The Land of Teuhyo
(Inspired by Dungeons and Dragons)
Chapter 5: A Shiny Blade
Nedjem hit the ground, his jaw wrenched to the side as he was hit with the back of the man’s mace. “How’s that feel, you glittery prick?!” The man standing above him growled. His friend, a lanky man in a blue coat, had drawn his sword and was focused on Aeron.
Nedjem sat up, trying to scoot away as the axe came down. It nearly hit his shoulder but he rolled away just in time, smacking against the wall and staggering himself in the process.
“Aeron…!” He hissed as he got to his feet. His large friend still looked out of it, and now he had an armed man pointing a sword at his naked chest. If something didn’t change, then they were royally-
There was an explosion from Iah and Bedivere’s room. One of the men who had been in there with them sprinted out the door, looked around in a panic, and jumped out of the nearby window. It was small enough that he had to squeeze his way out, but in his desperation, he made it.
“HOW’S HELL FEEL, YA GIT!” Nedjem heard Bedivere yell from inside. The explosion rattled the building, and everyone inside it.
Aeron stumbled backward, shaking his head as though coming to, just in time to see the blue man rushing toward him with his sword drawn. He could practically feel the point of the blade against his chest by the time he jumped back. He thrust the warhammer forward and bludgeoned the blue man in the shoulder. He could hear the joint pop from it’s socket, and the man staggered back, screaming. His friend looked at him in surprise, giving Nedjem enough time to jump to his feet and scramble a bit farther away before he ran head first into another person. He jumped, raising his fists to defend himself.
Vulcan pressed a finger to the bandana covering his mouth and winked.
The explosion had scared his friend, but the man in front of Iah was still pinning her to the bed. Luckily for her, though, it had startled him enough for his grip to loosen just enough that she could clap her hands together.
The sound her palms made as they met echoed through the room, startling even Bedivere and sending the man grabbing at her stumbling back. Iah dove from the bed to reach for her rapier, but her feet were snared by the sheets. She landed unceremoniously on her face with a thud.
Bedivere drew her axe as the man got back to his feet. “You know, all you had to do was tell me where we were going.”
“Fuck you!” He swung his mace at her leg, but she jumped out of the way, picked up her axe, and beaned him in the side of the head with it. The blade left a gash in his face that began oozing as soon as she cut it.
“You don’t wanna take me out anymore? All you have to do is tell me~”
“I…I can’t do that…” He rasped, lisping as his tongue swelled in his mouth. “She’ll kill me…”
Bedivere leaned forward and whispered, “Well I’LL kill you instead, that better?”
The man in blue scrambled back, grunting. “You all just had to go snooping around…!” He waved his sword toward Aeron’s chest. “Sticking your noses where they don’t belong! Money ain’t even worth it now!” The half-Orc fell back, raising his arm and catching the point of the blade against his gnarled hand.
“I…don’t much appreciate your tone, mister.” He grunted as he pulled away. The man let his sword point drop and drag against the ground as his friend stepped in, his own mace drawn. Aeron was still righting himself, and flinched as he waited for the mace to come down on his head. Instead, he heard it drop to the floor, and the man scream in pain.
Aeron opened his eyes to blood everywhere. The screams of the man turned to gurgles as blood spilled from the side of his neck. Vulcan wiped his blade on the coat of the man he’d just stabbed and turned to his blue-clad friend, who watched in horror as his comrade crumpled to the ground.
“About time you got here.” Nedjem grunted.
“I needed my morning coffee.”
“You don’t drink coffee.”
“No, you.” Vulcan snickered childishly and pulled his other dagger. “Last one to kill this guy is a rotten egg!”
Lifting it with one hand, Aeron slammed his hammer down on the blue man’s head, the side of the hammer clipping his head and popping his (other) shoulder. The man stumbled back, almost falling, but the hit was only enough to disorient him. As he tried to regain his balance, Vulcan dashed forward, aiming for the same spot on his neck, but a slip of his foot meant he only sliced skin.
The man touched a hand to his neck, his fingers coming back red. He turned and glared at Vulcan, his stained teeth twisting into a grimace.
“You salmon sack of shit…” He hissed, his words slightly muffled by a faint hissing in the back of his throat. “Encarnacion isn’t ssscared of some pink-asssss bandit like you.”
“Encarna-what?” Vulcan was smirking under his bandana; the crinkles around his eyes made that obvious. “That’s a stupid name.”
