The Chronicles of Callera - Whyte Tyger
Callera, Last of the Vrin-Latti, fingered the tassels hanging from the blade of her spear nervously. She was no stranger to battle, as she had in the past few months, joined countless bands of mercenaries and sell-swords. She saw death more than the average solider would, and she was proud of her grace under pressure.
She could not get over how quiet it was in these woods. Nothing moved, not a leaf stirred, as she waited for their enemy to make its move. Finally, a rustling as something behind the Amazon entered the clearing she was in. She spun quickly, and hefted her spear, ready to impale her target.
The Barbarian stood there, holding his mailed hand up to her in a defensive move.
Nervously, Callera lowered her spear, but did not let her guard down.
Sha'uri entered the clearing next, with Tyr right behind her, as obedient as ever, and waved for Callera to put her weapon away.
"We are alone, there is nothing within a good two miles of us right now." Said the snakewoman, as Tyr nodded sheepishly, before adding his own comments.
"Likely they heard
the tales of the brutal Amazon haunting these parts, and decided they'd
be better off in the
Callera narrowed her eyes to slits, and wondered exactly what would happen to her if she drove her spear through the young paladin.
Sha'uri then told the group, "Come, let us rest for the evening. Tomorrow we need to reach the Tahoe Highlands, and beyond, the Monastery."
Callera is stationed as the guard for that night, though she knows The Barbarian is awake even then. She could not figure out what he was, as he never seemed to eat, or sleep. He unnerved the woman in countless ways, just as he attracted her to him like a magnet.
Suddenly her violet eyes leapt from the 'slumbering' giant's body, to the woods surrounding their clearing. Someone was approaching.
Tyr was out of his bedroll in seconds, and held his scepter before him like a claymore. "The dead watch us."
Callera gripped her spear tightly, and waited for the monsters to make their move. The Barbarian moved from his bedroll as well, and held his axe patiently.
Finally a large hand, roughly the size of Callera's skull, pulled apart the brush surrounding the clearing, and out came a humanoid figure of mud and clay. Callera drew her spear back, to impale the monstrosity, when a second one stepped into view, and then a third.
Tyr lowered his weapon slightly, though The Barbarian did not. As soon as the golems stood within the clearing, several more humanoid figures exited the brush. One was a skeleton, pure white bones all around, with only a loincloth and a light circlet of silver to adorn it's undead body. Magic pulsed from it's deep eye sockets, and also from the being's skeletal hands.
The other two were more human, standing roughly eight handspans each, and each wore a brown cloak covering most of their bodies. One stood forward, holding a long object surrounded by rags and cloth. He tossed this item to Sha'uri who had just risen from her own sleep.
"You were looking for that I believe, Sha'uri."
His name was Everett Call, and he had single-handedly recreated the lost Order of the Horadrim, using scrolls and tomes from his mentor, Horshast Saul, and Deckard Cain, both descendants of the original Horadric Order.
He was also one of her mother's companions, from her adventures into Tristram decades ago.
The cowl of his cloak hung heavily over his brow, covering what would surely be the scar that the mage took to contain Diablo, the Lord of Terror, in Callera's mother's previous adventures.
His companion's name was Marius, and he was a monk of the same order as Call. He was the more silent of the pair however, as he seemed to be haunted by unseen demons.
Tyr was not welcoming of the two's presence, or the presence of their companions. Call assured them that they were harmless, but Tyr could not so easily be abated. Callera had begun to wonder if the paladin's awkward mannerisms of late were not the cause of the golem and skeleton presence, and instead due to Call's presence.
The two, Paladin and Necromancer locked eyes quite often, as if in a contest of wills. Sha'uri luckily hurried to stop any violence that would erupt. She held the slim package that Call had delivered to her reverently, and started to unwrap it's shaft.
It was a long staff, made of the most purely translucent emerald stone that Callera had ever imagined. It was adorned with countless runes and words of power, and it was no surprise to Callera to find out that it was a staff of wizardry.
"You left that behind, the last time you visited Sha'uri. I know how much it meant to you, so I figured I might hunt you down and deliver it." Call's voice had an edge to it, that sounded dangerous, as generous as his words might seem.
Callera turned towards Sha'uri, not quite sure what was going on. "You have been to his Temple before?"
Sha'uri nodded, upset with the turn of events, "Aye child, I helped him build it. We all did in fact."
Callera looked around suspiciously, not sure what to say at this, until Tyr broke his staring contest with Call, to look very seriously at Sha'uri. "Sorceress, you overstep your bounds."
Callera's mouth opened in shock at these words. The normally subservient paladin was never this serious, and had never said anything remotely threatening to the more powerful sorceress. He was likely going to be hit with a bolt of ice in one second.
The bolt of ice never came, but instead Sha'uri backed down from Tyr's glare, and slithered deeper into the camp, away from Callera and the necromancer's entourage.
"Come now Tyrrynan, surely you cannot keep the identity of those around you a secret for too long." Said Call, slyly as ever.
