The Sun Door Part 10
by Joe Solmo
Once everything was prepared and we were mounted we stood there for a minute. I think I was waiting for Drejnin to lead the way and apparently he was waiting for something. I didn’t question the man, he always seemed to know what he was doing. A few horse snorts and human sighs later, impatience began to sink in.
“Which way Drejnin?” I asked, hoping to get things going soon. I was eager to get away from the battle scene from earlier.
“The Mazzulikai did not tell you?” Drejnin asked turning his mount around to face me.
“You’re joking right?” I asked.
“They never revealed where it was. Just that it was in a grove of some kind of twisted trees. They were going to set us on the right path, but they left without ever telling us,” Serius said.
“What the Hell?” Hall said from behind me. At first I thought he was talking about the forgetfulness of the dwarves, but after a second I saw what he saw. Beardy was running at breakneck speed towards us with not only his beard flapping in the breeze, he didn’t have a stitch of clothing on and was covered in blood. The runts’ legs were going as fast as they could with his short strides. It was almost comical, until I saw what was making him run so fast.
About thirty yards behind Beardy were four more of the beasts we fought earlier. One was huge! Its maw hungrily closing in on out little bearded friend. Drejnin charged ahead and grabbed the little man and turned his horse around back towards us.
“Run!” He said and we all turned back the way we came and dug into our mounts. Drejnin nearly ran me over as he passed me gripping the poor naked dwarf with one massive arm.
We ran for about an hour, daylight was coming and Drejnin was getting visibly annoyed at the fact another night will pass with him on this world. Those beasts behind us were fast, but our horses were staying ahead of them for now. I didn’t think they would last much longer though. All it would take was one stumble and we would be overcome.
I watched Drejnin as he attempted to have a conversation with the dwarf, but I was too far away to hear what was said. It looked like Drejnin was questioning the little man. Serius fell back to my side shortly after. I was near the rear of the chase, being the least accomplished rider here. I really didn’t like horses all that much, but learned the necessity of them in times like this. Even Dead Eye was riding better than I, he was right behind Drejnin, who was leading.
“Marsh!” Serius said over the sounds of thundering hooves from the horses and the snarls from behind. “Marsh! Can you hear me!” he yelled to me. I could, but just barely.
“Hell with it!” Serius said and I thought he was going to ride off without giving me some sort of valuable information, but something strange happened instead. Serius stood on the back of his horse then leaped from his horse towards me, I cringed, waiting for the impact, wondering if we would topple and the beasts behind us would overtake us. But nothing happened. I waited another second and opened my eyes. As I did I felt a weight on my shoulder and panicked. I swung my arm around trying to hit whatever was there; in my mind I saw a large paw from the beasts behind us. I swatted twice after not hitting anything the first time, then, I heard a squawk.
I turned my face towards my shoulder and saw a small bird with the Dontu’s face leering up at me. “Stop it!” it chirped at me. I almost fell off my horse in surprise. The bird sighed at me as I struggled to get back into a sitting position on the horse and he could safely land back onto my shoulder. “Is your seizure over?” he asked.
“Yes,” I managed to say.
“Good. Listen there are some ruins not too far from here, when we get close I am going to jump off and lead the beasts away, follow Drejnin and get the hell out of here,” he said.
“What about you? Your horse is as tired as mine, we can’t run forever,” I said to the Dontu.
“That may be true Marsh, but I can be my own horse when I need too,” he reasoned. “Just follow Drejnin and not me, it should be coming up in a matter of moments,” Serius said and left my shoulder to return to his horses back in his humanoid form.
The labored breathing of the horses let me know that there wasn’t much time before they would simply collapse under us. I have seen it happen before. When we left Pond and ran into the Jombi. I hoped we reached these ruins before that happened. I risked a look over my shoulder at the beasts closing in behind. They didn’t seem to be gaining any ground, and in fact looked to be losing ground. If we can duck around something at the right time, then this plan has a chance to work.
I tried to get as close to Drejnin as I could before the planned split. I didn’t want to miss which way he went. Serius fell back behind the rest of us, and you could hear the beasts snarling louder, confident that their prey was about to fault and become theirs. I think this was the most alert I have ever seen Dead Eye. He had his crossbow loaded and on his lap. Hall and Myder were on the other side of Drejnin, riding as hard as their mounts would allow. The Dwarf was riding with Drejnin now, like a child in front of his father on a horse ride across the farm.
“Now!” Drejnin said and yanked his reigns to the left and I looked back over my shoulder as I saw Serius leap from him horse and land in the road, facing the onrush of maws and death that approached him. I followed Drejnin and the rest of the guys into the woods, branches smacking me in the face, that were pulled back by the riders in front of us. My eyes began to tear up on me and for a second I was afraid I was going to get lost. I heard a scream in front of me, I couldn’t tell who it belonged too, and I wiped my eyes quick to see what was going on, just in time to see a large hole in the ground ahead and Dead Eye’s horse stumble into it. I yanked my reigns as hard as I could but my horse couldn’t stop in time, we too fell into the opening in the earth.
It was quite a hole, I counted to four before I reached the bottom. Luckily for me the horse and I separated during the fall.That was the last thought that went through my head as darkness washed over me.
Hall was standing over me, with a candle when I awoke. He was fussing with my leg. “How bad is it?” I asked him.
“Only as bad as it feels,” He replied with a smile.
