"GLORIANNA, THE CHOSEN WORLD"
Saga One:"MEANING OF HONOR: THE LEARNER SAGA"
CHAPTER III - "A NOT-SO-LIVING NIGHTMARE"
Erana glanced up as several birds landed upon one of her trees. Patiently she had been waiting for her husbandís arrival. Heís late. Erana began walking around the garden as she thought of Garriott. I know he can take care of himself. She looked up, But I donít like the feel of this. Erana stumbled over her own foot, barely catching her balance. Thatís why I use that flight spell so often... Erana smiled to herself for an instant, until, when looking down, she spotted something highly unusual. She knelt, placing her hands around a small plant. Itís broken, as if someone stepped on it! She thought for a moment. But I just grew it last night...I am the only person whoís been here, and I have stepped upon none of the plants, I am sure. Erana sighed as she stood up, looking around. For the past half hour, the back of her mind had been tingling with the slight inkling of a menace.
"Somethingís not right." Erana whispered to herself calmly, and turned around. Thereís the definite presence of danger and menace here...and inside my garden. But no harm can be done within the bounds of my magic. But that means... Erana looked down at the ruined plant that lay at her feet. Iíve thought of it as nothing this whole time, but in truth, only something of unimaginable evil and power could ever bring its horror to my garden. Erana turned around, unable to place her sensations, when suddenly, the danger presented to her senses suddenly magnified, to the point of causing her to nearly jump in start, and then sank back into its vague, near-nonexistence. Now I know somethingís wrong. She sighed wearily concentrating upon her perceptions.
Erana nearly jumped out of her skin again, as her concentration bore discomforting fruits. It feels so much just like Avoozl! Yet...it is so much different. Perhaps, if I use my magical senses... She immediately found this action a mistake, as she fell to her knees and placed her hands upon her temples, feeling as if her head would explode if she did not, and releasing a soft cry of pain as the presence overloaded her senses. Fortunately, this overload merely disabled the sense, and didn't kill her. Thatís why! It is even more dangerous than Avoozl...certainly not more powerful, but more dangerous, somehow... Erana shivered, closing her eyes and slowly standing, remaining as calm as she could. Still shivering, she shook her head and began looking around, her eyes catching nothing out of the ordinary. The magic I sensed was almost all necromantic... this danger is undead. And a strong life force it must have, for even the most powerful undead creature Iíve encountered didnít contain so much necromantic energy.
A slight, yet suspicious rustling noise caught Erana by the ears. She turned to look at the source, only to see the branches of several bushes moving back and forth for no reason. No wind blew through the garden at the moment, and nothing in sight had touched the bushes. Suddenly, something caught her eye. A distortion of the bushes, as if she were looking at them through a window, began moving towards her. She certainly would not have spotted it if it had remained still. What is it? Eranaís voice trembled as she attempted to speak. "Who is there?" She tried to keep her tone as polite as possible, but a slightly hostile edge tinged her voice.
"Ah," a soft, wispy voice gave a long sigh, and then added words; "hello, my dear." Suddenly, the distortion began to take on shape, forming a roughly humanoid silhouette on the background, and then taking on color. Revealing himself to her eyes, the short, lean, purple-skinned man drew his lips into a sadistic, lopsided smirk. A cold, malicious joy sparked in his eyes. She seems to contain no fear...fascinating. That will change soon enough. He laughed; his laughter; though being deep and thick in comparison to his thin, soft voice; did not at all sound loud or threatening- it merely sounded amused.
Green hair, standing out from his head like a bush, did not hide the little manís, pointed, almost cone-shaped ears. His large, dark green eyes twinkled with sadistic, malicious pleasure, at the thoughts running through his head. Stiff clumps of bristle-like green hair hung behind him from the back of his head like a tangled mass of vines, and bounced against his back as he walked towards Erana. His finely constructed face did nothing to hide the strength lying in his grin, an arrogant air about him striking Erana as rather annoying, and yet, all-too-honest.
"Before you start asking who I am." The man gave a slight chuckle and stopped walking as he brushed yet another section of his seemingly limitless supply of hair; which hung in four clumps of strands, two on each side, down his shoulders from just behind his ears; away from his chest, to reveal a hexapod-shaped amulet. "I know that this rings a bell." The man laughed again, and placed one of his small hands upon the hilt of a slim, curved sword hanging at his left, fingering the pommel. Erana noted that the pommel of this sword also appeared to be a golden hexapod, and she ignored the sword hanging at his right, as she realized well what the symbol on his left-hanging sword meant. His black robes hung loose, obviously made of a light material, as the folds waved in the wind, though the breeze was so weak Erana could not feel it, and created the illusion that the man still moved towards her, when in fact he now stood still- making no movements.
