The Sun Door Part 23
by Joe Solmo
Sometime around the dinner hour we heard growling farther ahead down the path. Eager to try out their new weapons, the brothers took off at a sprint without any notice. The rest of us ran after them to keep up. As the path curled around some giant boulders we came across an odd sight.
Three more of the demon hounds lay dead in a semi-circle around a man wearing plate mail armor. In his hands was the biggest sword I have ever seen, but it wasn’t the size of the weapon that drew my attention right away, it was the blade itself, or lack thereof. The entire weapon was made of fire. The flames were the purest of white. It hurt my eyes to even look at the damn thing.
Two more of the beasts circled the man, snarling and planning an attack. Without slowing down, Moose ran straight into the first one he came across swinging that mighty hammer of his and saying the words to activate it. Blue light crackled as the weapon made contact with the beast in a mighty underhand swing that sent the monster airborne for several feet before it crashed and skid on the loose soil of the path. I saw the smile as it grew across Moose’s wide face. He could eat shit with that grin.
Sreg fired several arrows into the flank of the remaining beast as Zeeg charged holding his new shield up in front of him. I heard him yell something out to the armored man as he slammed the shield into the beast. Drejnin was upon it now swinging his new toy, severing a limb with the first stroke. Once again, I felt useless as I raised my crossbow, gave a side glance to make sure I wasn’t in Dead-Eyes line of fire, and shot off a bolt, missing the creature as it turned to face Drejnin.
The first beast was on its feet again and charged Moose, springing through the air the last several feet. Its mass struck the large man with enough force to topple the big guy down. With lightning reflexes, the maw snapped at Moose’s neck, but the large man landed with the handle of his hammer across his throat and that was all that saved his life, as his muscles pushed up on the handle to offset the beast’s strength.
Serius grabbed the beast, stretching his arms around it and heaved trying to get it off of Moose before its massive weight crushed him. I ran over to give him a hand. I wondered why he didn’t transform into something bigger, with more strength as I plunged my sword into the side of the beast. If that don’t make the son of a bitch let go I don’t know what will.
I felt a sharp pain in my thigh and looked down to see a crossbow bolt sticking out, that goddamned Dead-Eye. Even sober that bastard can’t shoot. Part of me wanted to fire back at him, but I had left my crossbow back with my pack as I charged the beast and drew my sword, and now that I had stuck it, it bucked like a wild horse, or woman, depending on your area of expertise.
The man in the armor came over to his and yelled out, “Push its head up as high as you can.” So, I got under the thing, leaving my sword in its side and helped Moose push up on the hammers handle. I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back as I pushed with everything I had, and not seeming to make a bit of difference. Eventually with the three of us we managed to raise its head up high enough for the armored man and he swung that flame sword severing the beasts head in one swipe. Well now we know who killed those beasts back on the path. I wonder of the white spot on the map was this guy’s sword. It seemed bright enough.
I turned towards Drejnin and the brothers to see how they made out with the other creature. It lay still at their feet. Big grins stared back at me from all of them, even the ever serious Dreymorian. I wondered if a side effect of those Dwarven smithed items were that it made you into a fool. I wouldn’t have anything to fear, I was one already, I got to get me one of those magic weapons.
After everyone caught their breath, the armored man removed his helmet and we all got a good look at him. He was older, with mostly white hair, cropped short and a thin white beard ran down his cheeks to his lips. On the chest of his armor was a sun, its rays being different martial weapons. I had never seen it’s like before in all the traveling I had done. Now that the battle was done, I noticed the man’s sword and turned into a normal sword as he tucked it into the scabbard on his back. The man raised his hand towards us and said. “I am Jarris, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
One at a time, he shook everyone’s hand, when he got to Zeeg he seemed very pleased to meet him. With the fight over and Hall making a big deal about my leg I let him lead me over to his packs. I told him it was no big deal, I was getting used to it and I enjoyed the scar tissue because one day my leg will be too tough for that bastard to shoot into, but he made a fuss all the same.
Around the time Hall was tugging on my leg piercing, I heard a commotion, when I looked up, Serius was standing in front of Jarris who had his flaming sword out again. “Aww, what the shit is this?” I said trying to get to my feet. Hall pushed me back down.
“Don’t worry about it, I almost have it out,” he said.
“Myder, go see what all that shit is about, will ya?” I said. Without a word, the young man trotted off towards the dontu. “Hurry up doc,” I said. From where I was sitting I couldn’t hear every word so it was hard to follow the conversation, especially with Hall pulling Dead-Eye’s handiwork out of my leg, oh and my screaming, can’t forget that.
Drejnin had his hands up in defense as the trio circled each other with weapons drawn. I still couldn’t hear what was going on, but Myder arrived there and was trying to get their attention. “Just wrap it, we can get Drejnin to heal it after,” I said trying to stand on my leg. The bolt from Dead-Eye’s crossbow was out now.
“If we let Drejnin heal then what the hell am I hear for?” Hall said.
“Moral support and comic relief,” I retorted.
