The City of Kothos
Kothian Triad

Chapter Headings | Prologue | Glossary | Creston | Bella To | Tuppa To | Batuma Kan | Wen Ta | Sal Li | Cleophi Tan
Contact Me!

The Price 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 today.

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.


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 money."

Geoff laughed loudly and said, "No, friends I throw only halfway across the 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 also?"

"A friend in need...,"answered Creston.

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 speak."

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 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 my tavern."

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 choice."

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 poppies.

"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 him.

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 guide.

"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 that."

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 useless.

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 there.

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 foundations.

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 temple."

"Not my temple," said the wizard, "Are you responsible for this barbarian?"

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 ground.

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 his head?

"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, "What happened?"

"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 to celebrate."

"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.....

Back to top

Black & White Gallary | Color Gallary
Site Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved
Created by Otto Von Bailey
Site design by Otto Von Bailey
Art and stories Copyright by Otto Von Bailey