Another very long segment… Apparently leaving these companions in Grimrock for too long has them really wanting to continue their tale…
Tawmis Sanarius – Human (Son of Contar Stoneskull and Yennica Whitefeather)
Taren Bloodhorn – Minotaur
Blaz’tik – Insectoid
Silvertan – Lizardman
“We carry him,” Taren Bloodhorn growled.
Silvertan, his scales glistening in the flicking torch light, looked up, his voice hissing, “You can’t be serious? He will slow us down.”
“I will not leave the one who died so that we might live, down here, to be devoured by Crowern or some other horror,” Taren’s nostrils flared, his eyes dashing, looking for someone to challenge him. (1 – Read here what the Crowern are)
Blaz’tik placed his insect like arm on the Minotaur’s shoulder. “I understand what –tic!- your friend meant to you, but the –tic!- Lizardman is right. We carry the human, -tic!- we slow down. And in here, as you have seen, -tic!- sometimes split second reactions can make all the difference –tic!- in the world between life and a very painful –tic!- death.”
“Then you will have to leave without me,” Taren said as he kneeled down and picked up Tawmis’ body. “I will not leave my friend behind.”
Blaz’tik looked at Silvertan, hoping the Lizardman might have something to add to reason with the Minotaur. Instead, Silvertan simply shook his head, “They’re, no pun intended, bull headed. When they’ve made up their mind about something, that’s it. I am sure this Blood Oath that’s between them simply further complicates matters.”
Taren walked by the silent duo as they watched massive Minotaur, muscles rippling with each step, walk past them.
“It’s a good idea,” Silvertan hissed sarcastically through his thin, lizard-like lips, “to have your fighter with his hands full, in a dungeon chalk full of death around every corner.”
As they moved through Mount Grimrock in silence, Blaz’tik was overjoyed to find Herders that had been shredded. Eagerly his insectoid fingers clutched at that shattered remains of the once living mushroom like creatures. “This make –tic!- excellent spell components,” he explained, as Silvertan paused to stare at the strange creature questionably. (2 – Read about their encounter with Herders here.)
“What destroyed them,” Silvertan hissed. “That’s what I want to know. The way they’re just scattered about… whatever did it… did it simply to destroy.” Silvertan kneeled down and sniffed at some of the remains, “No. Something fed on these. But… what I smell… it can not be. There’s no way that they would be down here…”
Then there was a roar that came from far ahead of them.
Blaz’tik looked up and stared at Silvertan. “What… was –tic- that?”
Silvertan threw down the remains of the Herder. “Trouble. Very, very, serious trouble. Taren,” Silvertan hissed the Minotaur’s name.
Taren Bloodhorn turned slightly.
Silvertan gestured for the Minotaur to come back. Slowly the Minotaur made his way back to the Lizardman and the Insectoid, still carrying Tawmis’ body. “What?” the Minotaur asked, clearly showing his annoyance and being beckoned back.
“You must have heard that roar,” Silvertan began.
“An Ogre,” Taren explained.
“You know?” Silvertan asked, surprised, “And yet you walk in the direction the howl came from. I would recommend we turn around. Find another way.”
“There is no other way,” Taren said, matter-of-factly. “We’ve been marking the walls. We’ve gone in circles several times now. This passage is the only way ahead.”
“If there is an Ogre ahead, then the only thing that passage will lead to is death,” Silvertan explained. “Ogres frequently raided our homes in the Terragrass Marshes. They would decimate our population, slaughter our men, women and offspring – including the defenseless eggs. And for what? The sheer pleasure of murder and mayhem.”
“I am quite familiar with Ogres,” Taren explained. “In my homeland, in the City of Namaer; below our city is a large maze. When we reach the age of sixteen seasons; the men have to venture into one end of the maze and come out the other. It’s disorienting, and constantly changing. The walls move. Floors give way to lethal traps. But it’s not just the maze that tries to end your life. The maze is riddled with Tunnel Ogres, whose only goal is to crush your skull and feast on your flesh; because that is the only food they will get down there.”
“That is… a horrible tradition,” Silvertan gasped.
“Be it what it may,” Taren answered plainly, “it forges us into warriors. It makes us very aware of our surroundings.” He turned and faced the passage from which the Ogre’s howl had come from, “Now, if you don’t mind, I wish to proceed forward.”
