Insanity’s End: Stanley Miller

September 11, 2007

It would not be correct to say that Stanley was impressed with his companion’s prowess as battle erupted around them – merely satisfied, rather, that they lived up to expectations.

But it could not be denied that they were on this quest for a reason – they were the greatest heroes in the land, and it showed. Even while he maintained the cloak of spells that kept the commotion that followed them hidden from the rest of the dark city, Tailos would occasionally wave a hand, and starspawn would simply crumble into dust. Aubrick’s sword, Danruil, moved like a shard of light, piercing carapace after carapace without pause, and never needing more than a single stroke to slay an enemy. Even the god within Rowen, while conserving its divine power, would strike at any foe that drew near, crumpling skulls and shattering bones with a strength no mortal could muster.

Stanley didn’t participate. Even sensing the threads of magic he could muster, and even with the claim that the battle on the other side of the city would distract from their own spells, they did not want to leave the slightest chance that Stanley’s presence would be revealed to the Beast. He agreed with the reasoning – and so even though he felt a growing sense of… anticipation, he kept his thoughts calm and contained, and followed just behind his companions’ path of destruction.

The spawn they fought were monstrous foes, in the truest meanings of the word. Some had wings, others tentacles, and yet others were merely a mass of free-floating tendrils. There was a hint of humanity at the core of many of them, and perhaps that was what made their visage so horrible – though Stanley, alone of all the world’s inhabitants, was able to look upon them with no more than detached curiousity.

The spawn hunted in packs. Whenever one group crossed their path, combat erupted, as they charged forward in eery silence, slick black hides glistening in the hideous green light that filled the corridors. Steaming ooze would pour forth as Aubrick struck them down, but they remained silent even in death, pale and bulbous eyes staring balefully at their slayer.

The passage through the citadel had already begun to grow dull, at least to Stanley, when they emerged from a rune-covered archway and saw their destination. The heart of the black temple – a dome that perched in the city’s center like an alien egg, waiting to hatch.

And within, the Ancient Beast itself, whose name they dare not speak. The song of madness and the dying of dreams – and it was up to Stanley to end the threat it offered.

But even as they looked upon it, screams echoed all around them – the first sound the spawn had uttered, and it was so filled with hatred and malevolence that even Rowen staggered back. And then they were surrounded and under attack by dozens of the beasts, caught in a trap not fifty yards from their final goal itself.

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