“I remember lad, not two days before now, sitting with that warm mead in that great little tavern on the road from Weissbruck, you said you could pick any goblin lock with one... No, no, I remember now, two hands tied about your back!”
Van Eyke’s thin hands worked quickly at the lock on the simple, but stout wooden box, his razor sharp lips pursed in frustration. He stopped briefly with a sigh, and looked sideways up at the grinning Odo with one crooked raised brow. The towering Reiklander leaned casually against the stone wall, grinning like a teasing child from under a raised armoured cap.
“It would help, old man, if you kept a keen eye on our backs, instead of worrying about me...” The young Van Eyke retorted.
Still smiling, Odo stroked his black moustache with finger and thumb,
“Two hands, ‘Eykey’ … Imagine that”
The quick crack of a shortstaff banging on the rocky floor, silenced them both.
“Hold your wagging tongues! Both of you!”
The two glanced back at Helene, who crouched by the smashed barricade at the other side of the chamber, where they had entered, surprising a clutch of Goblins. She stared into the dark passage from where they had come, watching for movement and without turning to them, she hissed impatiently,
“We don't have time for this! The sooner we find Lady Dietrich's ring, and, well ...perhaps even her finger, the sooner we can leave this forsaken warren...”
“Two hands Helene, he said two hands... I could have carried the damn chest out by now. Anyway, what was the name of that tavern? The one with the comely maids. The Green Duck? No, Goose! That’s right, The Green Goo-”
Abruptly, the heavy latch popped with a loud click, and a crackling of breaking glass sounded from the chest.
Van Eyke froze, Odo’s leathery hand instinctively gripped his longsword. Helene was already fixed on the box, her eyes wide and white.
Van Eyke threw back his head, clasping his throat, and coughed out a puff of orange spittle. Helene was already over him, dragging him from the chest, towards the dark tunnel. She sniffed and winced,
“...a stench of old leather boots... Bloodwort oil!”
She tossed a rag from her pack to Odo, who still wide eyed and stunned, slapped it over his mouth and held his breath. He grabbed one the lads shoulders, and helped drag him out of the chamber and into the passageway.
Van Eyke began to screech through clenched teeth, and bubbling foam began to splutter from his blood purple lips. Throwing her heavy wool cloak around her neck and mouth like a scarf, Helene came down over him, tearing bunched herbs from her belt. She smashed them in her fists, then forced a ball of them, stalks, leaves, dried flowers and all into the boys mouth, pushing them down his throat with her fingers. Flicking back her robe, she pulled a bottle of oil from a pouch, popped the tiny cork, and shook the contents frantically into the lads mouth. The rest of it she poured into another kerchief. Tossing the phial aside, she grabbed his head, clamping his jaw shut around the mash of salve. She wiped his face down with the oiled cloth, before slapping it over his lips.
A deep howl echoed down the dark passage. Odo stood, clutching the rag over his mouth, coughing. Through his watering eyes, he caught the faint glow of flickering torchlight in the tunnel.
“O Sigmar! And they’ve returned with their rabid hounds too!”
He drew his silvery longsword, and glanced back at Helene, astride the poor lad, trying to hold his flailing arms and tossing head. They looked at each other for answers that neither could give.
In the dank blackness of the tunnel, the torchlight grew brighter and hotter,and the scratching and squabbling of the horrid Goblins drew closer...