Last one was late, so I figured i'd post this one up early for you guys... enjoy Towns – The Goblin War
Part three – Brom's secret
Gosbeck swung his hammer to the side smashing a rearing giant spider into the wall of the cave. Another was intercepted by Terryn as he slid into the room and cleaved it in half with his iconic curved Khopesh blade. This drew the attention of two slimes and another three arachnids. Then at that moment five guards of Aranaea came storming around the corner and laid the creatures to waste with Spiderite sword.
They saw the next group of spiders gathering at the end of the tunnel. They converged on a group of slimes and the wave of horrors blocked the way forward.
“Show them no mercy!” Terryn cried as he charged. “Let them feel Brom’s wrath!”
The heroes and guards of Aranaea crashed into the group of monsters and hacked a bloody corridor through them. The fight was short and brutal, bodies of spiders and green slime lay everywhere. After the clash, they took a moment to check their condition. One of the guards was wounded and a barbarian had taken a severe bite to his arm.
“You two go back to town,” Terryn ordered. “I think we’ve got enough to finish the job.”
It was then Terryn noticed Gosbeck had spotted something odd about the end of the tunnel. A slight glow was coming from around the corner. But what was stranger was the walls ahead were straight and made from large red building stones they’d never encountered before.
“This mortar is fresh,” the town supervisor said in astonishment overlooking the stones, “less than a decade old…”
“Impossible,” Terryn scoffed.
They entered a large room made from the same red stone. Terryn suddenly heard the familiar hissing from a giant spider somewhere behind him. Gosbeck readied his hammer, but Terryn raised his hand.
“I have this one, my northern friend…” he instructed, drawing his champagne coloured blade.
He spun around to face his enemy and his eyes widened. He and the rest of the soldiers began backing away for the nearest direction to escape.
“Here you are,” Isabel frowned at her sister as she walked into the hospital.
Alice sat alongside Oliver in the bed along the far wall. The guard seemed more alert than he had been in earlier days. He had some serious scars, but with the bloody armour removed and wounds bound up, he was looking more presentable.
“It’s my hero,” he teased her.
“I’m guessing you didn’t have any luck with Terryn?” Alice asked her.
“That knight is as thick as his armour,” Isabel argued sitting down on the adjacent bed, “he thinks spiders killed Brom. He has taken the entire guard into the caves to wipe them out once and for all.”
“All, except you. That’s not why you’re really angry is it?” Oliver then noticed her scowling at him darkly and changed the subject. “That’s the way Terryn is. He knows what he’s doing. He’s gotten us through so many scraps, and we’ve often questioned his methods, but he always comes out on top. Why do you think they tell stories about him?”
“It doesn’t take a genius to see a difference between this…” she pointed to her own scars from their encounter, “…and a spider bite. You saw the thing. It wasn’t a Brownie or any spider.”
“I think you’re right,” Alice agreed to Isabel’s surprise.
She then noticed the storybook that Alice had slid out of view from her when she arrived, “Paulus again?”
Oliver noticed her scepticism. “Don’t be so quick to dismiss Paulus. You didn’t believe Aranaea was real until you arrived.”
“Is this why you came here, to brainwash some other poor individual with your stories, Alice?”
“Look familiar?” Alice showed her a page in the book.
Isabel took a brief glance and laughed. The drawing of the creature was crude and lacking detail. Though, the more she stared at the picture, the more she realised that the details weren’t that far off.
She gave in and asked, “Does he say anything useful about them?”
“He says it is an evil race of creatures and very dangerous. They’re not unrelated to Brownies, but live deep within the earth,” Alice explained, “They are a dual race, the much larger breed living even deeper down and ruling over the smaller ones. They have great intelligence, having language and the ability to build great subterranean realms from stone like bees creating a hive. He notes they are surrounded by so much magic that it becomes difficult to separate them from the physical.”
“Does he give them a name?”
“Paulus calls them Cabalus
, in his own language,” she said, “Kobalds
in a northern tongue, the far off continents of Perussia and Skarletta call them Nibelung
. I guess the language of the old world is closest to our own and so we call them…”
Isabel’s head snapped around as the hospital door suddenly flew open. Four guards with hideous injuries poured in, one collapsing in the doorway.
“For frog’s sake, what happened?”
“We have two dead and many more wounded,” one of the guards told her, “and there’s more coming.”
“Spiders?” Alice asked him.
“You think an ordinary cavern spider could do this?” he cried. “Gosbeck and Terryn are the only ones left down there, but they’re dead men!”
Isabel snatched the Spiderirte sword from the dying guard on the hospital bed and made for the door.
“Stay here,” she told her younger sister, “treat the wounded as they come in.”
