-assigned. They are to leave immediately for the Isle of Sydrian. Karn will accompany them to ensure no mishaps occur."

Aunt Daedra frowned over this. The Isle of Sydrian was a windy, shrub-filled rock off the western coast. Apart from a tiny fishing village, the only other inhabitants on the island were the priestesses who maintained the underground sanctuary of catacombs that housed the royal dead of the House of Sydrian. It is said that the tombs were built by the dwarves centuries ago to honor the memory of Sydrian the Wandering King and his family, and are so deep underground that priestesses were known never to see sunlight for months at a time. Not that the rain-covered island had much sun in the first place.

Mother Darkfriend looked up from her writing. "You do not approve, Sister Daedra? You know as well as I that we cannot risk the possibility of any one of them being a spy for the Inner Sect. In the days past, they would have been simply killed, or chosen as substitute sacrifices to Krypta. Compared to that, this is a more lenient solution."

Daedra bowed her head submissively. "Yes, Mother Darkfriend." As she turned to leave, she had a slight hesitation.

Mother Darkfriend detected it immediately. "Yes, Sister Daedra," she asked. "What is it?"

"I-," began Daedra, faltering a bit before resuming, "It's about the girl Lydith, dread mother. One of the last promises I made to Lydia was that I'll not expose her daughter to the ways of Krypta, lest she be doomed to share the same fate as she did." She looked down to the floor reflectively. "I feel like I've betrayed my closest friend."

Mother Darkfriend stared impassively at her for a while before answering, "The will of Krypta is higher than the promises of mortals like you and I, Sister Daedra. Krypta determines all what we do, all whom we meet, all whom we influence. Even Lydia will understand this. How is it possible for you to betray her when you both have pledged to serve Krypta unquestioningly?"

Sister Daedra nodded slightly and turned towards the door again. As she opened it, she noticed the undead lazari Karn staring at her with its glowing red eyes. Looking into those eyes, she tried to imagine if there were truly thoughts of agony echoing in the undead's skull, as Lydia had continually told her about. Hearing nothing but the sound of her own breath, the priestess broke her stare and stepped out of the room, closing the door behind her.

The End
 
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