Sunlight streamed through the window, bathing Cerebus with its warmth and brightness. Pulling the sheets further over his head, he mumbled under his breath about mornings and hangovers.
“Damn Nujelm wine, always gives me a headache.” Cerebus griped as he finally rolled out of bed. Being a large man, he could drink most men under the table. Most men.
“Well, that’s what you get when you try to out drink three of the town guards. I think sometimes your gold pouch thinks for you, not your head.” Elijah said from across the room. “I get tired of having to drag you out of bars due to your temper, and then have you sleep at my house.” He stood and stretched, looking out the window at the day ahead. Elijah was not quit as big as Cerebus, but was not a small man by any means. His body was built more for stealth and speed, while his friend was built for brute strength. The men had been friends for some time, sharing more adventures then they can remember. Some good, others bad.
“Well, the guards’ money is as good as anyone else’s, not my fault they let their heads get to big for their britches. They wanted to gamble and drink, so I accommodated them.”
Elijah looked at his friend with an odd face, “You damn near got us a good beating when accused Galstone of cheating. You know he is a cheat and his friends back him up when he does.”
Cerebus smiled, remembering what happened after that. “Ya, they sure got on the fight after that too. I think I only broke a couple of his ribs when I slammed him through the table. You on the other hand, since when did you start kicking people?”
As Elijah pulled his boots on, he chuckled when he answered, “Well, his friend with the beard was crawling across the floor with a knife in hand, so only thing I could do was kick him.”
“Well, glad you did. He may have cut me good if you hadn’t stopped him.”
“Aye, that he may have.” Elijah smiled, dismissing the subject.
Cerebus smiled, knowing his friend was done talking about the night before. “So, what’s the plan for the day my friend?” he asked as he pulled his shirt over his back, almost splitting it at the seams.
“Tell you the truth, I can’t say I had any major plans. I need to check and see if there are any new recruits, it has been some time since I have looked to see if there are any new candidates.” Being the Guild Master for the Royal Knights of Britannia, he had to always stay on top of matters like these. New members where becoming harder and harder to find, so he didn’t want to lose any that may have been recruited.
“Sounds like a heck of deal to me. I am going to run over to my house and grab a bite to eat. Need anything?” Cerebus asked as he strapped his sword belt across hip.
“Sure, I could eat something. Got any bread and sausage?”
“I’ll have to check, but I think I do. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” As Cerebus walked out, Elijah headed for the Guild Stone, where any new recruits are placed.
Reading through the journal, he found no new recruits, or anything else for that matter. “Well, guess I will have to go and out and find some new members myself.” Elijah grumbled under his breath.
“Talking yourself again Eli?” came a voice from behind.
On instinct more then anything, Elijah spun in a half crouch, hand falling to the hilt of his sword. With the sword half out of its scabbard, he realized who had addressed him.
Half embarrassed, he slid his blade home as he spoke, “Hello Ariakas, once again you manage to startle me.”
Ariakas, dressed in his finest as usual, looked at his friend and leader with a smug smile. He was a handsome man, and carried himself lightly. But more then enough blood had been spilled by his hands, so many knew better then to underestimate him.
“Why so jumpy Eli, Cerebus get in another bar fight last night?”
“How in the world did you know that?”
Ariakas laughed, having already heard the story about what had happened the night before.
“ I ran into the Guard Captain, said Cerebus busted two of Galstone’s ribs. Something about slamming him through a table for cheating. Although, that would not surprise me at all, he is a known cheat by most everyone. He thinks he can get away with since he is on the town guard.”
Elijah nodded, agreeing with him, “Aye, that’s about how it happened. You know how Cerebus’ temper can get, I almost think he drank with those men so he could get into a fight.”
“That, I would not doubt at all sire.”
As the men continued talking about the night before, Cerebus came back, breathing a bit hard like he had run from the house next door, and in looked to be in a bad mood.
“Slow down man, I didn’t need food that bad.” Elijah said as he handed Cerebus a water skin.
“Sorry, no food my friend. I got a bit distracted.” Cerebus handed his leader a piece of paper. “ When I got over to my house, there was a pigeon sitting on the window sill. It seems we have some trouble brewing.”
As Elijah looked at the letter, concern crossed his face.
“Read it aloud sire.” Ariakas asked when he saw his friend and leaders face.
