For thirteen days, Zolan
Videk descended into the cavernous depths below his dwarven home of Acirag to
find the sunken city of Losu.
The five-foot-seven dwarf slid down the scree of a long tunnel, his long wavy
blonde hair and thick beard whipped by the wind of his descent. His powerful
shoulders hefted his rusty maul and bore the weight of his chainmail vest, his
leather breeches keeping his muscular legs from being cut on the scree as
he slid down the inky black passage.
His icy blue eyes spied a glow down below, so the dwarf jammed the steel
toe-caps of his leather boots against the walls to slow his descent.
A luminescent blue slithered through the opening ahead, and Zolan's heart leapt
in his chest.
"And in caves of blue lays the Holy City Losu, long corrupted by our pride
and misery. Sceleris, beast of the deep, warden of Losu!" he murmured.
"Just as it was written in the Oraculum Librus. I have found it!"
Zolan pulled his feet from the walls, sliding down the scree and through the
passage. Thirteen days he had travelled, though he was only provisioned for
six. For seven he pressed on, eating raw cave fish and slime molds, drinking
acrid and stagnant water, all to find what lay beyond the passage.
Sliding to a stop beyond the door, he found himself in a vast cave such as he
had never seen before. The walls were covered in luminescent blue stones
glowing in the darkness, casting an eerie light over the chamber. At the
chamberís centre a gargantuan stalactite was hanging over a seemingly endless
void like a dark specter. In the sides of the mammoth drip-rock he could see
stairways, doors, and windows slick and weathered with age.
Losu, city of the Abyss. That was it, hanging over the cavernous depths.
A single bridge of rock connected the city with the cliff edge, and Zolan Videk
slowly and reverently approached it.
As he set his foot on the bridge, a hollow voice boomed from the depths.
"Who dares approach my home?" it roared from the deep.
The dwarf stepped back, gripping the worn handle of his battered maul. "I
am Zolan Videk, son of the city Acirag, follower of the Oraculum Librus, here
to reclaim Losu from the black grip of Sceleris!"
"Reclaim it?" the grating, voice howled. "Turn back now,
dwarf-kin, your Oracles were wrong, the City shall remain mine for
Zolan stepped forward slowly, beginning to cross the bridge, maul at the ready.
"No! I have faith in the Oracles! Their word has carried me this far, and
I shall not falter!"
A massive tendril whipped from the deep, wrapping around the city, and pulling
a massive chitin-covered mass from below. The towering beast was nearly as
large as the abyssal city and resembled a nightmarish cross between a squid, a
crab, and a man. Six shell-covered legs hammered their sharp points into the
walls of the city, holding its bulk in place. Two tendrils wrapped about the
city to support its front end, a third one resting on the stone bridge.
"Turn back, dwarfling!" the unusually small, blubbery,
yellow-eyed grotesque face screamed from the confines of the creature's thick
bony shell. "You are an insect to me. You have no hope!"
"You are wrong. Faith in the Oraculum has given me hope. I can, and shall,
defeat you!" the dwarf shouted back defiantly.
Sceleris swiped at the dwarf with the tendril that was resting on the bridge.
Unable to dodge quickly enough, Zolan felt the slick black muscle wrap around
him like a constrictor, squeezing his midriff. The tendril carried him to
within a body's length of the malformed face of the aberration. The face was
small for such a massive creature, but even so it was nearly as big as Zolan
"Give up," Sceleris hissed in Zolan's face, the beast's hot, foul
breath stinking of carrion and corruption.
Struggling against the powerful tendril, Zolan dropped his hammer. The maul
landed with a thud on the bridge below, its head square on the path, but the
handle dangling dangerously over the abyss. Looking into the beasts soulless
eyes, Zolan groaned, "Death first."
Exploding with strength, Zolan gripped the tendril holding him and pulled with
both hands. The rubbery flesh was slick, yet it was pliable enough to give the
dwarf a strong grip. The rubbery flesh tore open, causing Sceleris to howl
in shock and pain. The tendril went slack, dropping Zolan.
The dwarf nearly fell into the void, but he barely managed to catch the edge of
the stone bridge with his left hand. His shoulder dislocated with a pop and a
tearing sensation, making the dwarf howl in agony. He slowly heaved his right
hand to the edge, teeth cracking as he gritted them against the pain. He
managed to haul himself onto the bridge as Sceleris yowled in anger and
torment from its injury. The dwarf lifted his maul from the bridge, but
Sceleris was too preoccupied to notice.
