Cythera Chronicles: The Undine Stronghold-as Rogan experienced it. Part three: Illusions

  • Part four: The Undine Stronghold: Illusions

    I died that day. I can't recall much of the experience, but I knew for sure that it happened only once in a lifetime. I remember being flung through some kind of void, it felt like a wild fungus trip. Suddenly, a voice penetrated me, hurting all my senses and body parts. It was so loud that it was painful. As if that wasn't enough, I could hear even more voices in the background, I could not hear what they were saying, but they sounded desperate. Even more suddenly, the voice didn't hurt my head anymore, probably because I partially regained consciousness, and what I at first reckoned was pieces of my brain flowing out of a giant crack in the back of my head was in fact swamp mud. It was a terrible feeling, not being able to move or ease the pain... all I could do was lie there and accept the suffering.

    "YOU FOOL! YOU GOT KILLED AGAIN!" the voice yelled. But not at me. I didn't have the strength to open my eyes at first, but after a few seconds I did. Though the sun had went down hours ago, the little light that existed sliced through my eyeballs along with the light from Kestrel's sword. I could barely move my head, but managed to turn to the left, where I noticed Fanatic also lying on the ground. The voice was Slayer's. He was yelling at Fanatic. "Kestrel and I were the only ones living after the blast and we had to drag all of you out of the cave and cast resurrect on all three of you," he continued, "It was a madhouse! Demons and liches running everywhere! I guess that thing was the brain of all the stronghold."

    Fanatic looked like they way I felt. "You know what I think? I think that thing was an Undine." Everyone stared at Fanatic. After a while he said, "Let's go back to Cademia, unless any of you want to go back in and kill the rest of the demons and liches."

    I closed my eyes again, an attempt to ease the headache.

    "It's too late for that...The thing is too powerful now, it knows what we can do, and is probably regenerating right now. We need to go back, and now." Avatara's words made me open my eyes again. I wasn't much of a talker yet but I managed to get on my feet. I made sure I still had my sword and ring and watched as Avatara and Fanatic went inside the cave. Kestrel followed a few seconds after. I waited up for Slayer and started to walk towards the entrance along with him, following Kestrel.

    Suddenly, I heard a rumble. I was too tired to notice and just continued walking. As Kestrel passed under the entrance, a sound like a bomb ripped through the air. Kestrel threw up his arms and cast a Holding spell when he saw the rock chunks falling through the air, and hurried to catch up with Avatara and Fanatic. I dived into the tunnel along with Slayer while Kestrel held the rocks -probably a trap set by the Undine- in the air. As Kestrel flung himself forward, the entire opening collapsed with a loud bang, sealing us in. "Hurry, we have to catch up with Avatara and Fanatic," he said.

    I could see brightness up ahead. We were about twenty meters from Avatara and Fanatic when the light went through them, heading for us. I could see the two men were in pain and quickly dodged the light which almost hit Kestrel and knocked an unwary Slayer to the ground. More rumbling was heard ahead, and we sped up and ran to catch up with the two, who had gotten to their feet and was also running. More rocks fell from the ceiling and we tried our best to avoid them. Then, as if rocks weren't enough, it started raining battle-axes with really big blades. We ran like there was no tomorrow and finally caught up with Avatara and Fanatic. They had stopped, and so did we when we saw the pit in front of us. "I can see the end up ahead," said Fanatic, "but it makes no sense. If I didn't know better, I would say this was Maayti, lost city of the Seldane!" Something was wrong here, and none of us liked it one bit. Maayti was not located in this region of Cythera! I knew this, for I was once there on another mission. And so did Fanatic.

    In the distance we could see liches running around. Fanatic took a few steps, I followed right behind. But suddenly, I remembered thinking my mind must have tricked me, because we were not in Maayti, but in the dark tunnels below Abydos, the city destroyed by mage Tavara long time ago. Another few steps, and we were in the caves under Land' s End Volcano. It was totally unreal, and all the time I had this inexplicable feeling of light-headedness and disorientation. Just as suddenly, we were in the slums in Cademia. A sort of wind started blowing toward us as if trying, in vain, to hold us back. A few more steps and we were in the halls of Pnyx, where the wind got stronger. We had to struggle to get forward, and when we did take another step we were in Land King Hall, and the wind was now so strong that we had to force ourselves against it. All worn out by the wind, I found myself in the temple of the Scylla and the wind was just about to throw us all the way back to the beginning. I held on to a statue for dear life, and the wind stopped just as suddenly as it had begun, and we dropped to the wet floor of a cave. I looked around, making sure everyone were intact. Then, I looked up. Ahead was a door that seemed to be made out of energy. And behind it was the figure of the cloaked leader.

