She’s Got Your Eyes…
“Let the night take it!” Cried Ian and he punched the edge of the sliding door splintering it’s well disguised edge. He no longer cared what came for him in the darkness of this detestable sewer. Somehow, nothing did. And that made him come back to his senses. He spoke slowly, softly. yet with resolution. The old infantry soldier was still there, whether he was banished from Celn lands or not. He supposed it always would be. Ian was a soldier, through and through.
“They’re gone, ok? They’re gone. And now….and now it’s up to us. We’ve got to both find the ritual and stop the wall holding back half the islan from being collapsed on top of all of us. Not a one of you are under orders. So I say to you now, death awaits us all most likely, or worse! But the rest of what is left of Cellinor in these isles lies below us. Men, women, an children too! 12 years ago, Commander Fritz and I found this isle. I remember the day I watched them plant the Celn flag into the beach there in the harbor. And I’ll be Darkened if I am going to watch some fish freaks sweep it out to sea! I intend to free the others or die trying. If you have the will for it, come with me. If not, get out now. In case we fail, you might be the only ones left who can tell the other colonial brigades what happened here.”
Canton looked about to walk away, but then sighed. “Oh of course, Master Ian. We wouldn’t dare let you have all the fun down here, right everyone?” He lifted up a boot, unhappy with what he saw on the bottom of it.
The others seemed to just sort of grumble. Areia claimed she had nothing better to do, but Thrak didn’t get the joke. Andril said finally, “Well, let’s get on with it then. I’d rather not be here should this place turn into a large slip and slide.”
“Slip and slide?” asked Thrak.
“Don’t ask, lizardman,” said Andril. “Let’s be off than shall we.”
“Canton and I will sabotage the wall mechanism and make our way down. If we can, we’ll find other prisoners. You,” said Ian, “must stop the ritual.”
“The fun part,” laughed Areia who had already begun to skip down the tunnels. She drew her daggers out and motioned for the others to follow. Thrak took out his axes. Andril thought the lizardfolk’s shield would drop then, but somehow it stayed aloft in the air suspended in front of him! No wonder he had wanted that shield he thought. What magic!
She led them stealthily down the tunnels, into the deep and darkest parts of the sewers. Down and down, they went, until the tunnels emptied onto a great dark shoreline.
Areia moved forward out of the tunnel cautiously, behind her waited Haryk who withdrew a long weapon from the box he had re-acquired. It looked like a stick she thought, and laughed. A slight chill mixed in with the smells and sounds of the sea let her know she had found the sea caves that Basel had told her about.
She was standing on a rocky shoreline in a large underground sea cave. Debris littered the stones here and there. Wood and a few dead seal carcasses, white bones protruding through carpet like rotten skin. The tide was coming in and splashing the rocks a few yards below her feet. The beach extended along her side of the cavern, and up a few hundred yards where it seemed to deadend against a sheer rock wall. The other side of the cavern was dark but still somewhat visible. She gauged the distance to be several hundred yards. A dim yellowish glow came from her right, where she suspected the tide came in from the open sea. To her left, the sea cave grew darker, and the water disappeared around the rocky wall.
Lower down, just at the shoreline, a derelict ship lay on it’s side. It’s sails were torn and it’s masts broken and split. It was partially on the rocky shore, and partially in the sea. Around it though, oddly piled were large semi-translucent rocks. They were milky white, about the size of a man. Their shapes were oddly the same, not like the irregularity of the other rocks which littered the shore. They were also lighter and larger than the others, and even in the darkness seemed to glow.
Thrak stepped out from the tunnel and saw what Areia did as well. But to his right, out into the dark and in the water, he also saw a mast, and tracing it downwards with his gaze he could make out the outlines of a ship as well. It was just out in the water, maybe 30 yards. Splash! Now he perceived oars pulling it out even further. Without thinking really he lunged into the water, and swam for the vessel using his powerful tail. He looked like some great tree iguana. Maybe it was just instinct, he couldn’t ever be sure when he thought of it later, but something about the ship going out like that felt wrong to him,
Andril, Haryk and their hooded colleague, whose name turned out to be Frank, cautiously crept out from the shadows onto the beach behind Areia. Yeah right, Frank thought Haryk. And my name is Dave and this is Joe! Haryk held his pistol aloft and smirked. The familiar grip gave him courage. As he made his way to the ship covered in the odd pale boulders, he heard the splash of Thrak jumping into the sea behind him. He had just enough time to mutter a curse, when he walked by one of the stones. Inside, a grey shape swirled and a face pressed itself up against the surface, from within! These are not boulders thought the soldier. These are eggs!
He began to prepare a spell, and as he did so, a long slithering tentacle snaked over the broken ship’s rails towards him. A beast from right out of a nightmare followed it. It moved swiftly in contrast to it’s size and girth and was followed by another. They saw first the whipping arms each as big around as a man’s leg and as long as a ten foot pole. Like a sunrise of monsters, they sprang from over the top of the abandoned and broken ship, moving over the eggs, planting legs that at first looked like tentacles but were actually stumps the size of trees.
But the worst part was the monsters had no face, instead where a face should be, each carried a body, lifeless and rotten. These bodies were small, with rags for clothes hanging off them and they hung from the centers of the creatures. One was a small human child, a girl. The other, an elvish boy. While the tentacles whipped out searching for them, the children’s faces moved around searching for something to attack. The children’s arms and legs swayed with the motion of the beasts. But it was how it happened that frightened them all so bad. Neither child was alive, the eyes, the face, clearly moved by the beasts, as if they were puppets. The monsters were using the dead to see through!
