Fru lifted Mervin up so he could enlight the path for them. Slowly but steadily small dots of light began to glow outside and around Mervin. I t was just enough to cast a small shine on Fru’s face.
“That’s it? That’s all you can radiate? A few feet around us?” Fru asked Mervin.
“Hey bro, I’m just warming up. I haven’t been doing this for quite some time. Give me a moment to prepare for it,” Mervin replied.
“Could you please turn your head and stop staring at me, you are making me uncomfortable.”
“You’re a sword. How am I making you uncomfortable?”
“I’m naked. And we are not that close… yet. So if you don’t mind…”
“Zoshnah, all right.”
Mervin continued to do his stuff and prepare for a magic cast mumbling something to himself.
“Pfft…” a sound came out of nowhere in the middle of Mervin’s chanting.
“What was that?” Fru asked.
“What was what?” Mervin replied.
“That sound. Oh, man do you feel it? The stink. Zoshnah it stinks. Great Zoshnah, did you just farted?”
“No. How could you even think of something like that? I am a sword for Zoshnah sake.”
“The stink is right in front of my face. Man, its stuck in front of me. Argh, I t burns my eyes. I can’t believe that you farted right in front of me. I gotta move. Oh man, It’s still here, won’t separate from its mother. Damn, you’re not a sword, you’re an animal. Great Zoshnah help us. Help us all. I am stuck with a crazy old cursed farting sword.”
“I honestly have no clue what you are talking about. I don’t sense a thing.”
“Of curse you don’t, because it’s yours.”
“You know this is not helping. Maybe I should just leave you to die in this cavern. I’m a sword, I’ll survive. But you, I am not sure.”
“You crazy old cursed vicious farting sword. Continue like this and I’ll be out of adjectives for you. Can you just try and focus on that radiating spell now?”
“You didn’t say please.”
“Don’t push it.”
“I won’t start until you say it. Your call.”
“ Please. There I said it.”
“ Please what…?”
“Sigh, Mervin will you please continue with the spell?”
“ Aah when you ask me like that, how could I possibly say no to you?”
“And thank you. There we go, a one a two a three a yiiihaaaa! Kalanghas t-k-k-k- mora’s!”
Mervin yelled a spell and began to shine with a strong bluish light, enlightening almost whole cave.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about! That’s how you shine a light! Man, that felt great!” Mervin yelled with excitement. “Now you can look at me as long as you wish… if you can, that is hehe.”
“I, don’t know what to say? Good job? That doesn’t change the fact that we are still trapped down here in this cave.”
“This changes everything. We can now see our doom, and find a perfect place to hug the floor for the ill hour,” Mervin replied.
“Or we can find a way out of here and escape, how about that?”
“We could do that as well, I suppose.”
“Great. Well, thank you eternally for that, I will be forever in your debt.”
“Seriously? Are you sure? I mean those are some pretty serious words.”
“Of course not. I was being sarcastic.”
“I made a joke, never mind.”
“Aaah, gotcha,” Mervin said and blinked at Fru with his light.
“Did you just blinked at me?”
“No, no I didn’t.”
Yes, you did, you just blinked. The room got dark for a mile-second. Why deny?”
“I honestly don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You blinking at me like it is something cool and then denying it. That. And you did it again. Never mind, forget it, let’s just move on and take a better look at this cave. “
The cave reflected the light revealing itself to them.
“Whoa, this is a tall cave. You could easily fit a castle or few in it. No wonder it echoed like mad,” the size of the cave left Fru in awe. A cold shiver run through him, shuddering the hair on his arms. He did not know whether he should admire it respect it, fear it or all of the mentioned.
“I’ve seen bigger,” Mervin replied.
“Of course you have. But when would that be, exactly?” Fru asked.
“In my time.”
“Before I ended up in this cave and before I was turned in the sword, I was an adventurer grande back in the day. Oooh, the things we did, slaying monsters, exploring the world, practicing collective magic… the ladies, and tavern brawls, oh if those walls could talk…”
“You? All that? Hahaha!” Fru couldn’t hold himself anymore and frenetically burst into a laugh. “I’m sorry, but you’ll understand why it’s hard for me to believe that,” he continued.
“Oh Fru my dear boy, it doesn’t matter if you believe or not. What matters is that all this thing happened and I lived them.”
“Fru, you’re an idiot. Here I try to share you my past, to bond, to open myself to you, and what you do? You laugh at me. But that is ok, you are a young and inexperienced lad. I probably didn’t know any better as well when I was in your age, but let us get back to the more pressing matters here. Let’s see what we can find in this caves. Rember how I said that there might be somebodies here?”
“Yeah… What about them?” Fru raised an eyebrow suspiciously.
