Finnius and the Wall of the Ancients

Finnius and the Wall of the Ancients

A Story by Austin H.
"

A short story I wrote for my AP Literature class. I figured I could toss it over here, see if it's any good. I might add to Finnius's and Oligar's adventures.

"

The ancient stone wall seemed to block out the sky as Finnius Scratch stood enveloped in its shadow. Moss crawled across the bottom and filled the numerous cracks and gaps between the massive bricks. The mortar had long crumbled away, mostly, so mice and birds were free to build their messy nests. The bricks hinted at their glorious past, when their faded white sides used to gleam in the sunlight. Now the wall stood all but alone, holding its weary head high to search for anyone who approached it. Finnius was such a man.

The wall was built in a large circle in a small clearing in a massive forest. The autumn breeze sent a slight chill down Finnius's back, causing him to hug his dirty cloak tighter. The grass, just beginning to yellow and brown, gently swayed alone as their dance partners, the flowers, had went away not long ago. A few forest birds, to stubborn to sense that winter was approaching, tweeted and sang their songs. The sun sat high and banished all thoughts of rain from that clear, cloudless sky. A faint scent of berries still clung to Finnius's nostrils, remnants from his week-long journey through the forest.

Finnius was not a handsome man, nor was he particularly ugly. He simply spent far too much time out in the wilderness of the world, so he rarely had time to clean himself. His dirty-blonde hair tried to hide itself beneath a cloak of dirt and a few twigs. His wool cloak, once a beautiful shade of crimson, had long changed to a tattered brown. Leather boots reached up to his knees. He wore a pair of light khaki trousers and a formerly white tunic, belted tight with a strip of cloth. A leather vest adorned his torso, with numerous pockets and slots for his tools. A short sword was tied to his back, the scabbard nicked with scratches. His satchel hung back there as well, filled with his leftover food, some cooking utensils, and a blanket. A cord of rope completed his getup, slung loosely around his right shoulder, tied at the end to a rough, iron grapple.

He snorted and scratched his rough beard. Spitting, he cursed himself for accepting this job. Sure, sure, the pay was fantastic. Finnius would finally be able to retire and buy a quaint little cottage in a quainter little town. All he had to do was the impossible. His client, some snotty noble, deemed that only he could have whatever precious treasure, or treasures, that lay behind the Wall of the Ancients. Irrelevant was the fact that almost no one had ever been able to climb the wall, and the few who had, had never made it back over. No matter that the wall was older than mankind itself, or that there was no gate, hole, or any sort of entrance. The noble had payed his ill-earned coin, and he would have results.

Finnius sighed, and dropped the rope from his shoulder. Not a rope existed in the world that was long enough to scale this wall. Even if there was, Finnius was quite sure that no one could hurl it high enough. He kicked the dirt a bit with his boot, thinking and considering a way up. After a couple of minutes, Finnius opted to just climb the thing with his hands. He was a skilled lad, albeit approaching middle age, and knew that there would be an abundance of footholds. The only issue, and it was a major one, was that he would most likely get tired, slip, and fall to his quite unpleasant death. Maybe there was a better way, he thought.

He began to circle the wall. If people had made it in before, but not out, then their entrance might still be there. Finnius was the only person to visit this place in the last fifty years, so whatever was left behind out to still be lying around. He spent hours scouring the walls and the grass around it. When night began to fall, he had found absolutely nothing that might be of use. He shook his head and headed towards the edge of the forest. Finnius didn't have much of a time limit, so he could wait until morning. He picked a large oak to camp under, rolled out his blanket, and went to sleep.

Finnius was awoken by something. He couldn't tell what at first, since he was groggy from a terrible sleeping position. A few seconds passed, and Finnius gather a better understanding. It was still dark out, almost pitch black. The something turned out to be a shadowy figure leaning against the oak tree. Sounds emanating from the figure indicated that it was eating something dry and crisp. Finnius swore, silently of course, and carefully snaked his hand over to his vest. Inside, there were six throwing knives, and Finnius managed to wrap his forefinger and middle finger around the hilt of one. He slowly drew the weapon from its slip.

