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Dusk, Part II (Elrick)
by Elrick Strongbow
Mon, 22 Jan 2001, at 11:52 p.m. CST

The dark and rusted metal doors of the crypts slowly opened under Madok's hands, creeking until they touched the walls, a filthy smell comming out of the opened crypts caught the two man. Without looking back, Madok entered and charged the few squeletons lurking about. Without much of a choice, Elrick followed him inside, wanting to protect him while he acted out on anger. Luckily the ranger thought, no drows were about, things would have gotten pretty ugly if Madok and him had found them. The druid had not answered Elrick's questions about his intention in seeking the drows, but the blue haired ranger could imagine what Madok would do if he was to find one. After dispatching the undeads, Madok rushed downstairs, still followed by Elrick.

Downstairs, the faint glow of phosphorecent fungus provided them with the light they needed to carry on their search. Many undeads rised to stop them both, but they carried on, after defeating most of them, leaving only a few crippled ones behind. They still could hear the horrors lurking about the crypts, searching fer them to feast upon their flesh. Their footsteps seemed amplified by the stone walls surrounding them. Elrick looked around, unconfortable by the druid's silence. The ranger knew he had smelled some drows, but he did not want to warn Madok, since he would have done everything in his power to reach them. So the two went deeper in the crypts, only to find more specters and such frightening monsters¸waiting for them. At the end, the dark place was found to be empty, and no dark elves were to be found. Still angry, Madok leaded the way out. Upon arriving to the stairs leading to the entrance, they both knew they had made far too much noise to go unnoticed. With a deep sigh of resignation, Elrick readied his bow and followed the druid upstairs. Mayhap they would be lucky and manage to escape the drow's lair without being noticed at all.

As the ranger arrived upstairs, a rusted axe flashed nearby his head, almost beheading him. Instantly Elrick reacted, hitting the undead in the legs with his bow, dropping it to the ground, and quickly finished the job with his warhammer. He could see Madok was having some troubles with the remaining squeletons. They both had to hurry up before the drows would find them. Elrick grew more and more anxious to leave this place, knowing a disaster might happen anytime. He had to get the druid out as quickly as possible. As the last squeleton was smashed to pieces, Elrick tried to convince Madok to leave this unholy place but, as they both were arguing, the drows stepped inside, about four of them. Two of them were mages, the ranger could tell it from their long dark purple robes. He reconized the witch Vlondril wich wasn't a good sign at all… Smiling one of the drows came forth, and asked if they were lost. Elrick wanted to leave this place right away, to grab Madok and ride pass the drows outside, but Madok's eyes narrowed upon seing the ones he was seeking. Still smilling, the drow asked what the rangers wanted. Madok, with a clam voice, asked the drow to come alone with him, downstairs, claiming he wanted to speak with him alone. Elrick's grip on his bow got tighter then ever, knowing exactly what the druid wanted to do… He eyed the four drows one by one, ready to a fight. It seemed almost impossible to avoid this now. Madok, now almost downstairs, realized the drow would not follow him. Slowly, he climbed back up the stairs, comming straight toward the drow, eying him in a way that told everything. Elrick grew desperate to avoid this fight, and asked Madok to leave with him, before something regretfull would happen to him. The old druid did as if he had heard nothing, and shooved the dark skinned elf. Backinp up, the drow turned to Elrick, and told him to leave at once with the druid, and that everything would be forgotten. Elrick once again tried to reason his old friend, but it was no use. He would not listen, and he shooved violently the drow once more. Elrick was quick to grab the druid by the robe, and pulled him toward the door, knowing that the four drows would very soon grow tired of this, still wondering how come they both were still alive. Madok pushed Elrick away, telling him to leave. The ranger knew what would be Madok's next move and he desperatly begged him to leave with him once more. The moment the drow looked at Elrick, the old druid smashed hard his staff on the dark elf. It was almost as if time had frozen for Elrick… he could see the drow reacting instantly, drawing his blade, slashing at the druid with his blade soiled with poison. Desperate to save his friend, Elrick jumped to reach Madok, but he just evaded him, and Elrick crashed hard on the stone floor. The other drows were watching, almost enjoying the moment. As Elrick raised his head, he could see Madok still fighting, bleeding from several wounds, and grimacing due to the poison. Madok's eyes were full of hatred toward the drows, the ranger could see it, alas, this anger would have been his end… With a last scream, the now bloody druid fell backward, dropping his staff on the ground. The staff's noise echoed in the crypt's halls, for everyone had stopped talking. He was dead… Elrick's sceam broke the silence as stood up and pushed the drow aside to kneel before his friend, a tear running down his cheek. Slowly, Elrick gently picked up his friend's body and summuned his etheral stead. Ignoring the drows, the ranger left, hoping he still could save Madok.

