Bright Star Quest I: The Book of Baysil
Chapter 12: Furdick, Soldier
Copyright© 2005 by Porlock
Sex Story: Chapter 12: Furdick, Soldier - Book One of Bright Star Quest. A small group of adventurers start off on a quest to find a long-hidden treasure. S&S in a modified D&D world. Very little sex, but lots of blood and gore.
Was it morning, late afternoon, or deepest night? Furdick threw back the cloak that covered him, sitting up as a rising clamor came from the far end of the room. The rest of the company was already stirring, polishing weapons, meditating or praying according to their natures. Near to the fire Baysil watched over Kletta, who seemed wan and pale, not yet fully recovered from her wounds.
"What's the trouble?"
"Her!" Kargh grinned behind his beard, nodding toward where Bartan sat talking to the Goblin wench. "The trouble bringer. The Goblin leader wants her back."
"You! Gwinny! You come!" The Goblin leader strode toward their corner, followed by a dozen or so lesser Goblins. Most of these were hideous creatures, with Orcish features further marred by patches of green scales on face, arm or leg. Only one or two appeared even halfway human.
"Crawl back under your rock," Bartan retorted calmly. "She stay here."
"No, me go," she whispered. "Him kill Bart. No can fight all Goblin tribe."
"Be quiet. It be all right," he reassured her, getting to his feet to tower over the angry Goblin.
"Gwinny come with Yorrble!" The Goblin stamped his feet in anger, and his fellows hastily backed out of his reach. "You shut up, or Yorrble kill!"
"Go back to your pigs, swine herd." Bartan still stood at ease, but his hand was on his sword. "Go! Before I ram your sword up your ass!"
"Yorrble kill!" The Goblin yanked out his sword, but Bartan was ready. Ducking away from Yorrble's attack, he sprang, cat like.
Yorrble's blow went wide, but he caught Bartan's thrust on his shield. The two circled, watching for an opening.
"Pig keeper, pig keeper," Bartan taunted. "Go root for acorns with your herd."
"Yah hah!" Yorrble swung wildly, but Bartan deflected the blow with his own blade. Metal rang, waking echoes. Yorrble missed again as Bartan's sword ripped his side, and blood stained the Goblin's armor. Then Yorrble's blade licked past Bartan's guard, gashing his shoulder, following with a back handed slash that broke through the armor on his thigh.
Bartan rallied, beating Yorrble back with his greater strength and longer reach. Yorrble slipped, went to one knee, but managed to roll away from Bartan's attack. Sparks flew as they stood toe to toe, hewing at each other. More of the Goblin tribe drifted closer, shouting rude comments at both fighters.
The battle raged back and forth. Neither took more wounds, but it was plain that Yorrble was tiring. He tried a desperate feint. Instead of following through, he ducked behind a pillar. Jerking a torch from its holder, he hurled it into Bartan's face! Bartan backed away, parrying frantically. Yorrble laughed, pressing forward as Bartan's shield grew too heavy for his wounded arm.
"Ah hee!" With a cry of triumph, Yorrble thrust over the top of Bartan's shield, but his target wasn't there! Bartan leaned aside just far enough, and his own sword licked out. Yorrble lurched forward. His sword dropped from clawing fingers, and he crashed to the floor on his face.
Yorrble's followers seemed dazed by the sudden end to the fight, and the sight of several crossbows pointing down their gullets didn't help any.
"Back to your corner," Bartan snarled, panting. "Choose new leader. Bart not want you!"
The cautious retreat became a stampede, Goblins hurrying back to join with their fellows to contest for the leadership of the tribe. Even as Furdick watched, squabbles broke out over who would lead.
"Me take sword, take armor." Gwinny bent over Yorrble's body. "Gwinny fight for Darr tribe."
Furdick moved to help her as Darrick tended to Bartan's wounds. She shied away from him, hand on her dagger, then decided that he was really trying to help.
"How long they talk," he asked, not as fluent in Orcish as Bartan. "How long choose new leader?"
