"To return Man to the Earth... will require a sacrifice."
The Crowfather awaited for the horseman as he stood before the Well of Souls.
Death. The Grim Reaper. Rider of the Apocalypse and Eldest of the Four Horseman. And Kinslayer. He had finally reached his final destination and goal. To erase his brother's "crimes" by bringing back all of Mankind to Earth, once more.
In exchange, he sacrificed the souls of the Nephilim to make that happen.
Moments before, he had slain his brother, Absalom, who had become the manifestation of Corruption. The dual was fierce, yet, Death stood victorious.
In one fell stroke, Death struck the final blow to the monster he once called "brother", along with the memories of his past. It was a bitter victory.
Now, Death stood over the edge and prepared himself. He took off his mask, giving it to the Crowfather, before diving into the Well.
The ethereal waves of souls embraced the horseman as he descended into the vast abyss; cleansing him with the energy and stripping away the souls of the Nephilim, along with the horseman himself.
Death breathed new life to the Earth, once more...
... or so the Crowfather had believed.
What came next was... an imbalance. Something was wrong. The Keeper of Secrets could feel it.
"Oh... that's unexpected..." Crowfather muttered in surprise. This was supposed to be the moment where the Apocalypse was to be undone. Humanity would live to see another future. But the process had been... interrupted.
Then, a vision had appeared before the Crowfather. Events flooded before his eyes. In it, he saw another realm.
The Realm of Amalur.
And in the realm were humans. A different kind, but humans nonetheless. Living among them were the Fae, the Alfar, and the Gnomes and countless other species not native to the Earth known, but something the Crowfather had been familiar with.
He was a collector of knowledge, after all.
But the one event that caught his attention was an ongoing-war.
The Crystal War. The Tuatha Deohn; Fae that once belonged to the Court of Winter, have sounded the horns of War and lasted a campaign of Blood and Conquest, in the name of their God for almost two decades. And leading this faction was Gadflow, a lowly-servant turned despotic tyrant of this new dominion. And Amalur will be riped for their taking.
Yet, not all hope is gone, for their exists an anomaly. Found within the hands of the Gnomes was a particular oddity. In its current state, it was dead.
But for reasons unknown, the visions were still insistent on this dead body. Crowfather had soon come to believe that their might be some sort of importance to this deceased person, and thus awaited to see what will unfold next.
"Hmmm... perhaps this realm is in need of someone to tip the scales in its favor. Whatever it is, this should be interesting."
With his final thoughts rung out, Crowfather looked to his feathered companion. Dust perked his head, curiously, as if it had read the old man's mind.
"It seems you'll be of use once again, Dust. Let's not have him wait, shall we?"
On command, the raven descended into the Well of Souls; disappearing in its ethereal glow. Crowfather awaited near the edge and sat on the ground; watching the story soon to unfold.
"I wonder what Fate shall await for you, horseman?"
Death felt the hard surface of the earth beneath him touch his face just as he had crashed into it.
He had to admit, it hurt like hell.
"Errrr... what now?" He grumbled to himself. He lifted himself off the floor and looked to his surroundings. From his surveillance, he was in a cave surrounded by piles of corpses that either belonged to one of his old homes or that of a serial killer's den.
He hoped it was the former.
The horseman soon began perusing himself for any signs of injuries. Death checked his gear and equipment. All of it has stayed with him, save for two things. One was his mask, which caught him by surprise until he realized that he had given it to Crowfather.
The second were the soul shards that were no longer embedded in his chest. That shocked him the most.
"This... can't be right. I jumped into the Well... I sacrificed the souls of my people... along with myself... to save the realm of Man... and here I am... standing in a room... full of corpses... in the middle OF NOWHERE! AFTER EVERYTHING I'VE BEEN THROUGH! MUST I SUFFER THIS INDIGNATION TO SEE ALL OF MY WORK BE THROWN UNDER THE RUG?!"
Death was screaming at the top of his lungs in frustration of his current predicament. He would never admit it, but he was glad the soul shards were gone, subconsciously-speaking. But what angered him the most was the fact that he was now stuck in whatever hellhole he was now in. He had sacrificed and done so much to try and erase his brother's crimes, only to be dropped besides a mountain of bloated bodies.
Death soon calmed himself down and regain his composure.
*sigh* "Well, I can't stay here and sulk all about my problems. Hopefully, they've found their peace." Death said to himself, before standing up. He started to take a good look at the couple of decaying bodies that laid carelessly around him. He kneeled towards one and scratched his head; pondering his next move.
"Hmm... if I could get one of them to talk, perhaps I won't waste my time finding answers elsewhere." Death said to himself.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" Death perked his head up in curiosity of the noise, for it came from the tallest corpse mound.
"Hmph. Spoke too soon." Death quickly pulled up his hood and walked towards the corpse mound to see who the screamer was. As he took a few steps in, an arm popped out on top of the mound. The holder of the arm soon pulled itself out of the rubble to reveal a woman. Much to Death's surprise, it was a Dokkalfar. They had thought to have been extinct during the catastrophic event known as Ragnarok. The Twilight of the Gods.
That conflict had caused so much devestation in the known realms that the Charred Council had to send in the combined forces of Heaven, Hell, and the Horsemen to reign in the Aesir and Loki's rebellion from spreading further destruction to the other worlds. And for that, both factions had paid with their own blood for their transgressions against the Balance.
The dokkalfar woman soon climbed down - although slightly clumsily and hastily - as she made her way down the steps of her other less-fortunate bedfellows. The woman had safely gotten to flat ground, and Death had gotten a good view at the woman.
She was - like all other Alfar - beautiful. Her skin was pale in colour, but smooth like marble like all others. Her hair was white as snow, fashioned in a knotted half up, with eyes red as rubies. An albino, really.
An intricate tattoo in black color glossed over her forehead, resembling that of a crown. Human Celtic it resembled, he thought. On her, however, were mere ragged clothing. Despite this, she had a lot of facial jewellery around her face. Earrings that covered about half her ears, a pair of rings cloistered together on the right eyebrow, and another pair that were distanced from each other on the left; a piercing on the right nostril, and one ring on the lip. How the coroners hadn't made themselves rich is beyond his understanding.
Whoever she was, she must've had a really bad awakening to be in a place like this. The woman stood frozen in fear as she - too - stared at the sight of the Horseman.
This was going to be a slight problem, Death thought.
"Are you alright?" Death started. The woman recoiled at the sound of his voice. She took a step back and almost tripped as she accidentally stepped on a severed arm. She regain herself shortly, but was still wary of the Horseman before him. Death sighed to himself, knowing his appearance can be unsettling for most.
"St-Stay back! I'm warning you!" She yelled. Death stopped in his tracks and raised his hands to calm her down.
"I mean you no harm, if that's what you believe." He reassured. The woman was a bit hesitant to speak, but she was being slightly co-operative afterward.
"I'm... fine." She answered. "Thanks for asking."
"There. Wasn't so hard to spit it out, did it? You could be a do a little improvement if you opened up more often." Death quipped. It earned him a raised eyebrow with a sense of slight offense.
"Yes, such sound advice from Sir Tall, Dark and Scary." She snarked back. Death could never fault her for that, and was slightly amused to hear her be so sardonic. He smirked at her bit.
"A fair point, Alf." He responded, before going straight-faced and getting to the point.
"Tell me, where are we exactly?" He asked. The dokkalfar looked at him with some confusion as she tilted her slightly to the right.
"What do you mean? I thought you knew. Considering you're dressed like some sort of... serial killer hermit, I figured this place would some sort of lair you used for your dark rituals and black magic."
Ouch. This one had quite the tongue. Sharp as a knife, he thought.
"Heheheh. As much as I appreciate the flattery, that's certainly not the case. For you see, I'm as lost as you are. Besides, if anything, I would've mistaken you for another corpse. A homeless one, to be exact." He pointed out. The woman looked at her clothing and understood what he meant. She didn't say it, but Death could certainly see it in her face.
