Late one evening a fortnight ago, I sat on my back deck nursing Samuel Adams Summer Ale. It was a cool evening with a light northern breeze, a slight scent of tobacco floated on the wind to my nose and I immediately knew I was not alone. I sat a little more straight and Pepper, my black lab rose to her feet and stared off in the darkness beyond the reach of the deck light.
“I am not sure if Pepper, or you, would make a better scout,” came a familiar voice from the darkness. He stepped out of the shadows with his long white pipe glowing a deep orange and sending out its wonderful smell. He stuck out a hand to let Pepper sniff and once she recognized him, he gave her a few soft pats on the head. “How are things with you, my friend?”
“I needed a break, work has been rough. Good to see you,” I extended my hand, which he took with a smile. “Thirsty?” I knew what his answer would be and made to move to the kitchen before he even spoke.
“Aye,” he answered. I heard him hop up into the wicker seat across from mine as I retrieved his favorite beverage from the refrigerator. I knew he was sampling my Sam Adams while my back was turned, but for him, I would let it slide. “Your ale, it reminds me of the Duke of Croftminster’s special brew. It was made from the wheat grown in the hills around the city, then had a hint of the juices from oranges added, made for a rather unique taste.”
“Your Big Red, sir,” I jokingly saluted him as I handed him the plastic bottle. He grabbed it with a wide smile and eyed the red liquid. Of all the things he had sampled while visiting me, for some reason, Big Red was his favorite. As such, I kept a few bottles in the kitchen in case he surprised me. He took a long swig, downing about half the bottle, which considering his small stature, was a large amount to take in a single gulp. “So, how are things on your side of….of the…your…..heck, how are things in Sylnae?” World? Dimension? Planet? I never really learned how to describe it.
He chuckled at my floundering. “Well, things are well. All is good with Lexx, and the tavern is pulling in good business,” Snikle had recently opened a tavern in Croftminster and was very proud of it being a viable business. “Speaking of Croftminster, did I ever tell you of the Tomb of Mrathien just north of the city?”
I sat back, happily ready for another one of Snikle’s long tales. He had a way of making his homeland come alive, sometimes I would swear I could smell the dungeons as he spoke of them.
“It was back when I traveled with Fellion…” he paused a moment, thinking.
I raised my bottle, “A toast to Fellion.”
“Aye, a toast,” we clinked bottles, his plastic one making a dull thud on my glass bottle. “A good friend.”
We sat in silence for a moment, Snikle staring off into the darkness of the backyard. No doubt he was remembering his friend and happier days. I was eager to hear his tale, but after so many, I honestly felt like I knew Fellion and felt an inner twang of sadness. A moment later he snapped back to my deck and began his tale.
“We had gotten word of a long forgotten tomb in the hills north of Croftminster, it has been thoroughly explored before, but I had found some details regarding a secret passage that led to a completely unexplored section of the tomb. Unexplored meant wealth, and at the moment I owed a rather large sum of ducets to a criminal from the low quarters of Croftminster.” He took a long, deep breath of his pipe and savored the sweet flavor of the tobacco. “The tomb was a mess, and stunk like the depth of hell.”
He continued with his tale, me replacing his drinks as he drained them, long into the night…
For more details on the Tomb of Mrathien, click here to download Lapsus Calumni #02.
Map with labels: click here to download.
Map sans labels: click here to download.