“You can rely on me,” whispered my friend Valan, just as he had so many times before, smiling his languid little smile. We had stolen often by then, sharing meager loot like children sharing candy. But this was different. We had watched this hidden place for weeks, waiting for the right moment.
“Alright, I’m ready,” I replied, bracing myself and sliding my lithe body through the narrow shadowed opening. Valan, too burly to follow, stood guard.
The dark sepulchral room smelled of fungal incense, steam and blood; through the silence echoed the slow drip, drip, drip of some heavy viscous liquid. But the wizard priest and his acolytes were gone, we’d made sure of that.
Scanning the shadows, I spotted the faint crimson glow I sought, emanating from the graceful curve of an exquisitely crafted short bow set upon the stained stone of a pale marble altar. The bow lay slightly askew, left like a careless youngster might leave a mundane toy. Oh, but this was no toy! Stealthy as a cat I padded ‘cross the cold granite to stand before it. New-made, it was a magnificent thing, crafted of deepest obsidian glass, overlain with twisting glyphs that writhed down its smooth length , glowing with the wavering light of hot embers. Slowly, extending a single cautious finger, I touched it, felt its warmth. And a tiny pulse? Was it alive? I had never seen such a weapon let alone touched one. But I touched this one, and I held it, and I took it. (I cannot write it’s name for it is blasphemy).
I returned quickly to the cracked wall, but I could not squeeze through, not with the bow clutched in my eager fingers.
“Hand it through to me,” urged Valen.
“No, I want to hold it!”
“Don’t be fool, pass it through and let’s be gone!”
“Alright, here, can you reach it?”
I cannot say for certain why he betrayed me. He carried his reasons with him into the eternal night; ran with his reasons and the warm artifact that was so much more than a bow. I spent no more than a furious minute cutting my way through the massed dreck he’d wedged into the opening. But he was gone. Freeing myself, I heard him call from far down the empty corridor: “You can rely on me Tyreyx,” he laughed. “To let you down!”
Well Valen, I have a new bow now. And should I ever chance to see that lazy mummer’s grin of yours again, I shall bury one shaft of black ice deep into your treasonous brain and send another through that false piece of flesh you call a heart. Ahhh, how I shiver with delight just to imagine it!