Lucidity: Morpheus' Dream

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


For the sake of Traumwelt, John has traveled. And to Gemut, he finally arrived. Nachtmahr hides behind a few extra challenges and a large tower...one much larger than any previous. Can John reach
him and end his torment of the Dreamworld? We shall see. Scorpions, draugr, and an uneasy feeling stand in John's way. What will he do?



Note: Due to the size of this final chapter, I'm having to split it into three smaller segments for Booksie to allow for an easier and better experience. This is the first portion. The other two
will follow a week after each other respectively to give readers time to assimilate the information.

Chapter 25 (v.1) - A New Arm; Immense Power

Submitted: June 10, 2019

Reads: 12

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Submitted: June 10, 2019

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Chapter 25

 

Nachtmahr's Good Night

 

John blew forth from the tunnel at breakneck speed. Sand and debris broke from the ground, following in his wake as he moved over the shifting surface of the planet. He was glad to be out of that stifling environment of underground roadways but hated the pelting resistance of the sand that flew into his skin. Nachtmahr's tower stood straight ahead. Its looming heights shadowed the surface he, now, ran across. This tower seemed more prominent than the others, he noted. Two extra spires erupted off the sides of its massive cylinder. The left side higher than the other in a precarious balancing act that seemed more a defiance of gravity than actual structural will.

Damn, was he building a tower or a castle? John wondered, looking at the sprawling expanse of the tower's base.

It didn't matter though. The tower's base was as the others had been—conic but much larger. It spread out from the center cylinder in a massive slope that extended a third up the tower's full length. Large bone-like horns lined the surface of the cone's flared shape, starting huge at the bottom and progressing smaller in size as they rose up the sides of the building. They glowed with the same hue as Nachtmahr's signature purplish hellfire. It arced intermittently between them like it was powering up to destroy a planet some distance from here. The whole place hummed with energy.

John felt the vibration of the air as he stepped toward it, slowing his progress to stare at the architecture. He made sure to keep his guard up. With this level of power floating around, one surge blasted his way could mean game over. And John wasn't sure if he had brought any extra lives with him this time. He could only hope he'd ascended enough to take down the boss of this level.

John pictured himself eating a mushroom and growing larger. He chuckled to himself. Then, a better image came to mind, him standing in front of the tower bearing an energy whip, ready to take on Count Nachtmahr. He almost broke into complete laughter thinking about it but composed himself instantly as to not lose his focus. Steady in thought and ready to move, he took a step to go toward the tower and his step became a tumble. His feet scrambled for a few steps as they adjusted to a sudden shove from behind. HIs ears perked up to the sounds emitting from his  previous spot. 

A crackling fire of energy sputtered and raged behind him. The commotion seemed to indicate a large being but he wasn't sure how large. Then, he turned to face the thing that had hit him. The black ominous creature shook a large claw near him as he whirled around. At first, John only saw the towering tail that loomed up behind the massive beast. A glint of light near its end caught John's eye immediately. He stepped back to regain his composure. Sunlight twinkled, sparkling off the dripping venom that oozed out the beast's stinger atop its segmented tail. John glanced down, taking in the entirety of the creature that shuddered with predatory intent. A scorpion. A massive scorpion with one claw much larger than the other.

Wary of the tail and its deadliness, John stood amazed for a moment at the size of the monster. It had risen from the sand surrounding the tower, attacking anything within its reach for sustenance. John just happened to be on the menu today. He didn't like the notion of being food and immediately readied himself.

The eight-legged, all-black arachnid scuttled back and forth a second, prepping its aim. John had seen enough of large threatening beings up to this point. Tired of all the holdups, he flicked his finger at the deadly monster, releasing an energy pellet right at the giant arachnid's tail.

