The Sun Door Part 12
by Joe Solmo
When I awoke I looked around the campsite and saw a disaster area. Stuff was strewn from one end to the other, broken bottles littered the camp, and half the people were laying where ever they had passed out. Both Dead-Eye and Myder were laying in a pool of vomit. My head felt like a wagon had run it over, but I couldn’t find the wagon anywhere, then I made a mental note not to touch Weebly’s drink again.
Drejnin entered the clearing we had camped in and sat down on a fallen log at the edge of the jungle. “Serius should be catching up to us today or tomorrow. He has been tracking us, I can feel it,” he said in a whisper as to not wake the others. Did he know I was concerned for the dontu’s safety?
“Good to know, did you know the dwarfs name was Weebly?” I asked with a grin on my unshaven face.
“Yes, a very noble name upon dwarves, but does not translate well at all. How unfortunate for the leader of their people,” Drejnin said.
“Leader? That little runt leads the dwarf nation?” I asked.
“Yes, they were exploring the region looking for old treasure and things of their past near those ruins when they encountered the beasts and had to change plans. They take honor and responsibility for the land very seriously and knew these beasts were unnatural and needed to be stopped. It is a good thing that our paths intercepted. We could use their help. He has sent word to his people to find out what they can about the Moon Door and other worlds,” he said.
“Well he is still a drunk runt to me. He tried to poison me last night, and then I think he ran my head over with a wagon,” I said.
Drejnin smiled. “I’m sure you will be just fine Marsh. Just lay back down. You should show some respect to the dwarf. We will leave here in about an hour I think. The jungle should give way in a day or two, according to Weebly,” the huge Dreymorian said. So I laid back down over in my cozy little nook in the camp and tried to drift back off, it wasn’t as hard to do as I first thought.
When I awoke again everyone else was awake and clutching their heads, except for Weebly. He was very cheery, the masochist son of a bitch. With grumbles and groans and I think I heard one of the brothers throwing up, we packed up camp and began a hung-over trek, marching in twos, toward the northeast. No one spoke for the first few hours until we stopped for a midday meal.
When we stopped Drejnin and Weebly went off towards a small creek we found flowing near the path through the jungle. I was getting pretty tired of the insects and constant noise from the animals here. It wasn’t so bad back in the town, but out here I swear the animals wait until nightfall to make noise. Must be a party every night.
Sreg was talking to Dead-Eye about switching from a crossbow to a longbow. Arguing that the longbow was faster and more accurate… I guess he didn’t know Dead-Eye very well. The large brother, Moose was always a step behind the youngest, Skrat. He was very protective of him. Hall and Myder pretty much stuck together and spent most of their time discussing theories on Drejnin and Serius’s power, which I guessed was the real reason they stuck around. I hope it doesn’t end up biting them in the ass.
The oldest of the brothers mostly keeping to himself, walking with his back straight in that full plate armor. He must be sweating his ass off in that thing. I never did understand the knightly kind of people that put honor and responsibility over survival and fun. Just the way I was raised I guess. Good ol’ mom and dad heathen.
Together we made quite the troop as we continued through the jungle. I keep expecting Serius to catch up at any moment but he didn’t. Drejnin said he could feel him coming, so we knew at least that he was alive, but was he injured? All I knew was this was way more interesting than guarding that damn door.
The rest of the day passed without much of anything going on. We marched with groans and dragging our asses down the road. I don’t think I’m going to drink that much again, I remember lying to myself. Weebly seemed to be the only one unaffected by the night time drinking. For once the little bastard had a smile on his face as he hummed his way down the road. It rained on and off several times during the afternoon, and by the end of the day we were all ready to crash into our bedrolls, even if they were slightly moist.
We stopped just off the road near a giant red elm tree, it was the only clear spot in this jungle. The roots weren’t the most comfortable but it beat sleeping on the road. We tried to light a fire, but the wood was just too damn damp. I guess tonight will just be miserable, it was dark enough during the day in this jungle, tonight was going to be a blackout.