Silvertan looked at Blaz’tik, who shrugged his insect shoulders, stuffing the last of the crumpled Herder corpses into his pouch. He had never encountered an Ogre of any kind; though he had heard enough stories to know that they were best avoided at all costs. Even Minotaurs, despite all of their strength, knowledge, and courage, took alternate paths, if it meant avoiding an Ogre.
“He’s lost his –tic!- best friend,” Blaz’tik clicked his mandibles. “And now, he –tic!- seeks his own death.”
“No,” Silvertan shook his head, following close behind Taren, who did not pay any attention to the Lizardman or the Insectoid behind him. “Suicide is dishonorable to the Minotaur people. I think he has it in his head, that his rage, and his heart and passion for his friend, will give him whatever strength he needs to keep the promise of us living through this.”
“But that –tic!- is ridiculous,” Blaz’tik sighed. “There is no logical –tic!- explanation that would permit such a feat.”
Silvertan paused. “Do not underestimate love, my friend.”
“Love?” Blaz’tik paused.
“I’ve never known it myself,” Silvertan said, after a moment of silence; his own mind reflecting to a distant memory of his own. “But they say that it is the most powerful weapon this world has to give us.”
“Still –tic!- nonsense,” Blaz’tik contended. “You can not –tic!- tell me that ‘love’ would protect him from a magical lightning bolt.”
“I can tell you that,” Silvertan said, almost smiling. “I just wouldn’t tell him that,” he gestured towards Taren who was still walking at a steady pace.
The roaring of the Ogre’s fury was getting closer.
Silvertan turned to Blaz’tik, “Be ready with your magic. I do not know what the Minotaur plans to do. But we must be ready to fight. To possibly give the Minotaur a chance to put the body of his friend down and fight this Ogre.”
Blaz’tik’s fingers nervously began fiddling with the gathered spell components he had acquired while being trapped in Mount Grimrock with the others. “I –tic!- shall be ready.”
The poorly illuminated hall opened up to a large room, where a number of skeletons could be seen having been scattered about. Most who entered Mount Grimlock hardly ever made it past this room.
There was a furious howl; that of an Ogre.
The towering, grotesque figure, which bore a close resemblance to perhaps a hairless minotaur; only towering another two feet above a standard Minotaur, pounded at on its deathly, grey colored flesh before picking up its mallet and proceeding to charge.
Taren did not even react as quickly as one might expect; instead, he slowly began to kneel down and lay the body of his dead friend gently on the ground, with all the respect one might expect a knight to give that of a king.
It had only been Blaz’tik’s quick thinking to shout, “Chal’nul Ku’lak!” while crushing bat dung and the remains of the Herder’s body fragments within his hand. A lightning shield appeared in front of Taren, which the Ogre slammed into. Electricity sparked wildly through the air, sending everyone’s hair standing on end. The Ogre began furiously pounding on the electrical shield, even as Taren slowly began to stand.
Blaz’tik winced, straining – his will against the brute strength of the Ogre, to maintain the spell. “I can not –tic!- hold this spell –tic!- much longer! The creature is too -tic!- powerful!”
“Lower the shield,” Taren said, no emotion in his voice.
“Draw your weapon first, Taren,” Silvertan said, drawing his own dagger.
“Lower the shield,” Taren repeated, with the same emotionless tone.
Blaz’tik looked at Silvertan questioningly. It certainly seemed like suicide. “You’re –tic!- sure about suicide being dishonorable, -tic!- correct?”
Silvertan did not reply; he simply nodded as he gripped the hilt of his dagger. Blaz’tik nodded in return and whispered, “Ku’lak Cha’nul,” and reversed the spell so the electrical shield that had protected them from the Ogre’s violent wrath came down.
The Ogre brought his mallet down; surprisingly to Blaz’tik and Silvertan, Taren caught the Ogre’s arm by its wrist and stopped it. An Ogre’s strength, even when young, was said to be three to five times that of the most durable and powerful minotaurs. Yet, Taren seemed to stop it as easily as he might have stopped an elf’s attempt to punch him.
This infuriated the Ogre, who then brought his other first crashing across Taren’s bull-like face. The blow struck hard enough to draw copious amounts of blood from Taren’s mouth, but the minotaur did not buckle under the Ogre’s crushing blow. The massive minotaur stared at the Ogre, who was now more furious than ever, that the Minotaur before it was somehow still standing.
