We had been traveling through the wildlands for quite sometime when we came across a large city. The tarnished and crumbling stone walls were a sad sight. I could see the beauty of their previous glory, but now it was more amazing that they still stood. The walls brought visions flashing back to me. I shook them off, knowing we must continue on.
There was a moment of deterrence from all of us. This city was massive, and the rifts within her were ever weakening. To travel through the city was extremely risky. Only Kuran could know how many demons called this place home, and with the rifts so thin one could easily turn into a dozen. Walking around the city would take days more. I looked to Brownie, knowing she did not wish to be away from her community any longer than she already had. There was no choice but to go through.
As we walked past the walls I couldn’t help but take a closer look. I placed my hand along the wall running my fingers along it’s intricate design, or at least what was left of it. Seeing and touching the walls made me feel younger. They took me back to when I was only 20 years old, fresh to the world of an adventurer.
“Nadina. Focus on the task at hand. We don’t have time for fancy architecture.” Zannan always was one to be about business and nothing else. He never took that moment to take in his surroundings and enjoy the little sites. For me that’s what adventuring was. Seeing the world and all the things she had to offer. You would think a man in such beautiful, intricate, and shimmering full plate would understand such desires, but alas he never was.
We marched through the city in search of some ancient relic. I didn’t know exactly what it was to be honest. Zannan had always handled those details. I was more or less along for the ride. He needed extra protection and I needed money to live on. Not to mention that all too often his share of the cash went into his blacksmithing business which kept my father’s blade sharp as it ever was and my armor always free from damage. It was a perfect business transaction. Thinking back on it, I should have paid more attention to him in the shop.
I couldn’t help but admire the ruins that were all around us. I often felt that if I closed my eyes, I could restore them to their former beauty. The marble fountain shooting out fresh spring water as the children dove in to cool off. Their parents rushing towards them and embarrassingly dragging the children back into their sandstone homes. It at least could bring a smile, which is not to be said for the blackened and crumbling remnants left behind.
Zannan raised a hand back towards me and I stopped in my tracks. “This is the building. Only Kuran knows how many are waiting inside for us. How are the rifts looking.” Even then it was my specialty. ‘Keep a hold on the rifts and you keep a hold on your life’, he always said.
I was young. My skills were weak. “They look stable.”
“Good. Then this shouldn’t take long at all. We get in, we get the relic, and we get out. Killing demons is a necessity only to get the relic. Once we have it we run. They won’t follow far outside of the city.” He voice was powerful and confident. I always felt safe around him; knowing that he never went into a situation without knowing every factor.
The house was massive. It was clearly the home of some great house. I could see the halls and chambers frequented with nobleman and children. My visions made the silence that much more ominous. Sometimes I wished I could stop imagining the beauty in everything. I was naive and childish even at 20 years of age. Still there are days I wish to regain that innocence.
We entered a large room which was once the master bedroom. Zannan began tapping at the walls, looking for the loose stone. His tapping rang through my ears, but there was more to be heard. Amidst his taps were the sounds of some deep breathing like an overweight gentleman desperately in need of a sit. I closed my eyes trying to capture the sound and attune myself to it’s location. Zannan stopped tapping against the wall, I couldn’t tell whether it was for my benefit or because he had found the hidden spot.
The unnatural sound continued and it was undoubtedly coming towards the door. Zannan placed his hand on my shoulder and my heart nearly leaped out of my chest. “Come now. We have what we came for.” He whispered into my ear softly, and I shook my head at him, pointing towards the door. “Then we leave out the window.” He grabbed at my arm, but I did not move. Lord how I wished I would have just moved.
“Let me get some training.”, I urged, “Their is only one and you know I can fight. If worse comes to worse we take the window still.” Reluctantly he stood beside me as the door began to swing open. Before it the creature could reveal itself I charged forward. My father’s blade slashed across flash as the demon was propelled back against the wall with magical force. It hit the wall with a sickening thud before slumping to the ground motionless.
Zannan approached behind me, observing my work. “You’re lucky it was a Dretch and nothing more. Come now. We must go before any others appear.” As we rushed out of the door the walls began to move around us as if with a life of their own. “Nadina. You said the rifts would hold!” I didn’t know what to say to him. I would have sworn they were powerful here, but I was ill-trained at the skill. “Come now. If we get free from the town we might free ourselves from the rift.”
He grabbed my hands and took off through the house. It was all I could do to keep up, and there were points I felt like he was going to drag me along the floor, but my footing somehow held up. Demons were waiting outside of the building. I don’t recall what demons they were but their faces were all equally hideous. Zannan paused only for a moment before releasing my hand and drawing his blade. “We fight through and keep running. And no magic!”
We charged out of the house, my mind overrun with fear. In the confusion of the battle I lost track of my mentor and found myself exhausted from fighting these monsters. I found myself fending for my life as I blocked blow after blow, frequently not knowing which creature I was defending against. A large sword came crashing down amidst the other blows. I raised my sword to block the hit and was sent tumbling to the ground. I looked up at the purest example of a demon I had ever seen. He raised his blade up and I fought to get to my feet, but I was far too weak.
The blade crashed against steel. Zannan. He always keeps me safe. “Come on.” He pulled me too my feet and we continued to run with the demons chasing behind us. I heard an occasional arrow fly by, but my vision never turned. We found our way back to the city gates and continued running even when past. Zannan spoke through hard breathes and grunts, “We must get good distance between us and the city.”
After running for what felt like over twenty minutes, I heard a loud crash behind me. I turned to see Zannan laying flat on his face. An arrow was sticking out from the small of his back. I rushed over to him to remove the arrow. It has pierced through the armor and into his flesh. He did not make a sound as I yanked out. I frantically turned him over, fearing the worst. His eyes were shut and I could see a large gash in the front of his armor and blood running down his leggings. And stayed with him for several hours after and made sure he had a proper burial.
“You okay Nana?” I cringed at the mention and pulled my fingers from the intricate stone design of the city gates.
“Yeah Brownie.” Just remembering. We continued into the city, my beautiful, intricate full plate shimmering in the light.