At that very moment, Sir Aeric and Sir Eleazar were slowly creeping down the long, dark, cluttered hallway that led from the front door toward the rest of the house.On either side of them were displayed a multitude of dried plants and long rows of shelves full of jars and glass bottles, most coated with a generous layer of dust as if they had been resting there forgotten for several eons.From the ceiling hung several hides from some sort of animal – but for what purpose the Paladins could not discern.
The Knights' years of experience battling the minions of the Necromancer’s Guild had sensitized them to the slight tingle of negative energy manifested by those types of undead creatures that were less corporeal then spirit and it was that pulse of dread that put both men on alert as they slowly went down the hall.
Eleazar, with his highly sensitive Drow eyes could see easily in the very dim light and quickly scanned over the labels on the various potions they passed.They were written in the shaky and rather hard-to-read script of an elderly person, but were clear enough to decipher after a moment.At the end of the dark hallway was a door and seeing nothing that indicated there were any healing potions in the entrance hall’s vast display, they decided to enter.Sir Aeric had his long sword drawn and it shined with a faint light as if from a full moon, but that glow was magical and indicated the nearness of any sort of undead creature.Eleazar still had his great sword sheathed on his back as the close quarters of the cluttered house left him no room to swing the two-handed weapon. Instead he held his secondary sword, an enchanted, silver-bladed long sword that also gave off a slight glow when within range of an undead being.
With a silent glance to Aeric, Eleazar slowly pushed the door open, using the blade of his silver sword to swing the heavy door backwards with a long creaking sound.The door swung ajar and immediately a cold blast of air seemed to rush over them.The Knights were not fooled and knew it for what it was – an attack.They backed up slightly, glancing all about, ready for something.Suddenly the door they had pushed open began swinging back and forth, over and over, faster and faster without anyone manipulating it. The door was a blur of motion as some unseen force seemed determined to work it free of its hinges.A moment later the hinges cracked and bent and the door ripped free, twirling end over end, like a throwing knife, at the two Paladins.They leaped to opposite sides as the door slammed down at them, sending large splinters of wood from the force of impact.
Then it was the shards of wood from the broken door, guided by an unseen force and propelled with the speed of arrows, slamming into them.They shielded their faces as the wood pieces smashed into their suits of Plate Armor.
From somewhere, a disembodied moan filled the hallway as the wood suddenly dropped to the floor.Eleazar ran over to his comrade, who was brushing off the pieces of wood that had tried unsuccessfully to impale him through his armor.But there was only the lapse of a moment before there came a loud scrapping sound and they looked over at the doorway where the destroyed door had stood, to see the shape of a large wooden table being pushed quickly and with great force toward the entryway.
"Here we go again!" Aeric said as both men readied themselves.The table crashed into the doorway, then pushed through, its four legs breaking off, but apparently not due to the impact, for instead of falling to the ground, all four legs twirled forward as airborne clubs, followed by the table, which had flipped vertical upon entering the hall and floated forward as if it were a living creature about to attack them.
But the table legs arrived first; two thick oak beams swung at each of the knights as if an invisible giant guided them.Eleazar ducked the first swipe to his head, jerking backward as the second wooden leg grazed his cheek.The first one then reversed its course and thrust forward at his head again.He had no choice but to parry it with his sword, and the impact nearly knocked the weapon from his hand.But the silver blade seemed to disenchant the make-shift club and it fell to the floor.The second table leg swung low, aiming for the half-Drow’s knee. His armor absorbed most of the energy of the blow, yet he still stumbled, and the leg arched down hard onto his shoulder plate then cut a sideways path, nicking his chin before again reversing and narrowly missing his face.He dodged backwards, then straight down as the leg smashed into the shelves lining the hallway.
There was a shower of shattered glass and several potions rained down upon him, thankfully without causing any magical effect.
The table leg thrust forward, plowing hard into his breastplate in an attempt to impale him, but again his armor turned the wood aside.Another blow shot out toward his head, but he had his sword up in time and his sword imbedded deep into the oak table leg.It went inanimate immediately, causing the half-Drow to pull the wood off his sword then turn to see how Aeric fared.
