"In the Darkness"

Rorin's eyes opened as the sunlight hit his face, the new morning already clearing his mind. Scanning the camp, Rorin could see Darvo standing against a tree not far from the camp, one sword in his hands as he gazed off into the surrounding area. Rising to his feet, Rorin raised a hand to Darvo and turned to the fire pit. Kay and Finn slept near the cooling embers of the fire. Trying his best to remain quiet, Rorin placed more wood in the pit and coached the dying fire back to life. Doing his best to not wake the ladies, Rorin started to prepare a breakfast for everyone.

Rorin turned to the sight behind him; Kay rose to an elbow as she watched him prepare the morning meal. A smile played across her face as Rorin looked into her eyes.

“Morning Hun,” Kay said. “Need help?”

“It is almost done Kay,” Rorin replied. “I will take Darvo his and relieve him while Finn sleeps, she still looks tired”

“You go ahead dear and I will take care of Finn,” Kay said.

Rorin filled a plate for Darvo and with a smile at Kay, headed off in Darvo’s direction.

Kay watched as Rorin handed Darvo his food and they change places, Darvo sitting and devouring his food while Rorin leaned against the tree and watched the surrounding area. Kay giggled as she watch Darvo try to talk between mouth fulls of food. Kay’s smile grew as she watched both men talk, “This is something he really needs, a good companion and friend to talk to when he can’t tell women what he is thinking,” Kay thought to herself.

Pushing back her blanket, Kay rose and stirred the food around. Pulling a couple more plates from the packs, Kay dished herself a plate and ate while she watched the men talk. Darvo has finished his meal and was now standing next to Rorin, both talking as they watched the camp.

The sun had risen fully as Kay finished her meal and filled a plate for Finn. Reaching Finn’s side, Kay gentle shook her awake. Finn slowly opened her eyes at Kay’s gentle shakes, a smile crossed her face as Kay held the plate of hot food before her. Razing to a sitting position, Finn took the offered plate and began to eat.

“They seem to be long lost friends the way they talk so much,” Finn said as she took another bite of bread. “At first glance one would think they had been friends for years the way they talk”

“Men always seem to make friends quickly, then again they also seemed to make enemies just as fast,” Kay said, “I am glad Rorin has found a new friend, he doesn’t have many to speak of right now.”

“Why, he seems like a nice enough man and he did risk everything to help us yesterday,” Finn replied. “I would think that such a man would have a lot of friends”

“Well his quest to be a Paladin has taken him over and he has striven for not much else,” Kay said. “His skills were slow in coming but he now has a good handle on them and they grow each day. What of Darvo, he seems to know the blade well and you two do seem to fit together rather well,”

“He and I have been together for some time now. I have lost count of really how long but I do love being at his side,” Finn said. “He talks a good game but he is really quite gentle and caring. He has always had such a strong fighting spirit and he loves to just take off and find the next adventure. I tried a few years back to get him to settle down but it didn’t work, he became to restless and he had to go off and hunt up so more fame yet again. Since I could not be apart from him and I worried so much when he did go, I convinced him to help me learn to take care of my self. He taught me the sword and a few other things and now we fight side by side”

The sound of approaching foot steps announced the return of Rorin and Darvo. Kay rose to her feet and smile at the both of them as they approached the fire pit. Finn laid her now empty plate down and rose beside Kay.

Rorin bent to the fire and started to fill a plate for him self, Darvo stepped close to Finn and pulled her into a hug.

“How are you feeling dear one,” Darvo asked.

“I feel pretty good actually,” Finn answered. “ Thanks to Kay’s wonderful healing attention I am ready to go when you are.”

“Thank you again Kay for helping her as you did,” Darvo said with a smile on his face. “When Rorin is done we can pack up and head to the place we told you about. The place that we found the clothing that may belong to your lost friend.”

“Sounds good to me,” Rorin said as he continued to shovel more food into his mouth.

As Rorin finished his meal, the other three began the process of breaking camp and packing everything up for traveling. Within minutes the camp was packed and packs were shouldered and the small band of friends headed out. A little under two hours brought them to a halt on a small ridge.

Waving them down, Darvo pointed to the area about 50 feet below them. Rorin, Kay, and Finn crouching low, moved up to Darvo’s side. Below the ridge surrounding a camp fire, stood six Iksar lizards. A few bedrolls could be seen but Rorin was not sure if they were occupied or not from this distance and with the small area in the shadow of the ridge, it was hard to tell if there were more lizards in the bedrolls or not. At the back of the camp, tied to a small tree with barely any clothes on, sat a female wood elf. Blood and cuts could be seen even from this distance. Her head fallen forward onto her chest. Rorin couldn’t tell if she was alive or dead, he could not see if she breathed or not from this distance.

Rorin felt the heat raise inside of himself at the scene of this lady bound so. Behind him Kay and Finn’s sigh was long and filled with shock at the sight. Rorin’s head turned at the sound of a blade being drawn. Darvo slowly drew his blade from its sheath and again turned his attention to the scene below them..

Rorin layer a hand on Darvo’s arm, “Lets not rush into this my friend, there may be more,” Rorin said as he increased the pressure on Darvo’s arm.

“I don’t think so,” Darvo said. “These lizards don’t band together in big bands. I have been in this area for some time and this is the largest band I have ever seen. Besides we have to help that elf down there. We can take them out easily and free the lady in the process. We will be down among them before they know what is happening to them.”

“Help her we will as soon as I scout…”

Before Rorin could finish his words, Darvo leaped up and with his sword in hand ran down the ridge into the Iksars camp.

“Oh Great !!!,” Rorin said as in one smooth motion he pulled his sword free and ran to catch up to Darvo, Kay and Finn following closely behind him.

The sound of metal on metal filled the small enclosure, screams of death and pain soon rose over the sounds of metal hitting metal….

The sounds of clinking chains echoed off the walls and down the halls of the small prison. Rats scurried from one dark recess to another, ever searching for that one little tid bit that would continue their small existence one day further.

Once again Rorin shook his wrist, the chain attached clinked aloud.

“There cant be anymore then these six,” Rorin said in a sarcastic voice as he glanced at Darvo chained to the wall as he was. “We will be on them before they know it and then we can free the lady.”

Darvo sneered at Rorin as he said the same words he had been saying the last couple of days, or however long they have been in this cell.

