The Sun Door Part 25
by Joe Solmo
“Not without some magical help. When the back of the axe caught him, it crushed some internal organs. He is dying,” Hall explained. Without another word, the paladin ran past us and kneeled above Myder. He removed his gauntlets and placed his hands on the chest of our friend. Very softly, to softly for me to make out the words, he began to chant, or sing or something, and I watched as light flared around his hands and pulsed through his palms then into the chest of Myder. It didn’t take long for Myder to look better. He rose off the floor, looking around confused. Once all of us were back up on our feet and ready to move on, I asked Skrat which way to go. He pointed us in the right direction and he headed into the dark graveyard.
The first thing I noticed once we lit some torches was this graveyard wasn’t a normal graveyard, it had a maze-like quality to it. High walls surrounded us and we had to choose right or left almost immediately. Skrat said it didn’t matter so we went left. Soon we heard the shambling of feet in the darkness both ahead and behind us. With weapons drawn we continued as Skrat read to us from the library.
“The first guardian, Vidden Sihn by name, lived as a warlord over four centuries ago. His bands of murderous soldiers were known as the Blood Tide, for wherever they went crimson lifeblood pooled. When he was a small boy, a tribe of men called The Gan raided his village and during the raid his mother was raped and killed in front of the child’s eyes. He swore to never rest until the entire tribe was wiped out, to a man. He hunted the Gan down with a relentless passion and wrath. The tribe scattered to the four corners of the known world and soon Vidden was seeing Gan everywhere he looked. His followers slaughtered three quarters of the continent of Galaria, looking for more Gan to punish. He never finished his quest, at least in his own eyes. He warred with anyone who dared to stand in his way. His wrath was never sated, even as he lay dying on the battlefield, he turned to his general and said, “Punish them for me. My soul will never rest until every last Gan has been eradicated from the land.”
“Seems like a nice enough fellow,” I said with a smile.
“That is the first one we are going to face? Weebly asked looking up at me.
“Looks that way, runt,” I said nicely.
“Guys?” Myder said and I turned towards him. Whatever was making that noise in the darkness was getting closer. I could see shapes just barely visible. When we stopped, so did the shapes. They never seemed to come into the torchlight no matter how we tried.
“Well if they aren’t going to get closer, then fuck them,” I said.
“Keep an eye on them,” Jarris said. “They might not be able to get closer due to the holy power I wield.”
“That is an awful self-righteous way to think for a paladin,” I said. No one ever gets my humor. I could tell this time was no different. We moved on in our little bubble of torchlight now surrounded on all sides by the shuffling, shambling shapes in the darkness. I must admit even if they weren’t getting closer, they were still creeping me the hell out. What did they want anyway?
After a right turn we came to stop. There now weren’t any shapes in front of us. Instead it was an iron door behind a gate, similar to the one the golems had protected, but smaller. The shambling continued from behind us and I noticed a breeze starting to pick up. The gate swung open easily.
“What do we do?” I asked Skrat.
“Is the door locked?” the young mage asked through the book.
“Drejnin, try the door,” I said as I backed up towards Drejnin and away from the shapes starting to materialize from the darkness.
“It is not locked,” he said. The breeze stirred Drejnin’s long black hair into his face, and he pushed it out of the way. Does he say we should enter?” he asked.
“I think that would be the best idea,” Weebly said, his voice sounded shaken. I looked back in the direction of the shambling noises and I was sure if I spoke my voice would be shaken too. Slowly, our darkness enshrouded followers crept towards us out of the night. What were they? I don’t have any idea. The bodies, if you could call them that, were see through, incorporeal humanoids. The faces were rotten, mangled messes. Each one had visible horrendous wounds on them. Burns, amputations, and mutilations littered each one as they moved closer. I looked down at their feet but there was none. How the hell did they make that noise without feet scuffing the ground? They just kind of glided towards us at a real slow speed, getting closer with every passing second.
“Open the damn door!” I yelled out as the nearest of the strange creatures was only ten feet away now, which was way too close for me. Drejnin turned the handle and pushed, the door opened about four inches and stopped. The creatures were now five feet away now. I was about to draw my sword, not knowing what good that would do anyway. The paladin pushed past me and raised his instead, the flame lighting up the area as well as our torches did. There must have been thirty of the damn things out there, as far as we could see.
With the fire burning bright from the sword, the creatures hissed and stopped advancing, just out of arms reach of Jarris. “What’s going on with that door,” the paladin called over his shoulder as he waved his sword in front of him to keep the creatures back.
“Skrat, help us,” I said to the book, holding it up so he could see what we faced. “What the hell are these things?”
“One second, Marsh I am checking,” he replied.
“The door is stuck on something,” Drejnin called back. “Moose, give me a hand with the door will you,” the dreymorian said in his deep baritone. One of the creatures tried to grasp the paladin as he turned away from it to swing at another, but with fast reflexes, the holy knight struck the outstretched limb, severing it from the ghastly creature. The limb turned to dust and disappeared on the breeze.
“They can be harmed?” I asked.
“Seems that way,” Jarris responded as he swung at another one of the advancing creatures. Weebly swung his hammer into the creatures and it passed right through without any damage. “Maybe only magical weapons can harm,” the paladin finished.
“How’s that door coming?” I asked. I could hear them crashing against it.
“Marsh, are you there?” came the mage’s voice from the book.
“Little busy here, Skrat. Can ya help us out?” I asked.
