Nightfire: Prologue

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Wing Rider, Jun 19, 2006.

  1. Wing Rider

    Wing Rider Psychotic Cybernetica

    May 18, 2006
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    Damnit I've been trying to find the rest of what I've done and it's not on the school computer...but it's at home somewhere. Thanks again for reading it. :D
    The next bit is good. That's all I will say for now whilst I beat up this stupid computer.
  2. Wing Rider

    Wing Rider Psychotic Cybernetica

    May 18, 2006
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    “Magus work!” Kilgun shouted, as the pale-white faces of their enemies closed in from around them. He brought the black weapon at his side to eye level and fired. A tunnel of sound shattered the air, and two skeletons stopped dead in their tracks as their heads simply exploded. Then they were trampled under their comrades feet, who continued to march towards the small group in their midst.
    The purple lightning writhed in the air, as if alive.
    “Brace,” said Agrilos, his face calm. “Put that thing away, Kilgun.”
    The man stared at him in astonishment for a moment, and then complied. The weapon disappeared into the darkness of his belt.
    Zerras fitted an arrow to his bow, sighted and fired. The arrow found its mark in the breastplate of another skeleton, piercing it clean-through. The creature did not seem to notice. The Drakeling archer hesitated, then shot three more arrows in rapid succession, which all struck the same skeleton around its mid-section. The skeleton staggered back from the force of the blows, but kept going.
    A fifth arrow pierced its eye-socket. At last the skeleton seemed to shudder and shake, and the red glow in its eyes faded abruptly. Slowly it disintegrated and was turned to dust as the other creatures marched over its inanimate corpse.
    The purple lightning spiralled about in the clouds above them in agitation.
    “If you aim at them at all,” the High Priest suggested, his face still unbelievingly calm, “aim at their skull, so as to destroy the connection between their soul and the creature who is controlling them.”
    Malgeron whirled around to face him, his features hard with anger. “What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded.
    The purple lightning crackled and spat at the clouds, then left the clouds completely.
    “Peace, my friend,” Agrilos said softly, speaking to everyone at once. “You need only to trust me. Now, brace.”
    Brace for what? Seretia wanted to scream. What is going to happen?
    “In the next few seconds,” the High Priest continued calmly, “you may find it advisable to duck. But not for very long.”
    The lightning had reformed itself into a large cylindrical tube. Agrilos paid no attention to it whatsoever, his concentration on something else. Seretia watched the unnatural lightning for several moments, fearful of what it was doing. It was changing shape even as she gazed at it, sprouting branches here and there, taking on the shape of…a staff of some kind?
    Then without warning, the purple lightning darted downwards right at Agrilos, the sky screaming as it did so.
    The High Priest staggered back as the colossal bolt hit him in the middle of his face, his hands held up to protect himself, his face ashen…
    Time seemed to freeze for a second.
    And then it seemed to Seretia that the bolt of destruction had not hit the High Priest at all, had not even touched him, but was barely an inch away from doing so…for it seemed that Agrilos was holding it back from himself with magic of his own. As she continued to watch, unable to look away, the lightning seemed further and further away, its light fading…
    Malgeron gave a sudden shout. He had noticed what everybody else had missed, being mesmerised by Agrilos’ battle with the magical bolt.
    The army around them was almost upon them. They were so close that Seretia could smell them. She could smell death and decay, for there was nothing living in that horde of pale-white.
    She turned desperately to the High Priest, who was still straining to keep the bolt of purple lightning further from his face. He hadn’t moved. She searched for any way out, any gap in the army of skeletons. There wasn’t any.
    She knew that if they would try to fight their way out, they would not survive. There was no way out, none at all…
    Brace!” shouted Agrilos suddenly.
    He jerked his head back, whipped his right hand up, caught the lightning bolt in a flash of burning flesh and unleashed the whole of its awesome destructive power into the skeletons, as Seretia, Malgeron and the others of their group ducked just in time.