“I made a mistake ok Rorin, how was I to know there were fifteen more near by,” Darvo said. “At least we tried to help the lady.”

“Well if you would have let me scout a bit before you rushed into the camp, we wouldn’t be here now,” Rorin replied.

“Will you two stop it, this is getting old and it is not helping in the least,” Kay said in a stronger voice then she had wanted to. “ What matters now is that we need to find a away out of this mess.”

“Kay’s right you two,” Finn said. “We need to think of how to get out of here before something else happens.”

Closing his mouth on the retort he had ready, Rorin again began to inspect the chains and the cuffs clamped around his wrists and ankles. Although the chains were old and rusted, they were made of iron and big links, they would be very hard to break. Knowing that he would never break the chains, Rorin turned his attention to the end of the chain that was bound to the wall. The walls were not made of stone but of earth, yet the chain held when he pulled against it. Rorin glanced up as Darvo tested his chains and cuffs also with the same result as Rorin’s.

Darvo followed the chain from his wrist to the wall, inspecting each link he could for some weakness in the metal. Darvo’s gaze stopped on the wall the chain was tied to, his concentration evident as he realized the wall was not made of rock but earth. Darvo raised his arms and putting his back against the wall he pushed against the chains with all his effort.

Surprise registered on his face as his right arm moved forward slightly. With renewed vigor, Darvo again pushed against the chains with his strength, and again felt a small movement of the chain on his right arm. Darvo pulled back his arms and held them close to his chest, he then lifted his feet and one at a time placed them against the wall. With every bit of strength he possessed, Darvo pushed with is legs and back. At first nothing seemed to happen but then the chains moved and the sound of suction could be heard as the large pins that held the chains to the wall moved.

“Keep it up Darvo, your doing it,” Rorin said.

With the encouragement from the rest of the party, Darvo reinforced his efforts. Again he pulled on the chains, this time putting more of his strength into the right side. The right pin came free and Darvo crashed to the ground, still held up slightly by the chain to his left arm. Scrambling to his feet, Darvo grabbed the left chain in both his hands and began to pull; the pin held tightly and didn’t budge.

Darvo stopped pulling and lets his exhausted arms fall to his side. “This one is too tough; I am not strong enough to pull it free. Just give me a few moments to get some strength back and I will try again.”

“Wait a moment,” Rorin said. “Kay can’t you help Darvo with that strength spell you have. Boost his strength enough to help him pull the other free?”

“I’ll try,” Kay said. “Give me a moment to recall it”

Darvo shook his head and sat down hard on the floor of the cell, exhaustion evident throughout his body.

Kay’s mouth moved as she attempted to recall the words needed for the spell she wanted. Rorin watched as her face contorted into concentration. Her eyes shut and her lips moving in fast speech but with no words coming forth. “Her lips,” Rorin thought to himself, “such soft and perfect lips.” The desire to kiss those lips rose in Rorin’s mind. Rorin shook his head as he noticed the cell becoming lighter. Kay’s face began to sweat as she concentrated on casting her spell, but Rorin eyes saw what she didn’t see, the cuffs of metal around her wrists were glowing blue and the glow was intensifying as Kay’s spell grew stronger.

“Kay stop!” Rorin screamed. “The manacles are glowing; they may hurt you if you cast that spell.”

Kay opened her eyes and glanced at the glowing manacles, her mouth stopped moving and the manacles glow receded. “Well so much for that then, they seemed to have thought of magic being used to escape.”

“Wait a moment,” Darvo said as he rose to his feet. “Look at her manacles and yours and mine Rorin. They are different looking. Perhaps they thought the women to be magic users and you and I only warriors with out magic. The women are also on the other side of the room and we on this side. Perhaps that side is for magic users and this side for fighters, what do you think?”

“That is worth a try Darvo, but my spell can only be cast on myself and not others,” Rorin said.

Darvo shook his head in disbelief, “Then cast it on your self and see if you can pull your self free.” Darvo again shook his head in utter disbelief of Rorin’s lack of thinking. Kay and Finn giggled ever so slightly as Rorin’s face turned a slight red due to embarrassment of not thinking.

Closing his eyes, Rorin searched for and found the words in his mind that he needed. Opening his eyes again, he began his spell. The words escaped his lips and a blue light formed in front of him, his manacles remained the same. With a mystical jester, Rorin released the spell and the blue light slammed into his body, renewed strength flowed into his limbs. Rorin could feel his muscles grow in size and strength. As Darvo had done, Rorin placed his arms close to his chest and feet against the wall and pushed with all his might. Instead of the pins pulling from the wall, Rorin’s manacles shattered from the strain placed on them and Rorin crashed to the ground.

Slowly Rorin got to his feet, shaking the daze from the impact from his mind. Quickly before his spell wore off, Rorin easily pulled the manacles from his legs and freed the others from theirs. Darvo stood at the cell’s door and looked for anyone that may have heard the sounds from their cell. “No one seems to have noticed your spell Rorin; can you do something with this door, maybe?”

“Give me a little time Darvo, the spell is wearing off and I need a few moments before I can cast it again,” Rorin said.

Darvo nodded his head and stepped over to Finn and Kay, each lady nodded their assent they were ok as Darvo bent down to check on them. Rorin could feel the spell effects lessen and finally fade from his body. As it always happened, when the spell left it also made Rorin feel drained. Thankfully this only lasted for a short time before he was again ready to either cast it again or anything else.

Again Darvo stood at the door, watching for any of their jailers to approach. Rorin got to his feet and stepped to Darvo’s side. Slowly he inspected the jail door, unlike the walls of their cell the door was made of iron, by the looks of it, reinforced iron.

“I don’t think I can pull that free,” Rorin said to Darvo.

“Maybe we won’t have to,” Darvo said as he pointed out through the cells small window. “We have company coming.” Rorin could hear the approach of foot steps from down the hall; they seemed to be coming in their direction.

“Hide your selves Ladies,” Darvo said as he flattened his back against the wall near the cell door. Rorin did likewise on the other side of the cell door. “I will take high, you take low,” Darvo said. Rorin nodded as he crouched down.

“Oksss you can have the warrior womanssss and I shall take the red headed onesss,” a lizard voice said from down the hall.

