Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NANOWRIMO Day 10 - Limerick Dragons

Chapter 12 – Into the Darkness

The sun had barely risen over the horizon, bringing with it another clear, cold day. They gathered up the materials they had set aside the previous night and let the horses off their reins. The group made its way down the narrow and slick passageway to the cave they had found earlier in the day. Finding the caved in tunnel, they quickly squirmed through the hole they cleared the previous day.

Once on the inside, they stuck their torches, illuminating the surrounding area. This allowed them a better glimpse of the cave than the previous day's excursion. The walls seemed to have been chiseled flat like the entrance part of the cavern they had noticed yesterday. In here the walls were covered in a slimy green moss plant. It had the effect of absorbing the light from the torches, limiting their visibility of what lay further down the passage.

They had stumbled down quite far on the last trip, on what seemed to be a straight path. It turned out they were lucky to have made it back out on the previous night, as numerous side passageways opened up on either side of path. Most of these didn't extend too far back, but taking one in the dark would have caused them to lose all idea of direction.

They continued walking, slowly checking all possible paths to determine if they were headed the right direction. Down one of the side routes, they found a spot where the walls seemed to glow, as they had seen before. With the edge of a blade, they slowly scraped off the growth from the walls. Underneath, they were surprised to find runes that seemed to glow with a white light inscribed into the wall. The moss growing over them had provided the ominous green glow.

“I have never seen anything like this before in my studies. These must be ancient,” Arynn uttered breathlessly examining the wall.

“If we had more time, I would let you examine them to your heart's content, but we really should get moving,” Shen replied.

She had to force herself to look away and walk back to the main path. The discoveries and history that could be derived from such work was astounding. She made a mental note of about how far in they were so that she could come back here with more elves to study.

The path they were following seemed to go forever, for at least a few hours passed as they worked their way further in. They continued to find runes adorning the walls, increasing in frequency as their trek continued. The passageway turned out to be merely a small tributary though, as it finally broke out in the most cavernous space any of them had ever seen. From their left, they felt the cool breeze signaling that there was more than one entrance into the place.

They continued walking into the new space, working slowly to right and what they believed was the depths of the earth. They realized that this wasn't merely a natural cavern, it had been a city at some point in time. The cavern was filled with the rubble from what appeared to be houses and stores. Smashed pots and other household items were found on closer inspection of the crumbled structures.
“I never thought there were people that lived down in these caves, there was no mention in any of the texts,” Keladkha said.

Shen responded, “But there are multiple entrances. Adventures probably came in from different sides and never ran across this area.”

Their journey continued through the ruins of this ancient town. They came across several skeletons in some of the structures, revealing creatures that were much shorter and stouter than they were. The overall city layout reminded them of any one that could be found on the surface. It seemed to be separated into districts with a palace of sorts as the center of the area. The buildings were all constructed out of the same stones that composed the walls of the cavern. It seemed so odd that any creature would create a city so far underground, away from the sun.
They soon left the city behind and entered another narrower path. The walls here were once again covered in the green moss, but were oddly absent of the runes and seemed much rougher. It almost seemed like the previous inhabitants had not ventured down this path much. Undeterred, they continued the trek ever deeper. The journey was going to take awhile and they couldn't spare much time dealing with questions on a long lost race of people.

A disconcerting fact they were picking up on was an excess of skeletons that only seemed to grow as they continued deeper. The bones on these skeletons seemed to show some marks of scorching and the walls were oddly clean of the moss. The passageway took a bend and the trio was left staring in awe at another large cavern in the cave. This one was not as large as the last, but the middle was filled with a gigantic golden mound composed of what looked to be gold coins.

They carefully eased their way closer to the mound to examine it closer. As they got close enough for the lights of their torches to illuminate the pile, they saw that it was indeed the largest pile of gold probably anywhere in the world. The problem was that there was no explanation as to why such a large pile would be gathered here of all places. Upon closer examination, they noticed that all of the coins seemed to come from different sources. They even found a couple that bore the design of their own mint and had been applied to the pile only recently.

