Time seemed frozen as Legin continued to stare at the mutilated corpse of Magi Stinfry in shock and Vhindr continued to sit there with Arell in his arms. It was all over, just like that. In a splattering of brain and bone Magi Siggr Stinfry was dead. Not only dead, but pummeled beyond recognition.
Legin felt sick as he looked at his bloody hands. Strinfry had deserved his wrath that was not the issue.
“I can’t believe I killed someone like that,” Legin said quietly to himself.
“He deserved it.” Pip’s voice replied from nowhere. “But I think he should have suffered more.”
Legin looked back to the bloody mess of what was left of the Magi. The sight revolted him, but he could not look away.
“What’s the matter?” Pip asked, “You’ve killed heaps of bad people.”
“This time it was so personal though,” Legin replied as he continued to stare at the pulverized brain matter and slowly congealing blood pool.
“Snap out of it.” Pip demanded. “You know there are probably other women imprisoned in this place.”
Legin jumped to his feet, all his shock and paralysis leaving him. Glancing briefly to Vhindr, who was still cradling Arell’s lifeless body he made for the exit.
“I’m off to save the other prisoners Vhindr,” Legin called out as he left. “Meet me out the front when you are ready. Take all the time you need.”
Vhindr did not respond as Legin left the room and began along the dark corridors.
“Now Pip, if I was a prisoner …” Legin’s voice trailed away as he looked to his side, and where Pip would normally be, to see only empty space. “Pip?”
“I’m still here,” came Pip’s voice from the darkness of the hallway, but it seemed distant and hollow to Legin’s ears.
With a sad sigh Legin headed down the dim corridor. There were no lights in the building, but it was not utterly dark. Through the gaping windows the sound of the rain echoed and intermittent flashes of lightning brought the rumble of thunder. Legin did not say anything more as he made his way downwards through the Monastery and into the bowels of the grand building.
The sound of rain became louder as he stopped at the base of a stair case and to his side the earth had fallen away to reveal a grand sight across the Gornl Sea. Accompanying the steady thrum of rain here there was also the sound of mournful cries reverberating out of the depths. The sound of utter hopelessness sent shivers through Legin’s spine and he was almost too scared to look away from the view and venture towards the cries.
Taking a deep breath he turned from the gaping hole in the cliff face and looked down the long, dark hallway. Before he ventured forth Legin spotted a ring of old keys hanging on a hook next to a crystal lantern.
“Keys?” Legin wondered as he grabbed them and smiled. “Keys are always helpful.”
Grabbing the lantern as well he steeled himself and headed into the darkness. As soon as he had grabbed the lantern the runes etched into the crystal flared to life and a bright white light pierced through the darkness. As the light pushed aside the shadows Legin noted nearly a dozen recesses down the hall that marked doorways. He also noted that the weeping had stopped and all had become deathly quiet.
Slowly Legin came to the first door and he shone the light through the iron barred entrance. At first he thought it empty, but then he spotted a young woman huddling in the corner, her clothes were tattered and he wrists heavily chained, but aside from that she seemed in good health.
Quickly Legin fumbled with the keys to find the correct one to open the cell. The iron door soon screeched inwards and the woman began to cry.
“No please not me.” The young woman begged pitifully as Legin hurried over to her. “Not again. The Five take me please no. Kill me.”
“It’s alright,” Legin said softly. “I’m not here to hurt you.”
As the chains fell to the stone the woman suddenly screamed manically and shoved him to the ground. Crying out the woman raced for the door.
“Wait.” Legin called as he quickly followed. “I am here to save you. Please listen to … No don’t!”
Legin called out as he raced from the door just in time to see the young woman dive out of the hole in the cliff side and plummet to the rock below.
“Why?” Legin breathed in shock.
“Death was her release.” A voice replied from down the hall. “She had been here the longest.”
Legin quickly turned and retrieved his lantern and keys before heading to the next cell.
“Who said that?” Legin asked as he held his lantern high.
“It was me.” Said a woman as she moved from the side of the locked door.
Legin’s eyes widened as he realised that this woman was in fact a yineth. Quickly dismissing his surprise he hurriedly unlocked the door and unchained the yineth.
“I would never have thought Stinfry’s grasp extended all the way to the Yineth Plateau.” Legin remarked as they moved to the next cell.
