“Vridich.” I hear a female voice calling to me, pulling…
I wake with a cold start. Looking around the dark cave, my elven eyes adjust, everyone is still asleep. It takes me a second to remember where I am. The floor is cold and hard. I slowly get up, my body is sore, as my pillow is the wrapped up Book of Tomorrow. Ah…if only the Dwarves of Throal knew…
After retrieving a bit of water and hard tack, I go for a walk. Not specifically traveling anywhere, I let my thoughts drift as I wander down a few side passages. I don’t know how long I walked, but I was startled out of my revery by a high pitched screech. Recognizing it as most likely a krilworm, I duck down immediately. Once I get my bearing, I see that I am standing next to a very deep chasm system that travels up and down. In the upper reaches of the chasm, I can hear lots of flapping and the occasional screeches. Sounds as though there are hundreds of krilworms up there.
Looking around, I see a passage way that leads below to a “bridge” that crosses over the chasm. Walking out onto the bridge, I decide to try something. Using one of my spells, I magically reach out to the swarm of krilworms, finding the largest, and beckon it to come down to me. After a moment, the largest krilworm I have ever seen lands nearby, screeching impatiently. I pull out the last of my hard tack and toss it over to the hideous creature. While krilworms are blind, they are very much like a bat. Their sight is magically based and allows them to see perfectly in the dark. I’ve heard rumors that the krilworm were the result of Nethermancer experiments prior to the Scourge.
“Eying” the hard tack, he flaps over to it and takes a few tentative sniffs. With another screech, he quickly gobbles up the hard tack and takes off. Screeching again as he leaves. Satisfied, I head back to camp. Once there, the others are talking about our plan to get out of this hell hole.
For the next few days, we mingle with the former residents of Kaer Derinkuyu. Some of the others in the group train in there chosen discipline. We secretly decide not to mention that I’m a Nethermancer. As the residents here fully hate Nethermancers due to being trapped in this nether realm by the Nethermancer Selenys. I continue to visit with my new krilworm friend in hopes that I can bond with him and make him my familiar.
“Vridich. Help. Me.” I hear the female voice again…
I’m rousted from my brief reverie yet again by the voice. This time I head directly down to the chasm to see my new hideous friend. I’m careful that I am not followed. When I arrive, the krilworm is already waiting for me, screeching in anticipation. I toss what meager food I was able to muster from “dinner”. After he is finished, I approach him slowly. At first he crouches low, but does not fly away. I’m happy that my new friend is mostly fearless and accepts my hand on its leathery head. After a few moments, the krilworm began to growl at me. I must admit that I was a bit startled and slowly pulled my hand away. As I did so, the krilworm followed my hand, moving closer still, seeking more adoration. Chuckling, I continue to pet him as I realize that the “growling” is more like a cat’s purr.
After a bit more time spent with him, I decide to Name him Eidolon, which means phantom in Sperethiel. I then decide to enact the Ritual of the Familiar. Having seen Xandarlathalas perform the rite many of times, I recall it perfectly. However, unlike Xandarlathalas, I don’t use some of the unnecessary crueler portions of his ritual like scarification and their Blood Magic ilk. While technically still a Blood Magic ritual, this binding can only be done on a trusting familiar. The magic that binds friend and familiar together is as strong as steel when used properly. As I finish the ritual, I feel a “snap” sensation as the magic ties the two of us together with finality. Eidolon gives a screech of contentment. I am surprised when I realize that the bond between us basically “translates” his feeling to me. We spend a few more hours training each other through our bond, testing our limits. I recall hearing Xandarlathalas mention once that familiar and master can share bodies. Although I think he used the word possess instead. Not surprising.
A day later, while watching Eidolon fly about the chasm, I was startled by a voice right next to me. “Vridich…” I heard a feminine voice say. At that exact same moment I feel a shiver travel up my spine.
I turned towards the sound, and I know immediately, that the raven haired girl from my dreams is Selenys. Standing mere feet from me. The tingling in my spine warns me that she is not physically here, but only in spirit.
“Vridich, have you considered my offer?” she says. Her voice sounds far away, yet more like a whisper, directly in my ear.
“You wish for my help? Is this your offer, or your Horror Master’s? You’ll excuse me if I’m a bit leery of any offers from your direction…and why would you offer to teach me how to defeat you???”
Looking pained, she finds a rock to sit on and says, “I’ve done horrific things. Things I would never have dreamed of when I first sought power. I could say it was all Vargaxes’ fault, but I summoned him among my people. I accepted his covenant. I even summoned the beast that brought us all here. Indeed, I was the first it devoured.”
At that pronouncement, I mentally give a shiver. Thinking back to being eaten by the Kaer Mole was not a particularly fond memory.
“So I’m not asking for forgiveness, Vridich. We’re all far past that, aren’t we? But what I offer comes at a price. Indeed, it may cost you and your friends your very lives. I know the ragged survivors want to slay me. It’s what I would want were I them. But I want you to help me escape this place, help me escape Vargaxes as well. I will not only help you deepen your understanding of Nethermancy, Vridich. I’ll help you walk right in the door to his stronghold.” she say with some finality.
“But I don’t want to die here. I have much to atone for…” she trails off, looking sorrowful.
“Die? You’re already dead Selenys. You’ve been here for hundreds of years according to what we’ve been told. And you expect me to believe that we are alone in this conversation…I think not. I will listen to what you have to say though, but I will make no promises or pacts with you. My loyalty is to my companions first.”
Looking somewhat frustrated at Vridich, she continues on, Vargaxes has kept a mockery of my corporeal form ‘alive’ for a long time now, but he uses it as an anchor and portal for him to come and go as he pleases. It stopped serving me long ago. As a Nethermancer, you should understand this."
“And you’re right, Vargaxes could be listening. But he’s not. You think this is the only realm he’s created like this?” Selenys shudders, “He has many more nether realms like this place.”
“Fine. I will accept your tutelage Selenys. But I will make no promises to you. As a Nethermancer, I think you understand all too well why. If what you say is true, and if you should truly help us, I give only my hope to you that I will do what I can to free you. And should the opportunity present itself, I will try to free you. I will not tell you my plan though. As that would actually require you to trust someone. If you are still capable of such a thing.”
Selenys nods. “I knew I chose well in you, Vridich. I will take my chances with you.”
She says, “Let us begin.”