Lord of Terror Chapter 12
Na-Krul and the Crypt
By Iced Blood
The crypt was not what I would have expected in the least. I had thought Diablos dungeon impressive. It was nothing compared to this. The walls were made of pitch-black marble, and carved into the walls and ceiling were demonic symbols and statues. Grates covered gaps in the floor, where underneath flowed a river of molten lava.
At some places, the walls were bookcases, filled with ancient books that looked as if they would crumble at a touch. Books were shredded and scattered on the ground.
The combination of being underground and over lava made the crypt surprisingly humid. More surprising still, was that Sephiroth, in his long black trench coat, didnt seem at all bothered by it. In fact, he seemed almost used to it.
I remembered, then, that Sephiroth had lived out his life in the Kurastian rainforest, where the air was always humid. Looking at the rest, though, I saw that he was the only one who didnt notice. Even Marle, with her natural cold due to her element, ice, and her scarce clothing, seemed a bit uncomfortable.
Those who had no assistance at all, Glenn especially, looked about to faint. He didnt let anyone see his discomfort, though. As a soldier, he knew he couldnt complain.
What bothered me, however, was the aura of evil that radiated from the walls. An unnatural fear settled over me, making breathing almost impossible.
Within the shadows at every corner I saw the soft glow of demonic eyes, and sometimes heard the scrape of a claw against the marble wall.
Stay on your toes, I said, Theres something very dangerous about this place. I walked slowly and silently down a hall, and stopped suddenly, my eyes fixed on the corner less than twenty feet from me. As I watched, a thin, skeletal hand reached out and held onto the wall. Another, this one with gray flesh still hanging from the finger bones, reached out below the first.
Then a head appeared from behind the corner. It first resembled a skeleton, but the same gray flesh that covered one of its hands was stretched over it. Black, sunken eye sockets stared through me. White, thin hair covered the head, but as the creature moved, its hair fell out in clumps.
It moved a bit more, revealing its horrid, jagged teeth, curled back in a frozen sneer. As I watched this, I heard the shrill, piercing laugh of a banshee. It sent a shiver up my back, and I tightened my grip on Demonslayer.
What is it, Janus? Garnet asked.
That that thing I mumbled, numbly raising a finger to point at the corner. It was gone. Garnet looked back at me, concerned. I saw something. I said. Must have been my imagination. Still, keep an eye out. This place makes me uneasy.
She nodded, and wiped the sweat from her forehead. I noticed her eyes darting back and forth nervously. If anything, they had heard the thing laugh. She stepped nearer to me.
I looked back at Glenn. His hair was already drenched with sweat from the combination of the air and his steel armor. Marle looked at him, concerned, but he never said a word. He moved on, seemingly forcing himself to take each step.
Marle, remember your magic. Do you think it would be possible to create an aura of cold around us so that the air wouldnt make us so exhausted? Well be in no condition to defend ourselves in this condition.
She nodded, smiling, and closed her eyes. We stopped walking as she began to chant. She clasped her hands as if in prayer, and her hair blew up in a wind coming up from her feet. A circle of blue formed on the floor where she stood, and as she chanted, it grew larger, until we all were standing on it. Then, it formed a transparent blue dome that enveloped us.
Instantly it became easier to breathe. The cold air within the dome was a wonderful contrast to the damp, hot air of the crypt. Our pace quickened considerably, and soon it seemed just like the regular dungeon.
Except for the fact that the only light source was the lava flowing beneath us, that is. Shadows were everywhere.
Perfect place for demons to hide. I thought.
My thoughts were interrupted by a scream. At first I thought it was that thing I had seen earlier, but this sounded much more frightened. I turned back.
Wait! I ordered sharply. Wheres Schala!?
Sephiroth turned back. There, in a shadowed corner, we saw two forms. One of them had glowing orange eyes, which, oddly, were tilted to one side. A ghoulish, deep laughter came from it.
I ran forward, leapt over Sephiroth, and out of the dome of cold. The heat hit me like a wall, but I didnt care. My sword, I noticed, had something besides its runic name carved into the blade now. There were words now, in the language of magic. They glowed softly.
