Act II - Night Eternal
Countless years passed since Lilet and her would be assailants died a pitiful death in Silver Moon Castle. Few in her home town of Oasis remembers that night, and nobody in the mountain town of Six Forks had even heard word of it; well, with the exception of one—but even in death he would not speak of it.
It is summer in the town of Six Forks, or at least what the locals would call summer. Being a northern mountain city summer just means a lower chance of blizzards, longer days in the chilling sunlight, tamer winds, and of course fewer avalanches. But all is not gloomy in town, because this year is special. This year is the 40th year in the kings reign and as tradition would have it, every ten years a festival is held. Lords and ladies from across the realm will gather and bring forth their champions, sons and on some occasions their daughters in a bid to gain favor for their house. The festival is not limited to nobility however, anyone may participate as long as they have acceptable coin in hand. Each festival many strange warriors from foreign lands joined in, poisoned by the allure of the grand prize, a hefty percent of all entry fees. In a past festivals a lowly mercenary recruited by the military even became a rich lord, all though application of brute force and a little bit of luck.
The festival has yet to begin but carriages and horses trample can be heard as the masses of participants squeeze though the narrow mountain passes and flooding into the town. A small boy, who goes by the nickname of Winter, no bigger or smarter then a plank, watches in awe the nobles passing though the gates and streets of town and riding towards the upper houses and fancy taverns though the the serpent road. The one and only road though the entire town. The boy, and his band of hooligans, know what the nobles want, they know how in a few moons all of these rich bastards will depart for the summit, at the end of the serpent, where they will battle in the ancient arena.
“We should go Winter.” said January pulling on Winters rags
“These people probably don’t like us staring at them.”
“Because we’re poor?” said Winter with cold breath
“I want to be there. I want to have them stair at me!”
“You all with me!” he said with his teeth shaking
January moved back and the others, December and February, were left dumbfounded for a moment by his grand speech, but quickly followed with a shout of acknowledgement. Winter and the rest continued to admire the rich bastards for a few hours more but eventually they got hungry and returned to their secret base where they had burrowed some supplies from the orphanage. There they plotted of a way to get into the festival proceedings, and join the fray. None of them really thought about the part where they would have to fight and win, sadly thinking wasn’t one of Winters qualities as a leader. But still, the little runt came up with a plan, which by his own words was just stupid enough to actually work. The rest all exited by his little stroke of genius committed to it as well.
According to Winters plan they gather all their secret supplies of food and journey to the third peek. There a group of mercenaries was sent to recover a mountain lion tooth for a certain sorcerer. They will sneak up on them at night and steal the tooth then accept the reward from the sorcerer on their behalf. They took with them weapons, stolen a year and a half ago from the cellar of a burnt up house, they were all pretty much scrap metal as far as anyone was concerned but for Winter they were treasure.
Meanwhile as Winter and conspirators tracked though shortcuts in the mountain, deep deep down at the bottoms of the earth someone finally awoke. Heart still, voice cut, Lilet found herself in a giant pit with spikes all around her. There was no air, no feeling, just a still calmness and a sense of shifting. As she looked up black rocks seemingly floated above her, and a swirl of darkness covered the top, the only exit. As she moved forward and tried to grab on to a rock her hand just passed though. She tried again and in frustration with effort she finally was able to grab on. She slowly pulled herself out of the pit and went into the darkness at the top. As she come out a chill went though her spine as behind her the pit she had emerged from was filled with molten lava. She paused for a moment, took a deep breath and with an unnerving calm called Mephistos name.
“Awake at last I see.” said Mephisto echoing though her mind
“What’s the meaning of this. Am I… a demon now?” said Lilet
“No.” said Mephisto
“Am I dead? Did you kill me?” said Lilet
“By your definition you could say you are walking dead.” said Mephisto
“And I had nothing to do with your death, you managed that all on your own.”
“So I am your servant now.” said Lilet
“Does it really look like I have any hold on you.” said Mephisto in a loud shriek
“Do as you wish human,”
“I am trapped in a prison realm, at best I’ll be able to offer you assistance if you’ll have it”
“Assistance?” said Lilet
“Perhaps I’m expecting too much of you.” said Mephisto
“You’re still young and stupid.”
“While death has freed you from your mortal fears and unlocked your inner strength, perhaps the form of a wraith is too much.”
“Go to the pound of lava and touch it and draw from it a physical form of your choosing.”
