Cedric and the Tent
As Told By Mandrake of Rhiassa
Written by Steven Matulewicz
"This is absolutely ridiculous," mumbled Cedric to himself
as he kicked the red and black canvas tent that had been placed in the
hayloft above the stable. He would stand watch over it for the next eight
hours. This had been going on since their experience in the Nexus. Duncan
had posted guard day and night, even at events, to make sure the tent
was safe. Obviously the tent had some significance, but the explanation
that had been deduced for the abduction of the tent through the Nexus
was shaky at best and it gnawed at Cedric even more than having to sit
up in a loft to watch something they could remake in a matter of hours.
However, it was Duncan's order that these actions be carried out. As his
squire, and for lack of any other reason why they shouldn"t protect
the tent, he would take his turn at watch.
Dugal was still downstairs, grumbling over his horse. Cedric could hear
him brushing down its grey coat. Now and again the mare would let out
a small whinny as Dugal's polearm pricked it in the side. A small but
gruff 'sorry" would leave Dugal's lips shortly after. He has GOT
to learn to put it down, thought Cedric. Rumor had it he even brought
the polearm to bed. He had seen Dugal stagger out of his room in the morning,
gripping his weapon like it would run away if he loosened his white-knuckled
fist. Nonetheless it was comforting to hear him; it gets pretty lonely
standing guard in a loft. Cedric knelt by the hatchway and peered down.
"Hey, Dugal!" shouted Cedric. There was a loud squeal and a
mumbled sound of "Oops." from beneath him and suddenly Dugal
appeared staring up at him. "Could you do me a favor and have someone
send out dinner to me? I forgot to tell the cook."
'sure." Dugal disappeared from Cedric's view. The loud thump of
the stable door moments later meant he was alone for the moment. He stood
up and straightened his armor. Dugal was a good man; a little strange,
but then again they all were a little strange in Rhiassa. Tolerance and
understanding to a point, he remembered Sir Pyr telling him once, is the
difference between a warrior and a knight. If you go off half cocked at
every little thing, every feast hall would be drenched with blood. He
knew what Sir Pyr had meant; fight the fights that are worth fighting,
and not all fights are fought with steel.
Which brought his thoughts back to the task at hand. No matter how he
thought about the situation, he could make no sense of it. He sat down
on a small wooden stool with a solid "thump" and sighed. He
had hoped to spend his early evenings training with Vinal, Rhiassa's newest
member, instead of in this musty hayloft. He could almost imagine their
practices on the drawbridge, the sound of metal on metal, Vinal's fencing-style
thrusts against his saber-like movements, the wind about them as he advanced
and retreated ...
Cedric stood up suddenly and drew his sword. There was a strong wind
blowing through the loft, much stronger than the sturdy loft should or
could have, even in the stormiest weather. He quickly moved to where the
tent was at the far side of the loft. It was there, but he saw a pair
of black hands pulling the tent to behind a pile of hay.
He drew in a breath to yell for the guards on the outside of the loft,
but before he could make a sound he felt the cold steel of a dagger at
"Drop your sword," said the gravel voice behind him. He dropped
it, but not where the voice expected. Cedric grabbed the fist with the
knife in it with his right hand while reversing his grip on his sword
in his left hand and plunged it through the breast of the attacker. The
knife dropped away from him and he charged toward the tent, now out of
sight behind the hay.
Turning the corner he saw a shimmering portal of black and green plastered
like a door against the wall of the barn. He began to run as he realized
the tent was all ready half way through the portal. He leaped at the tent
and landed on it, stopping its movement. I guess Duncan was right after
all, he thought to himself has he straddled the tarp. He gave the tent
a good pull and it began to move back to his side of the gate. Well, whatever
their reasoning they are surely putting up a great effort, he thought
has he pulled again.
This time the tent did not budge.