Tyr spun on him in anger, and seemed ready to strike down the Necromancer. The skeletal mage behind Call crackled with energy, and the golems seemed ready to clobber the young paladin. Tyr looked over his shoulder, and looked directly at Callera. "Callera, leave. There is a war brewing, and I will not have any innocents be lost to it-"
The Necromancer laughed. "A war? Between you and I? I think not. What chance would I have against a 'person' like yourself?" There was a subtle mocking to Call's words, but Callera couldn't help but wonder if there was truth to it as well.
To partially answer her question, Tyr's eyes flared, and the golems all fell to the ground, now nothing but broken pieces of dirt and mud. The skeleton flared out of existence, dust on the wind. Marius shuffled nervously behind his master, but Everett Call did not move a muscle. Instead the cowl of his robe flittered off of his temple, and revealed the pulsing bump on the man's forehead. Veins raised all around the scarred over gem, and Callera could see the blood pumping throughout the mage's now glowing arteries.
Call's eyes misted over with blood, and his mouth opened in a silent howl. Tyr did not move from his position before the Devil, though Sha'uri did grab Callera by the arm, and yank her backwards.
"You do not wish to be part of this battle child, as we will be lucky to survive a mile from here." The sorceress signaled for The Barbarian to follow the pair, as they made their way out of the clearing. Callera looked over her shoulder long enough to see the clearing erupt in white light, but she could see little more.
The hairs on the back of the Amazon's neck started to stand on end, as Sha'uri suddenly stood erect and looked behind her in fear. Callera looked around confusedly, starting to head back through the woodlands towards Tyr, before the Barbarian grabbed onto her, and forcibly dragged her away. Callera struggled against the mailed giant however, and knocked his great helm from his head.
Her head spun around, to see what visage this man had, that he had to hide it from all of his companions. For a split second, Callera saw only a handsome black man, his neck corded with muscles, and his hair a slicked black color. Then patches of skin fell off, and the remaining skin grew taut and dried up. His hair took on a wispy texture, and fell out from the roots. The Barbarian decomposed before her.
Callera began to scream, before reaching for her spear, only now realizing it was left back in the camp. She started to run back there, to destroy the abomination before her, when Everett Call stepped in front of her, apparently done with the battle behind him.
"You do not like my handiwork? It is amazing he has remained that much composition, seeing as how he has not been alive for... how many years has it been now DiStephano?" The Necromancer turned to The Barbarian, who was readjusting his helm on top of his plate mail, and waited for an answer he knew would not come.
"Y- you did that to him?" Stupefied, Callera asked questions when she knew she should be running.
"I am afraid not child, your mother struck the killing blow. Though I was there to patch things up for him, like he once did for me." A fond smile broke out on the Mage's pale face, as he recalled past memories.
Callera was not sure to say, hearing these words, but it did mesh with what the seer had told her some time back. About her mother slaying a Barbarian before leaving the Tribe.
Behind her, DiStephano swung his axe overhead, and directly to the Mage's skull.
Call raised a gloved hand, and The Barbarian's throat constricted, eliciting a choked gasp from him. Sha'uri hefted her emerald staff, and began swinging it at the Necromancer, but one of his golems suddenly appeared from the vegetation, and grabbed the woman's staff in it's hands, and neither let it go, instead staring at one another in anticipation.
Callera suddenly realized that all of her companions were now incapacitated except for her. Call watched her with a gleam in his eye, a gleam matched for by the large red stone sticking out of the man's forehead. Callera's gloved fist shot out, and jabbed into the man's face, before one of her feet shot up and hit the man in the gut.
Her enemy doubled over, Callera easily slipped through his grasp, and headed back towards the camp. Sprinting into the clearing, Callera was surprised to see Tyr still alive. Indeed the young man turned to her, and his eyes shone with the same holy white light that he sometimes shot at their unliving enemies. He had a gaping wound in his gut, which seemed to be festering over. He held out a hand to Callera, seeking her own, and she complied, grabbing the man's hand to provide some support.
Images assaulted her mind. None made any sense to her, except for the one image that shone through it all. Her. She was being assaulted with memories of her as a child, or memories of someone who knew her as a child. Standing within the dusty plains of her homeland, she was a vibrant little whelp, who was more often running throughout the Tribelands by herself, and ignoring her mother's orders.
And she was also known to keep company with a young boy who sometimes frequented the Tribe, a young tan boy named Tyr. He was to be a monk of the Horadric Order, the Order her mother's friend was even then recreating.
Callera's hand shot back from the young paladin's own, and she looked at it as if on fire. Hearing a rustling behind her, Callera dove beyond the Paladin and grabbed for her spear. Landing on her shoulder, Callera rolled and took her spear with her, arms in tight to avoid broken bones. One of Call's golems was trashing the campsite, and was ignoring Tyr outright. Instead it came for her, determined in it's attack.
Callera's spear shot out, three times, viciously jabbing the monstrosity in the torso. Being an unnatural creature, such pain did not stop the beast, but instead it came on.
