Friday, November 27

After a time of resting and practice… (Original Fiction by Xan)

“Zander!” Beasley nudged the dozing giant quietly. “Zander come on! Let’s go!”
“W-what’s the matter?” Zander groggily rubbed his eyes.
“Shhh!” Beasley placed a small finger to the huge lips of the cleric. “I wanted to go exploring on my own a bit. But I figured I’d include you on the fun.” He peeked to the others, still dozing. “Let those two sleep a little longer, heaven knows Solcloud can be a party pooper if I have to liberate a jewel or something.”
The giant shuffled to his feet trying hard not to make any noise as he slung his giant trunk onto his back. “Besides,” Zander tried to be as quiet as he could when he spoke in his thunderous baritone voice. “You’ll need my help if you should get into trouble, or need to carry something.” He winked at the small halfling and they both snickered silently.
They preceded down the tunnel they had burned the assassin in earlier, the smell of charred flesh and cloth still seemed to cling to the air. Zander plugged his nose and waved his hand in the air to try and part the smell before him. His eyes seemed to sting with the toxic fumes of the fabric burned his nose. He kept his eyes closed for a bit, as they continued to walk; the smell slowly dissipated to a lighter smell and eventually was gone. As the smell vanished, the room seemed to open up into a large cavern, large enough that the torchlight from Beasley’s torch didn’t touch the far wall.
“Wow!” Beasley didn’t even attempt to be silent any further as they were several yards away from their sleeping companions. “Look at the size of this cavern!”
“It’s not that big.” Zander let out a laugh.
“Funny.” Beasley shot the giant a glare. “Be careful about those size jokes, besides, I am the one who is supposed to tell jokes.”
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it.” Zander continued to look around the cavern. “Hey, what’s that over there?” Zander spotted a large pile of bones on the edge of the torchlight. He walked towards the pile and before he stepped more than a half a dozen paces, he heard a click. Like a flash of lightning, Beasley sparked the distance of twenty feet in a single bound just as a plume of green smoke enveloped Zander. His eyes and lungs seemed to burn like an acid was tearing him from the inside out. Beasley threw off his cloak and began to fan the thick gas away from the giant. Zander fell to his knees trying to get fresh air close to the ground.
“Othr help me, what was that?” He coughed out every word.
“You set off a trap, you big oaf!” Beasley continued to fan the noxious gas away from them. “If I hadn’t been here, you would have been the next pile of bones.”
Now that the plume of gas had dissipated, Beasley took his time to investigate. He saw the trigger tile on the ground a foot or so away from where Zander had collapsed. With a simple rock in the shape of a wedge, Beasley disabled the tile by removing a small spring mechanism underneath it.
“So much for that.” Beasley stood up and dusted off his hands in victory. “You OK?”
Zander just finished a prayer to Othr. “Othr has given me strength to continue. He has also blessed me with a gift in a small package. Thank you my friend.” He patted the small man on the back. “Is it safe to look through those bones? I have a feeling there is something they may be hiding.”
“I have a better thought!” Beasley winked at his large comrade.
He began to whisper in Zander’s ear a devious plan. Zander snickered at the halfling’s humor and sense of practical jokes and of course went along with the suggestions. After a few hours of searching and setting up, they found nothing in the pile of bones so Beasley took the torch and searched the room further. He stumbled over some stones piled in a corner and cursed. Zander, after hearing the curse in halfling moved towards the pile.
“Looks like a cave in.” Beasley said auOthritatively.
“No, they were out here deliberately.” Zander looked around. “I watched many stone workers who worship Othr discard stones with less precision.” Zander got down on his knees and examined further. “They lead up to something.”
Beasley hopped on Zander’ shoulders while he was on all fours and clapped him on the head gently. “Well get me up where I can see what’s at the top!” Zander stepped out and with almost no effort stood back up as if no weight had been placed on his enormous shoulders. However, Beasley seemed to need to catch himself without falling off this enormous moving platform.
“Stop, there!” Beasley pointed to the wall in front of him. “I think I see some light.”
“I see nothing.” Zander stood up on his toes to try to see what Beasley was looking at.
“Wait; go back to the flats of your feet man!” Beasley waved the giant down. “I can’t see it now.” He pulled out his tools and began to scrape the wall. Light appeared to glint in the little rogue’s eyes. He pulled out a long wire with a small hook on the end, fished it through the crack, and then turned it a quarter of a turn.
With a grunt, Beasley yelped. “I got it!”
Light started to glow eerily in a square pattern on the rock wall. Beasley pushed just above the horizontal line of light lowest to the ground. It was about waist high to the little man. As the door opened, a click was heard and before the halfling could duck a small dart flew from an unknown source and hit him between the eyes.
“OUCH!” Beasley yelped by the sharp pain of the small dart pricking his head. He pulled the dart out, climbed up to on the ledge, and signaled Zander to follow. “Come on up, I think that was the only one.”
