Cold Shadows - The Lady in black (Ch. 1)

  • Our entry into the farmhouse cellar went exactly as planned. Jon and Alec had burst in first and taken position in front of me, readying their crossbows, while I took a stand at the bottom of the stairs.

    We saw that we had arrived into a smallish, damp room with one closed door and an apparent pile of tattered garments in the middle. Once down there, I felt the presence of an enchantment in the room. I used my mystical skills to see the auras of living and dead entities around, and determined that the apparent pile of garments was actually a collapsed, mummified corpse. I also saw that beyond the door an undead person was sitting while another one lay next to him on the floor.

    My companions’ reaction to me telling of the thing on the floor was understandable: they both fired their crossbows at it, the exploding bolts setting the thing on fire and loosing the garments from around it. I instantly felt a gathering of magicka around me, and saw that this was a trap.

    While my companions worked their crossbows’ reload mechanisms, the flaming mummy rose to its feet, groaning in agony. I invoked the holy word of Arkay to banish the spirit, but to no avail. The spell that I had easily destroyed revenants with before was useless. The creature turned and charged. Jon threw his crossbow at the monster, rolling in front of Alec as it was slowed down by the impact, drawing his sword. I cast more flames at the thing, while Jon slashed with his blade. Still unharmed though badly damaged, the monster grabbed Jon into a bear’s grip, attempting to crush him. His blade stuck out through its back and his arms pinned between the monster’s, he was helpless.

    While Jon struggled, Alec fired another bolt into the monster and drew his blade, attempting to cut one of its arms off. I positioned myself in front of the yet unopened door and the monster, to defend my companions from the other corpse I knew the necromancer would send at me.

    Sure enough, the thing crashed through the door, screaming the murderous rage of the revenant. It was the corpse of an old man, and armed with a rusty sword with which it came at me, slashing wildly. I summoned the strength of Stendarr to cloak me in a protective energy shield, against which the revenant snapped its blade. I proceeded to engulf the thing in flames and, with a wild swing of my sword, cut it legs and disable it from moving.

    As the monster was helpless and burning, I turned to see Alec wrestle a bloodied Jon from the other monster’s grip. That thing was apparently exhausted, and I finished it by casting a bolt of lightning through it, searing clean off an arm and its head. It shrank to the floor, and I then turned again to finish the other monster; but it was unnecessary, for the burning thing moved no more. A weakened corpse, then.

    Then we all paused as we heard a sound as of hands clapping together. I cast a massive light-spell, which revealed the room to be empty, and that the room beyond the splintered door was but a small alcove with a dusty bookshelf, a chair, and a bloodied table. Yet the sound of clapping continued, seemingly sounding from all directions at once. Just when I thought that I can’t bear to hear an evil laugh, we all heard…


    …speech. And not the evil-sorcerer-type, either. A cultured lady, probably a noble by the accent. It said, “Bravo, gentlemen, bravo! I see my minions were no match for your abilities. It matters not; for I already know who decided where Ariel should be buried…the old man told me, sure enough! But I digress. I would introduce myself, were you not so uncivilized as to point your feeble weapons all around. So silly you look, not knowing where to aim. Suppose we have to move the situation ahead somehow…”

    There was a flash, and a black-hooded figure in a dark robe appeared before us. Jon and Alec reacted faster than the eye could see, aiming their crossbows and launching the explosive bolts at the figure. But alas, the bolts did not strike, for at the instant they were launched, the fiend muttered something and changed; its appearance shimmered and became ghostly, and the bolts flew through it, exploding at the wall. I had heard of necromancers being able to shift their bodies momentarily into the spirit realm, but had not thought it actually possible.

    The figure began some sort of ritual, moving its hands and muttering, so I sought to interrupt it, summoning my mystical might again to dispel its connection to the spirit realm. It came to nothing, instead purple light washed all over the necromancer as my magic was drained into her, and the necromancer replied: “Ha, old man, little do you know of my kind! Only I can decide when I shall emerge again. I think…now” The figure flashed back into existence, and finished its ritual, casting a hugely powerful spell.

    Dark waves of energy radiated all around the room. I felt the magic in my brain, rending my soul with terrible visions of dreadful, dim-lit plateaus beneath the earth whereon squatted unmentionable forms gnawing on even less mentionable sundries, and of crumbling, haunted towers beneath a sky of purple witch-light wherein the most cursed of spirits dwell. I could only stand twitching in the grip of utter horror. Neither could I move or do anything, let alone use magic. I barely saw that, to my left, my companions were alike embraced in the cold horror such as can only be conjured up from the nethermost pits of Soul Cairn.

