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    Yeoldebard
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Stolen Dreams - 9. The Tomb of the Unknown Cyclops

AMETHYST

 

Jasp’s hoof tore at the dead grass nervously, and the elf gently patted his neck, her eyes staring at the large stone corridor that led into the ground.

“Is this the tomb you spoke of?” she asked tiredly, glancing at Hope.

The tiefling nodded, his fur speaking of a silent fear. Amethyst didn’t blame him; she hated tombs.

“We have four hours to explore it and find this Tartuccio deserter before night falls,” the elf said, sliding off of Jasp’s back. “Who’s staying with the horses?”

“Me,” Elias blurted. “I mean… it should be me, right? I can’t use Yona properly in there; she would ruin our ears.”

“I’ve already used Abapad today. I cannot summon a slain devil until they have had a day to recover,” Ramiel said quietly. “At this point, both the cat and I are risks to the party.”

“You have spells that can aid the group. Elias’ extracts only affect himself,” Hope pointed out. “I vote that Elias stays.”

Amethyst let out a quiet sigh, looking around at the group.

“Okay, let’s not start a fight here. Elias, Ramiel, you both wish to stay?”

The two nodded, one confidently, the other with fear in his eyes. Amethyst reached for her deck, then paused.

“Ramiel, you are trained to battle through your fears. Elias is not. He is a greater risk to the group. You will come with us, and Elias will guard the horses and set up camp.”

“I smell a new character in the next few chapters,” Hope sighed. “Okay… Amethyst, we could use some buffs if you have any. And you get to carry the light. And if anyone touches my ears or calls me a good boy again, I'll throw a spell at them.”

“I have a spell that can hypnotize, but I don’t think that will help much here.”

“Eh, might help the front line,” Hope shrugged.

Amethyst pulled out her deck, shuffling through cards. There was nothing she could really use; the witch had already put up her magic armour at the start of the day and used her remove fear to bolster her allies during the fight with the elemental. She was tapped out, save for the hypnosis, and the elf sighed quietly.

“I’ll do what I can to support the group, but it would be a lot easier if we rested.”

“Can’t do that,” Hope frowned. “We should emerge on the other side of the tomb into a gully. It will be a few hours before we can actually get some sleep. Elias, take the horses and head to the giant sycamore tree. Don’t get too close though, the mites might get you. You can have a camp waiting for us when we get there.”

“The old sycamore?” Wulfrin frowned at the tiefling.

“Mites?!” Elias yelped. “I don’t need anything in my fur!”

Amethyst sighed, double checking her crossbow. She was hoping it wouldn’t be needed, but something told her there was a fight coming.

“Trust me, they’re too big for your fur. Just stay out of their way,” the elf said. “And don’t bother hunting. Ilyas can try to do that later.”

Hope suddenly grabbed her arm, pulling her toward the side of the road. Frowning, the elf allowed herself to be escorted away.

“You’ll want to keep your hood up. We will be out past moonrise, but the magelight should hide your face if it’s bright enough,” the tiefling said quietly.

Amethyst’s heart leapt into her throat, terror coursing through her body.

“Why would that matter?” She swallowed drily. “I mean, it’s not like I’m a werewolf or anything.”

“Just a friendly warning,” Hope replied. “Do with it what you will.”

The tiefling hurried back to the group, leaving Amethyst frozen in fear. If Hope knew she was a kitsune… who else knew? Or maybe he didn’t know? Maybe he just guessed because her hood was always up at night?

She forced herself to walk back to the group, crossbow cradled in her arms to give them something to do besides tremble.

“Okay.”

It came out in a rush of breath, and the elf swallowed tightly, trying to control herself.

“Okay, let’s get going. We’re looking for a purple haired gnome. He is wanted dead or alive. Let’s try to make it alive, if we can.”

Hope let out a scoff, stringing his bow.

“Of course we want him alive. I’m sure the writer’s trying to figure out how to get him on our bad side though. Why not just have him kick a puppy? Oh wait, you already did that.”

Amethyst ignored the tiefling, letting her hand run over a card with a quiet murmur. A faint glow washed over the card, and the elf pulled up her hood before casting another spell to attach the card to the top of her hood.

Descending into the tomb, Amethyst wrinkled her nose at the musty smell of preserved bodies. She could hear her companions following her light, the quiet murmur of a spell coming from Ramiel. A sudden squeak echoed through the hall, and the elf flinched as a dire rat appeared beside her.

“Blame the tiefling. He gave me the idea,” Ramiel said.

The elf shrugged as they reached a flight of stone stairs. She was rather tired after the battle with the elemental, but it was nothing she couldn’t deal with, at least for another few hours.

“I brought you with me to find the bastard sword, and there’s nothing here. What am I paying you for, you dolts?”

The high voice echoed suddenly through the tomb, causing the group to pause. Amethyst held up her hand, before creeping forward slowly.

“Ser Tartuccio, I did not leave Ser Garess’ service to be bullied,” a woman’s voice snapped.

“If there was a sword here, it would have been left in the sarcophagus,” another voice said. “But that was already ransacked. Are you sure this is the right place?”

