Those who have heard the mystical tales...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

VI: (Whispers In) The Dark

"Gizmo!" Scheaun whispered.
"You got those matches I gave you?"
"Yeah. Hang on!" He fumbled around, searching for them.
"Why are we still whispering?" interrupted KT.
"The title has to make sense to the reader! If we weren't whispering, it wouldn't be called "Whispers in the Dark," would it?" replied Gizmo.
"What are you talking about?" Gizmo lit the match.
"Well, there we go," he said, looking around. He pointed. "This way!" Gizmo lit another torch for Scheaun and began to walk in that direction.
"Gizmo chronicles all his adventures. I guess he's already come up with a title for this one," Scheaun told KT.
"Wait a minute... You mean... Oh! He writes for the Bards! That's him! The Bards are popular in these parts. I never quite made the connection."
"Yeah. Well, I mean, how many people are named Gizmo?" laughed Scheaun.
"How many Scheauns spell their name that way?" KT smiled.

Gizmo took in his surroundings with curiosity and awe. He paid attention to every detail, as the cave work was art, not just random digging. Each side told a story, and each story flowed into the other. The walls were meticulously carved; its intricate details would make any sculptor cry. In fact, had Gizmo not noticed the boringness of the floor, he would have fallen over a steep ravine. He stopped; looking over the edge, he saw a massive dungeon on the floor of the cave. Cages hung from the ceiling, and those that were not empty not locked. Scheaun and KT soon joined him. They found a ladder and climbed down to the cave floor. In the middle of the circle of hanging cages beyond the circle, some tables, littered with papers, pots, and other paraphernalia, guarded a large metal box. It had a lock but was wide open, and sat on a pedestal as high as the cages.
"Creepy digs," said Scheaun.
"Very goth. Nosferatu would be proud," Gizmo agreed. KT found a ladder, and Scheaun carried it over to her.
"Put it up against this cage. Hold it still," she said. Gizmo and Scheaun steadied her climb to the locked cage. Inside, two giant eyes stared back into her own. A dirty, starved man crawled over to her.
"Hey, Scheaun, hold her. I found the key," Gizmo said. He ran to a couch beyond the empty metal box, and returned with a ring of keys. Handing them to KT, Gizmo joined Scheaun in holding the ladder.
"Thank you," whispered the man. The three forced every living soul in the set of cages there. The motley crew began their return to the surface, but as Gizmo, the last to reach the top of the ridge, ascended, their journey was halted. A dark, robed figure stood at the Scheaun's sword.
"How dare you," the figure growled.
"I could ask you the same thing," Scheaun replied.
"KT, take these people to the surface," Gizmo said. "Her fight is with us, not these innocents." KT hurried them along.
"Why are you torturing these people? What did they do to you?" Scheaun inquired.
"What HAVEN'T they done? They stole what was most precious to me, and I must find it!"
"That gives you no right to take lives!" roared Gizmo.
"It is fitting; they took mine!" she answered, sending Scheaun soaring with her last syllable. Gizmo jabbed, but the witch formed a transparent blue shield and blocked his sword. The energy with which she formed flowed from her veins, forming a sword in her other hand. She swung to block Gizmo's second parry. Turning his blade over, she spun, roundhouse kicking him away. Scheaun ran in, and the witch ran at him. He blocked each of her strikes, but then she used her shield to knock his sword away. As she went to deal the final blow, Gizmo lopped the witch's head off. The energy-weapons faded into mist, and the witch's lifeless body fell over.
"Well then," laughed Gizmo.
"Thanks," Scheaun replied.

The two made their way to the mouth of the cave, where KT and the prisoners waited. Smiling, she ran to hug Scheaun. She kissed him, and the two enjoyed their moment.
"Hang on," said Gizmo. "The stone. IT's glowing through your blouse!" And it was. KT took the necklace out from under her shirt.
"Let me see," said Gizmo. KT handed him the stone, and as he held it, a rumbling came from the cave. Everyone looked, and a bright blue light beamed upward toward them. In the light, they saw the witch's head and body floating; the two pieces began to grow back together. Quickly, Gizmo drew his sword, and smashed the stone to bits. The light went out, and the witch was dead once more.
"Ding dong," smiled Gizmo.
"Wait, wait. Wait. What?" said Scheaun.
"That stone was a talisman. As long as it is in one piece, the witch can survive. At least, that's how it looks. That stone was what she was looking for. It was the source of her power."
"Well, I got that. But the 'ding dong' thing?"
"Oh, I don't know. First thing that hit me." One of the freed prisoners spoke up.
"Thank you for saving us," he said. "We are all grateful to the three of you."
"Of course," said Gizmo.
"How can we repay you?"
"There's no need. It's what we do," replied Scheaun.
"Just go home. Enjoy your lives, and if any one asks, tell them it was the Bards," said KT.

