Friday, June 25

Resurfacing… (Original Fiction by Xan)

The party of adventurers continued down the corridor. Beasley scurried around like a mouse searching for a bit of cheese. He darted back and fourth examining each wall, every crack, and all questionable spots of dust throughout the walkway.
“It feels as though we are slowly rising.” Beasley whispered.
Following the small halfling, Solcloud trounced along proudly, not caring about what may approach or what could hear him approach. His immaculate sword still secured in its fine scabbard and his polished shield upon his flawless back.
“I feel nothing, Thief.” Solcloud scoffed at Beasley. “You must be disoriented, we are on the level.”
“Would you be quiet,” ordered Jenny in a half whisper.
She stalked behind Solcloud listening to every echo his loud armor made. Her Drow blade drawn and in perfect ‘Spada Libera’ or free for an advantage. She moved with such grace, her footwork moved in a way like a swordsman would advance slowly on a retreating foe. Her body moved like water, no sound came from her, not even her chainmail made a sound.
Lastly came the giant, Zander. He did not lumber like Solcloud, nor did he stalk like Beasley, but he moved carefully and as quietly as he could down the hallway. His hammer firmly gripped in both hands. The large oak chest strapped to his back made him look like he had twice as much of an upper body than he actually had. His dim shadow flickering on the wall looked even more intimidating.
“I agree with the little one, we are slowly moving up.” Zander growled a whisper. “It seems that was the dungeon, and wherever we are going was where they came from to be forgotten about.”
“Or held until they were sacrificed.” Jenny interjected. “Those acolytes came to drop off prisoners and left with living,” Jenny cleared her throat. “Well, barely living sacrifices.”
“Did you see this corridor when you were brought to the holding cell back there?” Beasley asked.
“No, I woke up down there.” Jenny shivered as she remembered the small, cold cell.
“Messy business, sacrifices.” Solcloud piped up. “Much better to sacrifice time and money to your god than living, bleeding victims.”
“Absolutely right brother,” Zander piped in. “No use dragging someone to the altar when they will walk into the church willingly right?”
Beasley and Jenny looked at each other as they fought back the urge to fall to the floor laughing.
“Yes, quite right.” Solcloud didn’t even notice the suggestion about his methods made by Zander. “Teach them the philosophies and then guide them into the temple.”
“Guide them with a strong shove?” Beasley accused Solcloud. Jenny and Beasley used the opportunity of conversation to drift back towards the giant and allow the knight to take point. Jenny just smiled and winked at the small thief having played this game before with other ‘proud’ people.
“Well if a good ‘nudge’ is all they need then I am happy to be my Gods hand.” Solcloud seemed to puff up with pride with that statement, not noticing too much the change in marching order. “If He can use me to direct people into His holy places then I will do so.”
“I prefer to teach them with my actions and tell them my beliefs over a tankard of strong ale and let them make the call.” Zander winked to Beasley as he sensed the rouse taking shape, but making sure to keep a watchful eye on the puffed up evangelist. “If they want to join my faith, they can ask me more.”
“Do you feel you gain many converts that way?” Jenny asked as she took up her new position just behind Zander. The bittersweet feeling and familiar hum returned as she passed him again.
“Well, there is a whole caravan of halflings out there who could drink even you under their tables.” Zander laughed.
“I find that hard to believe. I mean my father and I stayed up many a night drinking the finest wines when I was but ten years old.” Jenny interjected. “But I suppose a faith in a God who can drink the oceans could help you take a few intoxicating drinks. But why did you teach halflings?”
Zander smiled. “Well, I don’t know how to speak halfling just out of coincidence.” His face softened as he though back on the moment. “They helped me and I in turn showed them my appreciation with my faith. They all accepted the gospel and Othr has a whole caravan of small ones with big hearts doing his work.”
“I never thought it possible for a halfling to be a drinker AND a wrestler.” Beasley said confounded. “I would have left that up to the larger folk.”
“I find it better not to assume anything,” Zander smiled at Beasley and then turned to Solcloud. “Especially on first impressions.”
Solcloud acted like he didn’t hear the comment of his fellow evangelist but decided to keep moving forward. He kept his eyes fixed forward and walked a little more puffed up
“Solcloud don’t…”
Beasley reached forward as if to try and stop the knight from taking his next step but it was too late. The stone that Solcloud put his next step on began to sink. In less time that it takes to blink, the ground at Solcloud’s feet instantaneously dropped out from under him and he began to fall. Luckily Zander had been expecting a trap to be set off by the preoccupied paladin seeing how easily Jenny and Beasley had set him up. Zander dove to the ground, sliding over to the pit as his massive hand shot out like a lion pouncing on a helpless animal catching Solcloud by in his armor. The half elf now dangled sheepishly by the scruff of his neck like a puppy in its mother’s mouth. About five feet down from the tips of his toes lay a spread of rusty swords and rotting wood spikes.
“Good show, old boy.” Solcloud tried to hold his voice steady as the shock resided. “Now could you be a lad and pull me up?”
“It seems that our company does not agree with your attitude, Sir Knight.” Zander groaned a bit as Solcloud twisted in his grasp.
“Quite right, I can see that we are at an impasse.” Solcloud retorted.
“Maybe you should keep the religion to yourself.” Beasley shouted down the hole.
“But that is what I do, my boy.” Solcloud said as he looked up at the three above his head.
“How about you just lay off it a bit then?” Jenny compromised as she admired Zander’s massive five-foot arm dangling the shiny knight in this hole.
“Point taken madam.” Solcloud conceded. “And I will trust your judgments in battle and I will redouble my efforts to understand your ways in ‘stalking.’ Now Brother, could you please hoist me up?”
The giant struggled to his knees and hoisted up the knight with both hands without any visible strain. Jenny just stood there amazed by the hulking frame that was this humble and mild priest.
Solcloud took a quick assessment of his armor and provisions, making sure none were lost in the fall. He noticed a scuff on his shield and tried to hold back a gasp but it still escaped as a whimper. Jenny and Beasley only smiled at each other. Beasley looked at Jenny in a way that only thieves could communicate. A few small gestures, almost imperceptible, passed between them as if to say “Good work.” Beasley climbed across the small ledge against the wall where the trap door connected and found the reset switch. The large slab slowly clinked back into place and they proceeded on their venture up the hallway.
Beasley, now back up front, noted to the rest of the group that the hallway was becoming steeper and the stonework and masonry was becoming cleaner and more ornate.
“We must be approaching the sacrificial chamber.” Jenny gritted her teeth.
“Shhh!” Beasley chided. “Can you hear that?”
Everyone stopped dead in their tracks and began to listen intently. A popping and crackling like flame burning moist wood could be heard in the distance. Along with that was the sound of chanting and hollering. The damp air in the hallway seemed to be drawn towards the sound. The cool, damp air in the corridoor rushed by them and was being replaced by cold and dry air.
“Whatever it is,” Solcloud mused, “It seems to be drawing all the heat and air toward it.”
“Let’s go.” Beasley looked up at the giant and the knight. “Let’s go quietly.”

1 comment:

  1. This is only the first one I've read, and I like it! Cannot wait to read more.