Zolan's shoulder screamed in a fierce protest as he charged forward. He let the
pain fuel an anguished battle cry as he dove past Sceleris and into one of the
passages honeycombing Losu. The corridor was dark, but he could see well enough
to tell it spiraled upwards. Zolan could hear the grinding of
Sceleris' armored legs echoing down the hall, and heard the beast's voice
booming from outside. "I know you live! Come out and face me,
Zolan ran through the corridor, stepping over rubble and leaping past collapsed
sections of the walls. Up ahead, he saw one of the shelled legs blocking his
passage, with just enough space overhead for him to swing his weapon. With
a fierce battle-cry, he brought the hammer down on the hard shell. It made a
satisfying crack, but the haft of the weapon splintered and snapped, the heavy
head flying away from him, rendering the ancient maul scrap. The leg retracted
from the wall, but Zolan quickly grabbed the edge of the shattered shell before
it was out. The beast shook its leg, trying to dislodge the dwarf, but Zolan
held on tightly. The dwarf pulled himself up with his right arm to straddle
the leg, gripping the edge of the weakened carapace. He gripped with both hands
and pulled with all his strength, blocking out the white-hot pain from his left
shoulder as he felt the beastís flesh tear away from the hardened shell, black
ichors oozing from where the shell once was. The piece of shell snapped off,
leaving it with a sharp point, and the exposed blackened flesh sat right
beneath him. He shoved the sharp chitin into the injury, causing the leg to
spasm in pain until it went limp. Ichors gushed forth as he twisted the shell
until he was satisfied the leg would never support the creatureís body.
Sceleris roared, its vital fluids still gushing from its injured leg. Zolan ran
up the leg, still holding the sharp chitin in his hands and towards Sceleris's
head. The beast swung its injured tendril up towards the dwarf, but was unable
to strike him. Zolan climbed up the monster's body, until he was hanging right
below the beast's face.
"Back to the abyss with you!" he shouted, shoving the sharp point of
the chitin into the fiend's blubbery face, bringing forth a torrent of ichors
and gurgled cries of pain. The dwarf scrambled over to one of Losu's windows
and grabbing the ledge with both arms. His dislocated shoulder made
another tearing sound, causing the dwarf to shout in surprise.He hung from the ledge uselessly for a
few moments before he managed to pull himself up with his uninjured
arm, his bad arm all but useless from the damage as
he rolled into the corridor.
The creature's legs slackened as it oozed black fluids from its injuries,
spasms of pain causing its tendrils to release as it fell, striking the bridge
and rolling back into the inky blackness below.
Zolan Videk shakily rose from the ground of the stone corridor, bruised and battered,
weary from travel and the fearsome combat with Sceleris. Still, he knew he had
to find what he had come looking for, the ancient wonder he had heard of as a
child in the city of Acirag.
He dragged himself up the corridor, circling around the stalactite's interior.
He admired the vaulted ceilings, the fine carvings and stone work given an
eerie glow from the blue crystals outside. He finally reached the top of the
city, and found himself standing before a double pair of metallic doors, soft
and warm to the touch, hinting they may be gold. It was impossible for him to
tell by sight in the blue light, but none the less he put his weight behind his
uninjured right arm, slowly pressing the door open. A blast of fresh, sweet air
washed over him, making the air in the tunnels seem rotten and stagnant.
The room beyond was dark except for a single ray of light shining on a dust
caked throne. Zolan moved towards it, brushing off eons of gathered dirt. The
source of the light was a simple hole bored through the roof that seemed to go
on for eternity into the heavens. On the throne, Zolan found bits of leaves and
trees that had fallen through the shaft over the years.
The throne beneath the dust was a lustrous yellow, carved with images of vast
mountains and unending plains. At its base was a simple phrase.
"We rule by faith alone," he murmured. Slowly, carefully he lowered
himself into the throne. Zolan Videk alone had saved Losu.
2011-09-02 17:42:27 I agree that not knowing much about the character weakens the story. Great action and some nice writing, though. It's OK. 2011-09-01 22:52:10 Unfortunately, this reads like a recitation of events. 'this happened and then this happened, and then this happened'. It's also full of overused, overblown tropes.
Benjamin, get rid of the cliches, put some depth into the character; a five foot seven dwarf could have a lot more going for him that what you gave in this story.
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Quantum Musings by Raymond Coulombe, Michael Gallant, Timothy O. Goyette