Rohl had felt deaths embrace for only a second, its peaceful welcoming embrace had been snatched from him by an agonising pain in his chest. A pain that jolted him from his deathly state. The once bloody wound in his heart throbbed with a terrible burning pain as the wound sealed and closed itself, leaving only a brutal jagged scar in its place
Before Rohl could even begin to contemplate the matter he felt a force push into him. Ell was hugging him tightly, truly relieved to see him alive, her own tears and wounds were forgotten as she clutched onto him. Rohl was quick to return the hug, and soon began a constant muttering of thank you’s to both Ell and the gods who had graciously saved him.
They stayed in this embrace for what felt like a lifetime as the dungeon rotted around them.
“We did it, they're safe, they're all safe,” Rohl whispered out in relief.
“I know, you can thank me later.”
Rohl chucked before he collapsed to the side in quiet laughter. All the tension of the past week vanished in a second and Rohl couldn’t stop himself from laughing, Ell was soon to follow. It was in their laughter that they found themselves encased in bright white light. A blinding light that left them rubbing at their eyes.
As the light faded, Rohl had to rub his eyes several more times, not believing what he was seeing. They were no longer in the forest but a small clearing near the path they had taken to get to Bureihal forest in the first place, maybe a few hours hard ride from Elmon.
“What the.” Rohl half muttered as he looked around the clearing, all the possessions he thought he thought lost were with him, stored safely in his knapsack.
“Were out, oh thank the gods, they must have moved us. Thank you, thank you,” he spoke as he let himself collapse fully onto the floor, his body laid outstretched on his back. He was finally safe and it felt good. The first time he had truly been safe in a while.
“Thank you, thank you,” he said once again, as he thanked the gods for saving his life and getting him out of that awful place. “Thank you,” he muttered again much softer as he placed his hand over his heart, feeling the rough edges of the scar.
After a good few seconds of tracing the scar through his torn clothes, he stopped, letting his hands fall to the sides. The adrenaline and fear from the fight was slowly draining away. Despite the blood soaking his clothes, the grime and dirt covering him and the sweat which soaked his skin, he still had a small smile on his face as he processed what had happened.
They had killed a dungeon, saved Elmon and his family even if the realisation of what had happened hadn’t truly sunk in that was still something anyone should smile about. It was a real conflict of emotions going on within him joy and pride at his actions, relief at surviving and glimmers of fear and sadness from what he had been through to do it.
Before he could think on it anymore, he heard Ell speak.
“I’m grateful they saved your stupid life and all but stop thanking them so much, it’s the least they could do given what we did for them,” Ell said after taking an equal amount of time to process everything.
“Please don’t anger them Ell,” he said in return, not wanting to draw any gods ire.
No reply came from Ell as Rohl moved over and hugged her, she had gone through just as much as him. Worse possibly given the agonising possession she had been through, it seemed the gods healing had helped her as well given how well she seemed to be doing. Still, he hugged her anyway letting her know he was here if needed.
They remained like this for a few more seconds in quiet peace before they noticed three figures approaching them on horseback. Almost instantly the pair had stood up, gathered their weapons, and stood ready and waiting in case the figures turned out to be hostile.
A figure who Rohl recognised soon enough to his great surprise “Is that Tarquin?”
“We're from the same village, I don’t like him.”
“And the other two?”
Tarquin had shed his previous attire for a full suit of armour minus the helmet. Further enhancing his knightly appearance. Although he seemed just as surprised to see Rohl as Rohl was to see him.
“Rohl? What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be asleep like the others?” Here he paused finally noticing Ell “And who’s your fetching companion?.”
Ell only looked at him with complete disinterest from her position next to Rohl.
“I got blessed and you know went adventuring and stuff,” Rohl hurriedly said as Tarquin watched him with an examining look. His presence seemed to make Rohl unsure of himself as if he were still back in Shrewsborough and Ell’s ‘what are you doing’ look wasn’t helping with his self-confidence.
Tarquin went to inquire further but a loud screech cut him off. A screech Rohl and Ell recognised from the dying dungeon. With one quick glance, a worried understanding passed between them. The dungeon was dead but that still left its sacrilegious beast. A fact that sent shivers down his back and wiped away all the relief and confidence he had acquired from surviving the dungeon. He’d hoped that the dungeons death would have cut off the beast’s life supply as well, not that he had put much hope into that idea.
Every few seconds the piercing screeching sound would reappear, still far off but getting closer and closer with every second that passed.
Tarquin’s party just seemed confused and curious about the sound.
“Tarquin, we need to get to Elmon right now, can we hitch a ride?”
“What, why?” Tarquin replied, a confused frown on his face.
The screeching sounded again, closer, and closer.
“I’ll explain on the way, but we all need to go now.” Rohl said a sense of urgency and warning in his voice.
Rohl had always thought Tarquin was a prick but a reliable prick if needed. True to Rohl thoughts Tarquin nodded despite seeming unsure of his words.
