Chapter 15- Into the Depths of Hell
Jack and Sarah walked uneasily down the upper path on the left. There wasn't much activity, or anything moving for that matter, save for the dancing flames of a few torches. The corridor was long, damp and cold. Both teens walked with their swords outstretched incase of danger but no guards made an appearance. They followed the path until it came to it's end, which turned out to be a wall.
"Damn," Jack said softly. "A dead end."
"I don't know," Sarah said, examining the wall closer. "It's an awfully long passageway to just lead to a dead end. There's got to be some sort of trick wall or something."
"Trick wall?" Jack asked doubtfully.
"Yeah," she answer. "You know, like in the movies."
"Sarah," Jack said as he walked over to the only item in the room, a large chair that was propped up against the wall. "I sincerely doubt that there is anything like a trick…" he paused as he sat down in the chair. Suddenly, there was a grinding noise as a section of the wall on the right side slipped away, revealing another passage behind it. "…Wall," Jack said, finishing his sentence. Sarah grinned in victory as she marched to the new passage and entered. Jack exhaled loudly as he rose from his seat and followed Sarah into new depths of the castle.
"You gotta be kidding me!" Rayith screamed at no one in particular. "A dead end!" Surely enough, Rayith, Tristan and Aragorn had found themselves facing a wall that ended the passage on the right.
"This would be odd, wouldn't it?" Aragorn asked rhetorically. "Could this path have been simply a diversion.
"I doubt it," Tristan said, walking up to the wall and tapping on it in various places. "I have a feeling that there's a false wall somewhere around here…" he said, continually tapping until he hear a hollow *clang* come from the wall on the right side of the wall.
"A secret passage?" Aragorn questioned. "How might we access it?"
"Don't worry," Tristan said confidently. "I've just the thing for this situation." He reached into his trench coat and brought forth a weapon which Aragorn and Rayith wouldn't have recognized even if they knew what it was.
"Wait," Rayith started to say. "Tristan, there's got to be a…"
"I've got it covered…" he said, pulling the trigger and firing a small rocket at the false wall. The rocket exploded as it hit surface, blowing away most of the stone work and revealing a passage.
"…Way to open it…" Rayith finished.
"I think my way worked fine," Tristan said, examining his home made door.
After looking at the entrance to the new passage, Tristan discovered a series of gears and metal work. "Oh look," he announced. "I found the device that opens it," he said while pointing at the mangled devices on the inside of the door.
"Lovely," Rayith said sarcastically before slapping Tristan across the head and pushing past him into the passage way. Aragorn waited outside, staring down the corridor that the came from.
"What's wrong?" Tristan asked him, twisting his head to look at the seemingly troubled knight.
"Guys," he said, drawing his sword. "I think that Tristan's method was a little to loud. We've got some company." Rayith and Tristan walked up behind Aragorn and started at the shocking large number of Mystics and arrived on the scene surprisingly fast.
"Well," Rayith said, cracking her knuckles. "Looks like it's time for the warm-up round…"
Jack and Sarah made their way down the narrow corridor. There was a smell of dampness in the air around them, making them feel somewhat uneasy. It seemed that an armed guard was waiting for them around ever corner, but so far, none had decided to show their faces. Sarah had cast a small spell on each of their swords, causing them to emit a glow which helped light the hallway, but there were no torches so as a result the passages was still rather dark.
"What exactly are we looking for?" Sarah asked Jack, peering down a side corridor on her right. "I mean, how do we know if we've found the right way?"
"I'm not quite sure," he said unconfidently. "I only really had the plan worked out until the point where we got in."
"Oh, that's reassuring," she said sarcastically.
"I should have had them open a gate and get an mapping of the inside of the castle, but it's to late for that now."
"That would have been a good idea."
"Yeah, well, the key words are 'would have.'"
"Don't worry to much about it Jack," she said calmly. "We'll get through this. We've been in worse scraps."
"It was only last week that we were captured by the Mystics."
"How could I forget. That was my first real combat situation."
"You're not thinking about that again, are you?"
