HIDDEN SECRETS OF DARKSHINE part 2
Inside the hut, a dirt-floor and a vast labyrinth of twisted passages led to a single, bloated cavity. My nose begged for retreat from the vile-odors but I was determined to discover the Hidden Secrets of Darkshine. The rubicund brick walls looked to be hand patted from grave-dirt and blood; no doubt baked in the ovens of Hell. The witch’s elaborate furnishings were all crafted of rotted corpses. She told me to sit … and I could not refuse. Flames rose from the skeletal mouth of a Great Western Dragon in the center of the chamber. Marennon mandibles, covered with sagging-skin, embraced me like an unwanted lover. I watched Leprasy drop thorn-berries into a boiling cauldron made from an ogre’s skull.
She turned on me and smiled, showing rotted and fermenting teeth. A black snake-like tongue was coiled in the back of her gaping mouth and a too-soft voice dripped Witchblade-vinegar and Shade Priestess-venom from a rotted apple-chin. “You seek what I have … for my price,” she hissed as she gazed at me with glowing eyes no doubt plucked from a grinning Spectre. The witch laughed as she brushed icy hair with broken ox-ribs. Her rasping amusement caused Fiendish-worms to squirm from the walls. She thrust one hand into the vile liquid and the skin being seared from her fingers sounded as a hive of bees.
Lepracy began to dance about the room as senseless laughter filled with pain turned into song.
“Across the fields of Ravenwood … beyond the stone of Bran.
Stands a lonely sepulcher … a curse to champion.
A fear to lonely traveler … a threat to knight or slave.
This tower forms a monument … above my husband’s grave.
The devil has his number … as do Pike or Queen.
Beneath the cold, stone-hard walls … of Beacon four nineteen.
To raise the flare to number nine … and hold it for a year.
Ten thousand Living Armor … will make the stairs appear.
But only you there shall descend … through fear to face the dark.
To happiness and misery … with trust your only spark.
In darkest cavern’s secret deep … beyond a spider’s nest.
The code-book of my dead you seek … will teach you all the rest.”
“And your price?” I asked as she slumped in the center of the chamber. Dark robes fluttered about her as the wings of a dying raven. I was determined to find out just how captive soldiers are recovered from battlegrounds.
“Only your soul,” she cackled as she held out her spoon. “Your soul and every unspent coin!”
I drank of her temptation and awakened in my bedchamber. The vile taste of covenant would ever foul my mouth. An endless storm of dragon wings darkened the morning sky. Trumpets were sounding and the stone walls of my Smolderstone Keep trembled from unceasing prancing hooves and thousands of marching soldiers. Another Royal League Brawl was upon us. I dressed in the Cuirass of the Chosen and placed Sollerets on my feet. Then grasping a Harvester of Souls I led my gallant army to attack our enemies and from there onto the battlegrounds.
The road to knowledge is long and winding with many twists and turns. But beyond my years would I quest for that which eluded me. And the ethereal light from a distant tower would ever be as a beacon in my mind as I fought my way to glorious victory or to shameless defeat … but always to my eventual destruction.
TO BE CONTINUED …