“That is finessss with meessss,” another lizard voice replied. “We needssss to hurry before the otherssss come and spoil our funssss. The red headed one looksssss so much more fearsome and worthy of a good fight before she givesss up what shall be minessss.”

The voices stopped as the foot steps ended at the door cell. Darvo glanced down to see Rorin’s face red with anger at the words that the lizards had exchanged. Darvo understood this reaction, his face too was red with anger and his arms craved to hold these lizards in his arms and crush the life from them.

A key was slammed into the door lock and turned; first one lizard and then the other came through the door as it slid open. Darvo waited till their backs were to him and their faces centered on the ladies. With trained quickness and renewed strength in his arms at the words these two has spoken, Darvo wrapped his arms around the head of the lizard closes to him and gave a might jerk. The loud snap of the lizard’s neck brought satisfaction to Darvo’s ears.

As Darvo grabbed the last lizard’s neck in his arms, Rorin dove and hit the first lizard behind the knees. As they both crashed to the ground, Rorin rolled over the lizard and came to his feet. Stunned, the lizard attempted to gain its feet, as it rose up Rorin rushed in and wrapped his arms around the chest of the dazed lizard. With all his might and the anger inside that gave him the extra power, Rorin squeezed as hard as he could. The lizard’s body responded with loud cracking bones and blood erupting from its mouth. With satisfaction Rorin released the now limp form and stepped away as it slid to the ground, dead but still twitching.

Rorin turned to Darvo and both smiled as they brandished the swords from the fallen lizards. Quickly they made for the open cell door; Darvo stopped before the opening and looked down the hall. All seemed quiet and no lizards could be heard or seen. Glancing around, Rorin saw a small room without a door and a table in the middle of the room stacked full of their gear. Tapping Darvo on the shoulder and pointing in the direction of the small room, Rorin dashed across the open space and was in the room in seconds, Darvo, Finn, and Kay right behind him. Five minutes later all four had equipped themselves and stood ready to leave.

“Ok let’s go and this time let’s be careful and not rush in,” Rorin said as he glanced at Darvo. Darvo smirked as he followed Rorin out of the small room.

“It felt good to have his own blade in his hand again,” Rorin thought to himself as he slowly crept forward, stopping at each corner and looking over the whole area before proceeding further on. He had no idea where he needed to go; he simply relied on his instincts to guide him.

Time passed slowly at first, two times now they had come upon unknowing lizards, only to cut them down quickly without a sound. Rorin marveled at the proficiency at which Darvo took out each lizard they came upon, sure and quick thrusts or a slice across the neck insured their quiet escape. The corridors were seemingly endless and Rorin did his best to keep his bearings in the dimly lit jail. Sooner or later he knew they would discover the missing prisoners, speed is what they needed to be free of this place, what ever place this was.

“Rorin!” Darvo said as he grabbed Rorin’s arm. “That cell there, I heard something inside.”

“We can’t free all those here,” Rorin said with frustration showing on his face. “There is just no time and the more we burden ourselves with others the less chance we have of getting out of here alive.”

“Your right, but what if that sound is your friend, Roland?” Darvo asked.

Rorin growled under his breath, he knew Darvo was right and it could be his friend in there, hurt and in need of help.

“Ok let me look and you keep an eye out for more visitors,” Rorin said as he crept across the hall to the cell in question.

The cell door window was higher then Rorin’s head and he groaned as he attempted to pull himself up to the window to see what was inside. To no avail, he could not see in far enough to determine who or what was in the cell. With a small gesture, Rorin caught Darvo’s attention and made a gesture of turning a key in a lock. Darvo reached to his belt where he had kept the cell keys and unlooped them and handed them to Finn. Looking up and down the hallway, Finn grabbed the keys and dashed across the hall to Rorin’s side. Rorin took the keys and after a couple of attempts found the correct one and opened the cell door. With sword in hand, Rorin stepped into the small cell, the darkness surrounded him. At the back of the cell, lying in a heap, was a figure. Rorin couldn’t make it out from where he stood and took a step forward. Sounds of swords clashing caused Rorin to stop and turn. One glance at the open cell door showed the hallway lit up with a bluish light. Finn with Rorin hot on her heels made for the hallway, both with swords held ready.

As they entered the hallway, they were greeted by the sight of Darvo fending off three lizards as Kay backed away from a lizard skeleton, her sword having no effect as she attempted to cut it again and again. Without much thought, Rorin raised his hand and words flew from his mouth, the skeleton crumbled to the ground as the undead spell hit it full force. Finn dashed forward and stabbed the back of a lizard that didn’t hear her come up from behind. Rorin broke into a run and with a jump and twist in mid air came down next to Darvo, slicing out at the belly of another lizard. The lizard stopped in stunned disbelief as its guts spilled from his insides to land in a bloody mess on floor. Rorin turned at the sound of a sword meeting flesh and watched as Darvo kicked the lizard from his sword and stepped back.

“Ummm, Guys we have more problems,” Kay said as she pointed down the hallway.

Rorin and Darvo turned in the direction she pointed and watched as at least fifteen more lizards came running for them, some skeletons and others made of flesh. Quickly the four stood side by side to face the oncoming onslaught. Rorin again began to mumble words as Kay and began her arcane gestures.

Darvo side stepped the first lizard and ran his sword completely through its throat as he turned to face the next. Three skeletons crumbled to the ground as Rorin released his spell of undead. Four other lizards stopped in mid stride as Kay cast her spell, vine like hands grabbing them from the ground.

Again Rorin was at Darvo’s side as he ripped another lizard open from head to gut, moving slightly to avoid the spill of blood and innards. Rorin parried to his left and slashed out at his attacker, the rewarding feel of his blade sliding into flesh filled him with a hunger to go on.

The fight raged on as Darvo and Rorin took off heads and opened bellies. Kay’s spells kept the lizards confused as one moment they could move and they next they couldn’t. Darvo and Rorin easily took out those that were held in place. Their helpless situation to good an opportunity to pass up. As Darvo sliced off the arm of another lizard, one to his side began to swing its sword. Rorin knew Darvo couldn’t defend against the coming hit and was wide open to the attack. In desperation, Rorin raised his sword to through it through the lizard attacking Darvo. Before he could release his weapon, two arrows flew into the lizard, each sinking into an eye. The Lizard fell backwards as they impacted its skull. Rorin turned to see Finn load yet another arrow to her bow and let it fly.

