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D.T - Thrain and Company: Chapter 5

The demons are here at last...

Thrain and company: Chapter 5

When the group awoke, they looked into their bags for breakfast, forgetting they ate the last of their food before sleeping.

"Anyone else run out of food too?" Garren asked casually as he searched his bag.

"Yea there is nothing to be found in my bag," Adelin said. Everyone else concurred.

"We must have eaten the last of our rations at dinner," Thrain said putting his bag down and thinking things over. He looked to Veera and asked, "Veera can you teleport back to the Capitol and then back onto this floor with more food supplies?"

"Teleport out to the base floor, and then to the Capitol? Yes." Veera said. "But teleport back in, specifically to this floor, I don't believe that's possible. This tower has some ancient and powerful magic in it. For all, I know trying to teleport into the tower from the outside could evaporate me or something. Besides I made no headway in my research at all and didn't feel like returning empty handed."

"You guys know that there be some fresh, bountiful food all around you right?" Curth asked, jumping into the conversation.

Everyone looked over at him and saw that he and Lessa, were standing there casually eating the purple oval fruit like stuff that was growing from the violet trees on the floor. "What the hell are you doing?!" Thrain asked in shock. "That stuff could be highly poisonous spit it out."

Curth took a huge bite of the fruit and chewed carelessly. "Bah, this stuff ain't no poison, it's fruit and damned good too."

Thrain sighed and ran a hand through his dark hair; annoyed and running out of ideas. He turned his back from everyone while contemplating what to do next. Eventually he said, "Alright, alright I will try some of this fruit too and we will camp out here on this floor for a bit.

"If neither me, Curth, or Lessa get sick by the time we get another full rest and wake, then we will continue and eat the fruit as our new source of nutrition. While we wait Veera, Iris see if you two can get along long enough to study this fruit, maybe you can find out more about it."

Thrain plucked one of the fruits from the nearest tree. He studied it closely for a time then glanced over to Curth and Lessa, who were just now finishing theirs. Still reluctant he bit into the fruit. It was juicy and tasted good (like a perfect mix of blue and black berries).

"Well it doesn't taste poisonous, but still we will stick with my plan to be on the safer side of this," Thrain said.

Veera and Iris then plucked some fruit from the tree to start studying with their magic. While they did everyone else sat around telling stories to pass the time, until eventually they all got tired enough and went to sleep. When next they woke Thrain, Curth, and Lessa were all perfectly healthy and feeling absolutely fine.

Veera and Iris confirmed they didn't find anything dangerous in the fruit, but studying it on the spot was not ideal, and they wouldn't fully know what's in it unless they got it back to the alchemy lab. They all looked to Thrain now to see how they should proceed though most of them were already setting their sights on eating the fruit.

"Alright, we will all start eating this fruit but if one of us gets sick then we stop and Veera, Iris, you two teleport back to the capital to restock on provisions, got it?"

Everyone agreed and soon as they plucked some fruit from the trees they began to gorge on it. These were people who were not well accustomed to going too long without food.

The next floor the group climbed to was the first floor where the ground was slanted like they were on some hills. They soon thought some type of mountains, as they were in a warm yellow lit area (reminiscent of outside) with stone pathways under their feet and large smooth cut boulders all around as far as they could see.

Curth took the lead on this floor with a big smile, "Aye now this is more like it! Eh, lads?" Curth said enthusiastically.

Garren smirked and said, "Sounds like you found your home away from home?"

"Aye and don you know it." He took in a deep breath through his nose. "And it even smells like the mountain tops, oh this place be good."

"I agree, it is nice to see a floor that's a lot less, surreal," Iris said with a smile.

As everyone moved forward enjoying their new environment a tall grey skeletal monster with thin hind legs and, what appeared to be some sorts of long scythes for its hands, stepped out from some jagged rocks and screeched with an ear pitching cry of battle. The strange monster rushed forth with great speed, its appearance alone catching everyone off guard.

It aimed for Curth who could only hold his arms out to defend himself. As it got into striking distance and swung its arm out at him. As it did a blur of even greater speed rushed forth getting between them.

Thrain swung his sword with as much force as he could muster to meet the monsters attack. The monster's scythe hand met the blade directly and pushed through all of Thrain's force; throwing him straight back as if he was weightless. He hit one of the boulders hard, but his armor protected him from most of the damage. Curth backed away with only a light graze on his forearm.