Lol nach kolin draconus! I shouted the words, and instantly the blade flashed and glowed a bright blue. The Great Ones power flooded through me.
In the light of my swords glow I saw Schala, held by the neck by a huge demon. Its muscular body was rotted and decaying as I watched, and it held a large shovel in its left hand. Its head was tilted to the side, resting on its shoulder.
I swung the blade in a wide arc, hitting the beast at its exposed neck. It cut deep, causing green blood to flow from the wound. It let go of Schala, and she lumped forward, breathing hard. She rushed over to the others.
The demon howled in rage and began to advance toward me. It raised its shovel, preparing to strike. I raised Demonslayer into a defensive position.
Lets go. I said, a small grin coming to my face. The beast let out a howl of rage and rushed toward me, its weapon held high. As the shovel came down, I raised my blade to block it.
To my surprise, when the sword met the wood of the handle, it didnt break it! The beast pushed downward, its horrid face so close to me that I could feel its breath.
I saw an opening. I jumped to the right, and the monstrous demon fell forward, off balance. I twirled the sword, and jumped forward, slicing into its back.
It arched its back in pain, and threw me backward. I landed a good four feet away, nearly losing my footing. I raised the sword, let the magic of the Great One flow freely through my veins.
I looked at Glenn, who had drawn the Masamune. The broadsword was glowing just as brightly as Demonslayer. The Kehistanian knight held it high in salute, then rushed forward, slamming the sword into the demon with such force that the sword drove itself through its body entirely.
From behind it, I did the same. The combined magic of the two blades caused the demon to literally explode.
I walked slowly back to my party, my head bowed. I held my sword limply, nearly exhausted from the exertion of magical force.
Garnet caught me as I almost collapsed, helped me up. Are you okay, darling? She asked. I nodded weakly, and took out an energy potion, drank it quickly.
Clear-headed again, I was able to examine more closely the surroundings. I looked into the shadows, and shook my head. More of them. I said, pointing. Six at least.
Damn. Glenn groaned, lowering his head. We had enough trouble taking one. Now theres six? Still, he raised his sword, prepared to fight.
No. I said, putting a hand on his shoulder. It would be useless. Lets go back up. We need to think of what to do. Flea, Slash, and
Arian, Your Lordship.
Yes. Slash, Flea, and Arian, you should go back home.
That I can do with my magic. Flea announced, grinning. She began to chant, and in moments the three disappeared. She never ceased to amaze me.
Lets go. We need a bit more help if we are to survive this place. I said, gesturing for my party to follow me.
What will we do? Glenn asked. We can barely handle battling here. What kind of help could we get?
Oh, dont worry, my friend. I have an idea I replied, turning and walking up the staircase up to Tristram.
Back in Tristram, Marle dissipated the dome of cold. Alright. Check with Griswold and see if he has any enchanted armor that we might use. Im going to go into my fathers library and get the shield. I said, and the others made their way to the blacksmith. I took out the quarterstaff.
Sacred knowledge is hidden to all but he who holds the key. I recited, and the world again seemed to fall from me.
Once again in the library of my father, I quickly made my way to the book The Key to Heritage and took it from the shelf. It spun around and revealed the shield. I took it from its place and slid it on. Once again I felt its magic, and I was confident again. I took out the quarterstaff.
Past the threshold, enter the suns light again.
When I was back, Glenn walked up to me. He has two suits of magically enhanced plate mail.
Fine. Well be the two wholl do most of the hand to hand. Sephiroth can handle himself. How much does he want?
Nothing. He says that since we destroyed Leorics curse and killed the Butcher that he owes us this much. Nice guy. He smiled. He turned when Griswold beckoned us to come to the shop.
The armor he gave us was magnificent. A shining blue-silver, the armor sparkled with the magical properties placed upon it. I took my suit and quickly and efficiently donned it, hooking my cloak to the backs of the shoulder plates. The magic of the armor combined with my shield was enough to make anyone else light-headed. I was fine, however, because I had learned to control the effects of magical artifacts.