"Whatever, can we go now? I rather not be in this place any longer." She whined.
"What's wrong? Slept like the dead for too long?" He teased. The dokkalfar was becoming infuriated at the thought of sleeping with corpse and started staring daggers at the nephilim.
"Are you just going to keep making expenses at me or are we going to leave anytime soon?" She asked as she crossed her arms. Death rolled his eyes.
"Right. Don't want to make you stiff... as a corpse." Death joked.
"..." The woman continued to glare at him in contemptuous silence.
"Apologies. A bit of a habit. Right this way." Death motioned her to the path behind him. The alfar relaxed and proceeded to walk pass him and head towards the nearest exit.
"By the way, what's your name? If it's no issue for you." Death asked. The woman, surprisingly, paused and thought for a moment. Death could sense some sort of conflict in the way she tried to remember what her name was.
"I... I don't remember." She answered. Death sighed in disappointment.
"So, an amnesiac? How convenient." He grumbled. The alfar did little to hide her annoyance at the horseman's constant snipping at him. Death scratched his chin in thought of this dilemna.
"Hmm... have you considered giving yourself a new name? If not, then I might have some ideas."
"You? Giving me a name?" The alfar was taken by surprise by the gesture. Still, she presumed it was just another one of his silly insults. "No thanks, but I rather you not name me as 'Trash' or 'Corpse' for your amusement."
"I assure, it's not what you think it is." Death defended, shaking his head. "Though tempting as it is, I never make such gestures based on one's predicament. The names I have are not in any way to humiliate you. Of course, it's for you to decide."
The Dokkalfar thought for a moment. She quickly shook her head and gave up on finding a name for herself.
"Alright. What are your options?" She asked, expectantly.
"Well, here's a few I could come up with: Lolth, Umbra, and Nix. Thoughts?" The alfar took fifteen seconds to herself before making her final decisions.
"Umbra sounds like something I would name a pet. Nix sounds nice, though, it doesn't feel right. Lolth, on the other hand, sounds more exotic... Yes, Lolth will do."
Death shrugged, but nodded in acceptance.
"Lolth it is, then."
The newly-named Dokkalfar, Lolth, gave a small smile in response. But as the two conversed with one another, a loud rumble shocked the cave around them and debris began falling from the ceiling. Death lunged towards Lolth and tackled her as a large piece of the ceiling almost fell on top of her. Thankfully, he had reached just in time and narrowly escaped with both of their lives intact. Death looked at the large rubble behind him before looking back to Lolth, who was laying underneath the large nephilim. Lolth was admittedly shocked, but then irritated for being thrown down by him. Death had little time to jump to conclusions and got back up. He raised a hand towards her, signaling her to get up and go.
"I think we shall discuss this another time." Death concluded, to which Lolth silently agreed, taking his hand to stand again. They picked themselves and proceeded towards the nearest exit.
The two stopped before a door, and laying in front of it was a corpse with sword impaled in its chest against the door. The two looked at each other before they interacted with the skeletal remains. Lolth started first as she soon wretched blade off the body, causing the causing the corpse tumble itself over as it naturally opened the door on itself.
"Must've seen better days." Death remarked. Lolth responded back, "It's not much, but the sword will do for now."
"I was talking about the corpse." Lolth could not help but roll her eyes again.
"Great. Not only are you just tall, dark, scary, and talkative. You're also a creep. With the dark humor and all."
"The dead make better company, I'll admit." He responded. Lolth could only mutter a disgusted noise before giving the blade to Death. The horseman raised a hand to decline the offer.
"I have no need for such, for I have my own to use." Death said as he placed a hand on one of his scythes. "Better for you to take it. Think you could handle yourself in a fight?"
Lolth took a few swings before she answered. "A bit, I think."
"Good. Stick close to me. And be on the lookout."
"Wait! I-I didn't get your name. Who are you?" Lolth asked. Death looked over his shoulder made eye contact with the dokkalfar.
"I am Death." He responded. Lolth gave a bewildered look at him, then switched to annoyance.
"Oh great, he's also delusional as well." She muttered to herself. Death heard it but ignored the woman's quip. They exited only to be greeted by the sight of gnomes fleeing as a knight in sinister red armor raised his sword over one woman who had tripped on the other of where the two were. However, Death quickly pulled out Redemption and unloaded multiple shots into the red knights body, right before he began falling into the abyss below. The loud shots caused Lolth to recoil in pain at the sound. The reaction was quick and it drew attention from the gnome. The lady, however, was grateful of the Horseman's intervention.
"Thank you, stranger!" She yelled out. "But what are you doing here?!"
"I could ask the same, but it appears you have other urgent matters to attend to!" Death reminded. The gnome got the point, and nodded immediately.
"You are right! Now's the time to run! I thank you again, but you must find safety! Find Professor Fomorous Hughes! Find his laboratory! Now run!" She said before running towards to safety. More red knights were soon heading in from the other side.
"It came from here! Kill the Children of Dust!" That was Death and Lolth's cue to run.
"Best we find safety! Come!" The two ran further in to the narrow passage, running into some overgrown rodents in one room. Death made quick work of them as he slammed his scythes into their soft flesh. They died quickly without much hindrance. They exited the passage and arrived just in time to see nine of the red knights closing on one gnome pressing his back against the wall, desperately looking for some sort of salvation to drop in his lap. The two landed on the floor from a great heigh with a loud thud, causing the knights to look at the two with confusion, shortly followed by raised swords.
"Kill those two!" One commanded as the rest began to charge towards the two. Death was the first to react, cleaving his blades into two into their chest as they attempted to attack him overhead. They screamed in agony, causing the rest to startle in surprise.
This was a fatal mistake on their part as Lolth swung her blade into the midsection of one knight, who realized too late at what just happened. The knight closes to Lolth attempted to strike her from behind, only for the dokkalfar to duck and hamstring him, before decapitating him with another swing. Another knight had gotten out of his fear state and made an attempt to cut down the horseman. Death simply dodged his blade as he allowed the knight's momentum meet the sharp end of his scythe; impaling him through his chest. Death yanked the corpse out soon after.
Three more knights - out of desperation - tried to attack him all at once, only for Death to connect the scythes together to form a chakram and throwing it towards the trio. Soon, their heads were free from their shoulders, and the scythes returning to their master. The last remaining knight engaged with Lolth, who was beginning to struggle at the strength of him pushing down on her. Death swiped him from the back, causing him to drop to the floor in pain.
The knight, however, soon laughed at his own, much to Death's annoyance and Lolth's uneasiness.
"You think you've won this battle? Hah! I will return again! For the Tuatha Deohn shal-" The knight's speech was cutshort as Death slammed his boot into the man's skull. Blood and brain matter are what's left as the horseman withdrew his boot from the corpse.
With the skirmish now over, the air around them had eased, once more. Death surveyed his surroundings. Lolth looked out of breath, but came out unscathed during the fight. The gnome, meanwhile, peeked his head out from one of the crates.
"You may come out now, dwarf. The danger has passed." Death said. The gnome came out and began greeting the two.
"I thank you both, strangers. Those soldiers would've cut me down to pieces had you not intervened. My name is Encel, and you have my gratitude." The gnome said.
"It was nothing, Encel." Lolth replied. "We were escaping just as you are, but we are glad that you are alright."
The gnome looked at Lolth with wide-eyed expressions.
"W-Wait, I know you! Y-you... you were on the slab! We thought you dead!" Both of his saviors looked at him with surprise. Encel, however, said it with pride and accomplishment as if he had discovered fire could be used to cook meat.
"By the Tome, it worked! IT WORKED! YOU ARE ALIVE!" He exclaimed.
Both Lolth and Death looked at the gnome with complete confusion. Death, however, had a worried feeling that there was something odd about his fellow escapee. Lolth could understand that feeling as she too was shocked by the revelation.
"I'm... dead?" Lolth asked, still in complete shock.
