Crusader ~ Chapter III Part IIIMature

     

      I stepped around the corner cautiously, staying against the wall as my eyes adjusted to the light. I looked over. There was a carved stone door at the end of the hall, just as I thought I heard. I held my spear at the ready, stepping quietly, as if anyone had managed to miss us springing a trap and causing a racket. 

      I moved towards the door, though the hallway continued to the east, and went up against it. I heard the sound of churning dirt, as if someone was pulling a large weed from the ground. I took a breath, preparing myself for the worst, and opened the door a crack. The room was almost pitch black, and the smell of decay flowed out. I tried hard to suppress a cough, and opened the door a bit more. The light from the hall shone in, and reflected off of a white surface in the room.

       Two human skeletons occupied the room, one lying prone, as if the man who once owned it was slain, and another, kneeling, posed to look like he was mourning the loss of his dear friend next to him. 

       Someone posed them here, and recently, I thought. But from what I could see, there wasn't anyone in this room, or any other exits. Maybe they came out of this room, I thought. I turned to leave, but a green shimmer caught my eye. A small emerald was lying in the far corner, practicly begging to be taken. I stopped. Perhaps we could use it to buy something to help Alex, once we got back to town. I looked over my shoulder, convincing myself that the cave's occupants could wait, and went to go grab it.

      It was the toughest lesson on greed in my life.

    The stone door slammed behind me with a resounding thud, leaving me in total darkness. I jumped, and held my spear at the ready. I bumped my back against the wall, and something in the room moved. I tried not to think about it. Those tales delvers told, about the terrors of the undead.

      I was about to experience them first-hand, and the thought terrified me.

   Two red orbs pierced the darkness, glowing faintly. My eyes adjusted quickly to reveal the skull surrounding them, and I raised my weapon. The skeleton lumbered towards me, undaunted by the threat. The other one followed closely, it's empty eyesockets glowing with the same fevor as the first.

     My mind went blank. They inched closer, their jaws open in a haunting, silent scream. I seized up in fear as they reached out towards me, it's index finger outstreched. It's hand was centimeters from my face when I finally snapped out of it. 

   I whipped back, and belted it's arm with my fist. It's lower hand flew away into the surrounding darkness, but the undead corpse continued without pause, the second one moments behind it.

   I brought my leg back and kicked the nearest one in the ribcage, and bone shards shot through the air. At least this seemed to effect it, as it reeled back into the second skeleton, but all too quickly they regained their poise.

    I pummeled, kicked, and headbutted the corpses, yet they still came. They simply reattached lost limbs or heads, not bothering with the nonessential. I started losing my breath. The slow onslaught kept coming. Eventually, one caught up and was able to lay a single finger on me. 

      I froze, and felt weak and dizzy. The undead creature rolled it's head, it's jaw still hanging in an eternal, inaudible cry.

   The second corpse came and also layed it's hand on me. My knees buckled, it felt hard to breath, and my eyelids became heavy. I slowly collapsed onto the ground, fighting with my weakened will to keep my eyes open.

       The skeletons eased their touch, but I didn't recover. Something kept tugging at me, sucking me in. I felt like I weighed a thousand kilos. My mind kept slipping away and fading back, my vision mimicking it. The animated corpses lumbered off into the darkness, their job done.

     I weakly gripped the ground, and dirt shifted through my fingers. There was almost no air left in my lungs. I knew what was happening, yet I was terrified of what lied beyond. I reached out, hoping that someone would save me. But even then, I knew it was in vain. I could only pray.

     "... Bahamut... Show favor..." I gasped for breath. I coughed, and whispered even more weakly, "... On your... Servant..." My consciousness faded for longer periods of time before it returned, each time I grew more helpless.

       My spirit slipped once more, and this time, I knew that it wouldn't come back.

