It was a warm day but the sun was finally setting creating a captivating array of colors in the sky. A young girl with fire red hair was standing on a cheaply crafted wooden chair to watch the setting sun. Sitting on a nearby bed was an extremely beautiful and slender female. The woman had tanned skin as if she spent a lot of time in the sun. She was wearing a loose fitting teal shirt and matching trousers. The fire haired girl was speaking with out pause about various things. The beautiful female didn’t move, she just watched the fire haired girl. The fire haired girl wore a simple white shirt and a light brown skirt; she was barefoot and standing on he tippy toes to look out the high window. The fire haired girl finally stepped off the chair and walked over to sit beside the beautiful woman. The girl then asked the woman “When is daddy coming back, he said he wouldn’t take long? He said was going to visit some friends and would return before night fall.” She stared up into the eyes of the beautiful woman.
The beautiful woman smiled at the little girl. “I’m not sure Hanna. Hamlyn, I mean your father, is preparing to work tonight. I can only imagine it calls for certain arrangement to be made. He promised to return and he will. I’m sure he’ll be back soon.” The young girl didn’t seem satisfied by the woman’s answer.
The door to the room clicked and then swung open. Inside walked a medium sized man in a black cloak. His face was half hidden by a dark wide brimmed hat. The man entered the room and closed the door behind him. “Daddy!” Hanna exclaimed as she jumped off the bed and ran over to Hamlyn.
Hamlyn knelt down and embraced his daughter. The woman couldn’t help but smile at the sight. She loved watching Hamlyn with his daughter. Hamlyn always had sadness in his eyes. Whenever Hanna was around that sadness seemed to disappear, she liked that. “I’m sorry I was gone so long. I was running all over this god’s forsaken town. My job success requires a lot of information and unfortunately I have to collect it from different sources. The good news is I don’t have to leave until much later so I can spend time with you.” Hanna’s eyes went as wide as her smile.
When Hanna finally released her father, Hamlyn stood and locked the door. He removed his cloak and hat which Hanna took and placed on the chair she was standing on. The beautiful woman stood and walked over to Hamlyn. She stared at him for a moment. He wasn’t a bad looking man. He had a slightly crooked nose that added character. “I’m glad your back. I take it we’ll have to leave before sunrise?” The woman’s smile faded.
Hamlyn looked the woman straight into her deep brown eyes. “Yes. We’ll meet Black Tooth Tarmus three days journey south. We’ll get our payment and then travel two weeks east until we reach the next town. This is going to be a big one so we can relax for a while after this.” Hamlyn seemed excited when thinking about the reward.
The woman gave a look of disapproval and then turned away. “I just don’t see why you don’t go into another line of work. I’ve seen the effect it had on you and Hanna. This is no way to live with a baby in your life.” The woman’s voice showed a lot of concern.
Hamlyn took a deep breath. “Beatrix, we’ve been through this before. I’m trying to reach a specific goal and then I’m done with this job. Not to mention Hanna is nine now, hardly a baby. She understands to the best of her abilities. Life has been hard. The gods give and the gods take, sometimes one more than the other. I remember one priest telling me the gods helps he who helps himself. So that’s what I do, I help myself to the left over valuables rotting with those corpses.” Hamlyn gave a smile but Beatrix ignored his poor attempt at humor.
Hamlyn took Beatrix’s hand and she turned to face him. She put her other hand on his face. She caressed his check and stared at his slightly crooked nose. “Hamlyn, I wasn’t talking about Hanna. I went to see the physician today. Doc Kirk said I’m pregnant with your child. He thinks it will be a son. I love you and want a life with you and Hanna but I can’t if you’re going to keep robbing tombs and putting us at risk. I have to know now that tonight is the last time.” She held his hand tighter.
Hamlyn was bombarded with a mixture of emotions. He had so much to say but nothing came out. It was Hanna who broke the silence. “I’m going to have a baby brother to play with? Does that mean Beatrix is my mommy now?” Hamlyn’s gaze fell upon Hanna.
Hamlyn stared at his daughter and then back at Beatrix. He whisper “I promise.” then returned his look at Hanna. “Yes honey. Beatrix is your mommy now and she will give birth to your brother. After tonight we’re going to find a good place to live and build a house.” A tear fell from Beatrix’s eye.
