The Sun Door Part 2
by Joe Solmo
When we weren’t busy guarding the Sun Door; that coincidently, had no more activity, Drejnin and Serius dragged us out to the yard for exercise, one of the only places they were allowed to explore. I asked the big stranger, Drejnin, what we had done to be punished but he just smiled and ushered us outside. First it was running and pushups, then it was weapons training, both of them were worlds better than either I or Dead-Eye. Spears, swords, axes, pole arms, archery, it didn’t matter, they were better than us. In fact, we found out shortly that they were better than anyone we had.
Brakken and Chase had come out today, standing in the shadows watching the display for a while, but they tried to avoid notice. If they caught me looking they disappeared faster than a coin purse in a whore’s room. In fact, whenever Drejnin would ask to speak with Chase again, they had some reason why he was too busy to be bothered by them.
After each of these excuses Serius wanted to go charge into Chase’s office and demand release, but Drejnin talked him out of it each time. Drejnin talked to him and somehow calmed him down. I don’t know how he did it. So another day would pass and another day of weapon drills punished us.
Dead Eye took it better than I expected him too. But then again he did them all drunk, and didn’t care if he lost all the time. In fact I think he was comfortable being dead last in everything. No pressure, I guess.
Other than the exercise, everything seemed to be going alright, at least until Serius pulled me aside one day after my shift. Dead-Eye was so drunk he didn’t even notice I wasn’t with him as he went towards his bunk.
“Marsh, we have had no luck talking to Chase about leaving. Drejnin is beginning to think he may be avoiding us. You must talk to the man and ask him to visit us. It isn’t that we are not grateful for the hospitality, the quarters we have been given are sufficient. We need to do something other than sit here and rot, no offense,” Serius said.
“What makes you think Chase wants to see me?” I replied to the Dontu. He sighed and looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was listening in.
“You are the only other people we know. You are our avenue to Chase. Please do us this favor. We have no one else,” he said.
Two hours later found me sitting in a very uncomfortable chair outside Chase’s office. He had some local officals in there trying to smooth over our occupation. I could hear mumbling from inside but couldn’t make out the words. Standing across the little room from me was Brakken. The stares I got from over there was insane. You would have thought I strangled his child or something.
Sometime around dark the doors slammed open against the wall and two men I have never seen before marched out, locals. The scowls they wore rivaled Brakken’s own face. I jumped up and raced inside before the Magi could beat me to Chase. I closed the door behind me, right in his face.
The leader of our little mercenary group sat behind his big oak desk. Well, it really wasn’t his. He had “borrowed” it from the local boys when we arrived here in this jungle. He was adding a wax seal to some parchment he had rolled up and with a wave of his hand motioned for me to sit down across from him. I sat down and waited for him to finish his business.
With a start, Chase looked up at me. “You!” he said.
Nice to see ya too, boss,” I replied.
“What is it now Marsh? Run outta that distilled piss you guys drink down there in the hole?” he asked. The called the Sun Door Chamber the hole since it sat in the basement of the building, pretty original.
“I came to talk to you about Drejnin and Serius. They have been asking me about their release. I was wondering what I should tell them, sir” I asked. Chase sat back in his chair and folded his arms in front of him.
“Have they talked anymore about where they come from or their special healing abilities?” he asked.
“No, they don’t remember anything, remember?” I asked.
Chase scoffed, apparently not believing the strangers story.
“Look, they have been here for a few months now and they haven’t said a word about any secret abilities. No one has the balls to confront them outright, not that I think anyone here could intimidate them. If they do know anything, they aint gonna talk and we don’t have the means to get it out of them. Why not just let them leave?” I asked.
“Well you are right, at least with one part. We don’t have the means to get the information out of them. Brakken has been experimenting with some spells. Now don’t give me that look, at first he was just probing to see what he could find out, but after a while he started doing more. Our leader of the Magi has been shootin’ spells at those two for a month. He tried everything from basic breeze spell to fireballs, levitation, even tried to hit em with a lightning bolt. None of the spells worked. It was like that had some kind of immunity. Magic doesn’t work, I think they would best any number of our guys,” Chase said.
