Today’s snippet, titled “The Root of Corruption”, is a piece I wrote about my current character, Mim, to sort of demonstrate her experiences with a major in-game event.
Be forewarned, there are mature themes and naughty language below. (Also, it was obvious late when I completed this and there is an excessive use of “head” in the past paragraph… sorry. This is why we EDIT! Update: Edited the last paragraph since it was driving me insane.)
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Somehow, the light seemed diminished here, as if the darkness was so deep that it absorbed the warm, reassuring glow emanating from the stone she wore around her neck. Cold, vast, empty. Evil. Mim pressed her ear to her shoulder, as if she could brush away the painfully loud silence of this place.
Evil, she thought, gripping the hilt of her falchion tighter. It’s so fucking thick here, I can taste it. It is tangible!
Mim had experienced similar sensations during the course of her travels with the Brotherhood, but the association went deeper in her memories than that. If she closed her eyes, Mim would find herself thrust back fifteen years and half-a-world away, slowly following her Grandfather and Grandmother down past the root cellar. Through the storage rooms, along the ramp that descended to those dank, black cells…
Mim blinked, startled. “Sorry.”
“Eyes up, damn it.”
Nodding, she cursed herself. This isn’t the time to get lost in old nightmares, you stupid cow. You’re not a kid anymore and right now, the family is the least of your worries. Still, as she stood back, allowing Kenzi room to examine the door, Mim sensed that the fine hairs on her arm were standing on end.
She glanced up at the door and then hastily away. It was hideous. The door itself appeared to be stone, a vortex of bloody marble frozen in place as it swallowed a skeletal creature whole. The skull was twisted and contorted in eternal agony; its clawed hands reaching out, tearing at the stone in a futile attempt to escape its fate.
“Looks clear,” Kenzi said, sliding back past Mim. There was a dubious quality about her expression that Mim found disconcerting. She approached the door, sheathing her blade. The enchantments Trick & Azielle had bestowed upon her had left her glowing with a confidence that she had not felt moments before, when the Brotherhood stood in the room at the base of these spiral steps with the eerie chanting echoing down.
Screwing up her courage, Mim reached out and gripped the extended claw that seemed to be the door handle. Instantly, a creepy warmth slid up her arm, like slipping your arm elbow-deep into a bucket of fresh blood. Images from her childhood, long buried, burbled up within her brain and she swallowed thickly, trying to bury them again.
Shuddering, Mim pushed the door open.
A million details swirled around her senses at once. With an involuntary motion, she yanked her black, adamantine falchion clear of its plain, utilitarian scabbard and scrambled to take it all in, to assess the situation.
There was a queer silence up here. The esoteric chanting had ceased but she could not even hear the rush of blood in her ears though her heart was beating so hard it practically dented her chest piece from the inside. Open to the sky, the great dome rose up around them. A sickly sanguine light filtered down, creating a square upon the tiles. Peering up to find the source of that unsettling light, Mim realized that the night above was an alien sky with an enormous bloody moon looming low.
Four planters, each five feet high and brimming with corrupted, carnivorous plant life, marked the ordinal points on the compass. There was an altar, waist-high and easily large enough for human sacrifice. At its base lay an empty suit of plate mail and a fine heavy mace, both discarded unceremoniously.
“Mazul!” Eric bellowed, pushing past her. Mim’s gaze followed him. There, on the north wall, their long-hunted quarry was imprisoned in an impossible prism of amber. Like clover honey it seemed liquid, glossy and rippling, yet in some spots it had gone hard and opaque. Trapped within its walls, Mazul raged.
Horrible to look upon before, since he had been freed the Demon Lord had grown yet more gruesome. Mazul’s flesh was covered in glittering black and red scales, a hideous armor that rippled with each twitch of corded muscles. His tail was thick and prehensile, tipped with a throng of wicked tines and his wings, previously tattered and useless, were majestic and horrible, a pair of glistening bat-like appendages which ended in talons as large as daggers.
Hardly sparing a thought for the danger, Mim tore across the tile after Eric, a scream of desperate rage clawing its way from her throat. His evil eyes fell upon her, chilling her to the bone and Mazul exploded against his prison. With a discordant series of clangs, Mim unleashed her fury on the prism. The strange material could not withstand the biting edge of her blade and a crack splintered up the side.
Time was at once slow as syrup in winter and blurry with speed. Eric cried out at her to stop and she realized he had had not taken a swing at the cage. “What if he wants us to let him out?”
Mim’s lips formed a response, but she never had a chance to speak it as a hot, blinding hail of enormous stones erupted from the sky and pelted the Brotherhood. Miraculously, when her eyes cleared and the vapors dispersed, Mim was still on her feet. Who the FUCK- she thought, casting a glance back to see if Anajalihn or Trick had miscast some powerful new spell. No, it was not friendly fire, but an offensive spell slung at them by some stranger clinging to the south wall with supernatural strength.
