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Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist: Part Eight

by ikkin_with_attitude


Also by schefflera

Jeran, Kass, Sally, and the Yellow Knight stood in Edna's tower, in front of the witch who they hoped would give them the cure they had been seeking.

     "I can make you the cure... if you'll give me what I need," Edna said.

     "And what's that?" Jeran asked.

     Edna looked at them all, one by one, and smiled slowly. "The Sunblade," she said, "Naralus, and the Sword of Skardsen."

     Kass looked at Edna incredulously. "You want me to give you my sword? That just isn't going to happen! I'm sorry, Jeran," he said, turning to the Lupe knight, "but this is far too much to ask. And how do we know that we can actually trust her?"

     "We don't," Jeran said, "but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Though, it might be best if we sought out this 'Sword of Skardsen' before we do anything else. For all we know, it could be another trap."

     "Do we even know where to find the Sword of Skardsen?" the Yellow Knight asked. "Or will the witch be kind enough to tell us?"

     "You'll have to find it on your own," Edna said, smirking. "And be quick about it. You only have thirty minutes, and then you're out of luck." She vanished back into the green glare and fumes.

     "Just great," Kass grumbled. "We have fifteen minutes to find some legendary weapon, and give in our own, just to get some cure that obviously won't involve any of them. I might not be an alchemist, but I've never heard of a sword being used in a potion before..."

     "I think I know where the Sword of Skardsen could be," Sally said in a near whisper. "My daddy used to tell me stories about an Usul named Gilly who was trapped in the Castle of Eliv Thade... the Sword of Skardsen was one of the magical artifacts that she had to find in order to escape!"

     "So, the sword might still be in the castle?" Jeran asked.

     "The stories never said that it was moved...."

     "Well, then, that seems to be the best lead we have," said Jeran. "Let's go."

     As the group left, the last thing they heard was Edna's voice- "You only have twenty-eight minutes and forty-nine seconds left!" she warned.

     They left Edna cackling over her cauldron and her countdowns and headed off. The Castle of Eliv Thade was, at least, not too difficult to find; it seemed that, much like Meridell, it had become something of a tourist attraction -- though thankfully not a terribly crowded one. They found a signpost before they had gone thirty steps from Edna's tower, and not much farther along, they began to see gray walls and dark turquoise roof-slates looming from among the trees.

     Twenty minutes, Jeran thought, torn. He wanted to cure Lisha, but Kass -- little as he liked to admit it -- might be right: swords did not generally go into potions. Edna might have been naming her price for defying Hubrid Nox, but on the other hand... who knew?

     The castle itself seemed a little warped, as if it had gotten wet and dried poorly, even though it was stone. But it was otherwise in fairly good repair; it even had a lawn, fresh green grass on the forest floor, and the bronze ornaments shone untarnished. Surprisingly warm, inviting golden light poured from the windows. Above the door hung a gigantic head; it appeared to be a rather poor representation of a Plushie Kacheek, in the wrong colors. Or maybe a zombie. That part wasn't in quite such good shape; it looked a little moldy.

     They walked up a short cobblestone path to the door, and Jeran, sighing inwardly, knocked on his third Haunted Woods door of the day.

     "They said Gilly got out eventually and banished the spectre," Sally half-whispered, "but I don't know if maybe they made up a happy end--"

     She broke off, swallowing her "-ing," as the door burst open to reveal a Kacheek with a broad, slightly crazed grin on a face that proved the giant head wasn't such a poor likeness after all.

     "Welcome!" the Kacheek said in an incongruously deep and booming voice, flinging his arms wide. "Visitors! I love visitors. I am Eliv Thade. Have you come to play my game?"

     Jeran took a half-step backward to avoid being smacked in the nose by the welcoming gesture. "Game?"

     "Why, yes, my anagram game! Don't worry, I'll act properly spooky during it." Eliv Thade cleared his throat and let loose a booming maniacal laugh. "Foolish mortals! You'll never get out alive!" Seeing them all staring at him, he added in a less haughty tone, "The acoustics are better indoors. Excellent reverberation. Er, is that not why you're here?"