Glenn did the same, hooking on his green cape and buckling his sword belts to his waist and back. My fathers sword was on his back, and the Masamune at his side.
I had Demonslayer and Soul Harvest loosed in their scabbards, and the pouches of potions hooked to the plated belt of the armor. Alright. Now for the help I mentioned.
You mean the armor wasnt your plan? Glenn was a bit surprised.
No. I said, then loudly whistled. Nightsong landed next to me a few moments later.
Nightsong, we need your help. We need a bit of backup in the crypt. Do you remember how to polymorph? I asked.
Of course. She said. She closed her eyes, and slowly began to shrink. This time, though, instead of a horse she took the form of a Drow, the ancient race of evil elves. Black dragon scale armor covered her body. White hair framed her dark gray skin. A long shamshir with a black handle hung at her side.
She grinned, revealing slightly pointed teeth. Her eyes were the same red as her draconic ones. Is this what you had in mind, Master?
Certainly Stalinth. She smiled again, nodded appreciatively. Then let us go.
He watched intently as the dragon, in the form of a dark elf, walked to the crypt, and looked back to ensure that her master and his party followed. They did.
The Mystic Nightlord, clad in his plated armor with the magical shield and sword, was first. Following him was the Alexandrine girl. Then came the Kurastian soldier, wearing nothing at all to protect himself. The Zealian princess, with only a breastplate, plated boots and chain gloves, came after him. Last came the Kehistanian princess and her captain.
They are utilizing the assistance of the dragon, Master. He informed, turning. His robes whispered around his ankles as he walked to his master.
Do nothing. Came a voice that still sent a shiver up his spine. I care not what they do to Na-Krul. The conniving insect. This last was hissed.
Pardon my intrusion, Master, but Na-Krul is one of your own- He began.
Na-Krul is nothing but a thieving bastard! the demon snarled. If they kill him, they do my work for me. If he kills them, so much the better. I shall then kill him as reward. The demon showed a ghastly grin, revealing his sharply pointed teeth. His black eyes shone with bloodlust.
Very well, Diablo, Lord of Terror. He said, bowing. If you do not mind my saying so, Master, you would do well to keep watch on this group of mortals. The Nightlord holds the blade of blood, and within the blade lies the power of the Great Serpent.
I know this well. He replied. And I know the power of these mortals. They have thus far defeated the Black King and your demon the Butcher. I have no need to worry myself over it, however. They may deserve commendation for their prowess, but they are no match for me.
Of course. He replied, and turned once again to watch the party of heroes. He grinned evilly, knowing that these mortals were walking to their doom, even with the dragon.
Marle automatically re-conjured the ice dome as we entered. I was thankful, because even the magic of my armor could not block out the extreme heat.
Nightsong-um, Stalinth proved to be a great addition to the party. Her skill was astounding, and her strength in magic was enough to make me seem mediocre.
The six demons we had run from earlier were burnt to cinders by a blast of flame from her fingertips. Her sharp eyes caught the ones who tried to sneak up on us.
I still had one advantage over her, however. My sword and shield held the magic of my father and of her own kind, so I had more magical power when it came to physical combat.
Master ? Stalinth ventured, as we were creeping along the halls.
I sense something here. Its rather scarce but
What was that? I asked, looking around. I had heard the voice clearly, but there was no speaker in my line of sight. Stalinth seemed more startled than I was.
Something I have not heard in quite a while She said softly.
Sister Stalinth ?
Brother Norrel! She exclaimed. He is here!
Norrel? I asked. Norrel Bladehold the Copper, the great Copper Dragon?
Yes. My Brother Norrel is here. I hear him. Whosoever resides here is holding my brother. He shall meet his end. Brother Norrel, fear not!
Sister Stalinth, I hear you. The demon Na-Krul binds me here. I know not how. His magic binds me, and I cannot escape. I trust that with our combined strength, we can defeat him.
I sense others with you.
My master, the Nightlord of Deronach, and his party are with me. We will help you, my Brother.
Thank you, Stalinth. I trust in you
The voice of the Copper faded, and I heard nothing more. Bladehold the Copper He lives also?
