TWICEBORN: QUEEN OF THE DEAD
The Writings of Rayven – Human Warrior
9th of Riag
Just hours before we set out on a search and rescue mission to save our friend Sekra who has been dragged off into the lost city of Parlainth by the undead queens forces seeing us mount a daring and extremely risky extraction mission from deep within the catacombs, our objective if possible is the safe retrieval of the female T’Skrang right from the heart of the undead queens territory, this alone will take us straight into Twiceborn’s and could cost us our lives. For now at least we have done nothing but fight seeing us attacked by ancient stone statues, winged undead Bone Sprits and even a large group of what looked like cultists or horror possessed humans, it seems with each step this accursed city is trying to swallow our lives, almost like the city itself is trying to kill us.
Having just been attacked by a large group of scruffy cloaked figures we still catch our breath after winning the fight and are tending to our wounds, also the single mounted Ork that we rescued from the cloaked figures still bleeds but seems to be coming round with the help of strong healing magic that we have used to revive him, who is this lone Ork and could he perhaps help us somehow or at least explain why these cloaked figures were looking for him or why they attacked us without need, for now at least we catch our breath as we discuss our options as we now have an unconscious Ork and his large Thundra Beast mount that I have been able to steady using my riding skills, for now at least we have the option of pressing on with our current mission or investigating these cloaked figures more and finding where they had come from.
The choice was simple as with each passing moment our friend Sekra got closer to death at the hands of the undead queen herself seeing us again run further into the ruined city of horrors, I think we all felt nervous as already wounded from heavy fighting we were about to enter one of the most heavily undead controlled areas in all of the lost city. Putting the unconscious Ork over the back of the Thundra Beast we headed off in the direction of the catacombs and walked for some time until we heard a screaming sound from up ahead, looking at each other in wonder I think we all thought “oh no not again” and began preparing for another fight again sending the stealthy Windling Jace as an advanced scout.
Flying low and fast across the top of the ruined houses Jace vanished out of sight as we slowly began following up trying to be as quiet as we could, it was only a few moments later that we spotted Jace sitting on one of the crumbling roofs and seemed to be talking to someone below, looking over to us he silently beckoned us to come forward, we were shocked at what we found as standing there wounded and dazed with around 15 Cadaver Men bodies around him was Shanga the village idiot from the town of Haven who went mad after losing his wife to the great city of Parlainth and can only assume he slipped into the ruins during the festival of the dead, regardless of that it seems this town fool Shanga has just ripped apart 15 cadaver men with his bare hands and now stands shaking and jabbering nonsense about his lost wife. Stepping slowly forward the group called out to the man.
Shanga it’s us The Circle of Light from Haven, we mean you no harm are you OK?"
With this Shanga seemed to stop dead in his tracks and looked at us funnily for just a few seconds like he was searching his soul form behind the rage, and luckily for us only a few seconds passed before he smiled and seemed to recognise us from town seeing us creep closer forward with a friendlily stance. Nearing Shanga he continued to jabber and speak under his breath and seemed to be calling out for his lost wife and at times even shouting loudly which made us look around hoping no beasts flooded out of the city to silence us, luckily however we were able to put an arm round Shanga who quickly latched onto Elora which seemed to slowly calm his shaking and ranting.
Looking around we found very little on the cadaver men other than a few basic weapons but did notice a well in the middle of the courtyard where Shanga had been fighting. Looking down the well nothing could be seen but darkness so after measuring the depth with a rock Jace decided to pull out his light quartz and quickly fly down the well to see what was at the bottom, sadly however the search found little other than a dusty dried up well from many years ago, this alone proves how tight the Theran unbelievers must have been as so far we have searched a well and a fountain and not found one offer of a coin to the passions, the well however did prove useful as myself and Gron threw the cadaver men bodies down the hole to stop them rising again.
I have to admit we all looked at each other with both worry and suspense as our plan had been to sneak into the undead queens territory and rescue our friend, now however we have a screaming mad man and a half unconscious Ork who could wake up at any second, not to mention a huge Thundra Beast can be heard grunting and snorting from some distance away, in fact from what it seems our plans of sneaking in undetected have gone right up the creek. We again discussed what to do and can remember Shanga ranting in the background saying something about a shiny thing and his lost wife, nearly screaming at this point Elora just managed to settle him back down and think we all knew that each second that past was a second lost, so against all the odds we pressed onwards towards the undead queens lair as we have only one chance to save Sekra life.
We walked through the dusty ruined streets over Parlainth for at least several hours until the mid day sun was high in the sky above us, and I think it was around that time that Jace and Rastin both studying maps we had bought in Haven pointed ahead of us and said “The Catacombs” which they both seemed to agree upon. Looking ahead was an awesome sight indeed with crumbling buildings still stretching out into the skies making up a huge area of almost tomb like vaults with catacombs that spread deep underground, again studying the maps we found the place marked secret entrance as by all accounts a part of the wall had collapsed there giving easy entrance to the lair of the undead queen meaning we could avoid many of the large walls and unsafe buildings.
