Into The Wild – Chapter 34
Chapter 34 – Adventure 1 Conclusion
Mat knew he needed to hurry back but just couldn’t find the urgency within himself. He knew that Devon would start worrying, which would quickly morph into freaking out, but he needed to be alone right now. So much had changed since arriving in this new world. At first, he’d thought he was walking the right path, doing at the very least what he was required to do, but now he wasn’t sure. He’d been killing consistently and without much forethought. At the time, he hadn’t paid attention to what the rouge leader had said about the trail of bodies, but now it was dancing around in the back of his mind. There was a steady slide show of the horrors he’d seen…no caused…at the Druid camp playing just behind his eyes.
Finding a silent hill, he sat down in the darkness, crossed his legs, placed his hands on his knees, and closed his eyes. At first, his mind raced from one event to the next with the collage of death playing in the background, but finally, he was able to settle into some small state resembling stillness. For a couple of hours, he sat and let his body and mind rediscover who he was and how it wanted to fit into this new place. Just before dawn, he opened his eyes. He was still alone. His mind felt renewed, and his body fresh. He thanked whoever you thank for things like this and started back to the city.
The first thing Mat noticed when he arrived at the warehouse was the silence. It was too quiet. He carefully crept in through a high window. He’d be damned if he’d use that tunnel again. The place was dark except for a few lanterns and the dim early morning light, just starting to awaken the day, filtering through the high grim covered windows.
Daggers drawn, he worked his way across a central beam as he scanned the crates below, looking for movement. He found nothing.
“Get your skinny ass down here, lurker boy,” barked a voice scaring Mat badly enough for him to harl a dagger in its direction as he stumbled and almost fell off the high beam. As he dropped to the floor, he realized who the voice belonged too. It was Burfs. Eyes wide, he turned to find the Dwarf tossing the dagger up, causing it to spin in the air and then catching it on its descent. “Bit jumpy there, laddie.”
Mat let out a huff as he snatched the dagger from the air. “Your bleeding, are you ok.” He’d noticed a slight trickle of blood staining the dwarf’s shoulder.
“I’m fine, yungon. Clearly, I need to be training. That was sloppy throw and slow.”
“Hey, I hit you.”
“My hands were full.”
“Sure they were,” answered Mat, following the innkeeper’s eyes down to a stack of plates setting at his feed. “You were holding those? They’re not broken.”
“Why you think I got nicked, not breakin good dinnerware just cause of an overzealous rouge.”
“Exactly,” said Burf with a smirk. Retrieving the stack, they headed down the dark aisle back towards the office. Mat noticed changes. The area was cleaner, and there was a table with plates and glasses on it. Taking a seat, he picked a morsel of what he hoped was last night’s meal off a plate and ate it while Burf scrounged around with his head in a crate. When he reemerged, he was carrying a round of bread and a bottle of wine. Without asking, he poured them both a goblet and pushed one across the table as Mat tore off a piece of the hard-crusted bread. It smelled fresh.
“Sleepin,” the innkeeper said as he sat down across the table. “Did you find what you were lookin for?”
Mat suddenly found himself more interested in his goblet than the Dwarfs conversation choice. He let his eyes, then his head drift downwards. “Yea, sorta.”
“You went too far, didn’t you?”
“Yea, sorta. How’d you know?”
“I heard the stories of what had happened out there. It was bad enough to catch the attention of the city council. They were goin to send people in to clean it up. Is there still a need?”
“No, it’s handled,” answered Mat.
“You get it all?”
“Wasn’t me; I had help.”
“You probing, aren’t you?”
“Not very well, it seems.”
Stealing himself, Mat met the dwarf’s eyes. “The rogues didn’t set fire to your inn. It was the Xirians.”
“And you know this how,” asked Burf, suddenly turning serious.
“Oslcar told me.”
“Oh, did he. He was in the druid village?”
“He bein the one to ‘help you out’ with the infestation?”
