Old Writings: Friendship

(This was a piece of flash fiction that I later turned into a piece of short fiction)

Friendship

            I first heard about the Tome of Infinite Knowledge during a card game at a random tavern in some two cow town I don’t even remember.  I’d gambled the night away, while Janus, my powerful ally, spent the night complaining about anything and everything.  As he went on about wasting our time not killing dragons and saving princesses, I’d managed to gather more information about the magical book which could tell you the location of a great number of powerful items imbued with wondrous magical powers.

”Guys, I love playing Magic too, but not at the expense of our D&D night,” Matt whined while Chris and I shuffled our decks for another round of card-slinging.
Chris replied, “Yeah, but since I have to run all the games for you guys, sometimes I need a break.  It’s hard to get inspired sometimes.”
I added, “Yeah, sometimes you just need a break.  Besides the adventures lately have been nowhere near as good as they used to be.”  Chris glares at me.  “Don’t get me wrong, the conquest of the one-headed ettin was awesome, but I don’t want to rescue another princess for a while.  Especially after that incident with the kobold princess.”
“Yeah, that one was pretty bad Chris.  I think you could probably tell a better story using random cards from your Magic collection,” Matt said.
“Sorry guys, Gamemaster burnout is a drag.  Maybe you’re on to something,” Chris said as he looked at his hand of card.  “I mean check this artifact card out.  The Book of Infinite Knowledge.  It lets you draw more and more cards.  I think I may just have an idea for your next adventure.”

After two weeks of travel through the mountains, numerous clashes with the native goblins and their trained drakes wearing us down, and the complete destruction of an ogre clan, we’d come to the biggest collection of knowledge in the known world:  The library at Alexandra.  It’s said that the library is home to all the knowledge in the world.  That if anything is written anywhere in the world somehow it magically ended up in a book on the shelves here.

It took us another three days of searching the library to find the hidden cache of magical tomes that were forbidden to mortal eyes.  Luckily no door crafted could resist my skills to unlock, nor was there a magical restraint my partner couldn’t unweave.  Taking the tome in my hands, with a complete lack of fear, I opened it to a random page.

“Man it feels great to roll some dice again.  No offense but this is way more fun than Magic guys,” Matt said.
“Yeah, a little dice chucking was just what the doctor ordered.  Pass me another slice of pizza.  Genocide always makes me hungry,” I said
“I can’t believe you guys decided to track that ogre hunting party to their homes and kill all of them.  That might have been a bit uncalled for,” Chris complained.
“Jonah made a perfect case:  Ogres hunt humans.  You know, that whole grinding bones to make bread thing.  That’s gotta be some gross bread.  Worst pizza ever,” Matt replied.
“Yeah, but they were nothing compared to those goblin drake riders.  Those little bastards were a pain in the ass,” I said.
“You didn’t think they were going to fly in a formation so they could be killed with a single fireball spell, did you?”  Chris asked.
“I can’t believe how stupid that is in this edition.  In the old version fireball was, you know, a ball of fire.  It went out and up and down.  Like a sphere is supposed to.  Now it’s basically a disc.  That’s so dumb,” said Matt.
“Yeah, you got nerfed pretty hard on that one Matt,” I chided.
“Well it’s not like you were any help.  Get some kinda ranged attack, would you?”  Matt griped.
“Pfft, whatever,” I replied.  “Anyway, so we get to the library?  What now?”
“Okay, make me search checks,” said Chris.  “You discover that the magical tomes are locked up and have magical alarms.”

The tome was written in the ancient language of the dragons.  My own elven tongue was too different, but my wizard pal Janus knew it well.  The book spoke of an artifact of unimaginalble power: The Crown of Souls.  Locked away in the cursed tower of Dagian it rests, waiting to be liberated by those with the skill, cunning and daring.  I knew just the pair of adventurers for the job.

The tower rested back over the mountains of Thane, over the Diamond Ocean, and past the glittering city of Kroon.  This was going to be a long and dangerous journey.

“What do you mean I don’t understand what the book says?!” I exclaimed.
Chris replied, “Jonah, you don’t know draconic.  All you know are common and elven.”
“Yeah, but I do,” said Matt.
“Since when?” Chris looked surprised.
“Last level.  I spent the points after all those kobolds kept talking behind our backs.”
“Damn, I was hoping to draw this out, make you guys find a translator.  That’s a week worth of adventures gone.”  Chris sighed.  “Okay, you know where the tower is, and about the Crown of Souls.  You’re going to have to go back over the mountains, over the ocean, and then past Kroon again.”
“Will you get the Kroon business a rest?  You know we’re to be executed on sight there,” said Matt.
“Hey, how was I supposed to know that the girl in the bar was the Magistrates daughter?  You know the ladies can’t resist my elven charm,” I winked.
“Okay guys, we’ll pick up next week with you on your way,” Chris said.

