Bommlech Blackbeard the barbaric Dwarf became known in
legend, even in his own time, as the ugliest creature ever to walk the
earth. Whether or not this was true is questionable, but he was
certainly the most hideous dwarf in his clan. With his unwashed, unkempt
hair, his wrinkled, scarred, and battered skin, his dark, sunken eyes,
and his rotten teeth, there was not a single creature that did not find
him repulsive. As he sat there on a rock in the midst of his dwarven
comrades, the others kept well away from him. He reached up and grasped
the long, greasy black hair above his eyes with one hand. Then he
brought his handaxe up behind the wad of hair and chopped. With this
accomplished he tossed the wad of fur away and put his handaxe back on
his belt. This was the only trimming Bomm ever did to his hair. Indeed,
it was probably the only act akin to hygiene that he ever bothered with
“Would it kill ye to just fix yer hair
up behind yer head like so?” asked Dabfrag Firebeard, in his typical
deep, stoic tone.
Bomm looked up at the dwarven
blacksmith. Dabfrag was a member of the royal family of the Firebeard
clan, a blood descendant of the ancient clan’s forefathers. Bomm was a
member of a smaller clan that had been nearly destroyed in a great war
before the Firebeards had taken them under their wing. Dabfrag had the
bright red-orange, fiery beard that gave his clan their name, and he
kept it neatly knotted up in two long braids. The hair on his head was
always braided as well, to keep it out of his eyes. Dabfrag’s armor was
shining silver and gold in the light, for he always kept it as clean as
possible. He was armed with a large square tower-shield and a heavy
“Bah!” Bomm grunted in his gruff,
growling voice, “Why would ye bother with such nonsense when he can just
chop the hair off?”
“I don’t see ye trimmin’ the rest o’
yer beard, Bomm.”
“That’s ‘cause there’s no use in it.
The rest o’ the beard don’t get in me way, and ‘twould be troublesome to
trim this much. I never wash it nuther.”
“I needn’t be reminded. Yer smell is
enough for a legion o’ goblins to track ye from as far as a mile away.”
“Let ‘em come,” Bomm growled. “I’d
welcome a band o’ goblins right about now. I want some action! And
there’s nothin’ quite as fun as choppin’ up goblin filth. Except maybe
choppin’ up dark elves.”
“I suppose ye love this war, don’t ya?”
Dabfrag said with a sigh.
“This war? This particular war? Nah,
not so much. I haven’t gotten to kill enough yet. In the war that killed
most o’ me clan, I killed fifty-six enemies. Counted ‘em. Made sure each
one was dead. Killed the whole group o’ goblins that took down me
Dabfrag looked down. He rarely spoke
with Bomm, since Bomm was a mere infantry commander and Dabfrag was a
royal blacksmith, but he had heard much of the dwarf’s exploits. And
from the reputation the deepstone dwarf had acquired, Dabfrag was
surprised to hear him speaking of his past and his parents.
“What happened to yer father? Ye
avenged him, then?”
Bomm screwed his mouth up and looked up
at the ceiling, as if thinking back that many decades was a difficult
task. Dabfrag doubted if it truly was, even for him. Dwarves had long
lifespans, and excellent memories. Bomm’s life had not been an easy one.
Even after his clan had been conquered by the Firebeards, Bomm had been
exiled from the entire cave complex for murder, of which he was, of
course, guilty. For many years he’d been forced to live in the
wilderness of the North like a barbarian, and it had clearly done
nothing but made him even tougher. Only recently had he been allowed
back into the clanhall as a mercenary to help with the war effort
against the dark elves.
At last Bomm seemed to recall the
memory. “Lessee… Me an’ me old man was havin’ an argument ‘bout somethin’
stupid that he did. Tha’s right: he ordered a retreat, an’ I wanted to
advance. So there we was, arguin’ about it, when a group o’ goblins
ambushes our camp. I says a group, but ‘twas more like a small army.
They came at random, with no coordination. I think we’d already killed
their leader an’ now they were jus’ movin’ as a mob. Anyway, the old man
killed sixteen of ‘em ‘afore the six er seven arrows stikin’ in ‘im
finally did ‘im in. I didn’ care so much, really. He was a hateful old
beast an’ ‘e ‘ad it comin’. But boy was I proud o’ ‘im fer puttin’ up
sich a fight! Tha’s just the way I wanna die. Jus’ like that. Only
‘stead o’ six arrows stickin’ in me, ‘twill be more like eighty-sev’n.
