Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Dragon's Maw (Part 4) - Chronicles of Braum Stormforge


    Braum had to give the carpenter credit.
    That armoire held up surprisingly well given the circumstances.
    He slammed into the heavy wood full force, propelled by the fireball spell that had been triggered. Had it not been for his thick, steel armor, he would have likely suffered a lot more than he did from the trap. As it was, he hit the armoire like a brick wall and crumpled to the floor under the weight of his full-plate and the pain of taking an explosion to the face.
    It was only after a few moments of staring blankly at the floor and listening to the distinct ringing in his ears that he considered whether Trudd had decided to punish him for something.
    Hell, perhaps Ember wasn't even a person. Maybe he was some kind of avatar of torment that had been issued for some unknown crime.
    That had to be it.
    Braum could see the summoner's boots approach out of his peripheral vision and promptly rolled onto his back. The act took considerably more effort than he expected but, to his surprise, didn't hurt quite as much as he thought it would.
    Small blessings.
    "~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~" Ember seemed to say.
    His lips were moving but it sounded like he was speaking underwater with a mouthful cotton.
    "What?" Braum asked, shaking his head.
    "~~~~"
    Nothing.
    Standing up, Braum shook his head, stuck a finger in his ear, hummed, and did everything else he could think of. After a few moments, the world finally stopped ringing and he had some semblance of hearing again.
    "Again."
    "Look out. Fireball." Ember said flatly with a wry smile.
    "No shit."
    Ember's smile only widened in response.
    "Do ya think you could NOT set off every gods foresaken trap down here?"
    Ember shrugged before quickly adding, "Hey. You set off the first one."
    Braum groaned and shoved his way past the smiling summoner to take a look at the box that had just knocked him on his ass. The lid had been blown apart and he could clearly make out the tiny, intricate runes on the debris that had been broken when Ember opened the chest. All about him, the walls, bed, desk, and everything else within range was scorched with black smears of heat and ash.
    Inside the chest was a different matter.
    The interior of the box was seemingly untouched by the damage. There were several small torches, an old cast iron cooking pot, a few random bits of clothes and cloth, a broken compass, a single gold ring, and, to Braum's surprise, a Dwarven long sword.
    He picked up the sword reverently, gripping the pommel and inspecting the blade. He could feel the buzz of magic running through it, making his beard hairs stand on end.
    "What's something like this doing down here?" he asked.
    "Good question." Ember commented. "Better question: what does it do? There are several veins of magic running through it. Looks like one is from the Evocation school, but the other one is-"
    "Divine." Braum said, cutting him off.
    He had been touched by enough holy magic to know it sizzled through the blade. Hell, he wielded the blasted magic himself in a pinch. It would be hard to mistake it as anything else. The sword's ephemeral power seemed to radiate out and buzz in the back of his head.
    Without another word, Braum began taking most of the contents of the chest and placing them in his bag. For some reason, he felt like it was important to retrieve these things. The pot, the compass, the torches; all were grabbed up and stowed away quickly. He only stopped for the briefest of moments on the ring.
    The ring was small and golden but plain in appearance. While it featured no etchings or runes, it seemed to buzz slightly as well. Or was he still feeling the sword?
    He glanced at Ember who was already distracted by yet another thing. At least it was the armoire this time. They could figure out what was going on there.
    Braum pocketed the ring without another thought and quickly joined the summoner.
    "What've you got?"
    "A lot of magic." the summoner commented, his gaze locked on the armoire.
    Ember pointed towards several areas across the hard-wood surface. "Veins" as he called them. It seemed that each rune was hooked up to a different vein and, based on what he was saying, quite literally EVERY school of known magic was securing this oversized cabinet.
    "So what you're saying is, if we open it's gonna knock us on our ass."
    "And so much more."
    The pair considered for a moment and Braum came up short. Ember, on the other hand, had a very inventive take on the matter.
    "I need a monkey."
    "Come again?"
    "I need a monkey!" Ember repeated with far more excitement than Braum thought a monkey warranted.
    "Why?"
    "Because I don't want my eidolon to blow up!"
    Before Braum could ask anything further, the summoner was already out the door and performing some sort of spell. By the time he left the room, the massive, ethereal monster was already disappearing; fading away into nothingness. In its place, a circle of glowing blue and purple runes had formed on the ground.
    No. Not on the ground.
    The magic symbols hovered very slightly above the ground by just a few inches.
    As he watched, the runes began to spin; softly at first but quickly picking up speed until they blurred into a solid line of flashing color. A single, glowing ball of light burst into creation like a minute star being born. It hovered just above the center of the circle and soon blossomed and bloomed; taking shape.
    Half a moment later, the magic faded and a small, brightly colored monkey remained in its place.
    While Braum had seen a couple of these hairy critters in his travels, it looked only vaguely like what was in front of him. The simian creature was roughly the right size and structure, but the colors were all wrong. The normal tones of browns and blacks were replaced with whites, creams, and even some gold here and there. Its fur was strangely matted, braided, and designed in various locations; particularly around the face, neck, legs, and arms. And the commonly vacant but curious expression was now, what Braum could only describe as, 'intense judgement'.
    "Monkey!" Ember declared gleefully as the creature jumped from its place on the floor onto his leg, up his torso, and quickly settled on his shoulder.
    "Care to explain?" Braum finally asked again.
    "Well obviously I'm gonna have him open the armoire. So if he dies in the process I can just resummon my eidolon afterwards."
    Braum just stared at the creature for a moment.
    It stared back.
    Judging him.
    "Ok, yeah. Sure." he shrugged.
    Braum really had no idea where this fell on the moral spectrum. But given the magical cannon fodder had no problem with it, then screw it. It didn't seem like any of the summoned creations were really alive persay, so he didn't feel like there would be any loss if Ember carried out his intended plan.
    It did make him wonder why he needed a monkey versus the eidolon though.
    Why not just blow up and resummon that?
    Ember quickly explained to the little creature that he wanted it to open the armoire in the other room and, as soon as the creature entered the small bedroom area, they both promptly took cover behind the wall.
    Shutting their eyes and covering their ears, they heard a distinctive rattle as the monkey gripped the armoire's handle and pulled hard.
    Maybe if they hadn't been bracing for an explosion at that very moment, they'd have heard the soft clanking of weapons and the muted shouting of orders far off down the passageway from the ruined, unexplored city.

