Part 2: Night Terrors
A Vanished Atheneum
Tanixx is prodded awake from an unnaturally, deep sleep by the ranger. Krasch, armored with sword drawn, is using a special sign language the two developed during their adventuring years together.
Moonlight provides a grayish-blue hue to the room. The windows shake slightly but mysteriously there is no sound and the fire from the large hearth should be crackling.
“Silence and darkness. Hallway. Get Thrash and Swagger.” Krasch signs to a drowsy Tanixx. Slipping his elfin chainmail vest on, he grabs his sword and dagger before joining Krasch at the door. Swagger, the sword, telepathizes to Tanixx the words and image of a droning-spirit; simultaneously, Thrash begins glowing, indicating the presence of undead.
“Droning-Spirit. To the right.” Tanixx signs to Krasch. Both men nod acknowledging they understand each other. Krasch opens the door with Tanixx positioning his arm forward so optimum light from his sword protects both men and shines into the hallway. Breaking through the unusual darkness, the hall now has a dull purple hue where everything appears cloudy-like and diffused. Quickly, Krasch moves in, Tanixx close by his side. Both men immediately see a bubbling, black, jelly-like oozing mass with hundreds of tiny fanged mouths pinning Mariah to the wall while devouring her withering white flesh. They both know the droning-spirit has drawn all life from the waitress; her clouded eyes are rolled back in her head.
A sorrow befalls Tanixx over Mariah's death, the creature radiates a sphere of darkness and silence that its victims are engulfed by. They die in a horrible, lonely, muted blackness.
From their experience with fighting the droning-spirit, they know the fanged blob is the second part of the monster which coexists in a tandem relationship. The bipedal humanoid form of the creature is the hunter. This creature's droning will put anyone to sleep within several feet of its hypnotic moaning sound.
Tanixx shines the light of Thrash onto the blob mass; it recoils sliding off Mariah's corpse quickly undulating along the ground seeking refuge by seeping under a door. The waitress's body slowly slumps to the ground, as nearly unrecognizable chewed flesh. Before the blob can slip totally away, Tanixx strikes it with his sword delivering three quick blows. The enchanted blade slices into the monster creating flashes and sparks from the jelly-like ichor which begins to ignite brilliantly. The smell of burning blood waifs from the droning-spirit blob. The mouths of the creature begin chattering loudly, a sign it is in pain from Wildfire's attack.
Krasch, in pursuit of the droning-spirit, uses his shoulder as a battering ram to smash the door down where the monster has fled. Launching himself into the room like a missile, he whirls and sinks the large blade of his magical sword into the creature splitting it in half. Pudding like masses splatter judiciously, some smoldering from Tanixx's recent assault.
The Elven female occupant of the room screams in startled horror while pulling the covers up over her scantily clad body. “Help! Help! Get out!” she screams in a shrill voice, confused as to what is exactly happening.
“Look lady, we just saved your life from this evil, goop looking thing!” exclaims Tanixx from the doorway as he watches the creatures remnants partially dissolve into the wooden floor and rug. The stench of burning, rotten eggs exudes from its residue.
The woman stops screaming, wrinkles her nose, looks at the two men before her, turns pale, then proceeds to projectile vomit onto the bed and floor.
“Nice.” whispers Tanixx as he rolls his eyes.
Krasch commands illumination from his sword and the entire room is brightened. “Stay here, I'm gonna hunt the other half of this monster down and kill it.” Krasch runs out into the hallway, looks both ways before heading to the staircase that leads down.
“You gonna be alright m'lady?” asks a marginally concerned Tanixx as he heads to the bedroom window where he hears a commotion coming from the barn. The woman, still ill, waves him off and purges once again.
Opening the window, the sounds of riled horses are quickly silenced by a strange droning sound. Tanixx assumes the creature must be attacking the stable-hand. With great skill and manual dexterity, Tanixx climbs out the window and easily scales himself down the wet, grey, stone shingled wall.
Quietly landing on soft ground, he uses the moonlight shadows as a guide and stealthily makes his way towards the barn; hand on the pommel of Thrash.
