The Dharian Chronicles Chapter I, Part 3

Stealth and Death

Written by David Sisson

The alleyways began to open more as we drew nearer the center of town. The square was littered with dead bodies and debris. A small statue that once stood in the center, a proud homage to some great leader or hero, had been torn down, bits of stone lay scattered from the impact. The children whimpered quietly.

The ruckus drew our gaze. To the south, three people ran into the square, headed towards the keep. They were followed by a woman clad in a worn breastplate. The woman halted and turn towards the alley they had escaped from. Several rat-like creatures emerged from the shadows and swarmed her. They stood three feet tall and had common ancestry with dragons, but you could never tell my their rodent demeanor.

“Kobolds!” The ranger exclaimed in hushed tones.

I pushed the children and old man into the shadows of the alley. “Stay here!”

As I stepped from between the small houses, I drew my sword and gripped my shield tighter. “Halt, knaves!” I shouted at the swarm of kobolds.

That caught the attention of a few, they turned on their heels to face me, slings and daggers ready. The ranger dove against the side of the house to my right, trying desperately to remain hidden. The uneven ground and loose stones caused her to fumble, as her back slammed loudly against the wall.

“What’re ya doin’?” The warlock Tyvira’s gaze was a mixture of judgment and disappointment.

“Shh! I’m bein’ stealthy!” The ranger retorted.

All this commotion caught the attention of more kobolds, as small stones flew at us. Most missed, but a few caught me square in the breastplate, making clangs before falling ineffectively to the ground. This angered the diminutive rat-folk as they collectively began screaming and growling at their new threats.

I charged, shield up and sword at the ready. The nearest kobold took the brunt of my shield, flying backwards into another. An arrow whizzed past my head, catching one of our foes in the side of the neck, tearing his jugular. Blood spurted from the fresh wound as the kobold crumpled to the ground in a heap.

The woman in the back was fending off two kobolds and didn’t see the dagger wielding kobold until it was too late. It slid it’s dagger between the gap in her tattered chain shirt and plunged it deep into her side. She let out a scream and fell to the ground, writhing in pain. The three kobolds pounced on her.

Bolts of blue energy and arrows flew threw the air, as kobolds dropped around me. The side of my shield caught a kobold in the face as I thrust my longsword into the chest of another. The battlefield fell quiet.

“No!” It was the man that had run across the courtyard before the kobolds emerged. He ran to the heap that was once the woman. “Maria!”

As he cradled her lifeless body, we could tell that this was his love.

“She’s gone. We’ve got to move!” I grabbed his arm and wrenched his away from Maria.

“No! Let me go! Please, just leave me alone!” He fought me every step, determined to stay with his now deceased wife.

I couldn’t in good conscience let this happen. I pulled the man to his feet, using all the strength I could muster. The party led the way, we were a hundred yards from the keep. With the man screaming and fighting, I dragged him to the keep’s portcullis, which was being lowered as we approached.

The loud bang of heavy steel against stone signified our safety, and our imprisonment. We were trapped in a stone coffin with a makeshift army of men and beasts beyond the gate and a dragon circling overhead.

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