Tyr suddenly noticed the Amazon's peril, and reached for his own blade, which was shattered on the ground. Instead the Paladin placed his hand on his chest in a solemn prayer, before a glistening blade of pure light formed in the man's mailed hand. He swung the blade at the creature from behind, decapitating it, and destroying its power source.
Already the golem was reforming, as behind the camp Call exerted his will to summon as many companions as he could. Sha'uri and DiStephano could be heard fighting something deeper into the brush, but neither Callera nor Tyr could locate the two. Instead the Paladin grabbed the young woman's hand and dragged her in the opposite direction.
"Tyr, we cannot! We need to go back for them!" Callera protested.
"Child, I ensure you
that they will not live for another minute once Diablo has his way!" called
the Paladin while
"Indeed child, I fear Everett Call did not survive his inner battle! And the world shall pay the price for it!"
Callera followed obediently after these words, but not without several glances behind her. The forest began to burn then, as Tyr and Callera retreated into the Marshlands before the Tahoe Highlands. Finally the two stopped running, surely a mile or two away, and watched the blaze from afar.
Within the Dark Wood,
Marius simply watched his Master work his powers on the warriors before
him. The dark skinned
paladin had frightened him, but now that he was gone, there was little
to fear. And deeper into the forest, where
Sha'uri and DiStephano fought to save their lives (or unlife as it may
be), Diablo grinned in pending triumph.
Tyrrynan was no mortal man. That was clear to Callera now. While on the surface he appeared to be nothing more than your typical young man, he was in fact some kind of... being.
That was the only explanation she had. She tried to fathom this, just as she recalled memories of the man as a boy, growing up with her in the Tribelands. He should've been well into his third decade of living, but this man didn't look a day over eighteen. He smiled coyly now, as he always had before, but now his smile held new meaning to Callera.
Hiding in a small cavern in the Black Marshlands, Tyr rested against a cavern wall, while a fire burned before him. The firelight shone in his eyes, and they seemed to twinkle with energy. Or mischief.
Finally, he broke the silence. "You know who I am now, do you not?"
Callera gave a curt nod, not sure she was willing to open her mouth. She had so many questions, but she needed to keep her composure. She feared that if she started to speak, everything would come out at once, and she would appear as a child to this, again she used the term, being.
"I am sorry for the deception, but as you can likely guess, things would have been...difficult, to explain."
Despite her reservations, Callera voiced one question. "I do not understand." Not a question, perhaps, but a statement. But a statement that contained many questions.
"If you would sit, and stop that infernal pacing, perhaps I can explain a bit. That is unless the Unholy Lord of Terror finds us. In which case pace away."
Callera did not find him humorous anymore, but did indeed take a seat by the fire. At the far side of the paladin.
"I am... Tyrrynan. Once Tyrryn. Once Tyr. Your mother knew me as a paladin, naive and rife with faith in the Light. I aided her in her final battles against Diablo, in Tristram. I then left her company, siting a 'holy quest' to undertake. Indeed I returned several years later in the guise of a young man who was studying to be a monk in the Horadric Order, that Everett Call was organizing. I appealed to your sense of responsibility, and tried to discern your true nature."
"My 'true nature'?" Callera asked, transfixed by the man's tale.
"Allow me to continue?" He phrased this question in a way that made Callera actually feel as if she was in control of the situation.
She nodded curtly.
"I wished to know you better, to make sure you would follow Vim's Calling, and become a Watermistress. You would have been the greatest Watermistress the Vrin-Latti ever knew. They would praise your name for centuries to come. Needless to say, that did not happen.
"I left your company one day, in the knowledge that you would not be seen again for several years, as the Caverns of Life were appearing to you, and it was your turn to enter them. I was proud. I thought I had succeeded in this mission as well. I had become your lineage's personal 'guardian angel' as it were.
"Then your mother... something happened to her. Whether it was because of your absence, or something else, she snapped. She drove your tribe to its end, and slaughtered countless people for no apparent reason, including her own Tribeswomen. She became a feared woman, and brought her Tribe's name with her. People shivered at the mention of the Vrin-Latti.
"Then, in a moment of clarity, she listened to Iranae's appeals, and stepped down as Queen of the Tribe. She knew what she had done was wrong, and so she sought to redeem herself among the lands of Aranoch. That did not last for long however. Clearly not in hold of her better judgement, she returned, and attacked Iranae, both verbally and physically. The Gray General left the Tribe, dishonored by its reputation now, and was not seen again. Your mother continued to lead the Tribe as a band of murderers.
"She slew a man some years back. He was a barbarian, from the Shadow Wolf Tribe, and had known your mother many years ago. This man is DiStephano, The Barbarian we have traveled with these past weeks."
Callera sat, shocked, but not so shocked as she might once have been. She has heard all of this before. She had heard from that woman. That unworldly woman...
Before Callera could try and figure out what connection Tyr, or Tyrrynan or whatever, had to this woman, he dropped a bomb on her. "DiStephano was your father."
The Amazon's mouth was open wide in shock. The Paladin simply watched her as she digested this, knowing that she would retort soon.
