We all ran out of the house, half in panic to try and find a strategic place to meet up with Doresain. Not knowing if we had minutes left or hours of time before it happened. Running from the house, it was hard not to physically feel the evil we left behind. I was arching my back to put as much distance as I could away from that house.
Ghouls howling off in the distance slowed us down almost immediately, we couldn’t run any further, otherwise they would find and tear us apart. We made too much noise when we ran. Panting and exhausted, Thurik led us down some alley ways and streets to a place where he remembered to be the most advantageous for us. I could tell Thurik wasn’t doing well, though he hid his pain discreetly behind his beard – it was just too obvious. We were all leaving a trail of blood dripping behind us. I choked back the lump in my throat.
But it was too late anyway. We didn’t make it.
Moe heard it first. His keen ears attuned for danger. It happened so fast. Turning around, I recognized from my visions, as I’m sure we all did, Breyllic. His priestly vestments tattered, yet recognizable. Breyllic’s face was twisted with anger, all human traces of humanity and compassion gone forever. Ghouls appeared at his side, their mouths drooling blood with bits of flesh dripping from their jaws. Their clawed hands shining in the light of the fires that surround us.
I became filled with rage at the site of him. My mind flashed with images of the people, helpless tied to the floor of the church. Moe and I made our way to the roof of a nearby house for a better vantage point. Thalia and Thurik met them head on.
And then he came. A flicker of light twinkled around a chain of his neck. The ring!
Doresain, the bane of Queen Nera. I wanted him to suffer as those around did. Being eaten alive by those they once loved. I entered his mind when I saw Thurik fall for the last time, planting thoughts in his head. Out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly saw a flash of Moe.
Moe pounced on Doresain and wrested the ring from the chain. Then Moe disappeared. I was not concerned as this was a frequent habit of his. I began toying with Doresain’s mind, relishing in his panic and frantic crying for his master’s mercy.
With an arch of a sword and Thalia’s last bit of strength, she separated his head from his body. There were tears in her eyes. Tears of exhaustion and futility but most of all tears of rage. Thurik was dead. Thurik…was dead. My chest heavy with sorrow, it became hard to breath as the reality of it came crashing down on us. We were on the brink, standing on a razor’s edge, with the threat of breaking down all to near.
Our attention was on Thurik, when Moe reappeared with his cheeks full of something. He stuck out his hand and spit the ring out.
This was the artifact we fought for. This was the artifact Thurik died for. Why? This wasn’t even our battle! This wasn’t even our time! It was just so unfair. It couldn’t be the end for him. We had to save him – we had to! If only we could take him back, but to carry a dwarf would in turn kill us all. We looked at each other and then at Thurik’s body. We all knew it, we have to cut off a part of his body. In order to try and raise him, we had to have a piece of him. Luckily Thalia volunteered to do the honors. Thalia and Thurik had become really close lately. Ezra had blessed them with friendship and a common bond of her worship. A boon worth a king’s ransom to be sure.
We moved on as quickly and quietly as possible. I thought we were exhausted before, but now we were on our last leg. If we had to fight again, it would put an end to us all.
Moe lead the way. Too tired to question, I followed him blindly. All of a sudden right in front of us, another large ghoul raging with the tireless hunger glanced in our direction and started making his way towards us howling with glee as his nose sniffed at the blood on our clothes. We froze trying to brace ourselves, once again. This was it, this is where we die.
“Ava, I shall see you soon” I whispered withdrawing my amber orb. I flinched and turned my head when a crash happened right in front of us a ghoul busted through a wall and splintered wood scattered everywhere.
The ghoul saw only what was coming towards us and immediately jumped on our attacker. Devouring the other ghoul’s neck and howling with satisfaction.
I realized I had been holding my breath and let the air rush out of my lungs. I looked at Moe and Thalia. They looked just as shocked as I was. It seems, now that the ghouls are no longer under Doresain’s control, they would attack anything that moved.
Praising a higher power, we saw our chance at escape. We just ran. I didn’t even feel anything, the only thought in my mind was to run back to Queen Nera and get the hell off this ride.
Moe heard hooves. Then the sound came to our ears as well. A fight or flight instinct at war in my body, so I just stood there till they came upon us. They bared the symbol of the queen!! My knees almost buckled in relief. We found out they had come to check on our progress, and immediately demanded to know if we had what the queen requested. At first I was hesitant to impart that knowledge, however exhaustion won out and confirmed that we did, just barely. Happy with that, they escorted us back to the queen.
