Friday, February 26

Rude awakening… (Original Fiction by Xan)

“Well, I must have slept like the dead.” Mayvn lifted his arms out in a long and wonderful cat stretch, as he flexed his fingers as if grasping for the ceiling.
“Did someone let the fire go out?” He fumbled around with his pack trying to find the torch.
“What did you do with the torch the mage gave us, Beasley? You know the one that its flame never goes out?” He continued to search in his pack for his ‘spare’ torch.
“Damn, I will have to remember to have a certain pouch made so I can find the thing a little easier.” He grasped onto a thick wooden stick, wrapped in a small bit of leather wrapped around one end, and a cup on the other.
“Radiantino!” The torch burst into flame, showering sparks that popped and hissed as they fell to the ground. Mayvn looked around to campsite, the fire’s embers had been out for some time and they were not even warm to the touch. Everyone seemed to still be curled up in their bedrolls and thin travel blankets.
“Beasley!” Mayvn looked to the smallest lump in the circle of blankets. “Beasley, you fool! Why didn’t you wake me for my watch?”
Mayvn stood up and stretched once more. He walked to the far end of the small alcove they had spent the night in to take care of some morning business. He walked back to the campsite with a sigh and bent over to relight the campfire with his torch. The campfire sparked and hissed as if it too had been rudely interrupted from a deep slumber. Mayvn walked over to Zander and nudged the largest of the bedrolls with his toe.
“Zander, what’s for breakfast?” The blanket and huge mass didn’t move from its position. “I sure could use some of your maple cured meat, I am starved and I have nothing in my pack but salted pork for emergencies.” Still there was no sign of movement from the bedroll. Mayvn crouched down to lift the blanket from over the large mass.
“EEEEK!” Mayvn let out a shrill cry like a wash maid who found a mouse in the laundry. Where once a large half-ogre was now lay a half-ogre skeleton in rusty chain mail and tattered robes. A rusty hammer also lay next to the aged set of bones.
“Solcloud, Beasley, come quickly! Zander has been…disintegrated in his sleep.” Mayvn danced around the fire, he shuttered as if something was crawling on his skin. He made his way over to the two other bedrolls on the opposite end of the fire pit. He nudged the larger of the two and a rusted helmet rolled out with a skull still inside.
“Solcloud, you too?” Mayvn began to panic as he pulled the cover sheet to reveal a rusty suit of armor and aged bones.
“I am not excited to have to wake you my little friend,” he made his way to the last of the three bedrolls.
“Beasley, are you all right? He lifted the blanket that should have been covering a healthy little halfling in dark red clothing, but it also revealed another skeleton in a black hooded robe and clothing that had aged to tatters.
“Oh my, now what am I to do? I can’t remember how I got in here; let alone how I am to get out.” Mayvn started biting his nails as he grabbed his pack and slowly edged back to a wall. He jumped as he bumped into it, dropping his torch. The flame of the torch sputtered out as it hit the ground. Now cast into the flicker of firelight, every shadow and every noise seemed to be a beast coming for his thin and helpless body. A distant sound of rocks settling could be heard in the distance, echoing towards him.
“Who’s there?” He yelped as he reached for the torch.
“I am just skin and bones,” He tried bargaining with the darkness. “I am not even worth the fuss for a meal.” He picked up the torch and recited the activation word again. “Radiantino!”
The torch sputtered back to life, illuminating the room once again. Nothing lay in the room now except for the three skeletal remains of Zander, Beasley and Solcloud as well as his dependable lute, his pack and his hat, Betsy II.”
As he searched through the campsite of any clue as to what happened, he could see footprints in the dirt going off into the darkness.
“Well, I suppose I could follow the tracks and find out what or who befell my friends.” Mayvn spoke to himself when he was nervous. Being in a dark cavern alone, in the dark was reason enough for anyone to be nervous. He gathered up his effects, slung his lute over his back, flopped his wide brimmed ‘Betsy II’ on his muddled hair and made his way in the directions of the shuffled footprints in the dark. With one hand on his hat and one hand on the torch, he ducked through the tunnels, ever aware of the dirty and cobweb filled caverns he walked through.
“Please, don’t let there be anymore spiders.” He whimpered to himself as he stepped into a large room. He noticed the footprints split off in two directions. Two sets seemed to go off towards a pile of rocks and a secret doorway that was opened just enough to be noticed. Those footprints then came back and joined up with the footprints back to his campsite.
“Curious, it seems that someone ventured to that doorway over there then came back to attack my fellows as they slept.” Mayvn thought out the footprints in detail. “I am no tracker, but I assume those footprints probably were troops gathering weapons to fight my friends… or worse to gather a wizard to help.” He gulped. “I sure hope I don’t find him, I would hate to hurt him.”
Mayvn walked towards the rock pile and gingerly made his way up and into the hallway within. He took a step down the hallway and felt a sharp pain in his boot. “Scorpion!” He shrieked as he waved the torch by his boot. He was embarrassed to find a dart sticking out of his boot.
“Oh my, I hope there wasn’t poison in it.” He gingerly rubbed his foot and walked on. As he walked, he felt a little light headed and less adventurous.