Taren reached out with his free hand and grabbed the Ogre’s massive throat. The Ogre let out a surprised gurgling sound, but realized that despite the size of the Minotaur’s massive hand, it wasn’t enough to clasp around the Ogre’s throat to choke the life from it.
“Someone tell me to stop what I am about to do,” Silvertan hissed to no one in particular. He stepped back and vanished into the shadows.
Blaz’tik looked around a moment later and saw that the Lizardman had vanished. “He’s –tic!- abandoned us! Snuck by the –tic!- Ogre while Taren –tic!- fights it!” There was no time to panic. The Insectoid tried desperately to calm itself. Magic, it could fight. But sheer, brute strength. A hatred for anything living. That shook Blaz’tik to the core. He could already envision this Ogre cracking the Insectoid’s carapace shell and eating his insides, while he was probably still alive, no doubt!
“Erfin’ten,” Blaz’tik blurted as bursts of flames flew from his fingertips, flying around Taren’s massive body and striking the intended enemy. “Silvertan has left us,” Blaz’tik called out frantically.
“Do not be so sure,” Taren growled as he thrust his head forward and brought one of his horns, biting deep into the Ogre’s thick flesh. Taren pulled his head back, puncturing the Ogre’s flesh, where black blood now oozed from the new wound.
Still holding the Ogre’s right hand, which held the deadly mallet, Taren took his free hand and jabbed two fingers into the newly created wound on the Ogre’s chest. The Ogre howled in fury, and brought its left hand, striking down against Taren’s shoulder blade. The Minotaur winced in pain. The crushing blow felt as if it may have broken a bone or two.
Still Taren’s fingers dug into the Ogre’s wound, as if seeking to rip the Ogre apart from the inside. The Ogre only grew more furious, striking again, this time even harder. Now, Taren fell to one knee, pain wracking his body under the Ogre’s relentless pounding.
“We’re going to –tic!- die,” Blaz’tik muttered.
Despite the fiery pain, Taren repeated, “Do not be so sure.”
The Minotaur was clearly delusional. The Minotaur was already buckling under the Ogre’s assault. The human fighter had perished earlier. The Lizardman Rogue had taken to the shadows and left them. And Blaz’tik knew he was no match against the Ogre. Once the Minotaur feel, the Insectoid would only last three to five seconds – and that was being generous.
Just then, behind the Ogre, Blaz’tik saw something gleaming, only for a split second, before he realized it was Silvertan emerging out of the shadows from behind the Ogre. The Lizardman had climbed to a higher position, and was hoping that by leaping down on the towering Ogre, he could plunge the dagger deep into the base of the Ogre’s skull; know his own, natural strength would never penetrate the Ogre’s dense layer of fat around its bloated neck. Just as Silvertan leaped, Taren stood, bringing both of his horns into the Ogre’s chest, raising the Ogre upward, just as Silvertan’s dagger came down into the base of the Ogre’s neck with so much force, that the Ogre’s thick neck seemed to soak up the dagger and Silvertan’s hands for a brief moment.
The Ogre slammed its head backwards, feeling the stabbing pain, managing to only hit the dagger with the base of its own head, and plunging the dagger deeper, severing the Ogre’s spine. The Ogre, for a brief moment, had a look of surprise on its face, before realizing, not only had it been defeated, but it was dead.
With a loud thudding sound, the Ogre collapsed to the ground.
“We’re –tic!- alive,” Blaz’tik said, with genuine surprise. “We’re truly alive.”
Taren looked at the Insectoid Mage and shook his head. He then turned and picked up Tawmis’ corpse, treating it still, as if he was carrying the body of a king. Silvertan looked at his dagger in the base of the Ogre’s beck and after several tugs, managed to finally pry the dagger free. Green blood oozed from the base of the Ogre’s neck.
Blaz’tik kneeled down and pulled a small vial out from one of his bags. Silvertan looked at the Insectoid. “What are you doing?”
“Ogres’ blood,” Blaz’tik began to explain, “makes for a –tic!- very powerful spell component. It can –tic!- enhance a spell tenfold.”
“That’s wonderful,” Silvertan said, regarding the oozing Ogre’s blood with disgust, as it was thick and chunky and it poured out of the gaping, fatal wound.
