Drylor The Second Artifact
Much like the page for Drylor The First Artifact, this page is here to give you an example of the book. I copy and pasted the first few pages here as a free example of my writing and a quick little taste of the story of Drylor the Second Artifact. What is on this page is not proof read or edited yet (sorry!) and I am not sure when, if ever, Drylor The Second Artifact will be released. I was working heavily on this book last October but life caught up to me and I was forced to stop pursuing writing as a hobby and had to find more lucrative work.
A shadowy figure creeps across the dimly lit hall with catlike stride, each movement in perfect succession with the next. Few candles flicker in the hallway, as the fire hisses and spits, trying to stay lit in the thick muggy air. At the end of the hall is a large oaken door almost completely covered in darkness, behind it, the prized belongings of one of the richest families visiting Actius for the annual Early Spring Festival.
Stepping back from the door the thief removes two slender metallic objects from his pocket and inserts them into the lock. Tension is kept on the bottom one with his left hand as he jiggles the top with his right, carefully listening for the tumblers’ of the lock to be pushed up. A soft click can be heard as the first tumbler is pushed into place. The tension wrench ever so slightly moves counter clockwise as this happens.
He fumbles around inside the lock hearing two more clicks within seconds of each other. The thief takes an erratic breath while wiping the sweat from his brow. “One more…” While searching for the final tumbler his shill coughs, something is awry. The sound of footsteps can be heard echoing up the staircase with the smell of pungent stale tobacco filling the air. The shill confronts the man before he can even reach the top of the stairs,
“Good evening, I’m looking for my friend… He is about four foot’ five, medium build, short black hair, scruffy brown feet…”
The thief releases the tension he has on the lock, pulling out his picks and drifting off into the shadows of the hallway. Back against the wall and entire body cloaked in darkness, he moves a hand over his chest hoping to muffle the sound of his ever quickening heart.
“No, I am terribly sorry but I haven’t. However, you’re not allowed to be up here unless you have a room, do you have a room, sir?”
“That I do not, I am just looking for my friend. I’ll leave, I think he ran down towards the cellar anyway, mind unlocking the door for me?”
“Sure, I will need to grab my keys first though.”
The shill rubs the side of his nose, a signal to the thief, as he follows the owner of the inn back down the stairs. Stepping out from the shadows he inserts both picks back into the lock. Slight tension on the bottom one, click, slight jiggle on the top, click, click “One… Last…” click the final tumbler is pushed up, allowing the tension wrench to spin counter clockwise around the lock. The door swings open as the thief steps inside, a cool chill can be felt from an open window in the vacant room as he hastily removes his tools from the lock and closes the door behind him.
He locks the door as a goofy half-toothed smile comes across his face, a job well done. But it isn’t over yet. The complete darkness of the room is dominated by the earthy odor of the wet leaves swaying on the oak just outside the window. With his first step into the room he clumsily smacks his foot into a nightstand, causing a lamp to sway. The lamp teeter totters on top the nightstand before toppling over the side. The man lunges towards the lamp, catching it with his right hand. He carefully places the lamp back atop the nightstand, closes his eyes and takes a slow, deep breath.
With his arms extended in front of him like that of a zombie, he continues through the room. Waving them around like he is treading water, he looks for something, anything, that could show him the layout of the room. Smack! His wrist hits one of the posts on the bed, crunch! His toes are jammed under the hope chest at the foot of the bed. He bites his lower lip as the corners of his eyes tear, face cringing, wanting to scream something profane but resisting the urge.
Muttering something incoherent he traced the outline of the hope chest, feeling the intricate stencils of Halfling art covering the small wooden box. His fingers slowly searched for a way to open the box, a lock, a latch, a knob, anything, than he found it, a small little keyhole in the front of the box. Sinking down to one knee the man removes the two picks from his pocket, delicately inserting them into the rustic lock. The picks chatter against the metal of the lock as the thief feels it out.
Slight tension is put on the wrench as the pick rubs the first tumbler inside of the lock, gently pushing it above the shear line. To his surprise, this was enough to bypass the lock. Spinning the tension wrench counterclockwise releases the grip of the lock on the case and the lid pops open.
