Thursday, 12 March 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 9

Arnold Krassner watched as the beast disappeared into the darkness. Six of his hirelings had been torn apart by the animal. He remembered the beast from Sellport. Had it tracked them all this way to enact vengeance for the death of its master or had his master escaped Krassner's trap and sent his hound to harry Krassner's men. Either way it wouldn't matter, soon Krassner would be beyond the ken of swordsman or beast. He turned back toward the tumbledown fortress, rallying his men as he did so. Torches dipped in pitch where lit to blaze the way in the cloying darkness of the hallways they would soon be travelling. Krassner left two men hidden in the ruins. If anybody was following they would be stuck with arrows before ever reaching the door. A door that would be closed and sealed with magic keeping enemies out and Krassner's men in. Mercenaries were fine but more often than not no amount of money would be worth their lives and Krassner didn't want anybody thinking they could run off. The sealed doors would seal their fate also.

Agrippa the mercenary captain watched as Krassner and some of his men descended into the darkness of the fortress. He followed after stripping the last of the equipment from his fallen men. Krassner waited on the other side of the door, illuminated by torch light. Agrippa passed him and the wizard uttered a few unintelligible words making the doors slam shut. A wind still blew through the entrance chamber as the men loosened their weapons from their scabbards and belts and made ready for the descent into the ruin. A sense of foreboding haunted Agrippa as he took practice swings with his sword. 'Captain, we are ready to go?', Krassner's question echoed of the walls of the large room. 'We are lord' he responded. 'We travel by two's with a ring around Mr Krassner. Keep your eyes sharp and your wits sharper. Move out' with Agrippa's order the men formed into a disciplined column and moved off down the corridor directly opposite the main door. 

Reven and Borengar saw the light of Krassner's party pass them as they silently waited in the side passage. They breathed a sigh of relief as the men passed not deviating from the main corridor. Things could have gone horribly wrong if they taken the passage where the duo had hidden. They wriggled out of the fissure they had been tucked into and padded gently toward the main corridor so that they could resume the pursuit of Krassner's party. The stone floor was littered with stones and debris from rotted furniture and fittings which made silent movement near impossible. It was probably a grand place once but the cold grey stones did nothing to welcome visitors. The one saving grace was that Krassner's mercenaries were so loud as they descended down the tilting corridor that they would be hard pressed to hear anything other than their own passage. Reven and Borengar kept as far back as they could without losing sight of the torchlight ahead. They travelled the main corridor for three or four minutes before the light faded and then winked out ahead of them. The adventurous duo quickened their pace to catch the light but they were too far back and now shrouded in darkness. They reached a turning that seemed to be about right for the group to have turned off and rushed down it. They couldn't hear the party ahead of them. The darkness they stumbled through was complete and they soon crashed into a wall that signalled another turn in the corridor. 'Shit!' Borengar said rubbing his forehead, 'We've lost them already.' 'Calm down master dwarf, they can't be too far.' replied Reven, 'Let's follow this passage, I'm sure before long we will come across them'. Borengar huffed his assent and they gingerly felt their way along the walls of the corridor, stumbling around corners. The passage twisted and turned and in the dark some of the angles seemed to be impossible.

After what seemed like hours the pair spotted a light ahead. They crouched in the darkness their eyes burning from the exposure of the torches fire. There was no sign of Krassner's party but they must have started lighting torches that were set into the walls. Whatever the reason Reven and Borengar were pleased to be able to see what they were doing. As they approached the first of the torches Reven ripped it from its fixing on the wall and handed it to Borengar, 'We won't stumble around blindly any more. Let's find the wizard, slit his throat and be gone from this place.'

They moved passed more lit torches as they followed the corridor. It struck them as strange that there were no side passages or doors and Borengar had given voice to the fear that they were in some kind of labyrinth. Reven remained silent but a cold dread had started to sink into his bones. Something definitely wasn't right about this place. They quickened their pace and were soon rewarded with a sound other than their own footsteps. At first the noise was muffled but as they continued on they could hear screams and what sounded like weapon on weapon exchanges; fighting! Reven broke into a run trailed by the dwarf and after rounding yet another corner he could see that the corridor angled down more steeply and opened up into a room. His hurried steps were his undoing here, slipping on some loose scree gathered on the floor he slipped down the descending corridor, hurtling toward the room at the end. He shot through the stone arched entrance to the room and landed with a wet splash in a sticky red liquid that he soon realised was blood. He wiped the crimson liquid from his eyes and gazed in wonder at the sight that greeted him. The whole floor of the room was a vast pool of blood. Several bodies floated in the knee high liquid. In the centre of the room an ornate chest stood atop broken stone pillar. It looked as if it was carved from night itself it was so black. Reven was transfixed, the chest almost seemed to swallow the light around it. The flames of torches set on the walls all seemed to bend toward the centre of the room where the chest sat. Next to the torches the walls were adorned with vast hangings and paintings that depicted combat and slaughter. In places lower parts of the walls seemed to be bleeding.