Hanna ran over to Hamlyn and Beatrix and the three embraced each other. “I love you both. Come let us rest as a family. I’ll need sleep before tonight.” Hamlyn then lay down next to Beatrix and Hanna. He had to rest, for tonight’s success and failure could change his entire future.
It had to be just about midnight when Hamlyn woke up. He was groggy and had Hanna lying on his chest. Beatrix was already up and had his things ready for him. She always had his things ready for him. Hamlyn managed to sneak out of bed with out waking his daughter. He walked over to the table and put on his slingbag. Beatrix had his cloak in her hands. He turned around and she secured the cloak around his neck. Hamlyn turned back to face her. She kissed Hamlyn passionately. “I love you. Be safe tonight. Your real treasure will be waiting for your return.” Beatrix then placed Hamlyn’s wide brimmed hat on his head. He secured his dagger and hand axe in his belt. Hamlyn stared at Beatrix for a minute, smiled and left.
Hamlyn made his way to the town’s local cemetery. The moon was full and the town was eerily quiet. There were few people on the streets. During his travels he saw a few beggars huddled together and an occasional militiaman or drunkard roaming around. Most people were locked in their homes or enjoying themselves in some of the seedier places around town. The cemetery was on the outskirts of town and had a small fence around it. He made his way to the mausoleum in the back. Of course the mausoleum was locked but that wasn’t a problem. Hamlyn opened up his sling bag and pulled out a lock pick kit, it was a set of masterwork tools which cost him quite a lot. The lock was opened in seconds. Hamlyn opened the heavy stone door. The smell of death and dust filled his nose, nearly making him sick. Hamlyn resisted the urge to vomit and entered the building, closing the door behind him. Hamlyn was almost in total darkness. There was a minute amount of light entering through very thin windows at the top of the mausoleum. Hamlyn reached into his slingbag and pulled out a small lantern. It only illuminated a small area but it would be enough. The mausoleum was one big room that had several slots along the walls where various people’s loved ones were enclosed. It cost some coin to be buried in these slots and Hamlyn knew he could probably find some items of value if he wanted to open each slot but it wasn’t his goal. At the far end of the mausoleum was a small stone staircase that spiraled downward into a crypt. According to his map it was supposed to lead to a tomb.
The steps were small and even with the lantern is was dark. Every step he took seemed to echo, even though he was doing his best to be silent. When he reached the bottom he realized how cold it was. All he could do was breathe the stale air and keep walking until he reached another door. It was a solid steel door with an imposing lock. This would be trickier than the previous lock. Hamlyn put a field ration on the floor and laid the lantern so it angled up at the lock. This was a more complicated lock and required the use of two separate picks. He fiddled with the lock for what seemed like an eternity but to no avail. Hamlyn remembered what his old thieving buddy Marcus had told him. You can use your eyes but even they can lie to you. To be successful you have to feel your surrounding, and use your instincts. Hamlyn closed his eyes and slowly moved his hands. In his mind he mentally pictured the lock mechanism and how his hand movements could undo the lock. One slight turn of his right hand and…. click. The door was unlocked. As Hamlyn opened the door it let out a tremendous screeching sound that made him flinch. Hamlyn collected his ration and lantern then proceeded inside.
Hamlyn stopped in the door way. He felt very uneasy as if something just wasn’t right. He tried to use his lantern to get a look around room but the light would shin only so far. He tried to look carefully at every inch of the room the light would show him but nothing stood out. “If I was worried about protecting my loved one, even in death I would probably place trap near the doorway to catch thieves.” Hamlyn thought to himself.
Hamlyn took a knee and looked carefully\at the floor. He took a deep breath and blew as hard as he could. The dust that kicked up nearly choked him. He finally saw it. There was an outline of a rectangle covering the whole entrance to the room, maybe a fifteen by ten foot area. “I bet its pressure sensitive. Something probably falls on me or collapses beneath me. I don’t have time to play games. I’ll have to avoid it.” Hamlyn thought out loud.
