|Lady of Cinder and Fire
Author: MorriganKate PM
An unfortunate Undead. Long forgotten lore of the past. An ancient land, hidden and filled with Hollows and worse. Accompany Claire OC , a Pyromancer from the Great Swamps on her journey to the cinder of the first flame.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 9 - Words: 32,171 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 09-22-12 - Published: 02-14-12 - id: 7834434
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Next chapter, Chapter 6 might take some while though. I guess, I'll need around two more weeks to finish it.
Chapter 5: Prelude of the Terror
Solaire departed after hugging her. He said that he had something to take care of, but would try to rejoin her in the depths. Claire, curious as she was, decided to explore the church. There was nothing much to be found, in the main building, so she headed up the stairs to a small secluded area. She had found a few keys on the way and she was trying them out at every door she encountered. A few opened, a few did not. Going up a stair she suddenly heard someone calling.
"Still human, are you?" It sounded tinny and she looked up.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I am Knight Lautrec of Carim." Claire now stood in front of a cell. Iron bars separated her from the knight, who did not look too pleased about this. "If you are no hollow, then I am in luck. Could you help me? As you can see, right now I am stuck behind barred windows, so I would be glad if you could help me out."
"Of course, wait a second. I will try the keys." Claire tried every key, but none of them unlocked the door.
"I guess, I am not as lucky as I would have liked it."
Claire laid her Pyromancy hand on the lock. "Let me try this a different way."
The knight watched carefully, as she started to melting the iron. Hot metal flew down, until the door was open. Lautrec was wearing a golden armour, carrying two swords with him. He stood up, stepped carefully out of his cell and bowed slightly. "Thank you, sincerely. I truly appreciate my liberation by you. I promise you a reward, only later. I have to go now, since I have to take care of something."
"Let us meet at Firelink Shrine." Claire suggested.
If she would have not known any better, than the laughter that erupted now would have sounded devilish. "A good idea, indeed."
"I will see you later than."
"Of course you will. But be careful, not to be back stabbed by someone." He went down the stairs. Claire decided for the moment, to ignore the bad feeling she had about him and followed him quickly.
"I will not be back stabbed by anyone." She ensured him, having almost to run to keep pace.
He grunted. "Why are you following me?"
"Do you know how to get back to Firelink Shrine?"
"Yes, I do. But how did you get here, if you do not know the way back?"
"On the way I came I almost got eaten by a drake for dinner."
"Oh, yes, the drake. I almost forgot. But you know that there is an elevator?"
"I heard that it is broken."
"It is easy to repair. Sometimes it gets stuck at the top. You just need to step on it, activate it and then it works again."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, it does. So, what business do you have at Firelink?"
"I need to go to the depths."
"So you are the fool who rang the bell and still believes something will happen?"
"I am sorry, but I promised. That means, I am going to ring the second bell as well."
"You will feel sorry for that."
"What do you mean?"
Lautrec stayed silent. At the ground level of the church, Lautrec showed Claire the elevator, both Undead stepped on it and it worked. Claire felt uncomfortable standing so close to the other shaft, so she moved to the other side quickly, standing only closer to Lautrec. He seemed annoyed, but did said nothing. At the ground level, she quickly got of it before heading down the stairs. She saw the cleric standing at the wall, as well as two knights and a young girl, close to her age. She was on her knees, praying. As soon as the knights laid their eyes on her, they laid hand on her weapons, walking towards her. Lautrec, behind her snorted and jostled the smaller one. "Out of my way, I will not do anything to your precious my Lady."
The knights let him through, but were still carefully watching him and Claire.
"My Lady?" she asked.
"Yes, these are my guests. We will be departing shortly." Petrus said, nodding to the girl."She is the youngest daughter of the good house of Thorolund. Those young knights are her old schoolmates, Vince and Nico of Thorolund, and now serve as shield and sword to my Lady. But, among us..." He sighed deeply, as he watched them wearily. "I am not sure, what to make of both of them, I am afraid they may be a bad influence... One does not talk at all, the other one seems to be too fond of Milady..." Claire ignored him and walked closer to Reah. One of the knights stepped in her way. His dark brown hair was a mess, while his friend wore a helmet. Both of them carried swords and shields and seemed at least to be experienced warriors.
"What have we here? You look awfully raggedy..."
"Try to look better if you met a lot of Undeads and had no means of washing for the past six months."
"Times are grim: You could at least look sharp. Do not dare meeting M'lady like that – you might scare her off for good!"
"I do not wish to scare her off – I would just like to hear where you are going to head."
