Mabar Rising

vampiress

(-)

There were memories of power, prestige, dominance, but the dirt in Isobel’s eyes made it hard to believe she was alive. Rising protectively over the graveyard, the moon pulled at Isobel’s body, pulled it up from the earth that had so long entombed her.

Dead? No, not dead. Narratives were coming back to her now. A rise to power, or at least the path to power. She once had summoned flames from her hands, a true paradox. How could the undead, whose flesh withered under the cleansing power of the flame, drop walls of fire on those who sought to eliminate her?

But life itself was paradox enough, why focus on the negative? What mattered was…she once possessed the power.

Her clothes were in the process of falling off of her emaciated frame, and then again, the worms of the earth hadn’t done the cloth any favors. Looking down, she found it odd to see the bones in her feet glaring back at her. There were rents and gashes in her pale flesh, and her left breast? A puncture so deep she could see the dark clot of what she once called a heart.

I was a sorcerer, she mumbled, recalling the perpetual black stains on her fingernails. That came from the flame spells. But the wounds? What of them? She paused, half-expecting to hear a rattling lung full of air to hiss from her lungs, but that wouldn’t be happening. She was undead, and it was that word that triggered her memories.

   (–0–)

Years ago, the ritual of undeath conducted by the lich, Halizar, hadn’t been all that ornate. She brought him the proper reagents for the event, and he brought the proper scroll, the scroll of Eternal Night. Being in the lich’s lair, to Isobel’s surprise,  had been a comforting experience. Deep underground in a lost burial chamber, deep underground where old party members she had back-stabbed on her rise to power couldn’t find her.

During the day when the lich regenerated his vital force, Isobel had made good use of his scroll library, taking notes about old cantrips, reading over lost tomes on the quaint subject of skeleton crafting. That’s where the real power hid…the darks arts. Master necromancy, and you could eventually discover a power beyond the limits of mankind.

And at night, in the court of the lich, Isobel trucked with dread in the shape of wights, shadows, and the lich himself. They clawed gently over her, gloating about their “living pet,” teasing her with mouthfuls of ancient syllables taken from ancient spells. Just enough to pique her interest, just enough to tease her down the road to undeath.

And the night of the ritual, the night she gave away the great of life to undead master, the baptism in shadow: She had not been told what to expect.

She had been restrained on a cold altar, the red mask of the lich glowering down at her, his skeletal hands arranging the dark locks of her hair “for ultimate effect.” He went on that way, torturing her expectation for the sudden ecstasy of dark power. He chained her right hand to the altar, but the left remained free. Her feet were bound by the black webs of the deep spiders that populated the undervaults of the lich. The black fiber tingled at first, but the longer it clung to her, the sharper the pain, a pain that culminated into what Isobel would later describe as searing.

There was more to it all than that memory, but that was all she could recall in the graveyard. There was the vague intimation of her frail body being pulled up from the altar by the fingers of an unseen hand, and then a toppling back to the cold slab, all bodily functions ceasing. What occurred next in her unlife was only a series of moments, moments that fell and clattered to the floors of her psyche, clattered like a thousand lustrous pearls sliding off a necklace string, sliding off…never to be threaded again.

        (–)

Look closer,” a voice shouted from behind, “Malabar brings out the dead, but they are not going to stand up and wave at you. You have to really look for them in the shadows.

Isobel saw the owner of the voice emerge from a tangle of tall cane, boldly striding through the glade with only the glowing gauntlets on her fists to protect her from the Malabar haunts. She bore the temple tattoos of a monk, not to mention the build of lean muscle rippling under her wiry frame. A long lustrous fall of autumn-red hair swept over the monk’s pointed elven ears.

What manner of thing are you?” the red-headed monk asked.

I–,” Isobel began, “came to the graveyard to pay my respects to my husband’s tomb, but—”

She came alone?” a second mouth ask. The dwarven cleric had emerged from the cane just as Isobel spoke. He took a look at her tattered dirty gown, narrowing his eyes in disgust.

They,” Isobel began a mask of tears, a glamour that came easily to her surprise, “waylaid me and my servant. He was a halfling, and he fought bravely against them, but the pack of ghouls that assailed us eventually overpowered him, and that’s all I can remember before something bumped me on my head.” Isobel began rubbing the fictional sore spot.

Kailifae, the redheaded elf, exchanged glances with her portly cleric, Dolwyn. She looked back at the pale maiden who sat sobbing into her gown. If this was yet another of the Malabar undead, the maid would have attacked by now. “Where did you get those rags?” Kailifae asked sternly, stepping forward.

I woke up in a tomb, no stitch of clothes on me. So I borrowed these. They are beyond horrible, and I need a bath. Can you lead me out? I’m not sure if I can make it past the horrors they await me.”

Come now, miss,” Dolwyn trundled over to her, his heavy mace on his girdle knocking rhythmically on his armor, “here’s a true cleric of the living host who aims to save ye. Let us take her to the gates at least, give her a few silvers. It’s the least we can do, Mistress Elf.”

Kailifae glared at Dolwyn. She felt like releasing him from her service right about now, but she bit her tongue, looking at the frail maid. Perhaps the dwarf was right this time.

Very well,” Kailifae barked, “but then we come back here and look for the body of her servant. Did your servant have a family name? At least a guild to whom we might report the death to?”

He was a wag, one of the street rogues who lives hand by mouth. And provided nothing but the name, Shadow Hare.”

Nodding, Kailifae watched as Dolwyn pulled stalwartly at the maiden’s hand, rooting his feet into the earth, seeking the power to pull the tall female up. She was as beautiful a human female as Kailifae had every seen. A stately bearing, long black locks, a pale countenance that would give a lily a run for its money.

And what may we call you, lass?” Dolwyn asked, blushing behind his beard.

Isobel,” she said, “Isobel of clan Wolgoth.”

An hour later, Isobel watched her saviors trundle back into the graveyard, the cleric looking back longingly for a glimpse of her, but the tall elf cuffed him on his helm, and the night eventually cloaked them from her view.

She was back amongst the living again, and there was much to do. If she were to make good on her rise to power, she would need a hiding place during the day, a ramshackle shack she could eventually turn into a makeshift lair. True, a cellar would be a boon, but she could always dig one herself, or if she remembered how, summon dark servants who would do it for her.

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2 Responses to “Mabar Rising”

  1. Thanks for the reception. 🙂
    I have no idea why the font color shows up as invisible on your site, so sorry about that. I’ll watch my steps next time I type and see if I can find the problem.

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