ILLUSJASON

Illustration by Jason Rees

Short Stories

Darlunia


Tomb of the Forgotten Champion

by J L Rees



Fredgar Brandybottom is a halfling or some people may call him a hobbit. Like all halflings in Darlunia he enjoys relaxing, eating and gardening. Sat in a garden full of flowers and vegetables that he had grown himself he basked in the late morning sun.


Crash!


A cat bolted out of the window onto Fredgar's lap, looked up with an amulet dangling from his mouth like a dead mouse.


When he’d regained his composure Fredgar grabbed for the amulet. It was too late the black and white ball of fluff jumped down and ran off under the garden fence and down the road.


“Hey wait there!” he called after the cat.


Fredgar leapt up from his seat pushed the garden gate open and chased the cat down the main road in Fayapple.


Fayapple is a small town primarily made up of small bungalows and houses built into hills and mounds of earth. The population is mainly halflings but there are other folk that live here including humans, dwarves and elves.


Fredgar jumped fences, stumbled through bushes and pushed his way through tall cornfields. Eventually he realised he had left Fayapple but wasn’t quite sure where he’d ended up. In the distance he could see a black and white dot jumping over a hedge.


“Oh well! I suppose I’d better follow you if I want that amulet back”.


He scrambled through the hedge to be greeted by a stone column right in his face. His lip burst open and the blood streamed from his mouth. The cat appeared from behind the stone, meowed and darted off again.


Wiping the blood into his sleeve Fredgar grumbled and slowly followed after the cat again.


The stone must have been part of a castle or fort he thought to himself as he looked around and saw many stone columns and slabs jutting out of the ground. He then noticed the cat sat in front of a hole in the ground, as Fred got closer the cat disappeared down it. Fredgar lunged forward but tripped on a piece of stone. His fall was silenced by the sludgy mud underneath him. He looked up towards the hole and up popped two ears and a little black and white face “Meow” it called to him.


Picking himself up the halfling brushed off the mud that covered his front and proceeded to walk to the hole he discovered it wasn’t a hole but a stairway leading down. At the bottom, in front of a door hanging off it’s hinges sat the cat.


“I suppose you want me to enter this door then?” he asked the cat.


“meow” was the reply.


“You really are an inconvenience, I could be at home right now relaxing. I will call you Mr Inconvenience or Inky for short” Fred said


“Growl, hiss” is all that came from Inky as he jumped through the crack in the door.


“Guess you didn’t like that name. Well I’m not particularly fond of you either” mumbled Fredgar to himself.


He pushed on the doors but they wouldn’t budge. He looked about the area and found a wooden beam, must have been part of the structure to the fort. He wedged it into the crack and heaved with all his might. The beam creaked, the door screeched, then in an instant BAM! The door fell to the floor in a splash. Behind the door was a huge puddle and on the other side a wet Mr Inky not looking very amused.


The muddy, grimy water wept from underneath the door as Fredgar crossed it to get to Inky. He pounced at Inky to try to get his amulet but he was too slow, Inky just jumped out the way. Fredgar’s feet hit the floor but fell away from beneath him, he slipped and fell against the wall. The brickwork started to move and scraped as it slipped back into the wall, the sound seemed deafening as it echoed around the room. Fredgar got to his feet and saw he’d pressed a brick into the wall. The scraping continued but the stone had stopped.


Clang! Clang! Clang!


Fredgar evaluated his surroundings and found himself in a long hallway. An ominous red glow lit up the end of the corridor and was getting closer.


Fredgar spun on his heels and looked back towards the stairs. He began running. The hallway rumbled, a slab of stone came crashing down from above the stairs and blocked his escape. Trembling, he quickly looked for a weapon of some sort. Luckily he’d dropped the beam inside the hallway when he’d crossed the door. He picked it back up armed and ready, he waited for the nightmare that was approaching him. The glow gleamed off the surrounding walls and highlighted the silhouette of a giant armoured creature.


“I remember stories about Golems. Creatures created by sorcerers to guard treasures and important people. This one is made of armour and is carrying a huge hammer. It was probably made from the people the sorcerer kept as slaves and murdered”.


Clang! Clang! Clang!


