"Th..th..this isn't f..f..fun anymore!" Shura said, teeth chattering, "I've got the t..t..t..torch and I'm still c..c..cold! "Fun! Who in the Nine Hells said it was going to be fun?!", Yokumo retorted slowly, keeping his own teeth from chattering. We're going into an ancient egg stack, that the Prince of the Coven wants cleared out. He wants us to make sure that when he tears it down, he doesn't anger some evil spirits or something. Whoever thought this would be fun? I'm doing it for my share of the 1million gold coins he be offerin' us!" Shura turned to look at the burly red headed warrior. Only a shadow such as the ones being cast in this darkness filled catacombs, could diminish the sight that was Yokumo. A huge man standing nearly the length of a decent spear, and almost half that across, Yokumo was a formidable fighter. Standing in his plated armor and, ablazened in weapons, he was nearly a one man army! With more muscles than the rest of the party combined and a sword almost longer than Shura's full stature, Shura was glad Yokumo was on his side. "B..b..but you know m..me, I'm always looking for f..fun! I can't stand a boring adventure!" This time it was Yokumo's turn to stop and look at Shura. A small diminutive looking man, Shura was said to have elven blood in him, though you couldn't tell by looking. And if confronted about it he would flatly deny it. A wise choice considering the recent troubles the people of their land had with the elves of a nearby forest. Shura was a true adventurer, prepared for anything and extremely handy. "Boring! Hah, I could walk this whole blasted place and not encounter a thing, and be perfectly happy!" "That's because you're boring", came a whispered reply from behind Yokumo. At this, even Yokumo's nerves were tested as he attempted to hide a jump of surprise by twisting around quickly to face the speaker. "How many times have I told you NOT to do that!" growled Yokumo, talking to the darkness. "One of these days I'm going to take your head off!" "You have to find me first", stated the speaker, coming forth from the shadows. "Something you can't do." "If it means I get to squeeze the life out of you..believe me I'll find you!" Yokumo fingered the hilt of a dagger at his side. "Come now such violent behavior...you really should see someone about that!" Mokuro hissed sarcastically. "It's only going to come back and haunt you, you know." Yokumo looked the stealthy thief over with a blood lust in his eyes... looking for a spot he could get a hold of and throttle the little bastard. "Just mind your own business thief or I'll shove those sticky hands of yours down your throat!" With a dextrous twist of his body, impossible for anybody else to do in the black leather armor, Mokuro pulled a jet black stilletto from his boot and ended up behind the fighter with the knife pointed at the warrior's back. "As I said, you have to catch me first," Mokuro smirked. A heart beat after the rogue spoke, the hilt of the knife became impossibly hot. Attempting to maintain his advantage he held on but only for a moment as the heat began to work it's way through his glove. Finally he had to drop it and grunt in pain. "Very funny Frieza, now please cool it off." Mokuro asked of the gray robed wizard approaching from farther down the hall. "And mind your own affairs from now on!" The magician came into the torch light and Mokuro could see the pleased smile on Frieza's face, despite the flowing brown beard and bushy eyebrows. The light glinted of the platinum ornament atop the mage's staff, and threw more strange shadows around the place. "I'm sure I don't know what you are talking about" stated the mage, with the same smile. "But if you all don't quit this nonsense and continue our journey, I'll turn you all into crickets and carry you in my pouches. The incescant noise of a cricket would be preferable to this aimless prattle." "I agree" came a sweet musical voice from behind the mage. "We are getting nowhere" Chiqui said scaldingly, "I must be back at my temple in three days for our holy mass. So let's go" she said pointing a finger down the tunnel. The rest of the party turned to look at the honey haired priest they had recruited for the trip. She wore a few pieces of chain armor over a padded red robe, and a large silver medallion around her neck. Etched in the silver was a carving of a large silver dragon, the favored appearance of her god Vryce; the God of Conquest and Adventure. A hefty mace was slung over her shoulder next to a black backpack. Her light blue eyes sparkled in the light as she said, "Lead the way Shura." As Yokumo turned to continue along side Shura, he said under his breath, "Great now we have a cleric girl giving orders." "I don't know, but I think later we may be glad we have her." Shura said equally as quiet.
"Mmm hmm...whatever" Yokumo muttered, as the thief picked up his knife and the rest followed behind.
