Wulfhelm kept moving forward, always forward. His legs were nearly giving way under his slumbering, stumbling body, tired eyes lidding over as he approached the entrance of the tower. The poison was taking it's toll, and he could feel it's venomous bite spreading both pain and atrophy throughout his limbs, casting them under a spell of both sleep and arthritic reluctance.
He found himself at the foot of the towering structure, panting out ragged gasps of air as he stared at it's entrance: A massive, oaken door. Even to Wulfhelm, who was a half-giant himself, it impressed him. Twice his size, (which was quite a feat), it sat there boldly. The large, iron rings hung from the wall and gleamed a bright, boastful silver. Engraved with the angry faces of fearsome lions within, they gave the appearance of challenging and defying anyone to enter.
Dumbstruck, the half-giant stood there, eyes fluttering up to the massive tower that seemingly had appeared to suddenly plant himself in front of him whilst he was focused on movement: Unremarkable when his attention was not focused on it, it was only when he stared upwards did he realise how magnificent it was: A complete titan of stone and incredible masonry work, it sat there, bearing down upon the Half-giant. Just for once, the Titan understood what it felt like to be small. This was no simple watch-tower, no. This belonged to a guild – a guild of fighters.
It was only then that it occurred to the Half-giant that he had seen this tower before – though only under a different guise – it was in the exact same position he had always seen it, but never did he see such a magnificent structure like this one, no. This building had a concealing spell over it, making it appear like an unassuming, long-abandoned guard post.
He turned on his heel, narrowing his tired eyes to the spires of Cyre in the horizon, a faint smile of affection spreading across his lips as he gazed upon the massive, sprawling city in it's splendor, watching as how it even stretched to the horizon and beyond, curling around the world – it seemed ridiculous: Almost as if the stone to make it had simply been planted there, leaving mankind to pick up the pieces. He closed his eyes for a moment, and he swore he could hear the bustling streets. The cries of the traders. The smell of cooking bread and salted, drying meats wafting into his nostrils which sent his mouth watering and his stomach fiercely a-growling.
Though, it's nothing compared to a clan meet. Wulfhelm thought, with just an edge of bitterness. Suddenly, he snapped himself out of it, spitting on the floor to clear his head. The poison was making him drowsy and casting him into daydreams. He had to get to a place of safety where he could get that arrow out! It was burning now into his shoulder. He wanted nothing more than to pull it from his skin, and scratch the burning, poisoned wound until it swelled and shredded – better agonizing pain than this powerful, venomous itch.
Once more turning on his foot, he faced the large, oaken door defiantly, moving forward to run a hand over it's smooth, polished surface. He grasped one of the iron rings firmly in one hand, and knocked, the sound resonating with a metallic clang that shock-waved through the forest, spreading from tree to tree, startling a flock of ravens and sending them hurtling in a squabbling, black frenzy towards the sky.
Wulfhelm risked a swift look over his shoulder – out of the forest that surrounded the hill, far, far in the distance, he could see figures approaching. Shrouded in obsidian-black hoods, they emerged from the trees like dark, shambling specters. Perfectly in step, perfectly in time. Wulfhelm was not a tactical fighter, but he knew that these men were not to be trifled with.
There was still no answer.
“Sorry to take down yer pretty door, fellahs.” Murmured Wulfhelm, his voice being carried off by the sunset's breeze. He took a few calm steps back, shaking with the effort of summoning what little remained of his strength, he closed his eyes, allowing his world to be eclipsed in darkness, shutting out every noise one by one. The sound of the forest life, and even the dangerous, foreboding sound of his assassins' distant footsteps.
He focused on anger. Rage. That spark of fire within him, that barbarous, powerful hate that sent his blood boiling and his skin crawling with tempered malice – he felt it now. Renewed vigor. Some deep, buried away savage instinct that sharpened everything. Sounds were coming back to him now as he focused, sharper than ever, like a complete, cataclysmic tidal wave - frothing at the brink with contempt fury.
Though, the forest animals and that gentle, caressing breeze had both stopped. The entire forest seemed silent, as if in fear of what was about to happen.
Wulfhelm opened his eyes, and everything went red.
A thunderclap! Or at least, that's what it sounded like. The entire ground shook, and every bird, every creature was sent running, coating the skies with panicked wing flaps and the forest floor with furry darts. The entire tower seemed to shift, both stone and wood creaking under it's weight, as the glass windows shattered one by one. Wulfhelm's world had become splinters and anger, and the pandemonium of iron wrenching and stone crumbling as the locked door tore COMPLETELY off it's hinges and was utterly SHATTERED nearly burst his eardrums – not that he would of noticed in his berserk state. What wasn't small, wooden chunks had turned into tiny, oaken needles which shot off in all directions, coating the floor with a coarse sawdust.
The footsteps behind him quickened, snapping Wulfhelm from his rage with the aspect of danger. As the anger died down, the tiredness came back, so much stronger than before, as he barely dragged his legs across the ruined hall – which had been completely torn to shreds by debris. Some of the surrounding bricks had come out of the wall all together, and were lying against the mess, which was illuminated by the last rays of the evening sun, which filtered in through the shattered window to the far end of the corridor.