The beam was heavy in Fredagar’s hands. He mustered all the strength he could and took a swipe at the golem. The halfing felt a shooting pain through his arms as the beam collided with the armour. Stunned, he looked at his hands, they felt as though they were going to shatter into a thousand pieces. The next second he was on the otherside of the hallway with a pain in the left side of his head. The golem strode towards the little adventurer and raised his mighty hammer.


“Meow”


The golem's helmeted head slowly looked towards the noise to it’s left, it’s body followed and walked off into the darkness. The glow got dimmer and dimmer until the hallway was dark again.


The fear in Fredgar's body wouldn’t allow him to move for a short time, he eventually gained the courage to venture on into the darkness. One of the many talents of halflings is they have good eyesight in the dark, but not as well as dwarves and elves.


Adventuring further into the fort he entered a large hall. Set to the sides were huge stone boxes, long and about shoulder height. He ran his hands along the side of one and could feel indentations. Squinting hard in the darkness he could read “Here lies Hazendorf the mighty”. These were sarcophagi, coffins of fallen warriors and this must be the tomb where these heroes were buried.


“Forgive me Hazendorf” Fredgar prayed.


The lid of the Sarcophigus slowly scraped aside as Mr Brandybottom pushed it open. Knowing that all great heroes are buried with their weapon he was trying to salvage one in case the golem came back. He was in luck, there lying on the chest of a halfling was a short sword and dagger. Fredgar reached in but his tiny fingers couldn't quite grasp them. He jumped and stretched, only to push the short sword down the side of Hazendorf’s body where he definitely couldn't reach.


“One last try. I might be able to get the dagger.” He thought to himself.


With that final try success, he grappled hold of the dagger and held it aloft.


“I thought Hazendorf would be a dwarf with a name like that, ah well”.


The dagger started to give off a faint yellow glow.


“I wonder what that means”.


“meow”


“Inky!” The halfling expressed with great suprise.


Inky just licked his paws, turned away and ran off down the hall.


“Not again” he said with a moan.


Doorway after doorway, room after room they both ran until they got to a huge gated doorway.


Clang! Clang! Clang!


Fredgar's heart sank, he thought he wouldn’t have to fight the golem. He thought Mr Inky was a clever cat and had somehow managed to slay the creature. He looked back through the halls and doors they’d just run through. The red glow was back and getting nearer and nearer. This time another glow could be seen Fredgar looked down. The dagger, it glowed with a bright yellow light getting more and more intense as the golem got closer, eventually it was pure white and shone so bright it illuminated the whole hall.


There was the ringing of armoured footsteps on stone speeding towards him. He held out the dagger at arms length, blinded by the light, trembling like it was a winters day. Then came a voice.


“Well you’re not going to beat a golem like that are you?”


Confused Fredgar dropped his hand back to his side and looked around, there was nobody there. Reality hit him just as the golem's mighty hammer smashed through his left arm.


“Get up little man”.


There was a pause.


“Look, you freed me from my tomb now use me”. It was the voice again.


“Huh?” the halfling was puzzled.

It then dawned on him that the dagger was talking to him.


“A talking dagger?” he questioned his sanity.


“Roll!” the dagger yelled at him.


Fredgar did as he was told, and just in time the huge hammer slammed into the ground next to him. It felt like an earthquake as the ground shuddered and shook.


“On your feet” instructed the dagger.


The halfling obliged and replied with


“Now what?”


“You need to get to it’s heart.” guided the dagger.


“How do you expect me to do that?”


“Duck!” the dagger yelled again.


The halfling ducked as the hammer swung through the air where his head would have been.


“Well the other halfling tried to go for the golem's head”


“I’ll go for his head then.” Fredgar stepped towards the golem.


“NO!” the dagger screamed at his user.


“Why not?”


The dagger dimmed and said “Did you see the other guy? he’s in a box under the ground. Don’t do that.” It then glowed really bright letting Fredgar have a good look at the golem.


Just underneath the breastplate there was a tiny, little gap.


“I see it the crack in his armour, I’m going for that.”


“meow” Mr Inky ran under the golem.


The golem tripped and fell crashing to the floor trying to catch the cat. The opportunity presented itself clearly and Fredgar took it. He jumped on top of the golem, the dagger lit up and was plunged into the tiny gap. The golem glowed an orange colour and a muffled voice was heard from within the golem's chest.


“Get away” it cried.


“Oh right!” the halfing said as he pulled out the dagger, jumped down and found a battered old table to hide behind.


