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 Post subject: The Creed-Part II
PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2003 5:53 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 3:10 am
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Krele Kest waited. With his sword poking into his side, he lay flat on his stomach, looking down from the thatched roof of a small house. He peered over its edge and waited for the patrol to pass. It had been hours since he had killed Jeresh and had fled from the church. The Rites had been dismissed that night, set aside, and the people ordered back inside their homes. Krele mused to himself, “at least some good came of my acts this night.”

Now, every last church soldier hunted him. He had to get to the old tunnels, the ones used centuries ago by the ancient dwarves, long before there was a church or the belief in its Dark God; or so the legends say. Very few knew how to enter the tunnels, in fact, not many even knew of their existence, but the Creed had found them years ago when they were looking for a place to hide and a place to learn what they could of the magic. Krele had been brought there as a boy, after one of the Creed's members witnessed him attempting to bring a flower back to life for a girl; Laara. That man, Hared, was amazed by Krele's ability, and he began to teach Krele all he knew of the magic. Soon, his control and ability to withstand the pain associated with the magic's power surpassed even Hared, and the member's of the Creed finally began to consider using their power to overthrow the church, with Krele as their savior. Krele remembered the beatings his father would give him when he would return from the caverns. He took them, knowing even then how important he was to the Creed. He gritted his teeth on the memory and watched the soldiers below.

"He's out of the city by now. He has to be. It's been hours." One of the soldiers complained.

"Silence in the ranks!" The patrol leader barked. "Keep your eyes and ears open. He's here somewhere. He's just very adept at hiding." The leader paused and looked around. Krele guessed that some sort of sixth sense was at work within the leader's mind. He pushed himself closer into the thatch of the roof and waited. Tension seized the air around him and he swallowed hard, feeling as though this was indeed the end. The leader's eyes scanned his surroundings, stopped at the house on which Krele hid. "Search this house!" He barked. "And every house around this area. He is here, I can feel it. Move, now!"

Krele watched as the soldiers scattered to all of the houses. Screams and shouts of alarm filled the night as they burst through the bolted doors, surprising the occupants within.

"Damn!" He whispered to himself. "This is all I need." He was now not far from the house with the wooden floor, but for all these soldiers prowling about it may as well be on the other side of the world. He waited until the soldiers searching the house below him came out, then he inched his way back and slid down its far side. The screams and shouts continued to ring out in the night as he slithered between houses and down back streets.

Then it happened. Only a street away from the house with the wooden floor, he came face to face with two soldiers. They were leaving a house by its back entrance and Krele, for all his stealth, literally bumped into them as he rounded the corner. They didn't realize who he was at first, but Krele quickly jumped back and drew his sword. One of the soldiers shouted triumphantly, calling to others, as he charged forward. The other drew and also thrust towards Krele. The first fell almost instantly as Krele easily slid his sword through the man's breast plate and into his heart. The other howled in rage and charged. Krele's sword clashed with his, causing a rain of sparks. The two fought furiously for what seemed hours, yet was only a matter of minutes. Krele managed to defeat him too, thrusting his sword fatally through the man's throat. Then Krele fled as the shouts of other soldiers filled the night.

He came, moments later, panting for breath, to the house with the wooden floor. He pounded on the door and it opened only a crack. He saw a pair of eyes, and then heard a sharp gasp as the door flew open.

"Krele! You are alright, praise be! We were so afraid when we heard of your flight from the church." Odan said as the two of them clasped hands.

"I must hurry, my friend. I killed two soldiers back there. They know I am in this area. I must get into the tunnels quickly." Krele told the young man standing before him.

"Yes, Yes, of course. Come. Help me with the dirt." Odan said, handing Krele a small spade. They went into a back room and pulled a thick rug away from a spot on the dirt floor in the center. They began to dig, a few inches down they uncovered a wooden trap door. They brushed away the remaining dirt and pulled on the iron ring. The small door, barely wide enough for a man to squeeze through, creaked open. Krele peered inside and saw nothing but darkness. Odan reached over to a small table and took hold of the oil lamp that rested there. "Here." He said to Krele, thrusting the lamp toward him. "Take this. The way is long, as you know, and dark."

"No." Krele said, “I cannot take such a gift.”

