Author: SympleSymon PM
Two Gauntlets that can control the sun or erase it entirely. The Vampire Lord Syn possesses the Gauntlet of Night and desires the other. Cy, a young thief, is thrown unwillingly into a quest to beat him to it, betrayal and enimgma hounding his every step.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 6,848 - Reviews: 22 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 06-29-08 - Published: 06-05-08 - id: 2527661
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Race for the Door
In that one moment, all colour drained from Cy's face; all the cocksure arrogance, the belief that he could singlehandedly assault the Fort when many who were far advanced in expertise, and years, had failed – all of that was gone now, stripped away by the cruel hands of Fate. Now he stood, alone and shivering, a boy who knew he should be elsewhere, in bed, travelling, anywhere other than where he was right now.
He tried to move, to turn back, to flee up the staircase he had just descended from, vault over the wall he'd almost died trying to climb, and vanish into the forests. No one would ever know he had been there, and he himself could forcefully forget the whole sorry mess, in time. It made sense, and he desperately yearned for his body to heed his mind's advice, but he couldn't; his body, suddenly young, weak and vulnerable once again, stood rigid, his feet pinned to the paving slab of the courtyard, his unblinking eyes drawn to the fracturing gate that now held his fate.
Wulfgar was not letting-up, and there seemed to be a plentiful supply of guards at hand as the thundering booms of flesh slammed mercilessly against wood became almost rhythmic, a clock that counted down to his discovery with every deafening impact.
Yet still, he could not move. He couldn't even raise a hand to wipe the sweat trickling over his brow, dripping over his bulging eyes as they watched the gate slowly give way.
Then, with one more sickening crescendo, the main gate burst apart in a shower of dust, splinters and human, a rotund sentry crashing through the midst of it all. He hit the courtyard with a terrible thump, rolled several times before he settled on his back, eyes wide open and glazed-over. He didn't move, and it didn't take Cy spotting the splinter the size of a dagger lacerating his neck to realise the man was dead.
That unfortunate soul was quickly followed by another, this time thrown higher and harder by the enraged Werewulf, clearly spurred on by the death and destruction it was causing. This second guard sailed over the wreckage of the gate, clearly alive, kicking and screaming as he soared.
It was during his flight that he locked eyes with the terrified young thief, their eyes both widening further, the guard's voice refusing to alert the others as it continued its screams. It was only cut off when he slammed into the stone floor of the courtyard, bounced twice and slid to a halt by Cy's feet. But Cy's attention wasn't on him, but on the rest of the guards now daring to look through the gaping hole of the gate to check upon the fates of their comrades. They, too, had spotted him.
"Intruder!" some yelled as others cursed upon realising they'd fallen for a child's diversion. "Apprehend the boy!"
And, just like that, strength returned to Cy's body, panic lending him a burst of strength. He took two steps, and almost stumbled as a hand with a grip like iron shackles clutched at his ankle. He looked down at the guard by his feet, twisting and yanking to get free.
"Surrender...child," the guard wheezed, spitting out blood from a split lip, "you're not going...anywhere!"
"You're not going to stop me," Cy retorted, kicking the guard in the teeth with his free foot. The guard released him with a muffled scream as the young thief looked up at the rest of the sentries who were now scrabbling over the woodpile that had once been a great, foreboding door. "They might, though," he added with a nervous squeak.
He was well over a hundred feet away from the door down into the treasury vaults. The guards were fifty feet from him, and closing. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that he had no chance of outrunning them, despite the fact that most of them looked exhausted and beaten from their battle with his pet; it was a matter of distance, not speed. It only left him with one choice, one that was extremely dangerous, and one that could get him killed – and yet, he knew he had no choice. Not just for himself, but for the fate of everyone he knew, for the fate of the human race itself.
He set off across the courtyard at a pelting speed, eyes focused squarely on the treasury door and not on the mass of highly-trained guards set to intercept him, for fear of faltering in his step. When they entered his peripherals, Cy took a deep breath and cupped both hand to his mouth and bellowed a bestial roar, all the while charging towards the door.
His outburst was at first met with jeers from the guards, unimpressed by his apparent attempt at scare tactics. But the smiles were quickly wiped off their faces as, with an identical primal roar, the hulking mass of Wulfgar leapt over the remains of the fort's main gates and barrelled into their mass, a whirlwind of razor-sharp claws and snapping jaws. As the guards screamed in hysterical panic, torn between duty and self-preservation, hesitating in their tracks to look from the thief as he picked up his pace, to the Werewulf now at their flank, Cy darted past them, not daring to look back at Wulfgar for fear of making eye contact, which would only have singled him out from the crowd.
