The Sun Door Part 21
by Joe Solmo
I thumbed through the old book looking for pictures. The book was an alphabetical collection of various demons and evil things, almost like an encyclopedia. It was interesting I will give it that, but I couldn’t see what the hell Drejnin was wasting his time with…. Holy Shit! I flipped back a page to make sure I saw what I thought I saw.
“Marsh! I did it,” Skrat said from the podium. I raised my head from the book and looked at the mage. He was holding another book in his hand and his eyes were jumping from that one to another on the podium. “Come here!” he said excitedly. I rushed over to him to see what the hell he was talking about. He handed me the book in his hand. “Go over to where that skeleton came from,” he instructed and I obliged.
I looked at the cover of the book, but it didn’t have a title on it, so that didn’t help. I looked back at the kid waiting to find out what the hell was going on. He looked up from the second book he had and saw me standing there. “Open it!” he said excitedly.
I cracked the book open to a random page, which didn’t matter all the pages was hollow, leading to the back of the book which had a mirror inside of it. Looking back from the mirror was Skrat. “Hey Lucky,” Skrat said, his voice coming through the mirror as well as his reflection.
“This is great!” I said.
“Yes, now I can stay here in the Library while you guys search around. There shouldn’t be any limitations on range,” the young mage.
“You know it amazes me kid what mages can do,” I said walking back to him and clapping him on the back.
“Very few mages could do what I just did. It is real complicated to take another spell and work backwards to figure out how to use it. I always had a knack for it though, that’s what lead to my problems with my official training. For the most part I can see a spell being cast once, even a real difficult one, and learn it. You wouldn’t believe how jealous even the Archmage professors were of that ability,” he explained. It was amazing how more open mouthed he was when his brothers weren’t around.
Speaking of his brothers they started to pile in through the entrance to the Library with the rest of our little company. They spread out as they entered, like water pouring in, as they looked around the large chamber. It took them all a few minutes to gather near the podium. I looked at Drejnin as he picked up the books off the table and returned them to the shelves.
“What have you discovered in my absence, my brother?” Zeeg asked as he approached the young mage. His face was beaming with pride in his little brother. He gave me a quick glance as well, as if to say I did good watching Skrat. I ignored him and wandered over towards Drejnin to ask him about the books. It was time to get some answers from the large Dreymorian.
“I found a way to search for these magical dwarven weapons,” Skrat said. At this, Weebly brightened.
“Is it true, lad? Can ye find em?” the dwarf said.
“It is indeed true. With the vast magics and knowledge in this library I can find almost anything, but there is a catch,” Skrat said.
“Brother, do not put yourself in danger for these weapons. They are not worth your life,” Zeeg said, being protective as usual.
“It is not a life-threatening catch, brother. I cannot leave this chamber and there is too much here to abandon. I created this for you to bring,” he said and handed the book he had showed me to his oldest brother. “It will let us communicate between us. I can stay here and look up the information you need while you guys find the weapons. I have discovered there are some in a cemetery not too far from here. In the meantime, I will try to figure out a way to get the information to bring with us. I just have to solve the magic of this place. Zeeg opened the book and the brothers crowded around.
I gave Serius a quick look as I approached Drejnin, who turned to face me; his massive frame took up almost my whole view. I noticed he was wearing the sword he had found earlier strapped to his side. He did cut an imposing figure, that’s for sure. “What can I help you with Marsh?” he asked in his booming baritone.
For a second my braveness left me, and I stood there, in silence, just staring at him. I could see he was getting ready to dismiss me when the words found their way out of my mouth. “Did you find anything useful in those books?” I asked him.
“Nothing specific, just a lot of vague references and myths,” he said looking towards the dontu.
Liar, I thought. I saw what was in those books he had found, I just wish I could have read some more before I was distracted. I hoped I didn’t let on with my expression that I saw through his deception. It didn’t appear that way though, neither of them looked at me any differently.
“You know Marsh, Serius and I both appreciate what you and your friends have done for us since we have been here. Not everyone would give up their lives to help strangers. Your gestures have not gone unnoticed,” he said.
“Really, we didn’t give up much, both that drunk over there, and myself weren’t very happy back with the Jombi in Rulne. You are the one that did us a favor,” I said back with a winning smile.
