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Keep Quiet and Stay Close

“Keep quiet and stay close,” said Benito, for the seventh time.

Zantoris managed to bite back his retort, but it was getting more difficult with every repetition. He was new here, sure, but he wouldn’t have gotten here at all without some sense. Benito seemed convinced his new patrol partner was a hopeless neophyte who needed his hand held every step of the way. By now Zantoris was resisting the urge to do something flagrantly idiotic just to spite the man.

They made their way carefully along the cliffs at the edge of the beach, alert for enemy activity. In the distance they could see enormous fel bats soaring over the breakers, but up here near the cliffs it was relatively quiet.

“There we go.” Benito indicated an opening, barely visible, in the cliff face ahead. “Sometimes the demons keep prisoners in these caves. We gotta keep checking them.”

“Aye, I remember the briefing.” Zantoris trailed the other man down the beach. Benito was nearly a foot taller, he had to stoop to enter the narrow entrance. Zantoris ducked his head a little to follow.

As they crept cautiously deeper into the cavern, Benito spoke quietly over his shoulder. “Keep quiet--”

“--And stay close, aye,” Zan finished. Benito nodded and continued down the crevice.

Soon they could hear echoes coming from farther in, scuttering footsteps and a deep, growling voice. Someone was home, and they didn’t sound friendly. Benito glanced back to check on his companion again. The taller man peeked around an outcropping, and ducked back just in time to avoid a fireball to the face.

Zan already had his shield up; years of aggravating Nikana had given him a finely-tuned sense for incoming fireballs. He threw another one onto Benito as the warrior charged around the outcropping into a pack of imps. There were eight or ten of the little buggers, but Benito was mowing through them easily enough.

Who summoned them? Zan followed around the outcropping to stay close to his companion, studying the shadows and crevices--there it was, a tall, cadaverous fellow with glowing eyes.

“On your right!” he warned, sending a mindbender after the creature. It stopped whatever it was casting on Benito and turned toward Zantoris, making arcane gestures.

Benito spun to his left, sword ready.

“YOUR OTHER RIGHT!” bellowed Zantoris, as the creature’s spell landed on him. His shield flickered and vanished. The next one will hurt. He hurled a spell of his own in return; the creature screeched in pain. Not as much as that hurts, I’ll wager.

Benito charged into the thing a moment later, impaling it on his sword. It squalled and collapsed.

Zan walked over as Benito pulled his sword free. “That racket should flush out anything else in the cave,” he remarked, renewing their shields.

“Yep,” the other agreed cheerfully.

They stood shoulder to shoulder, listening. Not far off they could hear pounding, interspersed with yelling. Exchanging a glance, they moved cautiously in that direction.

A few more twists in the passage, and they found a rough cage with a lone prisoner. “Elune be praised,” he exclaimed. “Be cautious, there’s a fel wizard of some sort keeping watch over the cave.”

“We met him.” Benito hefted a small, sturdy axe he had brought in case they’d found captives, and in two blows had knocked the cage door off its hinges.

“Any other prisoners?” Zantoris cast a light healing spell over the kaldorei as he climbed out of the cage; the night elf was a bit roughed up but didn’t appear seriously injured.

“Not at the moment.” Benito offered the nearly-naked elf his cloak. The warrior was tall enough that his cloak nearly fit their new companion. They made hasty introductions as they worked their way back out of the cave.

Later that afternoon, after reporting to their captain and seeing the elf to the infirmary, Zantoris followed Benito to the barracks mess hall. “If we’re lucky they’ll have some peppered shank left,” said Benito, walking faster at the prospect. Zantoris had to break into a trot to keep up.

They were lucky. Zantoris grabbed a shank and some vegetables and took it to a table. Eventually Benito followed, his plate heaped with several shanks, vegetables, and at least two desserts that Zantoris could see.

“Leave any for the rest of the camp?” he remarked between mouthfuls.

“I’m a growing boy,” countered Benito, rather smugly.

“Light forbid,” said Zan, genuinely appalled at the prospect.

They focussed on food for a while. The mess hall was mostly empty; they had missed lunch and it was too early for dinner.

Finishing off the last of his shanks, Benito looked wryly over at his patrol partner. “Sorry if I was bugging you before, telling you to keep close and all that.”

Zantoris brushed crumbs out of his beard. “What gave me away? Was it the eye rolling? It was the eye rolling, wasn’t it?”

Benito grinned. “It’s just, the last guy they partnered me with, he was this mage who thought he was rough and tough, you know? And maybe he was, they said he’d been in the outlands. But the first time he saw one of those big guys, you know, with the wings and the horns?” Benito held his hands up to his head, imitating the curving horns of a wrathguard, “--the first time he saw one of those, down on the beach, he bolted. I couldn’t cover his back, he was too far… well, anyway, that’s how I have a new partner now, and I didn’t want it to happen again.”

“Not to worry, my ridiculously enormous friend,” said Zantoris, helping himself to one of Benito’s desserts. “When the shit goes down, I head for the guy with the most armor. I’ll be clinging to your leg like an unneutered spaniel, you’ll have to pry me off.”

Benito was laughing too much at the image to object to the loss of his dessert; by the time he’d subsided, Zantoris had eaten most of it.

“Works for me,” Benito giggled. “If you’re on my leg I can keep the demons off you.” He tucked into his other dessert as Zantoris stood, stretching. “Patrol tomorrow at dawn. Meet you by the flagpole.”

Zantoris nodded. “You got it, mate.” He strolled out of the mess tent, whistling.
  and   like this.
Chayce
((Well written! Zan is quickly becoming a fave along with Marj to read in action))
  • May 11, 2017
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Mayanna Stonewood
((Same here. I nearly snorted margarita through my nose when I got to the unneutered spaniel line last night.))
  • May 11, 2017
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Chayce
((That sounds painful!))
  • May 11, 2017
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Mayanna Stonewood
((Though I avoided it last night, I can confirm that it is not a pleasant experience))
  • May 11, 2017
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Chayce
(( Noted and will try and never do that))
  • May 11, 2017
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Zantoris
((Wow, thanks! Good to know you're having as much fun reading them as I have writing them.))

((We should have an ongoing series, The Adventures of Zan and Marj, or something Smile ))
  • May 11, 2017
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Chayce
(( please please please? ))
  • May 12, 2017
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Marjolaine LaVey
(( I'm down :D

And Zan is awesome. ))
  • May 18, 2017
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Zantoris
((Let the brainstorming commence!))
  • May 18, 2017
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Marjolaine LaVey
(( Zany slapstick idea: Marj doesn't go to Welcome Home because she's a zombie and the vets would probably clobber her on sight. She sneaks in to see Lexi, encounters Zantoris, goes in for a hug, other vets spot her and think he's being mauled.

Hilarity ensues. ))
  • May 18, 2017
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Zantoris
((I wonder how the veterans would react to Zan immobilizing them with void tendrils to protect them from Marj.))
  • May 19, 2017
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Chayce
((Lexi will be less than impressed with this plan))
  • May 19, 2017
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Zantoris
((I have a mental image of Zan and Marj looking at the floor with their hands behind their backs while Lexi scolds them.))
  • May 19, 2017
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Mayanna Stonewood
((This needs to happen))
  • May 19, 2017
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Marjolaine LaVey
(( Bwahahaha, agreed ))
  • May 19, 2017
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