“We fell for his bullshit last time,” Mim shouted at Eric, making herself heard over the sounds of battle. “I don’t care what tricks he’s pulling, this time, I’m going to fucking kill him or die trying!”
With that, despite Eric’s protest, she lifted her blade once more and swung it with all her strength. The crack widened.
Behind her, Kenzi had drawn her bow and was firing arrows at the unfamiliar wizard, who glittered like a courtesan’s jewelry box thanks to one of Anajalihn’s incantations. He could no longer hide from them and as Mim and Mazul battled to break the barrier, the Brotherhood’s full fury found him a welcome target. Azielle’s golden voice rang out and seared the mage with a sacred blast of holy light as Kenzi’s arrows bit into his flesh.
“Ro marfedelom ekess wux!”
A sickly green ray shot forth from Anajalihn’s hands, engulfing the wizard. Mim could not help but turn her gaze when she heard the familiar words; she had known the incredible power before. A whoop of victory filled her throat as the wizard was enveloped by the wan light, then died on her lips as one of the multitude of stones floating around his head glowed brightly. Mim could feel her friend’s abject horror when the rock absorbed one of her most powerful spells as if it were a cantrip.
Forget Mazul, you idiot! You’ve got to help them kill that bastard! Mim wrenched her blade free from the deep bite it had made in the prison’s amber wall. She froze for a moment, fear gripping her heart as the Wizard spat out an incantation and released a burst of energy in that same mucous-green color. Similar, yet somehow so much brighter and more powerful, it closed the distance between the man and Anajalihn in a single heartbeat.
“No!” Mim heard herself cry out, spurred suddenly into action.
Twirling her parasol before her, Anajalihn deflected the spell, though the force of it set her platinum hair to rippling behind her and singed the delicate lace of her robes. A triumphant look replaced the terrified expression she wore, though it did not quite reach her eyes.
Nonchalant, as always, Trick appeared beside the mage and let loose with a magical punch that sent the bastard high into the air before crashing him to the floor. Now that he was within reach, Mim’s feet found their purpose and she charged at him, bringing her sword around at the last moment. It slashed across his thigh, slinging droplets of crimson against the wall.
Her gaze focused on the tiny splatter of blood, so wet upon the smooth, marble wall. They reflected the light from her pendant and her eyes grew wide as she watched Mazul break free from his prison at last. A roar unlike anything she had ever heard shook the entire tower, rattling living and dead bones alike.
Eric leapt out of the way as the demon lord went berserk, howling for blood. Twisting around, Mim lifted her sword once more but her foe had vanished. Chaos roiled around them as the demon lord began meting out punishing blows upon the Brotherhood. His bladed tail swept Mim and Eric, poison dripping from its edge. Pain seared from her shoulder down her back, but Eric took the brunt of the blow, three of the stinging tips rending his armor.
“Ro marfedelom ekess wux!”
Anajalihn’s voice was half-a-screech from across the room; her incantation aimed at Mazul this time. Mim did not have a chance to register its effectiveness as Mazul whirled to face her. He rained a series of blows down upon her, crushing her to her knees.
“The moonlight! We have to get him into the moonlight!”
“Anajalihn – will that work?”
The elven girl vanished, reappearing further from the demon. “I cannot say for certain! There is no time to- Oh, by all the Gods, yes! Try it! It may work!”
“Take this, you beast!” The words were in Celestial, yet she understood them perfectly. Azielle lifted her mirrored shield, reflecting the queer bloody light of the alien moon at Mazul.
Mim was certain she heard the demon chuckle as he was bathed in the sanguine glow, but it did not appear to affect him in any negative way.
“I said it may work,” Anajalihn cried, “Not that it would!”
“Xurwk vin malai di nomeno Kothar.”
Mim was struggling to her feet, wiping blood from her eyes, as Trick touched Mazul’s shoulder with a casual incantation. A fog swirled from his palm, intoxicating the demon lord.
“There! The wizard returns!”
And so he did, plummeting down at them from the night sky – How did he get up there? she wondered stupidly – directly toward the spot where Anajalihn and Kenzi stood.
“DIE!” Mim thundered across the distance between herself and Mazul, who had turned his attention from her after Trick’s spell. One swing connected, then a second, a third and, with a flourish of hot black blood, a fourth slashed through the meaty flesh of his thigh. The demon lord teetered.
“Youuuuu arrrre miiiiiiine,” Mazul hissed, pointing a talon at her.
“The hell I-” she began, and then froze.
“Bow to meeeee, pathetic woman…”
Her heart throbbing in her chest, Mim felt her blade slip from her hands and she did not care. She flung herself to her knees, prostrate before him. “Yes, Master!”