By this point Dabfrag was beginning to
tire of the story. He could tell it was simply becoming a rant about
Bomm’s “heroic” exploits. “So yer father’s death didn’ make ye so much
as shed a tear?”
Bomm spat on the ground. “Nah. I jus’
howled with rage. Well, not so much rage. It was more like exhilaration.
Seein’ me old man die like that… Gods, it was great! What a sight! What
a sight indeed! So there I stood with all that was left o’ me comrades,
an’ we held off the advancin’ horde. I broke two axes durin’ the fight,
an’ when I was done with it, I came out o’ the battle with two arrows
stuck in me an’ a goblin blade lodged in me shoulder. They said I grew
two shades paler that day, jus’ cause o’ losin’ so much blood. I ‘spect
I’ve drank a fair share enough to gain ‘em back though.”
Dabfrag groaned. He too was longing for
a goblin attack by this point, simply to end Bomm’s rambling.
Still the dwarf went on. “I’m tougher
than me old man though. They say me real father was a mountain
This was the most ridiculous claim yet,
and Dabfrag could not help but laugh. Bomm looked up at him in outrage,
but finally both their prayers were answered by a cry from afar off down
the dark tunnel: “Dark elves! The Dark Elves are ‘ere again!”
The dwarf that came running down the
tunnel crying this warning was Vegnar Firebeard. He too had the red
beard of his clan, but his was less pure than Dabfrag’s and therefore
less brightly-colored. Vegnar, son of Gunnarr, was a great war leader of
the clan, and his tactical skills were nearly unmatched. He wore the
same shining plate-mail armor as Dabfrag, but his was slightly less
ornate. He was armed with a large round shield and a dwarven battleaxe.
“Another attack so soon?” Dabfrag
“Aye,” answered Vegnar, looking around
at the preparations. “I wish we’d had more time to set up the defenses.”
The dwarves had been digging in these
mines for decades before they ever found the dark elves. At first they
thought they’d finally found a place that was devoid of their worst
enemies, but they were wrong. The deeper they dug, the darker the rocks
grew, until they looked very similar to the deep ones in the ancient
mines they had fled from. And that was when they had struck something
thick, rich, and black. Not oil… but dark elves, a whole army of them.
“Blood! Blood!” Bomm snarled, tossing
himself into the mood again by snarling and brandishing his huge, rusty
axe as his filthy armor creaked and clattered. “Let’s have at ‘em!”
The three dwarves led the line of stout
dwarf soldiers that now came rushing out of their homes built into the
rock walls. They formed a solid line stretching form one side of the
tunnel to the other, and they advanced to their previously constructed
fortifications; mere low wooden walls that they could crouch behind
until the enemy came close enough to strike. The other dwarves stayed
hidden in their homes, ready to ambush the dark elves when they flooded
the tunnel. Only a small cluster of dwarven archers stood behind the
front lines, bows at the ready. Archery was a rarely practiced sport
among the dwarves, since quarters were so tight underground, so most of
them were armed with small crossbows, and a few backup throwing axes.
As the leaders of the
group stood watching, they saw a pair of tiny specks of light appear in
the distance. More and more appeared, until there was a swarm of them
dancing before their eyes.
“Dark elves never light torches…”
Dabfrag muttered. “must be fire-archers! Take cover!”
He was right. Soon a shower of flaming
arrows rained down upon the dwarves. Their fortifications caught most of
the flak, saving them from the arrows, but not from the flame. The
simple walls were made of wood, which quickly caught fire. Dabfrag saw
that the forts were now no use, so he stopped to think of what to do.
But before he could give an order, he heard Bomm cry out.
Dabfrag flew through the burning walls,
a ball of furry dwarven fury, spinning his axe high over his head. The
other dwarves soon followed, crying out to their gods and to the blood
that was about to be spilled. They met the dark elves half way and
clashed. It was a bloody massacre, with no thought given to strategy.
The dark elves had not expected a charge so soon and Bomm had not given
formation orders to the dwarves, so it was every man for himself.