“Very well my friend, as you wish.” Elijah began reading the letter, worry still on his face,
I am writing this letter with urgency, for I am being held captive. One of my pigeons managed to follow for me, thank the gods, so that is how I managed to get this letter to you. As you know, Orcs have been ravaging the wilds more and more as of late, and today, they have entered my home. I was asleep when there was a crash at the door, and Orcs streamed into my house. I managed to scramble to my feet and get my reagents before they got into my sleeping room. I killed 2 Orcs before I was overcome. They got me to the ground where they bound and gagged me. After that, I was hit on the head, losing consciousness. Where I was taken after that, I don’t know, but I can tell you I seem to be in some sort of large mine. I have been put in a cage, under the watchful eye of an unusually large Orc. His skin is black, and he wears black armor. I fear for my life, not knowing what will become of me. There is some sort of alter on the floor here, so I think I am to be some type of sacrifice. This is all the information I have you my friend, so I ask you and the Royal Knights of Britannia for you help, I am in dire need. I must go, before my little messenger is found. Please hurry. Safe travels my friend,
Elijah folded the note and handed back to Cerebus. He ran his fingers through his hair as he looked at his friends. Ariakas had a look of concern on his face, but seemed to take the news rather well. Cerebus though, he was a different story. Knowing about his friends past, Elijah understood why he was so upset. Cerebus was red in the face, and was slowly pulling his sword out of its scabbard, then slamming it home repeatedly.
“Please, Cere, take it easy I kn……”
Cerebus cut him off, “Take it easy! You know how my parents were killed, you know my hatred for the Orc race. We must hurry to help our friend, she needs us. I will not have someone else I care about die in an Orc stew pot!” He had lost his temper, and now there was no coming back.
Ariakas put a hand on Cerebus’ shoulder, trying to bring some ease to the big man.
“Calm down a bit Cere, we know how you feel. You know the Guild will not stand idly by while your friend needs us. Lets go inside and discuss what needs to be done.”
“Good idea Ari. I can get some pigeons out to other members so we can get this rescue under way.” Elijah said as he opened the door, motioning for the two men to enter.
As the men sat around the table, Elijah spoke, “I think this letter was sent yesterday, two days ago at the most. We should still have plenty of time. I think I may know where Amidala may be. There is an abandoned mine outside the city of Cove. I have heard reports of Orcs roaming in and out of this mine, now a dungeon if my guess is right. If this is the case, there is no telling how deep this recess may go.”
“Fine, lets head there, gut some Orcs, and rescue our friend.” Cerebus said as he stood.
“Cerebus, if I am right, there are hundreds of Orcs in this mine. Us three cannot live long enough against those odds to be of any help to Ami. Sit, and I will get some pigeons on the way.”
Elijah began writing letters to his fellow members of the guild, asking for any and all to come to the aid of a friend. Cerebus paced as he watched Elijah load carrier pigeons with letters. Once all the pigeons were gone, Elijah headed for his armor and weapons.
“Now Cerebus, I know you are in a hurry, but lets see who we can get to come help before we head out to battle. I hope one of the Wilderness Corp answer, a dragon can be a big help here.” Elijah said as he donned a plate helmet.
Cerebus nodded at his friend, “Very well Eli. I understand where you are coming from. I have a few friends that I have already sent some pigeons to, so maybe we can get some help from them as well.”
“When did you get time to send your own birds?” Elijah asked.
“When I got to my house and read the letter from her, I ran to my study upstairs and got a couple off before coming over here.”
“I see, well, maybe we will have some good help. Think anyone will come?”
Cerebus nodded, “I know one will for sure, the Lady Lydia. She and Ami are good friends, and I know she will help in any way she can. She has a good heart, even though she has a bit of a dark side.”
“Good, we may need all the help we can muster. Ari, go over to the tavern please and see if there is anyone over there. If so, have them report to me here at the guild house.”
Ariakas clasped a hand over his heart in salute, “It shall be done sire.” He said to Elijah as he reached for the door.
“Thank you Ari, loyalty above all.”
“Loyalty above all Elijah.” Ari said, and then was gone.
