Into The Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake (Raw Update)

I began to travel the hallway, looking for a way out. Torches, their oily smoke rising to mate with greasy soot staining the walls above them, created islands of intermittent light, oases in the lightless ocean of gloom. The islands of light lasted maybe fifty feet before I was swallowed by the darkness once more. There was maybe two hundred steps in between the torches. I tried to move as silently as possible because I had no idea if any guards lurked in the shadows. To my ears, straining as they were to catch any unusual sounds, my footsteps sounded like the rumble of thunder.
My eyes strained at the darkness while I was in between the pools of torchlight. My heart pounded as adrenaline raced through my body, keeping me alert and ready to fight, or flee. My muscles sang with coiled energy ready to explode into action. Something scuttled in the darkness, claws on stone. As I approached the next bit of dark, leaving another circle of light, something black scurried out of the shadows and raced towards me! I exploded into action, giving a ripping battle cry and slamming my iron staff down on it with all my strength!
The poor rat shrieked, spun in place and raced back the way it came. The iron bar impacted the floor, severing the tip of the rat’s tail, and sending a shower of sparks and stone chips into the air. Shockwaves radiated up my arms as the sound from the hit of metal against stone raced it to the dance floor of my aching head. The bar fell from my impact numbed fingers.
“Fuck me,” I said softly. “I am freaking wired. Angriz would be disappointed.”
I sat on the stone floor to attempt to regain my composure. My butt finished the message from my eyes to my brain: the floor was a labyrinth of small to medium rocks and mortar. It was uncomfortable, but I was able to push that away as my breathing returned to normal.
I closed my eyes and folded my legs tailor-fashion. The backs of my hands rested against my knees as I began to meditate as Angriz had taught me when I was blind. I focused first on my breathing: long and slow breaths pulled through my nostrils down to my toes followed by rapid exhalation through my mouth. Then, I began to count my much slower heartbeats. After 200 of them, I slowly rose to my feet and once more took up my improvised weapon.
As I stole through the hallway, I was puzzled by the fact that there seemed to be no other cells. ‘What kind of prison has only one cell?’ I thought. Six steps later, I stopped and slapped myself on the forehead. ‘Duh! Solitary confinement!’ I didn’t know whether to be pleased to be thought that much of a threat, or to be worried that I was considered too valuable to be housed with other prisoners. I decided that it didn’t matter after a few seconds to contemplate both scenarios.
I continued to prowl the dank stone corridor, sticking mainly to the left wall. I had my iron bar in my right hand gripped firmly, ready to use it at a moment’s notice. I allowed my left hand to lightly skim the wall as I went. My fingers encountered roughness as if the walls were stucco with the occasional break for moisture and a couple of times for patches of slime. Oddly, I didn’t feel any of the pink moss. I paused in my trek to arm sweat from my forehead. When I did, I realized I was at an intersection of corridors. The one I stood in went on into the darkness. ‘I guess they forgot to pay their electric bill,’ I thought inanely. A breeze came from the new corridor. It traveled from my right to my left. A moment later, I heard creaks and clangs that reminded me of an antique elevator. I decided to investigate. ‘It might be a way out!’
I found a torch-lit alcove and a rusty iron grate across from it which enclosed a dark shaft that ran up into the ceiling and down below the floor. As I examined the grate, which looked like a rusted collapsible fence, the clang and crash of ill-maintained gears came closer. Before I could look for, much less find a place to hide, the gate opened with a sharp Bang, and a nasty looking monstrosity stepped off.
It looked like a 152.4 cm tall, humanoid wingless bat with all the skin ripped off. The thing’s angry red muscles rippled as it moved, causing a clear, glistening and viscous fluid to roil down its body. Nictating membranes flicked across its oil drop eyes when it saw me standing there with the torch light behind me. It gave a high-pitched battle cry, showing jagged teeth and yellow saliva, raised its shortsword and shield, and then launched its attack. Its first few wild swings were so easy to dodge, I didn’t even bother to block them. It screamed in frustration, or I think it did, anyway. It may have been congratulating me. I twirled my iron bar in a defensive pattern. The bat-like creature tried to thrust its blade at my stomach. The blade was intercepted and redirected along a different pathway with a squeal of metal and a shower of hot sparks, some of which landed on my bare flesh. I hissed in pain, and before I could stop myself, reflexively halted the spin of my staff and brought the far end down on the skull of my opponent. All at once there was the sound of iron breaking bone, a fine spray of bluish ichor from the impact zone and a death scream from my opponent. ‘Damn it,’ I thought. ‘I wanted to try to get some answers from this thing.’ Heaving a sigh, I stepped away from the crumpled bat-creature. No point in mourning lost opportunities now.

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