We poured ourselves in to the queen’s antechamber to fill her in on all that has transpired. She had everyone leave save her most trusted advisors. Her frown lines deepened at our tale. Her face was a mask of concealed pain. Her eyes spoke of a determination that willed her to a task unbeknownst to us.
“You shall be rewarded, of course.” She said with a false bravado. “You may ask of anything you want”.
I inquired mentally, she looked up at me with a face filled with tragedy. She was riding to her doom, so she could meet Nerull in the afterlife. This ring would be the only thing that could preserve her soul, for us to follow would only trap us here and our deaths would be needless.
We gave her the Ring of Cannon. I hope it is worth the lives it cost. We left the queen while she was adorning her armor for battle.
The worst news I have heard hit me like a ton of bricks. We could not bring Thurik back. The urge to scream and shout was so strong, I felt my limbs quake, but my mind suppressed the effort to move them. I was just too tired.
The next day, we were given our ‘rewards’. I also received a wealthy amount of ritual components to help us on our journey.
On our way to back our rooms, I saw the old man whose wife I promised to check on. He did not understand, he just didn’t understand. If I could have…but we would have died, surely he could understand. But he didn’t. I don’t know why but something told me I’d regret not going into that house with the flowers on the window sill for the rest of my life. The regret and pain in his eyes still haunt me.
“Sophia….Sophia…you must get up…its time” a soft whisper barely audible woke me from a deep sleep.
I blinked the sleep from my eyes and saw of what I can explain, a shade of Drina. Tears flooded my eyes at the site. “I’m so sorry for what happened! I didn’t mean for you to die”
“I am trapped here forever. My soul shall remain and I cannot go back”
“I’m just so sorry” I sobbed.
“Do not worry for me Sophia, you must go and go now. The mists are here but only for a small amount of time. You must wake the others and leave or you may never return.” Her voice echoed.
“Where? Where are they, Drina?” I uncovered my self and began changing.
“They are over the lake” and then she faded and was gone.
I jumped up and gathered my things. I woke Moe and Thalia and told them we must go now. IT was the dead of night, yet the battle with Nerull raged on on the east and west sides of the city threatening to breech the walls.
Thalia and Moe gathered what they could, Moe insisted on getting Toe the camel and left. We met on the docks of the lake. The mists visible and heavy over the water. I nearly got us in trouble trying to procure a boat. Moe, thinking quickly caused a commotion by smacking Toe on the bac, which caused the creature to jump and run down a dock. It gave us the distraction we needed to ‘borrow’ a boat of average size for what we need. Throwing in our supplies, Moe took the helm and guided us into the mists.
I took the sand from Thalia and tried to focus my mind on the Amber Wastes. Willing us to go there, but not knowing if I was doing it right.
It seemed like days had passed in stillness. The quiet surrounding us screamed in our ears. Though we spoke in hushed tones, our voices seemed much louder than ever. Then the boat hit gound. Looking at eachother in surprise, we looked over the edge and realized the lake was gone.
Gathering our supplies, water being the most precious, we abandoned the watercraft and began on foot. All the while my mind stayed focused on the sand in the pouch that we got from Drina.
It began to get hot. Real hot. We changed into our desert gear and tried to limit our water intake. Then the hard-packed gravel we were walking on became looser and softer until we found ourselves walking on sand.
I think we made it. The mists began to clear and we found ourselves surrounded my desert, sun and wind. The heat was a daily battle for me. We had to rest frequently. Our minds were deep in thought. Thinking of Thurik, thinking of where we were going. We stopped for a rest under a rock, once again I had to rest and it wasn’t even midday. I thought I heard a familiar voice. I shook my head ridding myself of the notion. It couldn’t be Thurik. Then we all heard the footsteps.
The mists barely a whisper behind us a figure, short and squat was walking towards us. Alarmed we all stood up. The gait was all to familiar…
Could it be? Thurik!! It couldn’t be! “Your dead!” I shouted.
“Eeek!” Moe squeaked. “Bad juju!”
“Its me! By Ezra I swear it!” That drawl to his voice eerily familiar.
“If you are Thurik, then who sent us on this quest?” I shouted. Still unbeeiliving, yet hopeful. At this point I couldn’t be surprised at much.
“Why, that’d be the Great Lord Ravenshaw himself!” He shouted back, still walking towards us.
Thalia opened her backpack that contained his hand. It was gone. Wait, it was gone! Oh my it is!! It was him! We all embraced the feisty dwarf beard and all. Thalia and I cried tears of relief, but they dried up before they could fall.