[Tibdast should show up in Terra Incognita, so this will just be a short post so I don’t feel too much pressure to keep it the same. Some of these characters may not be here at this point and some hints at the future may not make it into the story.]
Tibdast, Sorley, Ember, Helena, Orby, Lourek, Lukren, Krakust, Evryn, and Donaar stood on a small hill and looked over Brangmar. The walls were being built slowly, but the city of all races would be a day wide.
“Sorely, do you really think it’s a good idea to build this thing a day wide? There’s going to be lots of problems with information flow if nothing else.” Tibdast shook his head.
“Maybe, but you said you were good at that, didn’t you?” Sorley stroked Ember’s fur. A plain, gold ring reflected light from his left ring finger.
“Yes, I am, but one gnome can only do so much.” Tibdast shook his head. “What does Gormaliev think about this city?”
A strong voice spoke up from behind the group. “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
The group turned slowly to see Gormaliev standing there with Aliziyah.
“Ember, my girl. How are you?” Aliziyah strode forward to rub snouts with Ember.
“Mom? It’s good to finally meet you.” Ember hopped a few times.
Gormaliev turned to look at Tibdast. “So, you’re good at information, are you?”
Tibdast nodded. “Give me something to disseminate, and I’ll get it to the whole city…just, it might take a while.”
“Well, take this amulet. You’ll know what to do when the time is right. Oh, and I’ll be back for it when you’re finished with it. It’s needed elsewhere.” Gormaliev looked at her familiar reuniting with her daughter. “Hmm…I guess we’ll be here for a few days. They need some catching up.”
Sighing with annoyance Krakust pulled the
piton from the rock and shoved it and the rope in his pack. “What was that
human thinking, Evryn? He could’ve gotten rid of me. He’s not like other humans
I’ve encountered. The tribal ones would’ve left me to die, and the ‘civilized’
ones would’ve watched.”
Krakust kicked a rock down into the magma.
“There’s no way for us to get across. Let’s go back and follow the compass to
them. Maybe we’ll catch up. I can’t return without either them or proof of
their deaths anyway.”
With an agreeing snort Evryn started walking
through the tunnel they had followed to the cavern. There were no other exits
on their side of the chasm.
By the time they made it to the surface, it was night. The snow was deep, but not so deep they couldn’t get out of the cave. Looking around Krakust realized that he had no firewood and he didn’t see any.
“Looks like we’re going to be cold tonight,
– – –
“Look, we’re almost to the surface. I
“Lukren, you said that four hours ago. Let’s
just camp here and continue later. It’s past midnight on the surface.” Helena
stopped jogging and sat down.
Shrugging, Sorley also halted. “She’s right.
We need to rest.” He pulled his pack off his shoulders and rummaged through it.
“I’m almost out of heaven’s bread, but it looks like this cook’s pack has some
stuff I can work with.”
“No, I’ll be doing the cooking if we need it,
get that heaven’s bread out and let me see the pack.” Helena held her hand out
to take the pack.
Lourek stopped jogging and looked back. “Hey,
Lukren. I kinda agree. Let’s sleep in this passageway. We’ll get above ground
“Fine. I don’t know why, but I feel like we
need to get out of here now.” Lukren stopped jogging and turned to walk back to
Helena and Sorley. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Here you are, the last of the heaven’s bread.”
Sorley handed the small bites out.
Lukren sat down and ate the bread. “So, are
you going to tell us about where you came from and how you got here?”
“Ok. Fine.” Sorley pulled Ember onto his lap. “Do
you want to try to explain it, Ember?”
“Sure. So, we are from a place called Earth.”
Sorley looked at her with an inquisitive face.
“So, you really don’t remember? Does the name Aliziyah
ring any bells?”
“No, who’s that?” Ember cocked her head to the
side and turned to look at Sorley’s face.
Sorley shook his head. “It’s Gormaliev’s familiar.
Ember cocked her head the other direction. “No,
I-I don’t remember her.”
“Here.” Sorley sent his memory of Aliziyah to
Ember. “I’ll talk about Earth now.” Sorley looked at his companions. “I’m from
Earth. Europe to be specific. My family is a line of warlockes and we were
being hunted by a church that wants to wipe out all warlockes from Earth.”
