Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
The Quest - Prologueby Glen Sprigg
For those of you who were curious as to why Alexius really, really wants to pummel Ludwig von Hendriks into a tiny piece of depleted bologna, here's the reason.
Alexius slashed the last of the bugbear guards and shoved it aside without another thought. Serrah was just ahead, along with the filth that had taken her away. It would be over soon.
Alexius raced down the damp corridor, his glowing sword lighting the way. A flickering light ahead outlined an open chamber. Alexius ran through it at full speed...
...and arced backwards, his entire body screaming from the electricity pulsating through his armour and into his body. He fell back from the chamber, twitching uncontrollably.
"Ah, I see our guest of honour has arrived," chuckled a malevolent voice. Its owner was a handsome man with a permanent sneer, dressed in black armour. His black hair and moustache had an oily look, and he looked no more than thirty years of age, though he was more than twice that old. "Welcome to my humble home, Sir Alexius. There's someone here who's just dying to see you."
Through the red haze before his eyes, Alexius could see Serrah strapped to an unholy torture device he couldn't even begin to understand. Her clothes were torn and tattered, and she had suffered unimaginable torments at the hands of her captors. She sobbed uncontrollably, her eyes a silent plea for freedom. Alexius fought ferociously to regain control of his spasmodic limbs.
"Oh, I suppose you had planned to come in with your blazing sword and kill me where I stood, is that it?" asked the oily man with a harsh laugh. "Did you forget who I have working for me? He's a far greater magician than you'll ever know, you pathetic excuse for a knight. It's a wonder my stupid cousin is still alive with fools like you protecting him and his land." The Black Eagle turned his back on Alexius, sneering with utter contempt.
Alexius had no one else to help him; his companions had bought him time by staying behind to fend off the rest of the guards. He was on his own, and he was helpless. Just like Serrah.
With an effort that could only be described as impossible, Alexius dragged himself to his knees. In his backpack was a healing potion, if he could only reach it. Serrah's life was in his hands, and his alone. He heard a scream from inside the chamber, Serrah's scream.
He would reach it.
Alexius shrugged his shoulders violently, and his backpack slipped off to the ground. He focused his mind solely on one arm, trying to overcome the shock that was making his limbs thrash about wildly. The backpack was designed for situations where speed was important, and the straps were easy to remove. He yanked the backpack open, and the potion fell out onto the floor. He tried to grit his teeth, but he couldn't stop them from chattering. He crawled ahead, his arm flopping about like a fish on land as he tried desperately to grab the potion flask. Try as he might, he just couldn't grasp it.
So he smashed it instead.
The rivulets of the potion flowed across the stone floor, and Alexius dragged himself toward them enough to put his face down onto the mess. The glass cut his face a bit, but the wounds healed quickly as the potion did its work. Alexius felt himself slowly regaining control of his body as the potion's energy flowed through him like a soothing gust of wind.
It would be over soon.
Another scream from inside brought him to full attention, and he flung off the last of the numbness from the electrical barrier. He stood up slowly, feeling the strength returning to his body. He glanced inside the chamber; Ludwig and Bargle were busy with Serrah, paying him no mind. They had underestimated him for the last time.
He tossed a dagger through the chamber, and nothing happened; the electrical barrier was gone. The dagger fell to the ground, startling the two men inside. Before they could react, Alexius was through, his sword blazing as bright as his anger.
"Impossible!" exclaimed Bargle in a wheezy, hoarse voice. "How could you-"
Ludwig was quicker, however, and his own sword snapped into a defensive position. He stood bravely, but Alexius could smell the fear on him. "You're dead," vowed Ludwig.
Alexius did not bother to answer him. He leapt forward, and their swords clashed loudly in the torture chamber. Ludwig parried Alexius' raging blows easily, and the Black Eagle began to regain his confidence. Alexius was enraged, not fighting with any technique.
Then Serrah screamed again, and Alexius flinched automatically at the horrible sound. Ludwig lunged, and his sword pierced Alexius' armour, glancing off a rib. Alexius grunted in pain and drew back, holding his right side.
Just then, voices came from behind them; Alexius' companions were coming to join the battle. Ludwig turned to Bargle. "Let's get out of here, now!" The wizard nodded, and Ludwig backed away from his foe.
Bargle raised his hands, but Ludwig stopped him and pointed at Serrah. "Don't forget about her," he said with a soulless smile. "Let's give our noble knight something to remember in his dreams."
Bargle laughed evilly, and altered his casting motion. A ray of green light leapt from his hands, engulfing Serrah as Alexius watched in horror. With a scream that Alexius would never forget, Serrah disappeared forever, without a trace left behind. A second scream filled the room, echoing Serrah. Alexius slowly realised it was his own voice.
"We must run now," said Ludwig. "Have a nice day." Bargle completed another spell, and the two men vanished, just as Alexius' companions came into the chamber.
Alexius fell to his knees, his eyes filling with tears as his heart drained of all emotion. All except an undying thirst for revenge.
It was far from over; it was only the beginning.