In A Different Timeline, Far Away From Reality Part 10
Chip hadn't gotten over the shock of killing other living creatures yet. Sure, one of them was a monster and the other just plainly insane. But still the remembrance filled him with sorrow. To make matters worse, it started raining and large thunderclouds had filled the sky. Soon, the entire party was drenched to the bone.
"We should find a place to rest or we'll catch some kind of disease." Mercy warned as she tried to protect Philip from the weather.
He simply sneezed, proving Mercy's point.
"But there is no town nearby! Not even a roadhouse with rooms for rent! Were are we supposed to take cover?" Chip retorted as he shielded his eyes from the impact the raindrops made.
"Anywhere! I wouldn't mind sleeping in a wolf den as long as it would keep him safe!" Mercy countered and nodded to her brother.
"But we can't just stray from this road! The giant said it was dangerous to stray from the path! Who knows what kind of dangers await us!" Chip held his ground.
"The only danger that's an immediate threat to you is me if don't find us cover right now!" She demanded and gave him a look that tolerated no protests.
"Wait!" He let out as he closed one eye and stared off in the distance "I think I can see a tower in that direction!" He shouted happily.
"How can you see in this weather at all?" Mercy wondered but nonetheless was glad to hear this.
"We'd better get moving. The sooner we reach that place the sooner we can rest up." Chip advised and took the lead again.
The three stepped toward the structure Chip had spotted, wading through the mud that used to be a dirt road. They entered the small forest area that was between them and their safe haven.
"It doesn't look very safe." Mercy noted upon giving the 'tower' Chip had spotted a look over.
The building was actually a small castle, or at least what was left of it. It didn't have any walls, only one tower and the place looked like derelict ruin. Fortunately the roof hadn't come down yet and there didn't seem to be large holes in the structure. On the east of the stronghold was a deserted church along with a peaceful cemetery.
"Well it might not be very cozy, but as long as it's abandoned it can serve as a resting place for the night." Chip told her and stepped forward "We'd better get inside before the storm gets any worse."
As they set foot inside, they noticed the place wasn't abandoned. Bats had taken up residence in this citadel and the squeaking of rats or mice could be heard. Unfortunately, none of the adventurers could understand rodent speech anymore. A few bones where scattered across the floor of the halls along with armor and other attributes. Most of the torches were burned out. Philip managed to get one working again with a fire spell. The group settled down inside one of the empty rooms and with the help of magic, Philip managed to get the fireplace alight again. Mercy unpacked some of the food she had stored and ate. Before they knew it the three chipmunk where off to sleep.
Unfortunately, Mercy's slumber was disturbed soon by Philip who shook her awake.
"Mercy, Mercy, there's something going on in that church!" He warned as he looked around him.
"Wazzit?" she managed as she turned around and noticed the fearful face of her little brother.
"I hear something!" He continued and Mercy noticed it to.
It was the banging of a bell, probably of a clock tower. Suddenly it occurred to Mercy that they were supposed to be alone in this castle, and that somehow there was a person operating some bell near, a feeling she didn't like at all.
"Chip, wake up! There's something not right here!" She cautioned him and shook him violently.
"What's going on Mercy?" He stammered and sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
"Don't you hear that booming sound? It's like someone is sounding a church bell. There is someone here!" She cried and immediately Chip was wide awake.
"What, someone's here? Who would want to be in a place like this?" He questioned.
"Us." Mercy replied half jokingly.
"That bell has struck twelve now. Should we investigate?" Philip asked, and he looked like he was certainly not interested in finding out who or what had made that noise.
"Yes, we should see what's going on." Chip commanded as he took his axe.
As they walked through the hallways of the castle, Philip suddenly stopped at one of the windows. The others waited impatiently.
"This is not the time to stare outside." Mercy complained and wanted to pull him away from it.
"But guys, there's movement inside that monastery! I can see figures moving, but they don't appear to be walking!" He objected which attracted Mercy's curiosity.
She looked through the window herself and sure enough there was a line of people marching through the hallways. Her eyes darted across the chapel but stopped when she saw an unearthly occurrence. One of the cultists had appeared outside the monastery. Instead of opening the doors he had simply moved through them and he proceeded to parade outside. Before Mercy could come up with any explanation at all, more appeared outside and followed the first one. To her shock she could see through all the white robed shapes, as if they where transparent. Mercy wanted to rub her eyes to make sure she wasn't still asleep but noises upstairs derailed her train of thought.