“Great, I’m dead,” I said sarcastically and closed my eyes again. I could hear Drejnin and Myder talking in the background, but I was too far away to make out what they were saying. I could also hear the dwarf’s excitable language, but I didn’t hear Dead-Eye or Serius.
I wondered if the Dontu was still running for his life out there somewhere, not knowing what had befallen us. I wondered about whether Dead Eye survived the fall into this…cave.
I opened my eyes again, this time curious with my surroundings. The only light was from Hall’s candle and didn’t do much to illuminate the place. I turned my head from side to side to survey all that I could. I saw what was left of my horse laying in a sickening heap not too far from where I was. I saw another horse, Dead-Eyes? It looked like his horse, not far from my own and as surely dead.
“Where is Dead-Eye?” I managed to say to Hall. He looked at me for a second, and then went back to dressing my wound, or whatever he was doing with my leg.
“Is he ok?” I asked, getting a really bad feeling about it. Hall looked at me once again and didn’t say anything. I closed my eyes in pain over loosing another good friend. So many faces have come and gone in my life, so much death. You never get used to losing a friend.
Suddenly I felt something on my face, something wet, was it raining back above on the surface? I wiped my hand on my face and I heard snickering. I opened my eyes to find Dead Eye standing above me, relieving himself.
“You son of a bitch!” I yelled and tried to scramble to my feet. Everyone was laughing at me, even Drejnin was smiling. I realized as I tried to stand what Hall was doing with my leg, He had tied them together! I fell flat on my face.
I laid there on my face for a few seconds and said “Oh, both of you are dead,” which made everyone laugh all over again.
“Were you in on this too Beardy? After we saved your runt ass!” I said, now getting angry to avoid being embarrassed. I did notice that somehow they had made crude clothing for the dwarf so we didn’t have to see his warhammer dangling.
“Ok, let him go,” Drejnin said while still laughing. Oh what a prank! I wanted to punch each and every one of their lights out, believe me. Hall gave me a water skin and a towel to wash my face off. I squirted half of it back into his face before washing myself off. They all laughed again.
“So everyone made it?” I asked.
“Well none of the horses survived the fall, but we did, thanks to Hall and Drejnin,” Myder said.
“What about Serius?”I asked looking around for the Dontu, oh I wouldn’t be surprised if he was behind that prank.
“Nothing from him yet, I suspect he still has the beasts chasing him and has been unsuccessful with losing them,” Drejnin said.
I thought about the poor guy running and running all alone behind chased by those unrelenting beasts from another world. Poor bastard, well, at least he didn’t get pissed on. I gave Dead Eye a dirty look, which made him smile and snicker.
“Relax Marsh! Just imagine how funny that would have been to do to Poole,” Dead Eye said. True. I would love to see that. I guess I should lighten up.
“Anyone have a look around? Is there a way out of here?” I asked.
“We didn’t really get a chance. After patching everyone up we were exhausted and needed to rest,” Hall said.
“Beardy, do you know where we are? You knew about these ruins right?” I asked the dwarf.
“Aye lad, but I didn’t know about the hole in the ground. I have never been here myself, but I heard about ruins of a Mazzulikai town.
“Well either way, I think we lost those demon things,” Drejnin said rising to his feet, towering over all of us. “The first thing we need to do is find a way out of here.”
“Let’s have a look around,” Myder said lighting a makeshift torch and raising it above his head. The light illuminated the surroundings a little better then Hall’s candle, but we still couldn’t see much of our surroundings. I began to make my own torch out of the bandages Hall had tied my feet together with and a piece of wood I found on the ground.
With a few more lights, we saw around the cavern, it was fairly large and seemed naturally carved. What looked like a passageway led off into the north, it seemed wide enough to
permit a man to enter. We began to wander our way into the crevice single file. I followed behind Drejnin and in front of Dead-Eye.
The passage seemed to incline slightly as we passed through the rock. It led farther back than we thought it did. After nearly half an hour we were still inside the natural passage. My torch burned itself out and still we continued onward. Drejnin was leading us now without a torch.
I lost track of time and soon it became an issue of one foot after another as we made our way through. It seemed to go on forever. Eventually the ground began to slope up, and we could smell fire somewhere up ahead, so we figured we were heading in the right direction. I could just barely hear Drejnin in front of me, he moved pretty silently when he wanted to.
For a short while I thought about Dead-Eye behind me with his crossbow, and panic set in, but I figured if he couldn’t see me he couldn’t hit me. Even if it was a lie, it did make me feel better. I could hear the drunk back there huffing as we worked our way up through the dank underground.
I walked right into Drejnin, I never saw him in front of me. He whispered to me.
“Shh, I can hear voices up ahead,” he said in his baritone voice.
I turned my head and listened, but couldn’t hear anything but the occasional drip of water from somewhere. I wish I had half the powers of this Dreymorian it must be great to see and hear things from so far away. If I really looked it seemed like in the distance I could see a slight flickering, like there was a fire ahead somewhere.
I passed the word back behind me that we might be approaching something soon as we crept slowly through the darkness. Now I think I could hear voices myself, angry voices, but it could just be my imagination. The light did seem to be getting a little brighter.
Drejnin once again whispered for me to stop, and I did. Instantly I felt something smack me in the ass. It must have been the dwarf. There was nothing over the small of my back. Now I could hear the voices, it sounded like people arguing by the tone, but the words I still couldn’t make out. We must be almost to the fire. I could make out Drejnin’s silhouette in front of me; the flickering light was a hell of a lot close now.
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