Medievia Mudslinger

December 30, 2000

Shadowclaw's Journey - by Clidor

Shadowclaw summoned his three advisors to his chamber. Kregora the High Priest, Calime the mage and Athugavia, war chief of Fortress Shadowclaw, bowed as they entered their master's chamber.

Shadowclaw bade them to arise. "My loyal subjects," he began. "This is outrageous! Less and less adventurers have been coming to my fortress! The rest of my soldiers are getting bored and are asking for a raise. Why, just today, Balur came to me THREE times to ask for a raise. I promised him more people will come to challenge him, but I fear this promise I will not be able to keep."

"Sir, can you please get to the point?" Kregora interrupted.

Shadowclaw, his face red with rage ignored him and said, "This is all Horneg's fault. They are all going to his castle. Even those puny adventurers who used to come here alone are taking it out at the cliffs around his keep. I WISH I COULD GO IN AND WRECK THAT PLACE!"

Athugavia laughed. "Sir, I don't mean to be disrespectful. But, sure, you can get up to his keep, kill the elmiabgas outside...err, those are kind of like dogs, only they have tentacles. But you will never stand a chance against his minions within, without some kind of magic."

Shadowclaw fumed. "Why..." He was lost for words.

Calime smiled. "Magic you said?" She lowered her voice. "I've know of creatures from the four elements residing in Castle Medievia. Ancient lore tells me that they sometimes carry stones of their respecting element. These stones, when combined with a spell can summon an elemental creature, capable of destruction. If I had some of these stones, I could summon these creatures to do our bidding."

"Excellent!" Shadowclaw cried out. "Come dawn, I shall leave for the City of Medievia! Athugavia, you shall come with me. I do not trust the scum who fill our ranks to support me properly."

As the sun rose on the horizon the next day, Shadowclaw and Athugavia met Calime and Kregora at the gates, dressed in journeymen's clothing. They mounted the fortress' finest steeds which were held by a pair of campaigners. Calime gave them several wands. "But these are made of glass." said Athugavia doubtfully.

Calime smiled. "And they will make you as transparent as them, I have a contact in Riverton who supplies me with some now and again. A lot of creatures of the wild cannot see the invisible, but beware of the serpent known as Banelar," Calime warned. She then gave them a scroll rolled up and tied in a red ribbon. "Should you find the need to return, or if your task is complete, recite the words within and it will transport you back here." With that she cast a spell, rendering them all invisible. Shadowclaw's journey began.

They rode with speed, following the road before them, leaving the fortress which was their home behind. They headed north and west towards the grand City of Medievia.

As they passed Horneg's Keep, Shadowclaw looked up and cursed at it. He saw a dragon land nearby and watched as its master dismount and enter the forest, making him curse even more so. Athugavia, knowing that he might become the target of Shadowclaw's fury, urged him forward eager to leave Horneg's Keep behind.

The rest of the day passed rather uneventfully and, as the sky darkened, they decided to stop and set up camp. Athugavia made a camp fire, and yelped as the tongue of the flame touched his thumb. Shadowclaw laid out some blankets on the ground to sleep on, he then yawned and ordered his war chief to stand guard, claiming that he would take the second watch. Athugavia knew that he would be standing watch the whole night but did not protest. They used the glass wands to keep themselves invisible throughout the night.

As Shadowclaw slept, Athugavia sat on a rock and watched his surroundings. The trees, the moon, grass.... Athugavia found himself dozing off.

He woke with a start to see it was dawn. He turned around and his heart beat a little slower, for Shadowclaw was still asleep. Their spell had worn off, but fortunately there were no creatures around, only a deer. Venison! Athugavia thought. He drank from his waterskin, then approached the deer carefully. He crept towards it, moving as quietly as possible, but the deer heard him and bounded away.

Later, Shadowclaw woke up. He stretched and looked, misty-eyed at Athugavia, who was preparing breakfast from trail rations. After performing some "wake-up routines", he sat down for breakfast. Then, they continued their journey.

Some leagues down the road, they saw a wagon covered with a white canvas pulled by a horse. It was moving along the road, which came to them as strange because these freights rarely move without being lead.

"Hail, strangers!" A voice boomed out.

Shadowclaw and Athugavia drew their weapons.

"Show yourself!"

They heard a laugh. "I see that you are invisible too."

Slowly, a horse shimmered into sight in front of the wagon. On it, sat a man dressed in shining armor. "Come join me, strangers. It would be nice to have company 'ere."

After they had joined the trader, he cast a spell, rendering them all invisible. As they continued along the road, the trader asked "What are your names, my fellow journeymen?"

"We prefer to remain nameless, my lord."

"Then, you may call me Nameless as well," said the trader.

They laughed.

"Where are you headed for, friend?" Shadowclaw asked.

"Riverton, to sell these goods in my wagon, and you?"

"We head to Castle Medievia, to seek the magic elemental stones within it. You wouldn't know anything about them, would you?"

The trader laughed. "About every adventurer to set foot in the city knows about them. If you seek the creatures which yield the stones, go to the courtyard with the black tiled path in the castle. There, the way to them should be clear."