"There's someone walking around above us!" Chip noted dismayed.
"Chip, did you-" Mercy was cut short by him pulling her away from the window.
Just in time she could grab Philip's collar so he wouldn't remain at the window, easy prey to anything that haunted this castle while her and Chip where gone. Chip led them into the main hall of the stronghold where they discovered yet another unpleasant sight. It looked as if a battle had raged inside this place, and that nobody had bothered to clean up afterwards. Furniture was smashed up, banners where ripped and torn, wall decoration had fallen to the ground and there where dead bodies scattered all over the room. Some of them where in a state of decay and the foul rotten stench they spread was unbearable. They must have met a terrible fate; limbs where torn off their bodies, deep cuts could be seen, entire chunks of meat had been removed and the armor was rusty and worn. While looking at the scene in horror, they suddenly heard rustling behind them. They quickly turned around and saw one of the skeletons was getting to his feet. It grabbed it's sword and prepared to strike a petrified Philip. Mercy was the first to snap out of her daze and grabbed the arm of the undead. She swiftly turned her back to him and tugged on his arm. It gave, and Mercy was left holding it.
"Get away from him!" Chip yelled and Mercy complied.
Chip smashed his axe into the ribcage of the skeleton, it softly yelled something and fell apart. Philip moved away from the fight until he felt something close it's grip around his ankle. He looked down to see that a corpse was holding him in place. Over the years its skin had turned green and was in just as bad shape as the other bodies in the room. It looked at Philip icily, as if looking through him. It moaned something and Philip wanted to get away from it, but the zombie didn't let go. Chip noticed his friend's predicament and sliced the dead hand off which fell limply to the floor and Philip backed away again.
"It seems like this entire house is rising against us!" Mercy warned as she saw several other undead get up.
"Quickly, this way!" Chip said and led them over to a stone stairwell that descended down under the building.
They hurriedly got down before looking around. The dirt floor was full of dust and cobwebs covered every nook and cranny.
"I-is anybody there?" A voice called out to them.
Startled, Chip replied.
"Yes, but are you human or yet another monster?"
The voice coughed before replying.
"I'm no human, but I'm nice to anyone with good intentions."
Chip and Philip hurried into the direction where the voice came from. Mercy eyed the stairs for a moment before following but in the darkness, she couldn't see the figure she bumped into.
"Watch it fellow!" She replied and turned to face whoever it was.
She was horrified to see it was another walking dead. However she regained her courage when she saw the living dead was badly cut up and missed one arm.
"What where you trying to pull? Are you gonna bleed on me?" She taunted, grabbed her knife cut a deep gash in the thing's throat.
The head fell of the body and the rest collapsed to the floor as well. She hurriedly ran into the direction her brother and friend had left. She found them kneeling beside some other creature. It looked human, but was way to short to be one. He wore red plate armor, a horned helmet and a warhammer lay next to him. He had a great brown beard and was heavily injured.
"Have you come to rescue me lads?" He asked in a pained voice.
"Well no, but we'd gladly help you out of this nightmare house." Chip answered.
"But how? There's so many." Philip reasoned.
"Hey, do you folks have ways of healing me? I could fight by your side if I weren't so bruised and battered." The man suggested hopefully.
"Well, I'll try." Philip offered and held his hands over the short guy's body to heal.
But he quickly stirred in protest.
"Oh this won't work. I can see you're no experienced healer, it would take ages for you to get me back on my feet. Don't you happen to have any scrolls or potions with you?" He advised and Chip checked his bag.
"We do have a jug of something, but I'm not sure if it helps." He told the poor man.
"But I do. That pot is full of Harry Heartfelt's Holy Healing Drink! It should get me back in tip-top shape in no time."
Chip was a bit hesitant to give it to this stranger. They where supposed to bring it to the mage that could bring them back to the 21st century. On the other hand, Chip reasoned, they probably wouldn't reach Fata Morgana alive if this warrior didn't help them escape this haunted castle. Chip was snapped out of his thinking by Philip who grabbed the healing potion and handed it to their ally. Chip couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the wounds close and the short fighter stand up as if he wasn't in bad shape a few moments ago. He grabbed his hammer and turned to Chip.
"Well then, lead the way lad." He advised.
