An Erebornian Tale

An Erebornian Tale

Status: In Progress

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Summary

Set in the world of Ereborne. A group of heroes are gathered to defeat the power of an ancient corruption but they soon discover along the way that making the right choice can be hard. Actions bear consequence and consequences can be life or death. Can the heroes defeat the evil that purges Ereborne or will they fall apart at the seams?
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Summary

Set in the world of Ereborne. A group of heroes are gathered to defeat the power of an ancient corruption but they soon discover along the way that making the right choice can be hard. Actions bear consequence and consequences can be life or death. Can the heroes defeat the evil that purges Ereborne or will they fall apart at the seams?

Chapter1 (v.1) - Dungeons and Goblins

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 25, 2017

Reads: 71

Comments: 1

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 25, 2017

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Seven looked up the steps to the Heroes Guild, a place he had heard tales of during his travels, but seeing it for the first time made him wish he hadn’t come.

The stronghold town was surrounded by mountains that spanned a good few miles. The walk to the Guild’s hall was a long haul up carved stone steps which seemed entirely unnecessary to his mind.

He had been promised fame and fortune, gold and ladies, but ceased to imagine how he could have any of those things in such a dank and desolate part of the world.

“Please tell me there is at least a tavern here?” he asked.

Donald shot him a look, “there are a few taverns and inns. We aren’t complete savages you know.”

“It’d take something to brighten up this savage land,” said Seven. “There’s Nothing but desert for miles around.”

“Come now,” said Donald, “I am sure in time you’ll find comfort in these mountains especially after a few close shaves with death.”

“I’ve had my fair share already,” said Seven. “I wasn’t born yesterday.”

“I’m well aware,” said Donald, “this is where I leave you both. Your mentor should be here shortly and I’ve already sent the other half of your party ahead of you.”

“Understood,” said Andrelith, an eight foot tall Half Dragon, with a silver scaled tail, and enamel horns protruding from his forehead. The Half-Draevin were a race born of a relationship between a full bred dragon and a human or elf and were hated by the Draevin and the Dragons.

“I bid you both well and hope you’ll do me proud,” said Donald.

“We’ll do our best,” said Andrelith.

Donald bowed and left the party to their own devices.

“You really are an ugly sod, aren’t you,” said Seven.

“Speak for yourself, Elf,” Andrelith replied.

A wizened figure came down the steps at a slow gait, “You two are a right pair.”

“You’re a fighter,” said Seven. He could tell that the gait was fake and just beneath the hood he saw a scarred and rugged face of a man who had seen war.

The cloaked figure tilted his head, “I was. My name is Le’Orin and I have been assigned as your mentor.”

Seven rolled his eyes, “you don’t look like much.”

Andrelith pushed past him, “let’s get down to the business,” he said, “when do we get paid?”

Seven looked at the half breed and despite never having much affection for anyone or anything other than gold, himself, and his urges; he was beginning to develop a like for the Half-Draev. His lips curled into a smile, “this guy asks the right questions. When do we get paid?”

“Follow me,” said Le’Orin, “I’ll give you a quick rundown of the place before we speak with the Guild Master about your initiation.”

After what felt like a half-assed and laborious slog around the Guild for about twenty minutes, Le’Orin finally took Seven and Andrelith to a grand hall lined with statues of past heroes and memento’s to their deeds. The hall was white tiled with the occasional dash of green. A lavish violet carpet stretched from the door to a set of steps that led up to an enormous throne on which an aged and plump dwarf sat.

Le’Orin led them into the hall, kneeled, looked back at Andrelith and Seven and gave a subtle motion with his head for them to do the same.

Seven stepped forward, “I’m not bowing to an overweight dwarf.”

The dwarf upon his throne erupted and bellowing laughter echoed through the hall.

His laughter quickly turned to cackling until finally he settled himself. He took a few moments to compose him before he spoke, “are these the heroes Donald has selected for me?”

Le’Orin stood to his feet and nodded, “yes, Guild Master, these are indeed the warriors that Donald has promised you.”

“I’d thought there were to be more,” said the Guild Master, “am I mistaken?”

“Donald sent word that there were,” Le’Orin paused for a moment, “complications.”

“Of what sort?”

“There were changes in the plan and he has already sent two of the warriors forward to Alsbourne to begin the task at hand.”

The Guild Master breathed heavily, “I trust Donald’s judgment.”

Seven looked up to the Guild Master now growing rather impatient and said, “when do we get paid?”

The Guild Master cleared his throat, “you will be paid in due time once you have completed the task presented to you.”

“What’s the task?” said Andrelith.

The old Dwarf motioned with his hand, “a simple task. The village to the south-west has been under constant threat from goblin incursions and has taken a lot of damage as a result. We merely want you to take supplies to the village and perhaps spend a day or two helping them rebuild.”

Seven couldn’t contain his laughter, “you want us to haul ass to some village in the south-west and become builders?”

“This is certainly not the line of work I had in mind,” said Andrelith. “What about the goblins? Do we know where they are coming from?”

“Aye. The goblins have a small encampment south of the village but what’s more important is that we fortify the village to protect against further incursions but should any adversary present itself feel obliged to take arms.”

The Guild Master signalled to a young boy in his early teens. The boy came into the centre of the room carrying a large backpack and set it down at his feet.

“This is a bag that can hold many items without you having to bear the weight of them upon your shoulders,” explained the Guild Master. “These bags are highly expensive so note that should you lose it, it will not be replaced, to draw an item from the bag you simple need to picture it in your mind and it will teleport through the void and into your hand.”

“What’s in the bag currently?” said Andrelith.

“The bag has a few magic potions that should cure any wound you might sustain if the goblins do attack,” said the Guild Master, “it also contains some rations for the village along with basic building tools and resources.”

Seven leant in close to Andrelith and whispered, “we can use this stuff to make a pleasure house.”

The Half-Draev chuckled, “perhaps it might not be wise to do so.”

“And here’s I was thinking you were a fun having kind of guy,” smirked Seven.

“Le’Orin,” the Guild Master continued, “he will be keeping a watchful eye over you and should anything go wrong he’ll step in to aid you. There is a caravan prepared for you outside the stables so you may leave at your soonest convenience.”

“Come on, Dragon Dude,” said Seven. “Let’s get to work.”

“Agreed,” said the Half-Draev, “the sooner we get paid the better.”

The party made their way to the stables and after a quick inventory check and some arguing about who would drive the wagon they finally set off to Alsbourne on their quest.

Day turned to night and the adventurers soon grew weary from the day on the bumpy desert trail and soon set up camp for the night.

“I’ll take the watch,” said Seven, “I’ve little need for sleep.”

“I’m exhausted,” said Andrelith. He rolled a small bedroll out from his pack and laid it carefully on the ground keeping careful distance from the campfire.

