Rai Spent the night Flicking through a few old books he found amongst the bookshelves, flicking through thick new paper as Crash sat beside him, Carving arrows from the broken tables and shelves, watching him.
As morning drew, Rai felt renewed, as though he slept, and as the sunlight came meekly through the cloth-covered windows, he realized that the pages of the book he was holding was old and very worn.
He closed it, and looked at the cover. The book was bound by new leather, but the pages were extremely old and weathered.
Red leather, he noticed.
He asked Crash to check and see if any of the other books had an old worn cover as the rest of the party started rising from their sleep.
Fiddles walked by, sack in one hand, the goblin’s book in the other.
“Fiddles? May I see that book?” he asked.
“I was going to use it as toilet paper, so unless you want to replace it let me do my business”
“just pass me the cover at least”
he threw the leather goblin-skin cover to the ground, and sneaked off into the tunnel they came from.
Rai replaced the cover, while Akasha looked at Rai’s broken legs.
Crash handed Akasha two shelves from one of the bookshelves to use as a splinter, as Akasha changed the bandages, and added a fresh dressing, tying the splinters extremely tightly together.
“you should be able to walk, but don’t try charging at anyone for a few days at least, and next time don’t withhold information, valuable or not” smiled Akasha.
As he walked back to his bed and bag, Alexander woke up beside him, stood up and kicked the dwarf awake.
“Friends, we should continue our quest together lest it falls into evil’s grubby hands, wait, where is Fiddles?” he says, looking around.
Fiddles walks through the hidden doors, startling the drowsy dwarf who just woke up.
Yump jumps up and brandishes his axe at Fiddles.
“Calm down young companion, he is our brethren in this quest and we must get going. The sun is rising and we only have a small amount of time until the goblins wake up and start running around.”
“Young? I’m old enough to be your grandmother!”
“Sometimes I question your gender dwarf” says Fiddles as he walks past the Axe blade.
“It’s the beards” says Akasha laughing, Crash chuckling alongside him as he placed his unfinished arrows into the quiver.
“This book is the one Treona mentioned” says Rai flicking through the pages
“it says there are nine stones and they were held in the chapel, we should try there next”
After a quick pack up, Akasha helping Rai gather his backpack, they head off, Alexander spearheading the group.
As soon as they walk through the door, he feels the press of sharp steel aim for his temples.
“Oh, you’re not a goblin” whispered the stranger in a sultry female voice, point elf ears stemming from the hood.
“Put that down young woman, there are six of us and you seem to be all alone” replied the paladin, outside light reflecting off his armour into her hood.
“Do eet or I’ll break your skinny little legs lass” replied the dwarf, Rai’s chuckling heard clearly from behind.
“Young? I’m old enough to be your mother” she replied, putting the arrow back into her quiver.
Before she even finished that action Fiddles jumps on her, daggers ever ready to slide between ribs.
She steps back, her movements as sultry as her voice, and Alexander steps in front of Narr.
“Stop it fiddle, ever hear the saying ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend?”
“The enemy can be the enemy of any of my enemies, I still won’t trust them” replies the dwarf for Fiddle, voicing most of the parties doubts. They only knew each other for a day but they trusted each other more than this new stranger.
“My name is Traxex, I’m here to kill a goblin for my employer, not some people in handsome armour pretending to be some kinds of heroes.” She said, smile on her lips.
“Well then, go find your goblin, we’ll go find our chapel” said Akasha politely
The Party head into the courtyard, the morning light giving everything a rusty, warm glow. They could see the temple’s spire ahead. But they couldn’t just walk straight towards it.
Running from the cover of house to house, one by one, or two by two, fiddles leading in the front clearing out the houses silently, every few hours the party would walk into the house he just cleared and see him splattered in fresh blood, but no bodies. Either he was considerate enough to clear the bodies or he did what he did with the wolf head.
Crash’s ears kept tingling, hearing light footsteps and the creek of stretched leather, catching a glimpse of the elf following. He nodded at Akasha.
“We’re being followed by the elf, what do you think she wants?” announces Akasha.
“I’m not too sure; Yump was right, we shouldn’t drop our guard.” Says alexander as Fiddles comes back from the roof, nothing but a courtyard separating them from the temple.
“We’re nearly there” says Fiddles
“Are you ok Rai? Do you sense any magic?” asks Alexander, his leadership assorted by the fact he takes care and commands the party.
“I can’t feel anything, I’m not a full mage anymore so I’d need to be pretty close to sense it”
Crash’s eyebrow goes up questioningly.
“You were a full mage?” he asks quietly as the rest of the party planned on running to the temple.
