Peace and Quiet

Peace and quiet, something that Karlithen wasn’t use to suddenly waved over her and she let out a sigh. All of her comrades were either asleep or soon to be in this room that she created out of solid stone with her Exodus Knife. It wasn’t every big, only about ten paces by ten paces, but it was enough room for the six of them. The magical doorway that she cut into this stone allowed then to see out but to anyone outside the wall was still rock, this meant it was a perfect place to rest without worries, and this was the cause of this sudden quiet.

A new ally, a dwarf named Bullock, sat quietly in one of the corners sharpening his axe. She had only known him for a few short hours but she was beginning to wonder about him. Where does his allegiance lay? With the dwarves? Maybe she thinks to herself but then why would he join up with them if that was the case. Is he a spy for the dwarven king? Maybe he’s here to check up on them and see what they are doing? Could be. Karlithen takes another bite of bread and eyes him, looking for any sigh that he isn’t what he says he is. He was still awake sharpening his axe but must have seen her staring at him because he stopped what he was doing and looked over at her. She just smiles a girlish smile and turns her head away. He differently can’t be trusted. I won’t forget what he did, not yet anyways…

“Now just lower him in” Karlithen tells Hordo. “Slowly, until you have reached the end of your rope”.

Hordo complies and starts to lower the dwarf into the darkness of the shaft. The dwarves body is stiff and limp from being unconscious, an act that they performed on him after he tried to escape. If he would have just answered their questions he wouldn’t have been in this mess but that was his choice, his decision.

“What are we going to do once he’s lower?” Hordo asks.

“We’ll swing him against the side of the wall to wake him up and then allow him to grab the side of the wall.” Karlithen answers.

“Then”

“Then we let the rope go, it will take him some time to climb out and that will give us enough time to get to the temple and get what we have come for before he can alert anyone to our presence.” Karlithen answers.

“Where are the others?” Karlithen asks.

“Scouting the area and checking the other bodies for supplies.” Hordo replies.

Karlithen peaks down into the darkness of the shaft but can’t see anything beyond the blackness. She wonders to herself if this plan will work at all but she thinks its better then the alternative of just letting the assassin kill him. At least this way the dwarf has a chance, maybe he can climb out, maybe he can hold on long enough for someone to come along and hear his shouts for help. Either way they will be long gone, well anyways that’s what the plan was.

“Alright, he’s down, I don’t have much rope left here.” Hordo mentions.

“Ok then, jiggle the rope and see if you can softly nudge him into the wall so that it wakes him up. A slight nudge might awaken him from his slumber.”

Hordo’s muscles were tense and bulging, he was a strong dwarf, a lot stronger then most and it showed. The rope was entwined around each of his hands and it was digging into his skin but this barbarian wouldn’t show any signs of pain. Infact he seamed to enjoy the pain, the challenge, to show everyone just how strong he was.

Well at least he has the muscle to back up his mouth, Karlithen thinks to herself, remembering all of the times that this dwarf’s mouth has gotten them into trouble so far and she hasn’t even known him more then a month. To survive with the temperament of a boar I guess you would need the strength of one as well she thinks to herself as she watches Hordo manage the rope like it was a piece of thread.

“Easy now, just move it back and forth, just little swings.” Karlithen says.

“I’m bloody well doing it right, now back off woman.” Hordo replies.

“Doing what?” a voice comes for out of the blackness of the cavern.

Stepping into the torchlight, the faces of her fellow adventurers appear. They must have finished their assigned duties already and come back to find out what Karlithen and Hordo were up too.

“A say again, doing what?” Bullock asks.

“Never you mind, what did you find on the bodies?” Karlithen replies.

“Mostly the same, a bunch of worthless stuff.” Elrick replies. “Just about the same as before, some armor, weapons, mostly mundane items. Dramorion says that none of it has any magic upon it.”

“There is another shaft in the northern part of the room, it goes down along way, farther then even our dwarf friend can see.” Streeaka chimes in. “Probably a lot like this shaft, and they probably end up in the same place of hell they go down so deep.”

“We dropped a rock in and it took ten seconds before we heard a sound.” Elrick mentions.

“Yeah, sure smart move throwing a rock into hell and letting them know were up here.” Hordo chimes back.

“What are you doing with that rope Hordo? It looks like your fishing.” Dramorion asks. “Not really, just trying to get our dwarf captive awake” Hordo says as he pulls the rope to one side and then swings it back to other.

“Am I to take it that you have that dwarf on the end of that rope then? Bullock asks. “Hanging on as you swing him around in an endless shaft.”

“Naw, he’s still unconscious.” Hordo replies.

“What is the blessed name are you thinking Hordo!” Bullock yells. “He’s a dwarf not a piece of meat. Pull him back up here are once”.

“We were going to…” Karlithen tries to chime in.

