Here comes the fresh Chapter 24 of the story [FThe FEAL WASTE] from Darth2018. Let’s see together what happens.
Dolen led them through the jumbled rocks and the company, with Greythywst and Rin-In Steelshaper joining them, emerged on the edge of a flat smooth courtyard of dressed stone. The entire triple-doored gate had been torn away. They peered into the gloomy shadows. Stepping out of the sunlight, they discerned vague shapes strewn across the floor and a wide stairway ascending into darkness, flanked by massive columns marching into the gloom.
“Stay together and watch your steps.” Dolen murmured, drawing his sword. “We don’t want to announce our arrival.”
They headed for the stairs, spreading out across the paved courtyard, everyone carefully feeling their way with their feet. As their eyes adjusted, they began to make out details of the debris around them.
TheY suddenly reeled at a stench that burned their noses and eyes. Glancing about themselves, they realized they were treading through an ancient battleground, for their boots crunched brittle bones and crumbling gear of war. Armor dissolved by rust turned to powder as they kicked their way through the debris, skulls and ribs and bones clattering away from their feet! And all the while a dreadful miasma of horrible smells battered at their senses.
Coughing harshly, Moira gagged, “Dolen, there must to be another way!”
“Back, all of you!” Greythywst cried, waving his arms toward the sunlight. The rest staggered after him, hacking and wiping their eyes. Nearly blinded, Moira stepped on something that crunched under her boot and she fell. Catching herself with her right hand, the redhead saw a shattered skull skidding away from her.
“I need to get out!” she sobbed, leaping to her feet to run for the sunlight. The others joined her panicked retreat. Things might have gone badly for Lunalyn and Allura but Dolen’s steady presence guided them back out to the rocky debris gleaming in the wonderful daylight. They stood trembling, breathing deeply in the clear mountain air.
“What was that awful smell?” Eritra gasped.
Gwyddian straightened, leaning on his staff and staring into the dark hellhole. “Dragon Reek!” he coughed. “The lower chambers must be the dragon’s stool ground!”
Reeling, Eritra sagged. “There must be a way?” she sobbed, looking at Dolen. A silence settled over them, stunned by the rebuff they had endured within the gaping shadows. Greythywst stroked his moustaches, deep in thought. Moira and Allura sat, backs to the broken stones, totally spent.
“Steelshaper? You led a company of dwarves here. I saw you here when I was training to be a guardsman.” Dolen said. “You designed these gates. Your dwarves carved the entry courtyard, the main stairs leading up into the city. You helped the elf masons lay out the galleries and antechambers on all the levels of Nehmbrodel. The Great Hall Throne Room of Fintan, the banquet halls, the kitchens. The storehouses?” The elf turned back to the ruined gateway, then peered over his shoulder at the squat dwarf. “You must have made other entrances?”
Rin pulled off his steel cap and scratched at his scalp, then peered up at the tall warrior. “Aye, lad!” he replied, his thick fingers massaging his head through his tangled hair. “Fintan demanded four smaller sortie gates, made in the dwarven style, in case the city was beset and patrols might need other ways of leaving the refuge of the mountain.
“Dwarven style, good Rin?” Greythywst asked. “What does that mean?”
“We dwarves take extra care in creating gateways into our cities. Indeed, I begged Fintan to give up his plan for a grand gateway into Nehmbrodel but he would not be dissuaded.” Rin pointed to the gaping wound in the fabric of the mountain. “Kings don’t listen to their hire-hands, alas!” Shoving his cap back on, he nodded to Dolen. “Come. There was a sortie door near the main gates. I may be able to find it.”
The day was fading as they set out. Rin led their way east away the shattered gates until the mountain lay whole and unbroken again, a sheer granite buttress soaring high above them. The rock face only seemed smooth from a distance, but close up there were wrinkles and sharp vertical ridges. The company followed Rin for a mile before the dwarf stopped. Looking around, he nodded. “We’ve come too far. Back we go.”
Lunalyn looked at Dolen, doubt on her face, but Dolen merely shrugged. This was not the time to begin questioning their guide. The party followed as Rin retraced his way, fatigue on their faces, but suddenly Rin stood still. He waved everyone to hold their place as he began searching along the face of the towering granite cliff until “Ahh! Here it is!”