Dabfrag and Vegnar tried to put some order into things by getting the
dwarves to form a shield wall to keep the dark elves out of the main
village, but they had little success. All concern for his comrades had
flown from the eyes of Bomm Blackbeard, however. He waded into his foes,
axe swinging, taking multiple hits but dishing out twice as many. Then
Dabfrag heard the dark elf commander give the order to retreat. He
breathed a sigh of relief.
But Bomm would have none of it. As the
commander was turning to face his troops while issuing the order, Bomm
came up behind him and split his spinal column with a heavy swing of his
axe. The rusty old axe head broke on the tough dark-elven armor, but it
left a bit of itself behind, which had managed to pierce through, right
into the commander’s backbone. The dark elf fell to the ground, dropping
his own twisted black battleaxe and falling on his face in a pool of his
Bomm roared, tossing away his broken
weapon and taking up the one dropped by his fallen foe. “Victory! Cut
‘em down! Leave no elf standin’!”
As he gripped the dark elf battleaxe
with both his hands, he noticed something strange. There was a red eye,
made from some kind of gem, imbedded between the double axe heads. As he
watched, the eye began to glow brightly. But Bomm had no time to think
about that. He hefted the weapon and jogged off in pursuit of his foes.
The other dwarves, emboldened by his show, moved in behind him,
screaming war cries.
The dark elves were faster than the
dwarves, and they soon escaped… but not all of them. Any who stumbled,
any who staggered or were injured, were cut down by the dwarven mob.
Before long they reached the escape tunnels at the end of the main
tunnel. The dark elves scampered into their holes and disappeared. Bomm
was about to give the order to continue pursuit, but Dabfrag, panting
and trying to keep up, ordered them to halt. The two dwarves exchanged
hot words, filled with many curses, especially on Bomm’s side, but it
was clear that most of the soldiers sided with Dabfrag. They had seen
enough battle for one day.
Bomm’s spittle flew as he shouted
curses. “Ye fools! The black dogs will be back unless we chase ‘em
deeper, all the way back to their city! And then we’ve got to burn the
city down too! They won’t stop until they do the same to us, so let’s
give ‘em a taste o’ their own…”
“Shut up, you fool!” Dabfrag shouted,
interrupting the raging dwarf. “We must discuss this with the king. It
is not our decision.”
“I am here!” came a voice from behind
They turned, and beheld the elderly
white-bearded dwarf king staggering up behind them. He was stout and
straight, but walked with a hobble and a cane, due to his old age. The
older dwarves knew most of this was merely for show, and King Frumbol
could best nearly anyone present. His friends knew him as Frummo, the
happy warrior. But now, as King, his happiness had begun to wane, not
“So what’ll it be, ‘me king’?” Bomm
snapped, “Sit here like cowards or start our campaign against the dark
The dwarves in the group all turned to
regard the king, who stood solemn and thoughtful. His eyes were open,
but distant, as if remembering things long past. He was old, older than
even the tunnels in which they stood. He had seen the days long ago,
which none of them remembered. He had seen the great war with the giants
that had ended in the destruction of several dwarven clans, and he had
seen the merger of clans Firebeard and Blackbeard into one, under the
Firebeard banner. King Frumbol was a pure Firebeard of the founding
bloodline, and he was Dabfrag’s great grandfather. The blacksmith felt
sure he would side with peace.
He was wrong.
“We will hunt them down and burn their
city to ashes,” said the king, in a low voice, filled with ancient hate.
“We will end this once and for all! Decades ago I saw many of my kind
slain by these demons, and I learned one thing… They will never accept
peace. If we let them live, they will attack us again. So on to
The dwarves all cheered, and Bomm
smiled a bloodthirsty, hideous grin. Dabfrag stood stunned, not
believing what he was hearing. But Dabfrag was a stoic, and above all
else, loyal dwarf. He dropped his head on his chest and did not say a
word in argument.
“I reckon ol’ Frummo’s the angry
warrior now…” he muttered.
“I’ll lead the vanguard group to scout
out the tunnels!” Bomm shouted. “Who’s with me? Let’s start right away!”
“Vegnar Firebeard will be in charge of
the offensive movements, Bommlech!” the king shouted.
Several of the dwarves looked at Bomm
as if he had lost his senses, but some of the younger ones volunteered
immediately, and with great fervor. Their fathers tried to stop them,
but they could not hold them back. As Bomm disappeared into one of the
small holes the dark elves had retreated into, no less than nineteen
dwarves followed right behind him.
“This cannot end well,” Dabfrag said.
