Kaerri's Man. =)
(Part 1 of 2)
"I agree, Lord Bren," Healer Bria used his title as if to show her respect of his wisdom. "To stay here will be our doom. Our salvation, whatever it may be, lies ahead of us." Bria knelt down on the tunnel floor and reached for Oscar, her arms held out in silent offer. Oscar acknowledged her and approached, climbing up into her arms and around her until he was sitting on her backpack, looking over her shoulder. His little black eyes examined the corpses of the goblins.Bren shook his head in genuine regret as nothing they did seemed to have any effect. "Not happy thoughts, but very you thoughts, if that makes sense. Either we aren't doing it correctly, or that's not the key. I'm sorry, Nivirea. We'll have to keep working on it." He patted her shoulder and turned to look at the others. "Perhaps it will be best if we focus on other things for the moment. We're still trapped here, after all, and the fire isn't getting any brighter. Now that we're all of our right minds, at least, if not of our proper bodies, shall we see about this Dead Dragon Bridge and its challenge? It would seem that's the next logical step in our journey."
He was about to speak, when suddenly, the wind roared outside. A wall of white snow tossed to and fro, howling all the while, as unnatural and fearsome as a dark wizard's spell. In the blink of an eye, that black wind came barrelling down the tunnel and at you! The goblin and young warg corpses fidgeted and flapped as if alive. Their weapons and belongings scattered across the stone floor, skidding this way and that. Your clothes and hair tossed about as if it had life of its own.
"Haaa ha ha haaa!!" Mad female laughter came from outside, mocking and delighted and altogether invisible and unreachable. The longer you heard it, the harder it became to concentrate, especially for Luna.
As the black wind shot through the tunnel and in that instant, the campfire went out and as its fire died, all was bathed in cold, lifestealing darkness. All, that is, except the gleaming of a single flame, a sole source of heat and light that, thought tossed and embattled, refused to ebb. It was the Sunfire Blade in Otiorin's hand. It was now the only source of radiance in a shadowy field of darkness, for the Moonlit Edge's glow seemed muffled as if a cloak had been thrown over it.
The black wind shrieked and increased, threatening to bowl you over, perhaps to reverse its course and suck each one of you outside into the wintry night!
There was only one thing to do.
"Run for it!" Oscar shouted. "The magic of the Maiden of Pain is upon us!"
* * *
(Part 2 of 2)
You fled for all you were worth. Your very lives were on the line and you knew it. All that mattered now was outpacing the danger before it caught you. Bria drew out her fighting stick and with a word, the wooden weapon lit like a flameless torch and helped to guide your way. You had the chance to do the same with your tools, for in this moment, light and movement meant life. Behind you, the black wind grew to such fierceness, it picked up the goblin bodies and dashed them against the walls, floor, and ceiling! The sickening sounds of breaking bones and splitting skin echoed down the cavern after you. All the while, the black wind reached for you in its horrible, cruel dance.
In time, that hated wind died down. Your feet carried you through tunnels only Otiorin and Oreleth knew. Gasping for breath, the Wayward Wanderers, more wayward than before, came into a great cavern that towered over your heads and fell downward into dark depths unknowable. There before you stretched out a long gap and a passage that continued down it. On your side and the opposite, intermittent blackened stains of blood continued to mark an unholy trail into the unknown.
The sounds of cavern creatures, small and hidden, echoed throughout the cavern. Water dripped incessantly from the ceiling, but unlike when Oreleth and Otiorin were last here, there was no sunshine from above to aid you. The only illumination now was what you brought with you and what little of that reflected from the walls of moss and lichen and tiny pools of water.
The Moonlit Edge gleamed freely once again. Your feet were on steady ground. But one glance forward reminded you that there were things in the universe much larger than you. Dwarfing all was a great and ghastly skeleton of a once-deadly dragon. The grand reptile that now served as a bridge across the gap, his bones appeared white and sturdy in the light of your magic weapons. The Dead Dragon Bridge.
Other changes became noticeable since the roguish half-elf and warrior elf last trod here - no voice greeted you from the beyond, and the mouth of the dragon was closed. A wall of teeth firmly barred your progress...
...but not overly far behind you, the black wind threatened still.
Your bodies were bruised, your gear and clothing quite dirty and disorganized, but everything you owned was still with you (whether you truly owned it or not, in the case of Nivirea and Luna). The cold was still present as if winter had invaded this very place, and though it was enough to make every one of you long for a fire, it did not appear to have the ill effects of the enchanted snows from outside.
Bria was the first to speak. She was ruffled and chilled. "Oh dear, what do we do if that wind comes after us with this in our way?" She looked for answers, but she was not the only one.
Oscar gazed long at the dragon, then at Otiorin, then back at the carcass of the terrible beast. "What indeed..." Oscar's eyes gazed about in wonder.
What do the Wayward Wanderers do?
(Image credit: Kamil Tondera)