Clenching our weapons and quietening Shanga the best we could we stepped forward along the dusty broken road towards the catacombs and it was not long before we found the small section of broken wall which was where the map described, from there however we looked into the darkness with only a sketchy map of what Twiceborn’s lair looked like. Still riding the large Thundra Beast we tied him up outside in a well hidden spot and had little choice but to step inside the darkness alone which lead off into a dark corridor that led underground, we did however take the semi consciousness Ork and Shanga with us as perhaps in some way they could help, or perhaps the queen herself is looking for this Ork or it could be an advantage if we delivered him, either way we walked as silently as possible which was not easy in the small crumbling corridors.
We seemed to walk for some time and think the mood started to pick up a little as we never expected to get this far into the catacombs without being spotted or at least having to fight, perhaps however our mood rose to soon as turning a corner in the corridor we entered a large cavern like room that had 10 different exits all of which looked exactly the same. Walking slowly in to the cavern revealed little to us other than 10 different exits from this large dusty room with ancient cobwebs that fluttered in the musty breeze. Taking several steady and cautious steps into the room we all looked ahead wondering what to do when all of a sudden we heard a noise from down one of the tunnels, quickly identifying what tunnel it was we decided to head down and investigate which soon led into an encounter with the walking dead.
Silently heading down the corridor we walked around the corner straight into a large group of Cadaver Men, one of which spotted us and let out a loud grown warning the others as he pointed with his dusty white bone fingers. Within only a few seconds the large group of Cadaver Men had spun around several almost hissing at us as they growled from behind long dead faces, suddenly they began to charge and several more began shouting for reinforcements, at this point however I think we all had the same idea and someone shouted “back to the door” and the group began retreating up the corridor hoping to hold the one doorway where we originally entered.
Quickly running up the dark corridor, light and shadow flashed across ancient rock and we could hear the scraping noises of Cadaver Men surging up behind us as we ran, the big surprise however came when we entered the large chamber room with the 10 different corridors as while we came crashing out of one corridor straight into the middle of the room countless undead flooded out of the other corridors seeing us almost bump into each other in pure shock. I have to say that for a second the Cadaver Men in front of me almost looked as shocked as we did but within only seconds their faces changed seeing them lash out immediately towards us whilst more swarmed out of the tunnels around us, to our surprise however the few glancing blows did little but harry us until we were totally surrounded and cut off on all sides with at least 50 Cadaver Men ready to attack.
Snarling and growling with rotting flesh still falling of their bones the Cadaver Men looked like they were going to swarm us and I think we were all panicking at this stage until we heard a dry raspy voice simply saying “Who are you and how did you get here?” and can remember seeing one of the larger undead figures step forward who seemed to speak with a croaky voice that somehow still worked from within his dusty lungs. Shaking slightly and spinning around trying to watch in every direction we were totally surrounded and explained we had come see seek the council of the undead queen Twiceborn and with that the large undead figure asked us to drop our weapons which he did with an almost arrogant and tricky smile as he knew we had no other choice.
Totally surrounded by gnarling undead and with our lights flickering in the darkness we knew that if we put down our weapons and they attack that we would surely be dead, on the other hand if we try and fight our way out then we are heavily outnumbered and would be lucky if even one of us escaped the onslaught. I think standing there for those few moments were some of the most terrifying in my life and unlike the living the dead who will tear you apart with their bare hands and rotting teeth often turning you into one of the walking dead for all eternity, sadly however we had very little choice so very slowly one by one we placed our weapons on the ground and have to say our hearts jumped at the very last one touched the floor as the entire room of Cadaver Men burst towards us like lighting leaving us only seconds to react and lift our arms to protect ourselves.
My heart pounded hard in my chest as the Cadaver Men hands began dragging me to the floor and seemed to be trying to restrain me before binding my hands with simple dusty rope and placed a musty blood stained bag over my head. I remember seeing the others in the same position and after a while were stud up and led off into the darkness seeing us walk for some time all along been held and pushed along by the bony dry hands of the dead. It was sometime later that the air changed like we were walking into a bigger chamber and after about 30 seconds we were pushed to our knees before the tattered cloth bags were pulled from our heads relieving the room before us.
Coughing slightly as the dusty bag was removed we opened our eyes to a large dimly lit room that had at least 50 undead Cadaver Men standing around us, lifting our heads however was perhaps the most astonishing sight as standing in centre place was a huge dark throne made of granite and obsidian like rock and seemed to be decorated with skulls and faces of trapped souls carved upon the dark rock surface, and think we all gasped a little as sitting inside the huge throne was the dead and rotting body of a female T’Skrang who was still dressed in full adventuring gear, it was as we watched however that this body suddenly moved its head and looked directly towards us.