“Not even if it ends in victory.”
“What do you mean, son?” asked King
“I do not believe in the complete
extermination of any species of any kind,” Dabfrag answered, “But if it
is your will… then I will see it done.”
Bomm’s party did not have to search
long before they ran into what they were looking for. They were ambushed
by a dark elf war party that had been hiding in wait on the very cave
ceiling. They dropped down into the middle of the dwarves as they were
running along, and so the fight began. Bomm had no trouble fighting off
his own foes, but he gave no thought to his terrified party members. The
dark elves were too numerous for the twenty dwarves, and they cut them
down one by one. But Bomm held out, fighting off almost five at a time
with his sheer rage and toughness.
He loved this axe! This
black axe had taken from the dark elf commander made him feel almost
invincible. He felt a thirst for blood such as he had never felt before.
But when a dark elf arrow hit him in the arm was when his rage truly
kicked in. It threw him into a mad, bloodthirsty frenzy. He snarled and
foamed at the mouth, feeling no pain, cutting down dark elf after dark
elf, splitting skulls and lobbing off heads. The eye on the axe grew
brighter with each swing, every time it tasted blood.
But he could not keep it up forever.
When the third dark elf sword managed to pierce through his armor, he
stumbled to the ground, his vision spinning. He gasped for breath,
losing consciousness quickly as more blood spilled from his body. The
last thing he heard was something about his black axe belonging to a
drow commander, and how he was to be taken alive for due punishment.
Then all went black…
The squeaking, tiny rodent made its way
meekly under the metal door and into the dark stone room. It was damp,
and pitch-black dark. Even the rat could not see a thing. It could only
hear breathing. Something was breathing in the far corner of the room,
in the darkness. The rat paused a moment to sniff at the air. It was the
last breath it ever took. In the blink of an eye, a half-naked, hideous,
sweaty, hairy little dwarf leapt from the shadows with an angry snarl.
His stubby hands grasped the rat around the throat and snapped its neck.
For a moment the dwarf sat there on his knees, breathing heavily,
looking down at the creature in his hands. He swallowed hard. Despite
his animalistic appearance, even Bommlech Blackbeard was reluctant to
sink his rotten teeth into the filthy fur of that wretched creature.
But finally he shrugged
and lifted the animal to his gaping maw. But before he could bite, he
heard the door to his cell slide open. Bomm scrambled to his bed, where
was lying the broken dark elf arrow that he had pulled out of his
shoulder after the battle. Once it was in his hands he smiled and almost
giggled with anticipation. As soon as the door was open, and Bomm could
see the shadow of the prison guard in the opening, he pounced, just as
he had done at the rat.
The dwarf landed right on
top of the guard, knocking him off his feet. The broken wooden arrow
slid in and out of the prison guard’s throat, again and again, and then
it found its way into his chest, through a crack in his armor. Bomm
shoved it in as far as he could, and then he stood up, surveying his
bloody work. It was done, he thought with satisfaction, like a real
professional. The dwarf then drew out the prison guard’s long black
sword and turned to leave. Another shadow stood in the doorway, however,
this one holding a whip.
“That is why only
worthless minions go in first,” he said. “The dwarves who ordered you in
probably thought no more of you than I did that guardsman you just
killed. Now, prepare to enter the next world.”
The whip snapped out,
lashing around the dwarf’s arm. He tried to break free, but as he did
so, another whip lashed out at him. This one bit into his skin,
stinging terribly. He bit his lip and fell to his knees, but he did not
cry out, even when the whip bit into him again and again. Eventually he
dropped his sword, and then the second prison guard advanced and,
binding the dwarf’s wrists together, led him out of the room.
Bomm was dragged bodily through the halls
by a pair of dark elves and tossed into another dark room. They let him
hit the ground hard on the face, then picked him up and strung him by
his arms and legs to the wall. Finally, a light found its way into the
room. It was a soft, greenish light, being emitted from a tiny crystal
in the hand of a dark elf. It was the most light that Bomm had seen in
many days. He hissed between his teeth and squinted his eyes. The dark
elf smiled, his dark skin cracking open to reveal strikingly pale,
perfectly white teeth. Bomm looked around the room. He was bound to a
stone wall, right beside another unfortunate prisoner tied up in the
same fashion. Bomm felt like laughing… It was a goblin.