Following the death of Le'heigh, many other witches, hiding in the Chroi forests, gathered. They pleaded with the High Witch, angry with the loss of their sister.
"The Bards deserve to die!" yelled one.
"The murderous fiends! Kill them all!" yelled another.
"Silence, my children," the High Witch interrupted. "I have deliberated enough. The heartless killers shall die. But you go about your business. Leave this to me." The convention rejoiced.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

V: The Giant

The giant carried Badger and Dumon through the forest. The two Bards struggled to free themselves from his grasp but to no avail. Suddenly, Schaff swept through the tree is front of the giant. He stopped just in front of it. The giant tripped on a vine he could not have seen, and fell face-first onto the ground. Badger and Dumon fell out of his hands; Badger grabbed her bow and loaded an arrow, meeting Schaff, whose sword was drawn, at the giant's head.
"Who are you?" yelled Badger.
"Answer me!" She lodged an arrow in his left hand. The giant stood, growling, and roared. His eyes were a sickly green, and his veins bulged. Badger put an arrow in his right hand; he still grabbed her, but not before Schaff cut his right pinky off.
"Let go of her!" Schaff cried, as he stabbed the giant's foot. It turned and picked him up, neglecting the sword sticking out of his foot.

Dumon had climbed a tree. She used it for cover as she pelted the giant with arrows. She fired quickly, but soon ran out. When her barrage stopped, the giant put his arm down from his face (he had been using it to shield himself.) He dropped Schaff, who fell unconscious. Running at Dumon, the giant grabbed her too, and fled.
An hour later, the other Bards arrived. Schaff's light armor took the brunt of the fall, so he survived with only a few bruises.
"What happened?" asked Scott.
"I managed to stop the giant, but he still took Dumon and Badger," came the reply.
"So back to square one again?" asked Paddy.
"Not really," said a voice from the forest. It was Scheaun. He brought forth an aid kit and attended to Schaff.
"I heard the screams," he said. " Got here just after you all did. See the giant gap there? Where all the trees bend as if something crushed them? He went that way."
"What? Oh--the branches. Wow. That wasn't that noticeable before," laughed Paddy.
"Where did you go?" asked Holden.
"I went to check out the camp at Koma."
"What did you find?"

By now, Badger and Dumon gave up their struggle.
"So you're not going to tell us where we're going? At all?" Badger asked.
"No. Not at all," said Dumon. She laughed.
"So what if I have to pee?" laughed Badger. "No?"
"No," said Dumon. "No peeing. Just wait." The giant stopped.
"Finally!" said Badger.
"Can I pee now?" laughed Dumon.
He let them down, but a fire formed around them.
"What do you want from us?" asked Badger.
"What do you want from me?" sang Dumon. Badger looked at her.
The giant fell to his knees. Seemingly having a spasm, he rolled over on his side, screaming. His eyes were no longer green; his veins were of normal size (for a giant.) Badger and Dumon walekd around to his face's side. The giant sat up, frightened.
"Aah! Who are you? What happened to my hands?" he asked.
"What do you mean? You just kidnapped us and almost killed two of my friends! Who are YOU?" stormed Badger.
"Oh no... I'm in a prison. You can't be here! Whatever I've done, I apologize for! I wasn't myself."
"What do you mean?" asked Dumon.
"I'm under a spell. A witch holds me hostage and I do her every bidding."
"You've been terrorizing an old woman. Do you know who she is?" asked Badger.
"No, what woman?"
"Do you know anything about what you do?"
"All I've heard is something about some 'Bards' or something. I'm helping her kill them, I think."
"WE are the Bards!" started Dumon. "Well, two of them."
"You need to leave now! Listen to me! Get out! It's a trap!"
"How?" asked Badger, arms crossed.
"That tree," he said, pointing to the only tree in the ring of fire. "Climb it, and jump to the tree next to it. Then run, and DO NOT COME BACK."
"No, we will come back. We'll save you."
"You can't."
"We've beaten gods, battled dragons, and broken civilizations. A witch is nothing."
"Fine. But go now, and do not come back without an army." Badger and Dumon climbed the tree, and descended the second when the ring of fire went out.
"Really!?" asked Badger. Then she and Dumon hid. A witch entered the ring.
"Where are they???" she screamed.
"Where are who?" replied the giant. She grabbed a sword, lifted it, and let go. It floated for a time. The witch left. Her last words to the giant were, "I'll find them myself."
The floating sword held still for a final moment, then flew through the giant's chest. Badger and Dumon  ran to the giant's side. His last words were, "The stone."
The other Bards arrived.
"Things just got weird," remarked Holden.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

IV: The Sorcerer

Scott, Gizmo, and Badger met Schaff, Dumon, Holden, and Paddy at Badger's. They began to discuss the giant.
"I think it's pretty safe to say we need to stop this thing," said Scott.
"Yeah," murmured basically everyone in the room.
"But how do we even like, begin to find him?" remarked Dumon.
"What I don't get is why he went after the one lady. I mean, why do we care?" asked Holden.
"He came after us as soon as we began protecting her. She's hiding something, and we can't just let a powerful threat run free," replied Gizmo.
"Why do you say that? How do you know she's hiding something?" asked Schaff.
"As soon as we met her, Gizmo and I saw her expression change. She's not the helpless old lady she appears to be," replied Scott.
"So, basically, to answer your question, Dumon, I have no idea. She has no family, and I don't know many giants. The only place to start is that forest."