On and on they fought, Rorin felt his strength begin to wane. He knew that Darvo was also growing more and more tired with each swing. Already he could see Darvo’s blade react slower and slower. Kay now stood at Rorin’s side, evidence that she had used up her magic and had to resort to the blade also. Finn stood next to Darvo, he bow discarded and a blade in here hand, her quiver empty. The lizards had not lessened, there were more now then before. Rorin knew the alarm had been given and that they would soon be dead or again imprisoned in a cell.

“We can’t hold them, there are too many,” Rorin yelled out.

“Hang in there my friend, we can win the day still,” Darvo boasted.

Step by step they were being forced back. Rorin knew sooner or later that they would be hit from behind and be done for. Never the less he pushed on, his sword cutting into the scales in front of him. He had long ago lost count of those he had killed. He only knew that they seemed to keep coming. Darvo’s blade took down another lizard on the downward swing and as he pulled the blade back he took the head off another. Three more took the place of those he had killed. Darvo stepped back again and slipped on the blood of a dead lizard behind him. Two lizards in front of him took advantage of the slip and pressed in to end his life. Rorin sliced through the leg of one as Finn pierced the heart of the other. Darvo recovered his footing and was again back to his feet, his sword slashing out again, but slower this time, so much slower.

Blood drip from each of them, the numerous cuts they had all taken began to take it toll on them all, and still the lizards came on.

A lizard lashed out and caught Kay on the arm, Rorin rushed to her aid as she fell and the lizard stepped closer to finish what he had started. Rorin’s blade lashed out in a desperate attempt and took off the leg of the lizard. The lizard fell towards Rorin, knocking his blade from his hands as it collided with him. Rorin’s world blacked out at the impact, disorientation surrounding him from all sides. Desperately Rorin struggled to regain his senses, clawing his way back to the world of light and life.

Rorin’s sense began to return to him as a musical voice filled his mind. He could feel his strength return and the blackness began to recede. Stronger the wonderfully soft and beautiful voice filled his mind and body. Opening his eyes he saw that Kay was still down, blood flowing from her arm. Darvo and Finn standing side by side, a blue light surrounding them, Darvo’s blade swinging again at full strength. In the doorway of the cell he and Finn had left open, stood the female wood elf, scantly clothed, arms bruised and bloodied at her side. Her eyes fully awake and full of hate, her mouth open and that wonderful voice spilling forth. That same voice that now filled his mind and body with power.

Quickly Rorin jumped to his feet, Kay standing with him, her wounds all but forgotten. Rorin watched as again Kay began to summon her power. Magical energy burst from her hands and into the crowd of lizards. Some dropped to the ground in screams others stood stunned. Darvo seeing the confusion and stunned lizards, wasted no time in diving in among them, his sword slicing back and forth, body parts fly through the air. Rorin felt the return of what little magical power he had and he began to summon his power. Raising his hand, four skeletons crumbled to the ground as he released his magic at them. As an after thought, Rorin reached down and covered Kay’s wounded arm in his hand and after few issued words pulled free from her, nothing but a pink scare where once a bleeding wound had been.

Again Rorin and Kay dove into the crowd of lizards; with renewed strength the battle was short lived. As Darvo struck down the last lizard with in range, Finn retrieved some of her arrows and the two remaining lizards that were fleeing, fell to the ground, Arrows stick out from each neck.

As one they all turned to the lone figure in the door way of the cell. The wood elf staggered and began to fall. Faster then Rorin, Kay was at her side. Catching her and gently easing her to the floor.

“Darvo, we need to find a place to hole up for a bit,” Rorin said. “They will be looking for us and I think they will most likely be looking for us to be escaping instead of hiding here till we are stronger to go attempt escape.”

“Let’s hide in the cell there,” Darvo said as he pointed to the cell that the wood elf came from. “Lizards are not that smart and they may think we are far from this place and not check the cell. Besides we have the key and can let our selves out when we are ready.”

“Good idea,” Rorin said as he began to help Kay carry the now unconscious wood elf into the cell. Darvo and Finn followed, closing the cell door behind them and locking it.

Rorin quickly surveyed the small cell, Kay and Finn were attending to the sleeping elf and Darvo was watching the cell door. Rorin wiped his blade on the body of a lizard that had obviously been killed and fell into the cell. Sheathing his blade, Rorin stepped to Kay and Finn.

“How is she,” Rorin asked.

“Well none of her cuts look too serious but she has been beaten and bruised up a lot,” Kay responded. “She needs rest real bad, as we all do. How long do you think we can stay here?”

“I am not sure Kay, but I think we should try and rest as long as we can,” Rorin said. “I am sure the rest of the lizards are busy looking for us and I think Darvo is right, they won’t look for or expect us to be down in a cell so we should be pretty safe for some time.”

The Ladies both nodded they agreed with Rorin and began to dress the wood elf’s wounds. Rorin pulled his pack from his back and took a long drink from his water flask. Tossing the flask to Darvo who also took a long pull on it.

Darvo’s assumption had proven correct. Time after time, lizards ran past the cell door. Running down the hallway back and forth. Never once stopping to look in the cell. Throughout the night or day, Rorin didn’t know which, they rested and tried to recover from their wounds. Darvo and Rorin took turns watching the door. Kay and Finn attended to the elf. Her breathing and color looking better each passing hour. Slowly the party was regaining their strength, they all took turns watching for lizards and tending each others wounds throughout the night, or day.

Rorin came awake as Kay shook him. Looking around the cell, Finn was at the door, Darvo was asleep near by. The wood elf was sitting up, her face clean now and bandages on her arms and legs. Somehow someone had found something for her to wear, there was much less of her visible to the naked eye.

“She wants to talk to you hun,” Kay said as she looked down at Rorin, tiredness written on her face. “It’s your turn to stand watch; you can relieve Darvo in two hours.”

Rorin pushed back the blanket that someone had laid over him while he slept. Rising to his feet, Kay quickly embraced him in a hug. Relief filled him as he hugged her back tightly. Rorin covered Kay up as she laid down, again a lump in his throat as he looked at her beautiful face. Gently Rorin leaned down and kissed her soft cheek, a smile spread across her face as she quickly drifted off into slumber land.

