The Callindra Chronicles Book 3: A Fall of Stars – Chapter 32

Durrak wore Bonecrusher’s Brace and held Femurslicer angled across his shoulder as he approached the meeting place.  His only concessions to visiting an important personage were that his armor and weapon were polished and he had added a grey cloak with the hammer and tongs of the Drakanda style picked out on it in dark blue.

Lorin, on the other hand, had foregone his usually flamboyant style and only wore nondescript brown and green that would seem more at home in the forest than city streets.  He still carried his beautifully carved and polished bow, but he’d covered the jewels on the hilts of his long knives with leather wrapping.

“I don’t like this.”  Lorin said in a low voice.

Durrak snorted a laugh, “You no do like any of this.  How do this be different?”  He strode into the alley like he owned it, but he kept an eye out for Taken.  When the flood of monsters boiled out of the second story of the buildings surrounding them in a tide of humanoid beings that clung to the bricks with multi-jointed claws the pair were ready for them.

Not bothering at first to even use Femurslicer, Durrak ran forward with a battle cry that rattled the remaining window glass as he charged and smashed bodily into the creatures with the spiked pauldrons of his armor.  Bodies crushed to black ichor beneath his onslaught and a steady stream of arrow shafts from Lorin pinned a dozen of the hapless creatures to the wall before they’d moved more than a dozen feet.

Within minutes, all but three of the creatures were dead; either crushed to disgusting paste or filled with arrows from Lorin’s bottomless quiver.  A solid section of stone at the far end of the alley slid aside and a half dozen armed warriors sprang forward ready for battle.  They stopped in confusion at seeing Durrak glaring at them, his spiked armor dripping with black blood.  Lorin stared down an arrow shaft at their leader, the tip beginning to glow with sullen red light.

“You do be a bit late to the party.”  Durrak rumbled, swinging his Gisarme in a casual arc that cut two of the remaining creatures in half.  “I do be sorry we no did save you any playmates.”

The woman in the lead gave him a cautious look, but flicked a finger at the last monster, sending five bright purple bolts streaking into its head.  The bolts left neat round holes clearly through the skull and it dropped like a puppet with cut strings.

“I apologize gentlemen.  We thought this entrance to be secure.”  She said, “I am Belladonna, these are my companions; members of the Blood Guild.  We protect the Undercity as the Blackfist Guard used to do above.”

Durrak was fairly certain she wasn’t telling the truth, but she was telling a good lie if she was truly unaware of the monsters waiting in the surrounding buildings.  Perhaps she hadn’t been told of the ploy.  It would put them on uneven footing if they’d had to be rescued by Ellen Eth’s guard.  Or perhaps he was becoming overly suspicious in his old age.

“Those things ruined the god rotting polish on my boots.”  Lorin said mildly, slinging his longbow over his back.  “You must not use this entrance much for it to be so compromised.”

“Peace Lorin.”  Durrak said, shaking the blood from his gauntlet and withdrawing a cigar that glowed with a dim pink light and released thin wisps of jet black smoke that hung in the air for a few moments before simply vanishing instead of dissipating like smoke usually did.  “There do be no reason to doubt these folk.”

Belladonna relaxed slightly, a loosening of tightness round her eyes and mouth that Durrak hadn’t noticed until they had smoothed away.  Apparently his instincts had been on the mark; they’d best tread even more carefully than Lorin wanted them to.

The brick corridor was dark as they entered, but the humans carried no light.  The darkness was no impediment to their eyes as Durrak and Lorin followed them down, their inhuman senses allowing them to see the passage and their escort clearly albeit in grayscale.  There were places that had obviously once been side tunnels but they were bricked over now.

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