“Don’t get hit by the coin,” Rifus spoke with a customary malicious glee that had both Nera and I indulging in our customary clip on the head – coordinated and entirely unintentional. As usual, Tanc managed to ignore him with customary dignity and stepped out onto the rickety bridge – though I couldn’t help but be amused to notice that he was casting his gaze around for the small copper coin that was teleporting madly around this fog-filled cavern.
As I watched Tanc make his cautious way across the kobold-constructed bridge, I marvelled again at how such a big man could be so graceful. And it wasn’t easy to be graceful while negotiating a wildly swaying bridge built by kobolds and presumably not designed to carry the weight of a man as big as Tanc. Still, there was a reason he always went first and this was it. If it held his weight, it would hold ours. That didn’t stop the three of us from holding tightly to the rope at our end, despite it being firmly anchored by a grappling hook.
Tanc stepped off the bridge at the other side and waved his free hand over his head – he was fine and anchoring the rope at the other end. I turned to the other two still on this side, but didn’t get a chance to ask the question before Nera was answering it,
“I’ll go next,” she said, “I want to see what type of dispelling affects this place has.” I gave her a blank look before remembering that her fly spell was still in affect. Technically, as long as I stayed close to her, which I had, it would affect me too. On the other hand...
“Have fun then,” I said with a wry smile. “No way am I tempting fate by having two of us out there at the same time.” She grinned at me with typical Nera over-confidence and, grasping the rope firmly in her hands, she floated out into the cavern. Not even Nera’s disregard for little things like personal safety could convince her it was a good idea to fly any higher than the barest degree above the swaying bridge. And it was just as well, because as soon as she moved forwards, the spell vanished and she landed with all the nimbleness of the cat she was on the bridge which wobbled horribly under her.
“Well, that answers that question,” Nera said cheerfully, grinning over her should at us as she clung tightly to the rope and made her way across the bridge. At the far side, Tanc reached out and grabbed her forearm, tugging her the last step off the bridge onto the ledge. With a sigh I turned to Rifus
“You go first,” he said – had today been deemed ‘Anticipate Silver Day’ and no one had thought to tell me? “I’m stronger than you, I’ll keep it anchored at this side. Besides, this way I can be on hand to save your ass.” He gave me a lecherous leer and I slapped him. Didn’t need a special day for that.
I stepped forwards and took up the rope in my hands, Nera waved cheerfully at me from the far side, clearly she didn’t consider this to be that tricky. And she had a point – if she could do it, then it should be easier for me – being shorter and lighter – more like one of the kobolds who had undoubtedly built this bridge in the first place. Sighing, I moved out on to the bridge.
Immediately I felt like I was riding a wild horse trying its best to throw me off. The bridge swung crazily about me. I inched forwards, clinging to the rope with a desperate strength. If only that was enough. I kept my eyes locked on Tanc and Nera and struggled forwards a couple more steps. My movements were jerky as I struggled to maintain my balance. I felt like I was balancing on a ball that wouldn’t stop bouncing and trying to walk it forwards with feet encased in lead. I stumbled over a broken wooden plank and felt the world spin around me. The bridge lurched up and down and up and down and I completely lost my balance. I felt the rope burn the palms of my hands and rip itself free from my grip as I plunged downwards towards the thickly swirling fog.
“Ahhhhhhh!” I screamed even as I made a desperate grab at the bridge itself and somehow managed to grab hold. It jerked me to a halt and I hung there, while Nera screamed somewhere to my left. Why was Nera screa- oh hell.
“Rifus get out there!” Tanc yelled across the cavern, staring upwards at my feet. I closed my eyes against vertigo and looked down – sure enough, I had fallen with my feet in the fog up to my ankles. And now they weren’t there any more. I swallowed hard.
“Hang on Silver! I’m coming!”
Instantly the bridge tried to rip itself out of my hands and I could hear nothing save a roaring in my ears. I was inside a whirlwind, that was the only possible explanation. Something, someone whipped past my head and I caught a brief glimpse of black cloak, it whipped up around my head and then was gone and the wind went with it. Somewhere over my head Nera was yelling at Rifus
“What the hell were you thinking?! You could have gotten yourself killed! You could have gotten Silver killed!” I couldn’t hear what Rifus said in response, the bridge was starting to wobble again and I was struggling to maintain my grip.
“Silver! Silver, let go!” I forced my eyes open and stared up at Tanc’s dark face underneath that silly hat of his. He had the rope tied around him and was balancing easily on the bridge. “Let go,” he repeated, “I’m right here, I’ll catch you.”
I don’t think he realises just how hard that is for me. To trust him. Screw it.
I let go.
There wasn’t time to think, not even time to scream, though the gods know I wanted to. I would have aimed for Tanc if I’d been able to see him, but the damn teleporting fog moved me so fast all I saw was a grey blur, then a dark blur, then I slammed into something solid that drove all the air from my lungs. I felt the bridge sway horribly as Tanc dropped to his knees, trusting in the rope to hold us both and keep us out of the fog, while he tightened his grip and held me close to him. He didn’t bother asking if I wanted to be put down, he didn’t bother waiting for the bridge stop swaying, he got right back to his feet and headed for safety as fast as the bridge could carry us.
Looks like I was wrong about how much weight it could hold.
I felt my feet touch solid ground and forced my eyes open. Funnily enough, having one’s feet teleported away from one’s body wasn’t a pleasant experience. Tanc was still behind me, but Nera and Rifus both stared anxiously at my face.
“I’m fine. I’m fine, let’s- let’s just go.”