The Sun Door Part 22

by Joe Solmo

“The Graveyard housed some of the most evil beings to have existed at that time. It was many years before the dwarves forged these weapons,” Drejnin said gripping the hilt of his new magic sword. “This world was younger then and fear was a better motivator to the populace that the promise of a cultured society. The regions were ruled by only the most powerful of these warlords. Their underlings committed atrocities in their warlords name daily. Eventually there was a rebellion in one such area by a strong holy knight of Hu’Mod who purged that region of evil and brought its leader to justice. One region at a time they forced their way across the lands wiping out the evil, but evil really never dies, it takes new form. To prevent the evil from rising again, the magicians of the time created this graveyard just for them. The graveyard is separated into eight sections. Each one houses one of these evil warlord’s essence. Forced into undeath and trapped with the magic of the graveyard, they cannot escape. At least from what I could tell in those books,” he said giving me a look, or was it my imagination. “The Key to the Moon Door lies in the very back in the eighth section,” he said.

“Why can’t it ever be easy, you know? Just go there and have them waiting behind the fence,” I asked.

“Nothing in life is easy, Marsh. I am a little concerned about the undead inside the graveyard, but we do have the dwarven magic weapons to help us. We will leave in the morning and hopefully soon I can find my way home with this world’s Moon Door,” Drejnin finished, and that was the last thing I remembered before passing out.

            I woke lying across the stone table with one hell of a backache. These stone slabs weren’t meant for sleeping on, I guess. The brothers were still asleep, except for Skrat who I don’t think left the podium. Weebly, Hall, and the rest of the gang were sitting at the table nearest the exit of this place, talking in hushed whispers. I slowly put my legs under me, and tried to make my way over to them, but my body had other plans. I doubled over and couldn’t straighten up.

            Hall saw me and came to my rescue, I hope he wasn’t looking for a reward, I hear I am a sloppy kisser. He got behind me and grabbed ahold so quick I am still not sure exactly what he did, and yanked. I heard a crack and felt something move in my back, but the pain was going away. I turned and thanked him as I made my way over to the table with his help.

            Dead-Eye shared his breakfast with me, stale bread. I guess no one thought to light a cooking fire, even in a room full of kindling. Relax, that was a joke, I wouldn’t burn all these precious books, I thought at no one in particular. That was just the kind of mood I was in today, and screw anyone who didn’t like it.

            I washed down the stale bread with some water, which was cold and refreshing. I was going to ask where the cold water came from, but knowing this bunch I decided I probably didn’t really want to know. Instead I tried to focus on the positive. Today was going to be a good day, we were going to travel, see the world, and probably get killed by undead things, typical workday. I chuckled to myself.

            Hall gave me a pack that was already full of stuff. I gave him a quizzical look and he smiled. “Food and supplies, we packed for ya,” he said.

            “Where did we get the stuff,” I said pulling dried meat and cheese from the pack and taking a bite from a rather delicious looking piece of beef.

            “Skrat conjured the shit up, it’s been a while since we have had real food,” he said as I spit out the magic sustenance, much to the delight of my companions. I guess now I know why we ate the stale bread.

            “Is it edible?” I asked stuffing the rest of what I held back into the pack and dug around a bit to see what else was in there.

            “You tell us. You are the only one brave enough to actually try to eat it,” Dead-Eye said with a smirk. I’m pretty sure at that point I felt my face get pale. It must have, I could tell just by the way they were all looking at me, the bastards.

            “We leave in an hour, Marsh,” Weebly said. The runt was all business today, apparently.

            “Maybe you should get a running start on those stubby legs,” I retorted with all the whimsy of a master. I turned towards the brothers to see what they were up to now. It seemed everyone was awake and eager to start the journey to the graveyard.

            Skrat was talking to Zeeg, giving him some information on how to use the magical book he had created for us to take. I walked over to Moose and Sreg and gave them each a smile. “You guys ready to fight some baddies?” I asked.

            Sreg smiled deeply and held up his magical bow. “I can’t wait to unleash its power on some undead,” he said still smiling.

