Greetings, dear blog reader! It's the weekend, albeit near the end of that, so it's time again for a Story a Week! This week's story is a continuation from the stories from a couple of weeks ago.
Please read on and if you like it, tell your friends! If you feel like it, leave a comment.
Cuddlington stood up after looting the minotaur's possessions. He turned to the sorcerer and asked, "Melbrid, ye figger that wand out, yet?"
The young half-elf nodded uncertainly. "I think so," he said, "I've never seen anything like this wand before. It's some kind of teleportation wand, but it doesn't use the traditional teleport spell. It's pretty unique."
The dwarf shrugged back at him. "So? Can ye activate the blasted thing?"
Melbrid nodded back and Cuddlington turned to where Rixi and Meentha were standing. Cuddlington had noticed that Rixi wasn't friendly at their first meeting, but he was glad that the rogue was becoming fast friends with the pantheron ranger. "Lasses, ye all ready to move on?"
They both nodded, so Cuddlington waved them over to where he and Melbrid were standing. When the four of them were all standing together, the dwarf nodded to Melbrid. The sorcerer mumbled some mystical words and waved the wand over their heads. Cuddlington closed his eyes.
When he opened them, he was immediately confused. He found himself standing in the market of his birthplace, the great dwarven city of Goldendelve. He looked around for his friends, but they were nowhere to be found. He did spot a familiar face, however.
"Ah, there ye are," the other dwarf said as he approached where Cuddlington was standing, perplexed.
"Pultin? But...you died five years ago..."
Pultin Hammerfast stopped short, stunned. Suddenly, he burst into laughter. "Yer sense o' humor hasn't improved in all the time I've known ye, Cuddles."
Cuddlington ignored the jibe and looked around the marketplace. Pultin wasn't the only thing out of place. The market looked old, too. Cuddlington left Goldendelve two years ago, but he still remembered how it looked when he left and this wasn't it. Cuddlington looked back at Pultin. His cousin seemed eager and impatient for some reason.
Cuddlington then noticed how he was dressed. He was wearing an exploring outfit with light chain mail and was carrying a pick with several weapons strapped to his belt and back. He glanced down to himself and noticed that he was similarly outfitted. 'Oh, no,' he thought, 'today is the day that Pultin dies.'
He looked back at Pultin with apprehension. Pultin looked back with confusion on his face, "What's wrong? Yesterday ye were excited t' go on this expedition to try and find a new vein o' mithril."
Cuddlington shook his head, "No, we should go another day."
Pultin started getting angry. He said, "We been planning this for months! We finally talked the Guards into allowing us out for the day." Pultin studied Cuddlington. "What's yer problem?"
Cuddlington figured that he couldn't tell Pultin the truth. Hell, he wasn't sure what the truth was, yet. He wasn't exactly sure what was going on. "I just don't feel right about this."
Now Pultin was truly angry. "Nonsense! We're going and that's final!" He put his hands on Cuddlington and turned him around, then pushed him forward. "Walk," he ordered.
Cuddlington grudgingly obeyed. Suddenly hope surged within. 'Since I know what's coming, maybe I can change things,' he thought to himself.
The two dwarves made their way to the south gate. Pultin spoke to the guard there and slipped him a small pouch. The guard nodded and waved them through. The two dwarves walked through the small door and out into the first antechamber outside of the gate. They crossed the long bridge that spanned a carved out gorge. Cuddlington looked down and saw the spikes below them. He knew that the bridge was rigged to collapse if an enemy happened to make it past the first ring of defenses. They approached the opposite side and Cuddlington saw the soldiers manning their positions on the wall in front of them. They were facing a dozen or so arrow slits that opened into the tunnel beyond.
As Cuddlington and Pultin approached the wall, the captain of the wall guard shouted, "Open the gate, two friendlies exiting!" The gate slowly began to rise. The captain came over to them smiling. "The two of ye are crazy for goin' out there," he said, "but I must admit that I'm more than a little jealous. Sounds like a smashing adventure to me."
Pultin slapped Cuddlington on the shoulder. "Ye see, even Regin wants to join us," he said.
Regin smiled again and waved the two of them through. "Ye all know the passwords fer when ye return?" he asked.
Pultin and Cuddlington nodded and walked through the doorway. Cuddlington noted more subtle traps and defenses as they made their way through the hundred yard long tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was another small door. The two cousins walked through and out into the openness of the vast underground world known as the Great Underneath. Cuddlington knew that two dwarven scouts were stationed outside of the entrance tunnel, but he couldn't see them.
Pultin started heading east, but Cuddlington hesitated. Pultin sighed as he stopped and turned to him. "What is it now?" he demanded.
"Maybe we should go west instead?" Cuddlington suggested.
Pultin shook his head. "Ye heard the gnome trader that came through here a coupla months ago yerself. He told us about the vein and where to find it."
Cuddlington sighed too and nodded sullenly. "Yes, I remember. He even had a sample that he took from the vein."
"Pure mithril," Pultin said with wonder in his voice. "And so close to our city! It's a wonder that no one ever discovered it before."
Cuddlington nodded himself, but he knew the real reason already. He looked around nervously as the two of them headed east. Pultin noticed his nervousness and said, "Don't look so nervous, Cuddles. We're close to the city. Not much to be afraid of this close."