Zander pulled his large form up to the ledge and in the hidden doorway and closed it gently behind him, but left it open just a crack. “What kind of dart was that? Obviously it was a trap.”
Beasley was examining the dart in the torchlight. He smelled it, twisted it in his hands, rubbed the tip and smelled the residue on his fingers.
“It smells like the blue pumpkin.” Beasley began to laugh.
“What’s so funny?” Zander dusted his hands off as he sat next to his tiny friend.
“I was part of a joke a long while back for one of my cousins on his wedding night. His brother, a few others and I slipped some spice made from a blue pumpkin in his wedding cider. The blue pumpkin seed, when crushed and added with alcohol or certain ciders has a very interesting side effect.” He snickered again.
“What does it do?” Zander was very curious. “I hope you didn’t try to kill your cousin on his wedding night.”
“Well, yes and a resounding no.” Beasley tried to keep a straight face as he continued with his tale. “I haven’t the bard’s tongue for tales, but we did ‘kill’ his… how should I say it? We killed his drive to be with his wife.” Beasley could not contain his laughter anymore as tears began to run down his face. “We told tales of his inability to consummate his marriage for weeks. It seems we put in a little too much pumpkin seed in his cider, or perhaps he drank too much.” He fell to the ground in laughter.
“I will have to remember that next time I am back at the Broken Horse or any other Inn while I am drinking with you.” Zander chuckled.
“It seems whoever rigged this trap had a sense of humor as well. This would have made you numb in your…” Beasley coughed. “You get the idea. You would be numb for weeks. But as it hit me in the forehead, it had no effects.”
Zander cleared his throat. “Considering the traps we have encountered, I would suggest you take the lead my small trap-finder.” Zander groaned as he came to his feet. “Shall we continue?”
“Yes. But I should want to keep this dart; it would make a wonderful trick to play on…” Beasley winked.
“Yes, but let’s do it at a more jolly occasion, where there is cause to celebrate something.” Zander tried to contain a smile.
The two adventurers began to walk down a hallway that seemed to have been carved out of pure rock into some extraordinary brickwork. The hallway seemed to have been built rather than carved.
“We have definitely stumbled onto something here.” Zander spoke softly.
They kept walking down the hallway a few more paces and reached another door. Beasley examined the door carefully, covering his head with his hood for some protection. Zander stood back a few steps. The door seemed to have no traps on it or a locking mechanism. Beasley swung the door open and stood there for a moment, wincing, waiting another dart. Nothing came from the darkness so Beasley stepped through the door. Just as both feet crossed the threshold of the doorway, a large glowing hand appeared in the darkness. Beasley grabbed his short sword but it was too late, the hand grabbed him, threw him to the other side of the doorway again, and slammed the door.
“Hmmm, not a trap, but it definitely doesn’t like us going that way.” Beasley rubbed his backside as he stood up. “All the more reason to enter, wouldn’t you agree my big friend?”
“I suppose.” Zander cleared his throat. “Let me have a look.” He approached the door with caution, examining it carefully. He looked at the door and saw a sign covered with years of dirt and mud. He rubbed the sign gently but due to years of rot in the wood, the sign disintegrated partially only leaving a few characters. “It’s written in giant. It is hard to make out but I think it says ‘knock.’ Shall we try it?”
Beasley jumped up and stood behind one of Zander’s legs as he reached with the hilt of his sword and tapped the door. He closed his eyes half expecting another explosion of poison gas.
“Nothing happened.” Zander said shocked as well. “Well, only one way to find out if it worked.” Zander grabbed the rusty door latch and pushed the door open, and apprehensively took a step forward and braced for the ghostly hand.
“It worked!” Beasley barked. “I must find out the spell for that one, it’s amazing!” He pranced on through the doorway without fear and did not notice the crack in the tile flooring. Without warning, the floor dropped out from underneath the tiny bandit his hands waived in the air, clawing for handholds that were not anywhere within reach. “ZANDER!”
“Beasley!” Zander jumped to save Beasley, skidding across the floor with his immense arms outstretched. “I gotcha!” Zander lay on the floor in a cloud of dust holding Beasley by his hood. The little halfling dripped the torch when he fell, it now lay about one foot below Beasley on the ground. “Let me go Zander, I think I’m OK.” Zander released the small bundle, Beasley simply dropped half his height, and with a soft thud, he landed with both feet and picked up the torch. He looked up to see the pit he had fallen into was a little more than the height Zander one and a half times over.
“Come on down Zander! You can get us back up this hole with a little climbing.” Beasley looked around and saw at one end of his small pit there was a tunnel about his height. “Hey, there is a tunnel down here. Let’s see where it goes.”
Zander made his way down the pit and onto the ground. He dropped to his knees to examine the tunnel. “You had better hope it stays this size, or I am going to get stuck and then we are really in trouble.”
Beasley began to walk down the tunnel and smugly remarked over his shoulder and laughed. “Well then, don’t get stuck.”

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