“Get some rest,” said Le’Orin. “We should arrive at Alsbourne by about midday if we set off from dawn.”

“Aye, aye, cap’n,” Seven joshed.

The night went in quick and without any hesitation they packed their belongings, snuffed their fire, and made way for Alsbourne arriving just at the break of midday as predicted.

The villagers were happily hammering away at a battered old inn that seemed to have taken the brunt of the goblin’s attack. A dwarf was leading the operation making sure everything was under control and that everyone was pulling their weight. An elven woman was woefully moping through barren fields, a man stood in the fields with other men and seemed to be training something of a makeshift militia, and an old man was crying doom and misfortune but few seemed to pay him any attention other than the odd glare and mutter of disdain.

Seven took a few moments to assess the situation and look for the best suitable place to build his pleasure house when his eyes met the dwarf’s.

The dwarven man approached him wiping sweat from his wrinkled forehead.

“Le’Orin,” he said with a smile, “and these must be the promised heroes.”

Le’Orin beamed back at him, “of sorts yes. We’re here to assess the situation and help with the repairs and fortification of the village. And if need be we will fight the goblins.”

“Good to know,” said the dwarf, “anyway t’other two ‘ave been ‘ammering ‘way at me ole inn.”

Seven’s eye traced a line from the dwarf’s finger to a Nomde Rakta who was doing most of the heavy lifting and a petite and rather malnourished Alf’riet who was clearing away debris and rubble from the destroyed inn.

Seven approached the Alf’riet. He had heard tales of the elves that lived Below but this was his first time meeting one in the flesh. The same could be said about the half demon, Nomde Rakta, for few ever seen them. Most persecuted and punished those with the blood of demon.

“What’s your name?” he heard a voice call.

He snapped back to reality, a little dazed and turned to the Nomde Rakta who’d outstretched his hand toward him.

“I’m Kromoss,” he said, “what’s your name?”

He rolled his eyes, slapped the hand to the side, and quick as a flash put a knife to the demon’s throat, “I’m Seven. Pleasure.”

He sheathed the dagger just as quickly and felt the gaze of the Alf’riet on him and shot her a look, “what?”

She shrugged and went back to her work. He heard a loud sigh and found Le’Orin burying his head in his hands and muttering under his breath.

He could hear screaming and shouting. A woman, middle-aged, came rushing down the street toward him crying, “heroes! Heroes!”

The woman was distressed, her breathing frantic, and her words inaudible.

Andrelith stepped forward with clawed hands and gently held her firm, “calm down. Catch your breath.”

“My daughter,” she gasped, “they took my daughter.”

“Who took your daughter?” asked the Half-Draev.

“The goblins, stupid,” said Kromoss, “who do you think?”

“Is this true, Bert?” Le’Orin asked the Dwarf.

The Dwarf nodded, “unfortunately so. The goblins aint just been attacking us it seems. They’ve been taking young un’s too. Girls in particular.”

“We’ll get your daughter back,” said Andrelith, “I promise.”

“Thank you,” the woman smiled.

Robyn cracked her neck, “we’ve been working here for the past few days without any action. In fact it’s getting to the point that I hope the goblin’s attack to liven the place up.”

“I agree with, Robyn,” said Kromoss, “may I suggest that we take the fight to the goblins?”

“No,” said Le’Orin, “we stay here and we help as instructed.”

Seven looked the scarred Elf with the bitten off ear dead in the eye, “you can’t possibly be willing to sit here and do nothing.”

He noticed a crack in the Elf’s defense, a need for adventure, a thirst for the throes of battle once again.

Le’Orin bowed his head, “you’re right. The villagers can more than manage the repairs. Let’s go hunting goblins.”

“Plan sounds good to me,” said Andrelith, “are you down, Seven?”

“Anything’s better than here,” he said, “besides I’ve always wondered how a demon fights and I’m somewhat curious about our Alf’riet over here as well. I don’t think I caught your name.”

The Alf’riet rolled her eyes, “the name’s Robyn.”

“Alright,” said Le’Orin. “Now that all of the common courtesies are out of the way I think we should head south and see if we can find ourselves a goblin camp.”

“Should we take the caravan?” asked Andrelith.

“We’d be seen a mile off,” said Robyn. “We should go on foot.”

“Agreed,” said Seven, “besides I’m pretty light on my feet.”

“Do you ever shut up?” said Kromoss.

“Do you ever stop being a demonic vermin that I’d sooner gut than fight alongside?”

The demon squared to him.

Le’Orin stepped between them, “alright, knock it off, you two. There’ll be plenty of time for sparring once our job’s done.”

The party soon made tracks and headed south from Alsbourne leaving in the last few hours of daylight as the sun began to slowly drift across the sky. They walked the desert for hours until the black of night was upon them and had it not been for it then perhaps they would not have spotted the goblin settlement’s campfire.

They stopped just close enough to the camp to have a good overview but just far enough away that the darkness would hide them from view.

Le’Orin turned to the group, “they don’t know we are here.”

“A round of applause for stating the obvious,” said Seven. He being one of the stealthiest of the party separated himself from the group and starting to ever so slowly creep his way closer and closer to the camp. His eye caught a motion to his right and he reached for his dagger.

He saw the petite Alf’riet by his side moving just as quickly and just as quietly as he had been. He gave her a nod of approval and together they made a quick scout of the goblin settlement, checking for numbers and armament and assessing their best angle of attack.

After about ten minutes they returned to the group.

“The camp seems to be abandoned,” said Seven.

Robyn nodded, “I can hear a few voices inside the big tent nearest the centre but other than that I think the camp is mostly empty.”

“Are you sure?” said Andrelith. “If we get this wrong it could end with our lives.”

Seven snorted in amusement, “you scared, little dragon?”

“I just like to be prepared.”

“Screw it!” said Kromoss.

Seven was forced to step to the side. The half demon came blasting forward almost knocking him off his feet and were it not for his quick reflexes he’d have been knocked to the ground.

He and the rest of the party just watched in shame. Their companion drew his swords from his belt, let out a horrific roar blowing any cover they had, and went hurtling into the camp.

Soon enough after, a band of goblins rushed from the large tartan tent with crudely crafted scimitars and short bows slung over their shoulders. They spotted the idiotic demon almost instantly and, feeling confident in a five to one fight, charged him.

“I hate you all,” said Andrelith. He rushed forward drawing a set of daggers from his belt and Robyn soon rushed after him.

He looked to Le’Orin, “aren’t you going to help?”

“Not yet,” said the battle worn Elf.

Seven sighed and drew his bow. He knocked an arrow and let it sail. His eyes were well accustomed to the dark and he met his mark with ease. The arrow struck a running goblin. The goblin went spiralling to the dirt- An arrow shaft protruding from its neck.

