The Land of Teuhyo
(Inspired by Dungeons and Dragons)
Chapter 10: She Who Waits Behind the Wall
Nedjem had not been peacefully awoken. The knife against his throat was bad enough, but what truly roused him was the loud BONK and the thud of a limp body as Aeron stuck the attacker’s head.
The Orcish man dragged his Elvish companion to his feet as the rest of the barracks began to rouse at the noise. “Go.”
“Go.” Aeron was shoving him out of the room. “Gogogo. Now.”
The two of them stumbled out into the hall, tripping over each other’s feet in the dark.
“Where are Iah and Bedivere?” Aeron stammered. “We gotta find them and get outta-”
“They were with Misha,” Nedjem said. “Or I think Iah told me she was going to find Misha. And I assume Bedivere is with them…”
The two slowed at the sound of footsteps, and Nedjem ushered Aeron back around a corner. Three figures emerged from the darkness.
“Misha, where are we going?” A soft, low voice asked.
“I’m not supposed to be showing initiates this but…” A very feminine giggle echoed through the stone hall. “You two are very special~”
Aeron and Nedjem caught each other’s eyes. Nedjem slipped out behind the group, while Aeron turned and watched behind them. Distantly, if he strained, he could hear the panicked screams of the rest of the monks. He felt his hammer grow heavy in his hand and his knees shake.
He hadn’t meant to hurt Eramil. He’d reacted on a whim. Maybe if he’d just kept his hammer out of his hands…
“Aeron.” Nedjem’s voice called him away from the shadows.
Vulcan hadn’t had a beating this hard since his mom caught him skipping class.
His head spun. He normally felt light on his feet with the confidence to match, but now his muscles felt like a weight attached to his bones. The only thing keeping him from collapsing to the floor were the chains holding him against the wall.
The room was silent. Abramo was not one to talk when he worked. Occasionally he would put down his pick or pliers and ask Vulcan “What do you know?”
“I know you’re a lil’ bitch.” Vulcan chuckled. He immediately regretted that, as Abramo bludgeoned his knee with a hammer.
Vulcan hadn’t cried in years, but that night in that dark cell, far away from home, he felt tears running down his scaly cheeks. His knee was going numb and he could feel it swelling up. He wished he was back in the city with his mother. She’d told him not to go…
“The boy doesn’t know anything.”
The room fell quiet. Abramo put his tools down, “Would you like to confess?”
“If it’ll get you to stop beating the lad, sure.” The voice continued. “He’s not with me, you old git. He doesn’t know anything.”
Abramo walked to the other side of the room, and Vulcan could just make out the silhouette of another chained figure.
“Ask your goddess.” The voice continued. “She’s got eyes all over this town, yeah? She’ll know he’s not one of mine.”
“He came to this church intending to get information on us. We saw he was snooping.”
“Dumb lil’ shit was probably looking for your donation box.” The figure shook a bit and Vulcan heard laughing. “You, boy! How old are you?!”
“…Eighteen.” His voice sounded so much softer than normal. It hurt to speak.
“I know this was a real long time ago, you miserable grey coot, but think back to when you were eighteen. Probably didn’t make all the best decisions.”
Abramo was silent.
“We all make bad decisions. His was sticking his pink nose where it didn’t belong. And yours was letting me talk.”
There was a loud thud, the sounds of a struggle, and suddenly Vulcan saw a younger man rushing towards him, quickly fiddling with and unlocking the chains around his wrists. “We need to go.”
“Who the fuck are you?!” Vulcan cried.
“I’m Derek Hussein, and if we don’t leave here in the next minute, I’m gonna be dead, and so will you.”
Vulcan thought for a minute. “Wait! You’re that guy!”
“I found your book!” Vulcan opened his vest and pulled the book out of his bag. “This one!”
“Bloody…The one they took?” He snatched it away from Vulcan hurriedly. “Kid, thank you. This book has evidence I need to take back. I take it you already read it?”
“I hate reading. I just wanted the cover.” He tapped it with his gloved finger. “That’s velvet right? It’ll fetch a damn good price.”
“You were going to sell my book?”
“You’re a little shit.” He saw Derek smile. “I like you.”
They heard Abramo start to stand up. “Fuck me, we gotta move.”
Light flooded the darkened room as the door swung open. “This is where we keep our treasure!” A familiar female voice sang.
“VULCAN!” Bedivere gasped.
“Mistress! They know!” Abramo jumped to his feet with speed that an old man should not possess. “They know about Encarnacion!”
Misha’s face went white, and she grabbed the two women by the arms, flinging them inside with surprising strength. Bedivere managed to catch herself, while Iah stumbled and fell on her knees, tearing her robe on the cobblestone.
Misha slammed the door behind them, and suddenly the room came alight. “This was supposed to be discreet, but you just had to make it hard.”
The old man stood up and raised his hands, and from out of the walls crawled several tall, lanky humanoids that looked to be made from the stone itself, and curled at the feet like serpents tails.
Iah jumped to her feet and, with her finger, traced a blue sigil in the air. “Don’t hurt me!”
