Blessed with a Quest
Chapter Ten, Part One
When a Wizard in Black and Red knocks at the door, Melias welcomes him in.
“Are you Melias?” The Wizard asks. “I am to transport you and whoever you wish, to wherever it is you need to go. If you ever see me again, I will not remember you or this occasion or where we go. I have been given a potion that will wipe these next five minutes from my memory. No one will know where you went and I will not even remember taking you. We must leave now. I will have to take two trips for this amount of people, but that is fine, if we hurry. I have my own two Teleports and two Teleport Without Error scrolls, so we should be safe. Oh, and I was told to give this to someone named Orjulun.” He hands a scroll tube full of scrolls to Melias.
“But, we still don’t know about Lil,” Red pleads to Melias. “We can’t leave without knowing she is safe.”
“There is nothing we can do about that. We must hurry, Red, my dear,” Rastorn comments, without taking his eyes off the scroll tubes. “I prefer to go with the first group. SeLiem, why don’t you travel with me?”
“I shall go with the last group; use the regular Teleport for us,” Percy says, as he steps to the side. He inspects SeLiem from head to foot and asks, “SeLiem, when did you get such nice armor? It is truly grand craftsmanship.”
“Oh, yes, my temple held a ceremony and gave me magical treasures to use during future adventures. They seem to think we are going to be in a great deal of danger,” SeLiem answers.
Melias waves off Red as he leans in to whisper into the black and red robed Wizard’s ear. “We are to go to the end of the Eastern Tradeway, the eastern shore north of Dumas.” Holding his finger to his lips to demand silence from the Wizard, he turns his attention to his comrades. “Before we go, one person must be left behind. I need a volunteer. Someone who is good at investigations and solving mysteries.” He looks at each person in turn, commenting “This portion of the mission is perhaps more important to some of us than the mission of those of us who are leaving. It can’t be Orjulun, Claire, or myself. Our time spent here is dangerous with doom looming over our heads. Red, Rastorn, Percy, SeLiem – it must be one of you. And I cannot say if you will ever see us again after this point in time. Hopefully so . . . but one cannot be certain.”
SeLiem taps his breastplate. “I will go. My services will be useful to you. Perhaps my new items will give us an advantage.”
Percy says, “I was told by my church that I would be part of the noble quest to save those falsely accused who we have pledged to seek. I believe I was meant to go.”
Percy, Melias, and Arturus look at Rastorn.
“Of course I am going. I am the one who first found the wanted poster and broached the idea. I was certainly meant to see this through to the end.”
“There is no time for arguments. The quest aye was charged with was to ‘build bridges between Dwarves and other races’. There is no better place to do that then in this city. ‘Tis the center of the Human world!” Red says. “And . . . my heart tells me something happened to mae friend, Lil. Aye just have to stay.” She puffs her chest out and holds her new axe up to the others as a salute to them, then hands her old magical axe to Percy. Ye will need this more than aye, Percy. Just remember where ye found it, eh?” She snatches the pile of room keys and leaves. As the door closes, the party can hear her say, “Soon.”
The black and red Mage speaks more rapidly than before, saying, “Weight allowance has predestined the coupling for this journey. With their bulk and heavy armor, the blond man with the big sword and the Priest of Kubri must go together. The risk is just as great with the scrolls, so it matters not which Teleport is cast first. I am just as likely to err when reciting from a scroll as I am to Teleport us into solid rock with my own Teleport. Presently, I shall take the two of you with my own spell, then return posthaste for the remainder of your company.”
Percy frowns and stares at the door, as he is whisked away.
In the time it takes Percy to light a lantern, the rest of the party joins him and the Wizard who Teleported them has wished them luck and left. They stand on a road near a beach with an ocean to the east. To the far south are the lights and sounds of a city, and to the west is a forest.
Claire and Percy do not recognize their location, but everyone else does.
“What treachery is this, Elf? We are back in Dumas!” Rastorn exclaims.
They had returned to where their journey had begun.
“Well, isn’t this great. I was hoping never to see this place again,” Arturus says glancing around, before turning toward Rastorn. “Oh shut up you old fool. There’s no treachery going on. I’m sure there’s a good reason why we’re here.” Looking to Melias he says, “Alright brother, why are we here?”
Rastorn chuckles, “‘Brother’.”
“No treachery – necessity. We are following the very path of the ‘special’ ones. Come low tide, we should be able to gain entrance to Taber’s Keep,” Melias tells Rastorn.
Orjulun grabs a hold of Melias. “Melias, why are we here?” he asks in a low voice. “Do you not realize that this is the point of power for those chasing me? If they locate me here, we are all dead. Surely you don’t mean to enter the city?”
Melias lays a hand on Orjulun’s shoulder and says, “Look, this is the last place they’d expect you to be, right? We should be safe.”
“Which way, Melias?” Percy calmly asks.