Lilet did as Mephisto suggested and went to the pond. She placed both hands on the molten rock and surprisingly to her felt no fear and second thoughts in doing so. As she focused silver flowed into her and formed her bones and wove itself into gloves, chains and knightish gear around her. Ash formed into gloves, boots and covered part of her spirit hair, while various poisonous gases condensed and formed into skin.
“Feeling better?” said Mephisto
“I feel… heavy.” said Lilet walking around
“But I feel more natural then before.”
“Am I… immortal?”
“No. Should you lose your mind your existence will start to weaver and the very world will consume you.” said Mephisto as he echoed in a loud voice; so load Lilet for a second could feel his presence around her
“You may even lose yourself if you die while possessing a physical body as you did before in the castle.”
“While you might not die, who knows how many years will pass until you come back.”
“Everything you loved, everything you liked, everything you remember, may become one with the dust by the time you wake up again.”
“How long have I been gone!?” said Lilet franticly
Mephisto did not answer, instead a airy silence swept in. Lilet could feel he didn’t want to tell her, and after a few moments she asked another question instead.
“What happened to the sword?”
“It’s with you.” said Mephisto
“But… I don’t see it.” said Lilet looking around
“Are you referring to that pole?” said Mephisto
“That was merely a medium. The sword was never that stick, it was the very castle itself.”
“And now the sword is you, or to be precise within you.”
“You may call on it as you called on the lava moments ago.”
Lilet paused for a moment and recollected on events past, a life lost. She took in the demon’s explanation but still thought more about the time which had passed since her death.
“Where are you?” said Lilet
“With you, yet farther away then you can ever hope to reach. If you need me, just ask.”
Lilet felt strange talking with the demon so much, and just proceeded to find the exit of the volcanic cave. She followed the gust of air and eventually after spinning around in circles a few times reached an exit. What she saw however made her wish she would have gotten lost forever. To her right forests of mushrooms and vines grew from the ceiling and reached heights even the largest of buildings she had seen in her lifetime could not contest with. In the distance she could see stalactite the size of mountains, but more terrifying of all was what was bellow her. An endless pit as large as an ocean and as deep as the sky. It was as if the world had been turned upside down, literally.
In the distance she could see a town, hanging from the great ceiling, surrounded by water falls. And so Lilet moved forward though the caves and eventually bridges made of vines and rock suspended on stalactite and various giant plants. Looking down was unnerving but at least her fear of height was nonexistent. At the same time Winter and the others made good progress though the mountains and were half way though.
Still far away from the city Lilet comes across strange banners. They didn't seem very elegant, mostly just a piece of material with some splattered paint on them.
“Might I make a suggestion.” said Mephisto
“What?” said Lilet, with a suspicious tone
“Rip those apart and cover yourself with them before entering the town.” said Mephisto
“I see. I had forgotten I no longer look human.” said Lilet looking at a reflection in a nearby pudle.
“It’s not looking human you should be concerned about.” said Mephisto
Lilet froze as she realized the meaning behind the demon’s words. Her enthusiasm quelled she took to the demon’s advice and continued on, now more vigilant of the strange world around her.
Several hours pass and Winter and his gang of hooligans manage to track the mercenaries trail though the narrow gaps in the mountains. It was not easy tacking the shortcuts since the snow filled wind blows especially vicious in the narrows between cliffs, but it was worth it. As they reach the mercenaries they approach steadily and covertly and fortunately for them the wind changed direction while they were tripping their clogs and lent their clumsy movements some real cover.
“I think I heard something…” said one of the mercenaries from the rear
“Something, big?” said another
“No. Probably small.” replied the man
“Scared of wild rabbit now. Like last time! Hahaha…” said another from the right flank
“Cut it both of ya. This ain’t no time for talking.” said one in front
“Just having a little friendly chat gramps.” replied the man on the right
“It’s not like this assignment is anything special either.”
“What are we after again? A damn bone? A trained dog could do this job…”
The old man in front wanted to reply but a cough stole his voice for a moment. The men on the left and middle started snikering and couldn’t help jocking about it as well.
“To get so many able men just for one bone lying on the ground in plain sight. This is some loonie rich bastard we got boys.” said a man in the middle ranks
“Ain’t all of them like that? A while back one client hired me to kill his nephews neighbours dogs.” said the man next to him
“The damn muts were all the way in the next town, what the hell was his problem.”
“Hey, beats sabotaging your neighborhoods shit holes. Compared to that this dog-job is royalty treatment.” said a large man with a hammer
“Cut that crap all of you…” said the old man after regaining his voice
“Save your damn bed time stories for your grandchildren, if you live that long.”