"Oh no, we cannot help you. We will not tell you anything. We accompany M'lady on her righteous mission. It may be quite a chore, but I am stuck with her and Nico, too. I cannot abandon her now. The catacombs are not exactly what I would imagine as a good way of spending time, but what can I do?"
"We hope to achieve our goal there. So back down and leave – or else we will send you to the next world."
"Please, Vince, do not do that." The girl had stood up, turning around. She was small, fragile, but composed. Her blue eyes seemed to pierce through Claire, but she was very pale.
"M'lady, you shall not spend your time to talk to people like that..."
"You are Undead as well?" Reah spoke, ignoring Vince.
"Then we have no time to fraternize. I have my mission, and you no doubt have yours. We must not let this curse overcome us."
"Are you looking for a way to break it?"
"Does a way even exist?"
"We shall know."
"But how is there a way to break the curse? How? And why are you holding on it so tightly?"
"Did I not explain the urgency of our task? Who are you so uncouth as to lack such judgement?" She looked at Claire with her hazed blue eyes, a strange look within them. "By the looks of you... I should think not."
"I did not mean to be rude. But... I just cannot understand."
"Some things are not to be understand easily. Sometimes, it is harder to see the path lying before you than the goal you desire to reach."
"And how do I see it?"
"You need to learn that yourself."
"Oh thank you, I think I should get going." Claire forgot her most important rule: Never trust Clerics. They only offer reluctant advices, half-truths and demand money for their sacred purposes. Claire walked away, while Vince called: "Vereor Nox."Claire knew, what this meant. "I do not fear the night – I fear what waits in it.", she said coldly, before she left. The crestfallen warrior were still sitting by the fire, looking up, as she came closer.
"Why, what a suppose. I did not expect, that you would made it back... with your mind intact as well."
"I did reach my goal for now."
"Oh, yes? Someone did rang the bell. Was it you?"
"And if I did?"
"Oh nothing, really. Do not stop now, there is a second one, do not forget. But this is going to be suicide..." He laughed hollowly.
"Thank you for the encouragement."
"Oh, by the way, did you see this virtuous little maiden with her followers in tow like little puppies? They are probably going straight to pillage the graves, robbing the dead of their little bit, what is left to them. No, thank you. I did heard enough of M'Lady for a lifetime."
"Something is strange about her."
"Oh, yes. She truly believes the stories that is strange about her."
"I did not mean that."
"Think what you want, leave me alone."
"What were you? In your life before you became undead, I mean."
"I was a warrior of the Path of the White, yes. I have grown sick of the clerics, of their lies. And then I became Undead. What else were there to my life? And it will end, because I will become hollow soon enough."
"Why did you gave up so easily?"
"Because I have lost my faith, maybe. Now go, and leave me alone."
Claire turned around and headed towards the cell of the Firekeeper. She sat behind the bars, waved at Claire and then pointed to Lautrec, who settled beside the walls at the cliff.
"How did you end up in the cell?"
"Oh, I just got tricked. Have you ever heard about Trusty Patches? If someone ever rubbed me the wrong way, ugh!" He seemed disgusted. "If I ever see him again, I swear I will have his hide."
"All right... He did trick you in the cell?"
"Yes, he did, and I swear, if I see this little bastard ever again, than I..."
"Ehm, do you know how I get to the depths?"
"The old waterway. Follow it to the end. Than down the stairs and you are in the lower Undead Burg. The way down to the depths is guarded by hollows. What do you want to do down there anyway?"
"I want to get to Blighttown."
"Are you mad? What do you want in there?"
"I want to ring the second Bell of Awakening."
"So, you were the one to ring it."
"Anyway, thank you for the advice. Good bye."
Claire looked at the sky. Even though it was getting dark, there was still enough light to start to explore the Depths. She turned around, going up the stairs, only to see the clerics leaving in direction of the catacombs. Rhea led the way, her followers close behind her. Claire envied her. It was strange, envying a complete stranger who would probably die in the catacombs anyway, but Rhea had, unlike her, a goal. A goal she would die for. Claire pulled at her hood, hiding her face in the shadows of it and then headed towards the waterway. At the top of the stairs and inside the waterway, cold water greeted her. It was dark, so Claire lit a flame, like the first time she went through. Before she left the waterway as soon as possible, but this time she went through it to end. At the end, there were bars, behind them stood an Undead, almost a hollow. Dark eyes moved nervously, almost like the eyes of a fearful rabbit. They fixated at Claire, watching her moving closer.
"Hmm, you still have your senses about you? Then why won't you buy some of my moss?"
"I am sorry; madam, but I have almost no souls..."
"No, no, it is not expensive. It will serve you well in the Burg, and even in the depths and beyond."