“I don’t give a hells name what you were going to do, pull the bloody fella back up.” Bullock yells as he starts to tug on the rope. He looks at Hordo, looking deep through his eye into his soul. “Help me. He deserves better, he’s a dwarf.”

Karlithen stares at Bullock as she sees the two dwarves tug on the rope until they have their prize back on solid ground. She wonders how this dwarf can even have any concern, any compassion for his fallen enemies. Unless maybe this enemy isn’t an enemy at all. Oh, I’ll be watching you, very closely, she thinks to herself. You won’t know it but I’ll be watching you very closely.

“Do you want me to heal him as well?” Isaac asks as he bends down to look at the unconscious dwarf.

“No, don’t waste out healing on him” Karlithen warns. Normally it wouldn’t matter to her one way or the other but she answers this way because she wants to see how Bullock responds.

He doesn’t.

“Well that was fun but we have to keep going. The temple awaits.” Hordo reminds everyone.

“Sure, everyone grab your stuff, pack it up so we can get out of here.” I’m going to drag this guy away from the edge over into the corner of the room.” Bullock says.

“Make sure you don’t leave any signs that we were here, I’ll make a quick trip around the room trying to cover up our tracks we have made.” Elrick says. “Only move to the south, towards the hallway so you don’t undo all my effort. That is the way we will exit this room.”

Karlithen moves over to her backpack and gathers her belongings. She’s careful to make sure all of her stuff is strapped down, tucked in, and tied up. She then puts it all on and does the process again. I guess its to many stories about wayward adventures that didn’t take care of their stuff or didn’t supply correctly that makes her do the double check.

“Dramorion, can you come over here for a second when you can. I need you to check my backpack now that its on to make sure everything’s tied up correctly.” Karlithen says.

It wasn’t that Dramorion was her favorite in the group, although maybe he was, it was just easier for you to find the wizard in the darkness because he has that light spell on his staff all the time. You seam to always know where that mage was just by looking for the light, find the light and you find the wizard. If he ever cast the light spell on a solid wall Karlithen swears she would just walk right into it because she’s so use to just walking to the light.

The though of all of this makes her miss the sun, the warming rays, the bright light. This darkened dungeon makes all of that seam so far away.

“Alright, I’m here. Stand still while I check you out.” Dramorion barks out as he tugs and pulls on each of her straps.

“Ok I can just tell you that having to….”, the wizard started to say, as Karlithen focus switched to something else. All the words, her being tugged, was totally ignored as she stared into the blackness. While Dramorion’s light was very useful it only went out maybe twenty or twenty-five feet as most, beyond that was dark and shadowy and even further just blackness. In this shadowy area she could see Bullock, he was kneeling down next to the unconscious dwarf. He was feverishly doing something with this hands because his arms were jerking and moving like he was chopping wood. Karlithen squinted trying to make the blackness disappear but she couldn’t make it out what was going on. What was Bullock doing off in the darkness by himself? She tried to stare into the blackness, to make the blackness disappear. But it wouldn’t, it was just to dark for her human eyes.

“So what do you think?” Dramorion words snapped Karlithen back into reality.

“Um… not really sure.” Karlithen stuttered out not knowing what she was answering too.

“Whatever then.” Dramorion says as he starts to walk away.

“Wait, do me a favor” Karlithen barks at him. “Please…” she asks as she sees Dramorion’s lips curve in displeasure.

“Can you please check my top backpack strap one more time, just really quickly here.” Karlithen asks in her best girlish fashion. She says this as she takes two steps forward towards the darkened corner where Bullock resides while pretending to slip on some loose stones on the floor.

“Well stop moving then,” he replied as he moves towards her.

Bullocks figure was now outlined better and she could see him alittle clearer. Yet he was still in the shadowy area of Dramorion’s light, she wanted it that way. No need to draw his attention away from what he was doing.

Bullock was just finishing writing a note on a piece of parchment paper. Karlithen couldn’t make out the words as they were probably written in dwarven anyways but it was defiantly a note. What was he doing writing a note when he should have been packing up his stuff and getting ready to move out. He then proceed to fold this paper in half, and then half again. Creasing it with each fold being careful to not rub the words written within. Once the paper was folded enough that it could hardly been seen he carefully took it and proceed to put it into the pocket of the unconscious dwarf. He slid it in far enough that it couldn’t fall out and then tucked the pocket back down. He patted the dwarf twice on the chest, mumbled some words in an unknown language, probably dwarven. He then picked up his axe and stood up.

Karlithen turned to look at Dramorion which was standing behind her and away from where Bullock stood. “Interesting…”

“What’s interesting?” Dramorion asks.

“Never mind. Thanks for your help, without you here I’m not sure I could trust anyone else. Are you ready to go?”