    “I wish I could say that I was sorry, but I can’t since you came here yourself. All of you, thinking yourselves mighty witch hunters! Here’s your might; be paralyzed by the merest glimpse of the realm of the Masters. Now now, since my traveling lackeys are dead, I suppose I will need another one to carry my books. How about it, young man?”. The necromancer drew an ebony dagger, and walked up to Jon.

    I could barely move, but with great effort, I had begun to conjure mana to nullify the horrid visions. Just as the necromancer plunged the blade into Jon’s heart, I was free and did the only coherent thing that came to my tortured mind; used up all my mana to cast a double spell of grand healing and repelling of undead around the room. The effect was instant: the necromancer pulled his blade free and shrank back from Jon, who fell to the floor next to Alec as the horror spell was broken. Jon’s wound healed rapidly while he lay next to Alec.

    I charged at the necromancer, and thrust my blade through her chest. She didn’t even flinch, and instead slashed my arm with her dagger. I immediately felt an icy grip on the whole arm – poison! The necromancer drew another blade; this one carved of bone, and slashed twice at me. Unable to block with my disabled arm, I used my other one to block a strike, while the other one glanced off my armor. My sword still stuck at the necromancer’s chest, and without mana, I felt helpless at the face of this unholy thing. It came at me again, and this time it managed to bury the blade into my thigh with a low, curving strike.

    I felt my whole leg paralyze with pain and cold and, to my horror, saw the necromancer draw my sword from her chest, the wound healing instantly! What the necromancer had was apparently a vampiric blood-dagger of legend.

    Surely I would have soon been killed had I been alone, but Alec, having shrug off the horror of the necromancer’s magic, drew its attention. He rummaged in his backpack, and just as the necromancer turned to him and began another ritual, Alec found and threw a magicka potion at me. I grabbed it and uncorked, drinking the freshening liquid and feeling new magicka gather inside me. The necromancer cast his ritual then, to which I responded with a quick warding spell, creating a shimmering shield of energy in front of me.


    The ward wasn’t nearly strong enough – I fell dazed to the floor as it shattered with a terrible flash. Jon and Alec were badly affected too; they shrieked aloud and abandoned me, bursting to the stairs and running out of sight so fast I couldn’t believe it.

    As I lay on the floor, the necromancer spoke to me: “A clever move, battlemage. Had you not cast that futile preventive spell, I presume you and your pathetic companions would have been scared to death. Since your companions seem to have run away, and you have proven somewhat amusing-“. At this point, having readied the spell quietly, I cast a powerful bolt of lightning at the thing, and hit it dead on. Again, the swirling purple mist! Somehow the fiend was absorbing all magic I could cast at it. Frustrated, I fell into a rage and summoned a massive fireball, which the necromancer absorbed again. Then the faceless figure leapt at me, while casting a poison on the bony blood-dagger.

    I felt the slash on my forehead, and again there was the sense of terrible cold and loss of blood. But there was something else too; all my magicka was sapped! A magicka poison, then. Helpless, I lost all hope and sunk to the floor, writhing in agony until the necromancer sheathed the foul blade.

    I see you’re more brave than intelligent, then. But it matters not. The only reason not to kill you right now and raise you as an obedient servant is that you’re not quite worthy of serving me: you are, apparently, a mediocre mage, do not possess a strong body, and you’re not useful in any other way either. I can summon a skeleton from the Soul Cairn, and even that is more effective as a servant. Therefore, killing you would mean that your corpse would lie here rotting for all eternity, for I believe your companions will not dare come back after the horror of my magic fades from their minds. I don’t think that wasting a mage’s body and soul in such a way, even as pathetic ones as yours, is useful to anyone. So, I believe I consider you free to leave, once you regain your ability to move. Perhaps we shall meet again, when you have gained enough skill; then I should be happy to recruit you as a revenant. Until then, I bid you farewell, old man. Give my greetings to your companions, and allow me to apologize if they soiled themselves; such is a minor repercussion compared to what might have befallen those who try to fight powers they can’t resist.”

    With a bluish flash, the necromancer turned invisible. From the shadows, a blackened skeleton emerged, and gathered the books from the dusty shelf in the adjacent alcove into a satchel, and walked away up the stairs. As I struggled to get up, my light spell expired, and I was alone in the cold shadows.


  • Andy M
    Andy M   ·  May 23, 2013
    I actually based her style of interaction - so to speak - on that of Flagg from The Dark Tower series. But I see what you mean
  • Andy M
    Andy M   ·  May 22, 2013
    Ah I see what you mean
  • Andy M
    Andy M   ·  May 22, 2013
    Just the beginning
    Hmm have to check up who that is, actually she is based of off of a male character but my spouse remarked that the character speaks and acts a lot like a woman After thinking about it, I couldn't help but agree.