And they locked eyes first onto Andril who immediately worked his way with the others back to the tunnel entrance, casting spells into the dark and salty air behind him. They hit and sizzled the thing but only seemed to make him angrier. But instead of climbing inside the tunnel, Andril simply began taking steps around it and walked straight upwards along the sea cave wall out of their reach! That’s a nice trick mage, thought the rogue who crept along the shoreline. Once the two things had stepped over each other and the ship to move towards their prey, she approached them from the side, stealthily out of their range of vision. From this vantage point she could see the figures inside some of the eggs. While the beasts scuttled past, she stopped to examine one. They seemed to thrash about knowing something was going on outside. They aren’t human, elf or any humanoid I know of she decided then, she thought and stuck one with her blade. Out poured a putrid slime and a creature with fish like skin, a grotesque face, like that of a fish and a human combined. It however did not look like the others she had seen. It had appendages down it’s back and maybe it was the shape of the thing itself but she could tell it was female! She used her hand and turned it’s head around, and nearly shrieked which would have brought the twin beasts back around for her. She was staring into the face of a friend she had once known, just a lad known as Macadoo. A common urchin. Whose likeness was now on the form of this thing in an egg! This madness must indeed stop tonight she angrily growled. And she stabbed whatever disgusting demon this was through the heart. She turned and watched the things from behind as they advanced towards the others.
Haryk’s weapon was no stick indeed. Later, they were call what he was doing “firing the weapon”. For that is what it looked like as a flame shot forth from one end and no matter how quickly they looked, they couldn’t see a projectile fly towards it’s target! He expertly hit two of the tentacles, near the base of each where they attached to the body. Both hung limply afterwards. “Aim for the beast itself or an arm, not the body in front!” he roared.
As if in answer to his cry, the small girl who was carried in front of the first thing opened it’s mouth to speak in an ungodly hiss, “SHHHHEEEE WAAAIIITSSS FORRR YOOOUUUU, LOOORRRDDD HAAARRRYKK!!!! Her lifeless eyes moved from each of them, searching. But it wasn’t her, whoever she had been. It was clearly the thing, using her now to speak!
“Kill that Darkened thing, Areia!” yelled Andril from above them all against the cavern wall. And just then Areia jumped from behind a large rock, daggers in hand, she struck it’s sides, above where she figured a brain might be. The way this beast was built was unlike anything she had ever seen in her adventures. But she struck true, and with the others pelting it with spells or projectiles of some kind, the first of the things fell upon the shore, lifeless. The way it’s arms and “legs” spread out before it made it seem like it would somehow resurrect and come back to life. But that it did not do.
While the battle with the final beast waged on, Thrak had finally made it to the ship moving out into the lighter side of the sea cave. The closer he swam the more he was able to make out. The deck was devoid of anyone, but the oars rowed softly. He tried to scramble up onto the deck but couldn’t find a perch. Instead, he grabbed onto an oar, the nearest one he could find.
Using the oar as a balance and for leverage, he lunged upwards, and tried to grab onto the space in which the oar exited the hull. But the oar simply slid out as he was climbing up and sliding back with it, he had to grab quickly onto the edge of the oar socket. Swiftly, a slender claw darted out and grabbed his wrist! It was identical to the hands of the fish creatures he had fought so many times the last two days. He pulled his hand away but lost his foothold then and splashed back into the water. He looked up to see several of the creatures run onto the deck and try to attack him with their spears.
Thrak dropped below the water and began to swim back to the shore! When he finally made it back he found Haryk nearly dead, and the last of the tentacled creatures clawing at the others who had hid back into the tunnel as far as they could.
At just the moment that Thrak was climbing out of the water, Areia was jumping from rock outcropping to rocky shadow preparing to strike. Just then, from out of the tunnel burst a ray of brilliant light. It was the demon man, what Andril had called a “teifling”. He would have been referred to as a “Child of Ket” by an inquisitioner but here he was speaking the words of the Silver Flame templars. Standing with his red eyes blazing, and his hand pointing at the beast while the others stood behind him. The ray missed it’s mark and scattered in a burst of sparks around the rocks behind the monster. The time though was all they needed. Haryk took aim an fired. And that’s when Areia and Thrak struck. They hit the monster in it’s back, and before it could turn around on top of them, they hacked it down. It collapsed upon the rocks and shore next to the other.
“That’s what I call taking a stand,” said Lord Haryk. He was about to walk over to pull out one of his arrows from the beast’s legs, when he realized he was no longer using one. He avoided stepping on the body of the young elvish boy, who, no longer attached to the monster’s face, was lying upon his side. The body looked as though it had been dead some days, and the face, twisted and mangled seemed locked in a scream of terror.
They left then not saying another word and walked up the beach. Each stopped to kick over and break open the other eggs they found in and around the ship. In each case, the wicked things inside oozed out making a strange shrieking noise that was diabolical. Andril tried to fire a magical arrow into the ship that Thrak couldn’t stop, but the distance was far, and he was never sure if he hit his mark. He looked around at the two dead monsters from some dark dream, and the eggs with the slippery and deformed figures convulsing in death throes oozing out of them. And I thought the sewer was disgusting he thought.
Areia found a tunnel up a few dozen yards off the beach. The noises there told her they were getting close.
Andril passed by the broken bodies of the two children, used and manipulated by the wicked guardians of these eggs. He wondered what could have laid all these eggs. He considered trying to inspect the face of the creature, now that it’s puppet was detached, but it was lying face down, and he would have needed to ask one of the others for help.
Nah he thought. Maybe it’s better not to know. He walked on, his robes whipping around his ankles in the sea breeze.