With the chest unlocked he flips open the lid and returns both picks to his pocket, rubbing his hands together, anxious to see what’s inside. His hands dive into the chest as he sifts through the items like a gold miner looking for his next score. The first item he gets his hands on is a piece of cloth, which he thoroughly inspects by pinching it and gently massaging it between his two fingertips. “Too coarse…” he mutters as the fabric scratches his soft fingertips. Pushing the item aside he searches for something else, something of actual value.
The man searches the chest two times over, taking items out one by one, but still finding nothing but old layman’s clothing garments. He clenches both of his hands into fists, rhythmically shaking them while taking deep breaths, helping to control his anger. He grips up the mark’s belongings and shoves them all back into the little wooden chest, not caring about neatness, not caring if they even notice when they get back. The last downward force onto the clothing causes a loud crack to echo out across the room.
An eyebrow arches on the thief as he unloads all of the clothes from the small chest, wondering what could have caused such a noise. At the very bottom of the chest, the floor that once held all of the items inside is broken in two. They reveal a secret compartment which contains a little stash of jewelry and a small sack of coins. With little visibility and time to inspect the jewelry he pockets them, puts the two pieces of wood back inside the chest and piles the clothes on top.
The chest closes this time, with nothing in the bottom compartment there is an abundant amount of room for everything else. The room now is exactly how he found it, no obvious traces that he was even there. His eyes now fully adjusted to the dark the man steps over to the door and slightly cracks it open, enough to see out and down the hallway from which he came. A feeling of warmth blasts his face as the door opening acts as a vacuum, pulling in all of the warm air.
The hallway to the second floor of the inn, during the day generally filled with bustling activity of people shuffling in and out of their rooms, now is completely vacant and devoid of life. Muffled sounds of snoring emanate from the rooms off both ends of the hall. Any residents not already in bed are out finishing their last few drinks at the pub before it closes.
The thief slips out of the room and closes the door behind him, quickly gathering himself and nonchalantly acts like he is just going for a brisk walk. Back straight, the thief walks with an arrogant strut down the hall, throwing his shoulders side to side with each step. Stopping abruptly at the end he glances around the corner, checking for anyone coming home late from the bar. Coast is clear, he thinks to himself, rounding the corner and almost skipping down the stairs.
“Hey! Your friend was looking for you!” The inn keeper behind the counter shouts to the young man, startling him. Hastily walking past the inn keeper he raises his hand, as if using it as a friendly passing greeting but, instead, the purpose was to cover most of his face.
Exiting the inn was such a liberating feeling for the man; finally he was in the clear. The mud sloshed, around his feet, filling the crevices around his toes all while filling his nostrils with an all too welcoming scent of nature. The sounds of crickets chirping and owl’s hooing filled the air, each playing their tunes in a perfect synchronicity with each other, as if the forest surrounding Actius was its own orchestra. Skittering across the muddy earth the man makes his way to a stony path that leads through town.
Along the side of the path, every dozen or so feet, a smooth piece of wood towers six feet up into the air and hangs over the road like a teetering branch. At the branch’s tip sits a large flower with a pinkish soft, wet exterior and a small bulb in the center, known as a Lantern Lite. Named after its ability to function as a lantern, this plant has a unique ability to harness the sun’s light during the day and release it at night as a gentle luminescent glow. Ever since the young thief was a wee little Halfling, this plant amazed him. Each of the Lantern Lites are harvested in early spring, placed atop the branches and left until the next harvest, the following spring.
The Lantern Lites were just enough to light the paths through Actius, their gentle glow traveling only a few feet off the path, showing the vague outlines of the small Halfling buildings before it once again fades off into darkness.
Anxiously patting his pockets the thief makes sure that all of the loot is still with him. Unsatisfied with just the feel and curious of the quality he pulls out one of the bracelets he gathered and closely inspects it under one of the Lantern Lites. Even in the small availability of light the golden bracelet glimmers, tiger’s eyes cover the outer rim of the bracelet like a shore line; sapphires filling the central void like an endless dark blue ocean. Lost in its beauty the thief loses track of reality, he spins the small bracelet around in his hand, dollar signs in his eyes.
“Akarn” A voice whispers from behind. “Akarn, get over here!”
Focusing on the enchantment of the bracelet the man doesn’t even notice the voice that’s whispering too him. Before he can finish a hand extends from the darkness, grabbing his forearm and jerking him off of the road into the shadows of the night. The thief fumbles the bracelet around in his hand as he is being drug away, almost dropping it into the grass.