“It was mutual then,” he said and looked up at Skrat talking to his brothers. “It is amazing how talented that one is for being so young. If he lives a long life he will be very powerful.”
“You don’t trust him, do you?” I asked the Dreymorian.
“I find it hard to trust anyone, but no, I do not trust the mage. As I said I was once betrayed by a powerful wizard,” he answered only half paying attention to me. His eyes were focused on Skrat as he talked.
“It’s funny what you can remember, isn’t it?” I said. “You can remember that detail, but not where you are from or who your people are, or even who that woman really was that attacked us back in the town.” I finished and instantly regretted saying it. I cringed on the inside thinking I had gone too far.
“I told you, I am remembering more things every day. Some details just aren’t there yet. I did see in the volumes I looked through, that the Key to the Moon Door is buried in a Tomb surrounded by some of the worst undead villians. Enchanted Statues of these people populate the cemetery grounds. It sounds like the same cemetery that Skrat is talking about that holds more of the weapons. It seems the excitement will pick up soon enough if that is indeed our destination. Both myself and Serius plan on heading there soon,” the big man said.
“We will all head that way,” Zeeg said clapping Drejnin on the back. “We could all use the battle practice. There is honor in defeating these villains,” he said. He seemed to be happy about the threat of violence in the graveyard. I swear I am surrounded by insanity. Even Dead-Eye seemed excited, and surprisingly sober…ish. Hall was thumbing through a medical book that Skrat had found for him. Everyone decided we would leave this Library in the morning so we had time to do some research first.
The only thing I wanted to research I couldn’t. I didn’t want Drejnin watching over my shoulder, so I just sat back and enjoyed the down time. It didn’t grow cold as the night grew long, I assumed it was some magic temperature controller. Zeeg and Drejnin practiced their weapons to pass the time, while Serius and Dead-Eye were playing dice. I spent my time by myself thinking over everything that has happened to me since Drejnin and Serius came through that Sun Door.
Sometime around midnight, Dead-Eye came up to me, so quietly I didn’t even hear him coming until he materialized in front of me through the darkness. There were only a few torches burning around the podium and the magic book of the Library for light now, as Skrat still studied the ancient knowledge this place housed. They really weren’t torches so much as they were magical flames made to look like torches, they gave off no heat, but their flame burned more of a blue then a red or orange. It took a while to get used to it.
Dead-Eye sat next to me and leaned close, I almost thought him an illusion because I didn’t smell alcohol on his breath. In fact, looking into his eyes, I didn’t think I had ever seen him so sober. “Marsh, you got a minute,” he said without a single slur.
“Shit, for you, old friend, I got two,” I replied with all the wit in the world.
“I’ve been doing some thinking recently, and before you start in with your sarcasm I want to finish this thought,” he said knowing me way to well. I nodded for him to continue, afraid to trust my open mouth with sincerity.
“Marsh, you and I go back a way, and we never much talked about our pasts. That was just fine with me. When those two bastards came through the Sun Door I quickly saw a chance for us to get the hell out of the army. Neither one of us was happy there, but we were both too damn afraid to take that first step out. They gave us an excuse. You and I both know I like my alcohol, that’s not a secret, but even on this trip, I have been doing a little more tipping back the flask than I used too. Well, at least as far as anyone knows anyway. To be honest I have only drunk enough since we met the dwarf to make it look like I was smashed all the time. People don’t hold their tongues as well when they are drunk or sitting next to a drunk they think are passed out,” he explained.
I was shocked. He was right I didn’t know much about him before we met, and most of the time I figured what he did say was at least an embellishment if not an outright lie. To be fair though, I haven’t really told him the truth either we just kind of let the past stay there and work on our future drunkenness together.
“Marsh, my father was a Warrior Cleric of Hu’Mod. He was sworn to search for evil in all its forms and totally obliterate it. I didn’t see him much growing up, he was always out on some adventure with the other Warrior Clerics looking for signs of evil, but when he was home, he used to tell me stories. Stories of the evil he found and overwhelmed with his righteous purpose. One of those stories came back to me when those demonic hounds attacked us the first time, I knew that somewhere in my memories I knew about them. I tried to bury my past a long time ago and it took some doing to bring it back. Of course, I didn’t want to let on, so I continued to pretend to drink, well mostly pretend,” he said with a sly smile.