When night did fall we all huddled close to the giant tree, Drejnin decided to take the first watch. Sreg sat next to me. He wasn’t a bad guy after all. He was a tracker by trade, you never know when that could come in handy. I noticed on his bow were the same type of runes that his brother Moose had on his warhammer.
“What do those symbols mean?” I asked the tracker.
“Oh these, well they are nothing. Just something someone scratched into the wood. Nothing special I assure you,” he replied.
“Let me see that!” said Weebly and ran up to Sreg. “Yes, yes,” he said excitedly as he examined the bow and then shifted his attention over to the warhammer. It was too big for the runt to carry off to examine so he plopped down right there with the large head of the weapon in his lap. The little bugger was mumbling to himself while tracing his stubby digits across the surface.
By now the dwarf’s actions got the attention of the entire group. Soon everyone was circling around Weebly trying to hear what he was mumbling. Skrat cast some kind of spell that made a ball of light appear over the weapons. After a minute the dwarf stood up and turned towards the brothers who were standing near each other whispering.
“Which one of you lads wants to tell me where you found two items from the fabled Kroskin Armory?” he said with a look of indignation.
I thought weapons were going to be drawn by the looks on everyone’s faces, but Zeeg’s shoulders sank and he sat down on a large root. The rest of the brothers relaxed as well. The dwarf also sat down where he was, next to the weapons, his little hands still touching the fine runed wood of the bow.
“When I saw that a dwarf was one of our rescuers I was worried you would recognize the weapons, “Zeeg said to Weebly. “The hammer was owned by our father, a giant of a man he said he got the hammer from defeating a hill giant that guarded it near the Demons Grin Mountains, he told us of the legends and said there were more weapons out there. We decided to track them down when Skrat left school,” he said and paused looking at his mage brother. “Anyway we ran into another searching for the weapons for himself, he attacked us in Hylure and we ended up killing the man. He had the bow in his possessions. The militia found his corpse and tried to arrest Skrat and we ran. We have been running ever since,” he said.
“The Kroskin Armory were the greatest weapon manufacturers in the entire dwarven kingdoms. They were renowned for their quality and their ability to meld both metal and magic into one beautiful creation. It is said that if the owner of the weapon opens himself to it, the weapon can imbue abilities upon the person. When the hordes of the Demon’s Grin Mountains poured into the world they destroyed the dwarven lands of Kroskin and the weapons were lost seemingly forever. That began a dark time for the dwarves, hiding from the outside world and starvation and crime ran rampant with the survivors. During that time the dwarves lost the ability to use magic completely,” Weebly said, filling us in on the rest of the story.
“So there are more of these things somewhere?” Dead-Eye asked.
“Aye, if these two exist there must be more. They made every type of weapon and armor, all said to have special attributes. My people have been arguing about their existence for hundreds of years. I never thought I would see one, let alone two,” Weebly said. The dwarf handed the runed bow back to Sreg reluctantly and sighed.
Drejnin walked over to the warhammer and ran his fingers across the runes. He turned to Moose and said. “May I?”
“Be my guest,” the large man said and Drejnin picked up the hefty hammer with both hands. His eyes followed the runes up the shaft towards the head.
“I can almost read them it seems. They seem so familiar to me,” the Dreymorian said. “Take it with your hands,” he said to Moose.
The large mountain of the main picked up the weapon in one giant hand. He held it out at arm’s length as if afraid of the magic the dwarf said was inside.
“Can you read it, little man,” Moose said to the dwarf.
“No lad, it’s not dwarvish, I think it is magic runes,” Weebly said.
Drejnin walked up to the man and reached out a hand towards the hammer, his large hand brushing the runes. “Vres Vrium Acrtum Ferca Ves,” Drejnin said. Moose repeated the strange phrase and a cold blue light started to emanate from the handle. He raised the hammer up over his head and with a loud yell he swung the hammer down on a large root smashing it to pieces easily.
The blue light crackled through the roots like lightning and dissipated. No one said a word not even Skrat, who was studying his brothers bow now. He handed the weapon to Drejnin with the runes facing up sop the large Dreymorian could read the phrase etched in the strange wood.
