Many shadows dance
A heart beats stronger
Let me start off by saying that the situation happened exactly how I expected it to happen: we were utterly outmatched and ill-prepared for the wrath of the apex predator of legend. The massive creature must have been at least twenty miles away from our location at the time, but one dip into the clouds, a minute of bickering with Eldaren about how we should really run away instead of trying to face something that could fly in an open field, something that is known for its cunning and ferocity, something that is part of a race that has annihilated entire species in the past, something that is widely regarded as the top of the food chain by even the most prideful of demons, something that has every advantage against us.
But no, all the points I had to offer was ignored. I decided at that point that even if I couldn’t convince Eldaren, the others would most likely agree with my reasoning, so I made my way to the jungle—and that’s when the Green Dragon dove from the stormy heavens above. It moved with blinding speed, a gaping maw opened to release an inordinate deluge of acid. It sprayed across the ground, vaporizing everything it touched. Even though we managed to avoid the brunt of the corrosion, the sheer force of the dragon flying so close to the ground sent us flying. The way it moved, the way it sounded, its like the speed barrier was being shattered into pieces. It sounded like thunder cleaving the sky. Ahead of us was the sickening cinema of the acid continually corroding the earth. Miraculously, barely any of it touched us, but even a small grain of that creature’s acid managed to melt through our armor and leave us severely burned.
We didn’t even scream. We were all so accustomed to pain…
But one more attack like that, and no amount of magical healing would bring us back.
So I did what I could. I healed the party, and Eldaren used his magic to bolster our speed. Thank fucking Erandis he got the message. Even with all his pride, he quickly assessed the situation as being far out of our abilities to deal with. We saw the dragon dip back into the clouds, and we ran.
We ran because our lives depended on it.
We sprinted for the jungle in the far distance. So afraid of the situation that our hearts wanted to burst from our chest and sprint for freedom. Every breath was labored. Every step more taxing than the last. As we sped towards the jungle, the land around us exploded. Shrapnel fell from the skies as ashen rain plummeted around us. Giant orbs of fire continued to rain down from the heavens, blasting the landscape into pieces, the tremors of the impact rattling our bones.
“It’s toying with us,” said the bardic companion that turned out to be some prince of a forgotten society. “We’re nothing but playthings to it!”
However, the horrifying aspect of our situation came from the fact that it wasn’t toying with us. Part of being an apex species meant that it knew not to underestimate anything, or anyone. Even though we were frantically running, that giant beast took into consideration the possibility of a trap or deception. And thus, it was gauging our abilities from a safe distance…
In short, the dragon was maximizing its chances of annihilating us.
Booking it to the jungle, I could see Chance bolt ahead of me a couple of meters. Soon after, magical bolts of energy slammed into his back. Chance let out a pained scream, but he kept his pace. The jungle, looked like one of those illusions were the closer you tried to get to it, the further it got from you, but we eventually reached the jungle, diving into its sanctum as roaring infernos exploded in the background.
“Damn,” the bard who was originally an enemy who stalked us that I was planning to kill but didn’t because of the request of Chance, said, “I thought we were done for. Is everyone okay?”
I looked around to survey the damage. Every seemed fine enough but, “That elven woman we saved—she’s gone.”
“She got bodied by one of the fire blast,” Chance said. “Didn’t stand a chance.”
We took a moment to grieve, then Zeddicus said, “How’re we going to get past that thing? Taking it on in a fight is out of the question. I don’t have enough magical power to keep us invisible long enough to traverse the entire area…”
“We’ll have to figure that out later,” I said. “I know that is not the answer you want to hear, but right now our focus is getting our friend back to his home. Maybe afterwards, his people can help us figure something out.”
“To be honest,” the young bard prince said, “My people have dealt with it by avoiding it… but that’s not to say there aren’t unexplored options. Let us continue toward my people. Perhaps the elders can offer some insight into your situation.”
