Shortness of Breath. Fantasy modern day short story Part 1
Here is a short story I threw together while bored. Figured I'd share it with the Steemians. Its just something I had bouncing around on the computer. Hope you enjoy:
The stone shimmered as the magic flowed into it, glowing a deep red with a radiant ethereal warmth. A man in dark robes lifted the stone and placed it within a small lantern. He whispered a few quick and silent incantations and the light changed to an brighter orange color and grew to the brightness of a flash light. The man then closed the lantern and lifted it to illuminate the surrounding area. The lantern, glowing with ethereal light and an occasional floating rune or script escaping its metal containment, showed the surrounding area of a cave or tunnel. Containing smoothed stone that extends into darkness in both directions, the man with the lantern quickly turned when he heard some scuffling.
A younger gentleman with glasses carrying several large pouches, papers and containers stopped as the light hit him. Holding his hand up to block the light he said, "Looks like it was a good idea to bring that old lantern we found."
The man in the dark robes lifted his hood and revealed the face of a older man with white hair and a long white beard that he pulled out of his robes. "Of course it was a good idea, you can't rely on the modern technology in these dark places..." He says as he eyes the broken glass and destroyed flashlight on the ground.
"Yes, Master Rosen. Sorry for dropping the flashlight." The younger man said in dismay.
"Bah, they were cheap tools anyways. Worry yourself not young Reven. Allows for good practice of the magickal arts. One must not forget and must always practice when time and places permit!" Rosen smiled as he closed the lantern's door and turned.
"Of course Master!" Reven cheered up as he grabbed a few errant scrolls as they escaped their leathery confines.
"Now then, we must find out why locals keep disappearing in or around these tunnels. Keep your eyes sharp and your ears sharper. Chances are we'll hear the culprits before we seen them, if we see them at all! Ready your salts and stay close to me." Rosen stated and he started to step forward into the blackness of the tunnel.
"Salts?" Gulped Reven. "You don't expect a spirit of some kind do you?"
"In these old places, I expect spirits are about but they may not be the problem. We may get them out of the way to reveal to true villain or at least prevent them from interfering with our investigation. The wards I cast on us at the entrance will make animals from noticing us so anything making a home will ignore us. Its only the truly evil and demonic things I'm waiting for and thus I ready myself for any inevitability; and you should do the same." Rosen stated to them both as he walked on.
Reven checked his various pockets and pouches, shifting maps and scrolls, bottles and potions around until he found the vials of spirit salts. Alchemical salts made of crushed up quartz, dead sea salt and sage ash to disrupt any dead or low vibrational spiritual forces that might be in the immediate area. This can be used to surround oneself in a circle, close off doorways or windows to prevent entry or, in emergencies, thrown into the air for immediate disruption of the planar forces connecting the spirits to this realm. Inhaling the salts is not recommended.
"The salts are ready. I'm going to wear my scarf now." Reven stated to Rosen as he pulled out a long scarf and wrapped his nose and face with it. Rosen grunted acknowledgement and continued forth, looking at every part of the tunnel the light hit with a constant and experience eye. Searching for possible runes or signs of problems.
Rosen stopped just as Reven finished wrapping his mouth and nose in the scarf. The tunnel up ahead split into a four way. He slowly walked closer to the four way and waited, listening to the silence. He sniffed the air for any strange fragrances or smells. Finding nothing, he walked to the edge of the four way and quickly glanced at both sides. Rosen then reached into his robes and produced a small pebble. He muttered a quick spell and blew onto the pebble as it lit up like a little firefly. He tossed it into the air and it flew up, flittered about for a couple seconds then darted down the tunnel to the left. Rosen then turned and peered more closely to the tunnel on the right.
