The Write Off: A Place of Death
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Joshua put down his Grandfather's Diary. The notes had saved him years of study. He moved back from the massive stone doors. Joshua could feel the power from the building. It was seeping through every stone, every inch of air, and even now, it courses through him. The building remained hidden from the rest of the city for over a thousands years. Joshua's grandfather had told him stories of it many times. He spent his whole life listening to his Grandfather's fairy tales of the Mage's tower. A place of study and power. Inspired by his Grandfather, Joshua too became obsessed with finding the sacred school and discovering the knowledge left behind. Joshua had been planning this for years now. He's been studying his whole life, and eight years ago he found the tower. Now, with his Grandfather's notes, he stands on the threshold of the past and the future. He knew if he got this spell wrong that he'd would likely be killed where he stood. Joshua took a deep breath, and began to speak. The words flowed. The dead language of the Mages echoed through the halls. His hands moved through the intricate motions as if commanding some unseen orchestra. Dust blew across the floor. The giant stone walls began to shake. Light shot out from the edges of the doors, and suddenly . . .
(My portion begins here.)
…the doors swung open on aged hinges allowing the white, hot light to momentarily wash over him before it dissipating.
Joshua inhaled deeply as he peered into the darkened chamber that reeked of dust, mold and something else more horrid. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he was sure it had to be the wet, ammonia scent caused by decomposing flesh. Still, he would not be deterred from the power that laid before him even if he had to crawl over the rotting corpses of a thousand soldiers past.
He reached deep inside himself and found courage. Then, he reached into the leather satchel, which was strapped to his shoulder, and removed a large, yellow flashlight. With it’s beam guiding his way, Joshua prepared himself to enter the dark tower.
As he began to step forward, something came rushing from the field behind him. Small, soft feet bounded through the grass and through the doorway. It had moved so quickly that Joshua only caught a glimpse of its brown fur and two long ears.
“Hey, get back here!” Joshua yelled as he hastily chased after the rabbit. For some reason, he had felt cheated. He hadn’t studied and prepared to be the first inside the chamber only to be bested by some stupid field mammal.
“Darn, darn, darn,” he mumbled while he raced down the short hallway that frightfully opened into a large lobby. The rabbit was lost in such an open space for his flashlight lacked the power to illuminate it all. Black and white tile covered the floor and massive stone pillars climbed into the sky. Their tops disappeared into a darkness his light could not fight off. Joshua trained his beam on the floor trying to observe his surroundings, but his view was obscured by a thick dust that hung in the air. With a deep sigh, he began to accept that his light was nearly useless.
Then, a sound emerged from the darkness. One, that nearly froze the blood in his veins.
He tried to envision what beasts could create such a chilling noise, but all he could picture were spiders made of glass. Nervously, his light panned the arena, but the monsters’ true identity remained hidden.
The sound was not coming from one source, but many, perhaps thousands. The thought frightened him even more, and he considered fleeing. Then, a new noise was born, and Joshua was again frozen in his place.
It was the rabbit’s squeal, and it sounded as if it were being skinned or tortured in some other horrible way. Joshua desperately searched out the rabbit and the fiends that were slaughtering it. Fortunately, the rabbit’s plaintive wail gave him a direction to hone in on until finally he found the scene of the slaughter.
The rabbit’s screeching had stopped, but it still lived on in echoes as he looked at the bloody mess before him. Only a smear of thick red fluid and a few tufts of brown hair remained of the animal that had entered this room. The other portions of the rabbit were obviously being digested by the creatures that no longer hid from his light’s beam, but horribly basked in it.
The small white monsters began to slowly edge forward. Joshua had incorrectly guessed that they were spiders. In fact, they were something far more frightening.
(clickety ..click) (clickety …click)
Several floors beneath Joshua, the beasts began to stir. They have lain dormant for many, many years, but the smell of fresh blood has woken them from their slumber.
Tentatively, the biped’s growl as they stretched their long legs that had stiffened due to inactivity.
Slowly, they began to ascend the staircase with their taloned fingers flexing before them.
Hungrily, they licked their fangs in anticipation of their next meal.
The small creatures may have been mice once or possibly rats, but gone was their hair, skin and organs. Only their small red eyes and skeletons remained intact.
(clickety click) (clickety click)
Their bony feet on the tile caused the sound. They no longer had the soft, flesh pads to silence their steps. Frighteningly, as one they charged and Joshua nearly lost his grip on the light.
The beam shook in his hand as he desperately attempted to chant a spell his grandfather had taught him. It was no easy task. The hex had many syllables, which are not normal to the human tongue.
The monsters continued their charge and when they were only a few feet away, they leapt just as Joshua squeaked out the last sounds of his spell.
The boy’s wailing reached the ears of the ascending beasts and it put speed in their step. They would not be cheated of a meal. They had waited too long.
In unison, they roared as they broke into a run.
Joshua began to scream as the first little beasts grabbed hold of his clothing. They were able to enjoy a few small bites before the incantation took affect and the monsters were turned into small white piles of dust.
Shaken and staggered, Joshua began to look for his flashlight, which he had dropped in the melee. The light was extinguished, and he was lost in the darkness, when the roar reached his ears.
Frightened, his hands searched the dust piles looking for his light. Without it, he had no hope for escape from the darkened chamber. The sound of their hooves came next as the animals galloped up the stairwell.
Time, Joshua was nearly out of it and he could almost feel the sand run out of his life’s hourglass when his fingers had brushed against the cold plastic casing of his flashlight. It would provide little assistance if he could not get it to function.
The sounds of hooves signaled the arrival of Joshua’s newest dangers as he feverishly flicked the light’s switch on and off.
However, the flashlight failed to respond.
With his spirits sinking fast, he began banging the light as the monster drew near and thankfully, the light came to life. He aimed the shaking beam in the predators’ direction, and the twitching light shown the monsters in all their hideous glory.
They appeared to be an amalgam of monsters. Their legs seemed borrowed from goats, but their upper bodies were human. At least, the bone structures were. The beasts wore no flesh, but through their skeletons their organs were clearly visible. Their pink lungs expanded with each breath and their hearts pumped a green fluid through the wiry blood vessels that snaked around their bony structures. Their arms were extended out before them. As were the foot long talons that grew from their fingertips.
Joshua attempted one last spell as he peered at the monsters’ heads. They were goat-like as well, with 6-inch, horns pointing skyward. Long fangs were visible from their canine snouts, but their eyes were bottomless pits that emptied into the creature’s skull.
With the monsters nearly upon him, he attempted the last verse, but this time fear got the better of him. He mispronounced a syllable, and instantly he knew his adventure had ended. Slowly, he lowered his light and extinguished it as several sharp talons made contact with his flesh.
If you have no questions or fears about your abilities, then you will learn nothing from your mistakes and know nothing about your limitations.