The half-Elf was still standing and blood ran from his nose the result of a blow delivered by one of the animated table legs attacking him.The other leg lay at his feet, sheared in half.Before Eleazar could move in to assist his fellow knight, there appeared before him the looming form of the long oak table, still floating with its surface facing him. The massive table filled most of the space in the narrow hall and suddenly it flipped over, delivering a powerful undercut as it spun.Eleazar tried to dodge backwards, but the revolving edge of the table caught him in the chest and sent him somersaulting backwards to crash into the edge of the hallway shelves.His impact sent a shower of potions and pieces of shelving down on top of him, yet he ignored it, scurrying to get to his feet before the table was swung at him again.Aeric had finally knocked the supernatural power from his last table leg, but the large table spun at him and the poor knight had no room to dodge as it slammed down on him like a fly being swatted with a piece of wood.
Aeric managed to get both arms above his head and they absorbed most of the impact.He fell into a tight ball, protecting his head as the table continued to pummel him.The wood began to crack as again and again it slammed down on him, while Eleazar jumped to his feet to help. But in a flash the table had dropped vertical and shot like a lightning bolt at the half-Drow, the edge of the table aiming for his neck in an attempt to decapitate him.Eleazar dropped backwards onto his hands, gracefully letting the table sail overhead, missing his head by inches.He was pleased with his evasion until the table again changed course and as it passed over him, abruptly lost all forward movement and fell on top of him. But even this was an attack and the table crushed him down to the floor as if a couple of elephants were standing on top of the other side.He was pinned and still the table pushed against him, trying to crush the life right out of him.His armor creaked from the unseen power pressing against him.Eleazar was helpless, unable to breathe and it felt like more and more pressure was being applied to the table.His eyes watered from the weight upon him and the lack of oxygen, but he saw clearly enough to behold Aeric appear above the table with his sword in hand, sending a strong blow down on the top of the table, which Eleazar even felt underneath.The magic sword dispelled the enchantment and the table immediately became just ordinary heavy wood again.
As he gasped for breath, the half-Elf pushed the oak table off his captain.He was reaching down a hand to help Eleazar get up when out of nowhere a rickety chair slammed down hard onto the back of Aeric’s head and neck.The knight fell face first on top of Eleazar, knocked momentarily unconscious by the impact, which, fortunately for both of them, had shattered the wood so much that it too fell lifeless to the ground.
Eleazar wiggled free from the table and the senseless form of his comrade, glancing all about for the next object to be used against them, but to his great relief found the room still, except for a slightly green glowing ‘mist’ which seemed to be all about the room, drifting slowly back toward the room beyond the now open doorway.
He sensed what was happening and reached down and turned Aeric over and began slapping his face, "Sir Aeric, wake up!" To his relief, the half-Elf gave a long groan and began to move his arms a bit, then as his wits returned to him, he too struggled to stand.
"There is a mist that seems to be going back into the room behind the doorway as if it was summoned by forces there.I think our attacker is inside that room."
Aeric said nothing but wiped the blood from his nose and joined Eleazar who stood with his long sword drawn, looking down the hallway as the swirling green mist seemed to be concentrating there.There was no other option; they had to go inside to stop whatever was using inanimate objects against them.
The two advanced on the doorway, stepping over the mess left in the room.As they neared the doorway, they could sense a weak green glow coming from the other end of the room.It had been a private room for the owner of the establishment.On the floor were several items that had once rested on the table that had been sent after them.It was a dark room and the glow came from the far corner where an old bed with a straw mattress sat.Sprawled out on the bed was a corpse, looking as if it had not been there long.It was that of an old withered crone, wearing dark clothing that was stained with dried black blood that also dyed the sheet underneath her form.The green mist was coming from all around, floating across the room like dust in a beam of light, and then entering the corpse through the head.