At this point, they came to a junction. After asking the navigator there, he said "I guess this is where we shall go our separate ways. I shall leave for Riverton here while you shall follow the road to the wonderful city." They bade each other farewell before leaving for their differing destinations.

Night fell and once more the journeymen camped in the wilderness. Just like the night before, Athugavia fell asleep while standing guard

Athugavia woke in shock, startled by the sound of a goblin. It had sat down and warmed itself by the fire but Athugavia knew it would do them no harm as it could not see them.

Again, he heard a noise. This time, it came from the tall grass at the side of the road. He unsheathed his weapon slowly and prepared to strike.

All of a sudden, a white snake pounced out of the undergrowth, its jaws open to reveal a pair of fangs. Athugavia dodged it and struck it with accuracy as it fell to the ground. He examined it. It was about his arm's length. It was a banelar, but not a fully grown one.

Athugavia turned as the goblin approached, puzzled by the event. Athugavia realized that his attack had not negated the effects of the invisibility spell. His attack was probably too swift.

He heard another noise. This time, Shadowclaw heard it too and stood up, removing his Shadowknife from its scabbard. From the grass, a mature banelar emerged - it hissed some words and a ball of fire appeared, raging towards them with fiery fury. Athugavia and Shadowclaw jumped aside with haste - Shadowclaw was unscathed but the flames had set his companion's cloak on fire. Athugavia rolled on the ground in an attempt to put out the flames.

Shadowclaw saw the goblin's eyes bulged as he and Athugavia shimmered into sight. Before it could react, Shadowclaw stabbed its heart. As it collapsed, he saw the banelar launch another fireball. He rolled out of the way as it charred the corpse of the goblin. Athugavia, having put out the fire on his cloak hit the banelar from behind. It turned around and reared up, preparing to bite him. Before it could sink its fangs into its target, Shadowclaw slashed at its neck. While it writhed in pain, Athugavia brought his Jawbreaker onto its skull with all his might.

Shaken, Athugavia asked Shadowclaw "Are you all right?" Shadowclaw nodded. "I think we should go. There might be more where that came from."

The sun rose. They were riding on the road, next to the Sea of Infinity. "We're close to the city," noted Athugavia, checking his map. Shadowclaw urged their horses forward. "Just a little bit more."

At long last, their journey had come to an end. Athugavia opened the gate and he and Shadowclaw entered, filled with awe and wonder. They walked along Market Street, which was noisy from the sound of the market that gave the street its name. There were many people along this road. Citizens of the city, merchants, travelers and journeymen, not to mention more than enough guardsmen.

They stopped by a stall to ask for directions. It was filled with bottles and vials, presumably perfume from the aromas that permeated the air. Several items of jewelry - necklaces, bracelets and talismans - were scattered across the table as well. Behind it was a sly looking man, dressed in a colorful costume.

"Ahhhh! Two travelers from afar! Is this your first time? Where are you from? Trellor? Riverton? Would you like some warding charms? Perfume for your loved ones? Adornments to impress the ladies? Assorted jewels? You have money..... right?"

"Look," said Athugavia, calming the excited merchant. "We're not here to buy anything. We just want to ask you some questions."

The merchant snarled angrily. "You want ME to answer some questions!! You buy something first! Then I try to answer!"

"Hey, we don't have to ask you, you know?" Shadowclaw said.

The merchant laughed. "Everyone here is moving too fast to answer a question from you. I'm the only one who can answer your stupid question."

Shadowclaw looked around and realized the merchant was right. "We don't have any money."

"Hardly my problem, friend," the merchant replied, turning back to his wares.

Shadowclaw told Athugavia to wait. Then he went back to the gate. He saw a traveler enter through the gates. Shadowclaw walked towards him and bumped straight into him.

"Gimme your money," he whispered.

Beads of sweat rolled down the traveler's face as he realized a knife was pointed right at his chest. He sucked in his stomach to prevent it from touching him.

He grabbed his money bag and put it into Shadowclaw's waiting hand. "Here, t-t- take it. I-it's a-a-a-ll I've g-g-got."

Shadowclaw pocketed the bag and shooed away the traveler. "Go now and don't mention this to anybody."

He returned to the merchant and put the bag on the stall. "Now answer this: how do I get to the Castle Medievia?"

The merchant glanced inside the pouch and smiled. "What was it you said?" he asked.

Shadowclaw sighed and repeated his question.

"Oh, is that all? Just follow the road to the main courtyard. There will be a flight of stairs there. Just go up it."

Shadowclaw and Athugavia thanked the merchant and walked away. Athugavia turned to Shadowclaw, "You know, he was a much nicer person once you gave him the money." Shadowclaw just gave him a sour look.

Within a few hundred yards they entered a courtyard where a fountain gurgled water in the direct center. The many adventurers of Medievia were gathered around to chat and arrange forays. Shadowclaw and Athugavia drank some of the fountain's water, watching the guards carefully. The stairs they needed were quite blatantly in view, a flight of stone steps leading up to a massive floating castle. Attempting to appear casual, they started their ascent to the skies.

