Habseligkeiten #CCC #AtoZChallenge

Habseligkeiten; things that an adult might find worthless but a child sees as treasure. 

Getting the kids away from technology was becoming harder and harder. I looked up ideas for making Sunday walks more interesting and decided a treasure hunt could be good.

I found a wooden box in the attic and also some worthless items I could put inside it; old coins, a small teddy bear, some fake gemstones and  some small toys. Then I buried the box in the local woods next to a large pool of water. I made a map and spun a story for the kids; the lost treasure of a prince.

We had the best afternoon and the kids really did think they had found treasure.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/crimsons-creative-challenge-21/ with thanks).

Cross Grid #100WW

100WW_W97

He was close. He stood on the small around about, car horns beeping at him as the drivers zoomed over the stone cobble roads. He held up the phone and watched as on the screen came the image of everything around him. Then a hit; The Arc de Triomphe.

He smiled, of course it would make sense that the Geocache would be there! He waited till, he could cross the road enough then hurried over. A few moments later, he found the plastic box tugged into a corner.

It was another off his list.

(Inspired by; https://bikurgurl.com/2018/11/14/100-word-wednesday-week-97/ with thanks).

Distant #writephoto

There were once three companions, a dwarf, a gnome and a fire sprite, who decided to set off on an adventure to the Ice Capped Mountains to kill the red dragon, Usullen, and take his treasure. They believed together and with their magic weapons, armour and years of experience that they would easily be victorious.

The journey from their home town, took two whole years and was extremely difficult. They faced many monsters, bad weather, fell out with each other often and got lost. They all wanted to turn around and go home but their stubbornness wouldn’t let them give in.

‘I’ve faced worse then this!’ the dwarf said gruffly.

‘Then you can face Usullen by yourself!’ the gnome snapped.

‘Fine by me. All the treasure will be mine!’ the dwarf responded.

‘No! Only half,’ the fire sprite jumped in, ‘I have changed my mind again.’

‘If you are still going…I must too!’ the gnome grumbled.

There was a collective groaning around the campfire then since there was nothing else to say, they tried to get some sleep on the hard, cold ground.

The next morning soon after they started walking again, they got their first look at the Ice Capped mountains far in the distance. The sky above was grey-blue, heavy with clouds containing snow. The bare green landscape was dotted with snow piles and twisted trees. Continuing, they felt in better spirits as they neared their destination.

The trek up the mountains to search for the red dragon’s cave was the hardest thing they had done. The wind howled around them, chilling them and threatening to throw off the mountain side. The snow hit them, blinding them then sticking to anything it could and weighing them down. It lay thickly at their feet making the going hard and hiding rocks that they tripped over.

The fire sprite used his power to light the way and the snow that fell on him melted away. The dwarf and gnome were too frozen and tried to argue about it. They pushed on and soon all their hard work was rewarded when the fire sprite spotted a cave. At first it was hard to tell if the cave was the home of a dragon, it was big enough to be but snow drifts covered the floor and walls.

They went deeper into the cave. The fire sprite flying high above so that the dwarf and gnome could use their dark sight better. They all spotted a sword laying on the floor, the skeleton remains of its owner, close by. Being careful not to disturb the dead, they went deeper still. More bones, weapons and armour littered the floor. There was no doubt now that they were in the right place.

They felt the air getting hot and shadows of light appeared on the walls. They entered a massive cavern and looked down to see a hoard of glittering treasure below. Breath caught in their throats and they couldn’t believe their eyes. But were was the red dragon, Usullen?

Looking around, they couldn’t spot the dragon anywhere. Had they arrived whilst he was out finding food. Going down into the cavern didn’t make the dragon appear. The gnome and fire sprite began filling the empty sacks they had brought with handfuls of treasure. The dwarf, kept guard, holding him might warhammer and searching everywhere.

‘We can’t just take the treasure without killing the dragon. We are not thieves!’ the dwarf rumbled.

‘Maybe, someone else killed the dragon but they didn’t know where his hoard was?’ the gnome suggested.

The dwarf didn’t believe him.

Taking all they could carry, the companions left the cave and went back out. A snowstorm was raging, so they had to wait for it to pass. They found a side passage that had been blocked off at the back. They made a camp and had a small celebration. The dwarf though, could only taste bitterness in his mouth. He had so wanted to kill the dragon!

The gnome and fire sprite fell asleep, finally able to relax now their goal was complete. The dwarf started awake, lost in his own thoughts.