One hundred yards to the north is the end of the beach and the start of The Rocky Shore, the mountainous region which stretches north clear to the snowy northern tip of the continent. There is no known access to land from the ocean for the entire length of The Rocky Shore.
Melias signals north and the group sets out.
Orjulun exhales loudly, but keeps glancing over his shoulder toward Dumas as they travel.
They soon spot a medium-sized ship smashed upon the southern end of The Rocky Shore. Portions of the ship are still very much intact, but she has been split almost in two. Those with night vision, can tell the crash was very recent. If those in Dumas had heard anything, they hadn’t responded.
Just to the west of that site, Melias spots a section of rock where the water had driven into shore hundreds of years earlier and created a massive trough which runs east to west before them. At the end of the trough, massive faces had been carved into the rock. The tide splashes against the carvings and, after a slight delay, water caught in the indentions of the carvings splashes back into the trough.
“I know it may not be part of our quest, but we must search that wreckage for survivors!” Percy yells, as he runs toward the remains of the ship.
Arturus rolls his eyes, then follows Percy. “Percy, Wait! This could be an ambush. At least proceed with caution.” Arturus draws his new sword and examines it for a moment. Then, he also draws his old longsword.
Orjulun draws a piece of dry, withered carrot from his component pouch. Touching the dried carrot to his eyes, he recites an incantation to give him temporary infravision.
“Percy, be careful,” Melias shouts, “with that heavy armor, you’re likely to sink to the bottom!” When he reaches him, he hands the end of his rope to Percy. “I can’t swim, but I’ll help pull anyone you find back onto dry land.”
Claire remains on the road, composing a verse about Percy’s foolishness. When she realizes everyone has followed after him, she also runs toward the ship. “Maybe I could help?” she shouts.
The ship had sailed over top of the southern section of the natural wall which made up one side of the channel and balances on top of the rocks. The crash split two thirds of the bilge in half and the deck is collapsing to the port and stern.
A wave strikes the ship causing a thunderous creak. Claire shrieks and stops running toward it.
“I don’t see any survivors from here! We need to get up there!” Percy shouts over the creaking of the ship and crashing of the waves. He ties the rope around his waist and climbs over the rock wall and through the wreckage. After hooking his lantern onto a large splinter of wood, he pulls himself up to a port hole. “I hear moans!” he shouts. He continues his climb, seemingly unhindered by the mass of armor he wears. Soon, he is balancing on top of a rail and attempting to peer into the darkness. Water splashes up through crevices in the ship hull and douses his lantern. The ship rocks and he falls toward the splintered deck.
Melias holds tight to the rope as he is yanked toward the ship when Percy falls. He lifts his legs horizontal to his shoulders and lands on the side of the hull feet first, clinging like a fly. Percy’s weight is too great and he is pulled up the side of the hull toward the railing.
Arturus drops both his swords and grabs the rope as it swings below Melias. He looks up and shouts, “On three – pull! One . . . two . . . three!”
With Arturus’ help, Melias is able to stop himself from getting pulled over the railing. He looks down at Arturus , then the rope goes slack and he falls to the beach, again landing on his feet. They look up at the rope still hanging over the rail, then the end still within reach. A very large pulley falls from the ship. Melias dives away, to avoid being hit by it.
Rastorn stops digging through his belongings and holds still for a moment. “Why hasn’t he said anything? Do you think the fool fell right through to the ocean below?”
Over the din of the ocean, the group hears from Percy, but it is not what they expected from the fearless Fighter.
“That was too late to be from the fall!” SeLiem, who is lighting a lantern so Rastorn can see, says.
The rope slowly starts to rise.
Arturus races to his swords and slides them into their sheaths as he runs back toward the rope.
“Grab the rope! It must have been cut and now he is trying to pull himself back out!” Rastorn yells, as he runs closer to the rope. “The sooner we get him out, the sooner we can . . . help me with this!” He grabs the end of the rope a moment before it is out of reach and pulls as hard as he can.
Hearing Percy’s scream prompts Orjulun into action. He stops guarding against ambush and pulls the Wand of Fire.
Melias and Arturus leap for Rastorn’s ankles and come up short, as he is swiftly pulled up toward the railing. He let’s go of the rope when he breaks through the railing at the top. They look up and see his still form slouched over the deck.
Arturus follows what Percy had done and uses his height and strength to move from the natural rock wall to various punctures he uses as hand-holds on the slippery ship. He smiles at the quick progress he’s made, until he sees Melias has already overtaken him and is at the railing.
Orjulun puts his wand back in his pocket and casts Rope Trick as near the ship’s side as he can. “We can use this rope to ascend the side of the boat, or use it for a quick escape,” he tells the others. “It should last about an hour.”
SeLiem hoists himself up Orjulun’s magical rope, which dangles from the air with no visible means of support. Orjulun climbs after.
