The Chronicles of Erim Lera - Whyte Tyger
Her hair, usually a brilliant, sapphire blue that glimmered in the sunlight, was matted, and pressed against her forehead from the sweat, blood, and other unidentifiable substances from the area. Only a second could be spared to wipe her brow with the back of her wrist, trying to clear her vision. She knew her enemy was hunting her even as she hunted him. Goatmen bodies lay strewn about her, their faces mockeries of the generally aloof and peaceful creatures. They had fallen with a fight, as had the cursed Black Deaths, who had decomposed into so much rot and garbage upon their deaths. But this last beast would not be taken so lightly. He pressed upon her senses, testing her, waiting for her, wanting for her blood. He knew her weaknesses, and boundaries, and in return, she knew naught about him, save his name.
Once a proud king of this land, who had fallen into a maddened state, and had to be slaughtered by his own entourage, he was now an undead warrior who was joined only by his unliving companions. The Amazon knew of many similar stories from her homeland, near the Southern Sea, where Queens and War Huntresses had fallen from grace, and been cast out, and sent to live a life of disgrace among the manfolk of Aranoch. But this foul beast, he was far worse. Rumor was, numerous warriors, and mages alike had slain the might Undead King, who would only rest in peace a short time, before his own innate powers of resurrection would bring him back to undead life. Before long, his army was also complete once more, trying to take control of his kingdom again. She was here to see that he did not accomplish this. Her, and every other would-be hero and adventurer who traveled through the town of Tristram. But so too, was her purpose here to try and find a spirit. The spirit of her aunt, who had been slain, murdered as it might be, in her tent one night, whilst taking a lover. Her mother was the only suspect, as the two had had similar rivalries before, but Erim knew her mother to be innocent. The seer diviner the girl had sought out had told her to head this way, as it was the closest, most powerful link right into Hell in some time. And therein, the girl would find her aunt's spirit, trapped and tortured for her sins before death.
But before that, Leoric.
She wasn't too worried, as he tended to be confined to the upper level, but she could feel his evilness, and his vile power directly, as if she stood right next him. And she knew he could feel her presence likewise. It unnerved her. Nothing had unnerved her in a long time. Her whole life had been spent, making sure such things didn't unnerve her. But here she was now, truly alone for the first time in her nineteen years, without the aid of her mother, or her Sisters, making her way into Hell. Not just the word, as it might be considered, but into the reality. A dimension of utter chaos, and pure evil. A place where a virgin girl of her make would NOT be welcomed. Once more her concentration was taken from the small demons with spears she fought, to the ceiling, where she felt Leoric's movements. He was in the Hunt once more; also meaning, an unwitting adventurer had entered the dungeon, likely to put an end to him.
She closed her eyes,
slaying one more Carver before doing so, watching with her Mind's Eye,
a young man, quite attractive, with expansive, new, shining armor and
weapons, get covered in his own blood, by the mighty mithril sword of
King Leoric. A moment's prayer for the boy's screaming, fighting soul
as it was dragged down into Hell, and then she grew weary of fighting
for that night. A quickly cast enchantment off a scroll brought forth
a glowing blue oval, which would lead her to the outskirts of the Tristram
town square. She entered, knowing when she returned that the foul creatures
would have bred and regenerated their wounds, making the foul place full
once more. Her final thought before being sucked up four floors to the
town, was that it would be a long, arduous journey.
Erim Lera's Encounter With The Undead King
She walked down the last few steps of the stairwell cautiously, placing her feet meticulously on the marble steps, making sure to not miss a step and die a humiliating death in this place. She did this so she could die a nightmarish one later. She quickly checked around to make sure nothing was about to come and kill her whilst she was vulnerable, and stopped to check her equipment. Her axe of the Bear was tied tightly to her pack, to make sure it didn't get lost in the Quest. She carried her claymore in her left-hand, and a small, wooden shield in the right. She wore naught but a leather tunic and boots, and a cap on her head that resembled the style of caps most often found in the Eastern Lands. Along with a few potions lining her belt, and some scrolls in her pack, everything seemed in order. Leoric would fall.
She had started this journey to Khanduras, to assist in her mother's freedom, back in her homelands, but she knew now that it would lead to much more. Namely, she had started her Hunt Quest, wherein she could hope to come out of this pit of Hell with not only the information needed to free her mother and her good name, but also to take her place as a Huntress of her tribe, the Vrin-Latti. She had already accomplished the first part of this quest, which was the slaying of the Demon known as The Butcher, with a bow she had strung together herself several years ago. And as according to ritual, she then disposed of the item, destroying it irrevocably, to announce her intention to start her Hunt Quest, but also to symbolize her leaving her adolescence behind. Her next goal: the death of the Undead King, Leoric. But not just any death. She had to slay him with an axe, an age-old weapon of destruction, not often used by the Vrin-Latti, but an Amazon's weapon nonetheless. Her people much more preferred the spear, maul and sword, but it was part of the Rite after all. And Erim would NOT disappoint her ancestors.
There was more to her quest though, mainly the slaying of several other nefarious demons, of which she had already made short work of three. Which left nine more to go. She hoped to find two or more on this level before Leoric made his appearance, if she was lucky.