Satisfied that Kay was resting well, Rorin turned his attention to the wood elf. She smiled as he approached her, Kneeling down to her side, Rorin handed her a small flask of water. With a gentle smile she accepted the flask and took a long drink.

“I want to thank you for saving us back there,” Rorin said as he sat next to her. “Your timely aid saved us all.”

“It is I who would thank you,” the elf said. “You freed me from this dark cell and I am forever in your debt.”

“Let’s call it even then shall we, I am Rorin,” Rorin said as he extended his hand.

“I know,” the elf said. “Kay told me who you all are while you slept. She also told me how you came to be here and what you are looking for. I think I can help you still.” The elf drew a deep breath and again drank from the water flask.

“My name is Keara, Keara Heartsinger, Bard and adventurer at your service,” Keara said. “Kay tells me that you are searching for one friend called Roland?”

“Yes we are,” Rorin’s face lit up with hope.

“If the way Kay described him to me, then he is here in this place. I was captured about two months ago and they would take me out of my cell from time to time to have their fun.” Rage showed on Keara’s face as she spoke of the lizards and what they had done to her. Rorin’s face paled as she described all the foul things the cruel and disgusting lizard had done. Anger began to rise in Rorin as Keara told him more and more of what had happened to her in this dark place.

“Well not more then two weeks ago when I was taken again from my cell, I saw this man, he fit the description that Kay gave me. I saw him only the one time, and he was beaten up pretty good, but he was still alive.”

Rorin’s face frowned in concentration, “ Ransom !” Rorin exclaimed. “They are holding him for ransom aren’t they?”

“I would say yes but I am not sure,” Keara said. “These lizards are building a force here. They have been attacking any and all travelers in the area. I have seen many people come through the halls through the cell window. Some they kill and others are kept for some time. I am not completely sure what it is they do with them nor what they have done with your friend, but I do think that he is here or was here.”

“Thank you for this information Keara,” Rorin said as he began to stand. “We will help you to escape if we are able, but I want you to know I must find my friend, ties the mission I am on.”

“Thank you Rorin, but if it is ok with you and Kay said it would be, I would join you on your mission,” Keara said as she too began to rise. “I have much to repay these lizards and I owe you for my freedom still.”

“You do not owe me or any of us anything M’Lady,” Rorin said with a smile. “Again Kay has invited another to the party,” Rorin thought to himself. “At this rate we will have an army when next we see home.”

“Rorin, I am a traveler and an adventure, I would be proud to join your party as a friend if you will have me?” Keara said as she stood and smiled at him.

Rorin extended his hand towards Keara. Her small soft hand gripped his with a strong grip. Her soft skin made Rorin think of Kay and he quickly jerked his hand free, not sure why but he felt for a moment that he had hurt Kay by touching Keara so. Pushing that thought down in his mind, Rorin smiled at Keara and said, “Welcome to our group. You shall make a wonderful addition.”

“I have one request if I may Rorin,” Keara said. “In the next cell is my equipment. My tormentors would take me in there from time to time to torment with my own equipment. Would it be possible to retrieve my items?”

“I’ll get them for you Keara,” Darvo said as he rose from his blankets. Keara smiled as Darvo strapped on his sword and headed for the cell door. “I’ll be right back, Rorin would you watch the hall as I gather these needed things?”

Rorin nodded and both he and Darvo headed to the door. Finn unlocked the door after giving the ok that all was clear. Rorin slipped out into the hall followed by Darvo. With sword in hand, Rorin crouched low in the hall as Darvo first opened the next door cell and entered. Rorin cursed under his breath as the sounds of armor and steel scraping against stone echoed into the hall. After a few minutes, Darvo stepped into the hall, his arms full of packs and other equipment. Silently they both stepped back in to their cell, Finn closing the door and locking it again.

Keara smiled as Darvo placed all the equipment before her. With a smile Keara began to pull her top over her head. She stopped the movement to stare at Darvo and then Rorin with a questioning look on her face. With a red face on both, Rorin and Darvo turned their backs to Keara. Quickly Keara removed the clothing that Kay had hunted up for her and began dressing in her own armor.

“Ok boys you can look now,” Keara said.

Rorin and Darvo both turned in unison to behold Keara again. Both were seemingly stunned as they gazed upon her. In place of the raggy shirt and pants, Keara now had adorned herself in armor, stunning blue armor. Rorin’s face turned red as he gazed upon Keara from head to toe. In her hands she held a Lute, and with a lovely smile, she stroked the strings, her smile spreading further across her face. At her side a beautiful made sword sat in its scabbard, the hilt made of pearl white metal.

Rorin has to admit to himself, Keara was indeed a beautiful lady, but in his mind Kay still stood out. Again thoughts of Kay with some of her clothes on and other thoughts of her without any clothing entered Rorin’s mind. Shaking his head to clear his mind, Rorin turned his face, now reddened to the point of fire red, and looked for Kay. She stood behind him, her eyes seemly made of swords and each aimed at Rorin’s chest. Rorin tried his best to give her a look of confusion and questioning what he had done now. Kay smiled and embraced Rorin in a hug, not a tight hug but soft and wonderful. Again Rorin’s mind raced with pictures of him and Kay, pictures in his mind of things that were better not said around everyone else. As Kay released him and stepped back, she gave him the look of understanding. Also a look of something else. Rorin was not sure what that look meant but for some reason he wanted to see more of it.

“Well if you done slobbering over Kay Rorin, can we get going,” Darvo said with a wide grin on his face. Rorin noticed that Finn was standing quiet close to Darvo and she too had that strange look in her eyes. Darvo’s face as still showing some red to it. With a smile Rorin nodded his head and turned to the door way.

“Ok let’s see what we can do about finding my friend and getting him and us out of here alive, shall we,” Rorin said as he headed to the cell door, everyone else right behind him.

Once again the party stepped out into the hallway. Rorin and Darvo in front side by side, Finn carrying her bow with an arrow ready to be let loose at any time. Kay and Keara in back, glancing behind them as they slowly and quietly crept down the hallway.

“There is a torture room that is three halls down straight ahead,” Keara said from behind in a whisper. “That is were they took me and others they wanted to have fun with.”