In the morning, the storm had stopped and the companions began their journey down the mountains. It was harder then before as now they were weighted down by all their treasure and they were all wondering where the dragon was. Though no one wanted to voice that for fear of cursing their good luck.

Finally, they got to the base of the mountains and began to walk across the snow covered ground. A loud flapping and a shower of snow had them all turning to the right. There before them stood a might dragon! He’s bright red, gold tinted scales shone, his gold claws dug deep into the snow and his huge head with bright golden eyes turn towards the companions.

‘Ah,’ said the dragon in deep, tree shaking voice, ‘thieves!’

‘No! Dragon slayers!’ said the dwarf, waving his warhammer.

The dragon looked at the dwarf, the gnome and the fire sprite in turn, ‘You are not worthy of my time,’ he replied.

With a big intake of breath, the dragon breathed out and before the companions could prepare themselves, the dragon turned the thieves to stone and left them there as a reminder to all future adventurers who planned to steal from him.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/01/18/thursday-photo-prompt-distant-writephoto/ with thanks).

Chinese Dragon

Paris, France, Chinese New Year, People, Celebration

Mini sat on her father’s shoulders holding her breath. Below her, the heads of the crowd pressed around them and she saw more children on adult shoulders who were pointing with chubby fingers down the street. She looked, but couldn’t see anything other than the red paper lanterns that were strung up between the streetlamps.

She sniffed and rubbed her nose, feeling the tail end of her cold getting her down again. Mini put her hands on top of father’s head and pressed her cheek on them. The voices and movements of those around her slipped into the background and her eyes began to close.

The pounding of drums jumped her awake and her eyes shot down the street. A path was being made and coming through were smiling people wearing red and yellow costumes.  Above their heads, flags and banners waved in the breeze. Mini wiggled, leaning over to get a better look. Father’s voice told her to be still, she’d see soon enough.

The people walked past, waving to the crowd then the drummers came, rolling out the marching beat. She caught a glance of something big and golden bobbing in the sky. Her hands slipped back to around father’s chin and Mini lend over his head, desperate to see. The shape grew, becoming clearer and clearer till she could see the mighty head of the dragon. He was gold and fiery orange, with large white triangle teeth, a red mane and crest. She gasped and watched him swooping over peoples’ heads. She wanted to cover her eyes, but couldn’t move.

The crowd was going crazy and shouting so much at once. Most of the words were drowned out by the drummers. Hands clutching red squares reached for the sky and the dragon as he came closer, weaving from one side to the other. His tongue was flopping out and his black eyes seemed to searching for something to eat. Mini tightened her grip on father and got told off, but she couldn’t help it.

The dragon loomed over and she ducked, burying her head in father’s hair. He bounced her a little, telling her comforting things, but she couldn’t listen. She was sure the dragon had seen her and was preparing to eat her. She felt a strong wind sweep over her head and cried out. Mini risked a peek and saw that the huge dragon head had past her. Easing up, she watched the dragon’s body flying by, the gold and orange colours moving as if they had a life of their own.

She sighed and watched the spiky tail disappearing into the crowd. The dragon hadn’t been hungry for her after all. Mini patted her father’s head and told him, as he looked up at her, that the dragon was scary. He laughed and told her that’s how they were meant to be, but dragons had no interested in eating little girls. They enjoyed money and treasure far more.

The Ocean Floor

As the sand settle, I could finally see the giant silhouette in front of me. It looked like the statue of a woolly mammoth, though I could’ve been wrong. My feet hit the sand and I felt the heavy vibrations all the way through the metal boots, my too big suit and my iron diving helmet. My harsh breathing echoed in my ears and I took a moment to establish myself.

Around me the other six divers, who were kitted out just like myself, were also landing on the sand floor. Puffy clouds spread out and rose from their grey boots and the ocean current carried them away. Small dull fish swim above our heads, searching through the disturbed sand partials. I watched two of the large fish swallowing something green down and shooting it out again.

‘Liberty? Can you hear me? I am I coming in clear?’ a voice in my head asked.

Startled, I twisted around and almost fell over. A strong hand caught my shoulder holding me straight. Through the diving helmet, I could make out my father’s concerned face. I calmed my breathing and replied via my helmet mic, ‘Yes. I can hear you fine, Da.’

‘Good. You can get a little closer, but remember to stay out of the way.’

I nodded, before quickly replying, ‘Understood.’