Yes. Stalinth nodded, moving forward again. You see, Master, my brothers and sisters and I, we were the last and greatest of our race. There were ten of us: Naio, Galanodel, Thalanos, Londalach, Noctrana, Holimion, Aurora, Siannodel, Norrel, and myself.
Nightbreeze the Silver, Moonwhisper the Gold, Viridian the Green, Firestar the Red, Starshine the Bronze, Lightflash the Blue, Palemoon the White, Moonbrook the Brass, Bladehold the Copper, and you, Nightsong the Black. I said, remembering the human names for the great dragons. The legendary serpents, last of the greatest race of Sanctuary. The Five Chromatics and the Five Metallics.
Yes. We lived together under the guidance of the Great One, the most ancient of us. Sadly, it was not to last. We were separated when Diablo awakened. His power allowed his brothers and his underlings to capture us. The Prince of Pain received Siannodel, The Maiden of Anguish called upon Thalanos, the Lord of Lies captured Aurora, Mephisto caught Holimion, Baal caught Noctrana, Diablo took Londalach, Izual took Naio, and I was taken by the Sin Lord. It seems Norrel was given to this demon, Na-Krul.
And what of Moonwhisper?
Ah, Galanodel was fortunate. Before he could be taken, the Platinum Lord, Archangel Tyrael, saw what had happened and brought my golden brother to him in Heaven.
Archangel Tyrael Glenn repeated. The patriarch of my religion. He and Moonwhisper the Gold, patriarch of the dragons, brothers in arms against the denizens of Hell. He grinned. Very fitting.
Quite. Stalinth agreed. She quickly drew her blade as a gravedigger, as I dubbed them, approached her. A few slashes of the silver scimitar and the monster fell with a strangled cry. She kept the weapon drawn, searching the shadows. She swept forward in a graceful leap, slashing down at a monster I could not see. She held up the head of another gravedigger before tossing it into a corner.
One question Marle asked when the Drow returned. How will your kind continue to live if only one of each color exists?
"A new breed of dragon will be born in the next generation. There are five females, and five males left of us, as luck would have it. We will each breed with our opposite. That is, if we can save the others. As it is, my mate is Norrel."
So as long as we defeat this...Na-Krul, dragons will live on. Marle observed. Stalinth nodded.
As we moved on, Stalinth noticed something in the center of the room. She beckoned us to follow her. It was a book, set on a stand, opened to a page written in an ancient language. It was the only page, it seemed, with writing on it.
Inspecting it, I found it was a language I could not decipher. Stalinth, can you read this? I asked. She walked over and looked at it. She seemed surprised.
This is draconic, my native tongue. Whoever wrote this had knowledge now lost to humans and elves alike. Let me see... The Meeting I have tried spells, threats, abjuration and bargaining with this foul creature - to no avail. My methods of enslaving lesser demons seem to have no effect on this fearsome beast.
Looks like this demon is much stronger than the others here. Glenn said, looking around nervously. This Na-Krul may be stronger than Diablo himself, for all we know.
I doubt that, but nonetheless we should prepare for it as such. Whoever wrote this holds ancient knowledge, and even he cannot fight Na-Krul. Hopefully, with the power of the Great One, and Stalinth on our side, we can handle him. I shuddered. I had known Na-Krul would be strong, since he could capture a dragon with his magic, but I wasnt expecting him to be as powerful as this journal portrayed him to be. Garnet reached over and took my hand. I squeezed it, thankful that my armor hid my trembling and muffled my heart beat.
Lets stop here for tonight. Schala, you and I can conjure a shield so we all can sleep easily tonight. This crypt will take all our strength to overcome. We all need to be alert. She nodded, and together we made a dome of magic surround us, much like the dome of ice Marle had conjured before.
I watched as a gravedigger attempted to break the shield. The shield did not give at all, and I couldnt even hear the monsters roars of rage.
Soon it gave up and shuffled along back into the shadows. It was then I realized I was holding my breath. I let it out slowly.
I sat down next to Garnet and Stalinth. This quest to help the people of Tristram is turning out to be much more troublesome than I had first thought. I said. I only wonder who in his right mind would free Diablo in the first place.
