Carnival Fantasia

Marana Scarlet is coming....what will you do? .....What will you do?


17. Hollow-Bastion

Anak's finest scrambled to put on their harnesses, hooking themselves up they climbed over the balconies and lowered themselves down in to the fray of Undead Knights. 

"We have them now," Kaine mused, "They're trapped with nowhere to go, bring them to me!" 

The Elite Knights battled the undead back and quickly formed a solid wall of shields and picks whilst the row behind fired crossbow bolts. The remaining few finished off the remaining and searched for Marana.   

"Their taking too long". Kaine grumbled. 

"Just give them a little more time". Caim said too lax that it irritated his brother all the more. 

"Thats it I'm going down". And with that Kaine voluted over the balcony without a bun-jee, his arms and fingers sprouted feathers and the arch-Mage was court by the wind and landed on the ground with a light touch. He glanced around. Soldiers were searching the small space of occupied land. 

"Arch-Mage!" A knight of Anak'morak came running up to him, "My deepest apologise but we cannot find Marana or her guardian anywhere". 

"What! How? We had them cornered, how could you let them slip away?" Kaine fumed. 

"No Sir! They just weren't here when we dropped down". 

Kaine growled and turned to the wall of men battling the Undead Knight, the noises of battle were making it difficult to concentrate. 

"Sir we should leave now before were over-run!" 

He turned back to the Soldier with a venomous look, "Im the leader here and I say we stay until we find them, signal the Grenadier to move on I don't want it getting court up in my magic". 

"Marana, I told you not to use your magic", Cage said levelly in the darkness.

"Excuse me but I did as you were asked and did not use my magic even though we were about to be devoured by undead". Marana said offended. 

"Then why is it so dark?" Cage growled.

"Flames of the Netherworld!" Kaine summoned the emerald coloured flames to burn up the undead knights in front of the wall of Anak Knights. The knights retreated back as the twisting inferno licked their faces and nearly burned their eyes. The undead shrivelled up as the flames ate at them and returned to ash. The flames of the Netherworld continued to burn. Kaine then turned back to the Knight with a smug look, "Now you have no excuses, find them now".

"Can I use my magic now?" Marana asked. 

"No!" Cage replied bluntly. 

"But it's so dark I can create light to lead the way". She explained. 

Cage gave up, "Go on just this once". 

Marana gave a giggle of satisfaction, cupping her hands together she breathed into her hand, from the cracks of her fingers a brilliant light shone, opening her hands the orb of pure brilliant light floated up into the air like bubble of air under water. 

Cage gasped suddenly as he was a step away from falling down a stairwell that led further down into the unknown. 

"And you said my magic was a bad thing, looks like it just saved you a load of broken limbs and an inevitable death, how humiliating would that be, a great knight fell to his death by tumbling down a stair way". 

"Shut your Nethertrap, your continues blabbing is contagious, now come on we cannot go back the way we came". Cage started down the stairs. Marana followed, their only light sours hovered above. 

Some would call it divine intervention but Cage would call it, getting out of one trap and falling into another. Back on the surface when the Undead Knights had them blocked off, a Galleon War Ship floated over their heads. Cage backed up against the cliff wall and miraculously it opened, the boulder sank into the ground revealing a tunnel entrance, Cage tripped over it and fell backwards, once inside it closed up behind him.

"It stinks of fungus and rotten flesh down here," Cage complained as they descended down the spiral stairway, "What is this place anyway? A stairway to the Netherworld?"

"I no not of this place and suddenly I feel a little annoyed, had I known of this labyrinth twelve years ago it would have put me at a significant advantage. I do have to wonder how many other people know of this place?". 

"Thats right," Cruxus said rubbing his hands together as he gazed into the miasma, "Come Marana Scarlet, come further into Hollow-bastion". 

Marana turned her head as far round as she could and stared at the bleak solid rock above, "Cage I think somethings watching us"

"You have the entire worlds attention already how can you tell when one more person is watching you?" 

"Gut feeling and a high perception, I had to learn how to spot the signs when someone is using the 'Walls have ears' spell or 'Watching from nowhere' spell. Oddly enough I don't think their using ether". 

"Could it just be paranoia?" 

"Don't be silly Cage you wouldn't understand there is no such thing as paranoia to a warmongering overlord because 'EVERYONE IS!' trying to kill you and 'EVERYONE IS!' plotting conspiracies. Now don't say stupid things". 