He counted to three, and the snapped into action. He flipped his arm across his body, flinging the knife towards the shadow. As soon as the metal left his fingers he rolled off the blanket and leaped up, grabbing his short sword in the progress. Finnius drew the weapon and tossed the scabbard to the dirt. He held the weapon back, with its tip just reach halfway past his waist. His left hand was outstretched, fingers pointed up. As he approached the shadow, he heard a deep, rumbling laugh.

“Hahaha boyo! Don't you know you can't use a flimsy piece of trash like that against folded steel?”

Finnius relaxed and let a smirk cross his lips. The shadow wasn't a figure leaning against the oak, but rather one standing upright. A light burst out from a match and lit a torch. Standing before Finnius Scratch was a dark-skinned dwarf, with a beard reaching past his barrel chest. The dwarf was dressed in bronze colored armor, his chest plate and greaves shining in the light. His arms were bare and hairy, covered only on the wrists where matching bracelets of black metal glistened in the torchlight.

“Oligar, you old fool! What in blazes are you here for?”

Finnius walked back to his camp and took out his flint and steel. He grabbed a handful of branches and twigs from a pile he had gathered and tossed them onto a dead fire pit. Lighting the flame, he gestured for Oligar the dwarf to take a seat next to him. The dwarf gave a cheery smile and waddled over. He plopped himself onto the ground and spoke in his deep voice.

“I heard my favorite human was on some grand adventure into the Wall of the Ancients. I said to myself, 'That bloke would never find a way in! Ever!' So I figured I'd lend a hand, for old time's sake.”

“How do you plan to get me in? I can't find a possible entrance! It's too high!”

The dwarf merely smiled at that and stood up. He gestured for Finnius to follow him a ways into the forest. The pair each grabbed a torch and marched on. The forest was silent, almost serene. The only thing off was the massive wall that hide away the moon. After about ten minutes the two companions came across Oligar's target: a large stack of crates, each a meter high and wide. All Finnius could do was smile broader.

“Haha! Blasting powder! That's genius, real genius. But how did you get it? I thought it was kept for your mines?”

Oligar waved his hand, dismissing such notions.

“When you're a hero like you and I, the dwarven people are quite generous. Of course, I took almost a year's worth, and my brethren are expecting some sort of payment. I'm sure you could split some of your pay, eh?”

“Of course my friend, of course! So long as I get inside this cursed place.”

The two spent the rest of the night hauling the crates to a point at the wall. Oligar deemed that spot to be the weakest, and most likely to give way. He didn't know how thick it was, but assured Finnius that he had enough powder to blow straight through a mountain. If the Wall was enchanted, the powder should more than overpower any form of protection, stone or magic. When morning dawned on the friends, the crates were stacked, crowded, and buried next to the wall. Oligar had taken the liberty of digging out a small earthen redoubt for the two to hide behind. The redoubt wasn't anything special; it was a dirt hill based quite far from the wall.

Finnius had taken his gear through the forest and to the redoubt. He waited there until around noon, when Oligar arrived. He'd had to craft quite a long fuse and string it all the way out there. He assured Finnius that it would only take about ten minutes for it to reach the blasting powder, and then the fun would begin. They knew not what might lie inside the fortress, so each of them had their weapons handy. Finnius had his vest unbuttoned to allow easy grabbing of his knives and his short sword was sharpened and drawn. Oligar had brought his crossbow, although it was more akin to a small ballista that fired bolts as thick as Finnius's arms. Oligar took out a match and lit the fuse.

Finnius and Oligar waited patiently. The moment was tense, and Finnius could hear both of their hearts beating. No birds chirped, no insects buzzed, and the breeze had died long ago. It was as if the flora and fauna could sense the moment and waited with bated breath, just like the man and the dwarf. The fuse had burnt off quite fast with the flame zipping down the line, leaving only ash behind. The dwarf was quietly muttering, counting off the seconds and minutes. He got to nine minutes and thirty-eight seconds when the explosion went off.