Rohl was given a ride by Tarquin’s first companion. A similarly dressed man in his late 20’s with an average but stern appearance who Rohl soon learned was named Gerald. His pointed moustache and short black hair were quite distinctive. Ell was pulled upon the horse of a likewise armoured woman named Willa, a slightly older woman with sharp features and short hair.
Soon after they were racing towards Elmon but despite the horses quickening gallops, the sound was still getting closer. They were not fast enough.
“Can we go any faster?” Rohl called, raising his voice to be heard over the thundering of the horses
Tarquin didn’t answer at first but seemed to decide after a second of thought.
“Gerald, use your blessing.”
The man nodded and at Rohl surprised look mouthed “I am the chosen of Epona.” A second after speaking Gerald closed his eyes and a blue glow emitted from his body. The light was faint but clearly visible as it spread and encircled the horses, giving them an almost ghostly appearance. Their speed seemed to drastically increase after doing so. With this boost they just might make it, well Rohl seriously hoped, he had no intention of fighting a sacrilegious beast and a dungeon both in one day or even a month for that matter.
The screeching was getting louder now, between that and the wind it was hard to hear anything else as the horses ran.
“What are you running from? You might need to run but I’m sure that I could take it on.”
He almost sighed at the Tarquin he remembered before giving out his reply, the wind making it barely audible even to him “Bureihal forest, dungeon, dead, sacrilegious beast, Elmon help.”
“You’re going to have to speak clearer.”
Rohl’s reply was cut short by Willa “We’ve got wolf riders on our tail.”
Ten or so wolf riding goblins were gaining on them, they were slightly smaller than those he had fought with Quinn but no less deadly but there was just something off about them.
“Well lose them at the gate, Elmon is just ahead and the roads clear.” Gerald pointed out as Ell released a few arrows from her bow, it had not seen much action in the dungeon, mostly because they always ended up in close-quarter combat with the monsters almost immediately, that and the thick foliage and trees made getting a shot difficult.
There were no such obstacles here and Elmon was fast approaching, Gerald’s blessing seemed to get them here in no time whatsoever, yet the wolves were still on their tail. Fortunately, Elmon’s guardsmen were just as well equipped as Ell and shots from the wall scared off their pursuers once they were in range of Elmon’s great walls. The wolves seemed to fade away in the distance behind them as they gave up the chase.
Gerald slowed down as they approached the gatehouse; several guardsmen were lining the walls and even more stood armed at the front prepared to fight any wolves that the arrows didn’t scare off or kill.
Two of the guards rushed forward making sure no one was injured, the others kept watch, chatting to themselves as they did so.
“Did we get any?”
“Nah they all ran away.”
“I’m surprised they even came this close.”
Rohl was quick to dismount, and only then did he realise the shrieking had finally ceased but this didn’t bring him any relief, just apprehension and worry as to where it could have gone.
“Close the gates, it’s still out there,” Rohl urged as he rushed to the most senior guardsmen. He seriously doubted the sacrilegious beast would give up so easily, he had heard the anger and pain in its voice, and he doubted it would let him go so easily. Elmon was a well-fortified city with a large garrison but closing the gates would make Rohl feel a lot better.
The guards either laughed at his warning or gave him confused looks.
“The wolves are gone; besides, they were no threat.”
“Don’t be scared laddie.”
“It’s still out there?. You mean that mimic, what can a mimic do to a city.” A guard said from atop the wall.
There had been no mimic chasing them earlier and Rohl’s sense of dread only increased. Before he had even started running his breathing had increased and he could feel his heartbeat rapidly in his chest. Both he and Ell rushed up the stairs to the left of the gate and quickly found themselves atop the wall staring out. The guards below just laughed as did the several near them on the wall.
Rohl could make it out clearly, a mimic stood just out of arrow range. Identical to him, its eyes seemed to be focused on him as it lifted its sword towards Rohl and spoke in a harrowingly quiet voice, a voice that installed fear and terror, a whisper that all heard.
“You die, I eat you, choke on own blood.” It had said, its voice broken and fractured. The guards atop the wall stopped laughing as they saw the mimic change. Several shadowy shapes seemed to blur out of the mimic forming a semicircle before becoming clear. A goblin, troll, ogre, bugbear, alp, golem, wendigo, and piercing spider. Soon these monsters began to shimmer as more and more shadowy figures emerged from them. All of which became monsters. More and more and more. Every second seemed to spawn more and more monsters.
Every guardsman stood frozen in shock and silence. One mimic had become thousands of monsters in only a matter of seconds.
Rohl only had the chance to mutter “Fuck,” before commotion broke out around him as guards ran, shouted, and prepared themselves for the horror before them.
“Close the gates now.”
“Get more men up here.”
“We need more arrows.”
“Close every gate.”
“Ring the bells.”
“Were under siege.”
“Prepare our defences.”
“Get every civilian to the citadel.”
“Ready the enchantments, keep them from breaching the walls.”
“What is that thing?”
Elmon was under siege, the beast had come and Rohl was right in the centre of it.