Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Necropolis of Alkhezzar - Part II

The perpetual evening mist was performing its nightly slow dance meandering across alleyways, clutching and clinging, fumbling slowly from stoop to stoop, eve to eve. The hard pack dirt was cut here and there with a section of choppy stone, remnants of a public works project long past. The only fixture held in the sky was the sullen moon, sickly yellow red with the torch haze rising from road and roof. It was not a well lit city.

Street lanterns were just close enough to give a sense of security in this section, but too far apart to truly banish the night. There were few that strode boldly from lamp to lamp; the ignorant or the untouchable. The old quick thieves call the gamble on which you'll get: the fool's take.

Fafnir and Pops were not strangers to the shadows. They stayed the hell away from anything that smelled like a trap.

"We should stay the hell away from this. It could be a trap," whispered Pops as the two moved swiftly but silently down a twisted road known as Crooked Knee Alley.

"You think everything is a trap," Fafnir replied. He peered into the murk. "It's a dark one tonight."

Pops gave a harumph and muttered, "Notice that I am still around? Common sense."

"I am going to cheat," Fafnir said decisively.

"About time," Pops whispered. "I hate leading through this." He gestured vaguely at the crawling mist. There was a soft thump as the lynx dropped smoothly to the ground. Fafnir passed a hand over his eyes and when they were uncovered Pops saw his companion's blue gaze replaced with shimmering green cat's eyes.

"That creeps me out every time." Pops shuddered.

"We should be able to follow at a comfortable distance now. Follow me." Guided by Fafnir, the pair moved easily through the gloom. After nearly twenty minutes Pops spoke up.

"Fafnir. I don't think these guys are from around here," he whispered with concern slipping into his voice.

"What makes you say that?" Fafnir asked.

"Because they are about to cross into the Bone Yard after moonrise. We should do something."

"Someone might be getting around to that without our help. Trouble ahead by the looks of it." Fafnir whispered. He peered into the low slung night mist towards shadows closing in on their marks.

"Trouble above," Pops whispered in return. He pointed at a pair of figures slipping quietly from roof to roof following the same group.

"Bad news, decrepit one. Those are Cateris."

Pops flinched at the mention of the cat-like men with the prickliest honor. "The ones ahead, too?" he asked in an uneasy tone. He fidgeted.

"Tell me you haven't been scamming the Cateris. And no, the group about to cause a stir are just the normal type of fun for around here."

"Sca ... scamming?" Pops sounded mildly offended. "What I do is business and ... uh ... risk management."

"Well, for the moment the cats are just watching. I am more concerned for what is about to go down."

The marks crossed an alley mouth as Fafnir finished speaking. The night came alive with the sound of rushing bodies and drawn steel.

"In or out, wizard?" Pops asked.

"In. Stagger it. We don't want to be seen as reinforcing the wrong cause."

"Timely then," Pops whispered and a sling appeared in his hands. A sudden wet thunk and terrible cry of pain split the night air.

"Not too timely," Fafnir replied. He was uncollapsing a small crossbow and shaking his cloak out of the way at the same time. "Get to it."

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Geek - Gamer - Librarian - Writer. Only awesome at one of those things at a time, unfortunately.

About Fading Interest

After writing op-eds and travelogues for several years, after finishing a few books, and after failing to get the ball rolling with project after project I stumbled into an idea that might just hold my interest long enough to enjoy some level of satisfaction with my writing.