Amethyst peeked through an opening, frowning at the sight of six figures digging through rubble. A gnome stood in the center of the room, scowling as he watched the humans search.

“‘Are you sure this is the right place?’” he mocked ruthlessly. “Of course I’m sure! I didn’t travel all this way on a whim!”

“I found a kobold print,” one of the humans called suddenly.

“That is of no concern right now!” the gnome snarled. “Just hurry up and find the sword before-”

He spun around suddenly, eyes widening as he saw Amethyst.

“-before they try to stop us!”

“Is that any way to treat your companions?” Amethyst frowned at the gnome. “Or are you planning on betraying them like you betrayed Keston?”

“Hey you fools! We’re not hanging around for Keston’s dogs to butcher us!” Tartuccio snarled. “You four, cover our retreat!”

He bounded down another hall, one of the humans following him. Another person, the woman who had spoken earlier, paused, frowning after the gnome.

“No, I’m done serving some rude gnome. I’m not fighting, and I’m not going with you,” she scowled.

It didn’t matter, the other four were already closing in on the group. Amethyst’s eyes narrowed, and she curled her finger at one of the attackers.

The man suddenly tripped over his own foot, falling right in front of an orb of acid his companion hurled. Crying out in pain, he tried to regain his feet, only to have Ramiel’s rat latch onto his throat. A sword fell, a squeak sounded, and both bodies went limp, the rat starting to fade from existence.

A sudden crunch echoed through the tomb, blood splattering across the floor of the tomb as Ramiel’s morningstar ended its arc in an archer’s skull. Flickering light erupted, the mage who had thrown the acid screaming in pain. Fire crackled at her feet, licking hungrily up her body as Ilyas prepared another assault. Amethyst turned her attention on the last archer, her eye twitching.

The archer flinched as the arrow left his bowstring. It shattered on the wall behind Amethyst, and she responded with her own missile. The crossbow bolt lodged into the man’s throat, ending his life, and the fight.

 

HOPE

 

His hands wrapped around an arrow, carefully working it out of his mail shirt. Hope frowned at the last fighter.

Her face nearly shone with a divine light, straw blond hair cut in a masculine look. A breastplate lay flat against her chest, armour designed for proper protection, not looks. If Hope didn’t know any better, he would have thought her an aasimar paladin.

“Valerie,” the tiefling muttered in greeting. “I’m actually surprised to see you here; I was under the impression that there would be no premade characters.”

The woman stared at him in confusion.

“I’m sorry, have we met before? I assume I would remember someone so… unusual, but working for that gnome was rather draining on my mind. The only one I recognize of all of you is Wulfrin.”

She glared at the gnome, Wulfrin staring back steadily.

“Hope is… rather special,” Amethyst spoke up suddenly, watching Ramiel collect the fallen gear around the tomb. “He’s a diviner, he often knows things and people before he sees them. I can’t promise it’s something you can get used to.”

The beastbrood sighed, examining the reliefs of the tomb. A small frown etched its way over his face.

“This is a cyclops tomb. Devoted to a sun cult?”

“The ancient cyclopes worshipped the sun as a god. But I’d hazard a guess that these cyclopes worshipped Prathos, the Howling Eye,” Wulfrin said suddenly, motioning toward a sun with a single eye on its face. “Though this jackal… It’s a symbol of Lamashtu.”

“Okay but where are the cyclopes now?”

“Excuse me, but if you were hoping to chase down Tartuccio, he is getting away,” Valerie said suddenly. “We can catch him-”

“And why would you help us complete our task?” Wulfrin interrupted icily. “You who have shown yourself far too eager to abandon any liege you follow, even the god who marked you as her own.”

“I follow the law. And I will not lower myself to kowtow before a deity whose only desire is frivolous beauty. You can go back to the order and let them know I have chosen to take up the art of war,” the woman snarled.

“I do not live at the monastery any longer. I completed my training, I stayed strong through everything they threw at me.”

“Hey, enough you two. Leave some backstory for later,” Hope interrupted, stepping between the two. “Look, we need to head out after Tartuccio, so let’s make sure this sacred tomb is properly looted, and we can go find Elias and have a nice nap.”

The tiefling headed down the hall Tartuccio had fled down, pausing at a vestibule to the left. A small pressure plate sat in the hall, and the tiefling let out a sigh.

“Low level, right? So I need a fifteen… I’ve been practicing, I should have about an eight or nine point bonus… Fuck it, I’ll go for it…”

Digging through a pouch, Hope pulled out a small set of tools, kneeling near a nozzle in the wall. Reaching into the trap, the tiefling lifted a small lever off the trigger of a crossbow inside the wall. The hook holding the lever up suddenly twisted, and Hope felt his heart nearly stop as the lever fell back into place. He whipped his head away from the nozzle, letting out a long shaky breath when nothing happened.

“That was too fucking close… what did I roll, a two?”

The tiefling took up the hook again, lifting the lever before carefully pushing the crossbow aside. He let the lever lower again, free of the trigger, and Hope let out a tiny cheer.

“There we go, and still alive,” he grinned, slipping his tools back into his pouch. “Now for the all too sweet loot.”

Copyright © 2021 Yeoldebard; All Rights Reserved.
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