Rhiallis: The Canyon

      Today’s snippet, titled “The Canyon”, is a piece I wrote about my PC in Mark’s new (Good) Pathfinder Campaign.
      Be forewarned, there may be mature themes and naughty language below.
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      “It’s late,” Rhiallis said, “Not too long until midnight.”
      “How can you even tell out here?” Miranda glanced back at her.
      She did not answer. There was no answer. She just knew.
      There’s something ahead, came Sadie’s voice in her head. A canyon or something. Everyone watch their step, okay?
      “Okay,” Ezekiel said aloud.
      “Whisper,” Aimsley said, springing forward to match his step. “We’ll all hear if you whisper.”
      The spell enabled them to hear each other over great distances. It had saved lives in the past and would likely do so again. It was a convenience. Rhiallis glanced over her shoulder and Tom Parris, then ahead at the others’ backs. It allowed them to spread out upon the wasteland, walking in a less tight formation than they otherwise might. Sadie scouting ahead, as was her wont, Tom Parris – with his mighty bow – in the rear. Ezekiel leading the middle of the pack, then Miranda and Aimsley, with Rhiallis behind them. There was no effort made to conceal their presence, no attempt at stealth from the party; two paladins in heavy armor and a cleric in mail made too much noise for that.
      Still, silent as a snake, Sadie slipped into the shadows and sneaked further ahead.
      Its a big one – huge. Probably a mile wide, maybe more. I can’t tell exactly – its so dark. Can you see it yet, Rhiallis?
      Rhiallis whispered back. Just. Far as I can see either direction. We’ll need to go around, or fly across.
      Nah. Sadie stepped out of the shadows, shaking her head. Let’s just go to the bottom and cross on foot. There’s no way to know how far around we’d have to go.
      Aimsley volunteered to cast another spell – Dimension Door – and promised that it did not share the same amount of risk as her Teleport had had. Rhiallis got nauseous just thinking about it and stepped away from her friends.
      “I’ll meet you down there.”
      Rhiallis hoped her elven friend was not offended by her reluctance.
      As the other five joined hands and Aimsley began to encant, Rhiallis stretched her wings. It was a glorious feeling, the tendons warming for some exercise. They were still sore, honestly, from the airborne battle earlier, but they craved the sky like a desert blossom craved the rain.
      One moment, the five stood with her on the ledge. The next, they were gone – presumably on the canyon’s floor some two hundred feet down. Rhiallis closed her eyes and leapt.
      Feathers, cascading from a rich golden to a pale champagne, curled around her as she plummeted down. She did not count the seconds or estimate the feet travelled, luxuriating in the weightless sensation.
      Then the screams began.
      She was less than half-way down she splayed out her wings and stopped with a stomach-churning lurch. Her eyes, keen as they were even in utter darkness, could not pierce the veil at the bottom of the canyon.
      TICKS! Someone shouted into the Message spell. Oh Gods!
      Rhiallis’ heart skipped a beat; that cry of pain she recognized instantly. Aimsley was in trouble again. I can’t see! I can’t see anything – what’s going on?
      This time it was Ezekiel’s voice in her head. Rhiallis! STOP! There’s no one left down there!
      TICKS again! Sadie’s cry echoed painfully. We’re at the top!
      Rhiallis whipped her head up, peering at the ledge, more than a hundred feet above her. She could not see her friends, but she had to believe they were there. Grunting with effort, she pushed away from the canyon wall. Something crunched beneath her boot and as she angled her way up, Rhiallis gasped. Horror filled her stomach.
      “Balor’s Balls! They’re climbing up the walls!” she cried, the sheer disgust rising like bile in her throat. “I’m coming. I’m coming!”
      Her mind raced as she flew toward the ledge, moving up in cumbersome zig-zags. She had very little in her repertoire that would kill the multitude of fist-sized ticks. But Sadie had Mira’s Wand of Fireballs in her possession and Rhiallis knew the two of them could trade it off over and over, blasting those blood-sucking insects back to the hell from which they came.
      She could hear the chaos above and pushed herself harder. It could not have been more than twenty seconds and yet it felt as if hours had passed. Rhiallis heard someone cheering Sadie on – the halfling had done something heroic by the sound of it, but Rhiallis could not be sure what – and then someone else screaming that the ticks were still coming.
      NO! Aimsley!
      Rhiallis flapped her wings once more, powerfully, and rose above the ledge at last. Her golden eyes scanned the horizon. She felt her heart sink.
      We are so fucked.

– – – – – – – – – – –
Signed, Josie
Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me

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