Cedric suddenly lost his footing and he and the tent were swiftly jerked
through the portal. Cedric closed his eyes, not entirely sure if this
was going to hurt or not. He disappeared through the wavering gate. There
was a loud "Pop!" as the gate snapped shut and the loft was
quiet, except for the thumping sound of someone coming up the ladder.
"Oh, bad," said Dugal as he stared at the gutted Drow on the
* * * * * * * * * *
Cedric awoke slowly. He attempted to move but there were sharp pains
in his hands and feet. As his head became clearer he realized there was
a cloth over his eyes so he could not see. He seemed to be sitting, his
hands bound behind him. There was a foul odor in the air, as if someone
had been dead for weeks. I hope that's not me, thought Cedric as he assessed
his situation. He tried to call out, but a gag prevented him from speaking.
Where am I, he thought, his mind still swimming.
The last thing he remembered was trying to keep the tent from being dragged
into a portal that had opened in the hayloft. He remembered killing one
of them, running for the gate, flying through the portal and then ....
well, waking up like this. So to answer his own question, he was definitely
NOT in Rhiassa and could be anywhere, and any when for that matter. The
last tent caper had been in old Rhiassa, so if these were the same people
then that was where he was; old Rhiassa.
Cedric's gag came off with a snap and the cloth over his eyes was lifted.
Before him stood an ebony skinned woman clad in a black and silver dress,
her silver hair draped over her left shoulder, showing her right elfin
ear. She smiled at Cedric and a chill ran up the back of his spine. He
had heard tales of the quest into Niffelheim, of knights and squires screaming
as their skin was pulled slowly off their bodies by these lovely but deadly
priestesses. Cedric shoved his fear deep inside; he would not give her
the satisfaction of seeing his emotions.
"What do you want from me?" he asked, staring into her dark
eyes. Her smile became a grin as her arm flashed out in front of her.
Cedric lurched in pain as her dagger drew a line of blood across his cheek,
but he did not cry out.
"Rudeness is not tolerated here, little squire," said the Drow
Priestess gently, placing her dagger to her lips to lick his blood. "You
would do better if you did not speak unless asked to speak. However I
will answer your question, because you amuse me. I want you to sit there
and slowly die after a few days. But first I want you to be the bait that
brings your lord into our waiting trap. Old King Duncan will die soon
after you do. But we are not entirely inhospitable." she raised her
eyes to look behind him. "Feed him and then begin to ... converse
with our guest. I will return soon to see your progress." She took
one last glance at Cedric and left through a flap in the wall.
I must be in a tent somewhere, thought Cedric as he tried to see the
other person in the tent. He strained his eyes to the right, but could
not see who or what it was behind him. The stench, however, was getting
A smaller Drow woman dressed like the other priestess walked around to
where he could see her. She had a wooden plate and it took a moment for
Cedric to realize that it was the plate the stench was coming from. She
held it up to his nose and he gagged from the fumes. It looked like a
sheep's intestine cooked with something dark inside it.
"Yummy, isn"t it?" asked the priestess smiling a fearfully
sweet smile. Cedric knew she intended to simply shove the hot sheep's
intestine down his throat. I've got to do something, he thought wildly.
What would Sir Duncan do? What would Sir Callin do? What would Sir Shane
do? Shane, he thought grimly, would swallow it down and ask for seconds.
At the thought of that, Cedric almost threw up again.
"Are you ready, little squire?" asked the priestess. She held
the plate directly up to his lips while pulling out a kris blade dagger
with her free hand. I KNOW this is going to hurt thought Cedric as the
hot intestine reached his mouth.
* * * * * * * * * *
"I hope you"re hungry." said the Drow priestess as she
slowly pushed the hot sheep's intestine toward Cedric's lips. Somehow
Cedric knew this disgusting meal was not sheep, but it was easier to think
along those lines. He closed his eyes as his possibly last meal brushed
his lips, hoping to shut out at least one of his senses. If I only had
my sword he thought as the slimy, burning food finally made contact.
