Fort Darkmist never really saw a heyday. I guess Ursus and Arctos had long given up trying to make it a powerful club. Not that the club ever COULD be powerful.
But now it was totally abandoned. Sometimes, a beast would come and look around, but few ever knew how to get inside. But Laraida had told me that there was more than one way in.
One was the original way, being pulled up in a basket. But that was impossible. No-one manned that thing anymore. The other was a passsageway, known only to the BenDragons. I guess I did well to marry one.
Laraida and I went to the cliff that Fort Darkmist was built over, sailing the Wind's Cry. Shtaragk was steering, Eisenzahn and Rolja were working the rigging.
We sailed until we came to a certain place, and Laraida and I went ashore. We went to a certain stone, and Laraida diddled with something.
The stone swung inwards, and there was a passageway. "Go now. It should be easy for you to get out," my wife said quietly.
I nuzzled her, then went inside. I was smart enough to have some of the infamous BenDragon Firepotion with me.
I found an ancient torch on the wall, and spilled a little potion on it. The torch flared up, but it wouldn't last long. It was too old to burn for any length of time. Luckily, there were torches all along the wall, so I kept lighting new ones with the stump of my previous one. I was a little confused.
Fort Darkmist wasn't this old. Then I saw the carving in the wall. This wasn't Fort Darkmist. This was an outpost of the old Mageor Kingdom. The Mageors: the ancestors of the BenDragons. I got out my sack. I was interested in taking some of the haul from Fort Darkmist, but Mesyra and Khorzharax would definately be interested in this.
The ancient treasures of the Mageor Clan... This was going to be incredible. I wrestled open an ancient chest. There was more loot here than I ever thought possible. I started hauling into plain view the stuff I found. I then began to look for a way into the newer Fort Darkmist. I found it, a door that opened into the ruins of the Battle Arena.
There were dead creatures all over the place. Some had died earlier. Some bit the dust when the ceiling collapsed. In any case the battle arena was now long past useless.
I went back down the passage way, and hauled the chests that I found into the Battle arena. There were probably more, but I wasn't going to spend the rest of my life down there. I finally found the exit of Fort Darkmist.
It was at the top of a long staircase.
It took several hours to haul the booty from the Mageor outpost up to the top of the staircase. I called out, and Shtaragk found me. I sent down the Mageor relics, and told him that I would be back soon. He nodded. I went back inside Fort Darkmist, and looked around. The Library didn't have much in it, only a carving of the Lament of the BenDragons.
Kholdragus had penned that. He was a lousy fighter, and good riddance when he left, but he DID have a way with words. I looked through the rest of the fort. The prisons didn't have much in them. Just empty cells.
Suddenly, I heard scratching. I went to one cell, and there WAS somebeast in there. Several, actually. A couple of pathetic Dormice. I gave them some of my lunch. I didn't want them to die just yet.
The door to the secret area still stood. I had to use my lock picks. I picked open the door, and entered. Some of the council champers were still useful, some weren't. I entered the quarters of Ursus and Arctos themselves, and was amazed.
They had their medallions everywhere. I put the medallions into chests, and brought them out. I lowered them to Shtaragk. Lastly, I went for the Dormice. But they were gone. I wondered where they were when a dagger whizzed by my ear. I looked back, and there was a badger waiting for me. I drew my sword, and he gripped his battle axe.
He'd freed the Dormice, and now was coming to kill me. Or I him. I rushed him, but he was too quick. He dodged aside, and I nearly hit the wall. I went after him again, but he swung at me, and I got a cut on my shoulder.
I gave him the worst I had, but he was more powerful than I. I wasn't going to survive this battle.
Unconsiously, I had backed up the stairs that had led to the enterance of Fort Darkmist. Now I was one the outside, in plain view. He had me up against a branch. He lifted his axe to split me down the middle, when he gurgled and fell out of the tree. I looked down, and saw Eisenzahn pulling his dagger out of the badger's neck.
I dropped the basket, and Shtaragk put a rope ladder into the basket. I hauled the basket up, tied the rope ladder in a special way, so that a rope dangled alongside the ladder. I climbed down, the pulled the rope. The ladder collapsed. Shtaragk nodded at the badger. "He came in, and then came out with a bunch of Dormice. He let them go, and fired arrows at us to keep us from chasing them."
"Who killed him?" I asked.
"Eisenzahn," came the reply. We boarded the Wind's Cry, and on the way back to Moonshadow castle, I skinned the Badger, to make a cape for Eisenzahn. There was no way he could wear it now, but it would be something he could wear with pride when he grew older, as a memorial to his first major kill.
I had other things to think about. Such as, what to give to Mesyra, what to hand over to Nightskar...
And what to simply keep.