Mirra stifled a yawn and peered into the darkness. Herrin and Tryls had been inside the barrow for a long time – the guard had come by twice on his patrol, and had thankfully not noticed anything amiss.
She shifted her position and flexed her toes so they wouldn’t cramp and go numb. A sound reached her ears and she froze, suddenly alert. It was faint; muffled by the ground and seemingly very far away.
She cocked her crossbow and stood up, her head on one side as she tried to work out the direction of the sound.
Abruptly, the ground in front of her began to shake and rupture. She jumped backwards and raised the crossbow as a dirt-covered hand rose from the hole and groped for purchase.
“Whites of their eyes,” she murmured, taking aim. The hand grabbed hold of a root and pulled, dragging a muddy form – no, two muddy forms up out of the ground.
She groaned and relaxed as she recognised them.
“Good grief,” she said. “Not believers in a conventional exit, are you?”
Tryls pulled Herrin to safety and pounded his back until he coughed, spluttered and took a deep breath.
“What the hell happened?”
Tryls looked up at her and wiped his hand across his face. It didn’t clean any of the mud from his face, just moved it around, and he sighed. “The roof began to cave in as soon as I entered the main chamber,” he said. “I had to dig back to find him.”
Herrin coughed and spat mud. “I, uh, I may have missed one of the triggers,” he said. “On the bright side, you’ve paid off half your debt to me. Splendid work, eh?”
Tryls pressed his fingers to his temple and groaned.
A sudden movement behind them caught Mirra’s eye. The ground shook and another figure rose from the ground. It was corpse blue, its tattered shroud fluttering in the night air. It reached forwards towards Tryls, a malevolent red gleam in its eyes.
Without hesitation, Mirra pointed her crossbow and fired, the bolt striking the draug cleanly between the eyes.
“Red eyes? That’s cheating,” she muttered.
There was silence for a moment, then suddenly Herrin began to laugh. He clutched at his ribs and guffawed until Mirra kicked him and demanded an explanation.
“He… he just paid off a life debt to me,” he gasped, “And then… and then you went and saved his life!”
Tryls stared blankly at the unmoving corpse of the undead thing, then looked up at Mirra and shrugged.
“Herrin,” she said, “You are a complete jackass.”
© Kari Fay
(Author’s Note: This week the Three Word Wednesday prompts are Jackass, Rupture and Splendid. A bit late in writing today, as I’m three days into a new job!)