LimeGreenBendyStraw t1_iy5nvfz wrote

“Wow.” Anders stopped lumbering forward, letting his greatsword fall. “Just…. Wow.”

“Your descriptive powers are as sharp as ever, for a barbarian,” Astrid, the halfling rogue, snarked from behind him. She pulled her hood back from her face, craning her neck around Anders’ unmoving bulk. “What’s the problem now - oh.” Sharp intake of breath. “Wow.”

The skeleton - easily Anders’ height and breadth - was glaring menacingly in their direction. Wait, how is it glaring? Astrid thought wildly. It doesn’t even have eyebrows.

It held a black cane in one hand, now pointing directly at the halfling. “I don’t care how short you are or how sneaky you little twerps think you can be! Get… off.. My…. LAWN!!” The other hand was busy hoisting a blue, fluffy bathrobe up around its ribs.

“Um… sir?” Anders started. “Excuse me, sir. It’s just that there’s no lawn here.” He spread out an arm, gesturing at the dirt and rocks within the underground cavern in which they were standing; it was, at most, 30 meters wide. Anders and his group had entered the cavern via a narrow, manmade tunnel at the north end; the skeleton stood in front of a tunnel at the south end. Oddly, there was a rocking chair near the entrance to the south tunnel, with a table nearby.

Therin, the cleric of the group, snickered. “You’re calling him ‘sir’? Are we back in school or something?” he said in a loud whisper.

“It’s just that he sounds like one of my old training masters… well, a little, anyway,” Anders stage-whispered back, embarrassed.

“Best be civil. For now. Until we know what we’re dealing with,” said Grilda tersely. The wizard came out of the tunnel, up behind the others, now standing a few feet off to Therin’s right. She produced a ragged piece of parchment, holding it up in one hand while her other hand supported a small orb of light. “Hmm. This cavern doesn’t have any notes. Just… tunnel in, tunnel out. Nothing special.”

The skeleton wasn’t done, though. “You think I don’t know there’s no grass here now, boy!?” It took a few steps forward, seizing on their reluctance to engage. “Of course there isn’t! The last batch of whippersnappers through here burned it up! Doesn’t mean I’m not trying to regrow it now, does it!?” The skeleton turned back towards the rocking chair and table, fuming and muttering: “Kids these days….no respect for other peoples’ property…” Anders looked down at the ground, and realized it was indeed scorched; any plants that might have grown there had long since burnt to a crisp.

It suddenly reached out for something on the table, whirling around and shaking the cane at the group again. “They even made me spill my drink! My last Innersea Ale…” It held a plain iron stein up in a bony hand.

“How does a skeleton drink ale?” Astrid wondered aloud.

The skeleton heard this. “Just never you mind, halfling!” it snapped, returning the stein to the table.

Anders cleared his throat. “Umm.. sir, it’s just that. Well. We need to get into the tunnel over there.” He pointed. “The one behind your chair.”

“Therin,” Grilda murmured, nudging the cleric in the ribs. “Isn’t that the stuff you like? You still got any?”

He looked at her in disbelief. “Seriously?”

“If it gets us through? Yeah, it’d be a bit faster.” She shrugged at the others. “Besides, I’m thinking it might be a good idea to leave him alone, in case there’s a reason he’s here that we haven’t figured out yet.”

Therin took a serious tone. “You know, maybe this was some kind of…incomplete reincarnation? It might explain the attitude, at least.” He sighed dramatically. “Okay, fine.”

The cleric slowly pulled out a small flask from the waistband around his crimson robes. He held it up a moment, then stepped forward, holding it out towards the skeleton, who was now watching him warily. “Excuse me? I have some Innersea Ale here. I’ll give it to you if you’ll let us pass.”

The skeleton regarded him a moment. “Well…” it finally said, lowering its cane and adjusting the bathrobe once more. “I wouldn’t say no to some of that stuff… it’s been a long time, you know.” With sudden speed it lurched forward, snatching the flask out of the cleric’s startled hands.

“DONE!” it bellowed. “Just mind you walk around the edges! No more traipsing across other peoples’ property like you own the place.” Grasping the flask firmly, it retreated to the rocking chair, now pulling it away from the entrance to the south tunnel.

Several minutes later - after having edged around the “lawn” as the skeleton had instructed - the group resumed their journey through the south tunnel, walking single file. Therin finally said, “Not happy about this, guys. That was all the ale I had.”

Astrid smirked over her shoulder at him, holding up a flask. “You didn’t exactly have it.”

Therin stared at her. “Wait… you stole it from me before I traded it to him?” he stammered. “What did I give him, then?”

Astrid put the flask back in the depths of her robes. “Just saving you from yourself, you know. Yours was empty.”

“But that means…” Anders started.

Suddenly there was a howl from the cavern behind them. “ARRRGH!! YOU DAMN KIDS!!!!!”