“It doesn’t,” replied the yineth sadly, “My sister and I came to Pentra not long ago. It was there he seized us. My sister died.”
Tears filled the yineth’s sad eyes and her head fell to her hands as she wept.
Legin asked no more of the yineth and continued to open the next prison cell.
“Legin?” the room’s occupant gasped as he opened the door.
“Ryka?” Legin exclaimed as he recognised the female guard from Chilldeep Prison. “How? When?”
“It was the Commander,” Ryka spat angrily. “Last night he called me to his quarters, he said he wanted to talk about my transfer. Next thing I realise this Magi had me under a spell and put me in here.”
“Can’t you use magicks?” Legin asked curiously.
“I can.” Ryke replied. “But the Magi has been using void magicks and runes encircle these cells. Come on there are still others in here.”
Legin nodded and he followed the female guard down the corridor to the other cells. Most of the others were not as well off as the yineth or Ryka and all bore obvious mental scares. Although he was surprised to see that there seemed to be every race in Essinendeür here. There was one of each of the elves, a Mōrgul, a Halfling and even a Dwarven woman, but most were of Men. And thankfully most of them had not been subjected to Stinfry’s twisted experiments yet, though three had obvious sings of pregnancy.
Legin tried not to think about it anymore and led the group of nearly a dozen women from the dark cells and back up through the Monastery to the front of the grand building.
Outside the rain had stopped and the first light of dawn was pushing aside the grey clouds. Vhindr was nowhere to be seen though, so Legin got all the girls to sit around the area while they waited for his companion.
“How are we all to get off this island?” Drnid, the yineth, asked Legin as they stood at the edge of the cliff beside the slanting building.
“Vhindr will think of something.” Legin reassured the Yineth.
“Unless he can teleport all of us to the mainland, I don’t think there is much he can do.” said Ryka despondently.
“What of your magicks Drynid?” Legin asked curiously, “When I was with my friend in the Yineth Plateau most of your kin were still proficient with the powers of the Fog.”
The Yineth looked away.
“I have lost myself and my magicks.” Drynid admitted. “I must return home so that I may heal from this hurt.”
Legin was about to say something more when a mournful wail grabbed his attention.
At the base of the Monastery stairs one of the pregnant women screamed again as she repeatedly stabbed herself in the gut with a shard of glass.
“No don’t.” Legin cried out as he raced over to her. “What are you doing? Please stop this madness.”
The woman did not reply and she let out a final scream and plunged the stained glass deep into her heart. Legin looked on in horror as the young woman slumped to the stone and the blood pooled around her one the white bricks.
“Why?” Legin wondered aloud, shaking his head, and the others turned away. “Why would she do that?”
“She could not live with what had been done to her.” Ryka stated sadly, “I can’t say that I blame her.”
Another scream echoed around the area causing Legin to spin around to see several of the mutant monsters jump upon the dwarf woman and rip her apart with their hands.
“No!” Legin cried out in despair and anger.
“What in the Abyss?” Ryka screamed and recoiled from the sight.
“Damn these things.” Legin growled as he moved towards the mutants who were devouring the dwarf greedily.
But Legin’s determined walk slowed as he saw several more of the monsters crawl from the ruins of the old buildings. Stopping mid-stride he clenched his jaw and counted the adversaries who were trying to join the feast. But there was not enough Dwarf to go around and the twisted beings turned their hungry gaze upon Legin and the group of women behind him.
“Quick, get into the Azarě Monastery.” Legin commanded over his shoulder as the mutants advanced.
“There are too many.” Ryka called back desperately.
“Go.” Legin yelled, leaving no room for debate.
Many more of the creatures had crawled out from their holes and Legin clenched his fists and readied himself for a fight. Slowly the twisted monsters advanced, their broken teeth eager to taste his flesh. Their claws and nails keen to rip him apart. But not all of them would get that chance, Legin was certain of that. He would fight until the bitter end and he would take as many as he could with him.
“Well, come on then,” Legin sneered at the creatures as wisps of Fog began to coil around his arms.
Suddenly Legin was thrown forwards as an explosion of heat rolled over him. Jumping back to his feet he turned wide eyed towards the Monastery and to the startled cries of the women as red flames enveloped the building. The mutants behind Legin let out a holler, causing him to quickly turn back to the fight, but the monsters were scrambling in the other direction, fear marking their ugly faces.
