She didn't respond when Toph recognised one of them men in the tapestries, though it did make her wonder just how old he was. She heard of the Sidhe before, they were as rare as sparrows in a mine or so her father had often told her. Even though he had travels the lands for several years he had not met many of them, and of those he had met all had been adults with lifetimes of experience under their belts. But just how old could a Sidhe get? Where they immortal or just so long-lived that it seemed that way? Rhoslyn snuck a sideways glance at Toph, was he young or old by Sidhe standards? The tapestries seemed old enough to her mind and if he had met one of those depicted within them...Perhaps it was even possible that Toph was one of the few Sidhe that that her father when Fardrid had made his journeys. The concept of living so long unnerved the dwarf, what would it be like to live so long, to see all your friends from the other races grow old, die and even the memories of them fade away?
Rhoslyn pulled herself away from such thoughts, forcing her attention back towards the pillar. There must have been a reason for building the tower around it? Was it some form of magical focus? Or perhaps it had been sacred to the inhabitants of the city, forming some part of their worship. She certainly couldn't think of any mundane reason for what the creators of the tower had done. On the other hand magic was an untrusted mystery to her and religion a closed book that she didn't care for.
"They tried to flee here?" Rhoslyn said on hearing Sikil's recounting of the voice in her head. "Didn't do them much good in the end. I wonder what it was they hid here. It must have been awfully important to them to risk their lives to hide it here rather than trying to find some other means of escape." And things that were awfully important tended to be awfully valuable in her experience. She looked up the stairs, "Well, whatever they hid, I don't think that there's much of use to us down here. Best to continue, onwards and upwards".
"Well, if they fled here, what I wonder is whether they fled and built the city, or they built the city, and then fled... which is a question I imagine we'll never truly find out the answer to, honestly. And as much as I want to help the vision-man in your head, I'd prefer to keep my flesh away from those zombies more. Come on, lets go up the stairs. Hopefully both of our goals will have answers there."
Toph began climbing the staircase that wound its way slowly up the curving wall of the tower, noting that if they had to, the staircase could probably help them hold off the zombies by forcing them to come one at a time. From high enough up, he thought, staring down at the ground below as he paused in his climb, we could even push them off the edge and it would incapacitate them.
A sudden sense of forboding was the only warning Toph got, and as he threw himself downwards, he felt clawed hands that had surely been destined for his guts rake across his shoulders as he and his assailant tumbled down the stairs. Toph got the impression of wings and a bat-like face, and even as he fell, he shouted "WAMPYR!"
Landing hard on the ground floor again, Toph slowly pulled himself to his feet, aching all over and bleeding from the Wampyr's claws, but otherwise unharmed. As the Wampyr struggled to fold its wings and stand. Toph reached out to the Art to send bolts of fire into the creature, and cursed loudly when the Art still eluded him. Pulling out his belt knife and wishing he had his bow with him, he watched as the Wampyr finally regained its feet and, with a cold, undulating cry, launch itself at them.
It was if the fates themselves were lined up against them and for a fleeting moment, Sikil considered just leaping off the stairs and to his death. It would be an easy death, hopefully. If he fell just right, he could smash his skull open and end this all so quickly. At least then he wouldn't have to be alive when either the zombies or now the bloody Wampyr feasted on him!
He looked down and actually thought a variation of that plan was a good idea. The Wampyr had come to its feet and was already charging, about to tear Topheh apart. The Sidhe's magic had failed him too many times for Sikil to even consider that being an option and from what he had seen of Rhoslyn, she might be able to do some damage to it but even together, they were no match for it. Three to one and still they didn't stand a chance.
Sikil shrugged and hefted his spear. "Well, it has been nice," he said with a sad smile towards Rhoslyn. Leaning forward, he lowered the spear so that its tip was towards the charging Wampyr, closed his eyes, and stepped off the stairway.
Waiting for the feeling of the spear to plunge into the Wampyr, he was shocked as he felt his body stop in mid-air, knocking the breath from him and forcing him to drop the spear. He tumbled to the floor, a sharp pain ripped through his broken arm and his scream echoed through the tower, his eyes opening of their own accord. How he wished he could close them again.