Melias peered into the darkness, squinting and demanding what he could from his superior Elven eyesight.
Rastorn slowly pulls himself to his feet and looks around, mostly toward the beach. He is leaning heavily on the section of rail that was not broken, seems dazed, and is in near total darkness. To his left, a bloody Percy slithers under the rail and slides down the side of the ship past Melias, bouncing off a jutting rock, before landing hard on the wet sand in front of Orjulun.
As soon as he reaches the top, Melias checks on Rastorn and is shocked the frail Wizard survived smashing through the thick wooden railing. Peering down through the cracked open deck where Percy must have originally fallen, Melias sees no movement. Debris floats below and waves wash over and through the wreckage of the ship. Melias steps out onto a sturdy plank that bridges the gap for a better view. Through a hole in the deck, he sees what looks to be a sailor waving at him. The man is almost completely submerged. The ship shifts. Melias holds his arms out to the sides and retains his balance.
Melias spots a large treasure chest sitting on the far edge of the deck, stuck partway through a break in the opposite railing, just as a hand clasps his shoulder. Startled, Melias turns to see Arturus making his way beside him on the plank.
The ship is mangled, with large sections tilted down and others tilted up, and some filled with water. Maneuvering through the wreckage would be dangerous, but there was treasure, whatever attacked Percy, and a dying sailor to be considered.
Melias calls out to the others, pointing the associated direction as he speaks. “There’s Percy, he’s having a bit of trouble! There’s a sailor – looks like he’s drowning! Treasure chest over there! I’m going to try to save that sailor!”
If time suffices, Melias will consider the treasure, but life is more valuable than coinage. This is why Melias left his home in The Nation, after all. The pressures of his family, where greed ruled with careless abandon for the life of the innocent.
Claire walks slowly toward the ship.
Melias shuffles on the edge of the ship to a point where he is above what is left of the mast and works himself over the rail to slide down to the mast. From there, he thinks he should be better able to reach the drowning sailor without killing himself.
Arturus shouts down to SeLiem, “Help Percy! The two of you should be able to lift him and you can at least stabilize him if need be!”
SeLiem tells Orjulun, “I’ll go.” and repels back down to the ground to drag Percy away from the ship.
As she closes in on the ship, Claire’s pace increases until she is at a full sprint. She times her movement with the swaying of the ship so she can leap onto it when it is tipping away from her. Running and climbing, she ascends the side of the ship faster than anyone had, except Melias.
Arturus leaps down to a large portion of the deck and navigates the wreckage toward Melias.
The surface is slanted in most places, wet, and shifting. Melias, however, bounces along the surface of the ship like he is bounding through the forest. Gripping a taut ship rope connected to the tangled rigging, he leans in over the sailor and grips the man’s outstretched hand. The sailor’s hand is cold and does not close around Melias’. Pulling steady, Melias raises the sailor’s hip above the surface and sees there is nothing remaining of the man’s lower half. He lets go.
The ship continues rocking and breaking away in places, but Melias is now a short climb from the chest. He still does not see Percy’s assailant, if one exists, but it is difficult to see through all the water spray and difficult to hear over the roar of the ocean. He wipes the water from his eyes and focuses on the chest.
A curing prayer from SeLiem takes effect and Percy stirs and shakes himself awake. Although his injuries would be considered terminal to a less-hardy Warrior, he bolts upright and grabs SeLiem’s shoulders. Wide eyed, he yells at SeLiem saying, “There were more, many more! They had hundreds of razor sharp teeth and their clawed hands were strong – stronger than me! They swarmed me in the darkness! Don’t go in there! They nearly tore me apart!”
SeLiem slaps Percy on the cheek and shouts, “Calm down!”
Rastorn takes a chance and casts while standing atop the shifting ship. He purposely casts a spell with the shortest of casting times and is fortunate enough to complete the spell before the next wave jostles him. The wave would have upset the perfection of the intricate hand motions needed to invoke a more lengthy spell. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose my footing and fall into those churning waters!” he shouts, although no one can make out all of his words over all the noise. He runs along the railing toward the ocean, in an effort to circle to the other side of the ship. Using the rail as a guide, he runs past Claire as she reaches the deck, almost bumping into her in the darkness. He dodges at the last moment, revealing himself as more sure-footed than even Melias, due to his Spider Climb spell.
Orjulun continues up his rope and is able to easily swing over to the edge of the ship, near where Rastorn broke the rail. He can see most of the ship from that vantage. He can see Arturus slowly making his way to Melias, Melias climbing toward the chest, Rastorn running along the slippery ship as if he were running along a trail, Claire drawing her long sword and looking for a safe path to the Elves, and Percy on the ground being tended to by SeLiem. As he looks for survivors or a way down to assist the Elves, he spots four hulking creatures slowly emerging from cracks in the ship all around Arturus and two more pulling themselves over the far rail, readying themselves for an ambush on Melias. The monsters are all close to ten feet tall, with claws larger than a man’s torso, and maws that look like they could close over a treasure chest. They are scaled and have webbed claws, but resemble Trolls. The Elves are so focused on safely moving through the dangerous deck that they don’t notice the monsters closing in on them. He slips, falls on his back, and struggles for breath.