“Long story”bhe replied, shutting up.
“Let’s wait here for an hour, till evening, there’s too many goblins to run past here, especially with an injured brethren amidst us” announced Alexander
“why don’t I slit his throat so we can move on? I could sneak into the temple easily.” Boasted Fiddle, who was met with angry glares and Alexander’s hand raised to strike.
They sneaked by slowly, the sun as red and rusty as the morning, the air eerily silent, no birds chirping here.
They navigated the rubble at the entrance, seeing inside but not being able to get in through the shut portcullis to the temple.
Crash whistles lightly from the side, he found an open side door in.
they file into the corridor, the fading light only dimly lighting it. It was short though, and they came out onto the other side just as they wanted.
But something didn’t seem right.
Akasha and Crash’s ears could hear a light rasp of material against stone echo inside the open topped temple; Yump sensed two pairs of eyes on him.
With only slight nods at each other, Yump nudged Fiddle’s leg subtly with the hilt of his axe an motioned his eyes in the direction of the statue.
Fiddle, his attention suddenly focused on the small material of black cloak just barely visible from behind the statue.
He slipped out of line of sight, while Alex nodded and proceeded forward towards the fountain in the middle. They were a distraction.
Suddenly he felt an arrow head to his temples, the second time today.
‘By Pelor, I should invest in a Helmet’ he thought as he turned to face the small man in the cloak.
He saw Fiddles emerge from the Shadow and press his own arrowhead to the back of the little man’s neck, who turned ghostly white.
“Who are you?” he asks in a Raspy voice.
“We’re Travellers sent to find a stone for…a friend” answered Alexander cautiously
“Do you know Alkirk?” he asks slyly, eyes narrowing.
“We’ve met, yes” Said Alexander, his hand on his sword, Fiddle’s finger tightening against the trigger.
“Do you’ve met the traitor, he left me to rot here when the goblins invaded, I’ve had live here for years, dodging goblins, unable to leave. Reduced to sneaking, like a rat caught in a trap”
Before anymore could be said, the patter of many small feet interrupt the silence of the serene Temple.
Goblins appear through the other side of the portcullis, the tallest one holding a silvered Dagger.
“Kill the Rat man” yells the Goblin Leader, his Eyes instantly focused on the tiny human.
He notices the rest of the party, and then repeats “Kill ALL rat mans!”
From the corridor they came from Traxex Appears, hidden from view, and shoots her bow through the bars, fellin1g a goblin with an arrow Straight into the eye.
“BLOCK THE DOOR” yells Fiddles, even though the door behind them was barred, and a portcullis was down.
Traxex runs into the party, trying to hide beside the small man and fiddle behind the pillars.
Fiddles tries to get to an vantage point by climbing on top of the statue, But his fingers slip and he falls onto the ground with an extremely loud thud.
“There’s more behind the door!” yells Crash; realizing most of the thud came from large barred doors on the other side of the temple.
Akasha’s Panther suddenly fades, becoming see-through, and charges towards the barred door, swiping blindly through the door, it’s ghostlike hand sliding into it and past the physical wood, a dying scream heard through the door.
“They have some sort of battering ram!” says Akasha sensing what his spirit Panther saw.
Hoyt, the little man, screams.
He falls and Starts convulsing on the floor, Fur suddenly growing over his face.
“So that’s why they called him a rat man” says alexander pulling his sword and charging towards the corridor to stem the scrabbling Goblin group.
Turning into a were-rat, Hoyt tries to charge at the rogue on the floor, only slightly hurting him, the rat’s paw stepping onto Fiddle’s arm. Rai steps in and distracts Hoyt, pressing his attack and backing off, pulling the mindless Giant Rat away from fiddles.
Yump leaps up and brings down his large axe on the were-rat, who reacts to the rattle of chainmail, taking a small step to the side, but the axe still struck true, cutting through the huge shaggy fur and wounding the rat. Adrenaline rushing through his veins, Yump followed up with more swings.
Yelping in pain, Hoyt tries to move out of the range of the blades.
Traxex shoots two arrows, missing both spectacularly, a huge disprovement to his first shot.
Managing to find an opening, The Were-rat runs past both warriors and jumps straight on Crash, who managed to launch one arrow into the rat’s neck, but the momentum of the charge brought him straight to the floor as the tiny claws dug into him.
Rai tries to follow, the pain in his legs searing, but fails to attract the Rat’s attention with his swords.
“Ow! The pain! My arm is crushed! Somebody help!” yells Fiddles, overreacts to his slight wounds as Crash lay bleeding heavily, arms still trying flailing and punching the rat like beast.
