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Shadows lifted, Part Twoby Daniel Mayer
The night was misty as usual. Not even a sound could be heard. The unnatural silence parted as suddenly some voices were heard. Among a baldy suppressed chuckle a female voice said nervously "You get every joke crushed, Laren. Now attention, I feel something!".
Suddenly a black figure stood in front of them. A dark cloak around its shoulders hid everything but two glowing eyes. The figure said with doom in its voice "Turn back, or your life is forfeit. I'm the guardian of the Tower of Nightmares. No one is to pass." After that statement it was silent. The Detect Evil spell showed very strong evil
Flosi thought. Weren't here for holidays. Time for some action!> "Stand away, I've not travelled that way to communicate with a servant!" "So perish, fools." The robed figure moved for a second an three green lances of light appeared out of the body of it. The beams almost flowed toward the three heroes, one for each. Flosi thought about dogging, but cancelled it . But just before they reached them, they hit an unseen barrier and disappeared. The growing eyes narrowed.
"Impressive, but useless. A spell barrier won't last forever and I'm no normal mage!" With these words, it started a series of short words.
Offensive magics shot in fast sequence at them. Each of them hit the barrier, but the shield got weaker. Each attack got nearer at Flosi. He just was about to engage in melee, when with a dull *smack* the head of the monster left the corpse. Where the head was before, a shining blade appeared from behind. "Gods above! All undead think themselves that smart, but they fall for the same trick every time." Aurelius´ baritone sounded from behind the falling monster. Suddenly it exploded in a ball of fire, crushing through the failing shield Laren had cast! Aurelius and the three newcomers were caught in intense flames. After the eyes normalised, only Flosi had burnings on him. "Ouch! Shit! What was that?!" " Ah Flosi, you didn't forget to protect yourself against fire, didn't you? As I told you all only few days before, the Zodiac is a creature most dangerous. But overconfident. AND I told you it could explode after death, just like a magicians´ contingency. Where were your thoughts?" Laren answered. "Hmmpf, you always tell much things no one wants to know." Flosi already glowed with healing magic
But the first strong enemy was finished quickly. A good sign.
Ambassador Laren Firefriend sat in his most comfortable chair in his quarters. In a chimney wood burned and filled the room with comforting warmth. He held a book in his hands "Tales About Dreams". It was an old book, dating back to AC, for sure. He couldn't say the exact date, because not one hint was detectable. No king, no name of any noble. The book told about the area today known as "Land of Nightmares", just south of Haven around the Lake of Lost Dreams. Today it was filled with evil and no creature of good dares to enter the area. The Vyalia elves guard the northern border, so they could tell a little bit about it. His most trusted friend, Elaya, was a Vyalia elf. She brought this book some days ago with the greetings of her princess, Argenta. "And after Antaros the Wise discovered the nature of dreams, he built a tower with a kind of gate to the Plane of Dreams. Stupidly some apprentices had plans for the tower, too, and murdered Antaros. Bad luck, I would say. So one or more apprentices should rule the tower now. Probably now undead. Or a successor with equal power. Now, I can't detect more information in this book, but it's more than nothing. At least I know the creator of the tower. Was a good man as fas as I see." Laren didn't tell this to himself. Flosi sat in another chair in a corner. Flosi was a warrior blessed from Thor, god of thunder. He wore always a chain mail covered by the fur of a boar. Large leather boots and a cape of boar fur fitted his nordish style. Flosi "Hammerhand" owned a powerful weapon sacred by his god. Of course the warhammer never was far away from his hands.
"Maybe. But maybe he didn't open a gate to the Plane of Dreams but to the Plane of Nightmares. Or he wasn't that good at all and intentionally invited these evil monsters to Traladara." "Yes. I've to search for more hints. It seems impossible to get a book ´How to defeat great evil´ in Specularum. Krakatos may hold some information. Hey Flosi, time for a cleansing?"
"Cleaning Krakatos? Vampires and such like? Of course. Now or can I participate the great feast going on just now?" Flosi said with a casual voice. "Feast? Oh, I forgot! Damn! I've to change!" Laren jumped up and disappeared in the bathroom. "Ahem, Flosi, do you have a present for Princess Adriana? Perhaps I can share the costs?" He sounded like taken by surprise.
Flosi thought when saying "Of course I've a nice ´nothing´ they call dress today. I couldn't afford it alone, anyway."
"Where's Thrandir?" Elaya asked Aurelius. "Jumping from branch to branch, like elves always do." And added after a stern look from Elaya "And he's searching for allies. The elves haven't arrived til now. We could need them, for you elves are immune to paralyse. And as fas as we have seen, the who-ever-owns-the-tower has armies of undead. Too much for five heroes, even with mighty warriors like us." "We can't wait for them. Andrès, as I suppose, knows of our victory by now. I've to prepare myself for him. You hold on the plan?" Laren was as serious as never before.