The way dense jungle led met us with no ill passage. However, there was one interesting event worth noting. On the third day of our travels, we encounter another clan of drow: they had the same skin tone typical for their kind, the skin tone of a starless night. Drab clothes decorated their bodies, and they stood six to seven feet tall. They spoke in hushed tones, seamlessly transitioning between their native tongue and sign language. Even though Zeddicus and I were rather accomplished linguist, we couldn’t quite make out the details of what their conversation was. It didn’t seem hostile, but it wasn’t friendly, either. At the end of it all, they receded back into the jungle depths, but not before I met the stern gaze of one of them… but anyways, after that scenario we continued further into the jungle. I asked the young prince to spare me some details pertaining to those drow, and he told me that they were a culture that his was in opposition against.
In particular, it was a culture that revered necromancy.
We eventually arrived into a cavern that was concealed among a variety of local fauna, but it was mostly hidden behind a multitude of vines. The young prince led us down a walkway of carved stone that was made to replicate a spiral staircase, a strip of earth that snaked deeper and deeper. There were motes of fluorescent fungi that acted as illumination, delicately dancing in the still air. We eventually made our way to the entrance of the young prince’s home. The gateway to his people was guarded by an irritating puzzle which I do not have the patience to recall in exquisite detail but we eventually worked through the puzzle and proceeded to our destination. There was, however, a concern regarding the puzzle.
“It was not there before,” the young prince said, the implications being that something must have changed in his society to warrant the placement of a magical puzzle.
Traversing further into the depths of those yawning caverns, we soon found that gigantic spider webs punctuated the place. The young prince strummed one of the webs, and a low thrumming could be heard echoing in the distance.
“I’d prefer we not alert whatever made these,” Eldaren said.
“It’s okay,” the prince had a reassuring tone. “We people domesticated these giant spiders many ages ago. They are fierce and loyal protectors of my homeland. I was just letting it know that I was here. I’d prefer avoiding the inducement of any misunderstanding.”
Thank goodness, I said to myself. I would hate to have to fight whatever made webs of this magnitude.
“So do you have a name for these creatures,” I asked.
“Goliath spiders,” the drow said. “Terrifying as they may be on the outside, they can be quite compassionate beings.”
“I’m rather fascinated by your coexistence with giant spiders,” I continued. “If possible, I would like to one day learn more about the history regarding their domestication.”
“I’ll tell you everything and more once we get home,” he said. “It is the least I can do for all you’ve done for me, a stranger who tried to kill you a couple weeks back.”
“I’m glad we’re past that now,” Zeddicus said.
Speak for yourself, Zeddicus.
After what seemed like a mile or so of walking, we finally emerged in another section of the cavern. It was huge. Giant spiderwebs were everywhere, hanging like deadly wires. Several bridges extended to various tunnels, each tunnel looking like a gaping maw leading into the belly of a beast. Motes of those fluorescent fungi still danced around us, providing the faintest of illumination to guide our way. As we stepped further and further on an initial Bridgeway, we could hear a chittering sound right behind us. Surely enough, a gigantic spider the size of a boat loomed over us. The ichor-colored hue of its hair gave it an almost impeccable camouflage into its surrounding. Noxious liquid oozed from its sword-length fangs, several eyes pinned a predatory gaze. A smile drew itself on the drow prince’s face as he approached the giant spider, motioning with his hands and an esoteric dialect I couldn’t understand. The spider bounced and swayed as the prince communicated. The predatory glare was replaced with the gaze a house-dog would have upon seeing its owner return. It looked peaceful, friendly even. To be honest, it looked kind of cute.
But something was off… in the briefest of moments, a twinkle of animosity flared into the spider’s eyes. I drew my rod to channel a spell through it, but it attacked the prince with lightning reflexes. The prince dropped to the floor; Chance let out four arrows that pounded into its head; I unleashed a ray of aquamarine light that would trigger every pain sensor in its body hundreds of times, an evil spell that would cause the body to shut down from shock, but it kept moving. It shrugged off the spell and arrows and from thirty feet away, it attacked.
It lashed forward with massive pedipalps, threatening to cut Zeddicus in half but he narrowly avoided it by stumbling backwards. Eldaren used his magic to teleport on top the beast and tried stabbing it repeatedly.
