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Interlude: The Gathering Darkness
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Kalanna Rai

Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Thu May 31, 2012 8:20 pm    Post subject: Interlude: The Gathering Darkness  

And here is your something special dear readers. A peek at the opposition. Enjoy!

Interlude: The Gathering Darkness

Serig sighed as he stared into the empty sockets where the skulls eyes would have been. This was...not good. Most assuredly not good. Things in Eresinne had not gone according to plan at all. In fact they'd gone so not according to plan that he was going to have to wake the Master. And Serig so did not wish to do that. But it wasn't about what he wanted. The last time the Master had spoken to Serig he'd outlined the plan Serig was to follow, burned it into the surface of his soul. Serig ate according to plan and slept according to plan and took each breath according to plan. Now that he could no longer follow the plan, it needed revised. And the only one who could revise it was the Master.

Skull loosely clutched in one hand, he stood from his cramped little desk, scattering some of the litter of papers as he did so. He reached up, taking the ever-burning lamp that hung above his head, swinging it nervously around him. He would never question the Master's choice of...allies...but oh how Serig hated the things that skittered in the dark. The things that would climb upon one's shoulder if one was not careful and steal bits of one's brain with those long and slender fingers. Twice it had happened when Serig had forgotten to bring the light with him, when he'd stepped too far away from it's comforting circle. Who knows what precious things he'd lost with those bits of stolen flesh. He'd not let it happen again.

The sound of his footsteps echoed weirdly in the dark tunnel, the whisper-soft noises of the skittering dark things following his every movement. He could see them, pressing at the circle of light, unable to venture any closer than that. Oh how they hated the light and hated Serig for keeping it. He knew full well what would become of him without the light and the Master's favor. It wouldn't just be his brain they stole. One would wriggle inside him, hollow him out, and then wear his skin about, using his usurped memories to puppet him perfectly. Just as they had so many others.

Slowly the narrow passage widened into a grand cavern, his light reflecting off the inky black stillness of the ichor pool that settled in the cavern's depths. It shook, wavering, creating the illusion of ripples on the perfectly smooth surface. Of course it was only the tremors of his own hand, a palsy of fear, and he tried to steady it. Tongue nervously licked lips and he tried to shut out the waves of hushed, whispering laughter from the hoard of dark things. They mocked him, they always mocked him, but Serig was the Master's good right hand, not they. It was Serig to whom the Master had entrusted the sacred plan, not they.

"Master. Master it is I, Serig, your ever loyal, humble, and faithful servant. Master I bring news of Eresinne and the events that have taken place there. I regret to inform you that it did not go according to plan..." His voice trailed off, his frame shaking too hard to completely control as the surface of the ichor pool began to bubble violently. As if a great fire had been lit under it and suddenly brought it to a boil. Thick bubbles rose rapidly to the top, popping with a viscous noise, not unlike the tar pits into which Serig's family had been cast at the behest of some local magistrate years ago.

Slowly a massive limb rose from the depths, wickedly curved talons digging into the rock near Serig's feet. The light gleamed from the ichor that clung to them, illuminating the inky, rope-like strands that connected bare blackened bone to stained black flesh. The limb was a foreleg, the talons the tips of the 'fingers' of his beloved Master. The ichor heaved as more came to the surface, a bulge revealing itself to be a coil of the Master's neck surfacing, spines rising from bare vertebrae that were connected by more rope-thick strands of ichor to ruined flesh and other bones. At last the Master's head rose free of the pool, a horrible skull upon which the vestiges of scaled flesh rested, crowned with a crest of thorned spines. In Serig's mind there was no more impressively terrifying specimen of a dragon to be seen anywhere, in stone carving or paint-craft...or flesh.

The abomination that had once been a dragon of some age and power shook it's head, scattering droplets of ichor through the cavern, before opening smoke colored eyes in which black flames burned. Serig...Serig I am disappointed. I outlaid a beautifully simply plan for you to follow and now you come to tell me you could not manage it. Serig, you do remember what I told you the price of failure was.

His master spoke in such a softly reproachful tone, remorse dripping from every word. Serig lifted the skull hastily, lest his Master carry through the punishment before Serig could make plain that he hadn't failed. "No Master! No! I would never fail you Master. There were...complications. Circumstances beyond control. I have not your considerable foresight Master, and there were no contingencies in the plan for dealing with other, lesser, dragons."

Show me!

The force of the Master's words knocked Serig on his backside, the lantern waving crazily but never falling from his grip. The skull in his other hand rapped against the stone, a tooth breaking free and bouncing away into the darkness. There was the sound of fighting and pained squeals from the creatures there, then the sound of one greedily crunching down on their prize before it could be stolen away again. Serig shivered, licking his lips again, and raised the skull to his lips. Quietly he whispered the words of power, bidding the vision the dead had seen to display itself once again.

It light the cavern with the brilliance of witnessed daylight and the skittering things shrieked and fled, smoke trailing behind them where some had been burned. The image of the fields surrounding Eresinne came into view. There were skeletons everywhere, some still writhed in the bloody trophies of their victims, the horde on the move toward the castle walls. And then suddenly the daylight snapped off and the skeleton to whom the skull had belonged had craned its gaze upward to stare at the shadow that had suddenly blocked the sun.

