The Sun Door Part 8

by Joe Solmo

            In the two feet between myself and that big bastard Drejnin, time slowed. I watched in horror as the bolt left my crossbow heading straight to his face. First the iron head of the bolt, then the wooden shaft. The feathers used to straighten its flight left a white line of movement on my eyes. Damn it! Why couldn’t I have Dead-Eye’s aim?

            A hand snatched the bolt from midair before it could reach Drejnin’s face. Serius moved as fast as lightning. I think he was the faster of the two strangers. With his free hand he shoved Drejnin back. The power!  I didn’t think anything would budge that massive man. 

            We all backed off as we watch Serius burst into flames. He didn’t seem like he was in pain, but he was growing!  Horns burst from his head and other bony protrusions ripped through the flesh on his arms and legs. He roared at us, and Dead-Eye dropped the almost empty wineskin he was cradling like a sleeping child, its precious alcoholic lifeblood spilling out onto the ground.

            “Down Serius!” boomed Drejnin’s voice from behind the fiery giant. Serius spun on the two hooves that now ended his legs. He roared once more then began to shrink. I dropped my crossbow to the ground and stood there watching in fear, my heart beating its way out of my chest. Slowly the Dontu returned to his human form and turned back towards me, as if I wasn’t a threat anymore. I saw the cold, bestial hate behind his eyes. I wanted to run, I wanted to crawl under the nearest rock. At that moment I wanted to do a lot of things. I urinated in my pants. So much for dignity. If I lived through this, I know I won’t live it down, not that I expected to live much longer. Now I know why they are feared, the Dontu. What the hell have I gotten myself into?

            A moment passed, no one spoke. I stood there with my pants wet and my legs shaking. Drejnin stared at me with those predatory eyes I saw when I visited him in the infirmary which seemed so long ago. 

            “Are you done showing your futility?” Drejnin asked me. I looked behind me towards Hall and Myder. They had backed off at least twenty feet from me. I guess I wouldn’t want to be associated with my after what I just pulled too. Or maybe my cooling piss was beginning to smell.  Dead-Eye was to my right by at least ten feet and I knew I was alone in this. I looked back at Drejnin, then to Serius. 

            “What the hell was that I just saw?” I asked, curiosity getting the best of me.

            “You have witnessed the Dontu’s true form,” Drejnin said. Serius smiled and stood to the side of his Lord.

            “He is really, some kind of demon?” I asked. “…or was that illusion?”

            “I am a shape shifter,” Serius said, almost in realization as much as he addressed me. I watched, amazed, as his face blurred and came back into sharpness, only it wasn’t his face, it was my own. His clothes changed as well, into my clothes, complete with the wet spot I noticed, he could have forgotten that part.

            “Shape Shifter?” I asked.

            “It appears I can take on new forms,” Serius said.

            “The Dontu are an ancient race, most of the time they are peaceful folk, who like to play pranks using their abilities. It takes a lot to anger one into violence. You nearly did it Marsh,” Drejnin said.

            “Can you do that too?” I asked Drejnin. 

“No, I am not Dontu, I am a Dreymorion. My people have long had Dontu companions, hired by Chieftains as guards and spies. I am a Chieftain of the Crowhaven Clan of Dreymorions. Serius is my bodyguard. The toxic, burning light of the Sun Door affected Serius more than me, so I carried him through into your world,” Drejnin explained.

            “If he can change into anything, why didn’t he change into a Dreymorion?”  Dead-Eye asked. I was almost proud of the drunk for saying anything at all, let alone a coherent sentence.

            “I didn’t have what it takes, I was too weak at that point to change forms and even If I did, I still don’t think I would have survived,” Serius said.

            “So now that you have witnessed some of what we can do, are you still going to try to stop us from finding this, Moon Door?” Drejnin asked.

            “No, of course not. How could I stop you anyway? I hope you find whatever you are looking for,” I said.

            “I would appreciate it if all of you came with us,” he said. 

            “All of us?” I asked.

            “All four of you,” he replied.

            “I would like to come along. What I’ve seen is amazing,” Hall said. “I would like to learn some more about our visitors.”

            “Besides, I don’t think we can go back. Chase will have our heads for coming out here to warn you,” Myder said. 

            I turned towards Dead-Eye to see what he wanted to do, but he had his head buried in Hall’s saddlebags looking for more wine. I took a deep breath and turned back to face Drejnin.