Bursting gooeyness and shell ruptured, fracturing and splintering into a splatter of carcass that flew in every direction. The tail separated from the scorpion's body in a violent explosion that even John hadn't expected and he smiled devilishly, sending another volley of pellets into the large body of the creature. The viscera from its insides spewed out, flowing along the ground and amassing in a puddle of bright blue blood and innards. Oddly satisfied with his little display of power, John turned to move toward the tower once again. This time aware of where he was stepping and watching the sand for more of these upstart wannabe assassins. Not that he believed that he just wanted to let it be his reason for being careful.

The tower's opening became a delightful sight to John as he neared the structure. "Damn, I finally made it." He uttered to himself slightly irritated with not getting here sooner. John never liked being patient but knew it had its purposes at times. This time didn't seem like it was necessary. Caution—he felt was needed but being too slow was always a drag to the mission.

The shadow of the overhead archway cooled his skin for a moment as he slipped through its opening. He welcomed this brief reprieve from the sun but step forward anyway to move ever closer toward the tower, allowing the sun to begin baking his skin anew. His eyes glimmered, their aural blue sheen, as he looked toward the darkened path ahead. Gemut's first sun was entering its twilight moment and its second sun had already risen from the opposite side. John realized why much of the planet's water was below the surface now. Two suns would only vaporize any moisture off the surface. He, now, understood the reason for the crisscrossing of the shadows that he saw ahead of him.

The structures surrounding the tower's base laid their castoffs down like a large mesh net that seemed to tunnel into the tower's opening. He didn't know if this was symbolic of a trap or just happenstance, but he didn't feel the need to question it too long and made way for the gate. Nothing further happened outside as John penetrated the perimeter of the tower with ease. The gate. wide open as if, expecting him. He moved through it and a crawling mass of dark energy swelled behind him, closing off the doorway.

Darkness enveloped his senses for a moment. And then, little fiery flames flickered into existence upon the walls that lined the inside of the room. The tower was massive on the inside almost like an interdimensional space trapped inside a barrier of power. He could see the wall directly ahead of him in the distance but it felt miles away. Alcoves were carved into the surfaces of the inner blocks. Each housed a statue of Nachtmahr in an assortment of poses.

"Ah great, another classic cliché of villainous narcissism. How wonderful." John sneered, feeling like he was right in the middle of an old-fashioned cartoon of the first order. He recalled many of the childhood classics he'd watched that matched this very theme. His eyes danced across the large structure in the center of the room. It was another statue but it housed not an image of Nachtmahr. Instead, it displayed a larger more formidable demon. 

The face of the demon seemed almost human but bore no skin rather like a skull only a little smoother in bone structure.  The eye sockets of the statue were alight with flame, burning furiously like a red dwarf star. The bone structures of the brow and cheeks joined much like a mask that flowed into a pointed horn on both sides of the head. This was truly a demon in the image most people would recognize, something rather akin to that of Satan.

John's eyes followed the shape of the image down, noting its rather humanistic features and the great sword that it held in its left hand. The pedestal it stood upon was quite large. It was much taller than he was and had etched upon it in fiery letters, Surtr.

This must be Nachtmahr's master, John wondered for a moment as he strolled closer to the massive structure. Is he really this huge? John's face scrunched into a state of disbelief. "Nah, these things are almost never to scale," he said to himself and peered around the pedestal as he moved outward from the statue. A set of stairs hung upon the wall in the background. With the light from the candelabras around the walls and Surtr's likeness, John could see no obstacles to impede his progress and began to head for the stairs.

John broke into a slight jog to make his trek a little less slow. With his enhanced stamina, the expenditure in aural energy wouldn't be too much of a drain. Besides, it seemed there wasn't any end to the rebounding power that emanated from his body. He hadn't turned it off or lowered its output since he had entered into Gemut and it still felt tremendously overflowing. He wondered if he was experiencing a power high. Was the aural energy taking over? He didn't need that right now. Control was the problem the last time they fought.

John's hands began to shake a little. Energy was building in his gauntlets. Why? What was happening? Was it some sort of warning? Then, the disruption of an energy source fired off behind him. His aura flared out flattening like a shield around his back to block the beam of energy. He turned to see his attackers.

