Chrysalis Chapter 566
Chapter 566: Attack on Rylleh
The Dungeon city of Rylleh is relatively young, in city terms, barely older than the expansionist kingdoms that took root above it. Formed by a collective of experienced and high level delvers, the city benefited from the protection and knowledge of these individuals, allowing it to prosper relatively quickly. Positioned in a relatively barren section of the Dungeon's first strata, the city doesn't provide much in terms of resources or prime delving ground, but it does offer something much harder to come across, independence. Unbound from any greater authority and capable of standing its ground against the mercenary union, the city-state of Rylleh offers a haven to those who wish to delve without being tied up in string.
Naturally this means trading away richer hunting grounds for the frontier, but to a small yet vocal portion of delvers, the trade-off is more than worth it. So Rylleh has remained quietly prosperous for hundreds of years, administered by a ruling council of inherited seats controlled by the descendants of the founders, the city has relied on its own guard and a deployment of Abyssal Legion to defend itself from the depredations of the Dungeon.
Though really, what could possibly harm such a city in the first strata?
-Excerpt from Barringer's Guide to the Frontier: Adventures in the fringe
Wallace Danton ground his teeth on a fresh wedge of dungeon chew, pausing only to lean over and spit, as he stared at the warning crystal array in front of him. Stood by his side, his deputy rolled her eyes and took a discreet step away from the man. Chew was a common enough vice in Rylleh, useful as a stimulant with slight numbing properties, but by the Path did the stuff stink!
"Captain" she warned.
"I write the damn regulations, Yas."
"The council will be shocked to hear of it."
"Lieutenant Yasmine, could we perhaps focus on something a little more important than my personal habits? Like our jobs?"
Yasmine just sighed, adjusted her glasses and checked her clipboard once more. The captain had been spooked by the multiple alarms that had been tripped in the last two days and had ordered every guardsmen to be in a heightened state of alert. She didn't think the man had slept in twenty four hours, hence the copious amounts of chew he kept cramming in his maw. Even she felt he was overreacting, monsters approached the outer tunnels all the time, she had to admit that the old man had good instincts. He'd been captain of the Rylleh guard for over twenty years at this point, and a powerful delver before that. If anyone knew the Dungeon like the back of their hand, it was him.
"It just doesn't feel right," Wallace muttered to himself as he stared at the array. "Why would so many trigger, so close together? All shadow monsters"
Here in the central guard tower, they were situated almost in the centre of the city, next to the council chambers themselves. Ever since the alarms had triggered, Wallace and Yasmine had been ensconced deep in the tower, in constant contact with the crystal array that connected to each and every outpost that guarded the entrances to the Dungeon. By connecting to a similar enchanted detection device in each outpost, the command array before them would light up to show the location of any monster that encroached within the city's detection radius, the instant they did so. On the wall behind them, communication spells powered by monster cores gave them real time communication with every guard on the perimeter and every guard station within the city itself.
It was a massively expensive investment that many had called unnecessary, but the measures had proven invaluable ever since the work had been completed. The ability to instantly respond to any possible incursion was worth so much to the defence of the city.
"Still no word from the delving parties outside the city?" He asked Yasmine without turning around.
"Not since you last asked twenty minutes ago" she said.
"No, it isn't," she insisted. "There are only five groups delving right now and all of them planned to delve for at least a month. Two days of no-contact is hardly unusual."
The old man stubbornly shook his head.
"Fool girl," he muttered, not tearing his eyes from the array.
She felt her temper flare.
"If I'm so wrong, why don't you deign to explain why?" She spat.
She immediately regretted her actions and snapped out a salute to her superior officer.
"I'm sorry, captain! I don't know what came over me!"
He didn't bother to look up.
"You're tired and cranky because I made you stay here all night instead of going home and getting rest," he said, "it's only reasonable. Focus and I'll explain."
He pointed to the outer ring of crystals that represented the outermost guard posts.
"We had this post, this, this, and this, all detect monsters within an hour of each other. All of them shadow monsters, second strata dwellers. Right?"
"Right" she nodded slowly.
"So if there's enough second strata beasties out there that they hit each of these points near simultaneously, there must be a huge contingent of them that have risen up to this layer."
She thought for a moment.
"If our delvers had run into anything like that"
"They'd have reported it immediately," he confirmed, still staring at the crystals. "That's why I don't think it fits."
He spat to one side, then stuffed another wedge of chew into his mouth.
Suddenly, one of the crystals on the array lit up and Wallace stood quickly, his chair clattering over behind him as he leaned in to stare. A tiny ball of red light representing a single monster flared to life as it approached the guard station to the west of the city.
"What do you think it is?" Yasmine asked.
"Shhh," Wallace hissed, his eyes intent.
Flash, flash, flash, flash! In the span of second, four more lights burst to light and Wallace slammed a hand down on the array. Immediately a sphere was projected above the array, a model of Rylleh and its surrounds. In the time it took his eyes to focus on the projection, each and every array crystal was lit. Within the projected sphere red lights began to appear by the dozen as communications began to crackle through the arrays behind him.
"Uhh, captain? Got a lot of contacts within the perimeter."
"Captain?! Something in the tunnels! I can hear them coming!"
"Orders? Monsters on the approach!"
"They're in the walls! They're in the walls!"
Yasmine's eyes widened in horror as she stared, unmoving at what was unfolding before her. This many contacts? So close together? Is this a wave?!
"WE'RE UNDER ATTACK!" Wallace roared. "PREPARE TO FALL BACK TO THE CITY!"
"Confirm?! Captain, confirm!?"
"GET YOUR ARSES BACK TO THE CITY!" Wallace turned to bellow directly to the wall. "AND SOMEBODY CONFIRM A DAMN VISUAL!"
"I don't see anything, captain!"
"Yasmine! Yasmine? Yas?!" The captain turned to his second in command to find her staring in a daze at the projection behind him.
He shoved her roughly in the arm until she turned to look at him, her eyes vacant.
"Focus, idiot!" he hissed. "Get those damn soldiers back to the gates and then lock them! You hear me?! Get to it!"
He turned her around and pushed her toward the audio arrays before he spun back to the projection. There were hundreds of small glowing points of red light now, and more appeared every second in every direction, all moving toward the city.
"What the hell are you?" he muttered, "what could you possibly be?"
The guards manning the outer defences fell back immediately, abandoning their posts and equipment as they sprinted to safety. One by one the guard stations went silent until the monsters approached them. That's when Wallace heard it.
"Click, click, click"
"Click, click, click, click, click, click, click "
"Click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK."
From every array the same sound rattled out a thousand times over a few seconds. It wasn't the sound of a foot, or a boot, but something harder and sharper, stabbing against the stone as it gripped. Wallace only had to think for a second to determine what kind of monster it could be.
That's when he knew they were dead.
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