"No, not really. I'm not really sure what's going through my head right now. I'm confused, that's all." He did know what was going through his head though. He just didn't know how to say. He needed to protect Sarah, that was what it was. It was that chewing feeling inside that maybe if he protected her, would she like him more? No. That was silly. He knew it was his duty to protect the ones he cared for and she qualified for that position. It was only over the past weeks that he realized how much he really did care for her.
"You know Jack," she started to say. "I never really thanked you for saving my life."
"You don't have to thank me for something like that," he said. "It's just something that I had to do."
"Why?" she asked, trying to draw a straight answer out of him.
"I…I don't know, it just was," He said meekly. Why couldn't he just say it!? 'I'm think falling in love with you Sarah. I've felt this way since we were seven. You protect the ones you love.' Was it really that hard?
"Oh, so that's all?" she said, sounding somewhat disappointed and upset. This confused Jack more than anything he did with Sarah already did. Life was way to confusing. That was becoming Jack's theory.
Jack didn't answer Sarah's question. He just kept on walking down the corridor.
"Jack, can't you just talk to me?" she asked.
"Talk about what?"
"I don't know, just something to get our minds off of all the stress we've had over the past week or so."
"Okay," he said hesitantly. "Well, what are you going to do after we off Lavos?"
Sarah frowned inwardly. 'Not stuff like that Jack…'
"Nothing. You just didn't answer the question."
"I don't want to think about Lavos, Jack."
"Okay," Jack said, trying to come up with something else to say. "Let's talk about life."
"What about life?"
"I don't know. We've been through a lot together. You're pretty much the only one I can relate to anymore."
"I know how you feel…" she said, trailing off at the end. "What's going to happen to us though?"
"Well, I hope…" he paused momentarily and was about to finish his sentence when he heard some voices from down the hall. He lifted up his hand to signal both of them to stay silent. The voices were probably Mystics, but they were muffled. Neither Jack nor Sarah could clearly understand.
"Anything new on the intruder?" one voice asked.
"Not anything confirmed. There was some commotion at the front gate and by the right wing entrance, though. It was reported as explosions."
"You think there's more than one?" the first voice asked.
"I don't know," a new voice said. "All of the victims seemed to be killed with the same blade." Sarah looked at Jack for confirmation of this and he grinned shyly.
"Well, anyway, I hope I don't run up against it," the second voice said. The voices were getting closer now, Jack pulled Sarah into one of the side corridors and the couched down in the shadows.
"Why not?" the fist voice asked. "You human or somethin'." They were obviously using human as a term like 'chicken.'
"Human! Human!" the third voice echoed in taunting.
"It's not that!" the first voice defended himself, the voices very close now. Jack stared at the wall in deep concentration until he saw through it. The three Mystics were standing right next to the corridor they were hiding in. Jack pointed to where they were, making sure Sarah knew. She shifted so her back was up against the same wall as Jack.
"Then what, human?"
"There where some bodies that were magically damaged. Also, he blew a whole that goes down about 20 floors. Ozzie said it had magical residue." The mention that the human used magic instantly quieted the others down. No one messed with a magic using human. That's why Lord Magus was so powerful.
"Oh," the other two said simply. The three started walking again, passing Jack and Sarah without noticing, and heading down the corridor that Jack and Sarah had come from. When their footsteps could no longer be hear, the two teens sprung up and headed down the corridor, hoping that those Mystics had been coming from the same place they needed to go.
"Take that!" Rayith screamed as she hurled a ball of flames at the oncoming wall of Mystics. A bunch of them were incinerated but seemed to keep coming. It wasn't until after a bunch of them had been killed, however, that all three of the warriors noticed that it wasn't Mystics that were coming at them. Instead, it seemed like an army of skeletons, most of them wielding spears.
"Has anyone else realized," Aragorn started to say but paused to swing his giant sword, decapitating about five approaching foes. "That we're trying to kill something that's already dead?"
"I've noticed," Tristan said, drawing a pair of handguns. "Mostly because it's hard to hit what's mostly empty space." He fired off about ten rounds, each embedding themselves into the head of an undead soldier. "Nothing too hard for me though!" He sheathed one of the guns and held out his outstretched palm. With a yellow flash, bolts of lightning flew from his hand creating a chain effect, jumping from victim to victim.