Out from the pedestal, they had come. A small multitude. They stumbled and stammered on their feet but raged forth in their undead splendor. Twenty or so of the animated dead—Draugr. Their eyes glowed an eerie purple haze. The same as Nachtmahr's. Aural power shot forth from their eyes in quick bolts, sizzling in the air as they rushed past John's head.

"Heh, well, this is new," John laughed as he spoke his mind. The sight of them was cool and interesting, John thought. He didn't know whether to admire them for their appearance or just blast them to smithereens. He decided upon the latter. His momentary hesitation had given them time to get warmed up though. Their clanking armor reverberated in the expansive tower's base room. Many were beginning to move faster and some wielded axes, swords, and shields.

John's armor had shielded him from their constant eyebeams, bouncing it back toward them but all the draugr had managed to dodge their own projected energy as it rebounded back at them. John smiled that devilish little smirk he had when he was about to prey upon his target. He loved new challenges. The power from his gauntlets erupted in a flash, firing rapidly across the room at the sprawling squad of undead foes. The quickness of these new creatures pleased John. They dodged with impressive efficiency, despite their skeletal forms.

John started offsetting his firing pattern, blasting two beams ahead of his foes and one behind to upset their dodge behavior. He focused on the ones without weaponry first. Three fell prey to this strategy becoming incinerated by his aural fire. John had already begun backpedaling toward the staircase, realizing they were trying to cut him off. His peripheral vision had told him so. Two of the sword-wielding draugr had already gone beyond his sight but he could sense their presence approaching from his left and right flank at about the five 'o' clock and seven 'o' clock positions. The clank of their armor gave away their exact distance. John swirled, releasing his aura out like a giant whip. It connected with the two swordsmen. Their feet and legs became dust and they fell, slashing violently at the position John had just removed himself from.

John grew bored. The fight was quick, of course. But these creatures lacked imagination. He released an arcing blast horizontally out from his position, pushing it forth at a heightened speed. Seven more of the draugr erupted in flames. Their screams roared in the air as they exploded, taking two more of their brethren with them. John slid back a little from the blast, his foot bumping the staircase step at the bottom. The remaining six draugr rushed him like the mindless enemy they were. Two jumped toward the railing and the other four clamored toward the staircase as John started backing up the steps.

He reached out his hand as the first of the two jumping draugrs had started to crawl over the bar atop the railing. His fingers wrapped over the skull of the beast. One aural blast later and only the decaying, bony phalanges of the monster dangled from the bar. John smiled. The hands-on approach was always so satisfying. A whack across his back nudged John forward a step. The other draugr had managed to make the landing on the stairs, shield bashing him from behind. John spun on his toes on the step of the stairs, bringing his right fist around with fury and force no draugr had ever seen before. It smashed into the shield, shattering its hardened iron surface into fragments that rained down upon the stone of the stairs, clinking with coin-like acoustics amongst the savagery of sound around him. The draugr's body flew back into the steps above him and collapsed into a heap of flesh and bone. The short sword in its other hand slid and clanged onto the floor under the stairs and the eyes within its skull lost their purplish glow as it became lifeless once again.

The last four draugr attempted to accost John while he was predisposed with the attack on their brethren. It was fruitless. John shrugged off their attack with a slight powerup. The resulting energy force slung the four raging undead back down the steps. Their bodies became entangled as they piled upon one another. John saw no need to give them mercy and blasted them again with aural fire. Their bodies flared for a few seconds into bright blue balls of light and then vanished leaving only a trace of ash in their wake. Satisfied with his victory, John, tired of the endless bombardment of obstacles, zoomed up the stairs to the top of the tower.

