Shadowed by the Ancient Haunt
The Hydrus Rreign
Age: 2 years, 11 months, 1 week
Born: December 30th, 2020
Adopted: 2 years, 11 months, 1 week ago
Adopted: December 30th, 2020
- Level: 1
- Strength: 10
- Defense: 10
- Speed: 10
- Health: 10
- HP: 10/10
- Intelligence: 0
- Books Read: 0
- Food Eaten: 0
- Job: Unemployed
A trio of voices echo throughout the tundra. "No matter where you go, your form will be ripped apart piece by piece, until only your soul remains."
Before Taika, a perfect black circle appears. The light and the world around the circle is warped, bent, and pulled out of shape. Taika resists trying to stepping in that direction but it is inevitable.
Taika awakes in a cold sweat. As they walk out of their bedroom and open the door, they open the doorway to a different plane... no, a perspective outside of all perspectives. They see celestial bodies floating amongst the Material Plane, moving in a preordained manner. They see the never ending war in the Nine Hells, with territory moving like the ebb and flow of a tide. They see fey realm pushing and growing in a pulsating mass.
"Do what you were meant to." The trio of voices says.
Like the shattering of glass, Taika jolts awake with only one word within their mind. "Consume."
Shaking, Taika fumbled for the nightstand with bleary eyes in search of a glass of water. They find it and gulp it down, willing the last of the dream-fog away from their mind.
They set the empty glass down heavily and ran a hand through sweat-dampened hair, the voices still echoing between their pointed ears. It was a miracle Taika actually fell asleep and thus was awarded by one of their most vivid night terrors in weeks. The search for salvation continued then, and at a pace with more fervour.
First, they needed to remember where they were. With the heel of their hands they harshly rubbed their eyes until they felt clear enough. Looking around the sparse room they remembered now arriving to a small town, checking into an inn, drinking, and oh. Yes. The green form of a half-Orc lay in the bed beside them, jolting the rest of Taika's memory.
Taika got out of bed and kicked out their one-time companion before heading to the bath in hopes of clearing their head a bit more. After, they dressed in the same clothes they've been travelling in for years and grabbed their backpack, locking the door behind them before heading to the inn’s bar downstairs. It was barely sunrise and no one was around except the human on night shift. Taika dropped a few coins on the bartop and motioned for a pint of ale.
“Can you tell me if this town has a healer or shaman?" They asked as the drink was poured and placed in front of them.
The human shook his head. "Nothing here. But if you travel about 2 hours west there's a large travelling market currently parked for the next month or so. I'm certain I've seen many different types of stalls similar to what you're looking for."
Taika grunted in acknowledgement and downed their pint quickly, thunking it on the counter and leaving the inn. The air was cool and fragrant with cedar; a perfect morning for a walk. They began making their way through the town, noticing signs indicating the direction of the market. A few others were walking as well and Taika didn't doubt they'd be after the best food items so early in the morning.
The sun offered long morning shadows by the time Taika arrived at the market, the temperature in the air warming as it rose. It was a sizeable market with many caravans and open carts alike. Tents both lavish and modest were dotted throughout and all manner of races were both in attendance and stall-workers. Barkers stood outside a few of the larger tents, attempting to draw in visitors to whatever temptations lay within. As the smell of meats and fresh bread wafted from the carts, Taika realized they were hungry. They picked up a honey bread with pine nuts which, admittedly, they decided they'd need to buy more on the way out.
The market was a little overwhelming and Taika had seen a few merchants that had looked promising, but most were in the business of selling snake oil or remedies they've tried before. Perhaps they’d try again tomorrow.
The sorcerer put up their hood and made their way back to the food cart to pick up more bread. Before reaching it, the glint from a decoration on a small tent caught their eye and they decided to inspect it. The sun had reflected off a lovely mobile sculpture made of copper shapes in elemental symbols, the sun, and the moon. Polished howlite and agate adorned some of the copper and lended a very mystical feel. Taika felt drawn to every bit of that mobile, like it spoke to them on a primal and magical level.
“It’s not for sale, dear.” Came a husky voice from inside the tent. The smell of incense and amber wafted out.
“Oh, I’m not-“
“Come in! You have the most interesting aura, please let me see if I can help you.”
Taika glanced around and reluctantly stepped into the tent. A black Tabaxi woman was seated on patterned cushions, a table between her and the door. She motioned to the other cushion and Taika slowly sat, removing their hood.
The Tabaxi stared at them with glittering eyes, one green, one blue. Taika had to look away after a while under her gaze, and the woman sat back.
“You are suffering greatly, young half-Elf. Something is weighing on your very soul, isn’t it?”