"W-Well you were dead, if that's any consolation. We don't how or where you came, but the Well of Souls seems to have both remade and restored your soul to your body. And it worked! " Encel explained. The mention of the Well of Souls shook Death to his core. This alfar was the result of such an experiment? And she was a success? For what reason?
"What do you mean the Well 'remade' her? And how did you come upon it? No mortal has ever had access to such an impenetrable secret." Death was now interrogating Encel, and it admittedly intimidated the gnome to the point that he was probably better off with the Tuatha Deohn.
"I-I don't what you mean, sir..." Encel frightfully answered. "This project was done by Fomorous Hughes. He was the one who built the Well in the first place. I can take you to him and he'll have the answers you seek. But before I do... who are you? Were you one of the deceased that was to be sent into the furnace?"
Death decided to take go by a different aliaa
"I am Death. And it seems that I was somehow misplaced into your dumping grounds."
"Oh... er, well, I'm sorry to hear, Mr. Death. But I can assure we'll take this up with Professor Hughes. And I'm a gnome, not a halfling Come, I'll answer any questions when we're on the way. I may not be the best person to be asked about trivial things, but I'll answer the best to my acknowledge." Encel soon moved and the two began to follow.
"These soldiers. The ones that tried to kill you. Who are they?"
"You don't know? They're the Tuatha Deohn." Encel looked befuddled when asked about.
"Name doesn't ring a bell."
"Yeah, I don't know who they are as well." Lolth added.
"Oh! Then there is one thing you need to know about them: they are bad news. Once, they were of the Fae of the Winter Court. But with Gadflow now leading them, they have since been ravaging the young races. This war has been going on for twenty long years. But we're miles from the warfront! How did they get here?"
"Hmmm, perhaps they have found some passage to cut through the land. Or maybe teleported, perhaps. But back to the topic: if there's a Winter Court, then there is a Summer Court, yes?"
"Indeed. They are strange folk, the Fae. But I'm afraid I don' have much in terms of research."
"I know enough about the Fae. Had my run-ins with them. Plenty of bad, I'll admit."
"I haven't." Lolth interrupted. "I don't even know what's going on! I wake up in a pile of corpses, have no memory of who I was, and I find myself dragged into a slaughterhouse with this... creepy vagrant! Your run-ins are the least of my concerns!"
"Memories? You don't remember? Oh, that is terrible indeed!" Encel said, agasped. "The process must've damaged your memory. But I can assure you that Fomorous Hughes will help you. Just follow me!"
The trio soon departed. They climbed up the stairs to find something glowing above the stairway.
"What is that?" Lolth asked.
"Our greatest invention! The Well of Souls! Imagine an end to war! An end... to death!"
"Nonesense." Death retorted in disbelief. "All living things must pass on from this world in order for the new to take their place. Believe me, I have done that same old song for as long as I could remember."
"Er true, but now that we have it working, we could end this war and stop the Tuatha! The immortality they possess has been a constant thorn for all and we are losing our numbers each day..." Encel said in despair. They entered the room and beheld the monolithic struture. Green energy oozed around in swirls as it stood. Death could not believe that this miniature race could built such a thing except for perhaps the Makers. However, this moment was soon ruined as more Tuatha began planting devices on the structures. Said devices revealed themselves as bombs as they detonated and exploded, damaging the Well even further.
"Dammit! We must hurry!" Encel yelled. They arrived to another gated door. Encel quickly pulled the lever next to it that held it in place. Afterwards, they entered through a passage where it lead to another large area. They jumped down to find supply caches everywhere.
"Take what you need! There's plenty for everyone!" Encel said as took a bludgeon from the weapon rack. Death had no need for such, but Lolth took the opportunity to find protection. She wound up taking some leather armor paired with gauntlets and boots to match.
"Alright. Grab that shield and we'll go!" Encel suggested. As Lolth had taken it, rumblings were heard again. This time from a nearby wall.
An explosion rippled throughout the cavern as the wall was destroyed by a blast. Several of the Tuatha came pouring out, cursing and shouting death and slaughter. Death, however, had already drew first blood, and took out Redemption. Each shot hit its mark as every single head popped into fine red mist. The fight was over in less than a second.
"Glad to have you on our side, Death." Lolth commented. The horseman simply nodded in return. Encel soon collected himself and began guiding them. Death noticed he was eyeing on the revolver of his.
"Say what manner of weapon is that? It's interesting." Encel asked.
"A weapon that belongs to my brother."
"Oh, may I have a look?"
"No. And certainly not the time to do such."
"Very well." Encel quickly carried on, not wanting to test the horseman's patients. Stopping in his tracks, he took notice of something on one of the corpses that Death had killed.
"Here, take this bow. You'll need it!" He passed it to Lolth, who inspected it with caution. Death wondered how she could use it if there was no quiver for her. This thought was soon thrown out as the arrows magically appeared as soon as she pulled the string.
The trio made their way through the passages, killing more and more of the Tuatha as they hurried. At one point, they snuck up on a couple of them when Lolth found a pair of daggers on the ground. Death found it pointless to do such as they were in a hurry. However, he quickly changed his mind when he saw how well Lolth had done when she snuck up on a pair of archers taking shots at some of the gnomes. The horseman was honestly impressed at how versatile she was with her arsenal but he'll remain quiet once he got to know enough of her abilities.
Sometime later, they entered a room full of strange flora covering the entirety of it, with a metallic globe at the centre. As they entered, several of the flora glowed with an eerily blue-colour.
"Cave blossoms only respond in the presence of magic. Perhaps there's more to both of you than it seems?" Encel said, curious of his two saviors. Death already acknowledged that he was a master of magic - necromancy, that is - but wondered if Lolth herself had that such. The woman soon proved it as burst of energy flew in the direction of the globe. Encel looked on in wonder, while Death remained stoic, yet impressed as he smirked.
"Incredible! What are you?" Encel asked the equally-astonished Lolth.
"I... don't know. It just came out... naturally."
"Perhaps there is more to you than meets the eye." Death acknowledged. "Still, I'd rather not gawk about your abilities since we're on a tight schedule."
"Aww, I would've loved to hear your praises." Lolth sarcastically replied. "But what about you? Got any magic tricks to show?"
"Best I didn't show it in his presence..." Death pointed towards the gnome, much to the confusion. "Plus, I would need bodies to do such. Bodies that are currently... not present."
"Necromancy? Oof, dangerous magic you're playing. Still, you have been helpful so I'll let that slide."
Now that he thought about it, Death realized he should've brought those corpses back to life to protect him. A mistake on his part. He grumbled to himself, but nodded in appreciation of Encel's willingness to let go of such a matter.
"Never needed your disapproval. Moving, how much further are we to the safest zone, Encel?"
"Not far, sir. We're getting close." The gnome assured. They led on to find themselves running through another tunnel. Although, one that was currently inhabited by spiders if the webs were to go by. Lolth, by this point, had found a mage's staff and began clearing the path as she burned through the webs with staff's fire magic. No sooner did the pests came out of hiding and attempted to take the three as their next meal courses. Lolth began zapping them frantically in a fit of disgust, while Death was hardly phased as he found himself laughing at times as he crushed the oversized arachnids under his boots, much to the other two's displeasure at his dark sense of humor. After killing a couple of more spiders, they finally made their way to the safe zone as they saw several gnomes hiding and defending in one large room.
However, they were met with hostility as a gnome approached with his short sword in hand. The gnome in question wore what looked to be segmented armor. The armor reminded Death of the ancient humans known as the "Romans" when their civilization was at its peak.
"DIE, TUATHA BASTARD- Wait, you're not one of them!" The gnome looked at the two in confusion, before smiling in recognition as he saw Encel.
"Encel! You're alive! And who are these people?" He asked.
"Claude! It's good to see you! But to answer quickly, these two saved my life! More inportantly, the alf had came from the Well!"
"What?! Then she better head inside! The old man will definitely know about this! But who's the other lad?"