“So let them go,” I said.
“Not yet, Brakken has another plan. He thinks he has a chance this time, some new contraption him and his students have cooked up. If it works then tomorrow night we will know what’s going on with their abilities,” Chase said.
“What is it going to do to them?” I asked, sitting back in my chair.
“I just know the gist of it. It is supposed to take a sample of their essence or soul or something and put it in some kind of bottle to be analyzed and broken down until they can figure out what kind of stuff is in them,” he said.
“Is that going to hurt them?” I asked.
“Well, Brakken said it shouldn’t, but he didn’t know for sure. Must I remind you that you are not to speak of this to them, Marsh,” he said.
“Yes Sir! You can count on me sir, not a word to either one,” I said. Chase nodded and turned to a stack of papers on the edge of his desk.
“Was there anything else, Marsh?” he asked.
“I guess not sure, but if Brakken gets what he wants will you let them go?” I asked.
“Yes Marsh. If we get the information we need, I will let them leave. Happy?” he asked.
“Yeah, thanks Chief,” I said and scooted towards the door. I had to let them know about Brakken’s plan. Yeah I know, I promised Chase I wouldn’t say anything to Drejnin or Serius, so first stop, Dead-Eye.
I found him lounging in the hall near the Sun Door Chamber, it was just before our shift was to begin. I guess he was waiting for me. Once I got closer I realized that was just where he had fallen asleep, empty wineskin in his hand. Empty because it looked like half of it leaked out after he passed out. I kicked the pile of drunk with the side of my boot.
He woke up and tried to drink from the empty wineskin, then looked around and spotted me for the first time. “Time for work already?” he asked and stumbled to his feet.
I told him what was going on with Brakken and Chase, and he didn’t seem the least bit surprised. He just nodded when he wasn’t staring at his empty wineskin with disdain, but I could tell he was paying attention. As soon as I finished he took off down the hall towards the wine cellar.
About fifteen minutes after our shift was supposed to start Dead-Eye wandered into the Sun Door Chamber carrying a small wooden box with 6 bottles of some kind of alcohol. He nodded to me as he walked over to the table and slammed down his load. I took my feet off of his chair and pushed the dice over to him as he plopped down into it.
He reached into the box and produced a bottle and offered it to me. Such a generous man. I took it, opened it took a long pull off of it. Big mistake. I coughed for what seemed like three weeks before I could catch my breath. “What the hell is in this bottle?” I asked looking at the suspicious liquid.
With a smirk on his face he spoke to me. “That there is the swill me and Piggy have been making. We are thinking of opening up a tavern in town, teach the locals how to be drunks. Breathe some life into this place. It has a kick to it, don’t ya think?” he explained.
“An aftertaste as well,” I said. “What is that flavor? Socks?”
“Funny you should say that Lucky, because..” he stopped in midsentence as we heard footfalls coming from the hallway. We both turned towards the doorway and made the effort to at least look for our weapons.
Drejnin and that dontu, Serius came into the room, each carrying a pack on their shoulder. With a last glance down the hall they both came over to the table and placed their bags underneath before taking a seat. Drejnin picked up my bottle and sniffed. His eyes opened wide as he slammed the bottle onto the table in front of him. Serius grabbed it and swigged the rest of it down, good for him.
“Got any more?” he asked with a grin. Dead-Eye pointed to his box and the dontu helped himself. Drejnin turned his attention to me. His dark eyes seemingly peering into my soul. I didn’t like it one bit. I mean the guy was creepy. He had been nothing but nice to me since I met him, but still, he was creepy. With his deep voice he asked me if I wanted a better drink, and handed me a flask he had inside his shirt pocket. I took a swig, it was the good stuff, I think Dead-Eye was hurt.
“Marsh, Serius and I are leaving tonight. We have given your leader every chance to be civil with us and he refuses. After what Dead-Eye told us earlier today, we cannot risk this, invasion of our bodies. It appears that the mage Brakken, will stop at nothing to learn our secrets. We just wanted to thank you for all you have done for us, my friends,” Drejnin said.
