Sign in to follow this  
Cadh20000

An old (non-Wurm related) story of mine. Kinda fits the Halloween season.

Recommended Posts

This isn't related to Wurm or it would be in "The Scribes Corner", but that says it is for "text arts related to Wurm Online".

 

Quote

There is no such thing as a lock I can't get past!


“There is no such thing as a lock that I can’t get past!” I boasted loudly over drinks that night. Little did I know how that would come back to haunt me…

I didn’t notice the cloaked fellow sitting back in the shadows until he came up behind me and cleared his throat. Turning around, I quickly looked him over. He was of medium height, perhaps five-seven. Wrapped in a cloak so dark it seemed to absorb the dim light of the tavern with a deeply shadowed cowl, he was on the thin side of average, but not so that you would really notice him. His cowl was so deep that no sign could be seen of the face within except for the occasional reddish glint as the eyes caught the light from the lamp behind the bar.

A dry whisper echoed from that cowl as though from a great distance; “You say you can get past ANY lock? Just how confident are you in your little boast?”

Laughingly I responded; “There is no one better than me at picking locks! And traps are no problem either!”

The cowl bobbed in a small nod; “If you are so confident in your abilities, I have a little proposition for you.” A gloved hand so gaunt as to appear skeletal emerged from beneath the cloak. Clutched in its grip was a handful of gold coins; “Get me a certain locket and I’ll reward you beyond your wildest dreams. But remember this, those who fail me get what they deserve!”

Entranced by the golden glitter, I reached slowly towards the coins saying; “I’m listening!”

He pulled them back just out of my reach and gave a hoarse laugh; “Not so fast my friend! No locket, no gold, remember? Now, are you ready to hear the details of your little job?”

I answered; “Yes, yes… What do I have to do? You keep mentioning a locket, but there are many such trinkets in this world. How am I supposed to tell this one apart?”

He laughed again and this time I caught the smell of his breath; like the dusty, mold-ridden stench of a newly opened tomb. I coughed and shivered as he replied; “Oh, you’ll know it when you see it. Not only should it be the only one in the vault, but it is unique. An inch-and-a-half long, blood-red, opaque teardrop on an oval gold back-plate, hinged on the left side and with a small lock on the right, the whole thing hanging from a thin golden chain.”

Eyes widening, I gave an appreciative whistle; “Phew, sounds expensive! I see why you’re willing to offer so much for it! What type of stone is it?”

My employer froze for a second, as though debating how much to tell me, finally he whispered; “It is a very rare item known simply as a bloodstone. Legend says that it is actually the last drop of blood shed from the heart of a slain demon. As to the truth of the tales…well… I leave that up to you to decide.” He gave an uncaring shrug and began to turn away. He crooked a finger at me as he continued, telling me to follow him deeper into the shadows; “You know of the castle just outside of town on the east side? The one that eccentric woman had brought over seas and rebuilt stone by stone?”

“Yes, everyone knows it. It isn’t every American town that has an English castle after all. It caused quite a stir when construction began two years ago.” I answered. I had always dreamed of going in there someday but the rewards had never been worth the risks before this.

He spread a map of the castle on the table before us; “Good. The vault is in the central tower. You will need to get past the outer wall, the inner wall, through the main building, and up four flights of stairs to reach it. Should you accomplish this the real challenge shall begin. The vault takes up most of that floor, the door is solid steel three inches thick with five locks; two combination locks, two key locks, and one puzzle lock. Get it open and the locket shall be on a pedestal in the center of the vault. As to the guards, I’ve marked where they patrol and when on here. Take the map with you, you’ll need it. You have until this time Friday night, at that time I shall meet you in the cave to the west. You do know where the cave is, don’t you?”

“Yes sir! Don’t worry about a thing!” I said out loud as I began planning the burglary in my mind. Once I got past the outer wall this should be easy. According to the map there are only sixteen guards, all on the outer and inner walls. Inside the building there was a near total lack of security. It was as if the owner thought the walls and the vault were all the protection their property needed.

That night was moonless so I did a little scouting to see how accurate my employer’s information was before breaking in. After waiting and watching for almost an hour I decided that the information was accurate at least as far as the guards on the wall were concerned. I waited until the current guard was past then raced across the dry-moat to the base of the outer wall.