     "Actually," said Jeran, "we're on a quest and came to inquire about the Sword of Skardsen...."

     "HAH!" Eliv Thade did a little jig on the spot. "Unless you just want a replica, I can't help you, and I'm afraid I'm not the least bit sorry. It isn't here," he said with relish. "It isn't here, and the Shield of Pion Troect isn't here. My family Grimoire isn't here, and I never want to see it again, and the Amulet of Thilg isn't here. None of those accursed objects are here, nor will be again, and the trap they were used to pin is broken. No longer," he proclaimed, nearly shouting, with his head thrown back in bliss, "am I bound to roam my own house in madness and in misery! No longer must I rack my brain endlessly over a puzzle meant to have no answer! No more do my guests tread in fear, with their lives forfeit for three mistakes!" He paused at this and lowered his chin for a moment in thought, then added helpfully, "...Although it's still a good idea to watch your step. The floor's a mite rickety."

     "Er," said Jeran, "I'm glad you're free and... ah... sane, in that case. But can you perchance tell us where we might seek the sword instead? My sister is under a curse herself...."

     Eliv Thade gave him what might have been a sympathetic look. "You'll want Gilly the Sorceress, then. She's the one who broke the spell -- took them all with her when she left, and good riddance. I don't know that she'll give you the original, but she's closer than Fyora's Hidden Tower. And she's good with curses, at that. Are you sure you wouldn't care for a game, though?"

     "We're a little pressed for time," Jeran said as politely as he could. "Edna only gave us half an hour."

     "Edna! What would she want with a sword?" Eliv Thade shook his head. "Can't see it. Talk to Gilly, though. Nicest dark sorceress you'll ever meet." An unearthly howl echoed through the house, and he glanced back in. "I must leave you. Best wishes and all."

     He shut the door. Jeran turned to look at the other three. "...Maybe Balthazar wasn't talking about the Shadow Usul."

     They hadn't taken ten steps from the Castle of Eliv Thade when the Yellow Knight asked, "Hold on a second, do we even know where to find Gilly the Usul Sorceress?"

     And so, annoyed with his oversight, and with time slowly but surely running out, Jeran turned back around and knocked once again on the door of the castle.

     "Welcome!" Eliv Thade said, just as he had greeted them with the first time. Upon noticing that his visitors were those who had just left, his tone changed from welcoming to a bit annoyed. "What brings you back here so soon? I thought you didn't have time for games?"

     "We don't," said Jeran. "And we don't have time to be searching the Haunted Woods for a sorceress, either. Could you tell us where we might find Gilly?"

     "Oh, I quite forgot. She lives in a tree house, not too far to the south of here. You'll know it when you see it -- it's in a part of the Haunted Woods that doesn't seem quite so haunted. But you should be going now. I'm in the middle of a game with my other visitors. They're racking their brains right now, but if I'm gone too long, it might spoil the atmosphere. So, best of luck, again!"

     Eliv Thade's directions, while not quite as descriptive as Jeran would have liked, proved adequate to lead the group to Gilly's tree house. As the Kacheek had said, the woods were not quite so haunted around the tree house -- in fact, they seemed to be more like those found in Meridell than the rest of the Haunted Woods. This was little comfort to anyone, however -- if anything, it made them feel even more anxious about the meeting with the sorceress. Not every villain chose to look ominous; lulling a foe could be as effective or more so than fear.

     They knew they'd found the right place when a perfectly healthy-looking acorn dropped at their feet, and looking up, they saw a cottage in the branches.

     The door to the tree house was, as could be expected, up high in the tree. While Jeran didn't quite like the idea of waiting in the tree itself for Gilly, he was willing to put his fears aside for Lisha's sake. So, twenty feet up a tree, the Lupe knight knocked on the door of the Usul sorceress.

     He caught himself thinking it was a good thing they had a flyer along, realized he meant Kass -- and didn't have time for further reflections on that subject, as the door opened and he went on full alert.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist: Part One
» Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist: Part Two
» Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist: Part Three
» Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist: Part Four
» Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist: Part Five
» Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist: Part Six
» Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist: Part Seven
» Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist

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