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Author Topic: Concerning Ichthellids and Catacombs  (Read 1980 times)

Amadseer

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Concerning Ichthellids and Catacombs
« on: April 13, 2015, 11:22:18 AM »
Concerning Ichthellids and Catacombs
A published letter from The Wanderings of Amadseer the Cursed



It seemed as if it had been months sine we entered the Sunken Temple of Necropoli (http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13362.0), but that’s just how it is when you’re slogging along in the dark, partially submerged in ancient, stagnant water.

“I’ll just go ahead and say it” whispered the Orcish Warlord Arhnoot, doing his best to use his inside voice in the strange, echoing chamber we found themselves in. “I’m officially weirded out by this place. Have you taken a good look at the spiders? They always seem to scrabble back into some convenient hiding hole when our torches get close, but I’m nearly certain I saw a human face on more than one of them. This temple — it has a certain unhealthy vibe.”

Brynth’s face was pale, even in the torchlight. The Priestess of Asyra had summoned a beautiful, shining suit of armor before ducking through the Necropian archway… and it had promptly gotten soiled in the first 30 seconds as we found ourselves pushing through the remains of a recessed and broken hallway more than half filled with swamp slime, black water and long-legged insects. To be fair, she only screamed after the third insect crawled out of her hair and down her back. I was no better, shooing off the creatures and dancing around like a Blue Gremlin with a bad case of Mordek's Revenge.

“I didn’t tell you all the stories that my father told me about this city of the Dead,” she said. “I really thought they were just that — bedtime tales meant to get a squeal out of me and my sister — but I’m less certain now.”

“I love where this is going.” (That was sarcasm. In case there was any doubt.)

“The city of Necropoli was a city back in the heyday of the Sen Ahreal Empire, the first great Empire that held the lands of Westlock, Ivarium, and lands that are today the Darkfenne. Of course there was no Darkfenne at that time, not until Sen Ahreal was utterly decimated by the cataclysmic magics, and this whole area was laid waste for centuries to come. At that time, this area was a religious center, a place for the Empire’s citizens to bring their loved ones. At Necropoli, they would be given burial rites, then their bodies would be sealed up in large pottery eggs, and placed in deep catacombs.”

“Eggs. Catacombs. Got it,” said Arhnoot as he inched his way forward through the watery muck. “Not really so scary if you ask me. Maybe just because I’m tough though.”

“Anyway. That’s not the scary part,” Brynth said, her face grim. "According to stories, the catacombs were build during even earlier times, all the way back to the days of the Age of Catastrophe, when the Elemental Lords created the Dragons to help them fight the New Gods of Etheria. The catacombs were places of primal magics and ancient mysteries then, even in the days of Sen Ahreal.

“So what you’re telling me is that we're waist deep in ancient history,” I said. “Well, I haven’t seen any catacombs. Just that temple entrance, a lot of ruined halls, and enough bugs to tide me over for the rest of my life.”

“Yeah, get back to the face-bugs,” said Arhnoot “That sounded remotely interesting."

“My Dad used to tell us that the catacombs were originally built by the Elemental Lords as their workshop, a place where they would forge new races and creatures from the souls of the living and the dead. Once the Elemental Lords vacated the place, I guess their creations venerated it as a kind of shrine. That’s why they took their dead there.

“But there were still creatures down in the catacombs. Holdovers from the Age of Catastrophe. Maybe guardians, maybe horrors. The stories didn’t really focus on that part, only that they were the leftovers from the Elemental Lord’s work. The droppings of power, bound up with the insects and spider and scorpions of the earth. Some said they fed on the souls of the broken eggs; others said that they shared a shred of soul with humanity, twisted though it was, and served as the eggs protectors. But one thing all the stories agreed on: the catacomb creatures of Necropoli had the faces of men, but the segmented bodies and legs of arachnids and insects.

"One other thing they said: 'If a man sees such a creature, he should take care lest his soul be taken, and he should become like the creatures.’ As a child, I didn’t even want to look at a roach or a spider for years because of those stories. Finding myself in this place now, and hearing what you claimed you saw…” Brynth faded off.

“Yeah. Fascinating.” said Arhnoot. “Hey, you probably don’t want to look up.”

So of course Brynth and I did.

What we say was more abomination than not. A human face, leathery and pale, painted by the light of our torches. Damp, stringy blond hair hung down toward us, but its eyes were what stopped us dead in our tracks. They glowed with a phosphor-green light, and were focused tightly on our party. The rest of the creature’s body was spider-like , with dark spiked legs and a large mottled abdomen. Two thin and gangly pinchers protruded from the collection of appendages, slightly longer than the rest.

“By the Sheltering Light.” whispered Brynth. Goosebumps rode along her every word.

The Warlord did not hesitate however. His hand blazed green in the dark of the tunnel, and the stone ceiling over our head quivered like jelly. The creature’s legs sank deeper into the material, even as it struggled to free itself. It’s emerald eyes blazed, and it bared a mouth full of things sharp and pointed, but not quite teeth.

Quicksand, not just for the ground anymore.” Arhnoot explained off-handedly, his eyes locked on the creature. “Just what do you think this thing is Amadseer? Any chance all your Sortilege schooling could help us out here?”

Despite Brynth’s warnings (and my better judgement), I raised my torch closer to the thing to get a better look.

