Spielland: Chapter 2
The scruffy man sauntered over to Derek. "My name is Philippe. Welcome to my...neighbor'ood." He bowed with a flourish.
"I'm Derek Small," said Derek.
Philippe pointed his blade at the closed door. "I tried to get in there when it was being constructed. Tell me, Monsieur Small. 'ow did you manage it?"
Derek stood up, now frightfully aware that his pocket jingled. "I climbed into a barrel of coffee beans, and climbed out of a barrel of wine," he said plainly.
Philippe looked him up and down, then quickly sheathed his blade. "Merde! Silly 'ouse rules!"
"I beg your pardon?" said Derek.
"We all have a job to do, eh?" said Philippe. "When I was just learning my trade, everything was so easy. Then things started to get a little...unpredictable. Don't even ask me about ze dragon."
"And what exactly is your job?" asked Derek.
Philippe laughed. "Pray that I do not show you, my friend. For your own safety, I really think you should not stay, eh?"
"But how do I get out of here?" asked Derek.
"Mmmm," said Philippe, thoughtfully. He looked to both sides, then came closer and whispered, "Follow this road for about five or six tiles. When you come to an intersection, make sure you take a left. You may find some 'elp. And keep off ze grass."
"Five or six tiles?" repeated Derek. "You mean miles?"
"Incroyable!" said Philippe. "It's not far. Please make 'aste, Derek Small. Au revoir."
* * *
Derek was amazed at how sparse and regular the countryside looked. Every so often, a small ditch crossed his path which he hopped over. Shortly after he crossed his third ditch, Derek came to an intersection. He stopped.
Ahead was a large open field. A man wearing overalls lay on his back making grass angels. Derek decided he was better off not talking to this person. In the distance to the left was a small church. To the right...
Interesting, thought Derek. He'd had nothing to wear before. He'd had nothing to eat, and nothing on his mind. But he'd never seen a real nothing until now. Reality just sort of got blurry. There was no light, no dark, nothing at all. It would have chilled him to the depths of his soul if he wasn't exceptionally good at blocking out really important things. Derek turned left.
He had walked a couple more tiles towards the church when he heard it. A deep guttural roar that was almost more vibration than sound. Looking behind him, Derek could see a red glow in the sky. It grew larger every second. Now there was the distinct flapping of wings.
"Shit!" shouted Derek, completely missing the onomatopoeia.
Derek made it to the church just in time--as protagonists often do--pulling the massive wooden door closed behind him. It slammed with a booming echo that was lost in the angry roar of the dragon passing overhead.
Silence crept back in. Derek's eyes slowly adjusted to the dark chamber lit only by torches. The sound of footsteps came from a nearby room. Derek decided that meeting more people was a bad idea altogether, but could find no barrel to hide in.
A long row of robes along the west wall afforded Derek the only semblance of protection. He donned one, pulling the hood over his head.
"Saluti," said someone in a timid voice.
Derek jumped. A man stood next to him dressed in a similar robe.
"Have you seen any bearded men?" he asked.
"What? Bearded men? Um. No. Sorry? Why would I be looking for bearded men?" said Derek.
The man took some notes. "Is that really your question for me?"
The man smiled. "To catch the murderer of course!"
A loud bell chimed in the distance.
"Come," said the man, "or we will be late for Mass."
Derek followed the man through a series of chambers and hallways until they reached a large chapel. Many men in robes poured into the room and took their places among the pews. One rather large chap stood near the front of the room obviously counting people.
"Ahem," he cleared his throat, bringing the chapel to silence. "We have 24. The murderer is among us!"
The room erupted.
"Who is it?"
"Is it you?"
"It most certainly is not me!"
"How can we tell who it is?"
"I think it was Basil! He looks guilty!"
"Has anyone seen my cheese?"
"I think it was Cyrille."
"I wasn't even near Adelmo! Or your cheese!"
In the confusion, Derek took the opportunity to slip away from the crowd and through a door behind the altar. Stone steps led down into darkness. He paused. It's either this or back to that madness, he thought.
Derek plodded into the darkness. A tiny flickering light appeared ahead. The walls became rough. Derek proceeded forward, tripping over the occasional rock, until he reached the light.
A lantern dully illuminated the tunnel. Next to it on the ground were 2 shiny white gems. Could these be diamonds? Derek wondered, adding them to his booty.
Suddenly there was a sound ahead as if the tunnel collapsed, followed by screams. Footsteps quickly approached, bringing with them a large man dressed entirely in orange and wielding a pick axe. He stopped and looked around on the floor, holding his axe threateningly.
"How's about we split 'em?" he demanded.