The wall was easy to scale, the gaps between the stones might as well have been made for my fingers and toes to slip into. The stone gritty beneath my fingertips, I held my breath and hung just below the crenellations as the guard stomped past, the lantern in his hands blinding him to anything outside of its cheery glow. It seemed like forever, before he was far enough past for me to let out the breath I had been holding and pull myself to the relative safety of the walkway. I hurried across and crouched between the crenellations, trying to catch my breath. I judged I had almost a minute before the next guard came through, but always better to be safe than sorry. At least from here I could lower myself completely out of sight in a heartbeat if one of them came through.

As my breathing finally calmed, I lowered myself onto the wall’s inner surface. The stones were smoother on this side. While I was still about ten feet off the ground my foot slipped and I slid down the rest of the way. My feet hit the ground first; then my rear hit a moment later with thump, thankfully a quiet one.

I pushed myself to my feet with a muffled groan then staggered across to the inner wall where I began to climb once again. This time the wall-crossing was uneventful and I was quickly scurrying through the gardens at the back of the main building. Reaching the door I pulled my lock-picks out of my pocket and went to work. The lock was a big clunky old thing, easy to open, and I was quickly inside the castle’s kitchen.

I grabbed an apple that had been left setting on the prep table, probably left over from an apple pie or some such dessert. Then taking a large bite out of it, I turned to my left and headed clockwise around the table to the dining hall doorway. I tossed the half-eaten core into the large fireplace as I passed, sending up a puff of ash from the hearth.

Striding confidently I passed through the dining hall and on into the central tower where I preceded to climb the stairs, taking care that none should creak under my feet. As I rounded the corner on the fourth floor I paused in shock to stare at the two massive, ornately carved, stone gargoyles standing on either side of the vault door. They stood facing each other over the top of the doorway. Wings furled tightly against their backs, clawed hands held high above their heads, palms against the ceiling as if to brace it up. Reptilian tails curled loosely around clawed feet while unblinking eyes glared straight at each other in a staring contest for the ages.

After staring for several seconds, I yanked my eyes from them to stare in turn at the door. I quickly dismissed the four normal locks as easily dealt with, but that puzzle lock was like nothing I had ever seen before. The only comparisons I could make were to either a blacksmith’s ironwork puzzle or perhaps to an ornate Celtic knot. It seemed that one would have to get this small steel ring off of the elaborately intertwined bars before the door could be swung open. Some of the bars were anchored to the door itself while others were anchored to the doorframe, hinged as though to swing out of the way once the ring was off of them. I wished I had thought to bring some heavy chain-cutters with me; they would have simplified matters considerably…

I decided to start with the easiest lock and work my way up to the hardest. I sighed then pulled out my picks again and settled down to work. My sensitive fingers quickly felt the tumblers turn under the manipulations of the picks, but even as they did I heard a grinding as of stone on stone. I spun and peered carefully around… Was it my imagination or were the corners of that gargoyle’s mouth pointed a bit further down in a frown? No way, it couldn’t be! Such things were impossible! Hearing nothing further I went on to the next lock, and once again I heard that same grinding sound, this time when I looked I could have sworn that gargoyle’s mantled wings had been down more against its back before! I shook my head and dismissed it as just my nervous imagination. It would take real magic to make stone statues move and everyone knows magic doesn’t exist!

Now, on to the combination locks! Pressing my ear against the door next to the lock I listened closely for the tumblers as the knob rotated. Even as the third tumbler clicked into place I heard that grinding sound once again. Now I knew I wasn’t imagining it! I peered intently at the gargoyle on my right, studying every detail of its grotesque features. As I was looking at its face I could have sworn it blinked at me! I stared it directly in the eye and this time there was no denying what I saw, it blinked once more and then snarled at me… I stared in disbelief as it lowered its hands from the ceiling and gave its shoulders a shake, looking as if it would have loved to spread its wings had there been room to do so. I heard a thump behind me and I slowly turned around and looked at the other one just in time to see it step down from its own pedestal. With that, it seemed that whatever had been holding me released. I took off as fast as I could move down the stairs, making my way out of the building at top speed!

Shouts erupted as I climbed the walls, darting right past the startled guards on their rounds. About a hundred feet past the outer wall I finally collapsed in exhausted shock. There was no way that really happened, was there? Magic wasn’t real, was it? These thoughts kept circling around in my mind like a dog chasing its tail.