And that she did. "You mean to tell me my mother slew the father of her child?"
"Among others. She was not in control of her senses, so she is technically free of blame, but yes, she slew DiStephano, and only then, was she so wrought with guilt that she reclaimed her body, and left the Vrin-Latti in shame. This time for good."
Callera sat, staring at the ground before her, not meeting Tyrrynan's eyes.
"Well, aren't you going to lash out? Or accuse me of being a fool? For The Light's sake woman, I am surprised you haven't driven your spear through me yet." Tyrrynan seemed irrational in his argument.
Callera raised her face from the ground, and looked from beneath her sapphire and black locks, into his eyes. "Once, yes, I would have called you a liar, and a fraud. I would've stormed out of here to head back to the Camp to hire myself out as a mercenary again. Not any longer. If Vim has taught me anything, it is that I can trust some people. As much as I hate what you say, and it pains me to hear it, I will listen, and become the wiser for your knowledge."
The Paladin sat silently in the cavern, stunned by her logic. He licked his dried lips, and began to gather his supplies.
"Where are you going?" She asked of him.
"We should head back to the Camp. You need to get out of here. This is no place for you girl."
Callera stood before the Paladin, staring him down, and grabbing him by the shoulder.
"You have not completed your tale, Tyrryn." There was a dangerous edge in her voice, and the man knew to listen to her. He may be all-powerful, but he was not so foolish.
"I have indeed completed my tale woman, but if you would like me to answer your questions, by all means ask them."
"Very well. Where is my mother now?"
Sighing, the Paladin
looked at her for a moment. Noticing her whitening knuckles on the shaft
of her spear, he
"I know that. Where? Why?" "In the lowest bowels of it. It's deepest Catacombs. Therein, is a portal open to Hell that she seeks to close. This portal is being used by Andariel the Maiden of Anguish to supply Diablo with an army to destroy the Light. "
Callera nodded. Another question however. "Who are you?"
"I told you, I am Tyr-"
"Yes, I know this. And why is it you are so young? I knew you almost three decades ago, and you don't look a day over twenty summers. And to top that off, you even said you aided my mother years before my birth. So who are you? What are you?"
Again the sigh, before he looked her dead in the eyes, and said, "You wouldn't believe me if I-"
Just as serious, the Amazon interrupted him, "Try me."
"My name is Tyrrynan The Almighty, Tyrrynan the All Powerful, Tyrrynan the Foolish. I am a warrior of the Light, sent from the High Heaven's to spy on your mother. And on you subsequently."
"She is- was, in possession of something very dangerous, and I wanted to make sure she used it properly. Which is to say not at all."
Callera looked him over for a good minute, before breaking the silence with the blunt truth. "Your an angel then?"
Narrowing his eyes, the dark young man nodded succinctly.
"Very well. Let us go." Callera turned about face, and walked to the exit of the cavern, not mindful of the shocked Angel behind her.
Tyrrynan grabbed the rest of his equipment and ran to the front of the cavern, where Callera was waiting for him. "That is it?"
"What do you want, Tyr- whatever your name is, shock? Disgust? Adoration? I know the Heavens and Hell have brought its war to our lands, and I am mindful of that. I wish you people would stop using us like some kind of pawns in a game, but apparently the only way you will go away is if I aid you. And I presume this means the destruction of one Lord of Terror, correct?"
The Paladin stared at her while she ranted like this, and did not answer before she continued.
"So we will travel together. You the healing hand of the Light or some such, me its vengeful wrath. We will find my mother, help her destroy this portal, and it will be a joyous homecoming. Now come along."
With that the tall
woman stalked off into the Marshlands, in the direction of the higher
ground to their north.
Several hours later, as Callera and Tyrrynan laid on the hard ground of their camp, Callera at last spoke the one lingering question she had aloud.
"You said your mission was to watch my mother, and me, since she was in possession of something very dangerous. Am I to presume that is why you found me as well?"
A moment of silence then filled the Marshlands, as Callera waited for the Angel to reply.
"No. You were already bereft of the... entity when I met you. I believe your mother successfully contained it in some way."
"So then why did you stay around for so long?"
"I guess it was because I kind of liked you. And it was nice associating with someone on that level. A personal level that was neither romantic, nor terribly emotional. You were an actual 'friend', and not a compatriot or lover. I do not have many of them."
"I see. Ok then, good night."
Deep within the Monastery of the Sisters of the Sightless Eye, in it's deepest catacombs, Erim Lera grabbed her stomach in terrible agony. She was trying to repress the urges, and the desires, but she was not going to succeed. And she knew if she kept getting loose, Erim wouldn't have a world to return back to.
The trident drove through the dark one's slight chest, pinning it to it's companion behind him. Nearby, a shaman could be heard uttering the words to raise one of the fallen dark ones. Tyrrynan quickly silenced the shaman with a quick whack with his scepter.
Not a creature moved within the courtyard. A fountain in the center of the cloister depicted three sisters of the Sightless Eye in preparation of trouble, and water trickled about it, disturbing the otherwise silent scene of carnage.