She quickly hefted her sword, and started off down the hall, slightly running, the normal gait of the southern tribes, who ran across land day and night without rest. She passed through several swarms of slow moving zombies, paying them no heed, as her goal lay elsewhere in the place. Before long, she had cleared a small room of it's undead inhabitants, and closed off all exits. It's here she planned on fighting the King, when he was found. She set up some small little spaces for potions and the like, so she might retrieve them when needed, scrolls in convenient alcoves and niches high up so she could grab these when best applicable as well, and lastly, a small trap, to close the door she planned on using to get him into here, so that no other monster could come in while they battled. When all looked ready, she opened the trapped door, only enough so to provide entrance and exit, but not enough to arm the trap. She was ready.
She hurried down the darkened hallways, her eyes catching the slight movements from the undead hiding beyond the sconce light, but ignoring them as per usual. Eventually, her excitement and eagerness to slay the foul demon overcame her, and her jogging gait, which she could carry on for hours at a time, broke away to become an all out sprint. Ahead of her loomed the grated wall of the room she knew the undead army to be amassing in. Already several arrows whizzed by her head, and one even took out a lock of her sapphire hair. Just as she was nearing on the wall, and the door to it, something small and quite powerful shot between her legs, and tripped her.
She flew forward, crashing bone-shockingly into the barbed steel bars blocking the inhabitants of the room from her. And her from them. And her from falling into the waiting form of the Skeleton King. He was right in front of her, staring quizzically at her kneeling body, with his hands clenched tightly on his mithril blade. He waited only a moment longer, watching, before smashing the sword against the framework that the woman was leaning against. She didn't even want to ponder what would have happened to her if she hadn't fallen back from it before he hit. But she didn't have to think about what was going to happen to her when the plague eater she tripped over got a hold of her. The woman's hand quickly enclosed over the hilt of the sword she bore, and swung it almost blindly back at the spot she had last seen the beast before she had fallen. And meanwhile, arrows rained down around her, and the King continued his assault on the grating, which had been knocked loose at one corner. And despite her incessant swings with the blade, she just could not locate the little beast, which had caused her tumble. Panic started creeping in as one of the ill-shot arrows from the skeletal archers imbedded itself into her thigh. She would not scream out though. She was a warrioress, and a proud woman of the Vrin-Latti. She would not be so demeaned.
Well that was until the grating shattered and fell against her back, pinning her beneath it. She had never screamed so loud in her life as in that one time. The mighty King stood atop her body, and the grate pinning her down, and started swinging with his blade, unaware of exactly why the girl beneath him wasn't being slaughtered. Erim was aware she was dangerously close to meeting her aunt's spirit in a more personal sense, when the King stopped attacking. She dared to look up, through the grating digging into her exposed shoulders and legs, to see the thing running after something down the hall. Not wanting to waste another breath, and regaining her proud bearing, she quickly crawled out from under the fallen wall. She grasped her sword once more and bashed a few encroaching skeletons into dusts and fragments, before sheathing the sword for her axe, and giving chase to the King.
Down the hall from which she had come, they ran in a line, the three. One, an indescribable blur who tried to keep the mighty King off it's heels. And then, the mighty King himself, in all his resplendent bony glory, his horned crown staying atop his bleached skull despite the sheer physical improbability of that happening. And taking up the back, with a bit of a hobble due to the arrow wound in her thigh, Erim, her axe dragging heavily at her arms. She soon realized whomever the King was chasing, was leading her right back towards the small room she had set up for her battle. But that got her thinking. What would she be trapped in there with, aside from the King. Another adventurer, or some other beast? Something which would take away her concentration from the King. Either way, she had only one chance of slaying the thing now. Finally, the door came into sight, and the light within the room quickly disappeared as something moved through the doorframe. Then the hallway was lit once again. And then, once more, darkness reigned, though less so, as light filtered through the mighty King's skeletal frame. But then the unexpected happened. The trap was designed to be armed when something bigger than a human, mainly a female one who wasn't too bulky, something that could push the door open all the way to fit through, ran through it. Something like a giant skeletal man. And then, as the trap was set to do, a small explosion went off, slamming the massive wooden door shut behind the king, and sealing whomever he chased in there with him.
Well stocked as they'd be, they were sealed nonetheless. And so it came to be that Erim Lera, of the Vrin-Latti Tribe of the Southern Seas would wait outside the door, listening for the signs of Leoric's death, or any sounds at all in fact.
And her waiting paid off. Finally the mighty mithril blade of Leoric came slashing through the wooden frame of the door. Within a few more swipes, the man-beast came crashing through the door, once more intent on harming the young Amazon. Blood covered his bones, and blade, as it did the small bits of wood that sailed past her. She raised her axe as quickly as its weight would allow. But it was still brought down in record time and speed by the mighty blow from the King's sword. The girl immediately shot past him, sensing an open spot, back into the room she had designated as a trap.