    The High Priest screamed in pain; Seretia could smell his skin burning. He let go of the bolt at last and it ripped into the rest of the army, obliterating hundreds more of the skeletons and making a clear path in their midst. A way out. A chance to escape. The army had stalled, the skeletons faltering in their steps, confused by the sudden deaths of the greater half of their comrades, who were now little more than piles of smoke and bones.
    Agrilos was injured quite badly, it seemed, but when he turned around his eyes were on fire.
    “What are you waiting for?” he screamed in fury. “Flee, curse you!”
    They needed no further persuasion. As one, they ran for the opening in the army of skeletons that was their only chance for safety. With Malgeron leading, Kilgun close behind him, and the High Priest limping just slightly, clutching his scorched hand to himself, the air was suddenly filled with the sound of their ragged breathing, desperately trying to reach the gap in the wall.
    A gap that was rapidly closing, for the skeletons were starting to recover from the initial shock. As they jerked themselves upright once more, they began to close in.
    Malgeron, Vyrell and Kilgun reached the opening and flung themselves through the deadly ring of swords as their opponents continued to march closer. The skeletons ignored all three warriors, and kept moving. The Lorekki stared over at them with amazement for a few moments, then realised that nobody else had made it out.
    “Galderos!” Agrilos shouted as the marching continued and the skeletons came so close that they were almost on top of them.
    The blonde warrior turned.
    “Your staff!”
    Galderos caught the steel staff in one hand as it hurtled through the air. In a spiralling motion, he levelled it at the approaching skeletons and made a motion with it that Seretia could not make out. However, even over the sound of marching, she could make out the faint click that resounded.
    In the next moment, dozens and dozens of metal spikes were propelled out of the staff and into the front line of their enemies. The skeletons went flying back, driven back by the assault, and the gap in their lines widened once more.
    “Go!” Galderos shouted.
    Zerras and Haufkhin sprang for the opening, with Agrilos and Seretia following on their heels. The skeletons’ swords lifted as they approached, the manic fire in their eye sockets a reflection of the fate that awaited them. Seretia was terrified, her desperate need to live giving her unexpected strength, as the opening in front of her began to shrink rapidly. Zerras and Haufkhin reached it – and then the swords of the skeletons swept down. Haufkhin turned and drove a spiked fist into the face of a skeleton, crushing it. The opening widened, and Zerras took the opportunity to join the others on the other side.
    Then the opening closed.
    “Seretia!” came the gruff voice of Uncle Radrick behind her. She turned to see him struggling to catch up. “Keep running!”
    Galderos levelled the deadly staff at the skeletons, flinging them back again with row upon row of metal spikes. Seretia put on one last extra burst of strength and gained the opening. She gasped for breath, rolling over and over on the ground, finding herself on the edge of safety at last. She was safe.
    But not everyone had made it through. The skeletons continued to advance on Galderos, Haufkhin and Agrilos. And Uncle Radrick. Her heart caught in her throat. He hadn’t come through!
    “Uncle Radrick!” she cried.
    Then the opening widened again as the skeletons were blown apart once more, and Galderos appeared in their midst, spikes flying in all direction, the staff in his hands spinning so fast that it was a silver blur. The blonde warrior made it past the skeletons and came to a slow halt, breathing heavily, his face cut and bleeding from the swords of his opponents.
    Agrilos!” Malgeron shouted.
    He looked around furiously at his exhausted companions, and then ran back towards the skeletons that they had barely escaped from, swinging Singing Blood in a wide arc above his head. Seretia realised what he was going to try to do – to come to the aid of Haufkhin, Agrilos and Uncle Radrick, all by himself. It was suicide. There would be hundreds of skeletons on all sides…
    The Lorekki cut down several skeletons before they even realised he was there. Swords glinted in the sudden light, and then Malgeron found himself completely surrounded. He slashed in a complete circle, destroyed everything that touched him, and came to the wounded High Priest who was somehow still on his feet. Agrilos wasted no more time, and plunged through the gap in the wall, out of the grasp of the skeletons and within safety.