The monster turned away from Curth and charged straight at Thrain, who was just now sitting up. It came too close to strike with its arms and instead bent down and dove it's shark-like towards him: trying to bite his face off. Thrain rolled under the monster just in time as it missed and slammed its head into the boulder.

He came up to his knees from the roll and pivoted his hips, swinging his sword at the monsters leg. The blade got partially stuck in it but didn't lop it off; like Thrain intended. Fearing a recoil attack of some sort, Thrain didn't hesitate to pull the blade and dive away from the monster.

By then everyone else had drawn their weapons in preparation, (save for the few who had no weapons but prepared themselves in their way.) The grey monster turned around slowly, in its mouth they could see chunks of rocks cracking between long rows of very sharp little teeth, (exactly like a shark's). The rocks shattered apart and the monster spit them out then charged at the group.

This time the monster was met with a blitz of fireballs and lightning coming from Veera and Iris. The attacks hurled the monster on its back but it was back on its legs in seconds; virtually unscathed. Adelin loosed an arrow from her bow. It hit her target soaring straight into its eye. It screeched in pain, and slowed a little, but was very much alive.

While the monster was distracted briefly Curth bull charged at it and tackled it to the ground. Curth was stronger and smarter, but as he wrestled around with it, the monster displayed its hidden flexibility and managed to maneuver around him and get on top. Adelin at that moment loosed another arrow aimed for the back of its neck. Though Curth kicked it off him just before then and the arrow instead shot straight through the monsters back and emerged from the chest. It shrieked once and fell down.

No one knew if it was really dead for sure and proceeded with caution towards it, except for Curth who walked right up to it. He started feeling the monsters skin, its legs and arms, everywhere. When he made it to the back around the arrow he said, "Well this is an interest."

He plucked the arrow out of it and said, "Looks like there is a very small soft spot on this back side here, blends right in with every other part of it."

Adelin came up, still wary of the monster and took her arrow and said, "Great we found its weakness, now what in the fuck is it?"

"My best guess is a demon," Thrain said. "It looks like we found the towers 'inhabitants at last."

"There could be more of these things coming by now, we should go back down to the other floor and watch the stairs while we recover," Rugal said looking around for signs of more of them.

"I ain't about to be runnin away from these, I wants a rematch with one of these bastards!" Curth said.

"No Rugal is right," Thrain said. "If more do show up, and in greater numbers, we will be in serious trouble. We should go rest on the floor below, we will return here when all of us are ready. Curth you go down the stairs first so I know you don't delay, and Garren you go last and watch our backs, if one of them shows up, holler down to us."

Curth was reluctant but went down the stairs first, the others followed while Garren held his sword out in front of him keeping a vigilant eye. When nothing showed up, and the others were already going down the stairs, he too descended them.

They took rest a few hundred yards from the stairs leading up, they wanted to be prepared to fight or run should more of those demons show up down and come down. When nothing came for more than an hour they all relaxed much more. Curth had his forearm cleaned and wrapped up with bandages and Thrain closely examined his sword.

Rugal took a seat next to him and said, "I can't believe that, thing, just batted you aside like you were a doll."

"It's strong yes, but its reliance is what scares me the most. Twice had I taken my best shots with this adamantite blade on it and both times it should have been severely damaged. Instead the first time its scythe arm thingy just countered the blade perfectly. And then when I went to cut its leg off..."

"It got stuck partially in it," Rugal finished for him. "Yeah it's a scary thought. What should we do if we run into more of them and have to fight? They only have one weakness we know of."

Thrain sighed and said, "Yes, but it is a big one, still we must proceed with utmost caution against them." He then stood up and called for everyone's attention. "Alright everyone we're going to spend the rest of the day, or night or whatever fucking time it is, down here resting up. I'll take the first watch, then you Garren, then Adelin for the last one.

"Tomorrow, or when we next wake, we will move on through that floor, avoiding those demons best we can. If however we run into a group of three or less, with no others in sight, we will fight them as a team. Me and Curth will distract them, Iris and Veera will give us support, while the rest of you sneak in around them and target their mid-back areas for the kill.

"If we see more than three at a time we avoid them or flee, worst case scenario we return back down here and start clearing them up little by little at a time until a safe path ahead is available to us all. Everyone clear on that?"

Everyone nodded, except for Adelin who said, "If there is more than two of them then Lessa will help you distract them."