And so it had become. But the problem any and all hunters of Leoric should have realized: this 'man' was not a hard thing to keep in one place; it was beating him while he was there that was the test. And whomever he had chased in had failed at that. The entire room looked as if it had been painted in blood. The white, limp, bloodless limbs of the rogue who had been the unfortunate victim of the beast, lay in the corner, in a pile, along with the broken bottles of many potions, and scraps of scrolls torn up. This was a trap alright. Erim spun about, to see the King bearing down on her, mighty sword above head, ready to take HER head right off. She didn't duck, but rather cast a town portal spell scroll right before her, which had been hidden in her belt, and dove through it. As she landed in a heap within Tristram once more, the defied roar of Leoric echoing in her brain and bones still, she wondered when she would be able to slay the mighty King once and for all. Or would she end up like that rogue who had died down there. She hoped not, and headed to Pepin to get her thigh looked at.
Erim Lera's Encounter With Compassion, and the 'Tale of the Axe'
She came walking out of the blue portal with her body covered in blood and sweat, some her own, some not, and naught but her helm, and a mighty axe strapped on her back. She walked with a slight limp to her gait, even with her normally steady stride. The portal disappeared behind her, falling slowly into the ground from whence it had come, with only one single glance back at it from the girl. She headed without pause to Pepin the Healer's abode, where she stayed for some time. When she next stepped out of his little hovel, she was cleaner, and had a few bandages on, but still had a slight limp, and a downcast face. She was seen heading to Griswold the Blacksmith's shop before it closed, as the sun was even then setting, And the last time she was seen that night by any who watched, was when she entered the Tavern of the Rising Sun, as one of it's few customers.
Patronage was scarce at the Rising Sun Tavern as of late, mainly being no one but adventurers from far and wide, and the occasional traveler who was taking their luck with the dark riders about lately. One such adventurer was the young amazon Erim Lera, who sat at a small table by herself near the fireplace. She had told Ogden she hadn't much money, so wouldn't be eating or drinking, and that she just wanted to sit and rest for awhile. But before long, two people came to disturb her silence. One, was a rogue who had come to these parts only recently, to do the same as everyone else, and secure her position of power and fame by emptying the church and lower levels of evil. The other was Gillian, Ogden's barmaid. The waitress asked the sapphire-haired girl, "What can I get ye this night madam?"
The reply, inevitably bitter: "I told you, I have no money."
But the girl's companion spoke up. "I shall pay, if ye would do me a favor good warrioress."
The amazon barely lifted her eyes to acknowledge her new companion. "Oh, and what might that be?"
"Tell me thy tale? The tale of that magnificent axe ye carry about, and what it is that causes the gloomy look?"
"Nay, I shall be alright without food, and I see no need to reveal myself to you..." A dangerous edge entered Erim's tone, as she let slip a glance from beneath her cerulean bangs.
But the rogue would not be deterred. "Come now, my name is Paks. And I would like to know. And ye do look famished."
The truth was, the girl did look it. And with only one moment of contemplation, the amazon ordered from the waitress who had stood by waiting the whole time.
"Well then, my thanks Paks, and my name is Erim Lera, of the Vrin-Latti Tribe. My tale is long, but I shall tell you the latest: "The Tale of the Axe". I was within the third floor of the cursed Church that rots this town like a festering wound, hunting as it was, the mighty King Leoric once again. I had recently been intrigued by the tales of my Sister in Arms, Charisena, who had done such a feat lately. But my ill begotten faith was to be my undoing once more. I was slaughtering the few skeletons and zombies who did stumble across my path, cleaving them in twine with my trusty axe, when I came upon a fearful sight. His name was Goretongue, and he was a zombie like no other. His body was covered with bloody, puss-oozing sores. It gave him a sickly, red glow that was rivaled in sickliness by his tongue, which he was named for well. It hung limply from his slack-jawed, nay, no-jawed mouth, and dripped acid-like goo. He was standing over a fallen man, who was barely able to beat the thing off with his bare hands. I came to the man's rescue, and quickly drew the monstrosities' attention to myself. I lead it a ways back, before finally hacking it into enough pieces that it did not get back up. I returned to where the fallen man was, and started diagnosing his situation." Erim paused at this point, while Gillian ran off to retrieve the girl and the rogue's food, and then rushed back, not wanting to miss much of the tale.
When she got her food, Erim continued on. "He was a man, of maybe a mid-twentieth year, and heavily muscled. He was covered head to toe in wounds, some festering and bleeding, some not. He wore nothing but some rags, and a leather cap on his head. I could tell he would not take much more from the beasts down here. I also noticed he carried on his back a broad axe, of tremendous make. I wondered why he did not use such a thing to slay the monsters, when I saw one of his arms was lame. This was from a few slash wounds, and some bubbling pus from the zombie I had finished off. The man was very close to dead, and I did give him a few potions, thinking he could at least escape to the upper levels." Erim's eyes kind of glazed over, as she thought back to those few moments, which passed by so quickly.
She stood once more on the third floor of the Church. The man was trying to speak, but could not. She forced the potions down his throat, and he soon emptied himself of the various poisons and the like that he had accumulated from his wounds. Finally, he stood, taller and prouder, and turned to the girl.
"My profound thanks Amazon." He said in a heavy, deep voice.
"Yes, well don't count on much more of it. You should leave from here. I shall provide a gate." She started to search through her bulging sack for the proper scroll.
He held up a hand to stop her. "Nay, all I need is some- equipment. Girl, that is the armor of Aut, no?"
Her eyes narrowed suspiciously, but she nodded in agreement.
"Well how about this." He continued. "You give me that armor, that axe, and maybe that ring of yours, and ye may have this axe of mine. I think it might better suit thine quest."