Sometime later and two flights of stairs farther down, the party came upon a stream flowing across their path. A dark, cold, murky water, nothing could be seen in it. Across the stream, their current tunnel ran farther into the darkness. "I knew this was coming," stated Mokuro. "I could hear it several minutes ago." "And you didn't bother to tell us?!" Frieza said, feigning surprise. "A shock to be sure!" "Well...do we go across?" Yokumo asked to the rest of the party. The horrified looks on the others' faces told him that it was not their first choice. "Lead the way ...oh fearless leader" Mokuro teased with a wave of his hand towards the water. "Are you sure that's wise Mokuro?" asked Chiqui. "I mean we don't know how deep it gets." "I'll check. Here tie this rope around me and haul me back in if it gets to deep" Yokumo said, pulling a small cord from his pack. The party held on to the rope as Yokumo slowly waded into the water. A small moan of displeasure told the rest of the party that indeed the water was as cold as they had feared. Several steps later Yokumo sank suddenly to his knees in the water. He stumbled but continued on. As he was about half way across the water and waist deep, Chiqui got a feeling. A feeling that made her spine shrivel and shiver. The hair stood on the back of her neck. Nausea crept into her stomach and dizziness assaulted her head. Nearly falling, she was steadied by the right arm of Frieza. "Easy dear. What ails you?" asked Frieza tenderly. "I don't know" Chiqui said weakly. "I feel...odd." She steadied herself and stood on her own. "I'll be fine. Thanks." Just then a loud roar came from the water, and then was cut off by a gurgling sound. The party turned their attention from the cleric to the water and found that Yokumo was gone. Shura immediately began tugging on the rope, and the others followed suit. When their backs were into it, the rope suddenly snapped free and sent the companions reeling.
Shura recovered and yanked the rope free of the water. He inspected the end and found it to be severed clean. "Yokumo!" he yelled. "Yokumo!" No reply. He then dove into the water and dissapeared. Mokuro unhitched a bow from his back and notched an arrow. Frieza pulled a scroll from his robe and unfurled it. Chiqui clutched her mace and proceeded to the edge of the water. Several moments passed and no sign of the two warriors became apparent. Then a huge splash erupted from the water. A foam of gray surrounded the splash as it carreened back into the stream. It seemed as though all the water had settled and yet there was still a shimmering there. A sort of standing reflection. A vertical glimmer of the water itself. Then, it began to move, a slow shifting or gliding along the water's surface. It lifted an appendage out of the water and Shura was on the other end. Frieza and the others did not need the torch he held, to see that Shura was impossibly pale, with a touch of blue amidst his face. They could also tell he wasn't breathing.
The water thing hurled Shura's body to the companions side of the stream. It came crashing down next to Chiqui's boot and she jumped in horror. At the impact, Shura coughed hard and spewed water from his mouth. He then began taking raspy breaths, but was still unconscious. Chiqui bent to attend to the fallen warrior, while Mokuro let go his arrow. It sailed straight and true into the darkness...and then sped right through the water creature. Clanking against the wall on the other side of the stream.
"Oh, well, THAT worked!" Mokuro hissed. "Your turn , oh wonderous mage" Mokuro bowed and waved his hand toward the water thing,. "Stand back!" Frieza instructed. And with that he began to chant the words on the scroll, while doing some sort of motion with his free hand. After a few moments of this, Frieza closed his hand , dropped the scroll and pointed at the creature. A brilliant ball of flame, nearly two feet in diameter lept from the casters finger and shot straight at the creature. In a blink of an eye, the fire ball slammed into the water creature and sent streams of fire and water in all directions. A brillant explosion rocked the stone walls and lit up everything in a 100 yard radius. Water splashed everywhere and then....... it was over. The light died, the water settled and the fire extinguished. The creature was nowhere to be seen. Frieza watched all this and then slumped to the ground, drained. Mokuro began to inspect the water for either Yokumo or the creature. Chiqui went back to attending to the still unconscious Shura. Much was yet to be done before victory could celebrated.
Yokumo was alive. He wasn't sure how or why, but he was definately alive. He could tell by the pain in his shoulder and the numbness in his legs. His eyes were open; at least he thought they were. It was so blasted dark it was hard to tell. He felt around himself and discovered damp earth, he could also hear the water splashing against his legs. He had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there. The last thing he remembered was walking across the stream and being dragged under the water by an impossibly strong force. After being dragged under he was blinded by the dark water. The numbness in his legs set in not long after that. Pure, absolute, cold, surrounded him and not just from the water. It came from the force that dragged him under. Then a fiery pain shot down his arm starting from his shoulder. He remembered trying to reach the surface so he could breathe, but he was being held by his legs. His last memory was of a calm. A calm that only comes with the knowledge that you are dying and there is nothing you can do about it. The water was calm, he was calm, everything. Then a loud splash, under the water. It came from far away. Then the force just seemed to let him go. And then the calm returned, along with the feeling of drifting....... The next thing he knew, he was here. Wherever here, was. Cold, numb, pained, and blind...but alive. His first thought was to find his companions. They would help him he knew. They would heal him and watch over him. After a few unsuccessful tries, Yokumo finally propped himself up against a near wall. The wall was cold and damp, just like the ground, and just like him. Fumbling for his sword, he finally pulled it from it's snug sheath and held it in front of himself. Lot of good this will do me, he thought, feeling the cold steel in his hands. I can't even walk on my feet, or see where I am going. Oh well it just feels good to know that I may be able to fight if I need to. Even if just a little. He then proceeded to feel his way along the wall. Stumbling along and holding his sword in front of him, to ward off any danger.
