The Loneliest Lich

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The Loneliest Lich

Post by Thelos on Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:39 am

Chapter 1

Ever since its discovery, the land of Uldum had been a paradise for adventurers, archaeologists and explorers. Deathwing’s catacalysm had torn the boundaries between the elemental and physical planes asunder, making weather anomalies the norm. Every so often these violent winds would cause the sands to shift, exposing new tombs for explorers and adventurers to discover. There seemed to be no end to the reserve of ancient crypts to crack open; for every tomb that was raided, two more would be charted – only to once again get buried underneath the sand after another sand-shifting gale. The adventurers had to move fast, for there was no telling how long any one tomb would stay accessible.

One such band of adventurers was just trying to break into a a fresh tomb that yesterday's gale had uncovered. This particular expedition was lead by a dwarven explorer by the name of Joachim Rimebeard. Joachim had mirrored himself after other famous dwarven explorers; he had groomed his beard in the style of Bran Bronzebeard and even wore the same hat. While Joachim fumbled with the dynamite, the rest of the group stood lazing about in the scorching desert sun. Amongst them was a handsome human paladin called Sir Redford; he was accompanied by his squire, a young lad named Jimmy. With them was the voluptuous blood-elven sorceress Ruby Scarlet and an old grizzled, yet seasoned warrior called Thogg Killgood.

“Hurry up, Dwarf,” grunted Thogg. “We cannot stay in the sun for too long.”

“Oh, tell me about it, darling!” Crooned Ruby Scarlett. “This heat is murder on my complexion, just murder, I say.”

“I think you still look stunning regardless, milady,” the gallant paladin Sir Redford boldly spoke.

“Will ye nancy-sisses shut yer traps? Daddy's trying te werk 'ere,” said Joachim Rimebeard.

Joachim finished setting up the explosives and walked several paces backwards, like a pirate following instructions from a treasure-map. Ruby Scarlett watched the dwarf work with a disdainful air. She had suggested blowing the doors to the tomb open with a fireball spell, but the dwarf insisted on the 'protocol' of using dynamite, since that was what 'explorers were supposed to do'.

“Just finish your little tinkering, master dwarf,” said sir Redford, “milady is getting sunburn.”

“Aye, aye...” Said Joachim. “Hold on tae yer hineys! Thar she blows!”

With a satisfying, if a little clinical 'boom', Joachim detonated the charges. The rather humble explosive blew a very neat hole in the door, allowing the party entry. Peering inside, the troupe could not see a thing; they needed to strike a few torches. Thankfully, they had brought plenty, providing every member of the group with a torch; except for Sir Redford, whose torch was carried by his squire.

“After you, milady,” the paladin gallantly suggested as he took a bow and lead the sorceress inside by the hand. Ruby Scarlett giggled girlishly, but was shoved aside by Thogg Killgood, who lit his torch first and took the lead.

“I go first. I'm the best at finding traps – and the likeliest to survive the ones I find,” the orc grunted. Not one to argue against such sound logic, the paladin and sorceress joined the warrior slightly behind, followed by the dwarf and Jimmy the squire.

The first thing the adventurers noticed was the chill. Even though one could expect the interior of an underground tomb to be somewhat cooler than a desert afternoon, this tomb's cold had an unnatural feel to it. Almost immediately upon entering, the group started shivering as they watched their own breath take form in little clouds of crystal. But a good group of adventurers comes prepared to with deal every possible eventuality; the sorceress Ruby Scarlett had prepared a Protection against Cold spell, should they run into any magical frost. But even with their magical protection, they were still a little chilly in their baggy desert-trekking clothes.

The corridor trough which they entered the tomb lead down, deep-down into the subterranean reaches of Uldum, where the Titan secrets lay hid. The walls were lined with hieroglyphs Joachim insisted on studying, slowing the descent quite a bit, much to the chagrin of a very bored paladin and sorceress, who seemed to have no taste for ancient history. They instead filled this downtime with flirtatious banter while the orc scanned the horizon for enemies and traps. Squire Jimmy just sort of stood there, holding his master's shield and torch.

“Are you cold, milady?” The gallant paladin asked as he wrapped his fur-mantle around the sorceress. “Take my mantle, and know that the warmth that beats in my heart, also warms yours; for as it beats for me, so it beats for you.”

As the paladin courted the sorceresses, who gleefully obliged his every whim as long as it flattered hers, the squire sought out the stoic orc. Thogg did not entertain puny humans with idle conversation, however, and shooed the boy away.

“Strange...Somethin's missin',” noted the dwarf.

“What do you mean, mister Rimebeard?” Asked the sorceress, still clinging tp the paladin's side.

“Cobwebs, lass, cobwebs...” Said Joachim more to himself than to the sorceress. “Ye'd think tha' in a tomb unvisited by intelligent life fer millenia, there'd be more cobwebs.”

“Gosh, you're totally right!” Said Ruby Scarlett. “You're so smart, mister Rimebeard!”

The dwarf didn't react to this flattery. The paladin, however, did. He looked upon the dwarf with as much disdain as his noble brow could muster, snorting loudly. Thogg Killgood the orc tried his best to ignore the coquetry of the rest of the party, getting in more and more distance between himself and the others.

So it continued all the way down until the group entered into what looked to be the tomb's antechamber. The dwarven archaeologist didn't know where to look; the whole room was stuffed with ancient trinkets, curios and statuettes. The hieroglyphs that lined the corridor they passed trough continued into this chamber as well, filling every inch of the wall the room round.

One item in particular piqued the dwarf's interests: a golden sarcophagus elevated on a platform in the center of the room. The rest of the group let the dwarf do his thing while they waited for the real action to begin.

“Considerin' there be no cobwebs,” the dwarf said, “I ca' only assume this 'ere tomb 'as already been raided...I cannae believe those suckers would leave this 'oll beaut behind!”

The dwarf jammed his crowbar into the edge of the sarcophagus and pried it open. From within, a mummified corpse clad in fancy golden jewelry stared back at the archaeologist.