“Chance—get up here and help me!”
“And how the hell am I supposed to get up there, Eldaren!?” He drew back two more arrows and loosed them at the spider’s eyes. They sank into a single eye, optical ooze spewing from the popped eyeball. It reeled back and sprang toward Chance. Dodging with a back-roll, he responded with another arrow in an eyeball.
“Don’t let that thing near me,” Zeddicus said as he began his arcane incantations.
In a wild frenzy, the spider threw Eldaren off of its abdomen and shot a giant web at him. It entangled him in an instant. He tried to struggle free, but in the next moment his body became limp and motionless. I heard that the webs of goliath spiders were laced with their paralytic poison. If that was the case…
“Spread out!” and I shot an apologetic glance to Zeddicus. I know he didn’t want us to abandon him but if we all in one spot and if we got hit by the web—
Chance banked to the left. I banked to the right. He laid suppressive fire, anything he could do to take its attention off Zeddicus. I ran over to check the condition of Eldaren and the prince. They were both conscious, but it paralytic poison was coursing through their veins. I whipped out some medicinal supplies and treated the prince first. I knew that Eldaren was hardy enough, but the drow looked like he was knocking on death’s door. I applied the proper treatment, combining both magic and alchemical applications for optimal results. He stabilized quickly enough. Getting up to treat Eldaren, I saw Zeddicus complete his spell. Chains of golden light erupted from nothingness, constricting the spider to the wall. At the same time this happened, another set of arrows punctured the spider’s head.
“Okay,” Zeddicus said. “We can escape now and leave that thing to its own devices. It shouldn’t have attacked, so we can assume there’s something corrupting it.”
I treated Eldaren and freed him from the web from the process.
“Nothing is wrong with it,” the prince said. “It was a wild goliath spider, but there lies the problem that there shouldn’t be any wild spiders around here. My people wouldn’t allow it.”
“Let’s get moving then,” Eldaren said. “And Zeddicus—if that thing attacks us again, we’re killing it.”
“Even if the chains give out, now that it has seen what we are capable of, it shouldn’t attack us. If we leave now, it will no longer pursue us. Eldaren, this is a beautiful creature and—”
That’s when the chains became undone, sending the spider crashing into the side of the bridge; the corpse slid off and plummeted to the caverns below.
I figured as much. Chance had dealt the critical blow just as Zeddicus’s spell finished…
Despite his protest to spare the spider, Zeddicus did not spend any time grieving its passing. We proceeded further into unknown territory, guided by the young prince. The passages were long and winding, filled with detours and diverging pathways. Had we not had him to lead the way, we would have had likely been lost in those caves…
Our destination was a curious one. We ended up on the back of some gargantuan, spider like creature. Giant legs spanned across a bottomless abyss, each leg anchoring near an entrance to some other place in the under-dark. A city was crafted on the back of this creature, a composition of web-like structures that had a fluidity and grace of design you wouldn’t see in any architecture from above. The “buildings,” flowed like water, each of them connected in a significant manner but still unique from one another. It was so unlike the rigid uniformity found back home, but what it lacked in symmetry it made up in compelling innovation. Anyways, the young prince was rather merry in his return home. Nearing the city, we could see a welcoming party forming. They began to dance in a strange and erotic fashion.
“Is that normal?” Eldaren asked.
When the prince replied, “Nothing about this is normal,” I could feel my heart sink. I knew that there were many cultures that expressed emotion through dance, so I had high hopes that their displays were in response to the return of their prince, but those hopes were thoroughly and soundly shattered when those words reached my ears. I grabbed my holy symbol. Chance drew his bow. Eldaren was ready to whip out his blade. Zeddicus held tight his arcane focus. The prince ran to someone he knew, started shaking her and asking her what was wrong. Her face was blank. He kept frantically asking her a series of questions, to which none were answered. The dancing became more erratic, and the quick motions made it seem like the dancers were blending together. Chance asked if we should attack. I belayed that notion. We didn’t want to hurt his people. If they were under some sort of possession than all we would need to do is—
“He has returned to us. We are here to bear witness,” and that was the collective voice of everyone who was dancing, all of them ceasing in one, earie conclusion. Immediately afterwards, I could feel the weight of something alien come crashing down onto my psyche. I tried to block it out, but it succeeded in raping my mind: images of bodies being thrown into a burning cauldron, tentacles erupting in a writhing mass, slithering to the sky as some horrid misshapen hand reached toward them; the screams of thousands could be heard echoing endlessly, reverberating off of each other so that each scream was exponentially more powerful than the last. It made me feel like my insides were turning into mush, so I mustered up all the willpower I had and forced it out of my mind.
