“Altenn? Are you theeeeeeeeere?” Banging her head against the stone wall, Jara sighed loudly. She was so bored. Here she was, languishing in a dungeon cell, absolutely wasting away in the dark and damp and cold, while Altenn was out there having all the fun. And he hadn’t even thought to come back for her.
Crossing her arms as best she could with shackles round her wrists, Jara settled herself more comfortably on the freezing floor. She shivered. She was bored, cold, alone, and hungry. Life didn’t get much worse.
Just as she closed her eyes to try to sleep, Jara heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps coming down the hall. Instantly, she was awake and alert, crouching in as upright a position as her chains allowed. Her heart pounding in her ears, she waited as the newcomer came closer and closer, the only sound his footsteps echoing off the stone walls. When he stopped outside her cell, silhouetted against the iron bars in the dimness of the dungeon, Jara was both dumbstruck and pleased by whom she saw.
“Altenn!” she cried, straining against her shackles. She saw his teeth flash white in the darkness before he grabbed the bars of the cell door in both hands and–grunting with the effort–pried it forcefully off its hinges. The rusting metal groaned in protest but inevitably relented. He set the warped door to the side and stepped into the cell to help Jara.
“Where have you been?” she demanded while he inspected the heavy chains.
“I was trying to find you,” he said absently, running his thumb over the iron links and trying to determine if he could break them. He wrapped his fingers around the shackle on her wrist and heaved, trying to pull it open, but found the task too difficult. “I had to fight through at least forty paladins just to get to the privy, you know, and there were a few more in there I had to deal with besides. If they hadn’t been there, I woulda got here sooner.”
Jara snorted. “You went to the privy before coming to rescue me, your beautiful damsel in distress?” she said scornfully.
Altenn shrugged, unconcerned. “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. And besides, you aren’t that beautiful. And you were hardly in distress.” Before Jara could protest, Altenn pulled his heavy-headed spear from his back and said, “You might want to watch yourself. There’s no guarantee that this will work.”
Being careful to keep her body as far away from his spear as she could, Jara watched Altenn heft his weapon high over his head and bring it point-down on the links of the chain. The lightning-infused steel flashed as it bit into the iron, breaking the links apart with a loud clang, like a hammer on an anvil. Quickly, Jara pulled her hand away. Though she still had the shackle around her wrist, at least she wasn’t attached to the wall anymore. Altenn did the same to the other chain until Jara was free.
“We’ll have to get those shackles off later,” he said, holding out a hand to help her to her feet.
Jara nodded as she stretched her sore legs. Groaning, she complained, “You have no idea how frozen my butt is right now. You’re sure you couldn’t have come any sooner?”
His lips twitching into a half-smile, Altenn said, “Absolutely positive.” Rolling her eyes, Jara led the way to the cell door and peered out into the corridor beyond. Seeing that the way was clear, the pair made their way down the hall, up the stairs, and up to the main floor of the fortress. They came to the iron-bound door that led to the stronghold’s main atrium, and Jara pushed it open with a solid heave.
What she saw beyond made her gasp. The corpses of paladins littered the stone floor, their armoured bodies reflecting the coloured illumination of the stained glass skylight high above, some of their flesh still smoking from when Altenn’s lightning spear had pierced them. There had to be at least a dozen of them, all dead–an incredible feat indeed, even for someone as powerful as Altenn.
“You did all this?” Jara asked her friend, amazed. One eyebrow cocked haughtily, Altenn nodded, and Jara laughed incredulously. “All right,” she said cheerily, “you officially win the award for my favourite cow-man of all time.”
“Am I not the only minotaur you know?” Altenn asked with a bare-toothed grin.
Snorting, Jara said, “Take it or leave it. I don’t give awards to just anybody, you know.” Altenn gave a deep-throated laugh and they were about to continue into the atrium when the sound of voices came from up ahead.
“You didn’t happen to let anyone escape the privy, did you?” Jara asked, glancing at her friend. “Because I think there are more paladins headed our way.”
“I might have let one or two get by,” Altenn admitted, brandishing his spear. Together, they walked deeper into the fortress, standing side-by-side, Altenn armed with his spear and Jara pulling two serrated daggers from hidden sheaths in her boots.
Jara exchanged a look with Altenn, her amber eyes flashing with defiance. “Ready?” she asked, and he dipped his head once.
“Let’s do this.”
I wasn’t sure what to write about, so I wrote the first thing that came to mind. Hope you enjoy it, and feel free to leave comments and suggestions. I’m always open to critiques. :)