Hidden 11 days ago Post by Penny
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The black water closed over Camilla head. Diving blindly she felt her way along the rock face, seeking the source of the current that rippled the pool. Twice she came up for air before she found what she was looking for. With one hand holding her sheathed elven blade tight against her leg she kicked powerfully pushng herself into the opening. The current swept her forward and she prayed to Ranald that the tunnel never grew too narrow for her to pass. In theory the opening should only grow wider, otherwise the water would have backed up and submerged the cavern, but the only way she would find out she was wrong was if she were stuck between the rocks to drown, her body never t be recovered. Her vision began to pulse red as the air she had gulped down was exhausted. Desperately her hands scrambled across the submerged stone roof. At the last possible moment she found an opening an her hand reached into empty air. Desperately she propelled herself upwards and gasped at the stale subterranean air.

Camilla emerged into a tight circular shaft, regular enough that she could feel the tool marks. It was a well shaft, twenty or thirty feet deep. Above her dim light filtered down. Shivering and soaking wet, she pushed herself into the shaft pressing against each side and working her way up in a burglar’s assent. Inch by inch she worked her way up the shaft until finally she grasped the rim of worked stones and pulled herself over the lip.

The room around her was as dilapidated as the rest of the inner keep. Ancient jars stood on worm eaten shelves or lay in fragments on the floor when the timbers had rotted away. Rats scampered out of sight as she heaved herself to her feet. Light filtered down from a doorway above at the top of a set of shallow stone steps. She had to assume she was in a basement, perhaps on a level with the crypt Cydric had dropped them into. She needed to find him and soon.

Water pooled on the steps as she climbed them, peering through the doorway. Beyond her a large kitchen stood, long abandoned. A great oven overflowing with ashes sat at one end and shelves and cabinets lined the walls. Several rusted knives lay on a central work table and verdigris copper pots hung from the ceiling beside spiderweb encrusted herbs and mummified garlic ropes. The was movement at a doorway at the far and and a large form moved passed the door. Camilla froze in place, certain that despite the similarity in size the thing that had passed was not Cydric. It stepped back into the doorway and turned to face her, baleful eyes glowing down at her.

It struck like a thunderbolt, half leaping half flying from its elevated position. Camilla shouted and whipped her elven blade free, spinning aside and fetching the thing a slash across the ribs as it tumbled past her in a tumult of rusty iron cutlery. It was a great anthropomorphic bat, or perhaps a combination of a bat and a wolf, with leathery wings stretched between its forearms and its hips. Great bony pinions dug into the table, peeling up the iron hard oak like a craftsman chisel as it worked the check its momentum. Camilla sprang up onto the table avoiding a strike ot the things claws that would have taken her off at the knees. It leapt up behind her, lighting fast for its size. Camilla kicked a pot at it with her booted foot. It swatted the junk unconsciously and she thrust into the sinew of its shoulder, twisting and ripping the weapon free before the creature could twist and disarm her. It howled as the elven steel cut into it, black blood dripping sluggishly from the wound.

It launched itself at her again and Camilla leaped into the air, catching one of the roof timbers as it crashed past beneath her, colliding with the oven at the end of the room. The termite eaten timber gave way beneath her fingernails and she let it go and fell onto the table, landing gracefully and twisting to face back towards her attacker. With a beasital howl it launched itself at her a third time. Camilla sidestepped so that it flew into the doorway down to the well, its pinions struck out to catch the lintel but Camilla, having anticipated the response was already swinging her sword down with all her strength. The elven steel bit deep into its lower arm, although even the finest craftsmanship of the Eldest race couldn’t quite sever the sinewy member. The creature screamed in a rage loud enough to be physically painful and its limb gave out, tumbling into the lower room. Camilla didn’t wait for it to recover, instead she ran along the table, leaped to the far door and bolted, hoping to lose the thing or at least find a more advantageous battleground.
Hidden 9 days ago 9 days ago Post by POOHEAD189
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Nearly tumbling down the stairs, the Ostlander leaped and over the last set of stairs to land at the bottom of the stairs. He slammed the door behind him and locked the door, turning to see himself nearly at the precipice of a cliff overlooking the river that Camilla no doubt had fallen into. The gloom was deadening, and the cavern loomed about like a great maw fanged at every orifice of its mouth. A lair of beasts from man's instinctual nightmares. It brought a cold chill to Cyrdic's spine, but he willed himself to continue. Most men wouldn't have. He felt the tug to simply just leap over the cliff to end the terror that awaited.

