of a Visit
Creston hadn't seen his friend
Geoff in over 5 summers. He remembered his
friend fondly as the brawn to his brain
whenever he was in the City of Bortal. The
last time he was here, he and Geoff had
stolen the Eye of Bacton out of a statue of
a bat god. He remembered getting a very good
price for it too. Creston had blown his on a
three month binge in his life he'll always
remember with a smile.
Geoff had fallen in love with
one of the Bat god's temple virgins. After
they saved her from a doomed fate as a
sacrifice to the god. He married her, opened
a tavern and settled down. He had always
wanted a family. An orphan since childhood,
he was always a giant living among the
common. He stood at least a head above
anyone Creston had ever seen and was strong
as an ox.
Creston remembered seeing the
man stop a horse in full gallop with one
blow. When last they parted, Geoff told
Creston to stop by and visit his tavern
whenever he was in town. Creston decided
walking into town with nothing but blade and
ax would not feed him without attracting the
local guard, and Geoff would. So it came to
pass that Creston would visit his old friend
He saw the sign he was looking
for above a door. THE OPEN HOLE. Interesting
name, smiled Creston as he read the sign and
remembered the story behind the name of the
tavern. He moved the curtain, stepped into
the tavern... and ducked. The man that was
sailing through the air just missed Creston
as he slammed into the wall.
"...AND YOU CAN TELL THAT THIEF
WHAT HE CAN DO WITH HIS OFFER, PIG...AND IF
I SEE YOU AGAIN YOU WON'T WALK AWAY FROM
Creston looked up at the source
of the bellowing and saw Geoff. The man was
as he remembered, big and strong. It had
surprised Creston in the beginning how this
man was such a good thief with such size.
"Hello you mountain of muscle,
"said Creston, "is this how you treat an old
friend, throwing things at him?"
Geoff brightened at the sight
of Creston, then darkened his brow as he
looked at the man sneaking for the doorway,
"You son of a street whore, you have ruined
a reunion between my old friend and me. If I
reach you before you reach that door, you
won't walk away today!"
The wounded man on the floor
dashed out the door. Geoff looked back at
Creston, "So, the biggest leg hound in the
seven worlds decided to visit an old friend,
eh? How are you?"
Creston smiled, sat in one of
the booths and said, "I'm hungry, is that
how you treat your patrons who don't pay? If
it is then I want you to know now I have no
Geoff laughed loudly and said,
"No, friends I throw only halfway across the
room...is that how I treat my
patrons,...we'll feed this thing you use as
a body, good for nothing but chasing whores,
but it must serve it's purpose. Mayhap a
little ale while we wait?"
"I was hoping for more than
that you domesticated mountain, "said
Creston, "I was hoping to crawl up to bed
tonight in no condition to walk."
"Done," said Geoff, "Mayhap a
little something to help warm the feet
"A friend in need...,"answered
Geoff turned his head and said,
"Batuma, come and see what the wind has
blown into our mists today. My old thieving
comrade, Creston. Bring a few ales and
Batuma was everything Creston
remembered. Soft brown skin that seemed to
arrange her silks in a manner to bring lust
to heart. She was enough to brighten the
darkest depths of your life with a smile. As
she stood there in front of the table
Creston took a mug and said hello.
She smiled and said, "So
Creston, I see you're still running loose.
The city guard won't likely break our tavern
up because of you will they?"
"Only to hold me back from
ravishing you," answered Creston as he sat
back into the booth. "You don't think this
mountain you call a husband could do it
alone do you?"
"He may not," she replied, "but
a well placed knee would."
"Alas, then I shall settle for
second best in love, and hope this is the
best ale in town, for surely I deserve the
best of something."
Batuma walked away saying, "I
suppose we must feed you and lodge you for
the night but don't you take this man off
somewhere tonight. He hasn't gotten into any
trouble since your last visit, and I want it
to stay that way. Creston liked Batuma.
