Category Archives: Good Reads

Chapter 2: History.. Page 17

Chapter 1: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8, Page 9
Chapter 2: Page 10, Page 11, Page 12, Page 13, Page 14, Page15, Page 16
  

‘I’m bloody fed up with mouldy bread and cheese for breakfast, lunch and supper,’ announced Paplo, on their fifth day in the tunnels. They were camping for food and sleep.

‘Enjoy it while you can,’ Wykka told him, ‘You’ll be eating your boots in two days. We’re short of supplies.’

‘I think we’re lost,’ Eladred said, ‘I’m sure we’ve been here before. Are we going in circles?’

‘No, we’re not lost!’ Max insisted, ‘I just haven’t figured out where the exit is.’

‘Gee, that sounds like “lost” to me’ Paplo said.

‘All right then, we’re lost. Let’s lie down here and rot,’ proposed Max, dripping with sarcasm.

‘Hey, no need to get all worked up,’ Paplo said, ‘If you die in here, it won’t be alone.’

‘You won’t know about that,’ Max said, ‘I’ll feed you to the jello-beast first.’

‘Whoa!’ Eladred said, ‘Let’s not fight among ourselves. We’re all in the same boat. I think we should take tackle the problem frankly and methodically. Max, are we lost?’

The dwarf glared for a few seconds, before giving in at last, ‘I don’t understand it. The passages seem to lead nowhere.’

‘That’s what I find so strange,’ Eladred said, ‘I’ve never seen a dwarf get lost in tunnels, not for five days! There’s something at work here that escapes ordinary circumstances.’

‘You think someone put a spelle on me?’ Max said.

‘Not exactly… Tell me, when did we start getting lost?’

They stared at him. ‘The door with the jello!’

Eladred said, ‘Maybe the reason why Max can’t find the way to the surface is because there is no way there. Not from this side of the door.’

Max said, ‘Krom’s Beard! I think you may be right, Perhaps they set such an ineffective guardian there, to put us on the wrong track!’

After a short rest, they retraced their steps back to the door where they met the jello-beast. The spring in their steps spoke of renewed hope.

‘Careful now,’ Max said, pushing the door with his nine-foot pole.

It opened into a stairway, lighted with torches.

‘That’s not the way we came,’ Paplo said, stating the obvious.

‘And why is it lighted? I thought this place was supposed to be deserted!’ Wykka remarked, with apprehension.

‘It’s got to be sorcery,’ Eladred concluded.

Paplo groaned.

‘What should we do?’ Wykka asked.

‘We don’t have a choice,’ Eladred said, ‘It’s an endless maze on this side of the door, we’ll probably wander till we starve to death. There is but one course of action left to us: We’ll have to go through.’

‘Wait!’ Max said, ‘Check for jello-beast first!’

The dwarf poked his pole through the doorway several times, for good measure. Nothing.

‘I go first!’ Max instructed, ‘I have the best armour. Eladred and Paplo, ready your missiles. Wykka, carry the lantern – just in case the torches go out.’

They stepped onto the stairway gingerly. It was no illusion. Carefully, they climbed. The light from the torches seemed eerily free from flicker. An absence of wind lent a somewhat surreal feel to their surroundings. The ground and walls were noticeable devoid of dust. Someone had been keeping these premises in good order. Or perhaps some thing

A hundred steps later, they came to a set of bronze double doors, polished to a brigh sheen. As Max motioned for Paplo to pick the lock, the doors opened noiselessly – apparently of their own volition. Sunlight poured in, revealing the interior of a great hall. They blinked for sevaral seconds, before realising where they were.

It was the Citadel of Ice, at last.

 

                                                                to be continued…

Chapter 2: History.. Page 16

Chapter 1: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8, Page 9
Chapter 2: Page 10, Page 11, Page 12, Page 13, Page 14, Page15
  

Suddenly, Max jumped back. To their amazement, the pole remained in the air, seemingly held by an invisible hand through the doorway. Then it thudded to the ground, as if expelled.

‘Jello-beast!’ Max yelled, before retreating to their position.

‘What?’ Paplo and Wykka said, even as they readied their axes.

‘There’s a jello-beast behind the door,’ Max informed them.

‘I don’t see a damned thing,’ Paplo said, his eyes focusing on the doorway.

‘It’s transparent,’ explained Eladred.

‘It was waiting behind the door for you to walk into it, Paplo,’ Max said. ‘If you did, it would have engulfed you with its jelly-like-body – that’s how it eats, by the way.’

‘Put away those axes,’ Eladred told the youths. ‘They would only sink into the monster’s body if you hacked at it, doing little harm, but would lose you your weapons.’

‘How do we kill it, then?’ Paplo asked, feeling a cold shiver down his spine, upon reliasing his near brush with death.

‘We can’t,’ Max replied. ‘The jello-beast cannot be destroyed by any weapon that we now here possess.’

‘Then we’re screwed,’ Paplo said, ‘How do we fight something that we can’t see and can’t hurt with anything we have?’

‘Not necessarily,’ said Eladred, grinning.

Max said, ‘You see, the deadliness of a jello-beast lies in its near invisibility. Unsuspecting victims would walk right into it, to their deaths. Any of his companions who try to pull him out would likely face a similar fate – the creature secrets a toxin that causes temporary paralysis.’

‘Then how…?’ queried Paplo.

Eladred said, ‘The jello-beast hasn’t much of a brain to show – as you’ll see, or rather, not see – and moves only a little faster than a snail.’

‘So… we trick it?’ Paplo said.

‘Nothing so complicated,’ Max said. ‘Although jello-beasts are popular tunnel guardians, they don’t really understand their function – they’re more like mindless traps. This one is obviously not a very big one – which is why they built the door. It is to accommodate the creature’s smaller dimensions; so that there would be no way around it, if were to go forward.’

‘I see – were lure it out?’ ventured Paplo.

‘Already, it comes,’ Eladred said.

As they watched, the faint outline of a jelly-like creature poured out of the door. Its quivering form was somewhat cubic, as it inched towards them.

‘The creature has no eyes, but it’s sensitive to vibrations – such as our heartbeats,’ Max said, ‘It is hungry. Come, follow me.’

They retreated slowly, drawing the jello-beast out to an especially wide point in the tunnel.

‘All right, everyone stand to one side,’ Max instructed.

The jello-beast followed them to the side.

‘On a count to three, we all run along the other side, pass the thing,’ Max said. ‘One, two… Three!’

They zipped pass the ungainly ooze, through the door. Max closed the door with a gloved hand.

‘There, now it can’t come after us,’ Max said.

‘What if we need to go through there in a hurry, afterwards?’ Wykka asked.

‘Pray that we don’t have to!’

 

                                                                to be continued…