The next day, the Bards made for Robert's Dale. They found the spot where the giant escaped, and they entered the woods there.
"Wait. Didn't Scheaun come with us?" asked Holden. "Where is he?"
"He's working another angle of this. He'll catch up," said Gizmo.
Just then, the trees behind them rustled. A large animal rushed at them. Everyone drew their weapons. Out ran a short, robed man. Frightened, he stopped.
"Help me!" he cried.
"Get on!" said Holden. He, Paddy, and Gizmo rode away. The others remained, as the giant leapt from the bushes. Dumon and Badger assaulted him with arrows, but it only angered him. He grabbed them as Schaff sliced his side. The giant ran off with the two Bards.
"You go get those three! I'll follow the giant!" yelled Schaff. With that, they parted.

Gizmo, Holden and Paddy stopped in the middle of the woods.
"Get down," said Holden. Before the man could say anything, Gizmo jumped on him.
"Where is she?" he growled. "I mean, the old woman? How do you know the giant?"
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" The man blubbered. Off to the side, Holden whispered to Paddy, "Does he look familiar to you?"
"Yeah, he does," Paddy replied. "Wait!"
"It's the guy who kidnapped the princess!" they both said. It was. The old sorcerer gathered his breath.
"There's this witch. She, she is working with the giant. They're after somebody called... uh... 'Bard.'"
"We're the Bards," replied Gizmo.
"Is that so?" said the sorcerer. "In that case..." Lightning flowed from his fingertips, sending Gizmo flying.
"She wants you dead," he said, raising Holden and Paddy off of their horses. He began to choke them.
"Should I kill you, she'll be pleased."
"So you're in on this too?" Gizmo, but the sorcerer could not tell from where. He looked to the trees around him.
"You're one smart cookie, aren't you?"
"I know that tattoo, on the back of your head. You're a worshipper of Chadde."
"Put them down."
"Why should I?"
"We killed your Chadde."
"Chadde cannot be killed, you fool!"
"I saw it happen," Gizmo whispered, from over the sorcerer's shoulder. THe sorcerer looked, and Gizmo's blade was at his neck.
"Now. Put them down." He did.
"Start talking," Gizmo said. "Who is the woman?"
Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck the sorcerer. He began laughing, but he was already dead. Gizmo let go, and the sorcerer fell over. As he hit the ground, the laughing stopped.
"He kidnapped the princess," said Paddy.
"Yeah, thanks by the way," said Holden.
"Him?" replied Gizmo.
"Yeah. I don't know what for, though," replied Holden.
"Did he do anything unordinary?" asked Gizmo.
"Not really. He tried to steal this stone, but that was all he took from her," replied Paddy.
"It was the only she had on her that was valuable," said Holden.
"I know. I just found it odd." Just then, Scott rode up.
"The giant took Badger and Dumon," he said. "What happened to him?"
"Hmm. Interesting. Let's go," said Gizmo. "I'll tell you on the way."

Monday, April 8, 2013

III: The Cave

Not long after the defeat of Kawan, Gizmo and Scheaun were sitting around, remembering past adventures, whose setting was no more than their imagination.
"Those were good times," said Scheaun thoughtfully.
"What if we had just one more?" replied Gizmo.
"Make it two."
"Two and a half."
"Deal." The two laughed.
"But really, check this out," said Gizmo. "I got a letter from a cousin of mine, who lives in the Chroi forests. She said she had heard about the Bards, and asked if we--the Bards, that is--could help with a local problem."
"Wait... Chroi? Isn't that where that witch is? Le'heigh, I think?" asked Scheaun.
"Yeah. Apparently, she's a bit of a bother. Bit of a bother... Bit of a... bother... That's fun to say."
"Bit of a bother."
"Say it quickly. Bitofabother."
"No! No hyphens! Just Bitofabother."
(This was the only thing the two said for the next five minutes, in different pitches and accents. It ended with the two rolling about on the floor, laughing.)
"Ok. So, to Chroi?" asked Scheaun.
"To Chroi!"