The party was astonished when he seemingly stepped into the living rock. Crowding up to where they had last seen him, they saw a narrow cleft filled with shadow but Rin called to them, “Come! There is width for only one so line up and follow my voice.” One by one, the party squeezed into the dark cut. Moira reached out and grabbed Allura’s belted waist and the group accordioned their way through the rocky defile.
“Everyone hold up for a moment.” Greythywst called softly. The sound of a staff striking the ground was accompanied by his voice calling “Illuminaro!”
Light blossomed ahead, a bluish radiance that beckoned them all. Moira was last out of the cut and she saw they now stood in a small guardroom, as evidenced by a small hole in the floor. She recognized a well and knew it would have supplied the garrison stationed there. The top of the wizard’s staff glowed steadily but she could see no fire. Rin looked at them. “We can go forward along the passage,“ he pointed to a dark doorway opposite from the entry, “to a main corridor about five hundred paces away. There will be side corridors, all on the right, as you go. Just stay in the main passage and you’ll be fine.
Eritra moved forward but Dolen gripped her lower left arm. “Nay, Lady!” he shook his head. “You will follow me.” He looked at the ranger. “Lunalyn, you bring up the rear. All of you stay quiet and step carefully.” He entered the darkened tunnel, the elf wizard following with his staff held high to throw light down the passage. As they walked, there was no hint of the terrible odor that had defeated them earlier. If there was a smell it was of cold stone. They smelled no dampness, which surprised Moira, but she kept quiet.
“Everyone keep still for a moment!” Greythywst commaded. The company turned to him. Puzzled looks on their faces. The wizard swung his head back and forth, his eyes closed as if he were smelling out something. He straightened and looked at his companions. “Can you feel it?”
“Feel what, magician? This is no time for tricks!” Moira groused softly.
Dolen touched her elbow and put a finger to his lips as he stepped away from the closeness of the group. The warrior paused and raised his head, his eyes also closed for an instant, then he looked at Greythywst. “Magic! I can feel a powerful flow!”
The old wizard nodded. “Aye! Strong but thready, almost like a quiver!” He looked the company. “We must be very careful as we go. Touch nothing! Lead on, Dolen!”
The group began moving again.
Allura followed Moira, her heart pounding in her chest. She wasn’t afraid but she knew somewhere ahead there was a dragon that they would have to face. She pulled her thoughts away from that direction, determined to keep her promise to Dolen. A dark opening yawned beside her and as she passed it, she peered into the inky dark. A dim redness shimmered far down in the black, more like the glow of dying coal fire embers as they burnt themselves out. If she hadn’t been thinking of the dragon, Allura would probably have missed it completely but she had seen it.
“Dolen!” She hissed urgently. Several alarmed gasps returned to her, then the elf was before her, Greythywst right behind. She pointed into the corridor. “There’s a light.’
Dolen stepped past her, peering into the dark. “Gwyddian, douse your staff.”
Stygian blackness enveloped them but Dolen stiffened. “Yes, there is a light.”
Hello, my fellow ROK players! It was a lot fun writing THE FAEL WASTE for you. It made me feel good to see so many of your encouraging comments. I had so much fun doing the story that I am considering another effort. This time, I plan to bring you a tale from before the Great War of the Third Age begins and end it with that stupendous conflict’s beginning. Yes, there will ROK heroes appearing in the text but there will also be non-ROK characters. After all, it is my story and I will write it as I deem proper. I think you will enjoy what you will read. As in THE FAEL WASTE, new persona will add their actions to the narrative. A word about Moira and Allura? No, they were NOT ROK heroes in the strict sense. However, these two characters were representing two actual ROK players who asked me if they could be in my story and I agreed. I tried to make them believable and heroic, as they certainly are in the current world of ROK! So, as with THE FAEL WASTE, THE DARK WARLOCK Is my gift for you all to enjoy. It is NOT AN EVENT! There are no prizes available to you for taking the time to read it. It is a story, pure and simple. If you read it from its beginning, I will try to entertain you for your effort. One thing you need to keep in mind is that I have a limit on the size of the submissions and I will try EXTRA HARD to keep the chapters in an 800/900 word range, so patience will reward you. I saw from some of your comments that you wanted to know when the story would end. As the author, my only response is that it will end when it ends.