Out Of The Dungeon And Through The Forest Prose in Vestria v2 | World Anvil
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Out Of The Dungeon And Through The Forest

Drip…   Drip…   Zach did his best to tune out the sounds of the ruins. True, it was mostly the drip of water that managed to trickle its way in from the Delphi River, but against the silence of the underground, it felt near deafening at times.   Zach wondered if that was by design in some twisted way. Dwarves were a paranoid lot if their ruins were any indication. After the handful of traps he and Ryu had to navigate tonight alone, it wouldn’t surprise him one bit with the constant echoes of water dripping against stone were a form of subtle torture for unwanted guests.   Shaking his head, Zach dispelled his silent musings and focused his magic through his hand and into the surrounding stone. The flow of energy echoed back, feeling the void below the slabs of stone beneath his feet as well as the thin seam between them. Tugging open his pouch, Zach pinched out a small handful of fine sand. Running his hand along the seams of the false floor, he pressed both the sand and his magic into the gaps.   Once he made a complete circuit, Zach stood and gripped a ledge in the wall’s brickwork as he slowly shifted weight onto the stone slabs.   “We’re safe,” Zach said aloud as the trapdoor held, taking his lantern from Ryu .   “Try telling that to Sora,” Ryu replied, lightly petting the bird on his shoulder with his freed hand. “How much more do you want to explore?”   Zach looked down the dim hallway and weighed his answer. They were already a few chambers deep into the ruins with a few artifacts and a handful of journal notes to show for it. He didn’t know how much further the ruins went. His magic only gave him so much information and he tended to focus on any potential dangers than much else.   He pulled out his pocket watch and found his decision made for him. “Final bell’s in a half hour,” Zach sighed. “We’d better get going.”   Sora cawed at the announcement, forcing Ryu to stretch his torch-bearing arm to avoid the flap of her wings. Zach gave an amused shake of his head at the bird’s antics as he shoved his watch back into his pocket.   The three began backtracking their way through the ruins. Unfortunately, this meant having to pass back through the traps they had been forced to maneuver around on their way inside.   The first few traps were simple spike pits hidden beneath false floor panels. Zach had already disarmed them during their first pass through by fusing the panels along the seams both between each other and the actual flooring. What was once a trapdoor now held them like any other part of the floor.   Sadly, the next chamber wasn’t so easily thwarted.   Whoever the dwarf was that built this place had apparently decided to take advantage of its proximity to the Delphi. That much was clear by the stream that flowed over the floor of the chamber. The water wasn’t shallow by any means, only reaching up to about shin height. It was, however, deep enough to slow one’s strides as well as hide anything that might be underneath.   Honestly, how did dwarves ever get anywhere if they filled every other hallway with booby traps?   Zach and Ryu waded their way across, the latter taking a hesitant lead. He could still use his magic to sense any surprises beneath the murky water, but it was different than doing so on solid stone. If it weren’t for all the mud and silt sucking at their boots as they trudged through, Zach wouldn’t be able to sense much of anything.   All he could make out were holes in the floor hidden beneath the water and mud. He had no idea what might have been inside the holes or where they might have lead, but he knew well enough to err on the side of caution. Same went for the odd solid lumps he occasionally detected. The loose mud and silt made it impossible to make out any details without getting closer to one of them. As with the holes in the floor, Zach decided that ignorance was likely bliss and kept his distance.   While the boys marched through the water, Sora decided to fly from Ryu’s shoulder and perch herself on an unlit sconce affixed near the door and give the occasional squawk.   “Any idea what she’s saying?” Zach asked after the fourth of the bird’s cry.   “My guess is ‘hurry up,’” Ryu replied, carefully following Zach’s footsteps.   Eventually, the boys managed to pick their winding path through the pool without incident and Sora resumed her place atop Ryu’s shoulder. Together, they pushed hustled up the ruin’s steps and out the small cave tucked into the cliffside.   Ryu greedily sucked in the first breath of fresh air he’d had in hours while Sora took flight with a liberated caw. Zach blew out the lantern before looking towards the setting sun.   “Come on,” he said. “We’ve to get back to town soon or we’ll be camping out down there.”   Ryu bristled at the idea. “No thanks,” he said.   The two started walking, quickly finding the trail through the forest that would take them back to town. Ryu gave a whistle to Sora, but the bird merely cawed and remained airborne instead of heeding his call.   “She’ll be a beast to get back inside tonight,” he sighed.   “Let her stretch her wings,” Zach remarked. “She’ll tire herself out eventually and be back asking for snacks before you know it.” He adjusted the pack hanging off his shoulder. “You remember what we managed to find?”   “A couple of clay pots, a dagger, and a metal bracelet,” Ryu listed off. “Along with whatever notes you took for little miss scholar.”   Zach rolled his eyes, not needing to point out that Abigail usually paid just as much, if not more, for said notes as most did for whatever trinkets they managed to bring back.   “You think she’ll want any of these?” Ryu asked, the tinkling of metal and ceramics briefly sounding as he jostled his own bag.   “She’ll probably want one of the pots,” Zach answered after a moment’s thought. “We’ll clean up the dagger and bracelet first. She’ll be interested if either have…”   A piercing caw cut him off and both boys came to a halt, looking up to see Sora circling overhead in the evening sky. Before either of them could say a word, a howl too loud and far too deep to be from any wolf echoed through the forest.   The following second was a blur of movement. In the same instant the boys began to turn, a mass of fur and stone shot from the undergrowth like a bolt. Zach had barely registered the growl that rumbled the air when he felt Ryu shove him from the side, sending him to the ground.   Zach rolled to a crouch, stifling a grimace when he saw the red stain blooming across Ryu’s sleeve. Their attacker stood opposite them, its fur mangy with clouded crystals protruding from its head and spine like horns. It stood with raised haunches, teeth bared in a snarl at them.   Half a dozen questions flitted through Zach’s mind, all of them instantly vanishing as the lindrake pounced at Ryu.   Ryu moved to dodge, but the lindrake was faster. He was on the ground in an instant. Jaws snapped inches from his face, desperately held back by Ryu’s good arm. He felt the tips of claw cut through his shirt and bite his skin.   The half-elf gasped in relief when the beast was ripped off of him. He saw the lindrake tumble to the side, a fresh red swath cut along his side. It tried to stand back up for another attack, but its legs buckled under its wound.   Ryu’s attention was torn from the beast as he felt something latch around his arm. His head jerked to see Zach pulling on him, the dagger they had found in his hands. Ryu took the assistance and got to his feet, quickly sweeping the other items that had spilled from his pack back in.   “Caw! Caw!” Sora squawked from above.   “There’s more coming,” Ryu translated.   He and Zach broke out into a run back towards the town gates without another word. They ducked and weaved through the uneven terrain, avoiding low branches and raised tree roots. The howls grew louder. Though the beasts they belonged to were thankfully still too deep in the forest for them to see, Sora screeched up a storm above them as a warning that that wouldn’t remain true for much longer.   Sprinting at full tilt, the boys finally broke through the tree line and saw the town walls before them.   Zach’s heart sank as he saw the gates by the guardhouse closed.   “Open the gate!” Ryu shouted as they approached.   Sora shrieked and cawed above as they came to a stop before the gate while their heavy pants and rushing blood filled their ears, but the gate remained silent.   Zach banged his fist against the wooden gate. “Let us in! We’ve got lindrakes after us!”   A dull scrapping resounded from the other side of the gate and the two great doors parted. Zach barely had time to process the sight before a metal hand grabbed him by the collar of his coat and pulled him bodily through the opening. Ryu followed close behind with the gates slamming back shut the instant he made it through. An oak beam fell into its brackets attached to the doors, barring it shut.   Howls filled the air, rumbling through the thick wood of the gates and echoing over the walls as their owners raged at the loss of their evening meal. Zach stared at the wooden gates, keenly aware of how close he had been to becoming said meal.   “You alright, lad?” someone said, shaking Zach out of his stupor.   Blinking, Zach turned to see the guard that had pulled him through the gate looking at him with what appeared to be both concern and frustration.   “Ye… yeah,” Zach replied once he managed to steady himself.   “Good,” the guard said, finally releasing his grip on him. “Now you know we have final bell for a reason, right? Make sure you’re back by then, got it?”   Not so much as a beat passed following the guard’s words before the rolling gong of a bell filled the town air.   “You mean that bell?” Ryu asked coolly, his arms crossed. “Sir.”   The guard frowned and shoved the two along. “Best get the knife-ear checked out, eh?” he said.   Zach shot him a look over his shoulder turning his attention to Ryu. The wound to his arm didn’t look any better; a crimson stain streaking the entire way down his sleeve.   “Come on,” he said. “We can get you cleaned up at the church.”   “Yeah… okay,” Ryu replied halfheartedly, using his free hand to apply pressure to his arm. He perked up as Sora fluttered down to rest once more on his shoulder. “Thanks for the warning back there, girl.”   Ryu moved to pet the bird, but Sora shuffled away from his hand, making him wince as her talons grazed one of his wounds. Sora flapped her wings and moved over to Zach, who simply gave a small sigh as he was made her new perch.   “Alright,” he said, scratching the bird’s neck with his finger. “You can have a treat after we patch Ryu up.”   Sora preened, giving an approving squawk.

