Monday, June 1, 2009

Berserker Part 6

The group was asleep long before he decided it was safe to sneak from the clearing where they had chosen to camp. It was a clear, cool summer night. The greater and lesser moons chased each other through the sky as the stars twinkled above and the air was filled with the sounds of all the nocturnal animals awaking.

The smoldering embers of the cooking fire gave just enough light to see a rippling in the air, as a pebble is thrown into a pond. As his eyes lingered on the shimmering he could feel heat on the nape of his neck, he turned around and was nearly blinded by the flaring embers. They had risen off the ground and were swooping towards him! He threw himself to the ground and the hot coals soared over him and interposed themselves over the shimmering in the air, melding together to form a smoking and sputtering doorway. Inside was darkness, not the absence of light, but the essence of darkness. A sort of anti-light. The man quickly shielded his eyes, to look into that doorway was to brave blindness. Where it led could be found on no map or atlas, for it was a tear in the boundaries of this world. He ran through the doorway, making sure not to burn himself.

He floated through the void, on fire and frozen, dead and alive, his body was dissolved. Yet his thoughts remained. He thought of his lungs and there they were, he thought of his heart and there it was. Piece by piece he was reassembled, kneeling in front of a large stone table.

It looked as if this table was the very first ever created, covered with arcane symbols and patterns which glowed with an eerie inner fire and hurt the eyes when viewed, it was a proto-table. Of the gargantuan seats surrounding the table, only 3 were occupied. One was dressed in the skins of creatures that the world was thankful to have never known, a bow of black iron and a quiver close at hand. The other was cloaked and cowled, only his pale, gnarled hands were visible. His body shook and jumped like a man in the throes of a terminal illness. The third was sitting at the head of the table in a throne carved out of ebony, the semblance’s of screaming demons were carved into its surface and seemed to writhe when looked upon. His body was swathed in blood red armor, its surface had a glistening organic quality, seeming to sweat in the stifling air. Not even his eyes were visible through the slits in his helmet.

Lit candelabras surrounding the table burned brightly, but only served to further alienate the 3 from anything that could be considered normal. The room they occupied was absolutely cavernous. It was so large that the lights didn’t even illuminate the walls or ceiling. He fervently hoped that there were walls and a ceiling, that could surely be the only explanation for the oppressive gloom that weighted the air.

He took a few steps toward the foot of the table, after this didn’t make any real change in his distance from them, he realized how large the figures actually were. They seemed to have been constructed at a size one fifth larger than normal, and the furniture was equally cut to their proportions. It took him a few more moments to get to within easy speaking distance.

“What have you to report?”, demanded the armored being. Strange, he could’ve sworn that he never saw the knight move and his ears never heard a thing, but he knew the figure’s question. The being’s voice bypassing the ears and sending the question straight to his mind, there seemed to be a hollow, echoing quality to the words.

He forced himself to speak “The Bloodthorns have been stopped short of their goal, my lord”. His words came out thin and quiet, as if the oppressive weight of the air was trying to crush them. “They were destroyed in Jeriscar”.

A shrieking cackle was received in response. He looked over to see that it was the sound of the figure clad in skins laughing. It looked to the cowled being and said in a voice that altered pitch with nearly every word to the point where it could’ve broken glass at times, “I told you that those greenskinned runts would do no good Dommiel!” It was clear that this one had thrown itself into the pit of insanity and had dwelt happily in its bottom for some time. Thankfully, it spoke aloud rather than in that unholy mindspeech that was used before.

The cowled creature known as Dommiel just chuckled to himself and waved a clawlike hand in the air. The darkness was driven further away by the apparition which sprang forth there. It took the shape of a very large man, rail thin and tired looking, but with a fire of determination in his eyes. The prostating figure at the foot of the table gasped in recognition as he saw that it was Jarn.

Dommiel replied in a voice that was choked with the secretions and pustules of a thousand plagues, “I had hopes that they wouldn’t make it. It would’ve meant that my scrying led me astray. Seeing as it didn’t, let’s not trouble ourselves with such matters”.

“Who is he?”, intoned the suit of armor with the same hollow voice.

“I was just getting to that Zepar”, Dommiel said, bridling at having been interrupted. “This boy has a fire which drew me from leagues away, he will serve as the perfect vessel”.

A few moments of stunned silence followed this shocking news. The worshipper shifted uncomfortably, inadvertently regaining the attention of the three seated demons. “You will protect this boy with your life to make sure that he reaches the ancient place” , Zepar said. There was no arguing with his words, it wasn’t an order or question, it was a simple statement of fact.

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