A bit before Christmas, I expressed an interest in writing. All within a world that I was creating – Oure. Then lockdown hit the UK and everything became about surviving the winter. Anything other than reading felt like a struggle. Now that longer, warmer days are here I feel able and ready to pick things up again. I changed the name of the world from Oure to Parrvolis and have been working on small snippets and behind-the-scenes world-building for the past couple of nights and I have something I am ‘comfortable’ sharing. Comfortable isn’t the right word as I am nervous as all heck about it, but I can’t hide behind the anonymity of another site because I can’t get it working properly. This introduction has turned into an avoidance rambling tactic, so without further delay…
It was a dark, ruin of a place. The cavern walls felt damp to the touch, slick with moss and mould. Chains jangled around his hands and neck as he was once again unceremoniously yanked along. He’d long stopped resisting the sudden jerks, but every now and then there was one that caused his footsteps to falter.
He’d been dragged, quite literally, from a life of relative solitude and thrust into a never-ending battle that he’d tried his hardest to leave behind. Foolishly, he’d thought that he’d managed to escape this inevitable fate but his past had finally managed to catch up with him. Therefore, here he was, chained and being led deeper and deeper in some ancient tomb by his former enemy.
“How long do you intend on keeping me bound, Templar? Until I break my neck?” He questioned his captor only to be greeted with a stoic wall of silence. As per usual.
He’d once been one of the highest ranking officials of the Vyglisni Dominion, second only to the High-Magister himself. Now? Nothing but a captive to be yanked along. Abraxas slipped, his back arching to steady himself. The bottoms of his dark robes were already wet and the damp was slowly climbing up his calves, he involuntarily shivered against the cold.
“Could you at least tell me what we’re doing here?” He groaned miserably.
“Hush now, Abraxas.” came a youthful voice from behind him. His hooded head turned to look towards the speaker. The Templars squire, Pierre. There was a kindness afforded to him from the young squire that he’d never attain from the older Templar, nothing he could exploit to regain his freedom as the squire was far too loyal to his Master but there was a softness to him that nearly approached friendship.
Another yank pulled his head around to see into a clearing within the cave. A vast open space that hung with moss, cobwebs and other unsavoury detritus. To the far side of the cavern was a set of closed doors, a symbol of an open palm etched onto each side; the symbol of Nasimir, God of Mercy. The Templar lashed his chain around his spike and drove it into the ground. Placing a steel encased hand over the top, magically sealing it in place. Abraxas slumped onto the floor, he clearly wasn’t going anywhere.
“Take rest, we begin in the morning.” The Templar spoke, his voice baritone.
“Begin what?” Abraxas asked, but was treated to a glare to silence him. He drew his legs closer to his body, lowering the hood from over his head so he could watch his captors with greater ease. They worked well together setting up a make-shift camp around them. Even with the damp they managed to get a decent fire going and a kettle brewing. Their meals were simple baked bread and cheese of which he accepted and ate, as the Templars gave reverence to their God or Goddess of Light.
“Behind that door lies Yllios, Champion of Nasimir.” The Templar started to explain while they dined. Abraxas wasn’t entirely sure if it was he that was being spoken too but his pitch-black eyes lifted towards him all the same. “Within her tomb is a book, carefully preserved, that belongs to the Temple of Light. We are here to reclaim it.”
When the Templar looked to him, Abraxas averted his gaze, dreading what was coming.
“The dead do not rest easy here.” The Templar continued. “Often they stir and walk their halls, I expect no less from a Champion of Nasimir. In life, she brought justice to the down-trodden. Fought on the battle-fields of Erawoen, bringing swift retribution on those that stood against her. Tomorrow, when we break into that tomb to retrieve what is rightfully ours, she will be waiting for us and will not give in easily. We will all have our part to play in what is to come. For tonight, get some rest. You’ll need your strength come the morning.” The Templar looked between them, his expression not unkind.
When the squire, Pierre, passed him a bundle for him to sleep on Abraxas took it with a jangle of the chain. What he’d been told, the mentioning of the wandering dead within the tomb brought him as much discomfort as the dampness of his clothing and as he lay his head down on the bundle he wrapped himself up as warmly as he could. The dead were not the only ones that would not rest easily.
Sleep came fleetingly and Abraxas was woken several times in the night to strange whispers in the dark. Once he woke with a start, certain that he’d heard someone speaking in his ear, yet when he looked into the gloomy cavern he saw only the sleeping outlines of his companions. It took some time for him to relax once more and for his eyes to close and the restfulness of slumber to take over him.
When he woke again it was to the sound of an iron kettle boiling over the fire. Before he had the chance to speak a plate was thrust into his hands. He looked to the food on it and smiled half-heartedly at what he had been given. More cheese and bread. “You gentlemen really need to learn to cook.” He stated flatly, but tucked into the breakfast regardless of his gripes.
Still chained to the floor, Abraxas had no choice but to stand and watch as the Templars made light work of breaking the doors to the tomb. He winced at the blatant disregard they had for the occupants eternal slumber and eventually, the doors relented falling open with a weathered creak. Curiosity got the better of him and he took a fleeting step forward to get a look inside the tomb. It was smaller than he expected a Champions tomb to be with barely enough room to walk around the sarcophagus. Lining the walls were coves carved into the natural shape of the cave, filled with Canopic jars, burial gifts and dried flowers. It should have been a peaceful resting place for the slumbering Champion. As his view of the tomb was blocked by the backs of the Templars entering the chamber the whisperings from the previous night gnawed at his attentions and he waved a dismissive hand to silence them, only to realise they were more real than he’d anticipated.