“'Oi, take a looksie at this 'ere prissypants!” Joachim shouted enthusiastically towards the rest of the group. The moment he turned his back on the mummy, however, its bandaged arms grabbed the dwarf by the beard. Joachim let out a loud holler, only rivaled in volume by the dreadful shrieking of the mummy itself.

“Let go 'o me, ye creep!” Joachim roared as he stabbed the mummy with his pickax, chopping one of its brittle hands off.

The adventurers, starved for action, rushed to the dwarf's side and came down upon the mummy with the full fury of their respective powers. The sorceress flung a fireball at the mummy, the paladin shone his light upon it and the warrior chopped what remained into pieces. The squire watched.

After having disposed of the mummy, the paladin turned to the dwarf.

“Are you harmed, master dwarf?”

“I'm fine, I'm fine,” said the dwarf. “Dunnae twist yer chastity belt. This ain't tha' first time one of 'em grabby zombies took hold of me beard!” Joachim let out a hackling cough as he pushed away the paladin's extended hand. There was a rasp in his breath that wasn't there before – but it was too subtle for any of his companions to hear. They pressed on, sir Redford once again turning his attention to the fair maiden at his side.

Joachim didn't seem very interested in the sarcophagus anymore and lead his party onwards. Ruby Scarlett the sorceress lagged behind just long enough to shrink the sarcophagus down to pocket-size. She took it in her purse and skipped along after sir Redford, who was impatiently waiting for her in the doorway to the next room.

“Milady,” said Redford, “are you sure this is wise? What if the sarcophagus is haunted? Perhaps you should allow me me to perform an exorcism, just to be sure.”

“Don't be such a worrywart, silly-buns” giggled Ruby Scarlett. “It's just a teensy-weensy bit of gold – no sense in just leaving it there, right? When we get back here on the way you out, I'll shrink the rest too; and treat you with dinner with all the gold we make from pawning it!”

“As you say, milady,” said the paladin, silenced by the alluring prospect of a dinner with sorceress. Squire Jimmy bashfully averted his eyes from the scene, torch in hand, as he tried ensuring the love-scene was well lit without actually looking at it, himself.


Last edited by Thelos on Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:28 am; edited 6 times in total

Thelos

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Re: The Loneliest Lich

Post by Thelos on Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:40 am

Chapter 2

The next chamber the group entered was so dark and vast that it was impossible to get an accurate idea of just how big it was. The group raised their torches as high as they could, but to no avail; all they saw was empty space. The only distinctive characteristic of the room – despite its dark-and-vastness – was a series of unlit torches lined along the wall; unlike the other rooms and corridors, there were no hieroglyphs here. It also seemed that the deeper they penetrated into the tomb, the colder it got: their fingers were getting numb in spite of the magical protection against frost.

“Wait!” Joachim shouted as Thogg was about to cross over the threshold into the new chamber, “Me explorer's sense is tinglin'. This room is booby-trapped, sure as me pappy's beard is brown!”

Thogg halted and peered into the room, seeing nothing. “Hrm. You're probably right – we should strafe along the wall and keep away from the centre.”

“Sounds good, lad,” Joachim agreed, “jus' stay on yer toes.”

“Follow after me and don't do anything stupid,” grunted Thogg.

The warrior began to slowly scuttle his way across the wall. Sir Redford seemed displeased by the Orc's tempo and followed right after, walking straight past the careful Joachim and shoving Thogg forwardg, urging him to speed on. The orc however was stubborn in his pace, sir Redford's less-than-subtle nudging not being enough to make him budge.

“This is unacceptable!” Scoffed the paladin. “What are you, orc, afraid of the dark? Press on! The Light is with us; make haste! We have a divine duty to scour this crypt of all the foulness it contains!”

“Are ye talkin' aboot tha' mummies, lad?” Asked Joachim.

“Indeed I am, master dwarf!” Said sir Redford. “The undead are a blight upon this beautiful world and must be cleansed by the Light's chosen champions, such as myself.”

This caused down-to-earth Thogg to groan – a groan that Redford could not let pass unnoticed, seeing it as a slight against his and his deity's honor. “Infidel!” Scoffed Redford, “You Lightless orcs are all the same. Without the Light in your hearts, you are naught but barbarians and cowards! Step aside, infidel, make way for the Light's chosen!” Redford marched passed the orc, violently shoving him against the wall. “Come, squire! The army of Light marches on!”

The squire, who had previously been at the tail of the line, hurried to his master's side, apologizing softly to the warrior as he passed him. Just before the charge into darkness could begin proper, however, something clicked. The warrior withdrew his shoulder from the wall, revealing a switch now pressed.

“Now you've gone and done it,” grunted the warrior. “Dwarf!” He shouted towards Joachim, “We've got one!”

“Och!” Joachim shouted back. “Didn't I tell ye there would be traps, lad? Didn't I tell ye?!”

“Yes, dwarf,” muttered Thogg to himself in anger muffled, “that you did.”

As the rest of the troupe squabbled amongst themselves, Ruby Scarlett calmly looked on as her keen senses could feel the workings of a magical trap springing. She looked on as the torches along the wall magically lit up one by one, slowly illuminating the entire hitherto dark room. The torches weren't being lit by any fire – at least, not any of the regular sort, since these flames were of an unnatural blue shade and gave off no heat. They looked like frozen flames. By the time the last torch was lit, the entire chamber was laid bare; showing nothing but a vast empty room.

Then, a voice, seemingly coming from all directions at once, boomed trough the room.

“WHO DARES DISTURB THE SANCTITY OF THIS PLACE?! NONE MAY LOOK UPON THE MASTER'S WORKS AND LIVE! BEGONE, MORTALS; UNLESS YOU SEEK TO JOIN THE DAMNED AND THE DEAD!”

Sir Redford drew his sword and boldly marched straight towards the center of the room. “Show yourself, apparition!” He said loudly, “Only the Light's Justice awaits the unholy dead!”

The rest of the group – apart from the squire who begrudgingly trailed after his master – stuck close to the wall and huddled up to discuss strategy.

“Aye, tha' daft fool 'as gone an' done it,” said Joachim.

