Sunday, November 14, 2004


Day 53

There's no way I can tell this adventure properly without cheating, so I apologise in advance. For a start, I'm not writing when I should, but later, and under different circumstances, and I'm writing about events that I personally didn't experience... that sleeping potion was pretty strong, and I was pretty weak!

So, Memree and Cleve descended some ancient stone stairs, into the bowels of Castle Grishelm.

"You think we can do this without Charol...?"

"We try", Cleve finger-signed back, looking around at the rubble-strewn corridors, and checking the map.

"But she's the fighter - I'm useless with the sword, and a crossbow's not much use at short range."

"You brave, Sera... that what counts", came Cleve's finger-reply.

"I'm scared witless, if you must know." Memree looked around wide-eyed, fingering the hilt of her sword.

Cleve gave an encouraging smile, and her fingers flashed again. "And me - but we go anyway. Both of us brave!" She walked along the corridor, heading for the door at its end. "When I hold my sword, I cannot sign-talk, so follow what I do closely!"

"All this had better be worth it - we should have just turned back, and tried again in a few days."

"No, must be now", Cleve signed, and pushed gently at the door - the wood came away from its hinges, and fell inward and down a spiral stone staircase, making an awful amount of noise. It was darker down below, and Cleve pulled an ancient torch off the wall, and handed it to Memree. Memree lit it, and followed Cleve cautiously down the stairs.

Below they found a square room, with various doors, closed... what looked like prison doors, with small barred openings in them, covered by wooden flaps.

"If other people have explored these tunnels, they were easier on the doors than we were", Memree commented, as Cleve carefully lowered one flap, and looked into the - dungeon? Apparently not, as bright sunlight flooded out, and engulfed both of them. Cleve and Memree found themselves in what was apparently a forest clearing, with the sounds of birds and insects, a gentle summer breeze, and a feeling of peace. Memree let the torch drop, and its flame immediately went out. Cleve had her sword in her hand, looking about for any foe, but the only item at all out of place in the scene was a large block of stone, old and mellow and half as tall again as Memree... with a young, curly-haired boy in shorts, tanned and cheerful, sitting casually on top, feet dangling over the edge.

"Now this is..strange", Memree was saying, in fact she'd began to say it before the shift, and her voice faded away as she saw this peaceful new place.

"Now that's a fine greeting, Vel Memree", the boy said, smiling.


"Am I? Just call me Sprite, will you please... but I'm more interested in you, and what brings you to Grishelm."

"Cleve wanted us to come - she was given a map, she told us there was a treasure here."


"Yes - we freed her from service to a slaver, and then discovered that she could use sign-language, and that I could understand her."

"Sign-language?" Sprite seemed puzzled for a moment. "Oh, finger-talk! I see... Cleve is a mute. That explains a number of things."

Sprite turned his attention to Cleve, who had sheathed her sword. Memree wasn't sure that Cleve had followed her conversation with Sprite, it might have been meant for her alone. "Don't be alarmed, Sera Cleve. My name is Sprite, here", he told her "... and in this place, and only here below and beyond Grishelm, you can talk."

"Uh..." Cleve was curiously tentative. Her mouth moved, but she didn't say any more.

"But that's what you came to Grishelm for, isn't it, Sera?"

"The...the man who made me the map said there was a possibility I could be made whole here, yes," Cleve said quietly, eyes cast down.

"But the danger, Sera - so few return, do they? Is that why you brought Memree and the barbarienne with you? What did they have to gain from risking their lives?"

"I thought there would be treasure... some treasure, M'ser", she mumbled, looking quickly at Memree and then away again..

"You did? You didn't trick them into coming here, for purely selfish reasons...?"

A tear rolled down Cleve's cheek. "Well...." She blinked fiercely, trying to discourage further tears. "Please don't hurt them, Ser Sprite, it's all my fault... and Charol's up in the castle, wounded..."

Sprite turned to Memree. "Cleve deceived you, I'm afraid. As far as she knew, the only treasure to hunt here below Castle Grishelm was a rather risky chance for her to regain her voice."

In a very small voice, Cleve said "Yes..." She was on her knees now, facing the stone block.

Memree gripped her shoulders. "Oh Cleve, you should have told us - we only wanted the treasure for you, Charol and I have got our own money." She hugged her. "Not being able to talk, to communicate - that's terrible, and if there is any way I can help, I will, I promise, and Charol will too, I know!"

"I'm only a minor, local spirit", Sprite told them. "Further down are the powers you need, Cleve, and you'll find them a lot rougher than I am. All I can do is give you this talk-spell for a while, and give you the boost your party needs..."

And with that, either Sprite and his forest faded away, or Memree and Cleve did, as they found themselves back outside the door, feeling fitter and stronger than before. Memree found that she was holding the lit torch again. Time continued to pass strangely, because as they turned away from the sunlight and closed the flap on the door, they heard a familiar voice behind them - my voice!

"So, you thought you'd explore all this without me, did you?"

Well that may not be precisely a day's worth of narrative, but it still makes a good stopping-point, with the three figures together, reunited for the next stage...

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