The Hard Road: This Suffering
Like a target drawn across my chest,
She’s a bullet in Russian roulette
You said you’d never turn your back on me?
Rescue me, rescue me!
Would you stand by me, or bury me?
The expression on Lyssa’s face was stoic as she looked up at the building that they had been lead to. It’s roughly hewn logs were haphazardly stacked to form walls. There was newer planks nailed over the windows. Moss clung to the thatched roof and to some lower portions of the walls, ivy had also decided to creep up the side. The plateau it sat on over looked Lake Weng, on a clear day one could see for miles.
It was quiet, no wind to speak of, even the birds seemed more solemn. Lyssa would have preferred more noise, it would have made sneaking a lot easier. She couldn’t afford to be reckless now, any mistake and it could cost her, her life as well as her friends and Andar’s.
“Are you sure this is where we have to go, Shani?” she asked the pale elf. The journey had been a long one, one that Lyssa wouldn’t soon forget.
“There’s only one way ta find out,” Shani replied as she studied the small cabin. “They ain’t ‘xpectin’ anybody, so we could luck out an’ jist knock on the door.”
“Little odd to be livin’ all the way out here, anyway,” Ari mentioned.
“I don’t really see it as odd, this would be the perfect place for no one to hear any screams. It’s completely secluded.” Lyssa said glancing over to Ari from the corner of her eye.
“My point exactly,” Ari responded, looking to Lyssa for a moment before returning his gaze to the cabin.
“‘Course, there’s also the vacation factor,” Shani remarked. “Not ev’ry cabin in the woods is built ta torture somebody.”
“Your spell brought us here. I highly doubt that,” She pointed to the building as she spoke, “Is used for a vacation home.”
“Yeah, I figger as much,” Shani declared as she motioned for Ari to dismount. “Ain’t nobody fishin’ ‘r ‘laxin’ out on the porch an’ listenin’ ta nature.” As soon as Ari had dismounted, the pale elf climbed down, gathering the reins in her hands and leading Callipso to a tree where she would tether him to it.
Lyssa hopped off Triumph, patting the horse softly. Once again, she didn’t bother tethering the horse, she didn’t’ feel the need to. She took her bow and made sure it was snuggly in place on her back. Grabbing her scabbard she made sure that was also in place and that she would be able to get it easily. There wasn’t a doubt in her mind that she was going end up fighting and most likely killing everyone in that building.
As Shani began walking toward the cabin, the door opened. A pair of men wielding crossbows stepped out and began what appeared to be a small patrol around the structure. She sunk down behind a small patch of scrub brush, motioning for the others to do likewise. As the trio hunkered down, the men by the cabin appeared to finish their small patrol, meeting back at the front door. The pair seemed to speak to each other, one of them laughing quietly, perhaps to some joke the other told. As the first slapped the second on the back, they entered the cabin again.
“Jackpot,” Shani said in a hushed tone. “I don’t think they’d have guards ifn this were a simple vacation spot.”
“Well, what now? Any plans on how we’re going to walk in there?” Ari asked quietly, glancing between the two.
Lyssa had already started moving, not saying much since they had started the trek to the cabin, she stayed close to the shadows, moving on cat-like feet.
“Shit!” Shani said as Lyssa sprang to life and moved to follow her. “Way I figger,” Shani spoke as she moved. “Best bet is fer me ta be upfront an obvious. I’ll knock on the door, give Lyssa a chance ta sneak in.”
Lyssa pulled her bow off her back and allowed an arrow to shimmer into place. A look of sheer determination was etched on her face. “No one lives, except Andar,” She said with a slight bit of hope.
“Lemme start with a distraction,” Shani warned. “We git inta a fight with ‘em, then we tip our hand. Wanna git this done fast an’ without any slip ups. We screw it up, we as good as dead.” Lyssa nodded, as Shani and Ari approached the front door. She studied it for a moment to see if there was any traps. Once it was determined it was clear, she took the next logical step. She knocked on the door.
Lyssa stood ready to make her way into the cabin without being noticed. This would give her the element of surprise.