Goblins were small, green
or grey-skinned underground creatures, with large eyes and long, pointed
ears and noses. They had no hair, and typically scampered around
hunchbacked. Some reports declared that they were reputed to be
relatively intelligent, but they were so aggressive, uncommunicative,
and reclusive, that most surface-dwelling sentient races considered them
little more than pests… the dwarves in particular. They had more trouble
with goblins than they ever did with dark elves, though the goblins were
far more easily dispatched. This goblin looked to be in particularly bad
shape. He was skinny as a rail, just grey skin and bones really, and he
moaned constantly. The dark elves had been torturing him quite a bit.
“Great,” Bomm said. “Bein’
thrown in a cage by dark elves is bad enough, but to be caged up with a
“Ah, stuff it,” spat the
goblin in its high-pitched, hissing voice, “I don’t think it very
pleasant to be here with you either, dwarf!”
“How’d ye get to be so
“How’d you get to be so
“Right back at ya!”
The drow torturer stopped
them both from talking by cracking his whip between their eyes. They
turned and snarled at him, at least until he snapped both his whips
right across their faces. The Goblin screamed, but Bomm just closed his
eyes and licked up the blood as it rolled into his mouth. Then he spat
it back at his torturer. It was quite a spit too, hitting the dark elf
on the chest. The elf looked down at his lavender and black leather
clothing and frowned, and then he whipped Bomm several more times in
rapid succession. Bomm winced and growled, but never cried out.
“This one is a tough one,”
said the torturer, “but everything can be broken.”
“I’ll never answer yer
questions!” shouted Bomm.
“Questions? Why I have no
questions for you, dwarf. I am simply here to torture you and kill you.
You killed the son of a great warlord and stole his axe, slaughtering
many dark elves with it. For that, you must suffer… and die. No, only
your goblin companion will live through the night. I have plenty of
questions for him…”
And with that the dark elf
began his grizzly work. He whipped Bomm until his blood ran freely onto
the floor in a pool. Then he burned the wounds shut again with a heated
poker, one by one, slowly. Throughout all of this, Bomm stayed
conscious, snarling and screaming through tightly-clenched teeth at
intervals. The dark elf tried even more tortures, such as hanging the
dwarf from the ceiling by his beard and singing him with acids, but
throughout all of it Bomm remained conscious. He never gave in
completely. When he was not screaming or growling, he was spewing the
most vulgar curses he could think of. And what an arsenal! The goblin
and even the dark elf were highly impressed with the dwarf’s sizable
repertoire of curses. Some were dwarven in nature, some human, both
Imperial and Barbarian, and some were even elf, dark elf, and goblin
swears. And many were very creative ones invented on the spot. Finally
the dark elf torture master could take it no longer. The dwarf was one
great mound of wounds now, and there was little more the elf could do.
So he drew out his sword.
“Time to finish this,” he
“Bloody coward!” Bomm
growled hoarsely, coughing up blood. “Me… ghost will come and… haunt ye
while… when yer gone, and… an’ I’ll scream even more curses in yer ear,
the likes o’ which ye’ve never heard! Ye’ll never get… a wink o’ sleep…
if yer kind… even… sleep… at all… and… and… ye’ll…”
Before he could finish his
ranting, the dark elf advanced and stabbed his thin, serrated blade
right into the dwarf’s head through his eye. Bomm let out a final
blood-curdling yell, causing the prison guards to cover their ears, and
then he fell silent. The elf drew the blade back out, but the dwarf’s
eyeball came with it. The elf smiled as he wiped the bit of gore off on
“Now it is your turn,” he
said to the quivering, terrified goblin, “I have many questions for you,
Through the entire torture
session, the goblin had watched, horrified, his eyes shutting and
widening at intervals. Now he looked at the dark elf with an expression
of the purest terror. But despite his natural cowardice and fear of the
great pain he had witnessed, the struggle of that nearly invincible
dwarf filled his small black heart with something akin to courage. He
would resist… even if he doubted he would last long.
The goblin known to his people as
Siddo’ak, but to himself as Citoach since he preferred the spelling,
opened his eyes to find he was being dragged down a dark, dank hallway
by a rough black hand. Beside him, the body of Bomm Blackbeard was being
dragged as well. Both of them left a trail of blood behind as they
scraped along the floor. Citoach whimpered, which he quickly learned was
a bad idea when he received a sharp kick to the ribs. The dark elves had
whipped him, burned him, starved him, beaten him, and done everything
else they could think of to him. Luckily the pain was gone now. Or else
he just hurt so much all over that it drowned itself out.