Less than a minute later I was snapped out of my shocked reverie by the sight of the guard’s lanterns coming at ground level along the outer edge of the wall. They were coming from both sides and seemed to be making a thorough search so I figured I had better get going before they found me. No way was I getting taken back to the castle were those living statues were!

I picked up my lantern from where I had concealed it before climbing the wall and headed back into town still thinking about what I had seen that night. Without conscious thought my feet guided me to my favorite tavern. Who knows, maybe I could find my mysterious employer there and get some answers? I ordered a drink and gulped it down when it came. Then I ordered another, then another. By this time I was starting to get a bit tipsy and the idea of confronting my employer was coming back, more determined to be heeded than before. Eventually I gave in and left the tavern, headed west through the darkened streets to the cave in the forest where he had said to meet him.

I paused outside the cave and studied it. The entrance was pitch-black, darker even than the surrounding forest. The cave was well known as a place of bad omen, going there was supposed to be bad luck so even though everyone knew where it was, almost everyone stayed away. It was a perfect place for a non-superstitious criminal like me to meet someone. At least before tonight that is what I would have said, but now? Now I wondered just how much of its bad reputation was deserved. Those statues had moved on their own and that took real magic, so what other magic was real? Was it really cursed?

I shook my head to clear it of such musings and continued on inside. I strode confidently for the first several yards, knowing full well from earlier visits that the cave twisted and turned so that just a couple hundred feet back someone could have torches blazing and yet never have to worry about it being seen from outside the cave. As I walked the darkness seemed to grow, swallowing the light of my lantern. Before long I stood within a pool of light less than half as big as what I had entered with and strange sounds emanated from the surrounding darkness.

My light no longer reached the walls but I was too drunk to do the smart thing and get out of there. I continued forward and the pool of light continued to shrink. It was far too late when I finally realized something was very wrong and I should retreat. My lantern guttered and went out, leaving me in absolute darkness for several seconds before a new light came on. It was blood red and barely bright enough to make out the figure standing before me. Startled, I stared as a voice emerged from the shadowed figure; “You already? Is it safe to assume that you have the locket?” Then the voice turned darker; “Or did you fail? You do remember what I said happened to those who fail me, don’t you?”

I snapped; “I don’t care what you said, what I care about is getting some answers! She has living gargoyles guarding that thing! You hear me? LIVING GARGOYLES!”

Pulling his hood back to reveal a grinning skull with leathery skin stretched tightly over it he said; “You do business with the Lords of the Undead, yet you quail at mere animate stone?” and gave the most chilling laugh I had ever heard. Then he raised his hands towards the ceiling as if conducting a crescendo and four streams of white mist arose from the floor at this gesture, which then took on the forms of four more such as he.

Having seen what was under that cowl, I was having trouble getting my mind to think of the Lich as anything other than an “it”…

Their misty forms surrounded me, hollow laughter echoing distantly. The one who I had been conversing with reached out its bony hand and laid it gently upon my chest. I shivered violently in a sudden chill as that hand slowly sank through the cloth of my shirt and on into the flesh of my torso. Caressingly, it placed its fingers directly upon my heart.

Shuddering in a combination of freezing cold and utter terror, I felt that I was on death’s door. Suddenly I froze, and then let out an agonized scream that echoed throughout the entire cavern as it dug its claws into the heart muscle. Gradually the pain lessened as it removed its hand from my chest.

Leaning closely it whispered into my ear; “Remember this pain; I left one of my claws buried next to your heart, and should you displease me, the pain shall return as the claw buries itself in your heart… Fail me and it will be the last thing you feel before joining me as one of the undead…”

Shoving me back into the surprisingly solid grip of its misty compatriots, the Lich continued: “Now go! You still have until the original deadline to get me the locket, so do not fail me again!”

“Ye, ye, yes sir!” I stuttered as I turned and ran. I was too frightened to notice I had left my lantern behind, until that blood-red light abruptly vanished and left me in utter blackness that is. Even then I didn’t go back for it; I pulled a match from my pocket and struck it instead. My hands shook so badly that its flame flickered and quickly went out. I tried again and this time managed to keep it lit for a few seconds, just long enough to see skeletal forms with red glinting eyes gathered all around, seemingly escorting me out of the cave. I wondered what they would do if I deviated from the path, then decided I didn’t want to know. The match singed my fingers as it burned down so I dropped it and lit another one. I just hoped that I had enough to get me out of the cave!

 

There may be a "part 2" later, but no guarantees.

Edited by Cadh20000

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this