In the Shadow of Kings

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Sarghon

I wake up, dazed, in a dark daft chamber. The low amount of light from the torches is still blinding me. I must have been sleeping for long for my eyes to hurt this easy.

Yes, the dreams, I remember! Those dark stories that played in my mind. Stories I am not so certain are of my own life, but which must has been engraved into the spirits and souls locked to this dark city. Our presence must have disrupted the calm of the city and the stories came flowing through the streets, buildings and every corner of the city. But the stories they told, it is almost as if they were meant for us to be seen, to explain what happened here in this city and guide us to where we must go. The chamber of secrets is where I possibly can find the truth, found out what to do about the heart and what it is, what it does. But I am not sure I trust Grax and Xeeliah with the knowledge and power in there.

The light is finally fading and I can begin looking at my surroundings, to find out where, and maybe when, I am. I see that my fellow adventurers are still laying still on the ground the same, as I must have been for a long time as my joints complain when I sit up to get a better view. But there is also a dark figure present, looming over someone. There is a glow around the space between the two and it seems like the dark figure is draining whoever is lying on the floor below him.

But I can’t find Aryenne anywhere amongst the unconscious bodies scattered around the chamber. I do see the heart and dagger lying on the floor on the other edge of the room, but there is no sign of the small elf. With the others unconscious I have my chance to get to the chamber without the others following, and I can take the heart to make sure Grax and Xeeliah are not given the chance to abuse the power that it can bestow. But I cannot leave my colleagues to be drained from this dark being. I carefully stand up to get a better idea of the situation. Xeeliah is the only one laying close to me; the others are in the wrong direction for me to grab the heart and dagger. Even her close relationship with Grax in mind, she seems like the next strongest and dependable person in the group next to myself. I am confident that her love, or whatever it is, for Grax is going to keep her occupied while I grab the items.

First I move up to the dark figure, and as I get closer I see that it is a wraith, much like the ones we’ve met while moving through the city so far, and it indeed appears to be draining the life force of Grax. I don’t really care much for that lizard, his soul is oozing with darkness, but no one is deserving of such a fate, and although I never would admit it, he has saved me twice already. I decide to attach the wraith in order to catch its attention, spreading fear into its mind and hopefully move it away from Grax while I wake up his companion, who can also help me with the others. But my spear just passes through the wraith and it gives no sign of even noticing my presence. Confused I hurry to wake up Xeeliah, and she is quickly up on her feet. At first she is blocking my way, seeing as I am heading for the heart and dagger. I let her known of the condition of her companion, and that she can choose to stop me or save him. She made the smart choice, which I wasn’t fully certain she would, but on my way I managed to help stabilize the others with the help of Xeeliah.

As I pick up the heart and dagger lying on the ground, I notice small footprints in the dust that must be belonging to Aryenne. She has run out of the chamber, but I have no idea of how long ago, but it can’t have been long ago. I look around the room and see Xeeliah has just killed the wraith. That woman is stronger than I ever thought, and with my help we wake up the last of our companions. While they try to recuperate I see no reason for me to follow after Aryenne to make sure she is safe. I let Xeeliah know that I will be right back, but in the end I don’t think she heard me, being busy attending her companion instead.

I hurried through the corridors, finding my way through the maze of corridors until I again was in the middle of this dark, cursed city. From the, albeit severely dimmed, sun shine made the footprints from Aryenne much clearer. She appears to be running towards the city gates. For some time I follow her tracks, but as she turns in the wrong direction I try to conceal my movement as best as I can to avoid the others following and finding out where I am going.

It is unfortunate that I couldn’t catch up with Aryenne and make sure she is safe, but Nidaba should be able to catch her before she manages to escape the city. As soon as I am content with disguising my footprints I change my course towards the palace and the chamber.

After dodging some zombies on the way and walking through corridors and down many sets of stairs, I finally arrive into the chamber door, much alike the one for Kalak’s chamber. Inside it I feel a bit worried, cold. There is something, or someone in there with me. Voices starts speaking to me from all around. It seems to come from inside me! Bodies appear in front of me, hoards of them, floating in the air. They are the builders of the caverns, and were sacrificed for the secrets that are held within to protect what has been hidden. Avengeful spirits they might be, but they still cling to some of their humanity, and understand my difficult situation.

They quickly dissipate and I hurry quickly through the corridors, picking up items along the way. Eventually I find myself in a chamber filled with pillars, each of them covered in texts. A quick look at them tells me they are filled with secrets of many different things, including the ritual for using the heart. The noble blood of someone from Aryenne’s line, one live sacrifice and a ritual text is needed to complete the ritual and gain the power of the heart. It seems all too easy, like anyone can do it! I memorize the ritual text just in case, and head back out. I am sure Nidaba has caught Aryenne by now, hopefully also the others.

I move to catch up with the others, making sure to avoid detection from the soldiers I know are scouting around in the city. Eventually I find them, it is hard not to notice the rattling of armor and weapons as the little army makes its way through the city. There I see Nidaba with my colleagues, and also an unfamiliar face, at first. That woman moves with a grace I have seen somewhere before, like an empress of the world, so sure of herself. That’s when I recognize her as the Grand Vizier of Raam, the tactical genius of the Sorcerer Wars who disappear into her city and has not been herd of afterwards. I have no idea what she is doing here, but from her ways, she expect to get some entertainment from the situation as she follows behind the group, observing everything that happens. After observing the group for a while I walk up to them, and let’s say I get a cold greeting as soon as Nidaba greets me calmly, and they must’ve realized I have been working with her. They will never understand why I have done this to them, and even less why I will do what I have to do next …

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