B10 – NIGHT’S DARK TERROR
23 FELMONT OF 1005 AC
ABOUT BRANNART AND HIS PRIMEVAL FEAR FOR THE UNDEATH.
“What are you thinking?” Tiberius had approached not so quietly because of the heavy armor, but he, lost in his thoughts, had not heard him. He winced at the sight of his friend. “Sorry. I didn’t want to scare you!” smiled the Thyatian. He liked the paladin of Tarastia and it was for sure the companion with whom he had immediately began a sincere relationship of friendship, based above all on respect and trust. “Bad night.” He just muttering in his rough Common, marked by strong Klantyre accent.
“We are not obliged to go to the mound, you know.” Tiberius nearly wanted to justify himself, as the one that most had insisted the day before to deviate from the original route, leading to the Lake of Lost Dreams, to go up instead at three ancient tombs on the crest of the highest hill in the area. It was so that the previous night they had camped in sight of the high hill on top of which were clearly visible three round mounds with the intention to face the next day with the favor of the light of day.
But Brannart had not slept all night, and in his heart he knew that this did not depend only from the worry of that place, with its omens of death. The events of the mine of the gnomes Vissaryon and Tekaryon had undoubtedly marked him and the necklace … Yes, the ancient Nithia necklace. With one hand he sought the jewel that he jealously kept in the inside pocket of his leather jacket. Days before, when the gnome Vissaryon, desperate for the disappearance of his brother Tekaryon, had begged to bring him safely back at home, he had agreed and had got in return a promise that he would receive the most precious treasure, beyond the ancient statue of the goddess Maat, discovered on the site. A gold necklace of great value. With his companions he had managed to kill the giant predator spider that infested the tunnels of the mine and the entire orc clan that worshiped the beast like a deity. Besides the caves of the Black Web Orcs they had then discovered a series of steps, unknown even to the gnomes and particularly unstable. They had continued on driven mainly by the greed of the dwarf Adrik and here they found that the old complex was anything but natural, but rather the old rooms of an ancient temple. The deadly ambush was sudden and unexpected, at the hands of twelve small silver statuettes of slender jackal-headed men. Adrik had identified them as Nithians artifacts but after touching them, they animated and … Dan almost died. Dan and Marjana, two of his companions, had been in serious danger of dying in the last hours and this had upset him a lot. Dark thoughts and a sinister omen gripped his heart, as the tight icy grip of the white wight of the Skullhorn Pass.
“It’s time to go”. This time the shrill and determined voice of Tiberius was addressed to the whole group. “It will take at least a couple of hours to reach the top of the hill and I want to get there under the morning light.” The curtains had been removed, the backpacks loaded and placed on the shoulders. The first, Vaeris and Stoik, had already gone, fast and sure-footed. Dan passed alongside him throwing a quick glance, as if to make sure he was all right. Adrik however, who had beautifully ignored him all the time, muttered to himself. “Brannart!” when he heard Tiberius call him he saw that he had lingered a good twenty meters from the rest of the group. He breathed deeply. “AYE!” he just answered by moving towatrds the companions and progressing with long strides. Something troubled him. But what?
– – –
“The sky was clear. There was not even the smallest cloud.” merely stated Marjana although the sound of her voice was anything but serene.
“This sudden night, this intense cold, are anything but natural. I just wonder what kind of magic .. ” Stoik didn’t finish the phrase.
“Undeads.” Tiberius, in front of the group, had narrowed his eyes for a moment, with his left arm squeezing strongly the shield. The right arm was stretched forward, hand open and palm facing the ancient tomb, the middle of the three, which they had approached. “I feel their presence. They are approaching. “
“Where? WHERE?” Brannart felt a cold and dead shiver ran down his back. The claymore unsheathed and wielded two-handed. The look moving all around, from the mounds to his companions. “I feel them everywhere” even Tiberius seemed to have lost the usual assuredness. The place was overwhelming them. Brannart then saw, as in a sort of mental limbo between hallucination and reality, the shadow of Dan stretching towards him and take a twisted and diabolical form. It came to less than a foot from him and he saw it stretching upwards, as if it emerged from a chasm, black and deep as the Abyss, and materialized in front of him. It was at least a foot taller than him, black, shapeless and ever-changing. It was then that he began to hear his companions screaming, Adrik’s fire arrows trail the dark and unnatural night, suddenly fallen upon them. The shadow ghostly hand sank in his body with ease, like a red-hot knife would have sunk in the butter. The undead grabbed his heart. An intense chill spread through the body, stiffening his limbs and blocking his breath. From the mouth began to come out a strange vapor, as sucked out by the undead soul. The fear began to dominate him.
“BY THE POWER OF GOODNESS AND LAW I COMMAND YOU TO RETURN TO YOUR FINAL REST AND NEVER TROUBLE THIS WORLD AGAIN!”
And then in the memory of Brannart after shadows and night, frost and death, there was only a blinding light. He and his companions coming down the ridge. Again the light of the day and the warmth of the sun on his skin. Life slowly returned to his body.
The graves on the ridge had been there for centuries and could wait a bit longer, he said to himself.