April 8, 2001
The Face of Darkness - By Ortez
As we approached the gates of DeRah I looked around and decided my
brother was right, this place didnít seem so terrible. He knew what I was
thinking, and gave me a reassuring nudge. We walked through the rusty
steel doors and found ourselves in a very cozy looking, small town.
"Did Dad say to give that document to the Mayor?" I asked gesturing to
the parchment sticking out of my brotherís backpack.
"Yeah, he said it was important too," answered my brother. He shrugged
non-committedly and I felt the same.
Just beyond the gates we saw the townís fountain. It was quite small,
and cracked in a number of places, but seemed to be gurgling out plenty
of water. It seemed as if it had been standing here for a lot longer
than the town. We walked a bit more and had little trouble finding the
Mayorís house - it was the biggest house in the whole town. The Mayor of
the town was a nervous looking man in his late forties with a bald
head. He beckoned for us to enter his home and sit down on the chairs
"You do not seem to be from around here," he said looking us up and
"Weíre not, we have a document for you from our father," said my
brother. Trying to get this over with he shoved the parchment into the
Mayorís hand. The happiness in his face was unmistakable as he read whatever
was written in the document.
"Thank you very much," said the mayor furiously pumping my brotherís
hand - and then mine - up and down.
We were used to running errands for our father and we were especially
uninterested in the reasons for them, so we made a quick exit from the
Mayorís office after being thanked a hundred times. I was still puzzled
as to why my father had insisted on sending both of us to deliver a
simple document when my brother stopped and gave me an evil smile. This
smile had got us in trouble throughout our teenage years because it meant
he was thinking of doing something crazy.
"Why donít we explore a bit before we leave?" he said, already running
for one of the few taverns he hadn't managed to visit on his adventures.
"Wait up!" I called after him. Out of breath I got to the door of the
tavern and went inside. An atmosphere of drunken cries and smoke from
cooking fires greeted me as I entered, feeling somewhat annoyed at my
"We really should get home," I said as I sat myself down at the table
he had picked out.
"Oh come on, letís just have one or two beers, then we go," he replied,
already signaling the barman.
"Ok fine, one or two, then we leave." I said propping my staff against
our table. After all, what was the hurry? A couple of drinks wouldn't
A few hours later, our tiny table was covered in an assortment of
alcoholic beverages and I was hard pressed to find a dry spot to rest my
head in as we had spilled a lot more of the booze then we had drunk.
"How many... erm... drinks did we er, oh yes, how many drinks did we
agree on?" I slurred, looking at my brotherís distorted image through the
bottom of my empty glass. A warm feeling ran through my body as I
managed an awfully sedated expression.
My brother scratched his head and shrugged, trying to figure out which
end of the glass he had to pour into his mouth. At that moment
everything went dark and I think I fainted.
The sound of breaking glass awoke me, we were still at the bar and I
had fallen asleep somehow with my face in a large pool of beer. I glanced
around and noticed I had created a little bit of space on the table by
knocking over all the glasses. I blinked and rubbed my head, feeling
the alcohol tingling in my blood - but I was sobered up quickly by my
brotherís scream. I whipped my head around to notice the bartender. I had
thought of him as a pretty decent man while he was talking to us earlier
but now he looked horribly disfigured. His whole face had taken on a
demon-like appearance and he was bent over the body of my brother which
was slumped on the floor nearby. I grabbed my staff and raised it into
the air and chanted ĎIn Vas Graví. I brought the hammer of faith down
onto the bartender - for an instant I felt the blood-chilling evil inside
him, then he fell to the floor in a lifeless heap.
I frantically looked around but there seemed to be nothing else in the
tavern except my brother, the corpse of a horrible bartender and I.
Rushing over to my fallen brother I frantically searched him for signs of
life - I felt only a light breath as I pressed my ear against his open
mouth. I focused my healing energy at my brother and managed to get him
back before death had a grasp on him. An overwhelming feeling of
dizziness swept over me, but when I recovered the sight of my brother, whole
and hearty, greeted me. Somewhat weakened but breathing. He moaned and
slowly got to his feet.
"What the hell was that thing?" he asked, his voice more shaky then I
had ever heard.
"I have no idea, seems like that bartender had one too many
firebreathers," I replied trying to add humor to the situation - it had not
worked. He gave me an ugly look and took his bloodied blade from the floor.
"Ok, now can we get out of here?" I asked, sounding like a worried
"Please, lets," replied my brother, agreeing with me for the first
time since I could remember.
The night air was cool as we ran out of the tavern, but I didnít notice
because of what I saw as we came out. The small town was desecrated, it
had seemed all cozy that morning but now I felt like we were in some
"Where... where are we?" asked my brother grimacing as he sniffed the
night air. Suddenly he froze, gaping open-mouthed at the sky.