I saw him patting my shoulder, but I didn’t feel it. Then he was walking away and joining the other men as they went passed the mammoth statue and to the collapsing building. Looking passed it and to the sides, I could see more buildings, some of which had once been skyscrapers. The pressure of the ocean had got to most of the weaker structures, creating gapping doorways of twisted metal and fallen bricks. I couldn’t see that clearly through the glass porthole in front of me, but I got the sense that there was something huge off to the side of the mammoth.

I walked forward, struggling through the fast current and the drag my air hose. My boots kicked up more sand, broken shells and small debris. My too big suit was also adding to this as the water tugged the loose folds backwards. I came under the statue and had to look up in awe. It was so tall and seemed to be reaching right out of the ocean. I wondered how someone had built it, let alone come up with the idea for it.

I reached out a thick gloved hand and touched some of the luminous sea moss that had grown on the front leg. My fingers disturbed some of the spores and they drifted away. I wished I could really feel it. I sighed and heard a crackling over the transmitter.

‘Liberty, stay away from the shipwreck,’ my Da’s voice hissed into my head.

‘What? I’m at the statue,’ I responded back.

A crackling and buzzing answered me back.

I let my fingers drop from the statue and plodded around it. I couldn’t really see anyone, but their air hoses were still there. They hung down through the dark bluey-green water like spider’s web lines, only they were a lot thicker. I walked on and thought I saw a diver’s boot sticking out from an actually doorway. I stopped, my transmitter cleared up.

The men’s voices filled my ears and I listened to them finding things and deciding what to take back to the surfaces. I took a few deep breaths then turned to the looming shape to my right. Directly behind the mammoth statue were the red iron reminds of a shipwreck. My breath stuck in my throat and fear quaked my knees.

The warship was three times the size of the statue and more menacing. A rusting tank lay on its side, gun turret pointing right at me. Broken metal speared the sand and a fish popped its head out of a hole in the tank’s corner. There were no other words to describe it other than hauntingly eerie. I imaged that once it would have roamed the oceans sending fear into anyone that saw it.

‘Liberty? Where are you?’ my Da’s voice came though once more.

‘Just passed the statue, I’m coming now,’ I called back and began walking.

As I got closer, I could see the large nets and floatable plastic boxes, that had been sent down from the boat. The men were gathering around them and placing things they had found inside. I saw what looked like a wooden box, a silver candle stick and a collection of china tea cups. My dad was standing near the closest one.

Stomping over, I came to join him and looked down at the pearl necklace in his gloved hands. I cupped my own hands together and held them out as he dropped the treasure to me. The pearls were dull, but milky white.

‘Keep them safe,’ Da’s voice whispered to me, ‘a memento of your first deep sea dive.’

‘Thank you,’ I replied back softly.

‘Everyone ready to move out?’ came a loud voice followed by everyone muttering replies.

We attached ourselves to the nets or lines of the floating boxes and were pulled up alongside them. I looked down and watched the sea closing over the lost old world.

The Dead Marshes (Part 3)

‘We can take ‘em,’ Grub hissed.

Morgrim and Cerseia quickly shushed him and he fell silent. Eagerly, they all watched from their hiding place as the group of enemies came closer. As the kobolds rounded the bend and came opposite them, Morgrim had to grab Grub to stop him storming forward. He pressed his hand over the other dwarf’s mouth as Grub went to argue.

‘Come on! Move! We’ve not got all day!’ the bullywug spit and cracked his whip over the heads of the kobolds, whom shrink away then hurried forward.

Morgrim shook his head and Grub growled. The bullywug and troll passed them and the whole group walked up to the stone doorway. Loudly threating the kobolds still, the bullywug yanked the troll to a stop and instructed it to open the door.

As the company watched though, a kobold rushed at the bullywug and began beating its small hands all over him. The large frog easily picked up the dragon lizard and laughing in its face, turned to the troll.

‘Kill him,’ the bullywug command.

The troll looked at him dumbly, twirling the wooden club it held in his right hand around.

‘Did you hear me? Kill!’ the bullywug yelled and threw the kobold at the troll’s feet.

The troll looked down still confused, ‘crush?’ a slow booming voice formed one of the only words the troll’s brain know how to say.

‘Yes, Yes! Crush!’

The troll shook himself, lifted his left foot and brought it down on the kobold. The creature screamed, calling out for mercy then fall silent as splattering and crunching noises echoed into the night. The troll moved his foot again and kicked the flattered body into the nearest stagnate pool, which claimed the victim hungrily.

‘Well done! Good boy, Grunter,’ the bullywug praised and turned back to the other kobolds, ‘you want some of that then? Get back to work!’