There were a few pieces of what looked like old trash and some debris but the coast looked clear. The magic firefly came back from the left tunnel and flittered to Rosen ear. Rosen nodded as if the firefly were speaking to him then he grunted a confirmation and the firefly flew off further down the right tunnel. Rosen put the lantern down and turned to Reven, who was surveying the whole scene with noted curiosity. "Hand me the white chalk and a red dragon's blood oil chalk. I'm going to make us a rune of return here. I don't want to get lost in these corridors." Rosen stated as he held out his hand expectantly. Reven quickly dropped down, allowing his multiple bags to land on the tunnel floor, permitting him to quickly go through them and producing the needed chalks. He gave Rosen the chalks as he stood back up. "You're getting much better at your inventory management my young pupil. You'll make a fine wizard once you can produce these kind of results in the heat of combat!" Rosen chuckled as he started writing out the runes on the tunnel wall.
After several minutes, Rosen finished scribbling the runes on the wall to a circle with various runes surrounding it and an arrow pointing down.
"Here." Rosen said at he handed the chalk back to Reven. "Keep these handy, we'll need them again." He glanced down the corridor, the firefly not back yet. "We have a few minutes, lets see how fast you can copy that rune I just wrote into your notebook." Reven nodded and put the chalk away and deftly pulled out his notebook on runic magic (One of several notebooks he has at any one time) and pencil and started copying down the rune as quickly but as effectively as he could. As Reven scribbled away, Rosen pulled a small twig with this left hand, no bigger then a pencil itself, out of his pocket and mumbled a few muffled words and snapped his right hand, causing the twig to instantly extend out to a staff about 5 feet long. He then leaned on the staff as he kept watch for the firefly to return, listening ever so intently to the surroundings as his apprentice scribbled on the notebook and talking to himself while he copied down the rune of return.
Rosen walked further into the tunnel and peeked around the corner into the large chamber. Foul smelling water collected into a pool in the center of the room; too dark to see anything within or how deep it might be. Reven scrambled to Rosen’s position and stopped suddenly, his eyes wide with alarm and fear. He pointed above the pool and Rosen followed, face turning into a solemn scowl. Perched on the railing of a second level walkway was a gaunt, white as bone creature gnawing on the flesh on some poor victim. Rosen was expecting something but not this creature. “Wendigo.” He muttered under his breath.
Reven gasped upon hearing the name and covered his mouth quickly but the damage was done. The wendigo stopped gnawing and snapped it’s attention towards the intruders. It dropped the limb it was eating and let out a ear splitting screech, causing both Rosen and Reven to instinctively cover their ears. Rosen shouted, “Silence you foul creature!” and quickly reached into his robes, producing a small bottle of bluish liquid, throwing it and turning to grab Reven. The bottle exploded in mid-air into a bright flash, blinding the wendigo and causing it to scamper along the wall and away from the duo.
“Where are going? What are we going to do?” Shouted Reven over his ringing ears as he panicked.
“We either have to flee the tunnels or make a stand. There will be no refuge in the creatures lair. “Rosen loudly stated. “We must plan quickly, the wendigo will only be stunned momentarily. This is highly unusual to find such a beast inside a sewer. They are mostly contained to the woods.”
“Are we sure it’s a wendigo? Maybe its just a ghoul or some other abomination?” Reven questioned. Then, as if on queue, a freezing cold wind blew in from behind the two magicians the smelled of rot and death.
“I’m sure of it my boy, that freezing wind is a sure sign of it.” Rosen stated as the two just got to the intersection. Reven turned toward to tunnel with the exit when a shriek came from further down the tunnel, stopping him in his tracks.
“What?! But it was behind us!” Reven exclaimed.
“It still is. Wendigos are fast but they can’t teleport. It’s trying to confuse us by throwing it’s voice in front of us. Now try to calm yourself, it can follow us easier with our panicked heartbeats. Also, throw your salts behind us, it could possibly slow it down….possibly.” Rosen tried to quickly convey his message while gently nudging his apprentice forward.
“Oh I hope this works.” Reven said as he smashed the vial of salts on the concrete behind the team. Both Reven and Rosen then sped into the darkness of the tunnel. Behind them a scraping sound was getting closer causing them to quicken the past as fast as they could in the cramped sewer.
