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Prophecy of the Talisman - Chapter One (Page Thirteen)

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"So you think it might have gone back to Blackmor?" Jeran asked of Ellion.

"It seems the logical conclusion, but we have yet to find any sign of Saravans base there."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Kerli exclaimed. Quickly touching the design, he stepped through the arch. The rest of the party quickly followed and instantly they were in a forest. All the trees were bare of leaves, their limbs twisted and broken. There was a low mist surrounding them making it almost impossible to see.

"Where are we?" questioned Jeran

"I can't be sure, but I believe it's the forests at the foot of Mount Nihar. Since the arch randomly chooses the destination to avoid being ambushed, we could be in any of a number of areas," Ellion answered.

With no arguments, the group followed closely as Kal'im took them deeper into the mist. Within an hour, the trees started to become fewer and the landscape became rockier. When Ellion asked Kal'im what he was following, Kerli replied that his brother could feel the impressions in the ground made by Berac.

"He is probably the strongest of the creatures created by Saravan and also considered his most loyal." Ellion explained.

"Wait!" Jeran shouted as he stopped to look at a tree.

"What is it?" Kerli asked.

Jeran moved closer to the lower limb of the tree. He couldn't believe his eyes, but there drifting gently in the breeze was a long strand of spider's web. He carefully pulled it off and showed it to the group. There was no denying it did not come from a regular spider. It was much thicker and stronger, and Jeran knew he was getting closer to his prey. With a renewed vigor, they pressed on, climbing a path that lead higher and higher, until Ellion confirmed that this was indeed Mount Nihar.

"Kal'im says we must go that way," Kerli pointed off the path onto a small ledge. "Believe me, I asked him several times. I can't stand heights!" Kerli continued as he saw the look of doubt on the others faces.

Leading the way, Kal'im effortlessly stepped off the path and onto the thin ledge. Second was Kerli, followed by Jeran and Ellion. It was slow going, as the ledge was just barely the width of a foot and it would take only a good gust of wind to send them to their deaths into the mist many yards below. After moving across the ledge for a hundred yards, Kerli disclosed the Kal'im had lost the track.

"What? How is that possible? They could not have fallen off the ledge, could they?" Jeran asked bitterly worrying he might have lost his chance at revenge.

"Wait, let me see if I can help." With that, Ellion pressed his back against the rock face wall and started to speak softly as he opened his arms in front of him. After several minutes he stopped at told them that there was a secret passageway in the rock face wall, twenty feet back from where they came. Slowly moving backwards Ellion stopped in front of a section of the rock that looked no different than any other.

Focusing he placed his hands on the rock and pushed with no success. Then he ran his hands along an outline that no one else could see before again speaking some words. Suddenly the rock face started to shake and rungs of rock shot out from the rock face wall.

"Quick, climb now as they will not stay here forever," Ellion urged as raced up the rock face wall. Jeran cringed as he grabbed the first cold rung and started up the stone ladder. Not that he was terribly scared of heights, but the thought that at any moment the rungs could disappear made his heart beat faster. He reminded himself not to look down. In fact the only person more scared than Jeran was Kerli. Kal'im, concerned for his brother's safety, brought up the rear.

Within a few short minutes, they had reached a much larger ledge and six feet above them was a large plateau. They sat down to take a breather. However, as they paused, the stone rungs disappeared back into the rock face and Kerli's eyes widened as thoughts of falling to his death gripped him.

"Brother, snap out of it.....we are not alone," were the words that screamed out in Kerli's mind as he realized that Kal'im was warning him.

Scurrying about on his knees, Kerli quietly let the rest of the group know that danger lurked ahead. Jeran carefully stood up, just peering over the lip of the rock ledge to see what was coming. It was both what he wished for and what he feared, for moving towards them was Berac and walking next to him was a woman with black hair. It had to be the same woman that killed his brother and father, he was sure of it. Seeing that the creatures had already spotted him and would be on them soon, he screamed out "By Thoros's sword, you will die" and scaled up the small wall and onto the plateau.

Jeran squared off against the woman and screaming out, he drew his sword while racing towards her, anxious to strike the first blow. But he could not hear his own screams or those of his friends, for a battle of a different kind was being waged within himself. As he fought, both fear and self doubt silently assailed him.

"What if I fail and die here?"

"What will happen to Mama?"

"Am I strong enough to defeat this beast?"

Within a few seconds she was well within his range. He made an attack with an awkward swing of his sword, but the woman dodged his swipe with ease. Berac could see his opportunity to attack, spun his two bladed sword from his back, and wound up ready to decapitate Jeran. Suddenly a bolt of white lightning slammed into Berac sending him flying twenty feet. Jeran glanced behind him to see the rest of the party coming to his aid. Turning his attention to his foe once more, he found not the woman whom he had attacked only moments before, but a spider of massive proportions! Its shell was jet black, and it walked on six large hairy legs. The creatures head had four glaring red eyeballs just above its deadly mandibles.

Jeran spat at the floor in disgust as he charged towards it. Raising his sword, he sliced at the spider's head only to have the attack thwarted by one of its gargantuan legs. Darting back and forth Jeran parried and slashed at the many legs that attacked him.

At the same time, Kerli and Kal'im charged Berac as he was recovering from the initial attack. Quickly rolling up as a ball with his sword perpendicular to him, he propelled himself at them, knocking Kerli to the ground while Kal'im jumped out of the way. Without stopping, Berac continued to roll towards Ellion, who stood motionless with his hand raised in preparation to cast a powerful spell. However, before he could complete the incantation, Berac rolled into him head on. The blow crushed Ellion into the ground. Berac then uncoiled himself and stood over the motionless Ellion, his sword poised to finish the job.

Just then, three crossbow bolts streamed through the air, striking Berac. The first two missiles bounced harmlessly off his rock body, but as Barac looked upwards to determine the source of the annoyance, the last bolt found its mark. The shaft had pierced the left eye of the evil creature. Berac screamed out in pain as he clutched at the embedded projectile with his hand. Kal'im took the opening, and lunging towards Berac with his sword, he started to slash at him from a thousand different angles. Berac retreated, parrying as dark blue ooze dripped from his wound. Though Kal'im's attacks were not harming Berac, it gave Kerli the opportunity to try and aid Ellion. As Kerli rushed to the side of his fallen comrade, he knew that his brother would soon need help as well. Kerli screamed out to Jeran in a plea for support.

Jeran could hear Kerli's screams, but his hands were full with the spider. Slowly he was gaining on her attacks, sensing which legs she would use next. Then in a feat of perfect timing he thrust his sword deep into her gaping maw. With his teeth clenched, he could taste the pain he was delivering to the shrieking creature.

Withdrawing his sword to defend himself, he was surprised to see it turn and start to race away.

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