They scuttled around the door and began clawing at the stones.

‘Go on,’ the bullywug urged the troll and with lumbering steps the creature stomped over and began pulling at the door alongside the kobolds.

Now, guessing they were out of ear shot and preoccupied, Morgrim turned to Cerseia.

‘Can you cast that void again?’ he asked.

She shook her head, ‘I used it up back at the warehouse. I can create a fireball though.’

‘Let’s just charge ‘em,’ Grub argued.

‘No. We need to element of surprise right now,’ Morgrim explained, ‘Konniana, if Cerseia and I cast fire at the kobolds can you shoot arrows at the bullywug?’

‘Yes,’ Konniana’s voice whispered back from the tree top.

‘What shall we do? We have nothing long range,’ Katliana pointed out about herself and Grub, feeling the urge to fight growing.

‘After we have distracted the others, charge the troll and try to take him down. We’ll come and help you once we’ve killed the others,’ Morgrim commanded.

‘Don’t worry. I can take it on myself,’ Grub declared, hefting his warhammer.

‘Are you ready?’ Cerseia chimed in.

Morgrim nodded and at once they both casted their own fire. For Cerseia it was a bright burning orange fireball and for Morgrim a lighter flame of divine power. Cerseia went first and threw her fire towards the kobolds, however the bullywug stepped in front of them and the fireball clipped his shoulder and dropped sizzling out onto the floor. The large frog humanoid turned eyes straight to where they were hiding.

Morgrim quickly followed up Cerseia’s attack, but the bullywug was on guard and easily ducked the scared flame. It sailed over his head and into what should have been a least one kobold, but they had already scattered due to the fireball.

‘We are under attack!’ screamed the bullywug and cracked his whip across the air.

‘Forget this!’ Grub yelled and charged out of the trees straight for the troll.

Katliana chased after him, pulling her great sword out as she did so. She easily over took the short dwarf and parried the troll’s club blow that had been aimed at Grub’s head. An arrow shoot from her sister’s bow whistled past her and straight into the stomach of the Bullywug.

The frog let out a croaking scream, but still turned to command the kobolds into action. Only four were brave enough to come forward though. The other three remind behind, trying desperately to press themselves into any shadows, which seemed to be slowly disappearing in the coming dawn’s light. As the four kobolds assembled and clutched un-sharpened daggers, a fireball crashed down in-between them.

The smell of burnt scaly skin filled the air and dying screams tumbled across the marshland. One luckily kobold had escaped pretty much unharmed and he darted back to his friends. Of the others, two were dead and the third was too badly wounded to get up. On seeing this, the bullywug charged at Katliana. With a roar, he flicked the whip at her and she dodged and dived around Grub, who had become locked in battle with the troll.

An arrow whizzed passed them and buried itself deep into the bullywug’s head. Blood dropped down the creature’s frog face and the whip went loose in the webbed hand. The bullywug choked and fell backwards, landing dead and sprawled out along the pathway.

Catching her breath, Katliana turned to thank her sister, but could no longer see her in the tree. However, on the pathway, she saw Morgrim’s shield light up and he, Cerseia and Konniana rushing over to help them. She turned back to the troll and saw that Grub was struggling against the creature which was easily five times taller than he was. However, that did seem to be putting the dwarf off, only making him more determined.

The troll had no idea that his master was gone and was solely focused on crushing the figures gathering around his feet. With a mighty swing of his weapon, he knocked the dwarf over and flung the club back again to catch the dragonborn. Though, she was faster and ducked under via a roll, which caused her to stop close to the dwarf.

Grub had landed on his back and was groaning in pain. Katliana caught him as he tried to get up and dragged him backwards out of the way as the club parted the air above their heads. She slipped on top of him, causing him to cry out and start struggling to sit up as they both detangled themselves from each other.

By this time the others had reached the troll. Distracted by new things to crush, he turned his attention away and took a swipe at Cerseia. She nimbly dodged the blow and sliced her sword into the troll’s knee, whilst Konniana shot an arrow into his shoulder. He howled in pain as Morgrim stepped forward, leaving his shield and warhammer on the ground as he charged up a spell between his hands.

Enraged, the troll took a strike at Cerseia and missed again as she darted behind him. Unexpectedly, he then threw his club the other way and clipped Konniana on the shoulder. With a roar, she dropped her crossbow, drew her long sword and rushing forward stuck the blade between the troll’s legs. His eyes rolled down at her in shock and his whole body started shaking.

