The Sun Door Part 7
by Joe Solmo
I awoke to see Drejnin sitting in the exact same position he was in when I had fallen asleep. Dead Eye laid there dead to the world with his tongue hanging out of his mouth on the left side. I could hear the sounds of the daytime bustle in the streets below, and the smell of fresh cooking rose from the stairs and assaulted my nostrils. I stretched and turned towards Drejnin and Serius, which took most of the ambition I had mustered since awakening. "Doesn't your ass hurt from sitting there all night?" I asked the big guy sarcastically.
"No. I stood for a while earlier," Drejnin said. Was that a joke?
"If that's your attempt at humor, you got a ways to go," Serius said and received a dirty look for it, but the bastard gave me a wink.
"The Dontu race has a knack for getting on people's nerves," Drejnin said as he looked at his partner.
"Well he will fit right in with us," Dead Eye said rising from the dead. Somehow he had a knack for popping awake and rising. It was damned unnatural if you ask me. If you waken that fast you can hurt yourself. You have to ease into it. Otherwise you could hurt yourself. Just like work. That’s why I always start slowing down twenty minutes before break time. It’s like a runner stretching before and after a race.
"How's your head?" I asked Dead Eye, not really caring, but putting my buddy face on.
"Feels like someone set it on fire then put it out with a sledgehammer," he replied.
"I know what that feels like," Serius said.
"No you don't," Drejnin replied and cuffed the Dontu in the back of the head. Was Drejnin trying another pathetic attempt at humor?
"Right now Serius you don't seem that dangerous to me," I said.
"I could show you, but My Lord told me to behave. If he lets me have any fun I will take the time to prove to you that I am dangerous," Serius said with that mocking smile that made me wonder. What could it be? Was the bastard just bullshitting me?
"What time is it?" Dead Eye asked.
"It is late afternoon," Drejnin said and stood.
"We should get moving, another day or so and we will be in Southport," I said and rose from my bed, reluctantly. My leg felt like I was sleeping under a boulder all night, maybe that dumpy Innkeeper had piled in next to me. Nah, Drejnin wouldn't have let that happen, would he? I opened the door and headed downstairs with Serius to check on the food situation. Dead Eye said he couldn't look at food right now and asked us to bring up a flask to "get him going.”
We met the large Innkeeper at the bottom of the stairs where she carried a tray full of clay mugs splashing ale over the sides. Serius pointed to the trail of ale that followed the woman on the floor. "That's so she can find her way back," I said. He nodded and again with the smile. These strangers are weird. Not only that but now that I think about it it is kind of strange I left to follow them.
"I think I could go for some potatoes", he said. We found a table and plopped down in the seats waiting for the Innkeeper to make her wide way over to us.
"If I knew you would be holed up in that room all day, I would have charged ya extra," the woman said as she approached us. Her voice was grating and I couldn’t tell if she was serious or being sarcastic.
"We had a rough night," I said and ordered some spiced potatoes, bread and cheese. I’m not sure how she took that answer, but at least she went away to get our food. We sat back and sipped at the mugs she had left for us.
There were a few other patrons in the Inn at this time, locals mostly, by the look of them. Mining was popular in this town, along with carpentry, if the signs on the businesses we passed last night were any indication. Most of the men I saw were covered in a black chalky substance. Dead Eye and I never spent much time here, the whole town smelled of sulfur from the mines. Most of these men worked from the time of early teens in the mines, only to die by forty from the various hazards of working underground. We had a hard time recruiting last time we were here.
Just then two men entered the Inn and stumbled to a table. Both of the men were covered in wounds, some serious. "Innkeeper! Some ale!" One of them said as he slumped in the chair and winced. I rose and walked over to them in a moment of stupidity, or as others would call it, a concern for my fellow man. No one else was really paying them any attention.
"What happened, man?" I asked seeing the slash marks up close. Some large creature did this to him. The wounds looked too organized, too calculated to be a bear or mountain lion, and the claws seemed to slice rather than rip.
"Goddamn hell opened last night," he started between breathes. "Me and Rorge here were there when it happened. This beast came out and attacked us, but before it did it said a word. I swear to you the thing spoke to us, in plain language. It said Drejnin. I told it I had no idea what it was talking about and it tore into me here," he said pointing to his left shoulder which was patched up hastily. Serius and I exchanged glances. The creature knew Drejnin. We were in the shit now. "Then I fired two crossbow bolts into its leg, but it didn't slow. It only turned and screeched with these large fangs hanging from its mouth. We didn't know what to do so we chased it. That's when it hit Rorge here."
I turned to look at Rorge, his face was swollen and he was missing two fingers. Blood had caked on the side of his face from his nose and mouth. "If you think I am bad look at Fin's leg," Rorge said. I looked down and saw a deep wound in his thigh, it still bleeding.
"Where did this happen?" I asked.
"About a day's ride south," Rorge said.
"So it could be here then?" Serius asked.
"Yeah, I guess, but why do you think it's coming here?" Fin asked. The Innkeeper brought the men their ale and a large pot with water in it.