"Alright alright! I get it. So do you know what's watching us?" 

"Not a clue. So it's best to continue on as if we haven't noticed and surprise it by being ready for it".

They reached the bottom step and continued to follow the path that led further in, the stench of fungus and rotten corpse became to pungent that their eyes watered. Ether-side of the pathway howls long enough and wide enough to fit a single body were cut into the wall and seemed to go on for as long as the path. Cage suddenly hated himself because he had this feeling he knew what was about to happen next. 

A corpse twitched and Cage thrusted his silver sword into it's gut, the corpse snarled and tensed into an arch of agony as the silver in the sword burned it up into ash's.

Cages eye court the movement of the corpse on his right and swiftly brought his steel up then back down like a hammer to hack into it's shoulder and send it crumpling to the floor. 

"This is a cursed crypt!" Cage yelled and charged onwards slashing at the corpses as they rose from their years of slumbers. 

Kaine grew impatient as the Anak Soldiers came back empty handed, Marana and her guardian could not be found. Just how did two people surrounded by undead and a cliff face have slipped through their fingers so easily, were they coated in butter or just lucky. Kaine gritted his teeth with annoyance. 

The Emerald flames of the Netherworld burned with a vengeance keeping back the undead Knights of old, the flames would last as long as Kaine made them but he could feel the Netherbird's presence within him, slowly taking over his body and mind. 

"Useless!" Kaine snapped under his breath, "Must I do everything by myself?" The Arch-mage believed that there had to be some kind of explanation people don't just disappear unless they know the 'Cloak of Shadows' spell or a Teleportation spell but casting ether of those requires time and preparation something they did not have. So Kaine looked for other explanations. 

There were no boulders that were big enough for them to hide behind that hadn't already been checked.

There were no caves ether and they certainly hadn't scaled the cliff, too steep and under the circumstances would have been impossible to climb and even should they have gotten to the top the Grenadier would have signalled.

Kaine placed his hands against the rocks and blotted out all the noise so it was just him and the rocks now. The Arch-Mage tapped into the rock and became part of it, he could now feel it's density and vastness, there were however parts of the rocks that had been removed, hollowed out by human hands as it was clearly not natural by the shapes. There was an entrance near by. Kaine slid his hand along the cliff face until he came to the entrance and pushed against it. 

The perfectly cut out door clicked out of place then slide down into the ground. The cave entrance was no revealed and a grin of satisfaction crossed the Arch-mages face. He ordered his men in first.

"I think we lost them", Cage said as he looked back down the pathway. He had hacked and slashed his way through the undead and plunged further in to the unknown, down flights of stairs and deeper into the labyrinth. 

Down the pathways he went. 

When the hallway opened up into a wide cylinder shaped cavern.

"Cruxus welcomes Marana Scarlet into the underground labyrinth from the Miasma. Marvel at it's grand structure, a lone castle tower in the middle of a cylinder shaped cavern, see how bridges connect to the castle and stretch to the inner walls that lead to pathways under the plain of Ash and Dust. Welcome Marana Scarlet to Hollow-Bastion the greatest secret underneath the earth". 

The sight was breath taking. 

Compared to the colossal scale of the cavern and the castle tower Cage and Marana felt like ants. 

An entire city of people could live down here easily and most likely did once. 

The bridges they would walk on were no flimsy wooden bridges, these were proper solid stone bridges capable of allowing passage to some of the biggest war machines, were they came from was just one of the small side passages that led to one of the bigger one's.

"It makes Anak'Morak's castle pail in comparison," Cage breathed in awe, "How has something like this been forgotten?"

"No one venture's into the plain of Ash and Dust willingly, even before the war twelve years ago, so it's no wonder it's been forgotten, I'm not convinced its abandoned because of that presence I can still feel".

"Well," Cage began flexing his shoulders, "let's not keep the waiting". 

And with Marana sitting on his shoulder he brisk-fully walked across the bridge as Kaine and his knights descended into the catacombs catching up swiftly, there would be enemies had already fallen victim to the blades of Cage. 

Arch-Mage Kaine boiled with anticipation, he was so close now to completing his ambition and there was no Caim around to steal the glory, what a wondrous night this is. He had already thought so far ahead on what he was going to do once he got his hands on Marana, a humiliatingly slow execution in front of all Anak'morak people and that knight can join her as well being her only alley he deserved a front row seat.
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