From the Journal of Edwin the Mage
Written by Bryan Clark
Oh, my, yes. Thank you. A crumpet would be lovely. Yes, that’s right, it’s Edwin, with an ‘E.’ Oh, yes, well I suppose that is a bit obvious, but I did once meet a fellow who actually spelled it with an ‘Ae.’ Yep, “Aedwin.” I thought so, too. He pronounced it just the same, mind you. Oh, I couldn’t say. I’m sure he didn’t do it just to be difficult.
Yes, the tea does steady my nerves. It might do even better with a wee drop of something stronger? Oh, bless you, yes, that does the trick. So, the report, yes.
Oh, it was quite a night, indeed. As you know, we were doing our shift there in the jail, keeping watch over that beastly Tybrin chap, to see that he didn’t dig the bars out of the window, or pick the lock with his toenails or some such. And, of course, that none of his unsavory associates should come and break him out to return to terrorizing the country and making the roads unsafe for common folk. I mean, banditry, as you know, makes it so much harder to get good flour, and by all the heavens, it’s hard enough to get a decent scone as it is. Oh, yes, these are lovely, thank you. A bit crusty, and the marmalade is a fine match, with just a touch of butter melted through it, and…
Mmm, goodness, where was I? Ah, yes, the unpleasantness. So that elven gentleman was watching the prisoner – Killshalt, that’s his name. Yes, the elf, not the prisoner. No, I don’t know what possessed his parents, either. Terribly violent, it sounds, doesn’t it? Almost like cursing the poor little fellow to a life of strife and misery. I can just imagine the poor, innocent little pointy-eared thing, fresh sprouted from mama’s trunk – why, I’d be inclined to name him something nice, something pleasant. Daisy-sniffer, perhaps? Petunia-prancer! Oh, there’s a name that’s got good fellowship written all over it. Can you picture introducing yourself in the tavern as Petunia? Oh, the smiles you’d get, with everyone thinking of a lovely flower! A name like Killshalt, everyone’s just going to frown, and…
Oh, there I’ve drifted off the topic again, haven’t I? Anyway, Petun- um, Killshalt, that is, was watching the prisoner, I was watching out the window through the shutters, Gerri, that little Halfling bloke, was polishing his weapons, and Tambi, that nice new young lady, well, I’m sure she was ready to just spring into action at any moment. Such a nice young lady, she was. Very presentable. It’s truly a shame. So she was sitting near the door, and there was this ruckus from without. Some thumping footsteps, a few screams – well, you know what it was like outside. Our ghastly visitors made quite an impression on their way into town, so I’m told.
Anyway, I couldn’t see anything from the window, being on the wrong side of the building, so Tambi throws open the door, and coming straight for us is the lumbering corpse of that selfsame ogre that caused all the fuss – the one that was working with Tybrin, so I understand. A few distinctly not alive looking kobolds were storming along beside it, with some ominous-looking chaps in hooded black robes bringing up the rear. I mean, looking at fellows like that, you could simply tell they were up to no good. I mean, from their mannerisms alone – the shuffling gait, hands clasped in front of them, with their hoods drawn over their eyes – I suppose when you add in the all-black outfits, and the rampaging through town in the middle of the night driving zombies in front of you it’s a bit of a giveaway. But anyway, what with one thing and another I knew right off that we weren’t going to get along.
Well, we surmised right off that they were after the prisoner, and we did rather prefer to get him out of there rather than fight it out. Tybrin obviously thought his salvation was at hand, as he crossed his arms and refused to go anywhere. I suggested we could subdue him from outside the cell with ranged weapons, and if he died in the process, at least he wouldn’t be freed. Petunia had other ideas, it seemed, and promptly flung the cell door open and rushed in with his sword drawn. Tybrin calmly dodged the sword, and rapped Petunia smartly on the jaw, whereupon he retreated once more from the cell and relocked it. Yes, the elf did. The prisoner was still inside. I told you, he said he wasn’t leaving, didn’t I?
What’s that? Oh, yes, I did mean Killshalt. So sorry. Just strike that out, there.
Anyway, while that was happening, Tambi had engaged the ogre at the door. She wasn’t having much luck with the sword, poor dear, and the ogre thrust its way inside. Killshalt took some time deciding whether to shoot the ogre or the prisoner, and I had just taken the opportunity to strike the ogre with a flask of blessed water I keep about for just such emergencies. What? Oh, at the bakery back home, far more often than you’d think. Skeletons, mostly – I think they’re drawn by the yeasty smells, somehow. Of course, the cinnamon buns were so delicious there were rumors the master baker had struck a bargain with some dark power or another, but you really can’t listen to rumors. We used to keep a few flasks of holy water just at the kitchen door. That’s really not important right now.
I also had taken the liberty of unshuttering the window, as the door was in use and the need for an exit seemed a distinct possibility. Gerri engaged the other zombies as they streamed in, and I took advantage of the chance to hop through the window, and peering through it, to add a little mystical vengeance to the zombie ogre’s problems. Between all of our attentions, the big thing went down, but Tambi fell in the bargain. Petunia was still a little loopy from the drubbing he took from Tybrin, and I saw him fall just as I turned to come round the building. Gerri, I think, was already being eaten by one of the other zombies.
As I came to the front, I saw the dark human figures just moving into the door, and one of them was gesturing as if to call upon dark powers. I took aim and stuck him with a fortunate throw from my dagger, and apparently broke his concentration. Yes, the blade is silvered – it seemed prudent. Couldn’t really tell what might be under those robes. Well it stuck in his side, and he bled right enough. Also got his attention, and he came running at me. He raised up a mace, and as he did his cloak fell back enough to see the armor he was wearing.
Now, I’m a professional student, you understand, and not much one for a brawl. I didn’t fancy matching weapons with an armed and armored warrior, so once I managed to sidestep the mace I just kept going and wrapped myself around the back of him. Bit of a hammer-lock I learned in school, you see? When you grow up roughhousing with Halfling children, you always tend to get hit in the same place, and you learn a few grips if you value your goolies, if you follow. So he thrashed a bit, but I hung on. The hold left me a hand free to take hold of my dagger, still stuck in his side, and give it a bit more of a push. This time it found his heart, and he dropped.
Hurrying to the doorway to see what had happened, I saw at least one of the undead still up, all of my comrades fallen, and the other initiate clubbing Tybrin in the head. I guess he was mistaken about the rescue. Since there was nothing left to salvage, I opted to contain the remaining threat by lighting a flask of oil and lighting a blaze by the door. The desk was there, and some other combustibles – it went up nicely enough. I saw the zombie I’d seen before rush for me through the flames and go down, and the other dark acolyte likewise tried to dash out with Tybrin (unconscious or dead, I couldn’t say at that point) and also succumbed to the fire. If any of the other dark creations were still standing, I suppose they met the same fate – the whole place went up, I understand.
And there you have it. That was when you came running up, and the bucket brigade got to work. Pity about the others.
What’s that? The elf, alive? Gracious, fancy that! After the merciless thumping he took, I thought he was a goner for sure! For what it’s worth, when I was reviewing the equipment salvaged from the dark acolytes (they had a little coin, their weapons and armor, and they each carried a curious red and black symbol I don’t recognize), I think I came across a couple of his teeth, if he still wants them.
Yes, most certainly I’d like another. You can leave out the tea this time, if you please. Then I think I’ll be off to bed for a while. Everything looks better in the morning’s light, after all.