Helena prodded with the question she knew the
dwarves were wondering about. “Where is Earth? Is it far to the north?”
Sorley smiled slightly. “No, it’s a different
realm. The orc was right, I’m not from…Domhan was it?”
“Yes, this is the realm of Domhan.” Lukren
“Well, my parents opened a portal and sent me
through. I think it was open for three days. It felt like three days, anyway.
It closed when I arrived, so nobody followed…I think.” Sorley paused,
collecting his knowledge of portals. “Yeah, nobody should’ve been able to
follow at that point.”
Helena looked concerned. “You seem unsure of
“We don’t know that much about portals.” Ember
spoke up. “Dad…I mean Sorley’s dad. He never taught us much about them.
Probably didn’t think we’d need to know.”
“Right. Realm portals anyway. Regular portals
we learned about. Those are instantaneous and last an hour. Not the same thing,
though. Portal requires a high-quality gem. Realm portals require that and
more. Dad never said what, though.” Sorley glanced at his grimoire. “Though, I
can probably find out. I am the rightful owner of the book now. It won’t hide
things from me.”
The dwarves glanced at each other and Lukren
spoke up. “What do you mean by now?”
“Well, this belonged to my father.” Sorley
picked up his grimoire. “Now that he’s gifted it to me the things he wanted
hidden from me are unlocked. That’s how he said it worked. Normally, I would’ve
gotten my grandmother’s because she was the warlocke in his family, but her
grimoire was burned before I was born.”
“By the group that’s trying to kill all
warlockes?” Helena seemed interested in the grimoire.
“Yes, they burned it along with her. I never
got to meet her.”
A confused look appeared on Helena’s face. “So
how would your family have continued with the grimoire tradition?”
“Oh, the same way the younger siblings would
get a grimoire. They would copy down anything that was unlocked by their parent.
When copying a new grimoire for a firstborn the grimoire unlocks completely for
them.” Sorley shrugged. “At least that’s what dad told me when I asked about
“Anyway, we need to get some sleep. I’ll take
first watch.” Lourek stood up and sat his pack on the ground. “I’ll start
making a perimeter, you guys get to sleep.”
– – –
Krakust and Evryn made their way through the
fresh snow. The layers were taller than Evryn so Krakust ended up leading her
instead of riding her. “Shouldn’t be too long over land. We might get there
before them. It’ll take a few more days for us. Probably several for them.”
“Right. If the snow doesn’t melt some we won’t
catch them. Plus, if the tunnel comes out earlier than I thought we’ll be
behind.” Krakust waded through some more snow and almost tripped on something. “What
Evryn sniffed the snow in front of her and
pulled a frozen leg up.
“Oh, some unlucky traveler. Leave it. We can’t
do anything about it.” Krakust started walking away when the leg twitched. “Or
not, it may still be alive.” He sighed loudly. “Fine. Let’s see what we found.”
It took some time to shovel the snow off the
body, but by the time he was done Krakust wasn’t sure he could do anything for
the creature. He wasn’t even sure what the creature was. It was covered in
scales and had a lizard-like face. It reminded him of the tales of dragons he
heard when he was little.
After clearing out some more snow Krakust
gathered what sticks he had found and made a campfire. “Evryn, lie down next to
it. This small fire can only do so much.” He stared at the creature. “Its
scales are a strange color. Are they metal of some sort?” The scales were a
mottled dark grey that had metallic, reflective spots.
– – –
The lizard-like creature slowly stirred. Its
eyes opened slowly revealing cat-like pupils surrounded by light gray irises.
It slowly sat upright and Evryn backed away from it. “Where am I?” It asked in a
guttural, grating voice. “Who are you?”
“I’m Krakust and that’s my ice wolf Evryn.”
Krakust motioned to Evryn. “We found you beneath the snow. What and who are
“I am Donaar Thruuvth and I am a dragonkin.
Have you never heard of us?”
“A dragonkin?” Krakust took a few steps back. “But,
you have no wings. I thought you had wings.”
Donaar laughed deeply. It sounded like the
rattling of two magnetite stones. “Yes, many a creature has said the same to
me. My race has not had wings for millennia, but the stories still survive.”
At the sound of the laugh Krakust came to a
conclusion. “So, you are a metallic dragonkin, not a colored dragonkin?”
