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Library: Scattered Seeds

Books

Author: eressa
Date:May 21 2004

Shyalla Restina could feel the cold blood splash on her wrist as her sword
sliced through the vile zombie-like creature before her. A wandering minstrel
by trade, the beautiful woman had man adventures under her belt, and her sword
has drawn blood from many foes. But this blood was not warm like a man's, or
any beast Shyalla had faced before. No, this blood was cold ... cold like the
grave.

Shyalla's husband, Rend, his back to hers, swung his own sword around, his aim
near-pefect, severing the head of another of the hideously deformed
monstrosities. As if fell another shambled into its place, backing the couple
and their fellows closer to the edge of a precipitous cliff. Rend's foot
caught some loose rock and only his legendary dexterity saved him from
plummeting thousands of feet into the river below.

A few feet away the mighty warrior Thalron Bolgrave brought his massive
battleaxe around in an sweeping arc that sent three of the undead beasts
flying into the chasm. The lack of the sound of impact did nothing to assuage
the fears of the outnumbered heroes caught between the army of zombies and the
ravine. More troubling to their ears however was the lack of screams as the
beasts went over the edge. These enemies did not fear the fall, nor did they
fear the blades that severed their putrid flesh. They were mindless
automatons, utterly without mortal fears, sent here by their master, the dread
necromancer Alfarin Abraxas. He was the real enemy here, even as he commanded
his undead army from his tower on the other side of the great ravine.

"They just keep coming!" shrieked Terren Poteras. Terren, a reknowned wizard
who was also reputed to have vast psionic powers, was beginning to feel the
pressure of facing an army that in all likelihood could not be stopped by any
mortal means. Never one to give up however, Terren choked back his fear and
bringing his hands around in front of him began to weave a spell. By his side
the druid Rovan Waxpelling swept his magical staff around, giving the mage the
breathing room he needed to complete the spell. As Terren uttered the final
mystic syllable, the ground itself seemed to erupt in fire. Exploding upward
from the stones themselves, magical flames consumed row upon row of the
zombies, their once-human flesh popping and burning as it was ravaged by
Terren's power. 

A moment later six heroes found themselves alone at the cliff's edge. High
Priest Gulding Maurich laid his hands upon each of his companions in turn,
restoring much needed energy. Still, though, the fatigue they all felt could
not be erased. For months now, they had traced the source of the undead menace
to this place. Now, as they stood and stared out across the ravine, Gulding
knew that the time was close at hand when they would either defeat their
enemy, or die at his hand. Gifted by his god with the power of foresight,
Gulding could see that both roads led away from this place. The future ... at
least the futures of the six people gathered here ... were at a crossroads.
The battle lying before them was momentous that even the gods would not reveal
what was to come.

Gulding's moment of reflection was cut short, as the sound of shambling bodies
caught everyone's attention. The hordes of zombies who had been beyond the
range of Terren's flamestrike were shuffling their way towards the group now,
stomping over the smouldering bodies of the zombies who had fallen before
them. It was clear from Terren's heavy breathing however, that his mystic
energies were nearly depleted. No wave of flame would save them this time.

"Quickly, now," Shyalla said, "we've got to find a way across the ravine or
we've lost." Her Elven vision gave her a clear view up and down the chasm even
in the darkness, but she could see no bridge, no path down, no way across.
Even if they had rope ... they had been forced to abandon most of their
supplies when the zombies overran their camp some hours before ... there was
no way it would be enough to bridge the gap, some thousand feet to the other
side.

Stepping to the edge of the cliff, Rovan held his druidstaff aloft. Sending
out a mental call, he prayed that help would arrive in time. As the wall of
undead closed in on the heroes once again, a mighty shriek pierced the air.
"Stand on the edge, my friends," Rovan called. "Help is arrived and we may yet
get through this night!."

Shyalla's Elven hearing had already detected the beating of great wings, even
before the massive rocs sailed up out of the chasm and swooped around towards
the heroes. Just as the zombies began to close in on the heroes, the giant
birds had picked up each of them and carried them out over the great chasm. 

Whispering a silent prayer, Terren his acute fear of heights threatening to
overwhelm him, wrapped his slight hands around the feet of the great bird that
carried him. If his strength had been anything to speak of, perhaps the roc
would have felt his grip. 

Approaching the other side of the ravine, the heroes could see a dark tower in
the distance. Even the humans without the gift of nightvision could make out
the black shape, somehow even blacker than the surrounding night sky. It was
there that Abraxas was entombed, and it was there that the heroes must reach
if he were to be stopped and his plan to enslave the world thwarted. 

The giant eagle-like birds swept in close to the ground as they reached the
other side of the gap, dropping the heroes like so much refuse onto the rocky
ground below. Shyalla and Rend, their dexterity the stuff of legend, landed
easily. The others, all more known for their strength or intelligence or
wisdom, had a bumpier landing. But soon, they were all on their feet, looking
off into the darkness at the tower ahead.

Gulding could feel the undead army in the distance, surrounding the tower,
protecting it. Even now, he knew that Abraxas was aware of them. The dark lord
knew they had evaded the army he sent for them on the other side of the
canyon. On this side however, near his base of power, the legion of undead
numbered thousands upon thousands. And Gulding could sense a shift in their
motion, even from the distance still between them and the tower. The undead
army began flowing and shambling their way towards the heroes again.

As Gulding told the others what he sensed, Rend, his mind as dexterous as his
body, was already formulating a way to get them past the hordes of zombies and
into the tower. He knew, though, that whatever way he chose to get into the
tower, it would be dangerous -- mortally dangerous -- for all of them. He
gathered the others around, and began detailing his plan for them to get into
the tower. The others nodded their agreement, all knowing that the odds were
against them, and that in all likelihood they would die here on the rocky
cliff only to rise and join the very army which they fought against.

Pulling Shyalla to his side, Rend gave her a long kiss. She could sense the
emotion behind it, knowing that her husband knew in his heart that one or both
of them would likely die this night. Holding him tightly, Shyalla professed
her love in whispers into his ear, telling him that her heart was bound with
for all eternity, and even death would not sever that bond.

Rend, struggling to keep his emotions in check as his dear wife spoke,
answered her with a coy smile and a wink. "Of course," he said to her,
"together forever. In fact, when all of this is over, I promise you that we'll
retire to a quiet village and raise some little half-elves like you've always
wanted. In fact," he said, addressing all of his friends who stood here facing
death along with him, "you're all invited to come live with us then."


Books