Oblivious to the danger, Melias shouts, “The man was dead, but toss me a rope and I’ll secure the chest!” He draws his sword to add some light so he can better see through the sea spray. Looking back toward the chest, the dim glow of his sword reflects off two sets of needle-like teeth. Two of the Troll-like creatures are silently climbing over the railing in front of him. He looks back over his shoulder, to ask for help, and sees four more of the green, pot-bellied monsters creeping toward Arturus.
Gripping tight to a railing, his legs pumping but his feet not gaining traction to stand, Orjulun yells as loudly as he can manage, “Melias! Arturus! Prepare yourselves for attacks!” He loops his arm around a railing spindle and casts Magic Missile, targeting the monster closest to Melias.
Arturus leans against wreckage to steady himself and draws a sword.
“Cripe, things just keep looking better . . . ” Melias says, as he places his back against the closest wreckage – not to steady himself, but to guard against attack from behind. “Percy! You’d better get me out of this!” he calls.
As Percy struggles to his feet, SeLiem steps toward the ship, straining to hear what is being said. When he turns around to check on Percy, he is back on one knee. SeLiem runs to him and pulls him up, shouting, “The others must be in trouble! Climb up the rope first and we will help them! We can still defeat these things you speak of! Come on, up the rope!” He shoves Percy towards the rope.
Through the haze of pain, Percy can’t understand what SeLiem is saying, but once he is within reach of Orjulun’s rope, he climbs it. “For Homeland! For The Nation!” he bellows. “Come, SeLiem! Let’s kill some big mouth sea monsters!”
Blindly leaping into the darkness off the side of the ship, Rastorn lands on his hands and feet on the far cliff side. Upon landing, he crawls the sheer cliff like a spider! Locating a natural platform he stands and readies another spell, although he cannot make out his targets in the darkness.
Swinging one-handed at the nearest monster, Arturus finds their scales work as heavy armor. His sword harmlessly bounces off the beast’s chest.
Slipping and sliding down the slanted deck, Claire alters her trajectory and aims for one of the monsters closing in on Arturus. Leading with her sword, she abruptly stops when she smashes into its back, sinking her sword through the tough scales.
Melias bobbles his sword in his slippery grip. Squatting, as it tumbles from his hand, he spins the hilt around his wrist then catches the pummel in his palm. Gaining a reverse hold on the grip with his other hand, he slashes behind him. He misses, but the monster is forced back a step.
Unable to reach far enough to hook the railing with his heel, Percy kicks it and swings back. Using the created moment, he throws himself over the railing. Landing on his buttocks, he slides down the twisted remains of the deck. He lands on his feet in a deep squat and comes up tossing the scabbard off his two-handed sword with a chopping motion. “Let’s see how you do when you can’t ambush me like cowards, you seaweed-covered carrion-eaters!”
Clouds which had hidden the full moon drift away, exposing the scene below for Rastorn. “Ha, ha, ha! Now you’ll see the power a true magician holds!” he shouts, then unleashes a Lightning Bolt. The blast shoots down from his outstretched hand to the pool of knee high water in which two of the creatures attacking Arturus stand. The pooled water lights up and one of the creatures shrieks and convulses. The other is jolted out of the pool and lands smoking many yards away. Smiling, Rastorn shakes his fists at his sides, then prepares another spell, as the two injured monsters shake their heads and rub their eyes.
“I think there’s something defective about this sword you gave me, Arturus. I can’t seem to hit a thing!” Melias says. He would have applauded Rastorn for his electric display, were he not too busy keeping his head from being separated from his shoulders. “If these things live in the water, why do they smell so bad?” He starts to laugh, but cuts it short as he side-steps a claw attack.
Arturus continues to swing his sword, as he races backwards around the wreckage. Large chunks and small splinters of wood explode from the rigging with each swipe of the monster’s claws. A claw attack breaks through his defenses and Arturus is lifted to the monster’s eager maw. The bite feels like a bear trap made of a bed of nails has snapped onto him.
Melias and Claire are fast and agile, but they cannot always avoid the relentless claws.
In the dim light, Percy swings wide of his opponent, but keeps it at bay.
The monster in the pool rises and Rastorn blasts it with Magic Missiles, killing it.
A large portion of the ship drops away and the whole thing buckles causing the portion where the battle is raging to rise in an even more sharp angle. The chest rattles free of the rail and slides slowly down the slanted deck.
Continued next week!
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