Cerseia sliced the backs of the troll’s knees and hurriedly moved out of the way. She darted back to Morgrim’s side, ready to protect the cleric if the troll came at them again and he no time to fire off his spell. Konniana whipped out her sword and shuffled backwards, her eyes darted across to her sister and she saw Katliana pulling Grub to his feet and them hurrying to join in again.

The troll let out a loud groan and dropped backwards. The air swooshed around him and he hit the ground hard, crushing the bullywug and the barely-alive third kobold under him. The chest heaved a last breath, then fell still.

Konniana climbed on top of him and poked his face with the tip of her sword just be sure he was really dead.

‘Are you injured? Morgrim’s voice called from behind her and she twisted to see him talking to Grub. The other dwarf shook his head and Morgrim’s eyes went to everyone else in turn, ‘is anyone hurt?’

More head shakes answered his question.

‘What are we going to do with them?’ Katliana called and pointed her sword at the remaining kobolds who were still trying to hide in the shadows cast by the wall.

‘Kill them!’ Grub half-shouted and began to stomp his way over.

The others quickly followed and Morgrim fought his way to the front. The kobolds half-turned to them before gathering to chatter amongst themselves. Cerseia conjured a fireball, but Morgrim caught her hand as a single unarmed kobold crept over to them.

‘N-n-no kills-s,’ the kobold stuttered with a forked lizard tongue.

‘Why should we let you live?’ Morgrim called over.

‘You-s kills-s bull-y-wug. He enslaved us-s, we does-s bidding-s. We nots harms you-s.’

‘I do not trust him,’ Cerseia said in a low voice.

Morgrim glanced at the others, but they seemed just as intrigued by the kobold as he was.

‘What do you want?’ he asked.

‘Our-r lands-s backs,’ the kobold lisped, ‘Marsh-y ours-s!’

‘What did the bullywug want with the stolen treasure?’ Konniana asked harshly.

The kobold put his head to one side then half looked back at his three friends and the doorway. He seemed not have understood the question.

‘Where are you taking the crates to?’ Morgrim re-put the questions.

‘Oh! The s-shin-y s-shin-y-s!’ the kobold squealed, ‘to the castle! To the castle they goes!’

‘Castle?’ Cerseia repeated slowly.

‘Why?’ Morgrim pressed.

‘The dark-s wiz-ard,’ the kobold shivered, ‘he make-s us-s alls. Enslave whole tribe. Take-s our-s marsh-y!’

‘So, you were right,’ Katliana cut in disappointedly and casting her head down, ‘someone else was been behind all of this the whole time.’

‘Can you take us to the castle?’ Morgrim asked the kobold, ignoring her for the moment.

The kobold’s eyes considered the dwarf as the kobold’s head slipped to the side once more. He seemed in thought for a few moments and then asked, ‘you-s goings to kill dark-s wiz-ard? Deads?’

Morgrim nodded, ‘yes, we are going to kill him. If you help us, we will set your tribe free and give you your land back, including the castle.’

‘No castle-s doesn’t wants-s,’ the kobold spit, ‘marsh-y only. Lands-s!’

‘Deal,’ Morgrim called over and he walked over to the kobold with his hand out. He thought he heard the females gasping and Grub ready his warhammer.

The kobold touched his hand with its own scaly clawed fingers and rushed back to jabber with his friends. Morgrim watched them, satisfied that the kobold was relaying the exchange between them. He was aware of Cerseia coming to side, but before she could voice her questions, Morgrim called over to the kobolds, turned around and set off walking down the crudely made log pathway. The chattering kobolds swarmed after him, then passed him and began to lead the way. Morgrim’s companions fell into place behind him, eyeing the kobolds warily and whispering amongst themselves. Morgrim smiled and felt his old friend victory creeping into his head. Soon they would fulfill their quest.

To Be Continued…

The Dead Marshes (Part 2)

Morgrim shuffled forward then stopped, ‘maybe the rogue should check for traps?’ he suggested, with a glance over his shoulder at Konniana.

‘Sure. I might need some more light though.’

Nodding, Morgrim made his shield glow brighter and sent four light balls over the un-light torches on the walls. The divine light hovered above them and the chamber became brightly lit. Konniana moved slowly across the floor casting her eyes everywhere. Cerseia watched for a few moments then moved to the edge of the floor and followed the wall around. Katliana and Grub joined Morgrim, they patiently waited.

‘It seems fine,’ Konniana called after a few moments.

