Friday, October 2

At the temple gates… (Original Fiction by Xan)

The party reached the temple doors just as the sun flooded down the road at their backs. Their shadows creeping ahead of them down the long dirty alley. All of them had their weapons drawn as they reached the two guards at the door. The guards shuffled their feet as they watched the figures with the sun at their backs. A giant followed closely by two men and what looked like a child approached. They steadied themselves as they performed their duty.

“None shall enter, ‘tis not time of the gathering.” One guard looked to the other for confidence as he spoke.

The other one felt the strength of their ‘numbers’ and piped up. “Yeah, be gone with ye until the gathering begins.”

A rumble came from Zander as he reached for his hammer. Beasley jumped in before the hammer could be lifted. “Hello, up there lads!” Beasley let out an uneasy chuckle as he placed a reassuring hand on Zander’s knee. “When is the next gathering?”

The guards looked down on the small man and with a matching tone of voice scalded him. “If you don’t know, then you must not care. This is for our god and his followers. You must not be a believer.” The guards fondled their swords in a small threat to the halfling not just over half their size. “Leave now, boy!” With that insult, one of them nudged him harshly with their knee. Beasley stumbled backwards.
“You shouldn’t have done that.” Beasley said in a taunt. “You’ve made my friend angry.”

Before Beasley could finish his last words of the threat before the thunder rolled as Zander’s hammer flew through the air and connected with the dragon emblazoned on one guard’s breastplate. The guard flew back off his feet, smashed into the wall, and slumped to the ground. Solcloud and Beasley jumped at the second guard as Zander walked toward the fallen guard. With not so much as a cough or a stutter to stand, the fallen guard stood to his feet and spit at the ground to Zander’s feet as he approached. The guard drew his sword and braced for the next hit of the mighty hammer.

Mayvn began strumming on his lute a mighty tune singing of mighty battles of old and Kings fighting entire nations of monsters. The words echoed through the streets, all the party felt the magic of the bard’s song reverberate in their very souls. A mighty roar followed at a perfect time in the bard’s song as Zander let his feral nature take a hold of him as he swung at the dented guard. Beasley and Solcloud began trading blows with the other guard but all their efforts seemed to deflect off the dragon armor of the second guard. The guard ducked under the mighty swings of Solcloud’s sword and reached for an open spot in the knight’s defenses, with a clang of steel on steel the guard’s sword smashed into Solcloud’s armor. He yelled out in pain as the sword of the guard connected again. The guard seemed to move like lightning and Beasley couldn’t connect with the guard but only clanged off his leg guards with his short sword.

Zander smashed into the other guard again, this time with more vigor than before. The rumble of thunder echoed in the distance as the hammer connected again, this time on the guard’s arm. The guard wailed in agony as his arm shattered like a twig in autumn. The guard swung the sword and gashed Zander across the chest, as the blade bit into Zander’s flesh, the giant just roared as he followed through with another clean blow and crushed the guard’s breastplate like tin under foot. The guard slumped to the ground, Zander turned just as Solcloud dropped to the ground. With a howl of rage, the giant lumbered toward the remaining guard.

Beasley looked up from his position between the guard and the colossus. He grabbed Solcloud by the armor and began dragging him away as fast as his strength could carry him. Mayvn too saw the lumbering juggernaught coming toward the unsuspecting guard and lunged toward the fallen knight. The two companions dragged the knight, now passed out, into an alleyway and began to give first aid. Meanwhile, Zander made short work of the second guard. Turning him into a tin spike in the street as this hammer cleanly connected with the guard with a driving force into the earth.
Huffing and puffing from sheer exertion, Zander trudged towards his companions. Grasping the gash in his chest. “Is he going to be OK?”

Beasley looked up to his friend. “I tried to tell you back at the inn, these guards are heavily armed.” Like a father reprimanding his son for not obeying him, Beasley continued his lecture. “We barely escaped with our lives. You can’t just jump into every battle before you; you must learn to pick your battles my friend. You could have had us all killed.”

Zander pulled his hand away from his wound, inspecting the blood and contemplating his tiny friend’s words. “You are right, I am sorry.” Zander hung his head in shame as he muttered a prayer to himself, thanking Othr for giving him strength and asking him to heal his wounds. A spark of lightning shimmered across his chain mail shirt, it repaired itself as well as mended Zander’s wound.

With a cough, Solcloud sputtered a little of the curative potion as he began to speak. “Did we get them?”

Mayvn spoke softly. “Well, Zander ‘got’ them.” He turned Solcloud’s attention to the guard’s helmet protruding from the street. “Our cleric friend here even gave him a proper burial.”

The adventurer’s all chucked at Mayvn’s joke as Solcloud grunted and made his way to his feet. He dusted off his now red tinted armor. “Well this won’t do. Not for a servant of St. Cuthbert.” He looked to everyone; they just shook their heads. “At least it is tainted with my own blood, meting out St. Cuthbert’s justice to the heretics.” He grimaced as he held his side gingerly. “Now, let’s say we look for a back way in. I hate to think we’ll find more guards wearing this fine armor.” He bent over the body crushed in the chest. He examined the body for anything worth selling to fund their adventure. Nothing was found, but a few rings and some nice swords. The armor was useless after the major dents, even if they were smithied out.
Mayvn piped up. “Didn’t the guard back at the tavern, consequently smashed too, mention something about a back door through the labyrinth?” The group all looked to the bard with a glint in their eye. “I like back doors.” The group all laughed at the peacock as he smiled a smile, not realizing he made a joke at his own expense. “He-he, perhaps we should ‘enter the contest’ within the labyrinth?”

“To root out the evil of this town, both below and within!” The paladin raises his sword and starts marching towards the northern inn, ‘The Slaver’s Pit.’

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