Terryn was thrown into the far wall like a rag doll. From the floor he looked at the golden stripes along the flanks of the enormous arachnid and realised this was no ordinary spider. It was easily ten times the size of a normal cave spider, with a large jaw of razor teeth and long fangs.
Gosbeck came roaring in with is stone hammer raised and struck it in the side with a loud crunch. It reared like war horse catching the barbarian with one of its legs and sending him into the wall alongside Terryn. The huge barbarian collapsed unconscious on top of Terryn. He tried desperately to free himself as the Queen of spiders came into feast on the heroes or Aranaea.
Isabel found two more guards terribly injured crawling through the tunnels towards the surface. She snatched an iron breast plate off a female guard who was on the retreat, ignoring her pleas to fall back. The armour didn’t make her feel any safer as she came across a dead soldier with his Spiderbane plate cracked open. She was terrified. She cared little for what happened to Terryn. But after all they had been through, she couldn't leave Gosbeck to this fate. She looked up ahead to see a red stoned corridor, hearing the cries of combat.
Terryn tried to hold back the fangs of the Spider Queen with his last ounces of strength. Gosbeck suddenly came to and snatched up his stone hammer. He swung the hammer into one of its legs, breaking it in the middle. The Queen turned on him rammed him into the far wall with all of its weight. His bones cracked making him cry out in agony.
The spider suddenly reared back once again. With her Spiderite sword, Isabel entered the dungeon room and tore open the bug’s thorax with a long slashing blow. It backed away in a defensive stance, baring its fangs and burning yellow eyes. Terryn climbed to his feet and the three of them circled the Spider Queen.
The three were in bad condition, but so was the Queen. It had taken so many strikes from so many of them, that it was nearing its end. The three laid into the arachnid hacking, bludgeoning and slashing. It finally collpased and they continued to attack and stab it long after its vile life had been extinguished.
It was late evening and Terryn staggered into the tavern upon crutches. He looked over the sea of silent awe stricken faces and raised one of the huge fangs of the Spider Queen. The townsfolk roared in triumph. All but a few had gathered in the great hall to honour those that had fought and fallen in the great campaign to rid them of spider-kind.
Gosbeck, still badly injured from their fight, lay upon the table at the far end like a bed. He was bandaged up and had a mug in hand the size of barrel. Isabel and Alice were with him there, feeling a little out of place. Terryn was helped up on to the table and stood over the crowd.
“Friends. Guards. Heroes all!” Terryn announced causing them all to cheer and hush straight after. “For years we have scoured the depths of the caverns beneath Aranaea. We have driven back spider-kind on numerous occasions, but always their numbers had seemed endless. We knew there had to be some leader, some Queen. And as of this day, Aranaea destroyed it!”
Thunderous applause shook the great hall. Gosbeck thumped his mug on the table where he lay.
“We’ve lost friends this day, but also gained new ones. One hero stood out, risking her own life and saving both Gosbeck and myself from certain death,” Terryn raised a hand towards the end of the table. “Isabel Demour.”
They all cheered for her. Even Isabel found her sceptical self caught up in the moment of celebrations and a small smile appeared on her face.
“Because of her unquestionable loyalty and bravery that has led to securing the future of Aranaea, I have decided to make her a permanent member of the guard,” there were more applause before he continued, “what’s more. For the first time we have decided to send out an expedition to establish a new town. We have decided to rebuild the old site of Hurroden, keeping the name in honour of Isabel Demour.”
Isabel looked shocked and thanked him from the bottom of her heart. The townfolk all congratulated her and made a toast to the new expedition and celebrations lasted long into the night.
“This is it,” Peter said looking down the ladder into the dark dungeon, “This was where Brom came out from.”
The other guard Hadrian peered down and spat into the next level, “let’s hurry this up, I want to get back to the party. I want to have a drink with Alice Demour.”
Hadrian climbed all the way down the ladder and looked around. He was immediately shocked by what he saw. Despite the darkness, he could tell this was no cave, it was a catacomb. The walls were made of brick and the tunnels ran straight along. He turned back and saw Peters figure by the ladder staring at him. Hadrian walked several metres and found the tunnels ran straight and on forever.
“Why does Terryn want this reburied? Someone or something has built this place…” he uttered and looked back to see Peter was gone. “Peter?”
He walked back toward the ladder wondering if his comrade had walked down the tunnel. That was until he heard a voice from the level above.
“Did you call me?”
Hadrian suddenly drew his sword and took on a defensive stance looking down the tunnel where the mistaken figure had been. From the blackness ahead, a dark raspy laughter echoed back at him.
Once the celebration had died down, Alice removed her storybook from under the table. She turned to the page she had left off on when all the commotion had begun in the hospital. Gosbeck watched as she read down to the end of the page. Amar Paulus had named the creature in the language of the old world, and a variant which she recognized as close to her own. She read the name out quietly so only the two of them would hear.