The battle continued, all three of them starting to use their normal weapons rather than magic. Aragorn wasn't having to many problems as his sword could take out multiple guys at once. Rayith and Tristan on the other hand were loosing ground. To compensate, Tristan switched to a pair of automatic pistols, but it still wasn't fast enough.
"I've got an idea!" Aragorn yelled over to Tristan.
"I'm listening!" Tristan yelled back. "What to you have?"
"Rayith!" Aragorn screamed, trying to be heard over the battle cry of the undead warriors. "Hold them off with some magic while Tristan and me set up an attack." Rayith nodded and held out her hands. Flames started to sprout from both palms, creating a flame thrower effect which she used to sweep across the oncoming foes.
"Now what?" Tristan asked.
"I want you to blast my sword with an electrical attack!" Aragorn shouted. "Then leave the rest to me!"
"Whatever you say," Tristan mumbled and held out his hands. "Lighting Two!" he shouted as electrical waves gathered around him. As the waves met each other as they flowed though Tristan's body, he drew his hands back and then thrust them forward again, directing all of the electric energy to Aragorn's outstretched sword.
Aragorn felt the sword surge with power as he guarded himself from being electrocuted himself but using a Force Tech barrier around his hands.
"Now, eat this!" he screamed as he jumped up and forward, halting in the air above the center of the crowd of skeletons. He drew his sword into position above his head and then dropped down to the ground, smashing the lightning blade through a skeleton. As the blade ripped through the bones and hit the floor, a sphere of electrical energy exploded from around Aragorn. The sphere expanding with bolts of lighting jumping off of his sword until the entire room was consumed, taking all of the undead soldiers with it. When the last of the skeletons crumbled to the ground, disintegrated for the most part, the sphere died away leaving Aragorn untouched.
"Cool…" Rayith muttered at the move that her comrades had just used quite effectively.
"I don't know what I should call it," Aragorn said casually. "I'm torn between Lighting Sword or Spire." No one made a sound. "Oh, sorry. Let's get a move on then." He walked lightly to the secret passage and entered into the halls beyond, Rayith and Tristan following.
Jack and Sarah rounded a corner and headed up another staircase. It had been a long trip but other then their original evasion of the Mystics guards before, they had made it through without another sight of a guard. They had been silent for awhile now, the staggering quietness starting to get to both of them. Sarah decided to rekindle their previous conversation.
"What were we talking about before?" she asked with a smile.
Why is she pushing this Jack thought to himself. What's up with her lately. She's never been like this. I can't understand what's going on.
Instead, all he said was, "life, I think."
"Oh yeah…" she said, almost depressed. "I remember."
Why does she sound so sad? What the hell is going on? What am I saying wrong? Just tell her what you were going to say God damn it!
"I think I was going to say…" he began.
"I think I was going to say…" then, as Jack was about pour out his feelings after 11 years of waiting, a voice shouted from behind them.
"It's the intruders! Get them!" came the voice. The two of them spun around to see a group of Mystics starting to sprint down the hallway after them.
"…Run!!" Jack screamed, almost as if completing his previous thought. Sarah didn't need any addition coaxing as the both of them broke into a run. Both let their Force Tech kick in, but Jack couldn't max out as that would leave Sarah in the dust. He pushed it to about a Tech level of 16 and found that Sarah was keeping up just fine. In fact she was going faster than him if not just as fast.
"Somebody got stronger huh?" Jack said, tilting his head over to look at Sarah, now surrounded by a dull green.
"Looks like it," she said casually. They were gaining room on the Mystics coming from behind them until they ran into the middle of a very large room. There no windows, but in an alcove on a side wall was a statue of Magus, embedded with blue crystals. Torch light filled the room brightly.
"I think we lost them," Jack said, slowing to a halt as his Force Tech glow died away.
"It looks that way," Sarah said, panting slightly. On that cue, Mystics flooded into the room from the entrances at either end. There were about forty of them in all.