"Oh, him..." Encel did his best to try to think up of how to explain the Horseman's background.
"Well... he got lost and somehow manage to find his way in here."
"What? What do you mean 'found his way in'?" Claude asked as he became suspicious of the horseman.
"I don't know how, but he's saved my life! Both of them, in fact. I believe the Professor may have the answers to his situation." Encel explained further. Claude was struggling to either let the horseman go or kill him.
"... Fine. Both of them can go. But I WILL keep an eye on you, stranger! Remember that!" Claude warned the horseman. "Anyways, we'll defend our position here. Quickly! Before the Tuatha make their push!"
The gnomish warrior soon hurried off to defend what remained of the keep. Encel approached the two with final words.
"I believe this is where we part ways, but take whatever you want from the armory. We might have a few things that would fit both of you. Just make sure you get to Hughes! We can hold the Tuatha from here."
"Thanks, Encel. But maybe you could give us some more help? Please?" Asked Lolth in an oddly sweet voice. Death found that to be strange as he raised an eyebrow to it. Encel, however, seem to be in compliance to her pleas.
"I... suppose these might be able to help." Encel handed over a couple of potions to the two.
"If the Tuatha realized what you two are, you'll need them."
"Thank you, Encel. Now, where can we find the professor?"
"He's directly ahead, up in his study. Just keep going, past the top of the Well. He needs to see you. Both of you. Right now, you two are the most valuable things in his world. I'll see you two on the outside, if Fate wills it."
"Much obliged. Take care, Encel." Death said. Soon, they departed. Death and Lolth travelled towards the Professor's laboratory, while Encel stayed behind with the others. No longer within earshot, Death was the first to speak up.
"What did you do to that gnome?" Asked Death. Lolth shrugged in response to his question.
"I don't know. Simply said 'pretty please', and he gave me what was needed for our survival. Simple as that."
"I believe you're missing the letter 'y' in that word, Alf." Death noted as he saw through the lie. Lolth hid it well, but her mannerisms said otherwise, surprisingly. In her own way, that is.
"Did I? Hmm. Appears I've almost forgotten my vocabularly, right there." She deflected. Death was soon frowning at hearing another lie. Lolth took notice and tilted her head to feign innocence.
"Oh, come now, my dear scary companion, are you so soft that a mere wound would make you faint? Besides, I've seen the way you move in battle. You're way leagues above me -or anyone else - in fighting skills. I doubt you're touchable to anyone."
"Of that, I am very confident, for certain. Though, you weren't bad yourself. For an amnesiac, you do have quite a gift for battle."
"Is that praise I'm hearing? My, you're full of surprises." Lolth slowly clapped her hands in response. "But you're right, I am rather capable of it surprisingly. I don't know how, but it just 'clicked' in me, somehow."
"Seems there are remnants of your old personality left behind. It's quite oxymoronic, really. Amnesia, I mean. You have neither the memory of your life before nor the purpose you had from that same lifetime. Yet, you still understand the basics. Such as breathing, eating, sleeping, and pestering others with questions no one needs to hear about."
"Oh, aren't you the life of a party!" Lolth rolled her eyes as she huffed, before giggling like a child. "Heh, 'life'. Get it? Because your name is... ugh, nevermind, no point in explaining the joke." Lolth trailed off.
"... So Death, how did you come by here?" Lolth asked, as if to fill in the silence around them.
"A long story. You'll probably hear it soon enough. But not enough to dig in through my head, if that's what you intended to do."
"Fair enough. Though, I'm deeply offended you would think otherwise." Lolth dramatically gestured her hand on her forehead to imitate fainting. She laughed at her own joke, while Death did not. Merely smirking, instead. "But with all seriousness: how did you end up in the dump in the first place?"
Death sighed at her insistence. *sigh* "If you wish to know: I came from there."
Death pointed his finger at the nearest Well of Souls. Lolth looked a little perplexed by his choice of travel.
"You... came from there? As in the Well of Souls? Pretty cryptic. And skeptical to believe."
"I'd disagree but that's about as much as I could presume, unfortunately."
"Was there a reason why you were in it?" Lolth asked again.
"That, I cannot answer so easily. For personal reasons, of course." Death declined. Lolth looked a little disappointed at the given answer, but didn't dwell on it much longer.
"Fine, have it your way." She said as she crossed her arms.
Silence had filled the space again. "Say, I've been meaning to ask: what are you? You're oddly pale for someone who's human. And you don't have the long ears like I do."
"If I told you, you wouldn't even know what it is."
"Tsk. Try me." Lolth wagered. Death saw no reason as to not reveal his species.
"So be it. I am nephilim." Lolth stood silent for a few moment.
"... Okay, you're right. I have no idea what that is." Lolth conceeded. Death could feel a grin form on his face as he heard that. The two finally arrived at the study. Inside, laid a cauldron at the centre of the room. Purple gas was expelling out of its opening. And next to it was a gnome standing on a platform to give him enough height to examine its contents. The gnome took his eyes off the cauldron as his attention was now focused on his new "guests".
He quickly jumped down and hurried towards the two for a proper introduction. He had unkempt grayingginger hair that was in the mid-stages of balding, and wore lab clothing to perputuate the appearance of a mad scientist.
"My, you've made it! And look at you! Even with all you've been through... the Tuatha, your return from the dead! Please forgive me. You must be terribly confused by all of this! I am Fomorous Hughes, and this is my laboratory in Allestar! Everything you see here is dedicated to one thing: the Well of Souls. The pursuit of Immortality!"
Hughes soon got closer to Lolth to marvel at his latest work. "And you... you're my first success!"
Lolth stood there, not really sure what to say to the gnome professor, save for giving glances to the horseman who had simply shrugged in return. Hughes caught wind of the direction of her eyes and took notice of Death leaning against a pillar.
"As for you... who are you? Are you one of my experiments that came back to life as well? I can't say recognize you... Oh by the Tome, I hope you weren't one of the patchworks that has come to take revenge! Please, it was an honest mistake! I would've known you'd be alive!" Hughes said as he looked on in horror at his own presumption. Death looked at hin with amusement.
"I am Death, and I can assure - professor - that I am not here to make you rethink your past mistakes. At least, not yet." The way Death spoke incited terror in Hughes and worry in Lolth. Though the horseman was in good humor, they didn't.
"Forgive me, my humor is rather enjoyed by so few. So apologies if I have scared you a bit. No, what I'm here for is answers."
Hughes sighed in relief.
"Phew! For a moment, you almost rattled my bones."
"Heh, I can relate to that." Death agreed. Lolth cleared her throat to get their attention again.
"Excuse me." She started. "While you two are chatting like a bunch of elderlies, may I remind you that there are people being killed in this place? We're here for answers, dammit! For starters, why was I found dumped together with a bunch of corpses?!"
Hughes winced at his mistake. "I see that you're upset about that..."
"Oh, what gave it away?!" Lolth became more infuriated almost to the point of hysterity.
"I am terribly sorry. Really, I do! I wish I could explain the manner of your death but... it's a mystery. No knows how you got here. Nor why you were here in the first place."
"So, that's it? I walked all the way here for nothing...?" Lolth spoke in some manner of despair.
"If not for answers, then why not survival? Considering the Tuatha on your doorsteps."
"Right. I nearly forgot about them!" Hughes interrupted, before further explaining to Lolth. "Still, it seems the answers to your memories must've completely died with your body. For you see, the Well is designed to capture the soul of someone recently deceased, recreating their physical form within its waters. Simple, really. Your rebirth is the first we might truly call a success! There have been others, but the others weren't... quite right."
Just as Hughes explained, Death felt a pang of fear. Somehow, this gnome had manage to create mortal-made Well of Souls outside of the Tree of Life and Death. If the the Tuatha are here for this, then that would mean they will use it to advance their enemies. He should not have been concern about them. But alas, he had taken sides already, and they no doubt have set their sights on him. This was a rather frustrating position he placed himself in.