“That's what you get for bringing a paladin,” said Thogg. “This was to be expected. Flight or fight?”

“I say we leg it,” said Ruby Scarlett. “Let the fool die here if he wants to, I'm not risking running into a lich's deathtrap.”

“Shouldn't ye be skippin' after yersilly-buns, lass?” Joachim teased Ruby.

“Not if it means dying, thank you very much,” said Ruby. “A deathly pale wouldn't match my ruby hair very well, now would it?”

“Focus, you two,” grunted Thogg. “You said something about a Lich? You think this is a Lich's crypt? If so, we have to -”

Before Thogg could finish his sentence, he was interrupted by the booming voice cutting trough.

“THE LIGHT SHALL NOT SAVE YOU HERE, MORTALS! DOWN IN THE DEEPS WHERE NO LIGHT CAN REACH, THERE IS ONLY DEATH. THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THE CLUTCHES OF DAMNATION!”

Some mechanism in the walls began to whir as the floor rumbled ominously. Looking down, the left-behinds could see the floor coming loose in the wall's grooves. The floor started to withdraw towards the wall opposite, opening a wide chasm underneath the party.

“Thrall's balls...Go, go, go!” Yelled Thogg, shoving Joachim and Ruby ahead of him as he started to run towards the doorway from which they had entered the room, praying that it was still within a leap's reach. As if anticipating their retreat, the door fell shut before they could reach it, trapping the group inside.

“Och! It's nae use!” Shouted Joachim as the group watched the closed door shrink into the background.

“Just go, go!” Barked Thogg as he turned around to run into Redford's direction, beckoning Ruby and Joachim to follow him. Unlike Redford who was charging to the center to face a specter that wasn't there, however, Thogg lead the rest of the party to diagonally cut to the other side of the room, hoping there would be another exit there. As they neared Redford, the valiant knight had just about reached the center and was standing there to taunt the specter into showing itself.

“Face me, phantom!” Bellowed the paladin to no avail. Redford seemed not to have noticed that the ground had begun shifting below him. As the rest of the troupe ran past him and his squire, the warrior tapped him on the plated shoulder, beckoning him to come with.

“Where are you going?!” Shouted the paladin at the rest when they ran past. “Stand and fight, cowards! This evil must not be allowed to exist! We must vanquish it at once!”

“Uhm...Sir?” Said the squire timidly.

“Quiet, Francis!” Commanded sir Redford, “Can't you see that I am vanquishing evil right now? I have no time for your childish games!”

“Yes, sir, and your valor is an inspiration to all, sir – a shining beacon of the Light you are, my liege-” said Jimmy, “but what if said evil wasn't in the room, sir? I am just saying, your grace– if you'll allow me kindly – that the speaker of the voice might not be in this room.”

Sir Redford looked at his squire in silence for a good three seconds, before saying: “Seize your panic-stricken blabbering at once, Francis! This is no way for a squire to behave!”

“A-actually,” the squire muttered, “it's Jimmy, your grace, if you'd allow me-”

“Clearly the damning haunt of this foul den of evil has clouded your judgment and disturbed your temper, my squire!” Boomed Redford. “In accordance to the Light's laws, I must take you to safety, lest you lose your soul to the darkness whole! Clearly, the safety of your body and the purity of your soul takes precedence over vanquishing the specter we cannot see!”

“Y-yes sir,” said the Squire, “t-thank you, sir! Lead me to safety, sir!”

Clever Jimmy was quick to agree with his master if it meant escaping the deathtrap that his reckless courage had sprung. The floor was now about halfway across the room, meaning that the abyss had caught up with them. It didn't take long for Redford and his squire to overtake the rest of the group, the paladin in particular running suspiciously fast. The same could not be said of Joachim; the longer the group had to keep running, the further he lagged behind. He started panting with haggard breath and was struck by regular coughing fits. Without a single word of complaint, the orc hoisted the dwarf on his back and carried the explorer with a dignity seldom seen in the mount of a piggy-back rider. Joachim wisely kept his own trap shut, deciding that abusing this humiliating moment for a joke would be a poor way to safe an orc for saving his life.

By the time they had reached the other side of the room, the floor was about three-quarters in. Vainly did they skirt along the edge, trying to find some kind of door, or a switch to open or expose one. Sadly, the wall appeared to be completely bare and naked of any ornaments. They were properly trapped.

“We be doomed, laddies, doomed! When thae' floor hits this side 'o thae room, we'll be goin' splat!” Shouted Joachim from Thogg’s back. Thogg kept his composure as he gently put the panicing archaeologist back on his own feet.

“Not necessarily,” said Thogg. “Sorceress?”

“Yes, hotshot?” Crooned the sorceress.

“No theatrics. Just cast your spells.”

“Sure thing.” The Sorceress raised her staff and tapped each individual member of the group on the forehead. While she was working, Redford saw fit to express his discontent.

“No more running! This is where we make our stand! Unsheathe your weapons and let the Light shine through you!”

“Make our stand against what, Human?” Grunted the orc, whose patience with the paladin was wearing thin.

“Why, the damned armies of the dead, of course!” Shouted the paladin. “The Light shines only the brighter in the darkest of deeps!”

“Quit yer yappin’, laddies!” Said Joachim. “Grab ‘old of yer caboose, we’re aboot tae’ be flushed down!”

Having tapped the last member (the squire) of the group on the forehead, Ruby Scarlett assumed her place to the left of Sir Redford, who as always had his squire on his right; next to them stood Thogg who kept the panting and coughing Joachim under his wing. They stood with their backs to the wall, watching the floor slide away from underneath them.

“So…Not that I dunnae trust ye, lass…” Said Joachim, “But wha’ spell did ye cast on us?”

“Leadfall,” sneered Ruby to the dwarf.

“Wha-”

The time for banter came to an abrupt end as the floor slid into its groove behind the group. Instead of plummeting to their deaths, however, the group descended at a leisurely pace, whirling down like feathers shed.

“The Light has come to Its champion’s aid!” Bellowed sir Redford. “The innocent shall be spared the deathly plummet into the dark! Blessed be the Light!” He turned to his squire for affirmation, casting upon a stern glare.

