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   Chapter 36 No.36

An Enchanting Tale By AaronDennis Characters: 18167

Updated: 2018-01-10 12:02


"More endless walking…and more, more, endlesser walking, " Zolara remarked.

"Stop complaining, " Brelyna fired back.

Zolara gave a shrug of exasperation. Several minutes of traversing the dwemer corridor revealed nothing aside from smooth walls and green flames lining the ceiling. Several twists and turns persisted for a great while. Tired from travel, the group broke once more.

"Goodness, but the argonian was right, " Aicantar heaved.

"Aye. My old bones are beginning to creak, " Falion complained as he unfurled his bedroll.

"Where do you think this will lead, " S'maath asked.

"Hopefully, the center of Tamriel, " S'maash answered.

"But what do we do then, " Zolara pried.

"I don't know…I'm sure we'll figure it out. Look how far we've come. We may very well be the only people to have traveled here in thousands of years. I see no remains, and only that dwarven spider did we come across, " S'maash replied.

"I didn't expect this journey to be so…devoid of adversity, " S'maath said with a wince. Brelyna looked at him with an accusatory raising of the brow. "Oh, but I'm very glad to have joined you all, " he then added.

S'maash smirked. After eating, laughing, and a few swigs of nord mead, they pressed on. Hours went by when a heat crept into the corridor, heat and the smell of molten stone.

"We are coming close to something. The air is different here, " Zolara said.

It was only a short while before the corridor spat them into a cave of sorts. The greatest point of interest was a magnificent, dwemer, puzzle box a hundred or so paces away. Like the door, it too, had the odd circles and bluish baubles. A path of stone, like obsidian, lay before the crew; a step down onto the natural stone gave them a new perspective.

Lava bubbled around them. They had adequate room to navigate without danger, but the cave was very hot. Several, other corridors either led to or from the cavern, but to sights unseen.

"I would wager, there are many paths here leading to other cities, " Falion said.

"Excellent. Whatever it is we must do should be indicated by what is in that puzzle box, " S'maash said.

They eagerly walked towards it. None of them had bothered to look at the ceiling, where rows of shiny, blue, colored statues were fastened in an upsidedown, squatting position. Surreptitiously, The Men of Aetherius—guardians of the Centers of the Worlds—eyed the intruders. Upon coming close to the puzzle box, one of them snapped to life. It dropped down between S'maash and the box; on one knee and one fist, the Man of Aetherius smashed into the stone floor.

The crew halted, wide eyed. The athletically designed golem raised its smooth, round head, which was fashioned to look like a full helmet. Instead of eyes, it had only a menacing slit, from which darkness exuded. With subtle gasps of awe and wonder, the group looked at the machine come to a full stand. Its body was made to look like elven armor, only very smooth and more round in its shoulders, hips, and thighs. The Man of Aetherius drew two, aetherial, short swords and charged like a flash of lightning at the group.

"By the Nine!" Zolara managed to say as he dove to the side.

He had been close to S'maash, and the machine bore down on the dark elf. While the group started the rituals of summoning atronachs and such, S'maash planted his feet in anticipation, and grasped his sword in both hands.

The opponent deftly stopped just feet from S'maash and vaulted itself up and forwards while moving its head backwards. The jump placed it in an upsidedown, vertical position directly over S'maash. Before the elf reacted to the maneuver, the machine was falling towards him with both swords aimed directly down. S'maash's mouth drooped a little. A potent blow from his rear caused him to stumble forwards and the Man of Aetherius missed. Quickly, it recovered its swords as S'maath laid into its back.

"I'll crush you like a bug, " he yelled.

The overhead slash had little effect; chaos ensued as atronachs and seven more Men of Aetherius joined the fray. All of the machines carried different weapons. Some had hammers or axes, others held swords and shield, and all of them were fast as lightning.

Magicka of all kinds swirled and blew about; fire balls exploded, sparks from chain lightning zipped and crackled, misty frost covered the ground. The clash of blades pounded against the cave walls.