“To us!” Dead-Eye said and poured the rest of his bottle down his throat. With a quick glance I noticed that between Dead-Eye and Serius there was only one bottle of sockwater left.
I had the feeling that once they found out they would want to leave. All day I had been thinking about it myself, getting the hell away from this boring, rotting, festering job and going somewhere, anywhere.
“If you leave I’m coming too,” I said before I realized what words were escaping my big mouth. Dead Eye nodded in agreement, and eyeballed that last bottle and Serius at the same time.
“I thank you, but I don’t wish to cause you anymore trouble. We will have to flee far,” Drejnin said.
“Well, you gonna need guides to get out of this jungle,” I stated being elected the king of the obvious.
“And someone will have to show you where all the best taverns are,” Dead Eye added. I rolled my eyes. Sometimes that man has only a one track mind.
:Is there no way I can convince you guys to stay here. It may resort to violence before we are out of here. I would hate to have you face your friends in combat,” Drejnin said.
“We really don’t have friends here,” Dead-Eye said.
“Very well then,” Drejnin said with a sigh. Then he continued, “But let’s make haste, before guards change to the morning shift where there are more,” Drejnin said. I grabbed my crossbow and headed for the door. Dead Eye and Drejnin followed behind me as I led the way out of the chamber through the hall. We had almost reached the door out of the stone structure when we heard Stool’s voice coming from around the next corner.
“I have an idea,” I said grabbing the sword Drejnin had been carrying and placing my crossbow in his back. A second later Stool turned the corner with a few more grunts I had never met. I guess I lead a sheltered life in the Sun Door chamber.
“What is the meaning here!” Stool said.
“They tried to attack Brakken. We are taking them to cells until Chase wants to see 'em,” Dead Eye said. Stool looked us over for a minute. I saw his eyes grow wide when he realized my crossbow wasn’t loaded. Without a second thought I hit him square in the face with the butt of the crossbow. He went down and all hell broke loose.
Drejnin was in motion instantly. He grabbed the sword from my hand and swung with such fluid motion, I didn’t realize that two grunts were dead on their feet. A third was grappling with Dead Eye next to Serius who choked another out. I smacked him with my crossbow too. I turned in time to see Drejnin’s sword buried in a man’s chest, all the way to the hilt, through the bones and everything. Dead Eye eventually knocked out the other grunt.
The large man drew his blade out and gave the scene an odd look; I couldn’t put my finger on. Kinda like sorrow, but I don’t think for the dead. I just shrugged and looked around the corner for more grunts. Serius was pick-pocketing the guard he had knocked out.
The hall was empty and I could see the door that was to be our escape. I turned to Dead Eye and said, “All clear!” We charged down the hall seeing the door ahead. Dead Eye ran ahead, surprisingly fast for an aging drunkard. He opened the door and looked out. The night’s cold air hit my face. He waved us on and we ran through the door into the city. No one was around so we stopped running for a minute to catch our breath.
“I can’t believe you hit Stool!” Dead Eye said laughing between deep breaths.
“Me either,” I replied with the biggest smile on my face. I turned to Drejnin to see if he held the same views we did, but the man’s eyes were scanning the city streets. All business I guess.
“Which way is out of this city?” He asked.
I pointed to the West. We began walking down the worn cobblestone path on either side of the broad dirt road. We passed merchant carts and other wares dealers getting an early start on the day even though the sun wasn’t up yet, as we made our way to the end of the city.
“Wait,” Dead Eye said and ran into a store front that was surprisingly open for this time of night. Drejnin and I watched the mostly deserted streets around us. A few minutes later Dead Eye returned with 3 wineskins sloshing over his shoulder. “Oh did you guys need something too?” He asked with an innocent smile. I rolled my eyes and looked inside the store.
“No, you’ll just have to learn to share,” I said and began walking towards the edge of town. If luck was with us, the guards wouldn’t know anything yet and we could just walk right past them with a little bullshitting. Communication in our ranks was pretty much unheard of.