"I would think not. Why should I trust thee? It could be cursed. I think not sir, now, as for the gate…" She started once more for the scroll, but he put a strong grip on her wrist.
"Girl, Leoric searches for you. As you search for him. You cannot defeat him with that thing of yours. It is too weak. It might've worked on some other demons, but it will not work on the King. My axe will."
"Then you use it. I know I cannot. Broad axes, I, I never studied much to use them."
"Well ye shall have to, if ye ever wish to become a Warrior."
"Who are you?" Erim began reaching for her weapon at this point, thinking the man a demon in disguise.
"That matters not girl, now, you have little time. Do what you must." The man seemed ready to turn away and leave.
The girl's face covered over in confusion, and contemplation, but finally, she unbuckled the armor, and slipped off the ring. As she dumped the items to the ground with a clang, and then the axe on top of those, she figured the man would attack her, or just leave with the items. Why, she even thought he would turn into Leoric himself. But he did not, and rather handed her the heavy axe. She hefted it up a bit, and almost fell over at how quickly it cut through the air. Quicker than it was supposed to no doubt. But she barely had it strapped to her back before the quiet interlude was broken up. Leoric had completed his search. He was there.
He screamed an unearthly wail, and started rushing forward to slay the girl, and the man beside her who was still outfitting himself in the gear, when she finally remembered the portal spell. She figured the two of them could make a break for it. A moment, a few more feet closer was the king, and the portal opened. She grabbed for the man, when she saw he had hefted her axe, and moved towards the onrushing horde of undead.
But he resisted her tugging. He seemed dead set on continuing to equip the armor. Though it could be said he had put some more haste into the process.
"Hurry you fool! By Starlet's Bow, come on!"
"Go girl, and ye shall do the Vrin-Latti proud! I shall enact my revenge yet! Arghhhhh!" Fully equipped, the man ran past Erim, and her portal, towards the throngs of the undead. He started swinging with his new axe, using it in one hand, soon lost among the crowd of bones. Erim would have stayed longer, mayhap even tried to aid him, but the portal beckoned, and she had no weapons or extra armor to aid her. With but a moment's prayer for the man, she leapt through.
And so the crowd around her started straying off, knowing the tale was done. The girl looked deeply into the mug of ale Ogden had brought her, when he too joined the crowd of listeners, quickly losing herself in it's foamy swirls. So too was Paks lost in contemplation. The two females sat like that for long hours, before going their separate ways to their beds. But they would meet again soon. And so too would they meet Leoric.
Erim Lera Confronts Her Destiny, And Mysteries Created
She stood within the dark, damp halls, searching for any signs of movement. Condensation from her body dripped off of her nose, and from the tips of her hair, which had been put up so as to not get in her eyes. The Skeleton King, whom had become her eternal nemesis it seemed, waited somewhere beyond the darkness about her. Both were heavily wounded, and several crushed, broken, or empty bottles from the numerous potions she has quaffed littered the floor nearby. He didn't have such luxuries, due to a lack of lips, and a metabolism to be sped up by such potions. She kept flexing her fingers on the hilt of her axe, a mighty silver thing, which she had picked up within the catacombs just recently.
And then, he came into view. A battered, beat up old thing. For a moment, he actually appeared human again, as the little light in the area, provided only by the blue portal behind the girl, didn't show much of the man's bones. He simply looked like a, really, bony man. His skin taut across his face. And then his eyes started to glow a sickly red color. She lowered the axe slightly, letting the soft light play across its silver embroidery, and then swiftly rose it again, and leaped forward. It was cleaving through the man-skeleton's skull before she knew it. Like as if she were in a dream. His body fell apart before the Amazon women, before she knew what was happening. And then, she was in Tristram once more.
Her latest adventure had taken its toll on the girl that night, when she slept. Her dreams were filled with Terror. The King rose once again, though she knew this was not so much a nightmare, as reality. But the rest of it, she hoped would not come to pass. She witnessed her aunt's spirits' torture among the denizens of hell. A place of brimstone, and black steel. A place unlike anywhere the girl had ever seen. And there, another spirit, but this one was the tormentor. And as it turned its head, sending a wave of sapphire blue hair down it's back, that seemed so familiar, she awoke in a yelp. She would not scream, but she knew that a saner woman might have. What was she becoming? No longer did the sight of the undead, or vile beasts like fallen ones, and goatmen, astound her. She had a quiet resolve to it all, only slightly shocked every time she saw a viler evil.
And before she had retired for the night, she and Paks, whom had become her sometimes companion beneath this cursed town, had hunted down, and slain the remaining creatures for Erim to pass on from her Defender stage. She was now an official Warrior by the ways and rites of the Vrin-Latti. But still she felt hollow deep inside.
She slipped her bare legs out from under the heavy sheets she slept beneath within her room, and padded softly and silently over to the only window in the place. The girl looked out, but did not see much further than a few feet from her. Her eyes instead focused on the stray lock of her hair, which was covering her face. The color, which was somewhat rare in her land, was unique only in the sense that only she and her cousin had it. Apparently, though none would speak of it, her mother and her dead aunt had shared a lover for a time, another sign of their off-on-again rivalry, and both had mothered his children. So not only were she and her cousin cousins, but also half sisters. And they shared a rivalry even more painful and violent than their mothers did. But she had thought little of her family, and Sisters since she had started this quest.