The Wampyr's flesh had absorbed the blow almost completely, only a thin slice on the creature's back even showed the evidence of his suicidal attack. It hadn't even slowed the charge and he felt it was only moments before Toph was going to be killed.
No, this can't happen! They're here because of me! He couldn't be sure if the thought was his own or that of the dead man that seemed to float around in the back of his head but it was his body that reacted. Sikil's mind emptied and he felt fire racing through his veins, the pain causing him to cry out again but this time it took on the cry of a man in anger. Just as the pain faded, he could see that Toph shimmer as if seen through water. One moment it appeared he was standing, dagger in hand, waiting for the charge, and the next he was across the room in front of the door in the same stance, and then he disappeared and reappeared again in a different location all together.
Okay, I'm dead and this is hell.
His hand reached out to the spear and he pushed himself to his feet. Hopefully one of the others would stand a better chance.
Stolen Sun Studios
It's been a while since I role-played. This took ages to write, I'm sure it used to be easier. Feel free to roleplay the wraith flowing under the door, fighting the Wampyr etc from your own points of view. I'm probably post a summary from it's perspective once you vanish, and it gets to feed on the Wampyr and learn a new form, and also gain a bit more 'understanding' to make future posts a little easier to write lol. ~Kaz
This world was amazing, no struggle for dominance with the others. No empty blackness around in all directions, everywhere it looked there was something living, something to feed on. It could now become many things, but still preferred the smoke-like form it had been born with. The constant winds let it move without effort, always taking it to something new, something good.
It had been watching. Waiting. The prey was tiring as it fought it's way through the thick brush of the forest, soon it would tire, and then the prey was gone. No, not gone. Down. Down and unconscious. Up and down, concepts it had learned since finding this new place, filled with wonder. Separating from the wind, it used a little power to propel itself towards the hole in the ground, but something blocked the way. Not something seen, but something felt, something powerful.
It had searched, and finally found a way into the underground tunnels. It had sensed other prey join the first, and it had followed them, passed the markings on the walls, to the huge cavern that felt wrong... Gloriously wrong. Something else was also watching the prey, something it couldn't sense. It had spoken, asking what he was, saying it was like him, and then faded as he tried to feed. You? Him? A new concept formed, as it started to understand. Self.
There was lot's of prey in the ruined city now, and he had fed on an unsatisfactory meal of plenty. The flesh lacked something, but he still had no concept of what exactly was lacking. He had fed more until he understood. There was very little power to be consumed within the flesh of this new prey. Little power, but still some. Not prey, morsels. He had moved through the ruins, towards a large structure that called to him, feeding on the morsels trapped beneath recent ruins of stone, or anything that shambled towards him.
As he got closer to the tower, he watched the original prey searching for a way through the walls, and then saw the opening. For a few moments it could feel vibrations of immense power, and something else, real prey. Much greater, much more fulfilling. Then the walls closed, and once more he could sense nothing inside. More of the less-tasty morsels shambled towards the entrance, but were too late to get to his prey before the tower sealed. He watched as they scratched at the walls, no idea that he was coming to feed on them. But he would, the scratching would stop, and then he would find a way inside.
Toph watched with shock as the Wampyr tumbled straight through the space where he had just been, crashing into the wall with a heavy thud and bouncing back to his feet. How had Toph gotten so close to the ---
Door? He wasn't near the door, but near the stairs.
Magic. Somehow, someone had saved his life using the magic he not longer had at his disposal. Not taking the mental energy to try and unravel that mystery, Toph threw his knife as hard as he could at the Wampyr, who twisted away, letting out a grunt as the knife tore through the thin skin of one of its wings. Toph grabbed an ancient sword from a nearby table and held it as he watched the Wampyr, trying to anticipate its next move.
And he ignored the voice in the back of his mind which said 'what happened to the zombies?"
Rhoslyn's daggers were in her hands without thinking, the familiar touch of the hilts reassuring even when faced with...what had Toph called it? Wampyr. The word rang a bell but she couldn't honestly say that she'd come across one before. Somehow she doubted that creatures like this had much need of smugglers, well except perhaps as dinner. By all the tunnels of Bergelmir, why did everything lately want to eat them?