“No.” A fierce look came to Donaar’s eyes. “Have
you seen any colored ones?” Donaar reached for his weapon and noticed it was
gone. “My great sword, where is it? And my outer armor?”
Krakust motioned at a pack next to the small
fire. “This is what I found with you. It may be in there.”
Donaar stood and walked to the pack. “Well, my
armor is gone. Leather will have to do for now either way. Not wearing plate in
snow like this.” He motioned to the snow drifts around the cleared area. “Ah,
here’s my sword at least. Good. Wouldn’t make much of a Defender without
something to defend with.”
“Sir Donaar ‘Shield Biter’ Thruuvth at your
service. Knight of the Order of Defenders.” Donaar stood straight then sagged a
little. “Last known survivor of the Night of Gore.”
“I’ll tell you later. For now, I’ll follow you
wherever you’re going. You saved my life, after all.”
Krakust stamped out the fire. “I probably
wouldn’t have if I realized you were a knight.” He sighed. “Fine, I’m trying to
find a human boy. He’s an escaped slave and by the tradition of my people I
cannot return home without him.”
“Hmm…well, I may just have to talk you out of
“Also, the sky elf that’s with him. She also
escaped. They met up with a couple of dwarves. I don’t care about them, and I
really don’t care about the tradition either. I let them escape. The intent was
to torture information out of them, but that isn’t going to work now.”
Donaar shook his head. “Torture? Well, at least you changed your mind. Tell me, what information you are seeking?”
Two dwarves hung from a rope stretched across
a cavern. They were clinging on for dear life while a human and an elf pulled
them across on a ferry style setup.
“Oi, can you speed this up a little?” Lukren
yelled. “It’s getting toasty here!”
Sorley pulled on the rope again. “Pitons aren’t made for this. They’re resisting the movement. If we go faster, we risk breaking the rope. You don’t want that.”
“Aye, but it feels like I’m turning into a roast duck here!” Lourek started inching his way forward to speed up the process. “All that’s missing is the sauce!”
Helena rolled her eyes and sighed. She tugged on the rope with Sorley then called out, “if you move like that it’s harder to pull the rope!”
The movement stopped and Lourek cursed silently under his breath, waiting for the rope to take him to the side of the crevice.
After a few intense minutes, the two dwarves were standing on the same side of the crack as Sorely and Helena.
“Okay. I’ll go get the other two pitons. I’ll be quick.” Sorely started to climb the wall, leaving Ember behind so he wouldn’t need to worry about her.
“Make it quick. Lourek and I are going into the passage. I don’t want to stick around here for much longer.”
On the opposite side of the cavern, a green head poked around the entrance to the tunnel. “They’re here, alright. Looks like the human is coming back across. Let’s attack him then.”
The ice wolf pawed silently, ready for a fight.
Sorely made his way back across the top of the cavern quickly. He climbed down the wall and made for the pitons.
Watching from the other side Helena saw Krakust and Evryn sneaking up on Sorley. “Sorley! Behind you! It’s Krakust!”
With a quick twirl, Sorley turned to face the orc and the ice wolf. “What do you want from me?”
“To know how you got here.” The orc growled.
“You aren’t from Domhan. You’re from another realm.”
Lukren poked his head out of the tunnel on the side where Helena was. “Did he say not from Domhan?”
“Aye, he did.” Lourek too poked his head out. “What does that mean?”
Ember turned to the dwarves, “not now. Can you do something to help Sorley out from here?”
“No, we only have melee weapons. No bows or crossbows.”
Orby, Helena thought to her familiar, can we hit the orc or wolf from here?
No, they’re too far away. You can send me over to help, maybe.
The green light that was Orby started floating across the cavern. The light was dimmer than before, but still noticeable.
Ember noticed Orby and thought to Sorley, looks like Helena is sending Orby to help. I don’t know what it can do to help.
Tell her thanks. Sorley stared Krakust straight in the eyes. “No, I’m not from here. I’m from Earth. My family sent me here as a last resort to keep me alive. Some orc and its dog aren’t going to keep me from breaking my promise to my mother.” A purplish flame appeared in Sorley’s hand. “If you want me, you’re going to have to fight me.”
Krakust pulled a wicked blade from his belt. “Oh, so you don’t want to die? Well, you decided your fate when you and your elf friend shot me with flames before.”