"Long time," she grinned, the smile lighting up her round face like a candle in a Harvest gourd. "Lot of talk, and drink. Maybe some fight. Not bother Darr tribe."
"That armor too big," he commented after he'd helped her to tighten its straps as far as they'd go.
"It all right. Yorrble some taller, is all. It be fine." She looked down at herself gleefully, reminding him of when he'd been very small, and his sister had been given a new dress for Vernal Days. "Good sword, too. Sharp!"
"We have better ones. Sharper. Anji! Let's see that extra sword you keep strapped to your pack."
"Here." She handed it to Gwinny, who swung it tentatively. "How you like?"
"Not." She gave it back, a little in awe of this woman soldier so much taller and stronger than she. "Me thank Anji, but not feel right. Too long."
"Too heavy, too. Keep sword you have. We find you better sword another time."
"Me keep." She slid her curved Goblin sword back into its scabbard and swaggered over to Bartan.
"Quite the little warrior woman," Anji laughed. "I hope we aren't making a mistake, bringing her along."
"Bartan seems quite taken with her," he answered a bit sourly. "Oh, well. We take what the Gods send, and make the best of it we can. Bartan says she knows her way around, down here."
"Better than we do," she answered. "For what that's worth."
"Bartan and Darrick think she does," Kargh growled. "I hope they're right. We've stayed in one place long enough. Too long!"
"We're not going anyplace, right now." Elm approached glumly. "I've been listening at the door, and it sounds like there's a whole army tramping around out there."
"Gwinny says that the Dark One has called all of the leaders of the Orc bands to him." Darrick spoke softly, careful that his words didn't carry far. The shouting and pushing among the Goblins had died down, and they'd moved apart into three roughly equal groups.
"That why Yorrble mad," Gwinny nodded. "Him not called to Dark One, this time. One time him called, him come back scared shitless."
"The next level down will be crawling with all kinds of creatures for the rest of this day," Darrick nodded. "We'll just have to lie low until things quiet down."
Even as he spoke, the doors to the corridor banged open. A gross figure in shining armor peered in, saw that all was quiet, and slammed the doors shut. Dead silence reigned for as long as it took to draw three deep breaths, then a shrill gabble broke out among the Goblins.
"Them say, want to go home," Gwinny giggled. "Fraid be eat up by Dark One monsters. Not have loot, not want more fight."
"Is that why Goblin tribes come?" Furdick asked.
"Dark One send word much loot, much food. Kill farmers, kill villagers. Dark One be boss, all land. Call up monsters from deep caves. Yorrble 'fraid to come, 'fraid not come."
The hours dragged. Torches burned low, were replaced by fresh ones from piles stacked inside the doors. The groups of Goblins gradually flowed together into a single huddled mass, as though by pressing tight together they were somehow safer. Somewhere in their midst, a dispute broke out. It ended in a scream that died away in a liquid gurgle. Hesitantly, a single Goblin approached their party.
"Me want talk," he called, quailing under their gaze. He stopped, laid down his sword and shield, then took a couple of steps forward with hands upraised. Behind him the other Goblins were deathly still, trying to hear what was said.
"You come," Bartan told him. "We talk. What you want?"
"Want go way!" The Goblin cringed, and sidled closer with a fearful look toward the doorway. He was an unlovely sight, less than four feet tall but almost that broad, heavy muscles well hidden under layers of fat. Patches of green scales made random patterns on his warty hide, but his beady eyes were alert under heavy brows. "Me Murrp't. Yorrble dead, Murrp't boss."
"So. Murrp't go away. Bart not stop Murrp't. Not want Bart tell Dark One?"
"NO!" Murrp't shrieked, then clapped a grimy paw over his mouth. He shuddered, then went on in a hoarse whisper. "Murrp't want own woods. Us go. Bart go? Bart big strong. Bart tribe good fighters."
"Bart tribe not go yet. Bart tribe not try stop Murrp't tribe. When go?"