“You know,” Arhnoot commented as the creature strained to pull free from the light of the torn and the iron grip of the Quicksand spell, “that thing might be your long lost sister.” Snide as the comment was, the orc wasn’t exactly lying.

Faded, fleshy pink scars  arced across the creatures forehead — the Crescent Celestia of Asyra. The same scars that we had seen on the gray veiled body that the vampires had been carting through the Darkfenne. The same body that had spoken through some unknown death connection to tell the vampires to take their captives to the sunken temple of Necropoli and to kill any mages that they might find tracking them. {For a recap: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13286.0)

“Um, was there anything about that in the stories your father used to tell you?” I asked.

“No."

Arhnoot unslung his longsword and slid the blade free from the scabbard. In the dim light of the tunnel, it gave off  a slight orange-red glow, similar in color to the piece of worked jade on its pommel. “Story time is over. Let’s waste this beast, and find Sorala, or whoever else is responsible for imprisoning orcs and priestesses. And for talking through dead bodies."

“If you’ve come looking for Sorala, you’ve found her.” The voice was scrabbly and clipped, as if the words were dragged through a trench of jagged pebbles, but it was understandable. The spider-like creature had turned its green eyes on Arhnoot.

“Oh good,” whispered someone. It really could have been any of us, since we were all drinking from the same well of irony in that moment. Then my White Spires training kicked in and I addressed the creature.

“You’re Sorala then? Where is your master? We have business with her.”

“Yes, I can see that you do. We thank you for bringing the woman, though I suppose you didn’t mean to be couriers. But since you’ve run off our servants, and our fresh pool of slaves, you’ll just have to serve all the harder."

“Pretty bold words for a spider caught in someone else’s web,” growled Arhnoot as he swung his sword at one of the creature’s segmented legs. The blade sliced through the chitin, sending up a spray of ichor and a howl from the creature. Its severed limb plunked into the murky water and out of sight. “Now tell the Wizard whee your master can be found before you lose another appendage or three."

Rather than a response, the creature began to make a high keening noise, something that felt like a precursor to a scream, but with an undercurrent of power. Its dark, mottled exterior began to pulse with the same kind of phosphorescent light that fueled its eyes.

And then the water around us began to bubble.

“Kill it!” Bryth yelled, but both Arhnoot and I already had the same idea. Arhnoot plunged his blade deep into the abdomen of the creature, a split second before my Force Hammer pounded up at the ceiling.

A note concerning the power of Force spells — they really do pack a wallop, especially when their target is perched on ancient stones that have only just managed to stave off the advance of centuries of damp and neglect.

As the Hammer pummeled the creature, the entire section in which it was trapped cracked away from the ceiling, and heavily splashed into the bubbling water. Arhnoot, Brynth and I edged back toward the walls, fearing even more of a cave in. The water continued to churn — now more violently than ever.

“Forward or back?” Brynth yelled.

But there was little time for that. Though we could not see, we could feel fissures forming in the ground below the water, sending jets and streams of bubbles up our legs. Through the fissures came a dull gray light, like moonlight filtered through smoke. As the light broke the surface, it coalesced, forming long streaks of silver-grey, not unlike a mist of eels. The streaks circled around the tunnel once, then twice, splitting into two streaks, then into four. And then, in a blink of an eye, they had long ethereal claws, and faces like a nightmare of death.

“Forward or back makes no difference! Run!”  I splashed forward, hearing Byrnth’s ragged breath close behind me, then I heard an orcish scream and wild thrashing. I turned just in time to see the body of the spider creature spring from the waist deep water and lung onto Arhnoot’s chest. It’s abdomen gave a great heave, and punched through the orc's armor. It hung there for a moment, pulsing, before Arhnoot shoved his sword down through the beast, and they both fell backward into the water.

Now only two of us, we faced the swirling of Wraiths.


Which is to say, that there are many diverse and interesting things in the world, none of which are comparable to the might and power of the Arraxian Crown. Those who would trifle with the power of Warlocks must forever learn this fundamental truth.

--Amadseer the Cursed, Wizard of Sortilege


Amadseer is a Wizard of Sortilege, driven by Dark-compulsion to wander the land, following a string of highly humiliating Seeking Dispels (and accompanying jeers) that he successfully cast in a public duel with the Warlock Telas Vane. Now, unable to help himself, he writes of his travels wherever he goes, the creatures he encounters, and the lore with which he comes into contact. Such is the nature of his compulsion that he must publish all of his missives, and end each work with a short paragraph singing praises to the Arraxian Crown, and warning all about the follies of underestimating a Warlock.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2015, 11:28:04 AM by Amadseer »

Amadseer

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Re: Concerning Ichthellids and Catacombs
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2015, 11:29:28 AM »
To recap the Wanderings of Amadseer the Cursed: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13363.0

sIKE

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Re: Concerning Ichthellids and Catacombs
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2015, 12:01:30 PM »
Yaay! Oh how I have missed these posts!
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Lord0fWinter

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Re: Concerning Ichthellids and Catacombs
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2015, 02:32:54 PM »
Yaay! Oh how I have missed these posts!

Really wish I could "thumbs up" this. I agree x1000. I'm so happy there's a new post!
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Visit my Mage Wars blog at www.magewars.weebly.com, also check me out on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MageWarsBlog and on twitter at @MageWarsBlog

Amadseer

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Re: Concerning Ichthellids and Catacombs
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2015, 05:51:25 PM »
Thanks guys -- appreciate the support!