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The Tale of Thunder - Chapter Two (Beyond Kara-Tur - Part Six: The Tainted Ones)

Author: 
Thunder Kayowen(Ryan Goodrich)
Old Vault Category: 
fanfiction
Old Vault ID: 
222

Killian opened his eyes once the cool tingling stopped. He was not sure how the thing he stepped through worked, and he did not want to see what happened when it did. He was now standing back in the hallway he had been in with the two statues and the invisible wall, but they were now both gone. Thunder and Ethan still both lay on the ground unconscious. Ethan groaned as soon as Killian spotted the two and rolled to his side, one hand clutching his forehead. Thunder propped himself up on his elbow, one hand on his forehead as well.

Ethan got to his hands and knees and stayed in that position, as if waiting for his head to clear. Thunder got up to his feet and laid a hand against the wall to keep himself from falling over. Killian stepped up to the two, holding the heavy banner in both his hands.

Thunder suddenly became sober when his eyes fell upon the banner Killian held, then his eyes stopped upon the marks on Killian's hands.

"He has been marked, Ethan. Now is when it all begins," Thunder said. He then cocked his head, as if listening to an unheard voice. "There is trouble at the surface," he suddenly said, racing back the way they had first entered the hall. "Your friends are in great danger."

*******

Killian knew something was definitely wrong when they reached the top of the stairs to the surface. The room the others had been left in was empty, the hidden door to the room standing ajar. Killian gripped one of his swords with a sweaty hand as he tried to hold the banner up with the other hand. He followed Thunder outside with Ethan close behind. What Killian saw made his heart stop.

Standing outside of the citadel in the light of dusk were easily a hundred beings. All of them seemed to rise from their sitting places at the front of the building in unison. Easily two dozen of them wore night-black cloaks with the hoods pulled up to hide their faces. The remainder of the beings made Killian want to faint. They were all easily three feet taller than him, filthy hair covering them entirely. They had long hairy snouts, and their mouths contained two rows of deadly yellow fangs. Their eyes glinted an eerie green as the remaining sunlight reflected off of them.

Each and every one of the beasts was covered in bits and pieces of armor crudely put together. They each hefted strange as well as familiar weapons, but they all looked equally deadly. They all stood their ground though.

Three of the darkly cloaked figures stepped ahead of the others, two of them flanking the middle one. The lead one pulled back his hood to reveal a frightfully handsome face. The man looked to be elven with the elegant face and the long pointy ears, but his skin was a near black tint, while his eyes and hair were as white as snow.

The brief moment the holds of his cloak opened, Killian saw a suit of dark gray leather covering the man's torso, several strange symbols emblazoned across his chest which seemed to be glowing blue dimly.

"At last," the elf said, his voice sounding like stones grinding. "You honor me with your presence, Aeir Ne'hem. I am Shernin Theodin of the Tentarril clan."

"Where are the other three?" Thunder demanded.

Theodin smiled. "They are here." He then made a vertical slashing gesture with his hand.

The crowd of beasts parted to admit six of the hairy creatures escorting Arden, Seraphina, and Faelar. Arden and Seraphina fidgeted with fear while Faelar hung limply between the two creatures holding him up, blood glistening on his face. They stopped behind Theodin.

Thunder stepped in front of Killian. "What is it you want, Tainted One?"

"To ensure we meet again," Theodin smiled yet again. "Normally, I wouldn't have hesitated to kill them or you the instant my eyes fell upon you, but I would like a challenge. I have gone for so long a time without one. Had I killed all three of your friends, I know you would have come seeking me eventually. Should I keep them alive, you will know they need to be rescued and will try even harder to find me and get them back. Morgans."

The cloaked figure on Theodin's right stepped forward. Killian could see he was human under the hood, but he was not able to distinguish many features.

"Take the two back to your palace. Leave the elf."

"Yes, Shernin Theodin," the man placed a fist to his heart and bowed slightly.