Eleazar and Aeric rushed over with their swords raised, but the green swirling mist seemed to zero in around the head of the old crone and just as the two Paladins approached, the corpse’s eyes opened, filled with a glowing light of the same color of green as the mist.With supernatural abruptness the reanimated crone swung to her feet much like a rake that was stepped on. She suddenly was before them and lunged immediately, her gnarled hands twisted into claws.
She fell upon Aeric first, raking at him with her talons but he brought his sword up to block.Her forward momentum carried her onto the weapon, causing a screech from her lips as it sliced into her upper chest.But one arm swung out and contacted with his shoulder and though he was encased in heavy plate armor, at her touch he yelped in pain and flinched back.
"Her touch is cold!" He yelled as Eleazar moved upon her.She spun and slapped at him but his sword deflected her attack, the contact with his blade also causing a howl to escape her.Her other hand shot out and grabbed the wrist of his free arm sending immediate numbing cold racing up his arm.Eleazar slashed down fast as an arrow, his sword taking her hand off at the wrist.
Aeric waded back in at that moment, coming in low and running her through with his sword.She shuddered, the green light in her eyes fading somewhat, but she pushed herself forward on the sword that impaled her and clawed at the half-Elf’s face with her remaining hand.Aeric was ready this time though and yanked the sword free from her, then swung at her upper arm socket, his sword chopping deep.It wasn’t enough to server the limb, but her other arm fell lifeless to her side. Both Paladins rushed her to end the battle, yet the crone had one last trick left.She gave a horrid screeching cry and from her open mouth a ball of green light shot forth, slamming into Eleazar like a bolt of lightning.He felt his every muscle jerk uncontrollably and then something seemed to be pulling energy off of him, trying to drain it from him as if the electricity was a leech.
He tried to move forward but the spasms of his muscles only allowed for a staggering fall into her. Yet that did the trick, for as they fell backwards, the energy draining ball of light was
dissipated.Immediately the undead thing began to form another, issuing another owl-like shriek, but he rammed the blade of his sword through the underside of her chin like a meat
skewer and her mouth snapped shut.The glowing ball of light seemed to reform in both of her eyes though and she leaned in to regard him as the balls of energy draining electricity
began to grow.Sir Aeric ended her undead existence before she could release them with a hardy chop of his sword to her exposed neck, sending her bony skull rolling.
The green light faded at once and the room was returned to normality.
"Are you alright?"Aeric asked Eleazar as he got up from the floor.
"I’m fine, what about you?"
"My shoulder and arm feels like I’ve stuck it in icy water for an hour, it is painful and numb.I don’t know what kind of undead creature she was, do you?"
"I have no idea – perhaps some sort of wright or wraith, or maybe a ghost, if not something new to us.I think she probably was the old lady who ran this shop, this looks like it was the place she died."
They looked around the room while Aeric tried moving his numb shoulder to return feeling to it.It was a small, bleak, bed-chamber combined with the appearance of a very humble and meager alchemist’s lab.As Eleazar hunted for any sort of healing potion, Sir Aeric used a vial of his holy water to sanctify the corpse of the old woman and prevent it -hopefully- from being reanimated in the future.
"Here we are." Eleazar said a few minutes later while glancing at the contents of a shelf over the bed, "She has four potions here marked 'Healing' but two of them are a deep burgundy color, one is light red and the forth is a deep blue."
"No difference in the labels?" Aeric asked, still massaging his arm which was very slowly regaining feeling.
"None, and I smelled them but didn’t notice any difference."
"Is there any known standard to Healing Potions?"
"None that I know of.I’ve seen clear colored potions and those with a light blue tint to them, but never any like this."
"And we don’t have any way to know what exactly they do.If the old lady reused bottles or was simply mistaken in her labeling, it could cause more harm than good."
"Yes, but it’s all we have found and I don’t want to keep the two girls waiting out there – we don’t have much time.I’ll take them anyway and we’ll sort it out at the stone farmhouse."
Aeric nodded agreement and they both carried two bottles of the potion and gladly left the eerie establishment.
© Copyright 2016 ecdavis. All rights reserved.
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