Have not written anything in a long time be kind
The Acolyte trembled as he ran, his breath coming in ragged gasps. His heart pounding in his chest, faster than any ceremonial drum he had ever heard. He ran faster than he ever had, even faster than when the other boys from the streets where chasing him.
The crashing sounds of axes and swords being smashed repeatedly against the temple doors behind him echoed down the long corridor, drowning out the slap of his bare feet on the cold stone floor, yet as loud as it was, it could barely compete with the pounding rush of blood in his own ears.
As he ran past narrow halls that branched off of the grand entrance like sticks off of a great tree trunk, he was tempted to flee down one of them like a rabbit down its warren.
No! He couldn't, he must not! If he did others would die, he must reach his master.
A massive rending crash and a chorus of screams warned him that the temple doors had failed. A symphony of violence roared down the hall like a great hungry beast, as the last of the brothers at the doors sold their lives in a pitiful attempts to slow the armed horde.
Swallowing back the bile of his fear, the young adept shot down the narrow passage he had been seeking. The one that would take him swiftly to his great master. As he rounded a bend, he swifly grabbed a lamp from a metal bracket that held it. He had no need of it, his knowledge of the temple was absolute, but maybe it would slow the defilers that where at his heals a little. At last he reached the door of the high priests chambers. he flung the door wide and burst into the room.
The chamber was a simple one, like all of the temple. Its walls where of cut stone, giving the room an always cold feel.
Inside the small room sat two men on a wooden couch. They lept to their feet as the boy reeled head long into the room.
The taller of the two men raised a serpent headed staff so rapidly as he rose that the boy almost forgot what terror pursued him.
"Master, forgive me!" the boy stammered "An army has attacked the temple"
The hawklike features of the man holding the staff, twisted into a mask of rage and hate, it was sufficient to cause the already terrified boy to stop in his tracks from his headlong flight.
Had his masters calming presence not been there, the Lad would have bolted like a jack rabbit.
The shorter of the two men stepped forward and put a hand on the Lad to steady him.
"Well done boy, your warning may save us if we are swift. "
The High Priest moved past the boy to his desk and pulled from its drawers a heavy purse and a small book, both of which disappeared into the folds of his robe. The tall man grabbed a pack from beside the couch and swung it over his shoulder.
"It seems my enemies find me even here", the tall stranger said. His voice was almost like a serpents hiss. The words were cold and full of venom. The boy did not know this man and he knew every priest of the temple.
"Come, come quickly", his master went swifly out the door and down the hall, scarcely waiting for the others. He did not run, but moved at almost a steady jog.
Moving through the maze of halls and rooms at so constant a speed, first turning one way and then another, was very disconcerting for the Lad. At first he thought they would head for one of the many doors out of the back of the temple, but for the first time in his life or at least since he could remember, he did not know where he was..
Abruptly he heard a noise ahead of them, as a brother entered their passageway from a room on the left. His hands were covered in blood from holding his guts in his belly and he staggered into the passage and, with a groan, he collapsed at the feet of the Hight Priest.
"I knew you would come here" he said. Bubbles of blood sprung from his mouth as he spoke, and the words came as if from under water. The High Priest leaned over the brother and moved his hands away from the terrible wound. A sword had cut the man from hip to hip, and only the Gods or some great devotion had preserved him this long.
"I cannot heal you," said the High Priest,"it is beyond my skill."
"Can you do it Master?" The High Priest asked the tall stranger. The tall hawk faced man came and looked at the dying man.
"I could" he said, in his cold voice, "but we don't have the time, to Set with him!" And so saying brought his snakeheaded staff down on the dying brothers skull with such force that it was burst into a rain of crimson gore. The boy staggered back in shock, he had seen the brother smile even as the tall man struck the blow.
Who was this man to render such a death? Why should the High Priest call him master when this temple was his own?
The High Priest rose and wiped away from his eyes, the blood and brains of his friend of thirty years, he said nothing. His mouth hung open making his jowly face look like that of a large toad about to eat a fly.
The tall man looked into the room the brother had entered from, as a thumping sound came from its depths. The blood trail was so plain to see that it could be followed without the aid of a lamp or torch.
"The fool has lead them right to us," he snarled.
The barred door at the other end of the room was covered in the brothers blood, where he had used most of what strength and life he had left in him to set it in place.
Again, a large thumping sound was heard as the men following the blood trail threw their weight against the heavy door. A loud voice bellowed on it's otherside "Use your axes fools or stand clear so I can!"
The yelling voice seemed to draw the High Priest out of his daze.
"The books you came for are in the room behind the tapestry on the wall Master" he said, moving towards a heavy wall hanging.
The young Lad was startled to see a small heavy door with the head of a serpent cast in iron in its center. Of a handle, the boy saw nothing. In fact , if he had not heard that a room was behind it, he would have thought it an odd plaque on the wall, not unlike a hundred others in the Temple. Slowly he reached his hand to the snake head looking for a way to open the door.
"No!" exclaimed his master, "Hold the tapestry boy, if you value your life don't touch that serpent!"
The High Priest reached inside his robe and withdrew a small object from a pocket above his left breast. Making several quick passes with his hands and chanting in a strange tongue that made the air seem to tighten around the hall in a circle of unseen power, the High Priest placed the key in his hand into the open mouth of the serpent. As he did so the circle of arcane energy drew in around the door with a hiss and the small door swung open into the room.
"Inside boy!" the High Priest rasped, the words seemed to take a great effort. The boy could see the vitality of the man he loved like a father heavily drained. He had never seen him look so old or tired.