He couldn’t see what was going on in the chamber but around him the ground was starting to shift. Clumps of wetted mud forming in fleeting mounds where the restless dead clawed their way from beneath the damp soil.
From within the chambers he could hear the Templars praying over the tomb, easing the Champions spirit within. It was not the slumbering Champion that was the cause of concern for the chained captive.
“A little help, gentlemen?” He called, stamping on the clawed fingers of a skeletal hand, his pleas went ignored as the Templars continued their hallowed work.
Littered across the floor more of the wraiths emerged, pulling themselves from their unmarked graves.
Abraxas gathered the chain over his hands, coiling the lengths together fashioning them into a make-shift weapon, drawing the undead to the noise.
With lungless screams they rounded on the bound man, their weapons and armour aged with both rust and grime. The mud that clung to their bones gave them a more fearsome aspect than initially thought possible. Abraxas was used to death and it’s grim visage but his attempts to calm them with word of a spell we’re futile underneath the binding prayers that wrapped his chains. He cursed the Templars for fools under his breath as a bolder member of the undead shambled towards him.
The skeleton, intend on his ruin, raised his weapon to strike, only to have the chain looped over it’s slow moving head. Coiling around his neck and when pulled taut the chain snapped, pulling the wraiths head with it. The mud-caked skull went flying across the cavern, smashing into the chest of another with a dust-filled crumble, ridding the captive of two of his ever-increasing problem. A wail from the other side of the cavern drew his attention and he sounded an involuntary moan.
Across the cavern a dry-skinned, slender skeletal form stood. Her eyes aglow with nightmarish energies. When she spoke, Abraxas couldn’t understand her words. They translated as hatred-filled wails. While the other skeletons were barely preserved husks of their former selves, this wraiths armour and weaponry shone brightly in the glittering light of the cavern. Her high-crested helm marking her faith in Nasimir; she was Yllios. The restless Champion.
Pierre emerged from the tomb with something wrapped in his hands, the relic they sought no doubt. Etched on the young lads face was an expression of confusion and the words; “Strange she wasn’t in the tomb, looks like we dragged the necromancer here for nothing.”
The words died on his lips when he turned to look upon the scene before him.
Abraxas flicked the chain with his wrists, curling the irons to lash towards an eager skeleton.
“Don’t just stand there gawping, help me!”
“Everard!!” The squire called to his master.
The sound of ringing as a sword was drawn through a leather scabbard preceded the elder Templar and with expert skill it sliced through the mid-section of a leering undead. It’s own weapon torn asunder with the strength of the Templars zealous blow.
As the skeleton crashed to the floor Everard shouted; “Bind her,” and pointed to the obvious Champion, whose rage saw her charging towards the intruders.
“I can’t, your prayers, the chains.” Abraxas hurriedly explained as the wraith bore down on them.
With half a stumble the captive barely dodged the glimmering sword as it crashed down towards him.
He held his hands up towards the Templar to illustrate his dilemma. “While your magic is upon me, I can do nothing.” He cried.
The Templar parried a rusting sword, rose his leg to the skeleton attackers chest and kicked. With little effort his foot cracked through the fiends rib-cage and he turned towards the encumbered necromancer. With a deft slice of his longsword the chains keeping him tethered shattered, scattering across the floor with a dull hum.
“Much better,” the necromancer smirked.
Abraxas’ already dark eyes pooled a deeper shade of black. Ink seeping out from his pupils to wrap the entirety of his vision. The darkest of arts returning to his command. Abraxas reached out towards Nasmirs former Champion and she stopped in her onslaught. The sword clattered from her fingers onto the cavern floor; the remainder of her companions crumbled around the living.
Yllior made an attempt to break the silent binding pushing against her restraints. Abraxas snarled and curled his outstretch hands into a fist. Something within the Champion broke and her dead lungs wheezed.
“Why do you disturb my slumber, mortal?” She coughed.
“These men want their book back.” Abraxas explained, now his own binding was off, understanding of her undead speech came easily.
“It is not theirs to take.”
“They are nought but thieves,” she hissed.
“They do not respect the rights of the dead,” Abraxas explained “And serve the Light.”
“Don’t let them take it,” she implored.
For a fleeting moment the necromancer was tempted to let the Champion free from the bounds he held over her. As satisfying as it would be to have his revenge upon his captors, his respect for the dead always won out.
“It’s all right,” he soothed caring tones intending to calm the Champions ire.
He saw her blink, the light of her eyes dimmed as she seemed drowsy.
Abraxas stooped to pick up the heavy longsword that had been dropped. And with a fathers care he ushered Yllior towards her resting place. As though going to tuck a tired child into their bed.
Once the Champion was returned to her eternal slumber he closed the heavy wooden doors of her tomb behind him. The moment his powerful enchantment was severed the darkness pooled from his eyes. The black murk that had invaded his sight draining from his sight like corruption down his cheeks and a vile cough forced itself from his lungs. The heartless servants of The Light waited with their prize as the Necromancer struggled for his breath.