Next chapter, sorry it took so long (again). I was in Italy for the two last weeks without internet. In the next few days, I will reupload the first few chapters that are better readable and with lesser errors.
So far, I've done the story roughly a third. Chapter 9 and 10 are almost finished, still in need of spell checking though,
And I would like to thank who recommended my story on TvTropes! Seriously, saved my day, as I waited (and still waiting) for the Skyrim DLC. This chapter is for you!
Chapter 8: Maw in the sewer
Claire carefully observed the demon before her. It patrolled the streets but had not taken any interest in her – yet. From her hiding place she could see him killing another one of the thieves that lured in the dark. The Capra Demon hold two broadswords in his hands and had the shape of a goat walking on two legs with a skull as its helmet. Even from distance Claire could smell it – blood, gore, dirt and possibly more – but the dogs around it and feeding on everything that the demon left over did not seemed to care. Claire carefully loaded her crossbow, aiming at the first dog, nearer to her. A bolt ended its life and Claire quickly reload. The second one missed – the dog howled in anger and jumped at her. A quick thrust with her sword ended its life but the Capra Demon closed in, quicker than she thought it could even move.
Claire stumbled back, trying to get distance between it and her so she could use her flame. It was quick and its swords hit the ground only inches before her feet. Strong and heavy attacks and yet fast enough to make it difficult to gain ground – Claire cursed her rotten luck. But maybe she did deserve it. Finally she was able to create a flame without tripping over her feet and threw it. The stench of burning fur reached her nose and she quickly moved around the goat demon, to stab it from behind and to cut its tensions. Lucky enough, the Capra Demon was distracted by her fire ball and did not realize until it was to late. It fell to his knees and she cut its neck. Blood soaked the partly burned fur as it fell to the ground, limp and hopefully dead. Claire sheathed her sword and started to search for the key to the sewers, looking first at the other end of the small room the demon was in. Finally, she found it: Laying on the ground at the top of a staircase leading to nowhere. She took it before turning around and leaving the small room. Only then she heard the noise of something stepping behind her.
Claire turned around, ready for the worst.
The Capra Demon, with its sliced neck, stood again, shakingly, but it stood. Claire turned around and run. The Demon screamed in fury and charged after her, while Claire was running as fast as she could towards the door to the sewers. Thugs, dogs and Hollows alike jumped out of the way of the furious Capra Demon while it chased Claire to the door. Upon reaching the door, Claire slammed the key into the lock and turned it around. The key fell from her shaking hands and she turned around ready to face the furious demon. Instead she saw a man clad in golden armour strolling towards her.
"Lautrec?" she asked weakly. "You know that there is a Capra Demon after me?"
"I disposed of it." he answered and shrugged. "While you was busy running away from it."
"Thank you then." Claire picked the key off the ground and unlocked the door. Cold air touched her face as she took a few steps down the dark staircase.
Lautrec followed her down, until she turned around. "You do not need to follow me around."
"You have been running from such a lowly demon like the Capra Demon. How do someone like you know what is waiting in the sewers?"
"It is not your concern what I do."
"My honour as a knight demands, however, that I repay your favour."
"The favour is repaid by you slaying the Capra Demon, is it not?"
"Oh it is. But I took interest in the one who managed to kill the gargoyles so she could ring the bells."
"I was not alone."
"Oh, that is the reason? A companion, brave enough to do the killing for you?"
"He only helped me. He did not do the killing by himself."
"Help can often lead to reliance. What happens if you rely on the wrong person?"
"I doubt that he would betray me. He is not the man for this."
"Is he? Or is this faith ill-placed?"
"It is not."
"But you need to rely on no one but yourself. Or else someone might think it would be fine to kill someone with humanity in order to survive. Take this little maiden at Firelink Shrine for example... she is easy prey."
"She is not easy prey. She is not an animal to be hunted down."
Claire turned around and lead the way to the sewer. She could hear the noise of Hollows. Lautrec continued to follow her. "It would be an easy kill. So much humanity, so few uses for her."
"Please stop it."
Both of them fought against countless Undead on their way down. Lautrec continued to try to convince Claire of the possibilities that would be open if she would kill people for their humanity but she did not paid to him much heed. In the sewers there were Undead, giant rats, dogs and butchers. Claire was partly glad that Lautrec was with her – without him it would be much more complicated to reach the ground. After Lautrec took down a butcher, Claire heard a quiet cry for help. Curiously she followed the noise to a room full of barrows. A man with a tattered robe gave a bashful smile as she looked at him.
"You! You must help me! Or else she will have me for lunch! So please!"