The dead T’Skrangs mouth slowly parted revealing blackened and blood stained teeth that rotted in her mouth when suddenly she let out a mysterious and almost frightening voice that said, “Who dares disturb the lair of Twiceborn?” and can remember seeing her yellowing puss filled tongue as her decaying lips once again closed. Kneeling in respect to the undead queen seemed the safest option so we began explaining that we had come in hope of saving our friend Sekra who had been taken whilst not of sound mind, we all noticed that Sekra was at the far side of the room strapped to some kind of magical looking alter that seemed to pulse evil energy.
Twiceborn the undead queen let out a rusty deep laugh and asked us what we had to offer in exchange and being fair as we were surrounded by undead and felt grateful that she even asked and did not have us killed on the spot, however we explained we had information regarding her undead minions as we had over heard some of them during the undead carnival planning some kind of attack without her authority, we also explained we had saved a strange mounted Ork who was been searched for by a large number of cloaked figures and could be of use if questioned, we even had Shanga who had come here looking for his wife who had been turned into one of Twiceborns servants and had gone mad due to her loss, we hoped somehow to barter a deal.
The undead queen did not seem persuaded and seemed to take some kind of small evil delight in reminding us she could have us slaughtered as we speak seeing the undead around the room snarl and snap at us ready to pounce within a single command, luckily however something suddenly happened as from one of the corridors we heard a sudden commotion that sounded like people running up the tunnel followed by sounds of growls and further undead like noises and have to say we were shocked to see a large group of Cadaver Men running into the room led by the same undead who had run the carnival in Haven, and bursting in the room the leader pointed towards the queen and shouted “kill her” to which the queen screamed “how dare you challenge me” and within seconds countless undead began facing each other off with half the room on the queens side and the other half on the challengers side.
The queen suddenly shouted towards us saying “kill them and you can have your friend for free” and with that the large group of undead charged towards us all. Within the first few seconds the undead forces clashed into each other and I can remember my large sword being dropped on the floor in front of me by one of the queens men. Needing little else the whole group jumped up without weapons just in time for the first wave of attackers to crash into us all of which letting out aggressive blows against us. I think at this point we were confused should we try and kill the powerful and legendary queen of the dead and help the attackers, or do we still need the queen and should we help protect her to barter our own safety here in the forbidden catacombs of the dammed.
Without having much choice the queens attackers also attacked us seeing us thrust into a position of protecting the undead queen who had offered us the life of Sekra which was our original mission, so within seconds we found ourselves in a bloody combat right in the heart of the undead queens lair seeing countless undead hands lash out towards us as the queens guard fought to hold off the renegade attackers. Forming a half circle between us and the queen witnessed a large number of undead target us giving us all multiple opponents that lashed out towards us. I am unsure just how long the fight lasted but I remember swinging my sword at various enemies bringing down mighty blows upon their frail rotting bodies and remember seeing the rest of the group fighting just as hard seeing the Cadaver Men around them go further into a undead rage where they feel no pain.
I remember slashing down the last of the enemies before me when the queen suddenly caught my eye as for the first time she stood up from her throne and shouted “bring him to me” across the room and pointed to the ring leader of the attackers. This beaten undead Cadaver Men named Lenethriel was dragged in front of the queen by her guards where she hurled insults of shame and disgust at the ring leader before reaching down and chanting various strange words until her hand touched the ring leaders head seeing it envelop in a strange swirling black energy that made Lenethriel’s body shake violently like she was draining his very soul leaving him as a withered and lifeless carcass that fell to the floor, spitting an almost gluey mixture of yellow puss and deep red clotted blood at the Lenethriel. The queen lifted her foot and brought it smashing down on his skull shattering it into dust on the floor and grinding her heel into the ground before kicking his body away.
Even in death she kept her composure like a queen and simply threw her dusty black attire over her shoulder and looked at us with a deep and deathly stare before thanking us for our help in an almost lordly manor, however keeping her word her guards released Sekra who quickly ran over to us hugging me tightly and shivering with her head pressed against my shoulder. The queen seemed to act well as she portrayed little shock or outward anger about the attack but made sure to speak regarding her power and authority perhaps to help quench any further uprising in the ranks, and can remember at this point Kaerless was a little cheeky suggesting that perhaps all was not well in the queens domain after all, again the queen seemed un-phased by this remark but did look Kaerless up and down with her dark eyes, who knows perhaps she could tell that Kaerless is one who has walked amongst the dead which is why he was not killed, the queen did however take the Ork and Shanga off our hands which we had little choice about to be honest.