“One of them had additional swords. You need to find it and grab its sword holder, a scabbard. You can’t expect to hold me in your hand nonstop. And I need some time to rest. I might be a sword but still, need time to recharge. Go more to the left. And see if you can find a pouch or something as well. If I remember there should be three bodies somewhere in the cave straight to us.”
“So from don’t know how much bodies to exact count?” Fru turned Mervin looking at him ferociously. “You knew from the beginning how many bodies are here. Stop lying to me.”
“I wasn’t lying… I just… didn’t tell you the whole truth. But I wasn’t lying. And I told you now so I don’t see what the fuzz about. Let’s just find the body. Here look on the ground, it seems there could be some footprints left. Maybe that could lead us to the body. Bring me closer so we can see more clearly.”
Fru brought Mervin closer to the ground to lighten it up. The light revealed a few pale footsteps that were leaning to the left.
“There we go. I told you there could be something hidden in the ground. The mystery is unfolding!”
“Is it? Or you are just toying with me?” Fru asked. A tone of annoyance glided through his voice like a kite on the wind.
“A true detective, Fru you are. Of course, I am toying with you. Couldn’t resist, you were crying for it. If my memory serves me right those slightly smaller footsteps were from Eldoof. Aah Eldoof, such a fragile little being. We bonded on the first touch. It was remarkable. But unfortunately, Eldoof wasn’t the brightest fella. He didn’t last long and it was one of those misfortunate but rather sweet adventures in life. Such a shame. And he was a really nice specimen of his kind. An elvish model. A true superstar in Elvolon. I think he even had some royal blood. Or at least that’s what he said. Sigh… poor Eldoof, may the Zoshanh rest his unfortunate soul well,” Mervin said.
“What happened to him?”
“Something very unpleasant, obviously. He died.”
“Yeah, but how?”
“I can’t remember.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Let’s just find his body and loot it,” Mervin tried to change the subject.
“Meh,” Fru shrugged his shoulders and continued the search through the cave.
The next few moments passed in silence. Mervin was shining a light and Fru looked the ground.
There must be something that he is not telling me. Bodies deaths and who knows what. Something is not right here. But one thing is certain, I don’t want to die. I should lead Mervin to talk more and reveal something. I need to play this smart, think Fru, think, Fru thought.
“The footprints are gone. How’s that possible? Do you know anything about that?”
“Right. So any idea what do we do now?”
“Move forward? We are in a cave and the body is somewhere around. Who knows why the footprints disappeared. It doesn’t matter, let’s just find the body,” Mervin replied.
“Hmpf, all right,” Fru sighed.
They continued the search forward. The slight humming of air moving through the cave interlaced with the crunching sounds of Fru’s boots. It poked Frues mind in a second. He frenetically turned back looking and the cave when the light from Mervin toned down reducing the visibility to only a few feet in front of him.
“Wha-what was that? What did you do with the light? Where’s the light? Mervin turns the light back up. Like right now!”
“It’s nothing, just air, calm down.”
“Turn the light back on and then I’ll calm down.”
“I will hold on the second.”
“No, turn it right now and stop messing around with me. It’s not cool.”
“Patience I will in a few moments, be still.”
“What is wrong with you, seriously?”
“Sigh, if you must know I wanted to change the color of my light, but can’t remember the exact spell… and I just couldn’t resist to poke you a bit more.”
“I’m glad I amuse you, really, please, by all means, do continue to make idiotic jokes in the cave because searching for dead bodies isn’t comic enough.”
“You inspire me,” Mervin turned right in front Fru’s face with a huge stupid looking smile.
“Glow. And shut up,” Fru glared back.
“All right, boy aren’t you a grumpy one.”
Mervin turned back the light on. The ground under Fru’s boots was now unusually mossy. The stale wet smell of mushy environment was getting stronger with each step. The humidity in the air was thicker. There was something different in the cave in this area. There was a reason why it was wet and full of moss. This part of the cave was smaller than the rest. The roof was going down and the walls were thinning down the passage. It looked like it was an entry to a lair more than it was a cave.
I don’t like this at all. Dark wet mossy entry to something that by all logic and means seems to be a hidden lair within caverns. This definitely can’t be good, Fru thought.
A dark thought and a wave of paranoia hit him. What if Mervin isn’t at all what he was telling him? What if he was luring him to this hidden lair of sorts? What if there was nobody at all? Heavy thoughts permeated his mind. What should he do? He opened up to Mervin and begin to trust him, but he constantly threw jokes and scared him. And then there could be the body in the lair indeed, the one that Mervin killed. He may be an ancient artifact, but how did he survived down here without any source of energy so long?
A lot of thoughts and questions were raised but no answers came up. And Fru didn’t have much choice. There was only one way to find the truth and answer to many of the questions that were bugging him, and that was to move forward and find that body… if it existed.