“And you’re a stupid kid!” The man’s voice returned as he lunged forward, catching Vulcan off guard. The pink Axolotl stumbled back and fell, and the blue man plunged the blade of his sword into Vulcan’s thigh. He screamed out, his voice high and scared, and made a writhing motion like he was both trying to curl up and crawl away.
The mace hit Bedivere square in the stomach, breaking two of her ribs and knocking the wind out of her. She stumbled back, barely on her feet and coughing as the man turned to the defenseless Iah.
Thankfully, though, the defenseless Iah had gotten ahold of her rapier. As he brought the mace down on her head, she rolled away and stabbed upward. It was barely a scratch, only catching him in the forearm, but the shock was enough to send him reeling back.
Right into Bedivere and her axe.
“How’s…broken ribs feel?” She grunted as her axe embedded itself in his side. There was an audible crack as his bones snapped, and the man dropped to his feet, looking down at Iah as his eyes clouded over.
He fell beside her, dead.
Aeron barely had any idea what was going on. 30 seconds ago, he had been convinced he was back home in the old swampy lodge, and that another gator had made its way inside. Truthfully, after hearing this man hiss like a python, he wasn’t totally convinced he WASN’T a gator. His head hurt and his stomach was trying to vault from his body; this entire fight he’d had to work to keep his dinner down. But if there was one thing he did know, it was that this man/gator/whatever he was had a weapon, and he was aiming that weapon at Aeron’s friends.
Aeron raised his hammer with both hands above his head. “GET OUTTA MY HOUSE.”
The floor tiles beneath the man cracked at the force of the impact. It wasn’t the only thing that cracked, either. The man fell over in a heap, his blood splattered on the walls.
Bedivere staggered out, coughing and dragging her axe beside her. She looked out into the hall and whistled. “Holy shit. They came for you too?”
“Are you girls okay?” Nedjem jogged toward her.
“Nothing I haven’t had before.” Bedivere coughed and pulled a small, red flask from her belt. “Anyone need this? If not, I do.”
“What’s that?” Vulcan croaked from the ground, still pinned by the sword.
“Healing potion.” Bedivere popped the cap with her thumb and downed the bottle. She took a deep breath, her ribs crackling as they snapped back into place. “Much better. Anyone else?”
“Aw, cool!” Vulcan tried to stand, but whimpered. The sword was stuck firmly through his thigh.
Bedivere ran over and grabbed the hilt. “I’mma yank on three. Ready?”
Vulcan screeched like a banshee as Bedivere ripped the blade from his flesh. He rolled onto his back, sobbing “WHAT HAPPENED TO ONE AND TWO?!”
Bedivere giggled, pulling another, albeit smaller, red flask from her belt. “Can one of you go check on Iah?”
“I’ll go…” Nedjem took Aeron by the arm. “Sit down a minute. You look…greener than normal…”
Aeron nodded. The dizziness was catching up to him now that the adrenaline had worn off. He felt sicker than he’d ever felt before; just the act of breathing was enough to send him retching.
Nedjem gently pushed the door open as to not scare the woman inside. “Iah?”
Iah was always a pale woman, from the moment he met her her white hair and ashen skin gave her the appearance of being cloaked in a thin layer of snow. But now, as she looked up at him, her face was greenish-grey and her blue eyes were so dilated, the pupils consumed them.
“Are you feeling woozy?” She squeaked. “Sit down…! Sit down right now!”
“Iah, what’s wrong?” He ran inside but she jumped to her feet, stumbling forward.
“I know what they did!” She screamed. “I know what they did to us! They poisoned me! They poisoned…” She wobbled, sinking to her knees again. “It was the ale…”
She looked up at him. “We were drugged! Mandraked, that’s what they…call it on the road…It was in the ale…” She repeated. “They do it to girls…sometimes guys…always the ones they-”
“I didn’t drink the ale.” He said, gently grabbing her arms and helping her to her feet. His face was troubled, though, Iah could see it. “That’s why Aeron was so disoriented…”
“How’s Bedivere? Where is she?”
“Over here!” She poked her head through the door. “It probably would have hit me more but I fell back on the ol’ technicolor yawn.”
“Do you need to throw up?” Nedjem asked Iah.
“I just…” She sniffled. “I don’t know…I don’t want this to be happening…” Her lip trembled. “They…call it being Mandraked…” She repeated.
Nedjem grabbed her shoulders, and Bedivere jumped away from Vulcan to pull Iah into a tight hug. “It’s okay.” She whispered in her new friend’s ear. “They’re gone now. It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not okay!” Iah whimpered. “What if they come back?”
