tagRomanceA Perilous Journey Ch. 10

A Perilous Journey Ch. 10


The Ahlissan Chronicles

~ Novella 2 ~

A Perilous Journey

~ 10 ~

In To Darkness

Eryca awakened slowly, she felt groggy and her vision was blurry, she blinked her eyes to clear them and trying to lift her hands she realized she couldn't move them. Her wrists were shackled to the surface on which she lay. The mage tugged against the restraints but could not break free of them; in a vain hope she tried to move her legs but discovered that her ankles were shackled as well.

Since she could not free herself the mage with the crimson curls took in her surroundings, Eryca could feel the smooth grain of wood beneath her and the room she was in seemed to be a study or laboratory of some kind. Eryca could see shelves filled with books, tables with bottles and beakers and in the center of the room was a pedestal of black marble with what looked like a scrying bowel a top it. Past her feet she heard the rusty creak of door hinges and she could see the top of a heavy wooden door as it opened and then closed.

Turning her head, Eryca watched as the robed figure, who had taken her from the hobgoblins earlier, walked over to one of the tables on the far side of the room. She watched as the figure opened a large dusty book and looked through its' pages. After a few minutes when it found what it was looking for it turned and walked towards her.

"Ah, I see you are finally awake." Said the figure its' hood stilled pulled low over its' face.

"Who are you and what do you want with me?" Eryca asked gazing into the darkness of the hood.

The figure tossed its' head back and Eryca heard the most horrible laughter emanate from within its' black depths.

"You are merely a means to an end for me my dear," taunted the figure "I intend to trade you to Lyzandred and to him you are life itself."

"What do you mean 'life itself'?" asked Eryca as she pulled against the shackles. "And you still haven't told me who you are!"

"You shall see soon enough," hissed the figure as its' bluish hand reached for the edge of the hood "and as to who I am, I would have thought you would have remembered my voice by now."

As the robed figure pulled back its' hood and the robe fell away, the young red haired maiden, her brow furrowed with disgust and confusion looked at the figure and then as recognition dawned on her all she could do was stare open mouthed in anguished horror.

* * *

"Shizak!" Aizantius whispered harshly as a blue ball of light flared to life above their heads. The three found themselves in a low narrow corridor that slanted downwards at a slight angle into the earth. As the moved forward through a broken and blackened iron gate they saw a few alcoves off of the main corridor, these small spaces were generally empty or littered with trash and broken furniture so they decided to continue moving straight ahead downward until they were forced to turn.

As the corridor tunneled deeper under the pyramid above, it opened a few times into wide open square rooms supported by fat columns. The walls of these rooms were decorated with ancient frescos of the Flanaess and the same Baklunish writing that adorned the entryway while the columns were carved with images of strange animal-headed figures. The two older men wanted to linger at each alcove and try to decipher at least a few of the scenes but Brion was insistent that they continue moving. Eventually the floor beneath their feet leveled out and they found themselves in a cut-stone, with glowing blue globes similar to the light cast buy Aizantius, hanging from the ceiling.

After deciding to stay to the right the three rescuers made their way through the various corridors under the pyramid. The halls seemed to shift the only difference being the number of rooms and alcoves off of the hallways. They had found and opened several doors onto sights that could not possibly be real; one door had opened onto a dense forest, another onto the deck of a ship in the middle of an ocean and another still to what looked like the center of the cosmos. Others seemed to open into the elemental planes themselves. They had entered none of these rooms but one that they found appeared to be a cell containing three female prisoners. When they had approached the women to free them the companions had been viciously attacked by the maidens who were in reality jackal-weres. Surprised, the rescuers had fought quickly to vanquish the lycanthropes and then made their back into the maze of corridors. Lord Brion determined to find and rescue his beloved pushed himself and his friends to continue searching.

* * *

Eryca laid upon the wooden table her mouth open, staring in horror at the figure standing before her. When the figure had thrown off its' hood the robe had also fell away from its' body. Under the robe the figure wore a scant black dress, its' edges embroidered with magikal symbols of warding in silver thread and around its waist hung a belt with spell component pouches and a wickedly curved black steel dagger. The figure was female the body shape and breasts were clearly outlined but the skin was white tinged with blue. The toes like the fingers had no nails but rather large black talons slightly curved like a bird's.

Swishing behind the figure, like it was possessed of its' own mind, was a thick tail several feet long that tapered to a point and had a row spikes running along the upper side. As Eryca looked up at the creatures' head she saw that from its' forehead sprouted two thick horns that grew out and curved back over the head and tapered to deadly points between which grew a long mane of thick black hair and its' ears were pointed not unlike an elf's. Its' lips were black, the canine teeth enlarged like a flesh eating carnivore and the ears and neck were adorned with ghastly jewelry made of bones, claws, beads, feathers and small skulls. Most horrifying of all were the eyes which were completely red except for the pupils that were black and cat-like.