Elijah looked out from his front stoop at the members who had arrived. He nodded to Odin, the loyal mage who everyone trusted. Behind him was Prince Ryan, one of the few royal members left in the guild. Near the side deck, Aryn and Locksley stood, chatting amongst themselves. Talking to Cerebus was Robert and the Lady Lydia. Ariakas was near them, standing in wait. A total of nine people, Elijah thought to himself, could have been worse he decided. At least Lydia had brought a dragon, which would make a difference.
“Gather around all,” Elijah said from the steps of his house. “We shall be on the way soon, so lets get geared up and then be on our way.”
Everyone attended their own needs, getting bandages, food, heal and cure potions, and getting weapons and spell books ready. Lydia fed her dragon some raw meat, it’s low rumble of content made everyone pause.
“I have a rune near the outskirts of Cove, and Odin said he can open a gate, so let us be on our way. Last chance to step out.” Elijah said as he handed a location rune over to Odin.
As all the other members walked over, Odin spoke the magical words for gate travel, and a shimmering blue portal opened. One by one, they all stepped into the gate, being able to see a reflection of what lies ahead on the other side. Last were Cerebus and Elijah, who grasped hands before stepping through.
“We will get her out Cere, count on it.” Elijah said as he released his friend’s hand.
“I know sire, and thank you again for getting the help needed.”
“You know I always help in any way I can when I can. Now, lets get through and go carve up some Orcs.” Elijah said as he stepped into the blue gate, drawing his battle-axe as he went.
“Good spirits let this day be kind to me and mine.” Cerebus said before following the others.
Cerebus stepped out of the gate, stumbling from the cross continent travel. Ariakas reached out and steadied his friend, his easy smile coming to his face. Cerebus nodded a thank you after gaining solid ground under his feet.
“Which way is this mine Elijah?” Ryan said from atop his large warhorse.
“A bit to the North West, not too far if memory serves me right.” Elijah pointed in the direction needed, and the small army headed across the forest.
The group came out over a small rise in the land, overlooking a valley of terror. Orcs roamed in a valley, where in the center sat a hole that led into blackness.
“I would say this is the place.” Odin whispered as he stood next to Elijah.
“Yes, I would say so. Ok people, you see what lies ahead, lets get ready. Cerebus, I know you are itching to get down there, so you take point. Once the Orcs realize they are under attack, they will mass up. When that happens, Lydia, can you unleash your friend?” Elijah asked the lady standing behind him.
“Of course m’lord. Just mind his fire, he sometimes gets a bit carried away.” Lydia said as she stroked the dragon’s neck.
“Very well, thanks for the warning. Cerebus, lets see that sword of yours in action. Lead the way.” Elijah said, pulling the visor down on his helmet.
With a deep bellow, Cerebus screamed and charged into the mass of Orcs. He rushed head long into the Orc camp, his blade swinging in arcs over his head.
He reached the first of his targets, his body and sword arm making a full circle, his sword hitting the beast in the neck its head coming off cleanly. As he pulled away, two more of the vial creatures were bearing down on him. As he speared the closest one to him, the sword buried to its hilt in the Orc, Cerebus pulled his dagger from his belt, stabbing downward on the second Orc that had come up on him. He caught the beast in the shoulder, knocking it back, giving him time to push the dead Orc off his sword. This second Orc did not go down as easy, pulling a large knife from its pack slung across its back. It and the warrior faced off, circling each other, measuring each other up. As they came around, Cerebus looked out over the valley to a scene of carnage. Guild brothers were in mortal combat with more beasts he thought imaginable. With a blast of heat from the trees, Lydia’s dragon came into the assault; smashing Orcs with is massive paws, and burning them with its fire streaming from its mouth. The smell of burned flesh came to Cerebus’s nose.
He brought his attention back the small Orc still facing him. It made a tentative lunge, testing its range. Then it moved in, trying to bring its large knife across Cerebus’s leg.
He stepped back, the knife hitting only air. As he came back forward, he feigned left, and then spun to the right, driving his sword through the back of the smelly monster. As the Orc fell, Cerebus grabbed his knife from its shoulder.
He spun on the balls of his feet, looking for his next target. The dragon had cleared much of the small valley, leaving slim pickings for the fighters.
Cerebus walked over to where the others were gathered, dispatching three small Orcs, all armed with small blades of some kind. Then Cerebus spotted an Orc Scout in the darkness of the trees, taking aim at Lydia’s back. Without thinking, he loosed his dagger into the air, the knife spinning towards its target. With a meaty thunk, the knife sank into the Orcs neck. The beast fell forward onto its own bow, snapping it in two.