Kaerless however treated the queen with all due respect and managed to ask more questions as after all we had just fought to protect her, so asking various basic questions about the lost city we managed to get a little more information, we also asked about the shining shield that we had all seen in our dreams when we first arrived at Haven. The queen seemed to concentrate for several seconds before saying she knows about the dreams of the shield but that nobody knows where or what the item is, some people however report it is guarded by dragon kin who are powerful descendants of the dragon bloodlines, the one thing people know for sure however is each dream people have tells them to look towards the West and by all accounts some people have gone looking with many never returning at all while the ones that do usually come home wounded and empty handed.
I am unsure the queens information really helped us but she seemed reluctant to answer too much and think the remaining undead guard’s around us were getting anxious at our continued presence seeing the queen bid us fair well and said a number of her guards would escort us to the entrance in the wall where we had originally entered the catacombs. I remember as the Cadaver Men began marching us out of the chamber the queen cast one last look towards and for a split second her eyes seemed to glint a deep blood red before she turned her head away, with that we were led up a large series of dark corridors that seemed never ending, however keeping quiet and not wanting to anger or alarm the undead escorts we made good time and were soon emerging from the hole in the wall where we had entered the catacombs seeing the undead push us out before they started pulling away huge bits of the wall seeing the remaining wall crumble and seal the hole from inside.
Stepping out into the sunlight and the fresh air was a great relief to us all and for a moment we all smiled with the sun stinging our eyes, lifting our hands above our heads to block the strong sunlight it was not until our vision refocused that the smiles were wiped off our face as we realized we are still deep inside the gigantic lost city of Parlainth where entire groups can die by just walking down one of the cursed and horror infested streets, for now at least we had a long and dangerous walk home but were impressed at least to see the Thundra Beast had survived and was still tied and hidden in the place we left him meaning we could carry a lot of the stuff we found back to Haven with greater ease and felt good that perhaps we would be able to ride into Haven with a huge Thundra Beast that we have freed from the corrupted city.
Cautiously setting off into the lost city ruins we were fairly shocked at what happened as after treating our wounds with magical healing and using the Thundra Beast to carry various items we made good and quick time trying to stick to the route we came in, having picked up the statue peace’s on the way back we managed to sneak through the ruined streets without being noticed and can only assume we had cleared the path on our way in leaving the exit fairly clear, this at least was a great relief as soon after we could see the huge walls and gates of Haven off into the distance and could even see guards gathering and pointed towards us as I rode the huge Thundra Beast out of Parlianth wearing the gleaming gold armour of my people with pride, some of the Trolls even shouted down from the great gates asking us where the hell we got a Thundra Beast from.
It felt good riding into town not only because people recognised us and noticed the huge Thundra Beast but also because we had a nice haul of loot that needed to be looked at by Torgak as obviously he appraises all of the items coming out of the lost city. Riding over to Torgak’s was a good feeling as people smiled at us in the streets and even stroked the large Thundra Beast as we rid past, we soon arrived at Torgak’s and even he seemed happy to see us, or at least seemed happy that we had brought back statue parts as by all accounts they fetch great money in the bigger cities, so gathering up our shared loot that we did not want, Torgak made us a healthy offer for the lot seeing us exceptt his offer and perhaps further increase our good standing with him, well I do not think this town will soon forget The Circle of Light and our many good and heroic deeds here.
It was later that evening after bathing and cleaning our wounds that we ventured into the bar for an evening meal and to tell stories of our adventure into the lost city which people always enjoyed hearing even if we made fools of ourselves. It was at that table as we sat down that we all remained silent for a moment and simply smiled knowing we had once again made it out of Parlianth alive, that we had ventured into one of the most dangerous cities in the world and had not only met the queen of the undead but also completed our mission and saved our friend, made a fair price on the loot we brought out and not to mention people will not soon forget the Thundra Beast been ridden out of Parlianth by a knight with golden armour, maybe that could help me find my brothers in the future, for now at least it seems my fate becomes ever more entwined with The Circle of Light, for that moment at least I think we all felt like brothers as we slowly started to break our bread and drink sweet wine.
We sat only for a few moments silently as the hustle of the bar continued around us seeing us smile as someone began playing a flute seeing the tipsy locals beginning to dance, it was around that second as we sat back and began to smile that I felt a hand quickly touching my arm and turning my head witnessed a bewildered Dyntheri stood there, the slender female Elf form The Circle Path Company looked both shocked and relieved to see us and said “Where have you been, do you know the Farstriders are in town?” We explained we had been into Parlainth on a rescue mission and had only recently returned, the news of the Farstriders been in town though was a big deal as they are the group that was connected to Lady Yuriel who The Circle Path Company hired us to find, looking down at us with anxious eyes the slender female said “Lord Remiel wants to see you immediately” seeing us once again brave the darkness of Havens streets.