Hey guys! It's been a long time since I've posted some writing on here. I've recently been working on a short story that started originally as backstory for my current Dungeons and Dragons character, but I've worked further on for my Creative Writing Class.
Nephrus Heldir slinked his way through the streets of Rimecairn, his footsteps barely making a sound as they collided with the cobblestones beneath him. His cloak was wrapped tightly around his body, a sight not necessarily uncommon in town. He glanced around, his heart racing. He was the only one on the street, but he still kept both his wits and his sword about him. In this town, trouble could be around every turn.
He rounded the corner to encounter a dead end, surrounded by brick walls in all directions save the one that he came from. He crept up to the wall in the center, looking behind him once more before stepping back, taking a running leap. He pushed himself up the rest of the way, and launched himself over the wall. Nephrus landed in dive and rolled through the grass into the area beyond. Getting to his feet, Nephrus surveyed his new surroundings.
To say the least, the area was fancy. Trees and shrubbery filled the courtyard, each one neatly trimmed. The walls surrounding the courtyard, with the exception of the one Nephrus had just climbed, were excellently carved, featuring vaulted entryways and stained glass windows portraying scenes of warriors combating demons of the Nine Hells. It was part of an extensive estate, home to Qinorin Foreoak. The half-elven merchant was by far one of the richest men in Rimecairn, and one of the most secretive. Rumors told of countless riches gained from a decade of adventuring far over the Ozkari Mountain Range, in the Outlands. Nephrus intended to locate and pillage at least a small percentage of this fabled wealth.
Nephrus tiptoed across the grass, careful to avoid any fallen leaf or twig that could alert a guard or some other form of security to his presence. His footsteps glanced upon the flagstones, scarcely putting more weight on each step than a bird standing there would. He kept close to the walls once inside, careful but confident in each step. Torchlight flickered from the sconces that lined each side of the halls, creating dancing shadows for Nephrus to cling to. Coming upon a flight of stairs going down, he crept down them, keeping to the shadows. They ended in a hallway that led to a wall adorned with an elaborate mosaic.
Bingo, Nephrus thought. A hall that leads only to Waukeen, it’s the only possible place it could be.
Walking up to the mosaic, Nephrus began to search for the way to open what must be a secret door, hidden in the hall. He looked closely at it, observing the every curve and divot of the mosaic’s tiles. After a moment of looking, he came upon a grouping of azure tiles in the eyes that were far further inset than the rest of the mosaic. Saying a silent prayer for good luck, he pushed on the tile cluster. Nephrus glared at the mosaic as nothing occurred. He stepped away, fuming. Before he could step further away, the wall beside the mosaic gave a loud creak as a column of bricks separated from another, swinging open slowly to reveal a cobweb-ridden doorway. Taking a deep breath, he stepped into the darkness.
The tunnel, even with Nephrus’ better-than-average vision, was dark as sin. He muttered a quick curse as his vision slowly adjusted to the darkness, leaving his vision a muddled grey color. The tunnel sloped down and down, each stairstep a crumbling trap that could break at the slightest misstep. Cobwebs lined the corners between the ceiling and walls, and mice skittered around the steps before diving into their holes. Nephrus continued down, a dagger held at the ready. In a vault hidden within a former adventurer’s home, there was no limit to the number of dangers that could be in his way.
Within a few minutes of sneaking around, the tunnel opened into a large alcove hewn from the limestone that Rimecairn was built upon. Nephrus’ eyes widened and his jaw hit the floor. Hanging on every wall were paintings and tapestries, ranging from centuries old to the recent years. The floors were scattered with piles of gold and gemstones, and chests filled to the brim with silver and gold. Sitting on a pedestal in the center of the alcove was a large sapphire, a deep azure in color with each facet of the gem. Nephrus approached the pedestal and stared at the gem. The sapphire was the objective of this burglary, and an expensive one at that. Nephrus was under a promise of twelve hundred gold pieces upon delivery of the sapphire.
Nephrus reached into the satchel that hung at his side and withdrew another gem, a near-exact copy of the sapphire but constructed of deep blue glass, beautiful but ultimately worthless. He held the copy next to the pedestal, with his other hand hovering over the original. Hesitating for just a second, he quickly switched the glass out with the gem. He stared into the gem as he held it, amazed that the switch had worked as smoothly as it did. His concentration on the sapphire was shaken with the floor beginning to shake as well. Treasures and relics fell to the floor with crashes and bangs, and dust began to drift down from the ceiling.
Nephrus swore and turned tail, running up the path he had come, dodging out of the way of fallen treasure and gold. He scampered up the stairs, nearly tripping several times over his own feet. He stormed into the hallway he came from, nearly running into the extended spearpoints of the Foreoak guards.
“In a rush?” One of the guard’s spat. “Hope you like a cell, horned scum.”