Rorin nodded his understanding and increased his pace. The hallways were quiet and appeared empty of all life. As they passed the cells, Darvo would glance inside. Upon reaching the third hallway Keara has mentioned, Darvo had found four cells with dead bodies in them. All beaten and left to die, none of them Roland. Rorin’s hopes grew as they came closer to the torture room. Perhaps his friend was still alive and he would be in time to save him. Still some doubt remained, after seeing the four dead and tortured bodies they found in the cells along the way. Darvo motioned everyone to hide and for quiet ahead he had heard voices and sounds of movement towards them.

Seemly as if they have practiced it for many years, the party stepped into the darkness where ever they could find it. Darvo and Rorin both with swords out and ready. Finn with her bow raised and the string drew back, Kay with words on the tip of her tongue for when needed. Keara holding her Lute, her hand gentling laying against the strings, ready for the first stoke to start her stunning song. Darvo signaled he would go ahead alone to check, Rorin whispered about caution as Darvo slowly stepped out of his dark hiding place, a smile widening across his face.

“Here we go again,” Rorin said in a whisper that brought a giggle from Finn and Kay, and a questioning look from Keara.

A couple of minutes later, agonizing minutes to Rorin, Darvo returned.

“There are about five of them in a large room,” Darvo’s said in a whisper. “I think they are all drunk and they kept throwing things into a large pit. I couldn’t quite understand it but something is in the pit, I saw some of the things they threw in it come flying back out.”

Rorin nodded his understanding; quickly he began to think of how to approach this problem. After a few moments and everyone staring at him, Rorin smiled.

“Finn how many of those arrows you have left?” Rorin asked.

“I was able to retrieve twelve of them,” Finn answered.

“Good,” Rorin said. “Keara can that wonderful voice of yours put these things to sleep?”

“Well I can’t make them sleep but I can hold a few in place for a short time,” Keara responded. “I think I can hold three of them but for a short time, a few minutes and no more. I will also not be able to do much else while I do.”

“That would be perfect,” Rorin said. “If we do this right you won’t have to hold them long. Ok, Darvo and I will rush the five, as we do Kay will root them in place and Keara will hold on to as many as she can. Lets us know what ones you cannot hold if you can Keara.”

Keara nodded her understanding.

“Finn, what ever Keara cannot catch with her voice, you shoot,” Rorin said as he looked back down the hallway. “Darvo you and I shall hit them all as fast and as quiet as we can.” Darvo nodded with his smile growing on bigger on his face.

Rorin shook his head at Darvo’s smiling face and signaled for Darvo to lead the way. Slowly they crept down the hallway, stopping a few feet from the end of the hallway. Rorin looked around the edge of the wall into a large cavern. Darvo was right; five lizards were in the room, three of them sitting at a small table and two others near a large pit in the floor. Rorin caught Finn’s attention and pointed at the two near the pit, gesturing with is hands to take them out. Catching Keara’s eyes, Rorin pointed to the three sitting at the table. Keara acknowledged his gesture. Tapping Darvo on the shoulder, Rorin held up three fingers. Darvo nodded as Rorin slowly dropped the first and then the second finger.

As the third finger fell, Rorin and Darvo launched into full speed. The rest the night before had restored a lot of their strength. Tired but the hunger to save his friend and the anger at what these lizards had done to the lady Keara, Rorin was the first into the room.

Everything seemed to slow down for Rorin, his sword slid through the neck of the first lizard before it knew he was there. Darvo’s sword found another of the three at the table a split second later, his blade sticking through the lizard’s chest and into the chair it sat upon. As Rorin turned to the last sitting lizard he heard the sound of arrows flying by. He glanced up to see one lizard tumble into the pit, and arrow sunk into his chest with only the feathers showing. A second arrow thudded into the other lizard, slamming him back away from the pit. Blood flowing from around the arrow in his throat.

Darvo was close to the remaining Lizard and his first swing was blocked as the lizard gained his feet before Darvo could get to him. Quickly Darvo swung again and again, engaging the lizard in the fight of steel. Keara’s shout brought Rorin’s attention from Darvo. Rorin looked to Keara and then followed her pointing hand. To the other side of the room stood four more lizard, swords now in hand and rushing towards Darvo and him self. Leaping past Darvo, Rorin swung at the first lizard he met, the lizards sword shattering from the strength of Rorin’s swing. Rorin’s blades continued past the raised blade and into the chest of the lizard, throwing it back a few feet as it cut into scales. Rorin again dived to the side to avoid what he knew would be the other lizards attacking him. As before a song filled his ears and as he came to his feet Rorin saw that Keara had again saved his life. The Lizard above him had its sword raised for the killing blow, but the lizard didn’t move, he seemed frozen in place. Behind him the other two were also frozen in place. As Rorin gained his feet, he again felt the passing of an arrow. The lizard with the raised sword directly before Rorin tumbled back, and arrow sticking out from his chest. Rorin raised his sword again and soon the next lizard lay on the ground, minus his head. As Rorin turned to face the last remaining lizard, Darvo’s blade passed by in a blur, separating the lizards top half from its bottom half.

Quickly Rorin and Darvo checked the other bodies to ensure they were indeed dead. Keara and Kay stepped into the room followed by Finn. Each body being check and verified dead, the party met near the edge of the pit. Darvo had located a ladder and with a nod from Rorin, lowered it into the pit.

As Rorin stepped onto the ladder he said, “Keep an eye out for more. I am not sure if any heard this but keep ready.” Slowly Rorin descended down the ladder.

The pit was at least 15 feet down and at least 25 feet across. Rorin was enveloped in darkness when he reached the bottom. Slowly he pulled his blade free and listened for sounds.

“Come to play yet again have you?” a deep guttural voice sounded out. “Well come then you scaly thing. Come closer and let us see who is the better.”

“I wear no scales my friend,” Rorin said. “I have not come to harm thee but would free thee if I can.”

“Ah it is to be that game again, so be it come forward and we shall play,” the deep voice said.

“Toss me down a torch,” Rorin called to the top of the pit. In moments a torch fell to the ground near Rorin. With sword still in hand, Rorin grabbed the Torch and held it high. The light spread across the pit floor and at the far side a large shape seemed to huddle. Taking a slow step forward, Rorin approached the huddled shape. He knew that this was not Roland, the sheer size alone made the evident, but still he had to know who or what this was. Something inside told him he must help this person or thing, something pulled him closer still. His next step brought the torch light onto the figure.