“So, uh. Master? Whats the best way to take care of this?” Reven questioned between breaths.
“Fire.” Rosen stated.
“In the sewer?!” Reven shouted in alarm.
“Yes. Not the best situation or location. We need to get outside where we might have a better chance. If we could only find a door in this place, we could get a few minutes to think. We won’t stop it but it might slow it… GET DOWN!” Rosen shouted as he looked back just as the wendigo catch up to the duo. The wendigo leaped at Reven with one of its gore covered claws, barely missing as he ducked down to his hands and knees. Rosen shouted a magic word, causing the gem on his staff to glow brighter and shimmer like heat off a freeway. He then slammed it into the face of the wendigo, causing a small blast and making the creature howl in pain and rage.
Reven scrambled forward next to Rosen and grabbed a vial of mixed white and clear oil. “Master, I have the holy oil!” He exclaimed.
“The wendigo isn’t undead!” Rosen shouted, whacking the wendigo again in the torso and narrowly jumping back in time to only get part of his cloak ripped from the rake of wendigo’s claws. The gem’s brightness starting to wane.
“No but it’ll burn.” Reven said grinning. Rosen turned and grinned himself, nodding. Reven threw the vial at the wendigo as it readied another strike and hit it dead in the face. The wendigo shrieked and clawed at its face as the oil ran down its body.
“Quick boy! Your lantern!” Yelled Rosen. Reven reached for his lantern tied to his belt and handed it to Rosen. “Back up!” He instructed as he threw the lantern at the wendigo, breaking it upon creature. The glowing orange stone within shattered and exploded into a small ball of fire, lighting up the oil. The wendigo gave a bone shattering shriek that reverberated along the tunnel as it attempted the claw the fire off its face and body, only spreading the burning oil further. Rosen and Reven both backed up the tunnel, eyeing the wendigo as it started to burn.
The wendigo dropped down and the two heroes looked at each other in relief. Their looks turned to that of horror as the wendigo started to clamber back up and started walking with its claw out toward the two, completely engulfed in flame.
Rosen and Reven both turned and ran as fast as they could in panic as the wendigo started to pick up speed heading toward the exit of the sewers. “The gate! It’s closed!” Reven shouted as they light from the burning wendigo brought it into view. They rushed up to it and the gate was indeed closed and locked. “Now what?!”
“Quickly! The dragon blood chalk!” Rosen shouted as the wendigo started to shamble near them, slowing but still dangerously close. Reven produced the chalk and handed it to Rosen, who grabbed it and deftly started drawing a magic circle on the wall. “Never thought I would use it like this. Rosen exclaimed. The wendigo was within a staff’s reach as the circle was finished and glowed a bright red. Rosen threw himself back as fast as he could as the wendigo reached his charred and burning claw within inches of Rosen’s face when there was a bright flash and the wendigo disappeared along with the light from the fire.
Reven was backed up against the gate, mouth agape and Rosen let a breath out he didn’t realize he was holding.
“What are you doing in there!?” Someone shouted behind the duo, nearly giving them both heart attacks as they both started. The light from a flashlight was peering through the grate around the and through the gate. A woman in reflective gear and a yellow hard hat eyed the two suspiciously as she started to unlock the gate. “This area is off limits. Authorized personnel only. Come on, get out.”
“You don’t need to tell me twice.” Reven said as he helped Rosen up and they both walked through the gate. As the two walked through the gate the women locked it and turned to them.
“You know you’re lucky I was still nearby and heard your shouting. You could have been stuck down here for a while.” She stated as a matter of fact, which her hands at her hips.
“Yes ma’am. Thank you for returning when you did.” Rosen said as he dusted himself off.
“Of course…” She said as she sniffed the air and frowned. “Were you guys burning something?” Reven and Rosen looked at her and their blood ran cold. The sewer worker cocked her head in confusion as a charred claw reached through the bars for her neck.
To be continued?