Theodin slowly approached Killian with his hands clasped behind his back. Thunder stepped forward to stop him and suddenly flew back as if hitting an invisible wall. Thunder landed behind Killian several feet away where he lay unconscious. Ethan bent at Thunder's side and glared at the dark elf, fingers drifting towards the dagger at his belt, but not reaching the whole way for it. Theodin smiled as he circled Killian from several feet away.

"Aeir Ne'hem," Theodin laughed. "I somehow thought the Forger of Souls to be... older. The prophecies spoke nothing of a boy." He laughed again. "From ancient blood forged by the Higher Race. Is this all the Higher Race has to offer? Kings and emperors will bend to the Forger of Souls' will and lands will fall into the Aeir Ne'hem's room. A boy will rule a nation. This I look forward to seeing. But before the Day of Reckoning, you will have to match with me. That will be no easy task, young one. But until then, work hard, little one."

Theodin stepped back in front of his forces. A black flat square suddenly appeared, nearly four feet across and eight feet in height. The nightcloaks began going through it, disappearing into the darkness.

"No!" Killian shouted as the beasts began to follow, carrying Arden and Seraphina through with them.

He ran into an invisible wall. Slamming his fists against them, he roared in anger. Minutes passed before the last of the beasts went through the hole.

Theodin was the last to go through. He grinned maniacally before disappearing through the square which disappeared as soon as he had gone. The invisible wall suddenly disappeared.

Ethan finally moved from where he knelt at Thunder's side and bent over him. Thunder grunted as Ethan helped him sit upright. Killian fell to his knees, the banner falling from his grip, clattering to the ground several feet away. He only sat there, staring blankly at the spot Arden and Seraphina had disappeared.

He didn't know how long he sat there, but a hand brought him back to reality, a strong, cold hand.

"It's not your fault," Thunder said in a hushed tone. "There was nothing we could do to get past the Shadow Weaver."

"It is my fault," Killian said calmly, though it came out raggedly. "I've got to find them and free them."

"Don't be a fool, boy," Ethan growled. "They could be anywhere in Faerun, maybe anywhere in Toril."

"When you find them, the Shadow Weaver will surely be there. And right now you don't stand a chance against him," Thunder said. "We must get your ready. Your friends can wait. Your destiny cannot. You are Aeir Ne'hem. You cannot deny that now."

Killian looked down at the symbols on his hands before speaking again. "When I am ready, what all is the Forger of Souls supposed to accomplish?"

"You will unite the lands and lead your people against the dark elves," Thunder answered. "This is only the beginning. Your friends are not the last ones you will lose from this day forth. Thousands of lives will be affected by you. But there is no turning back now. I must get you to Selgaunt. You will be in good hands there."

Killian did not answer. His mind was awhirl with thoughts. Everything was happening too fast to make anything out.

Gathering his strength, Killian finally stood and looked at Thunder levelly. "Very well," Killian was startled by how cold and distant his voice sounded. "But mark me, I will make this... Dark One pay."

Thunder placed a hand on Killian's shoulder and looked him in the eyes. "When the time comes, you will be ready. I promise you that. Come. The sooner we reach Selgaunt, the better off we are."

Killian sighed and nodded.

"Thunder," Ethan called. "Faelar's a bit worse for ware."

Killian looked over to where Ethan knelt over Faelar. He had forgotten entirely about the elf. Thunder strode up to Ethan while Killian picked up the banner before joining the two.

Killian felt like emptying his stomach when he looked at Faelar. Blood streaked the side of Faelar's face. His forehead was bent inward as if smashed in by a club. Thunder sighed and looked about.

*******

Once they had buried Faelar, their travels took them back to the road they'd first left. They found their horses in Calledor Nujaal a little ways off from where the dark elf had shown up, so that made their trip a great deal faster. Once they reached the main roads, they headed north once again. Once they cleared the Brynwood, they headed into the Earthspur Mountains. Both Ethan and Thunder constantly assured Killian they would encounter few beats, yet they ended up fighting ogres and orcs several times a day.