“What were you thinking, looking at that in the middle of a public place like that?” says the thief’s shill from earlier. “You know how easily you could have been seen by a guard?”
"Calm down, I know what I’m doing.” He states angrily. “Also bite your tongue in the future, what did I tell you about using my name in public?”
“Let’s get out of here, we shouldn’t be seen together tonight. Meet me back at the den.”
Nodding, the man disappears into the night as quickly as he appeared.
Akarn sighs, his heart pitter pattering and hands quivering from the earlier surprise. Doing his best to shake it off he steps back onto the path and brushes off his shorts, giving the impression that he clumsily tripped and fell. With his pace quickened, Akarn follows the path southwest through Actius. His destination is the thieves den which is secretly and conveniently located behind his own house. Cornered by the impassible snow capped mountains of Actius and monstrous hundred year old oaks Akarn’s house makes for perfect cover.
Hidden by a fallen tree is a path that snakes into the Actius Mountains, up and around dozens of boulders to a small plateau. Sitting in the center of the plateau is a small tarnished wooden shack, known as the thieves den.
Stumbling in the door Akarn kicks his feet against the welcome mat and tosses his thick black hair, flicking off some of the rain from the storm that just rolled in. Sitting at the lonesome table in the shack are Wurek and Wuruk, who are better known as the Wuruk brothers. Wurek would argue that they should be called the Wurek brothers, as he thinks he is the better looking one of the two. But as Wuruk is the older, only by a few minutes, they are better known as the Wuruk brothers. As all brothers do, the Wuruk brothers both share a lot of very similar characteristics. They both have the same kind eyes and boyish faces, stout builds and dirty blonde hair. Grinning, Akarn jiggles his pocket, allowing the brothers to hear the night’s score.
“Come on man, don’t tease!” Wuruk exclaims as his brother reaches over the table and playfully punches him in the arm “You have no room to talk! You just sat in here on your ass the whole time while Akarn and I did all the work!”
“Now, now you two, don’t worry about who did what. Let’s take a look at what we got!” Akarn pulls a chair out from the table and swings it around using the back as a rest for his chest. Reaching into his pocket, he scoops up all of the jewelry and dumps it onto the table. The Wuruk brothers dive in, their hands like a frenzy of sharks, each trying to grab up as much as possible. Leaving nothing for Akarn, he is forced to sit by and patiently watch his friends examine the jewelry.
Wurek rolls a small silver ring through his fingers, face cringing he shows it to his brother who slaps it out of his hand back onto the table. The ring skitters across the table to Akarn who scoops it up and examines it himself. Just as he saw when Wurek was holding it, on the outside it appears to be nothing more than a simple silver ring, but upon further investigation he found an inscription on the inside of the ring.
Uninterested in the value of the ring he slides it into the middle of the table. Growing bored of waiting his turn Akarn reaches into his pocket and unveils the small bag of coins. Delicately untying the knot he turns the bag upside down and pours the contents out onto the table. The coins ricochet off of each other and bounce across the table. The Halflings throw their arms down and act like goalies, catching any gold pieces that would have otherwise rolled off the table. Gathering them all up they make a nice, neat pile in the center of the table.
“Thirteen gold coins” Wurek counts aloud, getting smacked in the back of the head by his brother. “You mean fourteen bozo!”Wuruk says tossing the last coin into the center of the table.
“No fair! You were hiding that one!”
“Guys!” Akarn interrupts, “Can we cut it and act our age for a second?”
The brothers look at each other and toss their shoulders, turning their attention back to Akarn.
“Alright, so we have fourteen gold coins, which means with just that we will be able to afford food throughout the week. Not much, so don’t eat it all, Wurek!”
“Yeah!” Wuruk adds.
“Let’s take a look at the jewelry, first up this lackluster silver ring. It even has an inscription on it, “Dear Luna, you will always be in my heart.” We’re going to have to have a blacksmith smelt it into a small chunk of silver so this inscription can’t be traced back to us.”
“We will probably have to argue even for a single piece of gold for that ring.” Wuruk mentions, everyone nodding in agreement.
“Next up… Is… Well Wurek, why don’t you tell us about that one? You’ve been playing with it the entire time” Akarn says pointing to a small golden ring in Wurek’s hand.