Hamlyn took a running start and jumped over the area where the trap was. He avoided it completely. The room was huge and had four sarcophaguses in it. According to his information one of them was special. It was one of two in the back but the informant wasn’t sure which. Hamlyn went with the one on the right. He put down his lantern and pulled out his crowbar. It took him several attempts but he finally managed to move the heavily stone lid off the sarcophagus. It hit the floor and made a loud sound that echoed for a while. Inside was a skeleton of a long dead noble with a necklace and several rings. Hamlyn evaluated each piece of jewelry. Most would fetch only a few pennies or perhaps a silver piece. But it was extra money so he took them all. Seems he opened the wrong one until he noticed one leg was short than the other. Not knowing why, Hamlyn pulled the short leg down so that it was even with the other. The entire sarcophagus rotated ninety degree revealing a small crawl space.
Even though Hamlyn had found what he was looking for something called to him from the other rear sarcophagus. He tried to ignore it but the feeling inside was too strong. The other sarcophagus was even heavier and took longer to open. Inside were the remains of a knight. The armor was in ruins and the skeleton didn’t wear any jewelry but a sword of magnificent beauty rested on top of the knight. It had a gold handle with jewels covering the hilt. The blade was shiny and sharp as if the sword had just been placed in the sarcophagus that day. “This is a true find; it’ll fetch me a good deal of gold crowns. I’ll have to claim it on the way out. That crawl space will be tight enough with out trying to drag a sword around.” Hamlyn laid the sword back down and turned toward the crawl space.
The crawl space was only three feet by three feet. Hamlyn had to lay flat with the lantern in front of him while he crawled almost one hundred feet just to reach a dead end. “There is no way it just stops here.” Hamlyn examined the wall in front of him but there were no hidden switches or buttons, nor did he have the leverage to try and push the stone wall. “Now I’ll have to crawl all the way back down backwards.” As Hamlyn began to crawl backwards his elbow hit the wall and he heard sounds coming from with in the walls around him. At first he feared he might have triggered a trap until the wall blocking his way moved. “Luck smiles upon me tonight.”
The door led into a small room with a ladder. Hamlyn climbed the ladder and emerged into a massive room. The ladder was hidden by a statue which moved away when he triggered the switch. The room actually had twenty statues, ten per side. The statues where carved in the visage of guards, each holding a spear and a lightly lit torch. It barely illuminated the room. A faded rug went from one door at the far end of the room to another door on the other end. The door nearest to him had no handle or visible locking mechanism. Hamlyn assumed it was the entrance and opened from the outside. No one on the inside needed to get out. The other was a beautifully crafted door with a beautifully crafted lock. Hamlyn went to work but no matter how hard he tried or how much he worked he couldn’t unlock the door. Hamlyn broke every lock pick in his set. “I really am cursed. These things cost me a small fortune. Who made this lock, the gods themselves?” Hamlyn turned to leave but stopped in his tracks. “There is no way but I have to try or it’ll bother me.” Hamlyn turn back to the door and tried to open it. The door opened with ease, never having been locked in the first place.
The next room had a high ceiling but was smaller. There was a statue of a man sitting on a throne with two smaller guards beside him. The guards looked like Halflings or small children. This particular tomb was his goal. The main sarcophagus was inside a slot with in the statue of the man. Before Hamlyn could get to work he got another uneasy feeling. This time it was coming from the main room. Hamlyn checked the whole main room but found nothing. He reached inside his slingbag and pulled out a few items, the first was a sack the next was a set of glass balls, each the size of a fist. Hamlyn put the glass balls inside the sack and held the sack shut. He then smashed the sack into the floor several times until the glass balls were smashed. He walked over to the main door which didn’t have a handle a sprinkled the glass in front of it. He then walked over to the crawl space and sprinkled some glass around there too. After, Hamlyn returned to the throne room and went to work. He had to pry the slot door open and then drag the sarcophagus out. Finally, he was about to accomplish his mission when he heard the sound of glass cracking. Someone was in the main room. Hamlyn had to think quickly. He quickly took off his cloak and hat then placed them on one of the two smaller statues. Hamlyn then concealed himself in one of the corners near the door and drew his dagger.