Killian had to admit seeing as well as fighting these monsters was equally nerve-wracking, but it was good practice with a sword Thunder told him. Every evening when they set up camp Thunder spent an hour or two with Killian teaching him to use a sword. He only taught him to use one since Killian was still a beginner. Slowly, Killian was getting used to using a sword. He was a fast learner, but there was a lot to learn.

By the time they had crossed the Earthspur Mountains and reached the city of Dragon Falls, Thunder was impressed at how much Killian had learned.

Dragon Falls was an amazing city to behold. Killian had to admit though, that he'd only been in one city before. Dragon Falls was a fairly large city. The buildings were all either fashioned in bricks or wood. The streets were packed, people jaw to jaw. Caravans slowly made their way through the streets. The air was filled with curses, vendors shouting their wares, and people haggling at near shouts to be heard over the crowds.

Thunder had told him before they entered that I case Killian got separated from Thunder and Ethan, he was to head for the west entrance to the city. Upon entering the city, Killian promptly got lost amidst the crowds. He had been gawking at the crowds and buildings and when he looked for Thunder and Ethan, they had both disappeared.

Trying to keep a cool head, Killian made his way through the crowds toward the west gate. His stroll through Dragon Falls had unfortunately been uneventful. Secretly when he first entered the city, he had hoped to see the famed Dragon Falls itself. Unfortunately, he had seen no sign of the waterfall other than the river it created which snaked through the middle of the city.

Killian spotted Thunder and Ethan just outside the city near the west gate, standing a few paces to the side of the road. Ethan looked annoyed and Thunder as expressionless as ever. Killian rejoined them and attempted to apologize, but Thunder waved it off, telling him they needed to hurry.

They spent another week or so on the road heading west. Killian had no idea where they were or where they were going, so he asked Thunder. Thunder replied, saying they were going to continue west to the city of Raven's Bluff where they would catch a boat across the Dragon's Reach. Once on the other side, they would head to Selgaunt. Thunder explained in more detail, but that was the plan summed up.

And so this kept up day after day. They'd wake up early, eat breakfast, clear up camp, and start traveling. An hour or so before sunset they'd set up camp and Thunder would instruct Killian to use a sword while Ethan hunted deer, rabbits, and other such game for dinner.

It was after a week of this that they reached Raven's Bluff. This city dwarfed Dragon Falls entirely. The streets were cramped with people while the buildings on either sides of the road towered overhead. They slowly made their way to the docks. When they finally reached them, Thunder told Killian and Ethan to stay put and went walking off.

Nearly an hour passed before Thunder showed up again. He then had Killian and Ethan follow him, saying he had found them a ship. Thunder halted in front of a large double-masted ship. Men rushed to and fro on-deck with no shoes and brightly colored pants and shirts covering them. Across the side of the side, the words "Striking Scorpion" were painted on. Men in light armor with a symbol painted across them much like the one on Thunder's chest plate strode up and down the planks from the ship to the docks.

"This is a ship of Helm," Thunder explained. "The captain has agreed to take us across the Dragon Reach."

Several of the shoeless men came down the planks and took the reins to all their horses. Thunder, Ethan, and Killian went up onto the deck. Killian had never been on a boat before, so he stumbled slightly as the ship rocked. They were taken to their room which consisted of two bunks with two beds on each one. The room was fairly small, only large enough for one person to move the length of the room.

Ethan later wandered off to the main deck while Thunder left to go speak with several people that he knew on the ship. Killian was thus left alone to himself. Taking off his sword which didn't seem to be helping him keep his balance very well with all the rocking, Killian put all his things on one of the beds before going off exploring on his own.

*******

It was an hour or so after dusk before Killian decided it time to head back to his quarters. The ship had left Raven's Bluff a good five or six hours ago, so they'd gotten a good ways into the Dragon's Reach. Killian had become friends with several crewmen and had spent the last few hours learning the layout of the ship and how to do certain tasks.

It was when he was starting to go below deck that some strange movement caught his eye. Pausing on the ladder down, he glanced over where he'd seen the movement. Nothing. He was tired; his eyes must have been playing tricks on him. He quickly went down to his quarters where Thunder and Ethan were already fast asleep. For a moment he lay in his bed before falling asleep.

