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Enter Fenghuang



Enter Fenghuang

Writing prompt: Your character attempts to fight the big bad evil guy.


Keatoph and Ophni gaze upon the Jarl of Pernigath’s stead as they dismount from their ride. It’s marble steps are littered with ash. It's front doors are gone. Pillars of distant smoke encompass it.

They pass up toward the entryway, anticipating the foe that waits for them. Keatoph’s blade refracts sunlight sharply.

“Ophni,” Keatoph addresses the elf, as they carefully and quietly ascend the marble steps.

“Yes?” She asks.

“I have never seen this orc pack cause so much damage. They are Kalinbind, yes. But this is different. Something is off.”

“What do you think’s happening?”

“I’m not sure. I saw something similar at Asgafal, under the hands of a necromancer. But I ended his reign.”

“You killed a necromancer?” she blurts out in hushed tones. She stops walking.

Ophni crouches on the steps to avoid being seen through the door. She grabs Keatoph’s arm, pulling him down with her. “Are you sure?”

“I saw his head depart his body,” Keatoph assures. His attention is torn between her and what lies ahead of them.

“Did you destroy his tomb?”

“He did not have one. He was not dead.”

Every necromancer has a tomb,” she insists. He stares at her with alarm.

“Then no,” he admits. “I did not.”

“The sorcerers of the undead must create a tomb with the dead to interact with their corpses. Often, they will bury themselves completely and live through a proxy corpse. This necromancer of yours, was he decayed?”

“Yes.”

“Then your necromancer is not dead.”

Keatoph does not answer right away. The expression on his face is one of horror and of processing.

“Maybe we should turn back,” he whispers after a moment.

“What? Abandon the citadel? What about the Jarl and his men?”

“200 men fell at the hand of one in Asgafal after a single day.” Keatoph turns his head to the opening of the stead. “If the necromancer is in there, the jarl is already dead.”

Ophni gazes at the city around her.

“I don’t like it,” she protests.

“Oh, trust me, I hate it. But I don’t see how us dying right now is going to fix the problem.”

They both look sad. Neither will look at each other. They rise to a mid crouch and begin descending the steps.

“We should take a side road as we depart,” Keatoph whispers to her. “It may help us remain unnotice-” He is interrupted by a scream. It comes from within the stead.

“I’m sorry,” Ophni strains, tears in her eyes. “I cannot.” She turns from Keatoph and sprints up the stairs

“Ophni,” Keatoph calls in a hushed tone after her. He chases her up the stairs and into the building.

When they enter, they stumble onto the aftermath of a massacre. Members of the city guard lie tangled in their blue capes across the hall and in the rafters above. At the end of the hall, Grifkar, the vilest of the orc pack waits. The Jarl is nowhere to be found.

It is interesting to Keatoph that Grifkar did not take seat in the Jarl’s chair. Certainly, he would have enjoyed doing so. But instead, he stands, slightly to the side and in front of it.

“You filthy worm,” Keatoph shouts across the great hall. Grifkar stares back at him smiling. “What?” Keatoph demands. “Have you nothing to say?” Again, the creature just smiles.

A cold, unearthly, breeze blows in from the door. Our heroes turn to face it. There, at the entrance, is the Jarl of Peringath.

“Solven,” Keatoph gasps.

“Keatoph,” he answers. His voice sounds as if air were passing through him. It is as if the wind were speaking, and not him. “I’m glad you are here.”

“No games, necromancer. Release him!” Ophni gasps at Keatoph’s statement. The jarl’s movements were so life-like. He hardly appeared to be a puppet.

“No. I don’t think I will,” Solven slithers back. He begins walking into the hall. The men around him rise as he passes by. They do not have the same animation as he does. Their bodies stand, but some of their necks do not hold up their heads and some of their shoulders slouch.

“Not good,” Keatoph chirps, apparently trying to keep Ophni in the loop. The elf, however, is well acquainted with the situation.

Soldiers of the city guard drop like rags from the rafters, only to rise and face them. Soon they are encircled with a horde of the undead.

“Necromancer!” Grifkar bellows. “Remember the deal.”

“Yes,” Solven answers. His blue lit eyes never leave Keatoph. “Yes, yes, yes, yes.”

The corpses blocking Keatoph’s path to Grifkar begin to step aside, creating a path for him.

“Don’t keep him waiting,” The Jarl smiles. “He’s got quite the temper you know.”

Keatoph and Ophni look at each other. By the look in their eyes, they each hope to tell the other something, but neither can tell what the other’s something is. Our protagonist feels despair. It is, however, confronted by the look in his comrade’s eyes.

As they pass up the great hall, Ophni uses her stave as if it were a cane, continually tapping it against the ground. Keatoph does not notice. He is altogether consumed by the monster before him.

“Come here, worm,” Grifkar jabs.

“Sheath your sword,” Ophni says quietly to Keatoph.

“I’d like to take him with me, thanks.”

“Trust me,” she insists under her breath. None of the corpses they pass by seem to hear.

Our protagonist harnesses his blade.

“Walk slower,” she tells him.

He turns his head to question her, and finds his curiosity answered. From a window high up on the wall, he can see two birds approaching. They are arrayed in color and draped with speed.

“How many friends do you have?” Keatoph inquires. They smile at each other.

Glass breaks from above, tearing into the room. Most of the corpses take the blow and stumble. Keatoph and Ophni duck.

Their aviary friends land on soldiers below, crushing them. These birds are both unlike anything Keatoph has ever seen, and the combination of every bird he has ever gazed upon. They are creatures of legend. They are the Fenghuang.

“We must move,” Ophni declares. And so they do. They climb onto the tortoise shell of a back these beasts maintain, and in a moment, are gone.

Read chapter one here.


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Guest
Oct 17, 2021

This is so awesome!

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Thank you, I appreciate it!


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