"What is your name? Why are you here?" She couldn't think to say much else; the little man, nearly a head shorter than herself, now emanated such a sensation of sheer menace and danger she could barely concentrate on speaking.
"Now, now." he said, giving a darkly amused chuckle along with his words, "I thought all were welcome here, in your place of magic and peace, my dear peace-loving enchantress."
"Y...y...y-you..." still overwhelmed by the sheer amount of danger he posed, not only to her, but to everything in general, Erana could not help stuttering. "Are... very... powerful." Though successful in restraining fear, at least mostly successful, she found herself nervous because of his eyes. They searched deeply into her own, and she felt as if he drew upon everything she had ever experienced, thought, or felt with a single glance. She felt as if he knew her well - far too well for her good.
"And?" he asked through the malicious, sinister lopsided grin he seemed so perfectly made to wear. "That somehow excludes me the pleasure of enjoying this fine example of gardening? This botanical masterpiece is off limits to me because I am powerful? I do find that hard to believe!" He laughed, louder this time than he had before. "There must be something else you know about me. For surely, the legendary Erana, known for her kindness and openness and gentleness and generosity, would not turn her back to one because he is powerful, would she?" He laughed softly after he said this. Interesting how she sees into my nature so easily. But then, I am making it a bit too obvious...
"You are also evil!" Indignation at all the suffering, and death, the strange undead man must have caused to reach such a state of evil swiftly overcame her fear, after she spoke the words.
Good, get angry. Yes, this is becoming very entertaining. He moved his mouth as if in laughter, but made no sound. "So, you noticed?" He laughed, this time to mock her. "My, how prejudiced you are, to throw me out just because I'm not like you." He broke into a seemingly uncontrollable fit of laughter, though Erana somehow knew him to still be well on guard. "Oh, I forgot. You are a friend of paladins. What was his name? The one you helped to fight Avoozl? Piotyr? HAH!" The purple man drew his finger across his neck. "I remember watching the fool die. Killed by that already-dead idiot Gregor, who served that idiot Amon." He paused momentarily; his smirk opening into a fang-bearing smile. "It was not a pleasant death either." He began laughing again "I must admit, your husband is much more intelligent than that stupid Mordavian fool was. Still, he is a fool in his own right. The weakling was stupid enough to be susceptible to outside suggestion... I found it would be better to allow him to become more powerful, and intelligent, before I kill him; makes it more interesting you know." She is becoming afraid again; very, very good. Yes, become angry, become afraid. Lash out and show me what you've got, you stupid pacifist witch!
"You hurt him? What did you do to him!?"
"Well, not me personally. At any rate, he recovered from the physical wounds, and will probably be on his way here only to find you dead. But, I did do something... worse to him. I damaged the fool's honor." He snorted out a short laugh. "Not his pride, mind you, his honor! You know what Iím talking about." He began laughing maniacally again. The little witch is really angry now, I can feel it! And yet she contains herself. Fascinating, she has excellent self-control. All the better; the game shall continue. He stopped laughing outwardly, to listen to her response.
"Why are you telling me these things?" She asked calmly, her anger melting away, at least at the surface, as she breathed deeply.
Yes, very good, witch. Hide it, let it grow, let it become uncontrollable. Then we'll have some real fun! He thought to himself with a silent chuckle, then replied to her question. "Because," he said as his grin became ever more malicious, "I know it causes you great pain." He laughed, and then he stopped hiding his power from her, and allowed her to feel the full extent of danger he posed. "Can you feel that now? You may just have to shut your senses off, so you don't die from exposure!" He laughed for several moments as she struggled to drop her danger sense before the sensory overload killed her. She succeeded, and then composed herself and awaited more of his verbal attacks. But he merely stood still, staring with his evil grin, saying nothing. She knew very well that the monsterís tactics now revolved around causing her to take initiative.
Up until now, he hasnít really done anything. Heís playing with me...heís treating all of this like a game. He folded his arms at his chest, widened his stance a little and straightened out his posture; seeming more comfortable in such poise, and retaining his evil smile. For several moments, he did nothing more than stand still and look deeply into her eyes, seemingly staring right through her, and into her thoughts and fears. Then she broke the silence, finding it impossible to ignore his staring. "You are a worshipper of Avoozl, are you not?" She asked formally.