And then, she found something beneath the town, which brought her mind reeling back to them. 'The Horadrim'. Whoever they were. But she had read a book, mentioning them. And she had recalled hearing the Grand Matriarch once mention a tale about them, and their fight against devils in the Amazon homelands. So she wondered about her family, and what was going on back at her home. And as her eyes closed, trying to picture her mother, being escorted to her prison, nobly, honorably, something filled her vision. Something evil. Something vile. Something more shocking than any goatmen archers, or skeletons. Something that- that wouldn't let her open her eyes!
Erim panicked, thrashing about trying to peel her eyelids apart, but could not. She was not one to panic, or so she assured herself countless times a day, whenever she panicked in fact, but a red mist started filling her vision. Something worse than a Skeleton King. But finally, by sheer willpower, or the fear of discovery, her eyelids came apart, and bringing sweet Khanduran night back. The girl sat there, on the floor of the second story of the inn, wearing nothing but a cloth tunic, wondering when this would end. Wondering when she would be able to go home. Or go insane trying.
Erim Lera's Adventures of Miscellanea
She was a Warrior. It had taken her nineteen years, but she was finally a Warrior of her people's standards. While the physical significance of this was not too great, the mental, and emotional was great for the young Amazon. Her 'cousin' had become a Warrior a few years earlier. She had not stopped gloating about this fact even when Erim left her homeland. But now, now she was an equal.
'Unless she is a Huntress now.' Said a voice in her head, from an unnamed source. This source, this voice, nagged at her deepest thoughts constantly, but it had a point.
And arrow whizzed by the girl, embedding itself into the kite shield she lifted in front of her face instinctively.
"Damned goatmen." She muttered to herself for the umpteenth time. A quick moment's concentration, and lightning bolts surrounded her body, and sped off in a stream of white-blue energy to erupt through the archer's chests. She stepped lightly through, or into their remains, trying to make it to a wooden door, set into the wall of one the numerous Catacomb Chambers. Inside each, used to be held the bodies, and souls, of countless mages, or seers or some such. The Grand Matriarch had told her it was such beings who had opened the gateway into Hell that Erim sought even then. She sighed, knowing whatever evil's could be lurking behind the door, were probably aware of her.
She was correct.
Enough acidic-poison shot past her body, much of it hitting her, to flood the catacombs. When she finally recovered from the pain and shock, she tried to grab the door and shut it. But one of the spitters had made it close enough to her to keep the door blocked.
Erim's sword leapt for the beast's head, quickly decapitating it, and making it dissolve into numerous poisonous puddles.
But still more came, and spit, and ran, and clawed. Finally, Erim managed to kick the few remains of the creatures that stopped the door from closing aside, and shut it quick enough to leave her in peace and silence. Well, the peace and silence allowed her before a fireball hit her full on.
She dove out of the way, splaying her body towards the area the fireball had come from, in hopes of avoiding it's collision with the door. As she contacted the ground, face and chest first, her fingers banged, and her sword clanged away to lie at a stranger's feet.
He was impeccably dressed, and handsome enough to even make an Amazon have unvirtuous thoughts. He brushed some blond locks out of his eyes long enough to deliver an innocent smile, that he must have practiced in mirrors before. Erim then noticed he carried no weapon, but had a long metal rod slung across his back, with inscriptions lining it's surface. The man walked slowly towards the girl, and knelt down a bit, and tried to lend a hand to help her stand. She adamantly refused to take it. When she stood once again, he handed her her dropped sword, once more extending a hand to give it to her, and another innocent smile.
"Who are you?" She asked in a curt bark while taking the long sword from him. She did not sheath it though.
"I was 'trying' to kill a few of those 'spitters' you know. Oh me? My name? Well I suppose yes it would be me. Everett Call the First. At your service of course my fine blue-berry haired warrioress." He bowed low, only to come nose to metal with her sword.
"I will thank you, as will you're gizzard, never to call me that again. Let's try this again. Who 'are' you?"
"Hmmm? I told you? Oh, oh, well, a mage I suppose. Of the Vizjerei as it might just so happen. Or will be someday." The young man stood tall once again, brushing off some dust and guts from Erim's sword off his breast.
The girl sniffed derisively, and started chuckling to herself. "Bah, a mage. That would explain the, uhm…dress."
"Yes well… might I ask whom I have the honor of being mocked by?"
"You may not!" The girl's face twisted in a fierce snarl, which was almost humorous to look upon due to its beauteous and childish allure.
"You have the most beautiful eyes." Everett had only another moment to cock his head and look into her eyes to say this, before the girl growled.
"That's it 'mage'," this she said with an almost impossible sneer and growl from a human mouth, "now you die!" The girl lifted her blade and started swinging for where the man's head was. But now he stood behind her.
"Ahem, some help here. Raging Amazon." Again, Erim swung widely with her blade in blind fury, trying to take the man's pretty head from his neck. Again, he phased out of existence to appear a bit closer to the scorched and blackened door. As the girl started charging him, and planned on impaling him on her blade, a large black figure stepped in between them. And then, a silvery blade, namely a large war axe appeared before him. The two weapons clanged with sparks, and the younger and smaller of the two people involved in the collision fell back, with her ears ringing. She looked up, expecting a horned demon or something similar to have dealt such a blow to her without actually trying. But instead, she found a heavily armored black man. He looked down at her from between his visor, and spoke to her in a heavy voice.