A smile came to Legin’s face before he relaxed and looked back to the flames billowing out of the wide windows. Luckily none of the girls had been inside the building when the explosion occurred, though most were visibly shaken.
“Vhindr.” Legin exclaimed suddenly as he realised that his friend was still inside.
Desperately Legin raced up the stairs to the entrance just in time to see Vhindr calmly walk from the fire.
“So it was you who caused the explosion,” Legin breathed sigh of relief. “Good guess that it would scare away them mutants.”
“What mutants?” Vhidnr asked back as he walked passed Legin and over to the slanting building where he stopped and gazed across the Gornl Sea.
“Is that your friend Legin?” Ryka asked, “The one who will apparently get us out of this place?”
Legin nodded as he his thoughts remained on Vhindr.
“He nearly incinerated us all.” Ryka continued.
“Vhindr knew what he was doing.” Legin replied confidently and looked back to the prison guard. “He’s just upset ‘cause the Magi killed his girl.”
Ryka’s expression softened then and she nodded sadly before turning back to join the rest of the group.
As the morning came and drifted onwards the woman remained together in the close group, intentionally limiting their interaction with both Legin and Vhindr, but such a conversation with Vhindr would have been near impossible as the man remained at the cliff’s edge, staring across the sea.
Legin spoke little with Stinfry’s victims and his only brief conversations were with either Ryka or Drynid. He could tell from the gazes that all of them were curious about his tail, which he had decided to leave uncoiled, but none asked any questions.
Seeking some interest Legin started to wonder the ruins about the area, making sure no more of those mutants were sneaking up on them. It seemed that the creature’s fears of fire had kept them away, and with the flames still burning angrily inside the Azarě Monastery, Legin was confident that they would not see them again for some time. But those fires would die down eventually and the monsters would return, and if they were still here Legin wondered if he and Vhindr would be able to stop the waves of mutants. Even if they could halt the horde of beasts they would need food and water. So either way Legin looked at the situation they needed to get off this island one way or another, else die.
Legin was just climbing to the top of a tall column when he saw several flashes of light shoot into the sky. Standing up he spotted Vhindr fire another series of colourful balls into the air which were mimic by someone out to sea.
“A boat,” Legin smiled as he jumped from the high pillar.
Landing with a roll he darted over the rocks and bricks, sliding under a fallen column he jumped to his feet and catapulted over a broken wall back into the main area in front of the Monastery. Racing over to Vhidnr, where all the others had gathered, Legin moved to the edge of the cliff to see a ship begin to move towards them.
“That’s one of Chilldeep’s schooners,” Ryka remarked with a smile and a happy expression washed over the faces of the others.
It seemed a long time for the schooner to drop anchor at the base of the cliff, and even longer for someone to start climbing up with a length of rope. Fed up with the delay Legin swung over the lip of the cliff and dropped from hand hold to crevasse easily, in seconds he was beside the tired climber. Legin quickly took the rope from the man and darted back up to the top. Now that Legin and Vhindr were in control the rope was secured in no time and one by one the women were lowered down to the ship.
Legin was the last to make the decent, bring the rope with him. As soon as he stepped foot onto the deck the ship was away. It turned out that the ship’s crew were other guards who had accompanied Ryke from Gaia Mountains Penitentiary and upon hearing of her disappearance and put together a search party.
Getting out of the way of the crew Legin found a quiet spot by the prow and watched dreamily as the crystal clear water raced by. It was only now Legin realised how tired he was, and hungry.
“I hope there is at least a meal in this for the hero work we have done.” Said Pip’s voice and Legin smiled to himself.
As it turned out it was a while until he was able to get some food and rest for when they got back to Chilldeep around midday there was quite a scene. All the guards quickly learnt the truth about their Commander and they turned on him, throwing the man into the compound of his own prison. There was somewhat of a subdued celebration and finally Legin got the meal he longed for. During this time no one really noticed, or paid attention to him, even Vhindr kept his distance. But Legin was used to being alone.
He did not sleep well that night and he kept waking up with images of Magi’s Stinfry’s mutilated corpse filling his mind.
The next day finally came and Legin and Vhindr took the earliest ferry back to Pentra. Surprisingly Ryka had stayed at the prison and held him to his offer of a drink sometime as he said farewell to the guard. The other victims of Stinfry’s joined them on the trip back to Pentra, all eager to try and leave their harrowing ordeal behind, but all them secretly knowing that they would never be rid of Stinfry.