Elayas sympathy was with Laren. They would fight much evil, but Laren... perhaps she would never see him again.
"It's time, the armies attack. Look. I'm gone. Good luck to you all. May we meet again this life!" Laren disappeared without waiting for answers.
Laren reappeared right in front of a gate outside the tower. Two large statues of unicorns stood to left an right of the gate. A gate that opened by itself this moment. Laren murmured some words to re-energise his protection from evil. His sight told him of no evil in front of the tower, but a tingling in his neck said the contrary. He was watched. He set his foot in motion and passed the gate. A sudden sound was heard! It sounded like a groan of a great beast. But Laren ignored it.
Not a comforting thought, but he felt his mind focusing on his task. The years of learning discipline could show now, what they brought him. Laren went on. As he came near the great door, it opened, too. The darkness behind was suddenly lit by a dim light, perhaps of candles. he thought when stepping through the door. Behind him, somewhere far away, the sounds of battle found the way through the woods. He entered.
Flosi was happy. Until now, only cannon fodder was bothering him. With each hit one less skeleton or mummy was on this plane of existence. He could fight like this the whole day. If the ´great evil´ thinks about tiring them, he would be disappointed. Not Flosi, and for sure not Aurelius. Elaya and Thrandir, that maybe another story. He looked over to them. Elaya held two glowing blades in her hands. She whirred through the lines of undead like a storm, cleaving arms and legs and heads without slowing. Her blades whirred in a deadly dance, the light of the blades bizarre forms in the dark mists. Flosi sent a light spell on some trees around them for better fighting conditions, but somehow the mist itself radiated darkness. So they fought under dim light. Enough for Flosi. He used his hammer with professional ease. Every time an undead tried to take a move forward, it wasn't anymore.
But now they changed the tactic, it seemed. Thrandir shot fiery bolts of death into the third line of them to decimate the reinforcements. The skeletons were nearly all destroyed. They were easy, but they had no mind. He hit again some undead. But it held against the damage taken!
Flosi was surprised. The monster countered. A burning but cold pain shot along the right side of Flosi when the jagged blade of the wight came through his defence. The cold sensation was a sure sign he slowly lost his spell of protection against draining. "Elaya, I need you some seconds!" Elaya didn't react immediately "yes -cough- in a second!" The flaming arrows concentrated behind his enemies now. Flosi retreated a few steps when Elaya took his melee opponents. Aurelius came nearer, too. He glowed in his whole person, the power of his gods channelling through him. At every strike of his blade, two enemies fell, one of them just crumbling to dust.
How...> Flosi knew. He not just shed light, but shed *holy* light, that kind that cancelled evil. Flosi cast the protection versus draining again and re-entered the fight. The undead now had circled them and changed the combatants. Didn't he give Elaya a device charged by it?> "Elaya, that fire spell of Laren!". Elaya nodded and caught a wound because of the distraction, not her first. She jumped suddenly into the air, slowing in her movements, and hung in the air. She took something from her belt and let it fall.
Aurelius saw that, gulped, and hastened to Flosi. The item fell to ground. A mighty thunder erupted along with a great explosion of fire, which slowly turned into a circle while moving outward. The circle of fire just had a height of ten feet and a range of hundredth, but because the undead pressed toward the heroes, the undead nearest to them had no place to retreat! They crumbled to ash and in few seconds the heroes stood in a clearing. A clearing in the midst of more undead. Elaya sunk to the ground and entered the styled fighting position again. To the left an right of her, Aurelius and Flosi stood untouched of the spell.
Aurelius sent a prayer to his gods and again some advancing enemies crumbled by the holy light. But they advanced further.
"Finally a human made it to my tower. Be welcome, at least for short time." A dark figure spoke from across the great hall Laren just entered. Dim light shone here but no source was visible. "You're Laren.
I heard your friends speak about you. The elf and the human who roam the woods few days. They say you'll beat me." The figure chuckled roughly.
"Now, I'm Andrès. I'm the master of this tower, as you may have mused.
I'm greatly pleased to meet you." "The pleasure is mine, for I visit my now home the first time." Laren replied. "Now, answer me a few questions before. You aren't a former apprentice to a wizard called Antaros by chance?" "I was." Andrès nodded. His old face was harsh, like that an old vampires would be. Handsome but VERY old. His fingers were long and delicate. He wore a black robe of an old style. "And here is a portal located, which can be used to travel to the Plane of Dreams or to the Plane of Nightmares?" "Wrong. It can be used for both. Antaros did realise that and tried to close it. Too late." "Ah, yes. That I wanted to know. Now, are we to fight or do you want to leave in peace, Andrès?" The answer was not spoken aloud. It manifested in front of Laren.