B10 – NIGHT’S DARK TERROR
06 FYRMONT OF 1005 AC
XITAQA, THE LOST CITY.
It had been a few days since he had been released by the group of adventurers and since, by chance, he understood that this meeting had not been coincidental at all. Glimreen did not consider himself a genius, but he knew to have an above-average intelligence. At least speaking in gnomic terms. Intelligence accompanied by an innate curiosity, critical thinking, predisposition to research and solve problems through the use of logic. This had made him, in a short time, a fine researcher and an apprentice librarian, among the most respected also by the same Chief Librarian Matazumi. Then the possibility of having available, from his capture forward, a virtually unlimited amount of time to devote to his mental ruminations had done the rest. Glimreen therefore concluded to be nothing but a puppet whose strings were pulled by a power greater than himself. That it was an earthly or otherworldly entity, a mortal or an Immortal, it mattered little. The fact that he was the only one to survive the prisons of the dragon of the Dymrak had only strengthened his conviction. Someone was driving him but at the same time was also protecting him. The powers that he gradually felt awakening in him and that every day surprised him, were the tangible manifestation that, unequivocally, bound and joined him in a pact with this mysterious individual.
In the days of captivity he had read times and again the little book he had left in the city of Serraine and appeared again, inexplicably, on his bed: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Apparently an innocent prose book that told the story of an old sailor and his adventurous travels by the sea. He had been beaten, bashed, pummeled, stripped of his possessions, but even so, the book had always been there. Inviolate. He had concluded that this was not a simple tome but the seal of the pact that bound him to his mentor and master. He had also begun to study it, word for word, and he understood that it contained a code. For him, the puzzle was soon to become a challenge, a fight against time and against himself. And in the end he won. Sinbad! This was the name of the Celestial Wanderer. The entity that step by step was driving him into the unknown and the knowledge of the truth.
The other piece of that trip was Benekander. An equally mysterious name, and unknown to him. At least until he had met the group of adventurers who had freed him from the Wolfskull goblins and they had shown, in an apparently accidental way, their link with an individual by the name of Rheddrian. And he had all the elements to think that Rheddrian and Benekander were one and the same …
“Glim. Hey … gnome” it was the dwarf, Adrik, which had started to shake him in an almost imperceptible way. Eyes of his fellow travelers were fixed upon his small crouching figure. They had entered Xitaqa under the cover of darkness but had soon discovered that it was at their disadvantage since, except for him and Adrik, they were not equipped with darkvision, unlike the numerous defenders, mostly goblins and domesticated big baboons. For this, once inside the city, they had decided to hide inside one of the cubicles of white rock, perched directly inside one of the natural canyons that formed the ancient streets of Xitaqa and that, in the past, its inhabitants had allegedly called “home”. “We are nearly there.” the dwarf said in the gnomic tongue, the only one, it seemed, with whom he shared a common language. “The sun is about to rise and we must take advantage of the brief moment when the change of light will be at our advantage and at the goblins disadvantage.”
The bigger man, the one with the red beard and Klantyre’s tartan mesh kilt, watched him with wild eyes. He liked more, Tiberius, the Thyatian soldier. It seemed more calm and thoughtful and less prone to mindless violence for its own self. Right now he was speaking to Adrik. BACK. OBSTRUCTION. ATTACK. These were the only words that he could discern in the dialogue. When the dwarf turned to speak with him in his language, or something approaching to it, he understood the sense of the words and nodding he made the other realize that he had understood.
– – –
“This was the last one!” he caught wind of the human Dan saying it, as he pulled his two short blades from the large humanoid body with a greyish skin that lay at his feet. All around lay the scattered and lifeless bodies of the five other hobgoblins who had formed the guard at the main gate of the broken tower. “Quick, this way!” called out Adrik pointing to the large bronze door that gave access to the palace to which they were going. Goblins and baboons, awakened by the cries of the defenders, assaulted and then killed by the company, were gathering at the edge of the square overlooked by the impressive building, now reduced to a squat broken stump. The upper floors of the tower had to be collapsed on themselves after a strong fire some years before and now only the first three floors were intact. He was at the end of the line of the group along with the girl, Marjana, and took charge of closing the heavy door. A low growl came from the head of the group and he saw a cloud of ice and dust of snow coming in, investing a good stretch of the corridor with him and his companions . “WOLF. ICE” he heard Brannart screaming over the sounds of the battle. Moving forward, he passed some companions.
A thick crust of ice began to form over his skin. Sharp spines began to form on his forehead, cheeks, back of the hands, arms, legs. When he arrived in front of the monster, a huge wolf with a mane as white as snow, he felt again the flow of energy along his body. He perceived it channeling along the arms, accumulating on the hands in the form of a globe of blue discharges. Finally he felt the tingling and saw it run off and be channeled into a single burst of energy that stroke the wolf full in the chest. One by one, his companions fell upon the beast with swords, daggers, arrows. The ice wolf, trained for the sole purpose of killing, pounced on him, the more thin and fragile creatures that he faced. His jaws closed on him, feral and deadly but the monster’s attack crashing against the ice spikes that covered his body. With both arms Glimreen grabbed the sides of the beast and he freed once more his energy discharge.
“Hurry. Help me get him out from under there or he will die, suffocated by the weight of the wolf.” he heard Tiberius say and, for the first time, he was glad to be able to understand a sentence, pronounced in the common language of those lands.