He kept a careful track of both his comrades and the goblins positions. He knocked and loosed again- the arrow finding purchase in a goblin’s leg creating enough of a distraction for Robyn to run him through with a rapier.

Their eyes met and they gave each other a courteous nod. She rushed back off into the battle and he picked his next target.

One of the goblins, slightly larger than the rest and dressed in a scrappy piece of chainmail he’d likely stolen and pieced together from unfortunate adventurers, was pounding Kromoss back on his heels.

Seven had a clear shot and he thought about it for a moment and in fact almost let loose his arrow but quickly readjusted his aim and felled a goblin that had been taking aim at him with a short bow.

“My life before his,” he thought.

A berserk goblin came crashing toward Andrelith stabbing and slashing. Deadly to the untrained but Andrelith had been trained. The goblin was faster but he was smarter. He pirouetted to the goblin’s flank- Two quick stabs. He felt the blade grind against bone. The goblin fell.

Kromoss was facing off against what he assumed to be the goblin’s chief. He was bigger than the rest- Better equipped and a better fighter. His rhythm was different. A little more refined and lest frantic than his brethren but alas he was still a goblin.

The boss’ scimitar licked out. It clattered off butted chainmail. Kromoss grinned. He made two quick cuts- One to the goblin’s sword arm and the other to his torso. The goblin yelped and his scimitar clattered to the dust. The second glanced off crude mail armour.

Seeing the rest of the goblin troops numbers dwindling Robyn came to Kromoss’ aid. She flanked the boss and lunged for his side. Her nimble blade glided between the mail’s rings. A spout of dark crimson splashed along the blade’s length. The goblin screamed.

The boss shunted Kromoss. Its attention and fury focused on Robyn. It store at her with red hot coals for eyes and in that moment she felt two foot tall. It charged and wailed a vicious and brutal swing.

She was nimble and quick. She raised her blade to meet the scimitar. She pivoted on the balls of her feet. The scimitar sparked off her rapier and she thrust. Her rapier twanged off wood. The boss knocked her to her feet.

Andrelith rushed as quickly as he could to her aid. He finished two goblins Seven had pinned with arrows on his way. He threw a dagger. It sailed past the boss’ head.

Robyn used the distraction. She stabbed the goblin’s fleshy calf. It screamed and collapsed clutching its leg.

“Please don’t kill me!” It pleaded in the common tongue.

 “We should loot the corpses,” said Kromoss. He stood up, dusted himself off, wiped off and sheathed his swords, and straightened himself.

“They probably don’t have anything more than a few pieces of silver,” said Seven. He had stayed to the outskirts of the battle for most of it but ran in to finish the job with his rapier when the odds where more favourable.  “Besides I’m more interested in this one.”

“Don’t kill me!” the goblin pleaded in the common tongue.

“We should kill him,” suggested Robyn, “we’ve little use for him now.”

She stood up and pointed her rapier for the goblin boss’ throat.

Seven caught her wrist, glared into her eyes, and said, “wait. He could lead us to whoever is behind the attacks.”

Andrelith stepped between them, “goblin. Why are you attacking Alsbourne and taking little girls?”

“Probably eating them or something,” snarled Robyn, “there is nothing to be gained from a goblin. Their hearts are made of coal.”

“Shut up,” spat Seven. He turned back to the goblin and store deep into the black sockets of the humanoid’s eyes, “talk or die.”

“You’ll just kill me anyway,” said the goblin.

He took the Goblin by the scruff of the neck, pressed against its Adam’s apple, and drew a small line of crimson across his throat. He stopped and took the blade away from the heavily panting Goblin’s neck, “I could kill you and believe me in saying I would take great pleasure in it. However I’m a man of coin like yourself so I’ll make you a little deal.”

He stood up and guided the Goblin to his feet placing a small piece of gold in his palm, “you can keep this coin if you tell us everything you know and if you do a good job, I won’t take your head for a trophy on my wall. I’ll even let you work for me as a bodyguard. How does that sound, Goblin?”

The Goblin paused a moment in thought eyeing over the coin like it was the most precious artefact in the whole world.

Andrelith’s eye caught something glimmering like silver in the backdrop of the desert sands buried under its dust. He scooped down a picked up strands of silver white hair that was similar to Robyn’s and made him ponder who the goblin’s had been working with.

He kicked the Goblin to the ground, “where are the white hairs from? Who are you working for?”

Seven reeled around throwing a fist to the half dragon’s gut. The Half-Draev lurched. He grabbed his horns and threw him onto his back, “stay out of my business.”

It was then that he felt a sharp prodding against his back. His gaze met the Alf’riet’s.

“Calm down,” she said, “calm down, or I’ll kill you and the damn goblin.”

“It was the dark elves,” interrupted the goblin, “her kind. One of them employed us to take children. Little girls, from the village and bring them to him in a cavern to the east of our camp. He paid us well. How could we resist?”

“I understand,” said Seven stepping away from the rapier at his back. “Why did the Alf’riet want girls?”

“What was his name?” asked Andrelith.

The goblin shook his head, “I don’t know. We never needed to know, we just needed to do our job and get paid, that was all that mattered to us.”

“Kill him already,” said Robyn again.

“I agree,” said Kromoss, “if he has nothing more for us then what good is he alive.”

“Goblin,” said Seven, “you can clutch onto your wretched life if you take us to the cavern the Alf’riet is hiding in.”

“Yes, yes!” the goblin said frantically, “I can show you. I can show you!”

“Furthermore,” he said, “you are now bound to me and from this day forward you will be known as Giggabif.”

The goblin nodded, “but my-,”

He placed his finger to the goblin’s green lips, “Giggabif.”

The goblin sighed, “Giggabif.”

“Good,” he smiled, “I’m glad we have an understanding.”

“He’ll stab you in the back,” said Robyn.

“I trust him more than you, Alf’riet,” he spat. She grunted and joined Kromoss in looting the remainder of the bodies.

After searching the camp for a good few minutes, the demon and Alf’riet returned.

“Nothing more than few coins,” they explained.

“We should head back to Alsbourne for the night and return to Lighthaven with our findings,” said Le’Orin.

“No,” said Andrelith, “this goblin-,”

“His name is Giggabif,” said Seven. He contently tied a length of rope around the goblin’s torso like a makeshift harness and gave it a good few pulls to make sure it wouldn’t come loose.

He felt the Half-Draev’s gaze on his back.

“Giggabif,” the Half-Draev continued. “He can take us to the Alf’riet cavern. We have an opportunity to do good here.”

“I agree,” said Kromoss. “We should strike now before we run out of time. If we leave it too late they could leave.”

“Yeah,” said Robyn, “the longer we leave this the more torture and pain those girls have to face.”