"I cannot afford much."
"Oh, do not worry. Because it is you, dearie, I will make you a good price. Here: the red moss cures blood loss, the purple is good against poison and toxic. Ten of each for 8000 souls."
"Is this enough?"
"More than enough, dearie. Your change. Come again."
"Wait, may I ask, do you know by chance how to enter the depths?"
"Oh yes, there is a door, right beneath us. It is small, but locked. You need to get a key for it, but it is guarded by a demon. A strong one aswell. A Capra Demon it is. And with it, there a dogs and hollows who are keen of killing bypassers."
"Thank you, Madam, for your advice."
Claire turned around and left the channel. She was glad to be out of the dark channel and her flame went out. There was a better light than she anticipated, because of the torches at the wall and because of the dim light that fell through the holes in the wall and ceiling. Claire stood at the top of a small tower. As she looked down, an arrow flew past her. The shooter – a half nude hollow – aimed again. Claire stepped back and the arrow missed. She ran down the staircase, drew her sword and rammed it in the guts of the Undead. It slumped and fell down the tower. Claire moved carefully on, wary of any possible dangers down here. The smell of burning and rotten flesh reached a nose and she cringed at the smell. Down here, there was less light and night was coming. At the bottom level she saw the little door, as described by the old woman in the water way. Claire yanked at it, but even though it was very old, it did not budge. In frustration she kicked it, before turning around. Just in time, as she was ambushed by a hooded Undead. It dodged her slash and jumped behind her, holding her throat from behind, attempting to slash it. Claire kicked its legs. The hold loosened and she grabbed the forearm of the Undead with her Pyromancy flame. It let go of her and she threw a fireball at it, as it charged again. With a scream of agony, it fell to the ground, burning to its death. Claire turned around, only to see more coming – but this time, there were dogs as well. Claire loved dogs – but these had no similarity to the sweet little puppies or the big guard dogs she used to adore. Almost no fur, only nude, violet skin. The beasts jumped at her and she managed to kill all of them, except the last one. This one was less stupid than the others – it bit her in her arm, forcing her to let go of her shield. A quick hit with the sword and it, too, fell down to the ground. She grabbed her sword with both hands, ready to counter every other attack of the thieves. She dodged a throwing knife than beheaded one of the thieves. Dark blood gushed out of the cut and the others attacked her. Thanks to luck she managed to kill them, even though her cheek was badly cut. Her clothes – full of cuts – were also stained with blood. Claire grimaced than went on. The clothes clung to her skin, wet from blood. She felt ill at ease, but she had no change set of clothes with her or had found anything that would be good enough to change into. For now, she had to simply go on at hope, that she would at least soon find a creek or something else to wash her clothes.
The town here was abandoned. Claire curiously tried a few doors here and there to find none of them locked, except for one. As she rattled at the door, she heard a male voice.
"Somebody! Please, let me out of here! Somebody! Anybody! Unlock the door!" Claire hold her head to the door. "Damn... I'm finished... How did this ever happen..."
He did not sound hollow. Peeking at the lock, she saw, that it may be a complicated lock, but the metal was of inferior quality and she was confident, that she could melt it. Carefully she kindled her flame, letting the heat melt the metal. It took a while, the hot metal pouring down to the ground and the man was no doubt listening. Finally, the door opened and Claire, carefully to not step into the pool of liquid metal stepped in. In front of her stood a rather small man, obviously no warrior, rather a scholar. He was wearing dark clothes and holding a dark brown staff, marking him as a sorcerer of Vinheim.
"Brilliant! You opened the door for me!" The sorcerer grabbed her hands, shaking them and smiled at Claire. "Thank you! I am saved! I thought I might never escape! My apologies, my name is Griggs of Vinheim, a sorcerer of the school. May I hear yours, Miss Pyromancer?"
"My name is Claire of the Great Swamps."
"I am much obliged for your assistance. Thanks to you I may now assume my travels. I will rest for a while, than I will return to Firelink Shrine. I have my sorcery and I will be more cautious next time."
"I will accompany you then. It soon will be to dark to search for the key to the depths."
"The depths? What business do you have down there?"
"I am looking for a way down to Blighttown – I am searching for the second Bell of Awakening."
"Is that so? Maybe my sorcery will come in handy then. Do you have interest in learning it?"
"I do not know. I am a Pyromancer – and I do not know if I would be able to learn even a bit of magic."
"Pyromancy may be different – but basic sorcery only requires a bit of talent, but self-assessment is even more important."
"I will rethink this option. Thank you kindly."
"Yes, that is fine as well. Let us go up to Firelink Shrine."
