*Spoilers up to Redmane Castle, Radahn and Siofra River*
Somewhere eastward, Starscourge Radahn is ruined. In the wake of his defeat, a falling star has rent a hole through the earth of The Lands Between, revealing something deep in its bowels where only a lowly Tarnished may dare to tread. Above is Limgrave and the Mistwood. Further below is the Siofra River and a wood through which spectral warriors walk. And between them is a city.
Nokron. A city eternal. A millenia spent deep beneath the earth of The Lands Between, a millenia forever starlit.
And a Tarnished did dare walk its stones and streets and face the horrors within. The shambling undead and cosmic oddities alike.
The exile descends through the many levels of Nokron, only a common greatsword and his dearest companion, the horse named Torrent, to accompany him. The horrors he faces descending first through the dark, collapsed walls and rooftops toward the city proper are not the greatest challenges he has faced. The shambling warriors are slow, but threatening in groups. Sentient puddles of a black substance he has never seen before score blows against his armour, even draw his blood a time or two – but they, too, fall. Once, he comes face to face with something that mimics him. It uses his tools and every trick and technique from the recesses of his mind against him. That, too, falls beneath his sword. And onward he advances.
Across a crumbling bridge he walks. Occasionally he is caught by the urge to look below, at the underground river he explored weeks earlier. In that time it was the sky that drew his gaze, the towering city above whose gate seemed as though it would forever elude him. But he had found it. He now walked it. He would conquer it.
The Ancestral Followers he had fought in that past are here in another stretch of forest. They cleverly blend the threat of swords, bows, and sorceries together to attack him, but he is wise to their ways and their efforts are fruitless. They die by the dozens. A light sparkles beneath a small cliff. Around the corner is a Site of Grace. Relief washes over him and he rests for a time.
Below it are the rooftops of the city proper. He accepts the challenge, leaping across the ever-widening gap until he finds a place to safely descend into a temple. An enormous ball of stone, its surface smooth, sits in the centre of the temple floor with some more of the shamblers. The Tarnished fears nothing, so he again descends.
The shamblers are dispatched easily and a note of triumph again sounds in his chest. He hears the rumble of the ball shifting behind him and he rolls to the side to avoid it. It is not his first experience with such traps. In the privacy of his mind, he mocks their mundanity.
The ground rumbles again, but he notices too late. The ball smashes him against the floor of the temple. Blood dribbles from his lips. His legs are broken. He weakly looks up in time to see the ball reverse direction of its own accord to come at him again. Words come to his mind then before he’s sent back to be awoken anew. What the fuck.
Words: Brett Tharp
Brett Tharp is a horror/fantasy author and musician, you can find their work here.