All right, I just finished it. I hope there is no character limit as it is 6 pages long. :rolleyes: (If it is too big, I'll upload it in a file)
[spoiler]This story I’m about to tell started on a sunny afternoon. I was in the No Man’s Land, camping near the road with my archers and the rest of my creatures. Syndrel , my most trusted archer was playing on his flute, I was gathering skin fragments from my grasan who just started exfoliating. It was looking to be another lazy, boring day when the sentry spotted someone coming down the road. As the figure approached I could make out that she was a woman, a beautiful one no less. She had jet black hair, toned skin, almond eyes and a really pretty face. She was heading straight for our camp.
So I went to greet her:
- Greetings fair lady. I can see you are not from around here. May you need some assistance on your journey?
- Hello. Well, aren’t you a good looking one? Yes, you could accompany me on my little journey. You look just the kind of man I need.
She said as she brushed her hair aside. I knew she wanted to seduce me. I wasn’t fooled, though I was curious what does a strong, determined woman like she wants. So I introduced myself:
- I’m Azrafar. Nice to meet you. So, where are you heading?
- You can call me Sheila. I’m going to Golemus. I have a little business there. You can help me take care of it.
- All right… what is that little business I can help you with? And of course, what is the payment?
I like escorting ladies, its free, but business means work and that needs to be paid.
- Escort me to Golemus and then I’ll tell you. – She said and sent a flirtatious wink toward me.
- You are awfully secretive you know? – I said as I showed her a smile. - All right. The gates are not far. We’ll be there before nightfall.
- Oh, but we aren’t going through the front gate. This is a “sensitive” matter. It needs some discretion.
- I can be discrete. It will however cost more. And may I ask where do you intend to enter Golemus? As far as I know there is only one entrance. Unless you want to go by boat, but they will see us coming miles away.
- Don’t worry. There is another way. Through the Labyrinth. The problem is I don’t have a map, but I’m sure you know you way around right?
- What? The Labyrinth? – I yelled out loud, looking like a fool. - No I… I don’t know the way, but I can find it, don’t worry. I have some tricks… But this little trip will cost even more.
I saw she was trying to hide a frown. Maybe because I looked unprepared, but most likely because she realised her seduction didn’t work on me the slightest.
- So before we go, I want to know how much can you pay?
- You can have as much silver and gold as you want, if that is what you want. Or anything realy. I a m more well off then you think. When we get to Golemus I’ll tell you everything, you’ll understand then.
- I think I can trust a pretty lady like you. – I sad with a sarcastic jab – All right men we are moving out!
I knew I was in for some dangerous task. I did not expect a big reward, I had a feeling she doesn’t have much to offer. However, I also felt that this “mission” is important. I can’t describe the feeling. I just knew I want to take part in this.
For the thrill of it? To satisfy my curiosity? Maybe all of this and more. During the two day walk I kept acting like a money hungry mercenary. Well… because you never know what may come your way at the end.
And so we arrived at the Labyrinth’s entrance.
- Are you sure you can navigate through it? – She asked.
- I’m sure. Just watch. – I answered vaguely. She didn’t complain, so we entered.
I knew a few tricks sure; getting lost was not an option unless the Labyrinth had some kind of magic to disorient us. I hoped it didn’t.
I noticed that it had no roof, although the hedge looked dangerous one could easily fly over it. So I decided to send my winderwild, named Vaal, to scout out the right path. He’s a smart bird and I trained him well. Mapping the right path and leading us through it seemed like an easy task for him.
I was wrong…
- See? Vaal will find us the way. We’ll be through in no time. – I said to Sheila as I sent the winderwild on his way. Then just as he disappeared in the distance we heard his screech. Something got him!
- Damn it! - I yelled – All right, plan “B”! Syndrel, you take the right wall and follow it to the exit. Take half of the archers too. If you find Vaal, take care of him.
- Well, this is going well… - Sheila added sarcastically, though se didn’t seem to be worried.