The redoubt might have been a quarter of a mile from the wall, buried deep in the forest, yet the explosive shock wave still knocked the two off of their feet. Dust, ash, splinters of wood and stone shot through the air around them. The sound smashed down on their ears like a hammer striking an anvil. Dazed, the two sat on their behind for half an hour. The acrid smell of smoke and burnt grass filled their nostrils and watered their eyes. When they had recovered, they peeked over the edge of the redoubt.

The forest all around them had been leveled, although luckily there was no fire in sight. Using his sharp eyesight, Finnius could spot the massive smoke stack rising from the wall.

“Dear gods, there must be a crater a mile deep! I mean look at this all! Half the forest must be gone. Looks like a decent chunk of that wall is down too! I can't quite see inside it though.”

Oligar scrambled up the redoubt and rolled onto the ground outside of it. His crossbow-ballista was no longer slung across his back, but held in his firm, meaty hands.

“Nah. About the crater anyway. Dwarven blasting powder is special. It either blows horizontally, or vertically. I primed it horizontally so there'll only be a wee little hole, perhaps a few feet deep. Most of the blast seems to have gone away from the Wall, so I bet the inside is perfectly fine. No melted gold for us!”

Finnius leaped out of the structure and followed his friend as they began to head towards the Wall of the Ancients. When they arrived, most of the smoke had blown away. Finnius peered inside and saw a dozen or so wooden chest arranged in a circle in the center of a grassy field. He could see right over to the other side of the wall. The grass was torn out and the dirt blackened only a few feet inside the massively thick wall. It had seemed that the dwarf's plan had worked.

However, the two were not to have an easy victory. A deep, many voiced moan reached their ears. Rushing into the Wall, the two were greeted by a large hosts of zombies. The rotting, filthy corpses shambled their way towards the two invaders, numbering at least twenty.

“Well...I guess those are the one's who made it in. Weird,” remarked Finnius as he flung a knife into the face of a zombie. It went down quite easily, but there were still many more. Oligar merely chuckled as he fire a bolt from his weapon. The crossbow-ballista kicked, and would have knocked a man off his feet, but Oligar was a dwarf, and dwarves are nothing if not sturdy. The bolt carved through three zombies like a stick ripping through a sheet left to dry.

The two friends battled for hours against the horde, which seemed to grow larger and larger despite the ravaging of the companions upon their number. Finnius would hack and slash, stab and slice, across the whole inside of the Wall, carving and cutting down zombies with grace and gruesome proficiency. He had run out of knives long ago, so he was forced to engage the zombies up close. Oligar fired bolt after bolt, reaping a harvest of zombies and leveling them in waves. Whenever one got too close, a well-aimed fist would snap its neck, tumbling it down. Yet somehow, more zombies kept appearing.

“Oligar! This is hopeless! I bet this is some enchantment. Grab some chests and let's go!”

Finnius, after shouting this, cut his way to the center. The chests were fairly small so he was able to tuck two of them under his arm. When Oligar made his way over, he threw his crossbow-ballista onto his back and scooped up five on the chests. The two hurried their way through the horde, with Finnius cutting a path towards the wall. When they made it to the edge, they both gave a burst of energy to a jump as the leaped out of the deathtrap and back into the clearing. They were greeted with wonder.

The forest had regrown itself, and the wall closed behind them. Nothing remained of their efforts, save the seven chests scattered before them. Finnius walked over to one and kicked its lid open. Sitting inside were hundreds of gold pieces and gilded daggers. There was enough in one chest to make a man for life, and all seven could buy several small kingdoms. Finnius turned to his friend and helped him to his feet.

“Hey, friend. Do you think my client would be happy with just one? No reason for him to think I cheated him, right?”

“Aye friend. That's a fine plan. I can pay back my brothers, and we can both live like kings. Let someone else dig out those other chests. I'm done with ancient walls of death.”

“Well spoken.”

© 2012 Austin H.


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I again really enjoyed this one! fine story and wonderful words. Good job on this one.

Posted 7 Years Ago



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Added on January 30, 2012
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Author

Austin H.
Austin H.

AZ



About
I am a student of history first and foremost. I like to imagine myself as a writer and weaver of beautiful words. I think myself witty, cynical, and critical. My favorite works to read are historical .. more..

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