Undying Sacrifice (flash story)

 The conclusion of the first act of Karamus’ story. Again, this story was written for fun so take it as is and for definitions of planar cant, use http://nwsigil.tripod.com/lexicon.htm as a reference tool.

-Lucas

Karamus sat up from the table as the children began putting dishes away to be cleaned. He took a deep breath and began to hobble along back to his den. As he opened the door, he saw one of his daughters sitting in his chair with ears perked and tail slashing about with excitement. When she turned to look at the open door, she let out a happy squeal and ran to the door, “Papa!”.

“Ug child, no need to knock me over.” he said as she ran into his legs, “Which one are you again?” he asked.

“Rila silly,” she giggled.

“Right, right,” he muttered, “What do you want?” he said as he walked over to his chair.

“You said uncle Vorkie was from the place with the fire sky. Is that the same place as your story?”

The old cansin gave a nod, “Yes it is. We met after the maze, just before reaching the central skull of the plane. He was flying in our direction when the dwarf snapped off a shot from his bow and the flaming arrow struck true. Enraged, Vorkaire descended and attacked the lot of us. It was a quick battle, with our company quickly gaining the upper hand with multiple fireballs and spells to sap his strength. Before Kort could deal the death blow upon him, Ashton cried out for him to spare the dragon for where there is a dragon, there is a dragon hoard somewhere nearby.”

“Being pretty much the only person besides the fiend that could speak to the dragon, I took it upon myself to negotiate with Vorkaire. His life or his horde. We managed to come to an acceptable agreement and he led us off to his lair.”

“Wow…uncle Vorkie owes you his life doesn’t he? For saving him?” she asked in wonder.

“Well, I think we are pretty even on who owes who now a days.” replied the cansin.

“What happened after that?”

“Well, if I remember correctly, we came upon a fallen angel. A creepy creature named Saureya impaled with spears. He had apparently been attacked by a rakshasa and a fire giant for not giving up information on the test. He was a sour creature, barred from the heavens because he didn’t want to save kittens.”

“But I like kittens!” cried Rila.

“Shut up,” snapped Karamus.

“We parted company from the celestial when he would not tell us anything of the final test. We parted company and finally reached our destination of the skull which began with a long spiral stairway up to the top. Along the way we nearly literally bumped right into the rakshasa and the fire giant. Needless to say I went invisible rather quickly while the rest of the group assaulted the fire giant. The poor thing got a swing off, maybe two before the dwarves cut him down to size. The cat on the other hand, proved somewhat difficult to deal with.”

“Why is that?” asked Rila

“He ran away of course.”

“Oh.”

“So we chased him down like a pack of wolves hunting down a house cat. When he finally stopped to cast a spell, I finally caught up to him and put Daystar between his ribs. He died quietly…” Karamus was interrupted by a high pitched yell of his wife.

“Rila! Get in here this instant or by the Lady I will have you sent to the Maze!” Rila’s eyes opened wide as she looked to her father. She quickly scrambled off his lap and ran out of the room.

“…like the sun setting into the night,” finished Karamus, knowing the reference would be lost on the child anyway.

The old cansin made his way over to his desk and sat in the rickety old chair made from a darkwood tree on same plane he had visited once, though he couldn’t remember the name any longer. From the desk he drew a sheet of parchment along with a quill and a vial of ink and set to the task of writing a letter, making sure to note the acquisition of the ring.

Karamus gave a firm push onto the hot wax with his ring, creating a seal and symbol of his position within the Guild. With the letter in hand, the cansin walked over to the courier that was waiting impatiently in front of the house and handed over the letter to it. The little black winged creature held the letter in its little clawed hands jealously. “As you wish my master,” it slurred through a toothy grin before taking flight and turning invisible.

Satisfied the letter was in good hands and on its way, the rogue made his way back to his den only to find it overrun with children. With a groan he tiptoed his way through the maze of feet, legs and bodies to his chair where he eased himself down. “I suppose you are here for the finale,” he asked with a bored tone. The children quickly got quiet and settled down in front of the cansin.

“After ascending the stairs and dispatching a guardian golem with ease, we knew collectively that the end of the trial was near. I was easily able to find the exit from the throne room which, naturally, led to another passage leading up. The path brought us to a cavern like room with rough walls and intersecting passageways. At the center of the room was a large, unnatural fire that burned with the desire of a Marilith just before a battle. Surrounding the outer edge of the room was a collection of overly large and overly hungry animals.

“Was there a bear?” asked one child.

“No,” replied Karamus.

“A lion?” asked another.

“No.”

“Dragons?”

“No.”

“Whales?”

Karamus stared at his son for several moments before grabbing a book from the stand beside him and throwing it at the boy, hitting him between the eyes which sent him toppling over. “Shut up!” he snarled as he shook his head. “A variety of creatures attacked with more appearing out of thin air as quickly as we killed the first ones. It quickly became apparent that there was a summoner in the area. We dealt with the animals quickly and found the source of our problems, a full armored undead priest of Vecna.”

“Who?” asked Bromire with a blank stare.

“A pansy of a man who fancies himself the god of worms or something,” Karamus replied.

“Anyway, if you let me finish, I’m almost done. We took the fight to the creature. The flames made normal weapons difficult to use on him but magic, particularly from the fiend proved to be the priest’s undoing and he finally crumbled to the ground, his flame extinguished.” The cansin gave a big grin but got only stares in return. With a sigh he continued.

“After taking its valuable magical equipment, we finally moved into the final room which, as far as I could figure, was the brain box of the whole place. A huge pillar of fire was at the center of the room. The mummy showed up again and announced that in order to pass the trial, someone had to sacrifice an ally. The group looked to one another in disbelief, though I can’t say I was surprised. After we looked at each other, we all turned to look at the fiend who had backed off from us, “Have you the will?” he asked us before turning and blasting us with a blast of ice. All of us were taken off guard by the attack, except me of course.”

“It was at that point that a very odd thing happened. Kort looked over to me and said “Push me into the fire.” I was taken aback by the request. I wasn’t sure I heard him right. Then he said it again. Finally! I could get rid of the pesky emotional dwarf! He dropped his stuff, a double bonus I might add, and walked over to the edge of the column of fire. Just as the fiend positioned himself to blast us again, I ran over and pushed the dwarf into the flames. I was pleased with myself, Kaurophon was not. He screamed like aboleth that has had its dessert taken away. Realizing that he was not happy, I quickly went invisible and drew my blade. The fiend had taken flight during the commotion and so I knew I had to wait till the time was right. As if on note, the paladin withdrew his grapple and tried to fish the fiend down from the sky. Now, everyone knows I don’t like paladins, but I give him that moment, it was a good idea. He just happen to beat me to it was all.”

“So with the strength of ox he pulled the fiend back down to the ground where I was waiting for him. As the two grappled one another, I pushed Daystar into his body, striking his heart. When his heart refused to stop beating, I withdrew and struck again, this time through his throat. All the fiend could do was choke on his own vile blood as he sank to the ground in defeat.”

“I was pleased with the outcome and turned to the column of fire expecting to receive my just reward as ruler… that is… until Kort came stumbling out of the fire, still alive. I was heartbroken, devastated, crushed that my opportunity had just passed me by and went to that emotional train wreck of a dwarf Kort.”

“But didn’t Kort…” began Rila, but she was quickly cut off by the paralyzing glare from her father. “Never say it. It is forbidden,” he growled.

“Needless to say we finished the trials and finally we were free to escape the gods forsaken place and head back to the Prime.”

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