Flash Friday 25/10/2013: Weapon of Choice (Part 9)
“You look like the kind of man who’d like to explore a spooky ruin,” a man said, with a smile far too unfitting for what he just said.
“Me?” Dennis said. He wasn’t aware that well-dressed men were so keen to talk to him, especially ones that hung around a country path in full business attire.
“Yes, you. You look like you’d really get the most out of a crypt.”
“Are you implying that I know a lot of dead people, or–” Dennis began, before having his wrist grabbed. He was dragged off of the main road down a side-path that lead into a field. Dennis looked back, hoping his friends would save him. They all did what friends do when one comes into trouble — watch in total silence to see where it would lead.
“Here it is,” the man chirped, leading Dennis to a ruin. It did, indeed, look quite spooky — a single ruined temple, its pillars holding up nothing but air, with nothing else of unbroken and not-mossy interest except a sitarway that lead into the floor. The bottom consisted of a long corridor, with coffins resting in inserts along both sides, a rotting wooden door at the end of it. The torches along the walls were the only source of light.
“So now that we’re in the best bit,” the man said, clapping his hands together. The rest of Dennis’ party moved behind him as if they were on a tour, “a little about myself. The name is Nicolas Jones, and you should see fit to remember that, so you remember what to write on the cheque when we’re done with this place.” He laughed at his own joke. He was the only one.
“What is this place?” Dennis said.
“Yes, that’s the spirit. All ruins should make you think that. ‘What is this place? What is its history? Is there anything within it that can brutally murder me?’. Well, set aside your worries, young sir, as all three questions will be answered to your pleasure.” Nicolas pushed the top off of a coffin, revealing a skeleton better armed than Dennis was. “The first thing you’ll encounter are these. Previous dungeon keeper had some really boring enemies, so we tore those out and put these in. Trained in one-handed combat with a shield, and you can upgrade to a two-handed variety if that tickles your fancy more.”
The coffin lid was closed again, Nicolas walking down a few alcoves and tapping a coffin at head-height. “This one has a nice bracelet in it,” he said. “Nature one, I believe. Your druid would probably love it.”
“The one in shapeshift form, behind you.”
“If I knew any shapeshifting spells,” Edmond said, “I wouldn’t be in this gig in the first place.”
“You’ll be happy to know that that’s not all,” Nicolas said. He slammed a foot in front of him, then ducked as a blade swung out from the wall with a metallic ring. “Installed a few traps in this one. Last dungeon keeper had them lying in the attic for no reason. You’ve got your blade traps, spike traps, poison spider traps, and the one that shoots a poison dart if you open the little chest in this alcove here. That one always goes down a treat with the adventuring parties. You always get the greedy one of the group. Oh, don’t worry, they’re all disabled. Can’t have them going off before the main event, can we?”
“Thank you,” Dennis said, finding the courage to keep walking. “That would be a disaster, yes.”
“And here,” Nicolas said, stopping by the door, “is the main attraction.” He gave it three solid knocks.
“Yeah?” an old voice said from the other side.
“Bugger. Alright, then.”
Nicolas opened the door. A corpse, glowing with green energy and with eyes like glass, was sitting bored on a throne. He was in the middle of a book, with other finished stories scattered around him.
“At the end of the ruin, you’ll find a lich for you and your party to enjoy. I assure you, our lich is the most rotting lich you can find on the market these days.”
“You got that right,” the lich said, pointing a finger at Dennis, which proved his point by falling off. “Two hundred years of rotting. Can’t ask for more than that. Plus, when you kill me, I’ll relinquish the grasp on my sword.” He picked up the weapon that was leaning against the side of his throne. “Enchanted to do more damage to dragons.”
“Oh, that’s a shame” Dennis said, “because we’re on a quest to slay an orc.”
“An orc?” the lich spat. “Back in my day, heroes killed orcs for breakfast, literally. Now you’re saying they’re giving epic quests to go slay the simplest of monsters these days? Bugger that. You kids won’t appreciate this sword as much as you would have back in the day. Go on, bugger off.”
“I’m sorry?” Dennis said.
“It appears you’ve, uhm, angered the final monster of this ruin,” Nicolas said, as if he was walking on glass. “I’m afraid that a deal might be impossible at this rate. Or at least, an increased fee. I think we could still strike a deal at about, ooh…a thousand gold coins?”
“Two thousand,” said the lich.
“We really don’t have that kind of money,” Dennis said. “Sorry.”
“Not a problem. The dungeons business is pretty steep these days. Do you know anyone who’d like this property?”
“I do have this,” Dennis said, handing Nicolas the business card for the paladin from the pub.
“Ah, a paladin. Yes, they love all this undead stuff, don’t they?”
“He’ll feel right at home. Anyway,” Dennis said, turning to the tour party. “Let’s get going.”
“But Dennis,” Samuel said, tugging at his sleeve, “they have a room perfect for all my dresses.”
Dennis sighed. Maybe if he could afford it simply by selling off Samuel.
997 words (from 1142)
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