            “Moose want to smash ‘em good,” the big mountain of a man said and swung his huge hammer close enough to my head to make me flinch. He made the sound of it crushing bodies as he did.  I guess if I had magical weapons I would have a little more confidence if the battles that lay ahead of us. Who knows, maybe there will be something I can use in the graveyard. Eventually, maybe, everyone will have something magical, and it will be my turn, unless I end up dead first.

            “Marsh, come here,” Skrat said, motioning to me. I excused myself from the brothers and headed over to the mage, who still hasn’t left the podium.

            “What is it, your warlockedness?” I asked.

            “I just wanted to say thanks for treating me like a person, and not a child yesterday. It means a lot to me. While you slept I made you a flask like Dead-Eye’s, but it is empty. Whatever the first liquid you put in it, it will forever hold. Also I have this amulet for you. It will let me track your movements on the map here, so I can see you better once you are in the graveyard,” he said handing me a necklace on a silver chain.

            “It is made of pure silver, with an Amethyst set in the middle. It will amplify the magic that tracks beings on the map,” Skrat said beaming about his invention.

            “Trying to keep tabs on me?” I said raising an eyebrow, but he saw through my ruse and just smiled.

            It looked like everyone was preparing to go, so I hefted my pack and met Dead-Eye by the door. “You ready for this shit?” I asked.

            “Ready as I will ever be,” he said back.

            “Just don’t goddamn shoot me this time,” I said and fell in behind Sreg and Weebly as we exited the library. I swear Dead-Eye giggled like a five year old farm girl from back home. The trip back up to the store was pleasantly uneventful, I guess there were no more skeletons down here. A good thing, since we were leaving the young mage by himself. I wonder how he had convinced his brothers of that. All of them were over protective of him, especially Zeeg.        

            Once we were upstairs we stuffed our packs full of anything else we thought might be useful for the trip to the graveyard. It had stopped raining outside, and the pyre of burnt bodies had died down to just smoking embers. The fire had burned so hot not even bone survived the flames. It was still hard to believe an entire town was wiped out by one crazy bitch looking for her husband, I thought as I glanced at Drejnin and Serius who seemed eager to leave the town.

            Zeeg opened the book and talked into it, asking Skrat which way to go, and together we all put one foot in front of the other as we headed to what I hoped wasn’t our doom. You may think I have a morbid way of looking at things, but to me I just see it as reality. The world we live in is dark. I just see it as it is, without a romantic spin put on it to help me sleep at night like the rest of you do.

            We followed a path that lead away from the river for most of the journey, the brothers in constant contact with their youngest sibling. I could hear the edginess in Skrat’s voice from them constantly asking him if he was ok. I swear they are gonna drive that kid to drink, ha. Now I sound like my mother. That was her favorite saying about us kids.  Hell, I don’t need to use kids as an excuse to drink; I just do it for the pure fun. Although, I have spent a disturbing amount of time sober recently. Maybe I was turning over a new leaf. Hopefully soon I can turn it back over and get back to the old me.

            In all honesty I wasn’t sure what I wanted out of life, I never did, still don’t. This adventure we were on was the closest thing to a purpose my life has had, maybe that was why I wasn’t drinking so much. I actually had something other than drinking to do, and people that counted on me. Bah, maybe I am just thinking too damn hard and I should pay attention to what was going on around me.        

            With a quick calculation in my head I realized that we would most likely arrive at the graveyard in the late evening, which seemed like the absolute worst time to go to a graveyard, haunted or otherwise. When I voiced my opinion, Serius turned to face me and gave me a smile. The kind of smile that says we already know, it is part of the plan, and we want it that way, crazy bastards.

            Sometime around midday, we stopped to eat. I reluctantly ate the magical food that Skrat had made and had to admit it tasted pretty damn delicious. I guess I couldn’t hate magic completely, that would be rather rash of me to do. I will give credit where it was do, and that boy could make some magic meals for me anytime. I think the brothers even gave Skrat a break long enough for them to stuff their faces. I bet he enjoyed the peace, even if it didn’t last.

            After the meal we all headed back down the path, Weebly fell back to me and Dead-Eye, who were almost last in our chain of walking humanity. The only people behind us were Hall and Myder. “The boy mage says there was some kind of anomaly farther down the path. When he tried to see what it was it just liked like a very bright white light and several dark spots. He was trying to see if the library could help him figure it out,” the dwarf said, running his fingers through his thick beard.

