Animated Gauntlets

“So, can you get us out of here now?” After getting this skeleton fellow rid of his nightmares, giving him some of our supplies and letting him rest, I thought that perhaps that was the time to ask this question. Since he no longer had those creepy voices in his head and no more tentacle inky stuff was coming from him, perhaps he was no longer afraid of using his powers again. But things are never that simple are they. “Your world and mine are unfortunately not on the same plane of existence, and my powers work only on this one. However I know of a portal that connects these two planes, but it is guarded by a powerful guardian that won’t let you pass unless he deems you worthy.” I scoffed, “Mate, we just defeated an otherworldly being of unimaginable power without a single strike, I don’t think some simple guardian is going to stop us in reaching our goal, but thanks for the heads-up.” It seemed he wasn’t really convinced by my speech, but he wasn’t much of an argumentator, so he simply nodded. “But anyway, how and how fast can you get us to that portal?” He grabbed his quill and grabbed an enormous canvas from a shelf in his cabin. “Give me an hour.” And he immediately started drawing a life-sized doorway upon the canvas. Not wanting to disturb him during his work, I went outside of the cabin and found Squeakly and Maestro sitting in silence on the porch and smoking a pipe. The sight put a smile on my face, not only because a giant rat and a tiny large eyeball were smoking a pipe and contemplating, but also because I hadn’t seen these two sitting side by side prior. They always tried to ignore each other and if they didn’t they hurled insults. A tranquil silence was truly an improvement. “Look at you two lovebirds, where did you find the pipes.” Ignoring my first comment, he answered. After all this time travelling together it was at this time that I had realized how much he has changed. He had that strange aura of hidden calmness and valour that you see around old retired soldiers. “Maestro found some in the cabin of the pirate ship while he was hiding, want one?” And he reached in his pockets and pulled out a nicely carved pipe and a handful of herbs. I took it, stuffed the herbs inside and put it in my mouth. Before I could ask for a tinderbox, Maestro raised one of his red eyes and suddenly the herbs in my pipe started smoking. I thankfully nodded and sat next to them and continued the peaceful silence. We sat still for a few minutes before Squeakly said with a slightly melancholic voice: “So…What happens next?” “Well the Skeleton is making some portal that will lead us to my wor…” Squeakly interrupted me, and specified the question: “I meant after that, what happens then?” “I haven’t really thought about that, I always thought I had an interesting life, but after all we have been through, it seems rather boring and mundane. All the danger, all the excitement, all the strangeness, I kinda like it. Perhaps I will start travelling, or maybe I could even start adventuring.” Squeakly was trying to look enthusiastic and happy, but there was something deeply sad underneath that charade. “Good…good, that sounds good. I hope you will like it once you return.”By the way he said it, I could tell there was something bothering him, and I didn’t really understand what, so I tried to investigate. “Mate, what’s wrong? You say good, but you look like someone stole your slice of cheese?” “That’s rather offensive, don’t you think.” He said with a forced smile. It might have worked against others, but I am a master of fake smiles, laughs and other forms of deception, and I could tell that this was a very blunt way of avoiding a topic. “Mate, don’t evade the question, I want to help, so tell me what’s wrong so we can deal with it, or kill it or something.” He dropped the happy facade and sadness and gloom swept across his face. “I just…I…I am also rather fond of your company, and even though I can see how much you want to return home, I can’t help but regret that our journey is nearing its end.” This confused me, so I inquired further. “But once this journey ends, we can go on another adventure. Don’t worry, my world is not half bad and even though it is not as exciting as this one, there is a lot of excitement to be found there.” I hoped that this would make him feel better, but it didn’t seem to work. “You don’t understand, I don’t belong to your world, I can’t go there. And besides, don’t forget that while you will regain your size once you return, I shall remain a small puny rat, I would only hinder you. And you surely have other friends to return to back home, you don’t want to spend your time with a small, unimportant kidnapper.” Oh, so that’s what was bothering him, that silly sweet rat, He thought I wouldn’t want him to stay with me in my world, that thick idiot. I’ve had enough of his