Taking excerpts from The Life & Times of Ichabod Brooks is tough because they’re short stories. So, I’m always happy to find pieces that I can share. This one is from Ichabod Brooks & the Island of Mirrors. Fingers crossed that he can ride again one day.
It is a faint grunt that causes Ichabod to walk toward the remains of an ancient wall, the only parts standing being kept up by three large mirrors. Readying his bow, the adventurer inches around the corner and prepares to fire at whatever jumps out at him. He finds nothing more than an empty patch of dirt, which shows signs of being recently disturbed. Broken roots are exposed and bent upwards as if someone attempted to yank them free and failed. Picking up a fallen branch, Ichabod pokes at the overturned soil and finds a few rocks hidden an inch below the surface. Stepping a little closer, he jabs the stick into the middle of the dirt and nearly falls into the hole that is revealed by the small cave in. It is only the balance belt that saves him, the muscular adventurer standing on his toes at the edge of a ring of stones. Gazing into the gap, he can see the bottom where a darker soil swallows any light that touches it.
“I’m rethinking my decision to do this alone!” Jet shouts, his voice startling Ichabod. The chaos elf is nowhere to be seen, but the sound of him struggling comes from high within the canopy. “Seems the plants and animals here are rather hostile. Not sure if you ran into anything on the coast, but I swung back this way when I met a really nasty critter. Must have been at least twelve feet tall with fur the color of a beautiful sky complete with a few clouds. I’d say it was gorgeous, but the teeth, claws, and horns were rather daunting. Poison doesn’t seem to slow it down either. Have you found me yet because I’m getting tired of talking? You’re just standing there, aren’t you?”
“Had to tie my boots and then take some time to revel in the moment,” Ichabod replies with a wide grin. Peering into the trees, he can barely make out a cobalt-colored ear on the other side of a wall of leaves. “Pretty lucky that I gave up searching the shore after finding enough supplies for a campfire and torches. Give me a minute to climb up there and cut you down. What happened to you anyway?”
“Oh, I was doing my makeup in a mirror when these vines grabbed me. What do you think happened, old man?” Jet snaps, his usual calm broken by the blood rushing to his head. The assassin grunts as he tries to swing himself into the open, but the thorny vines refuse to budge no more than an inch. “Sorry. I haven’t eaten in hours, I’m dizzy, and I’m getting frustrated. This plant looked like a patch of grass and it caught me when I stepped on it. Dragged me up here and is waiting for its poison to melt my innards. Won’t work thanks to my ring, but this cocoon is too tight for me to wriggle out of. Shoot me down and I’ll consider us even for the time I didn’t kill you.”
“Pretty sure that was already settled when I let you escape a year ago,” the adventurer mutters as he moves into the trees. Looking up, he tries not to laugh at how Jet is wrapped from neck to ankles by fluorescent yellow vines. “Please tell me the grass wasn’t that color. A newborn could avoid a trap like that. Utter one insult and I’ll leave you there. Those vines need to have an anchor down here somewhere.”
“I don’t want to land on my head.”
“Don’t worry. Pretty sure you’ll land on your face.”
“You’re really enjoying this.”