The Journey Through Eternity: The Maiden of Anguish is a fan fiction piece by rodge, originally posted in the Diii.net Fan Fiction Forum. This story was started on December 1st 2010.
Chapter 1: The Fall
The Monastery is quiet.
Candles and torches were all lit, giving off a sense of safety and warmth. Most of the place is shrouded in darkness, with only the aisle and the altar graced with the light, and they only make up less than a fourth of the cathedral.
Almost desolated, but comforting. This is a holy place, where most people would say their prayers – prayers that hope and wish, almost like a last resort where you just want impossible things to happen. Of course, I am sure not everything they pray for are impossible things, just most of them.
I sat in the front row. How do you pray to this… god? I was too young to be taught by someone, and never had the time to be taught anyway since things just have to happen. I observed the altar, with this clothed table with intricate, majestic, golden designs. They glimmered in the torchlight. It is well kept.
I let my mind wander every once in a while to free me from all the things in the world. I just want to live somewhere different where, there is none of these things happening. I am not ignorant; I know what I was thinking, I know all the answers to those questions I asked myself. I just want to forget. Ironically, I want to be ignorant. I want to die without knowing things, because that would give me worries and I'll die with mixed feelings or some other sort.
What am I thinking about?
I just pray that nothing bad would happen. I have sensed… no, I think something is going to happen today, or maybe tomorrow, and I think it is horrible – my heart feels heavy thinking about it. I don't know what, but something… something is going to happen.
Why now? Why not show me now?
I can't think. I can't think for some reason. My head hurts.
I took a deep breath.
There are rogues in the cathedral. They sat in different places, some alone, some with another. Some actually prayed, kneeling down. I wonder what they're thinking.
I might as well mind my own business.
I heard the cathedral door open, and I turned to look at it. Light came pouring through from the outside, and it was almost too bright. In the middle was a shadow of a woman. She pushed the doors with both of her hands like the weight was nothing.
As soon as my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw her. Her long red hair, locks at the sides of her face, and her pale but flawless complexion. Her intimidating, green eyes almost frightened me, but I know her intentions are not so.
I heard sudden shuffles. The rogues were alerted, straightening their backs at this sight. To them, she is not to be trifled with as it would come with horrifying consequences. She's their commander. She's their captain.
She's my older sister, Kashya.
The moment she moved her head in search, I knew who she was looking for. She walked towards the altar slowly, scanning each row of seats left and right. The rogues she passed by bowed their heads in respect.
Her eyes caught mine eventually, and she stopped at the edge of my row.
"Leashya," she called with a minimized voice. She meant to talk only to me and doesn't want to have others hear. She actually gave a glance towards the rogues behind her, and the rogues shifted to their own doings.
I looked up at her innocently. "What is it?"
"What are you doing here?" she asked, shaking her head, as if I just did something stupid.
"Uh, praying?" I answered, as if it's not obvious enough. I'm in a Cathedral.
She scoffed. "You believe in those?" Her smile faded and frowned. "I don't."
"Why?" I asked, almost challenging. However, I want to know her reason. Call me curious.
"Leashya," she said, turning away from me. "This world is full of filthy myths. It would be a waste of time to believe in them – nothing happens."
Her voice was becoming desperate. She is breathing heavily, like there's something bad in her that's about to come out. It's like she wants me to know but she doesn't. She's pouring part of herself all of the sudden, something rare to see from someone strong like her.
"I believe," she continued, still in a minimized voice, "that all of this we see, isn't real. They're illusions. We don't even 'exist.'
"I…" she said, gritting her teeth, "believe that we are merely instruments of hatred, despair, and all that is evil."
She closed her eyes bitterly.
I was bewildered by her actions. I don't know what to think. But I understand. I slowly looked down.
She straightened herself up and looked up ahead. "I know what you are thinking," she said. "But believe in what you believe Leashya. I believe in what I believe into. I suggest you'd respect that, and we'll be fine…
"And ah, yes. Akara called for you."
