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It was too easy. No traps, no guards. Just a simple cave, the flame of the torch sending shadows scuttling into crevices and behind rocks, illuminating no magical runes or trick floor panels.

      Arriah wondered if he had read the maps wrong, maybe been off in his estimations. Maybe he had read it just fine and the map itself was wrong? The possibilities ran through his head, driving him a little mad as he scoured the cave for any sign of life.

      Or unlife, in this case. Or perhaps it should be death?

      Too many questions and not a single answer presenting itself.

      He followed the cave for what felt like hours, its bland walls revealing nothing more than sandy rock and the odd drop of moisture that fell from above. But there was a feeling in the air, like he was being watched, like hundreds of eyes gazed upon him with disdain, maybe even lustful hunger for his life force.

      Perhaps he had read the maps right, after all.

      At length Arriah came upon an arch set into the rock, an ancient dialect carved in its now mossy stone, something so ancient that even he could not read it.

      “Turn back.” Arriah almost leapt out of his skin as the voice whispered in his ear.

      But there was nobody in sight.

      “Leave this place,” another voice rasped.

      “You are not welcome here.” Soon a cacophony of voices arose, repeated the same phrases again and again.

      The young magi regained his composure, the fleeting fright already forgotten, and studied the arch’s text in closer detail. Raising his torch, the runes became clearer in sight, if not in mind. This was a gap in his knowledge that he would have to fill another time, once his task here was completed. A ladder was needed anyway, he thought to himself.

      Passing under the arch, the cave walls opened out suddenly and enveloped Arriah in darkness. He uttered a minor incantation and the torch’s flame flickered and spat, a growing light spilling forth in all directions, illuminating everything within a mile as if it were bathed in noonday sun.

      The ruins of old Vún, the underground city of the long dead dragon people, stretched out into the inky blackness beyond the magi’s orb of daylight. Once great golden spires were now grey with age, covered with lichen fed by the dank conditions. Intricate statues of the Old Ones, great dragons that had supposedly ruled Silentil before Man was born, had eroded over time leaving them disfigured and grotesque.

      At least that’s what a lesser mind would believe, Arriah thought knowingly.

      Monuments, shrines, forges and living districts were all equally decayed or worse, with walls crumbled and broken, spilling out into the streets. Arriah passed them all as he journeyed further into the ruined and abandoned city, a specific destination in mind.

      “Where are you going?” Another voice, this one familiar, asked. A female figure appeared at Arriah’s side, matching his pace.

      “Death has no business here, Ina,” the magi replied with casual disdain.

      Ina was a spirit, usually sent by one of The Order to spy on Arriah. They were blind old men, still trying to convince the world that magic was dead instead of embracing their power. Ina was once of The Order, a bold young woman who would pry in every affair.

      Little wonder she was killed in her sleep.

      “Death watches all of you,” Ina hissed. “She knows you’re here and she is not happy. This place was sealed for a reason, Arriah. This place was cursed for a reason.

      “If she is so concerned,” he smirked, “then why did she send The Order’s puppet, instead of coming herself?”

      The spirit had no answer. Her surprise evident.

      “Oh, she has no idea why I’m here, does she?” Arriah laughed. “The all powerful Nirsa, Spirit of Death, hasn’t a clue why a lowly mortal enters the Dead City of Dragons?”

      He was positively gleeful. All these years of being dogged by The Order, by Ina, by Death herself, and none of them had any idea what was coming.

      “Don’t be so sure of yourself, Arriah. If you anger Death, she will come for you.

      Arriah stopped, looking up. Ina followed suit, her mouth agape.

      A cathedral stood before them, its golden towers so huge that they even escaped the magi’s light source. Massive windows decorated the front of the building, painted glass depicting dragons and flame and strange men on their knees, worshipping the chaos. The Dragon People of Vún.

      Arriah stepped forward, scaling the steps before the entrance. He turned back to the stunned spirit of Ina.

      “You and I both know that Death has no power here.”

 

This is from a new story that I started last week, one that started (as usual) as a short story and ended up bringing forth ideas of something much bigger.

I got lost in the setting, the new characters, the mystery of Arriah’s purpose and motives, and I got absolutely sucked into discovering this new story.

Please leave any feedback in the comments below, or even via Twitter (@BlueFury47) if you’d prefer.

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