    Seretia’s eyes widened as she caught sight of Agrilos’ right hand. It was burnt so badly that the skin had turned black. There was still smoke coming out of it.
    “What do you think you’re doing?” the High Priest demanded angrily, staggering forward. “You think you’re safe, do you? Get across to Lorekki country! We can make it, and there we will be out of danger!”
    “Malgeron’s back there!” Kilgun shouted.
    “He’ll survive. He always does. Get to the border now or we’re all finished!” Agrilos didn’t even look at what was left of his right hand. “We’ve got enough strength to do so. Now put it to good use!”
    Kilgun did not argue. He turned towards the dim outline of the Lorekki border, not too far beyond the nearest hill, and began running swiftly, with the others not too far behind him. Seretia was already exhausted to the point of collapse, but Zerras, who was at her side, helped her along, somehow keeping her upright. Her thoughts of Uncle Radrick faded to the back of her mind, but were not banished completely. Could he escape? He had to. She knew that he simply had to.
    She realised how little attention she had paid to him throughout their journey. Her mind had been on other things. Why couldn’t she have been more grateful? She bit down on her lip until she could taste blood. The pain cut through her and fuelled her low strength, reminding her that she was alive.
    She collapsed at last, too tired to run anymore. Zerras had released her, and she tumbled to the ground in a heap, her hair spilling in an untidy shambles. Some part of her mind noticed that everybody else had stopped. Agrilos was looking past her, and Seretia knew, then, that, they had crossed the border over to Lorekki country. They were safe.
    Uncle Radrick.
    She forced herself to turn, and experienced a blinding pain in her neck that insisted otherwise. She fought the pain and gazed into the red fire of the eyes of hundreds of skeletons marching towards her.
    They had turned back, and were coming for them. Agrilos had been wrong after all. Crossing the border would not guarantee their safety.
    A dark figure emerged out of the army, his great sword slaughtering everything in his path. The skeletons were trying to reach him, but were not having much success, considering the fact that he seemed to be untouchable. Singing Blood caught the light and smashed apart another frame of bone.
    “Malgeron!” Zerras shouted.
    The Lorekki looked up, his eyes smiling. Besides him was a bulky scaly form that could only be Haufkhin. Uncle Radrick, Seretia thought, her heart racing. Where is he? Where is he? But then she did see him, the Dwarf fighting for his life as sword blades screamed towards his face, his face changing as he caught sight of the Elven girl. His eyes narrowed and he pressed forward with more determination.
    But even as he did so, the skeletons seemed to grow in size and number, as if their power was increasing. There were certainly far more of them then there had been at the start…
    “Run for the border!” the Lorekki roared at his two companions, and plunged forward regardless. Skeletons charging at him from all sides, their bony skulls completely expressionless, Malgeron cut through the last remnants of the enemies that dared come close to him, dived through with a final scream, and hurled himself across the border into Lorekki country. The skeletons did not attempt to pursue him. They would not, somehow. They did not seem to care. Agrilos had been right after all – for some reason the skeletons would not cross over the border.
    Seretia managed to pull herself to her feet now, and this time she saw that Haufkhin was very close to the border, fighting with every weapon at his disposal as more and more skeletons barred his way. Uncle Radrick fought alongside him, his axe and mace destroying enemies galore. There were so many; they were hopelessly outnumbered. They would not survive.
    “We must help them!” Galderos cried.
    The High Priest did not look at him, his own breath a low hiss through his cracked lips. “What could you do against so many? Even as we watch, more enemies arise from the dust of their companions.”
    He was right. The bones of the skeletons that had been earlier destroyed by the lightning bolt had stirred with an evil red light that was uniting them together into new skeletons. They had not been destroyed – they had only been knocked down temporarily. It was happening all over in the entire army.
    Seretia stared at him for a few moments, and tears came to her eyes. “No!” she cried, as bones piled up in front of her and reformed themselves into fresh attackers as she watched. “No!