“You can, we have another. One is all that is needed. Take it.” Odan pushed the lamp at Krele’s chest.

Krele stared back, then, he took the lamp from Odan's hand. "Thank you, my friend.”

“Yes, yes. You must go.”

Krele nodded. “Once I am down, you must close the door quickly and cover it up again with all speed. The soldiers could be here at any time."

Odan nodded, clasping Krele on the shoulder with a strong grip. "Go well, my friend, and praise to the Creed."

Krele returned the grip. "Stay alive, Odan."

Without another word, Krele, with Odan's help, lowered himself through the small opening. Once he was all the way through, Odan slammed the door, leaving Krele alone in the eerily-glowing tunnel. He waited for a moment as he assessed his surroundings. The ceiling was just tall enough for him to stand erect and the light from the oil lamp bounced off the close, red rock walls. It smelled musty and earthy, and he took a moment just to breathe in the scent of the underground, relief flooding through him. He was on his way home.

He started down the dark tunnel, holding the lamp out in front of him. He had only gone a short distance when it dipped steeply downward, the tunnel narrowing even more, causing him to stoop over. Down it went, deeper and deeper toward the core of the world. The fragrance of the deep earth washed over him the further down he went. He navigated the complex series of tunnels confidently, knowing exactly which passageways to go down. They crossed each other and meandered in all directions. Those not familiar with the passages would soon be hopelessly lost down here, but Krele knew his way well. On he went. After quite some time, he came to a tunnel that widened into a vast corridor, and leveled off. He could hear the sound of running water. He was getting closer. The corridor twisted and turned with many more smaller tunnels running off of it in different directions. Most of those tunnels ended abruptly, while still others led the way to oblivion or were unexplored by the Creed. He then rounded a long curve and saw ahead of him the faint glow of a faraway light. He smiled.

He began to hear strange scratching noises and a rhythmic thumping. The scouts for the Creed had seen him. He removed his sword from its sheath and tapped the wall of the corridor with the top of its hilt, sending out the code for his name. He heard then a squeal of delight. Laara. She flew down the corridor and wrapped herself in his arms. He buried his face in her auburn colored hair, and breathed in its sweet, earthy scent.

"Oh, Krele. I was so afraid. The scouts say you killed Jeresh." Her voice was muffled by his shoulder.

"Yes." Was all he could say.

She pulled her head back and brought her jade-green eyes to search his face. "Krele, why?"

He sighed and pulled down the hood of his cloak. Laara unwrapped herself from his arms and watched him. He raked his fingers through his hair. "I had no choice."

She stared thoughtfully back at him then nodded. "Come. Father is waiting. He's been worrying about you almost as much as I have these last few hours."

He extinguished the lamp, put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. They walked toward the light at the end of the corridor. "Oh, Laara, how I've missed you." He said.

"I love you, Krele Kest." She whispered.

They entered Creed's Cavern moments later. The cavern was more like a great meeting hall, with chairs and tables, and a great fire pit. Shelves of ancient books and yellowed scrolls lined the walls. Books that told of dwarves and of a people who called themselves mystics; and of magic. Books that told of other gods, and ancient references of wars in far away lands. Such writings were thought all destroyed by the church, being viewed as blasphemy and foul. But, the Creed preserved all that they could find, knowing them to be proof that the church was a lie and that their evil God had not always been the God of the world. Most were found in this very place. Krele had poured over the books and scrolls for hours when he was first brought to the Creed, longing to live in the days told in the stories. He would wonder what ever happened to the dwarves and the mystics, and the other gods; how their evil God had gained dominion over the world, and why would those other gods allow such a horrible thing to happen?

Krele and Laara were met at the mouth of Creed's Cavern by a chorus of cheers and words of relief; instantly surrounded by roughly twenty members of the Creed. There were others, of course, those who had pledged loyalty to the Creed but had no knowledge of the magic. They were those who lived in the city to help, those like Odan, while the ones learning the magic lived in hiding in the tunnels of the ancient dwarves. Krele smiled at his friends and clasped as many hands as he could.