“As you know this mountain is home of the meh-teh, giant white beasts.”
“And as you also know they are very shy and docile, and eat the leaves and bark of trees and shit, and avoid us and civilization.”
“Here’s what you butt heads don’t know. They are extremely social, particularly when it comes to their dead.”
“And the reason you don’t know this is because nobody has come back alive to tell ya.”
“Wait we talking about the same snowmen here gramps” said the soldier from the back
“Those cowardly things everyone around here as seen run away in fear in the distance.”
“You got proof.”
“I’ve seen bones. Bones with holes and scratches no other animal in these parts could make.” said the old man
“And you want to know the best part, all of them, each and one of them was asked to get this same dog job done.”
“I hope you youngsters aren’t all bark, or we’ll die like dogs as well.”
“If the client knew why didn’t he tell us.” said the man on the right
“You a greenhorn boy. If no shit happens he can just pay you the peanuts for retrieving a bone.” said the old man
“Hell, if some of us die even better.” said the man in the middle
The men track in silence for a while, all but the old man emerged in thoughts on how to get pay back on the client. This helps Winter keep a low profile, and pass unnoticed, but also also allows for certain other things to pass unnoticed too.
Meanwhile in the depths Lilet covered with the red banners from before, approaches the town on a wooden bridge over the endless abyss. Before her a giant door, for what seems to be a citadel. She’s anxious at first but as the thoughts fade she simply puts one hand on the door and shoves. Much to her surprise the door creeps open and dust falls from it’s hinges. As anyone could figure, the door had not been opened in a long long time. She walks forward climbs some stairs and before her a city. A dead city, an seemingly abandoned city. She walks around, but finds nothing, not even a sort of animal. She searches the houses but only finds dust. On one hand she’s relieved, yet at the same time the feeling of loneliness, of losing everything, of not having anything to even be afraid of, of being totally and utterly alone in the world, just grows ever deeper. She thus just stops, sits down and waits. Minutes pass, hours pass. Slowly she starts to fall asleep. And then a voice slowly begins to echo in her head, “wake up” and then louder “wake up now!”. She wakes up slightly but her eyes are still heavy, her thoughts still heavy. And then the voice echoes even louder “Have you forgotten what I said!”, “Louse yourself, and you’ll louse your life”. And hearing Mephisto’s words Lilet jumps back on her feet and starts to draw breath, uncontrollably, as if she’d had a near death experience all over again. She franticly asks Mephisto what just happens between breaths but he doesn’t answer her calling. Moments later she recovers fully but just as soon as she gets back fully on her feet a surge of pain raices though her whole body and she falls on her knee.
“Relax.” said Mephisto in her head
“It’s not your fault, this time.”
“What’s not my fault.” said Lilet
“Well, the pain is your fault.” said Mephisto
“Because you nearly killed yourself just now the experience is a lot more vivid then it should be.”
“But jumping to the point, remember the medium you mistakenly though was the reaper.”
“It would appear someone with a great wish to live, just died holding it.”
“It’s nobody useful, so you could just break the link, but given your state…”
“Just spit it out.” said Lilet
“You could posses that person.” said Mephisto
“What!? Ugh… are you mad!” said Lilet feeling even more pain
“I know it’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but.” said Mephisto
“If you posses them enough your powers will heal their wounds, and in a way save their miserable existence."
“Now doesn’t that sound knight like.”
“Or is that those silly mortal ideals of yours die just a moment ago.”
“Either way I suggest you pick soon, before you break apart.”
Mephisto goes silent after that. Lilet moans and groans but goes with the demon’s suggestion. Strangely enough she draws a strange looking circle and positions herself in the middle, after finishing it she wonders for a moment where she even learned to do that, but the thought fades quickly as the pain gets worse. She focuses and the pain suddenly goes away, as does her vision. Before her darkness. Slowly her vision comes to her, it’s then that she realizes she’s in water and sinking. Above her the sun is shining down into the depths. She feels relaxed, and as she looks to her left there’s a boy next to her, but sadly he’s already gone. Lilet is confused, but as her hearing starts to kick in and she reaches the bottom she can faintly hear the sound of metal banging. A familiar sound from the castle, and so the anger boils down deep, she gets on her feet and swims towards the surface. But what she finds is the merciless cowards like the one she faced but a few men fighting for dear life and tripping on the corpses of their comrades.