They had been like this for the past several days. All day long, they would slay any monster in their path, closing in on the Monastery, only today having reached its labyrinthine halls. Nothing yet had given them cause for alarm, with Callera providing a powerful and quick strike with her new trident, and Tyrrynan backing her up with his spells. They were a formidable team.
They had also not spoken a single word to one another since three nights past, when they slept within the Black Marsh. Callera had not quite grasped the revelation of what he had told her, and he had kindly left her to overcome her anxiety alone.
Callera walked solemnly to the large that lead deeper into the Monastery, but halted abruptly when she heard something moving on the other side of the door. Pulling forth her trident, dubbed Razortine by its previous owner, a paladin named KalMirric, she once again approached the door.
The door opened with a loud creak, and Callera watched in awe at the battle raging behind it.
Spells were being flung left and right, mostly ice bolts, and large spikes of hail, while what could only be construed as two armies met in the midst of another courtyard, to battle. A din that would raise the dead rang throughout the roofless courtyard, while metal met metal, and spells crashed against rock, or flesh.
In hindsight, Callera realized that instead of two opposing armies, it would appear that two people were fighting an army. Corrupted rogues were hacking and slashing at the two individuals deep within their midst, but the rogues were dropping left and right despite the odds. Finally a slim hand raised itself from the center of the courtyard, and all in the battle stopped in their attacks, to watch in anticipation.
The hands, the first being joined by it's compatriot, wove and swirled in mesmerizing motions, and whatever being was attached to them, seemed ready to cast a mighty spell. A slight electrical spark jumped across the tattered pieces of armor of the rogues, before a mighty blue wave swept out amongst them, freezing some, and utterly disintegrating others.
Bits of flesh and guts splattered across the courtyard, as Callera watched in shock at the pure display of power before her. Tyrrynan now stepped before her, and walked towards the remaining figures.
With a smirk, Callera realized she did indeed recall those slight hands.
"What took you two so long?" asked the sorceress Sha'uri.
They camped that evening, within the Cathedral in the center of the Monastery of the Sisters of the Sightless Eye.
"Even before Everett Call's coming, and Andariel with him, this place was long out of use. The Sisters long abandoned the Light, and not a single prayer had been uttered in this place for many years." Tyrrynan's voice echoed throughout the hall, while DiStephano, Callera, and Sha'uri followed (or slithered) after him.
Sha'uri spoke up from behind him, "That is not true Angel. You know very well that Akara visited quite often to voice her prayers. She sensed the growing dissension in the land, but did not think it would hit so closely to home. She prayed for their salvation, and look what good it did her. That is why so many 'turn from the Light' as you so eloquently put it. Their prayers go unheeded."
Tyrrynan ignored her, and instead pointed out a spot at the center of the holy place, that was now desecrated. "Callera, would you mind helping me to consecrate this place. We cannot do much, but it hurts me to be here."
Callera simply nodded, not yet ready to speak to the man. They knocked over a font containing human blood and let the liquid spill across the floor, onto some of the pews. Tyrrynan pulled out a small flask, and poured from it a vile smelling liquid back into the font, and also across the altar that dominated the center of the chamber.
The paladin seemed at ease after doing so little, and Callera wondered if they had even done anything. The place was still dark and dreary, and bats nested high above them. And likely agents of Hell would have no problem walking throughout these halls, despite its 'consecration'.
Putting the Paladin out of mind however, Callera turned to the Sorceress, and asked the first in many questions. "So.... you survived. I am beginning to think he is not the only agent of the Heavens."
Tyr's ears perked up at these words, but Sha'uri ignored him. "Call did his best to destroy us, but once more, we proved more than worthy for his attention. The Barbarian is more than-"
"I know his name is DiStephano. You can call him as such. I also know he is my father." Callera said this without a hint of emotion, and the Barbarian's helmeted head turned to her, with what could be construed as pain.
"DiStephano was quite the adversary, and fought with the most passion I have seen from anyone, your mother not included. His axe rose and fell, and despite the Mage's attempts, he could not keep his minions alive long enough for them to do us harm. Meanwhile my own powers were not to be put to waste, as I cast spell after spell at him, and before long, he was facing both of us by himself. Seeing that the better part of valor was discretion, he made haste, and we have not heard from him since then."
Tyrrynan piped up at the soonest interval however, with perhaps too much enthusiasm. "That does not mean he will be an easy foe. Sha'uri is a powerful, powerful woman, and could rival many of the ancient Horardric Mages in their prime, and DiStephano is a prime example of his people. Crafty, and powerful beyond belief. Your mother fought long and hard to slay Diablo, and-"
"Look what good it did her." Callera turned on the Paladin, and said her first words to him in some time.
"Excuse me?" the Paladin was put off, not sure of Callera's words.
"She slew him, and tried to return to her life. She did your work, the work of the Light, and it only caused her pain and suffering. I am not an idiot. I know the reason you have sought me out is to kill her. I know she contains the essence of Diablo still, and I am to kill her, so she cannot harm another.
