A flash awakens me in the night. I roll to my feet, morningstar in hand, ready to do battle. I need not have bothered, as I see Revikh standing before us. His eyes are dark in the firelight; he looks as if he has not slept since we met. Standing with him are a priest, a monk, and a small girl in dark clothes…a rogue, perhaps?
My mind is slow this night, and we talk little. Introductions, names, not much else are shared. Revikh points out that they are like us, and asks us…nearly begs us…to travel together. We do not waste many words when we realize that they also bear the riddle of crystal. We travel, to Wroat.
We split up when we reach the town, and Relowen joins me to talk amongst the warriors and such in taverns, seeking news. We hear of strange things, gnolls perhaps, in the forest nearby. We travel, the seven of us, to seek and learn. We should have waited to the next morning.
We do, in fact, find gnolls. And we wage war with them. But something, some swift and terrible thing, some winged thing takes Ivy. Away, into the night. I run after her, and the priest flies with magicks, and Relowen runs with me. It is not long before we lose sight of her, but we run on, hoping to catch up with the wings in the darkness. It is not the wisest choice this warrior has ever made, but the Rage clouds my mind, and I wish only to crush whatever has taken one of my companions.
We run long into the night, until we must rest. My eyes must have closed for a time, as I am awakened by something moving closeby. I stand, ready to fight, the ivory Morningstar in my hand. I see the deathly pale visages of our foes, 8 by my count. They are wan, thin, but powerful. They smile to reveal fangs. I smile to answer them, and call the Beast within.
The vampires begin to slash at us, their claws cutting deep furrows into the flesh of my arms. I crush, I smash, and realize that I have put down two of them, and left more aflame by the magick of my weapon. I hear a cry, and look to my right to see Relowen fall under the weight of his foes, but I am too hard pressed to help him. I double my efforts, fighting as hard as I ever have, beyond pain, beyond reason. But they are many, as are my wounds. I smash another, but feel a dull impact on the side of my head.
All goes dark, and I feel as light as air for a moment. Then I know nothing more.
I do not know how much time has gone by when my eyes open. I can tell it has been long, as my throat and lips are dry. I feel weak, drained. My wounds are bandaged, but not otherwise treated. I am in pain.
I look over at Relowen, seeing that he is chained to the wall, as am I. He looks worse than I feel, his hair plastered to his head by dried blood, his face bruised. I twist against the wall and feel a sharp prick in my thigh…I look down to see the crystal knife, my riddle, sitting at my hip as if it were sheathed there…but the sheath, the belt, is gone. Its magick holds it there, another question in the riddle.
“Elf” I say.
“Mmmmf” he replies. He raises his head, opens his eyes, slowly.
“Are you alright?”
“Not even remotely”, he says.
I tug at the chains, and Relowen notices. “What are you doing?” he asks.
I glare at him, the answer obvious. He pulls at his chains, but has no more success than I. My heart catches in my throat then, my eyes wide, as I feel the crystal pulse, sending a wave of power into me.
“What is wrong?” Relowen asks, worry on his face. I answer him by ripping the chains apart, lengths still dangling from my wrists. I then break Relowen free, pulling his chains asunder as if they were made of sticks.
I feel stronger than I ever have, and for me, that is saying something. I grasp the door of our cell, and give a mighty heave. It resists me for only a moment, and I toss it against the wall of our cell. Relowen raises an eyebrow, but I have no answers. I merely pat the dagger at my hip, and motion to the hallway. Relowen leads on, and we travel the dark hallway to a staircase.
Another pulse swells within me, and I kick the door asunder. We are met by two vampires, and I call the Beast. My fingernails become claws, wicked and sharp. I long for vengeance against my captors, and I move to attack the nearest vampire. I leave a deep set of furrows across its throat, but it staggers away from my next strike.
Before I can close the distance, the door across the room comes crashing in, and two lines of black power envelop the vampires we face. They become man-sized clouds of ash, and I am shocked to find Revikh standing before us, bleeding from a dozen wounds.
