‘Wild’ Erp: Episode 2: What We Lose 2
She told me her name was Fayne Doran, a blind seer who had been tasked by the vigil to bring the Ascended up to speed. I wasn’t wrong, I had been killed, and though I have never been a holy man, indeed I’ve done terrible things, the gods saw fit to bring me back to life. It wasn’t for piety that they chose me, but for power. Power I had, though I felt weaker than I had been, as though all the power had drained from my body with my blood when I died.
She told me that we had lost our battle, but that the vigil had stepped in to help up win the war. I’m not usually one to follow orders, but when someone brings you back from the dead, well it’d just be bad manners not to help them prevent the destruction of Telara. We didn’t have much time together, but after a quick rundown of the situation, desperate situation that it was, she pointed me in the direction of the resistance. Ardenburgh town square, but in between me and my destination were roving bands of the dead, brought back by the power of Regulos to harry the defenders and prevent them from mounting a full assault. Good, I needed a little exercise to get rid of that rigor mortis.
I left the church yard on my way to Ardenburgh proper, careful to keep behind buildings whenever possible. It’s not that I was afraid, simply that I’m not stupid. I can kill most men, but not thirty undead at the same time. Besides, it’d be pretty bad form to return my gift of life so shortly after I got it. I came around the backside of one building and came up short as a massive blade split the air in front of me. The sword bit into the ground and sent dirt flying into the air. A suit of armor stepped around the side of the building, towering over me. It sounded hollow, but there was a glow coming from the closed helm that didn’t quit obscure the dead face underneath. Animated by the will of Regulos this corpse knight easily ripped its sword from the ground and brought it around in a spinning slash that nearly took my head off. I dropped to one knee and rolled behind it, stabbing one of my daggers into the back of its knee joint. Blood dribbled out of the hole in the armor, but the knight pivoted and brought its sword down in a backward thrust. I just got my other dagger up in time to deflect the blow, and I saw its massive sword pass by my face as my dagger slid the length of the blade.
I leapt up as my dagger bit into its mailed fist. The force and the bite of my dagger sent its sword spinning through the air. I danced back as it aimed a mailed backhand at my temple but it caught me with a cuff to the jaw. I could taste blood, but I didn’t have time to worry about it. Even as I prepared to attack the metal on its arms and hands seemed to glow with a deadly force. Its left arm seemed to melt down, pouring toward the ground. Its right hand began to twist and rise until it was no longer defenseless.
The knight let out a hollow roar that echoed through its armor as it brought its newly formed shield up to protect its face. The axe came in a swift downward strike with a speed I wasn’t prepared for. I barely got my daggers up and crossed in time to block the strike. As it was I lost my footing and stumbled back. Before I could recover the knight slammed into me with his shield, a shield nearly the size of me, and I felt my nose crumble beneath the blow. My eyes watered, but the fight was on me and I didn’t feel the pain that would surely be there later. I rolled to the side as the axe slammed into the ground where my groin had been. It only took a second for the knight to pull the axe free, but it was enough for me to get back to my feet. I was on the defensive, but that’s exactly how I like to fight. A smile split my cracked lips as I positioned my daggers, one out in front of me and the other slightly behind.
The knight swung in a wide slash that I easily dodged by dropping to a knee. I was up instantly as the blade passed. With amazing speed and control the axe suddenly bolted in the opposite direction. The haft hit me in the shoulder and I stumbled back cursing myself for a fool. Defense was how I played the game, but not with an unfeeling behemoth like this. Small cuts over a long period of time would serve only to draw out this fight and allow more of them to converge on the noise. The knight lifted its shield up over its head to strike with the butt end of it and I knew what I had to do. Time seemed to slow down as the pain spread from deep inside my body. I could feel myself being torn apart and I slammed my teeth together to prevent the scream that welled up from releasing. Just as the pain crescendoed I felt myself shoved forward through time and space. I cleared the small distance between me and the knight quicker than any observer could have possibly seen, and my dagger found its way under the breastplate by the time I re-materialized.
The blood poured from its wound as the knight tried to keep fighting. It gave a feeble swing of its axe, but the momentum took it off balance and it fell to its knees. I stepped up behind it, put my blades into the mouthpiece of the helmet and slammed them deep until the squishing, crunching sounds had stopped. As the body dropped to the ground I looked around to make sure nothing else had come during the commotion. The body started steaming, and within moments it dissolved into a puddle of putresence.