“After you…”

Karlithen remembers all of these moments, everything that has been said, everything that was done in the last few days. She studies the others that lay sleeping around her wondering what they were thinking about. Karlithen was starting to get sleepy herself as the day events were starting to catch up to her. She rolls over on her side trying to make herself more comfortable while still holding her executioners axe. Holding it close as she sleeps was now second nature to her and without it sleep wouldn’t come as easy. Once positioned on her side she could see Streeaka standing by the doorway, it must be his turn to watch for enemies. She watches him just standing there- staring out of the doorway into the blackness beyond. He is holding his weapon at his side like he is ready to strike out at any moment. But the moments pass as Karlithen eyes shut and she finally succumbs to her bodies need for rest. Her last thoughts before slumber is of Streeaka.

Streeaka, the assassin, can he be trusted? Sure Karlithen has used him a couple of times to do her dirty work for her but that was because he is without fear or remorse. But watching him kill the priestess of Lorna-Ava because she requested it, didn’t make sense. If someone knows they are going to die they have nothing to live for, and if you have nothing to live for then everything you say or do doesn’t matter. You would have thought the assassin would know this but yet the assassin did the deed without questioning why. It was almost too easy for him to do, sure he’s a born killer but to kill without reason makes a murderer.

There certainly wasn’t a reason for the priestess to die, especially since she requested it. Requested it almost willingly, almost like it was planned that way. It could have been a trap, a trick, anything. But the assassin takes to much love in the killing and doesn’t think before he acts. This recklessness will get himself killed sometime, or worse yet- get them all killed. He needs to be on a leash, a very short one. A leash that Karlithen controls and noone else. He must not kill unless commanded.

Streeaka isn’t that different from you, Karlithen thinks to herself. But we kill for different reasons she answers to herself. Indeed Karlithen hates the violence, the blood, the suffering. Hates it all. Yet the assassin seams to thrive in it, wallows in it like a pig in a mud puddle. After the battle is finished a wave of terror overcomes her, a sense of dread that almost consumes her soul. A feeling so deep that most of the time it conquers her to the point of tears. But the assassin shows no signs of this, no fear, no regret, and certainly no tears.

Maybe what’s burning you up inside wasn’t the fact that Streeaka killed her but rather that the evil priestess wouldn’t allow you to do administer the killing blow. This thought makes Karlithen eyes suddenly open and causes her to stir from the dreamy condition she was in. She sees Streeaka still standing over by the doorway, he is still waiting. Can I trust him enough to least get some sleep? Maybe she thinks to herself, maybe.

Remembering her last thought she tries to slip back into the dream world she was in just a few moments ago. The stupid necklace somehow came out of her breastplate during the battle, the necklace with Karlithen’s holy symbol of Arch-Indar on it. Most of the time its tucked under her shirt, out of sight to anyone but she needed its power during the last battle and grabbed it to power a divine prayer she enacted. Somehow after the battle she forgot to tuck it neatly back inside of her shirt.

How many of her allies have had to have seen it? They probably all know by now, well the barbarian is probably to stupid to know, but the others probably know by now. This could be a problem, especially now that the others have seen how the priestess reacted when she saw it. Not many know that Lorna-Ava was defeated the first time by three god, one of them being Arch-Indar, but the others must know something is out of place when the priestess refused Karlithen the execution. Maybe they aren’t smart enough to understand what all of this means and if she just plays stupid the others will go along with it. Maybe she’ll just pretends like she doesn’t know anything, like nothings out of place. Its worked so far, the others haven’t got a clue as to what’s going on. All of this time together, all of these moments she has shared with them and not a single one of them has put together the clues and know what’s really going to happen.

They all must be so naïve to think that Karlithen would risk life and limb to travel to the ends of the world to save humanity. Ha, humanity isn’t worth saving. What has humanity done to save me she wonders. If not for the fact that she gets to play a part in the slaying of those responsible for trying to awaken Lorna-Ava, Karlithen would be a hundred miles from here. But how could she resist the prospect of dealing the final blow to an evil cult and put an abrupt end to Lorna-Ava’s essence once and for all. If doing that is viewed as saving the world then so be it but once the essence is destroyed its up to someone else to save it.

Karlithen smiles in her dreamlike state thinking about the very thought of what’s to come. The others are walking right next to the very thing that will probably end their lives and they are too stupid to even know it. They are all so high and mighty about saving the world that they can’t see the very facts staring them in the face. They are about to enter a holy place of Lorna-Ava, a temple of great power with a paladin of Arch-Indar by their side. What do they possibly think those in the temple will think about that? Not only will the cultist probably sense Karlithen and her godly power coming but they will probably have time to lay a trap for them. They probably already know she’s close and are forming a plan to deal with them. They probably can’t wait for their arrival to happen and all the while her allies sleep, they still slumber in peace and quiet…..

Peace and Quiet

Midkemia idjester