Peeking through the partially opened barn door, Tanixx sees the droning-spirit's mosquito-like proboscis attached to the side of the unconscious stable hand draining him of blood. The hideous creature has the thick, powerful, lion-like build while its upper body is of a hairless orangutan. The blood red, bony insect skull has multiple eyes. A long tendril ends in a thorny point forms its “mouth”.
Swiftly, Wildfire throws Swagger with expert precision and sheers the suckling stem off the droning-spirit. The monster hisses in anger and bounds towards the doorway with its powerful hind legs. Droning resonates from flapping slits along the sides of the monsters neck.
Tanixx can feel the effects of sleepiness from the creature's sound production and fights with all his willpower not to succumb. Slowly, sliding down to the ground, Thrash vibrates in Tannix's hand and strobe flashes its bright light. 'Fight the effects!' Screams across his brain from the swords telepathic communication.
As the droning-spirit hunter bursts through the door, claws flaying at Tannix, its chest is met by the powerful blow of Krasch's sword. A loud smack and bone crushing thud indicates solid contact with the beast sending it reeling back inside the barn. There is no denying the great strength Override possesses. The droning from the creature immediately stops, its body folded in half by the blow. Blood cascades from the sword wound and the dangling, sheared proboscis. The lumbering creature rams itself into the back wall seeking to break through as an escape plan. Krasch pulls Tanixx to his feet before rushing towards the droning-spirit.
“C'mon Tanixx, wake up! Let's kill this thing!” Groggily, the TallFellow Halfling supports himself against the entryway frame as Krasch charges inside.
Suddenly, Tannix's hair stands on end as a cordite smell rips through the air and a streak of lightning comes from a hovering, female figure silhouetted in partial darkness. The lethal, bluish-white bolt of energy streaks inside the barn striking the droning-spirit with devastating effect. Strong electric currents ripple through its body as charring and burning of the creatures flesh ensues. The force of the bolt launches the monster through part of the opening it had begun to make in the back wall.
Krasch leaps to the side and lands in hay the bales next to horses that have fallen victim to the sleep effect of the droning-spirit hunter. His hair is on end and skin tingles to near numbness.
“Wha' the hell! Who or what caused that! Yells Krasch. “I almost got electrocuted, damn random magic!”
“It came from the shadows of the night Krasch!” yells back Tanixx. Still groggy, Wildfire brandishes thrash towards the source of the lightning bolt. Its shines and reveals the Elven woman from the room they were just in. Floating in the air, she brandishes a shiny, metal wand pointed towards the now dead droning-spirit.
The woman comes closer into view as she descends towards Tanixx. “My magic is not random, and you both were in no danger of getting hit by the lightning bolt. By the way, thank you and your friend in there for destroying that monster in my room.”
“No problem...lady...” Tanixx smiles and gives pause so she may answer.
“Wythir, Wythir Starsong of Elvenstar.”
“Pleasure to meet you.” Tanixx extends his hand as he looks over the deep, violet haired Elven beauty before him dressed in a black silk gown and thigh high black leather boots, high-heeled with gold buckles.
Wythir shakes his hand as Tanixx proceeds to kiss the top of it as well, but she withdraws it quickly whisking past him into the barn.
Krasch, looking over the charred remains of the droning-spirit hunter, watches Wythir with both respect and an obvious attraction as she examines the creature closely. Her light amethyst eyes give him pause to stare uncontrollably.
“Hi, my name is Krasch.” He says a bit bashfully.
Smiling, she addresses Krasch with mutual attraction. “Wythir, pleasure to meet you. Seems between the two of us, we dispatched this vile creature promptly. I've never seen this or that glob monster that's in my room before.
“They're a form of undead that work in tandem called a droning-spirit. That is how it was explained to me by a cleric friend of mine” responds a smitten Krasch.
“Would either of you gentlemen mind if I took some samples of different things off this creature?”
Both men are agreeable to Wythir's request.
“How can we be of assistance?” asks Krasch.
“I will need you to extract some things from it like those glands under the neck slits, its proboscis end, and a few other parts. I hope you're not squeamish.”
Winking, Krasch purses his lips, exhales and swells his chest. “Pssss...me? Naw...I am used to a lot worse.”