Reven's enthralment with the chest was brought to an abrupt end. 'Usurper!' the voice echoed around the room snapping him back to reality. Beyond the broken stub of column Reven could see a metal clad form rising out of the blood. The things plate mail was looked as if it was made of the same metal the chest was. So black that it made him feel dizzy looking at it. The monstrous form continued to rise out of the blood, it horned helmet dripped with crimson as it rose. The thick metal of its shoulder and chest plates grated as it took practice swings with a monstrous barbed sword, a shield grasped in its other hand. 'Die defiler' it screamed as it came. The things anger was palpable and as it started moving the blood ceased to drip from its armour and instead steamed as if sizzling in a hot pan. As it rounded the chest Borengar made his entrance slapping face first into the blood next to Reven who was on his feet, sword drawn to face the oncoming foe. The dwarves arrival only seemed to anger the metal clad giant more, at least two heads taller, he towered over Reven as he delivered his first blow which Reven barely deflected. The warrior in blacks strength was amazing. The blow reverberated down Reven's arm almost causing him to drop his blade. Borengar was on his feet now also and launched an attack with his double bladed axe. The giant was incredibly nimble though and despite his size he skipped away from the dwarves blow and then batted Borengar away using his shield. The dwarf left the pool of blood and flew across the room landing with dull splash ten feet away from where he had been. Reven parried wildly as the monstrous warrior came on. He wanted to see if Borengar was up but the dual needed all of his attention. Reven was no ordinary man; the gifts bestowed on him from his bond with Fang made him faster, stronger and tougher than ordinary men but he had never met an engine of destruction such as this. The black warrior brought his sword down again and again smashing aside Reven's guard and then following up with more blows aimed at his sides. Reven was wielding his sword two-handed and his arms were stinging as he barely managed to hold off the assault. He backed away but the warrior came on, smashing Reven's blade aside with his shield he brought his barbed blade diagonally across Reven's torso, slashing through his chest armour from shoulder to opposing hip. Reven cried out as droplets of blood appeared across the wound and instead of dripping down him flew away from his plate into the air to meet the midnight black blade of his opponent. Reven's blood hit the blade and was absorbed into it. The armoured warrior roared its delight as his blade drank Reven's blood and came on again as the sword continued to drink. Reven felt rage flooding his system. Suddenly every part of him cried out for blood and battle and he threw himself at the giant. 

Borengar came too and groggily sat up holding his head. He felt like he had been struck with a battering ram. Across the room he could see Reven and the metal clad giant exchanging blows faster then his eye's could follow as they waded through the pool of blood. Droplets of blood swirled around them as they fought and Borengar was amazed to see that his friend appeared to have the better of the giant. He was forcing him back into the centre of the room. The giant could no longer defend against Reven's sword and blow after blow rained down on his midnight plate. Borengar stared horrified at the ferocity of his companion. Drenched in blood Reven looked like some sort of demon from a tale of old. His body plate gaped wide and was thick with blood but he was relentless in his attack. As the giant warrior backed up to the chest Reven dropped into a crouch bringing his blade round in an arc and smashing into the giant's knee joint. The black warriors leg buckled and he dropped to his other knee to steady himself. Reven raised his blade high and brought it down with murderous precision. The force of the blow shattered Reven's blade but not before it had torn through the faceplate of the warriors helm. It revealed a a skinless face that was contorted in a smile as its eyes drunk in the broken sword that Reven still grasped in his hand. The armour clad giant went to rise with a roar but Reven wasn't quite done. With all the force he could muster he kicked the warriors chest as he rose, sending him toppling backwards into the blacker than black chest that sat atop the column. As the warriors armour came into contact with the metal of the chest there was an explosion and the room was bathed in a flash of crimson light. Reven and Borengar were both thrown across the room by the force of the blast, landing in heaps against the wall. 

When Reven regained his senses he saw Borengar staggering toward him. The pool of blood was gone as was the black metal giant that he had faced. The chest sat exactly where it was as if nothing had happened. The dwarf pulled Reven to his feet . 'Alright boy?' Reven heard Borengar's voice through the ringing of his ears. 'Yes.' Reven replied, 'Where's the big bastard? He broke my sword!' Reven replied. Borengar laughed and spotting something trotted away from the swaying form of his friend. As Reven steadied himself his friend returned, 'Here, you can use this till we get you a new one.' He presented Reven with the midnight black sword that the armoured warrior had been using hilt first. Reven gripped it and for a brief moment felt a spark of consciousness in the blade. As he examined the finely wrought metalwork of the spiked hilt Borengar spoke, 'I've never seen you fight like that before....in fact...I've never seen anybody fight like that. Are you sure you're ok?' 'I'm fine my friend, I was just pissed off that's all.' Looking down at his ruined breastplate Reven smiled, 'Bastard ruined my armour too!'

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