There was a slight wind that passed under his nose that made a'swoosh"
sound and the smell and feel of the food suddenly vanished. Cedric opened
his eyes. It was sitting in a tent pole, neatly skewered by an arrow.
Cedric smiled. He knew the fletching on that arrow.
"What.....?" said the Priestess who was suddenly covered with
arrows and blood. She staggered back and fell to the ground. There was
a ripping sound and a good third of the tent wall came crashing down.
There before him were five women in red tabards with bows, while a large
man with a knife pulled away the fabric.
"The Rhiassan Archer's Guild to the rescue!" shouted Fallon
as they rushed the tent. There was another flurry of arrows at the Drow
priestess as she tried to get off the floor. Mandrake came around behind
Cedric and cut his ropes.
"What's new, Cedric?" said Mandrake with a wide smile.
"Not much," said Cedric, rubbing his feet and his wrists to
get back circulation "That was some great shooting. How did you know
where to fire?"
Mandrake gave him a wry grin. "Lucky guess?"
Cedric frowned a bit. "Are you saying you would have shot me too?"
"In most countries, thirty five percent fatality is considered acceptable
in terrorist hostage situations. Besides, we can raise you later. Speaking
of later, we have got to hurry; Sir Myriel can"t hold the gate for
long." Another volley of arrows were shot into the Drow priestess
as Cedric and Mandrake escaped the tent.
"We may not be able to kill her, but we can piss her off for a while,"
said Myrrh to Cedric as he and Mandrake approached. There was a commotion
in another nearby tent. Dugal and Lord Duncan burst out of the tent with
a large black and red object under their arms. It was very clear to all
of them that they would have to book it for the portal. A knight of Eagle's
Rook can"t hold a portal for more than thirty seconds, thought Cedric.
I wonder who they got to help her?
There was a loud "BOOM" from behind them and Cedric turned
to look. There were ten Drow priestesses on a platform with twenty Drow
Knights running at a full tilt at them from beneath the scaffold.
"Magic Missile!" the priestesses screamed at once and a swarm
of glowing balls began to make their way at great speed toward them.
"Run!" yelled Duncan.
They all took off, Cedric following the others because he had no clue
where the gate was. Balls of hot energy exploded about them. One enveloped
the head of Lord Duncan with a sound "FOOMP!" Lord Duncan shrugged
it off, but was glad he had made that new, and now charred, helm. A few
confused Drow came out of their tents to see what was going on and were
immediately cut down by the Archer's Guild.
They turned toward a small thicket at the edge of the Drow camp. Magic
Missiles were still raining down about them. There, right before the thicket
was a shimmering portal. A woman clad in chainmail stood in the portal
pushing at the sides of it with all of her strength. Sir Myriel called
"You have ten seconds!" Cedric could vaguely make out Junior
and Sir Randal the Light behind her. Quickly the Archer's Guild moved
through the gate, followed by Lord Duncan, Dugal and the tent. A Magic
Missile hit Cedric in the leg.
"Now that hurt!" he screamed as he stumbled into Sir Myriel,
who fell back. The portal promptly snapped shut behind the two falling
figures, leaving the Drow Knights who were closer than they knew to stumble
into the thicket...
* * * * * * * * * *
Sir Myriel, Cedric, Junior and Sir Randal the Light lay sprawled on the
floor of the hayloft. The Archer's Guild, Dugal and Lord Duncan stood
ready to take on the approaching horde, which did not appear after the
portal Sir Myriel had held open with the help of Randal and Junior's magic
closed. The four of them rose to their feet , Junior healing Cedric's
leg and cheek; wounds gathered from his ordeal.
"Good job everyone," said Duncan who lovingly placed the tent
back in its place in the hayloft.
'so what's going on?" asked Sir Randal inquisitively, pulling out
his book and a pen.
"How did you all know where I was?" asked Cedric. They all
began to descend the stairs to find a more hospitable place to talk. Sir
Myriel explained as they headed into the Rhiassan fortress.