“Perhaps I should rest for a moment.” He sat down, and rubbed his foot again. “Well, that dart looked like it had already used its poison on a previous victim. I should probably watch for infection, a small bit could have still been inside.”
He rested a moment, leaning up against the wall with Betsy II safely in his lap. He turned to look at the edge of the torchlight; in the dim light, he could see another door, with a small sign on it. He stood up, dusted off his fine silks that had been wrinkled from days of wear. He looked at his poor ruffled clothing and curled his nose as he brushed them off with Betsy II…
“I must find a good cleaner to wash my effects after we are done here.” He gazed up at the door and then looked to the ground inspecting the travel of the many footprints he intended to follow. There were many shuffled footprints and scuffs in the dirt surrounding the doorway. Gazing further up he found a sign written in a crude form of dwarf, more commonly used by giants.
“Well, this sign could mean anything from danger to dining hall to one such as me.” Mayvn flopped his hat back on his head and adjusted her brim.
“What do you say, Betsy? Shall we open it and see if we find danger or a dining hall?” He tapped his hat and a smile curled his lips as he pushed the door open. He peered into the darkness as he waived his torch around to inspect the entryway but he saw nothing only more footprints past a shuffle of dust in the doorway. Mayvn scoffed at the lack of guarding of this passageway and then stepped through the doorway. Without warning, the giant glowing hand returned, just as it had with Beasley and Zander. It gripped Mayvn by his coat and flung him out the door. As Mayvn shuffled to a stop on the outside of the doorway, his torch spun on the ground but continued to burn. He looked up and saw that his hat, Betsy II, lay on the other side.
“Betsy!!!” Mayvn scrambled to grab his poor hat that lay helpless feet inside the door. The ghostly hand then slammed the door. Mayvn sat on the one side of the door, while his hat lay on the other; he curled his feet up and slumped his head onto his knees. “I am not a dungeoneer nor am I a true adventurer, but I know I cannot do it alone. Perhaps a show of manners would be more in order.” Mayvn stood up and cleared his eyes of the dirt and he pushed his jacket straight again and stood without a slouch and cleared his throat.
“My name is Mayvn Dyse and I wish to retrieve my hat!” Mayvn announced as he knocked on the door. “Hello?” With that show of manners, the door swung open. Mayvn stepped through the door, and stepped back, then through one more time. He swiftly swept up Betsy, flopped her back on his head, and straightened the brim.
“I know when I am not wanted, I will turn away. I thank you for letting me retrieve my Betsy.” With that, he pulled Betsy off his head and with a grandiose sweeping motion, he stepped back with a curtsy and bowed deep. He stood back up proudly, turned on his heels, and began to step away from the door. With a swift motion, the heavy door slammed shut again behind him. Mayvn jumped and checked his coattails to make sure they were not caught in the doorway and scurried away.
“I suppose I should try to find out where the other footprints lead in the other direction.” Mayvn picked up the torch and walked back towards the rock pile and the large room. After some difficulty, trying to lower himself down the rocky pile while not getting dirty he almost made it to the bottom. Just as he took his last step he placed his foot on a small loose rock hidden in the shadow of his torchlight and slipped and fell right on his face.
“Oh, damn, now I am even dirtier.” Mayvn pushed himself to his feet and dusted himself off once again. “I will definitely need my silks cleaned Othroughly after this little adventure. However, before that I must find funding to have them cleaned. I have sung of adventurers finding wealth in dungeons and abandoned castles. There must be hidden treasures here.” Mayvn began to walk briskly towards the stairway, following the other footsteps, but he stopped just short of descending downward.
“Oh my, but I have also sung of these adventurers fighting against unbearable odds.” Mayvn started down the dusty stairway, each step seemed to echo with every footfall of his hard-soled shoes. He grasped the handrail and slowed his pace as to try to quiet his shoes.
“My, my, this will not do.” Mayvn sat on the steps a moment, removed his shoes, and put them in his bag.
“If I continue to make such a ruckus I will wake the dead.” Mayvn stood up and continued walking down the stairs, with more effort and moving quietly.
“And goodness knows the dead need their rest or they will become grumpy.” He continued to talk to himself as he slid one hand down the railing and with the other; he held the torch up high. Slowly descending flights of the spiral staircase, he continued to mumble to himself as if to subconsciously warn things of his approach and to scare the smaller threats away.
“I would rather like to avoid making the dead grumpy or worse yet waking something bigger like a dragon.” Mayvn reached the bottom of the stairs to the large landing. Three doors lay open while the others remained closed.
“My, my, it seems someone has lost their manners and left these doors open.” Mayvn sat on the bottom stair as he slipped his heeled shoes back on his feet, then he also polished the large buckles on his shoes.
“Perhaps I should close them?”
As he stood up and straightened his jacket, Mayvn looked up and could see a dim light coming from one of the doors. “Oh goodness, something is down there. Perhaps I should investigate the light source.”
Mayvn walked towards the doorway and stepped through as his torchlight began to be complimented with the dim light further down the hallway.

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