A thick mist still lingered across the waters as the ferry drifted towards the mainland and at the prow of the vessel Legin leaned back on the railing as he toyed with his lucky seed.
“What now, hey Pip?” Legin asked quietly as he tossed the large seed into the air and caught it.
There was no reply this time.
“Legin,” Vhindr called out as he approached, “There you are. I was wondering where you had gotten to.”
Legin smiled in response and a continued to play with the pip.
“I apologise if I have seemed to be avoiding you,” Vhindr said seriously, drawing Legin’s gaze to his. “It has not been my intent. It’s just … Arell …”
Vhindr sighed heavily and leant on the railing.
“You don’t have to say anything,” Legin said sincerely and patted Vhindr on the shoulder, “I understand. We both lost someone.”
Vhindr did not reply and he looked to the clearing mist.
“Why did you never say anything Vhindr?” Legin felt the compulsion to ask, causing Vhindr to give him a confused expression. “About Pip. About him not being real.”
“Why did I need to?” Vhindr asked back, “He was real to you, and I could tell that if I shattered your reality it could have destroyed you. There was no harm in you seeing Pip as a manifestation of your thoughts. I saw no reason to take that away from you.”
“But he never existed.” Legin said quietly as he looked at the seed in his hands.
“Of course he did, he does still.” Vhindr replied seriously, “He is part of you, your best friend and it does not matter if no one else can see him.”
“He was an illusion,” Legin countered.
“My father once told me that even an illusion can kill you if you believe it to be real,” Vhindr replied, “And the same can be said that if you believe in an illusion it can give you friendship, love and understanding. Do not let Stinfry take away that, he has taken enough from this world as it is.”
Legin turned a curious eye to his friend and slipped the pip back into the pouch at his hip.
“So where are you to head once we reach Pentra?” Legin asked curiously.
“Home, to Port Na’brath,” Vhindr replied with a slight smile, “What of you?”
“The Yineth Plateau,” Legin said with a smile, “I promised a friend I would return to her and tell her everything that happened.”
“Well, I hope we meet again.” Vhindr smiled sincerely and extended his hand to Legin.
“So do I,” Legin smiled back and clasped Vhindr’s forearm firmly.
When the ferry docked Legin parted ways with Vhindr and headed into the city, but he did not go alone for with him went Drynid the Yineth who was also heading to the Yineth grasslands. With a smile on his face and he eyes sparkling with the thoughts of a bright future Legin left Pantra with Drynid in toe and started on the road to adventure once again.
Year 3633, the Sixth Age, the twentieth day of Summer
Legin stared blankly at the earthy crater, tears rimming his blue eyes, as he squatted at its edge. Rain fell gently on his shoulders and the night time lanterns of Sparren shone dimly through the light mist. The crater of broken stone and dirt was not overly large, not two metres wide, and as he looked upon the wet ground his mind flashed images of that silver haired man who had stood here, his long sword poised at the delicate neck of that young woman who had caused the great cracks in the sky.
It had been two years since he had returned to the Yineth Grassland and spent time with Aurora and the other Yineth. But when the sky ripped open Legin had rushed forth to see what was happening to the world. To Crydon he ventured first only to learn that the world was coming to an end. But he had heard word of Vythe in the company of a powerful silver-haired man who were trying to stop a vengeful Goddess from the scriptures of the Prophecy of The Five. Curiosity compelled Legin to follow after Vythe to the south and to the capitol of Norrendōrel, Sparren.
He remembered clearly as he had walked up to the gates of the city only to be stopped by the guards. The two men had been concerned about his tail, which Legin had grown a custom to letting move freely. But their concern soon shifted focus when explosions shook the city and another great chasm appeared in the sky right above them. Almost instantly after fighting started within the city and Legin raced past the guards to see what was happening.
Pushing through the gathered crowd Legin’s eyes had widened to see a dark and terrible Goddess doing battle with a Man, a Dwarf, and an Elf. There was also a Nevārancien in the wide square in front of the ruined Antōre Monastery, but the warrior lay face down in his own blood.
“Vythe?” Legin remembered exclaiming in delight as he recognised the man fighting, and he was about to rush to his friend’s aid.