The sight of this demoness was truly terrifying but the part that shocked Eryca the most was its' face, because it was a face she recognized all too well. The demonic woman brought her face close to Eryca's and spoke in her harsh hissing tone.

"I see now that you finally recognize me" the demoness paused "daughter!" Deloraa threw back her head and laughed her grotesque laugh.

"Mother...?" Eryca gasped unable to believe the sight before her eyes."What have you done to yourself?" She asked her voice barely a whisper, her mind still reeling from the horrible revelation.

"Done to myself?" Deloraa asked in a shrill voice mocking her daughters' concern. "I have done nothing to myself but if you are referring to my appearance, it was a gift from my god, He Who Waits, the Eater of Worlds. I have been rewarded by him for my loyalty and my willingness to serve. I am his greatest priestess!"

Tears streamed down Eryca's cheeks, her mother Lady Donna Moffitt of Walworth had lovingly raised her until Eryca's father, Sir Robert Tandris of Axeport a Knight of the Shield, had died in battle against humanoids in the Rift Canyon. News of her beloved husband's death had driven Lady Donna mad, desperately she had tried, through magik, to return Robert to the world of the living. She abandoned her daughter and sank ever deeper into dark arts and black rites. Until one night while attempting yet another unnatural foray into necromancy something went wrong and Donnas' chambers were destroyed in a great magikal explosion. Lady Donnas' body was never found and her father William Moffitt the Earl of Walworth assumed she had been consumed by the raw power of the explosion.

It had been eleven years since the night of the explosion, when Eryca had lost the only parent she had left. That loss had been devastating but her grandfather, William, had raised her like a daughter and she had moved on determined not to make the same mistakes her mother had. Now she had been kidnapped by a bloodthirsty tribe of hobgoblins only to be handed over to her very own mother who had been transformed into a demoness by some evil death god and now her mother planned to hand her over to this Lyzandred. It was all too much for her to comprehend at once; Eryca's surroundings began to swim in her vision and she felt her mind reeling. Watching her daughter on the edge of fainting Deloraa sprinkled a white powder over Eryca's head and whispered a few words.

"Sleep my daughter," said Deloraa "you need to be prepared for Lyzandred's ritual and sleep will make things much simpler."

* * *

The three companions turned yet another corner onto a corridor that looked exactly like all of the others before it, Lord Brion cursed in frustration.

"Damn! Every hallway is exactly the same! It is as if the pyramid itself is working against us!"

"I share your frustration my lord." Said Astinos as he peered around the next corner and saw more of the same. "The halls seem to shimmer in this blue light as if they are changing purposefully to keep us from finding our way."

"Perhaps we should change our perception of what we are looking for." Aizantius said aloud as a stoked his long brown beard and looked up and down the corridor. Brion looked at the mage, confused.

"Speak clearly Aizantius. What do you mean change our perception?"

"This structure seems to be modeled after the ancient Bakluni pyramids which dot the Dry Steppes. Those pyramids have a chamber in the center of the structure which housed the tombs of the Baklunish kings. If this pyramid is indeed changing its' appearance to essentially keep us trapped then we need to change tactics, simply navigating the corridors won't work." The Battle-Mage again looked around as if getting his bearings. "We need to collectively concentrate on reaching the central chambers."

The trio stood near each other and listened as Aizantius described the basic layout of the Baklunish pyramids and what the central chambers should look like. They gathered their thoughts and concentrated on the way to the upper areas. As they watched the hall around them began to shimmer and in the wall across from them a doorway appeared that had not been there before. Within the door were stairs that angled up toward the interior levels of the pyramid. The companions looked at each and with newly determined faces proceeded up the stairs.

* * *

For a second time Eryca awoke to find herself restrained, however, this time she was in different surroundings. She was no longer in the laboratory as before, now she found herself slumped beside a pillar in a huge circular chamber. The round chamber had many columns which spiraled out from the center and rose up into the darkness that concealed the ceiling. The huge stone pillars were carved with strange inscriptions and images of human-like beings with the heads of animals. Looking at her bindings, Eryca saw that her wrists were manacled to a pillar near the center of the spiral. Unlike before these manacles were linked to the pillar by a few feet of chain, thus granting her some freedom of movement.

