The room was silent save the burning. The fire was set in a brazier made out of a human skull. In the middle of the earthen walls was an altar. It was little more than a slab of black marble. If the bloodstains weren't evidence enough, the ancient runes of black origin confirmed its purpose. This was where humans were sacrificed to the gods of darkness. And on this altar was a sword. The serrated, blood red blade seemed to glow with an eerie darkness. A skull was set in its ebony handle. Hands reached for the darksword, taking it into their grasp. Evil powers flowed freely between the holder and the blade as he brandished it in my direction.
"Now then, Matthias. Shall we?"
Extending my Sondeshike, I advanced until we were a few lengths apart.
"To the death, Rickkter."
Feigning a strike to the left, I swing the right side of my staff towards the raccoon's head. He dodges to the side and slashes his darksword at my chest. Blocking with my Sondeshike, I plan my next strike. But I never get a chance. The darksword cuts through the Sondeck-enhanced staff like butter, and the resulting release of power hurls me against the far wall. I try to move, but it's as if every ounce of strength has been drained from my body. Cackling malevolently, Rickkter picks me up by the scruff of my neck. The first thing I feel about the altar as I am set on it is that it's cold, like it's draining the very life from me. Helplessly looking up from my position, I see the sacrificial blade held above me. And then a tremendous pressure engulfs my chest as the Kankoran drives the darksword through the stone of the altar, pinning me like an insect in a collection. The last thing I see as the world goes dark is Rickkter laughing.
I'm in a room. It's bright, and make of granite. There's a pedestal in the center, and my spirit lifts when I see what's on it. Taking the bow and quiver, I marvel at the craftsmanship. The arrows are perfectly fletched, and blessed by Eli himself. Grinning to myself, I realize now is the time to pay Rickkter back.
I'm at a table in the Deaf Mule. Behind me is Misha, looking fit to be tied. Jione is standing behind Rickkter looking about the same. Both are holding the crystal circlets that used to be on our heads. Between the two is John, his eyes glowing deep red. He would have looked intimidating if he wasn't wearing a beanie.
Jione started first. "RICKKTER! We just got back from patrol. Why didn't you show up for duty? Have you been here the WHOLE time?"
"Er, umm..." Rickkter stammered...
"I don't want to hear it. You've got KP for three days, do you understand soldier?"
"Good, now get out of my sight."
Rickkter leapt from the table and sped to the door.
"I thought you wanted to be a Long," started Misha.
"Well missing training is NOT the way to do it Matt. I'm not tolerating this any more. Now I expect you to show up bright and early and not miss another day, is that clear?"
"Alright. Now come on."
"Listen, I'm sorry." John started to Misha and Jione. "When I showed those two 'Tremor', I never figured they'd play it so much."
"Not your fault John, not your fault."
"Hey guys." called out Jesreg as he approached. "How's it going... Now then, why did you need me exactly?"
"There's about to be a plot advancement and you'll need to be there for it."
"Gotcha." returned the mouse. "Where are we headed boss?"
"Lead the way then."
"I don't like this."
"We know." Jesreg told Rickkter. "You've made that clear at least five times so far!"
"I don't like it either." commented Matthias.
"I'll second that." stated Misha.
"I'll third it." stated Kwanzaa.
"I don't get it. We're just walking down a well traveled hall! What's going to happen?" Jesreg asked as he threw up his arms.
"Because..." answered John, "We have four of the keep's best fighters together in one place despite personal bickering. That only happens when there's about to be an action scene."
"Something big's going down. I wish I knew what." commented Misha. "Well, we're here."
John walked into the hall, ignoring the murder holes above them. He came out into a spacious ballroom.
"Oh wow! I like what you've done with the place!"
"Actually, this is how we found it. You've been here before?" asked Misha.
"Yes, this was where we held our meetings."
"The trilarians. We were a old mage order. This castle was our capital, and we controlled an area similar to that of Duke Hassan and the outlying fiefdoms. Unfortunately, we were all but wiped out in the forgotten wars."
"Forgotten wars? I've never heard of them before."
"Such is the nature of things forgotten."
"So now, what did you need me for?"
"This place had quite a few interesting items when we found it. So far, we've been unable to identify a good number of them."
"So you want me to take a look and see if you have anything cool, right?"
"Well then, let's take a look."
"The armory is over here."
"Oh wow! You've got loads of cool stuff in here! Let's see, here's a whistle dagger."
The liche handed the dagger to Misha. "Doesn't look all that powerful." He tosses it to the table behind himself. As soon as it hits the table it bounces off and flies towards a wall. Ricocheting repeatedly, everyone dunks and dives trying to avoid the zooming dagger.
John casually reaches up and catches it. "Always keep it stored in its protective encasing."
"Hey. You stole that scene from the movie Men In Black!"
"Correct. This scene is copyright by whoever created Men In Black. The scene was reused without permission because honestly, if I'm too lazy to look up who made the movie, do you think I'm going to ask them to use that scene?"
"What's this thing?"
"Oh! It's a Strife Sword!"
"Why's it called that?"
"Because only Cloud Strife can use a sword that big, though you can get in some good dramatic poses with it."
"Matthias, come here."
"Sure whaaaAAA! What are you doing? Oof! Ouch!"
"Take a look everyone."
Matthias looked to be a good foot taller when he was put in the massive suit of armor. The shoulder pads came up to just a few inches below the helmet and the arms were fatter than Loriod's (Valdimar Harkonnen wannabe for those who don't know) had been.
"John, I can't move."
"Well, even if you can't get them, they can't get you."
John gave the suit of armor a firm pat. Like the sound of a falling tree, the armor toppled to the ground.
"I can't believe the author would stoop this low, but I've fallen and I can't get up."
"Here, let me help...ooh, look at this! It's a dragon arrow!"
"What does it do?"
"It flies to its target roaring like a dragon."
"How does it work?"
"Just hold it, think of the target, and drop it."
John apparently did so because two wings popped out of the cylindrical tube and the arrow leapt from his hands. It circled about the room and flew out a window. Everyone crowded around just in time to see the archery targets outside go up in a crimson flare.
"It's powered by a Magically Infused Self-propelled Sulfer Infusion Long-range Engine."
"Hey, that's catchy!"
"Interesting, but I don't think it'll catch on."
"That's all I see here. Let's check the vault."
"Oh, didn't you find it?"
John walked over to a seemingly random spot on the wall and pushed in a block of the masonry. A female voice seeming to come from the wall itself intoned, "Place your hand on impressed brick and state your name."
"Access denied. Initiating auto-defense system."
"Oh ****! Everyone get down!"
The long scouts had no sooner dropped to the floor than a massive barrage of magic missiles peppered the entirety of Long Hall. Fortunately, it all came out at chest height and stayed horizontal. Everyone had dropped to the floor before the attack started. "Thank you. Have a nice day." commented the female voice before the brick John had pushed in slid back to its normal place.
"Was THAT supposed to happen?" asked Misha as he slowly got up.
"May I suggest we just leave the vault alone for now."
"I'm not sure. How do you want to conclude this story?"
"I have no idea."
"Hey Matthias! What do you think we should do for a conclusion?"
"Get me out of this armor?" moaned the rat weakly.
"Oh well. I guess there isn't a conclusion." commented Misha.
"Okay, see ya Misha."