"Apparently," she said with some seriousness. "Dugal found
a dead Drow in the loft and came running to tell your lord. I happened
to be here on business and Sir Randal just conveniently showed up and
we devised a way with his magic, Junior's magic and my knightly powers
to open the gate you went through."
"How did you know it was a gate we had gone through?" replied
Cedric, still a little confused.
" We used Junior's Divine Intervention to find out where when and
how you had gone. The rest was really academic."
'so what happened over there?" asked Sir Randal insistently, who
had been listening in to the conversation.
By the time they had entered the great hall, Cedric had told his tale
to Sir Randal and Sir Myriel. The servants brought drinks for them all
and Cedric told his tale once again so that everyone knew what had happened.
"Hmmmmmmm." said Randal, who began to scribble in his book
while stroking his chin (a difficult skill that Randal performed very
'so what do you make out of all this, Sir Randal?" asked Duncan
as he sipped slowly on his ale.
"Well....., um, see..." stammered Sir Randal, " it seems
to me that time in Old Rhiassa is... newer than the time of New Rhiassa,
or at least the Drow, um, think that way and that perhaps the tent and
/ or Sir Duncan are pivotal, um, things, in the main um, time stream."
"What did he just say?" whispered Myrrh to Mandrake. Mandrake
shrugged. Sir Myriel, who had dealt with Randal for many years, offered
'so what you are saying is they thought Lord Duncan was somehow a King
Duncan who ruled Old Rhiassa hundreds of years ago and his tent made some
kind of significance to the initial founding of Old Rhiassa?" Sir
Randal smiled a little at Sir Myriel.
'sort of," he said, flipping through his book. " I think that,
um, they think Duncan and his tent will, um, show up in the past sometime
in your future and by stopping it they will, um, maybe, win a few hundred
years sooner. Maybe." Cedric's eyes opened wide as he realized what
Sir Randal was saying.
'so if they take him out now, they think Rhiassa will never be founded."
"But there was never a King Duncan in old Rhiassa," said Lord
Duncan, thinking back on the history of the devastated lands. Randal shrugged.
"Things aren"t always as they seem. Um... since they were from
the Nexus, perhaps they are not from our time, but from another time line."
Myriel nodded her head.
"When I entered the Fay a long time ago, we encountered a world
ruled by alternate selves. Maybe in this way you, Lord Duncan, or another
you do go back in time?" Junior sat straight up in his seat.
"Luthrien Blades!" he yelled.
"What?" asked Fallon who had almost fallen asleep.
"Maybe," said Junior excitedly, "we go back in time by
some means to obtain more Luthrien blades. Since no more can be made,
the only way to do it is to go back in time and meet the Silver Elves
of hundreds of years ago and ask them to make them, or to ask Luthrien
himself!" Lord Duncan stood up.
"We have learned a great deal in the past few months. Indeed there
may come a time when the Drow armies will attack again and we may need
to be resourceful in our efforts to obtain more Luthrien blades to stop
the Drow Knights. Keep these incidents in mind as you go out into the
Realms, for there may come a day when this alternate reality may come
to light. In the mean time, I have a lot to think about." He excused
himself and headed to his chambers.
They all sat stunned for a moment, trying to drink in the possibility
of an insane time circle, where they might be their own ancestors. This
is really creepy, thought Fallon as she rose to follow Duncan. Sir Myriel
talked in low tones with Sir Randal, who sat rapidly stroking his chin.
Cedric's stomach rumbled and he realized he had not eaten in quite a while.
He stopped a serving girl who was picking up their tankards.
"What's for dinner?" he asked, his stomach grumbling louder
as if to add its own questions.
"Well," she said thoughtfully, "The Queen is stopping
by tonight along with her guards, so the cook thought it would be good
to make a traditional Highland meal." Cedric paled.
'so what are we having?"
"Haggis." she said, at which Cedric turned three shades of
green and ran out of the room.
"What was that all about?" asked Myrrh, hearing the wretching
noises echoing from the corridor.