"Go young Amazon, you're quest leads you not here."
"I should think not. The mage's head belongs no where more than on a pike. As a fellow warrior, you should see my point."
"He hired me to aid him, so I think the only point we'll be seeing is the end of our blades."
"So be it." This was little more than a murmur when Erim spoke it, but the full anger and fury that she left to of the threat was announced in her battle roar. But the roar, no matter how mighty it could have been, no matter how strong Erim could ever be, would never be a match for the black warrior's. He screamed in an inhuman voice, and made the hair's on the back of the Amazon's neck stand on end. She stopped dead in her tracks, and looked on in unmitigated terror.
So too was the noble mage unprepared for this. Apparently he had prepared his spell of transportation already, but used it when he heard the roar. All the two warriors heard before he disappeared from sight, was him screaming a name.
And then, the spitters were activated.
"Damnit!" The black warrior immediately ended his battle cry, and started charging back towards the scorched door. He swung his mighty axe once, and split the door in half. And before long, spit once more came shooting out of the room, some of it even splashing near Erim. "Amazon, help us! You owe it to us!" cried the man with the axe.
Erim's face contorted in confusion, but without another thought, she hefted her blade once again, and ran into the room beside the warrior.
Their blades flashed like moonlight. Erim's shield raised every few seconds to send a flying spitter back into the pile it had come from, or to deflect some poisonous goo. The warrior's axe sliced cleanly through many of the beasts, and before long, he was splattering the acidic blood of the beasts all over the place. But all at once, all the spitters who remained, stopped, lifted their heads, looked backwards, deeper into the room, where a shadowy figure stood, and was casting an enchantment. Suddenly white-blue energy was sent out in waves from the shadows, and taking many of the beasts right in the head. Erim stared in awe and wonder, before the warrior grabbed her and dragged her out of the room for a moment. When she opened her eyes again, spots blurred her vision, but not her sense of safety. She knew that the danger was not gone yet. She ran back into the room, but instead of spitters, there was just a veritable sea of poison goo all over the floor, bubbling its last breaths. Everett Call stood among the center of it all, the metal rod formerly slung across his back, now held firmly in both hands.
"I hate those things."
Erim soon found that the warrior, whose name was DiStepano, was Everett's hired mercenary. They were here as were quite a few, to find their fortune, or fame, or legacy, or whatever it might be, within the pits of the Labyrinth. Erim decided to let them live, since they seemed like they meant no harm, and well obviously because each of them separately could probably kill her. They parted ways, but she could have sworn to have seen their handiwork several more times along the way downward to the caverns littering the mountainside of Tristram.
Along the way, she discovered that she was very nicely equipped for her journey. Within the room of poison spitters, she had found several decomposed bodies of Tristram soldiers, only one of which had any recoverable equipment. She took a finely crafted sword of a Tristram soldier, which seemed to do more damage than her own, and seemed to hit her enemies more often. Just another sign of Griswold's good work in his hey-day.
She also wore a gold amulet that tended to distract her enemy's attention long enough for her to hit them more oft, as well as a ring made of engraved jaguar bone. Another of the soldier's she had found had a chain necklace holding an engagement ring onto it. She felt as if she was defiling the bodies of the dead by taking it, a serious offense to the ancestors and ghosts of the dead, but Cain the Elder assured her that the spirits would wish her to have it, to try and avenge the deaths.
Slung across her back was a mighty war bow of the Northern Tribes type, which had a cobalt stone set into it at the crosshair, which seemed to allow it to charge the ammunition of the weapon with electricity. Across her other shoulder was a mighty sheath holding a two-handed sword which she hoped to someday wield to slay her enemies.
Her armor was composed of nothing more than a ragtag assembly of various splint mail pieces that the Monks of the Bough often used, some of which had magical properties to enhance her magical prowess.
Speaking of her magery, she was never much good at it back at home, where the other girl's would sometimes excel at it among the Grand Matriarch's teaching. But Erim was never very proficient at it. But with her armor, and even the beautifully crafted helmet she wore, she couldn't help but feel her magical train of thought focused much more so. On her right arm was lightly gripped a kite shield with the markings of the current Guild of Thieves, which once housed a station here in Tristram. Cain informed her it had been one of the first groups to be wiped out when the King had come to power though.
And so she stood ready to enter the domains of the Amazon. The Caves. Historically speaking, it was the training grounds of her people, back home, but here, she would have no peers or helpers. She was alone. But she felt ready. Erim Lera the Swordbane, Amazon Warrior of the Vrin-Latti, was prepared to fight.
Erim Lera's Tale of the Cave - Miscellanea Two
The last time Erim Lera's body was to be seen by the townsfolk of Tristram, was in her usual abode; the Tavern of the Rising Sun. After telling this tale to an excited young man, among countless others, Erim Lera seemed ill at ease, and departed once more for the Church behind the Tavern. None ever saw her again. The young man, Glenoc, a porter at the Rising Sun, was said to tell this very same tale to a visiting band of warriors. A Barbarian, an Apprentice Mage, and a woman in a full suit of glorious armor, who wielded a bow with experienced hands.
