Dragon Fire: Episode 14

“Is this the place?” Degan asked.

After Aric helped Degan escape from the graveyard dead, the two had met at the edge of town and found The Alehouse, a tavern Balemoss was said to frequent.

“Yes,” Aric said as he stood opposite the tavern considering his plan.

“Will they resist?” Degan asked.
Aric looked at Degan, surprised by his foolish question, but simply answered,

“Yes.”

“I will try to control any who rise, but be warned. I cannot hold them for long. If you must question one of the living, you must tell me first,” Degan explained.

“Why?” Aric asked.

“Because the dead attack quickly and without mercy. They will not rest until all assailants are overtaken,” Degan answered.

Aric nodded his head in understanding and said, “Let us begin.”

Aric and Degan approached the door to The Alehouse. Checking the knob, Aric found it unlocked. When they casually entered, they saw that the tavern was full. At each table, men sat drinking and laughing while three men stood together at the bar, each working on his drink. At the end of the bar, a heavy man flirted with a scantily clad woman, dressed appropriately for her profession. Aric noticed a quiver of arrows with black feather fletchings strapped to his back.

The scattered conversation died down to whispers as everyone turned to look at Aric standing at the door, hands on his swords covered by the edges of his cloak. Cautiously, he stepped forward toward the bar, his darting eyes watching for attack. Placing himself behind the heavy man, he turned to the innkeeper and asked,

“Where is the man Balemoss? I wish to speak with him.”

The innkeeper handed a glass of ale to one of the men and shifted a nervous eye from Aric to the heavyset man.

“Who wants to know?” he asked.

“The man he tried to have killed,” Aric replied.

The heavy man pushed away the prostitute and turned to face Aric.

“That is not possible,” he said, running his tongue over the few stained teeth he had left.  His mud brown eyes, set in a bloated sweaty face, stared hard at Aric.

“If I had tried to kill you, you would be dead, not standing.”

Aric looked Balemoss up and down and said,

“You will give me the information I seek, or you will no longer be standing.”

Balemoss looked at Aric for a moment then laughed.

“You have a sense of humor, little rabbit. I like that.”

“Rabbit?” Aric asked.

“Yes. I have seen you hopping from rooftop to rooftop, always running, always jumping, like a little rabbit.”

Aric hesitated then said,

“I would return the insult, but there is no challenge in it, like kicking an injured man.”

Balemoss glowered and ordered,

“Kill him.”

While some men in the tavern drew their knives, others drew crossbows with black fletched arrows. Just as the innkeeper dropped under the bar, Degan held up his hand shouting,

“Please. No more dying tonight; spare him.”

Balemoss looked from Aric to Degan and with a shrug said,

“All right. Kill him first,” motioning with his head toward Degan.

One of the archers turned and fired an arrow at Degan who closed his eyes and whispered something into the air. The wind picked up, and the arrow stopped just inches from his face. He opened his eyes, now all black, and continued whispering as the arrow turned around to face its bowman. It fired back, striking the startled man in the chest.

Aric drew his swords and leapt at the nearest table, pushing it over onto two startled men, then parried both men’s attack, slashing one in the stomach then spinning around to stab the other.

The arrow still in his chest, the archer, dead on the floor, rose and stumbled towards the nearest armed man. He reached out, grabbing the man’s chin and twisting his neck completely around until there was a faint popping sound. The man fell dead as the archer pulled knives from his belt and threw them at two men standing opposite him.

Aric turned to Balemoss, knowing his time was running out, and grabbed his collar. He pressed a sword to his throat.

“They do not listen to me, and they attack without mercy. Speak quickly. Who ordered the attack on my life?”

Balemoss tried to speak but could only blubber. The tavern, now filled with the dead, was quiet as they all advanced towards Balemoss.

“Degan!” Aric shouted. “I need him alive!”

“Hold!” Degan commanded.

“Speak quickly,” Aric warned Balemoss yet again. “Nothing will stop them from opening you up like a stuck pig at festival.”

Balemoss stopped blubbering long enough to say,

“Eruheran’s Grove.”

Aric knew this place. It was not far outside Ethion. He had been there once long ago.

“There is. . .an estate. . .,” Balemoss screeched, covering his eyes as the dead took another step forward.

“Aric!” Degan yelled. “I cannot hold them much longer.”

“Tell me, fat man,” Aric growled.

“The order was sent from there,” Balemoss managed to say.

“Who sent it?” Aric pressed.

One of the dead men suddenly threw a knife.

“No!” Degan yelled too late.

The knife stuck in Balemoss’s forehead, and his brown eyes went slack as his body fell limp.

“Innkeeper, they do not know friend from foe. Stay down and do not raise any weapons,” Aric said, a touch of disappointment in his voice.

The dead, seeing no further threat, stood at ease.

“I am sorry, Aric,” Degan said.

“We have a place to begin. I know of Eruheran’s Grove, but I have never seen an estate out there,” Aric replied.

As Aric and Degan left The Alehouse, they were followed by nine dead men and one recently deceased obese man, trudging along behind with a knife in his forehead.

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Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

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