It's only a youngling...

"But a deadly one my Master." Serig's words came as the beast opened it's maw and a searing line of white light snaked through the horde. Bone turned to ash where the two met and Serig was driven deaf by the bellow that his Master let loose in response.


The Master had heaved his body mostly out of the ichor pool and now filled the cavern, his rotten body towering over Serig. His wings, like the sails of a ghost ship, mantled against the threat the skull displayed. The reflections of the light of the first dragon and the fire of the second danced in his maddened eyes and ichor seeped from between his bared fangs. From his vantage on the floor, Serig could stare up into the ruined ribcage of his Master, at the black heart that beat within it, carrying not blood but ichor through the rope-like tendrils and feeding his ruined body.

Impossible. I destroyed them in the last age. The line of Lycalor is no more! I myself watched the light go out of his grandson's eyes while I held my jaws about his throat.

Serig rolled to the side, holding his precious lantern aloft as the Master stamped down one massive foot. The skull bounced free of his grip, the image it projected cutting off as it did so, leaving Serig once again with only the lantern-light for protection. "You see now Master! Why I woke you! We have taken Eresinne but...Vengivedion, he and his heirs escaped. Along with much of the city."

A low growl issued from the darkness above him as the Master caught hold of himself again and more ichor flew as he gave himself a shake. There was the sound of him settling himself and then the massive skull lowered so that it was clearly visible in the lamplight. With every word the Master's fetid, nausea inducing breath washed over him.

That was according to plan. It confirms what I always suspected to be true, that the Summoner Yevard yet lived and was enjoying Vengivedion's protection. But I doubt that he continues to live. Therefore there will be no such second miraculous escape for Astor King of Leyond and his mewling get. The time has come to apply more pressure. Serig, assume control of the armies and loose the horde. I have a good idea to where they've gone and it is time to prepare an assault force.

Serig slowly scrambled to his feet. "Yes Master. Is there anything else Master?"

The dragon abomination seemed throughful for a moment, resting it's chin upon rotten feet. Tell me, how fare the descendants of Ilarious and Rhes?

Serig licked his lips, weighing how to respond. "Our sources close to all of Vengivedion's heirs were purged shortly after the arrival of the southern born. His manservant is one of the last Gatekeepers and it was deemed unwise to remain close. From what was observed from afar though the child of Ilarious is as firmly bound to the cause as was that traitorous ancestor. The child of ripe for the cause Master. Shall I send someone to...persuade those dark thoughts?"

A vile chuckle rolled out of the darkness that swathed the Master, the sound of the ichor pool sloshing around nearly drowning it out.

Yes. Yes that seems very wise. You have done well Serig and when I am done meditating upon the...resurgence...of my kind I shall reward you. Now go and do my bidding, commit great evil in my name.

Serig's eyes shone with a fervent light, the grip on his lantern firm as the light glinted off his teeth, bared in a wicked grin. "Oh yes Master! Thank you Master. Soon all shall hail Ceverax, Lord of Greater Darkness!"

For a few moments after Serig's departure, Ceverax allowed himself to gloat over having chosen so fine a servant. Especially after his allies had eaten away all of Serig's notions of free will and rebellion. Funny how just a few gobbets of missing tissue could produce such a profound effect in the lesser race of man. But his time for gloating soon ended and the ancient once-dragon turned his attention to the greater problems at hand. Malvang...he'll have run to Malvang...Perfect... Ancient power slept in Malvang. An unaligned power. All it would take was one heir of Leyond to convert that power to Ceverax's side. And luckily there was a perfect candidate already waiting for just a little push into the waiting arms of darkness.

It was all going perfectly according to plan...

Just a little something to tide you over until the poll closes and the next chapter arrives. And a little food for thought.

Don't let the skitters eat it...
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Joined: 10 Feb 2007
Posts: 1597
Location: Happily curled up in a Daemon's lap

Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:54 am    Post subject:  

*looks around for skitters first*...<.<...>.>...>.<...

That was... different, I'll say the least, Rai. Although there are several names in there we don't know: Lycalor, Vengivedion, Ilarious and Rhes, ect and those intrigue me.

And your purpose in telling us what the other side is doing is... what I wonder? Obviously this isn't going to be able to affect the outcome we chose for your next DP... very crafty of you and superb as ever.
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Joined: 11 Mar 2010
Posts: 398
Location: Kansas

Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:19 pm    Post subject:  

I know we should be impressed by the reveal of Ceverax, and what a great evil the Dracolich-esque character represents... but I can't help but be impressed by how creepily adorable Serig is. Seriously. I don't care if he gets redemption by the story's end, but I'd hate to see him die.

And, clearly the point of this chapter is to show us that one of the four heirs is not as strong as we thought, and is clearly about to turn against the others. Or one of the four notherners. Or one of the four smaller kingdom's rulers. Or... well, somebody is about to snap and go evil.
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Kalanna Rai

Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:38 pm    Post subject:  

Actually Shill, the point was to be afraid of the skitters. And to show that evil is human as well. So Serig has already served his purpose. Glad you enjoyed him.
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