Though it lasted mere moments, Mim would never forget the strange, powerful compulsion that filled her entire being; she would have fallen on her blade for him, she would have murdered her friends and slain innocents if he had commanded, she would have sacrificed her own soul to his will. For the duration of those few minutes, from her toes to the tip of her head, Mim belonged entirely to the 666th son of Orcus, the Demon Lord, Mazul of Bone Tower.
She was his.
The black haze that clouded her mind lifted, yet swirling up immediately behind it was a different fog. It gripped her, a stranglehold on her free will, and a familiar voice echoed within her mind.
“Pick up your blade and fight!”
Empty, she obeyed.
A rush of air surrounded her and suddenly, she was flying, falchion in hand. Her limbs moved as if she was a marionette, and she swept across the sky, bearing down on Mazul. Lifting her blade, Mim swung. Her sword met with Mazul’s, a jagged nightmare of a great sword. She lost her grip on her falchion and it clattered to the floor.
Once more, those eyes met her own. She could see the endless fires of the Abyss reflected there; the screaming torment of innumerable souls writhing eternally, agony unspeakable and horrors unimaginable. His face twisted in that moment.
She felt the rush of air against her throat, warm as a lover’s breath, an instant before the profane steel sank deep into her flesh.
And then there was only darkness.
Oblivion enveloped her.
Where am I?
Mim was lost. She could not discern up or down or move her limbs or open her eyes, yet she was aware and did not feel constrained. Where the FUCK am I?
Time was passing. Somehow she was aware, though there seemed to be absolutely nothing but her consciousness floating in the emptiness.
Where are the rolling green hills? Where’s my mountain of golden coins, Waukeen, you greedy bitch? Where is my eternity? Mim felt the heat of her anger as it colored her thoughts. She had expected so much more of the afterlife, for that must be where she was. Though she could not remember dying, that had to be what had happened. If she concentrated, she could summon a vague memory of the Tower of Bones piercing the sky and strange sanguine light.
Dead. Damn it, Mim. How could you be dead? How could you leave the others there alone to fight the evil of this world without you? Guilt wrapped its icy fingers around her soul and she wished she had a throat so she could scream. With a wry chuckle, she realized she wished many things.
She wished she had been more faithful; so that she could be romping over verdant meadows with her childhood companion, a massive spotted deerhound she called Speck.
She wished she had been a better friend to Kenzi, who for all her brash sexuality and sneaky ways, seemed to Mim to be a bit of a lost, lonely little girl, and to Anajalihn, whose occasional coldness concealed a warm and witty personality.
She wished she had spoken more often to Trick, whose utter nonchalance often irritated her but whose easy-going nature might have eventually rubbed off on her. She wished she had not let Eric’s elegant manners distract her from his loyal heart and freely offered friendship.
She wished she had learned more of Tuanar’s bow skills or Grue’s rapid pins. She wished she had not let Aiden walk off with that murderous bitch. She even wished Stoney and Durgon had not departed their company so soon.
Mim would have clenched her fist, had she been possessed of one.
She wished, more fervently than anything, that she had not been so apathetic of the evil that had crossed her path. If ever I get the opportunity, I will put my sword to work. Starting with Mazul, if he lives, and then… I’ll slice down every last rotten apple on my blighted family tree.
A strange sensation took hold of her, the inky blackness of the void swelling with color; lurid violet and bloody scarlet, building to a screaming yellow and searing orange, lightening and brightening rapidly toward a hot, white climax.
Somehow, despite the disorienting barrage of riotous hues, Mim’s mind had never been clearer. A truth had revealed itself to her in the depths of oblivion. All these years, she had been doing it wrong. Tolerating depravity, ignoring wickedness, overlooking the corrupt hearts upon her path.
Apathy to evil is equal to reveling in darkness myself. And if I someday walk upon the Earth again, I will not make the mistake of apathy ever again. I’ll put my blade to work setting right all the wrongs I can find.
I will earn my place in the afterlife. I will play tug with Speck again. I will…
Mim’s eyes popped open and she winced against the brightness. She turned her head, resting her cheek against the cool marble tile. It was glorious, feeling something, anything, again. As her eyes adjusted, she noticed that she was not the only fallen combatant.
The wizard lay nearby, a rumpled heap of gore. Squinting, Mim realized that his head was missing. She let her fingers fall upon her throat, brow furrowing though she could not quite remember why it disturbed her. With a sigh, she turned her gaze the other direction. Mazul lay sprawled upon the floor, blood pooling around his head. A grievous wound had been dealt to him; his skull was nearly cleaved in two. Relief flooded her body.
Mazul is dead, she thought, tears filling her eyes. That’s one down. But I have a dozen still to go…
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Note: Featured Image, “tree has roots”, by Jaz1111 from SXC.hu