"The Unsupportive Sidekick"
Aldornia and Zenobia traveled to
the Temple of Solemn Shadows,
for they had heard of a terrible curse
taking root somewhere within its walls.
Not knowing the lay of the land in
that part of the world, the adventurers
hired themselves a native guide.
Yancie's hair was strawberry blonde
and her eyes were murky green, and
she complained the whole way there.
At least she knew the way,
which was more than could be said
for Aldornia and Zenobia.
They fought their way up
the sunken lane where trees
leaned down to claw at them
with shadows as sharp as thorns.
Once Aldornia was snatched up into
the high branches, and Zenobia
had to rush in to save her with
no help from Yancie whatsoever.
"I'm just the trail guide," the redhead said
when the two adventurers glared at her.
Aldornia held the Ball of Shining Light
over the lock while Zenobia picked it.
and Yancie ate a sandwich.
"You're not much use as a sidekick,"
Zenobia said as they went inside.
"Trail guide," Yancie said with a shrug.
Within the Temple of Solemn Shadows,
Aldornia slew the obsidian statue
that tried to bite Zenobia's head off.
"Still cursed," Aldornia said.
Then Zenobia shattered the onyx altar
with the blood grooves and chains on it.
"That didn't do it either," Aldornia reported.
Yancie fanned away the foul smoke
that rose from the broken stone.
"This place stinks," she said.
"Remind me again why you even
came here before," Zenobia said.
"Well, it's not like I wanted to,"
Yancie said, "and I escaped
as soon as I possibly could."
The two adventurers looked at each other.
Maybe there was more to Yancie than it seemed.
While they were searching for more things
that might be carrying a curse, Yancie said,
"I wonder what this thing does."
They whipped around to find her holding
an obsidian ring. "Drop it!" they chorused.
"I'm trying," Yancie said. "It won't let go."
Five spells later, Zenobia announced grimly,
"Well, that's done it. She was standing on
our shadows and now there's some kind of bond
that isn't responding to the standard hexbreakers."
"Exactly what about this is funny?" Zenobia snapped.
"What would your family think about a ring
that helped people find their life purpose?"
Aldornia said. "Because that's what I'm getting."
"They'd ... probably say it was cursed,"
Zenobia said slowly.
"Then I'd say we've found the curse,"
Aldornia said with a nod.
"But we can't get rid of it, if it's
bonded to all of us," Zenobia said.
"Technically, our quest was to remove
the curse from the Temple of Solemn Shadows,
so all we have to do is take it outside,"
Aldornia pointed out.
"But what if I don't want to be
a sidekick?" Yancie said.
"This job is hazardous."
"Maybe you should have thought of that
before you touched the artifact that we
didn't know what it does," Aldornia said.
"I didn't want to be a villain,
Saphrax didn't mean to be a hero,
and you never know what will happen,"
Zenobia said. "Things will work out."
"I want a raise," Yancie muttered.
* * *
A sidekick is typically friendly and supportive.
A holloway or sunken lane is a road that has worn into the earth.
See the obsidian ring.