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A Tale of Doom
Despite the known perils of Dungeon Doom, Margrave ventures into the dark pit of evil and faces one of its most malevolent denizens.
"Margrave's employees grumbled behind her. They knew this wasn't one of the typical Vesper Trading Company crimes. This wasn't robbery, smuggling, or the odd paid thwacking; this was something darker, older. This was the sort of crime that left reality bruised and bleeding. Margrave took a quick look down the hole and leapt. One of the older mercenaries shook his head and started looking for a place to tie a rope.

"Margrave was looking at the bones of various creatures when the first mercenary dropped off the rope onto the rough stonework. Britannian researchers, upon hearing second-hand accounts of this newly-discovered dungeon, had found reference to an ancient dungeon called Doom, lost during the upheavals surrounding Mondain's death. They were very excited about confirming the lore of this new dungeon from the safety of their libraries and sitting rooms.

"The hired warriors, gripping their weapons tightly, were not thinking about the academic study of Doom. Superstition, fables, and drunken stories were all the education they needed in a world with demons, dragons, and raw elemental energies. They knew they shouldn't be here, and almost to confirm their fear, the other end of the rope fell from above as if untied by some unseen hand. They would need to find another way out.

"Eventually, Margrave found the room she was looking for. Lost magical items and books littered the room. A few twisted undead were devouring one of their fallen brethren in the corner. A ghastly woman stood near a pentagram. While she didn't appear to be undead, she didn't seem quite alive. Hearing the group's footsteps, she turned. Her words, not so much spoken as riding on an echo, came to Margrave's ears: 'I know why you are here. To seek what they all seek. And to tap the vein of such power. I could warn of a fate similar to mine, but you would not listen. Bring me a thousand bones from hell's darkest fiends, and I will help you make the first step towards crossing the river.'

"The daemon bones were gathered from the rooms connected to Victoria's cavern. Many bones littered the floors of these rooms and more were gathered from the vile creatures that crawled forward to do battle. Whenever one fell, another rose to take its place. Flashes from blades of silver, crackling blasts of energy, and sulfurous flames lit up the tiny corner of Doom. After several hours, Margrave added the final bone to the pile on the pentagram near Victoria.

"'Very well, I will summon the devourer. May it kill you swiftly, so you bother me no more,' spoke Victoria. The doomed witch began her incantation. The bones started reconnecting themselves. A spinal column formed first, taller than any of the mercenaries. Limbs with bits of flesh on them grew out of the pile of bones. Skulls fused into a terrible face. The magic poured out of the darkness and into the skeleton, sparks of it igniting in the thin air of the dungeon. Then there was silence.

"After a few seconds, one of the mercenaries dared to take a breath. Before he could exhale, the bone daemon had tossed his limp form across the room. The other mercenaries gasped in fear. Every muscle told them to flee down a random corridor and pray nothing worse found them, but they formed a line in front of Margrave. The mage behind them was their only hope of leaving Doom alive. Margrave started the hand movements of a spell, as the warriors fell on the daemon. A sword or two hit the creature, but most blows were swatted away. The creature effortlessly wrenched the weapons from the hands of the terrified mercenaries and hurled both against the wall. Those who managed to hurt the creature found their little victory was short-lived as the creature began to rain spells down upon them. Cries of pain and clangs of smashed armor echoed down the nearby halls. Victoria shook her head and languidly leafed through an old tome.

"Margrave managed to cast a swirling vortex of energy that slammed against the creature, shattering a few bones. The daemon stuck its arm into the vortex, and the power of the spell dissipated. It would take Margrave some time to form another spell, so with her few remaining allies out of the battle, she mounted an ethereal horse and raced down a corridor. The daemon followed, roughly pushing aside anything in its path.

"Margrave's mind raced through the spells and magics she knew. An earthquake spell would bury her alive and probably wouldn't stop the daemon. No music could calm something from the Abyss. Pure energy might work, but Margrave didn't believe she had enough raw mana to kill it alone. Familiars, animals, the undead in the cavern, none seemed capable of harming the beast. A piece of stone fell off the ceiling and hit the skeleton, cracking a rib. Margrave smiled. Stones may break some bones.

"Hiding herself for a moment in a dark corner, she started casting her spell. An earth elemental arose from the broken stonework at her feet. She pointed it at the daemon and moved back toward her employees.

"The elemental eventually broke against the barrage of magic and bone, but not before another had joined it. The battered warriors were throwing rocks and cheering. Slowly, bone after bone broke and fell to the floor. Eventually, the bone creature met its breaking point, shattering in a hail of bone fragments. From the shards on the ground, Margrave claimed a small golden skull. This skull was her key to crossing the river. One of the exhausted brigands guessed this as well. Fearing what else the dungeon held, he pleaded, 'Please, ma'am, let us return to the surface. We're dying.'

"Margrave looked at the bruised and bloody mercenaries. She nodded. These were petty scoundrels, not the army one brought to barter and battle with dark evils. 'If you survive, come see me,' she laughed as she Recalled away."

Next week, we continue our spotlights of the tales and stories that you create in Britannia. Keep an eye on FYI for future spotlight topics and send in your tales!

Published: August 2003
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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