“Yes,” answered Mat as he cocked an eyebrow. “You knew what was there, didn’t you?”
“Was pretty sure.”
“And you didn’t warn me.”
“Wasn’t my mess to warn you about. Should such a mess be made by someone who later needs to be warned about the consequences of making said mess? We both know it shouldn’t.”
Mat’s eyes narrowed in anger. “So you knew that ‘secret’ organization was real.”
“No, and that’s a discussion we will not be having again. Setting you two up to impersonate the guild was the mess I made. Now I have to live with the consequences, as is the nature of messes. What did the rouges have to say, and why was he there?”
“Why do you think? He was there to see me. He’s been having us watched. He knows where you and Devon are as well,” explained Mat motioning around the warehouse with his empty goblet.
“Is that cause for concern?” asked the Dwarf as he refilled their drinks.
“I don’t think so. He said what he needed to say and told me we needed to get out of ‘his’ town before The Xirians show up to cause him trouble. He made it very clear. If he started to have problems with them, we’d be having problems with him. Strangely he told me to take you with us.”
“I’m sure he did.”
“Do you want to come?”
“Devon already invited me, is that a problem?”
Mat saw Burf’s hand drop silently to the sword at his side. He started to ask when he heard the sound as well. “It seems we’ve got company.”
“Yea, I think so.”
“There are six if I’m hearin right. It seems everyone is being sloppy tonight. You ready?”
“Who do you think it is,” asked Mat sipping his wine, trying to act natural.
“Bet it’s my mistake.”
“Yup, there are two close behind me. One just down the thin center aisle. He should be close enough to be visible. The second is to my right on top of the crates.”
“How do you know that.”
“Not thinkin now’s the time for lessons.”
“Ok, what you want me to do.”
“They ain’t here for tea. Do what you do best, drop those two with those fancy daggers of yours, then run and wake your friend. I’ll hold them off, but don’t be long. Now…,” barked Burf in a robust voice. But Mat didn’t need to be told. The daggers were already on their way to their mark. The dwarf threw himself away from the chair and turned in time to see the two targets drop to the ground. One appeared to be dead, there was a dagger through its eye, while the other just wounded. There was shouting as five more figures rushed from hiding.”
“There are more,” barked Mat as he started to race towards the office.
“I can see that, laddie, get your friend.”
“I’m here,” they both heard Devon say from the office door. “What is happening?”
“Kill anyone who isn’t us,” ordered Mat. Devon watched as his friend just stood there, not moving. He let out a cry of warning but was too late. An attacker appeared from the shadows and ran Mat through with his sword. As the blade emerged from his friend’s chest, Devon’s eyes filled with tears as the world took on a loud buzz. His vision quickly narrowed as his shock turned to anger. But only for a second, because in that instant, two things happened, freezing Devon in his tracks. First, his friend’s body exploded into wisps of swirling black tendrils as a thin line of red appeared across the attacker’s throat. “Focus, Devon,” barked Mat standing with a dagger in hand as the body of his attacker collapsed to the ground.
Devon had no idea what had just happened, but curiosity was quickly engulfed in a tsunami of rage. It seemed like every time they turned around, regardless of where they were or what the situation, someone was trying to kill them. He was sick of it. No more hesitation; if they wanted to keep bringing the fight to them, then by damn, he and Mat would teach them what fear was. He’d grown tired of being fucked with.
His eyes shot up to find two attackers just coming within range, swords drawn. “They sent melee to a magic fight, pity,” growled Devon as he quickly cast Geas upon the nearest of the two. As the spell took effect, Devon stumbled from the sudden drain of mana but recovered as fast. Seeing his intended target stiffen, he coldly ordered, “execute the person beside you.”
