I see Zack has painted me in a corner once more. Hmm, how should I respond? Again, warning, blood, undead, and all round awesomeness.
The first through the protective barrier was Derric in his wolf form, but the moment he landed close to the fire the form melted away into a young teen. Magna was shocked once more at the change in Derric. Not too long ago she had woken, curled up again his glistening scales, only to fade back into the darkness, thinking it was all a dream.
“Something hunts, strengthen your barrier against the shambling.”
Adiran nodded his head and waited for Mortis and Helga to return. He looked up at the undead and asked, “Cast your own protective spell.”
The knight nodded his head and knelt at the fire before waving his right hand in the air. For a second, a blue symbol appeared on his forehead, but it quickly faded. Magna was about to ask something, but quickly found Derric’s hand wrapped around her mouth. His second hand place an index finger against his lips. She nodded her head, and he released her.
Mortis indicated he was ready, and Adiran started his own spell. Magna didn’t miss the look of pain on his face. Not sure what else she could do; she reached for his free hand and gripped it. For a second, Adiran faltered in his spell, but he quickly rightened himself and continued. Magna was sure he was drawing some power from her, but she allowed him. There was danger approaching.
As soon as the last word was whispered under Adiran’s breath, he noticed what had spooked the hunting party. A group of roughly 20 skeletons were following tracks. These weren’t random corpses animated by the magic in this world, these were here with a purpose. They were kitted out with armour and new weapons; someone must have sent them.
Derric growled before he sank to all fours as he transformed and sprinted out the back of the protective area. As soon as his body crashed through the undergrowth, the skeletons’ heads went up and they started to move in the direction he had gone. The group within the protective circle remained silent until Mortis held up a hand to say the coast was clear.
“They were following us for a lot longer than what I am willing to admit.” Sighed Helga.
The harpy looked to Adiran and raised an eyebrow, “Well now, I am happy you’re awake, but we could have used your help a little earlier finding a safe place to hide.”
“Apologies. If I didn’t stop…”
“No time to chit chat. Time we move. Derric will find us. We need to go to the cache.” Mortis got to his feet. “Can you travel Adiran?”
“I can, but not fast. I am drained and need time.”
“You won’t get much of it here.” Mortis waved his hand and killed the fire with magic Magna couldn’t see.
“Ah…” started Magna, “Aren’t you out of magic?”
“This is the realm of death, I have more than enough power to do what I must here.”
Magna looked up to Adiran and he grimaced, “That’s a bastardized way of explaining it, but I guess you’re not completely wrong.”
“Hurry!” Mortis started picking up what gear he could, and the rest of the group followed suit.
Magna helped where she could, but Helga stopped her and said, “Your uncle needs you to support him now. The undead knight and I will carry. You keep us safe.”
Having been given the job of protecting the group made Magna proud. No longer was she the useless girl that was treated like a delicate princess. She had a purpose; she was a warrior. It didn’t take long for them to relocate to where the hunting group had created a cache earlier. The harpy and knight quickly set about laying protective sigils around the camp before they started to relax. As soon as they did, Derric returned to camp, limping with his right front paw bent under his chest. As soon as he was by the fire he collapsed and huffed a greeting at the group.
“Are you going to grace us with your humanoid presence?” asked Helga as she was cutting some questionable meat to be skewered.
Let me rest.
Adiran noticed Magna’s interest in the young man and shooed her away from him as he sat down heavily.
“I am fine, just tired,” he said, “Go see to the young man.”
Grabbing the healing herbs pouch she slowly made her way to the weary wolf that fixed his gaze upon her through half-open eyes. Once she was close enough, he presented his right paw to her. There was a deep laceration on the underside of the pad, and it was dripping blood.
Don’t worry, I didn’t drip blood all the way here.
Magna applied pressure while she asked Helga to prepare some boiled water to which she could add some herbs. She then looked down at Derric and found the wolf grinning at her.
Surprised you, didn’t I?
“Being a dragon?”
Being your age.
She didn’t know what to say to that and he laughed as much as a wolf could.
This is my father’s realm. I am what I should have been at the time of the curse.
“Are you cursed?” she asked quietly.
“The land is cursed.” Said Mortis as he removed his helm.
Magna felt her stomach constrict at the sight of the undead knight. Something about him was different, but she couldn’t put a finger on it. He still appeared dead, but…
He’s getting fleshier, isn’t he?
Magna’s eyes grew wide at the comment and fixed her eyes on the knight who actually managed to make a half-smile with lips somewhat less desiccated. Magna’s gaze snapped back to her uncle, who had passed out where he had been sitting.
“I don’t understand.”
Derric sat up and licked her cheek before nuzzling her.
Curses lie light in this land.
Helga brought the pot of heated water and Magna added the herbs and allowed them to steep before adding Derric’s paw to it. He whined once but seemed to swallow it back when she reached for his head to pet him.
“How did you know?” she whispered.
As soon as I was here, I felt the bloodline. He was too much like you to have been anything other than a brother. I am not sure how I knew this, but I did. I don’t know his reasons for lying to us, I don’t think he knows himself.
“We are all allowed some secrets.” Said Mortis sadly.
“Do you have anything else you want to hide from me?” demanded Magna.
Mortis sighed heavily, “A few which are for me to keep until it is needed to know. Please respect my wishes in this regard Magna. I never expected to come here again.”
All dead stop here before moving on to their respective gods. Sometimes there are those who are turned away for various reasons. Let him be.
Magna nodded her head before pulling Derric’s paw from the pot and opening the wound. There was no debris in it that she could see, so she bandaged it tightly and Derric lay down again.
I will rest for a while.
And this is where I will leave it for @zakludick to delve further into this weird realm our characters find themselves in.
Here is an explanation of Chain Stories and here is the current Chainstory Library
Mortis Custos Parts
The Reader List
If you would like to be tagged in every episode of Mortis Custos, leave us a comment and get added in, miss nothing!
Right now I will add people who have been keeping an eye on this series:
@weone, @merenludick, @clairemobey, @therneau, @blitzzzz, @pravesho, @joetunex, @captainquack22, @irisworld, @braaiboy, @sketchygamerguy, @fuego-oscuro, @felt.buzz, @dibblers.dabs, @beeber, @brittandjosie, @tamacvet, @thinkrdotexe, @alonicus, @joetunex, @stdd, @uop, @luizeba, @cryptoniusrex, @agreste, @itzchemaya, @darthsauron