And, at that far end, a glowing gate stood, beckoning Wulfhelm forward with the promise of freedom. Though the half-giant knew nothing of magic, nor was quite intelligent enough to make use of it regardless, he knew what these were: He had seen them before, on a contract where he was tasked to take down a cult of necromantic wizards who were terrorizing local villages. They had many of these littered around their hideout.
No time to think. Wulfhelm reminded himself as he remembered that sickening, disorienting feeling of going through such spells. Just run. You don't have any time.
And so run he did. He heard his assassins catching up with him, felt their footsteps rise onto the stone floor of the hallway and clatter against it with deadly speed. He felt the cold, professional malice in their breaths and, just out of the corner of his ear, heard the soft click of a bolt being loaded into a crossbow with the care of a predator who knows that he's caught his prey.
Wulfhelm flung himself forward.
What happened next was sickening. Wulfhelm hated magic with a passion - not people who used it, mind, but experiencing it – for this very reason. And more than he hated being blasted with elemental spells, or having a speaking hex placed on him after a bar-fight, he HATED teleporting.
His entire world stretched out before him as he closed his eyes, trying to shield himself against the horrible, forward and back rocking motion that made bile rise in his throat, stinging the back of it with it's vile, acrid singe. There was a sharp, blindingly white glow around him which only further rocketed his nausea – not even closing his eyes helped against the overpowering illumination. He felt every piece of his being being torn to shreds by the portal – to be re-assembled elsewhere. Abruptly, his world suddenly became swimming darkness.
Though he was not unconscious, and he began to come to. He felt the reassuring, carpeted floor beneath him. The smell of dust clouded his nostrils, and a small, relieved smile curled up his stubble-coated jaw as he realized he was still in one piece. Slowly getting up to swaying feet that refused to obey him, he felt an agonizing pain as his entire shoulder lit up with fire – no, it was not his flesh that burned. And there was no red-hot flame dancing on his skin. That arrow, that infernal, bastard arrow!
Safety could wait – he reached a hand up to his shoulder, and yanked it out. Letting out a startled, angry, indignant cry of pain as he felt the barbs tear through the swelled flesh, his eyes watering from the pain as he gritted his teeth so hard he could of sworn that he ground them down until there was nothing left but sore, bleeding gums. Tossing the arrow in front of his feet, he let out a bestial, rumbling growl of fury as he raised an armored boot, and then brought it down. Sending a nearby jug crashing to it's floor from an unsafe, badly balanced perch on a table, shattering into dozens of tiny, crystallizing pieces.
His eyes sharpened as he stared at what flowed out of it: Mead, amber, frothing liquid which soaked pointedly into the carpet. Ever so slowly, he began to realize his surroundings.
He was standing in a mess hall – it seemed strange, an odd mixture of militarized furniture – simple, wooden long-tables with discarded bowls and spoons of honeyed porridge, various cheeses, seasoned and flavored meats covered in spices that stung his nose. Uncomfortable looking benches were lain in rows beside them.
Regardless, it had beautiful finishes; Like the gold-threaded crimson carpet beneath his feet that kicked up dust any time he shifted his boots, the scarlet not so dissimilar in shade to his blood, which was dripping from the arrow at his feet and blending in stainless. A disturbing thought occurred to Wulfhelm, perhaps the carpet wasn't that color to begin with.
What he then realized next nearly made him retch.
There were dozens upon dozens of people around the mess hall, frozen like slumbering statues. Though, they didn't have the contented, peaceful mask of sleep that most had. No. There faces were twisted, contorted. From the look of their eyes, they seemed like those which, in life, would have been misted over with both hate and cold contempt for all around them. Yet, their body language in their last moments did nothing to match this description. Most of their mouths were open in listless, agonized screams, blood dripping, black, venomous, from their jaws, staining their lips a discolored, poisoned red. Their skins were pale and mottled with red patches, cuts and puss-filled warts appearing everywhere like corrupted soils on their bodies.
They littered the entire hall – some slumped over at the tables, hands frozen in a desperate clawing at the back of their neck. Others seemed to of rolled backwards and fell onto the floor, a horrid freeze-frame of the throws of a painful death, hands, talon-like, scrabbling at their faces, their fingernails caked with blood and halfway through tearing flesh. There was no doubt about it, the corpses were stone-cold. Lifeless. It was an absolute, poisoned massacre.
“What in the name of the wolf-spirit happened here?” Wulfhelm murmured, breaking the stunned silence. Then it occurred to him – his assassins' should of caught up with him by now: Unless they were-
A horrifying scream from the floor below reached Wulfhelm's image. Panicked yells, the drawing of weapons, the hacking of flesh and the splattering of blood mixed into some kind of gory symphony, ending with a short, cut-off shriek as a deadly, knife-sharp silence ensued. Wulfhelm turned around slowly, hearing nothing but his own breath. Everything was magnified now, and in the tension, he could even hear his own eyelids shut, as he closed his eyes to try and compose himself, to try and make sense of the situation he was in.
A wrathful, bloodied battle-cry sounded from behind him.
((Another post! I could of continued but it would of just ended up being ridiculously long. ))