He watched as the controlled attacker’s body shuddered several times. Devon could feel the guys will fighting against its new master. If this were D&D, the guy would be taking a saving throw. Doubling his concentration, his own will won out as the swordsman lunged forward, running his blade through his friends back. Devon watched as first surprise and then shock raced across the victim’s face as he realized who he’d just been murdered by, and sank to the floor with the sword still in his back. Looking up, the one he controlled clutched his head with both hands and dropped to his knees, screaming. The agony in his voice almost broke Devon’s concentration, but the strain of the spell quickly ended as the guy’s head separated from his shoulders and flew away. Burf then shifted to block an attack with his sword from behind. Devon was amazed at the speed of the stocky dwarf.
Mat let out a cry as he felt a searing pain down his back and dropped and rolled away from what he could only assume was an attacker. As he righted himself, he found himself face to face with what he knew was another rouge. His crouch, the way he was holding the daggers, there was no doubt. “Give yourselves up, and we will kill you quickly,” hissed the dark grey elf.
“Not going to happen, you’ve already lost people, surrender, and we might let you live,” replied Mat as they circled each other.
“We are dead either way, by your hands or theirs if we fail our mission.”
“Well then, let it be ours,” answered Mat as he blink stepped behind his attacker only to feel a blade sink into his shoulder. The elf had done the same thing and ended up behind him. Mat let out another cry of pain. “Your starting to piss me off.”
Mat blinked again, reappearing about ten feet from where he’d been, again he felt pain. The elf had matched him step for step. Back and forth they went, each with two daggers, lunging and flipping as they sought an opening in the other’s defenses. Mat had taken several more minor wounds while doing next to nothing to his opponent. Already he saw his overconfidence since arriving on this world crumbling as he was finally tested by someone as good if not better than he was. He needed to train more. Well, if he lived through the fight.
Devon heard a cry and found Mat sparing with one of the attackers. They seemed to be circling each other, and Devon could see wounds scattered across his friend’s body. With a wash of mana, he focused and sent a healing wave across the distance to encompass his friend. Next, without thinking, he cast the first spell that came to mind against Mat’s opponent and almost burst out laughing when they guy broke off his attack in favor of dancing ridiculously. This new love of the arts didn’t stop Mat. With an equally confounded look, he took advantage of the situation by burying a dagger up to the hilt in the guy’s chest. As the elf fell away, Mat turned to find Devon with a reluctant smirk on his face. Pointing to a healed wound, he mouthed ‘thanks’ and rushed the two remaining attackers sparing with Burf.
Devon could see Burf had been cut up pretty badly as well; one looked horrible. He sent a more potent healing spell causing the gouge to glow and begin to close. Unfortunately, this temporarily distracted the dwarf allowing one of his attackers to take the advantage. In a panic, Devon barked another incantation causing the attacker to drop his sword as his hands came up to clutch his chest in pain. Reaching back, Devon placed a hand against the office wall. The exertion was starting to take its toll. Together the four watched as the swordsman collapsed to the floor in spasms until his body relaxed into stillness and then death. Devon realized he was about to pass out. A death spell like that was incredibly taxing.
The death of his friend didn’t stop the final attacker for long. He turned and, with an angry cry, lunged at Burf only to also collapse to the floor with Mat standing over him.
“Thank Gawd, they’re all dead,” said Burf.
“Nope, this one is just unconscious. I want information,” corrected Mat.
“Well, that was bad,” commented Devon as he walked up to examine the attacker. He stumbled once.
“You hurt?” asked Mat with concern.
“No, it’s the exertion. Death spells suck.”
“More for him than you, I’d imagine,” commented Burf. Pointing at one of the dead rogues, he added, “They’re Xirians, look at the mark.”
Kneeling, Devon could see a tattoo on the guy’s neck that resembled the badge on their robes.
“What I find strange is why they didn’t send any magic users,” commented Devon.
“That could be a good sign,” noted Burf.
“How so?” asked Mat.
“They don’t know what you guys are. Well, not both of you, they sent three rouges. It’s clear they know what you are,” added Burf, pointing to Mat.