The golem exploded and disintegrated along with the gate it had collapsed in front of.


The halfling gripping the dagger, strolled towards the now opened gate and mr Inky joined them. They walked into what looked like a throne room, sat on a giant throne was a skeleton knight.


Mr Inky pounced up the steps of the throne. The amulet was still in his mouth and flickered with light as he dropped it in front of the knight. Beams of light started to flash out of it. Whether it was a trick of the light or Fredgar had seen to much, the skeleton appeared to move.


“The wraith” the dagger said with consternation.


The cat then jumped up on to the knight's lap then pounced to it’s shoulder. With the ferocity of a lion he scratched it's skeletal face. The skeleton griped the cat and squeezed it, there was a popping noise and the cat was thrown across the room.


“MR INKY!!!” Fredgar yelled


“Let’s avenge your cat.”


Fredgar could feel a groove in the dagger he hadn’t noticed before using his thumb and middle finger he pushed the dagger apart. The dagger came apart down the middle to form two daggers.


“The Full potential of Axium and Aquium” The daggers celebrated at the same time.


The two daggers glowed with an intense light. Fredgar's left hand felt really cold all of a sudden and his right started to burn. He lost control of his arms and they both shot up in front of him. A beam of cold shot out of the left dagger and a stream of flames from the right. He was knocked back and fell to the floor.


“Woah!”


“Impressed?” asked the daggers.


“uh..yea.” Fredgar was almost speechless, he could feel the power of the two daggers coursing through his body.


He got up and started running towards the knight. The knight stood up smouldering and smoking from the previous attack. He pulled a huge sword from behind the throne and gripped it with both hands, he then swung it with a force that cracked the air.


The little halfling slid under the thunderous sword and slashed with the icy power of Aquium. The armoured arm frosted up for a second but then thawed almost instantly. The gargantuan knight snorted with a mist from his helmet. He drew back his sword for another swipe. Fredgar dodged again and aimed Axium, a stream of flames surged from it again. The stream pelted the knight over and over. His gauntlets started to glow with the immense heat and started to melt.


The knights hands were now fused with the sword. The halfling ran up the sword and stabbed with both daggers at the knight's face. The knight gave out a tremendous scream and violently shook knocking the little halfing to the floor.


“I think we did it tiny man” the daggers spoke.


“Let’s be certain”.


Fredgar walked up to the knight and stabbed the helmet again this time it went straight through, the helmet rang as the blades hit the back of it. He put the daggers back together and they merged back into one.


“Where’s Inky?” Fredgar scrambled to where Mr Inky had been thrown. The furball let out a little meow and his head dropped to the floor and there he was still.


The room was silent.


The knight moved again.


“I don’t want to fight you again, please!” Fredgar pleaded.


“I’m not going to fight you Mister Halfling. I am Valkis, a champion of Caeropolis. I fought in the Undead Wars and was captured by an evil sorcerer. He ripped out my soul and put it into a cat.”


Fredgar was perplexed at hearing what was being said.


“You call me Mr Inky again and I will kill you. As I was saying, This sorcerer captured me and put my soul into the cat. He put a demon soul into my body.


This sorcerer still walks Darlunia. Once I have my axe I will hunt him down and destroy him.”


“Where’s your axe?” asked Fredgar.


“The last time I saw it some spikey haired wizard was holding it above his head. This amulet will free the Champions locked in other forms take it and help me free the rest of my friends”.


Fredgar picked up the amulet and pushed it into his pocket.


“How do we get out? the entrance is blocked”.


Valkis then showed the halfling another way out.


“Now go find the others. Once I get my strength back I will head for Caeropolis”.


Valkis patted the halfling on his shoulder and slightly nudged him out into the open.


Although proud of himself for freeing a champion, defeating a demon and destroying a golem, Fredgar felt sad that Mr Inky was gone.


“Meow”.


Fredgar turned to see Mr Inky.


“Valkis? Is that you?” Fredgar stooped down and asked the cat.


The cat rolled over for the halfling to scratch it’s belly.


“I don’t think it’s Valkis.” said the dagger ”but I do think it likes you”.


Fredgar, the new Mr Inky and the daggers Axium and Aquium made their way to Fredgar's home in Fayapple. Soon after their return they were making plans to finding the other champions.











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