I succeeded, but the strain caused my vision to go black.
When my vision came to, I found that we were in some ritual chamber. It was a large, cylindrical room that seemed to span infinitely into some dark sky. Towards the center, some sort of ritual was taking place. Four incredibly beautiful women, their skin deepest black, surrounded a young girl. In their native tongue, they spoke of a foul incantation, one of sacrifice and appeasement. “Don’t let them kill the princess,” the prince said. “I don’t know why they’re doing this but please stop them,” to which I wanted to know if he also didn’t us killing the women and he responded with “those are the matriarchs of my society! Please, whatever you do—DO NOT KILL THEM,” and having that cue given to us, Chance sprang into action. He whipped out a sap and clocked one in the back of the head, sending her reeling into the ground. Before the other matriarchs could even register what had happened, he winded up and slammed his sap into another matriarch. She screamed, pushing away from Chance, doing whatever she could to gain some distance. I was about to follow suit before Eldaren said, “We’ve got trouble,” in which he pointed toward the inky darkness above and surely enough there were two more of those gigantic spiders descending toward us. Eldaren drew his blade and chanted an arcane incantation which caused him to take flight, soaring into the air to grab the attention of one of the spiders. I looked at Zeddicus and said, “Both me and you should blitz the one Eldaren isn’t attacking. If we focus our spells on one, we should be able to take it out before it causes any trouble,” to which Zeddicus had no complaints. He took a step back and started his own arcane devices, so I followed suit by requesting a little support of my own. While I didn’t have augmented summoning potential like Zeddicus, my god had gifted me with my own supernatural ally: a spiritual warrior that manifest in the form of a beautiful and busty woman—remember this is my goddess’s taste who also happens to be a woman—wielding a serrated dagger. She was incorporeal, a being made out of magical energies that could only be unwoven by very specific magic, a being whose magi-molecular structure made her the perfect killing machine for situations such as these. I pointed her in the direction of the spider opposite to Eldaren, and she took off, her form uninhibited by the physics bounding mere mortals such as myself. She soared toward the giant spider like a freight train. With its uncanny reflexes, the spider lashed out at the warrior, but it simply phased through her form as she plunged the dagger into its face, ripping it downward, viciously tearing it from its frame. Something wrong happened immediately afterwards. Instead of blood pouring out, tentacled masses began spewing from the wound.
“The fuck is that,” Chance said as we began beating two of the matriarchs senseless. The other matriarchs threw up defensive barriers, but Chance managed to break through them all the same. He was doing good work. “Khain—please tell me you have a solution for that.”
My response was to continue ordering the spiritual ally to tear the spider apart. It responded appropriately, savagely biting at the incorporeal women, even spitting its paralytic web at her. It was futile. She continued to carve it to pieces. To add insult to its injury, Zeddicus finished casting another spell, which manifested as another entanglement of golden webs that sent the creature crashing into the ground. Thankfully, it didn’t crush Chance, the matriarchs, or the princess. Chance took that opportunity to spin around and stab it in the head before bashing another matriarch in the face. My spiritual ally descended from above and crashed into its abdomen, sprays of tentacles erupting from every wound. Zeddicus launched a few spells at it, Chance batted two matriarchs into the ground and spun around, stabbing the spider again. It cried under the violence that was being afflicted to it and then it crumbled and died, but then the surviving matriarchs kissed it on its head and it was revived, albeit still bound by Zeddicus’s magic. I couldn’t have those matriarchs reviving it again, so I did what I had to—I channeled negative. They screamed, blood dripping from their eyes. They collapsed to their knees and Chance knocked them out. I took no pleasure in doing that to them, but on the bright side the negative channeling managed to kill the spider again.