“Actually, sir, if you’d kindly allow me,” said the squire hesitantly, “it was, in fact, I believe, the sorceress’s featherfall spell that is now slowing our descend, your grace – if you'd kindly allow me saying so.”

“The Light works through its chosen mediums, Francis!” Barked Redford at his quire. “Honestly now, how do you ever expect to become a true paladin if you persist in such heretical prattle? Your lack of faith worries me, boy!”

“Yes, sir,” said the squire.

“Well done, Sorceress,” said Thogg to Ruby, ignoring the paladin and his squire. He then turned to the dwarf that was falling at his side. “How are you holding up, dwarf?”

Joachim did not respond. Thogg managed to ‘swim’ his way through the air to the dwarf’s side and took him by the shoulders. The archaeologist was looking dangerous pale. As Thogg turned away from Joachim to report his condition to the others, the dwarf let out a sickening belch and sprayed a mouthful of vomit all over his beard.

Ruby Scarlett cringed and ‘swam’ away from Joachim. “Ew! Disgusting! Keep it away!”

“I shall defend you, milady! Squire, my shield!” Yelled the paladin as he ‘swam’ his way in between Ruby and Joachim.

“I believe you already have your shield, my liege”, said the squire.

“Poppycock! Do you see a shield on my arm, boy?”

The paladin’s left-arm was indeed in want of its shield: it was nowhere to be seen.

“N-no sir-”

“Exactly! Which means you lost it, boy!”

Thogg listened to the paladin berate his squire with a lowered brow. He was quite sure he had last seen the shield on the arm of sir Redford and that the paladin was trying to allocate the blame to his lackey. A most dishonorable conduct. A warrior without honor wouldn't be worth much in a fight; and Thogg knew it wouldn't be long until they would be fighting one. Meanwhile, the dwarven explorer – who wasn't much of a fighter either way – was looking too sick to do battle. That left him with no one to rely on but the sorceress. A terrifying thought.


Last edited by Thelos on Sun Oct 27, 2013 7:15 am; edited 2 times in total

Thelos

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Re: The Loneliest Lich

Post by Thelos on Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:40 am

Chapter 3

The group landed safely, but could not see where; they could not even see themselves. Their torches had either fizzled out in the fall or had gotten lost during the running; the only source of light would have been the torches that were lit above them, had the above floor – which now functioned as a ceiling – not slid in its groove completely. They were in utter darkness.

“Sorceress,” said Thogg, “you know what to do.”

The sorceress readied herself to cast a spell; but the paladin was a little quicker. Sir Redford raised his truesilver blade aloft and yelled: “Let Darkness be parted!” Upon which the darkness did indeed part; a blinding wave of light rippled forth from the tip of the paladin's blade, illuminating the entire chamber in a flash. The moment the tip of the blade had lit up, a load moaning disturbed the silence of the chamber; loud, not because of its singular force, but because thousands of voices moaned in unison. Once the group's eyes adjusted to the white light of the paladin's truesilver sword, they could see the source of the moaning – a choir of ghouls was shambling away from the group, climbing up and under their neighbors and shoving one another out of the way.

“Ew! Ew! Ew!” The sorceress yelped as one of the ghouls got shoved toward her. She promptly pushed it away with the butt of her staff as she edged closer to the paladin for protection. The moaning ghouls surged around the group, allowing the light to cut a circle in their ranks. Thogg was quick to figure out that their mass must extend far beyond what they could currently see – perhaps filling the entire room -, since they ghouls in front were constantly being pushed forward by those behind, hinting that there wasn't enough space to fit in all the ghouls with the circle of light cutting trough. With such a legion of undead, caution was advised.

“Steady, paladin, steady,” said Thogg. “We need to figure this out.”

“Figure wha' oot?” Whimpered the pale dwarf in between coughs, “We be doomed, laddie, doomed! There's nae way we'll be getting' out 'o this one!”

“Calm yourself, dwarf,” said Thogg, “they're afraid of the light and won't attack us. See? They're trying to escape – just as we are. We just need to figure out where the exit is...”

“Escape?!” Shouted sir Redford. “Surely you jest? The legions of darkness are right in front of us! We must vanquish this evil horde in the name of the Light and all that is holy!” Sir Redford pointed his sword at the ghouls, who immediately split to form a ravine to avoid being shone on. The ghouls behind the group, however, saw their chance to cautiously edge a little closer.

“Point that thing up, you fool!” Snarled Thogg. The paladin didn't show any inclination to do so; on the contrary – he called his squire to him, telling him to prepare for charge.

“Fine, if you want to kill yourself, go ahead,” said Thogg, “but you're not taking us with you. Sorceress?”

“Way ahead of you, darling,” crooned the sorceress. In a single fluid motion, she tapped the paladin on the back of his head with her staff and transformed him into a sheep.

“What the -” barked Thogg as the paladin's sword dropped to the ground. “Are you insane, woman?! Those things will eat us alive!”

The squire stood next to his now decidedly more woolly master in shock. Admittedly, he had not really fancied the idea of a reckless charge into a legion of undead monsters; and yes, he sinfully prayed something would happen to prevent the charge – but this wasn't exactly what he had hoped for! His master bleated as he vainly tried to pick up his sword with his teeth. The blade's glow was quickly receding, which allowed the ghouls shamble into the circle and encroach on the group's territory.

“Don't you listen to that mean orc, sweetie,” said Ruby Scarlett as she squatted to look the squire in the eye. She placed her hand on the young lad's cheek, which had never before been touched by any other woman besides his mother. “You know exactly what to do, don't you?” The sorceress said to the squire in a sweet voice. “The Light won't allow you to just sit there and mope while the hordes of darkness devour the innocent, right?”

The squire looked at the sheep's sword. “I d-don't know if I can...”

“It doesn't matter if ye can or can't, laddie!” Said Joachim, “Ye'll just 'ave tae doo 'eet! Fer tae Light and all tha's righ', right?”