‘They probably don’t have any reason to set up traps,’ Cerseia half-shouted, ‘what with that big creature they have,’ Cerseia had come to stand across from the others and was running her hands over the wall.

Konniana wondered over to her and inspect the wall too. There seemed to be nothing of interest nor anything unusual. It just looked like a big block of stone to her.

‘Dwarves are best for this kind of thing,’ Grub said in a low voice as he nudged Morgrim.

Grinning, they crossed the floor together and helped search for a hidden doorway or lever. Katliana stayed near the opening they had come through, her eyes darting into the darkness and watching for any movements.

‘I know this stone, Grub said after few moments in a whispery voice to himself.

Cerseia and Konniana had moved on to the other walls and Morgrim had been inspecting the floor which was also stone. He looked up as he heard Grubs words and moved over to stand beside him.

‘It shouldn’t be here,’ Grub added.

‘What is it?’ Morgrim asked.

‘It was mined very far and deep from here by dwarf hands who are kin to us.’

‘How did it end up here? Nothing else we’ve seen has been dwarven. What about the rest of this place?’

Grub cast his eyes around before studying a few of the stones next to the very large slab he had found. He shook his head, ‘it’s been carefully made to look like it. They must have got other dwarves to make the rest of stones and build it. This isn’t our work.’

Morgrim touched the slab then some of the other stones surrounding it. His fingers could easily tell the difference between them. Also, his eyes could now see where someone had cleverly made lines in the large slab to disguise it as just another part of the wall.

‘It’s a doorway that,’ Grub excitedly announced, ‘we just need to push it open.’

He put his shoulder against the slab and pressed against it. Morgrim joined him, but they seemed unable to move it together.

‘Everyone come and help,’ Grub called out.

Cerseia, Konniana and Katliana hurried over and pushed against the slab alongside the dwarfs. For a few moments nothing seemed to happen, but then the stone slowly began to give way. A whiff of fresh air squeezed through the newly made crack and that was enough for the adventurers to throw their whole weights against the slab door and push it to the side.

Standing in the openness, they all glanced around and realised at the same instant they were in a dreadful place. The still air was hot and stank of rotting vegetation and meat. In the light coming off Morgrim’s shield they could see stagnate pools of dark green water and tall dry reeds and grass.

‘We are in the Dead Marshes,’ Cerseia whispered, giving voice to what they had all been thinking.

‘What do we do now?’ Grub asked gruffly.

‘Not stay here!’ the dragonborn sisters said in unison.

‘We know they use this tunnel to remove the treasure,’ Morgrim respond, ‘we could ambush them here. They wouldn’t be expecting that and we would have more space to fight.’

‘And risk death by sinking in the mud or water?’ Cerseia shot back.

‘Look at this pathway,’ Grub cut in before anyone could respond to her, ‘Someone’s spent a lot of time and effort making it.’

They looked and saw that a crude pathway made out of large logs, some of which were tied together, stretched out before them. A mile or so head the path seemed to start curving and they could just make out some scrubby bushes. With a shrug, Grub stepped off the stone step and onto a log. It held his weight and more confidently he started walking off.

‘We should close the door,’ Cerseia pointed out.

Morgrim nodded, he stepped briefly into the chamber to call back his light. Then he and the sisters swung the door back to. The slab closed heavily with a shudder and a thud as it neatly slotted back into place. Grub came back over to them and looked at the outline of the door.

‘Good job I’ve got my crowbar or we wouldn’t be getting back through there,’ he uttered.

‘Did you see a safe place we can hide?’ Morgrim asked him.

Grub nodded, ‘there’s a clump ‘o trees on the bend there. That would hide us all.’

‘Good. Let’s make for there then.’

‘I’ll go ahead,’ Cerseia stated and drawing her sword walked off.

The others followed behind her, finding the pathway made the going easy across the marshland. A few minutes later, they stepped off one after the other and hide inside the clump of tall scrawny trees and bushes. Konniana climbed one the trees facing the pathway and nested herself on a thick branch. She felt safer having a full view of the tunnel entrance and the pathway.

‘How long do you think we’ll have to wait?’ Katliana asked softly.

Morgrim looked at the sky and tried to guess the time, but he could hardly make anything out on the other side of the tree branches other than blackness. He turned back to the dragonborn, ‘it can’t be much longer now. It must have taken us a good hour or so to get here. It’s hard to read the sky,’ he trailed off.

