The dungeon door blew open. The echo bounced around the vacant hallway as the four adventurers entered. The human fighter Thoros entered first, covered in steel armor. “Fuck yeah, let’s kick some ass!”
“Thoros, will you please keep your voice down, who knows what's in here?” The half elf wizard Vicril pleaded.
“Come now, where is your sense of adventure?” asked Thoros.
“Thoros keep your voice down.” Carlynn came in behind Vicril. She wore royal elven armor given to her by her father. “We don’t want to make our presence known to anything in here.”
“Is the elf princess scared of the dark dungeon?” Carlynn knocked an arrow in her bow and aimed at Thoros as he drew his long sword. “Now wait a minute,” Elbin the barbaric dwarf entered last, wielding his heavy battle axe. “Just what do ye think yer doing? We’re here to kill whatever the priest back in town thinks is causing this plague. Put yer weapons down and let’s keep going aye?”
Carlynn put her bow away. Thoros smiled and sheathed his sword. He turned and looked down the hallway. It was only lit for about one hundred feet. “Does anyone have a torch?”
“I have one better.” Vicril walked to the front of the group. He took a long deep breath and raised his arms. The end of his staff began to glow. After a minute the glow disappeared. One by one the torches self ignited along the dungeon walls. Vicril walked to the back of the group pretty proud of himself. “Now every torch in the dungeon is lit.”
“Glad to see you put your powers to use spell caster.”
“You’d be in the dark without me Thoros.” With that the adventurers pressed on. Slowly they made their way down the hall. The walls glistened from the torchlight. Rats scurried across the floor as they walked. Thoros and Elbin tried to see who could squish the most. Elbin won. “It’s only because you’re closer to the ground.”
Elbin laughed and kept squishing more rats. A door soon came up on the left. “Ok let’s be safe about this.” said Carlynn. “Let me check to see if-”
Thoros drop kicked the door open. The skeletons throughout the room began rising and arming themselves with the swords on the ground. Thoros ran in with Elbin behind him. They slashed down all the skeletons with ease. Thoros was surged with adrenaline. He laughed as the others entered. “Damn it Thoros!” screamed Vicril. “Anything could’ve been behind this door! You could’ve killed us all!”
“But look at all this loot!” Thoros threw himself upon a chest in the corner of the room. Vicril became furious. Carlynn put her hand on his shoulder and shook her head. Vicril kept quiet. Elbin pushed Thoros off of the chest and busted it open. It had about twelve gold coins in it on top of some clothing. Thoros was silent. Carlynn walked over to him. “Maybe this should teach you a lesson. Being reckless isn’t very rewarding.”
“Are you kidding? I’m six gold coins richer!”
“You mean four?”
“What? No, Elbin and I cleared the room so we split the loot.” Carlynn didn’t like it but it did seem fair. They left the room and went on their way. As they continued down the hall a musty rotten smell filled their nose. “What is that ungodly smell?” Vicril complained.
“It’s the smell of an Ogre. Vile nasty creatures.” said Elbin.
“Do you think he’s got gold on him?” asked Thoros.
“No! This is not a creature we want to fight. He’ll mash up yer bones and make bread from them. He’ll turn ye into a stew; eat yer eyes like bon bon’s.”
“Oh, come on. How tough could it be?” The ground began to rumble. They could hear the large thud of feet coming towards them. Carlynn saw it first. The massive creature barely fit in the hallway. It was running full speed at them, giant club in hand. She fired an arrow into its neck. The ogre didn’t even notice. “We should run now!”
Thoros stood alone as the others fled for their lives. Vicril tripped as he ran and accidently opened a secret door in the wall. “Quick, get in!” The three entered and shut the door behind them. They sat in the empty passage way pressed against the door listening to Thoros’ war cry as he fought the monster. Dust fell from the ceiling as the ogres club slammed against the walls. “Do you think we should help him?” Carlynn suggested.
“Are you crazy?” said Vicril. “You saw the size of that thing. I knew his carelessness would get him killed.”
“I agree,” said Elbin. “Man’s a fool.” There was a loud scream that echoed throughout the halls and then silence. The three looked at each other. Elbin opened the door and looked down the hallway. Thoros was on top of the ogre searching through its clothing. “I'm keeping all of the loot I find on this thing!”
“You killed it?!” asked Vicril.
“I’ve killed bigger ones.” Thoros jumped off the ogre 500 gold coins richer. “Let’s go down that secret path you guys found. There’s bound to be more loot to find.” Thoros led the way down the hall. They came upon two doors on opposing walls. Carlynn shoved her way to the front. “Let me check for traps first.” Thoros grunted. She glared at him. “Unless you would like to endanger us all again for a couple coins.”