She turned and walked for the door. She was gone in no time.
Time. It passes by so quickly, and for just a little of it gone by, everything you see could change. That's what happened to me just now, as many would figure.
I might as well get on to my own business.
I am troubled. I completely disagree with all Kashya's points, but it's like she said: she believes in what she believes into, and I should believe in mine. I will respect her opinions, but I want to change that.
After doing Akara's little errand, I walked through the hall where rooms for people living here reside. It was almost quiet, except for my footsteps echoing through it, and that makes me quite uncomfortable thinking I might wake someone up.
It wasn't all dark. Large, beautifully designed stained windows filled the walls at my right, faintly glowing from the moonlight. The edges of each still have branching veins of ice; it is cold outside. Then my assumption is made true, when I saw tiny shadows of falling snow from outside.
I never fail to notice unoccupied rooms. Even when I stare at the windows wondering what their designs mean, the luring darkness makes my head turn. It is unsettling. I don't know. I am not afraid of the dark, but Nothing makes me shudder.
Just as when I thought my clicking footsteps were the only noise I could hear, a soothing voice echoed across the empty hall. I stopped completely for a while, wondering if it was just me, but it was real and it continued. The voice made me curious. I walked slowly to minimize the noise I am making, and listened.
"And even though
My strength's been gone,
I know I'll never stop
'Cause I will look for you
Wherever you might be
So I'll never be alone…"
I know that song. It is a lullaby that Kashya sang to me when we were little, because I had difficulty sleeping at the time. Nightmares used to haunt me, or at least I thought they were.
I followed the voice. It led me to the right place at the right time, to a room I know. I looked up at it and wondered whether I should go in or not. I decided.
I opened the door slowly. I heard a surprised gasp.
Kashya, alert, was sitting on her bed with layers of blankets covering her waist down. She held a piece of it close to her heart – a vulnerable gesture. The most unusual thing though…
She was almost… scared. She looked like an innocent girl with nothing else to do with the danger in front of her – nowhere to run to. And there were tears from her eyes, dampening her cheeks. It's not like her.
Realizing it's just me, her expression changed and she looked away. She somehow returned to her usual self, however there was still a bit of sensitivity. She looks more like she's ashamed than prideful though. She made a quick, slight nod, allowing my entrance.
I walked closer and then I sat beside her.
I did not wonder why she's crying - I understood.
I gave her a pat on the back of her shoulder. She made an honest flinch, but didn't swat my hand away. She turned her head a bit, so she could see a part of me, and closed her eyes. Her expression became bitter, and her head fell onto my shoulders.
"Why?" She asked. "Why?"
I didn't immediately answer. I gave her all the comfort that I could.
"You're lucky Kashya," I told her. "You even got a chance to meet her."
I can feel… Is it the wind?
My legs… tense. Am I moving them?
The unlit hall where I once was, parts visible by the night's sky light… I'm running – hurriedly. I'm not fleeing, but it's somewhat urgent.
Why am I running?
I passed by Kashya's room. I stopped. I heard myself gasp for air. I walked quickly back at the room's door, and then I forcibly tried to open it.
I knocked. Really hard.
But there was no response. I knocked again, but there was still no response.
I faced the hall, and I ran once again. Rooms zoomed past, and finally – I can't possibly miss it – my room. I ran towards it with great speed, as if I were to ram it.
I tried the knob. I opened it, but…
I saw myself sleeping. How is this possible?
I walked across the room, seeing myself squirming as if having a nightmare. When I got up close, I saw hands reaching out to my head…
"NO!" I screamed. I rose from my bed, and found a rogue who yelped in surprise.
"S-sergeant!" The rogue was gasping for air. "I… uh…."
I stared at her. Now I get it.
"Is there something wrong?" I asked her nicely, even after the thought of her killing me.