“Those creatures are the tormented souls of the Gan slaughtered by Vidden Sihn. Their fate is linked with his, doomed to roam the cemetery as long as he survives,” Skrat said as I ducked a spectral arm. With a booming crash I heard the door behind us open and I almost fell through it as I leaned back away from those creatures again. There wasn’t much room to swing weapons so the paladin was the only thing between us and the Gan. For the first time since we met him I was glad the religious asshole was here.
The breeze picked up just in time to extinguish our torches as they drew closer, the only light now coming from the paladin’s flaming sword, which was flickering rapidly in the wind. We backed our way through the doorway and slammed it shut as soon as Jarris was through.
“Well that was close,” I said as I turned around to face my companions and was in for a surprise. This area was a chamber, lightly furnished with a throne, some furs and shields and spears lining the wall. Sitting on the throne was a large man.
“Who are you?” he asked in a voice that sounded like wind passing through a cave. He stood up in front of his throne placing his right hand on the hilt of a very large sword hanging from his waist. When he stood his hair fell from his shoulders to reveal bruising around his neck. I guess that explains why he talks like he does. That son of a bitch was hung at some point. His eyes scanned us, one at a time. I could see the disgust in his eyes at the paladin, and the pure hatred that blazed in him at the rest of us, until his gaze fell on Drejnin and Serius.
“What brings you here, dreymorian?” Vidden said and took a knee in front of Drejnin.
“What the fuck is this nonsense?” Dead-Eye asked while pointing at Drejnin and nearly spilling his flask down the front of him.
“Shhh,” the paladin said and turned his attention back to the Guardian.
“What strange company you keep, a paladin and a Dreymorian traveling together, as if friends? What would your father say, I wonder?” Vidden said with a snarl he almost hid, rising to his feet.
“Your place is not to question me, guardian,” Drejnin said. Serius took a step in front of the large man and elongated his hands into blades.
“Oh, it is my place Drejnin, Prince of the Dreymorians. I have been charged with protection of this graveyard and in here I am lord, not you. Your father has entrusted me to stand guard. In all the years I have not let anyone pass and I won’t start now. Tell your dontu bitch to put his blades away before he cuts himself,” Vidden said.
“It has been a long time since I have spoken to Father, and you protect what I seek. The key to the Moon Door,” Drejnin said.
“You wish to return home? Ha. There is nothing there for you, outcast. They do not want you back. Seeing you with this…this…paladin does only confirm your father’s fears,” he said spitting on the floor.
“Hey! He called me a bitch! Aren’t you going to say anything about that?” Serius said with his mouth open in shock.
Drejnin pulled his sword from its scabbard and held it in front of him in a two-handed stance. Vidden also bared his blade as he surveyed us. “You have one of the dwarf forged?” I will look forward to adding it to my collection,” Vidden said as he twirled his sword in circles. From behind me I heard a twang sound and watched as one of Sreg’s arrows sunk into the shoulder of the guardian.
“Well now you pissed him off,” I said.
“Filthy Gan Vermin!” he said and charged straight at us. Zeeg was quick with his shield to block the first attack, but Vidden was quicker. Before the eldest brother could say the words to arm the shield’s power Vidden back handed him and sent him into the wall. Serius was there to replace Zeeg, blocking the guardian’s attacks with his hand blades. Swing for swing they matched one another’s speed, it was hard for me to follow, their limbs a blur as each tried to outdo the other one.
Out of the corner of my eye I watched Dead-Eye aim his crossbow. I flinched and gripped the magical book tight as his finger squeezed the trigger, but for once his aim was true and the bolt struck Vidden square in the side of the neck. He didn’t even acknowledge it at first, keeping his eyes on the dontu.
Drejnin circled behind the guardian pointing his sword at him. Moose followed suit taking swings at Vidden’s legs, but so far he was unable to connect. I held the book up so that Skrat could watch the fight and hopefully give us some advice.
“Hey Weebly, why don’t you throw yourself at his knees and try to make him topple,” I called out to the dwarf. I got a pint size frown for my trouble. I think he felt as useless as I did, well then again, I was holding the important book.
Sreg fired a few more magical arrows into Vidden as he and the dontu circled in a dance of blades. The arrows seemed to have very little effect, even the magical ones, but he kept trying, so was Dead-Eye which was making me nervous. Myder and Hall hung back as usual waiting for anyone to need their help with wounds, also feeling useless. These beings we have traveled with, they are a special breed of living thing, all having awesome abilities, and the rest of us poor and ordinary folk are just swept up in their wake.
Jarris held his sword in front of him, also trying to flank the large guardian, but Vidden was lightning fast. Even with Drejnin’s speed and the paladin’s sword of fire, they couldn’t get a strike in. The guardian blocked every blow they tried, leaping over Moose’s swipes all while battling Serius’s blades. I wasn’t even sure the way the man twisted was possible. He was beginning to look like a demented porcupine with all of Dead-Eye and Sreg’s Arrows sticking out of his back, but it didn’t slow him.
The same couldn’t be said for the dontu, though. Sweat beaded on Serius’s face now and you could see he was struggling, his breath coming in gasps. With eyes wide he realized he was losing the fight. Little nicks in his flesh appeared from Vidden’s blade, the movement to fast to see, as if the wounds were just appearing from thin air. Three more appeared across his chest a moment later and he tried to back off.
“Fight me, Cursed Thing!” the paladin said trying to divert attention from the Dontu, but Vidden could smell the blood now and was moving in for the kill.
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