“Thank you Cere, I didn’t even see that Orc back there. He would have made a pincushion out of me had you not seen him.” Lydia said as she looked around, now realizing what had almost happened.
Cerebus looked at her with a small smile on his face, “No problem my dear, glad I was here to help.” Cerebus waved all the other members of the party over to him so he could address them all.
”Ok, now that we have the outside of this dungeon taken care of, I say we head inside. But, keep in mind, there are sure to be many more once we are in its depths.”
Everyone else voiced their agreement, and proceeded into the darkness. As they entered, the smell of soot and sweat reached the all the rescuer’s nostrils. Once all were in the mouth of the cave, and out of daylight, Lydia cast Night Sight spells on her friends so they could see in the dark of the Orcs new home.
They started down a dark tunnel, twisting and turning as it headed down further. Cerebus looked down as they walked, and noticed an old rail running the length of the tunnel. He figured it was an old mining cart rail when there were only humans who were in this mine. As the party turned a bend in the tunnel, they found a small room of sorts. There was a small pit fire in the center with a pot balanced on a make shift spit. Trash was scattered all over the room, and about a dozen Orcs along with it. One Orc looked up from the pot and saw the rescue party. It let out an odd grunt, bringing the others to alert.
Without hesitation, Lydia ordered her dragon to attack an Orc that was headed toward them with a dagger in its hands. The dragon charged, breathing its fire breath ahead of itself. Three Orcs burst into flames, letting out low howls of pain. The other Orcs all turned to the dragon, their biggest threat.
Cerebus and Elijah charged into the fight, blades shinning in the light of the Orcs fire. Cerebus hacked at one of the Orcs arms, severing it clean. Elijah took a full swing with his axe, cutting an Orc in two.
Ariakas was across the room, circling an Orc that had a small scimitar in its hands. From behind, another Orc was closing on the man. He spun on instinct, feeling his new danger. As he ran his sword though the Orc, the first Orc slashed at his arm, cutting him on the bicep. With a scream of rage more then pain, he tried pulling his sword from the Orc he had killed, but his weapon was stuck between the beast’s ribs. He danced around the Orcs wild slashes, and tripped on a stone. He looked up, seeing the Orc raise its weapon above its head, and felt his time was over. Then there was an explosion all around the Orc. The monster fell backwards, its sword falling from its lifeless hands. Ariakas looked up and saw Odin with his spell book open in his hands, and smoke coming from his fingers.
Ariakas smiled a thank you at his friend as he rose, shoving the dead Orc off his sword.
“Try to stay on your feet a bit more often my friend, it makes fighting a bit easier.” Odin said as he closed his spell book, searching his dead Orc for loot.
“That is easier said then done Odin.” Ariakas said with a chuckle.
Only a few minutes had passed since the party had come into the room, and now it was only them standing alive.
“Ok people, I see where the tunnel heads further down, so lets get bandages on, and someone heal Ari’s arm, he may need it later.” Cerebus’ voice boomed in the small, circular room. “I think this tunnel won’t go on much further since this mine is relatively new.”
Lydia healed Ariakas with a Greater Heal spell, the wound healing as if there was never anything there. He thanked her, and was ready to go.
Cerebus lead the party deeper into the darkness, hoping to find his friend Amidala soon.
The tunnel continued it’s twisting and turning as it went on, the party looking in every break in the wall for any trouble.
Cerebus was beginning to wonder how long this mine really was when light began coming into the tunnel from up ahead.
“Ok people, I think we are almost there. I see some light, so I think this will be the main room. Lets get ready, there is no telling what we are going to come across in there.”
When the party entered the room, they viewed a scene of horror and death. Human skulls lined the walls in small pockets, almost as if they were there on display. Small, rough stone tables were scattered around the room with body parts spread across them in no order. In the furthest corner of the room, sat a small metal cage with a woman in it, Amidala. The biggest surprise was the vast number of Orcs, including one that stood half again as tall as a man, and carried an axe that was just as immense.
Lydia ordered her dragon to attack, while all the warriors headed into battle. Cerebus headed straight for the large Orc, his blood boiling with anger and the need to end this vial creature’s life. He let out a battle cry as he slammed his sword into the beasts chest. The Orc looked at him with a look of surprise, as if wondering why this human was attacking it.