- I underestimated this place, so what? Now move out. We’ll follow the left wall. It may take time to get through, but hopefully we can move faster without the fear of getting lost.
She frowned. I wasn’t sure about this tactic either. If that place had any more surprises we would have been in great trouble.
As we were running trough we heard unsettling noises. Something was following us! So we slowed down and tried to satay unnoticed. Something was lurking there and I just didn’t want to find out what. Maybe we could have taken it on. So I decided to cast a spell:
- Sssshh… Stop for a moment. I’ll cast a spell that will make us… less detectable. – I whispered. Sheila agreed with a silent nod. So I whispered the magic words and we became transparent and our sounds got muffled.
We moved on with something still lurking around us. Thankfully we managed to slip through.
At the exit we met Syndrel and the rest of the archers. When I saw that they were tending to Vaal’s wounds I was relieved. I was worried about them all the way, but mostly him. I rushed to see him:
- How is he? Is he hurt? – I asked.
- Yes, but nothing serious. Won’t be able to fly for a few days thoug. – Syndrel answered.
- At least he is alive. You did a good job, than you. Take a rest. – I thanked Syndrel and turned to Sheila. – I only see these arches here. I hope they are some kind of portal to Golemus or we just came here for nothing.
- Don’t worry, they are portals. I know how to activate them. – She replied.
- We are at the entrance to Golemus. Now, tell me what is that business of yours that is so important. – I told her, maybe a bit too nervously – After all this I deserve to know.
- All right. I’ll tell you while I do the activation. – She said it with a smile – You deserve it to know.
She started explaining her mission. She revealed that she learned that there are drachorns in Golemus Golemicarum, held captive. Chained up and mistreated by the tiny men. She told me she learned this from a drachorn sold to a mage as a slave, and promised that she will free his kind.
I admit I was surprised. I may have dropped the act there and promised her that I will hap her cause no matter what. Not that it matters.
I have heard of these majestic beasts, but I never have thought that they are mistreated and sold like that.
Sheila also told me her plan. How we will sneak in and free them. She revealed that she will re-calibrate the portal so we will appear closer to the cave and that I should use the same cloak spell as before. After she infiltrated the lair keepers she would make our entrance easier. I was about to ask how is she going to do the infiltration when there was a roar and a monster appeared out of the Labyrinth. Probably the one that stalked us before.
It was already getting dark, so we didn’t see much of it. It was big and his shape was blurred. It was mostly humanoid one cloaked in darkness. All that was clear that it had sharp claws!
- Form up! – I yelled at my creatures and archers. – Defend Sheila at all cost while she opens the portal!
We quickly formed a defensive circle around her. The archers shot the “thing” but it did not slow it down. It charged at us. Smashed through our circle and went straight for Sheila. We were flung aside right into the hedge. Damn it was full of thorns! Just before it could reach her the portal opened and she slipped through. The monster did not follow her, but we were struggling to get out of the hedge as it turned to face us.
- To the portal! Go go go! – I yelled while trying to untangle my cape.
The monster charged again. He aimed for me, but I just managed to rip myself out of that thorny hedge and das to the side. The thing crashed into the wall of thorns, got trapped there himself.
My companions were already crossing through the portal, so I ran, not wanting to stay there a moment longer.
As I crossed I saw that we arrived at a stony ledge. Somewhere in Golemus. I was glad that none of my companions were hurt too much. We managed to get away with only bruises and cuts
I did pull out a larger then average thorn out of my side. It hurt like hell.
I hoped it wasn’t poisonous so I kept it in my pocket, so I can make an antidote later if I started to feel strange.
- Ah, I’m glad you made it through. – Said Sheila as she stepped next to me.
- Me too… So how do we proceed now? – I asked.
- Well, the lair where they keep the drachorns is not far. I’ll go ahead. You do that trick you did in the Labyrinth. Satay hidden, you’ll know when to enter. I’ll be there and help you.
- How do you want to infiltrate the ranks of the tiny men exactly? – I asked.