Taika’s eyes snapped back up to the Tabaxi’s, and she gave a wry smile before gesturing with a manicured hand. “Give me your palm.”
Taika looked at their own hand and flexed it into a fist a few times. The wrapped sleeves covered most of their palm and only exposed their fingers. Palm readers always wanted them to expose their whole hand, of which Taika was not comfortable.
The Tabaxi drew her hand back. “No? That’s okay. How about you tell me what you’re here for?”
Taika put their hand back in their lap. “You asked me in here.”
“Oh, Sorcerer, you’re not here for just the food and the girls are you? Your very aura reveals to me more than you know. Be honest with me.”
Taika hesitated, unsure how much they wanted to share. “I want to sleep without nightmares.”
“Hm, yes that is something that would keep one up at night.” The Tabaxi pulled out a wooden box and set it on the table. Opening it revealed it to be an apothecary box filled with glass bottles of oils, herbs, and various tinctures. She pulled out a few and mixed the contents into an empty vial. Before Taika could react, she darted out with her feline speed and pulled a hair from Taika’s head.
The hair went into the vial and the woman muttered an incantation as she sealed it before placing it into Taika’s hand. The oil glowed a faint lilac at their touch.
“Now, tortured one, heed my instructions,” the Tabaxi commanded Taika’s attention, “tonight you are to rest in a quiet room with a clear head. No alcohol, no inebriation of any kind. Put five drops of the oil on any sort of fire. This can be a candle, fireplace, whatever as long as it burns for a minimum of 5 hours. You will lucid dream and you will have to face your demon, but it will open the way for a resolution you are hoping for. Provided your demon is faced, you can use one drop of the oil on a flame any night you wish to achieve sleep.”
Taika stuffed the vial into their bag. It seemed too good to be true but they were willing to give it a shot. They pulled out some coins and placed them on the table. “Thanks.”
The Tabaxi clicked her apothecary shut. “Good luck, little Sorcerer. I hope you find what you seek.”
Taika left the tent, not sure how they felt, and continued on their way. They picked up some more bread as well as a selection of candied nuts and dried fruit and started the walk back.
Returning to the inn, Taika went directly to their room and pulled out one of the provided candles from a box under the nightstand. They opened the vial and the scent of the oil nearly knocked them over. It was was strong and musky, but not unpleasant. Taika carefully added five drops to the candle before sealing the vial and tucking it away. They lit the candle and were surprised at how the scent changed. It wasn’t strong but light and airy, like a field of clover on a summer day.
The half-Elf quickly dressed down to their undergarments and settled into bed. They lay on their back, staring at the ceiling, wondering if it was supposed to help them fall asleep or just give them weird dreams.
The answer came quickly when they realized how heavy their eyes were and before long the inky black of sleep overtook them.
Taika couldn't bring themselves to open their eyes. They felt like they were lying on soft ground, a gentle breeze caressing their face and skin. It smelled sweet, much nicer than the old, musty room at the inn.
At once they sat up. This wasn't the inn. They were sitting on a hill amongst tall thin grasses that bumped into them gently in the breeze. The plants were strange colours of blue and straw gold and blended with the heavy mist that settled in the valley below. There appeared to be large bushes and small trees in the valley, with a large crop of evergreens on the horizon. The sun cast a fuzzy white glow behind the mist, yet the forest looked dark and boggy despite the sun's best efforts.
Taika looked down at themselves and scoffed. They were wearing a gauzy white wrap held in place with a muted gold cord that seemed to show off all the scars on their hard, pale skin. Their scars were always a reminder of their unwanted magic and nightmares, so to be clothed in something revealing made Taika realize they were in one stupid fucking dream. At least they had a sword here, albeit a really modest and clunky one.
Right, a dream. The merchant said it would be like this so Taika stood up with the sword in hand to see what demons lay in the forest below.
The grass was slightly dewy and the cool drops clung to the thin fabric of their robe and bare feet. The valley was more misty than it appeared from the top of the hill, the forest just a mauve smudge on the horizon. To Taika it seemed like the walk would never end. The sun didn't appear to be moving as it sat in the hazy sky yet it didn't heat the sorcerer's skin. Time was standing as still as the mist in the air.
Taika felt as if they had been walking for hours by the time they reached the trees' edge. The forest smelled tangy and mossy like a peat bog. The ground was soft and so were the needles of the trees around them. Everything had an aura of navy blue and Taika's skin contrasted against it. They thumped the sword on the trunk of a tall tree and the sound reverberated throughout.
