The Sun Door Part 18
by Joe Solmo
As I reached the area I thought housed the kitchen I started moving boards and throwing them into the back yard of the inn where the stables were. There weren’t any horses there, I would imagine Skittessa had slaughtered them too, or maybe let them go, women like animals after all. After a dozen or so boards removed I made myself a little tunnel into the kitchens. The stone hearth and chimney supported most of the collapsing inn in the back, allowing me entrance. It was pretty dark in there but I didn’t have a torch so I went in blind hoping for something near the entrance that was useful.
I felt around in the dark for anything that felt familiar. My hand rested on a frying pan, I threw it up and out of the tunnel I had made, figured maybe we could use it down the road, then I returned to grope in the dark again. After a minute or two of searching and only coming up with a few broken bottles, another pan, and apron I decided to give up. I turned around to head back towards the entrance, but the pile of debris shifted and a new board had fallen across my tunnel. I got right up under it to put my shoulder into it to lift and I stepped on something soft.
“Ouch,” came a familiar voice from the darkness.
“Skrat? Is that you?” I asked removing my foot from whatever part of the young man I had stepped on. The room was suddenly lit with a word of magic from the young man’s lips and I covered my eyes. After a second or two, I could see the Magi was trapped under a fallen beam, his leg bent the wrong way.
“Hey Marsh. Can you give me a hand with this?” he said indicating the board trapping him. It was the same one that was blocking my escape. I bent down and put my back into it and lifted it about an inch and a half. Lucky for us the young Magi was small of frame and it was enough for him to slide his leg, using his hands out from under just before I lost my grip on it.
“Looks broken,” I deduced with all my imaginary medical experience.
“Yeah, feels it too,” he said with a grunt. “Get me outta this hole so I can work some magic on it.”
I lifted the young magi by his armpits and dragged him towards the light at the end of the tunnel of debris. We cleared the opening just as the first drops of cold rain pelted the ground, perfect timing. I set him down on a pile of roofing shingles and grabbed the apron holding it above our heads. The young Magi went to work immediately on his leg, after having me set it in the right direction, he began to chant something under his breath. I could see through his tattered clothes that the skin was moving, as if something alive was just under its surface, stitching the young man together, it gave me the heebie jeebies.
“Help me up,” he said after a minute and I slung an arm around him, letting him put his weight on me. Together we made our way back to the town square where I had left the others, but they had decided to leave the rain and were holed up across the square in a shop of some kind. When they saw I had Skrat with me Sreg and Zeeg ran over to help me carry their youngest brother, and we all headed back towards the shop.
Once inside, I dried myself off and looked out into the fading light. “It’s really coming down out there. I wish your wife didn’t destroy that inn,” Dead-Eye said to Drejnin who was standing at the large window in the shop. At first, I thought he was going to ignore Dead-Eye’s comments, but the large man turned away from the storm that was beginning to rage outside the window.
“It was not her that destroyed the inn. It was something else. She had said my father sent her here to kill me. Maybe since she failed he took her back. That portal was something she was just as afraid of as we were,” he said and turned back to the storm.
“What was she like?” my drunk crack shot asked the dontu as he rummaged through some drawers behind the counter of the store. “It sure sounded like you guys were having a good time,” he finished.
“You tell me, you had a great seat for it, just like front row at the coliseum,” Serius smiled as he spoke.
“You one lucky man, err shape shifter, err dontu. You are just lucky,” Dead-Eye said taking a long pull off his flask that had miraculously found its way back into his possession.
“Hey Marsh you want some of this?” he offered me. Who was I to turn down a gentleman’s generosity? I grabbed the thing from his hand and took a large swig trying to drink it all on him, after all the shit I went through today while he slept I thought it served him right. Try as I might I had to stop drinking before it emptied.
“How much can you fit in this thing? Do you have a siphon running to a keg on your back?” I asked.
With a snicker, he shook his head and went over to where the brothers were inventorying their equipment. “Thanks to our Magi buddy here, it is never empty,” he slurred and drank some more out of it. I looked at Skrat with a mask of confusion.
“It was a simple spell really, a circular time distortion. Whenever the flask is up ended it triggers the spell to travel back in time to when I cast it and the flask was full. I can make you one too Marsh,” he said looking up to me.