Nothing seemed to make any sense any more. Her companions moved without her seeing them cover the distance. The beastial creature that they faced seemed quicker than lightning. The tall stone in the centre of the tower was the only thing that seemed to stay still, a central point about which a battle of life and death danced. Her mind spun as she tried to make sense of what she was seeing, her thoughts shrinking to a single objective: got to stay alive.
She crouched down, moving her weight to the balls of her feet, her movements surprisingly light and graceful for one of her kind. "Can't stay still", she muttered to herself; a moving target was always much more difficult to hit. She circled about the wampyr's form as he darted its head one way then the other, perhaps trying to figure out where the Sidhe had gone. The dwarf could see where Sikil's strike had shallowly sliced into its flesh. Well, it was a target at least, something to aim at. She changed her direction suddenly, no longer circling, now racing towards the wampyr's back. Rhoslyn struck quickly, first one blade, then the other.
The creature howled at her strikes, though she couldn't say that she'd done much to hurt it really. Her knife blades were more useful against more mundane beings, she'd never thought before today that she would ever need them for more than simple jobs. She retreated quickly away from the wampyr, hurriedly putting a table between them.
This wasn't going to end well, Toph thought bitterly to himself as he dodged behind a table to avoid the Wampyr's latest attempt to disembowel him. So far they were all uninjured, but it was only a matter of time before the Wampyr caught them one by one, or the zombies broke in and-
Toph froze for a moment and nearly got his throat ripped open for the mistake, collapsing to the floor in desperation as a claw flashed through the space he had just been.
He scrambled away as one of the others attacked, drawing another thin cut which the Wampyr rewarded by turning away from the Sidhe.
What had happened to the Zombies? It was silent outside the tower, the scrabbling of hands on the door had ceased, the moans were gone, all that he could hear was going on inside the tower itself. He cycled through some likely scenarios, and settled on what he felt was the most likely: the Wampyr must have scared them off, clearly being the apex predator (he hoped!) of this strange underground city.
Toph looked at the Wampyr as Rhoslyn rolled away from an attack, judging its size compared to the door. All they needed was a head start, and they could lose it in the city, and judging on size, it would take a few minutes for the beast to get out through the narrow doorway with which they had entered the tower.
He raced to the door and threw it open as quickly as he could. He opened his mouth to shout to Rhoslyn and Sikil to follow him, but stopped as he saw the bones and remaining flesh of the zombies lying all over the courtyard. Uncertain, Toph backed away from the door. He had been wrong. Something had KILLED the Zombies.
And that thing was coming here. Some strange sort of smokey thing was approaching, and Toph felt a cold wave of unease course up his spine as he felt it regard and dismiss him. Toph looked at the door and considered his options as the smoke moved quicker and quicker towards the tower entrance. Did he have time to shut it out? He risked a look out the doorway and saw the smoke had nearly arrived. He ran as fast as he could away from the door, shouting at Sikil to get back, as he was closet to it.
The smoke barreled through the doorway and struck the Wampyr in the back, eliciting a cry of pain and anger from the monster, who spun to confront this new, and far more dangerous, threat.
As the beast cried out and lunged at the smoke, which moved out of the way only to strike again at the Wampyr, Toph felt the flickering of the Art deep within him, flickering in and out in time with the Wampyr's cries of pain. Toph had never heard of a creature that was able to prevent the use of the Art, and wasn't very certain what sort of power would let such a creature do such a thing, but, as the flickerings grew stronger as the Wampyr began to weaken, Toph grew increasingly convinced that this was the case.
It was then that the part of Toph's mind which he had tasked with remembering anything at all about the markings on the central pillar finally returned with an answer... a book he had read from Azrael's library probably close to five hundred years ago which had referenced such an object as a 'travel stone.'
As his Art flared within him, he grabbed both Rhoslyn, who had backed away from the two monstrous combatants towards him and Sikil, who was staring slack-jawed at the smoke monster.
"We have to GO!" Toph shouted, dragging them both towards the pillar. He reached out with his mind, grabbed the Art, which bucked like a wild horse trying to throw him off, and cast his magic at the stone.
And then they were somewhere else, the cries of the Wampyr's cries slowly fading from their minds as they stood in stunned silence at their sudden salvation.
Chapter 2 Continues on the Lost Island of Mopri
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