Hamlyn’s heart was racing but he struggled to control his breathing and listen as hard a he could. He thought he heard the faint sound of something but didn’t hear it again. It seemed as if an eternity passed, he didn’t know if he waited five minute or five hours. Suddenly a man entered the small room, he finally saw the intruder. A man dressed in all black carrying a sword. The man held the sword in both hand with the tip pointed downward, the intruder then drove a sword down into the statue covered with his cloak. The sword hit stone and the impact staggered the intruder. Hamlyn seized the opportunity to strike. Hamlyn approached the intruder from behind and wrapped his left arm around the intruder’s neck and pull him backward while plunging his dagger deep into the intruders back. The blade went right through the man’s body and protruded through his chest. Hamlyn heard the intruder make a gurgling sound then removed his dagger and let the dead man drop to the floor. The body landed with a thud. Hamlyn didn’t mind killing. It’s not that he liked it or didn’t like it. Hamlyn just saw it as a necessary evil that was part of life. Hamlyn searched the intruder and found nothing of value. The man wore a leather jack, clothes and had a common sword. Hamlyn quickly reclaimed his cloak and hat. There could be other intruder but he forced open the sarcophagus. Perhaps it was the adrenaline or his inability to determine time but it seemed this sarcophagus opened easier than the others. Inside was another skeleton but this one has a golden crown, necklace and rings, all covered in jewels. The real prize was the item in the skeletons hand, a small golden egg. Hamlyn didn’t know why it was so valuable but 300 golden crowns was no joke. He put everything into his slingbag and left the room.
Hamlyn had no idea if the intruder was alone or came with friends. He looked over and saw the door with no handle was slightly opened. He listened and heard voices, someone was coming. It was time to leave. Hamlyn pulled out his lantern, scrambled back down the ladder and into the crawl space. He pressed the button on his way down and heard the sound of stone moving, it should at least slow his enemies down if they know about the passage. All Hamlyn could think about was getting back to Beatrix and Hanna. “Who was that intruder? An assassin, a guard, fellow tomb raider, who? Better yet, who is pursuing me?” Too many thoughts went through his mind which cloudy his thoughts. Hamlyn didn’t consider the possibility that his enemies might know about the other entrance and could be waiting in ambush, which they were. As Hamlyn entered the tomb with the four sarcophagi, a man was waiting in the doorway to the tomb. As soon as the man saw Hamlyn emerge from the crawl space he fire a crossbow bolt into Hamlyn’s left arm, spinning him around. While in mid spin Hamlyn grabbed his hand axe, waited for his attacker to come into view and threw. The hand axe landed with a disturbing thud. It hit the crossbowman right in the center of the forehead; blood flew in the darkness as the man fell backwards onto the trapped floor. Noise filled the tomb as the floor gave way. The ground collapsed bringing the dead man with it. Hamlyn went over to the hole in the ground and looked down. There was another room; the floor was filled with spikes that now impaled the crossbowman all over his body. Hamlyn’s arm hurt real bad and was bleeding. He could pull the bolt out but it would just make the wound worse and he didn’t have any bandages. He couldn’t believe he didn’t drop his lantern. It’s a good thing he didn’t then he’d be in total darkness.
His concentration was broken by the sound of footsteps coming from down the hall. Hamlyn was trapped. He couldn’t go forward or backwards. His only choice was downward. It was twenty feet to the ground and there were several spikes at the bottom. Luckily Hamlyn brought some rope. He grabbed the magnificent sword and secured the rope to it. Hamlyn secured the sword in the crawl space then secured his lantern between his teeth. He began his descent. Hamlyn climbed down as best as he could, the pain in his arm seemed to shoot through his whole body but there wasn’t time to hurt, he had to escape. He landed on the pierced body of the dead crossbowman, impaling him further. Blood squirted up as the body sunk lower under Hamlyn’s weight. Hamlyn reached down and reclaimed his hand axe which was imbedded in the man’s head. “There he is, he is down there. He must not escape.” said the voice from one of his pursuers above.