“Vres Shav Acrtum Ferca Ves,” Drejnin said and handed the bow back towards the brothers. Sreg eagerly took the weapon and knocked an arrow as he repeated the words and took aim at a large tree thirty yards away on the other side of their clearing. He released the arrow as a streak of blue light shot from the bow, it struck the tree at such velocity that it punctured the tree up to the feathers at the back of the arrow. Incredible!
Sreg looked over the bow and smiled. Skrat was still trying to see the runes, I thought it was kinda odd that he couldn’t read what it says, after all he was supposed to be a mage, wasn’t he.
“Powerful magics in those weapons,” Drejnin said and walked back to the root he was sitting on earlier without another word. Dead-Eye was trying to carve the runes into his crossbow even though Skrat was telling him it wouldn’t be the same. Hall and Myder were doing inventory on their gear, apparently being exposed to the rain forest doesn’t bode well for medical instruments and whatnot. I decided to take a short nap, since we were done moving for the day. The last thing I saw before my eyes closed was Weebly holding the bow in his hands like a child playing with his father’s things.
When I awoke only about an hour had passed. Hall and Dead-Eye were roasting three rabbits that Sreg had hunted for us. Apparently there was a fourth rabbit that was no good since he used his bows powers on the first living thing he could find. There wasn’t much to the thing but a head and paws wrapped around a singed hole inside of fir. All the meat had been blasted out of the damn thing. Zeeg, the oldest of the brothers was boiling some wild vegetables he found while his brother was hunting. If nothing else these brothers were very helpful. Drejnin was talking to the dwarf a little ways from the camp, from the bits and pieces I could hear it sounded like he was grilling the little bugger about the Moon Door’s location again.
My thoughts drifted to Serius and what kind of shit he had gotten into since last we had seen him. Drejnin assured me he was fine and heading towards us. It looks like their plan to avoid those creatures worked pretty good.
After eating what passed for dinner we all settled in for the night. Well almost all of us, that Drejnin never slept. He told me he would take first watch but I was sure it would be like any other night and he would never wake me, and when I woke in the morning he would be standing in the same spot claiming he wasn’t tired.
Zeeg said that the forest should give way sometime today into the plains of Astore. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of this stinking jungle and away from all the insects and other creepy crawlies that passed over your exposed skin in the middle of the night. Sreg led the way as we broke camp to begin our next day.
A little after an hour of traveling Zeeg fell back to walk beside me, Dead-Eye grumbled and fell back to walk next to Hall to give us room. The oldest of the brothers told me that the City of Hylure was about a day’s hike from the edge of the forest and there we could get supplies or rent passage on the river depending on where we wanted to go. Taking a boat upriver sounded like a much better idea than walking all the way there, and the best part is no horses.
I passed on the information to Dead-Eye and the boys who went to tell Drejnin. Zeeg told me a little of the city and what to expect there. It was a melting pot of different cultures and almost anything can be found if you look in the right place. He said his youngest brother, whom we haven’t met yet, owned a shop near the wharf that could find anything in less than a week. When I asked him how many brothers he had, he changed the subject and started to tell me of a special ale his other brother Mer makes this time of year and a stay in his Inn would be just the thing we needed to refresh from the road.
It was beginning to sound to me that their mother was a very busy woman but I bit my tongue so that there wasn’t any problems with the seemingly large family. I mostly just listened to the man tell me stories of growing up in Hylure as I put one foot in front of each other on the forest path.
A short shower bathed us all in misery around midmorning, soaking into our clothes quickly. Lucky for us it wasn’t a cold rain, although I was beginning to think I would be the only one to feel it, Drejnin was almost inhuman, the dwarf was the toughest ball of beard I have ever seen, Dead-Eye was drunk and all the brothers had their special talents. I think I was the only normal one in this group, and that included Serius also, the shape shifting Dontu.
Speaking of that crazy son of a bitch, I wondered where he was, Drejnin said he should have caught up by now, he sensed him close by and could face the direction of Serius. As weird as it sounds I missed him. He most certainly kept things interesting, and I was curious about his powers. I day dreamed for a while about what I would do with the dontu’s powers, I didn’t even realize the group had stopped until I had walked into Dead-Eye.