Elrick cursed at his stead, unable to make it go faster. The trees flashed by one by one in his vision but still, he wasnt going fast enough. Kicking hard the flank of his horse, the ranger hoped it would work with this etheral horse. Exausted, he arrived in a quiet Shadowmoor, carrying the bleeding body, yelling like a mad man for somebody to help him. Hearing him, the rangers pourred out of the brewery and helped Elrick carry the body to the healers. Luckily, an elven maiden whom happened to be a very talented healer was present and well versed in the arts of healing. She began her work as soon as Madok was laid in a bed, uttering words of healing and blessing.

Elrick was walking around in the healer's hut, playing nervously with his bandana, while his brothers were guarding the door. He had been asked questions he did not want to answer yet, questions wich he'd rather forget. After some minutes that seemed as hours to Elrick, the lady healer let go a long sigh. Slowly, she turned and said in a soft voice that Madok had passed away fer good, that the time was for prayer. Elrick gave a last look at his old friend, and stormed out. As soon as he came out, all the eyes turned on him, all of them seeming to ask the same question… Still shaken by the emotion, Elrick said with a voice vibrant of emotions that Madok had spent his last day in Shadowmoor. One by one, the rangers walked into the nearby hut, and gave in their own ways, their farewell to the one who had been among them fer years. Elrick was thorned by what happened this day…He had talked earlier to Arwin about not letting the drows commit their crimes without paying and yet, he had not wished the war against them… and now, they had killed Madok. How he wanted to blame them… all of them, how he wanted to simply ride to the crypts and slay them. But… the old ranger could only come to one thing, no matter how he hard he tried. Madok had chosen his fate, so the drows were not to blame. Along this, he realised that waging such a war out on anger, would just lead to more suffering. All that would have been so easy for the weary ranger. Almost to easy. The bottles of ale were passed around and everyone still seemed to be under the shock. Soon, heads rised around him and looked at him with a determined look. " Who did this? "

Elrick did not want to tell them… yet. If he did now, they would simply grab their gear and torch the crypts, causing another bloody war. He had to wait a little, and explain how it happened, fer them to understand. Meanwhile, he kept drinking, throwing empty bottles on the ground, trying to relieve his mind. The rangers keep on asking this simple question and Elrick was even more drunk. " The drows did " The words came out of his mouth. Suddenly, all the rangers stood up and jumped on their horses. Screaming fer them to stop, Elrick summoned his stead to catch up with them. How much he wanted to follow them and attack, but his reason told him otherwise, thus torturing him even more. Soon, he found the rangers, busy dispatching the undead guards. Trying to sound as confident as he could in a time like this, he ordered his angry brothers back to the village. He even had to force one of them back, threatning to smash his head into nothingness if he did not follow the others back.

After all the rangers had finally left, Elrick slowly turned his mount and went back to the village, where he said he would explain his actions. He was still wondering how he would do that… how he would justify ordering them around when he had no authority at all.

The meeting was over a long time ago, and Elrick was still standing in the meeting hall ,looking outside with empty eyes, a bottle in both his hands. The rangers had listened and understood his point. He had prevented a war … prevented a war he had in part wished. How long would they resist their envy of plunging their blades into the drows? He kept on drinking and he felt even more exausted. Madok was gone… that was all the ranger could think of at the point he was.

The bottles shattered on the floor as the drunk ranger lost his balance. He fell on the floor, not even reacting and did not manage to stand up again...

 

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