Bedivere pulled her potions out and Derek jumped in front of both of them, drawing his shortsword.
“Stay behind me girls! I’ll protect you!”
Immediately, Misha grabbed hold of his neck.
Nedjem glared at Aeron in the dark. “That’s not the word I was thinking of.”
The two stared at the sealed door. Misha had been just one too many steps ahead, and now their friends were trapped with her.
“We need to find another way inside.” Nedjem crossed his arms. “There has to be a window or something. It can’t totally be sealed off.”
“Yes it can.”
“Aeron.” His tone was a warning, and Aeron took it and shut his mouth.
Nedjem rubbed his temples and looked around. “Come on, let’s backtrack.”
“What if the monks followed us?”
“I dunno. I suppose you’ll need to use your hammer again.”
Aeron hesitated in his steps. “Boy I hope not…” He said quietly before following his friend.
Vulcan hit the wall hard and slid down, landing on his bruised knee and hissing in pain. Iah was screaming and trying to pry the door open with her bare hands while the stone golems were tearing at her flesh and clothing. One of them grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled, yanking her back. She fell, slamming into the ground. That was when she opened her mouth and let out an ear-splitting scream.
Bedivere and Vulcan covered their ears, and the stone creatures were shoved back. About three of them crumbled to dust, and the rest began to crack under the intensity of her voice.
Her screaming stopped, and Iah jumped up again, her torn robe hanging off her body in ribbons. Vulcan and Bedivere took their hands away from their ears, and Bedivere’s eyes widened as she looked Iah up and down.
Misha looked too, and her eyes wide. “You’re na-”
Iah shrank back.
The loss of composure caught her vulnerable just long enough for Abramo to jump up and grab Iah by the arm, twisting her around and grabbing her against a wall.
“IAH!” Bedivere screamed, rushing toward the two, but a beam of light from Misha’s staff slammed into her side.
“There is no higher! You’re standing on my head!”
Nedjem sighed and grabbed the windowsill with his fingertips and hauled himself up. He barely had a grip on the slippery stones, but using his foot he managed to propel himself over the top and landed on the floor with a thud.
“How do I get up?” Aeron called up.
“Try jumping?” Nedjem chuckled.
There was a cracking sound, and Nedjem saw the Head of Aeron’s hammer appear over the side and catch the windowsill like a grappling hook. There was a series of loud grunts before Aeron’s head appeared as well, and he gripped the window and wiggled through the (relatively) narrow window.
“I…okay.” Nedjem chuckled.
Aeron looked down. “And they’re under us?”
“Yes. Well. I hope they are. Otherwise this is going to be very awkward.” He knelt down. “Ready?”
“Nope.” Aeron heaved his hammer upward and smashed it into the stone floor.
“Defiler!” Abramo spat, his mouth bloody. “Defacer!”
Iah held her rapier out in front of her, the blade shaking with her hand. She pulled her torn robe around her bare chest again as Misha turned her attention away from Bedivere.
“Stay back or I’ll…!” Iah’s voice shook so hard the vibrations rattled the walls. Her voice had lost its usual quiet, light tone and had dropped into her chest.
Misha took a step back, her gaze downcast. She looked a bit unsteady on her feet as she finally looked up at Iah, raising her hand reluctantly.
“She wasn’t doing anything…!” Bedivere groaned, sitting up. Her face was scraped.
“Just like you weren’t spying on us!” Abramo pointed accusingly at Bedivere.
“You’re up to something!” Bedivere got to her feet. “If nothing else, you’ve committed assault! Possibly murder!”
“Don’t play dumb. You know where Lulu went. I bet Tom knew too. You killed her!”
“Murder…?” Misha smiled, her surprise seemingly melting off her face. “You’re in for a big surprise, child.”
“I don’t think this is working.” Aeron huffed.
“We gotta keep going.” Nedjem said. “They’re down there.”
“Yeah, but we’re wasting time up here.” Aeron said. “There’s gotta be a better way.”
“I know a way.” A strange voice spoke from the darkness, raspy and giggling. The two men jumped to attention, drawing their weapons and spells and looking around in the dark.
There was a soft giggle from the shadows. Footsteps could be heard, and a tall figure came into the light.
Her figure was feminine, but her looks were…unusual. Her skin was shiny, almost metallic, and the scales across her body were a deep red.
Nedjem had seen Quetzalcoatls before, most notably when he’d first met Vulcan on the job, and the young Axolotl’s mother had dropped him off at the cart and made a big show of crying. Aeron’s however, squeezed his hammer so tightly his knuckles were going white. He’d heard of them before, but he’d never expected to see one.
The Quetzalcoatl lady raised her hand. “You’re looking for friends?” Her accent contained a heavy lisp.
“…Yes.” Nedjem said with severe hesitation.
Around them, the light faded, and then suddenly the room seemed to brighten. “Misha! The nice men want to see you!”
“Nedjem!” Iah cried out as Nedjem and Aeron appeared before them in a shower of light. The Elf looked to his companion before a stone golem leapt onto his back.
“Well done, Lulu.” Misha smiled sweetly. “The gang’s all here~”