Out of what seems like a dozen, three remained fighting huge white beasts with four arms, a giant tail and teeth as big and sharp as horns. Before she can even blink one of the men gets crushed under a giant rock and another gets his head ripped right off. All that’s left is an old man bloodly and wounded he falls on his ass and as the beasts close the old man can taste his last breath in this world and starts whispering prayers to his gods and gripping the axe in his hand tighter and tighter. Slowly words of prayers turn to words of mercy and then words of desperation of a man at the end of his road: “There’s always tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow.” he repeats to himself in a scared voice. Lilet can feel the blood boiling in her and as she looks at her hand she sees the familiar handle. She races towards the white beasts, and as she does the repear’s medium materializes into a sword again. She chops one’s hand off and kicks another into the ground with her superhuman strength. As she does blood smears all over the snow, but it’s not the beast’s blood, it’s her blood. While her strength is limitless the body of the little girl she possessed is not. Between the trees she can sense ten more of the four eyed bests encroaching in. She pauses for a moment and then runs towards the old man at super speed and grabs him. And with him in hand runs even faster. As she runs the beasts chase and growl, and much to her misfortune more growls can be heard in the distance on both sides, as if in response.
“Are you… sent by the gods. Uhghu!” said the old coughing blood
“Uh… Worse. I was sent by the devil.” said Lilet
“What. You serious. Ha-ha” said the old man dazed and confused
“Dead, serious.” said Lilet facing him
“You! You’re the girl… the girl, I, killed.” said the old man
Lilet stairs at him with a slight frown. Slightly confused. The dark clouds from the storm ahead don’t really help the mood.
“No. You can’t be.” said the man in disbeliefBlack Rose
As his hand grabs on her he can feel blood, the blood from the wound he inflicted. The man faints from the cumulation of the shock, his wounds and cold weather.
“Well, now you’re moving two dead bodies. Good job.” said Mephisto snikering
“You… shut it, and help if you can.” said Lilet
“Just leave the old man, the beasts won’t chase your host that way.” said Mephisto
“As you heard he’s obviously the murderer.”
“I’m not leaving him to die.” said Lilet clenching her teeth and picking up more spead
“Ah, your moral code and what-not is it. Then tell me does your code apply to those beasts there.” said Mephisto
“Uh, no. I think.” said Lilet
“Very well then, go another hundred meters forward then head north into the snowstorm.”
“Will that help me escape.” said Lilet looking back as the beasts uumped from tree to tree and sprinted towards her.
“Doubtful. These things hunt living things that get lost in show storms.” said Mephisto
“They can see right though it, and can run though it way better then you can.”
“But, you should be able to come up with something if you follow that path.”
Lilet runs though the forest filled with the beasts. Slowly the beast howls get ever sharper, ever louder. The old man recovering asks Lilet where they were heading to, but she doesn’t reply, he then asks again but again she doesn’t reply. As they move forward the snow storm starts to get thiner and thiner as they approach a dry river bank, and just as soon as they start to feel relieved as the howls cease, they soon see the face of dread when they find out why they've ceased. On the other side of the frozen river on steep bank a whole pack of beasts lay poised to jump down, while the others slowly moved in from the rear crunching their teeth and drawing breath. The situation was hopeless, completely hopeless or so the old man mumbled bitting his tongue. Lilet gave him a short look but all he was doing was writing his last words in his journal, though more precisely his last word, as his pen and sanity fail him. She pays him no heed and just looks around, ganging the distance between her pursuers and ambushers and the layout of the terrain. Nothing much to look at, the water bed is a huge expand of frozen sand and logs on one side and rocks and slippery ice on the other.
A single grizzly howl can be heard from a distance, no doubt in Lilet's mind what that means. She looks at the man again grabs his journal and throws it away and gives him a big slap. He doesn't budge much, doesn't say a word either, in the moment, just looks back into her eyes.
“five minutes” said Lilet
“W-What?...” said the old man shivering
“you can probably survive for five minutes”
“I'll bet your life on that” said Lilet grabbing a giant log from the icy sand
“Y-You... want to fight. W-We’ll die.” said the old man looking around him, at the red eyes glaring
With log in one hand she grabs his hand and charges towards the front, towards the beasts on the high river bank. She aprouches with haste and breaks the ice with the heavy log. The rear beasts immediately charge but the ones at the cliff keep their ground and only howl down. She flings the old man into the air and crushes the remainder of the ice with a heavy stomp, breaking it completely and going under, into the freezing river.
A heavy horned beasts approaches. A lot of beasts growl at hole, but nothing is under. Not a moment passes and soon, lead by the alpha, all of them move swiftly to chase down river. The ice shakes as their claws dig into it, and a bits of ice flay everywhere. Even the fish bellow can feel their stampede, but barely can outrun it. Not much time passes and they reach a waterfall, bellow which the stream splits into small streams and disappears. And so they wait, and wait, but nothing drops, not even a corpse...