Lautrec huffed and crossed his arms. "What a fool. To be caught by such a lowlifes like them. And caught into a barrel! What a joke!"
Claire gave him a sour look. By the accent she could imagine that the man was from the Great Swamps and that he maybe would be a fellow pyromancer. It would feel reassuring having another pyromancer around – a keepsake of her lost home. She lifter her sword, sticking it between the loose planks and broke the barrel. The poor man fell against her, knocking her from her legs.
"Thank you. Without your aid I would be her supper. Being eaten alive! I shudder to think..."
"You are a pyromancer of the Great Swamp, are you not?"
"Y-Yes, I am Laurentius of the Great Swamps."
"I am Claire, as well from the Swamps. Glad to meet a fellow pyromancer in Lordran."
"Yes, yes, fine that you like each other. But this fellow should head up to Firelink Shrine. Not to imagine, what would happen next to him." Lautrec huffed again.
"Will you be fine, girl?" Laurentius asked worried.
"I will be fine. Do not worry."
"Yes. I will."
"Good, then I will take my leave. We will meet again."
"Yes, we will."
"Don't dare to go hollow."
"Neither should you."
Lautrec was silent after that – an ominous silence. Claire did her best to ignore the knight in golden armour, taking out her enemies before they would take her out. Water dripped from the low ceiling, run down the wall and gathering on the floor. Occasionally, a slime dropped down in their way but it was easily killed by Claire's pyromancy.
Suddenly, Lautrec stood still. "Someone is following us."
"I do not know. But he is close."
Claire lifted her own sword. From the darkness of a shadow a knight stepped forward. Claire sighed in relief as she recognized Solaire's steel armour.
"Solaire." she stepped between Lautrec's blade and the sun knight.
"Claire. Good to see you in one piece." Claire felt his soft surcoat at her face, as he hugged her, short, but affectionately.
"And this fellow is...?" asked Lautrec warily.
"Knight Solaire of Astora. A comrade. And you are are by chance the rude knight who departed with Claire?"
"I might be. The name is Knight Lautrec of Carim."
"An honour to meet you and thank you for taking care of Claire." Solaire sounded matter-of-factly, but he seemed to be on edge. "May I take over? I am used to fight alongside Claire. And you seem to be... slightly tiered."
"And I still have to repay my debt to her." Lautrec retorted.
"Is that so? I think your help until now is enough repayment."
"But I am dying to see the one who rang the First Bell of Awakening fighting a real foe."
"You saw her fighting long enough. Claire let us go forward – the faster we get out of the sewers, the more lucky we both will be." Without waiting for an answer he grabbed her arm softly and forced her going with him. She took a few steps, before trying to free herself. "Solaire, what has gotten into you?"
Claire's heart seemed to stop – what would happen, if Lautrec was right after all? Suddenly she felt afraid of him. Solaire suddenly stopped and looked around.
"Serious, Claire, you should stop being so trustful. Not everyone is a knight in shining armour."
"And what about you, Solaire?" Claire asked.
"What did he told you?"
"And what are you doing?"
"What did he told you?"
"That it might not be right to trust you." Claire turned around. "And maybe he was right."
Claire suddenly felt cold steel at her neck. Solaire's sword lingered there for a moment, before he withdraw it. "It may be wrong to trust me, yes. I might cause more trouble for than I am worth. But I had more chances to kill you than I could even count. So, do not trust me if you wish – but be aware that I will not kill you. I could have done it. But I did not."
"I had a reason. And excuse me my worries, but there is something off with this man – Lautrec of Carim I mean."
"What should be off with him?"
"I followed you quite a while. He seems to be... dangerous. Claire, stay away from him at any cost. I do not know what he is up to – yet – but it is definitely nothing good."
"I do not think that."
Solaire sighed. "Better safe than sorry. I cannot force you – but I will not be always near you to save you."
"I can take care of myself."
"I know. But I just want to make sure that you reach your goal."
"By the way... How did you knew that I am here?"
"I met Rhea and Oswald. They told me you left for the sewers. Shortly after I went after you I met this pyromancer – Laurentius, was it? - and he showed me which direction you have taken. It was easy to find you."
"Why did you came after me in the first place?"
"I was worried."
"That does not seem like a sufficient reason to follow me."
"Claire, we are Undead, I actually have a certain interest in you not dying on me and you are a suicidal young girl, who wants to atone by ringing the Bells of Awakening guarded by monsters. I think I have the right to be worried. And you are a still inexperienced. I, too, wish not to see someone turn Hollow."
Claire was silent.