"Yet, this Well of yours is concerning. Evidence be damned, I've never even heard of someone build a Well of Souls from the ground up until now." Death added. Hughes' face became that of surprise when the Horseman.
"Did I hear that correctly? 'A' Well, you say? But that can't be, this project was kept in secret! And the first, if I might add! How did someone like you find his way in here and know about it?" Hugues asked as he was inticed by the Horseman's entrance.
"The answer is simple: the Well of Souls is not a construction of your making. Rather, it is a bridge where the souls of the all races are sent for rebirth. It, too, was kept under lock and key. Under the Tree of Life and Death. For anyone to gain access to it, shall control the realms of the Universe. Whether for good or ill purpose. As for how I arrived, I do not know... but I have reasons to suspect that your contraption has somehow connected itself to the true Well and flung me to this realm."
"You mean... the Well... transported you here...?" Hugues uttered in shock. He quickly scrambled for paper and pen, and began scribbling his notes.
"T-This... this is fascinating! Not only has my creation brought the life of one person back from the dead, it also brought one from another world! Brilliant!" The gnome exclaimed as he took his notes down like an excited child recieving his birthday gift.
"Uh, excuse me, but we're in a bit of a hurry! There are murderous Fae coming and I do not want to be here when that happens!" Lolth reminded, agitated by the noise of fighting outside.
"Oh! Right you are!" The gnome quickly began to run around his office and pack his research notes as the clock was ticking.
"It's a shame that I can't explain enough at this moment. The Tuatha may have come to stop my work, but I don't believe they know about either you! Not yet. What's important is getting the both of you out of here safely, you're the only proofs of what we've achieved her." Hugues continued, disappointed at not being able to go into detail on the two.
"I may not be able to save the Well, but I can ensure that its only success is safe."
"Better to remain it that way. Far too many prying eyes may want to use it to their advantage." Death pointed out.
"Agreed, but now's the time to move!" Lolth yelled out.
"Yes, yes! You're right! I've got my notes, but it's most important that you stay safe! It's just that you're... you're..."
Hugues thoughts were soon interrupted as explosions were heard from a distance.
"Stand back, professor! It seems we have company." Death said as he pulled out his scythes in preparation for battle. Lolth could sense it as well, and pulled out her staff. Hugues hid behind the two as they made their standoff. Footsteps approached from the door the two had entered. The door opened ajar to reveal Encel running in the room and blocking the door with his own body in a panic.
"PROFESSOR HUGUES! THE TUATHA! THEY'VE BROKEN THROUGH! THEY HAVE REACHED TH- GAH!" Encel was silenced as a blade pierced through the door; impaling through his chest. The blade left from the door, and soon, six Tuatha had crashed into the room with murderous intent. Death was the first to react as he sprung forth to kill four of the intruders. Their efforts were cut short the moment Death had leapt into action; cleaving and slashing through their armor as their flesh was exposed. One was caught by the shaft of Death's blade, only for the nephilim had it fold on its own before pulling it back towards him; decapitating the Tuatha in the process. Lolth incinerated the remaining Fae with fire and lightning; their burning flesh filling the air. Several more Tuatha began nocking arrows outside of the room. Two landed on Death's shoulders, before he pulled out Redemption and began shooting back at them; halting them in the process. Death defended the position and began taking potshots at the archers.
"Oh no! We've got to get you two out of here now. Quickly!" Hugues cried out.
"Us? What about you?! I'll doubt you can fend them off on your own!" Lolth retorted, struggling to comprehend the gnome professor's plans.
"That''s the plan, I'm afraid!" Hugues replied, before retching out a dagger from one of the corpses to arm himself. "Follow the path to the town of Gorhart! Find Agarth! He's a friend, and he may be able to! No matter what else, stay alive!"
"Gorhart?! Agarth?! You're telling me these names like I'm supposed to know them!" Lolth was exasperated as if she could understand these names.
"Don't worry! Fate will guide you to your path! Go while I'll distract their attention!" Hugues assured.
"If you're staying here, professor, then perhaps you could use some backup!" Death stepped in and began to chant his own form of magic. The wonders of Necromancy were near limitless to the pale rider. Seeing bodies aplenty, he spoke in a now forgotten language and commenced the ritual. Soon, dark purple energy had erupted from him and began transferring themselves into the bodies of the deceased. The dead Tuatha and Encel pulled themselves back together in twisted and contorted animation as they returned to the living once more. Hugues and Lolth watch on in horror and morbid fascination.
"GROOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!" The undead gurgled and groaned in their new life as they stood before the three.
"Necromancy... Fascinating! Morbid, but fascinating!" Hugues quickly remarked, drawing a disgusted noise from the dokkalfar. Death took command and approached them.
"You are to keep this gnome alive and bring him to safety. Kill any that attempt to harm him! And Encel, stay close to the professor. Protect him with your... un-life." Death ordered. The undead soldiers silently nodded and began chasing after the Tuatha from outside. Screams of the soldiers were heard as their dead brethren began biting and clawing into their flesh ravenously. Death looked back at the professor, who had gone completely pale-faced as the undead wrought havoc outside.
"If you wish to remain here, then so be it. We'll be on our way now."
"That I will!" Hugues stood firm to his plan. "It is a shame we could not speak more! But time is of the essence! Go to Gorhart! Find Agarth!"
Hugues soon left his study, with the undead following behind him. Death and Lolth ran towards the door on the other side. They made their way towards freedom, killing a few Tuatha on their way. However, they soon stopped in their tracks when they entered the final room before salvation. Blocking in their path was a battalion of soldiers. What was worrisome, however, was a large brute approaching from the shadows. The beast stood taller than all of the Tuatha; almost reaching the height of the ceiling. It was huge, hairy, reeked of foul odor, and carried a tree trunk over its shoulders. Death could only conclude one thing...
"Oh dammit, they have a troll with them."
"Oh, how did you figure?!" Lolth retorted in annoyance. On cue, the troll let out a mighty roar to sginal the battle. Several Tuatha began charging towards the two with sword in hand. Death and Lolth prepared for the battle ahead. Just then, a thought occurred to the Horseman.
"I have an idea, but I need you to distract the Tuatha!" Lolth looked flabbergasted at the suggestion.
"What?! You're leaving me to fend off for myself?!" Lolth exclaimed in shock.
"Have a little faith in me, alf!" Death soon dashed towards the crowd before Lolth could even protest. Several of the Tuatha were ripped and torn to shreds as the nephilim carved his way into the horde. At one point, he grabbed a soldier by the head and slammed him into five others. All six were knocked out in the fight.
Reaching the other end, he had come face to face with the burly troll. The gargatuan monster attempted slam overhead with his trunk on the horseman, only for Death to jump to his right and running towards its back. He soon climbed on top of it and began sinking his scythes into its shoulders. The troll howled in pain and Death began to stab it repeatedly, causing it to swing wildly into the Tuatha. Death had taken noticed of the Dokkalfar defending herself with staff and sword as the Tuatha circled around her. Thankfully, they had taken most of their attention on the rampaging troll as it near them.
Lolth rolled out of the way in time to see the rest of the Tuatha smacked around and flying in the air no thanks to Death's riding skills on the troll. Several Tuatha either tried to defend themselves or run to safety, only for Death to steer the troll into attacking and crushing them with its massive strength. Some dying from being crushed under its foots, while others had been sent flying with shattered bones by the troll's trunk. With all of the Tuatha dead, Death did his coup de grace and jumped off the troll, before slamming his scythe into its head and down to the ground, and then pulled the blade with all his strength, causing the troll's head to split into two.
Death felt satisfied with his performance. He had managed to kill two birds with one stone. However, his thoughts soon left when he realized that Lolth was in the crowd during the chaos. He thought to find her... only for her to show up behind him. The dokkalfar had an expression of anger and outrage no due to Death's unorthodox rodeo display.