            “Ok, I guess we are in. What is the importance of finding the Moon Door at night?  I asked.

            “The Sun Door dimension that we traveled through to get here was filled with a toxic atmosphere and unbearably hot light. I believe that the Moon Door would be a more hospitable dimension for us to travel home in. Being called the moon door I would think it gets its power from the moon,” Drejnin explained.

            “Let’s head out,” Dead Eye said disappointingly, not finding any more alcohol. 

            I picked up my crossbow and mounted my horse, relieved I was going to live at least another day. Serius had an eye on me though I noticed. Somehow I didn’t think things would ever be the same. I had an eye on him too. I didn’t like that transformation shit one bit. Just didn’t seem natural. 

            Around the third day the terrain began to get steeper as we entered the foothills of the mountains. The horses labored breathing led me on to the fact that we had been traveling for a while. I guess I had fallen asleep again. My leg burned from the wounds, but Hall said it wasn’t infected so I rode on with the pain. He kept an eye on that for me, every time we stopped he checked and redressed the wound.

            Sometime around midnight we stopped to rest on the rocky path the road had turned into.  It didn’t make for comfortable seating, and my leg didn’t make standing any more bearable. I eventually laid down to distribute my weight a little better on the rocky ground. Hall built a small fire for light and asked me to bring my leg over so he could see it. I grumbled something about how he should have built the fire closer to me if he wanted to play peek-a-boo with my leg, but reluctantly gave in to the doc.

            “If that pains you badly, I can help,” Drejnin said pointing towards my leg. I nodded to him. If there was a way to get better fast, hell I was all ready for it. I never was a big fan of pain.  Some guys like the pain and scars, makes them feel tough. I’d rather keep what little looks I had and feel fine. I need all the help I can get with the free kind of ladies.

            Drejnin crouched down next to Hall and my leg, I noticed Serius was staring at me and I was sure if I made a wrong move I would see the wondrous power of the Dontu again. I remained still as Drejnin placed his large hands on my leg making it look like a chicken leg. He closed his eyes and I felt a tingling in my leg. 

            Suddenly I grew nervous. He was using magic. I didn’t trust magic. Magic was something I can’t touch. I fought the urge to yank my leg away as I saw blue tendrils of magical smoke curl its way down Drejnin’s massive forearm and crawl into the wound on my leg. He gripped my leg tight and I was thankful for that. I don’t think I could tear my leg away if I tried.  Wow was he strong!

            I could feel the magic inside of me working its way in the wound repairing the torn blood vessels and sewing the flesh back together. At least that was what I pictured it was doing, I really had no idea. After a few seconds the holes caused by Dead-Eye’s sharp shooting started to close. 

            Hall was wide eyed watching, and I was sure I was too. The hole closed up and the pain subsided. Drejnin let loose his iron grip and stood up, towering over us. He opened his eyes and looked down at my leg where the wound was. I flexed the muscles in my leg and stretched.  Slowly, unsure of the magic healing I stood then took a few steps around the small fire. 

            There was no pain, nothing to show where the arrow had hit me. It was a miracle!  It was magic. I got a sinking feeling at that point. He used magic on me. My stomach tied itself into knots. I thanked Drejnin for the help and sat down on a rock fairly chair sized.

            Serius turned to face farther down the rocky path holding his hand up for us to be silent.  “Several people approach,” he said.  Then with a puzzled look on his face he added “Children?”

            Drejnin drew his sword from the scabbard and took a position on the side of the path out of sight from our approaching guests. I crept my way up to Serius to see if I could hear what he was hearing and loaded my crossbow in case of danger. Hell, if Drejnin was afraid of children for some reason, I probably should be too. Serius gave my crossbow then me a look that said he didn’t forget what happened last time I held it in my hands. I was ashamed, a feeling I was used to in my life.

            At first I couldn’t hear the sounds of anything but my own breathing. Soon though, the sound of scuffling feet on the small stones on the path reached my ears. I heard voices too. Not the voices of children, the voices were a little deeper. Men’s voices. 

            I figured this was what Drejnin sensed and turned towards him for direction, but he was nowhere to be seen. Either the darkness hid him well or he moved to a better position before I even noticed. He moved silently, like a cat. It was a little unnerving.

            Dead Eye staggered over to Serius and tried to load one of the crossbows he seemed to be holding with the three bolts he apparently picked up. I guess he found the rest of Hall’s wine stash. The look of puzzlement on his face was priceless though.