“They’re fucking dead!” Vulcan shouted from the hall.
“Yeah…” Bedivere forced a smile. “They’re all dead now.” She looked up at Nedjem. “Can you watch her? I’m going to find our innkeeper.” She said the name with a growl on her teeth.
“Hurry back.” Nedjem said as he took hold of Iah’s shoulders.
“If she doesn’t improve in about 10 minutes, induce vomiting.” Bedivere giggled as she walked out. “It’s always worked for me.”
Vulcan pushed open the squeaky door to the storage room. “Ah sweet!”
“Vulcan! We’re not treasure hunting!”
“I’ll be right there! God!” He shouted back. Bedivere may have been cool when they first met but when it came down to the nail, she was freaking annoying. Vulcan ignored her protests to keep going and began rummaging about the nearly pitch black storeroom. There was actually very little down here, just stacks of paper, a few tools and a plank of drywall. Inside a well hidden box, though the shine of a gem caught his eye.
“Haha! Screw you, Bedivere!” He snatched up the lapis lazuli stone. It had an otherworldly, almost mesmerizing shine to it. In fact, it looked kind of familiar…
Vulcan turned it over in his hand. Didn’t his mom have one like this?
“I’M COMING!” He shoved the rock into his pocket and jogged to where Bedivere and Aeron stood. The two were facing down a wooden door, glaring at it like it owed them money.
“He’s in there.” Bedivere said.
“How do you know?”
“The door is locked.”
“Oh that’s solid logic.”
“Yes, we couldn’t have done it without your help.” Bedivere rolled her eyes. “Welp, everyone stand back.” She pulled out a vial of something green.
“I could do that…” Aeron offered.
“No, you’re still shaky, and it would be too loud.” She said as she dribbled a bit of it over the door handle. There was a fizzling sound, and a strong copper smell before the lock clicked open and dropped to the ground.
Bedivere pushed the door open and cleared her throat. “Mr. Tom Verne?”
Tom had his back to her. He was hunched over his desk, staring at something at couldn’t be seen. His barmaid, Hana, was lounging on the bed. She laid back on her side, one arm draped over her hip. Her dull eyes met Bedivere’s and the dwarf girl couldn’t help but shiver.
Tom turned and looked at the three intruders. “Oh…”
“Oh?” Bedivere echoed, her eyes full of death.
“Can I…” Tom coughed. “Help you?”
“Help me? After you drugged me and Iah? And sent four men in the night to do, what exactly? Rape us? Murder us?! Might as well tell me, cause they’re all dead!”
“Who’s dead?! Is Iah-”
“I know what you put in the drinks! Mandrakes? The best sleeping pill south of the marsh.” Bedivere stomped towards him, pressing her axe against his chest. “You know, your goons would be alive if they’d just told me what was going on.”
“I…” Tom sniffled. “Damn you kids. Everything would have been fine if you hadn’t come.”
“Well I reckon that’s a fib! You’re fibbing with me!” Aeron shoved his way in the door. “We offer to help your business, and this is how you treat us? Your staff ain’t got no training, the downstairs is absolutely filthy, you got no idea how to take care of your customers, an’ I can’t sleep without bein’ drugged an’ ambushed! No wonder y’all are on the verge of bankruptcy! Maybe if you was a bit more cordial with us, you’d have the money to pay your brother!”
“I had that money!” Tom cried. “You don’t get it! I had it and I spent it!”
“What on earth did you spend it on?!”
“I didn’t spend it on here! I spent it on other things! Things we needed…” He lowered his hands.
Aeron’s face softened. “You got a gambling problem?”
“Drinking problem? I know people who got-”
“It’s not a drinking problem, you big dumb lug!”
“Then what is it?” Bedivere stepped forward again. “If you tell me, I can help you. But if you don’t…”
Tom looked up at her, and she saw him shudder. “Alright alright.” He said, wiping his brow. “I’ll tell you whatever…whatever you want.”
“Why did you drug us?” Bedivere jumped right in. “Were they going to sell us? Run a train-”
“No, no! Gods, it wasn’t my idea! Well it was…I did it but…those orders don’t come from me!”
“Who do they come from?”
She leaned closer, so her face was almost against his. “I need a name.”
“I…” Tom looked absolutely nauseous.
Bedivere pulled out an orange vial, the sweat on her hand sizzling as the head from the liquid inside radiated off the glass. “I will set your ass on fire!”
Tom met her eyes. “The creature. Enca-”
He never got the word out. Bedivere watched his face twist in pain as the bar wench stabbed him in the neck.