A Lucks End
The sound of gurgles and mangled screams echoed throughout the cave, and they were reminders to me that I needed to hurry out quickly. My boots squeaked against the puddles of dirty water scattered across the cave-floor, however it was but a whisper in comparison to the echoes of those screams.
Not so far away to my back was a rather massive Flesh Ghoul. Writhing tentacles of flesh, and the semi-melted bodies of whatever it could absorb into its mass. Constituting it was what I’d say was failed ‘adventurers’ and monsters dumb enough to approach this equally dumb creature. Sadly as my luck may have it, this creature is dead set on letting me join its cesspool of victims.
“Are you sure you really need me?” The words rolled off my tongue, though my moment of distraction caught me off guard as I slipped on a puddle of water. I slid across the floor forward, slamming hard into a stalagmite, managing to bruise my left shoulder. I frantically scrambled to get back into a run, as I wouldn’t be feeling too good if those things limbs even grazed me.
I caught a short glimpse of the putrid creature as I went into a ramping dash down the dark tunnel. Just moments later, I saw one of its slithery melted limbs smash into the stalagmite, turning into nothing but rubble in a loud rumble.
That would’ve been me just seconds ago.
I pushed those thoughts to the back of my head, and pushed my legs to move harder through the exhaustion. Just as I would’ve feared to think, I’m yet again in another predicament. Seua Lykona, almost as if my name itself incurred the ire of fate itself to go against me. How unfair I’d think, especially of times like this...
I lifted my head from the neck of my cloak, my eyes spotting something bright at the end of the tunnel. A blinding light illuminating the end, maybe it was a way out, or an exit!
I felt a feeling of relief overcome me, and pushed myself to move just a little further away from the monster behind. I could feel the wind being pushed aside as the beast frantically scrambled to consume me. However Flesh Ghouls would burn up to ash in the presence of light, so as long as I get into the direct path of light from the sun, I’d be safe. Or well, I think they burn up in the light...they are the same as Ghouls, right?
I came closer and closer to the end of the tunnel until the light encompassed my senses completely. Mustering what strength I had left into my legs, I gave a big jump into the light from the darkness of the cave behind me.
Though I couldn’t see, I couldn’t help but yell off a remark as a goodbye.
“A-ha! you impudent monster, see you later!” I blurted out, a smug smirk plastering my face as I felt the wind of jumping into the outside.
As the light slowly faded away, I also felt as if I was weightless. Air started to whip at me violently, and as I regained my sight, I noticed something off.
I was falling, falling into a ravine of sorts.
I orientated myself, my back to the dark abyss below. Facing the sun above, I saw that the caves ’exit was on the side of one of the ravines walls, which would mean that I had unwittingly jumped gladly to my own death. How fitting of me to do something like this...
I spotted the faint silhouette of the Flesh Ghoul within the shadows of the cave. It was waving one of its appendages side to side, almost like it was bidding me goodbye as I tumbled down towards my certain doom.
I couldn’t help but grit my teeth, narrowing my eyes at the ghoul as I was swallowed into the darkness of the ravine. So much so, until the sun was a dim lantern that was hung in the sky. My heart pounded hard against my chest, and I scrambled to gain some matter of organized thought yet again.
I had barely any magic in my body, and the materials of the rocks in this area sap and store energy with an immense bond. My cloak nor my body can siphon off any meaningful amounts of magic to try and supplement my dwindling reserves, which is not ideal the way this situation is...
As I was falling, I spotted a rather strange pattern on the wall.
A criss-crossing pattern of stone, or perhaps some sort of a stone brick pattern. After a few split seconds of being dumbfound, I realized that this was Scouric architecture. A Scouric Stronghold, or some sort of a warping terminal should be present somewhere in the vicinity of where I was falling.
“Well...I guess its worth a try?” I said halfheartedly, extending my hand out to the darkness I was falling into. I prepared to chant a spell, take a deep breath in before pursing my lips.
“Grau” As I said those words, colors shifted into a dark red and black. In the blink of an eye I felt my body reel back in immense force as I slammed hard into something hard. I had used Flash-point, a teleportation spell. I had made a rough estimate of the ground but it seems I was too close. I had slammed hard with what force I had gained from falling into what seemed like the ravines mostly flat floor.
I could tell most of my arm and body was bruised, the force of the impact was certainly dampened by my cloak, but only by a little. I’m surprised I didn’t break any bones, and I was relatively in one piece.
I let off a shaky sigh, resting my face against the ravines floor. My body was exhausted, and I was tired and cold...
Incidentally, I happened to notice that the floor also had the same criss-cross pattern of rock as I saw whilst falling. Even if it was not a warping terminal, a stronghold generally had a mostly usable warp pad with an established link to another warp pad. The worst however is still ahead, abandoned Scouric strongholds or Warp terminals still had their Security Measures in general working order. I may be able to waltz in, but to actually use the damn devices? It’s a whole new can of fish...
I got up from the ground, my hands and legs jittery from the adrenaline still running through my body from earlier. I dusted pieces of rock and dirt from my cloak, before doing a few stretches to relax my bruised and strained muscles.
“Ah, I’m definitely gonna need a hot bath and a lot of rest...” I muttered, a yawn escaping my lips before I hugged my sides.
It was freezing down here, and abnormally so. I could even see the fog of breath hang in the air with each pant I took, and I found it suspicious considering it was awfully humid and somewhat hot in the cave. The sudden temperature drop...I would almost think that perhaps an Ice Spirit or an Eldritch Frost Serpent had made this Ravine its home. It wouldn’t be too out of the ordinary, considering the ample darkness and shelter from light.
I gulped down those thoughts, knowing full well that I may be walking into my own death. However, it was worth doing it, since the barren landscape and my starving self were contributing factors to my eventual death regardless.
Stepping into the darkness, step by step I kept my guard up with my eyes scanning the darkness for any sort of movement. The slithering movement of a Serpent, or the subtle nature of the Ice Spirit as it shadows me, these are all things I had to watch carefully for. Or else, before I know it I would be frozen solid or ripped apart as dinner by the Serpent.
Moving through the dark, I noticed that some crystals managed to provide some matter of illumination. its cool blue glow managed to shed some light along the way I was traveling. I was following the pattern of the Scouric brick-work below me, occasionally, taking a glance behind me to only see the darkness behind me.
“I wish I had night vision...” I jokingly muttered, before pulling the hood of my cloak tightly over my head, “Maybe some hot bread with sweet soup too...”
And just like that, my mind wandered towards getting a hot meal. As I grew more careless, I became more engrossed in the thought of taking a hot meal, shower and sleeping comfortably. Perhaps at some point, this had become the thing to push out the pangs of anxiety that was plaguing me since I fell. I guess, expecting something akin to a reward at the end of the journey was not wrong in some sense...
Suddenly, my eyes caught movement in the shadows. Slowly, subtle, almost like an Ice spirit.
But It disappeared so seamlessly into the darkness, and I never sensed any movement afterwards.
I strained my eyes to pierce the darkness, but I concluded that it was just a bat or some animal feeding on its prey in the darkness. It’s quite probably something I wouldn’t have to worry about, and I needn’t waste magic to find out what it is.
So I continued on, before realizing it was odd.
Following the pattern of the floor, I noticed it abruptly cut off. I found it strange, until I looked up and focused, and caught the faint and imperious outline of a tall structure in front of me. It looked like a Spire, though it was probably four times shorter than the depth of the ravine.
Arms crossed, I tapped my boot onto the floor with exasperation.
“Well, here’s the hard part...”