As they reached Firelink Shrine, the sun had already set. Claire could not help to marvel the many stars shining brightly above them at the sky. In the swamps or even in the other lands she travelled, she had seldom seen such bright stars and so many as well.
"Ah... Fresh air..." He sighed and gave Claire a faint smile. "Again, thank you for your guidance."
"Your welcome, Griggs."
"As for the key to the Depths... I know where it is."
"A Capra Demon guards it. It usually lurks at the other end of the street of the house I was caught in. Be careful – it is strong."
"You should rest here."
Claire looked around. "Yes, I think I should."
"Do you have food by chance?"
"No, I am sorry." Grass rustled and as Claire turned around, she saw a rabbit sitting on the floor, feeding on a bit of grass. "Care for roasted rabbit?"
Only minutes later Griggs and she had settled down by a small fire. The rabbit had been easy to catch and Claire was used to disembowel animals. She had hunted often in the Swamps to at least get some meat for dinner and not only withered salad and sour apples. Griggs was very talkative and did not seem to care about the fact that she was a pyromancer – she was glad about this. She was sure that Griggs was not a danger to her – he may command powerful magic, but he was still physically weak. He was a book sage – someone who knows everything from books, but has no real experience by himself. He seemed to admire – and fear – a sorcerer called "Logan".
"Have you met him by chance?" Griggs asked eagerly, while the meat was cooking. "He is far more powerful than I am. I do not fear for him – even in Lordran his skills are second to none." He sighed. "The reason I seek him... Well, I guess it is my own conceit, isn't it?"
"If that is so."
"I think the meat is ready. We should eat."
The meat was hot and Claire ate slowly, while Griggs chatted happily on. Something was not right – she felt it. Like some part of the world was missing. She stood up, gathering a bit of meat.
"Where are you going?"
"To repay a favour. I will be back shortly."
Claire had just looked for an option to get away from the talkative sorcerer. She remembered the Fire Keeper and so she strolled down the stairs leading to her cell. Lautrec looked up. She was in no mood for talking and so she sat down beside the cell.
"Here is a thank you for the food you gave me." Claire hold out the meat, which was gratefully accepted.
"Claire." Lautrec called.
"What is it?"
"Have you heard about Maiden Thorolund?"
"The girl with the clerics?"
"Yes, indeed. It seems like she has become stranded in the depths of the Catacombs. Her followers either fled or were reduced to Hollows."
"How do you know?"
"I heard it from a fleeing old man. The old bastard! All his robes and trinkets won't help him now!" A harsh laughter erupted from the knight. Claire felt her heart almost stop.
We will be departing shortly.
Damn those Clerics! First heading towards the danger with head held high and then fleeing like weaklings. Claire eyed Petrus angrily. Her pyromancy hand was almost white, glowing with distant fire. Claire's eyes burned as well, like grey fire in the morning.
"Again. You headed to the Tomb of the Giants and then you were separated?"
"Yes. They slipped off a coffin in the Tomb of the Giants." Petrus sweated, he was pale and looked almost afraid at Claire.
"You assume that the other two are hollow?"
"Why did you not help them? They might be still alive!"
"Our mission is only to seek Kindling – casualties are normal."
Claire turned around. "Go to hell." She hissed.
Damn, why was she even thinking about the foolish girl? She was a cleric – someone she could not trust. And yet she could not stop thinking about her. Banning the very thought of Rhea of Thorolund from her mind she headed up the stairs, which led to the waterway.
I have my mission.
Seriously, how could anyone even believe these? Claire had her own mission – to ring the Bells of Awakening. Why did she even think about the foolish girl?
Sometimes, it is harder to see the path lying before you than the goal you desire to reach.
Claire groaned. "What is wrong with me?"she murmured angrily. "Half a year ago I would not care about a Cleric. And now I fear for someone like her." Now that she thought about it, she realized that Rhea would be around the same age as her – maybe younger. And yet she was more grown up than she. And she was in a much greater pinch now.
We must not let the curse overcome us.
This girl was probably alone by now. Alone in the Tomb of the Giants, with no one to rely on. She remembered Solaire's words clearly. That she would always have somebody to rely on. But Rhea had no one. Claire groaned again.
The Tomb of the Giants would mean one hell of a detour.
She had not the faintest idea, where Rhea was (or if she even was still living).
It would probably be suicide.
"Oh, screw it." Claire turned around and started to run. "I cannot let anyone end up as a Hollow, can I?"
Sadly she did not knew, that destiny's wheel has begun to turn.
That she had no means of preventing death.
And that she had no possibility to escape the terror that would befell her.