"I know this, and I will do it. I am not so bitter and resentful that I wish the Lord of Terror on the world, but I wonder, what good will it do me to slay Him, if I too will be slain? And what will stop them from killing me then and there, to prevent his return in my own shell?" Callera was in a rage, something not many people saw. The events of the last few days have taken their toll on her psyche, and she was now aiming her anger at the Angel.
However, it was Sha'uri who stepped to his defense. "No child, I am afraid that is not entirely right. If you would come with me, back into the courtyard for some privacy, I will explain all in detail to you."
Sha'uri place a arm around the girl's shoulders, needing to stand on two feet more of tail to reach her, and lead the girl outside.
The two women sat outside, after closing the door to the Cathedral behind them. Callera avoided the snakewoman's eyes, and looked to the grass around her.
"Your mother is not possessed by Diablo."
Callera's head shot up, a gleam in her eye that Sha'uri was afraid to crush. But she decided to do it quickly, and as soon as she could.
"She is possessed by Andariel."
Just as soon as it had come, the glimmer of hope was gone, and Sha'uri suspected it would not return ever again.
"Your mother... no, your grandfather, Soc, was a powerful being, not unlike myself. He lived for aeons, and grew in power. But it was an impotent power, one he could not wield against the world of man. Instead, he used his powers in countless other ways. He fathered hundreds of children, girl's all, over the course of two milleniums, one of which was your mother, Erim, and also your aunt Nimue. He also fathered a daughter to the Queen of Westmarch, Shellandra.
"You already know why your mother headed to Tristram, but you should also know that Shellandra, Princess and Rightful Heir to the Throne of Westmarch, also headed there, with her companions Everett Call, and DiStephano. Everett was a proud and vain young mage, who was in love with his queen, and wished to please her in any fashion. DiStephano gave the woman his grudging respect, and in time, they were lovers. This displeased Call, and placed the first seeds of his future possession.
"Your mother met Shellandra, her half-sister, for only a brief period of time, before she was slain. This part is... difficult to explain. Somehow, your mother's mind, her soul, ended up in Shellandra's body. They debated over which should control the body, and in a move none can quite fathom, the rightful owner, bestowed this 'power' upon her sister. Your mother, now in a brand new body, that was not terribly unlike her own before, was unaware at the time that DiStephano and Shellandra had been lovers, and in fact Shellandra was pregnant with his child."
New found knowledge was dawning on Callera, as she had already guessed some of the tale by herself.
"So my 'mother' is not even my real mother, is she?"
"No, though Erim Lera loved you more than anything else in this world. However, what she also didn't know was that Shellandra's quest in Tristram was not to slay Diablo, or even to enter Hell if she could help it. Instead she sought a mighty blade, Shadowfang, once wielded by a vile demon to slay the Angel Izual. During the battle when Shadowfang was lost, Andariel, Maiden of Anguish, and a young angel in the fray of battle, consummated in a way no scholar has yet been able to fathom. Andariel had a fresh newborn incubus at her disposal, which she named-"
"Soc." The girl interrupted.
"You are an incredibly bright girl. Vim was smart in choosing you."
The young woman smiled slightly. She needed to hear the rest of the tale.
"So Soc, demonchild of Andariel, was your grandfather. Both your true birth mother's, and Erim Lera's, father. And he sought one thing in his whole life. The Shadowfang blade. Knowing he would likely never find it by himself, he chose to bear countless children, to whom he might return to if they should come in contact with it.
"Your mother, Erim Lera that is, did briefly come into contact with the blade. He returned to her, and in the process, brought the attentions of Andariel upon her. Drawing upon some foresight, the Demoness relinquished her hold on her Hellish legions, and decided to travel here, to possess your mother's body. She held it off for years, until you departed from her. Something about your leaving, allowed Andariel to take control.
"Now Andariel, once your mother, is here, among these halls, waiting for you. You can slay her, or leave her, but know she is evil, and no longer your mother. However, your mother's spirit will never rest in Starlet's court until Andariel is slain. Also, Tyrrynan has decided you would be a fitting subject to continue Shellandra's old quest."
Callera did not turn around then, already knowing who stood behind her.
Tyrrynan meekly than stated, "I would like for you to find the Shadowfang."
As the four began to enter the Catacombs of the Monastery, Tyrrynan walked over to Callera, and handed her a wrapped up bundle. She looked to him quizzically.
His answer: "This, is the Runeblade Azurewrath, once wielded by Izual the Fallen against the Hellforge to destroy the Shadowfang. It will be needed to destroy the blade, when you find it. "
the parcel, which revealed a crystalline blade of the highest quality.
The dimensions were
This drew Sha'uri's attention. "The Azurewrath? But that was said to be lost, for countless centuries!"
"Only said to have been lost. Tyrael has been holding onto it for some time, in anticipation of whomever might be able to wield it against Shadowfang. He hadn't ever found anyone worthy. I did."
The compliment was not lost on Callera, who could not stop looking deeply into the eldritch light coming from the blade.
Behind her, Sha'uri asked another question. "Tyrael let you take that?"