It was not without trepidation that she found herself once more within the Tavern of the Rising Sun, retelling the tale of her adventure into the Caverns of Tristram. The place was not so different from the caverns that her Sisters had fought in back home, but they did have a certain, unstableness to them that was unnerving. Such as, on the third floor of the caverns, she did find herself no longer in a heated cavern, with flowing lakes of lava, but in that of a frozen wasteland, where the walls were covered in ice, the floor in frost and even snow, and the former lakes, were ponds of a brackish blue liquid. It was within these halls that she had hunted down the frost charger demon, Bluehorn, and his cohort, Fangspeir the cave viper. But still, the Caves had provided her with the skills, and abilities she would need to harness the next step in her quests.
She only vaguely recalled her adventures through the first level, except for the huge amounts of Red Storms, Poison Spitters, and Mud Runners that she had encountered. But before long, too, did Brokenstorm, Breakspine, and Oozedrool fall. And then, she had continued on to the next level, where she found the beast Plaguewrath, despite the townsmen's warnings that the beats resided two levels lower. And it was a Poison Spitter, not a plague eater like she had been informed, also. But this beast, along with the Obsidian Lord known as Blackstorm, and the Flayer, which was a Storm Rider, also fell beneath the hacking swings with her blade; a soldier's issued sword, blessed by the angels' of Life, Fertility, and Vitality.
The next level, which was the level that had been frozen over, had housed the beast Bluehorn, before he met his demise. But it was the tale of this beast's, and his cohort's death, that people had come to hear.
"I was slowly walking along the jagged and roughly hewn corridors of the cavern, trying to make sure each step was placed properly, as the floor was very slippery. But then I passed that last corner, when I saw at least a dozen frost chargers charging head first at me. I tried to move away quickly, but my unsure footing made this impossible, and before I knew it, I was splayed about on all fours, trying to stand up. 'And so', I thought, 'this is how I shall meet my demise. Trampled by a dozen or so Frozen Chargers'. But apparently Starlet smiled on me that day, as the chargers stopped dead in their tracks, and started milling about, gaining momentum. And before long, they once more charged off, but at a different angle, leaving my line of sight. I waited a moment or two more, to listen for anymore of them, before once more standing to my full height. I grasped my fallen broad sword, and quickly headed into the chamber, trying to see who was to be the victim of the charger's. And it was then, that I saw the hordes and hordes of cave vipers, and frost chargers. I had stumbled upon the pack leader's lair, without even noticing it. And within the center of the chamber, locked up tight, was a small chamber of sorts, maybe even called a prison, enclosed with giant and sturdy wooden stakes. I could not see within the room, as the monsters blocked my line of sight, but I guessed it had been whatever diversion it was that enabled me to speak today. I slowly made my way into the room, trying to draw the attention of only a few of the beasts, so I could kill them off slowly. But as it is with the pack leaders, it was not to be so. The whole room exploded in activity, and came charging at me. Whether in short bursts from the vipers, or from the blindly faithful sprints of the chargers, they came. And I ran. I ran around the room, stopping every few seconds to hit and strike where I could, but I was completely surrounded. Fangspeir hissed in varying tones, probably commanding his brethren, while he himself tried to climb towards the front of the group to attack me. I turned in the other direction, and started hacking a path out of the group.
"Before I knew it, I was back in the center of the room, looking right into the prison that I had spied from afar, earlier. I ripped open the door, and shut it behind me with all my might. As I had hoped, it was the vipers that got to it first, and started banging at it with their multiple arms. Luckily, the fiends knew not how to open it, but the chargers did. And they were in the back of the group, with their blue-horned leader. I checked my surroundings, to find a woman lying prone within the chamber. A black-bladed sword lay beside her, which emanated power. My own sword had chipped a few times in my escape, so I grabbed this other one, to see if I could even the odds. And apparently, I could. Before my fingers even touched the hilt of the thing, blue-black fire erupted throughout the room, lighting it and it's icy walls in a sickening glow. A circular wall of flame came popping up around the chamber I was trapped in, and started burning, or freezing, the creatures banging at the walls, immediately. Finally, the room was silent, but for my haggard breathing. And then the door opened. And Bluehorn snorted."
Erim stopped her tale then, as she recalled those memories personally. Some things happened then, that she was not so sure she should tell of.
Bluehorn faced her down, snorting once again, making the air coming out of his nostrils condense and mist over, before coming completely into the room to fight. So too did a burned, beaten, and one limbed Fangspeir enter. She griped the handle of her new sword tighter, and swung quickly at the big horn protruding from the bigger creature's face. Shock overcame the beast, as it did over Erim somehow, as if she was feeling it's pain and misery. A quick, tense moment passed, and Erim's eyes moved down mechanically, to see Bluehorn, dead, and burnt out, his azure horn lying beside him. The veritable life had been sucked out of him. Erim's eyes widened, as she quaked in terror, over the power of the sword. And within her, briefly, the screaming, pleading soul of Bluehorn the Frost Charger.
And then it passed.