"She's wonderful, Creston,"
said Geoff, "I have devoted my life to her
comfort, and she's a wonderful wife." Geoff
looked into his mug and said, "I would
challenge the gods for her."
"To hell with the gods, "said
Creston as he felt the ale go down his
throat, "They only want money and the good
looking women. I figure we must be the same
because we have the same wants."
Creston's joke seemed to be
lost on his friend, "Something seems to be
amiss here Geoff, what was that all about
when I came in earlier?"
Geoff poured some more ale into
their mugs and started his story. "Last
winter I lost a fortune gambling with a man
who came into town. I don't know what came
over me but before I knew it I had bet
everything and lost. The man who had won
took everything. Including the deed to THE
OPEN HOLE. What gods toyed with my fate that
night had a good laugh, for the man turned
out to be a wizard He knew of my past life
as a thief and bargained with me for the
deed. I was desperate and did a few small
jobs for him. In exchange I was to receive
the title back. Now the demon says that he
now has proof that I am a thief and if I
don't do more jobs for him he will turn me
over to the city guard. That was his
messenger that I threw out. Batuma knows
nothing and it will soon be over."
"Bad news," said Creston, "but
had it not occurred to you that the wizard
may use means to cheat in such a deal
without your knowing. I think you and I
should pay a visit to your wizard."
"Creston, "smiled Geoff lifting
his mug to his friend, "it would take you to
help this old married man out of trouble.
Just like old times...you and me against a
wizard!! Batuma," he bellowed, "where's that
food? This man looks as though he can hardly
lift a mug unless he gets something into
him. I don't want him starving to death in
So then sat, ate, drank ale,
and planned. Creston didn't want to make any
mistakes in dealing with a wizard.
As they approached the two
temple guards, Creston fingered the dagger
in his belt. It was secluded from sight by a
long cloak that he wore to cover himself. He
heard the guards talking as they closed in.
"What the hell is this," said the guard on
the left, "a giant and a black dog from the
south? I told you I smelled one didn't I?"
His friend smiled. The guard is
fast. He swung his spear, pointing it at
Geoff before he could come within arms
length, "I feel like killing a giant
tonight, and you look like a perfect
Creston whispered under his
breath just loud enough for Geoff to hear,
"The right one." In the same breath he flung
his cape in a wide arch out to his left. The
guard's eyes followed the capes arch. The
dagger came out of Creston's right hand
headed towards the chest of the distracted
guard. Geoff charged the one on the right,
and is on the man before he has a chance to
react, and with a powerful blow to the face
the fight is over.
They had gained an entrance to
the temple grounds. Creston cleaned his
dagger as Geoff dragged the dead guard's
bodies into the gate. "Hurry up and put on
the disguise. I don't want to be seen
standing out here."
"It doesn't fit," said Geoff,
from the shadows. Then he came out still
adjusting the ill fitted uniform. It was
several sizes to small.
"Is there any way in, besides
the front door? "asked Creston.
"Not that I am aware of,"
answered Geoff, "the gods never said it
would be an easy task."
Creston started for the
wizard's temple in thought. Geoff has gods
to blame his misfortune on, Creston, on the
other hand is glad the gods didn't give a
damn about him. He had only one belief. The
pursuit of wine, women and adventure. A
little gold never hurt, either.
He approached the temple door
and knocked. The woman that opened the door
was dressed in a thin scarf wrapped around
covering little of her round breasts and
wide hips. The bone necklace around her neck
reached to the bow of her breasts and only
seemed to bring attention to them as they
struggled with the material. Creston looked
into her eyes. They were green where they
should have been white and white where the
color should have been. A sign of the purple
"The master has been expecting
you, barbarian," she said, "Follow me."
Creston had half expected this.