Snarling Evryn started inching forward toward Sorley.
“Tell me what I want to know, and you will die quickly.” Krakust took a step forward. “How did you get to Domhan? How do you travel between realms?”
A small grin appeared on Sorley’s face. “You think I can do that sort of magic myself and you approach with a blade? If I could you would already be defeated.”
“I’ve dealt with magic users before, boy. They can be dealt with.”
That’s right, Sorley thought to himself, keep talking. Give Orby some time to get here.
Krakust walked closer to Sorley, cautiously. “So, are you going to stand there all day, or attack me?”
About to form a reply Sorley felt a strange sensation on his back then a presence entered his mind. Orby?
Yeah, it’s me. Sorry, didn’t have time for a warning.
The purple flame in Sorley’s hand grew larger and gained green highlights. “I think now is the best time.” Sorley shot the flame, but not at Krakust. The flame went right for Evryn’s side where the flameskull had hit her before.
Surprised that the human had decided to attack her first Evryn wasn’t able to avoid the flame. It hit her side where the burns were still fresh and shot pain through her body. She staggered under the blow and scampered backward.
Rage appeared in Krakust’s eyes. “You will be paying for that, human.” He rushed forward with his blade pointed at Sorley. As he did so Orby passed back out of Sorley to in front of him and sent out a blinding flash in Krakust’s direction.
Step to the side! Quickly!
Sorley stepped aside as Krakust, unable to stop his momentum, went over the side of the chasm. At the last moment, he was able to grip a protruding rock but dropped his blade in the process. There was a dull thud as the metal hit the magma and Helena saw it sink beneath the molten rock.
Ignoring her pain Evryn ran forward to Krakust, trying to see if there was some way she could offer help.
Should we leave him and go back to the others? Orby asked.
You go back. I need to get the pitons still. Sorley motioned towards the two pitons nearby.
Orby bobbed in response and started floating back across the crack.
The pitons pulled back out of the rock without too much trouble and Sorley took one close to where Krakust was. He drove it into the ground and attached some rope to it. He coiled the rope then looked at the ice wolf. “Use this to save him. I’m going back to my friends.” He turned back to the wall and started climbing.
Wasting no time Evryn took one end of the rope in her mouth and pulled it over to Krakust.
“Stupid human. You should’ve killed me.” He carefully grabbed the end of the rope and started to pull himself up.
“No, I made a tactical decision. When next we meet we will be on the same side.”
“I doubt that greatly.”
Sorley finished the climb to Helena and the dwarves. Without a word he picked up his pack and started walking to the cave. Ember started following beside him.
“Well, shall we go?” Ember asked when the others didn’t start following.
“Uh, yeah. Let’s go. I have some questions, though.” Lourek started following Sorley. “What’s Earth, first of all, and exactly how did you get here?”
“Aye, I wish to know that too.” Lukren started following behind as well.
Helena smiled slightly to herself. Good job, Orby.
Thanks. You know, Sorley is tied to something powerful. I didn’t really do anything to his flame attack, I just strengthened the connection.
That would be the person he talked about being in his vision.
She’s strange. Like an elf but not an elf. She didn’t talk to me, but I felt her gratitude when I helped.
Interesting. Helena started jogging after the dwarves. There was a noticeable incline in the passageway. She hoped they would reach the surface soon.
– – –
Gormaliev smiled at Aliziyah. “Looks like Sorley has some interesting allies. That light elemental knows a little something about connections. It made it easier for me to connect with Sorley. I usually wouldn’t care at the strength, but with there being so few Aelfsons these days I appreciate it.”
“It may have consequences. If the connection is closer to that of a familiar now he may have a lifespan that lasts until you die…or break the connection.” Aliziyah was curled atop a mossy stone. “How do things go on Earth?”
“Well, the Aelfson line survives on Earth for another day. I don’t know how things will go, the future is too cloudy. I don’t know how long the people will last, and every day the danger grows. The inquisitionhas already wiped out a line of warlocks of the great old one. Only one though. I put all my eggs in one basket long ago. Now I have to deal with thatdecision.”
“At least one of the eggs is in a separate basket now. Sorley.” Aliziyah stood next to Gormaliev. “And my daughter is with him. She will keep him safe.”