When I looked back up at the commotion I couldn’t see Serius anymore. Myder now stood in between The Dreymorian and the paladin. Suddenly Jarris collapsed onto the ground and the dontu materialized behind him just as I hopped my way over. “What the hell is going on?” I asked.
“This guy is nuts,” Myder said.
“How so?” I asked.
“He was trying to attack Drejnin and Serius, saying they came from the Abyss and had to be destroyed, his god demanded it. Man, people will do some crazy shit and blame it on religion. I’m glad I don’t believe in any of it. Even that Skittessa was just some powerful crazy bitch,” Myder said looking from the paladin to Drejnin. “Right?”
“There is no doubt this man is fanatical,” Drejnin said in his deep voice. “He also could be a great asset to us, if only we could make him see what was really going on. When he wakes let me talk to him alone, I might be able to persuade him that I am not the man he is looking for,” the dreymorian said and quickly picked the unconscious man up and carried him over to where a large rock lined the path. With care, he set the man down there against the rock in a sitting position.
“Hey Serius can I talk to you a minute,” I said pointing to the other side of the path where the forest took over.
“Sure Marsh, one second,” he said and looked to his Lord, who nodded his approval or whatever.
“Serius I know we haven’t known each other long, and Drejnin is your lord from wherever it was you guys came from, but I want you to shoot straight with me if you can,” I said.
“I can shoot straighter than Dead-Eye,” he said cracking a smile while looking at my leg.
“Very funny. I know none of us knew what we were getting into when we helped you guys escape Brakken, but this thing about gods and goddesses seems to be getting more intense as the days pass. I really would like to know what the hell is going on. If you have remembered anything new you guys would tell me, right? I am the closest thing you guys have to a friend here on this world, don’t forget,” I said.
“Marsh snippets have returned that is true, but much of it has raised more questions than answers. I see mighty armies marching to war in strange landscapes. I see slaughter and death almost every time I close my eyes. It’s only a few seconds of a memory at a time, I can’t tell even which side I am fighting for. As for the being calling its self Skittessa, her face is familiar. Is she an evil goddess, I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you if she really was Drejnin’s wife. I do know we have run into her before at some point, and she is pretty decent in bed,” he said with a chuckle. “This paladin says that we are evil Marsh. I ask you, do we seem evil to you? Have we killed any babies or punched any kittens since we have met?” he reasoned.
“Honestly I don’t know what to think. No, you guys haven’t done anything worse than the rest of mankind has done, and this guy does seem kinda loony. But that could just be because I think anyone who follows any organized religion is loony. I just want some answers you know; and tall dark and broody over there is tight-lipped,” I said pointing to Drejnin.
“I know what you mean, but trust me if he knows more than me, he isn’t sharing it with me either. Maybe something this paladin has to say could spark something within Drejnin. Especially if he is telling the truth, as ridiculous as that seems to be,” he said.
We watched as the paladin came too. Shaking the grogginess from his head he looked up into the eyes of Drejnin with pure burning hatred. If Drejnin wanted to convince this man of anything I think he was wasting his time and ours, as we sat around waiting for this to play out. Even Serius wasn’t allowed to get close enough to hear what the two of them were saying. It looked like a very heated debate. Many times, I saw Drejnin shaking his head in disbelief.
I decided I waited long enough, and made my way over to Dead-Eye who was sharing his flask with Weebly. “So why did you shoot me this time?” I asked as I tried to kick him with my injured leg and only achieving to send shooting pain up it when I connected with him.
“Marsh…” he said standing next to me and leaning in to whisper. He burped in my ear and burst out laughing.
“Are you drunk?” I asked him.
“When aren’t I?” he said back leaning precariously too far to the left. He had to take a step to right his balance. I pulled him aside, away from the dwarf.
“I thought you were just pretending to drink now,” I said.
“I am. I’m really good at it,” he said with a smile. “I had to shoot you, to keep up appearances,” he said.
“In order to sell that you were drunk you had to shoot me in the damn leg?” I asked him angrily.
“Yes sir. It was the only way they would believe it. If I shot straight they would have known,” he said with a smirk.
“Well let me help you pull the wool over everyone’s eyes then,” I said and slugged the son of a bitch in the jaw. I almost fell on top of him because of my damned leg. I hope Drejnin will have the time to heal it soon. It was amazing how easily I have changed a lifetime of status quo from doctors to magical healing in the short time I have known those two, I thought.
We all kept our distance from the Dreymorian and the paladin. Even Serius spent the next few minutes hanging around the dwarf. “Hey Weebly, I got a question for you,” I said as I hobbled over to join them. Dead-Eye was no fun now that he was unconscious on the ground.
“What is it, lad?” he spat from the break in his beard.
“Forgive me if I have already asked you this, but since we didn’t know dwarves existed before running into you, I was wondering if elves were real as well,” I said.
“There is a legend among my people,” the dwarf began. “Many centuries ago there lived a peaceful race of sylvan in the forests. Very much like what we describe as elves. These beings loved nature so much that they stopped humping each over and started humping the trees and soon the entire race became extinct. Good riddance,” he said with a smile trying to find its way out of his scraggly beard.