Tyrrynan shouldered his pack, and headed into the catacombs, before answering with a grin. "Who says he knows?"
Behind Callera, the swirling blue energies of the town portal created the only light in the room. Using this light, the amazon placed one foot before the other, and cautiously approached the darkness before her. And from the darkness, something approached the amazon. The eldritch blue light revealed several pointed appendages, and cloven hooves. Callera's eyes scanned upward from the feet of her nemesis, to the bare beasts, and snarling visage of the Demon Queen, Andariel. And as if to capture the image of this nightmare come to life more perfectly, a shimmering blue horn was suddenly visible at the center of the she-thing's forehead.
Callera's jaw tightened in anger, and emotional pain, before she gave the signal.
The room erupted in light. Sconces scattered about the catacomb burst aflame, as The Sorceress's spells compelled them to do. Behind Andariel, The Barbarian crouched low with his heavy axe held firmly in both hands. The Paladin's brow was knit with concentrated effort, while his morning star glowed with a magical aura. The demon possessed-Amazon now looked about her, unaware of the enemies who had surrounded her. In an unexpected move, her hands flew together, in a rhythmic clapping. She was applauding Callera.
In a voice that sounded like fingernails on blackstone, she spoke, "Wellll done, chilllld. Not only did you best my minions, but you alllso managed to sneak your littllle war party around me. I am impressed. Not so impressed that I would go willllinglly mind you…"
Suddenly the demoness was gone, as her powerful legs shot her into the air, and she grasped onto a pillar of chains and stone. The chains rattled, and a powerful cold blast struck the spot where the demoness was. Again proving too quick, she had already leapt from the pillar, horizontally darting across the room to another pillar, high above the group. This pillar however, was not powerful enough to handle the blast of the demoness's weight, as it crumbled beneath her. DiStephano ran to where Andariel would be landing, but found her missing from the dusty rubble.
Sha'uri gasped, before being slammed by the demoness's wicked talons. Colliding with the wall behind her, Sha'uri did not get up. Tyrrynan, who had been trying to keep up with DiStephano in his pursuit of the demoness, now stopped, and returned to where Sha'uri lay, to administer healing.
As quickly as it had come, the room was silent. DiStephano looked about him, trying to ascertain where in the dark room the demoness was hiding. Tyrrynan was rousing a now conscious Sha'uri to her 'feet'. And Callera was missing.
Tyrrynan ground his teeth in anger. "I knew it. The second we gave the girl a modicum of trust, she runs off. Stupid child…"
Tyrrynan said no more. From above him, Andariel landed on the young paladin, crushing his spine. Standing on all fours, the demoness bounded off, DiStephano once more in hot pursuit.
Sha'uri, still a bit woozy from her crash, started the motions for a spell. Out of the looming darkness, Andariel bolted for the sorceress, DiStephano no where in sight. Suddenly Andariel froze in place, as magical forces surrounded her. She started to move once again, albeit at a much slower rate, as Sha'uri tried to find another spell to cast on the demoness.
With a large booming yell, DiStephano appeared out of the darkness, leaping high in he air, in a trajectory that would surely put him in line to send his axe through the demoness's skull.
And from the other end of the room, a javelin sped through the air, stabbing through the Barbarian, and stopping his leap in midair. He fell to the ground with a clutter, his plate mail banging against the stone beneath it. Sha'uri looked quickly to where Callera stood, javelin in one hand, shield in the other.
"This is my fight. Sorceress, take the Paladin and the Barbarian though the portal, and be gone. If I succeed, I will find you." There was a commanding tone in her voice, and for some reason, Sha'uri listened to her. Andariel let her go, and instead turned to her 'daughter. Behind them, the portal closed, blinking out of existence, and taking it's blue glow with it.
Andariel grinned, and the sconces all extinguished themselves. Callera was engulfed in complete darkness. Standing perfectly still, the amazon listened to the sounds around her. She knew that Andariel had not yet moved.
"Killing me will solve nothing you realize?" The demoness's voice echoed throughout the stagnant chamber. Callera knew that she had still not moved yet.
"It will stop you from opening a portal to Hell, for your master." Callera closed her eyes, knowing they would do her little good in the dark. She needed to drop her javelin and shield, in favor of her trident. But she didn't dare make the first move.
"Child, you are mistaken. I have no power to open a portal to Hell. I barely was able to find the portal to this land. In fact, Diablo will likely head to find his brothers, Baal and Mephisto, to open the portal for him."
Callera was not going to believe the demoness's lies, but she needed to keep her talking. She had just about managed to get the shield to the ground without making a sound, but getting her trident would be more difficult. "Then what is it you are looking for then? What are you doing in this land, where you do not belong."
"I am doing what any concerned mother would do; looking for her child."
This struck a chord with Callera, and she momentarily abandoned her attempts at freeing her trident, constrained as it was alongside her backpack. "I am no longer your child."
"Fool, it is not you I speak of. I search for my lost succubi, and most importantly, my son."
"You know of him?"
"I heard my mother killed him."