    Haufkhin and Uncle Radrick were almost concealed from view – such was the bulk of the enemies coming up against them. The strong Drakeling had lost his sword, and now he was fighting with fist and tail, smashing skulls with every movement. He gained a slight breather, inhaled deeply and held that breath. When the next row of skeletons charged, he threw back his head and the spikes on his tail stuck out at their maximum length. Then hot green acid exploded out of his mouth and engulfed his attackers, burning them to pieces. Another row of skeletons came up behind him, swords flashing. Haufkhin roared to the sky, and then he was underneath the skeletons, lost from view, his roar echoing in the air.
    Upon seeing this, Zerras’ fists were clenched so tightly that the skin had changed colour. His face was hard and his teeth bloody.
    “Uncle Radrick!” Seretia screamed.
    The Dwarf had vanished too in the same way. His axe was imbedded in the skull of an opponent, his mace destroyed beyond recognition. There was no sign of Uncle Radrick at all as more and more skeletons marched inwards with blind purpose.
    All they could do was watch, powerless to do anything at all as the impossibly huge army marched, the sound thick with their scent of decay. There must have been thousands. Too many. Far, far too many.
    Seretia collapsed to the ground once more, his face wet with her tears, which stained the ground like blood, seeping in and turning soil to mud. She didn’t move, her heart feeling as if it had been ripped apart from the inside out. Uncle Radrick, gone. So quickly that it hadn’t seemed real. There was nobody else she could turn to now, nobody at all…
    She was alone. For the first time in her life, she was completely and utterly alone, and she could not bear it for a single second. Her weeping drowned out by the sound of skeletons marching, she pressed her face to the ground so hard that the rocks cut into her forehead. The pain did not bother her. There was greater pain from within, much greater.
    She wanted to choke herself with the soil of the ground and bring herself the peace in death that she had never reached in life. She wanted to rip her brain out of her skull and insert into her heart so that she might have something good to remember.
    She didn’t move again, or stop crying, until the rain came and washed away all her tears with the sadness of a phoenix.

    When Seretia awoke, the sound of marching had stopped. The stench of death had been mercifully lifted from the air. The rain drenched her face and plastered her golden hair to her scalp. Yet she did not trust herself enough to open her eyes. All she could think was of Uncle Radrick, giving his life to save hers. They had had their differences, especially in the past week, and to have it all end like this…it was very hard indeed. She wanted to turn back time and change it, for the better.
    “Seretia,” came a voice at her side.
    The girl stirred uneasily, recognising Agrilos. The High Priest’s face was streaked with blood, and his emerald robes seemed torn and battered. His right hand was covered by strips of cloth that must have been taken from his own robes. Angrily, she shook him away.
    To her surprise, he left her where she crouched in a huddle on the ground. From a broader point of view, her current position could have been that she was genuflecting to Lorission or some similar deity.
    “We must go on,” the High Priest said sharply, when she refused to look at him or even move. “Two of our number are dead. I did warn you not to come, Seretia, but you did insist. Some prices must be paid, and this is one such price. If we all broke down whenever a loved one or a close companion was lost to us, we would all have been dead many lifetimes ago. Be thankful that we are still alive. Be thankful that you are still alive.”
    Seretia raised her head and gazed past the border where the skeletons had almost destroyed them. She didn’t know what she expected to see – bones, perhaps? The corpse of the valiant Haufkhin and her own uncle? Perhaps something along those lines.
    What she did not expect to see, however, was what she saw now. There was nothing left of the morning terror – no bones, no bodies, nothing. There was no sign to show that the skeletons had even existed, or even that Haufkhin and Uncle Radrick had even set foot on that land. Any footprints or marks in the dirt had vanished without a trace.
    Seretia came to her feet slowly, more out of amazement and curiosity than anything else. All evidence of what had happened had completely disappeared. Her eyes in shock, she turned to Agrilos for some explanation.
    The others of their group had done the same. Malgeron and Vyrell sat on the ground, their eyes questioning. Kilgun leant against a slender tree, his calm face gazing into the distance. Zerras, now the only Drakeling of their party, was also looking in the same direction.