Chip took his axe and led the group over to the stair that brought them back to the halls. As soon as they entered the great hall, a pack of skeletons closed in on them to kill. The small adventurer stepped forward and with one mighty swing he smashed several of them on their torsos. The creatures let out a wail of pain and Chip decided to help out as well. He quickly swung his axe and spliced the armor of a skeleton that had fallen to the ground. Philip shot a fireball at a stack of undead that had grouped themselves together. Some of them were put down immediately. The ones that managed to stand soon fell as well, because they where missing to many parts of their body to put up a decent fight at all. While Chip and the mysterious stranger kept smashing skeletons, one of the zombies they had slain regained his footing. Mercy saw it, and stepped forward and sliced the ghoul across his torso with great agility.
"Let's get out of here!" Chip suggested as he repelled the last zombie standing between them and the way out of the fort.
The group exited and didn't stop running until they where back on the path that lead through the forest.
"At last where out of the place! Thanks for your help, whoever you are." Chip thanked their companion.
"Ay, it's nothing. But come to think of it, we haven't been introduced yet." He replied.
"Oh yeah that's right. Well I'm Chip Maplewood. And these are Philip and Mercy Stoneturner." The detective pointed at everyone in turn.
"Well I'm Olaf the Sturdy. Just in case you three haven't noticed, you're speaking to a dwarf."
"Really? I've never met one before." Mercy noted.
"No surprise lass, we don't socialize with other races much. Though, we can often work side by side with humans. Better than those tricky elves. If you ask me, them humans and elves have been competing since the beginning of time. But at least we're all enemies of the likes of who resurrected that undead army. If you ask me, them necromancers are setting up outposts throughout the woods to launch an assault against Merlin and his wizards. And it doesn't look good. One word of caution, roads aren't safe! But at leas they lead to safe places."
"Doesn't sound good. We're going to the city of Lion Shield and that could take a lot of time. I wish this voyage was over already." Chip admitted.
"Ay, that's a long trip indeed. But I think I could guide you to the nearest safe haven. It's also a training camp for the human armies so if you have the time, you might want to ask them for help as well." Olaf suggested.
"I think it would indeed be a good idea to go there then. We're all quite tired." Chip explained "Lead the way."
After a short trip they reached the gatehouse of a large castle and the dwarf stepped forward to confront the guard.
"Hey lads, you've got company!" He shouted.
A halberdier looked down to see the traveling party and asked:
"What are you? Friend or foe?"
"Friend, lad. These three found me and rescued me from the dungeons of Barbarossa Keep. They're tuckered out and could use a place to rest. They helped your operation to by fighting off a zombie and skeleton infestation there. So if your men need exercise, head over there. In the meantime, could these adventurers get a rest?"
"Well, that's welcome news indeed. We'll deal with them undead, I hope. But your friends can sleep here for the time being. Hendrix, open the gate!"
"Well, this is as far as I can bring you. I'd better return to my dwarven homestead. You three should consider yourselves a friends of our kingdom however. Bye bye for now." Olaf told them before leaving them.
They turned to the gate and the halberdier guard moved towards them.
"Well, we'd better find you a resting spot then. Follow me." He said and lead the three over to one of the buildings "You'll be staying at this hostel for now. When you wake up tomorrow, you should see our commander, Henry the Eagle. I'm certain he'd be interested to hear about what Olaf just told us."
They entered the hostel while the guard left to stand watch again. Philip immediately head over to the bedroom, plopped down on the bed and in a few moments he was vast asleep. Mercy took the sheets of the bed and tucked him in so he'd rest more comfortably.
"There, sleep well." She wished him and turned to Chip "Before going to sleep I'd like to thank you for rescuing me and Philip when we where in that place." She approached him, took his face in her hands and kissed him. It took Chip a few moment to recover again.
"D.Do you want me to close my eyes while you undress?" He asked, still a bit dazed.
"That won't be necessary." She said and with a cloud of smoke she transformed into a bat and flew up to the ceiling and hang upside down.
Chip smiled at her and threw of his clothing and got into bed as well. He rested
his head on his hands and soon was lost in deep thought. Something wasn't alright
with Mercy. Lately, she'd become a bit more.open. And the look in her eyes somehow
worried him. It looked like they had changed color somewhat. They seemed a bit
darker than before. He couldn't explain it but he thought they where starting
to become.pink. He dismissed the thought. There was so much in this strange
world he didn't know about. Perhaps it was some sort of side effect. He could
be suffering from the same thing for all he knew. He breathed deep before closing
his eyes to sleep as well.
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