"Nonsense," Cuddlington retorted. "The Great Underneath is full of danger. Drow, Illithid, Aboleth, Hook Horrors, Duergar, just to name a few."
"Yes, but none o' those creatures dare lurk anywhere near Goldendelve," Pultin said.
Cuddlington sighed again and followed his cousin further into the Great Underneath. The two of them walked in silence for a few more minutes when Pultin stopped. He was looking around and Cuddlington remembered what happened last time. Pultin was lost. Here was Cuddlington's chance to change the way events had unfolded five years ago.
"I think that we should go right," Cuddlington said with as much confidence he could muster.
Pultin glanced in that direction, but shook his head. "I think that it's left," he said.
Cuddlington glanced left with apprehension. "Let's try right first," Cuddlington said, "We'll go for a little while and if ye still feel that it's the wrong way still we can turn around."
Pultin glanced back at Cuddlington and shrugged. "Sure," he said, "I've been known t' be wrong before."
Cuddlington smiled inwardly as he and Pultin headed right. The two of them walked in silence for fifteen minutes before Pultin stopped and shook his head. "I'm not feelin' it," Pultin said. "This ain't the right way."
Cuddlington shook his head and said, "I'm sorry, Pultin. I woulda sworn it were the right way."
Pultin shrugged it off. "No harm done," he said.
'I hope harm avoided, in fact,' Cuddlington thought to himself.
The two of them headed back the way they came and soon passed the intersection. 'I hope that a half an hour was enough delay,' Cuddlington thought to himself.
They continued on and Pultin started nodding. "Yep, we've passed a couple o' landmarks that the gnome described. Just a few minutes now and we'll be there."
Cuddlington nodded and looked about alertly. A moment later he stopped suddenly. Pultin stopped and looked questioningly back at Cuddlington. He motioned for Pultin to be quiet.
Suddenly the world went black. "Drow!" Cuddlington and Pultin yelled at the same time. Cuddlington instinctively ducked and was thankful for that as he heard a crossbow bolt whiz by. Cuddlington stayed down and pulled a small stone out of his pouch. He also grabbed a short sword from its scabbard. Steadying himself, he took a deep breath and rolled forward out of the sphere of blackness. He heard the drow in front of him jump back and smiled as he closed his eyes and dropped the stone. He heard the drow gasp in pain as the bright light from the stone blinded him. Cuddlington stabbed out and grinned as he felt the sword sink into the dark elf's flesh.
Cuddlington carefully opened his eyes and saw the drow glaring at him with his last breath, mumbling curses in their evil language. For the first time since the short battle started, Cuddlington paid enough attention to hear how Pultin was doing. He looked back, but his friend was also inside of one of the spheres of absolute darkness that the drow were able to summon at will. Cuddlington couldn't tell how the battle was going, but he didn't dare enter the fray blind.
Suddenly, he had an idea and a smile spread over his face. He dropped the pack on his back and took a few steps back. He grinned again as he charged headlong into the darkness. He spread his hands and first felt one body run into his, then another. He pushed both combatants out of the sphere's other side. It was still very dark, but at least his infravision was kicking in.
The drow kicked Cuddlington in the chest as he pushed away from the two dwarves. The breath was forced out of Cuddlington. Pultin stumbled back, but stayed on his feet and growled at the drow. The drow smiled wickedly at the two dwarves, very confident and sure that even though he was outnumbered, he would be victorious. He pulled out two wicked looking sabers.
Cuddlington stood and grabbed the axe off of his back. He saw Pultin holding a similar weapon. The drow said, in dwarven, "I don't have to kill you two, you know. You can still come back as slaves."
Cuddlington and Pultin growled back and charged the drow. The drow deftly parried their blows and counter attacked. The dwarves relentlessly attacked the drow, who seemed to be easily deflecting their blows in a whirlwind of blades. This went on for a few minutes when suddenly the drow kicked out. The blow struck Cuddlington on the chin and he fell back.
Cuddlington watched in horror as the drow quickly turned his full attention on Pultin. He quickly disarmed the dwarf and quickly sliced two gouges across Pultin's neck. Cuddlington quickly drew the small warhammer from his belt and chucked it at the drow from a sitting position. The drow apparently thought that Cuddlington was out of the fight as he didn't even hear the hammer whirling through the air. The hammer struck the drow squarely on the back of the head and the drow fell over the body of Pultin.
Cuddlington quickly crawled over to where the two bodies were. He roughly pushed the drow off of Pultin and heard the elf groan. Cuddlington drew one of the elf's own daggers and stabbed it into the drow's neck. He turned and checked on Pultin.
His cousin was still alive and breathing haggardly. He looked at Cuddlington and weakly groaned, "Never even saw the mithril."
Cuddlington sobbed and said, "It's there, Pultin. It's there." Cuddlington knew that it was there because the last time this happened the dwarves had been busy digging samples of the mithril out when the drow ambushed them.
Pultin smiled weakly at Cuddlington. "At least ye can make the claim..." Pultin's eyes closed as he finished saying his last words.
Cuddlington closed his eyes and began weeping. Last time this happened, he did make the claim and quickly sold it off and left Goldendelve a few months later.
Cuddlington opened his eyes and was startled to see the wizard Yif standing in front of him.