"That was your plan?!" She questioned. Death simply looked at her with bemusement.
"It was a simple solution." He replied. "Come, we've spent enough time here. Our freedom is on our doorsteps."
The two made a dash towards the exit as the place began crumbling around them. They finally escaped with their lives intact, before the door crumbled behind them. Now, they had reached the outside world.
It was a bright, sunny day when they escaped. The environment shimmered with greenery and roaming animals. It was an odd scenery after what happened in Allestar. However, this atmosphere darkened at the sight of survivors tending to their wounded and making contingency plans. What remained of the gnomes was so few in numbers. Death pitied these little folk to some extent as they tried to carry their wounded.
"Oh thank Mitharu, more survivors! Are there any more of you?" A gnomish woman had come towards them with bandages.
"I'm afraid not, lady. The door had collapsed behind us. There's no telling if anyone's alive." Lolth answered. The gnome sighed in despair when the news was brought.
"I suppose that's a little bit of kindness from fate. May those trapped inside rest peacefully."
"Can't say the same for the Tuatha." Death remarked. "Tell us, gnome, where can we find Gorhart?"
"Gorhart? Simple, just keep walking down the road, and you'll find the town in no time. It's pretty hard to miss." The gnome replied, gesturing a thumbs up and pointing behind the road behind her.
"Thank you, miss..." Lolth trailed off to get her name.
"Oh, Aura Hanri!"
"Thank you, Miss Hanri. We'll be on our way now." Lolth said.
"Do as you will. I have patients to check on." Death and Lolth departed from the gnome, only to be approached by another. If Death had recalled, this was the same gnome who had mistaken them for the Tuatha. His face was stern as before, though, slightly mellowed with the fighting no longer present.
"Oi! You two!" Claude called out. "Saw the way you two fought. Could've used more of you. Especially you, big man. Never seen anyone ride a brute like that in ages past! Makes me damn happy to see that put against those bastards." Claude gave a big grin to the horseman. "Tell me, was that an actual troll?"
"Was. Now? Just another casualty buried in the dirt." Death replied. Claude chuckled.
"Hah! Glad it did! Don't know how the Tuatha bastards found us, but if they a have troll, it was definitely no coincidence. Fate was kind to close that door behind you, or else they would've chased us into the glade."
"Fate was never there to help. Only me for their troubles." Death replied in annoyance to such a concept.
"Still, you did us a favor." Claude shrugged. "Lost a lot of good soldiers in there. They were battled-hardened and wielded the best steel Ardessa has to offer. How could you do better than them, with only the clothes on your backs?"
"A lifetime of surviving near-death experiences. Your men deserved better." Death said in a surprisingly apologetic tone. Claude appreciated it as he nodded in respect.
sigh* "Aye. If only. But that's all in the past now." Claude said. "Anyways, what are you planning on?"
"We're heading to the town of Gorhart." Lolth jumped in. "Before we escaped, Hugues had told us to meet up with a man named... Agarth? Said something about a Fateweaver."
"Fateweaver? Bah!" Claude dismissed, just as he spat into the ground in disgust. "A bunch of charlatans, I'll tell ya that much! Hugues swears by them, but I'll be damned if I trust my future to some cards. As for the man himself, can't say I know much about him. Seems pretty friendly enough for Hugues to trust him. Seen them a couple of times sharing drinks whenever he's around. Speaking of Hugues, have either of you seen him?"
"Last we saw him, he ran off to face the Tuatha head on. Wanted to distract them to help our escape. But not without some extra hands to help him."
"Really? Was that why I kept hearing about Tuatha fighting other Tuatha when the fight was raging on?" Asked Claude, shocked by the news.
"Yes, looks they were a part of another insurgency. They seemed to have gotten sick of being in the Tuatha." Lolth said with a lie. Claude rubbed his chin, skeptical of such an alibi.
"... Well, I don't see why not... but I guess not all Fae are terrible people." Claude accepted. "Still, I wouldn't worry about Hugues too much. The old man's tougher than he looks, and he's always got a plan. Anyways, I've taken enough of your time. Be careful out there."
"Farewell." Lolth and Death were finally able to go. They went on their way to the town at walking speeds. Death thought to use Despair to make the trip shorter. However, he decided it was better to not spook the mortals that live here. Knowing his appearance alone would rouse some suspicion, it was better that way.
His thoughts were soon broken when he heard a cry for help and growling noises. The two ran to where the noise was to see another gnome being attacked by a bear. Death scared the animal off with a few shots from Redemption near the ground it stood. The bear ran off, startled by the loud noise. Lolth kept clutching her hears, infuriated by the shots the gun made.
"That'll show that berry-eater who's boss!" The gnome said in satisfaction, before looking at Death. The gnome was completely with mutton chops on the sides. From what Death could tell, he was rather grouchy to look at. "Didn't need your help, stranger!"
"If I hadn't, you would've been nothing but bear droppings." Death retorted. The gnome gave the horseman a scowl until shock came to him when he noticed Lolth behind Death.
"You... I remember you two! You're... you're the one? How did you come back? And how did you find me?"
"Seems to me that you have a lot of admirers, wouldn't you say, Lolth?" Death joked. Lolth frowned and punched him in the elbow. Death had been hit much harder than that and let it slide.
"We heard someone scream 'HELP! HELP! SOMEONE PLEASE! THERE'S A BEAR THAT'S GOING TO EAT ME ALIVE! PLEASE, ANYBODY!' Does that ring a bell?" Lolth said with a perfectly good imitation of the gnome's pleas.
"Could've been someone..." The gnome mumbled as he avoided making eye contact. Lolth rolled her eyes.
"Riiiight... but more importantly, why are you out here? Shouldn't you be with the other gnomes back at the glade?" Lolth questioned.
"Well, when I saw you both with Encel in the Well, I ran. But... it wasn't because I was afraid. I was here to report that Hugues' experiment was successful."
Suddenly, Death grabbed the gnome by the neck. Both the gnome and Lolth were shocked by the Horseman's instant reaction. Death felt rage inside of him. This was the one responsible for the massacre? He needed answers.
"Was that why your brothers and sisters were slaughtered?! Did the Tuatha pay you off to betray your own kind?! How much was it?! Speak NOW! Before I drag you back to the bear!" Death demanded. His eyes were glowing red with burning ember. The fear in the gnome's face was well-read as Death stared into his eyes, down to his very soul.
"I-It's not like that!" The gnome hastily answered in fear. "I would never sell my own people to the Tuatha! It had nothing to do with them! I was hired by someone else! It's the truth, I swear!"
"Then who was it?!"
"I-I don't know, I just come out here every once in a while! I send them the reports and they give me the gold! That's all I know!"
"YOU'RE LYING!" Death tightened his grip on the little man to the point where he was strangling him to death. Lolth took notice and intervened. She grabbed onto Death's shoulders.
"Death! That's enough you're choking him!" She cried out. "He's no use to us if he's dead!"
Lolth watch the horseman remained still. In about five seconds he let go of the gnome. It was only for few moments, but those few moments were intense for the dokkalfar. The gnome quickly gasped for air, letting the oxygen come back to his lungs.
"You didn't have to choke him out!" Lolth admonished. Death took a deep breathe to collect himself.
"I've... had my experience of betrayals before." He said. The gnome tried to run away at his chance, only to be dragged back again as the horseman summoned Death's Grip from his wrist. He was back in the hands of the nephilim by the throat.
"Leaving so soon?" Death asked, rhetorically. The gnome gulped as he awaited for his next trial. Lolth, this time, asked the questions.
"Really, who hired you? And be honest."
"I already told you, I don't know! If I had, I would've said it straight away! Sharing research is one thing, but sabatoging is even worse! I didn't want to hurt anyone! I just needed the money on the side!" The gnome answered. Death finally spoke to Lolth, once more.
"Lolth, I'm giving you the honors to decide what his next fate will be. You can decline, though. Something that I'm more than willing to oblige..." The gnome was scrambling his legs in desperation to break free after hearing those words.