“If you are all sure,” said Le’Orin. “You’ve already gone above and beyond expectations and this will be noticed by the Guild.”

“If there is more coin,” said Seven, “then you can count me in.”

He kicked Giggabif in the rear and let the goblin lead the way. It took them about an hour to come to a giant gaping hole left in the ground, the sand had turned to ash and the ground have caved into an underground cavern of sorts. It was pitch black and so far down they couldn’t even see the bottom.

“How are we supposed to get down there?” said Kromoss.

At that moment the Alf’riet came bounding forward leaping down into the cavern with a whoop of joy.

Seven’s eyes widened, “she’s got guts, that’s for sure.”

A cushioned thud echoed up through the hole followed by a voice, “um guys?”

“At least we know she’s alive,” said Kromoss.

“What can you see?” said Andrelith.

“The mushrooms at the bottom cushioned my fall,” she called up, “but I’m not alone down here.”

The rasp of a blade leaving its scabbard echoed up the hole followed by an explosive bang and rampant coughing.

Without a second thought, Andrelith sprouted a set of leathery wings from his back and hovered down the hole.

Seven buried his head in his hands.

“Should we help?” Kromoss said to him.

“Nah,” he said, “I’m sure it’s fine.”

“Fair enough,” the demon chuckled.

“Ah! It’s everywhere!” the rocky walls of the cavern carried the sound upward, “by Mortem, make it stop!”

“Maybe we should help,” Kromoss suggested once again.

Seven turned to his goblin companion and untied the rope looking him dead in the eye, “Giggabif. Smash.”

The goblin nodded and peered over the edge of the hole, “but boss the fall could kill me.”

“I’ll kill you if you don’t do what you’re told,” he replied.

Without a second moment passing the Goblin dropped down the hole and another thud echoed to the surface.

“Come on,” said Le’Orin, “this should make it easier.” The Elf had tied and pinned a fifty foot rope to the edge of the cavern.

Kromoss immediately went to the rope and made his way down followed by Le’Orin.

He thought about leaving them at that moment but the prospect of gold drove him forward and he went down the rope after them. It was apparent the rope wasn’t going to be long enough to get them all the way down and it fell short about halfway. He heard another two thuds and he followed the suite of his comrades and let go of the rope.

He sunk down into a large mushroom and it took him a few minutes to dig himself out and find his footing whilst his comrades fought strange mutated mushroom men the like of which he’d never seen. With every strike they exploded into puffs of noxious gas.

He immediately covered his mouth and nose and let the gas pass over him until the last of the mushrooms were destroyed.

“Thanks for the help guys,” said Robyn. Her words full of enough sarcasm to fell a dragon.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to throw yourself at danger,” said Andrelith.

“We should move quickly,” said Seven. “With all this commotion there is a good chance they already know we are here.”

They pressed deeper into the heart of the cave system. Most of the old cavern had been blocked off from cave-ins and large portions of rock debris that had fallen from the roof above them.

Seven glanced around and noticed the Half-Draev running his fingers over a wall to their left.

“What is it?” he said.

“I can feel a draft coming from here,” said Andrelith, “look.”

The Half-Draev took his hand and pressed it against the stone.

He felt cold damp air flow against his fingers. He stretched his arm out to touch the wall and his arm went through like nothing was even there. He focused and soon his eyes adjusted to the light and he could see that there was a passageway, no taller or wider than three foot.

“There’s a passageway,” he said.

“There can’t be,” said Andrelith, “that’s solid stone.”

“It’s an illusion.”

The Half-Draev just like him pressed his hand through the wall and snapped his fingers in a moment of clarity.

By this point the rest of the group had joined them and Kromoss said, “I don’t think you can fit in their dragon, allow me.”

“I’ll fit just fine,” said Andrelith. He retracted his wings into his body and with some effort managed to force himself down the small tunnel with Kromoss following shortly after. Seven soon followed into what must have at one time been a crypt.

When Andrelith entered the room he saw it was littered with well-aged tombstones some of which had crumbled away and others looked worse for wear like it hadn’t been used in quite some time. A dank musk of death wafted through the air.  He felt nauseated and wanted to throw up but he soldiered on. His eye caught a strange symbol that seemed to be burnt into the ground beneath his feet. He scuffed at the dirt with his foot but it still remained as if suspended by forces he did not understand. He heard the clunk and creak of old hinges.

“No!” said Kromoss.

Andrelith lifted the lid off a large chest in the back of the room and by some miracle just managed to pull his hand back in time before a sharp needle shot out on a spring mechanism.

“It’s fine,” said the Half-Draev.

“Watch your feet everyone,” said Kromoss, “there appears to be a symbol of some sort magically infused in the earth.”

The Half-Draev after taking a few items from the chest examined the symbol on the ground, “it’s a symbol of Mortem. The deity of death.”

“That chest must have been rigged for some kind of magical trap,” said Le’Orin.

The Half-Draev nodded, “most likely. It probably was set to draw my blood to fuel the magic and raise the dead.”

Seven clocked his Half-Draev comrade upside the head, “be more careful in the future, idiot.”

“Sorry,” said Andrelith, “my curiosity got the better of me.”

“Did you find anything useful?”

“Just a deck of cards and a few coins,” said the Half-Draev, “nothing of particular value.”

“Let’s keep going,” said Kromoss. “I really don’t want to give our enemies the chance to escape or leave any more traps for us.”

“There’s a door over here, boss,” said Giggabif, “it’s locked.”

“Excellent work, my slimy companion!” said Seven.

“Can anyone open it?” said Andrelith.

Seven stood back from the door. He knew he had both the tools and the expertise to pick the lock but given how the room had been trapped he didn’t want to take the chance with the door and slipped into the shadows.

“I can try,” said Robyn. He watched her take a small set of picks and a tension rod from her back pack. She worked at the lock and he watched her curiously knowing for a fact he could do it much quicker but better her taking a dart to the chest than him.

After about five minutes of metal scraping metal, the door opened with the click of the last pin. The Alf’riet quickly stored her tools in her backpack and backed away from the door, “the doors open but I’m not going to be the one to take the first step. The next room could be trapped and I’m not willing to take a hit. I’ve done my part.”

Seven remained in the shadows waiting for someone else to take charge. He preferred to stay quiet and nimble and thought it much wiser to let someone with a little thicker armour go ahead.

“I’ll go,” said Le’Orin. The door slid open, the metal hinges shrieking and eventually snapping due to fatigue.

The metal door hit the stone with a thud and Andrelith used his superior strength to move it aside and prop it against the cavern wall.

Still feeling rather paranoid, Seven stayed behind and let the others filter into the room ahead of him.

“You scared, Alf?” said the demon.