Akasha reaches into his bag and takes out a small spear, barely larger than a twig, wrapped in red and white Ribbons and a small purple feather.
His spirit Panther completely disappears behind the door, leaving only dying goblin screams to acknowledge his existence.
Yump throws himself against the rat, knocking it off Crash and embedding the axe against the rat’s sternum, while Akasha hurled the spear into the fountain.
Rai felt the magic emanate from the fountain, his wounds surging with warmth.
Crash’s wounds knit themselves up as an aura of warmth emanated outwards.
Yump, panting, kicked the rat with his metal boot, lurching the axe out with a gush of blood, his own blood boiling with fury and adrenaline.
Alexander struck valiantly against the goblins who just found the door to the corridor, hitting with incredible accuracy in the dim light, felling the one rushing past his leader.
On the other side of the door, the Panther splits itself in half, A ghostly Image of jagged teeth appearing only briefly as it caught two goblins in-between the spilt images, crushing two goblins together till their dying screams mingled. Sensing the fear, it advanced, intimidating the others and bringing Akasha to a smile as he tasted victory on that end.
Hoyt’s sternum stops bleeding profusely, and he stand up again, this time no trace of human qualities remaining.
Taken by Surprise, Yump is bitten by the leaping rat.
Kicking it off himself, but closer towards Crash, he ran towards it as it suddenly tried to scurry away with fear.
Whacking it’s snout against the side of his axe, he stopped it from moving as pain seared through the rat’s body.
The Goblin leader thrusts his silver dagger, it bouncing off the plates of his armour, leaving only a nick, while another goblin falls dead behind him, smite by a giant fist that appeared from just above.
With a quick prayer of thanks to his god, he swung his sword at the unbalanced goblin.
Slashing the goblin’s head right off, falling and rolling in front of his feet, Alexander could also taste the divine taste of victory.
Hearing the clash of battle still raging beyond the corridor, Alexander hurried back.
As Fiddle lay on the floor, rolling in pain and yelling, Rai’s attacks were slamming into the were rat, distracting it long enough for Yump to jump onto its back.
Yump used threw his large axe around and grabbed the other side, choking the rat as it jumped around like a Rodeo.
As Alex rushed through the door, he saw the Rat fall down unconscious, choke out of breath, while Akasha sat leaned over Crash, his hands nimbly working on bandaging Crash’s semi-conscious aching body.
Turning back into a human, Alexander recognises Hoyt’s cloak has his god’s Sigel on it, and feeling it would suite himself then a filthy non-believer rat, took it for himself, replacing his own slightly tattered cloak.
As he put it on, he feels a surge of divine power and a sudden awareness. He sees Fiddles get up with a scowl, holding his arm and approaching Hoyt with Murder in his eyes.
“it’s over” he says, stopping Fiddle from taking Hoyt’s head as another trophy as Traxex came out of the shadows with a rope in hand, tying up the Rat man.
Taking the wolf head out of his ruck sack and slipping it onto his hand, he approached the elf.
“Who are you? And why did you follow us? Did you send those goblins after us?” he interrogates using the wolf head.
“I’m here looking after Grumsick for my employer, I followed you thinking it would be safer.” She replies calmly, wincing at Fiddle’s sickening act.
“What stops us from killing you?”
“calm your Blades, we’re all friends here” commands Alexander.
“Fellas! we were spotted by goblins, some of who ran away, they’ll come back soon with reinforcements, and they know these ruins better than us, so let’s get a move on” Pants out the Dwarf
“I agree, let’s move” said Rai as he helped Crash climb onto his Large cat
The party head to leave through the barred back doors, Yump smashing through the bars with a single swing of his axe.
Traxex follows them to the door.
Rai turns around, scaring Traxex to a standstill.
“Why do you want to follow us” asks Rai, his nostrils sparking with lightning.
“I’ve been stuck in this town for two months all alone; I thought it would be nice to have company that doesn’t smell like goblin.” She replies meekly, looking down.
“Why didn’t you say so from the start?” Replies Alexander, “we can always use an extra hand looking for our stone, and if your own quest is holy enough we might even help you find your grumpyskip”
“Grumsick” she replies, giggling.
“And before you break my knees again, the stone hasn’t been here for a long time, I sense nothing” replied Rai.
“Don’t you sense Saharine’s Divine presence?” asked alexander Anthos.
“Divinity and Arcana don’t mix. I thought they taught you that” Replied Akasha walking alongside his panther and Crash’s.
Finding an abandoned house about an hour later as the sun set, they start a small fire, eating their rations slowly, wincing as the pains of battle stung them.
Wishing they had a pot and some warm stew.