I quickly dressed myself up, and picked up my equipment. I put on a thick cape made of animal fur as I went out of my room.
"A giant hoofed-maiden?" I asked her, out of disbelief. The rogue told me there was an incoming attack, and then this 'giant hoofed-maiden' escaped her lips. "Are you sure you didn't take something… bad?"
"No, Sergeant!" She panicked, not wanting me to think it. "Four of us were up there on patrol, and we couldn't believe our eyes at first, too!"
I'd like not to believe her, but there are wilder things in this forsaken world than what she just described. Other than that, strange things have been happening lately. As Akara sent me away after doing an errand, someone arrived at her room with a wounded rogue. They said they were from Tristram, but I never got a chance to ask more.
"Did you tell Kashya about this?"
"Uh… No, Sergeant. Her room was locked," she said, worrying. "Maybe she's in there but, I tried my best to get to her."
I sighed. I knew that she would say that, but I also hoped she wouldn't.
So in my dreams, I was her. That rarely happens but, they have meanings. This was meant to be.
We went to Kashya's room. I knocked. Ugh, déjà vu.
"Kashya?" I called. Still no answer.
I reached for my pouch. I got my keys from it, and tried it on the door's lock.
The door opened to a dark room. Part of me thought this wasn't Kashya's room at all, but it is – and she is not inside.
Where in the hells is she?
A loud sound rang into our ears, making us jump. The monastery bell is ringing. Something's awfully wrong.
At times like this, we are supposed to assemble at the gate. The rogue scout and I walked in haste towards the gate, and as we went we saw the other rogues.
The once quiet and empty halls filled up quickly with rogues lining up, all going to the same destination. I really don't mind the order of things, but when the rogues notice they're blocking my way they quickly stand aside. I'd rather say "It's alright, just go on…" but this time, I think it is best to take advantage. I need to see my sister right away.
We finally arrived at the gate. The scout followed me, which is what I want, since I needed to complain to Kashya about something.
Two groups of rogues stand behind four javelin-wielding Amazons. In the middle of the two rogue groups are the horse-riding figures. I know them three.
On the left (from where I'm standing from) was Blood Raven, one of the three heroes that ventured down under Tristram. She rode a white, black-maned mare and had her rare, gold-lined, hunter's bow, readied.
To the right of her, the center of the trio, was Kashya. She also has her long bow ready, and she is also riding the strongest horse, a brown stallion.
The last and the right most was Akara. She has nothing readied at all, except maybe from falling off her ride – which is another brown horse.
That wasn't meant to be some kind of joke.
After seeing them three together, I ran towards Blood Raven's side, and looked up at her. She acknowledged my arrival, and smiled at me. Her pale complexion and her long dark hair framing her face couldn't be anything but intimidating, but her smile radiated warmth. I smiled back.
"Good, you're here."
That was Kashya. I stepped forward so I can see her, and from there complained.
"Why didn't you respond to this rogue? She's been trying to report to you."
She didn't even look at me. "I didn't hear anything."
"Then how did you get here?"
I tilted my head a little so I can see Akara. Like Kashya, she's focusing on the gate as if something really important is going to bust in at any time.
I thought too soon.
All of us inside gasped in surprise. I heard the rogue behind me gasp as well, and I glanced at her. "Get to position," I told her. She did as told.
The gate was once again rammed, but not by a ram. I thought I was seeing things, but there something like a giant hoof that appeared briefly as the door was being rammed.
Panic spread amongst the rogues, and fired their arrows out of – well, panic. The Amazons stood still but are clearly alert.
A dark, feminine growl was heard. It's just like the rogue scout said: a giant hoofed maiden.
"HOLD YOUR FIRE!" Kashya commanded. The rogues tried to compose themselves. It's easier said than done.
I observed the gate. Strange green sparks begin to cloud the opening beneath it, and it is slowly spreading in our space. One of the rogues wondered what it is. She was suspicious but when she thought it is something lethal (I knew it maybe around the same time?) she was too late.
