Swords of the Weeping Towers, Part 4

Rough draft continued…

Lurissa walked across the black sand to Kytun, extending his knife blade first. “Nice knife. For a moment, I thought you might be ridding yourself of a problem.” She casually flipped the knife in her grasp, offering Kytun the hilt.

“I have no problem with you. Any quarrel we had died with our city.” Kytun said, sheathing the knife at his belt. “You of all people, should know me better.”

Kytun knelt to examine their gear. One of the toad-men had died next to the oil flasks and storm lantern. Kytun had feared for the glass. He and Finn had invested all their money in gear for this expedition. He was relieved nothing had been damaged before they even began.

“We’re fine.” Lurissa hollered to the two crewmen in the dinghy from the Reaper. They had rowed back within sight of the beach to check on the party. They again retreated into the fog.

Hawk stood at the water’s edge, his one eye scanning the fog, axe hanging loose in his hand. Kytun noticed the warrior hadn’t bothered to clean his weapon, momentarily distracted by a slow drip of blood into the white foam of the surf. The image of Hawk standing there probably scared the hell out of the two sailors in the dinghy. Kytun laughed, drawing an odd glance from Lurissa.

Owain stood up from a toad-man corpse. “Ain’t nothing worth carrying. No coin, jewels, nothing.” He was clearly disappointed with their opponents. “All these weapons is bronze. Probably break first good blow a man struck.”

“Webbed feet and hands. Nictitating member over the eye.” Jago was examining the corpse of one of the toad-men.

“A what?” Owain stopped next to Jago, watching him work, interested despite himself.

“Transparent. The eyelid.” Jago explained without pause as he stripped the strange armor from its torso. “This armor is made of woven reeds and grasses. Supply, yet surprisingly strong. Legs…legs are amazing. At least forty percent of body mass. Yes, this is the source of their jumping ability.”

Finn laughed. “Good to know. I feared we were surrounded by toad catapults, launching our little friends into battle.”

Jago ignored the comment. Owain winced as Jago squeezed two fingers into the gory hole made by Owain’s harkbus that had killed the toad-man. “Interesting. Despite the appearance, more reptile than man.” He rose to his feet. “These creatures are cold blooded.”

“You mean like a snake?” Owain asked. Jago nodded.

“Are you sure he wasn’t just a student at that university where you found him?” Kytun quietly asked Lurissa.

“He’s a wizard. I’ve seen him work.” Lurissa assured him. “He’s just weird, like all of them.”

Jago carefully examined the toad-man’s bronze spear. “Not bronze. I’ve never seen this alloy.” He sniffed at the weapon. “Poisoned. Was anyone cut?”

Owain paled, but none of them had received a scratch.

“Many reptiles, including toads, possess toxic secretion glands.” Jago used his dagger to prod at the head of the corpse. “Ah, yes. Here, where the jaw meets the skull. Small, swollen glands on each side above the throat.”

“No ear. Just a hole.” Owain added his own observation.

Jago gave him a condescending smile before continuing. “I would wager a bite from one of these creatures would be poisonous. I would also hazard a guess that they spit on their weapons before going to battle. Even a small wound from one promises sickness and possibly death unless immediately treated.”

“Good thing you’re here to warn us.” Owain responded to Jago’s superior attitude. “Your bravery in that fight was an example to alla us.”

Jago scrambled to his feet. “You think I should have done more?”

“Something would’a been nice.” Owain mocked the mage.

Jago looked at his companions. Kytun and Lurissa exchanged a look before she shrugged at Jago. Hawk was impassive. Finn ignored them all, climbing a rocky outcropping.

Jago turned back to Owain. “What would you have me do, announce to the world that Jago is here? All magic emanates power. Anyone with knowledge can sense power. Anyone, or anything, that uses the power is aware of it. The more powerful the magic, the greater the awareness.”

“Someone is here before us.” Finn shouted from atop the rock.

“Nice of you to yell. Give them plenty of warning.” Lurissa muttered.

“Owain’s blast gave them plenty of warning.” Kytun said.

Lurissa scowled at Kytun’s back as he trotted toward Finn. Hawk followed him.

“I was trying to tell you that when we were attacked.” Jago told Lurissa. “There is power here.” He pointed up. “I suspect the Weeping Towers are warded with a potent sorcery.”

“Recently?” Lurissa asked.

“Oh, no. Quite old. I would hazard to say ancient.”

“We’ll deal with it when we come to it.”

Owain aimed a nasty smile at Jago. “He’ll deal with it.”

“Yes, of course. However, there has been lesser sorcery used here very recently.”

Owain turned in alarm to check around them. Lurissa ignored him.

“How recently?”

“An hour. Two at most.”

“Just at the turning of the tide.”

Jago nodded, agreeing with her conclusion.

Tony Graham


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