“For the Light and all that is right...” Said the squire as he picked up his master's sword with trembling hands. As soon as the squire's fingers wrapped around its handle, the sword was lit anew, shining far brighter than it had ever done in the hands of Sir Redford. The encroaching ghouls shrieked as they were roasted in holy fire, causing the others behind them to swiftly disengage.

“Good thing we brought a spare,” whispered Ruby Scarlett to Thogg, who had watched the whole exchange between the elf and the squire in stunned silence. He didn't really get this whole Light-business, but he was glad the zombie-repellent was switched back on and now in the hands of someone who was willing to listen to reason.

“Don't worry, sweetie – I'll change him back once we're safe and well out of danger,” Ruby said to the squire to reassure him.

“Let's just get out of here,” said Jimmy the squire.

“Finally some sense,” Thogg agreed. “All right, Jimmy -”

“You r-remembered my name?” Said the squire.

“Shut up while I'm speaking and do as you're told,” barked Thogg.

“Yes, sir!”

“Keep your sword in the air – just like that, keep it up – and we'll wade trough the ghouls. Lead on; go on, kid.”

Ruby Scarlett tried linking her arm in the squire's for support, but the chaste lad wouldn't have it. He stepped forward, keeping his sword aloft, just as he was told, and started to make his way trough the ghouls.

“Keep your eyes peeled for an exit, everyone!” Shouted Thogg as the group followed the trail trough the ghouls Jimmy was carving for them. Sir Redford the sheep stuck to his squire; Joachim lagged behind at the tail end of the group and relied on Thogg to tug him onwards by the beard. The poor dwarf had gotten even paler and was now coughing more than he was speaking. The sorceress, having been rejected by the squire, was sulking on her own somewhere in the center.

It took them sometime to find an exit, but it turned out they needn't have hurried. The ghouls kept their distance and always parted at the subtle gestures of Jimmy's blade. Without any further incidents, the group spotted a hole in the ghoul-mass up ahead; upon further inspection, it was revealed to be an open door with a moat of fire around it, no doubt to keep the ghouls out. The sorceresses subdued the flames with relative ease, only to re-light them once everyone was across. The ghouls didn't dare cross the moat. And just like that, they had escape the death-trap and left the undead behind.


Last edited by Thelos on Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:43 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Loneliest Lich

Post by Thelos on Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:41 am

Chapter 4

The next room they entered was lit by the same kind of iceflame torches as the room above. This chamber was somewhat smaller, however – and unlike the other room, which was eerie in its emptiness, this room was stacked with stuff. More than anything, it reminded Ruby Scarlett of a sculptor's studio she once visited to have her likeness immortalized. Half-gallery, half-workplace, there both several statues put on display, meticulously lit by enchanted torches and various half-chiseled chunks of granite that were obviously still being worked on. All the statues took on humanoid shapes; some of them looked angelic, with fatherly faces and feathered wings; and some of them looked monstrous, with batwings and viciously snarling jaws.

“What do you make of this, dwarf?” Thogg asked the sick dwarf at his side.

“Wha'...Wha's tha', lad?” Asked the dwarf weakly. He barely seemed to register what was going on around him and shambled along with unfocused eyes.

“All right, I had my suspicions before, but now I know something's off” said Thogg. “Normally, the dwarf would be going bonkers over this stuff.” Thogg beckoned Ruby to him. “Come, sorceress. Have a look at him; I think he may be cursed.”

“Thanks but no thanks, sweetie,” said the sorceress. “I am getting nowhere near that disgusting...thing. Did you see how it threw up all over itself? Ew?” The sorceress wrinkled her nose and promptly turned away from the group and towards one of the statues, no doubt to 'study' it. The squire followed her.

“Milady?” Said the squire to the sorceress, “Pardon me for my blunt intrusion – but didn't you say you would change my master back, as soon as we would be out of harm's way? With your approval, milady – this chamber appears relatively peaceful, compared to the last, I mean.” Sir Redford the sheep bleated in agreement and edged his squire along by rubbing his head against the lad's leg.

“Oh, I'm sorry, sweetie,” said Ruby Scarlett distractedly as she ran a finger across the cheek of an angelic statue. “But I can't change him back yet. The spell needs to...cool down. Yes. Cool down....Just like your hot-headed mutton master here.”

“No dust...?” Ruby remarked upon inspecting the finger she had caressed the statue's cheek with. “Remarkable. No cobwebs, no dust...” She turned around to say something to Joachim, completely ignoring the pleading squire at her side.

“Mister Rimebeard,” said Ruby, “What do you make of this? First, there were no cobwebs, now it seems the statues in here are dust-free...And now that I stop to think about it, they don't really seem all that...Ulduumish? Uldumian? What's the word?”

Joachim looked like he was going to answer, but instead of words he only produced an eerie moaning. Having just crossed a room full of moaning that sounded just like it, the group was instantly on their guard.

“Me skin...Ach!” Moaned the dwarf, “Me skin...itches...” Joachim started violently scratching his skin, rending holes in it with his suddenly elongated fingernails. “Dirtae skin...T-take it off...U-unclean...” Joachim tore off a huge chunk of cheek down to the bone, triggering Thogg to intervene and grab the dwarf by the wrist to protect him from himself.

“Now will you take a look at him?” Barked Thogg. The dwarf struggled to be free of Thogg's grasp and, upon failing to break loose, bit his captor's arm, forcing him to let go.

“Ow! Son of a -” grunted Thogg, drawing his axe. He wasn't allowed to finish his oath, however, as the rabid dwarf attacked the him, flailing his claws wildly and getting ready to get another bite in. Thogg would have none of that and promptly put his ax squarely in the attacker's forehead, cleaving his skull in twain, leaving the dwarf to collapse without life on the floor.

“That motherless son of an ogre bit me!” Shouted Thogg in disbelief, “What kind of a dwarf bites?! Dwarves don't bite!”

“You're right, sir, they don't,” said the squire, who had rushed to Thogg's side to lend his aid. “I do not think this...Thing was Joachim Rimebeard any longer. The mummy must have infected him, back when he opened the sarcophagus.”