    Strangely, it didn't notice the five adventurers gathering on the other side of the force wall. He appeared to be holding some kind of book. Distracted by some kind of red light, I looked down to find out where it came from. I jumped as I noticed my ruby ring glowing bright red, like my sword. "Look at my ring!" I said, getting the other's attention, "It's never done that before." The ring was glowing so brightly that it hurt my eyes, and suddenly the force wall vanished, to everyone's surprise. I drew my sword, as did the others, and we charged at our cloaked enemy. But he was not there, not a trace of him anywhere. "Strange," Avatara said. He was the first to walk into the room. I turned around and examined the room, and noticed nothing else besides a bookshelf and a wooden table. The room was a dead end. No passage leading out except the one we came in.

    A book was lying on the table. I went over and picked it up, and I must say I got very surprised when I realized what book it was. "Hey! Look at this! It is unbelievable!" I said, and everyone gathered around me.
    All the time I felt like someone was watching us, and I was certain I could hear chuckling... but that was probably my imagination again. Then again, where was Eldargon? "What is it?" Slayer asked confused. "It is Tavara's journal...complete edition", I chuckled, "It probably tells where his secret tomb is hidden!"
    "Let me look at that", Kestrel said and took the book, leafing through the first pages. Suddenly, a strong gust of wind blew through the room, forcing Kestrel to drop the book. It kind of shocked me when I turned around to face the cloaked creature, standing in the doorway.

    He laughed at us, I still shiver when thinking of it... he muttered something under his breath. Black waves of shimmering air rolled over us, tempting us to fall, but I knew that to do so was to never stand up again.
    Laughing again, he drew his sword and charged at us, hacking wildly. He was seemingly frenzied and I drew my sword quickly, the red flames licked it's blade and illuminated the area. That mush have caught his attention, as he turned at me and swung his blade. He almost hit me, but I managed to parry the blow. Unfortunately I tripped and banged my head into something. The last I remember seeing before passing out was Avatara grabbing the book and running past the attacker, getting his full attention.

    When I regained consciousness I was bleeding from my head. Swearing about a minor pain in my head I calmed myself down. "I could have been killed, it's okay," I remember saying to myself. Strangely, no one was there. My friends, the book, the cloaked fighter. I looked around for the book but couldn't find it. I decided to take the only way out of the room to see if I could find the others. I walked for ten seconds or so before the pain in my head grew stronger and I had to stop. I cast a healing spell on myself and decided to sit down and rest for a minute. However, when I sat down and leant my back against the wall, or at least what I thought was a wall, I fell backwards through a passage of some kind. Tumbling down, I tried to shield my head from further blows and suddenly I found myself in Abydos. Quickly, I got to my feet and drew Excalibur. I noticed the others some meters away from me and approached them when a burst of purple light suddenly blasted up from the hole, knocking me to the ground. The cloaked figure popped out of nowhere and began attacking us again. I rolled around and cut its foot with my sword, and he turned to me and hacked. I parried the blows, buying the others some time to attack. With Fanatic, Kestrel, Slayer and Avatara charging simultaneously, the creature didn't stand a chance in his weakened state. He tried to run, dropping his blade. I got to my feet and tried to run after him when a terrifying shriek pierced my eardrums.

    Seemingly out of nowhere, some white figures appeared. They looked half-way like people and to this day I have not found a better word to describe them than "ghosts." The white figures caught up with the figure and began pelting it, seemingly hurting it.

    "It's the ghosts of the mages that were in Abydos when Tavara destroyed it! they want revenge!" Fanatic suddenly yelled. The ghosts continued pelting the cloaked figure, which Fanatic was sure was Tavara. One of the ghosts floated in front of the adventurers and said in a whisper, "The time is right! Strike him down and avenge us!" Everyone prepared to strike the final blow.

    At that time, I was the one closest to him. I raised my sword as the ghosts vanished and brought all of my wrath down at the cloaked figure, striking it down. The others joined me in desecrating the corpse just to make sure it really was a corpse. When we settled down with the hacking and slashing, I turned around and asked, "Anyone managed to save the book?"

    "I think Avatara has got the book," Fanatic replied. Avatara confirmed with a nod, but suddenly the air around us started to shimmer and we found ourselves in an immense cavern. Indeed confusing and frustrating, "Damn, it was an illusion!" Kestrel said. "Yeah, like the stuff we saw on the way in," Avatara replied.

    The cave was pitch black... but the time it took for an echo to reach them told us it was giant cavern. And everyone had a feeling there was something there... waiting for the right time to strike...

    To be continued...

    (This message has been edited by moderator (edited 10-29-2002).)

  • Good job retelling the story, Rogan! This really brings back some memories. I can't wait to see the rest of it.

    Slayer's guide to Cythera:

    (Edit: CAN'T! I meant I can't wait!)

    (This message has been edited by Slayer (edited 11-03-2002).)

  • Well now, that isn't very nice, Slayer. Rogan, I -can't- wait to see the rest of it ;)

    "Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrinen! ... Nai elyë hiruva. Namárië!"
    The One And Only:
    (url="http://"")~Theo Nean Donly~(/url)

  • can you say 'big bladed battle-axe' 10 times quickly? ;)

    Nice job, Rogan! Sorry for the delay in reading it.

    "The e-mail of the specious is more dangerous than their mail" - Tom Holt, 'Snow White and the Seven Samurai'

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