"Soon. Go soon. When all quiet. You sure not go? Us got plenty wenches, plenty food." His face split in a grin that threatened his ears, as he remembered his familiar home woods. Furdick was almost sorry for the little monster, dragged into a war that was none of his doing, drawn by promises of loot that might never come his way.
"Not go. Stay, find loot. Not stop Murrp't tribe, though."
The little Goblin peered over his shoulder, and scuttled back to pick up his sword and shield. Two of his fellows watched his retreat, glaring their suspicion.
"What they do?" Furdick asked Gwinny, who had kept well to the rear while the Goblin was there. "They make trouble?"
"No, they scared." She sniffed her contempt. "Murrp't smart, but not brave. Other two, maybe. Sline want be boss. Him ugly bad. Like make trouble. Warrdle want be boss, too. Him dumb, but strong, tough. Mad that Goblins not want follow him. Them only brave when eat plenty cave fungus. It make Goblin crazy brave. Me not like."
At the other end of the room, shrill voices erupted, echoing from bare stone walls. Two Goblins drew their swords, and the others scrambled out of their way. Murrp't screamed curses, and the Goblin named Warrdle yelled back at him until a club wielded from behind him crashed down on his helmet. He pitched forward on his face, dead or unconscious.
Furdick stifled a cough as he drew a breath of foul air. Murrp't barked an order. The Goblin called Sline went over to listen at the door, pressing his ear to the wood. Satisfied, he pulled the door open with a crash and peered fearfully into the gloom.
"All come!" Sline gestured frantically and the Goblin tribe crowded after him, disappearing through the wide doorway. Behind them a single Goblin staggered to his feet and looked wildly around. With a hoarse shriek of terror, Warrdle ran through the doorway, clattering down the hallway after his tribe.
"All right," Darrick snapped. "Now's our best chance. Any trouble they run into will draw enemies away from us."
Through the doorway, he led them to the right. Faint echoes from behind them hinted that the Goblins were having trouble getting past the room of the giant lizards. Darrick stopped where another corridor branched off to the left, examining the right hand wall.
Elm squeezed past Furdick to Darrick's side. "This it?"
"I think so. Gwinny said the stair was somewhere along here."
Elm tapped the stones. After a moment, he shook his head doubtfully and pulled out his dagger. Working the point between a couple of stones until it was firmly embedded, he clamped his teeth on the exposed blade.
"Yeah, I heard something, all right," he reported. "Voices, chanting. It's stopped now."
Darrick checked the upper part of the wall while Elm searched nearer the floor. At last they found the latch that released the secret panel. Kargh pushed where the two panels came together, but the doors only gave a little and sprang back. He pushed harder, but the doors only shook on their hinges.
"Barred from the other side," he snarled. "Come on, Bartan. We'll both hit it together."
Their shoulders struck with a muffled crash. Again, and once again. The panels gave under their weight each time, then sprang back.
"That's no good." Elm caught at Kargh's arm. "Let me try something else, now that you've got it loosened up."
He thrust the point of his dagger into the crack between the panels, working it up and down until he found the bar that held them closed. His eyes half closed, he poked and pried until at last the bar fell with a muted clatter.
"There you go." He stepped back with a proud grin. The panels swung back to reveal stairs that descended into darkness. His smile vanished as the sound of chanting floated up to them.
"Douse the torches!" Darrick hissed, and they stood in inky dark. The chanting swelled, and a dim glow danced at the foot of the stairs. By the light of tiny swinging lanterns, Furdick glimpsed a line of cowled figures, vaguely misshapen, that shuffled past with agonizing slowness. For an instant he longed for the life of a simple soldier or caravan guard.
"All right." The whisper was Darrick's, but in the darkness he almost failed to recognize it. "They're gone. Let's have some light."
Their torches coaxed back to life, they crept down the broad stairs. The room at the bottom was scarcely twice as wide each way as the stair, and had double doors opening out to left and right.