“Get away from my resting place, or I will set fire to your face. Get away from my gold, for it is mine to hold. So please move at a speedy pace.”

The three of them suddenly turned around, surprised to find that they had been watched from a perch above the door from which they entered. As they looked up, they saw that it was indeed a dragon from the times of old. It was bluish green in coloration and stood nearly five times their height. Dragons had been said to be some of the most intelligent creatures along with being some of the fiercest fighters. Tales from the ancient times told of dragons who were able to take down entire armies by themselves. Their scales were as tough as metal, their claws as sharp as blades, and blew fire hotter than a forge.

“Oh won't you speak up, or are you just a scared pup. Might you be thieves, now shaking in your greaves. You shall be a mighty fine sup.” Upon this utterance, he took flight the perch and landed with a loud thud next to them, shaking the ground so hard they were thrown from their feet.

“We have no intention of stealing your gold,” Keladkha called out as he stepped to his feet. “We were merely searching for some Athaleas to heal a friend.”

“Many have come before you, telling me no it's true. Your words are lies, thieving in disguise. You shall be a mighty fine chew.”

With that, the dragon took off into the air and turned its head and breathed fire from its great snout. The three of them were only just able to dive to safety before the flames hit the floor. The dragon quickly swooped down and landed, crushing Keladkha between one of its large talons. Arynn was the first to recover from the attack and unleashed an arrow at the chest of the creature. While it flew straight and true, it merely bounced off of the creatures mighty scales.

Shen, having now recovered, sprinted towards the leg holding Keladkha to the ground and took a mighty slash at what appeared to be a weak point in the armor. The creature roared in agony as it penetrated a few inches into the dark flesh, raising up and swinging its tail around and knocking the attacker back a few feet. As it took flight, Arynn let an arrow fly at the creatures head. It hit on the underside of it jaw, a weak point in its scales and planted itself arrowhead deep in the skin. The creature turned and rocketed towards her, a plume of flames leading the way.

While she was faster than the creature, the flames still caught her legs as she dove to the side for cover. The pain was excruciating and she temporarily dropped her bow and she landed in a heap on the ground. Keladkha now recovered from having the wind knocked out of him, began sprinting over to her location. Before he could reach her however, the dragon landed blocking his path. The creature quickly snapped its jaw down at him. With barely enough time to react he sidestepped and jabbed the sword into the side of the creature's neck. It a roar of pain, the beast reared up and he could only just manage to hold onto the hilt of the sword.
The dragon flung its head rapidly from side to side, able to feel that the Keladkha was still hanging on the sword plunged deep into the neck. As the blood poured out of the creatures wound, coating the sword, it became harder and harder to hold on. Finally, with one great heave, the beast flung its head and sent him flying into the wall. He hit with a large clash of metal on rock and had blacked out before even hitting the floor in a heap.

Satisfied that one of the thieves was taken care of, the beast spun around quickly on Arynn who was slowly limping backwards towards the protection of the small cave. As it slowly advanced on her, she let fly a couple of arrows that once again merely bounced off the armor like scales. In desperation, she let one last arrow fly and turning to run as fast as possible on two burned legs down the tunnel from which they had come. The arrow took a lucky flight, and managed to catch to dragon in one of its blood red eyes.

Unfortunately, Shen had come up with the crazy idea of running up the beast's back at the same time in an attempt to stab the creature through the head. As the eye hit is mark, the dragon took flight and soared high into the cavern's heights. Using it bony back, Shen was able to slowly inch his way up the back of the creature, ever nearing its head. He reached his target just as the creature was rocketing back toward the ground. Holding on as tight as he could with his shins and thighs, he lifted his sword high into the air and plunged it down to where the creatures brain was.

It suddenly lost control of its downward descent, and the angle increased. The creature finally hit the ground with a major thud, quickly throwing Shen from its back at the tremendous force of the collision. He landed on his chest and slid quickly into a wall, hitting with such a force that the room surrounding him faded to blackness.

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