tagRomanceA Perilous Journey Ch. 12

A Perilous Journey Ch. 12

byLordBrionGrenwall©

The Ahlissan Chronicles

~ Novella 2 ~

A Perilous Journey

~ 12 ~

Sword Against Sorcery



Deloraa watched from the darkness of her perch high on a pillar just outside the central circle of light. She had watched as Lyzandred's thrall Meredith ran across the room and attempted to lock the doors to the ceremonial chamber. The demonic witch-priestess has also seen her daughter's betrothed, the black knight Lord Brion, kick in those same doors and who was even now making his way toward the center of the chamber.

Although she had no intention of betraying Lyzandred, Deloraa had no intention of dying in his service either. She needed the knowledge that the ancient lich possessed about the artifact. If need be Deloraa was sure that she would be able to extract the knowledge from him against his will or even after his death. However, she was not foolish enough to attempt to face the mad lich alone not when she could have made an ally of him first. So for now she decided to watch how this scene would unfold and wait to make her move at the opportune time.

* * *

Lord Brion made his way cautiously through the helical stone forest; he continuously checked his flanks using his peripheral vision to watch for anymore mind-slaves of the lich. Looking up he could not see the high ceiling of the chamber as it was obscured in shadows and he could see no source for the light that illuminated the core of the chamber, the light emanating from there simply was. About two rows away from the center Brion stopped and allowed his eyes to adjust before stepping into the light.

As he stepped into the light he was aghast by what he found there. The dread sight that greeted him was of his beloved Lady Eryca Tandris pulled spread eagle by manacles and chains on a waist high rectangular stone altar. Her body was painted with strange symbols and she was all but naked except for a piece of sheer white silk that was draped around her. As he stepped closer he could see the results of the lich's spell upon her. Eryca looked as if she had aged forty years; her skin looked dry, ashen and pulled tight across her bones. Gone were the youthful glow of her skin and the lush curves of her young body. Brion could feel the fear rising in his heart, fear that he was too late.

"Eryca, my Lady, can you hear me?"

At the sound of Brion's voice Eryca turned her head and seemed to stare at him with empty eyes. She opened her mouth but no sound escaped it just a dry rasp of escaping air. Then from out of the darkness came a cold and hollow voice.

"She can hear you but the spell has taken her ability to speak."

From the far side of the altar the undead Archmage stepped from the shadows and into the circle of light, Lord Brion dropped to his fighting stance and readied his sword.

"So you are her valiant knight," Lyzandred said coldly "the one on which she had pinned all her hopes of salvation." The lich laughed a cruel, cold laugh.

"I am Lord Brion Grenwall, lich, your destroyer and I will die before I allow anymore harm to come to my beloved."

As Lord Brion stared down the lich he felt something or rather a thought worming its way into his brain. The stray thought was trying to convince him that maybe this creature was not so evil after all, that if he would just listen to reason perhaps he would understand the situation better. Lord Brion shook his head to clear away the ridiculous idea, anger over took him as he realized what was being done to him. A charm spell! The accursed lich was trying to bring him under his spell and make him a thrall like the women he had encountered! The black armored warrior bowed his head and then roared as he threw the thoughts from his mind and used his anger to give him the strength to fight off the mental barrage.

The undead mage reared back as if he had been struck with a physical blow and tore the golden feathered half-mask from his face. Dropping the mask to the floor, Lyzandred grasped at his head which he felt would tear apart if he did not hold it together!

"Damnable warrior!" he hollered as he willed the pain away.

Lord Brion saw his chance while the lich was distracted by the pain in his head. Running forward Brion leaped over the altar and charged at the evil being. Lyzandred saw this and with a wave of his outspread fingers and a word of magik, he fired a volley of glowing blue arrows at the charging knight. Brion raised his shield and felt the concussion as the steel of his shield absorbed the magik missiles. He knew from experience that the best way to battle a wizard was at close range, to assault him continuously making him unable to concentrate on the words, gestures and components needed for his spells to work properly.

As Brion closed with Lyzandred he swung his blade which sliced the undead mage across the chest. They fought hand to hand with neither gaining the advantage. Lyzandred struck the knight with his staff landing a solid blow and knocking Brion back. Quickly the lich reached into a pouch and drew forth a pinch of colored sand.

As Lord Brion recovered the lich waved his hand as he spread his fingers and seemed to throw forth a bright spray of rainbow colors. His eyes being adjusted to the low light of the chamber, Brion found himself blinded unable to see anything but large bursts of red, blue, green and yellow.

* * *

Aizantius and Astinos arrived at the entrance to the central chamber to the clashing sounds of weapons and to find Meredith kneeling on the floor her head in her hands. She seemed to be in great pain, struggling against her own thoughts.

"Paragon, can you help her as you did the other while I continue on?" said the bearded mage, deciding that right now Meredith was no threat to them. However, they should remove her curse to prevent her from becoming one should she lose her internal battle. Astinos nodded his ascent and ran over to the young woman and kneeling before her placed his hands on her head as he began his prayer.