"We go left!" Kargh rasped. Furdick nodded to himself, and none of the others objected. The cowled figures had gone to the right. The muffled chanting had sounded wrong to his ears, and there had been a subtle unhumanity about the way they'd moved. The double doors opened easily to Kargh's thrust. He led the way through the doorway and stopped, baffled. The room he found was only the width of the doorway and a little longer, with smoothly paneled walls.
"What the Hells?" he swore. "Those things came from this way, didn't they?"
"More secret panels. This place is lousy with them," Bartan grinned. "You'd think they had something to hide."
All three walls sounded hollow when tapped, but Elm just shrugged his shoulders. "No problem. Left or straight ahead. Both ways have been used a lot. The one to the right hasn't been used much lately."
"To the left, then." Kargh waited impatiently while Elm hunted for the latch. "All right, let's go."
The room they entered was oddly shaped, with walls that jogged in and out. The nook where they entered was only ten feet square, then the left wall jogged back another five feet. Fifteen feet farther along, it was the right wall that jogged back, hiding a doorway from the sight of anyone standing at the entrance.
"A moment." Darrick stopped them as they approached this door. "Look over here."
A panel in the far right corner of the room swung open under Elm's clever fingers, revealing a closet. In one corner, a small wooden box gathered dust. Kletta probed at it with slender metal tools, opening it with no trouble.
"Any gold?" Kargh leaned forward eagerly.
"No gold, no jewels. Only this." She held up an arm bracelet of woven metal and cloth, ornamented with various religious symbols. "Here, Baysil. This suits you."
The symbols of the band seemed to glow with an inner fire as Baysil strapped it on his upper arm, but Furdick really couldn't be sure in the uncertain light. The closet held nothing else of value, and Kargh turned back to the other door. It opened easily, revealing a room whose furniture looked comfortable and well used.
"Now, this is more like it," Kargh gloated. "We should find something good here."
The room was fairly large, rectangular except for a raised alcove along one wall. The furniture was low and massive, arranged with an eye for comfort. He noticed, though, that the place was none too clean and had a rancid odor.
"What's that stink?" But the others were too busy poking about to notice or answer. They prodded at the heavy wooden chairs with leather cushions that were scattered between low tables, but found nothing. Several chests and wardrobes held only clothes and blankets.
"Something's strange here." Darrick knelt to examine a pattern of tiles set into the floor of the alcove.
"What's so strange?" Kargh scowled down at him, and the others crowded around. Bartan knelt for a closer look, with Gwinny pressing close to his side.
"Looks like some kind of a picture," he mused. "With a line of writing around it."
"Words look like tracks of rabbit," Gwinny giggled. "See how feet make jump?"
The room seemed to spin around them, and suddenly they were somewhere else. Back to back, they cleared their weapons for action.
"What..." Furdick stammered. "Where are we?"
This room was smaller. They stood near its center, on a raised area clear of furniture. Around the walls, he saw more of the same kind of tables and chairs, and in his nostrils was the same rank stench.
"Good question," Darrick nodded. "I don't know. Not where we are, nor how we got here, but I've got a hunch. In Elf Home, the different buildings and levels are joined by devices that move you in the blink of an eye."
"We're up one level," Kargh stated bluntly. "We'll have to find our way back down."
"How do you know?" Bartan challenged, but the Dwarf only shook his head stubbornly.
The room had only one door. Elm approached it with utmost caution, digging at one ear with the tip of his little finger. He listened, then shook his head in a signal that he heard no sound. The door opened at Kargh's touch, swinging in toward them. The room beyond, large and well furnished, was deserted. Torches in holders burned low, as though they had been left untended for some time.
"Hey, I know this place!" Bartan exclaimed.
"Yeah," Kargh nodded. "Those so called Wolf leaders. So we know where we are. So, what next?"
"We could head back toward the steps," Furdick suggested.
"Yeah," Kletta sneered. "And maybe run into real trouble. There's gotta be a better way."
"How about the way we got here," Burdock suggested. "Maybe it works both ways."