“Yes.” Gormaliev petted Aliziyah on the snout.“If all else fails they may yet survive.”
Helena was about to throw fire again when Orby made her slow down. Wait. Focus your energy through me. Don’t quick cast if you can avoid it. Slow your breathing. Speak the word fire in draconic. Use that to focus.
Relaxing slightly the glowing in Helena’s arm focused into her hand and manifested in a green flame as she spoke a single word in draconic. She threw the flame at one of the shadow skeletons, causing the shadow to appear to bleed. Continue reading →
Lourek started pacing. Lukren had been gone for eight minutes and the dwarf was getting restless. “Should we wait two more minutes? I think we should go.”
Helena leaned against the wall and slowly stood up. “I think it would be best if we started moving. If he’s not in trouble we’ll meet up with him.” She paused as Sorley helped her finish standing. “If he’s in trouble getting there quicker will only help.”
A light became visible in the direction they were headed. It seemed to be coming towards them.
“Maybe that’s him now.” Sorley pointed at the light, torch in hand.
The soft plodding of fox paws started as Ember began to trot towards the light. “I’ll check it out.”
Ember looked back and nodded at Helena. “Of course.” Then she scampered forward, torch left behind.
– – –
The light wasn’t torchlight. But it also wasn’t one of those flameskull things. Ember watched as a small creature seemingly made of green fire floated slowly toward where Sorley and the others were. She tried to remember what the thing was called, but all she could think of were will o’ wisps, which this thing certainly wasn’t.
As it passed by Ember hid in a small crevice in the rock wall. The floating orb of light paused and seemed to notice her. It bobbed down to her eye level and floated there. Ember felt like she was being scrutinized by the light.
A small voice spoke within Ember’s mind. To Ember telepathy was something that only conveyed emotion or uncomplicated thoughts, but this was full on speech. What are you, little creature? You are no ordinary fox.
Ember tried to think back to the creature. I’m not. What are you?
I’m a light elemental. Call me Orby. The light did a little circle. I’m searching for Helena. Do you know where she is?
Before it could be stopped the image of Helena appeared in Ember’s mind. It showed her walking towards them.
Thank you. We can wait here then.
Ember nodded, uncertain if she had made a mistake or not.
– – –
Sorley felt the confusion in Ember’s mind and started walking faster.
“Oi, slow down. I can’t keep up.”
“Sorry. I’m getting confusion from Ember. I don’t think it’s Lukren that’s ahead. He didn’t have a torch with him anyway, did he?”
Lourek started moving more swiftly down the tunnel. “Well, I’m going to look for him. You can deal with whatever Ember found.”
Orby and Ember watched as Lourek walked past them at a quickened pace. He barely glanced at them as he continued forward.
Who’s that? Orby asked, floating in the direction Lourek had gone for a few feet then stopping. I think I saw another one earlier. He wasn’t in that much of a hurry though.
That’s Lourek. The one you saw before was probably Lukren.
Ember shook her head. So’s Orby.
Ember looked in the direction Lukren had come from and saw a torch coming closer. She focused on Sorley and tried to think to him like Orby was to her. Can you hear me?
The torch paused for a moment in the distance then started approaching faster than before. Could we always talk like this?
Ember hopped a few times, excited that she discovered a new layer to her connection to Sorley. I have no idea. I found the source of the light. It’s a light elemental that’s named Orby. It says it was looking for Helena.
– – –
Helena watched as Sorley’s face twisted into confusion then into excitement and back into confusion. He turned toward her and his expression became a questioning one.
“Do you know a light elemental that calls itself Orby?”
The name seemed familiar to Helena, but she couldn’t quite place it. “The name seems familiar for some reason. If I did know a light elemental, it was before…”
Sorley nodded. “Can we walk faster?”
“Yes, I think I can go a little faster.”
– – –
So, how do you know Helena? Ember asked. She was slowly walking in the direction of the torch-light and Orby had started to follow behind.
The elemental bobbed along, almost seeming to dance. I knew her when she was very little. She’s a dracomage you know. Dracomages bond with elementals. When the orcs attacked I was too small and weak to help her. She may not remember though. We’ve been apart for so long.
How long? Ember wondered why Helena wouldn’t remember. She was surely no older than Sorley was.