“Just too old and too wise to fall for a trap,” he said. “You’ll step on something in there, the room will seal itself, and the room will fill with water or sand.”

“I think he could be right,” said Andrelith, “there are pipes built into the stone. They don’t look like they’ve ever been used and there doesn’t appear to be any trace of water.”

Seven drew his bow, “I’ll stay back here with my bow, thank you very much.”

Seven looked up the steps to the Heroes Guild, a place he had heard tales of during his travels, but seeing it for the first time made him wish he hadn’t come.

The stronghold town was surrounded by mountains that spanned a good few miles. The walk to the Guild’s hall was a long haul up carved stone steps which seemed entirely unnecessary to his mind.

He had been promised fame and fortune, gold and ladies, but ceased to imagine how he could have any of those things in such a dank and desolate part of the world.

“Please tell me there is at least a tavern here?” he asked.

Donald shot him a look, “there are a few taverns and inns. We aren’t complete savages you know.”

“It’d take something to brighten up this savage land,” said Seven. “There’s Nothing but desert for miles around.”

“Come now,” said Donald, “I am sure in time you’ll find comfort in these mountains especially after a few close shaves with death.”

“I’ve had my fair share already,” said Seven. “I wasn’t born yesterday.”

“I’m well aware,” said Donald, “this is where I leave you both. Your mentor should be here shortly and I’ve already sent the other half of your party ahead of you.”

“Understood,” said Andrelith, an eight foot tall Half Dragon, with a silver scaled tail, and enamel horns protruding from his forehead. The Half-Draevin were a race born of a relationship between a full bred dragon and a human or elf and were hated by the Draevin and the Dragons.

“I bid you both well and hope you’ll do me proud,” said Donald.

“We’ll do our best,” said Andrelith.

Donald bowed and left the party to their own devices.

“You really are an ugly sod, aren’t you,” said Seven.

“Speak for yourself, Elf,” Andrelith replied.

A wizened figure came down the steps at a slow gait, “You two are a right pair.”

“You’re a fighter,” said Seven. He could tell that the gait was fake and just beneath the hood he saw a scarred and rugged face of a man who had seen war.

The cloaked figure tilted his head, “I was. My name is Le’Orin and I have been assigned as your mentor.”

Seven rolled his eyes, “you don’t look like much.”

Andrelith pushed past him, “let’s get down to the business,” he said, “when do we get paid?”

Seven looked at the half breed and despite never having much affection for anyone or anything other than gold, himself, and his urges; he was beginning to develop a like for the Half-Draev. His lips curled into a smile, “this guy asks the right questions. When do we get paid?”

“Follow me,” said Le’Orin, “I’ll give you a quick rundown of the place before we speak with the Guild Master about your initiation.”

After what felt like a half-assed and laborious slog around the Guild for about twenty minutes, Le’Orin finally took Seven and Andrelith to a grand hall lined with statues of past heroes and memento’s to their deeds. The hall was white tiled with the occasional dash of green. A lavish violet carpet stretched from the door to a set of steps that led up to an enormous throne on which an aged and plump dwarf sat.

Le’Orin led them into the hall, kneeled, looked back at Andrelith and Seven and gave a subtle motion with his head for them to do the same.

Seven stepped forward, “I’m not bowing to an overweight dwarf.”

The dwarf upon his throne erupted and bellowing laughter echoed through the hall.

His laughter quickly turned to cackling until finally he settled himself. He took a few moments to compose him before he spoke, “are these the heroes Donald has selected for me?”

Le’Orin stood to his feet and nodded, “yes, Guild Master, these are indeed the warriors that Donald has promised you.”

“I’d thought there were to be more,” said the Guild Master, “am I mistaken?”

“Donald sent word that there were,” Le’Orin paused for a moment, “complications.”

“Of what sort?”

“There were changes in the plan and he has already sent two of the warriors forward to Alsbourne to begin the task at hand.”

The Guild Master breathed heavily, “I trust Donald’s judgment.”

Seven looked up to the Guild Master now growing rather impatient and said, “when do we get paid?”

The Guild Master cleared his throat, “you will be paid in due time once you have completed the task presented to you.”

“What’s the task?” said Andrelith.

The old Dwarf motioned with his hand, “a simple task. The village to the south-west has been under constant threat from goblin incursions and has taken a lot of damage as a result. We merely want you to take supplies to the village and perhaps spend a day or two helping them rebuild.”

Seven couldn’t contain his laughter, “you want us to haul ass to some village in the south-west and become builders?”

“This is certainly not the line of work I had in mind,” said Andrelith. “What about the goblins? Do we know where they are coming from?”

“Aye. The goblins have a small encampment south of the village but what’s more important is that we fortify the village to protect against further incursions but should any adversary present itself feel obliged to take arms.”

The Guild Master signalled to a young boy in his early teens. The boy came into the centre of the room carrying a large backpack and set it down at his feet.

“This is a bag that can hold many items without you having to bear the weight of them upon your shoulders,” explained the Guild Master. “These bags are highly expensive so note that should you lose it, it will not be replaced, to draw an item from the bag you simple need to picture it in your mind and it will teleport through the void and into your hand.”

“What’s in the bag currently?” said Andrelith.

“The bag has a few magic potions that should cure any wound you might sustain if the goblins do attack,” said the Guild Master, “it also contains some rations for the village along with basic building tools and resources.”

Seven leant in close to Andrelith and whispered, “we can use this stuff to make a pleasure house.”

The Half-Draev chuckled, “perhaps it might not be wise to do so.”

“And here’s I was thinking you were a fun having kind of guy,” smirked Seven.

“Le’Orin,” the Guild Master continued, “he will be keeping a watchful eye over you and should anything go wrong he’ll step in to aid you. There is a caravan prepared for you outside the stables so you may leave at your soonest convenience.”

“Come on, Dragon Dude,” said Seven. “Let’s get to work.”

“Agreed,” said the Half-Draev, “the sooner we get paid the better.”

The party made their way to the stables and after a quick inventory check and some arguing about who would drive the wagon they finally set off to Alsbourne on their quest.

Day turned to night and the adventurers soon grew weary from the day on the bumpy desert trail and soon set up camp for the night.

“I’ll take the watch,” said Seven, “I’ve little need for sleep.”

“I’m exhausted,” said Andrelith. He rolled a small bedroll out from his pack and laid it carefully on the ground keeping careful distance from the campfire.

“Get some rest,” said Le’Orin. “We should arrive at Alsbourne by about midday if we set off from dawn.”

“Aye, aye, cap’n,” Seven joshed.

The night went in quick and without any hesitation they packed their belongings, snuffed their fire, and made way for Alsbourne arriving just at the break of midday as predicted.