Solaire continued. "You are a fearful opponent. But Lordran is dangerous."
"Solaire? But could you please stop aiding me so much? I know, you want to make sure I am safe but I wish to learn to do things on my own. You said it yourself: You will not be always near me."
"Fine. But be careful. No rushing into battles like before."
"Fine, fine." Claire gave a small smile.
After hours of wading trough cold water, fighting of monsters and Undead, a court filled with light came in sight. Light-filled was an exaggeration but in contrast to the dark sewers it was a welcome change. Claire was glad to breath – almost - fresh air and she quickly moved down the stairs followed by Solaire. At the ground level of the court they stood still for a second. The walls were marked by claws and Claire spotted at least four corpses laying at the ground. Additionally, a pool of water had gathered in the other half of the court leaving no other way out.
"Seems like a dead end." Solaire said. "We should head back and find an other way down."
"If there is one."
"There should be one. I know about a difficult detour via New Londo and the Valley of the Drakes. But it would take a long time and I do not know if we can reach it."
"We do not know until we tried, don't we?" Claire sighed and forced herself to smile.
Both Undead turned around and walked back to the door, as they heard small waves breaking at the stones of broken pillars. As Claire turned around, she could see a small head – almost like the head of a crocodile – looking around, fixating then both Undead before rising. Solaire nudged her in the side.
"I guess, we have a problem." he muttered.
A giant maw opened up. Half of the body of the dragon seemed to be maw – the rest stomach. Claire lit a fire ball in her hand, while Solaire readied a lightning bolt.
"Any ideas?" she asked.
"Not dying?" he suggested.
The dragon crashed into the ground. Claire's fireball crushed against scales, Solaire's lightning bolt hit the creature in the maw. A scream echoed from the walls. Claire created another fire ball. Solaire, on the other side of the dragon, lured it to himself. Claire run closer to it, smelling the stench of its maw, the scales and the rotten flesh between the teeth. A fireball hit the maw, teeth blackened with soot. The dragon turned its attention to the woman, while Solaire staggered fell to one knee. He seemed to be exhausted, but got up quickly. Black, quick eyes fixated Claire and she moved back. With surprising speed the dragon crawled towards her and her back hit the wall. The dragon did not stop – and she clenched her teeth, before drawing her sword and took it in both hands. In the last second before the impact she rolled aside and dragon crashed into the wall, falling to the ground. As it tried to regain balance Claire quickly jumped on it – careful to not fall into the maw of the abomination. She reached the head, took her sword in both hands and lifted it. A quick swing was all she needed to behead the beast – it slumped immediately.
Claire jumped down, wiping her sword clean of the blood. Solaire approached her, reaching out to her. He affectionately gave a pat on her shoulder, before he examined the right claw of the dragon.
"I think, this is the solution to one of our problems." he said, holding up a key. "With this you should be able to continue towards Blighttown."
"What about you?"
Solaire sighed. "I have my own quest. And you did have proven that you are ready to fight your own battles. You have become strong."
"You won't come with me?"
"You asked me to let you go alone, did you not? I think you can do it. Alone. Some say that the fate of the Chosen Undead is one of solitude and I simply know, that you will come back to Firelink Shrine alone. I know that we will meet again. And never forget, there will always be somebody to help you."
"And still you distrust Lautrec."
"Do not trust everyone. Choose your comrades wisely and you will reach your goal with your friends alive. But now I must bid you farewell – I guess Blighttown is not a place to look for my own sun."
"You and your sun. Is there something I should know about Blighttown?"
"Some say that a powerful Pyromancer is located there. No one I know does know more about this person, so be careful and do not hunt ghosts."
"Pyromancers usually get along just fine. We are outcasts of society after all."
"It is a shame, really. You magic might be unrefined, but it is everything that is left from the ancient fire sorcery of the Witch of Izalith."
"A pyromancer does not know the story behind his own magic? How sad."
"Do you know the history behind every of your miracles?"
"Oh, no I don't. But I would like to."
"I would like a lot of things. Knowing more about Pyromancy is one of them."
Solaire laughed. "I think I know where the gate fitting to the key is located. You should go – maybe you will find out more about pyromancy than you like."
"Do you want to get rid of me?"
"No, I just want to see you again soon."
Claire laughed. "Show me your gate, or else we both won't fulfil our goals."
The gate lead down to the darkness. Wooden planks were everything that separated a by-passer from the depths. Claire looked down, before she turned around a last time. Solaire gave her an encouraging nod, before lifting his hand to bid her a silent farewell. Claire nodded back and returned the gesture, before both Undead departed to their respective destinations.