“But they have to know about the Druid compound,” remarked Mat.
“Yes, they probably do, which is why they sent rouges after a rouge/necromancer. Nothing that’s happened has a druid’s fingerprints.”
It took about an hour for their captive to awake. When he did, they could see, at first, the confusion, but that quickly morphed into anger. They stood watching as he discovered he was bound and starting working to free himself. Mat coughed, causing the guy’s head to jerk around where he found all of his intended victims standing alive behind him.
“Hello, sleepyhead. So how are we feeling this morning? Would you like breakfast, some coffee, or would you prefer to be eviscerated from nuts to nose? What will it be?” growled Mat as he stalked around the captive like he was prey.
“Do what you will, I’m dead already.”
“No, not yet, and to be honest, that might be the final result. But I can draw it out long enough for you to see death as a welcomed gift.”
Pushing Mat aside, Burf decided it was time to interject. “So young one I see by your tattoo who sent you so we can skip that line of questions. What I’ll be needin you to tell me is why.”
They watched as the bound man clamped his mouth shut in an adolescent show of defiance. Devon smirked and sent out the gentlest threads of a charm spell to see if he could weaken their captive’s resolve. At first, the spell didn’t seem to have any effect, and he could feel resistance to his attempts. The captive’s eyes shifted up towards the Druid as Devon increased the force of his charm. The rogue was clearly trained to resist such attempts. “Fine,” Devon muttered and cast a different spell to see if he could force his way in. Mat and Burf stood quietly as they watched the silent struggle between their friend and the would-be assassin. Both jumped in shock when the guy let out a mind-numbing scream and fell onto his side in a sweat-soaked heap.
Devon took a second to catch his breath. He saw Mat start towards them and held up a finger to stop him. As sweat ran down his face, Devon found and destroyed the last barriers as the captive writhed screaming on the floor. As time ticked by, the screams faded, becoming cries, and then whimpers as the man’s face went slack, and his body gave up all resistance. They could smell that the captive had lost control of his bowels. With a look of stone, Devon turned back to them, “There, he’s controlled. That should make him more cooperative.”
“That was brutal, boy. What did you do, bash your way in?” asked Burf.
“Pretty much. Not sure what will be left when I release him. People are attacking us, and I want that to stop. But since they won’t, all we can do is make it cost them by leaving little warnings behind to let them know what they are up against. He will be our first such warning,” answered Devon.
“Wow, remind me not to get on your bad side,” remarked the barkeep.
Mat smirked with satisfaction causing Burf to cock an eyebrow at him. “They started the fight, and never for a second did I doubt that Devon would rise to the occasion once he realized there was no reasoning with them.”
“We can hope they will learn and not force this to become a full-on war,” added Devon.
“You might have a point. They sent these guys to put a backwater town in line. Once they see this, they might realize a hammer might not be the best tool for the job.”
“What do you think they would do next?” asked Devon.
“After seeing what you’ve done here, probably try to recruit you.”
“Not going to happen. But regardless, we need to focus on what is in front of us. This one,” said Mat as he turned back to what was left of their victim, “Now, let’s try this again, why are you here?”
For a long time, there was silence until Mat lost patience and started threatening to saw off toes.
“Can’t do that, Mat, physical damage will break the spell,” explained Devon.
“Shit, where’s the fun in that. In that case, start talking, or I will return you to my friend’s loving bosom.” Mat paused and looked back over his shoulder, and then down to Devon’s chest, adding, “um, sorry. You know what I mean.”
“Gawd, you’re an idiot, men have bosoms too?”
“Anyway, I will give you back to my friend here. You want that?” Said Mat to the half-conscious prisoner.
The threat appeared to be enough to loosen the rogue’s tongue. “I was sent by the Xirian high council to investigate someone posing as a member. Boy, are you guys in trouble,” he said, looking around at the dead bodies. “They will send their real warriors after you now.”
“How will they know?” asked Devon.