I looked around somewhat confused at the rest of my party. Lucky for me no one was paying me any heed so my dignity was left intact. Drejnin was looking back the way we had come, back into the dense jungle. “It will be today,” he said.
“Serius?” I asked and the large Dreymorian nodded before turning around and facing the road ahead. Everyone started marching again as the sun began to warm up and dry our rain soaked clothes. Dead-Eye stumbled breaking my concentration on my dream world and I dodged his stagger, but just barely. He looked up at me with his bloodshot eyes with an apologetic look and walked beside me.
“Suns out,” said the very observant drunk. I think he likes the fact we left with Drejnin only because he lets Dead-Eye drink as much as he wants. There isn’t a commanding officer to tell him to sober up.
“You got a spare drop?” I asked him.
“Aye good sir,” he said with a mock bow and reached into his pack for his wineskin. The bow almost sent him sprawling onto the road but he managed to keep his balance enough to remain on two feet. He produced the most dirty, dingy, disgusting wineskin I had ever seen. In fact I wasn’t even sure where the bastard got the filthy thing, it didn’t look familiar at all. With a crooked grin he offered to me.
“On the other hand, I’m not as thirsty as I first thought,” I said.
Dead-Eye shrugged and took a long pull off the wineskins spout, spitting dirt onto the ground when he finished. He let out a large belch, and then a sigh of contentment. I couldn’t help but smile at him.
I noticed in front of us the brothers were walking close together as if they were in some heated discussion. The dwarf was walking with Drejnin near the front of the line, about the same distance from the brothers as Dead-Eye and I were.
“That can’t be good, eh Dead-Eye,” I said nudging the guy with my elbow.
“Wassisit? He asked all in one slurred word.
“The brothers look like they are talking about something important. Maybe they had enough of you stealing their liquor,” I said.
“Busshit! They offered, Marsh,” he said, his feelings truly hurt.
“Don’t worry, I’m just picking on ya,” I said with a wink.
The brothers must have heard Dead-Eye’s outbursts because now they were taking turns looking at us as they walked. I nodded to Skrat when his eyes met mine. I wondered what he thought of all of us, being the youngest brother I bet he hasn’t seen as much as the world and the strange people that live inside it.
Zeeg nodded to his brothers and fell back in line with Dead-Eye and myself. “May I speak with you, Marsh?” the warrior brother said to me.
“Sure thing, what is on the Gazi’s minds?” I asked, using the brother’s last name.
“Soon we will be arriving near some familiar and not so friendly places for us. There is a village about half a day from here, we should reach it by nightfall, where we can catch a river boat and avoid many bad places for us. Do you think Drejnin would be ok with a river voyage?” he asked me.
I was expecting Zeeg to say the brothers were going to go their separate ways, I was pretty surprised. “Well I don’t see why he wouldn’t, but I’m not sure why you are asking me and not him. It is his decision after all, I’m just a follower,” I said.
“I didn’t Schteel your liquor!” Dead-Eye yelled at Zeeg as he butted in. I smiled.
“Of course not, what is ours is yours, you and the rest of your party are honorary brothers for as long as we share the road,” Zeeg told him. What a nice sentiment, wonder if he meant it.
“Marsh, the real reason I asked you is because Drejnin has been giving my brother Skrat some not too nice looks from time to time, I don’t think he trusts us. Maybe the idea should come from you,” he said.
“Yeah he has a thing about mages,” I replied. “I will talk to him.”
I walked up to the large Dreymorian and dwarf. They noticed me before I had a chance to eavesdrop on their conversation. Weebly raised one bushy eyebrow at my intrusion but didn’t say a word. Drejnin turned his head to me and said, “Ah Marsh, come here. There is something I would ask you.”
“What’s up, boss?” I asked trying to look as interested as I could.
“These brothers we travel with, do you trust them? Hall and Myder haven’t said a word either way, I am sure Dead-Eye doesn’t care. The reason I ask is that today Serius should catch up and we probably could manage without the mage now,” Drejnin said.