But Cyrdic was not afraid of beasts. He'd had one lurking within him since Middenheim. Idly he gripped the hilt of his runic blade, and turned to navigate the cliff face he found himself on, spotting a ruined shack of a building that seemed built into the far wall, across a narrow stretch of the rocky outcropping. Slowly, he thinned his gait until he nearly walked sideways, feeling the free flowing air carried by the river merely a stride in front of him.

A sudden howl and a crash echoed out of the building he was navigating to, and it nearly pitched him over the side. Briefly he thought going that way might not be the best idea anymore. But then he realized only one person would be down here to fight these aberrations, and he picked up the pace, whimpering like a hound at bay until he made it to wider ground. He unsheathed his sword and sprinted until the ruined building practically vomited an undead horror out of its door, flailing and trying to right itself. The cuts on its arm were unmistakable.

"Camilla!" he called, trying to make his way around the strange beast, a parody of a bat and a wolf infused by unholy magic. He didn't make it five feet before its bestial head snapped to look at him, snarling with a guttural voice that sounded as if it could break stone. Like a dog yanking on a leash, it scrabbled forward toward Cyrdic even before it regained its footing. The big Ostlander would no doubt have been devoured if he stayed idle, but his sword was out and slicing across the hideous maw of the beast without a second thought, Cyrdic snarling back at it.

It managed to strike Cyrdic in the chest with its claw, bloodying the man and knocking him to the ground. But he never lost grip of his sword, hacking into its chest and ripping into a rib. It buckled as Cyrdic sliced into another arm, but its next claw swipe wwas steadier, and Cyrdic had to roll out of the way before it hit. The patch of stone where Cyrdic had lay was cut. The Ostlander didn't stop to continue his fight with the thing. He instead turned and ran into the building it had fallen out of, knowing it would recover from his cuts within the minute.

"Love! I'm here!" he yelled into the building, vaulting over broken ornaments and stonework to reach where he knew she would be. He could smell her scent. Within moments he could hear the breaking of the wooden door behind him, and as Cyrdic passed room to room the hacking apart of wood and stone grew louder. His breathing was growing shallow from the running and the wound he received. He didn't even have time to look at it.

Making his way up another set of stone carved stairs, breathing labored, he crashed through the door in front of Camilla, her sword raised as if to strike whatever came through the door. Her face wide with shock.
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Hidden 8 days ago Post by Penny
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“Cydric!” Camilla cried in relief. It hadn’t truly crossed her mind that Cydric might be dead, not on a conscious level but seeing him again lifted a weight of her shoulders she hadn’t realised she had been carrying. There was no time for tearful reunions however.

“Abbiamo bisogno di tornare alla sala principale!” she exclaimed, forgetting in her haste to speak Reikspiel. Cydric, who could speak some Tilean, looked at her in confusion, the pace of her speech too rapid for his limited grasp on the tongue to handle.

“The main hall, with the windows,” she explained and stepped back out into the hallway. To her horror figures were emerging from one end of the dusty passageway. The undead knights clanked forward, rusted weapons raised. At the other end of the hallway the monster shambled awkwardly, the slash in its wing/arm mending visibility as Camilla watched.

“For Ulric!” Cydric roared and charged towards the beast thing, his bastard sword leveled like a spear. Camilla stepped towards the oncoming knights. Behind her she heard the crash of steel upon bony claws as Cydric grappled with the creature. She drew up her own blade in a duelists engarde position and advanced towards the horde intent on buy Cydric enough time to make an exit. The narrow confines of the corridor were both a blessing and a curse, on the one hand the wights could only come at her two at a time, on the other there wasn’t enough space for her to use her sword unencumbered.

The nearest of the creatures lunged at her, surprisingly quick given the languid pace of the things advance. She swept the point of the rusted sword aside, used the momentum to whirl the blade over her had, caught the hilt in both hands and hacked downwards, severing the bony arm halfway between wrist and elbow. The dead thing didn’t slow and she only narrowly managed to leap back before it caught her in a bony hand. Another wight tried to slash with a large two handed sword but the blade clanged off the stone wall. Camilla dipped and cut the feet out from under the lead creature, kicking it back into the ranks of its fellows, fouling their advance for a few seconds before talons reached forward and ripped the partially disarticulated knight to fragments of bone.