"Please! I beg you, miss! My only crime was just passing off information! It's the truth! Please spare me!" He pleaded. Lolth had given some thought. The gnome awaited for salvation in the hands of the dokkalfar. It had been about ten intense seconds of hearing his jury to announce his sentence.
"Alright. You're free to go..." Lolth announced. The gnome had relief wash over his face.
"Ohhhh, thank you miss! You really ar-"
"Uh, uh, uh!" She interrupted, wagging a finger in front of the gnome. "Let me finish! You're free to go... if you're willing to pay the fine."
The gnome's eyes went comically wide in shock of the sudden direction this was heading.
"Wha-? Extortion?! But tha's a crime!" He cried out. Lolth casually shrugged off the accusation.
"Well, if you're not happy with that, I can just let my friend here slather you in honey. Death, do what you will~!" She cheerfully said. The gnome went back in panic mode as the horseman started to move.
"Waitwaitwait! I'll p-p-pay the fine!" The gnome stuttered in hasted fear. "I have the gold! Even the ones I got paid for information!"
"Lolth, check his pockets." Death said. Lolth did as told, finding a hefty purse of gold inside as she shaked the bag a bit to reveal it to be clinking.
"Got' em!" Death soon let go of the gnome, dropping him on the floor. However, he placed his foot on top of him, soon after.
"If I find out that you lied to us, better hope that I don't find you again." Death warned. The gnome quickly nodded, and Death released him, but not before kicking his ass for good measure. The gnome yelped and was sent running for freedom.
"I never expected you to get so emotional." Lolth remarked. "Especially considering that you're all doom and gloom."
"You don't know half the stories about me." Death replied, cryptically.
"Right. Not my business." Lolth simply said. Both moved forward to their destination.
The next place they walked in were the ruins of some previous civilization. The only inhabitant there was a blonde, bearded man who sat on the ground looking at a few cards. A human to Death's surprise. Have the humans already existed now in thanks to his sacrifice? No. Couldn't be. This realm was quute different. A lot of magical energy here compared to the other Earth. The man looked up just in time see them coming and immediately walked up to them. Said man reeked of alcohol, judging by the amount of bottles he had nearby. Yet, he carried a huge sword on his back the same way his brother - War - did with his Chaoseater.
"Say, you wouldn't happen to be that couple that gnome was raving about?" The man asked as he approached.
"Perhaps." Death started, crossing his arms. "Probably told you about something involving honey."
"Oh, that I heard quite clearly." The stranger looked as if bemused by the whole thing. He quickly straightened himself and began prodding them with questions.
"Tell me, care to help an old Fateweaver, eh?" He asked. Death didn't show his emotions due to the obscurity of his hood, but did blink in surprise to find the Fateweaver they were seeking. Or atleast, "a" Fateweaver.
"Fateweaver? Your name doesn't happen to be Agarth, is it?" Lolth asked, just as surprised as the nephilim under his hood. The fateweaver, however, answered without much trouble.
"I am indeed, miss." Agarth said. "And you are?"
"I am Lolth." She replied. "Or at least, the one I'm given."
"Nice to meet you, Lolth." Agarth then looked to Death. "And you? What's your name?"
"I am Death." He responded, casually. He completely caught Agarth by surprise at the name he recieved, even giving a funny look that one would wear when seeing someone in their birthday suit in public.
"Well... it's nice to meet you... Death." Agarth said, trying not let it get into his head. Death shrugged without much issue. "Anyways, you two wouldn't happen to come from the tower, yes?"
"We did." Lolth answered. "A gnome named Hugues sent us to find you. Said that you might help us. Sadly, there's trouble in the tower, and the Professor stormed off to distract the Tuatha to help us escape."
"Did he, now? Poor old Fomorous Hugues. He respected the way how the world works." Agarth lamented. "What a shame, he's probably dead by now."
"Tsk. As if." Death dismissed. "He had a little help before he left. Doubt he died on his way towards his freedom."
"Oh, I wouldn't count on that." Agarth countered. "The cards told me that the Well of Souls would work, but Hugues' success would come on the day of his death. He took it pretty well, honestly. Although, we did a lot of drinking after that."
"And you put your faith in some cards you pulled out randomly from a deck? Doubtful." Agarth raised his eyebrow by the continued dismissal.
"You really don't know much, do you?" Agarth asked. "A Fateweaver taps into the threads of fate and channels that energy through a focus. My order prefers cards, for the cards are unique to each Fateweaver since we all see the weave differently."
"Interesting." Lolth commented. "Then you wouldn't mind explaining what Fateweavers are in general, would you?"
"You too? Well I supposed why not." Agarth said eagerly. Death was getting a little impatient with more of these expositions. However, he needed knowledge on how the world worked, and what he intel can gain from others. Agarth continued on about his order.
"Fateweavers look at the great tapestry of Fate. The threads will tell us how a life will unfold. But knowing the future and being able to change it are two different things."
"And where ever Fate goes, I follow." Death stated. It unnerved Agarth quite a bit with such a proud statement.
"You really do live up to your name, is that right?" The Fateweaver asked.
"More than it is literal, I'm afraid."
"Riiight..." Agarth trailed off. "Anyways, if you don't mind me asking, why did Hugues sent you? For what reason?"
"Well..." Lolth gently said as she tried to explain their situation. "Hugues sent us after I... er... woke up."
"Woke up?" Agarth said, confused, before shifting to shock. "Wait! You? You're the ones? Then that means... oh, it all makes sense now! The cards this morning - I drew the gravedigger, the running man, and the beast. You must be the ones I'm looking for!"
"Just her, only." Death corrected. "I'm simply an unattended passenger in this whole escapade."
"That's... quite right!" Agarth agreed. "But why haven't I seen you on my cards?"
Before either could answer, Death's ears picked up movement from his left view. He quickly pulled out his scythes and went into battle position as more Tuatha had swarmed in. Lolth and Agarth followed suit, weapons drawn.
"I believe we'll have to cut our conversation short. We have uninvited guests." Death quipped. But before any of them could take action, an unexpected event happened. Lolth, without any reason, had begun channeling energy. Powerful energy. The likes of which Death had never seen before. The Dokkalfar dashed towards the Tuatha at unimaginable and began slicing her way through like a tornado of blades. The last Tuatha to die had met a brutal end, with Lolth stabbing him with energy-like blades into his chest before tearing him asunder. Any surviving Tuatha left found their souls ripped out of them and absorbed into the woman. By now, the attempted battle had only ended in less than two seconds. The energy soon went away and both Death and Agarth looked at Lolth with dumbfounded looks on their faces, with only the Horseman's being the most hidden underneath his hood. And standing on the blood soaked field was Lolth, the Awakened Alf.
Lolth looked around and was immediately surprised to see the work she had done. Both men caught up to her.
"What?! How- What are you?!" The Fateweaver asked, completely dumbstruck by Lolth's display of power. "The threads of Fate! I've seen them before... but I've never seen anyone manipulate them like that!"
"Agreed. You're making quite the impression, more and more." Death praised. It made Lolth blush quite a bit at his praises. Agarth continued with his observation.
"To hell with the impression! You just changed how the world was supposed to work! How did you do that?"
"I... don't know. I just did it." Lolth answered, just confused as the other two.
"You just- Fate is the will of the Gods! No mortal should be able to change it! How is that even possible?"
"Prodding her with more questions does not answer questions, if I may add." Death pointed out.
"I- you're right. It won't do us any good." Agarth accepted the criticisms. He then gestured to Lolth to come close. "Come here. I'm going to do a reading. You might be able to change the threads, but Fate will still have a plan for you. I promise not to tell you if I see your death."
With that saying, Lolth instinctively backed away from the Fateweaver. "Is it always death you see? "
"Well, it is a gift." Agarth explained. "Some people paint landscapes. Others write poetry I peer into the weave of Fate's tapestry and see people's deaths."