Thogg Killgood looked impressed. “Boy, you really are observant, aren't you?”

“T-thank you, s-sir. I do my best.”

Thogg looked at his bitten arm and grunted. “Well, that means I'm next, unless either of you can do something about this?”

“I-I'm afraid n-not, sir” said the squire who looked upon the wound with fright. The sorceress simply shrugged her shoulders; she didn't seem to care much.

“That makes things nice and simple, then,” said Thogg. “Upon my honor as an Orc of the Mancleaver clan, I cannot let this attack go unavenged.”

“What do you mean, sir?” Asked the squire.

“I'm going to find the motherless son of an ogre that's responsible for this and personally bury my ax in his skull.”

“S-sir, w-we can't know for sure how much time y-you have left, s-shouldn't we -”

“Then we better get our asses in gear,” said Thogg. “You said something about a lich earlier, sorceress?” Thogg said to Ruby Scarlett.

“Due to the magical cold, yes,” confirmed Ruby. “And the facts that these so-called treasure-filled burial chambers are in sor want of any actual treasure in them...Just look at these tacky statues! This can't be an actual titan tomb. It's much too poor and empty.”

“Sounds like we have ourselves a lich to kill, then. Are you in, Ruby?” Said Thogg, calling the sorceress by name for the first time.

“Of course, darling,” said Ruby Scarlett. “I'm with you all the way, you know that – besides, liches tend to hoard a lot of powerful spells...So maybe I'll get my something worthwhile out of this farce of a tomb-raid yet.”

“Works for me,” grinned Thogg. Turning to the squire, he said: “And what about you, Jimmy?

“I'm with you, sir,” said the squire. “This evil cannot be allowed to harm any more innocents. It must be stopped here.”

Thogg let out a raunchy laugh and slapped the squire on the shoulder. “I'm hardly innocent, boy, but I like your bloodlust.”

“What about sir Redford?” Asked the squire. Thogg and Ruby exchanged a lightning-quick glance full of meaning, after which the sorceress said: “I'm afraid we can't change him back yet, sweetie. It'll take another...Four, five hours, at least.”

Thogg put up a cheesy thumb to Ruby while the squire had his back turned to him. Jimmy nodded solemnly and knelt before his master to tie a rope around his neck. “Just stay close to me, my liege. I will protect you.” Ruby Scarlett snickered quietly to herself as the faithful lad tugged on his master's leash to lead him onwards.

“Enough talk,” said Thogg. “Let's do this.”

“Not yet, sir,” said the squire. “Please allow me to perform the final rites on our late friend mister Joachim Rimebeard.”

“Hrmph. Good thinking,” grunted Thogg. “We don't want him getting back up again and biting us in the ass. Do your thing.”

“Thank you, sir. Light bless.”

As Jimmy prayed next to the fallen dwarf, Ruby Scarlett darted around the studio in search of any valuables. Thogg sharpened his ax, anticipating the bloodshed to come. Instead of staying to participate in his squire's solemn rites, the sheep Redford accompanied Ruby around the room, rubbing his head against her naked legs. Ruby pushed him away, no longer entertaining his advances. The sheep sulked back to the squire, allowing himself to be tied to a leash. Jimmy cauterized the dwarven remains in holy flame, reducing the body to a pile of ash – allowing his soul entry into the afterlife and ensuring his body would't be coming back for more biting. Once Jimmy and Ruby's business was concluded, they left the studio, randomly selecting one of many corridors leading out of it.


Last edited by Thelos on Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:44 am; edited 1 time in total

Thelos

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Re: The Loneliest Lich

Post by Thelos on Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:41 am

Chapter 5

And so the group pressed onwards. Thogg Killgood went in front; followed by squire Jimmy who lead the valiant Sir Redford by the leash; and finally Ruby Scarlett the sorceress, who wisely followed in the back. In this formation, the party pushed trough a labyrinth of traps and monsters. Thogg, being the adventure-savvy orc that he was, had a keen knack for detecting traps; squire Jimmy vanquished whatever undead monsters shambled onto their path; and Ruby took care of any and all of the group's mystical needs. They advanced trough the dungeon like a well-oiled and efficient dungeoncrawling machine. The one thing the machine could not process, however, was the chill. The deeper they pushed into the tomb, the colder it got; Ruby kept reinforcing the wards to no avail. Teeth started clattering and extremities went number and number. Their breath went icy and came out in cones of cold.

“This must mean we're getting closer to the phylactery,” said Ruby trough clattering teeth.

“The what now?” Asked Thogg whose voice, despite his skin getting paler like that of Joachim before him, had maintained its commanding tone.

“Phylactery. The lich's soul – liches keep their souls in jars called phylacteries.”

“Right. And those are cold,” said Thogg after letting out another hackling cough.

“They supposedly are, sir,” attested the squire, “but no colder than their blackened hearts. But please, safe your strength; if miss Scarlett is to be believed – and we have been given no reason to doubt her expertise on magical matters – than we might soon be fighting our final and fiercest foe.”

And, sure enough, just as the squire had predicted, the group soon ran afoul a very large and ominous looking door. At this point, the tomb had completely dropped the pretense of being an ancient Uldum crypt; the giant obsidian door had a very obvious skull motif plastered across the front, with smaller skulls functioning as doorknobs. A thick layer of frost covered the door, caking around its hinges.

“Skulls on skulls,” grunted Thogg. “This must be it.”

Sir Redford the sheep charged boldly forward and rammed the door, to no avail. Though it did not quite have the effect the fluffy paladin had in mind, the example it put forward did inspire courage in his squire. The lad pointed his sword at the door and marched forward.

“Let darkness be parted!” The squire said in imitation of his master.

“Kid?” Said Thogg, tapping the squire on the shoulder. “You might want to let Ruby take care of this one. Magic and all. Curses. You don't want to be turned into a frog, now do you?”

“N-no, sir,” bumbled the squire, blushing deeply in spite of the cold. “G-go ahead, madame.”

“Awh, he's so adorable!” Crooned Ruby Scarlett, “Can I keep him?”

“Focus, Scarlett,” commanded Thogg. “Just blow the damn door down.”