Forty years maybe. I can sense your confusion. Elves live a long time.
I think I knew that, on some level. Ember remembered Sorley’s lessons with his mother on the history of non-humans. It just never clicked.
Sorley and Helena paused in front of Ember and a floating orb of light. The two seemed to be having some sort of conversation and Ember bumped into Sorley.
“Oops. Sorry. Wasn’t paying attention.” Ember looked up at Sorley and Helena. “This is Orby. Orby this is Sorley, and this is Helena.” She pointed at them with her snout.
The green light floated up to Helena and floated near her wound. A wisp of light reached out and touched the bandage. Nice work. Seems to be healing nicely. Everyone was able to hear the elemental. I suppose I have Sorley to thank for the bandage? Orby floated up to Helena’s scale impression arm. Ah, a quick spell cast. Seems recent. That might be why I sensed where you were.
Helena started at the green orb. It was the same color as the fire she had conjured before. “Do I know you from somewhere?”
In response the elemental flowed into her arm and the scale pattern receded slightly. I am your focus. I can slow the scales, but only slightly. If you cast like you did before too often you will start growing scales. Helena, you vowed you would never grow scales. You didn’t want to be a battle mage.
The reminder of the vow brought some memories flooding back into Helena’s mind. The block had the taste of her mother within it. “Times change. I was merely ten when I made that vow. Mother blocked my memories. Though she couldn’t block the ones of The Leak.”
“We can’t hear it anymore. It’s only talking to you.” Sorley slowed down with Helena. “Can you still continue or do you need a moment?”
Before Helena could respond cries of agony echoed down the tunnel. It sounded like Lourek and Lukren. “Let’s go.”
I see memories of another rend. Is it in this cave?
Not now. We need to focus on the dwarves.
– – –
Lourek came upon Lukren who was fending off a small, undead creature. It looked similar to a skeleton except that it had dark tendrils seeping from it. Lourek had heard stories of this creature before. It was actually two creatures. One was the skeleton, the other was a shadow. Working together the two could take down more prey.
“Careful Lukren! That’s a shadow-skeleton!” Lourek rushed forward to help.
Lukren glanced back to see Lourek. “I told you ten minutes!” He smacked the shadow-skeleton with the flat of his blade. “Also, I know what it is!”
Lourek pulled the daggers from his back and closed in on the creature. Together the two dwarves made swift work of it.
“Well, Flaskheart. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“Aye, brother. Not bad at all.”
“Don’t call me brother!”
“Then don’t call me Flaskheart!”
The two dwarves broke into an argument, yelling at each other in dwarvish. While they were distracted another shadow-skeleton appeared from the darkness and sent tendrils of darkness toward them.
In unison the dwarves cried out in agony as they took massive damage. Their shadows started to disconnect from their bodies. In the dim light they were unable to tell what was happening at first. When they realized the predicament they were in they saw torchlight coming around a bend in the corridor. Sorley, Helena, and Ember stood in shock of what they saw, but they swiftly moved into an attack formation.
The arm where the faint scales were still visible on Helena glowed a strange green light as she pointed at the shadow-skeleton.
There was a rumble from the back of the cave, and a dark mist rolled from it. “Oh, crap.” Lourek’s voice echoed into the cave. “What’s worse? The orcs, or an area that Darkfall is pushing through?” As he finished speaking a thick smell of death reached everyone’s noses. “Also, I can’t close the door now it’s open. The lever was rotten and now it’s disintegrated.”
Lukren, Sorley, and Ember stared in Lourek’s direction. Then the stench of Darkfall wafted over them again and they almost lost their lunches.
“The hell is that smell?” Helena looked around the room weakly. “Can’t a girl faint in peace?” Continue reading →
Huddled together at the mouth of the cave Lourek and Lukren kept glancing over their shoulders. They were supposed to watch for the orc that was undoubtedly trying to find them in the whiteout, but they were preoccupied with how Helena was doing.
“Ember, fetch the herbs from my component pouch.” Sorley turned to talk to the dwarves. “Pack a handful of snow into a tight ball for me and bring it here, please.”
Lukren swiftly gathered some snow together and pressed it into a ball then gingerly tossed it to Sorley. “Catch.”
Sorley caught the snowball and pressed it into the wound left by the spear.