Hearing a knock coming from the door, the two men inside the cabin stared at each other, looking rather confused. They both reached for their crossbows as they made their way to the front door. One of them stood off out of sight of the door, but with a clear shot, should anything try to come in, while the other moved close to open the door.
As the door opened, Shani put on her best face, grinning widely as the guard appeared in the open door. “Hiya! I’m jist travelin’ an’ I seen this here cabin…” It was just enough to allow Lyssa to sneak into the cabin using the shadows to her advantage. This was the one time Lyssa’s height was an advantage.
Before she could finish, the man would’ve interrupted, “I’m not interested, and I don’t have the patience, move along.”
“Um…” Shani stopped suddenly at the interruption. “I were jist wonderin’ if y’all’d mind ifn I watered my horse an’ rested here fer a spell.” Ari could only offer a smile, his tail wagging back and forth as he kept silent.
“We have no water,” he started to close the door at that point, having little else to say.
Lyssa pulled back the bowstring, aiming at the lower back of the man. With a twang of the string the arrow went flying through the air with deadly accuracy, right into the spine of the man who had just closed the door. The man slumped to the ground, unable to use the lower half of his body, bleeding out slowly. Seeing his friend go down, and the hin who did it, the other man fired a barbed bolt at Lyssa, screaming bloody murder as he did.
Lyssa was quick on her feet and able to move out of the way faster then the bolt traveled. She looked back for a moment as the bolt hit the wall where her head would have been, then she pulled out her boot dagger and threw it at the screaming man’s throat to silence him. The screaming quickly became little more than a gurgle as the man fell. There were no additional voices or noises even after his screaming, it seemed quiet and safe enough for the time being.
Ari’s ears twitched, hearing the ruckus from within. He looked to Shani for a moment, then bolted through the door, drawing his spear out from the sling on his back. By the time Ari had come through the door, both men were down. One dying slowly and the other groaning on the floor with a smoldering arrow sticking out of his back. Lyssa looked at Ari and then to Shani.
“I think maybe… just maybe, there will be more of them, and more of those.” She said, pointing to the barbed bolt that was stuck in the wall.
Elsewhere from the action, the drow had become numb. His senses barely registered anything now. The pain had become so intense he could not process it anymore. And still they stood him there, whipping his broken body. Laughing at his pain. Taunting him. Hurting him in any way that they could.
“What’s the matter, dirty little elf?” the familiar voice asked, “Can’t say nothin’ anymore? Can’t make a sound?”
He had not the energy to even move his head to look to the voice, he simply remained there, everything he had, draining from him as slowly as the torture went on.
For a brief moment however, he thought he’d heard a scream. His ear twitched at this, and his eyes fluttered. Something began to tug at the back of his mind, words he’d heard an immeasurable time ago.
It will come to an end soon.
He swallowed hard. Seeing that, one of his captors whispered to another, nothing he could make out, before the other left the room for a brief time.
Other than the bodies laying on the floor, the cabin looked just like any other cabin. A fire slowly died in the large stone fireplace. The interior had the same roughly hewn walls as the outside, heads of deer and bears decorated them, giving it an almost rustic hunting lodge feel.
Cautiously Lyssa moved around the cabin, checking to make sure that no one else was there. A small room to her left contained a bed and a small poorly crafted night table.
Maybe this is the wrong place… She thought to herself as she rejoined Ari and Shani in the main room.
“No one else is here,” She stated simply. “Perhaps we have the wrong place. Maybe your spell went wrong.”
Ari glanced around the room silently. Something had to be up. [i]The spell said it was around here,[/i] he thought to himself. Without a word, Ari wandered around the interior of the cabin, noting the little details of it all. He stepped into the bedroom with a soft creak. His gaze wandered to the floor, under the bed.
He knelt down on one knee and searched under the bed. An odd, discolored square of floor immediately caught his attention. He tapped softly on the board, being rewarded with a hollow sound in return. He grinned, then grabbed one of the bedposts, dragging it off of the now clearly visible trap door. A single iron ring was all that was attached to the off-colored board.
“Ya missed somethin’,” he called back.
After the bed was moved, Lyssa looked at the door carefully. Where it went she didn’t know, but she would find out.