Thats just it. Sephiroth interjected. No one in his right mind would do it. It had to have been someone insane. He shook his head.
Like you? I asked, grinning. You must be insane to come down here with only your sword and a coat.
Ive fought in wars like this. And I mean two hundred to one odds, too. The fact that I wear no armor causes the enemy to look at me as a weak, easy kill. That is where they go wrong. It puts them in a false sense of security.
Theres a strange, twisted sense to that. I said. But dear Natunari, it seems just plain crazy.
Natunari? Who the hell is that?
The matriarch of my religion. Natunari is the Goddess of Magic, creator of Elves. Hardly anyone believes in Her anymore, but I do, and I know She exists.
The Silver Moon. It is Her celestial form. It is only seen by Her followers. Most only see the white moon. I see both. I shook my head. Only two people believe in Her now...me, and Slash Windblade.
You follow Natunari... Schala said.
I nodded. Reaching behind my cloak, I drew a short, kriss-style sword. At about three feet long, the blade was shining with an inner radiance, and the hilt was forged in the shape of two hawk wings. The sword of a Natunari Priest. I said.
Only one of Her faith would wear such a weapon. She smiled. Then, chanting a small incantation, a bundle wrapped in cloth appeared in her hands. She set it down in front of me. Your father once told me, just about the time he found out Mother was with child, that he probably wouldnt ever see you. I didnt know what he meant, then.
He gave me this, and told me that if you ever followed in his religion, to give it to you.
I picked it up and unwrapped it. Inside was a sword, identical to mine, except for the fact that the hilt was made of gold, and the blade of silver. Reinforced with magic, it was just as durable as steel. The...sword of the Highpriest... I said.
Yes. He was the Highpriest of the Natunari Order. And now, by right, you take his title. She said.
I took both swords, and placed them pommel-to-pommel. The magic of both blades bonded them together, making a dual-bladed sword, deadliest of weapons. Placing both sheathes on the two blades, I strapped it to my back, along with Soul Harvest. The Highpriest of Natunari, the Nightlord of Deronach, and the King of Westmarch... I murmured. Life definitely is getting interesting.
Ill say. Garnet said, smiling. I come to Tristram to help my cousin and I end up in a dungeon going after Diablo. She took hold of my hand. And you realize that besides all that, you now have a tie with Alexandria.
I smiled. Yeah. I squeezed her hand. Seems that weve formed an alliance between quite a few kingdoms. Through this journey, weve formed an alliance between Deronach, Westmarch, Kehistan, Alexandria, Zeal, and Kurast. Quite an accomplishment, Id say.
Strange to say Kehistan and Deronach are allies, eh, Magus? Glenn grinned. Just ten years ago, we were at war, and now... He chuckled.
Yeah, but that war gave me a kind of reputation.
Reputation? Schala asked, a strange look on her face. What kind of reputation?
One I am not proud of. I replied, staring at the floor. Butcher, they called me. I struck fear into the heart of the most seasoned veteran. Children were not permitted to speak my name.
But one thing, however small, you can be proud of. I looked behind me at the weapon on my back. I never killed in the name of my goddess. Even when I killed to save my own people, I never took a life in Natunaris Holy name. I closed my eyes. I couldnt do it.
I looked over at Glenn. You, Glenn Travis, who have fought against me personally. Do you think me heartless, as so many do?
I can honestly say I do not. The fact that you willing to help the people of Tristram for no reward is enough to convince me. I know the man beneath the mask of death. I have come to know and respect you, and I fully understand that you did not willingly become a child of war.
Though I was your enemy, that time is gone and I now go as far to call you friend.
Youre a good man, Glenn. I said with a slight grin. Thank you. At least I know the people here trust me.
With our lives, my friend. Sephiroth replied. But now, we should get some sleep. Something tells me well need our strength up for this place. He shuddered, looking around him at the shadow-shrouded crypt.
Right. No watch tonight, we all need to sleep. I said, and lay down on the ground. Garnet lay next to me, and I used my cloak to cover us both. I was asleep within moments.
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