“No no go ahead. Keep us all safe from the big bad traps.” Vicril laughed at Thoros’ sarcasm. Thoros pushed him back and Vicril fell down. One of the blocks that he fell on depressed into the floor a bit. The two doors disappeared before Carlynn could check them. Thoros turned around and pointed at Vicril. “What did you do?!”
“Me!? You pushed me down!” Vicril then saw Thoros staring down the hall. “What?”
Vicril looked behind him. Down the hall a small floating object was coming towards them. Vicril stood up. “What is that?”
“Let’s find out.” said Elbin. He slowly approached it. As he got closer he could make it out. “It looks like a coin sack in some sort of clear goo.”
“It’s a gelatinous cube. Get away from it!” said Thoros.
Elbin began laughing. “A gelatinous cube? That’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of.”
“Elbin don’t touch it!” cried Carlynn. Elbin reached out to grab the coin sack. He touched the goo and was shocked. He flew back completely paralyzed. Thoros ran forward and picked up Elbin. “Run away!”
They all ran down the hallway until they came upon a gap in the floor. It was fifteen feet across and the bottom was not visible. Carlynn and Vicril jumped it with ease. Thoros threw Elbin across. He looked at the gap. “I can’t jump this!”
“Yes you can. Just jump.” Carlynn said.
“Easy for you to say elf, humans can’t jump as far.”
“Stand still for a moment. I’ll help you!” cried Vicril. He pointed his staff and began mumbling in an ancient language. Thoros looked back and saw the gelatinous cube creeping closer and closer. “Hurry up Vicril!”
Vicril ignored his plea and continued mumbling. Soon a beam of light was shot from the staff onto Thoros. “Now jump!”
Thoros ran forward and jumped the gap, barely landing on the other side. The gelatinous cube made its way into the gap and disappeared. They all sat down and rested. Vicril opened his satchel and took out a jar filled with powder. He took a pinch and sprinkled it onto Elbin’s face. Within minutes Elbin woke up. “What happened?”
“You touched the cube.” Thoros answered.
“How’d it knock me down?”
“That’s what it does. Its slime paralyzes the victim and then it absorbs it. We’re lucky that coin sack was in it or we might not have seen it coming.”
“Well thanks for saving me.” Elbin stood up and stretched. The others stood up and continued their way down the hall. Another door soon appeared on the right. Carlynn checked for any traps or enchantments put on the door. She didn’t find any. Thoros slowly opened it. It led to another hallway. He looked down both directions. “Left, or right?”
“Let’s go left.” Vicril said. So the four adventurers went left down the hallway. The door slammed shut and locked behind them. “That can’t be good.”
Grunts and pants were heard down the hall in front of them. The stamping of many feet became louder. Thoros drew his sword. “Alright, more bad guys to loot!”
A large group of orcs came barreling down the hall. Thoros and Elbin charged the orcs while Carlynn began shooting arrows. Vicril was shooting flares at the orcs blinding them. One by one the orcs fell to the four, but more kept coming down the hall. They kept strong but more and more orcs made their way to them. Thoros and Elbin started tiring. Vicril was becoming weak. They started getting pushed back. Carlynn looked back down the hall and saw a door. “There’s a door down the hall.”
“Let’s make our way down there.” cried Vicril.
“Well they aren’t going to stop attacking so we can leave.” Thoros said. Vicril concentrated and created a stone wall between the groups. He fell down exhausted. “Get up we have to get to that door.” Elbin said.
Thoros walked past them. He mumbled to himself. “Man, I bet they had all kinds of loot. Maybe even some gems.”
The four made it to the door and went in. It led to a large room with a dry fountain in the center of it. There were vases scattered across the room full of dead plant life. A table was in the far corner with some chairs. Vicril made his way over there and sat down. “I have to take a rest.”
“Did the wizard use too much magic at once?” Thoros teased.
Vicril looked over at him. “Yeah I did. I don’t have infinite energy you know.”
“Didn’t the priest say something about a fountain?” asked Elbin
“Yeah, he said that in the legend the room with the fountain opens the staircase.” said Vicril.
“Where does the staircase lead?” asked Thoros.
“It leads to where the evil power takes form.”
“What does that mean?” Elbin asked.
“I’m not sure. Check around for a way to reveal the staircase.” They scattered around the room checking the walls and vases for any sort of switch. Thoros lifted a vase to reveal a button on the floor. “I found it!” he cried.
“Don’t push it yet.” said Carlynn. “Let me-” Thoros had already pushed the button and a section in the wall opened. Before he looked up Thoros was thrown across the room and smashed into the fountain. Elbin turned and saw from the wall emerge a large bear wielding a mace and shield. It entered the room and gave a bone chilling roar.