He twists the gem on one of his rings, then touches himself, and I watch his wounds close. He repeats this with Relowen and I, and my thirst dissipates as my body is healed by powerful magicks. It is painful at first, then strangely soothing. We gather our captured gear, and prepare to attempt our escape.
“Revikh.” I say. He looks to me. I say nothing more, extending my hand to him. He grasps it.
“Thank you for acting with honor.” He nods, and then I feel magicks stir again. We suddenly stand in the great hall of a keep, which I guess is the same building we have been kept in.
A rich, deep voice speaks from behind us. “Leaving so soon?”
“Your hospitality is less than perfect” I reply. I turn slowly to see a vampire in regal robes, with perhaps 20 of his underlings nearby. This is not going to go well, and my hand grips the handle of my morningstar. If I am to die, I will make my death a good one.
“How long have you continued to live?” I ask.
“That is a rude question” he replies. I begin to reply, stalling for time, but Relowen interrupts.
“What are you, a woman?” The elf grins at his quip, but he has tipped the vampire too far. It raises one hand, and signals its minions to attack.
I will not die here, now. I am filled with rage, as the vampires charge Relowen and I. Revikh disappears, then reappears near the Vampire King, and they strike at each other with powerful magicks. As I stand ground, and begin to swat vampire claws away from me, I hear the great keep door being blasted by something powerful. This day is not the best day, but it may be the last day of my song.
The door falls, and I am ready for the worst. But surprise is mine, as it is Drakha and our companions who have broken the great keep door! The priest, Kouki, moves into the room and calls upon his god to turn undead. I see smoke rise from some of the vampires, but their king is unaffected, and moves with amazing quickness to strike the priest down. He falls like a puppet with its strings cut.
Revikh intercepts the vampire king, and they are hidden from view by the powers of their magicks as they strike at each other furiously. I watch for a moment as the monk grabs Kouki, pulling him away. He appears to be dead. I crush another vampire in front of me, ending its unnatural life, and spin to strike the one behind me.
It sidesteps my strike, and tears into my arm. I feel the pain, and I am driven to strike harder in my rage. Kouki and the monk return to the fight, surprising me. I would have sworn the priest’s death song had come. Relowen flees to the other side of the room, leaving me pinned on the wrong side of a wall of vampires. I will have words with him if I survive, and let him know he is a girl.
Drakha shouts to me to help Revikh, and I see that the vampire king has dragged him nearly out of the room. I cannot move to him, though, as 2 vampires are busy tearing into my flesh. Suddenly, Kouki is beside me. I hear Revikh scream, and this frightens me more than any vampire can. Whatever can make a power like his scream, is nothing I want to experience. I smash one of the vampires into oblivion, and Ivy casts her deathly magicks at the king.
The world goes dark, and I feel myself fall, the weight of my wounds pulling me down into darkness. I feel a light in that darkness, spreading within me. It washes away my pain, and I can rise again. My rage has left me, but Kouki’s touch has healed the worst of my wounds. I waste no time, unleashing all my hate in a vicious backhand, smashing the last vampire that had hurt me, crushing its head between morning star and bricks. I leave its black blood splattered on the wall like a halo.
Revikh and a man I do not know fight the vampire king, and I move to join as well, though it may cost my life. My strikes bounce off the vampire, and it ignores me as a seal ignores the cold. I can do no more than distract it, but I do so with all my might. A thousand thousand biting flies may bring down an aurochs.
The next minute goes by me in a blur of flame and magick, as we fight to bring the vampire low. Just when I allow myself to hope we will defeat it, it disappears and a flock of bats is there, flying away from us, mocking us in its retreat. The keep begins to quake and rumble, and we have only time for shocked and frightened glances at each other as we all sprint to escape, dodging falling stone and erupting flame. Rather than die with honor, this evil creature sacrifices its home in a final attempt to destroy us as it flees into the night in a hundred directions.
We escape, but only just. Some of us are wounded terribly, and healing magicks are cast. It has been a horrible day, but we all still draw breath, while most of our foes do not…and that makes the day good in my eyes.