The Orc hit Cerebus with its huge axe, knocking the man back a few steps. The power of the Orc was amazing. Applying a bandage, Cerebus charged back at the beast.
Meanwhile, the others of the party had almost finished off all the smaller Orcs, but without some damage taken on their side. Odin had taken bolt to the chest, killing him almost instantly. Lydia was trying to resurrect the mage.
Elijah and Ariakas were fighting two Orc Lords, cross healing each other trying to keep their health up.
Ryan, Robert, Aryn and Locksley had a small band of Orcs pinned on the far side of the room, killing them as fast as they could.
All was going well for the party, save for Cerebus. The warrior’s left arm could barely hold his shield up; there was a large gash across his shoulder. He was bleeding from his scalp, blood running into his eye.
Lydia saw what was happening, and had her pet attack this large Orc that was getting the better of Cerebus.
As the dragon drew close, the Orc turned to the new threat, letting Cerebus draw back a bit to heal. The two monsters battled back and forth, each damaging the other heavily.
Lydia came up next to her pet and friend, trying to keep him healed. This Orc was stronger then anyone had ever expected.
With Odin resurrected, he came over and healed Cerebus and cast a strength spell on the big man.
With renewed strength and health, Cerebus charged the large Orc again. He slammed his sword into the back of the beast, the sword sinking half way up the blade.
The beast roared with rage, spinning at Cerebus, making him lost his grip on the sword. The Orc slammed Cerebus with a punch that knocked him on his back, ten feet from where he stood before. The Orc came at him, axe raised over its head.
The beast towered over Cerebus, blocking almost all the light that was in the room. As Cerebus looked up, thinking his time was over, fire exploded all around the Orc, making it stop its attack and turn. Lydia and Odin both had their spell books in hand, words of magic coming from their mouths. Fire and lighting engulfed the Orc. The beast began to stumble, and the party knew the battle was almost over. The Orc finally fell after being hit twice more by fire spells. As the beast lay on its back gasping for breath, Cerebus kneeled over the monster with his sword back in hand.
“This is where your life ends as well as the others like you.” Cerebus raised his weapon, light glinting off the blade, and rammed it through the Orcs neck. Dark red blood poured everywhere, the Orcs last bit of life draining away. As the Orc stopped breathing, Cerebus pulled his blade free and looked at the lifeless eyes of the now dead monstrosity.
With a smile only his friends understood, Cerebus headed over to the cage that held his friend. He slammed the hilt of the sword against the rusty lock that held the door closed, the lock shattering in a thousand pieces.
Cerebus offered his hand to Amidala, helping her out of her confinement. Amidala smiled a thank you at Cerebus, and then threw her arms around him, tears of joy running down both of their cheeks.
“Thank you Cerebus, I was afraid my message had never reached you. You and your friends have saved my life, and for that I will be eternally grateful.” She wiped her eyes, and turned to the party. “I owe you all my life, for it was you who saved it. This day will be known by many, for today you are all heroes in my eyes. I thank you again, I consider you all friends forever now.”
Cheers went up around the room; everyone had a look of happiness and relief on their faces.
“Ami, how about we get you home so you can get some rest.” Cerebus asked his friend as he wrapped his cape around her.
“Yes, that sounds like the best thing in the world. Rest, and food that is.” Amidala answered, a smile creasing her face.
Elijah chuckled as he came up, taking Amidala’s hand.
“ I can only imagine how you feel m’lady. I am glad the Royal Knights could help you in your time of need, and should you ever have need of us again, you just need ask, for we consider you our friend now as well. Now, lets have Odin cast a portal and take you home.” He looked over at the mage Odin, and with a nod and a grin, the man began the spell.
As the portal opened, Amidala entered, with all the others not far behind. Elijah and Cerebus were the last in the cave, and as Elijah headed for the portal gate, Cerebus asked him to wait one minute.
Cerebus walked over to the large dead Orc, and leaned down close to its face.
“If there is a hell my beastly friend, you are surely there.” Cerebus said with a smile, taking the large axe as he leaned away.
As he walked with Elijah back over the portal, Cerebus turned to his friend, “Hey Eli, when we get back, want to head over to the pub? I could use some ale, and maybe a game of dice or two.”
Elijah just moaned as he pushed his friend through the gate and away from the now quite den.