Ascent Prologue

By Dogthing

The dark shape gliding across the water almost seemed like a wave. It made no sound but for a gentle lapping of water. But when waves reach the shore, they break, and fade away. This thing did not. The object slid silently onto the smooth sand beach, almost indistinguishable from the dark, starless canvas of night.

Another dark shape separated from the object, now firmly anchored on the shore. The figure crept up to the sand dunes, and motioned down to the shore. Three other figures materialized from the dark shape, and swiftly sprinted up the beach to join the first. The storm clouds that were hanging above the calmed coastline were starting to dissipate, revealing the radiant disk of the moon. It's cold, silver light shone down upon the beach. The light illuminated the figures huddled in the dunes, and the object from whence they emerged. A towering shape grew beyond the dune that sheltered the fidgetting shapes. The moonlight briefly revealed a stone turret jutting from the dark shape of a castle beyond the beach. No lights were twinkling in the windows of the building.

"I don't like how quiet it is here," a whisper could be barely heard among the soft rustle of the wind upon the beach grasses.

"Be quiet, we still don't know what's up there," a hushed response.

"Quill, go scout ahead. Reed and Erson, get those arbalests ready in case we need a getaway," a harsh whisper silenced the others.

The group acted with precision the moment the leader issued the commands. One figure darted ahead, as two others hefted hulking things over the dunes, the moonlight glinting off of the the deadly silver tip of a crossbolt. The scout flitted in and out of the shadows, not even the moon's persecuting light could pierce the shadows in which the scout crept. Another cloud extinguished the moon, and it's radiance along with it. The coast plunged into darkness once more.

A half-hour passed before the scout returned, trudging over the dunes to rejoin his comrades.

"Well, any hostiles?" The leader asked.

The scout turned his pale face towards him. "No hostiles," he said, a catch in his voice. "No survivors either."

The leader lowered his head. He expected this, but it was still disheartening. "Okay. Back to the Efreet, we'll come back with a detachment later this morning, in the daylight. There's nothing we can do now."

The four seemed reluctant to leave, but they followed their leader back to the slim, black rowboat they came ashore on.

Chapter 1

Dogthing's Fanfiction