Chapter 27 Hunted
The mist was flowing through the stone paths keeping low, so it was hard to see the floor, and the air was cool and damp. Lowenna was experiencing deja-vu. She rounded another corner, nearly slipping on the slick floor.
Stopping for a second to catch her breath, she could feel her heart pumping. She knew couldn’t stay here for long. She was being hunted.
The fear she had been experiencing was getting stronger. Was this Hunter Demon-god gift getting closer? There suddenly a piercing scream came out of nowhere. Sending a shiver down Lowenna’s spine. She couldn't believe this was happening for real. The beast was after her. She needed to get away.
She entered an open chamber, with three other doorways. Above each was a symbol. Lowenna glanced at each one but had no clue what they meant. She was about to take the first opening when she stopped. There on the doorframe, there was a word scratched into it. She could read it! It said Dalelana. She had no clue what it meant, but she could read understand the symbols. She went through the door and followed the winding path.
The passage widened to a chamber with a choice of two more openings. Lowenna looked around to find words scratched into the wall. Lowenna studied the words. "This is a warning to any who pass here. There is a gift of a Shadow Lord, in this... passageways?" Lowenna read it aloud, not quite understanding but getting a good idea. "A dark shade of Erbrus guards the light of Dalelana." Erbrus was a Demon-god, what the Lowenna called a Shadow Lord. Lowenna pondered the words. “If Erbrus is a demon-god... Dalelana must be an Angelous, a warrior of the Light realm.” Lowenna’s eyes opened wide with understanding, “The crystal must be one of her gifts.”
There was two more word scratched under the message. "Elf Magic." Lowenna thought back to Torin and his wife at the water wheel inn. He was only a part elf, and still, Lowenna had been attracted to him. His magic had entered her head. Making her have feelings for him. Just like Darcariel, but her magic was a lot stronger.
"Elf magic," Lowenna cried out loud. As if on cue the image of Darcariel came into focus. Lowenna shook her head, and the image faded again. She was losing this fight, getting weaker with every moment that passed.
The new problem she had was, which way to go now? There were two openings and no clue this time. Lowenna looked at the Elven symbols, before going down the passage to the right, hoping it was the right choice.
The path she had chosen was long and dark, "it seems to go on forever," Lowenna thought before she bumped into a wall, "Ouch!" she said, as she rubbed her nose. It seemed to be a dead end. Suddenly symbols on the wall started to glow, illumining the long blind alley. Lowenna cursed, trying to ready herself for what was coming, but then the long corridor went pitch black.
There was a roar. Lowenna looked in horror at the beast that had been hunting. It now stood at the entry to the dark passageway. The symbols started glowing again showing her the Lion-headed monster from her dreams. Fear began to take over, as it slowly walked towards her. It's horns, claws and teeth looked sharper now than in her dream.
Lowenna was desperate. She activated her shield for light and protection. The lion beast roared again, dark blue fire shooting from its mouth. Lowenna braced herself behind her shield. She could feel the heat rushing towards her. When the fire struck her shield of light, it shattered into dust knocking Lowenna back against the wall.
Lowenna touched her crystal. She didn’t have much choice, one more burst of flames would finish her. Instead of summoning fire, as she expected, her eyes flashed pink. She could see it a small low tunnel, halfway between her and the hunter lion, beast-man. She had walked right passed it.
Her fear was building, but Lowenna didn’t care, she charged towards Erbrus's Hunter, flicking her fingers, towards it. The beast-man roared again before it started to run towards her, its long strides eating up the gap between them quickly.
As the beast drew near, it raised its hand. It was going to get to the tunnel first, blocking Lowenna's escape. Fear was now all encompassing now. She was focusing on the passage, not stopping, not thinking or looking the creature.
The creature raised its clawed hand it was going to swipe her. Suddenly five pink sparks hit the monster in the face, catching it by surprise. Lowenna dived through the monsters legs into the tunnel, calling on all fours as fast as she possibly could.
The creature roared in confusion as the woman it had been chasing had disappeared. It sniffed the air, before finally noticing the tunnel Lowenna had dived through.
