Round one entry for "The Curse" in Clash.
|Mae wasn't having a simple time. She had searched the many worlds of the multiverse for the source of what she had definitively determined was a curse. In her search, Mae had located the strange plane of existence that the curse seemed to come from. It bore more resemblance to the setting of a high fantasy novel than any world she was used to. Magic in all of its forms ruled over science.
She couldn't place exactly how she knew that this strange world was the source, but the bouts of absolute terror she experienced as waking dreams left her rung out and certain. These bouts seemed to become more frequent the “closer” she came. In the course of her journey, Mae had only come across three other people who had the strength or luck to resist the curse enough to do anything about it. Together they had decided it was necessary to team up in pairs to proceed. That way if one of them slipped sideways into the partial effects of the curse, the other would be there to help slip them back out.
Mae teamed up with a woman who explained her purplely-gray skin and red eyes as elements of her dark elf heritage. Her name was Turiel. Turiel dressed like someone who didn’t want to be seen, black leather from head to toe, including thigh-high boots Mae was glad she didn't have to break in. Speaking of breaking in, Turiel moved like a thief. From her disregard for the curse’s victims, Mae could tell Turiel felt no qualms about killing.
Mae had formed no actual ideas of how to break the curse. She had no inherent magical skill of her own. From what she had experienced of magic, she figured there would be some kind of focus holding the curse in effect, hopefully it was some kind of object to be destroyed. She flinched at the idea that it was a conscious entity. Mae didn’t like the idea of putting an end to anyone, not even a demon. Surely even they could ultimately be redeemed.
“You walk too loud!” Turiel finally snapped at Mae.
Mae grimaced. She couldn't help the slight rustling noises of her jeans and t-shirt. She wanted to quip back that Turiel thought too loud, as was the case with most entities Mae had experienced. The trouble was that Turiel was a blank wall to Mae’s telepathy. Mae’s mind wandered to whether it was an element of Turiel’s personal emotional makeup that made her unreadable, or if it was her dark elf pedigree.
It was something Mae thought she might explore after this was all over. Distracted, Mae was drawn back to her surroundings by an anguished howl of pain. In the corner of the stone room sat her husband Imhay, he clutched an inert and bloody body. Without thinking Mae ran to him, dread filling her pores. The closer she got the less she could deny recognition. It was Lyla’s body he clutched. With all of her superhuman senses Mae couldn't detect the slightest sign of life.
Mae kneeled over the body of her daughter too shocked to even sob. Then she was yanked to her feet roughly and felt the sting of a rough hand impacting her face.
“What are you doing? Trying to give us away!” Mae slowly recognized Turiel's disturbingly red eyes.
She shook off the nightmare but didn't have the courage to look back and confirm it had only been a trick of the curse. Mae had learned a lot about her fears recently and was all too aware that she was as possessed by them as she was by her constant simmering anger. Anger, Mae pushed righteous indignation to the front of her mind to burn off the last tinges of fear.
“I spotted movement ahead,” Turiel whispered, “I hate to say it, but I think there is a dragon… and it is awake.”
“Could it be like us? Immune?” Mae asked.
“Even if it were, it wouldn't help us, but it seems to be guarding something." Mae followed Turiel.
The dragon was guarding an emerald almost as large as it was, and the emerald was giving off green waves of energy. This was bad.