Wythir winks back with a smile.
“I'll assist by making sure the stable hand, horses and our gear are intact.” replies Tanixx as he assesses the wounded young man's condition. “He's alive, the creature must've just gotten to work on him. You guys keep getting to know each other, I'm gonna fetch some water, clean cloths and my satchel.” Tanixx leaves not waiting for a response.
Reaching inside her robes, Wythir produces a small kit containing vials, bottles, small surgical instruments and other similar paraphernalia.
“Well, isn't that handy. Your robes have a magical ability to hold several things I take it?” Asks a curious Krasch as he tries to sneak a peek at Wythir's lithe body.
“It does my keen-eyed friend.” Noticing Krasch's ogling look. “I can call us friends, right?”
“But of course, Wythir, life-long ones hopefully.”
She smiles at Krasch as she begins a rudimentary autopsy of the droning-spirit. With her direction, Override helps where needed being uncharacteristically quiet.
Tanixx is cautious as he heads back using the shadows to blend in around the perimeter Inn. He slips past a few patrons who are complaining about the sulfurous smell permeating the upstairs area.
Once inside his room, he checks the ceiling for the tome, it is intact and undisturbed. Removing his satchel from around the bed post, he slings it on his shoulder and makes his way back to the barn avoiding being seen by anyone.
“I'm back.” Wythir and Krasch acknowledge the Tallfellow and go back to their dissection. It is apparent there is an obvious attraction between them.
Removing ointments, salves and binding cloths, Tanixx dresses the wounds of the stable hand who is still in the enchantment of magical slumber. Next, he checks on the horses and is able to awaken them. All of their adventuring gear remains intact although it has to be re-secured.
Wythir and Krasch share a few stories about their adventures; some of the people they have met and their current pursuit of a murderous brother duo. Tanixx pays some attention to the conversations as he works and thinks to himself the Elven woman, her comrades and their team would work well together.
“Forgive my eavesdropping, these men you are after, did they seek refuge in the Wyrm Wood by chance?” Asks a curious Tanixx.
“Yes. The two brothers are Half-Drow. Naz and Moor Faratu are their common names; I'm sure they have aliases and Drow designations as well. Have either of you seen any Half-Drow or Drow in Temperance?”
Both men respond with a no as they shake their heads. “The Wyrm Wood is a perfect place for capable persons with skills to hide in. That macabre, enchanted forest seems to be in a state of flux, a confluence, forever changing...nearly impossible to map or track anyone within it.” Warns Krasch.
“You've had lots of success doing so Krasch. Don't be humble! You're highly skilled. Perhaps the lady could hire us to help them since we are venturing into the Wyrm ourselves.”
“Is what your friend just said the truth?”
Reticently, the ranger answers. “Yes m'lady Starsong.”
Flirtatiously caressing Krasch's arm, she responds with great confidence. “No need to be elusively coy. If you're good at something, own it and be proud.”
Tannix gives a low, sarcastic whistle while Override admires Wythir's attention. “Tomorrow morning we can all meet and discuss what happened here tonight and the possibility of joining forces for expedition into the Wyrm Wood.”
“Sounds like a plan. There is no way you can stay in that stinky room of yours Wythir, may I suggest you stay in ours? You with Krasch and I'll stay here in the barn loft guarding our equipment.”
“That's very kind of you to offer Tanixx, I hate to impose although I would feel more comfortable. Is that arrangement okay by you Krasch?”
With a wry smile and raised eyebrows, the ranger eagerly responds. “Definitely okay by me.”
“Thank you both so much. I am finished examining this...droning-spirit hunter let us retire and get a few hours rest.” Krasch gathers himself, while Wythir uses some of Tanixx's water and binding cloth to wash her hands. Turning towards a hushed conversation between Krasch and Tanixx, she straightens her robe and walks over to the ranger. “Ready when you are.”
“See you two later this morning.” Says Wildfire as he drags the droning-spirit's carcass out to the back of the barn.
“Take it easy Tanixx.” Responds Krasch. Wythir waves goodbye with a smile. Both walk close together leaving the barn heading towards the Inn.
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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
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Original narrative & well developed characters