There was a silence through the chamber, and for a moment, Callera was no longer sure where Andariel was. Her whole being was assaulted by nothingness. No smells. No sounds. No sights. No feelings. No taste.
"Then it would be quite fitting that I slew your mother then, yes?"
"It would. Except
that it simply proved how inferior you are. You needed the body of a mighty
Amazon queen to
Andariel barked a laugh that made Callera cover her ears in pain. Her trident fell loose of its one remaining holster, and fell to the ground with a clang. Andariel didn't seem to notice above the sound of her own glee. "Yes, about that. I don't suppose the historians of the world of man have yet mentioned… who Albrecht's mother was, have they?"
"Your meaning is not lost on my vile demoness, but what is your point." Callera knelt slowly, reaching her hand out to feel along the ground. One finger brushed her discarded buckler, but she could not locate the trident in the dark.
"My point is that Diablo was able to enter Albrecht's body, because the boy had the spirit of Hell within him. My own succubi were his cousins, he my grandchild in fact. Just as your mother is. And in a sense, you as well. Which is why I chose this body. Your mother was my favorite grandchild. As shall you become as soon as you slay her."
Callera let the woman vent her anger, and her foolish plans, for she had located the trident. It was about a foot away from her hand, and she needed to crawl ever so slightly to reach it. She used one hand to balance herself, and the other to reach for the trident, but found it to heavy for one hand. Shuffling her feet forward, she placed both hands on the weapon.
"I will not die if you should kill this body. I will simply need to find a new host. And you will do just wonderfully. Not that it matters. For the reason you cannot lift that trident is…"
Callera's eyes flared in panic, as she realized something was weighing her weapon down.
"….because I am standing on it."
Suddenly a green light pervaded the room, and Callera saw that Andariel was about a foot away from her face. Their eyes met, with Callera's hands wrapped tightly around her weapon. Andariel lunged, and Callera rolled to the side, escaping her talons, but getting a hoof in the side. Her breath left her, but she kept moving, just barely avoiding another attack. She scrambled to her feet, and darted across the room, behind one of the pillars.
Andariel could be heard to stomp across the room, searching for the girl. Callera peeked out from behind her pillar, before making a run for it.
The girl dove, and landed on the ground rolling. Behind her, noxious gases melted part of her boot, and tried to reach her. She rolled across her fallen trident, and brought it with her. Climbing to her feet, the Amazon turned around quickly enough to see her enemy looming ever closer. Andariel was charging at her full speed now, and Callera had only time enough to raise Razortine, her Trident in front of her. Andariel tried to stop, but her weight already carried her forward, into Callera, driving both of them to the ground.. Callera's trident drove through the demoness, spewing guts and bile all across their bodies. Andariel did not struggle for long. The infernal light left her eyes, and she seemed at peace, if such a thing was possible.
Callaera however, had sustained a mighty wound. A horn was driven into her abdomen, poking her ribs slightly. She feared moving, knowing it might cause her more pain. In hindsight, she somewhat wished she had not been so proud as to send Tyrrynan away. If he was even still alive. Callera's eyes were misting over, an she looked down, to her stomach where her intestines were slightly visible. And the horn that skewered her. It was blue and ringed with silver lining. Callera reached her hands down, around the base of the horn, right along Andariel's forehead, and tore at it with all of her might. Muscles groaned in her weakened body, as she started to pull the horn from the dead beast's head. Tendons ripped, and flesh tore away, but the horn came out, still inside Callera's body. She kicked the disintegrating demoness off of her, and lightly worked the horn out of her.
With a pained gasp, the horn came free, and Callera placed pressure on her wound. She walked to her pack, wherein she gathered a scroll that would bring forth a portal back to the Rogue Encampment. Callera was losing blood at a quick rate, but she managed to read aloud the incantation inscribed on the scroll. Just as the portal began to open, she fell towards it.
Warriv was a good companion on their trip to the East. He knew much about the desert Aranoch, and was able to make their trip as quick as possible.
He also made it quite comfortable for the Amazon, who was still recovering from her wound. Callera sat on several pillows inside one of the wagons Warriv's caravan contained, while dressing her wound again. The last few bandages had not had much blood on them, so she suspected the wound would begin to scar over pretty soon. Akara had applied her curatives and remedies then, but the magical nature of the wound, caused by Bluehorn's inherent energies, made it impossible to heal magically.
She looked to her stomach, lithe and full of toned muscle, the white scarring that had already occurred. It contrasted heavily to her dark skin, but would be just another scar to prove her worth as a Warrior. Many had mocked her for being too beautiful, and without deformation before, so now she would be able to laugh in the faces of the other women warriors she once associated with.
Finishing the dressing, Callera did not bother to place her breastplate back on, knowing the caravan was full of powerful warriors, and mages, all who had been waiting for the passages East to open once more. She climbed to the front of the wagon, and looked out past the curtains blocking the sun from her resting place. Before her, about an hour away, stood the Jewel of the Desert, Lut Gholein.
She would continue then, travelling East. Always to the East.