Powering down to his base level, he stood in front of the large wooden door to the top floor chamber. He glanced up to take in the size of the space possible within. On the outside, a rather large ornamental window hung. It looked convex in shape with an arrayed layer of dividing metallic runners along its surface. The center a circular focal area. Strange shape for a window, John thought as he grasped the hanging brass handle in the center of the wood and rapped it against the door's surface hard. The sound echoed inside.

"Knock, knock, Nachty!" John said aloud, obviously taunting the demon that resided inside. The large double door groaned as a large unknown force seemed to pull upon it. A slight rumble shifted through the floor as it slowly split down the middle to swing open. Dirt on its surface broke loose into the air and settled to the floor in a cloud of dust. John peered into the darkness within, ready to move if anything came at him suddenly.

"Welcome to Gemut." A familiar voice crackled from the black of the shadows within. "Please, step inside. The game can not end without your presence, John…" The voice paused as if giving thought to his next word, then with deliberate sinister malice, it flowed out. "…Stryder."

 

Two purple hued eye sockets flickered on and shone inside the darkness, floating and staring down upon John like a hawk ready to strike. John stepped inside as the candelabras within ignited into Nachtmahr's signature hue, illuminating the large throne that the great Horse Demon sat upon. He did not budge. The door closed as if of its own will and John stood before the monstrous demon once again.

The room was massive---even larger than the tower floor he had met this foul demon on previously. John scanned the walls, checking for any hidden enemies. Given the recent encounters, he wouldn't put it past the demon to use numbers to try to subdue him but he saw none. Not even a flicker of movement caught his eye. Just the transitive glow of the candelabras flickering their light across the scene.

"Satisfied, little man. There are no traps here, John. Just me." Nachtmahr's beastly toned voice vibrated into the air, stressing his pronoun a little longer to try and instill a sense of fear into John. John chuckled a bit. "Hehe, was that supposed to scare me, Nachty? I'm flattered that you even took the effort." John mocked, imitating a slight bow before his opponent as he moved forward.  

Nachtmahr dared not move just yet. He had planned for the encounter this time. The restoration of his arm from their last fight had been completed nearly a day ago and it itched for a chance to rip something in two. But, the time hadn't come just yet. John noticed the newly regrown limb from his mocking bow gesture. "Nice arm. Bet you just can't wait to use it."

"You're quite right but it'll get it's chance soon enough," Nachtmahr stated quite prominently. John realized that Nachtmahr was stalling for a particular moment. He wondered what it may be but try as he might he couldn't figure it out. The environment was still a bit too alien to him. There was nothing there to indicate any subversion. Only candelabras emitting their ominous light. At least twelve hung upon the walls, six on each side of him, rounding around to meet at Nachtmahr's throne, where one larger candelabra stood on its own in a stand next to his seat. This one housing a larger flame than the ones upon the walls.

John's eyes lit up with realization. His brain finally making the connection. He didn't know anything about the planet's solar cycle but he was aware of the two suns from his time outside. The memory of the overlapping shadows at the tower's entrance flashed back to him. There was going to be a point where the two lights overlapped. The window, its shape, the candelabras and the overall design of this room. They were meant to be a funnel of power. A funnel that ended right where Nachtmahr sat. He was going to harness the solar energy into his being for a power boost. John started to make his move but it was too late.

A surge of heat barreled into the room from where the window John noticed outside sat. John could feel its influence even through his aural coated skin. Without that protection, he would've been burned for sure. John watched as the light pierced through the focal point of the window, spreading out along the metal dividers of its surface. The inside window had a filtered look. It was flat and only allowed a portion of the light to enter the room. It bathed the throne Nachtmahr sat upon. But, the metal dividers are where the real energy was going to come from. They were alight with glow. Six dividers channeling energy into six candelabras all connected at the last one next to Nachtmahr.

Maniacal laughter broke into the air from Nachtmahr as the energy began to build in his body. John shifted into his secondary aura—the black crimson one—and prepared to take the first blow.

 

 






© Copyright 2019 A.K.Taylor. All rights reserved.

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