The two left Bamah (The Lady was away visiting her family) and reached Chroi in a short time. Gizmo knew several shortcuts, remembered a few more, and made some of his own. Needless to say, Scheaun made it in one piece. The jury is still out on Gizmo.
The two reached Chroi in a short time. As they approached, Gizmo's cousin ran to meet them. She was a lovely sight, and it had been a long time since the two had seen each other. Nonetheless, Gizmo's relatives were gracious hosts.
That evening at supper, Gizmo's cousin Karina Tirvina (She went by KT, "her parents did that on purpose," Gizmo told Scheaun) finished the story she presented in her note.
"Le'heigh, the infamous witch, has been viciously torturing our livestock and our people! She kidnaps innocent people and questions them. My own brother, your cousin, was taken himself! He was just hunting for our dinner, and out of nowhere she just... I'm sorry."
"Does she keep them?" asked Gizmo.
"Rarely does she set them free. It was Lex (said cousin/brother) who told us about it. She kept asking him, "Where is it?" but no one knows what it is, much less where. It's all he talks about, now."
"Where is she now? I mean, do we know?" asked Scheaun.
"No. All we know is that she is further up and further in, near the mountain."
"Hmm," thought Gizmo. "The game is afoot."
"Have you been waiting to say that?" asked Scheaun.
"Well...                  yeah." He looked out the window into the night, but found himself entranced by the pitter-patter of the rain. It would be the last thing he said that night. However, Scheaun and KT stayed up longer, talking about Gizmo and the Bards' adventures.
"That stone around your neck. It's massive. Like, I could kill a man with it," Scheaun mentioned.
"Oh, that," she laughed. "Lex gave it to me the day before he was kidnapped. He said he bought for cheap off a foreign vendor, or something. Twas the last thing he gave me before..." teary-eyed, she looked out the window into the night.
"Yeah... Twas. nice word."

The following morning, Gizmo, Scheaun, and KT rode into the forest. For a long time, their search yielded no results.
"What exactly are you looking for, Gizmo? I mean, I haven't exactly seen any dead bodies or trails of destruction," asked KT.
"That, fires, signs of life, a Waffle Hut... Mr. Tracker, what about you?" he replied.
"I see trails everywhere, but nothing human. Wait... there!" Scheaun leaped off his horse and fell to his hands and knees.
"A boot...!" he exclaimed.
"A bootPRINT?" asked Gizmo.
"No! An actual BOOT!" Scheaun answered, turning to them with his prize in hand. The thing was small and green, but it was absolutely soaked in mud, which had caked on a bit after the night's rain.
"It was stuck in the ground; I had to break it out of the mud," said Scheaun.
"What direction did the toe point?" asked Gizmo.
"That way!" Scheaun pointed to his left. As he did, understanding swept across his face. "That way!"
"Let's go!" yelled Gizmo, and he led them in that direction. The three flew though the trees, as a path became more and more evident. It led the into a grotto, and they stood on a hill overlooking it. Beneath them was a pile of rocks, but as they descended to the foot of the hill, they found it to be an opening to a cave.

"Interesting," said Gizmo, who got there first.
"Fascinating," said KT, who got there next.
Scheaun flew past them at a full gallop.
"WHOOO!" he cried. The two laughed and followed after him. The cave-tunnel led them to what seemed to be the end. One large rock in the middle seemed to stand out, and Scheaun approached it. It had a vertical crack in it, but the crack was polished so as not to cut someone should they insert their hand. Scheaun did just that, and he easily swung the rock open. Gizmo and KT arrived.
"Well then," laughed Gizmo. "Look who's being proactive."
"Ladies first," replied Scheaun, as Gizmo followed KT through the door. A narrow, dark hallway led them into what seemed to be a large foyer. It was a dimly-lit room with a nice carpet rug, and on the far side was a table with three chairs and a flower. To the left and right were wooden doors with golden plates that read "Men" and "Women." Scheaun went into the "Men" door and found it to be a normal bathroom, as KT did the same to the "Women" door. Gizmo took a seat at the table.
"May as well rest a bit," he said, as he looked over the flower, intently. A smile seemed to crack across his face. Scheaun and KT joined him at the table, not noticing Gizmo's giddiness. Scheaun looked up at KT, and the two met eyes. She smiled nervously and blushed; Scheaun looked over at Gizmo and noticed his wide grin.
"What?" Scheaun asked.
"Pick up the flower, vase and all," came the reply. Scheaun looked at KT, shrugged, and grabbed the vase. It did not budge. Scheaun stood, in shock, and tried to lift the vase. The table creaked, but it did not move. Gizmo, smiling, said, "Watch this."
He pulled the flower out of the vase. The wall groaned, and it spun. The entire wall rotated, pushing the table and chairs to the other side. Gizmo, Scheaun, and KT were on the other side of the wall, and it was dark.