But Legin had stopped in his tracks and his mouth fell open as he noticed the Nevārancien warrior get back up, blood caked on one side of his face and his golden eyes burning brightly. Such power emanated from the warrior that Legin’s feet became rooted to the ground in awe.
But that amazement quickly turned to horror and despair as the Goddess shot shards of light from her fingers and impaled Vythe and the others except the Nevārancien.
The warrior screamed out in anger, and Legin felt the man’s pain, but as the warrior exploded towards the Goddess Legin knew that this battle was far beyond him.
He wanted to run to Vythe’s side to try and help his friend, but Legin’s feet were again rooted to the stone. Explosions of battle burst all around him and in the skies above, but Legin did not run for cover like many others. The fight suddenly ended as the warrior threw the evil Goddess to the stones and killed her.
Then, just as suddenly as the Nevārancien obtained his power it seemed to seep from him, and he collapsed to his knees beside the small crater that he and the Goddess had caused.
Again Legin was about to hurry over to Vythe, even though he knew the man to be dead, but a beam of light thundered down from the heavens and two forms walked out to the warrior.
Like so many others Legin just stared blankly as the Gods, Dhror and Melenduil, took the Nevārancien into the light before vanishing as quickly as they had come. The cracks in the sky sealed up and to Legin’s disbelief the bodies of Vythe and the others were nowhere to be seen.
The crowd soon dispersed, their faces and conversations alive with wonder, but Legin remained and walked slowly over to the small crater.
“I know in my heart that you are not dead Vythe,” Legin said softly as he squatted at the edge of the recess, the light rain falling upon his shoulders. “But I doubt I will ever see you again. I’m going to miss you, my friend.”
Legin glanced around at the empty square and to the crumbled blocks of the Antōre Monastery before he took out a large pip from his pocket.
“Why did you never say anything about Pip, Vythe?” Legin wondered as he played with the smooth seed. “Did you simply not care? No, I’m sure that wasn’t it. If I was happy that was all that mattered, right?”
The sound of rain on the stones was the only answer to his questions.
“Don’t worry about me Vythe, Pip,” Legin smiled, “Nothing can bring me down.”
With that Legin gave the large seed a kiss before hopping into the centre of the shallow hole and digging a deep divot in the mud. There he placed the pip and covered it over.
“Good bye my friends,” Legin said as he wiped his hands on his pants and stood up.
Whistling a tune Legin skipped from the crater and headed into the city. He knew Sparren fairly well and made a straight line to the lower part of the city and to the tavern, ‘The Diamond in the Rough.’
It was the best place in all of Norrendōrel, the fact that it was a brothel also was of no never-mind, but because the establishment was so large in the main barroom Legin did not see any solicitation happening.
Shaking the water from his hair Legin wore a smile as he headed over to the bar top. To his surprise he noticed many individuals with the tell-tale grey hair of Nevārancien warriors filtering through the busy crowd.
Legin scratched the base of his tail as he leant on the bar and before he could even order a drink some thug notice his tail uncoiled and wiggling in the air.
“What in the Abyss? A tail?” exclaimed some big thug, and Legin bit back his smirk, “Oi Buce check this fella out. A tail I tell ya.”
“You got a problem?” Legin snapped at the man.
“What? You some kind of demon spawn? Came out of that crack in the sky like the other demons?” slurred a drunken thug, who Legin assumed was Buce. “Is it even reals?”
“Touch me and I’ll break your arm.” Legin was quick to say and stepped back from the two drunken fools.
“Well now,” laughed the first brute, “Looks like we got a lively one. Hey fellas lets have some fun ay.”
Half a dozen other large and drunken individuals came to the first man’s call and the crowd parted eager to see a brawl.
“Looks like you could use some help,” remarked a Nevārancien as he came along side Legin.
“Bel’eak?” Legin smiled as he recognised the warrior, “I’m sure glad to see you again. Still up for that spar?”
The Nevārancien smirked before he pointed confidently to the half a dozen brawlers.
“The only one here who is going to duel this monkey is me,” Bel’eak stated loudly, “Any of you drunken idiots want to challenge that?”
“Who you callin’ idiot?” Buce growled and cracked his knuckles, “I’ll short you out good. I’ll sort you both out good.”
“Bring it on then.” Bel’eak smiled and readied himself for the fight.
A wide grin came to Legin’s face.