"Krele." A throaty voice then rumbled over all the rest. Krele looked over the heads of his friends and locked his black-eyed gaze with that of the white-haired man who had just called his name. Hared stood on a small, round platform that rose maybe half a foot up from the smooth, red rock floor of the cavern. Krele released Laara, parted the circle around him and walked over to the man who was more his father than any other. Hared watched his approach, his gnarled face wearing an undecipherable expression. "What have you done?" He asked sternly.

“Father, please." Laara said from Krele's side.

"Quiet, girl." He rumbled. Hared pulled his cloak about himself tighter and cleared his throat.

"Hared, I had no choice." Krele said.

"No. There is always a choice. What you did was a rash act of vengeance. It was wrong." Hared moved down from the platform and stood to face Krele. "Now the church knows you. It knows you all too well. No churchman has ever belonged to the Creed. Sar Lok will be enraged. And. They will now search with greater fury."

"Hared, it's all right." Krele said hastily. "I am ready to do what I must. Last night, with the magic, I healed a dying child."

Hared's own green eyes opened wide. "You did this? And you survived?"

"Yes." Krele said, unable to mask the excitement in his voice. "Our time has come. I am strong with the magic now. We can strike our blow against the church and God Himself. We will rid ourselves from this vile life. Let them search, there is nothing to stop us now."

Hared turned away from him in disgust. "Ah, the foolishness of youth! The blatant, confounded ignorance!" He bawled out, his face toward the ceiling and his arms hugging his chest. "Krele, you are far too rash." He murmured, without turning around. "Come. Walk with me."

Krele and Laara exchanged a quick look, Laara squeezed his hand and nodded, Krele nodded back. Then he followed Hared as he went down a back corridor that led away from Creed's Cavern. They walked in silence for aways. Krele, out of apprehension, waited for Hared to begin. He didn't have to wait long. "Gorgen and Pak were discovered a short way from one of the tunnel entrances. The church will soon know we are here."

"No one will find this place, Hared. We are hidden well." Krele said in answer. He noticed Hared’s gnarled face contort in a grimace, which mirrored the same one he expressed moments earlier in the Cavern.

"Tell me of them." Hared said sadly after another long moment of silence.

"Sar Lok tortured them and then he sacrificed them this morning. Hared, I wanted to help them, but I..."

"Tell me of Jeresh Raul." Hared interrupted.

Krele paused, hesitated, then answered warily. "Sar Lok learned of his knowledge of me, and unless Jeresh had me reveal our hiding place, he would be sacrificed. Jeresh appealed to me to tell him, but I refused. I killed him to spare him from being gutted by Sar Lok."

"And to enact revenge for his apparent betrayal."

"No. How can you think that? He was trapped, he had no choice." Krele was stung by Hared's blunt accusation.

"Yes, so it would seem. I told you not to trust him. But, as I said before, there is always a choice. He could have just let you go, denying he knew anything about you. But he chose to place you in the position that inevitably drove you to kill him. Now, Sar Lok knows you anyway. Something tells me that he would not have been put to the knife. He used your sense of loyalty toward him to deceive you into revealing our place."

"Then I had a right to kill him."

"No, Krele. There is no right to kill. Only the right to defend."

"Hared, you're talking in circles." Krele said then, pained.

"Am I?" Hared said, stopping to look at him. "Tell me, Krele, did you kill Jeresh as an act of defense for yourself and the Creed or did you do it to avenge his obvious betrayal?"

"Neither. I did it out of pity."

"Your pity was wasted. Jeresh Raul would have gouged your heart after learning what he needed from you."

"I don't believe that, I can't believe that."

"That is your choice." Hared resumed walking forward. In a short time they came to an underground pool of water that bubbled, being fed by some unknown source. The pool resided in a high cavern with crystal stalactites hanging from its ceiling. The crystal glowed softly, sending forth a pale, white light. From the moment he had laid eyes on it, as a young boy, Krele had been sure that some form of magic lived within the depths of the crystal. This was his heaven. Here, Krele was at peace.

Hared sat down on a lump of rock next to the water's edge. He rubbed at his white beard thoughtfully. "So. You feel we should do this now." He said with a long sigh.

"Yes. I do."

"Krele, do you know how old I am?" Hared asked suddenly. "I am not as old as I may appear."

Krele looked at him. He seemed odd. "Hared, what's wrong?"