    At first she couldn’t see Galderos, but then noticed that the warrior had bowed his head to the earth, his blonde hair obscuring the rest of him from view.
    “Yes,” the High Priest confirmed, nodding gravely and striding towards them where they listened safely behind the Lorekki border. “I did not anticipate this. As there are able users of magic here in the Inner Sphere, there are those in the Outer Sphere. An especially talented user of magic has used their power such that they re-animated the bones of the dead into living skeletons that are under their power.”
    A shocked silence greeted these words. “You are absolutely certain?” Galderos asked. “It is truly possible for a single man to gain complete control over the minds of so many? There must have been thousands of those creatures in that army.”
    “One man can do that,” Kilgun murmured, almost to himself. “One man can raise the dead to create an army that little can stand against. Imagine a whole army of these same magic-users – a thousand men, each creating armies of the dead of their own. Millions of armies, all coming to life.”
    Agrilos sighed. “You exaggerate there. I did not say that one man could raise an army like the one that almost destroyed us. More to the point, I did not say there was a whole army of them. Now will you stop coming to these abstract conclusions and listen to what is the truth?”
    The brown-haired man glared at him, but did so.
    “Thank you. Firstly, I will start with the magic-user who cast the complex spell that formed skeletons from mere bones, and gave the caster complete control over their minds. It is possible for someone to do this – it is even possible for one such as myself to do it, I believe, although I have never tried. Besides, I would never think of doing such a thing, not even as a purposeful demonstration. It would exhaust me to the point of near-unconsciousness if I tried to maintain my hold for too long.
    “As I say, one person can do it, but it requires almost everything they have. This person is not a man. They use magic, but they are not human, and certainly not Drakeling. Elven magic is an interesting consideration, but that kind of dark magic is not taught to Elves anymore, so it cannot be an Elf either.
    “That would leave only one solution.” The High Priest did not look at Malgeron Steelmaster. “The magic-user must have been a Lorekki.”
    Seretia almost lost her balance again. A Lorekki? A Lorekki killed Uncle Radrick? She had been in Malgeron’s presence for long enough to think more of Lorekki than anything else. It was almost unthinkable that one would actually...
    “No,” Malgeron said sharply, his tone firm. “Not a Lorekki. There are few Lorekki who have magic, and in those few cases the magic is very small indeed. No Lorekki, no matter how skilled, could control thousands of skeletons like that.”
    Agrilos almost smiled. “There are some, Malgeron, that would call what happened here “necromancy”. There are others who would say that Lorekki are the so-called necromancers. As far as many people are concerned, you race is filthy and despised. Your race is capable of things that ought not to be understood.”
    Malgeron’s face turned black. “There are many other creatures who wish to rip our souls from our bodies, Agrilos. You don’t impress me. I lived with my own race for the better part of my life, and I know them better than I know myself. We do not use magic – not on such a large scale as this.” His hands indicated the whole of the empty land before the border. “We do not use magic, High Priest.”
    Agrilos did not reply, nor did he look back at him. His eyes seemed to wander into the distance, for a few moments.
    Meanwhile, Zerras had been pacing up and down for a few moments, his movements furtive, his face patient but anxious. He seemed to be thinking something through in his mind. Then he stopped pacing and cocked his head, staring straight at the High Priest.
    “What if,” the Drakeling suggested, “the creature that raised this army did not live in the Inner Sphere?”
    Galderos, who had kept his head bowed to the earth during this time, flicked his face back up again, disgust written in. “Are you mad? We are in the Inner Sphere! We are not anywhere else!”
    “We are in Lorekki country,” Kilgun corrected. “The part of the Inner Sphere that is on the absolute border of the Outer Sphere.” He glanced at the young Drakeling archer with respect. “Very acute observation there, if I may say so.”
    Malgeron spat on the ground. “So you think the magic-user was a creature from the Outer Sphere. Why would any creature dare come this far into Lorkeki country? And not just into Lorekki country – but all the way through and into Drakeling country?”
