Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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The Thief and the Chalice (Frayed Knights Fiction) Part 4

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 5, 2016

This is conclusion of a four-part short story of one of Dirk’s adventures shortly before he met Chloe and Arianna and formed the Frayed Knights.  If you haven’t read them yet, I suggest you start back at The Thief and the Chalice, Part 1

Enjoy! Let me know how you like the conclusion!

The Thief and the Chalice, Part 4
by Jay Barnson

The baron emerged at the top of the stairs, the skeletal guardian following behind him. The guardian held its sword in one hand, and the chalice in the other. The pearls had lost their red glow to return to their original white luster. The chalice clearly had no effect on the undead.

If anything, the baron seemed stronger and healthier than he had several minutes earlier. The patch of gray on his temple and at the tips of his mustache had disappeared. He chuckled. “It’s the one with the questions. I hadn’t expected you to survive.”

Dirk held the dagger casually. “Baron Hargrave, remember how you promised us that one of us would go free?”

“Ah, but it was for the one who handed me the chalice. That was my faithful slave, here.” Unnoticed by the baron, the guardian’s sword flared a brighter red for a moment. The baron continued. “It doesn’t matter. I lied. These days, I need to drink a life about every two to three weeks to maintain my youth and vigor. It should hold your life force for that long if I drain you now.”

The guardian sheathed its sword, and then advanced towards Dirk. He backed away towards the wall, frantically searching for another exit. The staircase, blocked by the baron, was the only escape.

As the guardian drew near, Dirk attacked. He kicked at the chalice, trusting his boot would protect him from its life-draining power. The chalice flew out of the guardian’s hand, ringing as it spun in the air like a clunky silver bell. The baron’s face was stricken with horror as the chalice flipped end over end.

The cup’s vertical trajectory didn’t take it far, but as it landed with a hollow metallic thud, Dirk was ready. He kicked it again, launching it directly at the baron’s shocked expression. The baron caught it reflexively.

Elated, Dirk waited for the chalice to work its terrible magic.

Nothing happened.

The baron laughed. “You thought the chalice would destroy me? It’s my chalice, you pathetic fool. Or haven’t you figured it out yet?” Casually, he lowered the chalice to his side. “I am Sontex, the sorcerer. And that creature,” he motioned to the skeletal guardian, “is all that is left of the real baron. He came to me wanting the secret to living forever. He never realized he was going to be an ingredient.”

The red in the guardian’s eyes flared like the sword.

Sontex continued. “I cast a spell to transform me into his twin, and I’ve lived his life over a year now. It is so much easier to acquire subjects for my chalice now. In fact, I’ve changed my mind. I think I’ll enjoy seeing the baron’s corpse choke you to death instead. Hargrave, kill him.”

Dirk was quick with the dagger. It penetrated the creature’s emaciated neck–one of the few unarmored points of attack–before the monster grabbed his hand. There was no blood from its neck, nor even a flinch of pain. Dirk tried to twist the dagger as the creature slowly pushed his arm back. The dagger tip had caught on something, however. It was the thin chain to the amulet around its neck, marked with the “control” rune.

Dirk twisted the blade to catch the chain along the edge as his hand was forced back. The creature pushed back, adding its own strength to Dirk’s to pull the chain taught. As the creature’s other hand reached Dirk’s throat and began to squeeze, the chain snapped, and the amulet dropped to the floor.

The guardian instantly released Dirk, the red sparks in its eye sockets blazing. Turning to the wizard, it drew the sword. The blade illuminated the room in a brilliant scarlet glow. The undead creature struck with surprising speed, and the sorcerer instinctively held up the chalice as a shield. The blow knocked the cup from his hands, and the guardian continued its relentless attack on the chalice, rather than the man.

“No!” Sontex screamed, but the chalice was already snapped at the stem. Three successive blows with the glowing blade tore through the soft metal of the cup. On the fourth blow, the creature staggered, but split the bowl of the chalice still further. It raised its blade for a fifth strike, but staggered backwards and collapsed onto the floor.

Sontex fell to his knees. He no longer looked like the baron. His youthful hair bleached white, and his skin lost its tone and shriveled. The sorcerer’s eyes sank into his skull. He took one final breath before collapsing to the floor, his body imploding around his skeletal structure.

Dirk nudged the guardian’s armor with his boot. The corpse rocked lifelessly. Dirk sighed with relief, and then slumped his shoulders as the realization struck him: Nobody would believe this story.

Two hours later, when the guards finally came to find out what had happened to the baron, Dirk hid from them by pretending to be yet another dead body on the second floor. Just before he exited the tower, he took amusement at the distant sounds of chaos on the fourth floor, as the guards discovered the viper.

Days later, he sold the guardian’s blade–which never even flickered in his hands–to a fence in North Umberland. The fence raised an eyebrow as he offered Dirk a hundred and thirty gold coins for it. “This is an exceptional blade. I take it that it once belonged to a nobleman?”

Dirk nodded with enthusiasm. “I took it from his dead corpse seconds after he tried to kill me.”

The fence snorted. “Right, as if I’d believe that.”


The End.


Filed Under: Frayed Knights, Short Fiction - Comments: 8 Comments to Read

  • The Thief and the Chalice (Frayed Knights Fiction), Part 3 said,

    […] The Thief and the Chalice (Frayed Knights Fiction) Part 4 on The Thief and the Chalice (Frayed Knights Fiction) Part 1 […]

  • The Old Farmer said,

    Nice read now if Dirk was only this good at snuffing puss golums and cultists at the start of Frayed Knights, he would be awesome, well OK more awesome.

    Might have to bump FN up on the list to be played in light of this story rekindling my interest.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Thank you! 🙂

    Since the story is written mostly in his point of view, the descriptions are shaded based on how he sees things. And he’s got a little bit of an inflated view of his own capabilities. It’s just a good thing he didn’t have to out-fight the guardian, or we would have had to have a different rogue in Frayed Knights… 😉

  • Darius said,

    I really enjoyed this, found myself looking forward to each post. Definitely interested in reading more of your writing.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Thanks, Darius! I enjoyed writing it. It was nice to mix my two obsessions together. I’ve got a couple more stories seeing print this year (at least).

    I wish games were as fast to put together as stories. I think for the next few weeks, my Frayed Knights writing will actually be *for* Frayed Knights 2. FUN STUFF!

  • Modran said,

    Yep, T’was a good read :). Reminds me of some Conan stories of Howard (the good ones).

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Modran – I consider that a very high compliment. Thank you!

  • Cuthalion said,

    This was a fun story! Thanks for sharing.