            “Sounds like trouble,” I said a little concerned. Then again I always think there is trouble afoot.

            “I’m sure it is just a glitch in the magic, lads. If it was something serious I am sure Skrat would let us know. He seems to know what he is doing. Almost as if that Library was made for him,” the dwarf said, and then pointed to the flask in Dead-Eye’s hand. Reluctantly my partner handed over the magical flask and the dwarf had it upside down over his mouth in less than a second.

            “Don’t drown yourself,” I said to the bearded ball full of booze.

            “No chance of that, lad. We dwarves can absorb the alcohol straight through our skins. It’s one of our many advanced physical attributes,” he said puffing out his chest, then taking a new drink from the flask, before handing it back to Dead-Eye.

            Sometime in the afternoon, the brothers called a halt; there was something exciting up ahead by the tones of their voices in front. I walked up to see what was going on. Lying on the side of the path was one of Skittessa’s demon dogs. Its body was in two pieces, a clean slice through. There was no blood because the meat on the inside looked cooked, as if whatever made the wound in the body also cauterized it. There was no other wound on the creature. Whatever killed it did it with one shot.

            “What the hell could have killed one of these things in one swing like that?” I asked to no one in particular.

            “Whatever it was, it has to be powerful. Everyone keep your eyes open from here on out,” Drejnin said sliding his new sword from his scabbard.

            “Over here,” Hall called out, as he ducked down into the bushes. We crowded around another demon dog corpse. So whatever it was killed two, not just one of them.

            “Can you tell when these died?” Weebly asked Hall, who was examining over the body.

“I mean, are these fresh kills, or was this here before we killed Skittessa?” the dwarf asked.

            “Give me a little time, I will take a close look,” our medic said as we all took the time to grab another bite to eat. The grisly mess didn’t faze our hardened soldier bellies. After a couple minutes of cutting and examining, he stood and wiped the gore from his hands on his pant legs. “These are fresh, I would say less than one day,” Hall said using his water skin to wash off the rest of the blood from his hands.

            “These were the dark spots on the map,” I said, thinking out loud. Drejnin looked at me funny, like he wasn’t sure how I knew about that, while Zeeg whispered what I said into the book for Skrat’s benefit. 

            “Could be, lad,” Weebly said. “If that’s the case then what was the bright spot. It must have been what killed these beasts, and if these creatures still roam the land, does that mean that Skittessa isn’t really dead?” the dwarf asked handing me Dead-Eye’s flask. I didn’t even hear the little bastard ask for it this time.

            “Great, I bet she is one pissed off demon wife,” I said looking at Drejnin. I had hoped he didn’t hear me, but when I looked up his eyes burned into me. I decided I had sufficiently said enough and walked off the path to take a leak, where I was pretty confident I wouldn’t get into any trouble. I was wrong, I stumbled into yet another of the creatures corpses, almost falling into it when I stubbed my toe on its face.

            After I finished giving it a piss bath, I went back to the path and waited for the order to march again. We left those bodies where they were. Curiosity grew in me. If these were the dark spots on the map then what could have been the light spot. These creatures are evil if I had ever seen evil. I don’t think I had ever witnessed their good counterpart. Hopefully whatever it was will think we are good as well if we cross its path.

            I followed the party as we entered some woods the path lead through. It wasn’t a very big forest at all maybe a mile or so before it opened up again to hilly terrain, from what I remember of the library’s map. Hall looked back over his shoulder at me as we walked.

            “What’s the matter, Lucky, you didn’t trust me behind you?” he said with a smile on his face. I shrugged.

            “No, that’s not it at all,” I said. “It’s just that your ass reminds me of your sisters,” I said with a winning smile.

            “We both know that’s bullshit, my ass is so much better than that dumpy sis of mine,” he said and gave it a shake. Dead-Eye heard us bantering and dropped back to take part and soon it felt like old times with all of us insulting each other as fast as we could. For a while we forgot about the world around us, the demons, goddess wives, and the undead that awaited us at the end of this path.


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