That’s when “it,” exploded from its body. In its wake, the chains of light evaporated into nothingness. It was some sort of congealing mass of writhing tentacles and organ matter. Its very presence made it feel like my flesh was melting off my bones. My symbol burned hot in my hands. Whatever this thing was, if it formed, we would be done for.
“KILL IT NOW!” and I blasted the aberration with a searing bolt of necrotic energy, an undulating ray of blue-green antilife that drove into its body like a flaming sword through the carcass of a rotting animal. The form quivered for but a moment before it continued to form. My spiritual warrior danced around its body, trails of blood forming morbid artistic patterns on the floor. Chance dropped his rapier and loosed four arrows into the squealing mass followed by another two and another two and over and over. Zeddicus screamed as he unleashed a powerful blast of energy that took the form of a roaring blizzard, countless shards of ice impaled the gelatinous creature and—it exploded. We managed to kill the creature before it could bring any harm to us.
And it was at this point that Eldaren came crashing into the floor. He fell victim to a paralytic web, and then so did I. Thankfully, I was fast enough to request to my god that I didn’t get paralyzed by the web; at that point in time, it was too late to throw up a magical barrier or even repel the attack because the web was already contacting me, and I could feel the poison rushing through my veins. My request was acknowledged, and I could feel my immune system rebuking the poison. Still, I had a web to break free from. It felt like steel bars were on top of me, it was a harsh endeavor just to move. Knowing that it would take some time to free myself, I ordered my spiritual ally to assist in attacking the spider that had now jumped down and made its move to the rest of the party. Chance didn’t wait. He unloaded arrow after arrow into its body, until his quiver ran dry. He then dropped his bow, kicked up his rapier from the ground and proceeded to a full-frontal assault. My spiritual ally charged in front of him. The spider lashed out, incapable of hurting the incorporeal femme-fatale. She rammed her dagger into its head, and wrenched it upwards. More tendrils erupted from its frame. At this point, its body was already riddled with tendrils. At the very least, Eldaren had done significant damage to it. The spider, finally able to grasp the concept that its attacks were not going through, lashed out to Chance. Chance came to a fierce halt, weaved under its pedipalps, and drove his rapier through its head. When the Spider reeled back, my spiritual warrior was waiting; she plunged her weapon into its abdomen, using the momentum from its retreat to tear a gruesome gash into its body. Tentacles exploded everywhere, whipping out viciously. In one last desperate attempt, the spider shot a web at Chance. He dodged it and the web ended up hitting the prince who was trying to free Eldaren.
That’s when the spider exploded. This time, the creature possessing the spider came out fully formed. The shockwave slammed Chance into the ground. Its alien presence made me feel like someone was stirring up my insides with a hot, serrated knife. Chance rose to his feet but fell to the ground, paralyzed, immediately after witnessing the form of this heinous creature: a writhing mass of tentacles with the mouth of a great white shark for its stomach, a giant hideous eye attached where a head would normally be—I’ve only heard about these things in legend. Their very presence is a pathogen that puts the body into shock, effectively paralyzing its victims.
“This is BAD—Zeddicus, you need to summon creatures to overwhelm this thing!”