Thrain went to argue back with her but Adelin continued, "Don't even bother Thrain, she's as good as either of you for this task, if not better. And she can camouflage herself to fit in with her surroundings, so she can scout ahead for us next time we're up there."

Silently Thrain thought it over, he knew that he and Curth could take care of those demons, two on two, if they didn't get the drop on them, but if a third was there then the only way he could pull it off was by using the body enhancement magic and exhaust himself greatly.

"Alright, if and only if she can hold her own, if she starts messing up and I tell her to flee, and let me and Curth handle it, then she better do as I say."

"Watch she will do better than you two," Adelin said with a cocky grin.

"Thrain you can't seriously be thinking of letting her fight one of those demons?" Garren protested. "She's but a child."

Thrain turned to Garren and said, "Not fight no, just distract; and again only if she can handle it."

"And if not? What if it overwhelms her right away and neither of you can save her? 'Sorry we thought she was stronger,' is that what you would say if she dies because of you?"

"She's stronger than any of you are giving her credit," Adelin intervened. "And she can understand everything we are saying."

Garren looked over to Lessa, she looked infuriated and ready to fight anyone now. He shook his head and said, "I'm still not fully okay with this, and if it comes to a fight then I'm going to be waiting back to support her when things go bad." He then turned and started walking off in a huff.

Rugal went to chase after him but Thrain grabbed his shoulder stopping him and said, "Let him go, he needs time alone to vent it out." Rugal shrugged Thrain's hand off and chased after Garren.

Rugal caught up to Garren and started walking beside him at his brisk pace. "If it makes you feel better I agree with you," he said.

Garren slowed down but didn't stop and said, "It's not right, she shouldn't even be here she's too young for this sort of place."

Rugal nodded his head to the side and said, "Hmm maybe, but then again she's only a couple years younger than us, I think. Adelin only told me she's older than she appears, but never specified her age. She says her maturity is that of a woman in her twenties though. And she did admit that Lessa has, in many ways, surpassed her."

Garren let out a big sigh and said, "Yeah, I'm sure you are right but there's more to it than that. This place, I don't know how to explain it but I feel like it's changing us; very slowly."

"How do you mean?" Rugal asked highly intrigued.

"I'm not sure but to start our sense of time is beyond lost by now, at least mine is. I can no longer tell how much an hour is or how long we've been asleep. That and I completely lost count of how many days we have been in here or what floor we are on."

"Well I don't think the floor number matters, since we don't know how many there are until the top one, but by my count we have been climbing for somewhere over sixty days now."

Garren looked at his friend surprised he was able to keep up that count so well or remember that number. Rugal shrugged and said, "I just been writing small lines in my little notebook after every long period of rest. I'm not sure how accurate it is, since I too lost count of how much time an hour is anymore, but I'm pretty sure it's close enough. I mean it's not like we have a couple of magisters who could just tell the time for us or anything like that."

They both chuckled. "Look man this day, or night, whatever, has been really stressful on all of us. I mean we go this long without seeing any demons so of course we get skeptical about them being real; even in this place. And that thing was a nightmare. I'm sure as hell not sleeping easy myself; if at all. It's like we're in a whole new world of sorts up here, filled with horrendous nightmares the deeper we go; so we can't be fighting with each other like that again.

"We don't know what lies ahead in this place and the best way to be prepared is to make sure we can trust each other and watch one another's backs. We got caught off guard as much as I think we will ever be again, but we came out with barley any injuries."

"You're right, let's head back to camp and rest up."

"Well then that was a bit of melodrama," Veera said, casually sliding next to Iris.

"I think I will take melodrama any day over a horrific surprise with that demon on the other floor," Iris said, watching Rugal chase after Garren as he stormed off.

"You and me both sister, by the way nice job on the lightning. Wish I thought of that."

Iris grinned and said, "Thanks, though I was trying to do a lot more than just slow it down briefly."

"Yeah, me too." Veera admitted. She then took a seat and Iris joined her. "You're from the Zorfin family are you not?"

"Yes, I'm the youngest daughter. And you're the great magister Cambren's apprentice right?"

"I outgrew that title of apprentice years ago, but yes Cambren still teaches me some new things now and again. Anyways I want to know about you, how did you and Rugal end up together, was it arranged?"

