The Sleepers of the Marsh
Part Five – A Close Call
Fetid, marshy water filled the streets that Peregrine and Blade splashed there way through. Swirls of reeds and algae curled across the surface of the murky water. When the marsh had overtaken the city, many of the buildings had subsided into the ground. They had not done so evenly and so the whole of it had an uneven appearance, with buildings rising up out of the water at odd angles. Statues stood here and there through the city, overgrown with vines and weeds that crawled up over them. Through the misty air that curled through the streets, shadows loomed up around them, growing sharper into relief as they neared them, of buildings that became more distinct in form.
They pushed on deeper into the abandoned city until ahead of them a stark building began to emerge from out of the mists, a tower that rose up over all else, imposing in stature. It had been constructed out of black stone that drank it what dim light there was that filtered in through the shrouded sky.
No words were exchanged between the two as they headed on towards the tower, drawn to the heart of the city. At some level thy felt as if the answers they sought would be found there, or at least treasure, which was what they had first come to the city for, either one or the other being acceptable to them.
The water grew deeper the closer they came to the black tower and they began to feel things brushing against their legs beneath the surface as they waded through it, of unseen objects that curled and caressed them. Peregrine growled at the touch and slashed through the water with her sword, seeking to drive them off, to little effect.
When they at last reached the base of the tower, they looked up, to the heights that were lost among the mists. The silence of the region was broken by a low moaning, as if a wind was whistling through the ruins. The low groan of rocks creaking as they shifted accompanied it.
They could make out a single door at the base of the tower, one mostly sunk into the waters so that little more than their heads would remain above the surface if they attempted to enter by it. Peregrine was first to move towards it, sinking deeper into the waters as she did. Nearing the entryway, she felt something curl about her waist, a dark shadow snaking beneath the water near her. Latching on, it hauled at her, seeking to drag her under, into its embrace. With gritted teeth, she braced her legs and fought against the pull. Veins stood out along her neck, throbbing, while her face went red with the exertion of the effort. Even as sought to retain her footing, she slashed through the water with her sword, trying to cut herself free, to little avail, for the resistance of the water to her blade nullified her attacks.
Blade splashed his way through the water to reach her, moving as quick as he could. A whistled tune spilt forth from his lips as he did, one that sounded like the forceful call of a trumpet in full cry. He slapped his hand down upon the water beside Peregrine and as he did the water pulsed outwards and subsided so that it rose up in a bowl around them, higher than their heads, leaving them in a mostly drained hollow. Emerging from the dark waters, they could now see long reeds through which pulsing veins ran, leading back to a dark and shadowed mass sill lurking in the waters beyond them. The reeds had wrapped themselves around Peregrine’s waist and legs, squeezing tight.
Blade stabbed down with his rapier, the weapon sliding easily into the water compared to the hacking blows that Peregrine had attempted. It bit deep into the dark mass and the reeds twitched in response, loosening in their grasp upon Peregrine. The sword-maiden let out a low growl as she hacked away at the now exposed reeds, cleaving them in twain with her forceful blows. Those that did not succumb to the blows released their grasp and fell back into the waters as the dark mass slunk away into the depths of the marsh.
“That was a close one,” was all that Peregrine said as she entered through the doorway, heading into the tower.
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