He was already way ahead of me. He summoned a massive rhinoceros which slammed into the creature’s side, it left a large, gaping hole in its wake. But even that celestial creature wasn’t immune to the monster’s pathogenic presence. Immediately after the rhino attacked, it fell to its side, paralyzed. The monstrous qlippoth lashed its multiple tentacles at the poor creature, tearing it into pieces within seconds. The creature cried out as its body dissolved into nothingness. It turned its attention to Zeddicus but it didn’t paralyze him, indicating that there was a range to its paralytic effect. It looked like it was about to charge but it instead turned to my spiritual ally who hadn’t relented from cutting it into pieces. Though it didn’t seem like it was as effective, she was still doing work. The qlippoth lashed its tentacles but it had no effect, indicating that although this creature was a terrifying alien species, it didn’t possess the utilitarian magic required to undue my spell. Zeddicus summoned another creature which manifested as a fallen angel, a beautiful woman with raven colored hair that swept into the battle: she unleashed several arrows into the creature, fiery spears punctured the creature to the wall, the sickening sound of boiling blood could be heard as this thing began prying the spears from its body. Zeddicus gave an order to save Chance, which the fallen angel was reluctant to do but ended up following his commands nonetheless. Unfortunately, she collapsed as soon as she was within breathing distance of Chance. The creature broke free and was about to attack but my spiritual warrior stopped it, dismembering the tentacles from its body. The creature reeled back as Zeddicus summoned two more rhinos, each of them charging from a pincer position. At this point, Eldaren and I broke free. I shot a debilitating ray of life ravaging energy at the creature. Its gaping maw tried to consume the energy, and more a mere second it seemed like it managed to dissolve the spell.
But then its back began to bubble.
And then two rhinos slammed into both of its side. My spiritual warrior eviscerating its eye. Eldaren leaped into the fray, ignoring the pathogenic presence by sheer will alone. The creature whipped its tentacles to the right, instantly cutting the rhino in half, pressurized blood exploding everywhere. Then, every single tentacle charged at Eldaren. Eldarens blade lit up, a fusion of electricity and fire, and he began dancing in the air, maiming any tentacle that came into reach, rivers of vaporizing blood whipping off of his blade. Not losing any momentum thanks to the influence of magic, Eldaren came crashing into its eyeball, destroying what was left, a geyser of electrolyzed blood evaporating into a scarlet mist surrounding his body.
That’s when the paralytic effect finally got to his body. Eldaren raised his blade for another attack only to fall flat onto the ground. Thankfully, my spell finally broke through its spell resistance. The bubbling mass on its back exploded, a waterfall of blackish blood erupted from the wound. With the necrotic energies eating away at its body, it also began to lose muscle mass. It began to grow limp as my spiritual ally kept slamming her dagger into its body, it began to learn what fear was in anticipation of Zeddicus breaking through with one of his spells or summoning another creature.
That’s when it looked at me. Its eye was gone, but I could feel its presence bore into me all the same. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything. My spiritual ally kept attacking. I could spells hurled by Zeddicus in my peripheral, each of them failing to penetrate its magical resistances. I could feel its hate drill into my skull. But more than that, I could feel its desperation.
It turned to its left and picked up the rhino that had been paralyzed by its presence. Something cracking could be heard, and then space and time began to dissolve behind this creature’s body.
It was getting away. I couldn’t move.
It wouldn’t have mattered. The moment the spell was cast, it was already too late. It happened too fast for anyone to react, even the spiritual ally who wasn’t bound by the normal laws of physics.
It got away…
I considered following it… but I didn’t want to take any chances. I ran over to Chance to heal his wounds, channeling resplendent vigor into his veins. He gasped for breath as his movements were restored. “Thank you,” he said but I didn’t have time to exchange any pleasantries. I had to make sure the prince was stable, as well as checking the condition of the matriarchs. Eldaren had cut the prince free, so all I had to do was purge his body of the toxins. When I did, he mumbled something that I couldn’t hear properly but his vitals were stable, so I proceeded to the matriarchs. Checking the pulse of the nearest queen, I could hear Chance conversating with the princess. There was no need for cardiopulmonary resuscitation or any critical care. Even though she was hit with a wave of negative energy, she was going to make it.
“Guys,” Zeddicus had a grim voice. “Something, um…”
I looked up to see what Zeddicus was talking about: the walls had become inky black and were closing in fast. “God damn it,” I complained. “What is it now?”
“It’s okay,” Chance never sounded so reassuring. “I don’t really trust him, but I have a feeling we’ll get through this just fine.”
