“Are you listening to me warrior?” Redthorne poked the barbarian with his staff.
“Crug hear. Crug no like. Cleric dead for sure. Just…” the fighter counted on his fingers for a moment, “two of us now. Not good. This place bad.”
The mage leaned back against the wall of the alcove they had taken refuge in after the spider fight. “Yes, I know. However we’re blocked off from the exit. Big dropping slab remember? We have no choice but to push on.” He consulted a piece of parchment. “I think I know where we are anyway.” He pointed at a location on the map. “According to this there are goblins that way somewhere,” he waved his hand to their right, down a dark corridor.
“Goblins easy kill. No problem.”
“Yes, for once we’re thinking along the same lines. The important thing is… We must not split up! Do you understand? Hey! Are you listening to me?”
“Quiet. Crug hear something.”
“Don’t quiet me! This dungeon seems to work by picking people off one by one, if we stay together… Hey! Where are you going? Weren’t you listening to what I just said?”
“Crug hear woman! Maiden need help! Quick!”
“What the… Don’t be an idiot! What’s a woman doing down…” The wizard cursed to himself as the barbarian stood up and started jogging off to the left. “Blast the moron!” He scrambled around, stuffing papers into his pack before scrambled after his sole surviving companion. “No more barbarians! I swear! Next time it’s Rangers all the way. Crug you numbskull! Where are you? Oh there.” He glanced the back of the barbarian hurrying off down a fork in the tunnel, and scrambled after him. “Wait for me!”
The wizard panted as he raced down one tunnel and then up another after his companion. “Hold on blast you! This is not somewhere we can simply run about wildly!”
The passage terminated abruptly, and the figure stopped at the dead end to turn and face him.
As Redthorne drew closer some sixth sense caused him to slow and raise his staff. “Crug?”
The fighters’ form shimmered and changed, to be replaced by a different profile altogether. The impostor was still tall, but far from the muscle bound torso of the barbarian, this one seemed to be more corpse-like. Indeed, it appeared to be skeletal thin. Pale skin was drawn tightly over bones, and dark eyes stared out at him from a deathly white face.
The figure stood still, its black robe hanging loosely around it, revealing a sword strapped to one side. A dark Aura swam about the weapon, visible only to the wizards’ extended senses.
“Beast! What have you done with Crug?”
“The barbarian is being dealt with by some friends of mine. He shall be worm fodder before you can do anything about it wizard.” The voice was barely more than a hiss.
“Then you shall die!” Redthorne raised his staff.
“Wait!” A claw-like hand raised in a gesture. “Look behind you.”
Redthorne looked at the creature through narrowed eyes. What was going on here? He glanced behind him. Two more figures, mere zombies, were at his back, one wielding a rusty sword and the other apparently straining to hold a spear.
“You may get a spell off, who knows? It may even hurt me, but even if you manage to harm me, my friends will run you through.”
“What’s your game creature? Why do you toy with me thus? Do you have my comrades?”
“Your comrades are no longer a consideration,” it said ominously. “However, I need your help.”
“My help? My help?” Redthorne kept his staff leveled at the figure. “You are but a foul servant of evil! Why should I help you?”
“Aside from the obvious answer that you will end up dead if you don’t? It could work to your advantage.”
Redthorne cocked his head to one side. This didn’t seem like your usual dungeon ploy. Something strange was going on here. He lowered his staff slightly, whilst still remaining alert. “Go on, I’m listening.”
~ * ~
“Save me! Help!”
Crug could hear the damsel clearly now, her high pitched voice ringing with desperation. He held his sword in front of him and moved, panther like, towards the sound. Of course it could be a trap, but Barbarians didn’t heed that sort of thing. They went in sword swinging. It was a tactic that had always worked for him before.
Turning into a large cave he squinted in the gloom. The voice was coming from… over there! He slid quietly forward, towards a dark shape lying on the floor.
Crug crept up and knelt down next to the figure. “Never fear pretty maid… Arg!” The barbarian leapt backwards and swung his sword.
The trollop* cackled and rolled to one side, avoiding the swing. “Oh! My love has come to rescue me!” she rasped, clasping her hands together in mock adoration.
“Troll! Me kill now!” Crug jumped forward with surprising agility for someone with such bulk, catching the trollop by surprise with an attack that cut her arm neatly off at the shoulder.
“You Human! Do you know how long arms take to grow back?!” The creature, no longer amused, snarled, showing long yellow fangs.
“Hah! Crug no scared one little troll!” The barbarian advanced, weapon ready to strike again.
“Perhaps a big one then?” A shadow detached itself from the cavern wall and advanced to reveal the largest, meanest looking troll Crug had ever seen.
“Crug know no fear!” said Crug, not quite truthfully.
The large newcomer stepped forward, hefting a huge club. “Come then.”
Crug spat and advanced, thrusting his sword as he did so. It pierced the trolls’ side, causing green blood to spurt messily.
“Get him!” shouted the trollop.
Suddenly the barbarian was surrounded by large green creatures. He dodged to avoid a swing from a club, only to have claws rake his back, scoring lines of fire across his body.
He twisted, slicing and cutting green flesh as he did so.
There was a sick crunching noise, and a something slammed into his ribs. He heard his bones break under the impact and the air seemed to be sucked from his body. Crug staggered, looking up just in time to see the large troll swing his giant weapon round in a long arc. Time seemed to slow. He tried to jump back, but his legs were no longer responding. The barbarian could only watch as the club drew level and then smashed into the side of his head. He heard a short tearing sound and, for a brief second he seemed to be flying through the air. Then his detached brain ball hit a wall, and it all went dark…
*Female troll that is.