Iris blushed a little thinking about it and said, "No, it was nothing like that. In fact we met when were both very young at a ball; neither of us knew who the other was at the time though. I remember how handsome he was in his formal attire. I thought he was a noble or another highborn, I didn't even think that he was the prince.

"Well he saw me, came over, and asked me to dance with him. I was a terrible dancer and kept stepping on his toes but he only smiled and guided me through the moves; twirling me around when he saw I was getting too nervous again. Before long it was like everyone else around us disappeared and it was only me and him, dancing around to our hearts content."

Veera took notice how Iris' eyes seemed to sparkle even now thinking back to that magical evening of hers. But her story was not done just yet.

"I remember after we were too tired to dance he took me out to the balcony for some fresh air, said that I was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life. He was so charming and handsome, it wasn't until later I found out he was the prince. I then thought any chance I had with him was lost, especially when he found out that my family was a service family to the kingdom. Providing some of the best magisters from our home, and training other ones who always came out great.

"But when the prince came over for an unofficial visit a couple months after the ball he treated me the same as when we first met; even knowing my family title. He didn't care, and was in fact happy to see that I, for the most part, treated him the same as I had before. And it's as simple as that really, we have been in love since that day, and Rugal would come visit me often as he could. We intended to marry this summer but we had to put it off because of this stupid fucking tower."

She punched the ground in rage, as if that would do anything. When Iris finished her little fit of slamming her fists on the ground she looked back up to Veera and said, "Alright your turn, tell me how you got to where you are now... and where you are now in general."

Veera moaned in annoyance and said, "I'm next in line to title of grand magister, after Cambren passes away, I'm even on the kings council as a secondary adviser."

Iris laughed awkwardly trying to make herself sound nonchalant and said, "Ahh that is impressive. I'm sorry I should know at least that much, but we're a little secluded on this stuff sometimes at Les-Fyre. I don't really keep up with current events much, I'm either too busy studying, training, or spending time with Rugal."

"Okay, whatever, my story isn't all that exciting. Like most magisters when my powers developed I was picked up for special military training. I spent a couple years in a group home of magisters under the tutorship of the Baelur family, five great magisters trying to teach a group of eighteen kids at once must have been a nightmare for them.

"But moving on, I was the most outstanding pupil they had in years to come, and so when the grand magister Cambren came around to search out candidates for his apprentice I was a strong recommendation. Of course he didn't pick me up right away, which to me was both disappointing and a relief since I didn't want to leave my lover so soon; it's hard to find good girls, especially back then.

"So yea, he came back a few months later, asked me if I would like to apprentice under him. I asked him if I had much choice in the matter, he told me I did, and that if I joined him I would have many more choices of my own in the future than I would if I stayed there. He gave me a day to think about it, and the next morning I went with him."

After Veera said nothing more for a time Iris asked, "And, that's it?"

Veera shrugged and said, "Yeah pretty much. Said good bye to my first lover and moved on with my life, end of story."

"Hmm, you're right, my story was better." Iris smirked playfully and the two laughed lightly.

Adelin rolled around in her sleep, starting to wake up. The light sound of far off whispers troubled her, speaking too quiet to understand but loud enough to know it was voices she was hearing. Eventually the soft whispers woke her up and she slowly opened her eyes into a dreary state.

It was dark around her, darker than any night she ever knew outside. She could see no one else around, and this frightened her. She tossed her camp blanket off her and rose to her feet, shaking off her slumber like fugue. She called out quietly to her comrades, no one answered.

The whispers began to grow louder yet still incomprehensible. Soon gleaming red eyes, in pairs of two and four, emerged from the perfect darkness around her. She reached down for her weapons but they were all gone, even her blanket, which she just had moments ago, was nowhere around her.

The whispers turned into loud voices surrounding her now, still she couldn't understand them. Before she went mad and shouted in frustration, her eyes snapped open and she felt a hand on her shoulder, lightly gripping her. Thrain knelt right in front of her, trying to gently wake her up.

When he saw the look on her face he frowned and asked, "Adelin are you alright?"

Adelin slowly got up, looked around her: everyone was still around. Then she said, "Yea, yea I'm fine; just had a bit of a night terror is all."

Thrain looked around the group as well and said, "I don't think any of us got much good rest after the events earlier." He rose to his feet as Adelin climbed to hers. "Go eat some breakfast and start getting ready. Soon we will go back up to the next floor, and I hope that Lessa is as good as you say because one way or the other we're getting past that floor and moving up."

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Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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