I followed his stare into the sky. It was the moon he was looking at
and not the moon I was used to. It was the color of blood. A horrible
"Iím not sure where we are - all I know is we are very far from home,"
I said whimpering slightly. I could smell burning in the air and I
sensed an evil presence hiding in every shadow.
"Quick!" snapped my brother. "Get us out of here."
Wanting to argue very little I raised my hands into the air and chanted
ĎVas Ex Porí. Nothing happened. I tried again, concentrating on the
little gate outside of our home that I knew so well, but we were still
standing in that awful town.
I frowned and shook my head at my brother. He snorted and peered
around. Suddenly, off in the distance, the frightening howls of wolves could
be heard. We had no choice; we had to go somewhere, so we started
walking very quietly. We had only gone a few paces when I stumbled over
something - it was a humanoid wolf's corpse! I bent over and examined it
It was very reminiscent of the townís people we had seen that morning -
the body had on bits of bloodied clothing that looked like the style of
dress around here, but were now on the back of a beast that once had
evil in its blood. The werewolf had claw marks running across its face, a
lot deeper then any normal animal could make.
"What do you think killed it?" I asked as my brother knelt down beside
"Seems like it was clawed to death by something, but what?" his answer
hung in the night air - just like that awful moon. "More of them?" he
I was overcome by a sense of panic, but I didnít let it show, my
brother had always been the brave one.
The fountain we had passed some hours ago was clearly visible in the
distance, illuminated by the ruddy light from the moon. No longer was the
clear water flowing, instead it was spurting a thick, dark liquid that
splattered and oozed rather than flowed. It was a dark night but I
could see it in the glow from the moon, a faint light that also illuminated
a frail woman standing beside the fountain. A pair of werewolves that
resembled the corpse we had found were at her feet, looking around as if
they sought something..
"Look over there," whispered my brother, gesturing to the woman.
"I see her," I whispered back. "Should we go talk to her? Maybe she
knows how to get out of here"
"Oh very clever," snapped my brother. "Itís night and the woman has
wolves running around her, we might as well wave to her and tell her weíre
"So what do you suggest we do?" I asked getting a little frustrated.
"Do you remember how we got into the town this morning?" he asked
brushing his sweat-covered hair out of his eyes.
"Yes, the gate just beyond those tour guides," I said gesturing to the
woman and her werewolves.
"Looks like we have no choice, then," he whispered grimly. "We have to
take them out - I canít see any other way to the gate." He drew his
flaming blade which had burned away all the traces of the blood from his
"Now wait just a minute, youíre sure there isnít a better way?" I said,
feeling that fighting werewolves and old women in a bizarre dimension
should be put off until further notice.
"You obviously didnít try to reason with the bartender after he mutated
into... into that thing. I had, and believe me it didnít work," he
said, shivering slightly. I knew this was an argument I could not win.
We began to creep silently towards the growling werewolves; the
adrenaline pumping through my bloodstream was making me twitchy and my staff
rattled in my shaky fingers.
"Would you stop that?" asked my brother finally, irritated by my
"Weíre about to go up against crazed werewolves and some old lady who
looks like she hasnít had a happy thought in decades, excuse me if Iím a
little nervous," I replied setting my staff down and wiping the sweat
off my palms.
"Just try to keep it down," mumbled my brother, obviously concentrating on
Creeping silently, sticking to the shadows created by the houses on
either side of the narrow street, we made slow progress because I had to
check every now and again that my staff had not slipped out of my sweaty
fingers. We were pretty close to the werewolves now and I could just
see the sharp claws on their paws and their spiky blood-stained fur. They
seemed to be frantically sniffing the night air, I prayed they could
not smell us. Our objective neared and I could feel my pulse racing in my
throat. I glanced over at my brother who seemed to be completely calm
and was actually sharpening his weapon with a special rock that he had
had ever since I could remember. When we were about twenty yards short I
raised my staff into the air and created an aura of holy light around
"Hey!" he snapped. "Donít make that stuff too bright, I feel like a
"Sorry," I muttered and reduced his unearthly glow a bit.
The next part would be the most difficult because we had no cover. I
knelt in the shadows while my brother sneaked towards the werewolf
because I might alert the woman to our presence. Using skills that I could
only hope to one day understand, my brother crept up behind one of the
werewolves without being heard. He leapt at the werewolfís back with his
flaming blade but the wolf had smelt him and whipped its head round
revealing snarling incisors. My brother fell short - missing his target by
inches. The werewolf growled dangerously and lunged at my brother with
a clawed paw striking him on the side of the head, I saw a faint
trickle of blood escape and run down his ear. He ignored the pain and caught
the werewolf in the solar plexus with such a massive kick that I felt
the ground tremble slightly under my feet. Grinning wickedly my brother
plunged his blade into the werewolfís stomach and removed it with a
horrible "shwweth" sound.