"Everything!" Hared shouted abruptly. "Krele, I am only forty-three years old! This is what the magic has done to me. It has made me old and feeble. It has taken my wife from me. It has taken so many friends from me that I have lost count of their numbers. It is cold and unfeeling, it is ill, ill I tell you. Evil. Our very lives are evil. Yet, we seek to fight our own evil with this evil. Hoping against hope to make something good come of it. Impossible it is! It makes me ache to die! And yet we bear this pain of power. I bear this pain to achieve such a foolhardy end. I have done so all my life! And then, you come. You, who wields the magic like no other. You, who never ages. You, who withstands its pain as though it were only a mere annoyance. You, who surpasses even me in power, and I have been wielding the magic longer than any other! You are the one to save or destroy us! And it should be me! For no other has sacrificed more for the privilege!”

Krele was taken aback. He gaped at his friend, while pity and pride welled within his heart. "Hared, I didn't know you felt this way about me. You must hate me."

Hared looked pained and sighed long with remorse. "No. Krele, I love you as much as I love my own daughter. Please forgive, I never meant for you to hear those things. It is difficult for me, you must understand. I have spent my entire life trying to achieve the level of power that could bring down the church. And in only six years you have achieved all that I am and more. It makes me feel... inadequate."

"Hared, I would not have come this far without you." Krele told him.

Hared looked at him gratefully. He then straightened and pulled his cloak about himself. Krele waited while Hared regained his composure. The man was an enigma to Krele. So complex, so proud, yet sorrowful and resolute, Krele feared he would never fully comprehend the man before him.

"Well, enough of this." Hared rumbled after a few moments. "Leave the past in the past, there is no help or change for it. Now, we must decide on the future. I believe that the time for preparation is over. The purpose of our lives is now beckoning loudly at us. We can no longer resist its call. Krele, make yourself ready. Your hour is at hand."

Krele smiled then. His mind beginning to race, Hared had given the word to move forward. His resolve began to surge. “When?” He asked eagerly, standing on the balls of his feet, as though ready to charge down an entire army.

Hared gave him a look that made his smile fade. “We must plan, Krele. Your actions of late…far too rash.”

Krele nodded, abashed.

They began to hear shouts of alarm then. Hared snapped to his feet, while Krele spun around, drawing his sword and dropping the lamp in one fluid motion, then they flew down the corridor. But, before they reached the main cavern Hared reined Krele in by grabbing his arm. Sounds of fighting echoed down the corridor to them.

"We've been discovered." Hared hissed. "Krele, go back. Hide. You are our only hope. You must not die."

"Hared, no. What of Laara? I can't abandon her! Or you! Or the Creed!" Krele protested, trying to pull himself free of Hared's iron grip.

"No! I will see to Laara. You must go back. Now! If you die, all that the Creed stood for and strived for and lived for will die with you! That must not be!"

Krele and Hared stared hard at each other. Then Krele looked longingly in the direction of the cavern where the fighting had escalated to a raging battle. The Creed was falling. "This is my fault." He said. "Odan must not have had time to cover up the door. I didn’t cover my tracks in the dirt. I didn’t THINK! I was in such a hurry to reach here that I didn’t THINK!"

"Krele! Stop! You have no time for guilt. You must flee!" Hared hissed.

Krele hugged his chest, tears streaming down his face. He was frozen.

Hared shook him. “YOU MUST FLEE!”

Krele snapped then, sobbed out in acquiescence, "Ask Laara to forgive me. And tell her…tell her that I love her."

“You are our last hope, son. You must not fail.”

Krele hugged Hared, Hared gripped him tightly. Krele then fled back down toward the lake.


What makes my life more valuable than theirs? That question thumped in his mind as he made his way down to the lower, less accessible tunnels. He ran on and on, driven by rage and grief and guilt. He ran on, stumbling over his feet, his legs threatening to give way under him. He ran on, even when pure exhaustion from the lack of food and sleep assailed every muscle in his body. He ran on, even though he heard no sound of pursuit. He did not run blindly, however, he knew where he was going. Yet, he could not go on forever and after what seemed like days, he collapsed at the end of a dark, narrow tunnel, in a heap of remorse. Time passed unnoticed as he, alone in the underground that felt more and more like a grave, wallowed in despair and self-pity. He sank far down within himself. The tears flowed from his eyes unhindered. He had brought them to this end. If only he had not killed Jeresh. If only he had never fled the church. If only he had never been born. “Ah, sweet mercy! What ill my folly brings! Ruin! Death! I alone bring us to the flaming Gate of Chaos! Evil I am!! Evil power to Evil end!” He started to give in to the grief and the utter loss; to the guilt and to the rage. He sank lower and lower, almost ready to end himself so as not to feel the pain anymore. Anything to relieve this pain. His path to despair unfurling before him.