"And so have I." Death remarked. "Usually at the sharp end of my blades."
"I find your overall... personality, to be a bit disturbing. Name and appearance, notwithstanding." Agarth said with unease.
"Be as it may, I think I'll pass on the reading..." Lolth declined.
"Oh, don't worry. It's quick, doesn't hurt, and there's no charge. And after what I've seen, I'm not letting you out of my sight until I have an answer."
"Getting a little too forward, aren't we, Fateweaver?" Death jested, somewhat. "I believe she has every right to consent if she so desires."
"I'm not propositioning for intimacy, Death." Agarth rebutted. "All I need is her hand."
"Couldn't have asked for her mouth, instead? Or did you prefer her feet?" Death cracked. The joke was met with shock and offended looks like he had just committed blasphemy inside a church.
"... Has he always been this much of a wisecrack?" Agarth asked to Lolth.
"Since I first met him? Yeah." She answered with a smirk. "Ugh, fine. You can take my hand. With my consent."
"You're nervous. Relax. This is what Fateweavers do." Agarth gently placed her hand against his palm. "I'll be seeing your place in the pattern of Destiny - who you are, what you've done, where your path takes you..."
Death soon noticed that Agarth was struggling to pinpoint his accuracy of the girl's true fate. The Fateweaver soon let go of Lolth's hand.
"Or... at least, I should be... You are real, right? I swear I haven't had that much..."
"I am real. You're probably drunk." Lolth answered, followed by Death with his usual snark.
"And so am I. Perhaps you've taken too much of the bottle. Drink some more so we could move on to someplace else."
"Oh, I have had my fill of alcohol. But still, I've never seen someone who's was just missing. Not when I was drunk as the King of Ballads." Agarth admitted. He scratched his head, still figuring the enigma that was Lolth's Destiny.
"This doesn't make any sense. All mortal creatures have a place in the pattern. You should have one too, dead or not. If this is true, and I'm not saying I believe it, then your path is yours to determine..."
"What do you mean?" Lolth questioned. "Did you see my destiny? What was it?"
"I can see the threads around you, but they're shifting - changing so rapidly that I can't make sense of them. Normally, the threads would guide my hand to the cards and I'd use those cards to see your pattern in the weave - except it didn't happen. They just wouldn't focus."
"So either there's something wrong with me, and there isn't, or there's something very wrong with you." Agarth finished explaining. As soon as he did, he was just met with silence, boredom, and an unimpressed audience.
"... Yeah, you're definitely terrible at this."
"I can attest to that." Both quipped, much to Agarth's chagrin.
"Dammit, it's the TRUTH! At least... I think it is. The world is changing. And you might be the sign of it. Or the cause of it. I've never had a reason to doubt my readings, but we should consult with Arden. He's not a friend, but he's got a good eye for the tapestry."
"How will we find him?" Death asked.
"He lives in a little hut to the east, in Yolvan. Here, let me hand you a map." Agarth soon pulled out said map and marked the direction to where Arden was.
"There." He pointed. "Just keep going until you find it."
"Thanks, Agarth." Lolth said. "Although, a little extra help would be nice..."
Death recognised it as another of Lolth's manipulations. Something that Agarth was soon immediately enthralled by, afterwards.
"I suppose I can spare a little help. In memory of Hugues. Or in celebration of his success. Whichever." He soon handed another handful of potions to them.
"Thank you, Agarth." Lolth said. "It means a lot to us. Best be on our way now."
Both Death and Lolth were about to leave when the Fateweaver stopped them in their tracks.
"Hold on just for a moment, I haven't exactly read your cards yet, Death."
"Better off that way." Death snapped back. "I don't have time to play cards."
"Even so, I insist. You, my friend, just witnessed something extraordinary. And yet, you too are rather mysterious. I never saw you in my cards. So perhaps I ca-" Agarth tried to reach out before Death pulled his hand away from him. Agarth could feel the strength around his arm tightened by Death's grip. He faced gravesp dangers before, but nowhere near to this sense of dread he was now feeling. He could tell Death's eyes were staring back at him, despite not seeing his face underneath that hood of his. It was like staring through a literal void.
"Unless you want a stump, then I suggest you to not touch me. It is a matter of privacy that I do not want violated against my wishes." Death warned. He soon let go and casted away from him. Agarth nursed his arm, but really had no issue if shaking it was anything to go by.
"Right... my apologies." Agarth started. "I'll meet you both there, I'm going to tend to the wounded at the tower. Fate guides you both." Agarth then departed, leaving the couple to themselves.
"Well this has been an eventful day. Waking up on top of a mountain of dead bodies, meeting you, narrowly escaping a bunch of murderous Fae, and finding out that I have magical powers that are possibly beyond my underderstandings is something I expected to wake up to." Lolth detailed.
"For me, this is practically a morning routine." Death commented.
"Well... I can't deny that. I mean, you are capable on your own. Could really be handy when someone is in distress..." she suggested. Death laughed off at the thought.
"If you think sweet-talking me will make your trip easier, then you have easily misjudged me."
"Oh, why would you think so little of me~?" She teased, then sighed in disappointment. "Still, you have been quite the lucky charm since getting out. I figured you for someone who can do the heavy lifting around here."
"I'm not some pack mule that you can just throw your belongings to whenever you fancy some shiny trinket." Death replied, arms-crossed in disapproval.
"Never said you were." Lolth denied. "Anywho, what will you do now?"
"Can't exactly say I'm free, just yet..." Death scratch the side of his head. "This Arden fellow might be of use. He could aid me with my troubles."
"You mean the 'I'm stuck in this realm and I want to go home' troubles?" Lolth assumed.
"Not the most apt description, but in a way, I suppose." Death commented. "Just a few details that are off is all."
Death walked towards the road to where the nearest town was. He then looked back at Lolth and gestured to follow him.
"Come. We have matters to settle." Lolth was taken by surprise by the Horseman's willingness to join on her quest.
"Wait, you're alright with me? Keeping you company, I mean?" She asked.
"More like our interests are aligned with one another."
"Thought you didn't want to carry my belongings." Lolth remarked.
"Didn't have to sweet-talk me in the first place." Death replied. "Besides, it's not everyday that I get to see humans come back to existence."
"Wait. Seriously? There are no humans in your world? What happened?" Death stopped in his tracks when asked of their fate. It would be rather hard for someone like to believe in such. So, he decided to be as distant as possible.
"They... are gone." He said. He could sense the dokkalfar's eyes staring at the back of his head. Suspicious at what he meant.
"... Well, I definitely don't want to dig deeper than it already is." Lolth dropped it immediately. She soon caught up with the Horseman by his side.
"Ready to leave now?"
"Ready when you are."
"Good. Time for a change of scenery."
And so, the two ventured off to their next destination. Lolth, searching for the answers that could pick up the pieces of her missing memories; and Death searching for a way to return to his realm, and see War finally set free from his eternal imprisonment.
The Passenger - Iggy Pop
"Well, this certainly has been an interesting event to watch unfold."
The Crowfather watched Death and his new companion from a distance. With this new path being chosen, it seems the Horseman will find the proper conclusion to his ultimate dilemna.
But where will this take him? And what could this strange woman possibly provide in his journey? A new pair of eyes? Companionship? An extra swordhand?
The possibilities are endless. Crowfather took out Death's mask and gave it one good look.
"Perhaps this story will make good use to fill in the blanks. But don't worry, Horseman. The story will near its end... eventually."
To be continued...
Well, I'm glad this chapter has ended. I'll admit, this was REALLY bloated for a first chapter, so apologies for that. But after watching the opening of KoA, it was a complete no-brainer to pull Death into this world since he jumped into the Well of Soul (I mean, the plot potential was LITERALLY right there in my face). And I've gotta admit this was quite fun to write despite the exhaustion claiming me at times.
Anyways, please leave a review and follow! Hope you all are enjoying in the comfy apocalypse! Peace out!