Large was to small a word, this figure was easily 5 times the size of Rorin, even sitting as it was it towered about Rorin. The large head regarded Rorin intently, the eyes moving as they looked Rorin up and down. Slowly the large form began to stand and Rorin halted his steps. Rorin had heard of them but he had never come face to face with an Ogre. The Ogre was massive to say the least. As it stood Rorin began to gape in awe. The Ogre’s arms seemed the size of a small tree trunk, its legs bigger still. As it reached its full height, Rorin continued to gape as his eyes stopped at the large chest. The span was easily wider then Rorin was tall, perhaps even bigger then Darvo. On the floor of the pit were scattered remains of lizards, and a few other bone parts that Rorin couldn’t recognize. As Rorin’s gaze traveled up the massive chest and to the large head, they suddenly stopped at the eyes. Ogres were known to be very powerful and very hard to kill or even hurt, but it was also well known that they did not have much in the smarts department; in fact they were considered among the dumbest things to live on the land. Then again with how massive they were, smarts may not be something they needed. Most would quickly move out of the way of such a fearsome creature. Rorin knew he would not stand a chance in a fight with this massive beast.

His eyes, Rorin locked his gaze on his eyes. An empty or dumb look is what he expected, but instead he was looking into a set of intelligent eyes. Rorin’s heart increased its pace. Not only was this a powerful creature, but there was a brain behind the power as well. Slowly Rorin sheathed his sword, and stopped a few feet from the Ogre

“Well now this is a new game indeed” The Ogre said. “Well what shall it be little one? Are we to fight to the death or will you use your little blade while I am chained to this wall and unable to defend myself.”

Rorin looked deeper at the surroundings of the Ogre. Massive chains hooked to manacles, were locked around the Ogre’s legs and wrists. Each chain driven into the solid rock wall behind the Ogre. Rorin’s thoughts ran rampant through his head. There was no way he would be able to break those chains. Even if he had Darvo’s help and the Ogre let them close enough, they would never break him free of those massive things.

“Darvo, look around and see if you can find a set of keys up there,” Rorin called to the top of the pit.

The Ogre frowned as he watched Rorin, its eyes never leaving Rorin for one moment.

“My name is Rorin,” Rorin said to the Ogre. “I have not come to harm thee but free thee if I can. I too was a prisoner of these lizards and have just recently secured my freedom from them.” A loud clink sounded behind Rorin, slowly he backed up till his foot hit metal. Then he reached down and lifted a heavy set of keys. Again he walked forward and when he was but a few feet from the Ogre he tossed the keys as close as he could get them.

A confused look spread across the Ogre’s face as he slowly reached down and took the ring of keys.

“Rorin hurry up down there,” Darvo’s voice called from above. “Don’t know how long we will go unnoticed.”

The keys looked small in the large hands of the Ogre as it inserted a key into each manacle and it unlocked. “I am in your debt small one,” the Ogre said in a deep voice. “I am called Globy, how may I repay you for your kindness this day?”

“You are free Globy and owe me naught,” Rorin responded. “Before I do go I would ask thee of a friend I have been seeking and if you have seen him.”

Slowly Globy moved forward to tower above Rorin. The large face split into a grin as the head lowered to be level with Rorin’s head.

“Help you all I can I will,” Globy said. “These lizards have held me for such a long time I cannot remember the last time I felt the sun touch my skin, nor what it dose feel to have the wind brush against my face. Tell me of your friend and perhaps I maybe able to help you.”

Rorin described Roland to Globy, trying his hardest to not show his fear at being so close to this Ogre.

As Rorin described Roland to Globy, Globy’s face changed from a smile to a frown. When Rorin completed his description, Globy slowly turned and walked to one side of the pit. Upon reaching the other side, Globy motioned Rorin closer and to bring the torch. Rorin approached holding the torch high.

Rorin’s steps faltered as the floor of the pit came into view. Numerous bodies lay strewn out near the wall. Globy stood near one and waved Rorin forward. Rorin’s heart sank as the torch fell across the body that Globy was pointing at.

Roland’s naked body lay twisted and torn. Rorin could see so many cuts and so much dried blood on the body. Roland’s face was frozen in twisted horror. Rorin sank to his knees as he came near the body of his friend. There was no mistaking it, this was his friend, he who was like a brother to him. He who had always been there when Rorin needed someone to talk to. He who had always seemed to find a way to get them both in trouble and of course a way out of trouble also.

Rorin’s mind became hazy and he didn’t notice the heart wrenching cry that leaped from his mouth. Tears flowed from Rorin’s eyes as he bent over his friend, anguish and pain filled Rorin’s heart as he pulled a blanket from his pack and covered Roland’s body with it. Memories flooded Rorin’s mind of the fun times he and his friend had enjoyed. As the pain grew in Rorin’s heart so to did the rage.

Globy’s eyes never left the small dwarf as he bent over his friend’s body. Tears began to fall from Globy’s eyes as Rorin let out his wail of anguish. Globy’s heart reached out to this little man, slowly Globy placed a hand on Rorin’s shoulder, comforting as best he could do.

After a few minutes, Rorin slowly rose to his feet. Roland’s body covers with the blanket. With tears still streaming down his cheeks, Rorin looked up at Globy.

“My large friend,” Rorin said in choked voice. “I have need of thee, we must leave this place and with your help we shall do so. Will thee aid me in this?”

“Globy’s eyes softened as he looked to Rorin, “I am with you Rorin, let us be away while we still are able.”

Rorin nodded and with a new found strength headed towards the ladder. Globy waited as Rorin started up the ladder, quickening his pace as he neared the top. Globy knew that ladder would not support his weight, so he merely leaped up and caught the edge of the pit. Then swung him self the rest of the way up.

As Rorin stepped from the ladder he turned to see his friends staring in awe. Globy stood near by clad only in a loincloth.

“He is a friend and has agreed to aid us in our escape of this place,” Rorin said as he approached his friends.

As Globy stepped forward everyone shuffled backwards, everyone but Keara. Keara’s face showed with a strange look, her eyes were filled with wonder and a small smile crept across her face. Globy stopped in front of Keara and looked down at her, his face also spreading into a large smile. Shaking her head, Keara’s eyes blinked as she turned to join the others Globy one step behind her.