It's nearly impossible to surprise a wizard
in his own temple. So it very seldom makes
sense to try. The only way to defeat a
wizard was to hope you plan one step ahead
of the demon. This is not usually possible
considering the profession of a wizard. They
were masters of patience and plans. Creston
watched as the cloth fluttered against the
bottom of the door lady walking in front of
At least the view was nice, he
thought, as he followed her up the stairs.
After walking up several flights of stairs
they finally came to a room and they
entered. "He is here, Master," said his
"Come in, barbarian," said the
wizard from inside the room.
Creston smiled as he entered
the room and looked around. They were in a
large chamber with curtains all around.
Figures of skulls with very large fangs
protruding from their mouths decorated the
black curtains. The wizard sat in a throne
made of some type of jewel. It gave off some
eerie green light which lit up the air
around him. Two lamps at either side of the
door lit the air around Creston. The wizard
was preoccupied with three little balls
which chased his hands as he moved them
through the air in front of him.
He was high on the purple
poppies from the east. Only wizards and
mages could use the `Ball High'. The process
required the use of magical energies to heat
up the balls which in turn burned the
poppies. The balls would then gather the
smoke of the burning poppies and start
humming. When the humming stopped, anyone
who heard the humming would be in another
world. The balls would float for some time
afterward almost as if they were alive.
Though not commonly known, it was a popular
sport among men of magic, as a diversion.
"I have come on behalf of a
friend who seems to think you cheated him,"
started Creston. He adjusted some things
under his cloak hidden from the wizards
gaze. Preparing himself for what the next
few moments would bring. The wizard snapped
his fingers and the balls dropped. Suddenly
the lanterns behind Creston flared and lit
the entire chamber. Creston was startled and
swung his head in the direction of the
sudden light. The lanterns soon settled back
to normal. He looked back to the wizard and
saw the balls had started floating next to
the wizard's head again.
"You dare call me a cheat in my
own home," said the wizard barely above a
whisper, "I think I shall kill you for
One of the balls suddenly
darted at Creston and slammed into his left
shoulder as he tried to roll out of the way.
The pain shot across his chest as if he had
been shot with an arrow. The arm was near
By the dead gods, thought
Creston, he had been caught with a feint by
the wizard. Creston threw some smoke pellets
he had brought with him and the room filled
with smoke. The wizard's plan was too subtle
for him to have caught on at first, but now
it was coming. The changed eyes at the door
was to get him thinking poppies, the flying
balls to confirm it. All a feint so he
wouldn't think he would have to deal with a
competent wizard. To give a false sense of
security letting him think he caught the
wizard off guard. It could have worked to.
If he hadn't rolled with the impact of the
ball, he would be minus an arm now.
But Creston was not weapon less
either. The smoke clouded the room and
Creston could hear the wizard laughing on
the other side of the dark wall of smoke. He
aimed his ax and threw it through the smoke.
Suddenly the smoke turned into a small
tornado and went out a window about six
lengths of a man up the wall above the
floor. But Creston's eyes weren't looking at
the smoke disappear out the window but at
his ax sticking out the back of the throne
that the wizard was no longer sitting in.
The wizard is comfortably floating above it.
"Nice try, barbarian," said the
wizard with a smile, "but you missed. Now
it's my turn."
One of the balls came for
Creston again. But this time he was ready
for it and threw out the robe to his left as
he dodged to the right. The missile went
through the thick leather like it was air
and returned to the wizard. Leaving a small
hole in Creston's cape to remind him it was
Creston's thoughts fleetingly
touched on whether Geoff would see the smoke
leave out the window. It was his signal to
act. But soon his attention turned back to
the advance of another ball. He soon started
worrying what would happen if the wizard
decided to use all three at the same time.
Geoff saw the smoke.
He opened the small packet of
sticks that Creston had bought from the
local priest earlier that day and hoped that
it would do as the man promised. He entered
the temple grounds and was soon standing
next to the temple. He took out his fire
stones and slapped them together for the
sparks that would start a fire. The sticks
were soon ablaze and he walked over to the
door of the temple and knocked. The door
opened and the same woman who answered the
door for Creston greeted him.