The opening was so small even the boy could not pass through upright, so he sank to his knees and crawled onto his belly and shot forward as fast as he could. As he moved past the fierce fangs on the snake headed door, he could see they dripped with poison. He found this more frightening than he could stand to bear and buried his face into the floor to avoid the gaze of the eyes and sight of the iron dripping its deadly venom.
He breathed the dust of the floor, it burned his lungs, catching in his throat and caused him to go into a fit of coughing. As he laid on the floor trying to control his racking body, he could hear an evil hiss in his ear from a metal serpent that was far to alive.
"I am in Master, the entrance is clear for you." He felt a strong hand grab at his foot and pull upon it. He cringed at its claw like grasp and his body shuttered again, this time without coughing. He was about to lash out with his free foot, when he saw the face of the man the hand was attached to was that of the hawk faced stranger. His face was set in a mask as grim as the serpents, he wore a look of fierce resentment, this man did not like to bow before anything. Only the threat of a painful death at the hands of a hated enemy would make him crawl on his belly.
He wriggled his long body through the small opening, cursing both man and Gods alike.
" Shut the door boy" he commanded.
"My master is not inside yet!" The boy exclaimed.
"He shall never fit through boy, he's too fat, now shut the door!"
The boy was determined to stand his ground, he would not abandon his master,not now. He dove back onto his stomach and swallowing his fear, pushed past the enchanted door. His head poked into the hall and came face to face with his mentor.
"Back you go boy, I will buy you both the time you need to win your freedom."
There was a puddle of blood on the floor and a series of drawings quickly but precisely drawn on the stone in front of the Priest. Whatever spell he was planning the boy didn't know, but only the most powerful spells required human blood. Fighting back tears, he pushed himself back into the room and shut the door. The door sealed itself as it was shut and only great magic would open it again.
He sat there stunned as he looked around the small room. The thin man was pushing aside piles of gold and jewels that would make any King or begger drool, desprately seeking the books. His anger seemed to grow more and more until he was almost in a frenzy.
"The fool said the books where here!!! Where are they? Their worth is greater than this kingdom. I will not be denied!" He ranted and the boys fear grew. He would almost rather face the men at the temple doors than to be trapped in this room with a madman.
The sound of a great blast shook the room and the boy knew that the High Priest's spell had been completed. The screams of the wounded and dying could be heard even throught the thick walls. The boy smiled, none could defile the Temple of his God and go unpunished.
"I found them" shouted the tall man. The boy breathed a sigh of relief as the man seemed to calm down almost instantly. He feared the man might strangle him in his rage, he had seen more that one Acolyte die in this manner at the hands of an angry priest.
"How do we get out?" The boy asked.
"Are you blind boy or just foolish? Don't you see the door on the other side of the room?"
The boy looked and did not see a door, but he did see another snake on the wall, and felt foolish for not knowing it for what it was.
"Give me the key Lad."
"Your masters key! Fool! Did you not take it from the other door before you shut it?"
"No! How was I to know we needed it?"
"Boy, without the key only a powerful spell could break the magic seal upon that door.They sat there in silence for a moment,then the thin man smiled.
Tell me boy, how devoted were you to your master?"
"How do you mean sir?" asked the boy trembling. "He was like a father to me!"
"Nothing else?" asked the hawk nosed man, his face twisted into an evil leer.
"Oh, no sir, he never used me in that way. I am a virgin, sir. He always said I would be of greater use to the temple that way. He said there is great power in virgins."
"Indeed their is boy, indeed their is......"
Conan pushed his way through the crowd of wounded men.
"I told you fools not to rush head long after wizards and Priests."
The bodies of the dead choked the hall, pieces of men dripped from the walls and ceiling. The wizards death spell had done its evil work. Only Conans panther like reflexes had spared him. When others rushed to their deaths, Conan had dived to the floor and the bolt of evil fire had passed over him. He had a few burns but he did not even feel them as he cut the fat priest in two.
"Where are the other two?" called Conan. " You fools said there were three. Who saw them?"
" I think the man is dead sire."
The stench of burned flesh filled his nose, mixed with the smell of emptied bowels and blood. In the packed tight hall it was almost overwhelming.
"Get the wounded out" ordered Conan.
Just then another blast shook the Temple, cracking its walls and rocking its very foundations. The men saw the wealth therein and would not be denied. One fellow thinking himself clever saw the metal snake coming from the wall and figured; this must be their means of entry. He grabbed at the serpents head and tried to operate the doors mechanism. He fell back with a horridied shreik, and dropped lifeless to the floor.
" Don't touch the serpent" one of the men shouted to the rest, lest it happen to another.
"Through the wall lads" cried Conan, and giving a mighty shout ,threw himself against the loosened blocks. The men who could, joined him and they had pushed through in a matter of minutes after the second blast.
Conan was the first through the breach, ready to face whatever waited for him with cold steel in one hand and a torch in the other. The room was swirling with dust and Conans large body crashing through the wall stirred up more. Even his keen eyes could barely make out the room before him, but he knew he was not alone. Expecting death at any moment he waited for the wizards attack, it did not come.
Slowly the dust cleared, Conan could see a young boy laying on the floor bleeding,other than that he was alone.
The young boy sat himself upright, ignoring the blood flowing out of the cuts on his arms and spat full in Conans face. "The wizard used my blood to break the magic seal upon the door, and you will never catch him" said the youg priestling, laughing. "I have been a good servant to my master and Set will reward me! Thoth-Amon has the books of Outer Dark and you shall never defeat him!"
"Burn it" yelled Conan to his men "take nothing from this cursed place. I will find Thoth-Amon, if I have to burn every Temple of Set from Aquiloina to Stygia."
Edited by Skullface, 25 January 2011 - 05:29 AM.