I would have never been one to admit to being an early riser, mainly due to the truth of the matter being that making that statement would be an outright abhorrent lie. I was always one to enjoy my sleep and to enjoy it further into the morning when compared to others. Of course, with my line of work this was nothing that was out of the ordinary considering my usual late nights. At the same times I was also not a stranger to early mornings. Living my life of the road would often make it so that I would have to be flexible with my sleep schedule. This would frequently make it so that I would wake up either later in the early afternoon or early in the morning to the chirping of birds. I was also used to waking up with the sounds of the tavern in a busier city. What I had never been woken up to before was to religious chanting, and I came to realize it was entirely unwelcome wake up call.
It was of no redeeming matter that I was already overwhelmed by my surroundings, the chanting was just the push to remind me of my overall discomfort with my situation. It was also the looming reminder of what could very be my upcoming death. Money had been a driving factor for a large portion of my life, now I was feeling as if it would be what would push me into my grave. I wouldn’t deny to at least appreciating the free bed for the night and the free meals.
It was after our meal and a small discussion of how to enter the location that could very well contain the means to our death that we were guided to another man of the church. He seemed more prepared to arm Caelus and myself then he did our dear loud mouth magician. Before we were lead down to the cellar he handed us maces, a weapon meant to assist in completing what was meant to be our up and coming task. It was hard for me to come to terms with carrying a new weapon when my rapier had served me well for so long. It was hard to argue with what may be a more functioning weapon against a skeleton. It wouldn’t be quite an easy task to take something down with a rapier when all it will manage to do is poke through it.
When we arrived to the cellar I stuck to my original methodology of not being one to stick my neck out for others and came to regret it upon hearing the sound Caelus made walking through the small crawl space. As a gypsy, noise was expected, noise was life. Noise meant finding a beat to dance to and pounding your feet into the ground for coin. Noise meant you were singing your heart out to entertain and make enough to feed yourself. Then there was the other side of my life. Noise was meant to either not exist or as to act as a distraction. The noise he made was no beat I could dance to and it was certainly not meant as a distraction that would benefit me in any way. All I could do at the time though was inwardly cringe and hope for the best.
This didn’t seem to be the best start to our adventure into what I had already deemed as our impending doom. I was still getting used to the idea of working with others, other than our recent rat excursion, which wasn’t truly the best job ever done, it had been years since I had been a part of any sort of “team”. However, gold is gold, it’s shiny, bright and can lead to a good glass of wine and a soft bed and we were to be paid for whatever misadventures were to lie before us. I also wasn’t about to consider taking on something that had already died once on my own, it was dangerous being down there with my new companions, it was suicide to consider going alone.
Perhaps that’s why the torch light and the tight quarters didn’t bother me, why I was for a moment more so curious then I was frightened while the shadows flickered on the rough walls. I couldn’t say that a part of me wasn’t terrified, but for a moment, a larger portion of me was enjoying the adrenaline rush again. For a moment, being down there was familiar, I was back to years ago, slinking around and plotting a course of action for a heist, I was curious and bright eyed. Perhaps in those moments I should have taken the lead.
Caelus is innocent if nothing else, it’s entertaining talking with him, playing with my words in a way that he doesn’t know the reality of what I am. It was nearly his downfall as well. He’s to noble. Looking at the door at the end of the hall, I wanted to try to open it. I was for a moment, tempted to try to pick whatever lock held it closed. In my line of work I had found that individuals don’t lock doors for no reason, and quite often, whatever is on the other side is a benefit to me. Our noble cleric turned the other way though, determined to first be rid of the skeleton issue we had originally been sent down here to handle.
The reality of the situation was much grander than we had clearly anticipated. When Caelus say the creature, I was scared, when I heard it, well, then I began to understand the word terror. Arwin taught me to listen, to quiet my breathing, to focus on the out of place. When I was younger I had used this skill to listen to the guards so I could evade them, it was one of my skill sets that traveling alone I learned was a true asset in life. When I heard the scuttling on the ceiling, my stomach dropped and there was no evasion tactics that I could implement in a corridor with a locked door at the end. I’m sure I had barely gotten my warning out before the spider dropped on top of Caelus, not just any spider but yet another undead.
Blood had never bothered me much. My first half of life was spent working a farm, blood was a part of life. It didn’t help that I was a curious little monster at times. Cuts and scrapes would appear often enough and I would hardly ever have an answer as to how or why it was there, it just was. I would sit in a chair while my mother patched me up, hardly caring about the dribbles of blood that would occasionally come from whatever wound I had acquired. One doesn’t care about such fussing things when their mind is so focused on what was still out there to see and do. Caelus’s blood was different to me in that moment, perhaps because there was so much of it. I could practically feel myself tamping down the hysterical laughter that wanted to bubble up from my throat as I watched his body drop to the ground. After all, my mind was focused on the fact that he was the strong one of the three of us. He was the one that was supposed to be able to take a hit, and yet there he lay on the ground.
There wasn’t much time to dwell on Caelus’s defeat, as soon as the creature had him laid out on the ground it turned its sights onto me. I already felt like I didn’t stand much of a chance, I wasn’t far off. I’m fairly certain the hysterical laughter did bubble out of my mouth as I watched my newly acquired mace fly from my hand as the creature jumped at me. Perhaps I should have prayed harder to Olidammara or perhaps he was upset I was participating in a more legal method of receiving payment. Not to many complaints could be made though as I was at least able to finish off the creature with my rapier. But now it was my blood slowly dripping to the floor and a deep irritation over the fact that somehow Billeybob had managed to hit me over the spider when I was thoroughly covered in it. But in that moment it was over.
I thought perhaps luck would finally be on our side until I say it. Glowing eyes, old bones and armor. I only had to catch a glimpse of it for the desire to cry in defeat welled up in my system. I couldn’t focus and I was of no use to Caelus as I desperately tried to stem the bleeding. There wasn’t much I could have done when my mind was in shambles. Billeybob seemed to have more luck then I, but I felt for a moment that it was time wasted. All I could do was retreat back to the locked door, self-preservation and panic welling up within me to make me consider trying the door regardless of what danger or salvation may lie on the other side of it. I didn’t have much time to even think of pulling out my lock picks before I caught the flash of light out of the corner of my eyes.
I’m sure shock settled in then, I could only stand there as Caelus was seemingly brought back from the near dead only to be dropped again and then healed, again. I wasn’t able to fully process what was occurring at that time, I was just able to listen and feel numb. I’m not sure I even felt the blood drip from my injuries anymore. I don’t think my brain began to fully function again until I was able to pick up on Billeybob questioning the skeleton. My frustration with him amplified, here I was happy to be alive and he was risking it with his mouth. I don’t think I shushed him quite hard enough.
I didn’t fully understand why the skeleton let us leave, I just know that my feet began to move as soon as I processed the fact that we were leaving that hell-hole. I considered my sanity as I crawled through the hole back to what I could only hope was safety. Blocking the hole again made me consider how much I could make in such a poor town with my songs and dances. Was the extra gold worth all that we went through? While they bandaged me up I considered my options and while falling asleep I couldn’t help but grin as my childhood curiosity raised its ugly head and pushed my doubts aside with the wonder of what this town might bring about next.