It was like trying to fight a landslide. She parried another blow and retreated back up the hallway towards the battle between Cydric and the monster, risking a glance over her shoulder to see how her lover was faring.
Hidden 4 days ago Post by POOHEAD189
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Cyrdic battled ferociously, his sword slicing into the rotted meat of the beast's flesh with every ounce of the Ostlander's strength, ducking and parrying as best he could, though the loping claws of the Varghest made it hard to judge when and where a claw would get close enough to strike him. But he was like a wall, keeping the large, dangerous predator at bay with his runic steel to guard Camilla's back. It was a formation they were used to, by now, though now they were in opposite positions.

Cyrdic was usually the one to hammer through the lines while Camilla parried, riposted, and sliced into whatever was trying to lay into them, dancing around a larger opponent to keep them off of Cyrdic's back if she could not outright slay it immediately. It was a grim sort of humor, though neither of them were laughing at the moment. Old, ruined timber was splintered and shorn as the monster howled, growing frustrated at being unable to simply devour the big man.

Cyrdic was a trained soldier and warrior, and he believed Camilla had learned much from him. But she had taught him a few of the finer ways of dodging an opponent, and with a deft spin under a claw swipe, he gave a backhanded slash that sliced through what was now the stump of the creature's back leg, causing it to buckle under its own weight. Camilla and Cyrdic's wounds together had greatly reduced its combat ability, and before it could recover, Cyrdic's blade flew overhead to chop into the thing's thick neck. The blade's magic aided in the cutting power of his strike, and he cut clean through meat and bone.

The ugly head thudded into the wooden floor as the creature flailed its death spasms. It's extended claws whipped out, elongated by the terrifying anatomy, flying over broken furniture to sweep across Camilla. Cyrdic quickly tackeled her to the ground as the claw swept overhead, knocking aside a ghastly Knight. Camilla squeaked, but her head poked out of Cyrdic's bulk and she kissed him on the nose. "Grazie" she said, and sprang out of his arms to block the following strike from another skeleton. Glancing back, the undead abomination was now dead and still.

Cyrdic suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to break bone on his sword, and standing tall, he waded into the melee with Camilla, fighting beside her as they always did. Camilla's elven blade parried and hacked while entire Skeletal bodies were sundered by Cyrdic's blade, and together no single Knight, or two for that matter, in the bottleneck of the corridor could stand against them for more than a few scant moments.

By Ranald's luck, they might actually make it out of the catacombs. At the end of the hall, they could see a door that led upwards into another stairwell, the door hanging open limply, having been ripped off most of its hinges by the advancing Knights minutes before. It looked like their salvation was at hand, with only a half a dozen of the skeletal monster's left, still funneled through the stone walls, unable to properly surround the two mercenaries.

Cyrdic's sudden cry of pain pierced the room, and Camilla would see a deformed, fang filled mouth clutching to Cyrdic's shoulder as a ghoul gripped the man from behind. Another would grab onto his arm, and she would see more trying to scramble over the dead Varghest, pushing its heavy body away from the entrance to the room. "Cyrdic!" she screeched, doing her best to retreat to him while keeping the Knight's back. Cyrdic's cry turned into a roar, and he slammed his back into the wall, nearly crushing the ghouls latched onto him. Over and over and did it, until his sword arm was free and he could stab the bottom one through the chest. It fell in a heap, and while the other was dazed he knocked it off his back and finished it.

Blood poured freely down his muscled back, his lack of armor unable to protect him. Great claw marks and jagged wounds ran down his upper and lower back, but he did not seem to tire or notice. Instead he ripped the rest of the garment off his torso and readied his sword to meet the next ghouls that prowled at the edge of the darkness.
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The ghoul’s scream choked off into a bloody gurgle as the elven sword sliced halfway through its neck. The creature staggered back to be torn apart by its frenzied companions. Cydric, blood streaming from his wounds hacked like a man reaping corn, severing hands, heads and arms with equal impartiality. Camilla’s sword arm ached and her body trembled near exhaustion, she couldn’t keep this up much longer and their enemies seemed undiminished. Looking around for a means of escape she spotted a stairway that ran up towards the center of the cursed keep.

