Trust No Weavers of the Dark Arts

On the Precipice of Unending Darkness


Wolfgar and Kel stand amidst ruins of an old keep. The people of Brindenford would hardly speak its name, only pointed to the forested hills with a shudder. Neither barbarian had trouble locating the hillside decorated with the fallen walls and building foundations of squared stone, the ashes of timbers, tapestries, furniture, and most likely the dead, all that remains of things consumed in those distant flames.

A search of the keep's grounds uncovers a staircase descending into the bowels of the hillside, the passageway open wide as if screaming for help rooting out the evil that resides within like a malignant growth. Wolfgar lights his torch, and the flames flicker to life and dance like living things. A foul stench surges from the stairway, the smell of sweat and urine mixed with the sweet smell of rot.

Kel peers into the darkness below, his face setting deeper into its usual scowl. “The wizard has gone to ground in a place as foul as his heart. When we are finished here, let no stone stand atop another.” With a final unintelligible snarl, he raises his axe to the ready and descends the stairs.

Leading the way, Kel and Wolfgar descend the flight of worn steps to a small landing, from the gloom, illuminated poorly by Wolfgar's torch, three sets of stairs lead further down to the north, and the the east and west. The eastern and western staircases descend into inky darkness, but the staircase to the north descends to a dim, flickering light.

Dropping into a wary crouch, Kel scans his surroundings, all of his senses alert to danger. He has never hunted underground before, but he trusts that the princiles are much the same as hunting in the dark woods of his homeland. As his eyes adjust to the inky gloom, the shadowy dimensions of the stonework about them flicker faintly in the torchlight, Kel sees the light in the northern staircase suddenly shift, bobbing closer, and the sound of small, high-pitched voices rises from the stinking corridor. The hair on the back of Kel's neck stands on end, for whatever approaches speaks no human language.

Wolfgar places his enormous hand on Kel's shoulder, his weathered face showing concern without fear. "Kel," he says in a low tone, "will we fight whatever dark beasts come?" He slowly draws his broadsword, preparing for trouble. "If we fight, we must find a better position," he adds.

As Kel rises to his feet, he whispers back, “I will hold to my oath, brother, whatever may rise from the shadows to stand against us.” He moves swiftly to stand to one side of the opening into the north stair, his jaw working as if he were chewing gristle. He motions for Wolfgar to take up a flanking position, raises his axe in both hands, and prepares to bring it down on the skull of the first creature to appear.

The voices at the bottom of the stairs are silenced by a throaty roar. Heavily accented common wafts up along with the stench, familiar words hissed by a mouth uncomfortable forming the syllables: “Fools, light, ahead!” the skittering speech changes pitch and turns to low growls.

Wolfgar looks at his torch sheepishly, and props it upright against the rough stone wall behind him. He tightens his grip on his broadsword and mouths “No going back now,” to Kel across the expanse of the doorway. Kel grips his axe even tighter, his knuckles whitening under the strain. Every muscle in his body quivers in anticipation of the blood that will soon be spilled.

Unable to restrain his hunger for battle, Kel steals a glance around the corner of the stair to see a small, hunched creature in rudimentary clothing and bearing a rusty poniard, looking back down the hallway towards what appear to be compatriots, though all Kel can see are the feet and shadows of the creatures now aware of Kel and Wolfgar’s presence. Looks to be a half dozen assorted creatures, most having feet like the shriveled looking fellow, who takes a halting step up the stairs as Kel ducks back into the doorway. It will take this inhuman beast a few seconds to get near the top of the stairs. Kel and Wolfgar can both hear his heavy breathing – it is fast and shallow, with just a hint of a gibbering sob underneath. Wolfgar smirks and readies for his attack, sword held low and in both hands for a powerful, piercing thrust.

The creature climbs the stair slowly, terrified snorts escaping with each shallow breath, each step bringing it closer to doom, and the little beast is well aware of it. As he mounts the top stair, Wolfgar moves silently from the shadows, backlit by the torch leaned against the wall. The pig-faced beast lets out a terrified squeal. Kel, white knuckled with the anticipation of the strike, swings mightily, sacrificing some of his precision for tremendous power, but in his hurry and excitement, the swing of his axe goes wide, gouging the stone floor in a shower of sparks, the blade passing the nearly stunned creature in a harmless blur.

