A Prologue: The Rootbound Stair

Glix strained as he dragged the butt of his sack on the ground behind him, plowing a little trench though the dead leaves and twigs covering the path. Oris was at least a dozen paces ahead of him, sword in one hand with his own bag in the other.

Oris turned his head to the side, “Will you hurry it up!” he snapped. “I want to be out of here by nightfall!” and turned his gaze forward once more.

“Not all of us are the sons of pack-mules!” Glix grunted back.

Oris just shrugged his broad shoulders as he kept walking, never looking back.

Glix glared at the back of his head. True, Oris was an ox of a man, stronger than Glix for sure. But then again, Glix’s bag was more than twice as full as Oris’s.

Pausing to catch his breath and wipe the sweat from his brow, Glix glanced about his surroundings. They were in an outer part of the ruined city, nearing the forest. Many of the old buildings of gray stone were now covered by trees and bushes, their doorways long rotted away leaving nothing but black open portals.

Down a root-bound staircase leading into one of the tomblike mounds, Glix spied a sparkle of light and color.

Like a rodent about to scurry across a larder, Glix looked about as his eyes narrowed. Oris was now well ahead of him, not having noticed that he was no longer following. “Well, why would the oaf ever need to know?” smiled Glix as he unsheathed his knife and left his sack unattended. He slipped off the path quickly, so as not to be noticed by Oris.

With careful, silent steps he quickly made his way down the ancient stairs and into the gloom of the ruins. Slashing away a seeming centuries worth of cobwebs with a swipe of his blade, he peered into the darkness. Inside the chamber he saw a small leather purse lying open with a limp drawstring. Falling out of the mouth of the bag was a pile of multicolored precious stones, illuminated by a few fingers of light from above.

Glix grinned and hunched down over the treasure. “Well!” he said, “How did you lovelies’ ever make it down here?” He grabbed the purse and shook it. The glass like jingle of the stones within made him smile even wider. Even as Glix regained his composure, he couldn’t contain a chuckle as he dropped his knife and scooped-up the scattered stones. As he fingered the jewels, he could feel the finely cut facets upon them.

“And best of all, Oris will never -”

Glix never finished the thought. In an instant, in a rush from the gloom above him, a half-dozen harry arms were around him. With an awkward squawk he was hoisted up and away into the darkness.

***

“Glix!” shouted Oris through the ruins, “Glix! Where the hell are you!?” The warrior had searched wearily as the day began to surrender to twilight. He had spoken to Glix not more than a few minutes before he noticed he was gone. He even left his sack of loot behind, right were he last saw him, which Oris Burunhaven knew was not like him at all. He couldn’t have gone far, and yet he was nowhere to be found. Vanished. And now darkness was approaching.

“Well friend, Gods have mercy on you,” Oris said at last, grabbing Glix’s sack. “I know the hobgoblins will show none to me once night falls.” With a toss of his long blond hair, the warrior shouldered-up his load, turned and left with the setting sun.

Somewhere bellow him, in a shroud of webs, a hand went limp and dropped a leather purse to the floor bellow. With a slap, some of the gems within it spilled out to sparkle once more in the fleeting sunlight.

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.

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