Hamlyn saw a tunnel at one end of the room and immediately started making his way through it. The tunnel led to a slightly larger corridor which had water in it and smelled terrible. Hamlyn had found the sewers. His chance for escape had just grown exponentially. There was no way his pursuers could have all the exits covered. Both fortunately and unfortunately the sewers were a maze of tunnels. It would be easy to lose his pursuers but easy to lose his own way. Hamlyn just kept moving doing his best not to get lost. Finally he found an area with out water and sat against a wall to catch his breath. He didn’t even feel the pain in his arm anymore. Hamlyn was breathing heavily taking in the wretched air with each breath. Hamlyn put his lantern down next to him. Eventually his breathing became steadier and he closed his eyes.
When he opened them again it seemed as if the shadows on the far wall moved on their own. Hamlyn quickly stood, his heart racing again. Something flew from the wall and stuck Hamlyn in the stomach then fell to the floor. It knocked him back but didn’t do any damage. Hamlyn saw it was just a stone. He readied his hand axe at the ready. Hamlyn leaned down to pick up his lantern. He looked towards the wall but there was nothing there. Something dripped on his head when he looked up, a beastly creature dropped down on him. It was an abomination that was mixed of both man and rat. It appeared to have the body of a man, wrapped in rags but had claws for hands and feet. Its head was that of a giant rat with yellow teeth and black eyes. He had heard drunkards speak of such creatures in bars and taverns but never believed such beasts were real. The lantern and hand axe were knocked from his hand. The lantern hit the floor and rolled away, flashing light about the room. As the creature landed on him he could feel something slice his right shoulder and something else pull on the bolt protruding from his left arm. He screamed in agony. As he wrestled around with the creature in the semi-darkness he managed to draw his dagger. Hamlyn stabbed and stabbed at the creature. The creature screeched as each thrust pierced its flesh. Finally the creature stopped moving. Hamlyn stood and ran for his lantern. The creature was laying in a bloody mess.
Hamlyn couldn’t take his eyes of the beast. He had never seen anything like it. Suddenly, it started to move. Hamlyn threw his lantern at the beast; the impact shattered the lantern, setting the creature on fire. Hamlyn reached into his sling bag and pulled out a bottle of oil meant for his lantern. He threw the oil at the creature spreading the fire. The creature continued screeching, it was a sound like he had never heard. Hamlyn ran away. The light from the flaming creature faded as he ran further away. He was almost in total darkness again when he spotted a distant light. He ran toward it as fast as he could. It was coming from above at a dead end. Hamlyn looked up and saw it was the moon; he had found a sewer access. There was no ladder but Hamlyn was skilled at climbed almost any surface. When he reached the top he used his crowbar to twist off the gate and finally escaped back into the town, he had to get back to the tavern.
Hamlyn tried to avoid any person he saw. It had to be late in the night; sunrise was only an hour or so away. He finally arrived at the Steaming Pile Tavern. Hamlyn prayed his loved ones were safe. He opened to the door to his room and found both Beatrix and Hanna asleep in bed. They both woke up; Hanna screamed but was silenced by Beatrix. Hamlyn nearly fell to the ground from all the blood loss. “Hanna quickly close and lock the door. I’m going to fetch my healing kit. We have to help your father.” Hanna was in tears but obeyed.
Beatrix couldn’t believe what she saw. Hamlyn was filthy, wet, bloodied and smelled terrible. She had never seen him in such bad shape. Hamlyn struggled to speak. “There is no time. Take only what you can carry. We need to get to Doc Kirks. It’d not safe here. Someone knew what I was up too and tried to get me but they failed. We’ll go to Doc Kirk’s and get me bandaged up then we need to leave town and never come back. It’s over Beatrix its over. I’m through with this work, forever.” Beatrix and Hanna both went over to Hamlyn and hugged him as tears filled their eyes.
Beatrix looked at Hamlyn’s face; it was covered with blood and dirt. “I’m glad you’re through. Was it worth it?” She looks him over not really expecting an answer.
Hamlyn managed a half smile. “This gives me a chance to end my pain and start a life with you. You ask me if it’s worth it. I say, absolutely.” Beatrix kissed Hamlyn.
Hanna and Beatrix helped Hamlyn to a nearby chair then quickly gather their things. “It’s time to leave this place and begin a new life. This was all just a nightmare.” Hanna and Beatrix help Hamlyn walk out of the room, no one looked back.