Continuing their trek inwards, Taika had no idea what they were supposed to be looking for anymore and there was a feeling of malaise that crept up the further in they went. The trees were darker and the sun was barely visible through them, and the mist was taking on a smoky colour and started moving away from them. Taika stopped walking and assumed a ready stance with their sword; something didn't feel right. The mist was gathering in a spot in front of them, swirling upwards and around, taking on the colour of heavy storm clouds. The dark nebula of mist took on the form of a dragon with three eyes like an empty void and Taika felt a familiar tug towards them.
The dragon opened its maw and spoke directly into Taika's mind: "Consume!"
Taika raised an arm to summon a magic strike but realized it was was the dragon wanted, as they could feel the magic pull itself into it's trio of inky eyes. Clenching their fist and severing the magic connection, Taika started raising the sword but not before the dragon's tail swung and landed squarely on their chest, sending them tumbling backwards. Taika wheezed and coughed as they tried to stand back up. It swung at them again and they dodged it, deflecting with the sword.
They side stepped around it, sizing it up and looking for a way to strike. Fighting with just a sword was not Taika's preference and they felt rusty and unfamiliar. Close range daggers and long distance magic is how they came to keep themselves protected over the years. The dragon struck out with its head and Taika barely dodged in time. They jabbed out with their weapon and hit its neck before jumping out of the way of its tail once again. They had to get in close if they were to decapitate it. Unfortunately it was quite quick and they were holding something they were not proficient in.
The fight seemed to go on for hours and perhaps it had; there was no concept of time here. Taika was feeling slightly weary but the dragon was still going strong, despite them hacking off of one of its legs. They had opted for stealth now and were currently perched in a tree, planning their next move. It was going to be risky but they didn't care. They were tired, done, and if nothing had gotten them close to its head yet then they may as well be a little stupid. Just like this dream.
Taika heard the dragon approach and saw the misty grey of its snout come out of the bushes. It was less cautious in being silent than Taika was, and it plodded its way towards the tree they were sitting in. As far as Taika could tell, it had no idea where they were at that moment.
They held their breath as the dragon was now beneath their perch, arching its neck to look around. In one fluid movement, Taika launched from the tree with the sword tip aimed at its neck. The sword stabbed the dragon as Taika landed on its back, straddling it with their muscular thighs and whatever strength was left in them. It writhed in an attempt to shake them off but they held steady, pushing down on the weapon until it poked through the underside of its neck. With practiced agility, the half-Elf gripped the sword's hilt with both hands and threw their body weight to one side of the dragon, using their momentum to pull the sword with them as they landed underneath the beast. The moment the dragon's head and neck hit the ground it dissipated along with its body.
"Fucking hell." Taika spat, panting and a little angry they had to be so involved in a dream.
A small glow manifested between some dark trees and caught Taika's eye. They started off towards it, hoping for an answer - and an end - to this encounter.
They came to a small stone well filled with a calm, crystal clear water. The glow seemed to emanate from beneath the surface. Looking more closely, an inscription could be seen in the stone just under the surface of the water:
The freedom you seek lies in Matanaya
As soon as Taika read the words, a watery hand grabbed them and pulled them inside the well. Taika had no time to take a breath as they were dragged into the water, the mysterious force pulling and tugging at their limbs. They panicked and started flailing, unable to think about anything but surviving. But the pull was too powerful and their lungs were burning. A sudden tug made them gasp involuntarily and water filled their lungs and vision blurred until nothing was felt anymore.
Taika inhaled and stretched, feeling consciousness return to them after what felt like a long rest. The vivid dream remained on their mind as they cracked open one eye, realizing the sun had risen long ago. They... slept past sunrise?
The half-Elf sat up and noticed the candle had burned itself down and snuffed out, the light scent of the oil still lingering in the air. Their mind was clear and they felt confused. Was this what it felt like having an actual nights' sleep? Their dream sure didn't allow them any rest but their body wasn't aching as badly as it usually did in the morning. The oil must have worked.
Before Taika could forget, they grabbed some parchment and scribbled a note about Matanaya, a name stuck in their brain. Time to research about this place and see what they could find. Taika hadn't felt this invigorated in a long time and cracked a small, rare smile. Looks like they finally had a lead to rid them of this curse.
Copper Dragon Warrior Figurine
Bundle of Old Maps
Sneak Thief Pick Set
Junior Archaeologist Tool Kit
Plum Tincture Bottle
Gourd Witch Dripping Candles
Cut Mossy Agate Geode
Orange Coda Caves Crystal
Rugged Patchwork Camping Tent
Scary Cube Blub
Ghostly Rogue Ember
Ghostly Flame Fist
Dark Rogue Ember
Dark Flame Fist
Sunset Sea Stones