Then somewhere in his consciousness he heard a voice, felt a presence, calling his name. Or so he thought. He strained to listen, but did not hear anymore. Yet, its purpose was accomplished, for slowly he began to gather his resolve, his determination, his sense of justice, and yes, his sense of vengeance. He could not, would not let Hared and Laara's deaths pass in meaningless horror. Hared had been right, his hour was at hand. The need to free himself and all others caught in this God's malevolence far outweighed grief. That need is what Laara and the others had sacrificed themselves for. He could not deny that need.

And so Krele Kest stood. He wavered slightly on his feet at first. So he called to the magic. It came with little pain and resistance. He used it to flood himself with strength, then he let it go. Taking a deep breath, as if to seal his new resolve inside of himself, he started back down the narrow passageway.

Purposefully, Krele made his way up through the labyrinth of the underground to a tunnel that would bring him out as close to the church as possible. His way dark, his eyes however, found the path easily.

Go with care. He thought he heard a voice say. He stopped and cocked his head from side to side. Yet, somehow he knew that it would not speak again, and that it was within his mind; the same presence he had felt in his despair. Yet, he had no time to ponder it, he went on.
He came to the surface through a small opening blocked by a heavy wooden crate. He pushed at it, and with the help of the magic, he was able to move it aside. He found himself in the musty, dark cellar of another of the Creed's helpers. He moved cautiously to the rickety ladder that led up to the main house. The small hole at the top was covered by a thick plank of wood. Krele tapped the code for his name on the plank. He knew that if she did not come to let him in, she was either gone or there was danger above. Either way, he would have to turn and go back.

But, she did come, almost immediately. Krele watched as the wood plank was slowly moved away. The light of the candle she held in her hand momentarily blinded him. Then he saw her, and standing by her side was the child.

"Lord Kest?" She said, as he climbed up through the small opening. "Mercy, this is a miracle.”

Krele lowered his hood and turned his haunted gaze on her. She reached up and touched his face. "Lord Kest, the city is in chaos. You are being hunted as no other. I thought you were surely dead. The word is that the Creed has fallen."

Krele nodded. "Yes. Tell me what else you have heard."

"Odan is dead. He was forced to lead the soldiers to the cavern, then he was killed with all the others. Hared is dead." She paused and gripped his arm. "It is rumored that Laara was
taken to the church. Alive."

Krele gaped opened-mouthed at her as what she said seeped into him. She was still alive! Laara was alive!

"Tress, what is the time? I have lost all sense of it down in the tunnels."

"Mid-morning. It is said that Laara will be sacrificed at mid-day. You must make haste, Lord Kest."

"Yes, I must. And Tress, don't call me that, I am no lord and I renounce the name Kest. I am a magician of the Creed. Call me Krele, and nothing else."

"As you wish." Tress said with a dark smile, that same look of hero-worship in her eyes.

"I must go. I cannot allow Laara to die."

"Go with care." The child said. Krele looked at her sharply, remembering the voice he thought he had heard down in the tunnels.

Tress stared at him quizzically. "What is amiss?"

"Nothing." He said, shaking his head. "Cover this with all speed." He pointed to the opening in the floor.

"I will."

He left through the front door, cautiously peered around the corner of the house, and made sure no one was about. He pulled up his hood and blinked in the brilliant sunlight, his eyes tearing. Tress was right. The city was in complete chaos. Houses burned, people screamed, and church soldiers, like a plague of black locusts, swarmed everywhere. Yet, they failed to see the dark shadow weaving in and out of alleyways and around buildings, getting ever closer to the grounds of the church.