Inside the sinister spire my skills as a rogue and talents as an elf came in handy.  Picking locks with ease, no door could bar our quest.  My volleys of arrows saved Janus more times than he would care to remember.

“This prism we found on that monstrous ogre is the key to our treasure I’m sure,” Janus informed me.

“The puzzle hasn’t been made that can defeat our cunning,” I replied.

“I can’t believe you managed to run two straight weeks of random encounters before we got to your stupid tower!” I said.
“I can’t believe you’ve managed to use your stealth skills to get through so much of the tower without a fight,” Chris retorted.
“I can’t believe we’re out of Mountain Dew!” Matt cried.
“I can’t believe you made us fight the same ogre chief again.  That was cheap.  Why would the boss of this tower resurrect some random ogre to fight us?”  I asked.
“Uh, maybe the boss had a scrying spell on the book, and when he learned who was seeking his treasure, figured he’d create a few surprises for you.  Okay on the body of the ogre you find a prism of some kind,”  Chris said.
“Ooo, is it valuable?” I asked.
“Matt, make me a knowledge check.”
“Oh yeah!  Natural 18.  I know what the hell this sucker is I’m sure!” Matt exclaimed.
“Yes, it’s a magical key.  You’re pretty sure it will allow you to get the treasure you seek,” Chris said.

On the top floor of the tower we found the mystical fountain of fire.  Cautiously I worked the prism into the configuration Janus had devised.  As the heat died, the crown became visible at the base of the fountain.

“Congratulations on making it this far.  No others have ever come this close.  Pity, because now you shall die,” boomed the voice of the master of the tower.  The long dead figure loomed toward me.

“Are you kidding me?!  We’re supposed to fight a Lich?!” I asked.
“Hey, sometimes you guys have to remember there’s always somebody bigger and badder out there,” Chis replied.
“But we’re only 4th level!  Those things are at least for 12th level or higher!” I said.
“You guys are creative.  I’m sure you’ll think of something.  Now roll for initiative.”
“So we’re on top of a two thousand foot tall tower, with an undead monster at least four times more powerful than us, and he’s between us on the stairs.  Great, this is gonna suck so bad.  So long Silas, you were a fun character while you lasted,” I said.
“Hang on Jonah,” Matt said.  “I’ve got an idea.
I hate when he has an idea.

Discretion being the better part of valor, I did the only thing I could.  I ran.  Trapped on the ledge of the massive tower I turned to my partner and was about to wish him a safe journey to the afterlife, when I noticed that twinkle in his eye.  Janus had an idea.  Nobody is as clever as he is when backed into the corner.  This was going to be fun.  He grabbed my arm and we both jumped off the edge of the tower.

“Grab my hand and jump,” Matt said matter of factly.
“What the hell is wrong with you?  There’s no way we can survive that fall.  At 1D6 of damage per ten feet, that’s 200d6 points of damage.  Even if Chris rolled all ones, that’s still two hundred points of damage.  I’ve only got fourteen hit points left, and I’m sure you’re not much better.”
“Just trust me.  I’ve got this,” was all Matt would reply.
“I hate when I have to trust you.”

As we fell, Janus worked his magics with the ease brought on by years of training.  His spell complete before we were even half way down the tower, we glided safely to the ground.  I turned to wave at the Lich who was just a speck on the top of the tall tower.  Turning back to Janus, I smiled at him and said, “I’ve got the best partner ever.”

“Why didn’t you just tell me you had the featherfall spell memorized!  I know you like to be all suspenseful, but you should have just said so,” I said.
“Hang on,” Chris said.  You don’t normally have that on your daily spells list for dungeons.”
“You’re right Chris,” Matt replied.  “But I forgot to erase it when we were traveling in the mountains and replace it with a different spell from my book.  So when we were on the tower I figured why not?  What a lucky accident.”
“Okay guys.  So now that you’re safely at the bottom of the tower, you get away with no trouble.  Don’t you want to open the tome and see what treasure you can find next week?”

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