When both Athugavia and Shadowclaw had reached the top of the stairs they sensed an aura of honor and pride, a feeling so strong they felt slightly nauseous. As they walked across a drawbridge, the guard on the other end did not stop them. The castle was open for everyone.

Before long they were walking on the black tiled path. To their left were clouds, floating in the sapphire air while on their right was a forest, verdant, green and shadowed. Further to the fore were a sparkling blue lake and a lake of fire, all contained within the stone walls of the castle.

"The four elements," said Shadowclaw. "I say we enter the forest first." He led the way, brushing aside creepers and peering into the undergrowth. There, they saw it, the earth elemental. It was a creature made entirely of rocks and stones, lightly dusted with loose earth. Letting out a battle cry, Athugavia hit the elemental with his Jawbreaker, or tried to at the very least. His weapon bounced off its body harmlessly - the elemental turned towards him, pounding the ground with its huge fists. Athugavia backed away. "Hurry milord, its immune to our attacks. Let's get out of here before it makes us fertilizer for this soil."

Shadowclaw stumbled out of the bushes, and fell on the black tiled path. His Shadowknife flew out of his hand and landed at the feet of two guards nearby.

"Good day, sir," greeted the knights as Athugavia backed out of the forest cautiously. Shadowclaw reached for his blade but one of the knights bent down and picked it up first, examining it. "A fine blade you have here," he commented. He turned and whispered to his companion. "Drop your weapon, friend of Shadowclaw, you're both under arrest!" the knight snarled as both of them drew their swords. Startled, Athugavia did as they ordered.

As one of the guards kept watch on both of them, the other one went to summon more guards. Shadowclaw stared at the guard, who stared back. Just then, Athugavia charged forward and knocked down the distracted guard. "Run!"

Shadowclaw and Athugavia ran back to the stairs and raced down them. They could hear the loud footsteps and crying of the guards behind them.

As soon as they reached the courtyard, they mounted their horses. "Quick, let us get out of this city and come back later!" Shadowclaw said. Unfortunately Market Street was so full of people, they could not go through. They panicked and raced southwards instead.

The horses galloped down the street, passing a talking dog of all things who importuned them for a bone. Ignoring him they soon detected the smell of salty air as they neared the wharf. They stopped before a fish market and turned around, only to see guardsmen just behind them. Seeing that their steeds were exhausted, Shadowclaw and Athugavia dismounted them and ran into the fish market.

As soon as they entered, they were hit with the foul smell of fish. "Yaarggh!" Athugavia wrinkled his nose while Shadowclaw held his breath. They ran and pushed their way through the immense number of people until they reached the center of the market. There was a fish vendor there. "Quick, hide us!" Athugavia pleaded. He turned around and saw that the guards had lost their way in the crowd...almost.

Thinking quickly, the fish vendor told them to lie on the ground. Before Shadowclaw and Athugavia knew it, the fish vendor dumped a basket of fish all over them, and then another.

Suffocating under the pile of fish, Shadowclaw managed to pull himself near enough to the surface to hear the conversation above between the guards and the fish vendor. He heard the fish vendor deny seeing them loudly, which relaxed him somewhat. He then heard some whispers and the sound of gold coins.

His worst fear had been confirmed. The fish vendor had turned on them. Hurriedly, he pulled Athugavia, who had almost fainted and jumped out of the fish pile, surprising the guards who were about to remove the fish.

The guards cried out and pursued their prey. Athugavia and Shadowclaw went out of the fish market and onto the docks. They kept turning back to see their predators that they did not see where they were going. "OOoooff!" They both cried out.

They had bumped into a burly sailor, much, more taller than them. "You shouldn't have done that," he said, grimacing.

Realizing that the guards were catching up, Shadowclaw and Athugavia tried to duck under the sailor's arms, but hit them instead, falling to the ground.

Before they knew it, the guards had surrounded them, pointing their weapons at them. "Get up and follow us," growled one of them, disarming Athugavia who was still disoriented from his near-suffocation.

As they were walked back through the market, Shadowclaw had a brainwave. "Couldn't we settle this like civilized people?" He said meekly.

Shadowclaw and Athugavia were led back to the courtyard of the city. There, they were pushed into a portal. Upon emerging from it, they were led down Anvil Road, as the sign said. At the crossroads at the end, they turned right, until they reached a gloomy building. The sign above said "The Daemon Street Dungeon".

They were locked in to a cell by the guards. One of them laughed, "You will stay here until the guards from Trellor arrive to bring you to the court there. I'll probably visit you at the Penitentiary next time!" The guards chuckled heartily and left.

"We have to use the scroll. I still have it," hissed Shadowclaw.

"But we haven't got the stones," Athugavia protested.

"At this state, we will never get those stones," Shadowclaw growled. "We're going home and staying there till we get a better plan."

He took the scroll from his cloak and untied the ribbon. He recited the words written on it.

There was a blinding flash of light which illuminated the whole dungeon. Shortly after, it was gone. And so were the prisoners Shadowclaw and Athugavia.