Friday, April 23

Calming the beast within… (Original Fiction by Xan)

Beasley sat on top of his last kill and wiped the blood from his blades on his scarlet leather clothing. “That is three for me, two for Zander, and how many for you Mr. Nice Guy?”
“It is not about killing my little friend.” Solcloud chided the small thief. “I assisted in your last one, and I slowed their approach into the room. Now what about our raging storm?” Solcloud looked around trying to find Zander.
“I…am…here.” Zander faded into view in the corner of the room. He was slumped into a mound, witting on the ground with his knees drawn up to his chest. “Did you…find…a key… little friend?” Zander observed the small halfling already looting the guards.
“Not yet, my friend.” Beasley barely batted an eye as he looted each body and spoke to Zander simultaneously. “I am still looking, you just rest and relax.”
“Do you really have to pocket everything you see on the bodies?” Solcloud shook his head as he too pulled himself up from his prone position on the floor.
Beasley stopped and looked at the knight with a look of disgust. “You don’t have to benefit from our efforts,” his voice nearly dripped with spite. “Zander and I could keep it all for ourselves.”
“Well, as you said my little pirate,” Solcloud dusted off his armor as he examined his now scratched armor. “We are putting it to better use.”
Beasley just huffed and threw anything of value into a pile as he looked for any clue of keys or anything. A couple precious stones, some polished coins, a shield with a slight red tint in the silvery sheen, and a few bottles filled with a deep red liquid. However, one bottle piqued Beasley’s interest; he stared at the seemingly empty bottle with a cork on it. He popped the top and was blasted in the face with a torrent of fresh air. Beasley’s hood flopped of his head and his hair blew back from his head.
“Must be a magic bottle, meant for breathing underwater or saving you when air is pulled from your lungs.” Solcloud again fascinated by the simple things.
“Or…perhaps…meant for…making your hair stand up.” Zander chuckled as he messed up Beasley’s hair.
“Or something like that.” Beasley tried to press his hair back down. “I found no key, Zander. Shall we try the other room?”
“Yes, let’s…” Zander’s voice faded as he walked through the door at a slightly slower pace. The doorway at the end of the hallway was open. The other guards must have come from this door; a small bell could be heard ringing just inside the door. This room was a bit statelier than the other was. A rack on the wall had a nice chain shirt hanging neatly from it, deep green and royal purple ribbons woven throughout fine links. A glass case with a lock was attached to the wall just under the ornate armor. Within the case lay a fine thin sword; black engravings along the blade and the hilt had a spider motif. Hanging from the handle of the blade was a white tassel. Beasley anxiously scurried into the room and directly to the rack and trophy case.
“Drow made,” he announced. “Too big for me, too small for you and too black for the goody-goody here.” Beasley pointed to Solcloud as he came walking through the door. “Not much for selling them on the surface either. Looks like it isn‘t a full chain shirt anyway. Seems like a lot has been cut out or destroyed.” Beasley didn’t even bother with the lock on the case although his fingers lingered on it, itching to try his hand at even the simplest puzzle of a lock right now.
He walked around the room some more and examined every little nook. He stared at a stone that seemed a bit out of the ordinary in the wall. Beasley took out a small dagger and tapped the stone, it moved slightly. His eyes glimmered and pushed his finger to the stone and it depressed, a series of clicks could be heard echoing through the chamber. Without a word, Zander rushed from the room back towards the cell. Not a moment later, a roar could be heard echoing through the hallway.
“JENNY!” Zander rattled the bars, as they did not even budge. Dust fell from the ceiling but the sturdy iron bars did not move.
Beasley rounded the doorway and saw Zander reaching trough the bars, tears filling his eyes, as his fingers were mere inches from Jenny’s bruised and blackened feet.
“Zander?” Beasley softly touched the heartbroken giants back. “Are they magic bars?”
“Why?” Zander sniffed as he leaned his massive body against the bars.
“Have you tried your ring?” Beasley pointed to the cat ring on Zander’s left hand.
The giants’ eyes glimmered with a sign of hope as he twisted the ring and vanished, a moment later he appeared again inside the cell with Jenny. He reached down and scooped her up in his arms, brushing her dingy red hard from her swollen face. Her eyes and cheeks swollen beyond all recognition, her clothes torn and bloody clung to her back. The bloody welts had long since crusted over and began to seal up, while yet others seemed to be fresh and oozing. As Zander examined her back, she did not even stir as he looked at each infected welt. Zander grimaced at the sight of Jenny’s bruised leg as the tattered sackcloth blanket fell from her body. Her dress shredded revealed many black, blue and red contusions.
Zander tried to cover her near naked body with the sackcloth blanket and turned his ring. Both of them vanished and then reappeared on the other side of the bars. He gently lay her down on the cold floor, wrapping her legs with the blanket. He knelt over her with his hammer in his hand, he mumbled softly and his hammer began to glow with an electric blue light. He touched the hammer to her legs; the welts started to fade. He slowly moved the hammer up her body to her stomach and her ribs, small snaps could be heard as her ribs set and mended themselves. As the last snap occurred, Jenny gasped for breath, coughing blood she began to speak.
“No more, please.” Jenny mumbled as she had so many times the days she had been down in this foul holding area.
“Jenny,” Zander spoke softly. “It’s your colossus.” Zander referred to the term of endearment Jenny had given him back in the bar as they exchanged drinks. The reference shook the cobwebs from Jenny’s mind as the familiarity of the voice and that word ‘colossus’ shook her back to reality.