She smiled, turned around and said a few words that I couldn’t recognise. I a blink she turned into a tiny man. That was unexpected, but then I was sure she had some more secrets. I did not ask how ever. I was focused on saving the drachorns.
I cast my spell too and moved out, staying in the shadow of the cliff. We saw a few tiny men on the way. It seemed Sheila had done a good job, they didn’t saw through her disguise. For me it was a bit harder, I had to make sure none of my creatures were spotted either.
We reached the entrance of the lair. Sheila got in without trouble. We stayed outside and waited.
Tiny men came and went, nothing seemed out of order. I hoped Sheila would give us a signal, but it didn’t come. My magic was running low. We couldn’t have stayed there all day, so I decided to find a safe place to hide, the common way.
There was a pile of rubble nearby, so when I was sure no one was looking we left the safety of the cliffside and tried to dash trough. Unfortunately just as we reached the hiding place the spell ended.
Even worse they saw the grasan lumbering into cover. I shouldn’t have brought him…
Quickly we got surrounded by tiny men and their aramor servants.
- Why are you lurking about? Hmm? – asked one of them, who seemed to be the leader. He was a bit better dressed then the rest and maybe a bit taller.
- I’m sorry. We didn’t mean to stalk you. We came to do business with you. – I said hastily, but they looked unimpressed.
- This business requires “discretion”. That is why we came here in secret. – I added quickly.
The leader raised an eyebrow:
- All right, let’s go in then.
They escorted us into the cave, trough corridors deep inside the mountain. They sent me alone in one of the chambers. The leader was waiting for me behind a desk.
- You name? – he asked harshly?
- Virgil Seimoor – I lied.
- And you came here to buy drachorns in secret, right?
- I think this is a place we can talk in confidance. – I said as I pretended to look around with suspicion. – So yes, I did come here for some drachorns.
- Then why were you luring outside? When did you intend to come in? Hmm?
- You must understand this is very important, no one I don’t trust can see me. I intended to wait until the right time to approach the entrance. Sadly you caught me and
- I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt Virgil – he said. - You will be given chance to buy a drachorn, but the lair keeper is not currently present. You will wait here until he arrives. He will be informed about what you did of course.
- Thank you. – I bowed, then we walked out.
- Find them a chamber and put some guards there – the leader of the tiny men instructed the others.
We were given a room to sleep in, though they didn’t bring any food. They even locked the door on us. I hoped Sheila was working on a method to repair this broken plan.
We waited for quite some time. Then I hear two knocks on the door and someone pressed trough a piece of paper under it, through a crack.
There was writing on it: “Soon, be ready. (And dispose of this before they find it, no need for more complications.)”
I was relieved that she is all right. I ordered my creatures and archers to stay in the room and pretend that I am with them, sleeping. We didn’t wait too long and the door opened. In couldn’t recognise her in dim light I only assumed the tiny men in front of me was Sheila. I looked around and the rest of the guards were missing.
- Quick, we need to go. – She whispered. I nodded and then we sneaked out.
We travelled down empty tunnels. No guard in sight. My heart was pumping fast. Something was not right, I just couldn’t point out what at the time.
We arrived in a circular hall, carved in stone with many small tunnels leading out. The hall was huge. It had to be, because there was a drachorn chained down in the middle. It was a magnificent beast.
I was in awe, only when Sheila pulled my arm I started moving again. The drachorn was sleeping, thankfully. Though I didn’t know how we are going to sneak it out I was looking for a way to free it first. As I looked around I saw some of the guards lying on the floor on the other side, knocked out (probably). On the ceiling there was a large round door. It wasn’t going well I tought, no way the rest of them wouldn’t hear the door opening and the drachorn flying away.
Sheila was still pulling my arm:
- Help me undo the chains, will you? – She whispered. She looked annoyed, I didn’t blame her.
So I started focusing on the chains. Each was inscribed with runes. As I was looking over the symbols I found one on the base of the chain. A symbol I was certain I saw it somewhere. It was different form the rest. It looked like…
And as I was trying to remember one of the guards awakened and started to yell at me.
