I almost didn’t see the woman’s corpse when I came down the first flight of steps into the dungeon. If it wasn’t for a glint of light that reflected back in my eye from the woman’s corpse I might of missed her form which was propped sitting against the wall. Well more specifically from the shield she was still holding on her left arm. It was silver with a gold center and gold edging. It was slightly curved. The woman herself must have been a young but tall female. I could tell she was a she because although she looked dry as a bone she still had some flesh left in the right places. Her dress had frayed, the golden belt her sword scabbard hung from had pitted a little – not real gold then. She had no shoes or boots and her sword was still clutched in her bony fingers although the blade was badly rusted. What was left of her hair still held a hair comb but only the silver really remained as it looked like one of those combs that could hold real flowers and stuff. The flowers and stuff were long gone but the silver comb was still there.
The most troubling thing was I couldn’t find a cause of death. No arrow piercing her chest or eye. There was no obvious sign of trauma or bleeding and no missing limbs. She had obvious been laying there a long time given the level of decay and the dryness of her flesh, but the silver shield looked like it was forged yesterday.
Lytria looked over my should but kept her bow ready.
“Bartender, this is a troubling sight.”
“Yeah, you picked up on that too. Take a look around and see what this room is about. Mind the wolf.”
We had agreed that Lytria’s wolf half was to stay close. In a dungeon, getting lost could mean certain death so if her halves got separated the transformation would get real messy.
“I know Bartender” was all she said and then moved toward the center of the room.
I had my torch in my left hand and my sword in my right when I came down the steps. I sheathed my sword and placed the torch on the ground next to me. It sputtered a little but kept burning. My eyes were focused on the shield. I gently lifted it and found like the sword the dead woman still clutched it. I carefully removed her fingers from the handle and slide her arm through the forearm strap. The shield was free and no surprises from the dead woman so I had a closer look. The outside was silver and gold like I said but the inside was polished to a high shine. I imagine if I laid I face down and filled it with water it would have made a perfect looking-glass.
I slid it on my left arm to test the fit and it was perfect, almost like it was made for me. That can’t be right, did the strap just automatically adjust for my arm? Well, that explained some things – it was magical. In what way though, some of the most pretty weapons are the most cursed. At the same time I felt a little more confident. I mean I was dressed basically in a knee-length tunic and knee high boots with a couple of bracers. The fabric was like wool for my tunic but it was lighter and breathed far better. The one thing it protected from very well was the weather. I figured however hostile swords and arrows would pierce it so I was going to have to rely on good footwork to avoid danger – until now. Now I had a shield I could put in harm’s way and all that required was to see the harm coming.
The irony struck me, a sliver shield for the one of the heads of the Silver Shields back in my own world. I had to smile a little and shake my head.
“Barkeep you need to see this.”
I got up after picking up the torch in my right hand. With the shield my tactics would probably change with the torch. If trouble came I would have to drop the torch on the ground to still give light and pull my sword. Darkness was only a problem for me. Lytria and her wolf had an advantage there. She could see by heat in the dark and the wolf had advanced hearing and smell. Me, I needed some light to fight so the torch stayed lit. I just hoped they all didn’t burn out before this adventure was over.
What Lytria wanted me to see was the simple fact that the room seemed to have no exit. It was twenty feet by twenty feet with the stairs coming down the middle of the one wall but there was no exit other than that. I frowned.
“Must be secret door somewhere.”
“Barkeep sometimes you have a habit of overstating the obvious.”
“Someone has to do it. There was a castle over this place Lytria at one time. The security down here would have existed but it would have been simple. Look for an observation hole, it would probably be right by the door.”
We found a small hole on the wall opposite the stairs and that caused us to see the very fait outline of a door. After searching the edge of it Lytria found an odd stone near the bottom and when she slid it to the right the door popped open. Behind it was an observation post behind the observation hole and another tunnel that disappeared out of sight.
“Well there we go.”
I went forward holding my new shield in front of me and my torch in my right hand. Lytria kept an arrow notched as she and her wolf followed me. Whatever was next I felt a little safer.
Welcome to All Things Rabyd, your friendly neighborhood ‘clothing optional’ theology pub. I, the Rabyd Theologian and your bartender, thank you for stopping by. Please drink your theology responsibly or have a designated driver to get you home. Please tip your waitress and they might give you a kiss on the cheek. Just remember life is short so enjoy it. Blessings and Cheers!