The villagers were happily hammering away at a battered old inn that seemed to have taken the brunt of the goblin’s attack. A dwarf was leading the operation making sure everything was under control and that everyone was pulling their weight. An elven woman was woefully moping through barren fields, a man stood in the fields with other men and seemed to be training something of a makeshift militia, and an old man was crying doom and misfortune but few seemed to pay him any attention other than the odd glare and mutter of disdain.

Seven took a few moments to assess the situation and look for the best suitable place to build his pleasure house when his eyes met the dwarf’s.

The dwarven man approached him wiping sweat from his wrinkled forehead.

“Le’Orin,” he said with a smile, “and these must be the promised heroes.”

Le’Orin beamed back at him, “of sorts yes. We’re here to assess the situation and help with the repairs and fortification of the village. And if need be we will fight the goblins.”

“Good to know,” said the dwarf, “anyway t’other two ‘ave been ‘ammering ‘way at me ole inn.”

Seven’s eye traced a line from the dwarf’s finger to a Nomde Rakta who was doing most of the heavy lifting and a petite and rather malnourished Alf’riet who was clearing away debris and rubble from the destroyed inn.

Seven approached the Alf’riet. He had heard tales of the elves that lived Below but this was his first time meeting one in the flesh. The same could be said about the half demon, Nomde Rakta, for few ever seen them. Most persecuted and punished those with the blood of demon.

“What’s your name?” he heard a voice call.

He snapped back to reality, a little dazed and turned to the Nomde Rakta who’d outstretched his hand toward him.

“I’m Kromoss,” he said, “what’s your name?”

He rolled his eyes, slapped the hand to the side, and quick as a flash put a knife to the demon’s throat, “I’m Seven. Pleasure.”

He sheathed the dagger just as quickly and felt the gaze of the Alf’riet on him and shot her a look, “what?”

She shrugged and went back to her work. He heard a loud sigh and found Le’Orin burying his head in his hands and muttering under his breath.

He could hear screaming and shouting. A woman, middle-aged, came rushing down the street toward him crying, “heroes! Heroes!”

The woman was distressed, her breathing frantic, and her words inaudible.

Andrelith stepped forward with clawed hands and gently held her firm, “calm down. Catch your breath.”

“My daughter,” she gasped, “they took my daughter.”

“Who took your daughter?” asked the Half-Draev.

“The goblins, stupid,” said Kromoss, “who do you think?”

“Is this true, Bert?” Le’Orin asked the Dwarf.

The Dwarf nodded, “unfortunately so. The goblins aint just been attacking us it seems. They’ve been taking young un’s too. Girls in particular.”

“We’ll get your daughter back,” said Andrelith, “I promise.”

“Thank you,” the woman smiled.

Robyn cracked her neck, “we’ve been working here for the past few days without any action. In fact it’s getting to the point that I hope the goblin’s attack to liven the place up.”

“I agree with, Robyn,” said Kromoss, “may I suggest that we take the fight to the goblins?”

“No,” said Le’Orin, “we stay here and we help as instructed.”

Seven looked the scarred Elf with the bitten off ear dead in the eye, “you can’t possibly be willing to sit here and do nothing.”

He noticed a crack in the Elf’s defense, a need for adventure, a thirst for the throes of battle once again.

Le’Orin bowed his head, “you’re right. The villagers can more than manage the repairs. Let’s go hunting goblins.”

“Plan sounds good to me,” said Andrelith, “are you down, Seven?”

“Anything’s better than here,” he said, “besides I’ve always wondered how a demon fights and I’m somewhat curious about our Alf’riet over here as well. I don’t think I caught your name.”

The Alf’riet rolled her eyes, “the name’s Robyn.”

“Alright,” said Le’Orin. “Now that all of the common courtesies are out of the way I think we should head south and see if we can find ourselves a goblin camp.”

“Should we take the caravan?” asked Andrelith.

“We’d be seen a mile off,” said Robyn. “We should go on foot.”

“Agreed,” said Seven, “besides I’m pretty light on my feet.”

“Do you ever shut up?” said Kromoss.

“Do you ever stop being a demonic vermin that I’d sooner gut than fight alongside?”

The demon squared to him.

Le’Orin stepped between them, “alright, knock it off, you two. There’ll be plenty of time for sparring once our job’s done.”

The party soon made tracks and headed south from Alsbourne leaving in the last few hours of daylight as the sun began to slowly drift across the sky. They walked the desert for hours until the black of night was upon them and had it not been for it then perhaps they would not have spotted the goblin settlement’s campfire.

They stopped just close enough to the camp to have a good overview but just far enough away that the darkness would hide them from view.

Le’Orin turned to the group, “they don’t know we are here.”

“A round of applause for stating the obvious,” said Seven. He being one of the stealthiest of the party separated himself from the group and starting to ever so slowly creep his way closer and closer to the camp. His eye caught a motion to his right and he reached for his dagger.

He saw the petite Alf’riet by his side moving just as quickly and just as quietly as he had been. He gave her a nod of approval and together they made a quick scout of the goblin settlement, checking for numbers and armament and assessing their best angle of attack.

After about ten minutes they returned to the group.

“The camp seems to be abandoned,” said Seven.

Robyn nodded, “I can hear a few voices inside the big tent nearest the centre but other than that I think the camp is mostly empty.”

“Are you sure?” said Andrelith. “If we get this wrong it could end with our lives.”

Seven snorted in amusement, “you scared, little dragon?”

“I just like to be prepared.”

“Screw it!” said Kromoss.

Seven was forced to step to the side. The half demon came blasting forward almost knocking him off his feet and were it not for his quick reflexes he’d have been knocked to the ground.

He and the rest of the party just watched in shame. Their companion drew his swords from his belt, let out a horrific roar blowing any cover they had, and went hurtling into the camp.

Soon enough after, a band of goblins rushed from the large tartan tent with crudely crafted scimitars and short bows slung over their shoulders. They spotted the idiotic demon almost instantly and, feeling confident in a five to one fight, charged him.

“I hate you all,” said Andrelith. He rushed forward drawing a set of daggers from his belt and Robyn soon rushed after him.

He looked to Le’Orin, “aren’t you going to help?”

“Not yet,” said the battle worn Elf.

Seven sighed and drew his bow. He knocked an arrow and let it sail. His eyes were well accustomed to the dark and he met his mark with ease. The arrow struck a running goblin. The goblin went spiralling to the dirt- An arrow shaft protruding from its neck.

He kept a careful track of both his comrades and the goblins positions. He knocked and loosed again- the arrow finding purchase in a goblin’s leg creating enough of a distraction for Robyn to run him through with a rapier.

Their eyes met and they gave each other a courteous nod. She rushed back off into the battle and he picked his next target.