They retreated to the smaller room and carefully closed the door. Baysil stood by it, ready to cry out at any sign of danger.
"Stay away from the center of the room for a bit," Darrick warned. "We'll try to figure out what set it off the first time."
"Gwinny was talking when it happened," Bartan reminded them. Turning to the Goblin wench, he switched to Orcish so that she would understand him better. "What you say when we move here?"
"Me not know!" She shrank back fearfully, but relaxed when she realized that he wasn't going to threaten her. "Look at marks you call words. Look like feet of rabbit when go jump."
"That was it!" Darrick exclaimed. "She must have said the right words to set it off!"
"What Darr say?" She was confused by Darrick's speech, the unfamiliar words flowing by too fast for her to catch their meaning.
"You say right word, make come here," Furdick told her as they crowded toward the center of the room. When they were all huddled within what they hoped was the right space, Darrick spoke the Orcish word.
Still nothing. Gwinny's full lower lip trembled, and she kept her eyes cast down. Then she grinned, pointing at the floor.
"These words not same!"
"You're right." Darrick knelt to look at them more closely. "The same shape, but arranged in a different way. Gwinny, what do these words look like to you."
"This rabbit not jump." She worried her lower lip between her teeth. "Look, rabbit run here. Come to hole. Jump down."
"Jump down how!" Darrick prompted when nothing happened.
"Rabbit jump down." She searched for the right words. "Rabbit drop..."
They were back on the lower level. Gwinny squealed with pleasure as Bartan hugged her, and they wasted no time getting off the platform.
"What do you think made it work?" Furdick asked as they filed back into the outer room.
"I would guess it was the Orcish word, 'drop'," Darrick answered. "It makes sense to say 'jump' to go up, and 'drop' to go down. I'd rather not experiment with it, though."
"Might give us a back way out of here in a hurry."
"Yeah, right into the Wolf leaders' parlor," Elm grunted. "Say, are they really Were wolves?"
"Probably. They're nothing to tangle with, anyway," Darrick frowned.
Furdick glanced back as they left, half expecting to see some outré wolf shape pursuing them. All he saw was Baysil, making sure that the door was securely closed behind them. Through the panel, they turned left. The other panel was harder to open, or else Elm couldn't figure out how to release the catch.
"Break it down, I say!" Kargh rasped. "This way is too slow."
"And have who knows what monsters on our trail?" Darrick countered. "We leave no trace, if we can help it."
"'Sa matter, you scared or something?" Kargh sneered.
"Damned right! And you'd better be, too. It's a long way back to the world outside, and danger every step of the way."
"Then maybe we'd be better off staying down here," Kargh laughed. "There's caves below us, nice and deep. I can feel them in my bones."
"Caves are all right for Dwarves," Darrick snapped. "The rest of us prefer the open air."
"The more fools you, then..." Kargh subsided as Elm finally found the trick of the latch and the panel swung open. Again, Furdick worried about what awaited them. They'd marched together, hunted together, fought together. Still they weren't a harmonious company. Bartan and Kargh continually clawed at each other, the Dwarf showing more and more of his race's portion of arrogant bad temper. Yet the two of them were a magnificent fighting team, working together with a smooth precision that was almost unbelievable...
He'd found himself most at ease with Anji, and the fact that she was a woman bothered him less than he'd have thought possible. And for a Spell caster, Tarr was surprisingly normal. Not Burdock, though. That one was coldly withdrawn, aloof. Adding little or nothing to their discussions, but glad enough to pick up any magical items they found. Elm was a good sort, for a Thief, but Kletta was something else. Sneaky, she was. Playing up to Baysil. Pretending she liked him, and him too dumb to know any better. Wonder what she's really after?
"Big room up ahead." Bartan's whisper seemed unduly loud. The corridor abruptly widened, with no door to close it off. The room was nearly square, and when they stood in its center the light from their torches left all four corners dark. A hasty search found nothing, and the corridor kept on from the far side of the room.