Cerseia eyed them and spoke, ‘do you not remember what that bard, the one we meet with the caravan company we were following, Jimmy, said? The Dead Marshes sky stays the same no matter if its day or night. Then he told is that tale about that maiden seeking her lost lover through the marsh and being lead to her watery grave by ghost lights,’ she ended in a shiver that made her shake violently.

Grub snorted, ‘folktales!’

‘Hush, I hear something,’ Konniana called down, ‘but out the light.’

Morgrim quickly put his hand over his shield and willed the light away. They were thrown into total darkness, but then the dwarf and elf eyes adjusted and they saw that Konniana had been right. Coming along the pathway they could hear a number of pattering and heavy footsteps. A few seconds later, a gruff voice yelled out, ‘get along there, you scum!’

Figures took shape in the darkness and the companions held their breaths as they saw about eight Kobolds, whom were small dragon lizard humanoids, matching before a Bullywug, a humanoid frog, with a whip in one hand and in the other a rope lead which was tied to the collar of the troll stomping behind him.

To Be Continued……

The Dead Marshes (Part 1)

Morgrim Redsbeard landed heavily on the well packed and dry earth of the hidden tunnel. The loud clanking of his movements down the ladder echoed then faded. His small dark eyes glanced around and he listened closely.  He heard nothing and saw only the two tall dirt walls on either side of him and the entrance ahead of him. Morgrim was surprised to see that the tunnel was about twenty foot tall and seemed deep enough to continue out of his sight reach.

His free hand tugged gently at his long dark red wiry beard, which his ancestors had been named after and so had become highly recognisable by other mountain dwarf clans, as he began to think. In his other hand, his fingers had loosened slightly on the leather bound grip of his large warhammer, which was resting on his amour plated shoulder. A soft padding and swishing sound from behind drew his attention and he glanced over his shoulder to see one companions coming down the wooden ladder.

Morgrim shuffled to the side and his right foot tapped against something. He looked down and saw at his feet a soft yellow light pulsing along the keen blade of an elf dagger. He picked it up and handed it back to the female half-elf, Cerseia, as she joined him. She quickly took it from him and studied the area.

‘This would explain it,’ Cerseia muttered.

Morgrim eyed her warily and watched her approach the entrance to the tunnel. She stopped short and held out the dagger to cast more light down the passage way. It didn’t reach very far, but the half-elf like the dwarf was able to see further with her eyes then the lit up dagger went. Upon wondering about this, Morgrim called the divine light back to his hand and cast them into darkness for a few moments. However, it didn’t make a difference and they couldn’t see much further down the tunnel then before.

‘What’s happening?’ a loud voice yelled from above.

Morgrim cast the light on his shield, illuminating the tunnel once again as he and Cerseia went to the bottom of the ladder and looked up into the three faces of their other companions, which were two dragonborn sisters, Katliana and Konniana, and a male mountain dwarf, Grubgubber, Grub to his friends, who was possibly a distant cousin of Morgrim’s on his mother’s side.

‘Nothing,’ Morgrim called back, ‘There’s a long tunnel down here.’

‘It must be how they are transporting the treasure,’ Cerseia added.

‘What do you want to do?’ the same voice asked and Morgrim saw that it belong to the female dragonborn paladin, Katliana.

‘We must find out where it leads,’ Cerseia answered, ‘and who is behind all of this.’

‘I really don’t like that idea!’ Grub yelled down, ‘have you ever fought in tunnel before elf? We should stay here and refortify this area for the coming attack.’

The smell of death trailed after his words and reminded Morgrim of the fight that had taken place in the warehouse above them mere minutes ago. He and some of the others had been suspicious of the innkeeper, a foul-mouthed and stinking half-orc, when they had first arrived and asked for rooms for the night. He had turned them away, but Cerseia had charmed him into letting them stay and sharing a single room. As soon as they had settled for the night, they had been disturbed by shouting voices and the sounds of a scuffle.

Morgrim recalled the heated debate amongst them upon hearing the noise. However, it had quickly been decided that someone should go and take a look. Cerseia and Konniana, the dragonborn rogue, had sneaked out and discovered that the innkeeper was having an argument with a group of humans. They as, Konniana had described, seemed to be guarding a dilapidated building far beyond the stables. She had tried to get a closely look and had spotted what seemed to be stacks of crates inside, but then the innkeeper had seen her and she and Cerseia had rushed back to get the others.

From there everything had happened too fast and they had had no choice but to kill the innkeeper and his human guards or else they would have been dead themselves. They had investigated the crates afterwards and found them full of treasures. Thus, confirming some of the information they had received in a letter upon accepting the quest.

