Curiosity Kills Nothing – by Themo Lock – narrated by Asclepius
Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a wonderful story from Themo Lock. It is entitled
Curiosity kills Nothing
and was also a winning entry in the “Valorbook of the Vale” competition.
Background music is by Smartsound.
Valorbook of the Vale: The Courage of the Outlanders
by Commander Fortezzo
Volume XXII: Curiosity Kills Nothing
The enemy can take many forms — from a howling throng of brutes charging savagely over the hill to a well-trained and well-armored host, clanking and clattering, thunderous and dread. Sometimes she is solitary, weaving her dark and deadly magic from her frightful tower striking terror into the hearts of those who would oppose her. But often the greatest enemy is simply the unknown. Failing to face what may or may not be can stop the mightiest of men in their tracks. But steeling oneself against the darkness can be the first step in what can become the greatest of heroic journeys. From the crypts of Ravensmoor comes the tale of Themo Lock, the Outlander who was brave enough to make that first step.
* * *
Deep within the crypts of Ravensmoor, Themo crouched before a wall sconce and fumbled with a tinderbox by the dim light that radiated from the cloak about his shoulders. A shudder ran down his spine and he failed to shake off the feeling that he was not alone in the almost unnatural darkness that seemed more like a solid wall than a mere alliance of shadows.
He had been lured into the depths of this neglected tomb by a sense of adventure and an unrelenting curiosity that would shame any cat. His pack brimmed with the rancid ectoplasmic muck that he had harvested from the frail animated skeletons that had challenged his entry in the upper rooms and the smell of it now assailed his nostrils and tested his stomach’s fortitude.
The damp torch sputtered to life with exaggerated brightness, forcing back the darkness to a more comfortable distance and causing the adventurer’s eyes to water. A faint echo caused his breath to catch in his throat, and he spun on his heel, torch outstretched, probing the corridor ahead of him for signs of life.
Was that movement he saw? Or was it perhaps just smoke from the torch being drawn along by a draft? Fatigue began to come over him and made him call his otherwise keen senses into question. Suddenly his back ached from the weight of his pack. He stumbled slightly as he felt his legs tremble and weaken. His torch slipped from his hand, and still lit clattered noisily to the stone floor.
Something was not right — he had felt fully rested and hearty just moments before but now struggled to remain upright and alert. A noise he could only describe as an otherworldly gust of wind alerted him to a threat he now recognized: somewhere in the darkness ahead, a ghost was draining him of his very life-force. He knew he had to act and he had to act fast.
Feebly he juggled with his pouches, plucking out reagents as he mouthed arcane syllables that merged and brought his spell into being. A fleeing rat squealed into lifelessness at his feet and dying insects rained from the ceiling as ahead of him in the darkness the ghost let out a piercing shriek. Themo would not succumb. He was no stranger to death magic. This creature had robbed him of his vitality, but, by all he was, he would have it back!
The spectre came into view, drifting towards him as he chanted a second incantation. The air crackled with raw energy as a bolt of brilliant blue light leapt from his fingers, piercing the ghost’s insubstantial form and splitting the stone bricks beyond. His foe hesitated and he took full advantage with a combination of life draining magic that revitalized his limbs whilst crippling his would-be assassin. The ghost’s form faded and dissipated as the tortured soul once more found rest.
The Outlander hesitated for a moment. Sure he could go back, but that is something his bold heart would not allow. Gathering his will, Themo kicked the torch further down the corridor to scout the shadows for more signs of movement, illuminating the section of wall where the brickwork had crumbled and fallen away, revealing a passageway that had lain hidden beyond.
“Now I wonder what is in there,” he voiced aloud, grinning from ear to ear and shouldering his pack. The Outlander adventured on.