Dragon Fire: Episode 52

While the two trolls argued over what had happened to the missing guards, Atol lifted their keys and slipped inside the cellars, letting the door close quietly behind him.

At once, the stench of mildew and wood rot assaulted his nostrils as Atol clung tightly to the boards that formed the ceiling. A scattering of burning torches on the damp rock walls gave him the shadows he needed to hide his ink black skin as he pressed his body against the ceiling and crept through the chamber into a long dark hallway.

After pausing to listen and watch for any signs of movement, he slowly continued across the ceiling. Up ahead, the hallway went to the right. Atol turned the corner and came to a door on the left. He passed it, following the hallway until it turned again and ended an iron gate barring passage to stairs leading down.

“I need to go down those stairs,” Atol told himself as he reached for the gate.

Discovering that it was locked, he began to search for a way around it. But when he heard the creak of a door and voices, he quickly moved to a dark corner and pressed himself against the ceiling.

“I know I heard the gate move,” a man’s voice said as he approached.

“Revor, you imagine things,” a second voice criticized.

“Perhaps, Ordell, but I must check nonetheless,” Revor answered. “Do you not remember that the undead are beneath us along with a multitude of snakes?”

“Do not worry. They are under orders to stay where they are. Even when they pass by, we are not to be harmed,” Ordell assured him.

Revor walked up to the gate and tried the lock. When he found it secure, he looked down the stairs and grumbled,

“I hate this place.”

Turning, he discovered that the other guard had disappeared.

Quickly hurrying after him, Revor shouted,

“Ordell, I told you not to leave me alone!”

As Revor hurried back through the door, Atol followed, quickly crawling over the doorframe and into the poorly lit room.

Along one wall hung weapon racks of spears, axes, and swords. Three cots rested against the opposite wall and a rough-hewn table full of food was at the room’s center with ale barrels close at hand.

Revor and Ordell stood arguing in the corner farthest from the door while a fleshy third guard snored, mumbling in his sleep.

“Why must we be trapped in such a horrible place?” Revor asked. “Outside, trolls and the undead. Down in the crypts, the undead roam the halls, the floors covered with snakes, and in the middle, I endure your company and that of the sleeping full one on his bed.”

“We are here because Master ordered us here. We must do as he says. I have no wish to anger him. Remember what he did to Sim when she asked to see her child,” Ordell pointed out.

“Ashnut is not upset about being here,” Ordell said, motioning to the sleeping guard.

“That is because he guards the key. I would sleep well if I had the key buried under a mound of flesh!” Revor barked.

Exasperated, Ordell turned his back to Revor. Seeing an opportunity to attack, Atol quickly reached down from the ceiling with his foot and seized Revor around the neck, lifting him into the air. With his left hand, he grabbed Revor by the throat and slammed his head in the ceiling, dropping the unconscious body to the floor. Before Ordell could turn around, Atol had fled back into the shadows of the ceiling corner.

“Peace, Revor. The changing of the guards comes at first light, ” Ordell said turning around.

When he spotted the unconscious Revor, he panicked and pulled his sword from its sheath.

“Who goes there?” Ordell yelled.

Atol moved around behind the guard and reached down with his tail, lifting Ordell’s half empty mug.

When Ordell glanced up toward the ceiling and saw Atol, Atol threw the remaining ale into his eyes then struck him across the head as he wiped his face.

With Ordell and Revor unconscious, Atol needed only to get the key, a key that was buried under rolls of sweaty fat.

Atol had no wish to touch or come near the sleeping guard. If he would turn over, perhaps the key would be more accessible. Atol tapped him a few times with no success. Then he struck him, but Ashnut only waved at the strike as though driving away a gnat.

Frustrated, Atol took a breath and thought for a moment.

“I am sorry,” Atol told the sleeping man before making his way over to the table and returning with one of the lamps. He held the lamp over Ashnut and poured the thick oil across the folds of his belly. Then launching up to the ceiling, he retrieved a torch.

When Atol lit the oil, Ashnut awoke and sprang to his feet, frantically slapping himself to extinguish the flames. With Ashnut busy saving himself, Atol quickly grabbed the gate key from the cot where it had fallen and leapt to the ceiling. Ashnut was too busy to notice the door open and close as Atol left the room. Dropping to the floor just in front of the gate, Atol slipped the key in the lock and opened it. Latching the key to his waist, he pushed open the gate and started the slow descent into the crypt.

Published in: on August 17, 2014 at 6:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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