“I think the brothers are a good idea to keep around, they have two of the weapons of Kroskin after all. I don’t know why you dislike Skrat, I mean he has nothing but helped us so far,” I said.
“They are definitely hiding something,” Drejnin said. “I have never trusted mages; they always have schemes brewing inside their head. All that is important to mages is more power, they will sacrifice friends and family for the chance to grow more powerful, I have seen it before,” Drejnin said.
“So you have gained more memories back then?’ I asked. It appears the mage isn’t the only one hiding shit these days.
“The images I see are making more sense yes. I remember a mage, Sigmund, who betrayed me as a young man, then I can see his face too, along with others I cannot place yet surrounding me, as if I am on trial. I can see this Sigmund opening a portal and the others pushing Serius and I into the plane of burning light that led me here. That mage, Sigmund had something to do with my banishment or punishment, for what I still do not know,” The large Dreymorian replied.
“Well the brothers know this land a hell of a lot better than either of us, plus they have connections in a town coming up where we can hitch a ride on a riverboat and save us some time, once Serius catches up,” I said.
Just then a large crash came from behind us as a large elm tree toppled over from some unseen force. Whatever it was, it was hidden in the large grass that sprouted since the forest started to die down. All of us turned readying weapons, Drejnin taking the lead.
I could hear Skrat mumbling something in another language, preparing a spell? Moose unslung the large Kroskin hammer from his back and started to run in the direction of the tree with a smile on his face. He is finally going to get to use the hammer.
A moment later a large riderless horse burst through the grass towards us. It was the oddest beast I had ever seen, it was pink with a yellow mane flowing down its back. Its tail wasn’t a horse’s tail at all, but a beaver tail. I saw the smile fade from Moose’s face and turn to a look of confusion. The horse skidded to a halt about thirty feet in front of Moose and cocked his head to the side, like a dog.
“I see you still haven’t figured shape-shifting out completely yet,” Drejnin spoke and started to walk towards the beast as it started to change. Soon standing in front of us was Serius, looking no worse for wear.
“I don’t think I quite captured the essence of a horse, but I needed its speed,” the Dontu said as his eye passed over each of us one by one. When his eyes settled on Dead-Eye they stopped. “Ah friend I have brought you something,” he said and reached into a back pocket, or at least I hoped that’s where he reached, and pulled out a small flask of what I could only assume was some kind of liquor for my friend.
Dead-Eye pulled the stopper out and took a swig without even questioning where it came from and looked at the bottle with surprise and a nod of satisfaction. “When you were a horse, how did you carry this?” he asked taking another swig. All eyes turned to Serius, the Dontu just smiled.
“Who are these guys,” The Dontu asked changing the subject looking over the brothers. “I almost attacked right away, but I didn’t feel you were in danger,” he said to Drejnin.
“Let me introduce the Brothers Gazi,” I said. “Sreg Zeeg, Moose and Skrat.”
“Kid are you magi?” Serius asked Skrat.
“Yes, I am, but what are you?” the kid said with puzzled interest in his eyes.
“I am a Dontu,” he simply replied as if that explains everything.
“Oh, I see,” Skrat said and reached into his pocket and pulled out a small looking glass. He took a step towards the Dontu and peered through the glass with interest. His eyes widened and he blinked several times as he peered at Serius.
“What does that thing do?” I asked the brothers.
“It sees the true nature of things, this is astonishing,” Skrat said.
“Ok, enough of this, we need to get going,” Drejnin said taking a step in between Skrat and the Dontu.
Skrat let out a scream and dropped the glass on the ground where the lens cracked before breaking in two. “What are you? All I could see was pain, incredible pain, and death” he told Drejnin.
Zeeg pulled his little brother back away from the large Dreymorian, who didn’t respond to Skrat’s question. I just stood there feeling real awkward as everyone took a minute to glare at one another.
“This be some good ass juice,” Dead-Eye said saluting the Dontu with the almost empty flask and belching loud enough to scare away the birds in the nearest trees. Hall started to chuckle, which got myself going too. Soon most of us were having a good laugh at my pathetic drunk best friend’s comments.
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