“How long before sunrise?” Drejnin asked.
“We got a few hours yet,” Dead Eye responded.
“We need to fi….”Drejnin began then pulled a necklace of some kind out of his pants pocket, the only article of clothing that survived the Sun Door. “Never mind,” he said and smiled for the first time placing the necklace around his neck. I looked at Dead Eye puzzled. He didn’t know either, and Serius didn't give away anything.
We reached the edge of town and saw the guards standing one on each side of the road. They watched us approach casually talking to each other. Maybe they hadn’t heard anything yet. No one had raised an alarm.We walked up to the guards, and were in luck, it was Urny and Daft. Urny was so named for the funeral urn he carried around with him. Someone close to him had died, but no one was able to find out whom. He was tightlipped about the whole thing. Daft was a retarded man who was able to speak and hold a spear so they made him a guard. Some say he’s related to Chase somehow. But as far as I know that is only rumor.
“Nice night, huh Urny?” I said as we approached. He nodded then looked up at Drejnin.
“Who’s these guys?” he asked taking a step from the post he was leaning on.
“This is Drejnin, and his companion, Serius. They are messagers from the North. We have the great duty to escort them back out of here,” I said with sarcasm.
“Oh...o...O...Okay,” Daft stuttered as he moved out of the way.
“I don’t remember hearing anything about them being here. Hey Daft was there anything in the gatebook. I don’t remember seeing them sign in,” Urny said.
“Er, don’t think so Urn,” Daft said.
“Urn…listen. Why can’t you be more like your partner there? Why do you have to be difficult?” Dead Eye said.
“Fine, go on then, I don’t give a shit what you two assholes do,” he said moving out of the way.
“Thanks Urny,” I said. We walked past them and started out into the moist night jungle. The humidity in this part of the world was near one hundred percent all the time. Fortunately the rainy season was over just before we got here, and it would be a while before it returned. Hopefully by then we would be long gone from Galaria.
“So, which way are we headed?” Dead Eye said once we were out of earshot of Urny and Daft.
“North would be fine with me, unless you want to find a ship sailing from Southport,” I said looking at Drejnin.
“Didn’t you say you worked in the north, something about a rebellion?” Drejnin asked.
“Yeah, you’re right, let’s head south. I hope big boats and deep water don’t scare you guys?” I kidded.
“Almost nothing scares me,” Drejnin said.
“I’ll believe that,” Dead Eye added. And with that said we set out for Southport, the largest city in this cesspit jungle. I had only been there once, with Dead Eye, we ran into some trouble there with a gang chief who we lost two weeks of pay too. It was the only time Captain Stool rescued us. That was only because he let us go down there to get out of his hair for a few days, when Chase said no one could leave. He was only saving his own ass. If Chase had gotten word of our little escapades in Southport, we all would have been digging latrines for months. I almost feel sad that we didn’t get caught. The thought of Stool digging would have been worth the extra labor.
The wagon path leading from the gate ran for about fifty yards before splitting into the directions of the compass. Just as we approached the crossroads Drejnin called for a halt. He was listening for something and peering into the darkness. He turned towards me and whispered. “There are people up ahead,” he said. I nodded and turned towards Dead-Eye to pass the word, but he was sitting on the ground trying to twist the top off of one of the wineskins. When I turned back around Drejnin was moving with the grace of a cat, slinking down the path towards the crossroads. I did my best to keep pace and quiet as I followed the large man and his friend, the dontu.
Dead-Eye caught up as we approached the intersection of roads. Drejnin put his head up high and walked into the middle of the road. “Show yourself, I know you are out there,” the giant man said.
“Can you see in the dark as well,” spoke a familiar voice from in the shadows and then I heard the sound of horses walk out into the path. Brakken and five of his magi students entered the pale lamplight that illuminated the path. I think I shit my pants. How did that asshole know we were leaving? Oh that son of a bitch Chase set me up, he knew I would run back to Drejnin and tell him about Brakken’s plan. He knew they would try to escape so that if something went wrong with Magi Captain’s plan, he could blame any wounds on their escape attempt.