I peeked around the corner of the old stone building and saw nothing but open space between me and the next group of huts. Dozens of undead knights shuffled around the courtyard, and there was simply no way I could fight all of them. I once again reached deep inside me and felt my body ripped apart. The pieces were shot through time, space and the planes until I was thrust back into normal space across the courtyard. I didn’t make it the entire way, and as I got my bearings I saw three of the knights heading my way. I’d love to tell you that I stood my ground and fought to the death, but I’m simply not that foolish. I turned and ran toward the square I knew to be only a street away. I could hear the metal footsteps of the knights as they ran behind me, and finally the town square came into view. As it did I saw a dozen soldiers rush out from behind barricades and rush past me. They engaged the knights, and with the overwhelming advantage they made short work of them. It was only then that I had a chance to take in the situation.
A small fountain in the middle of a burned out town was all we had it seemed, and to my horror I saw the current King of Lord’s Hall hard at work repairing weapons damaged in the fighting. A Dwarven king reduced to huddling by a fountain in a dying town. I think that’s when the reality of the situation struck me. Suddenly Borrin Gammult looked up and saw me, and a smile crept across his face as he waved me over. I stepped toward them cautiously, after all I was a criminal just a week earlier. I knelt before the king of Lord’s Hall and he bellowed a laugh that shook the stone of the fountain.
“Stand up Dwarf! This is no time for foolish notions of pride and humility.” I stood slowly, my eyes drawn to the massive warhammer that Borrin wielded like it was as heavy as a dagger. “What’s your name Dwarf?” He bellowed.
“Erp, your Lordship.” I said as I regained my composure. Borrin’s eyebrow raised a bit.
“Queer name for a Dwarf, but I suppose you Hammerknell Dwarves got all kinds of queer customs that don’t matter much right now.”
“Formerly of Hammerknell, but how did you know?” I asked.
“Don’t be foolish Dwarf, only two types of Dwarves came to this battle, and I know all those what died from Lord’s Hall.” He looked pained as he said it. We stood there for a few moments while he stared off into space, his mind probably recalling the battle more clearly than mine could. Suddenly his reverie was broken by the twinkling sound of an Elven female’s voice.
“Borrin, we need to put an end to those infernal machines quickly!” I turned and saw one of the skinny Elf women standing near us. I never caught her name, but she seemed the exude an air of superiority. Then again, most Elves did.
“Aye, but how?” Borrin suddenly looked over at me with an odd glint in his eye. “You came from the church yes? Ascended right?” I nodded, still unsure what that really meant. Borrin and the Elf exchanged glances and a grin spread over Borrin’s face. “Well, the gods may not grant us all power, but surely they’ll do so for one who they’ve already embraced?”
“It makes sense. We send this Dwarf to the shrine of Tavril and ask for a blessing to enable him to destroy the machines.”
“Bah, he’ll beg a boon of Bahralt or not at all. He’s a Dwarf after all!” Borrin boomed back at the Elf.
“It’s rude to leave a man out of a conversation about himself,” I said, my eyes narrowed with suspicion. Borrin laughed heartily and nodded, his massive beard quivering.
“Aye Dwarf, it is. The forces of Aedraxis have us pinned in this square, separated from the main army that masses just outside the city gates. But we can’t just fight our way through. There are machines, horrible machines that harness the power of death to reanimate the dead, or turn the living into willing zombies. We can’t leave them behind us or we’ll soon have an army at our backs as well as our front.”
“And you can’t just smash them?”
“Tried that already, Dwarf. They’re protected by the power of Regulos. A triffling thing next to the power of Bahralt, to be sure, but still unbreakable by us,” Borrin said, and the Elf nodded, adding her own words.
“We need someone to get the blessing of the Vigil to destroy these machines, but we’ve already sent people out to find the shrines and none have returned,” she said, her voice grated on my eardrums like a high pitched whine.
“That’s where you come in. You’re not the first ascended to come out of that church, but most of them are already at the main encampment. Besides, we saw that teleporting stunt you pulled, and that could come in handy for anyone trying to sneak through this corpse infested city.”
“I guess I don’t really have a choice do I?” The two looked at each other before shaking their heads no. “Very well, where’s this shrine?” I didn’t really believe that the gods would grant me a boon, but I never believed they would save me from death either. Borrin pulled a folded parchment from under his breastplate and handed it to me. I glanced at the map and quickly spotted the fountain we were at. The shrine was four streets away in a small church, normally an easy walk. I looked down the street and saw nothing but the shuffling dead. My hand squeezed my dagger. “Well, at least it’s not as boring as playing lord.”