"I am" his voice became somewhat resentful, and his grin disappeared. "Avoozl's servant." A venomous tone spiked in his voice; "Some say that I am its avatar. I am not. Iím not even a worshipper; so you donít go thinking Iím here because that stupid rat of a Dark One wants me to kill you. I am a creature of my own mind, not a puppet." He chuckled, "Iím here to kill you by my own free will."
"What is your name?"
Ah, which name shall I give her? Shall I tell her that I am the origin of the legend of Gwilth, the god of death of the Craelians? Or perhaps I should inform her that I am Zaduriosama? HA! Or maybe I'll give her the Ďmy name does not concern youí routine? Or, perhaps for the effect, I'll give her my real name. "Well, since you are going to die here today, and everyone should know the name of their destruction, I'll tell you. My name is Zakkyurrdai."
"Zakkyurrdai," She slowly pronounced the foreign; and somewhat difficult name, ignoring the urge to say it sounded like a type of vegetable. The name, though strange, struck her as familiar. "I heard that name in Hades." Erana began, "On a voice... a woman's voice...a woman with a Slavic accent. She was...her name was Katrina, I believe."
Zakkyurrdai had barely been listening to Erana's words, until she uttered the name Katrina. His grin immediately disappeared, replaced by a cold scowl. His eyes narrowed into angry slits. He growled sharply, and sneered something unintelligible about Ad Avis.
"So...she is dead?" Zakkyurrdai's tone had lost its carefree sadism. "Well then, I guess it's her own fault for underestimating the fool." AndÖthis witch says that she heard Katrina personally... What did she do? Kill Katrina herself!? One way or another, I'm going to find out what happened! Zakkyurrdai shifted his weight to take a step forward, when a new realization hit him, and halted him. Katrina told me she was going to try and summon Avoozl again, because of the eternal darkness thing! And blondie was the one who recently prevented Avoozl from being summoned. Which means, it was this faery's husband who killed my little one! "AND YOU!" Zakkyurrdai's rage displayed itself fully in his tone. "So, you think you can have hubby go and kill my Katrina, and get away with it, huh?" Damn! I can't kill that paladin... I need him! Zakkyurrdai snorted viscously. "Okay." Zakkyurrdai smiled, this time angrily. "I'll return the favor. Starting..." He relaxed, easing his shoulders and resting his eyes. "Now." He uttered the word rather discreetly, and then made his move.
Erana then struck the ground hard, not knowing what hit her; not even remembering falling. She looked up, and saw two of the little man, one image standing beside her, one standing at the other end of the garden, where he had been before. Within a fraction of a second, the image that had been where they used to be standing vanished. After a few seconds, an excruciating pain began filling her chest. The pain worsened by the second, in monstrous throbs. She could easily guess her ribs were not broken, but crushed.
"At first, I was only angry because you knew about the fact that my little one was dead, and probably had a minor hand in her demise. But then, I put two and two together, and realized that your husband KILLED HER!" The purple skinned man took a deep breath and calmed; the same old evil grin appearing on his face, though he no longer had the look of malicious amusement in his eyes; only a cold, almost emotionless stare. "Oops, sorry about that. I actually wanted to break your ribs one at a time, but then, you are the one who angered me, so who's to blame?" A cruel chuckle escaped his mouth.
He immediately spotted the movements of her left hand, as she prepared a spell. Probably trying to heal herself. "Well, I guess I moved too fast for you to follow that time." he smiled even wider, "I'll move a little slower for you now." He stepped 'gently' on her wrist, shattering every bone in her arm. She let out a gasp, and then a soft cry of agony; finding herself unable to make any further sound. Zakkyurrdai grinned at her suffering, imagining the pain it would take to render such a strong-willed wizardess incapable of even so much as speech. "Having fun, my dear?" He said, and then laughed. "What's the matter? Forget how to talk?" he smiled, again showing his perfectly white, fanged teeth. "Well, we'll see if you can talk after this!"
He walked away from Erana, and then held his arms straight upward, his hands open with the palms facing each other at an upward angle. The ground and vegetation surrounding him burst into chunks of floating debris- huge clumps of dirt and rock held together by the roots of plants. An aura exploded into existence around his body; a red flame that did not appear to be any kind of magic Erana had ever come across. She watched, barely able to think, as a ball of red energy began to form between his hands. She noticed though, that he was not using the eloquent gestures and words used to bend magical threads into a spell. He looked more as if forcing some form of energy into a certain shape through sheer concentration.
