Adventures of the Cursed Eight: 1.2

Here is the next part of the first chapter of the Adventures of the Cursed Eight.

A small note: the names of the characters were chosen by the players. Any similarities with characters found in other works of fiction are purely coincidental. If this bothers you, that’s ok. But remember: Andrea can be the name of a he, a she, a they, a hero, a villain, a goblin or an elf. So please don’t be namist.

The story continues from where it left of in the Adventures of the Cursed Eight: 1.1

1.2 The fighter and the sorcerer

The dwarf slowly regained consciousness in one of the many beds lining the crowded halls of the Infirmary. His dark eyes flickered in a face framed by long red hair and a braided beard. Currently he was wearing the simplest of linen robes; his armor and pack lay at his feet, as did the monstrous maul that had earned him his name. The armor was quite heavy and although it had seen many battles, it looked new: a testament to the incomparable artistry of the smiths of Argathod. On the breastplate were engraved the twin hammers of the Deep Army of King Eldor Shattershield, ally of the Detorak Empire.

He sat up, shaking his head slightly. A wave of dizziness hit him and he fought to remain conscious. Memories of the battle came flooding back and it was all he could do to not reel in agony as it all played out before him: the charge, the ambush.

His folly.

The dwarf keeled over, cupping his head in his hands. A low moan emerged from between his rigid fingers and he ground his feet into the stone in frustration. He had been a Captain in the Deep Army, a war hero, the veteran of a hundred battles. Never before, had he seen carnage like this: the Plains of Sheltoth had tested him and he had failed. Muscles flexed under the old soldier’s shirt as guilt and anguish gripped his very core.

In a frenzy, he leapt to his feet and rushed from one bed to the next searching in vain for those he had lost.

As the dwarf paced up and down the crowded corridor, Zal’tat Spindlefoot stirred in his cot. The young gnome was still dressed in the clothes he had worn when he had been admitted to the infirmary: a light green wool cloak over a simple vest and trousers. Like most small folk, he had chosen to forsake footwear, as all it did was prevent him from feeling the pulse of the forest. By his bed lay the few possessions of a lonely soul: a pack, a staff and a serviceable crossbow.

The gnome didn’t get up just yet. Instead, he lay back against the rough cushion and stared at the ceiling thoughtfully. Hesitantly, he lifted his heavily bandaged hands upwards, until they were suspended above his head. With careful cautious movements, he slowly unwrapped the many layers of white linen from the left hand. As he came to the last pass, he paused. The memory of the atrocious burns he had sustained was still fresh in his memory; he could still see it before his eyes, the green blaze of emerald fire that had almost scorched his hands to a crisp and had sent him careening into the dark realm of unknowing. He trembled in fear; he didn’t want to see the mangled black flesh.

Tugging the bandage forcefully, he freed his hand at last and let out a sigh of relief: it was whole and unscathed, the fingers and skin as rosy as the day he had been born. He made quick work of the second bandage and soon he was up, hastily strapping his pack to his shoulders. He gripped his staff firmly gripped in his happily dancing hands and once he was sure he hadn’t forgotten anything, he made his way towards the exit.

He was halfway to the great oak door when he slowed, as if caught in a strange dream. Slowly he raised his left hand before him, inspecting it carefully once more. Unsatisfied, Zal’tat closed his eyes. Gritting his teeth, he held it out as far in front of him as he could and snapped his fingers.

They immediately burst into flame, a bright emerald fire dancing harmlessly on his thumb and middle finger. The gnome took a step backwards, but then stopped. Time slowed as he stood there, his eyes captivated by the hypnotic dancing light. He chuckled softly as he caused the flame to leap easily from finger to finger.

“You there! Sorcerer!”

Zal’tat’s head snapped upwards. In front of him were no less than ten guards, led by the imposing man that had just addressed him.

“Me?” he asked incredulously, the flames on his fingers slowly dying out.

“Yes, you! Your presence is required at Imperial Head Quarters! Follow us, please!”

The commander of the guard lifted his head and spotted the wandering dwarf. He seemed to lose his gruff demeanor and sighing quietly he made his way towards the red-haired warrior. He saluted sharply and removed his helmet respectfully before addressing the one known as Thorin Battlehammer.

“Captain Battlehammer. It is a relief to see you up and about again sir. Forgive this intrusion, but I have been instructed to bring all able-bodied personnel and civilians to H.Q. That includes yourself, sir.”

The dwarf deflated visibly; the prospect of being confronted with Major Zigarn had immediately sapped him of the little energy he seemed to have left. Without uttering a word, he returned to his bed and in a few practiced movements, he had donned his armor and shouldered his weapon.

“Very well Sergeant,” he answered wearily “lead on.”

As they were leaving the infirmary, he blurted out the question that he had been dreading to ask.

“Where there…any others?”

The sergeant looked down, his face a mask of pity.

“I’m afraid not. I’m sorry sir.”

The dwarf shrugged and looked away. He seemed to grow smaller, as if weighed down by some invisible force.

Before leaving the building, the sergeant turned to one of the guardsmen. “Find the druid, and bring her in as well. Major’s orders.”-

The story continues in the Adventures of the Cursed Eight: 1.3

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