The fact that I’m writing this journal entry means that we did in fact survive, but at the time I wasn’t so certain. Nevertheless, I put my faith into Chance’s faith in who I assumed to be the demon that came back to haunt him. I admittedly took the time to check out this insanely gorgeous elven woman in all her uncensored beauty as the darkness consumed all of us.
We were out for two days. That’s how long it was before we woke up again. We were in fine silk clothing and our belongings were placed neatly in caskets underneath our beds. As I began gathering my things, Eldaren started freaking out. “My sword isn’t here,” he said to which I told him that if they took it for whatever reason, we would get it back. “You’re right, Khain. As powerful as this society is, if they try anything antagonistic against us, it’ll be the last mistake they’ll ever make.”
A strong comment. He was right though.
That’s when the prince came in. He was looking sharp and regal, replacing his travelers gear with the ornate clothing appropriate for someone of his position. “I’m glad you’re all doing well,” he fixed his attention on me and said, “And Khain, I talked it out with the leaders of our
society and I managed to convince them not to kill you.”
I shot him my friendliest smile when I said, “Cute, but if they tried I would murder every single one of them,” and I laughed, he laughed, everyone else nervously laughed.
“In any case,” the prince continued. “They are coming to reward you for your endeavors and thank you for your assistance in restoring the balance of my people. Furthermore, you’re free to do everything in reason without having to worry about local interference. Feel free to embrace our culture to the best of your abilities, feel free to peruse the streets, socialize, drink and feast. You’ve got the next twenty four hours to do so—after that you’re never allowed to come back here,” and he looked rather mournful in saying so. “I’m sorry. You know I’m eternally grateful to you but… it is the will of the matriarchs.”
“Don’t apologize,” I said. “We’re not about to trample on your customs. Let’s make the best of the time we have left together.”
The matriarchs walked in. The prince introduced us again. I decided to attempt to make peace with them, personally, so I bowed politely and said, “I know my actions are condemnable by death, but everything I did was for the greater good of your society. I did what I thought was best for preserving your best interest, and the interest of your people. Had there been another way to do it, I would have. I expect no forgiveness from you, all I seek is that you understand.”
The matriarchs smiled. They gave no words in response to what I had to say, but they acknowledged what I had to say, nodding ever so slightly. Afterwards, another matriarch dropped a large chest onto the floor and slid it towards us. Chance wasted no time opening it. There was something resembling a chest set; a necklace of diamonds; a dagger made from some sort of crystal; a crossbow of some wood I’ve never seen before, beautifully browned like the smoothest of caramel; a bunch of large, golden coins wrapped in smooth silk-like fabric, and a few other miscellaneous items. The miscellaneous items and diamond necklace was a decent sum of money, and the crossbow ended up being magical, capable of conjuring ammunition out of ethereal energies, effectively rendering it with an infinite amount of ammunition. Furthermore, it had the ability to shoot invisible bolts that functioned akin to an alarm system. We would have to test it out later to determine the full extent of its abilities. The dagger was made of blood crystal, a special mineral known for sucking out the blood from those it struck. Chance in particular had hit the jackpot with this reward. Furthermore, the princess came back to grant him a silken scarf that was laced with magical energies purposed to fortify the bodies immune system and physical performance. These rewards were ideal for Chance’s loadout.
Zeddicus jumped on the opportunity to learn the drow version of chess, and I spent my time crafting scrolls, asking about the prince’s culture, enjoying the sights and tastes of his people. Chance disappeared to get some special training with the matriarchs. When we came back sometime later, he told me that they taught him the lost art of shadow-weaving. He explained that his bond with the shadow demon allowed him to manipulate light waves to effectively turn him and other people invisible, as per the invisibility spell but without a time limit.
That was some powerful magic.
In any case, our vacation was over before we knew it. Our lives flowed to the next day, where we left the civilization forever, where the young prince escorted us back the edge of the jungle, gave us his farewell, and departed from our lives.
Chance manipulated the light around him, around us, so that we were not perceivable to the optic nerves. The blasted landscape was stretched before us. The clouds were heavy and dark. A celestial teardrop fell upon the earth, then an incredible downpour followed. Our movement was drowned out by the rain, and we continued into that damnable place.