As she stood, Eryca looked down at herself she saw that her mages' robes were gone. Golden sandals adorned her feet and she was dressed in a sheer white gossamer gown that was no more than a single piece of material wrapped about her and held in place by a thin golden chain that encircled her waist. She saw that the material did nothing to conceal her body; it was so sheer that what was covered was still plainly visible. Painted on her arms and legs were various magik symbols and runes, many of which matched what she had seen adorning the pillars. She shuddered in fear of what they could mean. Putting her hands to her face she could feel the same paint on her face that adorned her appendages and a thin circlet of gold that held her long auburn locks away from her face. Hearing movement from the shadows, Eryca turned to see who or what was approaching.

"This is the second time you have awakened while being my captive. Perhaps I should read you a story like I did so many years ago, in case you fall asleep again."

Deloraa laughed at her own demented joke, Eryca however found no amusement in it.

"You are sick Mother." Eryca said to her demonic parent. "Your own evil and lust for power has twisted your mind. You think of nothing but your own corrupt desires!"

Deloraa stepped up to her daughter and grasped her chin firmly; Eryca tried to pull free but Deloraa held her tight, her talons sharp against Eryca's tender flesh.

"Have a care how you speak to me youngling." The demoness hissed at Eryca in a low tone. "Although I am willing to trade your life to Lyzandred for the information that I require, it was his request that you remain unharmed and unspoiled. I could easily change that." To make her point Deloraa painfully scrapped the talon of her index finger down Eryca's arm. In response Eryca defiantly glared at her mother.

"And just who or what is this 'Lyzandred'?" Eryca asked. "I have yet to lay eyes on this being."

As if on cue a tall thin man barely stepped to the edge of the light from the shadows and addressed the two women.

"I am Lyzandred, my young maiden and I see that you are as spirited as you are beautiful."

As the figure came closer Eryca was able to get a better look at him. It seemed as if Lyzandred's entire body was encased in a black silk garment embroidered with strange symbols stitched with metallic thread. A golden half-mask inset with gems and adorned with feathers covered the upper part of his face and over the skin tight black garment he wore mages' robes of various colors, adorned with weird runes that seemed to shimmer betraying their magikal nature.

Lyzandred struck her as an impressive and strangely beautiful figure. However, the cold tone of his voice and presence chilled her to the bone. Eryca could feel his eyes on her although she could not see them. His eyes were marked by their outlines through the black silk and framed by his mask. She shivered as he extended his hand, also covered by the silken garment and lewdly caressed her near naked body. Although his touch was like ice and it repulsed her, Eryca could feel her body betray her. Despite her disgust she could feel the rising heat that radiated from her womanhood as he fondled her and she could feel the moisture that always accompanied such heat.

"Yes, very beautiful indeed." He murmured to himself. "You have done well Deloraa; I am most impressed with your gift."

"Thank you my lord." Deloraa said as she bowed her horned head in Lyzandred's direction. "I am glad that she meets both your needs and....desires."

Eryca grimaced; the perversity of their undertones frightening her.

"If you intend to kill or sacrifice me to some demonic power then I ask you to begin your black rites but please spare me the further humiliation of your sick desires." Overcome with fear, hopelessness overwhelmed Eryca and her demeanor cracked as she began to sob. It was the masked Lyzandred who addressed the scarlet maiden's concerns.

"I do not intend to kill you in any such crude manner nor do I intend to waste your life-force and beauty in the base appeasement of a dweller of the Abyss. No, I have a much more personal and intimate purpose planned for you." As he spoke to her, Eryca watched as Lyzandred caressed an ugly purple jewel flecked with green that he wore about his neck on a plain silver chain.

"And what is this 'intimate purpose' that you have planned for me?" Eryca asked choking back her tears.

Lyzandred stepped close to Eryca, his face barely an inch from hers. With their proximity Eryca detected something that she had not noticed before, a sickly sweet smell like decaying flowers. Lyzandred raised a thin hand to her face and a slender finger caressed her cheek as he spoke to her.

"I plan to make you mine, fair maiden. Using the Lifestone," He again fingered the jewel that hung at his neck. "I will drain you of your life-essence and transfer it to myself. Then with the flicker of undeath that will remain, you will become my bride for all eternity." Lyzandred leaned even closer and inhaled deeply the scent of Eryca's hair; she shrank from his touch and slumped to the floor.

Turning from her Lyzandred clapped his hands loudly and rising from the floor at the center of the room appeared a great stone altar, its' sides were carved with the same symbols and figures that covered the pillars.

Eryca lay on the floor sobbing, the tears streaming down her face as she realized that she would never reach the Kingdom of Ahlissa, never marry her beloved Lord Brion and never see her grandfather William again. Her mother, who had been willingly corrupted by demonic powers, had given her only child over to have her life drained away by and become the eternal concubine........of a Lich.

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