"Or, maybe not…" Jack said, trailing off at the end as he reached to his back and grabbed the handle of his sword.
Aragorn led the way through the newly discovered passage. It felt a lot like a dungeon, which was doing a good job of getting everyone depressed. No one could really come up with anything to say, even an attempt at lightening the mood of the weary party. The number of side passageways and stairways was mind boggling. While Aragorn started off by checking tunnels and choosing the path in a logical order, logic was soon abandoned as Rayith and Tristan followed Aragorn blindly as he picked random passages to head down.
The entire group was confused further though, when none of the corridors came to a dead end. In fact, Tristan swore that they passed the same rotting corpse at least twice. Was the entire substructure of the castle woven together magically, forming a complex maze from which escape was impossible?
"I'll bet that ass hole is laughing at us right now," Rayith said angrily. "Man, what I wouldn't give to have my shot at him!"
"Don't be in such a rush to end your life," Aragorn said in a cryptic manner.
"What the hell does that mean?" Rayith asked.
"It means," Tristan started to say, "that now matter how strong you think you are with your new magical and Force Tech abilities, we're sill up against the odds."
"Yeah well, normally I don't like getting into battles with ultra powerful sorcerers, but for Magus, I'll make an exception."
"You're way to gung-ho," Tristan said.
"You're a coward," Rayith shot back.
"And I'll cut down the both of you if you don't shut up!" Aragorn exclaimed.
"You want a piece of me, Knight Boy?" Rayith said, with her fist out in a threatening manner. "Just bring it on!"
"Stop it! Everyone!" Tristan yelled while separating Rayith from Aragorn. "Can't you see? It's the castle! The castle is doing this to us!"
"What do you mean?" Aragorn asked in a surprisingly calm tone.
"It's the magic in the castle," Tristan said slowly. "It's making us fight."
"Yeah right!" Rayith shouted. "You just know you would loose!" She began to go into another rant when there was a slight sound of air movement behind them making a *woosh* noise.
"What was that?" Tristan asked suspiciously.
"I don't know," Aragorn said, his back to Tristan's. "But I don't…." he was cut off by a clunk, followed by something hitting the dirt floor. Tristan and Rayith spun around to find Aragorn laying unconscious on the floor. Tristan reached into his coat and pulled out a pistol, firing a few shots down the hallway that Aragorn's assailant must have come from. He hit nothing but air.
"I really don't like this…" Rayith said, drawing her sword with one hand and gathering flames in the other. She and Tristan backed up against each other when the same *woosh* came from behind her. A similar clunk and thud followed as Tristan fell to the floor, limp. Rayith threw her prepared fireball in the presumed source of their attacker but knew that move as a mistake as something smashed her over the head and she lost consciousness. Soon, all three of them were carried off by the silent hunters to whatever plans their master might come up with.
The Mystics piled into the room, creating a rough circle around the two warriors. Both of them could remember that this situation was a lot like another one they had been in just last week at the Mystics Camp. One of the big ones stepped forward, obviously the leader.
"Well, whatda we'z gotz 'eer," he said in broken English. "Dis lookz like da blue hair man dat da boss 'az been 'azken for."
"What's it to you?" Jack asked, still holding a tentative grip on his sword. "And what do you want."
"Oh, da boss iz gonna be happy wit' me when I'z brings you'z to 'im." He walked circled around the seemingly helpless duo, examining his catch. He walked slowly up to Sarah with a sickening grin on his face.
"What do we'z got'z 'eer?" he said as he circled her. "Maybe we'z not gonna take you'z to da boss. Maybe I'z gonna keep you for myzelf." He started to make a series of touching movements, running his hand over her body as she cringed in disgust. "I'z don't normally like 'da humans but." He paused and licked his lips. "Woulda be a shame to waste somebodyz like…" he didn't finish his sentence, but rather made a gurgling noise in his throat as blood rose up and spilled out of his mouth. He looked down to find that Sarah had embedded her dagger in his stomach.
