Fiction Fragment Friday
This week’s story is another one inspired by a daily writing prompt on discord. I was so pleased with the story that I wanted to share it with the larger audience. I do however feel that my writing may have gotten too predictable to those that read me regularly. I need to work on that in future weeks and once again step outside of my comfort zone.
If any place could truly be called evil, then Hemdrake’s tower certainly fit that designation. The emerald glow reflecting off the clouds gave the sky an eerie hue for miles around. The ground itself was cracked open with that same glow obscuring whatever lay below. Even the air itself was thick and hard to breathe in permeated with a sheer force of unnatural energy. Bat winged demonic entities flew patterns in the sky around the large spires. It took more courage than most living beings possessed to approach desolate wasteland surrounding the tower. We were not like most people though.
My party stood on the ridge overlooking the tower. Making it this far meant we were braver than most, but even we felt the desire to flea faced against such raw a raw magical tempest. It was only our overwhelming dedication to the task at hand that stayed our shaking legs and allowed us to progress instead of turning and seeking the safety of anywhere other than that accursed place. If we tarried a bit longer than we should have I think we could be forgiven. In the end we did move forth into the tower.
The demons were our first physical obstacle. They swooped from the sky diving to attack as we approached. Lianna’s aim was true as she struck demon after demon with arrows knocking them from the sky before they could get within reach. There were too many though and it fell to Boril with his shield and axe to hold the line allowing the rest of us to reach the tower entrance. The two of them fought with all their might giving Melendor the time he needed to solve the puzzle of the entryway and disenchant the energy barrier that barred our way. It took only moments to breach the tower, but it felt like an eternity. We could not close the doors for fear of being trapped inside so Lianna, Boril, and Melendor stayed to hold the demons at bay and ensure we had a point of egress when time to leave.
I let Scarlet take point moving through the tower. Her ever-keen eye managed to find all the traps barring our way and with unparalleled skill she disarmed them. I had always been impressed by how she could spot things that shown no outward appearance that I could discern. I suspected that there was something mystical about it but had yet to figure out a way to verify my theories. I suppose it doesn’t really matter how a skill works and only that it does. I have never been someone who could leave a mystery unexplored though.
We found the interior of the tower surprisingly easy to traverse. Despite the many traps there were no enemies waiting to ambush us as we anticipated. The layout was very straightforward where I had predicted we would find a nearly impenetrable labyrinth. Even the magical energies that permeated the air were less harsh than upon our approach. It was as if the tower itself were welcoming us into its domain. The very thought sent a chill down my spine.
The apex of the tower was much as my research had described it. There was a raised altar right in the center of the room with elaborate sigils carved into the floor around it. Above the altar was an opening to the sky allowing the moonlight to mingle with the emerald energy glow the tower radiated. Torches of similar green light burned in sconces lining the wall. It was unlikely anything living had bene in the tower for over a decade, but the room was pristine. The room lacked the dust and cobwebs so often found in abandoned buildings and no item seemed out of place.
I lay my beloved’s body on the altar. It had been difficult carrying her all this way and allowing my friends to do all the fighting for me. Vivica had been the heart of our group and it shown in the week since she had fallen. I won’t say my companions desired her resurrection as much as I, but they were invested enough to stand by me in this quest. It was a long shot, but any chance at all at getting her back was worth whatever risk lay before me.
The time for tarrying was long past so I called Scarlet over to help me prepare. I described the elaborate ritual we were about to perform to her and handed her a vial of holy water. She began encircling the body anointing it with the water. Never once did she doubt my words or why holy water would be needed in a place radiating so much evil energy. That was the trust my party had in me. If she did not trust me, she would have been guarded against the blade I slid between her ribs.
The ritual was not at all elaborate. Death required a sacrifice of life to give up one it already had. As Scarlet’s blood drained into the carved sigils, they began to glow a red light. My beloved’s body started to levitate above the stone altar. It moved from a horizontal alignment to vertical with her arms still hanging limp by her sides. As Scarlet gasped her last breath Vivica’s eyes opened. They glowed a terrifying green. Her skin began to pale as if it had never seen the sun. The most shocking change for me was when her vaunted bright blonde hair faded to a shocking white. Even with the changes she was still the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
She looked down at Scarlet’s corpse laying at my feet. “Oh, darling what have you done?” That was when the light of recognition left her eyes. I knew that Vivica was still there locked away in her mind, but she was no longer driving her own body. She looked at her hands like she was seeing them for the first time. The voice that next spoke reverberated like it was many voices from the same mouth. “You have done well and shall be rewarded for your efforts.”
When she touched my shoulder, I felt energy flow through my entire body burning every cell as it went. The pain was more excruciating than I had ever felt and more then my mind could comprehend. I lost consciousness dropping to the stone floor. In some ways I’m thankful for that. I did not have to see the body of my beloved slaughter all my friends on her way out of the tower. It would be years before I knew what she had done to me. That death could no longer touch me so I would bear witness to her campaign of conquest knowing that every death is my fault. All the while knowing that I am connected to her and as such am the only one capable of striking her down. My beloved is still alive deep-down insider her though and as long as she is I cannot consign her soul to the oblivion destroying the demon queen would cause.
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