She inhaled a miniscule amount, and then in agony screamed as if she can't breathe anymore.
I was alerted. I want to ease her from her pains, but there is nothing I can do at all. If I go there, I may share the same fate – I don't really want that.
I heard Akara gasp at this sight and I turned to see her. I may not see what's behind her veil's shadow, but I guess she's somewhat disturbed or mad. She raised her hands and canted words. The poisoned rogue was relieved of her misery, but she remained limped.
Some of the rogues started to help out, and I ran towards the poisoned rogue. I checked to see if she's fine but later discovered she's unconscious. I told the helpers to get her out and attend to her at the cloister.
I looked up at the gate. It's so big. Her hoof appeared around the middle. Is she really that big?
I was expecting another blow, but a minute has passed and nothing happened.
The Amazons were unaffected by the poison. They have enchanted gear that protects them from all sorts of elemental magic. How do I know? Well, they're my friends.
"You think it's over?" I asked Laerie, an Amazon with bronze hair cut short.
"I don't think so, Leah," she replied. "A lot of us here think there's still someone out there, and they're just preparing for a huge attack."
I nodded bitterly. She gave me a grin, telling me we'll all be fine, but I really don't think so. I don't have a lot of confidence.
The Amazons are heavily armored compared to the rogues. They have golden plates that protect their shoulders and a number chose large golden shields to use for blocking, while some used long gothic shields and one used a round wooden shield fortified with metal, and lined with gigantic spikes. That Amazon liked hitting things with anything anyway.
The rogues however, only have leather covering them, and not on their entire body so they can move. They don't have as much strength as the Amazons, I understand, but they're also far more agile than the Amazons – but again, they're limited to just using bows.
I started to walk back towards where Kashya and the others are, and on the way I found Charsi, our blacksmith, providing everyone their needs. She said hi to me while I passed her, and I returned a hello. "Get out of here when anything happens okay? And quick," I told her.
"Yeah, yeah, I will," she replied.
Charsi dropped a quiver of arrows. We looked at each other.
"NOW CHARSI!" I yelled.
She bolted towards the smaller-yet-still-big door that leads to the cloister. She closed it immediately, so anyone in there won't be harmed during the attack.
The monastery gate opened, and a rush of cold wind washed us our dwindling confidence. Then we realized the same green sparks are now spread all over the place, enveloping our hearts with primal panic.
Akara raised her hands once more, canting another set of words. This time her hand echoed as if there is a choir of her, saying the same words at the same time.
"Heziha encantum bluensa!"
The green sparks disappeared in a ripple. The whole place is cleansed.
The sparks were hiding someone from view though. She's now exposed in all her horrifying... glory.
A colossal woman stood tall, with hooves instead of feet, her red hands tipped with crooked claws, and four monstrous appendages out from her spine. Her long red hair rose up to the sky limited by their roots stuck to her head. She was beautiful, but her eyes are black, and her smile's aligned with jagged teeth. Her skin is flawless, and seemingly perfect, and her body is curvy. She's perfect. She lures you.
Andariel, the Maiden of Anguish, has come to kill us.
Kashya and I gasped at the sight. Blood Raven stared without ignorance, and readied herself. Akara did nothing at all, but was unaffected by Andariel's presence.
"At first strike, you two get out of this place," Akara quickly told me and Kashya. We nodded in agreement.
"ON MY MARK," Kashya commanded the rogues. The rogues readied their bows with arrows enchanted with elements they choose.
The rogues fired at Andariel, who just begun to grab some of the rogues. As she picked up a screaming rogue from the ground, an arrow coated in flames hit her, and she wailed. She dropped the rogue.
The rogue fell and broke her knee. Her friends helped her.
The Amazons are already attacking Andariel with javelins, but my newfound knowledge might be able to help them.
"Laerie, all of you come here!" I called.