Instead, he ran faster than before, pushing himself to the very limit as he tried vainly to block out the screams and roars dogging him as the door drew ever closer. Like a nightmare, it seemed to get closer inch by inch when he knew he was covering the distance feet at a time.
Instinct alone caused him to drop into a roll when a scream grew louder directly behind him, a body hurtling over the space his head had once occupied, blood from a slashed stomach spattering his clothes and skin like crimson rain – rain that, he knew, did anything but wash things away.
"Damn it," he groaned weakly as he regained his footing and set off once again. The door was now no more than twenty feet from him, but he knew that those twenty feet would be the hardest of all now that he didn't only have the distracted guards to worry about, or the body of the dead guard slumped in a heap directly between him and his goal.
Far behind him, the enraged Werewulf gave another bellow, this time of a hunter who had picked up a new scent – his scent. Or, rather, the scent of the warm, fresh blood splashed over his body.
I can't trust you to do anything right, he silently admonished the animal as it charged after him, the pads of its broad paws thundering on the cobbled stones. If I get out of this alive, we're going to pay Sindri a little visit...
The pounding hot breath on his back had been the only clue, but it had been enough for Cy in his heightened, adrenaline-fuelled race against death. Leaping into a forward somersault, his bare feet barely escaped the arm-length fangs of the adult Wulfgar's jaws as they snapped shut around the empty space he had just been in.
Unfortunately, he landed on the awkward heap of the dead guard, and pitched forward. As he tucked his fall into a roll, he winced as he once again felt the beast's jaws clash shut behind him, this time accompanied by the cracking of human bones and sodden squelch of wet, bloody flesh as Wulfgar scooped up the carcass of the guard.
Rolling to his feet, Cy pushed himself forward with renewed force; he didn't care that his legs were screaming out in protest, his tendons threatening to rip themselves apart under any more strain, that his bare feet were raw and numb from his race. He didn't care because he knew that the minute Wulfgar caught up with him all that would cease to matter, and he couldn't let that happen, not with only a few feet more to go...
He slammed into the wrought iron door at breakneck speed, not daring to shake off the pain and dizziness that now threatened to consume him as his fingers fought through the haze enshrouding his vision to find the handle. They grasped the ring, and twisted, lifting the latch on the other side. The door yawned open painfully slowly, and Cy squeezed himself inside, his hands already reaching to pull it closed behind him. He didn't get a chance.
Dust and debris showered the floor all around him as Wulfgar slammed into the door with the force of an earthquake, Cy stumbling back as the door crashed shut, denting in on itself under the brutal force. From the several rocking booms that followed, the Werewulf continued to ram and bat at the door, infuriated at being denied its prey, before finally turning back to attend to any guards too foolish to not have sought shelter in the brief respite Cy's cruel twist of fate had brought them.
As Cy let out a deep breath, it was as if all the strength was sapped out of his body along with the air, and he collapsed against the cold iron door, struggling to regain his composure. That was too close, he gasped, deep breaths of stale, dusty air filling his lungs. Why am I always so unlucky? It's almost as if the Fates don't want me to succeed! That's a scary thought, he thought as he rubbed feeling back into the soles of his deadened feet. If it were true, what does that say about the vampires?
He shook the negative thoughts from his mind and dragged himself to his feet, peering down the spiral staircase that would lead him to the vaults, each step bringing him one step closer to his goal, the object of his focus, the sword Nightfoe.
"It better exist," he growled under his breath as he snatched a blazing torch from its receptacle and swung it in the direction of the stairs. "I don't want all this to have been a terrible goose chase – if I almost died because of a myth...!"
As he set of tentatively down the stairs, he remembered the one thing about the vault that wasn't a myth - the reason it didn't require the big iron door to be locked, or for guards to patrol its corridors, the reason it looked so lax in security for a place that held so many valuable artefacts.
It was because it didn't need them, that it was anything but lax. The King's Treasury of Heron's Fort contained some of the most treacherous and diabolically ingenious traps ever devised.
Cy grunted, and watched his step. And I thought being chased by a Werewulf was the hardest part...