“Yah, that would be real nice, kid,” I said trying to fathom what he had actually did. Even Brakken couldn’t cast that spell and he as in charge of twenty Master Magi. This kid was really something special. I walked to the back of the store where an old woodstove sat and threw a couple small logs in there to start a fire. The night not only brought the rain, but a chill too, and I wasn’t about to go outside and warm myself next to the corpse fire.
Skrat, now able to stand on his magically healed leg, made his way back towards the front door of the shop and opened it. “I thought so,” he said tracing a finger on the outer side.
“Close the damn door,” Myder called out wrapping a blanket he found around himself.
“There is a marking here. A Magi Rune etched under the handle. I thought I saw it as we came in, but I wanted to fix my leg first,” Skrat explained.
“I don’t see nothing,” Dead-Eye said looking over the shoulder of the young Magi. I admitted that I couldn’t see it either and turned my attention back to the stove, although I did keep an ear out for the conversation.
“Not everyone can see it. Only those that can use magic, first of all. Also, they have to be attuned to the Rune, through a ritual. It is kind of like a Magi Underground. This is a safe house for those Magi seeking refuge from those who would lock us inside towers and classrooms and safely away from the real world. That means there should be a secret door somewhere around here, probably in the back room,” the young Magi said and excitedly hobbled towards the back of the shop.
So, the kid was a refugee from the Magi Academy, so what? He has been invaluable to us since we met him. Besides I am sure the brothers shook the Magi hunters the academy sends out to retrieve students who left before their training was complete, right? My life keeps getting better and better.
Now that the place was starting to warm up, the mood lightened and we started in on inane chatter waiting for Skrat to find his secret Magi door. Dead-Eye broke out some dice and started a game with the brothers as Hall loaded some supplies into a bag he found. Myder stretched out to take a nap and I was just thinking that was a good idea when I heard Skrat exclaim excitedly from the back room. It would seem he had found it.
I grabbed my sword and headed into the next room to see what all the fuss was about, and saw the young man’s head disappearing down a staircase under a trap door in the floor in what I now knew was the storeroom. I gave the contents of the room a quick once over for anything useful and followed Skrat down. Behind me, I could hear others coming as well. I guess the exploring bug bit more than I.
The stairs were pretty long and I guessed that this lead under the shops basement. Skrat was waiting there for me with a little ball of magic light in the palm of his hand. He was making it dance around on his fingertips as he waited for the rest of us to show up. Drejnin and Serius were the next to descend the hidden stairs, and then Zeeg followed. I was surprised the dwarf didn’t follow us down. Didn’t they live underground or something?
I hadn’t had a lot of contact with the oldest brother but he seemed the least crooked of them all. It wasn’t because he was wearing shining armor that I thought he was an upstanding guy either. He gave me a nod as he shuffled past me to stand next to his brother in the dank cramped stone hallway leading on into the darkness.
“How far does this go, brother,” Zeeg asked trying to peer into the darkness.
“Hard to see, this whole area has been sealed to magic to avoid detection. I think we are going to have to do this the old-fashioned way,” he answered and sent his ball of light ahead of him and we followed it into the darkness.
“Sometimes these areas, if they house something secret from the Magi Academy, they cast wards or worse, to protect the secret. Only the person who is in charge of the particular safe house knows where all the traps are, so please be careful and let me go first,” Skrat said.
“Like hell, little brother. I am stronger, let me go first,” Zeeg said.
“It isn’t just about strength, I have to have a clear sight in front to find the wards and dispel them before we encounter them. Wait!” he said holding a hand out in front of his brother. We all froze in place expecting the worst. Skrat called back his light and looked at the wall on the right side of the hall. There was a stone that was slightly sticking out from the rest of them, and it was slightly discolored.
“This is something, it’s giving off a slight magical glow,” the young magi said and traced his fingers lightly over the old grey stone. Serius was trying to see over my shoulder and extended his neck about another foot so that he could see over my left side, while Drejnin, who didn’t need to extend to be taller than me looked over my right. I felt like Weebly all of a sudden, I chuckled at the thought.
“Maybe you push it in or pull it out,” Serius said, trying to help. Sounded like sound advice to me.
“We have to be careful, it could be trapped,” Zeeg shot over his shoulder defending his little brother’s caution. Skrat was mumbling to himself as he crouched and examined where the wall met the floor.
“Look, it is scraped. There is a secret door,” he said barely able to keep the excitement out of his voice.
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