While we were preparing, goat-looking demons joined the fray, hitting rogues with their pole arms. Agile as they are, many of the rogues didn't escape without getting hit by the goats, but luckily we didn't suffer any casualties.
I asked Akara to help us out. Few of the rogues who saw us volunteered to join what we are about to do, since they think it is fun – and of course important.
"JAVELINS," I commanded.
Everyone who wielded a javelin coated the tips of their javelins with pitch. They lined up the tips accordingly, and Akara conjured a fire bolt in a line to set them on fire.
"Wait!" A rogue raised her javelin too late. "Damn it."
"It's alright," I told her. "AIM, then THROW!"
At my command, the Amazons and the rogues threw their javelins to Andariel. Upon impact, Andariel screamed in horror, as she swatted some away from her precious, flawless skin.
After the throw, the Amazons charged at Andariel with their normal javelins, while the rogues resumed their roles and fired volleys of fire arrows.
This is great, I thought. We'd defeat her in no time.
Once again, I thought too soon.
Andariel stomped with her right hoof, and the pavement broke with its raw power. The cracks glowed red, and then suddenly spout whips of fire. Each spout is larger than the last, and it occurred to me that this is turning out to be something – well, not so good.
"RETREAT!" Kashya commanded.
The rogues panicked on this command; their leader telling them to retreat does not bode well after all. Some ran behind Kashya, and some actually fled to the wilderness.
And for the first time since the attack, I saw some of the rogues dead, lying on the ground. Some died of blood loss from getting their limbs cut. I didn't see anyone decapitated – that would've been disturbing. A number of goat demons were down on the ground, too, a lot of them with bodies covered in arrows, and some were stabbed at the heart with javelins, probably the work of the Amazons.
My mind went blank with these deaths. I saw many deaths before, but this – I don't know. It isn't new, but it feels different when you know you are responsible. Many of them are familiar faces, people I've been living with for only few months. Time doesn't even matter at all.
"Sergeant," a crying rogue came running to me. The scout. I don't have to ask why she's crying. Probably one of her friends died. I was sorry.
"Leashya," Kashya, on her horse, said as she came near me. "Get Charsi."
She saw the scout I was referring to her not so long ago, and her expression went soft. I gave the scout a pat on her shoulder, and ran towards the barracks.
I arrived at the smithing place. I found Charsi sitting down, and when she noticed me, she stood up.
"Is it over?" she asked.
"We have to go," I told her.
Charsi packed up her things, taking only what she needed. She told me she's ready as soon as she was done.
The ground shook.
"Let's go," I said.
We walked as fast as we can, so that Charsi can catch up with all the heavy things she's carrying. Later on I offered help, and she lent me almost half of it. It is very heavy.
We walked faster than before, since now we shared a burden. We were almost at the door.
"Wait," Charsi said.
"Hmmm?" I faced her, worried.
"I forgot something," Charsi told me. She dropped her things and started to run back to the smithing place.
"No. NO!" I yelled and leaped as far as I can so I can grab her by the hand. "It's too late Charsi!"
"What's wrong with you Leashya?" she said, struggling. "Let me go!"
"Leashya!" a voice echoed.
"No! We'll lose you!" I told Charsi, also struggling.
Blood Raven appeared behind me. "What's going on?" she asked. "HURRY UP!"
"But… the… Malus!" Charsi continued to struggle.
I turned to look at Blood Raven. "A little… help… here?"
Blood Raven went to Charsi's side. "Charsi let's go. The Malus can wait."
She grabbed Charsi's other hand and both of us hauled her together.
"Nooooooo…" Charsi complained. "Please!"
The ground shook again. A decently sized piece of the ceiling fell onto Charsi's head. She became limp and was knocked unconscious.
"Hmm… That was convenient," Blood Raven commented.
I started to gather Charsi's things and shoved them into my handy shoulder pouch. I knew its bottomless enchantment would be handy someday.