~   ~

    Murasa rid along the path on his horse as the sun started to disappear over the horizon. The road was overgrown, neglected for hundreds of years. One would be hard-pressed to call it a path. But Murasa was hard pressed. This ancient path eventually led somewhere very important. Men may have neglected the road, but Murasa knew better.

   The path led to the resting place of the Demon Blade, Ragnarök.

      The Black Priest's Void cape waved behind him, like a flag born of shadows. Murasa kept his gaze ahead of him, since he would be approaching it soon.

~   ~

   Blackness.

      That's all I experienced, if you could call it that. I couldn't think any thoughts, I couldn't see, or hear, or touch. There was almost nothing.

    But there was emotion. Confusion being the first one, followed closely by bleekness.  My despair, however, was suddenly accompanied by hope.

  Hope and security.

      Yet it didn't feel like my own emotions, it seemed almost like someone else's. But it affected me. The other entity seemed affected by my hopelessness to a small degree, but it only answered by increasing the feeling of security. My emotion slowly changed, I felt calm.

     The other entity soon changed it's emotion to a stronger one. It appeared to be some sort of strength, or fevor, or determination. It mixed with courage, or something like it. I my morale rise to try and come closer to the other entity, yet I couldn't match it. It's intensity was too high, too high for anyone to feel at one time.

     All of it's feelings combined, becoming a new emotion.

        A feeling of Justice.

        A feeling of Destiny.

        A feeling of Rightousness.

        A feeling of Devotion.

        A feeling of Might.

 

  The feelings felt by a Crusader.

~   ~

     

     Abbot Draconis opened his eyes suddenly, disrupting his prayer. He paused for a moment, and glanced about the room. The ornate pottery had fallen from the shelves, and laid in a hundred pieces on the floor. He hadn't heard any thing break while he prayed. He stood up slowly and calmly, using his staff for support.

  Books were scattered about the room, and most of the candles had gone out. The Abbot turned towards the altar of Bahamut he was praying at. Untouched. He took a deep breath, a frown appearing on his face. He knew that this was a favorable sign, but it's existence brought with it a terrible prophecy.

    He heard the monks downstairs race about, and a few started heading up the stairs. There were no windows in this room, so the Abbot could only imagine what the general public thought of the quake.

    The door swung open. "-Abbot Draconis!" A young priest's assistant came through first. "-Are you all right? There was an earthquake..." A few monks calmly came through the door.

   The Abbot sighed, and looked down. "... Yes, I am fine, Serrac." He took a step to the side, revealing the pristine altar. 

     The monks looked up, with wide eyes. Serrac gave them a puzzled look. The monks looked down once more, solemn. The rightmost one spoke up. "... I see, your excellency... Is it Bahamut's will that we find the Patriarch and bring him to you?..."

       "-No." The old cleric spoke up. "It is not our place... The Patriarch must come to us..."

     Serrac's eyes lit up. "The Patriarch? One of the champions of Bahamut? There hasn't been one for... Several hundred years! He can put a stop to this war, and vanquish the darkness!..."

    The was a moment of solemn silence. Serrac slowly realized that he was out of place, and bit his lip. The Abbot turned away, and sighed once more.

     He leaned on his staff. "... Yes... The Patriarch will certainly try and fight for us... But Bahamut only calls the Patriarch rarely. Only in the world's greatest time of need..." 

   He looked at Serrac. "... Just before the darkness destroys us all..."

      Another monk stepped forward. "... So, truely, the worst is approaching... I will bring the citizens somewhere safe-"

   The Abbot seemed as downtrodden as ever, and looked at the monk. "... No. The worst is already upon us."

  The sounds of armor and weaponry could be heard coming from downstairs. The monks looked around as Serrac's eye grew with fear.

  "-They're... They're here! They came in quietly... Murasa's men-!"

     The sounds of footsteps came up the stairs. 

  The Abbot hung his head low. "... Do not resist..." He muttered. "... We can now only trust in Bahamut..."

    

    

The End

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