Author's Note

  Another one of my workshopping stories.   I recently began thinking about the possibilities of adding dungeons to my worldbuilding (which may or may not have been realted to recently having played Elden Ring). I think they present some interesting opportunities, but I didn't want to make them the main danger. Given how I currently have my magic system, an Ore mage like Zach would in all likeliness make quick work of traps like spike pits and trapdoors. If I'm being honest, I'm looking forward to playing around with what would and wouldn't give him trouble.   As for the lindrakes, I wanted to tinker with the idea of everyday dangers that might crop up in the world and magical creatures are a fun sandbox for that.


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Apr 6, 2024 16:52 by Zero Sum Games

Thanks for liking my story "From Prince to Orphan to Monk" - really appreciated! I enjoyed your story a lot, too. I could feel the tension as the lindrake attacked and they were chased back to town. I haven't included any dungeons in Derkomai, though in my original D&D materials from long ago, there were several. I've been thinking about creating some dungeons, and I have a couple of hooks in place for them (Dwarven dungeons, also!). Now you've pushed me into developing them!

Apr 7, 2024 01:27

Thanks!   I'm still making notes about how I might be able to work the dungeons into the broader worldbuilding, but tying them to Dwarves opens up some interesting avenues for me.   Let me know what you come up with for yours!

Apr 7, 2024 16:58 by Candi Lyn Siemens

I love a good non-humanoid sidekick. Sora sounds like she has a lot of sass and adventure in her feathered body.

Apr 11, 2024 19:01

Thanks!   I honestly really love non-verbal moments/characters. Just thinking through the physical acting and how to describe it is such a fun challenge for me.

Apr 11, 2024 13:28 by CoolG

I love this story! The lindrake attack and chase back to town was palpably suspenseful and Sora is hilarious. Great job :D ----------------------------------- Feel free to check my entry: Finding Sael

Apr 11, 2024 19:07

Thank you!   I think this may be the first action scene I've written in a while, so it was fun getting back into that. As for Sora, I think I leaned towards her being somewhere between "loyal companion" and "housecat waiting for treats".