‘What else did that note say?’ Morgrim grumbled to himself coming out of the memory.

‘Pardon?’ Cerseia asked in a low voice.

He shook his head and turned his face up towards the trap door, ‘come down. We need to go through the tunnel. It is big enough to fight in,’ he added.

He moved away and stepped towards the entrance was more. Cerseia came to his side and they set off at a normal pass. Behind them they heard first Katliana then Konniana come down the ladder. They landed just as heavily as Morgrim had done. Grub, growling and muttering, followed after them, having first shut the trapdoor. They quickly fell into line behind the others and made their way through the tunnel.

‘I still say we’d have been better staying up top,’ Grub spoke out a few moments later.

‘Perhaps, but we could have been waiting a long time,’ Morgrim responded.

Cerseia nodded, ‘it is still a good few hours before the hour of the wolf. That’s what the letter said, remember? Stay in your room at the hour of the wolf. They must remove the treasure and take it along here at that time so nobody will hear them. Look!’ she stopped and pointed to some footprints on the ground.

The group came to a halt and all eyes went to the floor. The footprints were not human as they looked too small and animal like. Beside them were some bigger and deeper footprints. Also, there were lines were the crates had dragged along.

‘What do you make of these? Morgrim asked Konniana and he shone the light from his shield further on the floor and followed the footprints along.

She shrugged her blue scaly shoulders, ‘They have a big creature doing most of the work? But, there’s no wheel tracks, so they must carry everything.’

‘At least we now know what’s been happening to all the treasure that’s being stolen from the nearby villages and towns,’ Cerseia cut in.

‘But where is it ending up and who is actually behind it,’ Morgrim added on.

‘Surely, the innkeeper’s be doing it!’ Katliana cried out, ‘And he’s had some goblins or something moving the treasure to a safer location so that he wouldn’t have been found out.’

‘I don’t know, this plan seems too good for a half-orc,’ Morgrim explained, ‘maybe he’s been working under someone else?’

‘Let’s go on and find out. This tunnel has to lead somewhere,’ Cerseia chimed in.

They started walking again with Morgrim leading the way. Cerseia was close behind him, the dragonborns stayed in the middle and Grub, still muttering to himself, was rear guard. The tunnel stretched tall and wide, like the throat of some chaotic beast, though it seemed to be a long way down to its stomach. They walked for a good amount of time without saying anything, the only sounds coming from their foot falls, rustling of clothes, clanking of amour and weapons. Each had fallen deep into their own thoughts and even Grub had stopped talking to himself.

From out of nowhere, Grub called out, ‘My donkey! I’ve left him behind!’

‘It doesn’t matter, you can get him later,’ Cerseia hissed back.

Morgrim slowed his steps, but didn’t stop, ‘she’s right. We all have to go back to get our things. Don’t worry about it for now.’

‘Is this tunnel ever going to end? Katliana questioned.

‘I have no idea,’ came Morgrim’s weighted reply.

Konniana sniffed the air, ‘I can’t tell.’

Morgrim picked up his pace again, though this time he hurried a little bit more. His shield still lit up the way, as if guiding them onwards. He became aware of Cerseia matching his strides and sticking close to his side. If pride hadn’t have got to him, Morgrim would have asked the half-elf to go ahead of him. She was much quieter and stealthier then he could ever be- full amour or not- and if there was anything coming towards them inside the tunnel or waiting at the exit, then she could warn them.

He opened his mouth to perhaps suggest something along the lines of this to Cerseia, but quickly closed it again as he saw what was up ahead. He and Cerseia entered the massive circler room together. Four iron brackets with un-light torches were spaced out along the now stone walls and there seemed to be no way out.

To Be Continued……

Necklace

I knew I should have gotten rid of it years ago, but the sentimentally attachment was always too strong. Rubbing the blue old leather, I sat on the attic floor trying to convince myself not to open the small square box and just to put it in the charity bag. The image of what lay inside stayed fixed in my mind and I had to give into opening the box.

Laying on dark blue stain was a small heart locket with a matching gold chain. I’d never worn it and maybe no one ever had. It was the type of jewellery you’d give a child, which they’d only wear it on special days. I had no memory of receiving it; just that she had given it to me and it was the only thing I had to remind me of her.

Sighing, I closed the box and put it back in the large storage crate again. Maybe, I’d never be ready to part with it or maybe the fact that it was the only thing left of someone who’d once loved me and that symbolism was too precious to give up.