Down Amongst The Dead Men


Summary: Trapped alone in the labyrinth of fear that made him a legend. Only one way left down to Level 3 to rescue the kidnapped dungeoneers. And Fear is about to do anything he can to stop him. Will Treguard's legacy also become his tomb?


ONE


He was too old for this.

Closing his eyes, he drew out Wyrmslayer, and it whistled through the air as it came out, a satisfying shiiiiiing sound which Treguard Dunshelm took small comfort in. Now was not a time to belittle himself. No one could get through the dungeon alive with such negativity.

He held out his trusted sword so it was equally balanced, and relied on the strength in his body to get him across the narrow beam. Treguard forced himself to look forwards, keeping his eyes fixed on the logo above the single door on the other side.

Something which was designed to instil fear into the very soul would keep him safe on the thin and rusting bridge.

The narrow bridge creaked, but he determinedly moved forwards, using Wyrmslayer to keep his balance. His heart was racing, thudding painfully in his ears and reminding him that he wasn't quite as fit as he used to be. Then there hasn't been so many Normans to overthrow recently, has there? He struggled to keep his steps even, and not to succumb to speeding up with his heartbeat.

When he hit solid ground, as it were, it was almost a surprise, and Treguard looked away from the shimmering metal mandala above the door. The Corridor of Blades, his mind whispered for him. You're going to walk straight into the Corridor of Blades. The most deadly of all Knightmare's trials.

'But there's no other way,' his heart reminded the sceptical part of his mind. 'You're their last hope.'

Strengthened, Treguard took a step forward to enter the deadly Corridor, and did not manage to step back in time when he heard an ominous click. All he could do was fling his arms up in reaction, scrabbling at his face, but it was too late. The pain he could almost handle, but all he could see for a long moment was a searing, bright light. And then he could see nothing at all.

His chest tightened in fear as he dropped to the ground, winded. A laugh filled the air, so cold and smooth like liquid that Treguard wondered if it was real until he identified the tone. Only one person laughed that way, like fingernails on a chalkboard. Fear. Bile rose in Treguard's throat and he forced it down as everything hurt, like he was swimming, immersed in pain.

"Having fun, are we, Treguard?" Fear's voice was sephulcral, and too loud to be emmanating from anywhere but the main room. Treguard knew then exactly where Fear was. By his fireplace. On his chair. "Did you really think I didn't know where the secret exit to Level 3 was?" Fear laughed again. "And now you have no choice but to go through the Corridor of Blades. Delicious, isn't it?"

Helplessness surged through Treguard, and he pushed himself to his feet with a growl. "I will get those children out, Fear," he said with a quiet determination.

"I'd like to see you try," Fear said, simply.

Treguard blinked, trying not to panic when he saw nothing at all. His step forward had triggered some sort of acid spray... What was he scheming now?

"Watching you struggle blindly through our own dungeons will be quite amusing," Fear continued blithely. "But you and I both know... You step into there, right now, and it will be amusing - for about three seconds until you get sliced into chowder. So I'm going to give you a fighting chance. You're just going to die anyway, you understand."

"What do you-" Treguard began, but fell silent as he heard other voices.

"Let me go, you big bully!"

"TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF HER!"

"Puny little elf!"

"What did he call me?"

WHAM!

"...Anything he likes, apparently."

Dread curled in his stomach. He knew those voices. "Pickle?" His voice was rough. He didn't care. "Majida?"

"They'll be your... what do you call them?.. oh yes, your advisors. I'm giving you a chance to rescue the kidsies. You rescue the kidsies, I let you all live. Simple as that." Fear sounded absolutely delighted. "Off you go, then."

Helplessly, Treguard instinctively slid Wyrmslayer back into the scabbard, and let his senses guide him until he was facing the entrance to the Corridor of Blades, trying not to wonder why Fear sounded so amused.

"Master? It's me, Majida."

"I know it's you," Treguard managed, even though his urge was more in the direction to go back through level one and find some way to remove her head. However, Fear obviously had other ideas. Until he could figure out what Fear had up his sleeve, Treguard decided to go along with him in the meantime.

That was, assuming he survived the Corridor of Blades. And with only Pickle and Majida to guide him? If it wouldn't have caused Fear more glee, he'd have buried his head in his hands and groaned.

"Right," Pickle said, before squealing, and saying, "no! Don't step right! Stay where you are!"

"Men! I'll give the directions," Majida interrupted.

"Ha, as if!"

"One of us has to!"

"Yes, and Treguard will cut me six ways from Sunday if I let you direct him and he dies!"

"Yes, I heard me."

"Still want to direct him?"

"That's what I thought. Master, you're in my very capable hands now."

"Very capable?"

Treguard his temples as they bickered, thinking entirely how unfair this was. He gave dungeoneer's more than a fighting chance. Yes, they get to be directed around by three advisors, all of them above the age of nine. I, on the other hand, get three year olds.

"Danger to life force present!" Fear cackled gleefully. "You know, I've always wanted to do this..."

"Master? Take a deep breath... and then one step forward."

Treguard sent off his last prayer to any gods that were listening, and took that step forward. The floor lurched between him, and the wind whistled around him. He was on the Corridor of Blades, hurtling towards imminent death, and all he had to help him was a forest elf and a Spanish gypsy.

Could have been worse. Could have been Fidjit.

He closed his eyes, despite it being completely pointless, and hoped that Majida would tell him to move soon, otherwise everyone would be eating Dungeonmaster Chowder that night...


To be continued...