- What are you doing you fool?! Don’t you dare undo them! HELP! Don’t you dare! You damn… - he yelled but was interrupted by Sheila. She rushed over and kicked him in the side.
It was too late however. The drachorn awakened and when it saw us it started roaring and rampaging.
We tried to calm it down but with no use. I knew the tiny men were coming soon. I started panicking. So I yelled at it:
- Look at me!
The beast stopped for a moment and then our eyes met. We looked in each other’s eyes, for a moment our souls connected. We spoke without words, exchanged memories and our feelings.
I felt her pain sorrow and anger. She was a mother and the children had been taken away from her. She wasn’t treated too harsh, but she was always bound here. Deep underground, never to see the sunlight again. Her kind now slaves, sold out to strangers. I promised I will free her and her children. Someday, I will return and I will do it. I knew I can’t free her now and through me she knew it as well. Before I broke eye contact I told her the tales that I heard, I told her that some of her children have been lucky and their owner treat them with respect and live good lives. I showed her the Sun and the blue sky. I tried to give her hope, but it seemed it only made her even sadder. And it caught me too.
That sadness, it was now part of me, it was something I will never forget.
I looked away, she got silent. I was still enthralled by what I just experienced. Sheila’s words seemed so far as she yelled at me:
- Get of these chains off from this drachorn! Now! Do you hear me?! – She yelled, her frustration growing.
- You knocked off the guard so why didn’t you turn back to your original form and undo them yourself?
She didn’t answer, her head was red from anger. I already hear footsteps coming so I ran, dragging Sheila, in her tiny men disguise, with me. She screamed at me, demanded that I turn back and do my job. I just ran, I knew we failed, nothing left to do here except escape and try again another day.
I ran back to the chamber where my creatures were. They were already fighting tiny men and aramors of many shape and kind.
I dropped Sheila, drew my sword and joined the fray. We started fighting through their lines towards the exit. There were many of them, but the grasan has proven useful to break their line. After what seemed like eternity we managed to fight our way out. We ran down hill, showing aside any baffled tiny men in our way as the rest were in pursuit.
We made our way all through the beach up to the gate. Thankfully it wasn’t blocked so we managed to escape.
When we reached the Aramory we collapsed from exhaustion. Sheila already turned back to her original form. Oddly enough she didn’t seem to be exhausted the slightest.
She approached me as I was resting on the ground, trying to catch my breath. She wasn’t happy I tell you that.
- It was a mistake trusting you! – she yelled at me. – It seems if I want to have a job done I have to do it myself! Give me your creatures. I’ll go back and do it myself.
- Woah! Don’t you dare order me around. I know what is at stake. If you want my creatures I’m coming too! I made a promise I will keep it. No, not the one I made to you, but the one I made to the drachorn. This got personal.
- I won’t return with a fool like you. I don’t care what promise you made! I have no need for someone so weak! – She yelled and se jumped at me. She reached for my throat.
I was surprised. I barely able to reached for my sword, but just as I got it in my hand she knocked me to the ground, the sword fell out of my hand, out of my reach. Her hands were around my neck.
- I don’t tolerate weakness and disobedience! – She hissed while choking me.
Sheila also started to change. Her frame became darker, her lines blurred. As she was transforming her strength grew too. Finally I found myself getting strangled by a shade. Barley able to move or breath. I desperately tried to reach for my sword. I was losing consciousness when I remembered the large thorn I put away. I grabbed it from my pocked and stabbed “her” in the eye.
The shade screamed in agony and stopped choking me. While it was grabbing at its eye I quickly rolled to the side, picked up my sword and cut of the shade’s head. I dropped to the ground and fainted.
When I woke up the shade’s body was gone. I was glad that it was a lesser shade, or at least I think it was. I was glad that it was over, that I am still alive and that I have a story to tell. About the promise I made? I am not so happy...