15 comments:

  1. Interesting moral dilemma! And maybe karma is about to get them?

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  2. Oh, wow. Cool monkey. "Judgmental" - haha. I look forward to reading more.

    Thanks for stopping by my silly blog. I always enjoy reading your comments. And in response to today's, folks raised with a different sensibility from my long-married parents could always honor our significant other on a monument using another special date. ~nods~ My partner and I bought a house together without having any official union in the eyes of the government. Who cares about bureaucracy, eh? ~grin~ It's about devotion of the heart.

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  3. I love the monkey :-) This line cracked me up --> "I need a monkey!" Ember repeated with far more excitement than Braum thought a monkey warranted.

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  4. Interesting twist with this armoire and the monkey. I wanted to ask you are you continuing the Little Island Tale as well?

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  5. Hi Robert - the monkey ... an interesting idea for 'it' to open the armoire - now what's in it and what is coming down the corridor or passageway ... cheers Hilary

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  6. Another great ending hook.
    And I didn't see the monkey coming.

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  7. Hopefully the magic sword can hold off the approaching army.

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  8. I guess that explosion attracted attention. They should throw the monkey at them.

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  9. It's getting quite good. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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  10. I want a monkey!
    A very interesting twist! I like!!
    Sorry about the fires Robert! I agree with you, I would want to live somewhere, with the change of seasons. Having summer all the time, I wouldn't like!

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