We all broke out in laughter; it must have been too loud because when I looked over at Drejnin and the paladin they were both staring at me. “What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on a boulder over there,” I said taking Dead-Eye’s flask from Weebly.
“They have some things to work out, that is for sure,” Sreg said joining our drinking circle.
“Has your brother said anything about him?” I asked.
“I am not sure. Zeeg keeps the book close at hand. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Skrat since we left,” the brother said.
“Zeeg is a little over protective of him, isn’t he?” I asked.
“Yeah, well he takes honor and duty very seriously. It probably stems from when he used to take care of us as kids, after our parents left,” Sreg explained.
“Come on, you don’t really expect us to believe that you guys are really brothers, do you?” Weebly said passing the flask to me.
“What exactly are you trying to say, dwarf,” Sreg said leaning closer to the runt to intimidate him.
“Exactly what I said,” Weebly said with no fear in him and stomped the brother’s foot hard. I cringed for him since he didn’t seem to feel it. It must have been shock, shock or alcohol.
“Keep it friendly, will ya,” Hall said sitting down with us and reaching for the flask.
“Watch them,” I said pointing towards the paladin. “The conversation doesn’t seem as heated as it was a little while ago.
“Drejnin’s charm must be winning him over,” Serius said with a smile. I wondered if he meant his personality or some kind of magic. I decided I didn’t want to know so I tried to change the subject.
“So, who gets the next magic weapon?” I figured that should successfully start a whole new conversation.
“If it’s a crossbow I think I should get it, the sight is off on mine,” Dead-Eye said taking his own flask from Weebly and taking a long pull. I watched him closely; if he was faking it he was really good at it. I watched some dribble down his chin when he was done.
It’s not the sight that’s off,” I said. “It’s the goddamn operator. The bastard is so drunk he is shooting on a slant. Unless my leg has done some mean shit to you in a past life, it isn’t your enemy,” I said to him.
“No just this life. Every time it has entered a room with me in it, the leg had to drag you along too,” the drunk retorted.
“Maybe next time my leg and I won’t be there to save your ass,” I said back.
“Maybe next time your leg won’t get in my way,” he said smiling.
“Children, please!” Zeeg came over and kneeled in between Sreg and me. “Let us not forget, tonight we march to war with the undead. Do not fight spirits being full of spirits,” the oldest brother said.
“How clever,” I said.
“Skrat says we are less than an hour from the cemetery. It looks like Drejnin and that paladin are working out some kind of agreement. I overheard those two talking terms, but didn’t catch a lot before they saw me. It will be dark soon, then all the shadows grow dangerous.
“Don’t be so dramatic brother,” Sreg said using his new bow to help him stand. We have fought many enemies together and all have fallen to the brothers Gazi. I fear nothing on this world,” he finished.
“What we face is no longer from this world,” the paladin said walking over to us. It appeared they indeed struck some kind of bargain. “In that cemetery are some of the vilest creatures to have ever existed. It is said that seven of evil’s champions reside there to protect something of value. Many other supernatural beasts stalk the grounds as well. As to what exactly I do not know. The White Cathedral’s records had been most destroyed in the rebellion a few years ago, but some texts remain,” Jarris said.
Well damn, now I feel kind of bad for torching that holy building for our benefactors a few years ago. Who knew I would meet one of the enemy years later. It was a hell of a good time though, I could tell Dead-Eye felt the same. We both smirked and had to turn away from the group.
“My brother can give us all the information we need,” Zeeg said showing the paladin the tome Skrat had created. His eyebrows raised about six feet when he saw the image of the young mage waving through the book at him.
“Greetings Jarris,” Skrat said excitedly.
“Greetings young one! May light illuminate your path with wisdom, honor and justice. Is it true, can you tell us of these champions of the dark gods?” he asked.
“Yes, I can, it will just a little time to organize. I should be able to get it all ready before you guys arrive,” the young mage said.
“Let us not waste any more time. Those abominations will walk our earth no longer. I will strike out with the power of light at my side,” Jarris said tapping the scabbard that housed his sword.
This entire time Drejnin just watched the paladin. It wasn’t like him not to take charge, he seemed like the natural leader type. As we broke our circle to gather our packs I hobbled over to the large man.
“Are you alright?” I asked him.
“Yes Marsh. That paladin is a brave man. I think he will be an asset in this graveyard. Some of the things he said to me were shocking, it will take some time to digest,” Drejnin finished.
“Hey, while we are still here, do you think you could help my leg heal so I can keep up with you guys,” I said with my famous begging puppy face. No one can resist. He placed his hand on my leg and I felt the tingle of magic. “You know, if you need someone to talk to about your memories or anything, I’m right here,” I said.
“All better now,” he said taking his hand off me. “I appreciate it Marsh, you truly are a friend. Serius and I can’t thank you enough for all you have done. I assure you I am fine, but if I need someone to talk too, you will be the first one I seek,” he said and shouldered his pack. Without another word, the dreymorian started down the path towards the cemetery, followed closely by our new paladin friend.
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