And Fangspeir attacked. And like lightning, Erim's new sword went up to meet the blade of the now-one-armed viper. Another quick slash and block, before Erim got the advantage, and shoved the sword with two hands, into the breast of the snake-thing. And once more, that feeling of shared emotion, as shock overcame both killer and killed, and then, death over both. Though only one truly died. The other only felt it. The cold encompassing, and the empty beyond. And then it passed.
Silence reigned over the chamber of ice and snow.
The woman was moving. The sword was waking her up now.
'No', Erim thought to herself, 'sword's cannot make people do things. She is waking up of her own accord. Or,' she continued, now with a suspicious glare, 'she had been awake the whole time, but was only now making herself known'.
For whatever reason, the woman, whom Erim now recognized from town, got to her feet, and put a hand to her forehead. Xna D'Arco, the cohort of Argh the Barbarian was slowly blinking her eyes, and looking around, as if she didn't expect to find herself in such a place. Xna had listened to Erim tell her tales in The Rising Sun before. And so too had Argh mocked her, for being a woman warrior. Erim had nearly tried to kill the man that day. Her and her Sisters never lowered themselves to such levels of murder, as it would be the same as killing a child or the elderly. Men did not warrant such meaningless fighting. Even when they did smear her honor. But Xna was a Sister of the Sightless Eye, and a respectable one at that. They faced each other then, for a brief period of time, each looking the other over, with Xna's eyes lingering only slightly longer on Erim's new sword.
"My thanks good Amazon. They did overcome me." The woman put a hand to her head, her face covered in pain for a brief moment, until the woman took her hand away.
"Yes well… what brings you down here?" The Amazon asked, once more in a suspicion she had never awarded to any female except her cousin.
The woman smiled knowingly, once more eliciting a pained gasp from her forehead. "What brings any of us down here. Adventure. Money. Power. Knowledge. Revenge. Whatever."
Erim chagrined herself momentarily, and nodded. "Well, I am sorry about taking thine sword, but mine was… breaking or some such." The girl looked about sheepishly, trying to find her disposed sword.
But Xna shook her head slightly. A small smile slipped onto her face once more. "No no, it is of no consequence. Why, it seemed to work well enough for thee." At this, both females looked about them, seeing the huge amounts of destruction apparently wrought by the Amazon and the sword. "The cursed thing did not take too kindly to me using it anyway. Besides, I'm a bow-girl, you forget." A grin once more.
"Well, my profound thanks then. Shall I send thee back to town?"
"Aye, I would be much obliged." The woman grabbed the few other possessions she had dropped in the struggle with the beasts, and prepared for the gate. And within a moment or two, it popped up, and illuminated the walls in a bluish color, which brought back memories of the shadow-fire to Erim. After a second, Xna disappeared from sight, with murmured thanks sent backwards, but disappearing from sound already. Erim too gathered her stuff, included her broken sword, and prepared to head further down. But before she left, an inexplicable impulse overcame her, and she took Bluehorn's namesake with her.
Everett Call was standing within the small shadowed recesses of the chamber of ice, when he spied Erim Lera bending to her knees to recover something from beside one of the downed chargers. He had noticed her about to get slaughtered by a bunch of the things earlier on in the battle, before the Rogue has awoken. He had watched her get taken and dragged into the small wooden chamber by the vipers.
Only after Erim entered the wooden prison though, was it that he had noticed the black presence in the place. When looking into the area with magically enhanced eyes, he still could not penetrate the small makeshift prison. He knew it was not from something natural either. Hell, if anything in this accursed place was still natural, the cavern he was in would not be frozen over, but rather scalding with heat. But he had wanted so badly to see what it was that was blurring his vision into the area. Finally, he had cast the firewall around the cage, in hopes of aiding Erim, and moving the monsters enough to give him a clear line of sight. But then it too changed color, to an eerie blue-black. He had decided when that happened not to confront Erim. Not yet. Truth was, he was still afraid of her. She had tried to kill him last time they met, and who knew what powers she might possess now. He knew from DiStephano's tales, that the Amazons of the Southern Plains were not women to be trifled with. And while but an apprentice mage, Call was still smart enough not to ignore the elder warrior's warnings. Speaking of the warrior, he should be…
DiStephano walked slowly across the icy floors of the cavern. He had followed the Amazon girl after she had taken Bluehorn's horn, trying to remain out of sight. But it was when she spotted him, that he knew that something was wrong with her. She had a determined fervor in her features. Not only that, but after the girl looked directly at him, she just turned back towards the path she had cleared for herself, and kept walking. Finally, she came to the chambers leading to the lower levels of the Caverns, and was lost from the sight of the barbarian. He sighed, and turned about-face, coming nose to nose with another armored warrior. Only this one was much slimmer, and carried a mighty bow with an experienced hand.
"I am sorry mileage, I lost sight of her. I shall have to introduce thee later on." His booming voice almost quivered in his full helmet. He was not one to speak defiantly to the person before him.
The warrior's visor shot up, revealing an unmarred woman's face, her eyes and lips a pale icy purple not unlike the sunfalls in DiStephano's homelands. "'Tis not thine fault DiStephano. She is no longer herself. I fear the girl has unwittingly become part of my quest, like it or not."
"Your quest majesty?" The man looked about a bit worriedly at the severity of the woman's tone.
"The quest to destroy Shadowfang, DiStephano."