“All right,” said Ruby; and, turning to the squire: “you might want to step away from the door, honey.”

The squire stepped back, allowing the sorceress to blast the door open with a huge ball of fire. The instant the door came loose from its hinges, a freezing fog rolled into the corridor, chilling the group to their bones. No more needed to be said; everybody knew what to do. Thogg charged in first, directly followed by squire Jimmy and sir Redford the sheep, with Ruby Scarlett taking the rear.

They entered into a chamber unlike any they had been to before. The labyrinth had mostly consisted out of Uldum-esque corridors with the odd hieroglyphs on the wall and the occasional ancient ornament. This room, however, looked like something out of the Icecrown Citadel. The walls were of pure ice and it was from these pillars of frost that the fog continuously surged into the room. The room was empty, save for a lone pedestal in the center on which a small flowerless vase lay.

As soon as Ruby Scarlett had stepped trough the broken door, a makeshift gate of ice formed behind her and closed the exit off. Somewhere beyond the pedestal, a shadow moved across the glacier-wall. Its silhouette-arm pointed at the group as the shade began to speak in a familiar booming voice.

“AND SO THE LIGHT'S VAUNTED CHAMPIONS FOOLISHLY ENTER INTO DEATH'S DOMAIN. ARE YOU SO DESPERATE TO DIE, MORTALS? VERY WELL! I SHALL GRANT YOU YOUR DESIRE...PREPARE TO JOIN THE LEGION OF THE DAMNED!”

“Hah. He still thinks he's fighting a paladin,” said Thogg.

“Well...He's not wrong,” said Jimmy the squire, stepping forward. Sir Redford the Sheep snapped loose from his leash and boldly charged towards the shadow.

“My Liege -” the squire vainly yelled after his master; the sheep showed now signs of slowing down, however – and as soon as it approached the shadow, the figure that it belonged to rose up from the darkness. An unholy revenant – a suit of armor without a wearer – skewered the sheep with his sword and cast it aside.

“SIR REDFORD!” Jimmy shouted grief-stricken as he tried to reach his master. Upon being struck, the sheep transformed back into a human. Sir Redford was bleeding in the chest, the blade of the revenant having struck him squarely in the heart. Sir Redford looked at his squire with only confusion in his eyes.

“Jimmy-” was all the paladin could say before the Revenant stabbed him in the throat, instantly killing him. The Revenant's blade shimmered with unholy energy as it reaped the soul of Sir Redford, denying the noble knight passage into the afterlife.

“Fiend!” Screamed Jimmy, beyond himself with rage. “Monster! You'll pay for this!” Jimmy charged at the Revenant, his truesilver sword shining with holy power as he locked blades with it. The Revenant parried and retreated backwards, the bright light causing him to flinch.

Meanwhile, Thogg Killgood and Ruby Scarlett had intended to rush to Jimmy's side, but were forced to deal with their own problems. The glacier-walls of the room trembled and shifted as a seemingly endless horde of frozen skeletons shambling out and towards Ruby and Thogg. The skeletons were of different sizes and shapes; some wore armor, others wielded weapons; yet, they were perfectly alike in the rhythm of their advance.

“Ruby!” Shouted Thogg, “Blast them! Fry them all!”

Thogg needn't have said anything, because Ruby was already unleashing waves of flame on anything the encroaching skeletons. Whole chunks of the freezing army melted and collapsed in piles of bones; yet, for every skeleton that fell, two more came out of the walls. Ruby drew a ring of fire around herself, making sure no skeleton could reach her without being burned to ashes. Meanwhile, Thogg tried to cleave his way trough to reach Jimmy, but was hindered in his advance by the skeletal hordes.

Thankfully, Jimmy did not particularly seem in need of assistance. The death of his master had filled his heart with righteous fury; Light shone from his eyes and his blade, weakening the Revenant and forcing him into a corner. Blow after blow came down upon the creature, breaking whole chunks off the frozen armor. Yet, just as Jimmy was raising his sword to deliver the final blow, he was struck in the back. Sir Redford had delivered upon the lad a fierce blow from behind.

“I...m...s...o...rry...” Said the soulless body of Sir Redford. “I...m...s...o...r...ry....Ji...mmy...”

Jimmy, still dazed from the grievous blow from behind, turned to look at his master. Sir Redford was standing upright, but his knees were bended in an unnatural angle and he leaned on the side of his foot, rather than its sole. His face was expressionless and his eyes unfocused.

“Sir Redford...”

While Jimmy was distracted, the Revenant recovered and put his sword straight trough the squire's throat. The lad gargled blood as he fell down before his master's knees, dying instantly.

“JIMMY!” Thogg shouted from across the room. Thogg was still trying to reach Jimmy, but the skeletons offered him no quarter. Ruby, too, was beginning to become overwhelmed as she expended her magical energies. Her fireballs became smaller and smaller, and the circle of fire around her crept closer and closer to her.

The Revenant harvested Jimmy's soul, sealing his fate.

“Damn it!” Roared Thogg. “Damn it! I am not going out like this!”

“Forget about the skeletons!” Shouted Ruby from the other side of the room, “I'll handle them! Get the phylactery!”

“The what?!” Thogg shouted back.

“The phylactery! The big thing in the center! Destroy it!”

Thogged looked over and beyond the skeleton hordes and notices the pedestal in the center. Invigorated with new purpose, the Orc warrior began cleaving his way trough the undead masses, parting the ivory sea with his ax. Trough a flurry of furious blows, Thogg managed to reach the pedestal. The skeletons seemed afraid to approach the ice-cold vase, convincing Thogg of two things; that it must be fragile, and that destroying it would be bad for the skeletons. Those two things were enough in any warrior's mind to warrant the destruction of just about anything. Thogg raised his ax...But could not bring his arms down. He struggled and pushed against an invisible wall that prevented him from destroying the vase, straining every muscle in his body to the limit; but not no avail.

“Thogg, you moron, what are you doing?!” Shrieked the sorceresses, who was slowly being overwhelmed. “Destroy it!”