"Brelyna, take the center and keep us healed, " S'maash called out.

He clashed blades with a machine holding a war axe. The creature spun away to its left then butted S'maash with the haft of its weapon, shuffled forwards, and with a squaring of the hips, it raised the blunt end of the axe head into S'maash's chin.

"I'm trying, " Brelyna called back.

With a quick recovery, the wizard grabbed the shoulder plate with his left hand and smashed his pommel repeatedly into the helmet of his opponent. "Zolara, take to sneaking and fire from your bound bow, " he ordered between strikes.

"Dealing with my own trouble, here, " he replied.

Zolara ran behind the puzzle box, crouched then deftly hopped on top of it. The creature chasing him had not noticed the flattened lizard on top of the box. Once no longer detected, Zolara followed his orders.

From his vantage point, he was able to let loose numerous, bound arrows into the backs of the Men of Aetherius. He was also privy to watchi

, the golem got away from him.

It ran with more speed than he thought possible, and with a shard of malachite in its hip, to boot. When it reached the mages, it threw several fists. One struck Zolara square, and he bounced off the puzzle box. Many more strikes about the ground caused shards of obsidian to pelt the area. A few hammer fists came down squarely on the atronachs, and they popped or sizzled in defeat.

Recovered, Zolara capitalized on the situation and hid behind the puzzle box until all eyes were off him. S'maath jumped high and plunged the other sword into the other hip, thus knocking the creation to the ground. The golem tried to stand, but wasn't able to maneuver. It rolled over forwards instead. S'maath wore a big grin.

"Yes, " Brelyna cheered.

S'maash summoned two, bound swords and went in for an attack, but a sixth gong rang, and he was momentarily waylaid. The golem used that time to draw the swords from its joints. It tried to crush the blades, but failed. It dropped them instead then stood once more, which gave the brothers an opportunity; they caught each other's glance and scooped up their respective weapons. The mages, with depleted magicka, did little more than rest or drink potions, and Zolara was back to firing arrows while sneaking.

"S'maash, can we, " S'maath had started.

A blue fist came down towards him, and as it did, he used his blade to block and hopped off the ground, so the attack pushed him rather than crushed. The resulting blow left him on his seat, but unharmed. S'maash charged in from the side and plunged his blade into the knee joint when a sudden jolt ran through his body; he had been slapped by the golem and pinned to the side of the leg. Brelyna rushed over to heal.

A seventh gong rang. S'maash stood his ground. He held his blade in his right hand and let the tip rest on the ground. With his left he casted ebony flesh, and the glow covered his body. He then let loose a great, many, ice storms. Finally, the golem turned to him. It ran to overtake him, but he rolled onto his right shoulder then spun right and carried his blade across his body. It crashed with a solid impact upon the enemy's leg.

Magicka and arrows continued flying all about the swealtering cave, but S'maash was the only one in the thick of battle. The eight of dwemer tried desperately to crush him underfoot or pick him up. Something had changed and its attacks no longer appeared timely or planned. It was simply trying to kill. S'maath noticed as well and saw the opportunity; he took off at a full run, past the healers.

"Wait, " Brelyna howled in mid heal.

The golem knelt to grab S'maash, who sliced at the open hand. It then crawled, trying to snatch again. S'maath ran in from the side. His brother saw the ploy, so he baited the golem, providing him not only the chance to arrive, but also to secure his blade; since the creature was on hands and knees, it was easy.

S'maath drew the sword from blue steel, but the goliath jolted from the surprise maneuver. It then attempted to turn around when S'maash relentlessly hopped onto its wrist, and from there, he hopped again to drive his blade into its chest.

As his enchanted blade slid in, S'maath ran up to the hip joint, climbed with one hand and pushed off with his toes. At the same time, the aetherium menace came up to a kneeling position and tried to remove S'maash's sword. In reply, S'maath grabbed a hold of its waist then climbed the protruding bound arrows all the way to the beast's shoulder. With sword overhead, it was finally time for the deathblow. The eighth gong rang.

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