[Vfw-times] MK Winter assault part 49

COkane8116 at aol.com COkane8116 at aol.com
Wed Oct 31 23:47:59 CST 2001

Small part tonight. Enjoy!!




Jesreg paced back and forth nervously beside the wall, his toe-claws tapping 
softly against the stone. Clenching his hands around the rodent-sized pike he 
was holding, he strained his ears to listen each time he passed by the thick 
wooden door. Each time he heard nothing, save the sound of his footsteps and 
the beating of his own heart.

"Jesreg, dear friend."

The mouse's ears twitched. "Huh?"

"I fully understand the need to stay fit for duty, but would you please 
indulge an old man and give it a rest?"

The young guard stopped, looked once more over at the door, and plopped down 
quietly to the floor.

"Thank you."

Jesreg cast an eye over at the gangly figure slouched in the corner of the 
small room. The man -- to apply the term loosely -- was dressed in a long 
blue magician's robe, accompanied by a broad-rimmed hat that flopped over his 
face. Presently he was twiddling his skeletal thumbs and staring idly off at 
the far corner of the room, glowing red eye-sockets focused on some invisible 
spot on the wall.

"Sorry," Jesreg said.

"Quite all right."

The largely-but-not-quite-fully dead wizard said nothing more, and Jesreg 
spent the next minute or so studiously examining his pike. It was in quite 
good condition, marred only by two hairline scrapes in the pole and a small 
chip in the blade. He had examined these same features forty-seven times by 
now and was intimately familiar with each of them.

"So ... what are you looking at?" he asked.

His companion shrugged fractionally. "Magic."





"What kind of magic?"

Another shrug. "The curses. The inherent magic of the Keep. Aura-prints left 
by people who were here recently. The corridor opening in this direction 
above our heads."

The mouse blinked. "A corridor?"

"Mm-hmm." He nodded toward the spot in the corner he'd been staring at.

Jesreg squinted at the spot. "I don't see anything."

"Wait for it."


"How long?"

"Oh, I'd say right about ... now."

As Jesreg watched, a five-foot wide circular piece of ceiling abruptly 
descended into the room, just over the spot the wizard had indicated. It 
stretched out into a column of stone, extending from floor to ceiling, and 
quickly formed into a spiral staircase. Three seconds after it had stopped 
moving a small purple dragon stuck its head inside and gazed at them 
quizzically, cocking its head so rakishly that Jesreg almost fell to one side 
as he found himself trying to orient himself to the dragon's perspective.

"Kree?" it said.

"Um, hello," ventured Jesreg as he hastily regained his balance.

The dragonette waved one tiny fore talon at the rodent.  In the same moment 
Jesreg's vision was filled with the image of a small black bird with an 
iridescent head.

The mouse gasped. "What...?"

"Don't worry," came another voice from above. " 'Tis just her way of saying 

Jesreg looked up to see an athletically built young woman descending the 
staircase, her flame-red hair drawn back in a long ponytail. She was dressed 
in studded leather armor and wore a rapier at her hip. A small golden key 
hung from a chain around her neck.

The warrior nodded at Jesreg. "My name is Daria," she said. "This is 

"I'd guessed that," the mouse said, nodding. "I'm Jesreg."

"Pleased to meet you, Jesreg. Who is your ... oh, gods!"

The last statement ended in a gasp, and Jesreg looked over to his companion. 
The skeletal mage was sitting slumped over, head down, the light in his eye 
sockets obscured by the rim of the hat. He was intently studying some space 
on the floor, not moving in the slightest.

"How ... how did he die?" Daria murmured.

The wizard looked up, eliciting another gasp as the woman saw that unearthly 
glow coming from within his skull. "That," he said, "is a rather long story."

"He's only mostly dead," Jesreg offered.

Three sets of eyes turned to look at him.

The mouse shrugged. "Well..." he said, uncomfortably.

"My name is John Thesmere, Miss Daria," the lich said, rising smoothly to his 
feet. "I am most pleased to make your acquaintance, especially considering 
our circumstances."

After a long moment of staring, Daria blinked and nodded. "Right," she said, 
visibly gathering her thoughts. "How long have you two been in here?"

"Thirteen hours, roughly," John said. "We were forced inside when a rather 
nasty troop of lutins poured in through the second gate."

"Master Thesmere's magic kept them out of here," Jesreg said.

Daria nodded again. "Is there anything important near here which you may be 
keeping them from taking?"

"Not that I am aware of."

"I haven't seen anything around here."

"All right. Come on, then -- we have food and water waiting for you back at 
the Lightbringer Temple." She gave another glance at John. "For Jesreg, 

John nodded once, and they fell into line behind the woman and the dragonette 
as they made their way back up the staircase. At the top Daria came to a 
halt, looking back down at the room they'd come from.


"What?" Jesreg asked, coming up to stand beside her. He wasn't really sure 
what she found so interesting -- it was just four walls, a floor, and a 
ceiling, with nothing but the staircase inside it. There weren't even any 
boxes in the corners, or shelves on the walls.

Daria stared down for several seconds, biting her lip in a thoughtful look.

"Do either of you have any idea what that room was for?" she asked.

Jesreg looked at John. The lich looked down, looked back at the mouse, and 
shook his head briefly.

"No clue," Jesreg admitted.


After a moment more of staring at the bare stone walls below, Daria walked 
off down the corridor, Starling flitting along beside her. With a last look 
at their former prison, Jesreg turned and followed.


   End part 49
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