“I...Can't...” Thogg muttered in disbelief.

“What do you mean you can't?! You're Thogg Killgood the Orc warrior! Smash the damn thing!”

“I CAN'T!” Bellowed the warrior helplessly.

The Revenant laughed in a hollow, humorless voice. He glided over the skeletal hordes, levitating on a cloud of frost magic. It floated above the pedestal and continued to laugh.

“IT'S NO USE, THOGG KILLGOOD,” said the Revenant loudly, “A WARRIOR OF THE DAMNED MAY NOT STRIKE HIS MASTER, NOR AT ANY OF HIS CREATIONS.”

“What the fel are you blabbering about?!” Shouted the pale orc. He tried striking the Revenant, but was once again stopped by an invisible wall.

“MAY NOT STRIKE HIS MASTER, NOR AT ANY OF HIS CREATIONS,” repeated the Revenant. “NOW, RISE UP, WARRIOR OF THE DAMNED! CRUSH THIS LAST MORTAL INTERLOPER, IN THE NAME OF OUR DARK MASTER!”

Thogg's arms and legs jerked like a puppet on strings. He shambled away from the pedestal, slowly making his way trough the skeletal hordes that parted to make a path to the sorceress.

“Son of a...-” Shouted the Orc. “Stay out of my head, you coward! Fight me! Honor-less swine!”

“Thogg...” said Ruby without emotion. “Check your pulse.”

“What...What are you talking about?!” Replied Thogg as he was shambling towards her, still being pulled forward by invisible strings. He was fighting fiercely against whatever was controlling him, struggling against the invisible force with all his might.

“Just do it, Thogg. Please,” said Ruby nervously, her ring of fire shrinking evermore.

Thogg struggled to feel his pulse while he shambled onwards. He kept two fingers on his wrist for a good ten silent seconds, before saying: “Nothing.”

“You dumb moron,” said Ruby, half-laughing. “You didn't even notice that you died. How typical of you.”

“I...s...see...” Said Thogg, his voice growing fainter. “Then...I guess...t...this is...g...goodbye?”

“You're damn right it is,” snapped Ruby Scarlett, “I'm not getting payed to be eaten by my party members. You should have taking better care – getting bitten by the dwarf was a dumb mistake. I'm honestly disappointed in you. I expected better from a seasoned adventurer like yourself.”

“Y...ou...fucking...heartless...b...bitch...” Moaned Thogg, edging ever closer.

“I'd rather be a heartless bitch, than a dead bitch,” said Ruby. “Goodbye, mister Killgood. Have fun with your new friends, and try not to get vanquished by any of those pesky paladins.”

With that, the sorceress vanished in a blue flash of arcane energy, leaving the ghoul Thogg to shamble towards an empty spot on the ground.

“COWARDLY MORTALS!” Boomed the Revenant. Thogg Killgood, heartbroken by the sorceress's sudden retreat, completely succumbed to death's hold over him. Jimmy the squire and sir Redford the paladin, too, shambled along with the skeletons as they returned to their frozen tomb. From the monotone skeletal masses, a single shape stepped forward and approached the Revenant while the rest retreated. The figure, indistinguishable from the other skeletons in all but his actions, shyly tapped the Revenant on the shoulder.

“W-was t-that a-all of t-them?” The trembling skeleton asked in a stutter.

“YES, MY MASTER,” boomed the Revenant as it knelt in supplication before the skeleton. “I HAVE LAYED WASTE TO THE MORTALS, AS YOU HAVE COMMANDED.”

“N-not s-so loud, p-please,” the skeleton said meekly, “I-I'm r-right here, I c-can hear you j-just f-fine.”

“My apologies, master,” said the Revenant, lowering his voice.

“T-that's all r-right,” stuttered the skeleton half-apologetically. “S-so you v-vanquished t-them; g-good job. B-but w-what of the g-girl...?”

“A thousand-thousand pardons cannot excuse my failure, my liege; the Elven Sorceress escaped.”

“Awh, s-shucks,” said the skeleton, disappointed. “I-I w-was r-really l-looking f-forward to r-raising her...T-this p-place c-could u-use t-the t-touch of a w-woman...I g-get so l-lonely...”

The skeleton sighed morosely as he looked at the flowerless vase on the pedestal.

“A-and the p-phylactery?”

“Unharmed, my Liege,” said the Revenant.

“W-well, that's s-something, a-at l-least...”

“Do you want me to pursue the cowardly mortal, my liege?”

“N-no, d-don't bother...S-soon the s-sands w-will s-shift again and t-the tomb w-will be h-hidden o-once m-more. T-that's w-why I p-picked this p-place in the f-first p-place...”

The skeleton sighed again and shambled towards the exit. “T-too bad...”

“What is it, my liege?”

“I-it w-was k-kind of exciting, t-too, e-entertaining a-adventurers...” said the skeleton, “B-but also scary, in a g-good way. M-maybe w-we s-should do it m-more often?”

“As the master wills,” agreed the Revenant.

“No, no,” sighed the skeleton, “t-too dangerous.”

The skeleton exited the room and shut the door behind him, trapping the Revenant inside. The unholy suit of armor glided to the pedestal and closed around the vase, shielding it completely. The eerie light in its helmet went out and the tomb went dark.

Thelos

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Re: The Loneliest Lich

Post by Skarain on Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:06 am

I'm not really any good giving feedback about the style of writing, details in grammar and the like, but i -can- say that as a person who have enjoys reading fantasy genre books and enjoy living through the story (why i became a Roleplayer to begin with), this story was just as good and compelling read as any of the over hundred books i have scour through in my years. Especially enjoyable was the defeat of the heroes. Usually you could expect the adventuring party to win against all odds, but instead of it all, behind the entire story and their demise was a small, miserable, stuttering creature, the Lich of the story.

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Re: The Loneliest Lich

Post by Krogon Devilstep on Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:16 am

A wonderful shake up in balance, tempo and mood. A casual start, a desperate middle, and a funny ending.

without a doubt one of my favourite story's posted on here by far. I look forward to any further additions!

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Re: The Loneliest Lich

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