“My father came home one day with some grievous injuries. He was lying in a litter with half of one leg next to him on the canvas. I ran to him, I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old. His screams scared the shit out of me, he was dying. He had told me my whole life about how Hu’Mod takes care of his followers, and those words flooded my mind as I watched him convulse in the agony from the severed limb. I watched as they dragged him to the Church to see the Faith Healers inside. He tried to speak to me, but he couldn’t. The only noise he could make was the primal scream of pain. I watched from the street as two of his fellow Warrior Clerics lifted him through the doorway,”
“After a few hours, I was allowed to enter the church to see him. My mother was already there in tears. I sat on the edge of the bed, wary of his leg. He spoke to me and told me about what had happened. He was attacked by a very tall beautiful woman accompanied with a very large black-haired warrior. The couple also had several large dog-like creatures with them. They hunted my father and his group like a fox and caught him about a day ride away from there. They tortured him. He told me the woman’s name was Skitt. He couldn’t remember the man’s name, only that he was very large,” Dead-Eye continued.
“I will never forget that day and what my father told me. He told me of other worlds, realms, planes of existence. He explained that not all of them were like ours, some of them housed vile creatures beyond nightmares, and some were inhabited by wondrous divine beings. From time to time the worlds touch and things can cross over. Hu’Mod was a protector god and he charged his followers with the same duty, to protect this world’s inhabitants from these other world’s visitors. This Skitt, her man, and the dogs, he said, were from another world. My father was doing his God’s work, and he was injured. Where was his god then? I watch him suffer for three days until he couldn’t take it anymore and gave up his fight. We buried him the following day behind the town,” he said.
“That is some crazy story,” I said still unsure if I believed the man. In all the years we have worked together he never mentioned his family. I always pegged him as just another drunk military man, but now I’m seeing a new side of him. I wondered if he was sober the last time he shot me.
“Listen Marsh, if my father was right, and he met Skitt before, or Skittessa, and her man who looks a lot like our new friend Drejnin, then we need to keep an eye on him while he is here. That Sun Door must be a portal from his world to ours. Somewhere along the way he forgot who he was, but I can’t forget he was the one who struck my father down. I don’t know where Serius fits in to the whole thing yet. I’m still working on that,” he said.
If a person is evil and they lose their memory does that mean they have a chance to change? Is evil something inborn or something learned?” I asked, not really expecting an answer from my partner.
“That’s what I am trying to find out Marsh,” Dead-Eye said. “I have been trying to grill the dwarf for information, but by the time I get him drunk enough to get over his fear of this Skittessa, the little bastard ends up passing out,” he said.
“Earlier when we were down here Drejnin asked the Library for some books about that bitch Skittessa. When he left with the rest of the guys to fetch you I flipped through those books, and you wouldn’t believe what I found,” I said in a rushed whisper, my eyes scanning the room to see how close everyone was to our conversation.
I turned back towards Dead-Eye about to explain what it was that I found in the books on the table when quicker than lightening, Drejnin was next to us. “It is an exciting time for your world, no?” he asked. “This discovery is beyond imagining. This will change everything your people know,” he finished, with his eyes staring right through me. It could have only been my imagination thinking it, but there was a warning in that look. A message from the large man to me about the information I was about to reveal.
I took a step back from the man, who was uncomfortably close to me at this time, and took a breath after realizing I was holding it for some reason. When I stepped back I did bump into Serius who was standing behind me. I had not noticed that he had gotten close either.
“Hey, watch it,” he said pushing me off him.
“Sorry, didn’t see you there,” I said regaining my balance. “I’m going to check on Weebly,” I said and wandered away. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Drejnin and Serius talking with Dead-Eye and I felt bad for about a minute for leaving him there with those two, but it was better him than me that was for sure.
I found the dwarf sitting at one of the stone tables near the back of the place where we had fought the skeleton. He didn’t have his face buried in a book, like I would have expected. He didn’t even have a drink in front of him, which threw me off balance. He was just sitting there, deep in thought, so much so that he didn’t even notice that I approached him until I sat down in his field of vision.