Up ahead, Taren suddenly stopped as he peeked around the corner cautiously, making sure not to strike Tawmis’ corpse against the wall. He turned, his eye brows pushed together in an angry fashion. “Blaz, get up here.”
The Insectoid did not hesitate, after he capped off the Ogre’s blood. “What –tic!- is it?”
“Around the corner,” Taren whispered. “Something… not natural. What is it?”
Blaz’tik sighed. “That –tic!- is an Uggardian. They say, countless years ago Uggardiands were summoned by powerful mages to guard the tombs of old kings. But as centuries turned to dust and once thriving civilization faded into oblivion still the Uggardians guarded the collapsed and rotten tombs of nameless kings that no one lived to remember. Uggardians were trapped and couldn’t return into their own plane of existence because the ancient summoning magic was still strong and chained them into their duty. The Summoners had died ages ago and they were the only ones with enough power so summon or release beings of Outer Realms. The story goes on to say that The First Mages, the Designers, the –tic!- Goromorg – whatever name you want to call them – cast a spell to summon all the Uggardians into Mount Grimrock to roam the halls and protect ‘The Undying One.’”
“The Undying One,” Taren huffed. “Even my people have heard of the ‘Undying One’ – and it’s all just a legend. A creature so evil, so powerful, dwelling here? In this mountain? Why has it not come out and ruled the world then?”
“That remains unknown,” Blaz’tik shrugged. “But that is what the legends and historian have supposedly –tic!- documented.”
“First the Ogre, and now this,” Taren thought for a moment. “Someone is going out of their way to guard something.” Taren turned to Blaz’tik again, “Can you destroy that thing with your magic? Dispel it or something? Send it back to the Outer Realms or whatever?”
“Destroy it?” Blaz’tik scoffed. “With a single spell? No. The –tic!- Uggardians are powerful beings. And I am not –tic!- advanced enough – no one is, anymore – to open –tic!- the Outer Realms portal to send that thing back. Well, no one –tic!- save the Goromorg; but I do not foresee them –tic!- assisting us, as they’re the ones who summoned these –tic!- creatures here!”
Silvertan suddenly whispered directly into Blaz’tik’s ear, “The Ogre’s Blood.” The Lizardman’s voice nearly startled Blaz’tik into a screaming fit. “You said it enhanced spells. You had cast an ice spell before to slow down the green slime blob creatures we encountered – do you think…”
“That a single –tic!- ice spell would destroy the fiery essence of a Uggardian?” Blaz’tik shook his head. “No, -tic!- not even with Ogre Blood.”
“Could it freeze it, even for just a moment,” Taren asked.
“With Ogre Blood –tic!- I suppose it could,” Blaz’tik nodded.
“Then that’s what we shall do,” Taren said, setting down Tawmis’ corpse.
“Wait, -tic!-,” Blaz’tik asked, “what are we doing?”
“You’re going to cast the ice spell you did before on the green slime,” Taren explained, “this time on the Uggardian creature.”
“Then what?” Blaz’tik asked nervously.
“Leave that part up to me,” Taren replied.
“Leave –tic!- that part up to you,” Blaz’tik muttered to himself. “That’s –tic!- exactly what I was afraid –tic!- you would say!” Blaz’tik crushed the antenna of the snail, rubbing it firmly between his two palms, then took the vial of Ogre Blood and poured it on his two index fingers. “Ey’cee Ewe!” Bolts of chilling frost blasted from his fingertips with such force that it sent him three steps back. The Uggardian, unaware of the attack was suddenly encased within ice.
That’s when Blaz’tik saw Taren simply rush the once fiery creature, slamming his bull horns into the center of the creature, shattering it like a statue. Blaz’tik stood there in amazement for a moment, surprised that the creature was so easily dispatched. He made a mental note to notate the power Ogre’s Blood did to a spell. It had made it far more powerful than even he had anticipated.
Taren quickly returned and picked up Tawmis’ corpse and turned around. “Now,” he said, “let’s see what’s behind that blue door that both the Ogre and the Uggardian were set up to guard.”
They moved across the room quickly, knowing that the noise had undoubtedly echoed down the hallways and gathered the attention of the other denizens of Mount Grimrock. Silvertan opened the door – and just inside, a large blue, pulsating crystal that hovered above the ground.
“What did you call that thing again?” Taren asked.
“A heart,” Blaz’tik replied. (3. Read about when Blaz’tik called the stone a ‘Heart.’).
