Conquest of Espara ch.06
Migdra, the woman who until recently was known as The Witch of the North Woods, it has only been a three months since she awakened the mythical figure The Queen of the Abyss. In a palace raised from the stone and sand by Rhulan’s sorcery Migdra has been both student and lover to the ancient sorceress. Here she has been trained in magic unlike any she has ever known before, far grander than she imagined, and taking to it far easier than she would have thought. Rhulan tells her it is because the seal placed upon on all women of her world by Garudan’s jealousy and fear is now gone; that with proper training and time the people could raise armies of magic and technology to topple the heaven of Garudan.
She watches through a mystic pool the witch hunters who once pursued her, it was by this means that she knew when to trick them, when Rhulan offered her the chance to rob them of their weapons and maroon them in hostile waters. Surprisingly it has taken weeks for the next phase of the plan to come about, the information she fed them while disguised of the isle of Shora, the crystal isle home to one of the five great witches who in the past had made pacts with the then eldritch form of Rhulan; pacts which changed them into powerful mystical monsters. The witch hunters have a boat and new weapons, preparing to venture to the crystal island. Migdra scoffs as she watches. She holds her abdomen as a queasiness comes over her. She has felt it for the last few days, Rhulan refuses to allow her to use magic to overcome it, telling Migdra that she has to look into something. Although since it started Rhulan has become a gentler lover and refuses to use the shapeshifting phallus that Migdra had so begged her to keep using.
They are merely four men. Ronald who leads them, Patrick who is their navigator, Ganz a head strong colonel back home in Merigland, and Peter a trained hunter of all things that dwell in the darkness, and deer, and boar, and of course wild fowl. It had taken some doing these last few weeks, what with being marooned in Hayzore territory, but upon hearing of their request the town elders upon seeing their seriousness have agreed to help them. Help being relative here as in one case the local shipping lane would be free of the invisible miasma and the threat of the dreaded Shora from the Crystal Island. On the other hand these four blasphemous blowhearts from the Garudan Church’s Empire would be killed by Shora and out of their hair. A win win as far as the elders are concerned.
“Damned its blinding,” says Ganz as their tiny boat lands on the crystal island.
The beach is like shattered glass and slippery pearls, rocks made of purple, violet, pink, blue, and white gems, pillars everywhere, and the appearance that all this encased, crystallized, and distorted the native plant life and rock formations at some point.
“It’s a bit beautiful,” says Ronald.
“As the book says,” quotes Patrick, “in great beauty lies great danger, be not seduced by shimmers for terrible things lie below.”
“What is the context of that?” asks Ronald.
“The crystal palace of the witch Elsa,” says Patrick
These men have with them rudimentary weapons, not like the iron and steel of their native lands with their islands so large one could stand in the middle and not see any signs of the ocean. Here however they are making do with stone axes, flint pistols, and two swords of bronze that cost them a great deal to buy, which they had to pay in labor as fishermen.
A maze of glass and gems whose worth puts to shame that of all the kingdoms they have ever set foot in collectively. There is a stillness to this place, expected of the material yet unnerving none the less. The gems show no reflections, bewitched no doubt. Each tries his best to hide their unease to the others both for the sake of machismo and for the sake of the group’s moral. They are few, less than a handful, not enough to be considered a squad on a mission to face a witch whose description is unlike that of any creature of nature or sorcery they have ever encountered before in a land whose very air calls for them to run, to hide, to be as far away from here as they can, to go home to their families, warm beds, and warmer wives.
A sound, a sound unlike anything they have ever heard before. As best any one of them could hope to describe it would be like that of a busted flute played in tandem with an out of tune stringed instrument of some kind coupled with claws on a slate board and a rabbit’s scream. The source beyond a ridge of pink in a valley below are things, a nest of things whose proper description is lacking in their language, things of light that defy depth and perception of truth. They move if it can be called moving, change in depth and place, and sight, and angle, and luminosity. Peter takes aim with his pistol. Ronald raises his hand giving the signal to lower his arm and be silent. Signaling in their soldier silent code, (Whatever blasphemous beasts these may be, they have not seen us. The Witch is our target.) They back away slowly and continue on their way.
They thought they had seen all there was to have seen of the highest points of the island from the waves of the sea. Little could they have expected that through the maze of glass and crystal the spires of the island hid between them a ravishing sight; a crystal palace. While not the first temple of crystalline decadence they had witness at the hands of a witch, this one most certainly put all others to shame.