The passage had become very slick and angled downwards. Lowenna was still crawling as fast as she could, slipping as she went, until without warning she fell out of the dark tunnel landing with a bump. Blue flames suddenly shot out of the opening Lowenna had dropped out of, making her jumping back. An echoing roar had followed the fire before silence and darkness returned.
As Lowenna calmed down, the fear faded. For the first time that she could remember, She thanked the Anglous that she was still alive. She knew the hunter would still be after her, but for now, she was safe.
Callan huffed and leant against a wall rubbing his sore leg, as the party entered a large room. "We have been here before," he announced, looking at Rique.
Grilk shifted the air, "We walk in circle," he added.
Rique looked at the symbols taking a few moments to study each of them before she pointed to a wall. "There should be a door there." She said with confidence. She looked at the door on the next wall, "that is the door we took." She then pointed at a symbol on the ceiling. "It roughly says 'this way,' through the wall."
Grilk knocked on the wall and then shift the air before he slammed into the wall hard. Some of the blocks fell away showing a passage.
Callan stepped forward and raised his hand. "Backup Grilk, I got this." Grilk took a few steps back. Callan’s magic hit the wall, and it crumbled, leaving a large opening.
"You did it, Grandfather," Talia said, but Callan took a step and started to fall.
Grilk caught the old man before he hit the floor. "You alright Callan?" He asked.
Callan pushed against Grilk putting space between them but was breathing heavily. "I will be. I just used a little to much magic," he replied, but Talia looked anxious. Callan steadied himself and smiled at her, "I will be fine," he said, trying to assure her.
Rique went through the passage, to check what was ahead, while everyone else rested. Grilk was hungry. He didn't even have any grubs left. He hadn't realised this was going to take so long. He never thought things like this through. He only wanted to help Wenna and Rique but now had lost his sword, had no food, and had even worse he had lost Wenna. In his heart, he knew she would be all right, but they needed to destroy a magic crystal. That’s what mattered now.
Grilk had a stretch. He had had enough of walking around in the dark. Suddenly he heard Rique shout "Lowenna!" Grilk jumped up quickly following his friend's voice. He was looking forward to seeing Wenna again, but as he turned the corner, he realised it wasn't Wenna, that Rique was shouting about.
There were three skeletons all sitting against a wall, all wearing rusted armour holding weapons and shields. Rique had noticed the shields were etched with half a dragon’s head, on one side. The symbol of the Lowenna.
Grilk looked miserable, "Me thought you found Wenna." he said.
"Sorry Grilk," Rique replied, feeling a little guilty.
"What were these Lowenna doing here? And how long have they been here?" Callan asked as he got a closer look.
Grilk shrugged, but Rique was going through one of the dead men's bags. Inside there was a small dark gemstone shaped like an arrowhead. "Nothing really in here," she said as she discreetly slipped the stone into her pocket.
"How could you do that," Talia said, showing a look of disgust.
"What?" Rique asked, "going through their stuff?"
"Yes," Talia replied. Grilk was looking at one of the dead men's swords. It was still sharp, so he took it.
"Lowenna taught me to take what I need, if they have something that can help us, I’m going to take it," Rique replied while searching the other bodies, trying to ignore the looks Talia was giving her but Callan noticed her hands were shaking a little.
There wasn’t much to take, the weapons and shields, apart from the sword Grilk had taken, were useless. The other two skeletons didn't have bags. One did have a ring, but when Rique had built enough courage to take it, it had crumbled in her grasp, and Rique was left holding a finger. Rique dropped it quickly and shook her hand her eyes tightly shut not looking at what she had done.
"Well if the Lowenna were here, I can only guess they were after the crystal," Callan said thoughtfully. "Which means we are on the right track."
"But what can do this to a Lowenna?" Talia asked, frightened again.
"Hope it long dead," Grilk answered, before sniffing and walking on past the three dead men, heading down the path.
Rique smiled at the others, before following the old Orc, Looking at the symbols and then the floor checking for traps.