“I will tell them.”
“And how do you plan to do that?” asked Burf as Devon shook his head. How much did that spell mess this guy up? He didn’t even realized he’d just signed his own death warrant. “Is there anything else we need from him?”
“Sadly, no,” said Devon as Mat pulled a dagger.
Devon searched his mind as he watched his friend prepare to murder yet another person. “Wait,” he barked as he tossed a sleep spell on their captive. “There he’s asleep. There isn’t much left of his mind already, and what there is I can alter. It might not help in the long run. One survivor isn’t much of a bargaining chip, but if what I have in mind works, it will give us a head start. Plus, we need to find options other than killing to solve our problems.”
“Yea, I agree. Oslcar even commented he tracked me by the newly laid trail of dead bodies,” agreed Mat, much to Devon’s surprise.
“Agreed. What ye have in mind, laddie?” asked Burf.
“Watch,” answered Devon as he placed his hands on each side of the assassin’s head. Closing his eyes, he reached out with his mana and found the mental stamps for the last couple of hours and started to manipulate the memories. At first, he tried to remove the three of them, but they were too ingrained. Pushing that aside he altered the other parts he wanted to eliminate, mainly the conversations. Those were easier. Just as he started to set the changes in place, he remembered something he knew but didn’t remember; instead of deleting the three of them, he could alter them. When he finished, instead of finding the people they were sent to find, now the captive remembered their group stumbling upon a pack of ghouls hiding out in the warehouse. He waited to see if that change would work, and when he saw that it had, he went back to the conversations a second time and seeded them with new memories. When he was satisfied, he set the spell in motion and released the guy’s head, leaving him unconscious.
“What did you do,” asked Mat with a devious smirk.
“We need to leave now if we are leaving. When he wakes up, he will remember breaking into the warehouse and hearing a conversation about how they were planning to take over the city and bring all of its citizens under the heal of their master.”
“WHAT! YOU DID WHAT?” barked Burf as he started jumping up and down. “They will certainly come looking for us now.”
“No, they will be looking for a band of ghouls who’d been hiding out in the warehouse until this lot stumbled upon them. He was left alive because he turned tail and ran before they could kill him.”
When Devon finished his explanation, both Mat and Burf were just shaking their heads. “You know if he ran, then the Xirians will kill him for being a coward,” asked Burf.
“That can’t be helped. Let him try to talk his way out of it. At least he stands a chance, and it’s not our hands that does the deed,” answered Devon.
“Boy, I had you pegged right. Mat here is the overzealous murdering type, and you are the brains. Let me get my stuff together,” Burf added as he disappeared into the office.
“You don’t mind if Burf comes with us, do you,” asked Devon.
“We’ve already talked. I’ll fill you in later, but the Rouge guild leader ordered us out of town and told me to take Burf with us. Otherwise, he would have to move against us as well.”
“So, we were leaving one way or the other anyway?”
“Sounds that way. I guess it’s time to head off into the bigger world. You ready?”
“No, but then what choice do I have.”
“None,” answered Mat as he slapped Devon on the shoulder. “It’ll be fun.”
“Fun, I’m not sure about that. Nothing so far has been fun. At times it’s been exciting, while others were horrifying. I wonder how we did?” asked Devon as they turned towards the office.
“How we did what?”
“I have to believe we got it wrong from the start. They told us when they sent us here, we would be tested to see if we were ready. We thought the goblins were the test. I’ve got a feeling this town was the test.”
“I bet you’re right. Good catch, I knew I brought you along for something, and it most certainly wasn’t to listen to you beat off every night. Really, dude, you might want to back off a bit before you wear that thing out.”
“You can do that?” asked Devon in mock shock as they joined Burf in the office.
Here ends the first Adventure of Mat and Devon in their new world. I’ll be taking a short break before I start their next adventure to finish my next book. Visit www.alexandercollas.com for new, more stories, and future and current projects.