Kel curses his ill-timed strike, but brings his axe around in a devastating upward arc. The grotesque creature turns and shrinks back from the whistling blade in time to avoid it's deadly arc, but in so doing leaves itself open to Wolfgar, whose blade tears through the tissue and bone of the thing's neck in a welling of black blood. With a twist of the blade, the head comes free from the twisted body, and both land with wet plops and the clatter of the pig man's rusty poniard on the flagstones. Wolfgar kicks the head down the stairs hoping to scare off the others waiting below.

Kel watches the head bounce down the stairs, his breathing heavy from his massive, yet fruitless, swings. Blood sprays from the head as it bounces one, twice, three times, and lands after a final bounce under the booted foot of a much larger, well-muscled greenskinned man-thing. Tusks protrude from its great square jaw, and its body is covered in an amalgamation of leather and chainmail, seemingly cobbled together. Their eyes lock for a moment before the other half dozen pigmen race up the stairs, eager to confront their comrade's slayer, screaming for revenge.

Wolfgar step down from the bloody mess at the top of the stairs, and readies his blade for the maddened assailants. Kel closes ranks with his friend and waits for the stinking creatures to close the distance, crowing, "Come and meet your doom, things of evil!"

Having mounted the stairs in a frothing madness, harsh battle cries ringing out against the cold stone of the stairway, the sight of Wolfgar standing to meet their charge causes their charge to surge, the cries to become deafening, and even the sight of a second, obviously seasoned man standing shoulder to shoulder with their friend's killer does nothing to detract from their zeal for Wolfgar's blood.

As they close to within arms reach, both men spring into action like coiled springs released to do their deadly work, the clangor of weapons and bodies crunching together in the chaos of devil tongues and slick blood. Wolfgar strikes, but his blade is turned aside at the last moment as those pig eyes widen, the realization that the hated foe is no mere farmer but a trained warrior dawning brightly as the beast man reels back from the force of the barbarian's blow.

The feeble counterattacks of the pig men are swept aside. Wolfgar slashes the belly of his monstrous opponent, spilling its guts and a torrent of black blood. The creature clutches its ruin and sinks to the floor screaming. Kel swings his axe in both hands, his fury dwindling to frustration at his inability to strike home. His powerful blow is turned aside, and he pulls his dagger from his belt.

Despite the deaths of their compatriots, the pig men press their attack, rushing over the wounded to attack Wolfgar, who barely has time to dodge the ferocious blow, and Kel too must scurry to evade a too close call. Armed now with dagger and axe, Kel begins the sacred dance of battle, becoming a whirlwind of steel. Misjudging the room he has to work with though, Kel's axe bang uselessly against the wall and throws off his dagger attack, both missing wildly. Lucky to be on his feet, Kel is able to dodge the counterattack of his now smirking foe.

Wolfgar strike back at the creature trying to impale him, and lances it's black heart. With a twist he pulls the blade of his broadsword free and waits for the next attacker to climb the mound of dead piled before him. "Any time you'd care to slay a foe, boy," he says through gritted teeth. He begins to chant the death song of these foes, his deep voice booming in the stairway, calling on Bori, the war god of his people, to accept these trophies into his drinking hall in the gray afterlife. The next foe struggling over the piled dead  looks up in time to meet the edge of Wolfgar's sword as it passes cleanly through head, neck and breastbone. Wolfgar kicks the offending creatures body off his blade and steps over the pile of dead and down the stairs to better confront the remaining foes.

Realizing that the sacred dance was not meant for such close quarters, Kel continues his attack with sharper, more precise strikes, and these turn his opponents to hash. His axe crumpling the skull of the pig man who'd been frustrating his progress with its stubborn refusal to die. Pausing less than a heartbeat, Kel steps over his dead foe's destroyed corpse and slashes the next beast across the throat, his dagger cutting through flesh and bone and nearly decpaitating the thing with the force of his blow.

The lone remaining pig man decides that revenge is the least of its concerns and decides to run, throwing down the torch, hoping that the near total darkness will allow it to escape, as indeed it does, disappearing into the gloom. Wolfgar retrieves and stokes the fire on the fallen torch, wipes his blade clean on the tattered remains of the pig men and retrieves his torch from the top of the stairs and hands it to Kel, who extinguishes it.

(Please put your actions in the comments and I'll add to the narrative once those actions have been resolved. OOC comments should be left in parenthesis, IC typed as normal.)



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