Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Tunnels

Drip drip drip.
We liked the tunnels. The sudhodya can’t see a thing in the dark, they lose their bearings as well; even their veterans struggled down in the black.
There were other things down there with us, neither sithi nor sudhodya, but they were giving us wide berth now. We’d run into a few darker beings earlier but they came up against the Retan and Fearbane, two wide in the tunnel with our shields over their heads and Valine dancing between us with his spear darting death like a god’s whip.
Drip drip drip.
I can’t remember when I started hearing that beat under our near-silent passage, I couldn’t trace it in the tight confines. The walls were dry, we made this after all, and so was the floor but it was ever present now, just on the edge of hearing.
Drip drip drip.
I cocked a questioning glance at Etan but he shook his head. In the dark he looked pale and grim, but we’d been going for hours now and I suspect we all did.
A tap on the shoulder, passed forward, and we paused. The Dogged gave a hold-fast sign to the Retan and then ghosted back. We waited.
Drip drip drip.
More waiting.
Sudden violence behind us. The Dogged had sprung whatever rude surprise he had planned on whoever was trailing us down here.
Eyes front still, lucky that, as a sudden flare illuminated the tunnel. Etan and I turned and leapt to the rear to replace those who’d lost their vision. A Sudhodya mage, mid-cast, with two marines, our people backing off, blind shields high. My brother’s axe took the caster in the teeth from ten feet and we dealt death to the marines in their sudden darkness.
More waiting as our eyes re-accustomed and joints and blades were checked.
Drip drip drip. Back to the front and slow steps forwards.
No tunnel now, a room, large, so much so that even our eyes could not see the corners. The smell of men and blood, but old and less pungent than that which we carried with us. Spreading out, a circle of shields now, one deep, as always.
Etan to my left, as always.
We knew then that it was a most likely place for an ambush, but we would have walked on anyway; Grandmother called us home, so home we went.
Drip drip drip went with us.
They came with a hail of arrows and a spellcaster. The sudden light took away our advantage; their advantage was numbers. They closed swiftly following the arrows, marines again, more of the Inquisition’s best. Shields and short-swords for the close quarters, still some archers to their rear and their mage plotting who knew what.
Valine took a shaft and had to discard his spear, dropping behind he started to cover for Etan who was slowing. Soon I was not attacking at all but simply trying to keep my brother alive, he was lost and wavering. A nothing blow, off his shield, to his helm, took him down.
It was only when I stepped over him that I saw his entire left side drenched in blood.
No more drip drip drip.
He had not breathed a word.
A shaft rocked my shield back and two marines followed quickly. A jab low to my legs cost one of them an eye but his friend came over my shield with a bastard sword. As I fell I wondered where that had come from, I’d not seen it until that moment.
I remember seeing Anlus charge into the gap and Fearbane turn to cover us as amber liquid began to fill my eye. Damn that’s not good. I need that. It ran across the surface of my eye and fell from the bridge of my nose.
Drip drip drip.


  1. Etan was Shao's sword-brother yes? Not brother brother? And I don't mean in the black "brother" sense either.

  2. It is not because i is black. Sword brother yes.