Several hours pass and the old man regains consciousness. He feels how he is tied to a pole. He can't see very well but in his ear he can hear dark evil whispers and bellow him he can feel heat, burning, ever stronger. He can feel it, soon his skin will peal off. He tries to cry for help but he has no strenth in his voice and barely a breath comes out. His vision starts to come back to him, but his eyes won't open fully. Before him he sees shapes, non human shapes, and as fear beckons strength he tries even harder to scream for help. Soon words start come off his tongue but relief is short lived as he soon find himself falling towards the ground and fire. He screams in terror...
“you done screaming” said Lilet pocking the old man with a stick
“Y-You! what are you doing?!” mumbles the old man
“curing your hypothermia” said Lilet staring at him
“W-What?” said the old man
“you also forgot to breath, soon after we got into the water”
“Water... W-Water” said the man recalling what happens
“I can't swim!!” he screams
“obviously you can't breath or think either” said Lilet as she throws him a fried fowl looking thing in his face
Lilet unties him from the pole. The man is too battered to take Lilet's words in, and just gets the piece of food and starts chewing. He finishes half of it quite quickly, and soon starts to feel a bit more normal; his strength finally coming back to him.
“We'll need to move miss... because of the fire the beasts will find us soon.” said the old man
“it's still snowing” said Lilet pointing outside at the blizzard
“Um... T-Thanks for, um saving me...” mumbles the old man
“...from the cold.”
“To even go as far as to light a fire... I'm grateful.” said the old man with a shine in his eye
“the fire... it was the only way” said Lilet
“Pardon... miss.” said the old man
“my father, he thought me body heat is the quickest” said Lilet walking towards the man
“...but, after that plunge and running upstream, I doubt it would have worked” as Lilet put her hands on the old mans cheek he could feel a chill as cold as the winter wind
A little bit shaken, the old coat tries to find some opportunity for conversation to change the mood, and easy his disbelief.
“Uhm... Uh... the shelter is pretty... well made.” said the old man looking at the stacks of cut branches circling them.
“H-How did you manage?”
“evil funny looking sword thing” said Lilet manifesting the Reaper's medium and slamming it into the ground
“Ah- I see, y-yes... of course.” said the man chewing some more on the fried bird
“E-Excellent catch... by the way, very... tasty.” said the man again trying to change the subject again
“evil funny looking sword thing” said Lilet with a smirk on her face
“Cough ...BUT, none of this would have been possible with out your excellent fire starting skills.” sais the man chocking on the food
“w-well...” said Lilet
“evil funny looking sword thing...”
“...with funny looking fire!” and the swords catches fire
Bits of food fall out of the mans mouth as his jaw drops in disbelief.
Meanwhile on the opposite side of the mountains, in town, Winter and December approach Julia, the client. She's hesitant at first to even pay attention to them, but as soon as Winter takes the horn out and jumps in front of her she pulls the both of them into a nearby alley and slams them to the wall.
“Boy. How did you come in possession of this? Who sent you!” said Julia
“Nobody. I-It's mine, I gr- found it!” said Winter
“Speak up brat!” screams Julia
“dem- pay.. ment..” mumbles Winter
“Payment? What payment?” said Julia
“The... mercenary payment.” said Winter hiding his face
“My business with the mercenaries...” said Julia turning slowly the other way
“...is MY business with the MERCENARIES.”
“Which makes it none of YOUR business.”
“B-But... the horn... I have the horn.” said Winter, crumbling at the scene
“Ah yes, the horn... the horn...” said Julia (still) holding it
“Tell me, what of the mercenaries I sent?” she asks tacking out a inscription tool
“T-They... uhm... ain’t commming back!” said Winter; a deep silence follows
“I... see. Maybe we can work something out then.” said Julia
“I want to join the arena! to join the fight.” said Winter, ecstatic
“Yeah. Sure.” replies Julia with a smirk on her face and the horn decorated
“Winter... this is bad, don't go. We should just go back to September and January.” whispers December
“Winter... hey, Winter...” but Winter doesn't listen, his mind is already full of the glory of the arena
“Hey, other kid.” said Julia
“You're coming too.”
“But... I-I'm against v-violence.” said December cowering to the ground
“Don't worry. You won't have to lift a finger sugar. I just need you to be there.” said Julia squeezing the decorated horn