“No guards,” observes Ganz as they make their way towards the drawbridge that is not but a few inches above water.
Peter leans down and dips a silver spoon into the water, “its not evil water,” he says as he scoops some up and puts it to his lips, “however it is salt water.”
Peter shakes off the spoon before putting it back in his pouch, “this is most odd.”
Weary of their surroundings the four men make their way into the Crystal Palace. Walls of polished diamond, jade, aquamarine, pink rose ruby, and a thousand others to challenge the northern heavenly lights in their beauty. These four men, these trained hunters of the dark and wicked blasphemous things regard this not as beauty or craft but rather as blasphemy; an attempt by a hideous thing to mock the heavens and challenge god.
“Pitiful” says Ronald after dispatching a small glowing bat like thing made of light with his iron sword, the beast vanishes in blue flames upon being struck.
The halls have little to challenge them, it is if the power of Garudan were with them, that or the strange glowing and geometric beasts of this place are weak against iron. That is there is little to challenge them till they hit a large room with massive gears on one side and a door on the far end with three lights above it. A red light is showing now. As they start a bell chimes, a most unusual thing for bells are regarded as holy and ward away demons back in Marigland. The floor starts to open down the middle from door to door; the door they entered closing, the floor revealing a pit of spikes.
“Run!,” orders Ronald.
As they run along one side, three of the men don’t notice that Colonel Ganz has gone down the other towards the massive now turning gear. It is clear they will not make it across the room before the pit is too wide to reach the door, that is until it suddenly stops with a *jerk*. Ganz has shove his axe into the gear, however it is still pulling.
“Go!” shouts Ganz, the other three men make a run for it to the doorway, just in time before the floor jerks a little more. The gear pulls on the axe, pulling Ganz into the gear, the sound of crunching bones and blood. From their vantage point he is up to his shoulder into the gear propping it open. It looks like he is holding it so they could make it. They want to shout to him to let it go and run; but they know better. He is not so much holding the gear as he is jamming it with his still breathing corpse. They turn silently thanking their comrade for his sacrifice in their mission for the great holiness. As they start to turn a sickening crunch and then the sound of the gear continuing.
They nearly jump as the door behind them flies shut. Inside the door they hear a horrific sound, fire and a roar. It was not merely a trap, it was an overkill trap, a pit of spikes, no exit and some horrible monster. It is a witch they want and no amount of curiosity would bring them to push the rather large and obvious door release button on their side, even as they hear a voice, “Defeat Me and the Doors Shall Open!”, a none sentient demonic beast repeating lines designed into it to give the impression of intelligence. Some horror designed to either kill or weaken any party that would come to challenge the witch of the Crystal Island.
Before them are many more fiendish beasts that would mysteriously burst into blue flames when slain, and more traps, yet none as diabolical as the one that took Ganz from them. This place wears thin on their patience, why, why are there treasure chests filled with weird potions and bobbles as if to assist them sitting at the ends of hallways and in the numerous empty rooms. They can’t hold so much stuff, nor do they attempt to as no doubt any treasure in such a place is merely a thing of evil or a trap set by the demonic beast further in. Peter is holding back, his pistol short of ammo, using it to reach strange high set buttons to open doors and let down bridges in this crystal labyrinth.
Finally, after what feels like an eternity of puzzles and adversaries they reach a large door decorated with the image of a naked woman holding, and possibly sexually fondling several overly long eels wrapped around her body.
“Disgusting,” remarks Patrick just before the door opens and an echoing woman’s voice says,
“come in, come in, come in my prey, sacrifice yourselves to Shora.”
The men nod, weapons drawn and step in. While the door had opened slowly, as stone over stone, it manifests behind them anew as if born from light. The room is a white cliff in front of a deep well, like a glacier at the edge of the sea. Behind the pit and on all sides are steep ice like cliff faces going up to an opening that shows a crescent moon; even though by Patrick’s calculations it should be only mid-day by now. A stench comes over them, like rotted fish as the walls and floor shake.
Ronald barely has time to say *shit* before a massive blue eel shoots up from a pit of water before them. Its mouth opens and shakes about gurgling as if choking on something. The flesh peels back and the jaw breaks ripping and melting into the flesh of the body as a giant woman’s torso emerges from the sickly sight of the melting head from between the jaws. Her skin is like the eels, her breasts covered in unnatural carp like scales as though censored, somehow in the blink of an eye she gains a coral crown and an ornate silver trident adorned with jewels.