Shura was finally conscious. After nearly an hour of praying and worrying, Chiqui saw him open his eyes. He gazed around groggily for a moment and then recognized the beautiful priest hovering above him. "Never thought I'd see you again" Shura coughed. "I knew I was going to die." "How have you gotten around this long, with an attitude like that?" Chiqui smiled at him. "Even though you did nearly drown." "I can't move my left arm and my face is numb" he stammered. "Alright, give it to me. And be truthful Chiqui." "Well" she started. "Your left arm is probably broken. Mokuro is off looking for something to splint it with. And as for your face, well it is awfully blue, but I don't know why. The frigid water I guess." "Do we have a blanket or something? I'm really co..." And then he was interrupted, by a loud crashing of water. A sound they had heard once before. Chiqui turned to see the water creature towering above her, flailing it's appendages. She screamed and dove to cover Shura's prone form. The creature bent low to get at her but was interrupted by a blunt staff swinging through it's torso. Frieza then reared back for another swing, and began to bring his weapon down on the creature's "head", when the creature spat at him. A large stream of water emanated from the creatures "head", and struck Frieza full in the chest. The blast sent the mage careening off into the tunnel with a scream. He landed out of Chiqui's sight. As she rolled Shura away, she turned to see the creature bearing down on her again. It reached out with an appendage and grabbed her right leg, tripping her. She fell hard to the ground, and it knocked the wind from her. A black haze crept over her vision as she could feel the numbness Shura had spoke of, now creeping into both her legs. She knew she was dead if see did not do something, but what? She had dropped her mace when she had covered Shura's body. She could hear Shura next to her screaming for Mokuro. His words becoming more faint with every word. She knew spells but what good would they do against this thing?!? She fumbled around in her mind for an answer as the numbness crept up into her thighs. The black haze clouded more of her vision until only her mind's eye still saw. And it saw Vryce. The great silver dragon rearing it's head back to let go a roar that would send all it's enemies retreating in terror. A roar that she would send back to him, her great god, signalling her undying faith in him, That would be her last action. Her last breath in this life. Chiqui then sucked in a huge breath past the numbness in her chest and let go a scream that could have been heard in the realm of the gods. And today....it was. As the last wisp of breath passed her lips, Chiqui felt a warmth all around her. An unseen blanket against the cold and numbness. A warmth that gently soothed her into the blackness....
Mokuro heard the screaming. It was undoubtedly Shura's voice, screaming his name. A scream that carried pain and horror to Mokuro's ears. On the good side, Shura was awake. On the other hand , what was he screaming about? Without another thought, Mokuro shot off down the tunnrl, running to his partie's rescue. The flame on the torch he held almost extinguished with the rush of air that was his flight. In mid stride he pulled a short, featureless sword from a black scabbard at his side, and held it firmly in his left hand. The screaming continued but was getting more faint. As he rounded the last bend in the tunnel, and came out into the stream's cavern, he saw it. The creature was back. And it was engaged in battle with the mage. But before he could react, the mage was suddenly hurtling through the air right at him. Mokuro's small stature could never hope to catch the mage, so he decided to soften the wizard's landing. In one deft movement, the rogue dropped his sword and the torch, and took up a defensive position. He threw some of his weight forward just as the mage slammed into him and they both hit the ground behind him with a wet thud. Once Mokuro recovered his bearings and moved the unconscious mage off to the side, he made his way unsteadily to his feet. He then stumbled to the cavern entrance again, in time to hear Chiqui start an unbelievable scream. "Dasmasiaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!" The scream nearly rocked Mokuro off his unsteady legs, but he regained his balance when he saw what happened next. A blinging white and red light shot forth from the medallion around Chiqui's neck. It seared the eyes, but warmed the body. Even at the distance Mokuro was watching from. It also ripped into the water creature like a ravenous animal rips into it's dinner. Water splashed in all directions and the thing howled. An unearthly, distant sounding howl that told of centuries of torment, to all who would listen. The creature's sorrowful story was interrupted, by the light. It consumed the creature until nothing but the blinding light could be seen. It grew brighter and brighter until...it vanished. As quickly as it had come, the light was gone. And so was the water creature. Now of course, Mokuro never took anything for granted, but somehow he knew, the creature was not coming back this time. But were his friends coming back? As nearly as he could tell, at this moment. All three of his companions were unconscious. Mokuro believed, that with his help, the mage had avoided serious injury, but had obviously been knocked out. Chiqui had been attacked by the monster and undoubtedly was badly injured. An even if Shura awoke once again, he would be of little help to the situation. And Yokumo was gone. Dead or just lost was impossible to tell. Either way, he had to help the party members that were here first, and then go find Yokumo....