He entered as he always did, by the small tunnel under the low wall that surrounded the grounds and then through the hole that led into the rectory's cellar. This was where the real danger lay. He had to get past the rectory and into the cathedral without being seen. And it was almost mid-day.

He drew his sword as he climbed the old stairwell. Inching the door open ever so slightly, he peeked through the small crack. Seeing no one, he stepped slowly through the heavy door and closed it quietly behind him. He hugged the wall as he made his way through the unusually still hallways, his sword thrust out in front of him. They must already be in the cathedral, he thought to himself. It was becoming almost too simple, and, as if in answer, that faraway voice deep within his consciousness said once more. Go with care.

He paused at the closed door to his former cell. He couldn't very well just stroll across to the cathedral wearing what he was; he would be far too visible. So he decided that he needed to blend in with the other churchmen, hoping against hope, to echo Hared’s words, that his ecclesiastical drapings were still in there. Yet, his mind screamed warnings at him and he hesitated at the door. A cold dread crawled up his back, his hair seemed to abruptly stand on end. He took in a long deep breath, glanced nervously around, then reached out, his hand shaking, and grabbed hold of the latch. The clink it made as it released was deafening in the still hallway. He jumped involuntarily, and then berated himself silently. With his sword pointing forward, he stepped in.

It was empty, at least it appeared so. Everything was where he left it the night before, except that the body of Jeresh Raul had been removed. His drapings lay in a heap on the cot. He let out an explosive sigh and lowered his hood. He heard it then, the low, almost inaudible chuckle, laced with so much evil that it nearly froze Krele's blood.

He snapped his head around toward the closed door. Korbalsh Zeeks stood there, a sword in his hand and a feral gaze in his blazing eyes. "Well, well. If it isn't our young Lord Kest. Archprimate Sar Lok will be most pleased, for now there will be a double execution."

Krele stood up straight and leveled his sword at the High Priest's chest. "So, laying in wait for me like a jackal ready to rend its prey, aye Zeeks? You're nothing more than a puppy groveling along behind Sar Lok hoping for a small scrap of rotten meat to fall from his hand."

"Hold your tongue, Kest. Or I shall rip it from your throat and strangle you with it." Korbalsh Zeeks snarled.

"You must first get by this." Krele hissed back, waving his sword for emphasis.

"That poses no significant threat." Zeeks leered ferally. He reached back and opened the door. Five church soldiers rushed in then. With pikes in their hands, they surrounded Krele and pointed their weapons at him. "See?" Zeeks asked sardonically. "Drop the sword, Kest."

Krele's mind raced as it tried to find a way out of this impossible situation. Then a thought occurred to him. All he really wanted to do was get to the cathedral, save Laara, and bring down Sar Lok. Zeeks was going to take him exactly where he wanted to go. And he didn't need his sword for what needed to be done. Derisively, he let it slip from his hand, and it landed with a loud clang on the floor.

"You surprise me." Zeeks said then. "I'm disappointed. I was hoping I would be able to run you through."

"Forgive." Krele sneered in sardonic ire.

"Bring him." The High Priest barked to the soldiers.

As Krele walked in the middle of the flanking soldiers, he readied his mind for the confrontation ahead. He grew resolved and calm, thinking only of the magic and how he would use it to bring Sar Lok's church crashing down around him. The cathedral's bell began to clang, and Krele grinned inwardly. After this day it would be heard no more.

Krele was led down the sub corridors of the cathedral to enter the Main Assemblage by way of all who were condemned to the knife. Korbalsh Zeeks paused at the closed golden door and walked over to face Krele. "Prepare to die."

Krele glared at the High Priest. "We shall see who dies this day. Zeeks."

Zeeks cackled sinisterly and turned away. "Patrol Leader." He barked.

"Yes, My Lord Zeeks." The leader snapped back almost instantly.

"Bring Kest in when I call. Sar Lok does not yet know of this little surprise. In all likelihood, the Archprimate will want to plan something special."

"Understood, My Lord."

Zeeks looked one more time at Krele, then entered the Main Assemblage.

That is what Krele had been waiting for. Grabbing hold of his chest to feel the dagger still concealed within his cloak, he called to the magic. It answered by flooding him with painful power, and his knees almost buckled under him. Yet he maintained control, hoping the strain did not show on his face. When he felt he had gathered enough, he lifted his arm and pointed a finger at the leader.

