Djar decided not to say anything about the tornado or what he now felt must have been the zombie body parts for at least the present. They had gone though some pretty harrowing events in the past several days, so he felt he might as well not add to Cookie or Trever’s stress. There would be plenty of time for that later.
The last leg of their journey was uneventful. They merely walked upon the little-used side trail until its forested sides thinned then broke into an expansive, grassy clearing.
“Look,” cried Cookie. “There it is!”
Djar stopped in his tracks.
“Finally. Okay, what now?”
Trever walked back into the forest, pulling Snork by the leads and tied the mule to a small tree.
“Let’s get my little buddy all set, then just go knock on the door. What else is there?”
“I suppose your right.” Cookie agreed. “We really have no idea as to what to expect, so we might as well not even try to second guess her, and, besides, she may not even exist anymore.”
“Oh, she’s there,” said Djar, thinking back to the faced tornado and the zombie. Those were things of magic, and only a powerful sorcerer could summon energies of that magnitude.
Trever scanned the trees before finding a thick grey-bark. He ripped a nice, curved piece and fashioned the waterproof, semi-pliable wood into a little trough for Snork. He took out two water skins and emptied their full contents into the trough, then took his pack off and laid it next to the mule.
“May as well take yours. Splitting it up seems to be the safest bet for now – just in case,” he said, opening a bag of grain and spilling its contents on the ground in front of Snork. “This should keep you a while, you old goat.”
He gave Snork a final, affectionate pat on the neck, then turned and proceeded toward the keep with Cookie and Djar following closely.
The keep was basically of conventional dwarven architectural design – probably built by artisans of the Chapel region – but it was decorated with a bizarre facade, the likes of which none of the three had ever seen. The first floor was built of solid rock blocks with no break – at least in the two sides the three companions could see – except for a huge, ironbound Steelwood door that looked as if five strong men would be needed to open it. Starting at about fifteen feet up, the keep was banded with a series of gargoyles. A second, larger band started up above the second story’s thick, leaded windows, and a third, even larger band wound around the top of the keep’s third level. The final band of monstrosities was up near the roof, directly under the battlements, looking ever larger and more menacing. The closer the little company walked toward the keep, the more eerie looking the myriad of grotesqueries became.
A large raven then settled on one of the gargoyles directly in front of them. It looked uncomfortable sitting on the stone, as it kept shifting its feet and bobbing its head, like it was sitting on a hot frying pan. Trever scratched at his nose and thought: I could swear that that huge thing has been trailing us for a while now. There’s something str …well, no time for that now!
They walked right up to the keep without incident.
“Apparently they aren’t too worried about a goblin attack – or even petty theiv –” started Trever, but he was rudely interrupted.
One of the lower band’s gargoyles – one with a face that was a cross between a big-eared monkey and a lizard, spit a gooey, white substance at the old trail master.
“Hey! Quit it,” he yelled at the now unmoving rock-monster.
Another, larger white blob hit him from above. Djar let out a chuckle. It was kind of like being insulted from a rather large seagull. But the novelty soon wore off. A large blob hit Djar in the arm with such force that it felt like it snapped. Another, still larger hit Cookie, and soon it was raining white, sticky globs of goop.
After about five unrelenting minutes of the sticky barrage – which they were unable to elude because they were covered so quickly they couldn’t move – it suddenly stopped.
“What do we do now!” shrieked Djar, struggling uselessly against the viscous adhesive.
“I have no idea, but I gotta’ get this goop out of my eyes – I can hardly see!” cried Trever.
Djar was able to turn his head to see Cookie, who was really encrusted with the goop. She was struggling to get a breath as a large gob of the white stuff slowly ran down the front of her face and onto her chest.
Suddenly, a small, furry little creature seemed to just appear from nowhere.
“Captured you, we did! Got you! Intruder-warn-gargoyle-swarm!” chanted the little beast.
“Why have you captured us? We mean you no harm,” said Djar, who was really getting worried. “Cookie! Can you hear me?”
She made a weak gesture, and continued struggling.
“Cookie, stop struggling. You’re only making it worse. Conserve your breath. You! Go tell Dymorla that the son of Duke Daeron Lahroan and Sir Trever de Kellwood are here asking for an audience with the great sorceress. She is said to be loyal to The Way, so we are wondering what is the reason for this unprovoked attack.”
The little creature cocked his head from side to side like a dog hearing an unusual noise.
“Captured you we did,” he smiled.
Djar glanced at Cookie and saw she was now slumping over. She would have fallen completely over, but the pile of ooze, which hid her legs up to, her mid thighs kept her partially erect.
She had passed out.
Djar went berserk.
“Help her, you idiot, or so help me when I get free of this gunk I’ll rip your heart out and shove it down your throat!”
“Eeeep!” cried the little fur ball. “You are a bad man, and we did capture you!”
Djar regained some of his composure.
“Look, I’m sorry. Please, I’m worried about the lady. Please help her; she can’t breathe.”
“Lady,” whispered the now curious creature. “I’ll help the lady.”
It walked over to Cookie – who was now only suspended a foot off the ground in the pile of white muck which she lay in – and grabbed the slowly running goop that covered her face and lifted it gingerly.
“Pretty,” it cried, seeing Cookie’s face. “I like ladies. Captured one, I did.”
Trever was finally able to free a hand to get the goop out of his eyes.
“What’s your name, little man?”
“Willy-nilly-wing-woo-the-furry-trawingoo,” it sang.
“I’ll call you Willy. Do you like that?”
“Yes. Me like Willy! M’Lady calls me that.”
“Okay, Willy. Would you please see if the lady is okay? She is very sick and we were coming here for help.”
Again the beast cocked its head from side to side in a dog-like manner.
“Sick ...” it whispered, and then it ran off.
YOU ARE READING
A Book Of The Lands: The One Who Would Be KingFantasy
The goblin horde has arrived! Djar's parents have been murdered, his city is occupied and things look worse every day. But there is one small hope: If only he can reach the sorceress Dymorla. The only trouble is, she already has a plan of her own, a...