"Patch yourselves up, you're gonna scare the customers, Fin! I will bring you some strips of cloth," the lady said.
"Thanks Mar. You are as gracious as you are beautiful," he replied and began to wash his wounds. Rorge splashed some water on his face. Boy this guy was wither a comedian or delirious.
"I was just wondering if it could of gotten here by now," I said.
"Oh yeah, it outran our horses, it did. Must be something outta another world, for the way it moved. I’ve never seen anything like it.
"Thanks for your time," Serius said and nodded his head slightly so I would follow him. We went back to our table and ate hurriedly. The warm potatoes tasted really good. Serius shoveled down the food just as quick and stood. "I’m going upstairs to talk to Drejnin," he said.
"I'll be right there," I said and dug in my pocket for some coin. Of course the bastard left me with the bill.
I finally finished eating my fill and wandered upstairs, since no one had come down yet. The Chunktacular Innkeeper gave me a dirty look as I ascended the rickety, steep stairs, probably trying to find a way to get more coin from us.
I entered the small smelly room and saw Drejnin and Serius huddled in the corner, Dead Eye had fallen back asleep on one of those forsaken lumpy beds. They looked up as I walked to them. “So any idea what the creature is?” I asked.
“No. But the scene of the attack interests me. I would like to see it myself,” Drejnin said.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Look what happened to those guys last night, they barely escaped with their lives,” I said.
Dead Eye groaned and rolled over, being sick over the side of the bed interrupting our conversation. Serius seemed amused by Dead Eye’s predicament. I have to admit I was too. Usually he is a professional drinker. It’s not often it gets the best of him.
“Those men don’t have the abilities we do,” Serius said with a smile.
Drejnin agreed and stood stretching his massive frame. He walked over to the window and looked out over the small village we had sought a room in. I followed him over to the window and gave the view a look myself.
The streets were completely bare, no one stirred out there, which was strange. Earlier the streets were busy with tradesmen and merchants, now not a foot could be heard out there through the window.
“I smell trouble,” Drejnin said.
We headed downstairs with our small amount of gear and told the Lady Boar that we were leaving. She tried to get more money from us for using the room until the afternoon, but somehow Serius talked her out of it. I was busy trying to see why everyone in town wasn’t out and about through a large window in the front of the building to no avail.
Dead Eye stumbled over to me holding his head with one arm and his crossbow in the other, by the wrong end. There definitely was tension, we could feel it. I thought maybe the rumor of the creature spread around town and had everyone scared about being out after dark. There still was a few hours of daylight left though.
I opened the door and took a step outside, to get a breath of fresh air while I wait. The smell of stale ale and sweaty people was getting to be a little too much for me inside the Inn. I felt a hand grab my arm and as I spun to see what was going on, I was hit on the head with something hard, and fell to my knees. I didn’t lose consciousness, but everything was pretty fuzzy for a while. I heard some shouting and heard Dead Eye and another voice I couldn’t quite place seemingly having an argument. Scuffling noises followed and I felt a sharp pain in my calf. I screamed and grabbed my leg to find yet another crossbow bolt buried there.
“Dead Eye! You shot me!” I yelled but it might have come out more like De iiyu sh me. My head was still hurting so bad, but at least my vision seemed to clear. The image of a face next to me began to gain focus. It was Capt. Henries, his throat was crushed and he had a gash across his chest. I tried to get to my feet and fell back down. I felt a large hand grab me and soon I was on the shoulders of my very large new friend. Dead Eye was snickering with Serius and the glances my way told me why.
“I can’t believe you shot me again!” I said, this time making full use of my language skills. I felt confident that it came out right this time. Drejnin shifted my weight a little more comfortably on his shoulders as we made our way to the stables of the Inn to retrieve our horses.
“Was that Henries?” I asked as Drejnin let me down gently onto my horse. With his strong hands he pulled the bolt from my leg. I wrapped the wound as fast as I could to avoid any more blood lost.
“Yah. That was Henries. He didn’t like the idea of us taking off with Brakken’s guests,” Dead Eye said. “I never like that man anyway. He was too pushy, always running drills and crap. Like I need training to do what I do.”
“He was a hardass,” I replied. Seems like we didn’t slip away so easily like I thought we did. Great. Well it was time to get more ground between us and them anyway. I winced at the pain from my leg as the horse trotted out of the stable and down the road.
No one spoke for a while and I think I may have drifted off for a while as the night fell on us. Drejnin was leading us with his buddy behind. Guess he pegged us for fools and felt safer watching for danger himself. Honestly I felt safer with him watching too. The guy was like an animal and tough as roasted shit.
Morning came and went, no one bothered us, and in fact traffic was light on the road. I let Drejnin lead us, he seemed eager to and well, and I’ve always been more of a follower then a leader. We ate lunch courtesy of a nearby farm, with whatever Dead Eye could rip off from the fields before the farmer’s dogs caught wind of him. Drejnin and Serius sat in silence eating raw potatoes. It was the first time I have seen them eat.
