The Hard Road: Solemn Hour
Sanctus Espiritus, redeem us from our solemn hour
Sanctus Espiritus, insanity is all around us
Sanctus Espiritus, is this what we deserve,
can we break free from chains of never-ending agony?
Lyrics from Our Solemn Hour as performed by Within Temptation
The door slammed shut as someone entered the torture room. The drow watched as a large coil of rope was handed over to the man administering the torture upon him. A few chuckles, at his expense, and he heard the rope being unraveled.
Once again, the words ran through his head. It will come to an end soon.
The trio headed down the cramped headspace of stairs, Lyssa being the only one able to walk down them without having to hunch over. Walking in single file, they made it to the bottom, reaching the much wider, stone hallway after only a dozen steps. The hallway was wide enough for the three of them to walk abreast down it.Torches were placed every few feet to light the way.
Somewhere in the hall, water trickled down the stone surface. Moss grew in cracks and fissures, some growing a dull green at times. It was hardly messy, and looked well kept up for the most part. There was a musty smell in the air, as well the faint smell of blood.
“Andar…” Lyssa whispered as her ears twitched slightly in the direction the noise. She blinked a few times allowing her eyes to adjust to the poor light. While she was able to cast the simple light spell, it would be better if they continued using only what light they had. Sneaking would be simple, Lyssa was a professional when it came to such things. At least Ari and Shani still had the heightened elven senses, they could see what Lyssa couldn’t.
She held her hand up to stop Ari and Shani. Standing there, she listened, trying to hear more if anything. She heard nothing. When they came to a turn, Lyssa paused and looked down it.
“Straight or down that hall?” Lyssa whispered as she pointed down the hall to her right. After a moment when she received no response from Ari or Shani, she turned and looked at both of them. “Well?”
“We’ve come a bit far to just head the other way,” Ari said quietly. Shani was looking off down the hallway, squinting slightly, her eyes seemed to glow just a bit. Her lack of quick quips and barbs meant she was very serious about this last leg of the journey.
“Forward then,” She said, walking forward. Lyssa’s entire body tensed a great deal more with each step she took. Fear slowly leaked into her heart. It was now the final hour, they had found where he was, or where they thought he was.
The hallway turned sharply, if Lyssa hadn’t been paying close attention she would have kissed the wall. Once more she stopped Shani and Ari behind her as she heard voices coming from two men. As they crouched to listen, Shani quietly drew a pair of daggers from their sheaths.
“Did ya see how it looked?” One of the men said. “Bloody and bruised.”
“That’s what the stupid thing gets. Flaunting his skin like that,” The other said with a laugh in his voice.
“Drow feckin’ disgust me,” The first man said. “Death ta ‘em all, I say.”
It was all Lyssa needed, she was more than certain that Andar was behind that door. Wanting nothing more than to rush them and kill them, she decided against it as it it would cause a massive amount of noise. She didn’t want to alert anyone within that room that they were there. Lyssa turned and look at Shani and Ari, fear was more present now than ever in her eyes.
“What do we do?” Lyssa said in a soft whisper, her voice shaking a bit. Little by little she was falling apart.
“His eyes were swollen shut,” One of the guards laughed. “I would love to be in there now and give him a few hits.”
Lyssa choked upon hearing this. She bit back tears and readied her bow. Shani moved herself into position, stealthing quietly in a place where they couldn’t see her. She gently touched her ring, activating it’s arcane ability. The shadows that could not hide her now did not matter. She was invisible to everything. And with this added stealth she moved to stand right between the two guards.
Watching Shani, until she disappeared into nothingness, Lyssa’s hand clenched the bowgrip tightly. Her knuckles turning white from the pressure. “We’ve got to shut them up,” Lyssa murmured, as she inched closer to Ari. “We’ll have to time it just right to take them both out at the same time. The less noise we make the better off we’ll be.”
Ari slowly nodded, lowering his voice. “Give me three seconds an’ I can handle the left one.” Lyssa nodded and moved her hand to pull back the bowstring. Embers from the glowing torches seemed to materialize an arrow as she pulled back. Flames licked the arrow dangerously.
“3. 2,” Lyssa counted down. “1.”
As Lyssa finished her count-down, Ari slid past her, in view of the two guards. He began reciting a spell, quickly finishing the hand gesture toward the second guard. At the same time, Lyssa released the flaming arrow with deadly accuracy. It sailed silently through the dark, casting it’s light against the walls. By the time the guard noticed, it was too late. The arrow had pierced his throat in such away he couldn’t even let out a scream to warn the others.
Water filled the other guard’s lungs, slowly. At first he coughed, choking as he gasped for air. But as the water began filling his lungs, it was evident that he would suffer a very long, painful death. To that end, his death came sudden and mercifully. The tip of the dagger entered his temple with precision. At first, it would destroy the part of the brain that would control certain motor functions. But that was only a nanosecond before death would come. For good measure, a dagger had been similtaneously jabbed into the other guards temple. Shani had revealed herself, and the two guards didn’t even have time, or the care, to be shocked.
In less time than it took to come up with a plan, both guards were dead. Lyssa sauntered up the hall, her gaze deadly as she looked over the guards. To add insult to injury, she used her feet to snap the guards necks and then spat on them.
“Disgusting bastards. I do hope you weren’t married. Though I am sure your wives wouldn’t miss you.” She growled under her breath. Lyssa then turned to look at the door the guards were standing in front of. “Moment of Truth?”
“Yeah, jist gimme a minute,” Shani said as she slipped a ring on her finger. “Chances are, ifn this here’s where they holdin’ him, thet door ain’t ‘xactly jist somethin’ ta pop open with a quick set o’ picks. Start checkin’ it over fer traps.” Shani began scanning the top half of the door, inspecting it carefully as Lyssa took care of the bottom half. Paranoia, perhaps, but as any rogue would say, better safe than dead.
Lyssa eyes scanned over the door finding it clear of traps, she then reached out gingerly to test the metal latch handle. Finding it unlocked, her heart skipped a beat. Did she want to open it? Did she want to know what was on the other side? It was now or never. Lifting the latch completely she slowly opened the door, it opened on it’s hinges silently.
Shani went back to her daggers, drawing them quietly and carefully. She murmured a song lyric quietly as they began to enter the room. “Dont wait for a knight in shining armor, Your savior’s reflected in the mirror, these flowers have grown from blood stains on the ground,” she said in a quiet and lyrical tone, hoping it would bolster them for what was to come.
Ari’s ears perked up at the soft music, slowly reaching back for his spear. He figured there was more, and he would be ready for them. Feeling the music boost her spirits a bit, Lyssa opened the door just enough for each of them to squeeze through.
The room is a fairly simple cell. The usual eight by eight feet, and made of stone and mortar. In the middle, were several (Read: more than there are of you) men, of varying ages, all human. They were circled about a bloody mess of a drow who was standing, though just barely, on a chair. A noose had just been tightened around his neck, and they were yelling at the drow.
“Oooh, bet you’re looking forward ta this, aren’t ya, ya filthy prig?”
“Lookit ‘im. All bloodied up, we should let ‘im hang slow, draw it out e’en more!”
The drow simply hung limp, his head lulling to and fro, the noose leaving an indentation in his neck. His face was bruised and bloodied, nearly beyond recognition. Blood dripped from his mouth, and many other fresh wounds about his body. He could hardly support himself, and the uneven chair, only made his slight sway, worse. Hearing their taunting, only caused the drow to use what strength he had, to lean forward, hoping to make the noose do its intended work, before they pulled the chair out from under him.