“He’s alive,” one of the dark elves
said in their native tongue.
The one dragging Bomm answered, “The
goblin? Yes, it doesn’t matter. They won’t live for long where we’re
taking them. They’ll join that monster’s collection of bones soon
Citoach felt himself lifted bodily off
the ground, and he saw Bomm’s corpse rise into the air beside him. The
dark stone walls of the room whirled before his eyes, and then he felt
himself falling. As he fell, things grew darker and darker, until there
was no light at all – just blackness. Then he landed with a crunch on
top of something. He felt it digging into his skin. He knew immediately
what it was… bones. He had landed on a pile of bones.
“Typical…” he sighed.
The goblin scampered to his feet and
brushed himself off. He was almost naked, wearing only a loincloth, and
he was actually surprised that the dark elves had allowed him even that
shred of decency. Citoach leaned over and began scampering forward on
all fours, feeling his way along in the darkness. There were several
different kinds of skeletons; some sharp, and some round, like skulls.
Eventually he reached the end of the bone pile and felt only hard rock
beneath him. Suddenly his head struck the wall. It was cold and clammy,
wet to the touch. Citoach had no idea where to go, so he simply sat down
against the wall and began to moan. He was tired, so he soon fell
When Citoach awoke, it frightened him
that he could not see. At first he thought he had gone blind. Then he
remembered where he was, and what had happened to him, and his wounds
started to ache all over again. As he sat there, he noticed his other
senses had grown much keener. He was used to spending time in darkness,
but usually his sensitive eyes could pick up at least a little bit of
light. Here there was none… but he could hear perfectly well.
The sound that he heard
chilled him to the bones.
It was breathing. Not his breathing,
but the ragged, hissing breathing of some other creature in the room. It
sounded like it was breath being drawn in and out, slowly but surely,
between rows of broken teeth. He held his breath again to make sure it
was not him, because he felt sure that was what his breathing would
sound like. But even as he held his breath, the sound still came to his
ears. He swallowed hard.
Then, suddenly, the breathing stopped.
He heard the bones rattling in the cave in front of him. Citoach curled
up into a ball and held perfectly still, eyes wide, trying to keep as
quiet as possible. He could hear the creature moving through the bones
now, for it was impossible to move silently in that mess. Then it seemed
to stop moving. It had apparently reached the edge of the bone pile some
distance off. It was impossible to tell where the creature was now.
Citoach closed his eyes. He almost hoped that the creature would find
him and end his misery.
Then it did. He felt a thick hand grasp
his skinny forearm in its vice-like grip. Citoach squealed at the top of
his lungs, a scream that echoed through the cave. He tried to run, but
the creature held him in its grasp and would not budge.
A deep, gruff voice, a voice that
sounded like it was coming out of a puddle of gurgling blood, spoke in
the darkness. “Too… skinny…”
“W-what?” Citoach squeaked.
“I said yer too skinny,” the voice
croaked. “Bloody goblin…”
Citoach’s eyes, if anyone could have
seen them, were as wide as saucers by now, “A-a-a-are y-y-you… the
Bomm grunted. “Aye.”
“But you had a sword rammed through
your head! I saw you die! Are you a ghost… a walking
“If I were a zombie would I be talkin’
to ye right now? Get up before I change me mind and eat ye anyway. It
takes more ‘an a skinny dark elf sword ta kill me, shorty. It looks like
you was able to live through the torture; what makes ye think I
“I would have died from blood loss,”
the goblin hissed, “but they cauterized my wounds shut when they poked
me with hot irons right after whipping me.”
“Me too,” replied Bomm Blackbeard, “I’m
a goin back there if it be the last thing I do.”
“Are you crazy? What do you want,
revenge for your eye or something?”
Citoach nearly choked. “What! You mean
you didn’t notice that they cut out your eyeball and threw it on
Bomm reached up and felt of his face.
“Ouch. Yep, they cut out me damn eye! I didn’t even notice; ‘twas so
dark down here an’ I hurt so much all over anyway. Those bloody freaks!
I’m gonna kill ‘em all fer this! I’ll roast ‘em alive!”