"Not if your dead it's not," she said viciously as she change the grip on her dagger so she was holding it from the bottom rather than the top. She turned to Jack and nodded. Jack pulled out his weapon as Sarah pulled the blade up through the Mystic's body like she was making an uppercut. With a blaze of Force Tech energy, she broke through the top of his skull, spilling brain matter as she jumped into air.
Jack empowered his sword with some fire magic and leapt into the air with Sarah, drawing his sword above his head.
"Let's make this quick," Jack said, "I'm not feeling very magically strong right now."
"Okay," Sarah said with a smile. "I didn't like that guy touching me very much." spreading her arms out to her sides as a whirlwind surrounded them and spread out, throwing all of the Mystics back towards the walls, some into others, some into the walls, a few right through the walls.
"Neither did I," Jack mumbled under his breath as he 'jumped' to the floor and cut a few mystics open with a broad, two handed stroke of his flaming sword. He was immediately mobbed by the surrounding soldiers, causing somewhat of a flashback to beating he got barely an hour ago. This time he was ready for it, reaching out and grabbing the first Mystic he saw. With a quick summoning of lighting magic, electricity coursed through his arm and into the Mystic and every other one in close distance. As the charred bodies dropped to the floor, he drew his sword back and made a leaping cut through a line of them. As he turned around to look at the his path of destruction an unseen Mystic approached from beside him while he fought off those in his front.
Meanwhile, Sarah had created two tornadoes and was moving them back and forth while she hovered in the air. The winds ripped apart the bodies of the surrounding guards when they met. From her vantage point, she saw Jack's silent assailant.
"Jack, look out!" she screamed. He turned his head to look at her but didn't see the Mystic that had just begun a lunge at Jack's neck, a small ax in his hand. Sarah came swooping down as she drew her rapier. She embedded it swiftly through the attacker's temple as Jack finally noticed the Mystic, who was slumping to the ground with two new holes in his head
"Thanks," he said with a grin, pointing a finger behind him, not looking but sensing the approaching guards.
"No problem," she said as sphere of black energy exploded from where Jack had pointed, engulfing a bunch of Mystics and sending the ones closer to the edge of the spell flying. Without words, both of them flew up into the air again. Sarah gestured at the statue of Magus on the far wall and raised it from it's stand with wind magic. She sent it flying across the room, the scythe in the revered figure's hands being used to cut down the Mystics that were running around in confusion.
"Can I finish it up?" Jack asked wryly as he floated to the ground.
"Sounds good to me," Sarah said, remaining in the air and continuing to cut down the Mystic's with the statue's weapon.
Jack land on the ground lightly as he raised his hands in the air. The ten Mystics still alive started to run at him with battle cries. As the Black Winds swirled in Jacks command, circling his hands, the Mystics decided on a better idea. Seeing the winds that were sweeping up around the young sorcerer into a whirlwind, the Mystics got within five feet of him before turning around and running in terror.
"Well, where do you think you're going!" he shouted, enjoying his new power. "Lamb Gush!" he screamed, gathering the winds into one hand and simply raising two fingers. There was a pause as time seamed to stop, immediately followed by the rush of five blasts of shadow energy that spiraled away from him. The remaining Mystics were completely fried in the blast as Sarah slowly floated down from her viewing point.
"Cool," she said in a half smile.
"Yeah, I know," Jack said, examining the two fingers he had used to execute the spell. "It's weird though. For some reason, I'm learning new spells all the time without knowing it. It's almost like just being in this castle is having an effect on my ability to use the Black Wind."
Sarah thought about it for a few seconds before answering. "Well, either way, we blew the hell out of those guys!" she yelled.
"You know it!" he said excitedly. They turned sideways to each other and butted their hips together as they jumped up. Jack rubbed his head shortly after.
"We're beginning to sound like Rayith," he said, still rubbing his head.
"Yeah, that is scary," she said in thought. They both started to laugh as they made their way to the opposite end that they entered from, still on the combat high. They didn't see or hear the silent figure approach from behind. It was only at the last minute when each felt a scaly hand on a side of their head that they knew something was wrong. It was all for naught, however, as the stealthy capture knocked their heads together, their consciousness leaving shortly after.
"The Black Wind. It howls…." -Magus
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