“I knew you would find me,” Jenny sighed. “Even if you weren’t looking for me.” She slowly reached up to his pale green cheek covered in coarse black stubble. “You need to shave.” She forced a smile on her face as her tear filled eyes looked to the giant cradling her in his arms.
“Rest now, you are safe with us.” Zander held her gingerly in his arms, like a large bundle of eggs and slowly began to slip the large chest off his back. It landed on the ground with a thud and the lid popped open. “Beasley there should be my bedroll and a spare robe of mine, please retrieve them for me.”
Beasley swiftly made it over to the chest that towered in front of him; the opening of the large chest was about eye level to the small burglar. That did not stop him from scampering his way inside the chest. Finding the robe and bedroll, he reached out and handed them into the massive waiting hands of the giant.
“Thank you,” came the quiet tender voice of Zander as he cared for Jenny. He rolled the bedroll and placed it under her head. Zander then unfolded the robe, this one was a more ornate robe meant for special ceremonies. This white quilted robe had designs of rams and mountains quilted onto the back the gold borders were covered in dwarven runes. Zander disregarded the beauty of the cloak and mumbled something about how this covering would not do for Jenny. Beasley gawked at the majesty of the robe and was shocked that Zander didn’t wear it more often.
“Paladin!” Zander shouted as he looked around for Solcloud who was still in the other room. “Damn him and his speed.” Zander cursed in giant.
Solcloud made his way into the room; he gawked at the sight that Jenny now laid on the floor with Zander’s robe over her sleeping softly.
“You got her free?” Solcloud said astonished.
“Is not sloth a sin in your religion too, paladin?” Zander preached angrily.
“Isn’t wrath?” The paladin retorted. “You called for me?”
“Please watch her while the little one and I find some supplies.” Zander gently smoothed Jenny’s hair as he spoke. Jenny nuzzled his large hand and slightly smiled as she slept, like a child nuzzling a teddy bear.
“So we are stopping for the day?” Solcloud sounded a bit upset at the thought of spending the evening in the middle of a prison.
“Yes,” Zander looked up to the knight.
“You want to carry her out?” Beasley looked to Jenny and then to Solcloud. “She will be well in the morning enough to travel. Can you handle that?”
“Yes, and if she needs healing I can help her as well.” Solcloud said as he knelt beside Jenny.
“She will be fine,” Zander said defensively. “Othr will watch over her.” Zander stood up, leaving his glowing hammer on the floor near Jenny’s head for comfort and warmth. He turned to the small halfling who barely came up to his thigh. “Now, did you say something about dark elf gear earlier?”
“In the other room.” Beasley scampered out of the room pointing like a child who wanted to show his parents a discovery they were sure his parents had never seen before. Zander trudged reluctantly out of the room behind the halfling.
Beasley was already anxiously working on the glass case as Zander entered into the room. “I think that these may actually do Jenny some good.” Beasley said between twists of his lock picking tools. “They must be more valuable than I thought because this lock isn’t a simple one.
“My hands are too big to manipulate tools like that, my small friend.” Zander spoke back in halfling as he pulled up the padded chair from the desk close by and watched intently as Beasley worked.
“What’s wrong, friend?” Beasley took the signal of the giant that he wanted to keep this conversation candid.
“I am beginning to think that this torture chamber is only part of a bigger plot.” Zander whispered.
CLICK! “Great Dallah, I knew this lock would have nothing on this old lock pick!” Beasley waved his hands and the picking tools seemed to vanish, but due to the training Beasley gave Zander, she could see the tools slip into Beasley’s sleeves.
“One day you will have to show me how you do that, little teacher.” Zander laughed as he pointed to Beasley’s cuff sleeve.
The small halfling flipped the latch on the glass case, reached in, and pulled out the sword. “Not bad for a Drow weapon.” He tested the weight of the blade and then examined the tassel of silvery white on the handle.
“What is this?” Zander too saw the tassel and began to examine it, but he paid more attention to the small red tips of the tassel rather than its silky white braid. “It looks to be… blood.”
“Not surprising,” Beasley held it up to the torchlight. He then looked closer at the braided tassel on the handle. “Oh my goodness…” Beasley stopped to catch his breath. “This is hair from a Drow Swordmaiden, not exactly easy to obtain, Zander. This must have been her sword and armor, whoever captured this, is an amazing fighter. Swordmaidens don‘t exactly take too well to being captured.” Beasley changed his vocabulary into the human tongue and took a more serious tone. “I’d imagine that blood on the tassel is her own blood and to add insult to injury, I’d wager my share of our treasure that her hair was taken with her own blade.”
“Great Father Othr, we are dealing with someone who shows no mercy. One who takes pleasure in the pain of others?” Zander’s eyes began to pulsate with anger as tears slowly welled up in his eyes. He stood up, took the chain shirt off the rack, and wrapped the sword within it. “This blade and armor would best serve those that would stop the one who removed them from their owner.” Zander looked to Beasley. “Don’t you agree?”
“I do, perhaps Jenny could use them to protect herself?” Beasley replied. “Albeit, barmaids are more adept to their fists than a blade.”
Zander laughed at the comment and began to walk out the door. His voice echoed through the hallway as he made his way towards Jenny. “Most barmaids, yes. But I think you may be surprised by Jenny’s ability with a thin blade like this.”

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