One of the goblins, slightly larger than the rest and dressed in a scrappy piece of chainmail he’d likely stolen and pieced together from unfortunate adventurers, was pounding Kromoss back on his heels.

Seven had a clear shot and he thought about it for a moment and in fact almost let loose his arrow but quickly readjusted his aim and felled a goblin that had been taking aim at him with a short bow.

“My life before his,” he thought.

A berserk goblin came crashing toward Andrelith stabbing and slashing. Deadly to the untrained but Andrelith had been trained. The goblin was faster but he was smarter. He pirouetted to the goblin’s flank- Two quick stabs. He felt the blade grind against bone. The goblin fell.

Kromoss was facing off against what he assumed to be the goblin’s chief. He was bigger than the rest- Better equipped and a better fighter. His rhythm was different. A little more refined and lest frantic than his brethren but alas he was still a goblin.

The boss’ scimitar licked out. It clattered off butted chainmail. Kromoss grinned. He made two quick cuts- One to the goblin’s sword arm and the other to his torso. The goblin yelped and his scimitar clattered to the dust. The second glanced off crude mail armour.

Seeing the rest of the goblin troops numbers dwindling Robyn came to Kromoss’ aid. She flanked the boss and lunged for his side. Her nimble blade glided between the mail’s rings. A spout of dark crimson splashed along the blade’s length. The goblin screamed.

The boss shunted Kromoss. Its attention and fury focused on Robyn. It store at her with red hot coals for eyes and in that moment she felt two foot tall. It charged and wailed a vicious and brutal swing.

She was nimble and quick. She raised her blade to meet the scimitar. She pivoted on the balls of her feet. The scimitar sparked off her rapier and she thrust. Her rapier twanged off wood. The boss knocked her to her feet.

Andrelith rushed as quickly as he could to her aid. He finished two goblins Seven had pinned with arrows on his way. He threw a dagger. It sailed past the boss’ head.

Robyn used the distraction. She stabbed the goblin’s fleshy calf. It screamed and collapsed clutching its leg.

“Please don’t kill me!” It pleaded in the common tongue.

 “We should loot the corpses,” said Kromoss. He stood up, dusted himself off, wiped off and sheathed his swords, and straightened himself.

“They probably don’t have anything more than a few pieces of silver,” said Seven. He had stayed to the outskirts of the battle for most of it but ran in to finish the job with his rapier when the odds where more favourable.  “Besides I’m more interested in this one.”

“Don’t kill me!” the goblin pleaded in the common tongue.

“We should kill him,” suggested Robyn, “we’ve little use for him now.”

She stood up and pointed her rapier for the goblin boss’ throat.

Seven caught her wrist, glared into her eyes, and said, “wait. He could lead us to whoever is behind the attacks.”

Andrelith stepped between them, “goblin. Why are you attacking Alsbourne and taking little girls?”

“Probably eating them or something,” snarled Robyn, “there is nothing to be gained from a goblin. Their hearts are made of coal.”

“Shut up,” spat Seven. He turned back to the goblin and store deep into the black sockets of the humanoid’s eyes, “talk or die.”

“You’ll just kill me anyway,” said the goblin.

He took the Goblin by the scruff of the neck, pressed against its Adam’s apple, and drew a small line of crimson across his throat. He stopped and took the blade away from the heavily panting Goblin’s neck, “I could kill you and believe me in saying I would take great pleasure in it. However I’m a man of coin like yourself so I’ll make you a little deal.”

He stood up and guided the Goblin to his feet placing a small piece of gold in his palm, “you can keep this coin if you tell us everything you know and if you do a good job, I won’t take your head for a trophy on my wall. I’ll even let you work for me as a bodyguard. How does that sound, Goblin?”

The Goblin paused a moment in thought eyeing over the coin like it was the most precious artefact in the whole world.

Andrelith’s eye caught something glimmering like silver in the backdrop of the desert sands buried under its dust. He scooped down a picked up strands of silver white hair that was similar to Robyn’s and made him ponder who the goblin’s had been working with.

He kicked the Goblin to the ground, “where are the white hairs from? Who are you working for?”

Seven reeled around throwing a fist to the half dragon’s gut. The Half-Draev lurched. He grabbed his horns and threw him onto his back, “stay out of my business.”

It was then that he felt a sharp prodding against his back. His gaze met the Alf’riet’s.

“Calm down,” she said, “calm down, or I’ll kill you and the damn goblin.”

“It was the dark elves,” interrupted the goblin, “her kind. One of them employed us to take children. Little girls, from the village and bring them to him in a cavern to the east of our camp. He paid us well. How could we resist?”

“I understand,” said Seven stepping away from the rapier at his back. “Why did the Alf’riet want girls?”

“What was his name?” asked Andrelith.

The goblin shook his head, “I don’t know. We never needed to know, we just needed to do our job and get paid, that was all that mattered to us.”

“Kill him already,” said Robyn again.

“I agree,” said Kromoss, “if he has nothing more for us then what good is he alive.”

“Goblin,” said Seven, “you can clutch onto your wretched life if you take us to the cavern the Alf’riet is hiding in.”

“Yes, yes!” the goblin said frantically, “I can show you. I can show you!”

“Furthermore,” he said, “you are now bound to me and from this day forward you will be known as Giggabif.”

The goblin nodded, “but my-,”

He placed his finger to the goblin’s green lips, “Giggabif.”

The goblin sighed, “Giggabif.”

“Good,” he smiled, “I’m glad we have an understanding.”

“He’ll stab you in the back,” said Robyn.

“I trust him more than you, Alf’riet,” he spat. She grunted and joined Kromoss in looting the remainder of the bodies.

After searching the camp for a good few minutes, the demon and Alf’riet returned.

“Nothing more than few coins,” they explained.

“We should head back to Alsbourne for the night and return to Lighthaven with our findings,” said Le’Orin.

“No,” said Andrelith, “this goblin-,”

“His name is Giggabif,” said Seven. He contently tied a length of rope around the goblin’s torso like a makeshift harness and gave it a good few pulls to make sure it wouldn’t come loose.

He felt the Half-Draev’s gaze on his back.

“Giggabif,” the Half-Draev continued. “He can take us to the Alf’riet cavern. We have an opportunity to do good here.”

“I agree,” said Kromoss. “We should strike now before we run out of time. If we leave it too late they could leave.”

“Yeah,” said Robyn, “the longer we leave this the more torture and pain those girls have to face.”

“If you are all sure,” said Le’Orin. “You’ve already gone above and beyond expectations and this will be noticed by the Guild.”

“If there is more coin,” said Seven, “then you can count me in.”

He kicked Giggabif in the rear and let the goblin lead the way. It took them about an hour to come to a giant gaping hole left in the ground, the sand had turned to ash and the ground have caved into an underground cavern of sorts. It was pitch black and so far down they couldn’t even see the bottom.