Calm down Fru, don’t let this wave of paranoia to drive you mad. Be brave and find the body, Fru told himself. All right, here goes nothing, Fru thought and entered through the entrance of the hidden mossy cave.
“Mervin, can you shine some more light in here, please? This place gives me creeps more than the rest of the whole cavern together.”
“Let me see what I can do,” Mervin said.” Kla-tchak!”He yelled and the bluish white glow enhanced one more time and lightened the hidden cave revealing everything.
“Great Zoshnah,” was all Fru could say. The sigh of cave left him speechless. His eyes were looking wide open. His jaw dropped down. He was in total awe. He stood steadily there grasping over his findings. He opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out.
“Mervin,” Fru whispered finally after some time, “we are in the lair of a beast. What beast lurks here? And don’t tell me that you don’t know because I’ll kill you. You lied to me again. Are you the beast? Did you lure me here to die? I swear to god, if I survive this I will get back to you for everything.”
“No I am not the beast, and I don’t want to kill you! How could you think something like that? Huh? After all, I have done for you? Really? Do you accuse me of murder attempt? Better focus on finding that body. We need the pouch, the ring, the scabbard and the cape. Eldoof’s body is here. I know.”
“How come?” Fru asked.
“Because I was there when he died. I didn’t see exactly what happened. We were going the same path as you and I did and then something picked Eldoof up at the point where his footprints vanished and next thing I know I was tossed on the ground and there was no sign of Eldoof. So was it a creature? Possible. Was it a spell? Could be. It all happened in a flash and I didn’t see anything. But I know his remains were here because I was covered in them. It wasn’t pretty. I was trapped in this lair for three and a half years before something picked me up. How I ended on the spot where you found me I honestly don’t know. So go on and search. It must be buried somewhere under this moss. Tap your foot on the ground or something. But whatever you do, do it fast, because this place is giving me the chills by each passing second, and I would hate to see you gone like Eldoof bro,” Mervin said.
Fru tapped the ground fast searching for anything. One bone rolled out of moss.
“ You seem to be right, I found a bone. I’ll try to dig the moss. Maybe something will come out.”
“Yes, good idea, do it.”
Fru got down and poured into the mossy ground twitching it hectically. He removed the first layer of moss with ease.
“Hey, I feel something. I think it might be a skull. Let me dig more,” Fru said. He continued to dig deeper into the ground.
“I… I think I found something. It’s not strong like a bone. Might be a pouch or cape.” He grabbed the material with all his strength. He jerked his arms a few times and material come out of the ground.
“Well, looks like we found the cape.”
“Sweet, look around some more. Rest should be near.”
“Yeah.” Fru stood up and turned around waving Mervin for light. A small light reflected from the corner of the lair. “What was that? Could it be the ring?” Fru waved back in the direction of that small beam of light. It reflected again.
“Something’s there. Let’s check.” He got down and tapped his hand to find it.
“Ooh seems that we found the ring. It was on the finger bone. No hand thought. “
“Good. Dust it off and put it on your main hand. The ring is important.”
“Let’s just say it’s magical. Now find the scabbard and pouch and let’s get out of the lair before we get into trouble. Make another circle around, search every corner. There look at that right corner behind those rocks. I have a feeling something might be there.”
“ Okay.” Fru made two more steps and there it was. Right behind the rocks. A pouch and a scabbard . Almost cleverly hidden. Like someone or something put those items there on purpose.
“This was rather a convenient find. Almost too easy. “
“ It doesn’t matter. Grab the stuff and let’s get out of here.”
“ Wisest words so far from you. Wisest.” Fru turned around and went toward the lair exit. He made a few steps. The moss under his foot felt like a warm rubber that bounced up and down. Like it was alive.
“Click,” a dull sound emerged from below the moss.
“Oh- oh. I stepped in to or on to something,” Fru said.
Another sharper and mechanical sound followed by cold, shivering, humming sound of stale air came behind Fru’s back, from the depths behind the lair.
“This can’t be good,” Fru said. “This button that I stepped on, it opened something.”
“I am afraid, you are right Fru. I don’t think that nothing good will come out of there. I…I have a bad feeling about this, Fru. We should run, like right now,” Mervin said and toned down his light immediately.
“Me too Mervin. Great Zoshnah, I summoned our demise,” Fru said. Cold sweat hugged his face. Horror reflected in his eyes straight from the depths of the unknown as he turned around to face his doom from the shadows behind the rocks. His worst nightmare just came to life. Was this truly his demise? Was this how he would end? Killed by something awful? In some horrifying way? Or worse? Fru felt a sharp pain in his stomach. Fear. It was real. It was all real.
From the depths of shadows, something was coming.
And it was not friendly.