“I’m not in the mood for your banter today, lad,” he said with a heavy sigh looking me in the eye.
“Look, we kind of got off on the wrong foot. I’m not here to tease you. I just want to ask you a few questions about that bitch we killed back at the Inn,” I said.
“You would watch your tongue! I am sure she is not dead, and she can hear it when a mortal speaks of her. Do not bring her vengeance to this place,” he said.
“I apologize,” I said almost meaning it. “What do you know of her and her connection to Drejnin?” I asked him offering him a sip from the flask I nicked from Dead-Eye during out conversation.
“She is the Huntress, The Assassin, her job is to hunt and assassinate targets for the vilest god of them all, Lodrum. He is the twin brother of Hu’Mod and an exact opposite of him. Lodrum has a son whom married the Huntress on the lowest level of Hell. He is a strong devil prince, who wages war on the holy and comes to our world to corrupt innocents into a life of evil and if that doesn’t work he will resort to murder. He is credited with being behind some of the bloodiest conflicts in history, both among Men and Dwarf. His name wasn’t revealed to protect his identity from Hu’Mod, it is said,” the dwarf explained.
I glanced over my shoulder towards where Drejnin was still talking to Dead-Eye. I imagined him grilling the poor bastard about what our conversation had been about and I did pity my buddy. I hoped that he was once again playing the drunk and they would leave him alone shortly.
I turned back to the dwarf, who took a long pull off the flask. “So, could this be true? Is Drejnin the devil prince?” I asked in a whisper.
“He definitely fits the description well on a purely physical sense. The devil price and his bride usually are accompanied with their pack of demon wolves, which we have seen and fought, I believe. But why would the wife hunt the husband?” he asked.
“Have you ever been married?” I asked the little runt sarcastically.
“Aye lad, but still she must be under orders to kill him. Why would his father want to assassinate his own son? What happened to his memories?” Weebly asked.
“Are you suggesting that the main evil god is hunting someone whom we are spending a lot of time with?” I asked.
“Aye lad, why do you think I have been so scared since Skittessa showed up back in town?” he said.
“I just thought you were afraid of tall women,” I said not fast enough to catch the joke in my mouth before it escaped. The dwarf just gave me a look like, I knew you couldn’t be serious for more than a few moments.
“Are you sure she was who she said she was? I mean for a goddess we kicked her ass pretty good. Shouldn’t that have been a bigger battle?” I asked.
“She wasn’t prepared for us, she looked down on us as nothing as she focused on Drejnin. She won’t make that mistake again. I’m no expert, lad, but I don’t think one can kill a goddess that easy. If anything, we just slowed her down, and next time she is going to be pissed and ready to deal with us as well,” he said.
“What about the dontu? Where does he fit in?” I asked.
“I do not know lad. I have never heard of a dontu, but there are many stories of various demons from the abyss that the demon prince and his bride control when they march on the mortal realms. It is possible no one knows about the dontu because when they attack they are always in some hideous demonic form,” Weebly said grabbing the flask and putting it to his lips.
“Yah take another sip or two, I think you were starting to make some sense,” I said. “In those books is the information we need. We just need the time to look through them without Drejnin looking over our shoulder,” I said.
“The man is like an animal, alert at all times, he barely sleeps. It will not be an easy task to do anything in this chamber without him seeing,” Weebly said raising the flask in the air as if in salute. I turned in my seat and saw Drejnin watching us. Dead-Eye was sitting at the table with his hands in his hair with Serius sitting next to him. It looked like they were getting back to their dice game from earlier.
Maybe I was reading too much into Drejnin and Serius actions. They really didn’t seem hostile until my warped mind started working its magic. I beckoned Drejnin over to the table with the dwarf. He approached in a fluid motion, with the grace of a feline, or a trained killer, I though. I offered the Dreymorian the flask. “Let us drink, to the discovery of a lifetime,” I said and pushed it into his hands.
The large man nodded and put it to his lips swallowing the alcohol. He handed the flask to the dwarf who greedily took another swig off of it before handing it back to me. “This cemetery, tell me about it,” I said to the large man as I leaned back in the chair and decided to enjoy myself for a change.
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