self pity and it was time to tell him how things really are. “So mate, firstly I don’t want to hear no things about you not belonging to my world, Maestro is tinier and weirder than you are, and he is going with me, isn’t that right Maestro.” Maestro, who was not really listening to our conversation suddenly twitched and flew a few feet into the air before answering. “Of course my lady fair, our legend is not yet finished as long as you and I have years to spare. Evildoers beware, beware the Maestro and the lady with the auburn hair.” That sounded nice, a lady with the auburn hair. Has a good ring to it, and those words of my legend and of fighting evildoers…perhaps I really will try to become an adventurer. But now I still had things to say to Squeakly. “Secondly, I have no one up in my world, no friends no family that I care about. So you should rather damn believe that when I’ve finally found a friend, no matter how weird he looks, I’m not going to let him go just because he thinks he is unworthy of my presence. And thirdly, you are not unimportant, not to me at least, and let’s face it, I have the only opinion you should really care about. You saved my life more than once, so if you say that you are unimportant again, I’m going to take that as an insult and will punch you in the face, do you understand.” Squeakly’s face brightened with obvious glee and it almost like life returned to him again. “Yes, lady with the auburn hair.” with a hint of mockery. “That’s more like it, now where is that artist? An hour has passed and I want to leave this place once and for all.” I think that the artist was eavesdropping on us, because as soon as I said this, he emerged from the cabin and said “It is done.” We entered the cabin and on the previously empty canvas, a detailed ornamental doorway was now drawn. It was opened and on the other side of it, a lush green valley was visible, and upon that valley stood two strange gigantic monoliths. “You can go through now, farewell my saviours, and good luck with the guardian.” We said our goodbyes to the Artist and stepped through the canvas. The vale that was just a drawing before now surrounded us and it was filled with fresh green grass, full of flying butterflies and many familiar plants, such as dandelions, daisies, and clover. The two monoliths towering over the vale were even bigger now in person and stood in the height of about two hundred feet. I could also see now, that they connected at the top, forming a colossal archway of sorts. However we were not the only noteworthy creature in this valley. Right underneath the monoliths stood a single creature. We approached this creature and details started becoming clear. Once we were within 20 feet, we could see it in its full glory. About six feet in height and wearing a bright turquoise breastplate and gauntlets. A strange glaive-like weapon was stabbed in the dirt beside it. But the equipment of the creature was as strange as the creature itself. It looked like a humanoid bug, purplish in colour with two glowing yellow eyes, mandibles and all of it covered in chitinous carapace. Oh and it also had four arms and four gauntlets. As we approached this creature I assumed was the “Guardian” greeted us with a booming jovial voice I had not expected. “Welcome travellers, A beautiful day today, isn’t it.” I answered “It certainly is good sir, we wish passage and have been told that we have to prove ourselves to proceed.” The guardian looked at us with joy in his insectoid face. “Tis true my dear travellers, The world on the other side is dangerous and you have to prove yourself in combat with me so that I know that you are capable of surviving there.” “Isn’t there another way how to gain passage? I hail from that land, doesn’t that give me some leisure?” The guardian shook his head: “I have sworn to uphold my duty no matter the situation. I apologize, but there is no other way.” My way home was just behind this creature, I was so close, and no bug was going to stop me. “We accept your challenge then, can we attack you all at once, or are we to wait and fight you one on one? The Guardian smirked. “Makes no difference to me.” “Then I apologize for what is about to come, en garde good sir.” Upon hearing this the Guardian picked up his weapon and grabbed it with all four hands, however two of his gauntlets slipped of his hands and started floating right in front of him, before they smashed into themselves in the way that fist-fighters smash their hands together before a fight. The guardian was obviously excited for the fight: a huge friendly smile on his face, happiness in his eyes, and tension in his muscles. Before the fighting started he gave us a honourable salute and said “En garde indeed, fight well dear adventurers, I believe this fight will be one for the legends.”

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