“How are we supposed to get down there?” said Kromoss.

At that moment the Alf’riet came bounding forward leaping down into the cavern with a whoop of joy.

Seven’s eyes widened, “she’s got guts, that’s for sure.”

A cushioned thud echoed up through the hole followed by a voice, “um guys?”

“At least we know she’s alive,” said Kromoss.

“What can you see?” said Andrelith.

“The mushrooms at the bottom cushioned my fall,” she called up, “but I’m not alone down here.”

The rasp of a blade leaving its scabbard echoed up the hole followed by an explosive bang and rampant coughing.

Without a second thought, Andrelith sprouted a set of leathery wings from his back and hovered down the hole.

Seven buried his head in his hands.

“Should we help?” Kromoss said to him.

“Nah,” he said, “I’m sure it’s fine.”

“Fair enough,” the demon chuckled.

“Ah! It’s everywhere!” the rocky walls of the cavern carried the sound upward, “by Mortem, make it stop!”

“Maybe we should help,” Kromoss suggested once again.

Seven turned to his goblin companion and untied the rope looking him dead in the eye, “Giggabif. Smash.”

The goblin nodded and peered over the edge of the hole, “but boss the fall could kill me.”

“I’ll kill you if you don’t do what you’re told,” he replied.

Without a second moment passing the Goblin dropped down the hole and another thud echoed to the surface.

“Come on,” said Le’Orin, “this should make it easier.” The Elf had tied and pinned a fifty foot rope to the edge of the cavern.

Kromoss immediately went to the rope and made his way down followed by Le’Orin.

He thought about leaving them at that moment but the prospect of gold drove him forward and he went down the rope after them. It was apparent the rope wasn’t going to be long enough to get them all the way down and it fell short about halfway. He heard another two thuds and he followed the suite of his comrades and let go of the rope.

He sunk down into a large mushroom and it took him a few minutes to dig himself out and find his footing whilst his comrades fought strange mutated mushroom men the like of which he’d never seen. With every strike they exploded into puffs of noxious gas.

He immediately covered his mouth and nose and let the gas pass over him until the last of the mushrooms were destroyed.

“Thanks for the help guys,” said Robyn. Her words full of enough sarcasm to fell a dragon.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to throw yourself at danger,” said Andrelith.

“We should move quickly,” said Seven. “With all this commotion there is a good chance they already know we are here.”

They pressed deeper into the heart of the cave system. Most of the old cavern had been blocked off from cave-ins and large portions of rock debris that had fallen from the roof above them.

Seven glanced around and noticed the Half-Draev running his fingers over a wall to their left.

“What is it?” he said.

“I can feel a draft coming from here,” said Andrelith, “look.”

The Half-Draev took his hand and pressed it against the stone.

He felt cold damp air flow against his fingers. He stretched his arm out to touch the wall and his arm went through like nothing was even there. He focused and soon his eyes adjusted to the light and he could see that there was a passageway, no taller or wider than three foot.

“There’s a passageway,” he said.

“There can’t be,” said Andrelith, “that’s solid stone.”

“It’s an illusion.”

The Half-Draev just like him pressed his hand through the wall and snapped his fingers in a moment of clarity.

By this point the rest of the group had joined them and Kromoss said, “I don’t think you can fit in their dragon, allow me.”

“I’ll fit just fine,” said Andrelith. He retracted his wings into his body and with some effort managed to force himself down the small tunnel with Kromoss following shortly after. Seven soon followed into what must have at one time been a crypt.

When Andrelith entered the room he saw it was littered with well-aged tombstones some of which had crumbled away and others looked worse for wear like it hadn’t been used in quite some time. A dank musk of death wafted through the air.  He felt nauseated and wanted to throw up but he soldiered on. His eye caught a strange symbol that seemed to be burnt into the ground beneath his feet. He scuffed at the dirt with his foot but it still remained as if suspended by forces he did not understand. He heard the clunk and creak of old hinges.

“No!” said Kromoss.

Andrelith lifted the lid off a large chest in the back of the room and by some miracle just managed to pull his hand back in time before a sharp needle shot out on a spring mechanism.

“It’s fine,” said the Half-Draev.

“Watch your feet everyone,” said Kromoss, “there appears to be a symbol of some sort magically infused in the earth.”

The Half-Draev after taking a few items from the chest examined the symbol on the ground, “it’s a symbol of Mortem. The deity of death.”

“That chest must have been rigged for some kind of magical trap,” said Le’Orin.

The Half-Draev nodded, “most likely. It probably was set to draw my blood to fuel the magic and raise the dead.”

Seven clocked his Half-Draev comrade upside the head, “be more careful in the future, idiot.”

“Sorry,” said Andrelith, “my curiosity got the better of me.”

“Did you find anything useful?”

“Just a deck of cards and a few coins,” said the Half-Draev, “nothing of particular value.”

“Let’s keep going,” said Kromoss. “I really don’t want to give our enemies the chance to escape or leave any more traps for us.”

“There’s a door over here, boss,” said Giggabif, “it’s locked.”

“Excellent work, my slimy companion!” said Seven.

“Can anyone open it?” said Andrelith.

Seven stood back from the door. He knew he had both the tools and the expertise to pick the lock but given how the room had been trapped he didn’t want to take the chance with the door and slipped into the shadows.

“I can try,” said Robyn. He watched her take a small set of picks and a tension rod from her back pack. She worked at the lock and he watched her curiously knowing for a fact he could do it much quicker but better her taking a dart to the chest than him.

After about five minutes of metal scraping metal, the door opened with the click of the last pin. The Alf’riet quickly stored her tools in her backpack and backed away from the door, “the doors open but I’m not going to be the one to take the first step. The next room could be trapped and I’m not willing to take a hit. I’ve done my part.”

Seven remained in the shadows waiting for someone else to take charge. He preferred to stay quiet and nimble and thought it much wiser to let someone with a little thicker armour go ahead.

“I’ll go,” said Le’Orin. The door slid open, the metal hinges shrieking and eventually snapping due to fatigue.

The metal door hit the stone with a thud and Andrelith used his superior strength to move it aside and prop it against the cavern wall.

Still feeling rather paranoid, Seven stayed behind and let the others filter into the room ahead of him.

“You scared, Alf?” said the demon.

“Just too old and too wise to fall for a trap,” he said. “You’ll step on something in there, the room will seal itself, and the room will fill with water or sand.”

“I think he could be right,” said Andrelith, “there are pipes built into the stone. They don’t look like they’ve ever been used and there doesn’t appear to be any trace of water.”

Seven drew his bow, “I’ll stay back here with my bow, thank you very much.”



© Copyright 2017 Peter McCabe. All rights reserved.

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