Bodies stepped out into the lamp light. We were surrounded. None of the foot soldiers were anyone I recognized. I guess that’s what they were doing in Chase’s office when I got there. Dead-Eye mumbled a curse under his breath and pulled his crossbow up to his hip. Even though Dead-Eye was a drunk, he could be serious and seemingly sober up when needed. I watched Drejnin for some signal on how to play this, the tension was growing.
“We are leaving, Brakken, of the Magi. There is no need to make this get violent. Just let us leave,” Drejnin said towards the leader of the Magi.
A smirk crossed Brakken’s face as he reached into his robes and pulled out a small wooden box. He opened the lid and pulled a crystal the size of my fist out of it. “Seize him,” came Brakken’s voice and he pushed the gem out towards Drejnin.
“I don’t think so, Serius said and charged the men trying to grab Drejnin. Three died before I pulled my sword out, their insides littered the road. In the darkness I couldn’t see the weapon in his hand but Serius was a blur as he attacked.
Drejnin took three steps towards Brakken, drawing his sword and snarling, but that was as far as he got. Some kind of beam or a ray came from the gem and stuck Drejnin in the chest. It froze him in place. I could see the strain on his face as he struggled to break free, but it wasn’t doing any good.
“Come on Dead-Eye, they need our help!” I said and ran towards the three men closing in on Drejnin. Suddenly a sharp pain erupted in my calf and I fell to the ground. I turned my head to see what happened. There was a crossbow bolt sticking out of my fucking leg. I looked up at a sheepish looking Dead-Eye, he mouthed the word sorry, then shrugged and then started to reload his crossbow. I snapped the bolt with the adrenaline flowing. A second later I felt the breeze off of Dead-Eye’s second shot as it took a man in the thigh. I got to my feet, trying not to put any weight on my leg. Using my sword as a makeshift crutch I limped my way toward Drejnin, who hadn’t moved.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. I turned my head and saw Serius. I had to look again, something wasn’t right. At the wrists on both arms Serius had axes, instead of hands! He was cleaving through Brakken’s mages making his way to the Magi Captain himself. He was only five feet from the Captain’s horse now.
With a sneer Brakken raised his free hand and a blue light shot from his fingertips towards the dontu, and bent around him harmlessly. The dontu looked around, as if amazed, and then shit got crazy.
Serius changed. His body changed. His neck elongated, his arms pulled into his body then grew out of his back, it all happened so fast. Gone was the dontu Serius I knew¸ and in his place was a Wyvern looking beast towering fifteen feet in the air. A great roar poured out of its gaping maw and I swear the thing winked at me. The large head swiveled on the long neck towards the Magi Captain.
A bolt of lightning shot from Brakken’s hand and dissipated around the wyvern. With a fluid motion the wyvern launched into the air gliding towards Brakken. A frantic fireball launched from the mage as the wyvern, but once again it had no effect. With a quick movement, reptilian teeth snapped and Brakken’s headless corpse fell off of its horse and hit the ground. The gem fell from his hand, breaking the spell, and Drejnin fell to his knees, weakened.
I stuck Brakken’s hand with my sword crutch as I approached his headless corpse. The rest of his lackey’s had run off once the wyvern attacked. I turned to see what had happened to the beast that used to be my friend, but instead found the dontu staring back at me with the widest grin on his face.
“That must be why dontu are feared!” Serius said excitedly. Drejnin walked up to us on wobbly legs, he held the gem in his hand. He looked very weak. He looked up at Serius and nodded to him. “Once again you save my life,” he said.
“That is my calling. Did you see what I did! I remember what a dontu is now. It’s great,” Serius said.
“Sorry about sticking you, Lucky,” Dead-Eye said.
“At least you tried,” I said giving the drunk a dirty look.
“Hold him,” said Drejnin. I was grabbed by the dontu. Drejnin reached down and dug into my wound and got the rest of the bolt out of my leg. With a quick wrap job I was good to go, except for the limping.
“What’s the next step?” Dead-Eye asked.
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