Suddenly Taren’s eyes went wide. “What else did you say about it before? You said something…”
Blaz’tik looked at Silvertan and shrugged, before he looked back at Taren. “I had said, this stone –tic!- is part of what gives Grimrock life. This stone helps ignite the torches I –tic!- mentioned. It also helps –tic!- shape the very things we have encountered.”
“You said something after that,” Taren turned to Blaz’tik, a crazed look in his eyes.
Blaz’tik thought for a moment. “I had said it brings –tic!- life to Grimrock, through magic…” Suddenly Blaz’tik realized what Taren had been getting at. “You can not –tic!- be serious, Taren. He would never approve! You know how –tic!- he hates magic! He would –tic!- never forgive you. And there is a chance, since –tic!- he’s dead that it would not work! These were originally Heal Stones, but the First Mages, like everything else –tic!- enhanced it, and corrupted it, to make it more powerful! What if –tic! – he returns as a zombie? An undead, soulless person? Could you –tic!- live with that?”
Taren paused, and whispered, “I could. Much easier than knowing that I never tried, and that I would be forced to go on in this life without the only person who has ever truly believed and cared for me.”
“Love,” Silvertan whispered behind Blaz’tik, from the shadows.
Blaz’tik turned to Silvertan, “This,” he gestured to Taren, who was setting Tawmis’ corpse next to the blue, pulsating stone, “This is –tic!- folly.”
“Love,” Silvertan repeated. “Love is folly. But, without it, we are no more alive than this,” he placed his hand on the wall, indicating the living stone of Mount Grimrock.
Blaz’tik shook his head. Among his people, there was no such emotion as ‘love.’ They mated for survival, with whomever, among their kind, to keep their race alive. There was no courtship. No love. No attachment. After the mating, each member would part ways, and continue leaving their lives with no obligations; save for all of the males protected all of the females and the eggs, not just the ones they had mated with.
Taren kneeled and prayed to whatever Gods might be listening. “You know my heart’s desire,” he said. “I need him to live. It’s not that I want him to live. I need him to live,” Taren emphasized.
“This is foolish,” Blaz’tik repeated. “This will not end –tic!- well. We may have to –tic!- kill him ourselves if he rises as some form of –tic!- undead creature.”
Silvertan looked at Blaz’tik with a look that spoke volumes; saying simply, “Be silent, if Taren hears you, he will kill you himself.”
Blaz’tik fell into silence.
Taren took in a deep breath. “This has to work,” he whispered to no one in particular; for no one, save for the Gods, could perhaps hear his choked plea. He touched Tawmis’ hand to the blue pulsating stone, and waited.
A minute had gone by, still Taren held Tawmis’ hand, touching the stone.
“Perhaps he’s been –tic!- dead too long,” Blaz’tik said. “Or perhaps –tic!- what the Crimson Order did to him –tic!- prevents him from living again.”
“No,” Taren growled. “I will not give up. We have fought monsters of every kind in this damn mountain. We have already given so much. It’s time that this damn mountain give back to us now!”
“That’s –tic!- not how it works,” Blaz’tik explained.
“Then we make it work that way!” Taren growled. “Cast a spell on that stone! Make it flow life into his body!”
“I know of no –tic!- magic that could do that,” Blaz’tik said matter-of-factly. “We need to keep going. The –tic!- sounds from the fight are bound to attract more creatures this way. If we don’t leave –tic!- now, we will find ourselves fighting –tic!- something again – very soon.”
Silvertan placed a reassuring hand on Taren’s shoulder. “I hate to admit it,” his voice said, hissing, “but the Insectoid is right. We need to keep moving. I will help carry him, if you wish. We will give him a proper burial when we get out of here. We will speak endlessly of his name and heroics. We will make him a legend. We will make him immortal through story and tales.”
Taren stood up and pushed Silvertan. “I don’t want him alive and immortal through tales and stories,” the minotaur growled, his nostrils flaring. “I want him alive. Alive to drink with me. To laugh about what we lived through. To be my friend.”
“He will always be your friend,” Silvertan said, standing up. “But it’s time you let him go. It’s time to accept that he is…”
“Alive,” Blaz’tik sputtered.
“What?” Taren turned to look.
Tawmis’ eyes fluttered.
“What,” he wheezed, “are you two fighting about now?”
TO BE CONTINUED?
Well, of course!