*******

Killian awoke at what he thought to be morning. He was still a little drowsy from the events from yesterday, but shook it off as he stood and got dressed. Thunder and Ethan were both still asleep. Killian was used to the ship's rocking already, so he was proud of himself when he didn't stumble once in the process of dressing.

A sudden rush of salty air assailed him when he came above deck. The moon still shone brightly in the sky overhead and stars dotted the horizon. The waves of the Dragon's Reach rolled against the hull of the Striking Scorpion, creating a rhythmic beat as the ship sailed. Sparse crewmen were all over the deck; few men were ever assigned to nightshifts. All around the ship was water for as far as Killian could see. He had never seen so much water before.

Yet it was not the surrounding water that suddenly caught his attention. What few crewmen he could see on the ship lay on the ground in various contorted positions, all of them lying still. The blood drained from his face when he saw several of them lay in puddles of their own blood, their throats all slit. What made Killian even more nervous was the blood was still fresh.

Killian looked about, desperately trying to spot the intruder. Had he not been listening intently and looking for any movement or noises, he would have missed the nearly silent sound of padded feet quickly moving towards him. Without thinking, Killian leapt aside, rolling to his feet.

The intruder suddenly stopped where Killian had been a split second ago and pivoted on one foot, rushing towards Killian with amazing speed. Killian rolled onto his back and flung his feet up as his assailant lunged, intending to impale him with the dagger he held. Killian felt his feet hit into the man's gut as the man ran into him. Leaning back and pushing with his feet, the darkly clad figure flew over Killian and crashed to the ground several paces away.

Killian leapt to his feet and turned to face the person. The man was dressed in jet-black clothing with a scarf wrapped around his face, hiding all of his features except his pure white glinting eyes. The man was already on his feet, charging towards Killian again.

Killian reached down to grab his sword before he remembered it was still in his room. The man was suddenly on him, dagger flashing. Killian twisted in a vain attempt to dodge the attack. The dagger barely missed his skin, opening a large slash along the length of his shirt.

Killian's hand darted out, grabbing the man's wrist. The assassin suddenly pulled with that arm, tearing his wrist free as well as throwing Killian off balance. Before Killian could regain his balance, the man spun low, his leg darting out and knocking Killian's feet from under him. The air was knocked out of him when he fell flat on his back. The man was on him again, the dagger darting towards Killian's throat.

Before the dagger struck its mark, Killian's hands shot up, grabbing the man's wrist again, trying to push the man's arm back. His arms shook with effort as the black man's dagger slowly inched its way ever closer. The man was a lot stronger than Killian, he wouldn't be able to hold the man back long. Killian finally drew back on of his hands quickly and balled it up in a fist before cracking it against the intruder's face. He felt the man's dagger arm let up slightly. He swung again, a loud crack sounding out as the man's jaw broke. The person flew off Killian and rolled on his side before getting to his feet, the dagger still in his grasp.

Killian looked about quickly for a weapon. His eyes suddenly settled on one of the dead crewman's rapiers. The man was moving towards him again, so Killian raced for the sword. Killian bent low and tore the rapier from its sheath as he ran. He then swung his sword as he spun to face the man... and ran his sword straight into the person's chest.

A startled look shone on the assassin's eyes as he looked down where the rapier was stuck into his chest. His eyes then rolled back in his head as he limply fell to the ground dead. Killian released his grip on the rapier's handle and took a step away from the corpse, breathing heavily.

Once he was sure the man was dead, he gathered his courage and stepped up to the dead man and pulled of the scarf that hid his face. Killian felt his knees go weak when he staring into the face of a dark elf. It was most likely that if the dark elves knew to find him here on this ship, they knew where he was headed. The hunt for him had already begun.

Killian rushed below deck to tell Thunder.

 

The Tale of Thunder: Chapter 2 - Beyond Kara-Tur - Part 6 The Tainted Ones © Thunder Kayowen(Ryan Goodrich)

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