            I saw the light from the approaching torches. Serius was right, I couldn’t yet make out the faces but the torches were barely three feet off the ground, it had to be children. The approaching group of children paused in the road and began to whisper within. I couldn’t make out what was being said at this distance, but it seemed like they didn’t know we were here until this moment. We surprised them.

            A second later I watched as two of the torches and shadowy silhouettes lifted another few feet in the air. Holding one in each arm, Drejnin began to walk back towards our camp, ignoring the rest of their party. They followed at a trot behind the big man, and soon we shared our camp with five dwarves. It was almost comical watching them struggle in the large man’s hands. 

            Now, as a child I heard stories about dwarves, but everyone thinks they either were a race that lived long ago, or never existed at all except in the mind of some imaginative story tellers. Only one wore the large beard I have heard of in all the legends. They dressed similar to us and carried weapons that looked like children’s play swords and axes, but if the legends were true then I knew those weapons to be the best crafted instruments of war in the world. 

            At first they didn’t say anything, just stood there with sullen looks on their weathered faces. They didn’t seem to appreciate the way Drejnin snuck up on them and carried them into our camp without fear. The shaven ones looked to the bearded one for something. Maybe he was the leader of them, or the higher rank, or something. 

            “There are dwarves in this world?” Drejnin asked me with curiosity.

            “There are legends. This is the first time I have ever encountered one. No one really believes they exist,” I replied.

            “We exist, lad. Do you believe now?” the bearded dwarf asked in a shaky voice. His accent was strong and I’m not sure if it was that, or the shock of hearing him talk that made me ask the important question I asked next.

            “Wha?”  Man the intelligence was flowing through me tonight! I should have become a scholar or an investigator with such hard hitting questions like that.

            “There hasn’t been a human on this path in almost two thousand years. You men are the first we have seen. What brings you here?” Beardy asked.

            “We seek the Moon Door,” Serius said approaching the little men. Drejnin gave Serius a look that could have been trouble to anyone else.

            “The Moon Door? What purpose would you have to seek that evil place?” Beardy asked.

            Drejnin sighed. “I am not from this world, I traveled here through a door. It was called the Sun Door here. I can’t go back that way. I would like to see this Moon Door and leave this world. These men are here to help me find my way,” he said.

            Hmm. That was interesting. He wanted us to pretend Serius was with us for now and not a stranger to this world. Make a mental note not to screw that up as well Marsh. 

            The Dwarf sat in silence for a second and turned to the other dwarves. In their native tongue they began to converse. They seemed excited, but it could have just been the language.  No human had heard that language spoken in a long time. After a minute or two passed, Beardy turned back towards Drejnin.

            “The Moon Door lies in the Temple of Sukrettis. It is a most evil place, surrounded by bent and twisted animated trees and warped animals. The evil of the place hangs in the air so thick, breathing is difficult. It lies a few weeks walk from here. We can set you on the right path, but will not take you lads there. Many an adventurous Mazzulikai has found only his death in that place,” Beardy said.

            “Mazzulikai?” I asked.  Hell, someone had too, might as well be me.

            “It is the name of our race, the race that you humans call Dwarves. It is an ancient name going back to the dawn of our race. We have gone back to our roots, you could say, since leaving the world of man. Too much of our culture was influenced by man, and the other races, we decided it was in our best interest to return to the Old Ways before we lost ourselves. That is why you haven’t seen or heard of us in a long time,” Beardy explained.

            “So the dwarves, oh sorry, the Mazzulikai went back into the mountains to seclusion?”  Hall asked.

            “Aye lad,” Beardy said.

            “Who is this Sukrettis?” Serius asked.

            “He is one of the Ancient Ones, one of the original six Creators of the world.  He is Death, War, Disease, and Agony. Anything evil he has his hand in,” Beardy told us.

            “Is it true that your people make very strong drinks?” Dead-Eye asked.  I sighed.

            “Yes lad, here,” Beardy said digging in his pack and pulling out a glass bottle.  He pulled the cork out of it and handed it to Dead-Eye who upended the bottle into his mouth.  After two swallows he stopped and coughed for almost a minute.  His eyes were watering and his face was red.

            “That was….beautiful,” he managed to say in between coughing fits. 

            All the Mazzulikai at that point began to laugh and seemed to cheer up, they also produced bottles from their packs and began to drink. I passed on the drink, I know a first time for everything, but I just didn’t feel like it. I tried to pass it on to Dead-Eye, but he was already passed out.


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