“Werebear!” Elbin charged the massive beast and began swinging his axe at it. The werebear kicked Elbin away and held its shield up to block the arrows Carlynn was shooting at it. It ran at her and swung. She rolled out of the way and drew her short swords and swung mercilessly at the beast. Elbin got back up and ran over to assist Carlynn. Vicril was mumbling in the corner trying to ready his spell as the others fought.
Thoros kept trying to get up but was still too dazed to stand. “Get out of the way!” cried Vicril as he shot a lightning bolt from his staff. It missed the monster by inches. Vicril fell to the floor completely exhausted. He shakily tried to stand. As he did the werebear charged Vicril and struck him square in the chest, sending him soaring to the opposing wall. Elbin leaped into the air behind the monster and struck it in the back. It let out a deafening screech and swung erratically at Elbin. Carlynn managed to jump on its back and stab the creature until it fell over and died.
Elbin went to go help Thoros up while Carlynn went to tend to Vicril. He was dead before she got to him. Elbin and Thoros came over and saw Carlynn weeping over his bloodied body. All of his potion bottles had broken and their contents covered his body. The silently stood for a while as she cried. “Carlynn,” Thoros put his arm on her shoulder. “We have to keep going. He’d want us to continue.”
She nodded her head and they continued searching for something to reveal the staircase. They couldn't find anything. Thoros began to break the vases. He went to the table and flipped it over. As he there was a loud clunk. Thoros looked over to the fountain and saw it sink into the ground. Above it a circular section of the ceiling came down and revealed a spiral staircase. Thoros was ecstatic. He ran up those stairs like a child going to a candy store. The next floor led to a doorway guarded by a hideous troll.
Carlynn flinched when she saw the wretched cretin. Its protruding teeth gave a particularly horrid odor. The troll’s eyes seemed to wander around the room as it spoke. “Who are thee that wish to pass the door behind me?”
“We are adventurers seeking the cause of the plague at Falcon’s Cap.” said Thoros.
“Ah, yes the cause is behind the door. But first you must play a game, yes? Answer my riddle and you shall pass.” The troll laughed at them.
Thoros thought for a moment. “We could just kill you and pass anyway couldn't we?”
The troll stopped laughing. “You may enter.”
He stepped aside as the three entered through the door. It led to a giant stone walled maze. Elbin turned around to the troll. “What's the way through?”
“Had ye answered my riddle, I may have given the answer.” The troll laughed and shut the door. Elbin tried to open it but he couldn't. He was going to break it down but Carlynn stopped him. “Well,” said Carlynn. “I guess we’re just going to have to go through.”
They entered the maze less than happy. For what seemed like hours they wandered aimlessly down path after path, meeting dead end after dead end. “Oh my god I just want to get out of here. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK!” screamed Thoros. Elbin and Carlynn laughed at him. Thoros was going to scream something else but a low moan filled the maze. The three froze. “What was that?” asked Elbin.
“That’s a minotaur.” Carlynn replied.
“How do you know?” Thoros asked.
“My father has one in his fighting ring. They make that noise when they sense something nearby. So as long as we try to keep away from it, it won’t get us.”
“How are we supposed to do that? It’s not like we know how to navigate the maze.”
“And whose fault is that that!” Elbin declaimed.
“I didn’t know he would give us the answer if we played his dumb game!” They started shouting.
“Maybe ye shouldn’t jump ahead of ye-self. Ye know, hearing things out can be useful!”
“Are you saying I don’t think things through?!”
“Yeah I am. What are you gonna do?!”
“I'm gonna kick your little dwarf teeth in!”
“Not if I-” The wall behind them exploded as the minotaur burst its way through holding a huge axe. Thoros and Elbin were knocked on the ground. It turned to Carlynn and grunted. She ran as fast as she could through the maze. The minotaur followed her. Elbin and Thoros chased after them, but were too slow to catch up. The minotaur was gaining ground on Carlynn. She came up on a dead end, but she knew if she stopped the monster would crush her. She ran to the end and pushed herself into the air off of the wall. The minotaur crashed through it. It turned around and began screaming at her.
Elbin and Thoros managed to make it to her before the minotaur came back. Elbin and Thoros attacked the mighty beast as Carlynn worked on poisoning an arrow. Thoros and Elbin’s attacks seemed to do nothing to creature. It simply pushed them away and ran to Carlynn. She knocked the arrow and shot the Minotaur through the eye. Almost instantly the beast fell and died. Thoros walked over to her. “What was that?”
“Poison my father gave me. He said minotaur’s can smell an elf a mile away. Apparently we’re their favorite food. So he gave me a special poison to kill them.”
“Wow, cool. You’re gonna share the loot though right.” Carlynn simply smiled and walked to hole the minotaur made in the dead end. Thoros found 300 silver pieces and eight diamonds on the minotaur. “Hey, do you guys want any?”
“No thanks.” said Carlynn.