"HAH! Well, I bet your wondering 'What the hell is he casting,' aren't you? Well, answer's quite simple really; I'm not using magic. I am tapping into my ki, my own internal energy, to form the magic-like effect of an energy attack." He explained in a rather annoyingly egotistical tone. "This one I call 'Raging Blood'. Don't ask me why, its a very long story, and you won't be around long enough for me to finish it." He laughed again "While I would love to kill you with magic, even I cannot overcome the anti-magic wards you have here. It is unfortunate for you that I can overcome your anti-violence wards, however."
Zakkyurrdai began laughing, obviously trying to laugh above the deafening whining sound that his energy amassing emanated. He continued gathering the energy for several seconds, the energy ball eventually becoming so large he had to widen his arms to avoid burning himself. Suddenly, the ball began to dissipate, turning into coiled threads of electricity and flowing into the palms of his hands, until the ten-foot diameter ball of energy had condensed into two one-inch wide energy balls; one in each hand. The red flaming ki surrounding him dissipated, and fazed into the air; the chunks of dirt and rock that his energy had lifted out of the soil slammed back into the ground. He pointed both hands at her.
"DIE!" Zakkyurrdai released the energy; it left both hands, joined into a glob of red energy in front of him, and widened into a jagged cone of red light as it flowed forward. It enveloped everything in front of him; this included Erana along with half her garden. He maintained the flow of destructive energy for several seconds; he chuckled softly as the ki he had gathered slowly ran thin and faded away. Zakkyurrdai lowered his arms as he used the last of the amassed ki, grinning as he watched pink smoke billow into the air. As the smoke cleared away from the ground, however, a startled Zakkyurrdai nearly jumped at the fact that his 'raging blood' cone had not plowed a several-mile-long ditch through the ground.
What the hell!? That attack should have ripped this whole island to pieces! He let a soft gasp escape his lips as the smoke cleared enough to reveal Erana. A few minor burns marked her body, but her injuries compared as nothing to the complete incineration she should have suffered. "You're still alive?" Zakkyurrdai rubbed his chin curiously. "So, you're the survivor type, are you?" He turned his back to her, and began thinking, relishing her groans of pain as he did so.
I don't get it! I can't use magic here, because it comes from outside myself and is of a source I don't directly controlÖ He mumbled an obscenity, but then cheered up a bit again; his eyes looking back at Erana as she groaned and writhed in agony. But...my ki is from withinÖ I don't get it. Wait a minute there! The ki itself is from within...but I force it without in order to form it into an attack, where it then comes under the control of the garden's enchantments. I get it now! "So," Zakkyurrdai mumbled distantly, his back still turned, "your damn anti-violence wards must affect all forms of energy attack. That particular waza could have killed you...well, at least trillion times over had we been in a normal place." He chuckled softly, his tone brightening with amusement. " You lucky girl, you." He laughed louder. "Oh well, I guess I could always kill you the old fashioned way."
He turned back towards her and started walking back to her side. He stopped next to her head, and raised his foot up. "Well, it won't be too gory. You don't have enough of that gray stuff between your ears to make too much of a mess." He laughed, still standing on one foot, "We had a real thing going there! It's over now, but I'll always have a soft spot on the bottom of my boot for you." He laughed again, seemingly taking extreme pleasure in his jokes; then for some reason he suddenly stopped laughing. He slowly lowered his foot beside her head, and turned towards the southeast. He then slowly began walking forward.
"So, he's back. Maybe I'll go give him a warm welcome. HAH! This is going to be much more interesting than sitting here and tormenting such a weak creature as blondie's woman." He turned back towards Erana, and laughed for a couple seconds before speaking. "Well, they say breaking up is hard, but I've found someone else to play with." Zakkyurrdai paused for a moment, then added, "Don't worry, I'll come back some day and we can finish what I started." Zakkyurrdai laughed some more, before igniting a churning red field of energy around his body. "GOODBYE!" He leaped into the air, his red energy aura surging violently as he shot off high into the sky; zipping up through the clouds in less than a second. He sent a deafening boom rumbling through the air as he blasted off; appearing to be little more than a tiny speck of red light in the sky muffled by the clouds; towards the southeast, laughing maniacally the whole time.
In far too much pain to even think, Erana did all she could do. She turned her head to the side, and fell unconscious from shock.
"GLORIANNA, THE CHOSEN WORLD" introduction/summary page