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The Crossbow

Author: 
lynnatha
Old Vault Category: 
fanfiction
Old Vault ID: 
16

“Well met. I am Shadow, and I believe you are interested in a job offer of mine.” The tall, hooded man in a flat black leather vest and matching breeches greeted me with a strong voice, a flourish and a bow.





“The pleasure is all mine. I’m Sylvia, but call me Silk.”





“Silk? A sensuous name for a sensuous woman such as yourself.”





“You flatter me, but I assure you I am a tried and tested adventurer.” I stated matter-of-factly.





“We shall see. Let us discuss the details.” He gestured to a table for two in a darkened corner of the Dancing Dragon’s taproom. The Arabellan tavern was a known meeting place for adventurers and prospective hirers and tonight had been fruitful so far. I took a casual seat, whereas my faceless employer-to-be carefully shifted his seat so he would have his back to the wall.





“First tell me about your skills, so I may know if you’re suitable.”





“I am a cleric of Tymora, armed with divine power, my trusty mace, a healer’s hand and the good fortune that follows the bold.”





“Yes, you would be most useful in my little adventure. Let me keep you in suspense no longer. Lately the city watch has been on higher alert, with a spike in crime and petty nobles complaining of lost valuables and break-ins. I believe I have found the perpetuators, a small band of petty thieves and brigands hiding out in the sewers. Together we should be able to overcome them and reclaim their ill-gotten gains – for ourselves. What do you say?”





“Sounds like a good cause to me. Let us prepare a while, then we’ll be off as soon as we can.”





* * *





I followed the enigmatic Shadow through the unsurprisingly dank, dirty underbelly of the city, sweating under my helmet and chain mail in the damp warmth until we reached a trapdoor in the floor, carefully concealed by a makeshift layer of moss and muck and just about invisible in the murky dark. Feeling for a latch, he squatted down and pulled up hard, grunting under the strain, and the trapdoor squeaked open, revealing a rusty ladder leading down.





“However did you find this hole here?”





“Tricks of my trade, milady,” he gestured toward the ladder, “ladies first.”





At the bottom, I was in a small room lit by flickering torchlight, with gruff voices coming from behind the only door out. With mace and shield in hand I stepped forth, Shadow leading the way, unlocking the only door out, a stiff iron piece with a heavy duty padlock with a pair of lock picks. I kicked it open to face a dozen unkempt scoundrels in a much more spacious chamber in various states of consciousness – asleep, addled, and alarmed.





The door guard seated sloppily beside the door with a bottle barely in hand was quickly settled with a smash of the skull. Shadow ducked into the room, then charged and stabbed another rogue in the gut before he could get his bearings, a bewildered look on his face as Shadow withdrew his short sword, slick with blood then kicked him away.





The rest quickly answered a call to arms, charging both of us with promises of pain. Shadow, throwing daggers in a blur, took three down, and I hastily loosed a burst of sound limited to the area of another four, causing them to clutch at their ears, screaming in pain. Their brief halt was enough for Shadow to unleash another volley of the rest of his daggers to end their sordid lives. With two of us against only a few of them left, our superior skill with weapons against petty thieves easily won the day.





“Nicely done, my fair lady friend,” Shadow remarked, quite monotonously, while wiping his blade on his foe’s shirt.





“Their treasure chests are right across the room. Your roguish expertise with traps and the like would be well used now.”





“Nah, the likes of them wouldn’t have any traps in place. I’ll watch the ladder for anyone. You go claim our treasure.“





“Sure… Wait, you’re out of daggers – here, use my crossbow for now to shoot anyone up his ass who thinks to down that ladder.” I took the crossbow slung across my back, loaded and cocked it before passing it to him.





Making my way across the room, I hadn’t made ten steps before the crossbow fired off with a harsh rasp, punctuated by a disbelieving cry. I turned to face Shadow, his mouth agape in wonder as a black crossbow bolt, impaled in his own neck, then crumpling lifelessly, a victim of his own treachery – and my defective crossbow that fired backwards. Relieving the wooden chests of the stolen treasure, all for myself, I pried my special crossbow from his dead hands.





“As I said, the pleasure is all mine.”

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