“They’ll certainly be surprised to see
you… You survived being stabbed straight in the head! The gods must
really be looking out for you.”
“The gods ain’t got nothin’ to do with
it. I’m just mean, that’s all. If yer mean enough, ye can live through
anythin’. Now where’s a good weapon so I can go kill some dark elves.”
“They tossed us down in a pit,” Citoach
said. “There’s no way out. The walls are too slick to climb and…”
“What?” Bomm asked, for Citoach had
paused in mid-sentence as if on a sudden thought.
“They uh… said there was a monster
living down here.”
On perfect timing, as if it had been
called for, they heard a loud hissing sound. A few bones rattled,
heralding the approach of something.
“Well, it won’t get me without a
fight!” Bomm growled. “Grab the longest, sharpest bone ye can find, and
when ye hears it get close, take a good jab in the direction o’ the
“Okay, okay,” replied the terrified
goblin, frantically, “but let me hold your arm… so that we each know
where the other is.”
“What? Hold me arm? This ain’t no
“We don’t want to stab each other in
the back, do we?!”
Bomm considered answering in the
affirmative, but he thought better of it. “Fine. Gimme yer skinny arm.”
Citoach soon thought better of this
decision, because as soon as Bomm had a hold on his arm, the dwarf let
out a war cry and charged in the direction of the shuffling noises.
Citoach squealed in terror as he was dragged bodily along. Then he heard
a snap, right past his face. He felt something cold touch his nose. Then
there was another snap.
“It’s got me leg in its claw!” Bomm
cried out, “Stab it! Stab it!”
The terrified goblin heard what sounded
like two bones connecting sharply, and then he stabbed in the direction
of the sound. He was rewarded with a gush of blood hitting him in the
face, and then another squeal pierced the air. Citoach squealed as well,
because he felt something long and hairy pass over his body. Once it had
passed over, the claw flew past his face again.
“Cut off the hairy things!” Citoach
cried out. “They’re its antennae! If you get rid of them you’ll blind
Bomm grunted in the affirmative.
Citoach felt another hairy tendril touch is arm, and then he felt Bomm
let go. The dwarf grasped the antenna with his hand and jerked, hard.
The tendril didn’t break loose, so Bomm started whacking at it with the
bone in his hand. Then he felt another antenna pass over him. He grabbed
this one as well. As soon as he did, he felt another claw grab his other
leg. He was held firmly in a very awkward position now, both his feet
clamped tight in the creature’s claws, and the creature’s antennae in
each hand. On a sudden thought, he wound the antennae around each other
and tied them in a knot. Holding the knot in one hand, he grabbed
another sharp bone with his free hand. Then he felt himself being pulled
in. The creature’s jaws began to bite into his leg. Bomm growled
ferociously… and then he stuffed the creature’s antennae into its own
The loudest and most painful-sounding
cry that the two of them had ever heard suddenly echoed throughout the
dark tunnel. The creature had eaten the ends of its own feelers. It
released Bomm from its claws, and as soon as it did, he lunged, stabbing
at it wildly with the rib bone in his hand. Blood gushed all over him.
He could feel the beast’s hard exoskeleton and squishing flesh beneath
his bare feet… and he could feel that it was slowing down. Finally, it
stopped moving. There was a loud crash as the monster fell to the
Then Bomm fell to the ground,
collapsing from exhaustion.
“Goblin?” he gasped. “Goblin! Hey, you
little runt, did ye run off on me? I ought to eat ye!”
“No, I’ve been stabbing this… thing!
I’m on its back right now, prying open its shell.”
Bomm suddenly had a vision of seafood
and scampered atop the dead creature, joining his companion. He reached
on stubby hand into the crack between the monster’s armor plating,
ripped out a blob of meat, and sank his teeth into it almost
“Pretty good, isn’t it?” Citoach said
with a full mouth.
“At least now we got somethin’ to eat,
so I won’t have to eat the meat off your skinny bones!”
Citoach just snorted. “So what do we do
“Grab as much o’ this meat as we can
carry, and then look around for some kinda tunnel to follow. I’ll take
off this useless loincloth and fill it up with meat, and…”
“Look, it’s not like we can see each
other anyway! Just don’t go feelin’ around too much, okay?”
Citoach gave a short laugh. “Okay.”
As much as he hated to admit it, he was beginning to like
this angry little ball of fur.