"What the. . ." Before he could finish his sentence, the leader fell to the floor, gasping for breath. Krele then whirled around, his black cloak fanning out behind him, and in doing so, he released the magic. Soon all five of the soldiers were on the floor, unconscious. Krele then started down the sub corridor and entered a small hallway that ended with a low, narrow door. The door that was used by the gong master. He tested the latch and it gave way to his magical touch easily. He opened it slowly then crawled up behind the gong master who always remained out of the view of the Main Assemblage. The perfect hiding place. Krele thought. I can ring this gong with no one the wiser. He raised his hand and brought his fist down on the nape of the gong master's neck, who fell senseless to the floor.

The bell's last clang faded away just as Krele lifted the great golden mallet. He had no time to assess the Assemblage. Laboriously, he hefted the mallet and brought its balled end to the center of the monstrous gong. The deafening crash nearly floored him, and he grabbed at his ears. As the vibrating echoes drifted to silence, Krele waited for the chanting to begin. Yet, it did not.

Krele's mind rang in alarm.

"Very well done, my young Lord Kest." A hollow, all too familiar voice said softly. "Yet, I grow weary of this game, it is far too predictable."

Krele stood statue-like behind the gong, his mind searching for a way to escape.

"Come, Lord Kest. We are waiting for you." The voice said again.

"There is no other way, Krele." Jeresh! "We know you are up there, you can not escape."

Krele let the mallet drop heavily to the marble floor. Anger assailed him. Jeresh was alive! He was a betrayer of the Creed after all. Krele stepped out from behind the gong, completely prepared to charge the dais. Yet, he paused, the Assemblage was empty, save Zeeks, Jeresh, and Sar Lok. But that was not what caused him to halt. Krele's eyes fell on the table, and to his horror, he saw Laara strapped to its glowing, golden surface, trembling and naked. She stared up at him in terror. He took a step toward her.

"Touch her and she dies." Sar Lok made him pause. "A mere thought is all that is needed."

Krele's dark gaze glared down at the three on the dais. Zeeks leered at him, his smug expression showing how pleased he was by the outcome of this ruse. This trap. Sar Lok's red glare bore into Krele's very soul, as though the Archprimate could actually see what was there. Involuntarily, Krele shrank from that red gaze, and turned his eyes on Jeresh, whose own gaze was hard, devoid of all emotion.

"Now, who is a fool, Krele?" The old man asked.

"You betrayed me." Krele grated, his raspy voice even.

"Ah, no, my young magician." Sar Lok said then, as he rose slowly from the throne. His hollow voice crackled ominously.

"Lord Raul told me nothing. There was no need. You see, I have known of you since you were born. I knew who you were the moment I heard you bellow from your mother's womb as she lay strapped to that very table." He pointed a bony arm at Laara. "It was I who told your father to drip the blood of her heart into your mouth. You drank it eagerly, it quieted your cries. Your father was very proud. He knew what you would become. You would be like me."

"That's a lie!" Krele screamed in rage.

Sar Lok cackled evilly. "You do not even know what I am. But no matter, you will soon learn. I have been watching as your power grows. Watching and waiting. Do you truly believe that the Creed has been safe from me all this time? Bah! I have known of them for nearly a century. I have allowed them their petty dabbling, only destroying one or two of their members randomly, for they were destroying themselves well enough on their own. I allowed this while I waited for you. The dwarf caves are well known to me, for it was I who led the assault that ultimately led to their demise five centuries ago."

Krele’s mind whirled at what he was hearing. Five centuries ago! No one lives five hundred years! He's trying to confuse me, to make me lose my control. I am a threat to him.

"Yes. In some minor way, you are a threat to me." Sar Lok said then, with a sinister smile. "But it is not in the way you think. Your power is nothing compared to mine."

He read my mind! This is not happening. This isn't how it was supposed to be!

"Come, Krele Kest. Come down and stand before me. There is much to learn today."


"And the glory of the world becomes less than it was."<i>Edited by: FurlsFire at: 11/1/03 9:13 am

 Post subject: Re: The Creed-Part II
PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:40 am 
Lady Scryer
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Our lives are the songs that sing the universe into existence.~David Zindell

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