Dead Eye gnawed on a carrot in quite mourning over the empty wineskins. I was surprised they had lasted this long actually. Knowing Dead-Eye like I do he should have polished off what we had yesterday. All we had left was water, and water never really quenches any man’s thirst, but it doesn’t bother me half as much as it did Dead-Eye. I was still kind of pissed at him about shooting me in the leg. Hey, what can you do, with a name like Dead-Eye I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.
After lunch we traveled onwards down the road. I was pretty sure we were making rotten time. Last time I came through here we passed a brothel after the first day and we have yet to see the place. Spending a night or two there couldn’t hurt. I double Chase would send anyone into a brothel looking for us. That is if Chase even knew which way we went. Henries didn’t live to tell the tale, maybe they went the other way.
Shortly before nightfall, we heard the thundering pounding of hooves on the road behind us. I was surprised because Drejnin didn’t seem to notice the sound at first. We halted on the road for a second to listen to the approaching horses. Even Dead-Eye was alert to the sounds traveling down the road toward us.
A second later two horses trailing dust rode into view on the road in the failing daylight. Both riders were hung low over the horses pushing them fast. It was impossible to see who they were from this distance. After a second, one of the men pointed at us and both men slowed their advance. They approached us at a small trot and stopped a few dozen yards away.
“ Marsh? Dead-Eye?” One of the men said.
“Hall? Myder? Is that you?” Dead-Eye asked.
“Yah, it’s me. I came to warn you guys about Henries, but I guess I was too late. Pretty slick letting them all think you guys were heading to Southport. I would have headed there too if not for the locals pointing me this way. I must have missed you guys by a few hours.” Hall explained.
Drejnin walked up to Hall and nodded to the medic. “Thank you for the warning, but we are in a hurry. Nightfall approaches,” he said.
“Whoa wait a second,” I said. “What’s so special about nightfall? Oh shit we aren’t heading to Southport are we Drejnin. When I was injured and not paying attention you lead us towards that damn place where those two fucks got attacked, didn’t you. What the hell man?” I said pissed off.
“We kept Dead-Eye drunk, and you were injured. Seemed like the perfect time to take the initiative. It may have come from a door and could be our ticket home,” Serius said.
“Son of a bitch!” Dead-Eye said. “All this time we’ve been heading away from Southport Spirits? Who knows where the next tavern is? I could be days before I can drink again!” he ranted.
“Ok Relax Dead-Eye,” Myder said and tossed him a wineskin. Dead-Eye began to down the fluid like he had been lost in the Hechian desert for weeks. He squeezed the last few drops into his mouth without offering it to anyone else.
Once the wineskin was empty Dead-Eye began to rant again about the shortage of alcohol. I don’t know if it was that or the betrayal about where we were heading that set me off, but for some reason I thought it was a good idea to draw my crossbow on Drejnin and Serius.
“Ok listen. This is bullshit. I thought we were working together on this. I thought we had built a friendship over the last few days, yet you pull this shit behind my back. Whose side are you on Drejnin? Where did you really come from and who are you?” I asked.
The air got thick with tension as the last rays of the sun sunk below the horizon and settled into twilight. I held my breath waiting for someone to make a move, by this time I had already realized that pulling the crossbow was a mistake but I would be damned if I was going to back down at this point. Hall and Myder were standing behind me, Dead-Eye even stopped complaining and stood there watching me. He didn’t draw his weapon to support me though. Maybe that drunk had more sense than me. I know I'm not the smartest man and sometimes my emotions can get the best of me, but I had hoped he would back me up on this after all we had been through together.
“Lord, may I?” Serius said with a smile on his face. The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. Neither Drejnin nor Serius seemed set back by my crossbow aimed at Drejnin’s face. I was wondering if maybe I should be the one that was scared.
“Put down the crossbow. I had told you that I planned on investigating the Moon Door, I don’t see why you are surprised by our course. It is important that we find out all that we can about this door and if it is possible for Serius and myself to return to our home, if we can remember where that is,” Drejnin said.
I felt pretty stupid at this point, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I was still angry about the fact I was deceived by someone I was starting to trust as a friend.
“Did you forget the two guys we met in town? They barely survived when they encountered a creature that spoke your name,” I said to Drejnin.
“And I told you that those men didn’t have the abilities that we have,” Drejnin said growing angry.
“Let me handle this, My Lord,” Serius said. Drejnin reached out with his large hand and held back the Dontu.
“I want some answers damn it! I know you know more then you are letting on,” I said.
“We have told you all I can remember of who we were, and I have told you where we have come from. I even told you that I wanted to see the Moon Door. This is stupid. Drop the crossbow before you make me angry,” Drejnin said.
Maybe it was the panic setting in. I had seen my share of battles, but for some reason this seemed more real, more threatening than most of the other ones. I was sweating and my hand began to shake. Man that son of a bitch could be threatening when he wanted too. I swear it wasn’t natural. I wiped my eyes free of sweat with my left hand holding the heavy wooden crossbow with only my right. The business end began to lower from Drejnin’s face, I tried to raise it back up as I brought my other hand back to the shaft of the weapon. It fired. My finger must have twitched on the trigger. I flinched.
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