“You have survived the challenges of the Crystal Island, adventurers!” shouts Shora, “although it has been many an age before a man of this world has come so far on my island, you will be shown no mercy!”
“We are here to kill you, you crazy blasphemous witch!” yells up Patrick, “for Garudan and our fallen you will stain Garudan’s world with your presence no longer!”
Shora smiles, a mouth filled with shark like teeth down at her would be slayers and laughs through her teeth.
Peter is the first to die as lightning from the trident strikes him dead in one blow. Patrick makes a run with his sword only to be attacked by a swarm of flying demonic fish from the pool that drag him in. Below the witch’s body the pool is stained red. In such a short amount of time two of the most well trained and experienced witch hunters in all of Marigland are brutally killed. Ronald hardly has time to pray as he raises his sword before he sees lightning flash around the trident again.
Then there is light, a shattering sound like breaking glass and the horrified shriek of the monster witch Shora. She retreats into her pool as a beam of holy light descends down the vaulted chamber encompassing Ronald. He is raised from the vault like a soul from perdition, out of the den of evil into the light. He is released on the roof above the chamber, and hides his eyes before him is an Eangel, a bird headed and winged messenger of the most holy of holy, those who with but a glance of their grace can slay the demons and witches.
“Child of light,” says the Eangel, “Hide not your face, for only evil need look away from the holy grace. I…*gak!###*”
Ronald looks, he sees not a holy light and shine as he had a second before, instead he sees a bird gasping blood, a horrified expression as its body no brighter or dimmer than that of a mortal contorts in pain. By reflex he throws himself back from such close proximity, a few steps is all it would take to see what has occurred. A blade, a double edged broad sword blacker than any darkness or oil he had ever seen, with glowing red hour glass runes along its sides that fail to illuminate the surface of the blade is sticking through the angel’s body, its blood pouring onto the crystal palace. The holder of the blade is a woman, somehow familiar yet he is sure he has never seen her before. A woman with a stature like a stature, wearing tight and skin revealing black clothes without shame, her hair long and the shade of blood, her face…flashes in his mind the face of the Queen of the Abyss, her transformations into red and blue versions of herself, this…is her…and she has.
The angel grasps the blade, cutting its talon like hand and throws its self forward off the blade lumping on the polishes surface before Ronald. It looks up at him with a sorrowful expression, and then a determined one, shaking its head. It blinks a glowing aura as though flexing a muscle of light that has become injured. It stands, barely able, and turns. Before it can speak as it opens its blood stained beak the woman lops off its head with a single swing. Her sword vanishes faster than the blink of the eye, he swears however he saw it move back into some darkness but it was too fast to tell. The woman takes the head from mid-air in the same motion and tosses it into the pit before turning to speak to Ronald.
Many months later in the castle of Merigland a letter arrives for the general from Ronald.
Letter of Ronald:
This will be my final report, please do me this one final honor and do not try to find me. I plan to retreat to some corner of this world as far removed from the Hayzore, the Church of Garudan, and Witches as I can; I want no part in what is coming. I would suggest you do the same, however I know you are too pious to do so. I doubt you will believe what I am about to write here, but I have to write it, if only to get it out of my head and spare my sanity.
My men are dead, killed by a thing the likes of which I had never seen before, even putting seeing Eckraick himself to shame. A monster on an island made of crystal, horrors were there, picked my men off one by one till only I remained. I prayed for salvation in my darkest hour as the demon witch Shora was prime to devour me, an angel came…and then so did she.
Remember this name well my friend for if my letter arrived in a timely manner you may have some warning, if not, I am sorry; for she is the true devil, Rhulan, she is the Queen of the Abyss, the horror released by the Witch of the North Woods. I saw,
I saw, //////////////
Blasphemy, I saw blasphemy that cannot be, I saw an angel die. An angel was killed before my very eyes. One moment the blessed thing is turning the demon witch away, sending her slithering back into the murky waters of her lair, the next the angel is impaled upon a sword blacker than pitch and smoother than silk. Angel’s blood spilled in the water my friend, killed as easily as a man upon a sword would be. How I survived, I believe so only to write this letter, a pawn, a messenger to herald her arrival. I am sorry my friend, it is for that reason I beg you to not send anyone to look for me. I will try to live a good and peaceful life, maybe raise a family, I will pray for you, and everyone in Merigland, pray that Rhulan is merciful, for I fear the sky will rain with the blood of the angels. ]