HoN Lore 33: Dead End

by on March 9th, 2015
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The acrid burning smell of thousands of insect carcasses filled the tunnel as the Pyromancer blasted her way through the swarm, Jereziah and the Legionnaire flanking her sides as Pebbles brought up the rear, stymieing any insects that tried to attack their formation from behind. Scout and Silencer treaded gingerly in the middle, as they were unable to do anything.

The creature called Tremble had been blocked by a small avalanche of rocks brought down by Pebbles to cover their escape, but its minions persisted still.

Jereziah feared only one thing. That this tunnel would lead to a dead end. That they had no way of escaping this underground trap. He brought his sword down onto an insect that had tried to sneak onto his boots, slicing it in half as it keened its death cries. He considered his moves if this tunnel did lead to a dead end. What would they do? Dead end one way, and a seemingly unending swarm of insects the other way…

Scout started yelping, as a still flaming insect fell from the ceiling of the tunnel onto his shoulder. With a flick of his wrist, the Silencer blew the sleeve of his robe on it, brushing it off, as he simultaneously extinguished the flame that had begun to take on the Scout’s clothes.

The Scout dusted himself off, as he treaded gingerly on the burnt exoskeleton of a just roasted insect, saying, “Can we go slower? I’m feeling dizzy.”

“Hah, queasy from simple bugs? You Scouts don’t seem to be all that much, then,” replied the Pyromancer as she scattered a series of fireballs at a new wave of insects, having them go up into flames.

“It’s not that,” said the Scout, “I’m feeling really lightheaded for some reason. Like I’m sick…”

A tap on his shoulder made Jereziah turn around to see the Silencer.

“I, too, feel something wrong,” said the Silencer.

“We do not know where we are. We cannot stop here. We are deep in enemy territory.”

“Exactly that, though!” said the Scout triumphantly, “We’re in enemy territory. We shouldn’t be chucking fire everywhere. It’ll draw attention to us.” And he stabbed a dagger down through the body of another insect.

A phoenix of fire flashed right over his head as the flames cleared the wall of another impending wave, as the Pyromancer answered, “We don’t have much of a choice, you know. I’m being as subtle as I can already.”

“Fire’s not exactly subtle, you know, Lina,” the Scout told her.

“You know, I’ve heard that quite a few times,” she replied as she lowered her hands. And then, a dragon of fire erupted from the ground next to Scout, engulfing more insects. The Scout immediately began brushing at his burning sleeve.

“You might want to know most people who’ve said that to me are dead. From burns.”

The Scout pressed his sleeve to the ground, extinguishing the fire as he responded meekly, “I understand.”

Jereziah stumbled, and then shook his head. He had just realized he had been dazed during these few moments. Uncharacteristic of him, to be not paying attention at such an important time. What had happened? His head felt light.

“Are you alright?” asked the Legionnaire, catching an insect that had tried to attack Jereziah during his stumble in his bare hand and crushing it.

“Yes,” replied Jereziah as he took the proffered hand, getting to his feet.

“We’re at a dead end,” announced the Pyromancer. She stopped in front of them, raising only a palm to conjure up a small ball of fire for light.

Jereziah was immediately alert again, as he looked at the dead end they had reached. Upon inspection, he saw that there was no way past it. It was a wall, slightly glowing red with the heat from the Pyromancer’s flames.

There was nowhere to go. What to do? If they retreated, they may have to brave the multitudes of the…he shook his head. His thoughts had strayed again. He felt tired.

“Pyromancer, why did you spend fire burning the wall?” asked the Silencer suddenly.

“I didn’t.”

Jereziah looked at the Silencer, trying to comprehend the question. Then he realized that the Pyromancer’s answer did not make sense.

“It’s glowing red hot,” observed the Silencer, stepping forward and placing a hand close to the rocks, “this is only possible if you applied intense heat to it.”

“Why would I waste my own mana burning it? Rocks aren’t exactly the best burning material, Silencer. I thought that book you have would at least teach you the basics.”

The Legionnaire suddenly said, “The insects. They are gone.”

Jereziah noticed too. There had not been the clicking sounds of the creatures for a while now. They had followed them this far. What had happened? Why were they gone all of a sudden?

“Forget the insects,” said Scout, “It’s really hot here, isn’t it? I’m feeling lightheaded.”

And Jereziah realized. Something was wrong. But he did not know what. Something felt extremely off. But he could not think straight. What was wrong with him?

But Pebbles approached them agitatedly, and said, “Run. Lavacore Elemental. Coming. Something else in the earth. Coming.”

Something was terribly, terribly wrong.

But his head was so murky. He felt so very, very tired.

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