After I finished cleaning up Charsi's things, I stood up. Blood Raven already had Charsi on her back. "Let me help you," I offered.
We moved fast, but not very fast. Charsi is another burden to carry – a worthy burden to carry that kept us from going faster.
"What happened outside?" I asked Blood Raven.
"Kashya and the others are already gone," she said. "They had to."
"Kashya told me to check on both of you," she said. "Andariel is already inside the Barracks, and remember the fissure she summoned?"
"Yeah," I answered.
The ground hummed and vibrated. Blood Raven looked ahead, and the shadows ahead vanished and replaced by the bright, hot, orange light.
"Let's run," she told me.
"Yes. That's a wonderful idea."
We started dashing the opposite way, and we went fast despite Charsi's weight. The thing, or whatever, knows where we are, and chased us no matter how hard we try to get it lost.
"Leah, we should focus on getting out of here!" Blood Raven said. "Know the passage ways around here?"
I realized Blood Raven doesn't hang out here in the Barracks as much as I do.
"Yeah," I answered. "This way."
We turned to right, and ahead of us stretched a long hall. We went on and on, and the orange light finally arrived.
I turned my head to look at it.
It is a very large serpent made of flames. It almost filled the hall, and there is just no way it could turn back.
I turned my head back and focused on my way. You don't want to mess with that snake. Let it pass and you're toast - literally.
I looked around for the room I want to go in. It's already near, but if we go in the snake would just break through it. I looked up. There were stiff metal poles that bear red flags and there was one by every room. The ceiling is too far above.
The poles are big enough. The ceiling's far enough.
"Blood Raven," I called. "Help me toss Charsi up to the ceiling."
"What?" she questioningly exclaimed. "Are you out of your mind?"
I pointed at the poles. When she looked at them, she smiled.
She gave me Charsi's other arm, and got her legs. When we ran parallel to each other, we started swinging Charsi.
"Ready?" I asked. "On three: one, two, THREE!"
We tossed the limp body towards the ceiling. When we were done, we quickly looked for the nearest pole and jumped to grab it.
We spun around the pole, and when we reached the top, we position our legs so that we would be squatting on it.
The snake, not expecting this move, just ran through below us, and hissed loudly in frustration.
Charsi's body just started a fall, and on this I leapt from the pole and caught her. I turned so that Charsi is on top of me, and I would fall on my back.
Blood Raven dropped from her pole. She helped me up.
"For a second there, I thought Charsi's done for good." She said.
We got to the gate. It is now empty, except for some rogues who died. It made me uneasy. Blood Raven's horse stood nearby, and looked at our direction.
"Let's hurry," Blood Raven told me. "That serpent is still coming this way."
I got on her horse, and Blood Raven helped me position Charsi so she won't fall during the ride. I was well, until Blood Raven turned her back.
"Wait, where are you going?"
"Leah, you should go," she said. "It's not safe here. That serpent will be coming at us at any moment!"
The ground started to shake again.
"Leashya, don't worry. I can handle this thing," she told me.
"No, I won't leave you here," I told her. "I'll help you."
She turned to face me with a comforted smile, as if she doubted her strength all along. She quickly changed her expression, however.
"No, Leashya," she said softly, but seriously.
She walked towards the horse and got out a big bag from the saddle. "Give this to Kashya, will you?"
She gave it to me and then stroked the horse. I looked at the bag. "What is this?" I asked.
"It's something," she said. "Don't look inside; I don't want any of you to know what it is until she opens it."
"Oh," I sighed. "Don't worry I won't."
I looked at her to see how she's doing, and I saw a smile.
Then she slapped the horse.
The horse, surprised, ran towards the gate – carrying me and Charsi, and leaving her behind.
"Blood Raven," I called, now trying to hold onto the horse.
"Don't worry Leashya," she yelled. "I'll come back, I promise!"
The distance between us increased. The gate became smaller and smaller.
And she was gone.