"How dare you approach the
temple without being summoned." She had
obviously mistaken Geoff for one of the
guards despite the bad fit of the uniform.
"You are under attack," said
Geoff, and headed back for the gates. The
building started to shift on it's
Creston felt the building shift
under his feet and wasn't sure what was
going on. The wizard obviously felt the
building move also and seemed more surprised
than the cause.
Creston saw this as an
opportunity, he called to the wizard, "You
missed, now it's my turn."
The wizard glared at Creston,
"What have you done barbarian?"
The door opened behind Creston
and the door lady came rushing in, "We are
under attack Master, they have attacked the
"Not my temple," said the
wizard, "Are you responsible for this
Creston mind had been working
while everything was going on and it finally
started making sense. His plan had been
simple. He and Geoff had gone to a priest
with all of Geoff's past months receipts and
bought a few things. The smoke pellets as a
diversion and signal from the inside, and a
very powerful spell cast on some sticks that
were to be burned next to something
important to the target. To set the spell
into motion you had to let the magic loose
by setting the sticks on fire, then tell the
intended victim that he was being attacked.
The magic would then destroy
the funnel for most magical energies used by
the mage. His familiar. The problem with the
plan was he didn't figure on the familiar
being the whole temple. And it was coming
down around them.
The wizard's attention was
suddenly on Creston again, "You dog of a
street whore, I shall still kill you."
The balls started to chase each
other in a small circle near the wizards
hand, turning into a small ball of red fire.
The light from the action was becoming
unbearable. Then the wizard pointed at
Creston and the ball of fire shot out
towards him. Creston ducked and the ball of
fire hit the wall behind him tearing a
gaping hole into the night.
The wizard then charged Creston
and caught him totally by surprise, knocking
them both out the hole into the open air
five or six stories above the ground.
Creston turned with all his strength and put
the wizard beneath him, positioning his
blade for a strike.
"I shall take you to the halls
of hell with me barbarian and torture you
for eternity," was the last thing Creston
heard as the two of them headed for the
Creston woke up looking at
Batuma's pretty bottom standing before him.
"Am I dead and in one of the many heavens I
have heard of or just in my friend Geoff's
home again," he asked as he tried to clear
"So you will live after all,"
answered Batuma as she turned to look at him
with a smile.
Sitting up started the room to
move, so Creston laid back down and said,
"To hear Geoff tell it you came
flying down from the heavens with your blade
in the heart of the wizard to save all that
we have worked for," answered Batuma. "I
think that without the evidence of the
destroyed wizard's temple and the knowledge
of the dead wizard buzzing through the city,
I would think you and my husband had been
chasing women, or some other such mischief."
"You wound a wounded man," said
Creston as Geoff came into the room.
Seeing that Creston had finally
awaken, Geoff said, "So you will live my
friend. Then we shall have a feast tonight
"What happened? "asked Creston,
"how did I get here? I was falling to my
death the last I remember."
"That you did, two days ago,"
said Geoff. "Both you and the vile dog that
had been blackmailing me. He cursed you
right to the moment he hit the ground and
broke your fall with his body. The piece of
dog droppings is dead now, with your sword
through his heart. May the gods pick his
bones in the smallest of pieces. I witnessed
it all and retrieved your limp body and
brought you back here."
Creston rubbed his neck and
smiled, "By the sound of it, we won again,
my mountainous friend."
Geoff grabbed a bottle of wine
and two mugs and sat on the end of Creston's
cot, "Let's get drunk and decide how the
story shall be told."
Creston reached over and took a
full mug from his friend and smiled, "First
let me tell you of the struggle I had
inside. You know I had to go to the front
door. You should have seen the woman the
wizard had answering the door. A goddess in
chains. Of course with a few chosen words
she was worshiping me so I had no real
trouble until the wizard.....
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