“You dare tread upon the domain of an eternal and think yourself worthy of our audience!? What fools you are to challenge us in our own temple!”
This gargantuan winged bone heap hadn't shut up since we entered its chamber. The incessant taunts were beginning to grate on my very dull nerves.
“Avatars of the Ancients have sacrificed loyalty and life to look upon us and now serve in our army. All who enter here join our service. We have been and will be forever!”
I was beginning to wonder if this monstrosity had nothing better to than write atrocious monologues.
“Save yourself needless suffering and die quickly so that you may join us.”
My initial attempt to get the thing's attention was not particularly comforting. Sure, it acknowledged me, but…
“Oh, we know what you are, servant of the Transition. You reek of its finality. We also know what relic you carry. Just like your predecessors, you are too cowardly to draw it. The cost to you is the same as it is for us." The creature made a sound that could vaguely pass for a chuckle, in my nightmare, and then shifted to a mocking tone, "Will you make a plaything like the last, or... a bargain perhaps? Your stench can leave our presence for the cost of... your companions. What value can their tiny lives hold?
While the enormous skeletal dragon wasted breath on insults… though could you call it breath if its lungs had decomposed several hundred years ago? Then again, who was I to talk… assessing the situation became my priority. Threats aside, the beast had constructed quite an imposing stronghold. Escaping as a group would be no easy task. We’d come in thru a series of winding tunnels and the fight had already taken its toll. Two of the party fell on the way, but I managed to perform rites. Their souls were safely on the path. A third died just after entering the main chamber. A brave paladin of the Unchallenged who I’d known for years, she stood her ground and protected the others. Her body lay at my feet. Of my remaining companions, one crouched behind the fallen paladin's shield, an arrow in his leg. The other worked unsteadily, attempting to tend the wounds without setting off the army.
Then there was the army. The vast camber before us provided little cover. Likely by design, the way we came in divulged no obvious exit. Ahead of us stood the dragon built of bones, still droning on. Around it gathered creatures of all sizes from giants to woodland animals, all of them dead and most of them bones like their master. Most stood swaying as if they were at the brink of collapse. Some of the more recently dead held weapons and wore armor. A clacking constantly echoed thru the room, a sound that pulled at my memory.
There was no way out, not for the three of us; the four of us. I was not going to leave my fallen friend unattended to be turned into one of these. She had earned her place in the Neverending Sky. With my trusted staff spent, I let it go to fall to the stone floor, hoping for a dramatic effect but got nothing. I reached for my back, trying to mask my hesitation. The dragon finally flinched, stalling his speech for the first time since we entered its chamber.
This was it, my only remaining option. I was about to draw the blades again; the first time I'd used them since they played their part in my making; the last time I'd see the brilliant light before I rejoined the Endless Void.
The echo of bones seemed to grow louder as the memories poured in. It had been so long ago that I stopped counting the years, but I remembered every detail of that day.