I keep calling this ‘Chapter 1’ but now I am convinced this is a 3 chapter arc because each ‘scene’ is so damn long. I don’t know. We’ll see how I feel after I edit it. but I’m pretty sure. If anything, this story has taught me I can’t spell the word, ‘Traveled.’
“The heart,” she whispered, “The heart, I can see it!” Mei was nearly in tears, exhausted from the trek. The distance was shorter than others they’ve traveled, but fear and anxiety had a way of draining whatever energy one had managed to hoard. Nothing really brought about a prime vintage of fear and anxiety than pushing through a whirling darkness that slowly degraded everything it touched.
But not them, thanks to their Sorcerer. He called himself Dukun, but they could never tell if that was his name or a title he had given himself. Either way, the man was nothing if not benevolent. Something drove him deep into the wilds and took away any reason he would have to want to leave. However, even he could see the damage the Darkness was doing to the land. In a matter of time, it would find him too. This was why he agreed to accompany them.
One of the last things he did was prepare the philter. He made enough for the party. With their casualties, it was split among the three of them. Blessed at the temple, when they ingested the mixture, it protected them from the worst of the degrading energies. Otherwise, entering the twisting winds would have eaten away at them until they were ghouls.
But, so far, they survived. They had made it to the Heart of the Darkness, a central vortex from which the cursed energies emanated, changing the world around them. It was that which had to be destroyed. It was likely that doing so would not heal the damage already incurred, but it would at least remove the poison from the land and the air, allowing life to grow again.
She looked to her friends for support and frowned. They weren’t there. No, of course, they were fine. They promised that so long as she lived, so would they, or something similar. Yan was ahead of her, blazing the trail and attracting any danger to him. She could see the outline of him, cutting down the small demons formed from the Heart, while the more battle hardened had already breached the vortex and engaged the armies at the edge.
Their Ninja had kept to the rear, picking the stragglers off who attempted to scratch at the Priestess from the shadows. She hadn’t seen him in some time, but she could feel whiffs against her robes, proof enough that he was still there.
She clenched her fist around the Staff, magic flowing from the core and into her arm. The Staff passed along the knowledge of wizened gurus and brilliant scholars, allowing her to see the vortex through better eyes. For her, parts of the vortex began to pulse like a heartbeat but flash like lightning.
The clouds began to bear down, turning towards them. For a moment, it looked as if it was staring back at them. Studying them. Then, it moved. It cut through the sky directly to them. She leaped forward, thrusting the staff outwards. A field of light pushed the clouds back, shielding them from a barrage of sharp black crystals.
“Now or never,” she muttered to herself.