I heard a low whimpering - and then the werewolf collapsed to the
ground. My brother had not noticed the second werewolf sneak up behind him,
but I had. Reacting in split seconds I chanted ĎBan Vas Corpí and a
black aura started spinning about my body. The werewolf lunged at my
brotherís neck with drooling fangs, but was melted in an instant by my bolt
of magical energy before teeth could meet flesh. Whipping his head
round, my brother noticed my silly grin and was thankful for it. He sneaked
back into the shadows from where I had been watching and sat down
"Nice kick, you really think he deserved that?" I said, examining his
brimstone boots for traces of blood and fur.
"Yes, he ruined the hair over here, the bastard!" he said pointing to a
small break of bloodied flesh above his ear.
I examined the cut and recited a minor healing spell, watching in
approval as the wound healed up.
"Thanks, hope you got a lot more where that came from, because I think
I hear a frail old woman coming up behind us," he said leaping to his
feet and landing in a combat stance.
I cocked my head around to look in the direction he was now facing and
saw the demonic glow in the womanís eyes. She was wearing a gown of
crumbling animal fur, she clasped a staff with a silver wolf engraved on
it and I could see the aged skin on the corners of her mouth.
The woman pointed a withered finger directly at me "How could they kill
a defenseless old woman? How could they?" she said, spitting out the
last syllable. She didn't seem to be too sane, matching the warped town
Suddenly she began chanting magical phrases that I had only heard in my
most secret magical training. A massive shockwave struck me in the
chest and toppled me over. I felt pain ricochet through every bone of my
body. I was stunned momentarily but my brother was not - he leapt forward
and slashed at the woman boldly. She dodged all his attacks and sent
another crushing shockwave at him. He toppled to the ground a yard from
where I was.
"What the hell are you looking at me like that for?" he shouted
dragging me to my feet. "Run!"
We fled from the woman running blindly down the street, every footstep
echoing in the silent night air. We turned a corner and leapt into the
shadows created by an abandoned old house a few moments later. We
collapsed to the ground panting loudly. My brother gently felt the area
where the shockwave had struck him and moaned as quietly as he could. I had
been so oblivious to everything during the run that I only now felt the
pain from the blast I had received.
"What the hell was that? Please tell me you know that spell," he
groaned feeling himself for broken ribs. I knew the spell but it left me
heavily drained the first time I used it.
"Itís a very new spell for me, Iím sorry, I donít think I could focus
enough to actually cast it," I said, seeing the disappointment in his
I heard a small footstep echo only a couple of yards from where we had
slumped down into the cold pavement. I glanced over at my brother and
saw the panic in his eyes.
"Donít worry my pretties, I will ensure your death is as painful as
possible," came the frail voice a few feet short of where we were hiding.
The voice startled me and I nearly swallowed my tongue. My pulse raced
as I felt a wave of nausea sweep over me, drawn out by panic.
"Your bones will make fine treats for my wolves, they love the taste of
humans," came the voice - closer this time.
I noticed my brother raise his head as if he was going to give her a
real mouthful of a soldier's best curses, but then he lowered it,
deciding he should keep his mouth shut. Aggravating this woman further
wouldn't be of any use.
Finding my feet I got up slowly, I looked over at my brother and gave
him a nod. The only time we ever nodded at each other like that was when
we were in serious trouble and we knew we had to face up to it. I
remember my brother had nodded this way the day we were being stalked by
zombies in that awful graveyard so many years ago.
My brother caught my nod and jumped to his feet, he brought out his
dried zombieís head from the backpack; he seemed to draw courage from it
and it served as a reminder of the day we had triumphed over the
"Come and get it you hag!" he taunted. For an instant the night air
seemed to become deathly silent. I could hear my short, shallow breathing
and then the sound of rock being demolished and metal being twisted
swept over us. The building against which we had been leaning lay in fine
particles of dust and bits of metal all around us - shattered by
We heard a slight cough and turned to face the leering woman. My staff
nearly slipped from my trembling hands as I raised it into the air. I
uttered the familiar prayer and a shimmering ghostly warhammer appeared
above my head - I concentrated deeply and gasped for breath as I felt
some magical energy drain into the hammer, I slammed the hammer down onto
the woman and I saw her drop to one knee from the force of the blow.
She quickly recovered and began to chant. I felt the magical energy in
the air drain into her staff as she raised her hands to send a nasty
spell at me, but she was cut short as my brother charged his shoulder
into her back - he had used my diversion as a way to sneak up behind the
woman. She slammed into the floor almost losing grip of her own staff.
"Imbeciles, youíre no match for me," she shouted with a slight crackle
in her voice. Once again I saw her staff come up, but this time the
spell was less complex, I had no time to react before the shockwave struck
me in the chest. I was thrown backwards and I felt my skull cracking
open as my head struck the wall of a house. I was only conscious long
enough to see a zombieís head roll and stop in front of me before giving
way to the evil claws of death. I only wish my brother had used his head
instead of a zombieís.
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