Satisfied the Battle-Mage continued toward the central area where he knew his young lord must be engaged in combat with the lich if the bright lights and sounds of battle were any clue. As he neared the circle of light he saw Lady Tandris manacled to the altar in her semi-drained state. Looking across the sacrificial area he saw Lord Brion staggering, blinded by the bright balls of light dancing before his eyes, as the ancient lich advanced on him.

Reaching into his pouches Aizantius withdrew a bit of yellow sulfur.

"Circûlus ó Ignïs!" cried the mage as he waved his hand in a circle while crushing the sulfur to powder.

The wizened Battle-Mage watched as a six foot high ring of emerald fire completely encircled the undead creature. Quickly he rushed to the warrior and helped him to his feet; the bright bursts of colored light had begun to fade.

"Brion, I fear your sword is yet still needed. Can you see?" the mage asked.

"Aye, the lights are fading from my eyes." He looked up to see Lyzandred shrieking within the circle of fire. "How is Lady Eryca?"

"Still the same but safe for now, you interrupted his ritual but we must defeat him before we can attend to her." advised the wizard as he reached into his belt, drew forth a wand and readied himself. By now the flames encircling Lyzandred had begun to die down.

"Lichs are immune to spells involving cold. Get his back to me and I will use my wand against him."

Nodding the ebon knight again charged their undead opponent, leaping over the lowering ring of bright green fire Brion struck out at the lich and managed to sink his sword into Lyzandred's midsection. As he touched the floor he turned and yanked the blade free of the walking corpse, Lyzandred howled in pain.

"Foolish warrior, it will take more than steel to best me!"

The long dead Archmage swung his staff and engaged the knight in close combat. As the blows of the lich's staff rang off of Brion's shield and the knight's sword was deftly blocked by his enemies' staff, Aizantius spoke the wand's command word.

"Incéndïo!"

Immediately bright green fireballs erupted from the end of the wand, three at a time and headed for the lich. The brown-bearded mage watched as the first few rounds of green fire impacted against an invisible globe that surrounded the lich but then the globe seemed to give way and they began to strike him directly. Lyzandred screeched as he felt the heat of the magikal fire burn against the black silk of his outer covering.

"Specûlum Imäginem!" Lyzandred yelled in his raspy voice. Suddenly out of nowhere there appeared five more of the evil undead creature, all exactly like the original. They seemed to float away from each other and spread out among the darkness of the pillars near the two heroes.

"Blast! Mirror images meant to distract us." Brion said from beneath his visor. "You take the ones on the right and I'll take the left. Keep at them until we find the lich himself!"

As they readied themselves Astinos reached the sacrificial altar in the center of the chamber, fear and desperation filled him as he saw Lady Tandris and her condition. Seeing that the lich was busy with his friends the balding priest knelt down beside the lady. He gently took her hand in his and laid his other hand on her forehead. Astinos began to whisper a prayer to his patron to spare this young woman and help her to stay in the realm of the living.

* * *

As Lord Brion and Aizantius destroyed the evil lich's duplicate images, Astinos finished his prayer over the young woman. He smiled as Eryca's eyes blinked and her breath returned to her. She still looked aged and withered but the priest's prayer had brought her back from the brink of undeath. Eryca tried to move but Astinos told her to lie still.

"Just lay still and rest my Lady, we are not out of danger yet. We are still engaged against the lich and you are not quite yourself yet."

Eryca managed a weak smile and forced herself to speak to the aging priest.

"Paragon Astinos, I am so glad to see you. I had feared that Lord Brion had come alone."

Astinos patted her forehead.

"Rest assured my Lady that both Aizantius and I came with him. Lady Tandris, is there anything that you can tell me about this lich? Anything could be of help."

"His name is Lyzandred and he fingered the jewel about his neck as he spoke to me. I'm sure it is of great significance to him."

"Thank you my Lady, I will free from your bonds but I implore you to lay here and gather your strength. You are still under the lich's power."

After the robed and armored priest freed her from the chains, he pressed a slender silver dagger into her still aged hands.

"Here take this, just in case."

Eryca thanked him and agreed that she would stay where she was.

* * *

Using steel and fire the warrior and the wizard had destroyed all of the mirror images of the undead Archmage and were now once again fighting him directly. Lord Brion engaged the lich barely avoiding both the strike of his staff and his bone chilling touch of undeath while Aizantius barraged the undead with all manner of magikal fire attacks.

Wielding his heavy mace and shield Astinos ran up beside his magik using companion.

"Astinos, thank the gods you have arrived! Have you seen to Lady Tandris?"

"Yes, old friend. I used a prayer to grant her some strength and freed her from the chains. She told me the creature is named Lyzandred and that he seems to favor the gem that hangs at his throat."

The mages' brow furrowed in thought, "Lyzandred...? Not Lyzandred the Mad?"

"What do you mean...the Mad?" the priest asked, concern crossing his face.

"Nothing for now, let us end this quickly and pray that my suspicions are wrong."

Suddenly Lyzandred turned on the two men behind him and threw a few small strings at them. Before they could react the strings spun together and had created a sticky web which engulfed the two men and held them fast to the floor. As they struggled against the sticky steel-like strands of the magikal web, what they saw next horrified them. They could only watch as a demonic blue woman dropped down from the darkness above and landed on Lord Brion's shoulders.

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