“We are close to the surface,” Globy said as he scanned the room. “I know the way to the top if you will follow me.”

“How is it you know the way?” Darvo asked.

Globy’s face split into a bigger grin as he said, “I can smell it.”

Darvo couldn’t help himself and smiled in return.

Kay’s eyes had not left Rorin since he had come from the pit. She knew his voice and the pain it contained when he had screamed earlier. Slowly she stepped closer to him, inching closer as he listen to the Ogre tell of how long he had been in the pit and what the lizards had tried to do but couldn’t. Fire raged in Rorin’s eyes as Kay got closer and was able to look Rorin in the face. She saw the pain and knew what would soon happen. Someone or something would pay for this pain. It had been Rorin’s way always and this she knew would never change. Kay’s heart filled with sorrow, both for Rorin and for those that would soon step in his path. Slowly Kay enfolded Rorin into her arms, hugging him tight. His ever muscle was taught, she could feel the anger and desire to destroy, to seek revenge on those that have taken his life long friend.

Globy stopped talking for a moment when his eyes stopped on a pile of what looked like junk in the corner of the room. Keara and Finn’s eyes and heads followed Globy as he stepped to the pile and began to rummage through the things he found there. Globy bent to the pile and began throwing things left and right as he rifled through the heap. An occasional grunt would escape Globy’s mouth as he would find something that was important to him.

Kay watched with some amusement as Globy stood with a large staff and some clothing. Globy began sliding one of the cloth parts he had found over his head. Kay’s eyes stopped on Keara as she intently watched Globy, his ever move and gesture not escaping her eyes. Kay looked to Darvo and saw the Finn was holing him close, both stared in Rorin’s direction. Darvo’s face showing evident concern for his new found friend. Sadness written on Finn’s face as they both watched Rorin.

Kay looked down to Rorin, his body told of struggle, a struggle from within. Kay knew what was to come. Fear settled into her heart, Fear that this time he would not survive the hate and anguish he now felt. Kay reached down and with her finger tips turned Rorin’s face towards hers. With all the love and kindness she could muster she looked into Rorin’s eyes. What stared back at here made her heart skip a beat. The pain and hurt she saw there scared here. She had seen Rorin mad before, even out of control, but this she had never seen. No longer did she doubt that they would make it out of here, they would make it out, instead she feared at what the cost would be. Would her little dwarf ever smile again? Would this pain seep into and find a permanent place in Rorin’s heart. Would this tare him from her? Tears again flowed from Kay’s eyes as Rorin began to turn his head.

“No!” Kay screamed in her mind. “I will not lose him to this!”

Again Kay grabbed Rorin’s chin, this time with force and pulled his face to her. With every bit of love and understanding she could muster, Kay leaned down and kissed Rorin deeply, pushing into him all her love and passion for him she possessed.

Rorin’s mind raced, he looked out through red filmed eyes at everything around him. The urge to destroy beat at his heart and head. Something within him fought for release. He barely remember the first look that Kay had given him when she first turned his head to hers, he barely heard the grunts from Globy as he rummaged through the junk pile, he didn’t even notice the look of concern and deep feelings of care that Darvo and Finn showed on their faces. Only the picture of his childhood friend twisted and bent on the ground filled his mind. That and the ones that had done that to him. Thoughts of returning the same to them a hundred fold filled his mind. Thoughts of his sword sliding in to scaly flesh filled his mind as again his head was turned, this time with force. Instantly the urge to strike rose only to be pushed back as Kay’s lips found his.

At first Rorin tried to pull back, but Kay held him in place as she thought of nothing but him and her feelings for him. Slowly Rorin’s eyes returned to normal as the red slipped away. Rorin could feel something from Kay, something pushed into his soul, his heart leaped back at first but the feeling from Kay sought out and found his heart again and pushed harder still. Slowly, understanding began to flood into Rorin as Kay’s love flowed into him. The pain in his heart receded, not completely gone but far less hungry now. The pain still remained but now there was understanding and control with it. Slowly Rorin’s heart opened to the feelings that pushed at him, slowly his heart accepted the touch and then embraced it, demanding more and more.

The kiss had lasted but a mere minute or two, but for Kay it had seemed a life time. She felt the resistance when she pushed her love for this small wonderful man at him. She felt the fierce push back as Rorin fought to retain his anger and pain. Kay felt the joy when the force lessened and his love for her jumped to meet her. Where there was once pain and anger, now love shone back at here from his heart. As Kay pulled back from Rorin, his eyes locked with hers and the love she saw there melted what little restraint she had left. With tears flowing anew from her eyes, Kay embraced Rorin tightly and he in return hugged her back as tight. Slowly a smile of understanding and love spread across Rorin’s face as he stepped back and turn to the others.

Finn and Darvo both had watched the display. As Rorin turned to them, tears silently fell from their eyes.

With a nod of his head, Darvo said, “Finn and I shall check out the halls, we will be right back.”

Rorin nodded as Finn and Darvo quickly but quietly head off in to the hallway.

Rorin turned his attention to Globy, a smile spread across his face as he watched Keara help the large Ogre into what seemed his old gear. Gently Rorin reached out and enfolded Kay’s hand into his and stepped towards the Ogre and Bard. The hunger for revenge still pushed as hard as before at Rorin’s heart, but now there was caution and control. He knew what he would have to do to escape from this place, he knew that many would die. But now he did not hunger for death, merely to be free. Free to know life again.

Giving Kay’s hand a gentle but firm squeeze, Rorin made his way over to the other couple and asked Globy what direction they needed to take. Moments later Darvo and Finn returned to inform them that the lizards were few and far between. They may have a good chance of escape.

In hushed voices, the small party formed a plan of escape. Globy informed them all that he was not of the warrior casts but a shaman and would speed their journey from this foul place.

Water and food were passed around as the plans were adjusted and everything that could be thought of was considered.

After an hour of discussion, the party stood and turned to the opening Globy said lead to the surface. Together Rorin and Darvo pulled their swords free from their sheaths. Finn notched an arrow to her bow, Kay gripped her staff and Keara strummed her lute. Rorin and Darvo exchanged a grin and the party started up the hallway together.
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