“Go!” she shouted, pushing Cydric in the direction of the slime slicked stairs. Together they desperately chopped their way through the ghouls. Cydric appeared to be slowing too, though his deadly blade kept any further ghouls from touching them. The scent of his blood drove them into a frenzy and it was all Camilla could do to keep the beasts back. Once they gained the stairs and the higher ground the beasts drew back, hissing and clawing but mostly focusing on devouring their own dead.

“Get up the stairs,” Cydric said through gritted teeth. Camilla looked at him skeptically.

“You are the one all covered in blood, you go first,” Camilla retorted. Cydric grimaced but the set of his jaw told her that he wasn’t willing to budge on the matter. There was no time for argument and Cydric’s heavy blade was probably a more formidable object than hers, she turned and scampered up the stairs without further argument. At the top of the stairs was a long passageway that might once have been used to bring supplies into the keep. A dilapidated cart filled with mouldering straw leaned against one of the stone walls. She rushed over to it and grabbed the handles. The wood cracked and crumbled beneath her hands but she managed to turn the cart towards the stairs. Hastily she drew her pistol laid it on the straw and pulled the trigger. The powder, still soaking from her underwater adventures, failled to ignite, but the flint struck sparks on the steel. It took Camilla two more attempts but she finally managed to blow the sparks into a flame that began to spread over the straw.

“Cydric!” she yelled down the stairwell.

“Run!”

To his credit Cydric didn’t hesitate, he turned and lumbered up the stairs, slower than his usual pace. He was pale from loss of blood but he kept ahead of the ghouls which were scrambling over each other trying to get at the Imperial. By the time Cydric reached the top of the stairs the cart was well and truly ablaze, billowing thick choking smoke as the ancient staw burned. The moment he was clear she shoved the cart into the opening it clattered down the stairs, picking up speed, one of the wheels snapped with a crack and dropped the axle to the stone, shattering the ancient timber. The whole cart overturned spreading flames and burning straw over stairwell. Ghouls shrieked and capered back, even though they probably could have rushed through the flames. Camilla grabbed some fallen timbers and hurled them down onto the cart, adding fuel to the blaze.

“Are you alright?” Camilla demanded leaping to Cydric’s side.

“Its nothing,” he said in what was so clearly a lie that he had the good grace to look embarrassed at saying it.

“Anyway its nothing we can do much about in here,” he added. Camilla gave him a worried look but chose not to argue the point.

“I know how to break the enchantment,” she declared and grabbed Cydric’s blood slicked hand. Together they ran back into the central keep entering the large central hall they had first encountered. The clank of steel on stone announced the approach of more of the undead soldiers but Camilla raced to the throne room. The room was much the same as they had first encountered, save that the shattered staircase and fallen statue disfigured it. The noblewoman on her throne looked up at them.

“Have you seen my husband?” she asked.

“Your husband is dead,” Camilla informed her advancing on the apparition as quickly as she dared.

“They all say that,” the ghost wailed, burying her face in her hands.

“For good this time,” she promised and without warning reached out and grasped the hilt of the sword that transfixed the woman's pregnant belly. The ghosts aspect changed instantly, her beautiful face distorting into a shriek of rage and agony. Boney hands, suddenly quite solid shot down and seized the Tilean’s wrists, sharp fingernails digging into her pale flesh.

“No! You can’t! You can’t free my baby!” the ghost howeled, so loud that the sound itself was physical agony. Camilla gritted her teeth, tightened her grip and yanked as hard as she could. The blade slid free like a knife being drawn from a slab of beef. As the tip slipped free the ghost let out a final dispairing shriek and fell back onto her thrown. Blackness, raw and evil coiled from her stomach like smoke.

“My son!” the ghost wailed but her substance was already beginning to fade like sand being blown before a storms. Camilla dropped the blade in her hand as the iron began to corrode, pitting and wearing away before her eyes before blowing to dust as though it had never been. The darkness poured from the fading ghost, swirling into a shadowed figure that seemed to hover in the air. There was a sudden evil hollow laughter and then, like a sudden thunderclap, it streaked up through the ceiling with a hollow boom that shattered all of the stained glass windows. Thousands of pains of glass rained down to shatter upon the stone floor like hale lashing stone.

There was a shout from the far end of the hall where they had entered but Camilla was already sinking her knees before the throne, then her eyes rolled back into her head and she collapsed into unconciousness.

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