    “Shadowpirates,” the High Priest said softly.
    Seretia stared at him in horror, the truth clouding her vision in a wave of impossibility.
  3. Wing Rider

    Wing Rider Psychotic Cybernetica

    May 18, 2006
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    Seretia stared at him in horror, the truth clouding her vision in a wave of impossibility.
    “The Shadowpirates are marching, are they not?” Agrilos continued. “Building an army, the Drakelings at Kurokh had discovered. A Shadowpirate this far into the Inner Sphere. And not just any ordinary Shadowpirate – but a Shadowpirate Magus. Yes, the creatures of the Outer Sphere are particularly gifted in their magical skills. A Shadowpirate Magus would most certainly have the power to raise an army of skeletons. An experienced one, perhaps, but they would most certainly have the power.”
    The Shadowpirates, Seretia thought in desperation. They had come this far into her world already, and they had not been travelling more than a week! Wherever they went, it seemed that their chances of survival declined further and further. Perhaps soon there would be no choice but to simply die. Soulsuckers on one side, Shadowpirates on the other – and a Shadowpirate Magus too. What could they do against such odds?
    Of course. Nightfire. But what would it do? How would it help them in their plight, if at all? What if it was only a legend, and did not exist? What if what they were doing here was all in vain?
    A moment later she caught herself – she was not thinking as she should. This was not the way to think – her, Seretia, on a quest of such importance, barely able to make any difference, when she could die as quickly as Haufkhin and Uncle Radrick had. Why had she come? Why couldn’t she have stayed in Kurokh like everyone had insisted she should? Why had she been so blindingly stupid?
    “One thing to consider,” Agrilos said suddenly, commanding their attention once more. “The Shadowpirate Magi – the plural of Magus, as it is called – are not very common. Of all Shadowpirates, many are gifted in magic but do not seek to apply their skill, and so do not keep their magic for very long. Those that do become very powerful indeed. They become Magi – yet there are not very many of them. It is very likely that the Magus who almost killed all of us stumbled on us merely by chance.”
    “Did you kill him?” Seretia said quietly. Vyrell and Kilgun started; they had forgotten she was there.
    “Unfortunately, no,” said the High Priest grimly. “I was able to use his own magic against his own creations, which bought us our lives, but at a cost.” He indicated his right hand, which was still bandaged. “Meddling with Shadowpirate magic is never wise, as you can imagine. The Magus, I’m afraid, has disappeared. The army he controlled marched off into the distance – away from Drakeling country, thankfully enough. It’s possible that he might have been nothing more than a scout.” Agrilos turned to all of them with a sad smile. “Think on this: the skeletons can not possibly keep together for longer than a day. Shadowpirate magic is very powerful, but not eternal. By tomorrow, we might even find the remains of the army.”
    “Tomorrow?” Zerras repeated.
    “Yes. We have passed Flinelle, and are now heading towards the Lorekki city of Gervallon, which is where we are supposed to be going.”
    Kilgun laughed sarcastically. “So you took us the wrong way after all. I warned you that I didn’t want to go off track, and still you went the wrong way.”
    “I took a short cut,” the High Priest snapped, gritting his teeth together. “It put us in the right direction, and that was all that important.”
    “It almost got us killed!”
    The last vestiges of Agrilos’ patience began to fade away. “There were Shadowpirates on the main road to Flinelle, Kilgun. Would you rather have faced them than the skeletons?”
    Kilgun stepped forward, his face angry, but before he could say anything more, Zerras stepped before him and put out his hand before the man could go any further. “This is not the point for pointless arguing,” the Drakeling said calmly in a low hiss. “We will go now to Gervallon. The quest must be seen to its end without any more people dying unexpectedly.”
    Seretia breathed a sigh of relief, realising she had been holding her breath slightly longer than necessary. It would not have been good to see a quarrel between Kilgun and the great High Priest of Lorission.
    “It is good that some of us have retained their senses,” Agrilos said, the anger leaving his face. “Now, let us continue. On to Gervallon!”