“Yes, let’s split it.” Elbin and Thoros split the loot as they saw fit. “Hey,” Carlynn said. “I see a door over here.”
They walked over to the door. It was locked. Elbin smashed it open and the troll nearly fell over. “You’re Alive!” it shrieked. Thoros pinned it against the wall. “I should kill you for what you almost did to us!”
“No please don’t!”
“Give me a reason.” Thoros put the tip of his blade against the troll’s neck.
“I know where it is you wish to go.”
“Last time you said that a minotaur almost killed us.”
“I’ll lead you there this time, yes? No tricks, no. I lead.” Thoros put him down. The scrawny little thing brushed itself off and went up the stairs. “All the way up is what you seek.”
Up the stairs the troll led them, up nine floors. It led to a doorway which, with a little “incentive”, the troll went through first. The room was huge but had only a cauldron with a fire beneath it. A hooded figure draped in a black cloak was hunched over it. The hooded figure looked up; its face remained in the dark. “Why have you brought them here?” it hissed at the troll.
“I’m sorry master but they gave me no choice. They were going to kill me.” The hooded figure raised its hand and the troll began screaming. It twisted and turned on the ground in agony and slowly disappeared. The hooded figure then went back to its cauldron. The three adventurers looked at each other, and then back at the hooded figure. Thoros walked toward it. “We are seeking the cause of the plague at Falcon’s Cap.”
The hooded figure didn’t move. Thoros took another step forward. “Are you causing the plague?”
The hooded figure still did not move. Thoros took another step forward. The hooded figure waved his hand and Thoros was knocked back into Carlynn and Elbin. They all got up and readied their weapons. “Answer me!” yelled Thoros. Still the hooded figure did not answer. Thoros leaned over to Carlynn. “Shoot his leg.”
Carlynn fired an arrow. It disappeared into the cloak. The fire beneath the cauldron grew and the whole room became illuminated. His face became visible. A horned skeleton with rotting skin looked over at them. “It’s a lich!” Carlynn said. “Thoros cover your ears!”
He looked over at her. “Why?”
The lich began mumbling words. Thoros’ stare became blank. Carlynn began shaking him. “Fight him Thoros. Don’t let him take over!”
“What happening to him?”
“A lich can control a human mind. Stop him!” Elbin charged the lich the lich held his hand up and stuck Elbin to the ceiling. He tried to break free but couldn't. Thoros looked at Carlynn. She stopped shaking him. “Thoros?”
He pushed her back and took out his sword. “Thoros don’t do this. Don’t let him win.”
Thoros swung his sword at her. She fell back and took out her swords. “I'm sorry.” she said. He ran at her and the two began fighting. The lich laughed and went back to his cauldron. Carlynn kept blocking Thoros’ strikes, not wanting to hurt him. He kicked her down and his sword cut her leg. She knew he couldn't break the lich’s spell. She started fighting back, trying to disarm Thoros. But he was better fighter. He was getting the upper hand. In one swoop he disarmed her and had her back against the wall. “Thoros please don’t.” she pleaded.
His blank stare told her there was no hope. The lich came up behind Thoros. It whispered into Thoros ear. The lich gave a harrowing laugh as Thoros lifted his sword to Carlynn’s throat. The lich then gave a terrifying shriek. It began shaking and smoke began pouring from its eyes. The lich then disappeared, revealing Vicril standing behind it. Elbin fell to the floor. Thoros shook his head and put down his sword and looked around. “Vicril? But you were dead!”
“I had a resurrection elixir on me. It must have broken open when the werebear hit me.” Carlynn hugged him. Elbin walked over. “Good thing yer back friend. It didn’t look good for a moment there.”
Carlynn and Elbin looked at Thoros. “Don’t you have something to say to Vicril?”
Thoros sighed. “Thanks for saving us. I guess a spell caster is something every group should have with them.” They kept staring at him. He again sighed. “Thanks for killing the lich Vicril.”
“I didn’t kill it I imprisoned him deep within the earth. You can only kill a lich by destroying their phylactery.”
“What’s that?” asked Thoros.
“It’s what it binds its soul in. It keeps it immortality that way.” Vicril walked over to the cauldron and looked inside. He tipped it over and spilled the water on the floor. “This is where he kept the souls of those that died of his plague. The town is safe now.”
Vicril walked out of the room with Carlynn arm on his shoulder. Thoros was looking into the room wanting. Elbin walked over to him. “It isn’t yer fault he took over yer mind. He was powerful, and there was nothing ye could do.”
“All that shit we went through, and no big treasure. Seriously, what the hell!” Thoros walked out disappointed with Elbin laughing behind him.
© Copyright 2016 Max Kristiansen. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Fantasy
Short Story / Science Fiction
Short Story / Science Fiction
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