The Hammer of Hu'Mod Part 16
by Joe Solmo
Once Jyr put Grian back down onto his feet, Birell explained what she saw. The Prophet was waiting at the edge of the clearing of the temple. She couldn’t get to close because she didn’t want to alarm him to her presence, but it looked like he had some nasty surprise in store for them, he was casting some sort of spell.
“I should have killed him when I met him,” Grian said.
“It’s not your way, son,” Jyr replied. “You would be no better than him. You had no idea then what he was. Don’t lose who you are.”
“Aye, your right. I am just frustrated,” Grian said. They crouched down near a small stream and refilled their wineskins with its cool waters. Grian dunked his head to get the desert dust out of his beard and nose. He thought about throwing the elf in before she could him, like they joked about earlier, but he didn’t feel up to it. He watched Birell as she drew the temple scene in the muddy bank for them all to see the prophet’s position compared to it.
“Can’t we just go around?” asked Zeeg.
“I wish it was that easy. The Prophet was moving around the tree line every few moments. I think he was setting up some kind of magical perimeter. I couldn’t get close enough to hear his words, but I saw the gestures. It’s a powerful magic he is using. Beyond anything I could handle, that’s for sure. Maybe Skrat could have figured it out...” the elf said.
Moose let out a sorrowful moan. “I am sorry, big guy,” Birell said and placed her slender hand onto his muscled forearm. Moose nodded to her, as if to say he understood. Moose seemed to be closer to Skrat than any of the other brothers, Birell thought.
“Soon, we find Skrat. He answer to us,” Moose said. Zeeg raised his left eyebrow.
“That was good Moose, you have been doing so well today,” the leader of the brothers said with a smile. Moose nodded back, his cheeks reddening.
Once they were rested and ready to go, Birell led the way as silently as she could towards the temple. Sreg tried to push past her a few times, to ‘take turns leading’ but Moose grabbed him and kept him in check. Even Jyr smiled at the antics of the ranger.
When they drew close, Birell had them squat down into the large ferns that populated most of the forest floor here. From this close they could see the Prophet on the other side of the clearing muttering and swinging his arms around. Pulsating black lights flickered from his hands to the tree line.
“That can’t be good,” Zeeg said.
“No lad, I can’ sense it. It’s dark energy. He is setting up a barrier to keep us out.” Grian replied. Birell nodded her agreement with the dwarf’s assessment.
“A well shot arrow will end this,” Sreg said and started to string his bow. Birell put her hand on his arm to stay him.
“It wouldn’t penetrate the force field,” she explained.
“So how do we get in there? And where is Skrat?” Sreg asked.
“I haven’t seen any sign of Skrat. As for the barrier we need to break or counter the spell somehow.
“How do we do that?” Zeeg asked.
“I don’t know, that’s why I said somehow,” Birell replied sarcastically.
“I got this,” Grian said with an unfamiliar sense of confidence. He stood and started walking towards the clearing.
“You’re going to get caught,” Birell whispered after him, but if the dwarf heard he didn’t show it. He walked right to the edge of the tree line and raised his arms in the air. White lights began to crackle around his rough hands forming balls of energy. Small sparks and what appeared to be miniature lightning shoot off of him touching the barrier set up by the Prophet.
“You think you can break this barrier?” The prophet called out as he turned towards where Grian stood. “My God, Lod’rum grants me power. You’re trapped God can’t help you, Paladin!” the prophet mocked.
Grian took a step closer to the barrier, his hands making contact with it. The white energy began to break apart the barrier directly in front of him.
“Come inside, Paladin, and meet your fate. Is the lives of your friends worth this?” the other dwarf said pointing behind Grian.
The Paladin turned to find his friends wrapped in some kind of invisible bonds. Their bodies floating off the ground towards the barrier.
“I just had to distract you long enough with the force field to grab them. I can’t allow them to enter the temple,” the Prophet said. “They die here.” The trapped companions rose into the air halfway to the forest canopy and came crashing back down to the earth. Grian screamed out in horror as he watched the impact. “NO!” he said and charged the Prophet.
Grian tackled the other dwarf, breaking his concentration on the spell holding his friends. As he began to choke the Prophet he saw out of the corner of his eyes his friends rolling on the ground in pain. They were alive, there was hope if he could get to them fast enough.
The Prophet proved strong and managed to throw Grian off of him. He gasped for air for a few seconds before Grian was upon him again, this time Grian had his Warhammer in his hand. The weighted hammer end glowed with radiant light.
The Prophet threw his hands up to shield his eyes from the blinding light. “You’re god has no power over me!” he said and threw his hands out to his side. A shockwave erupted knocking Grian off his feet. He dropped his hammer and the light went out. “Don’t you understand yet, my misguided friend,” the Prophet said with a snarl. “Your god is weak, he was trapped by my god. You cannot win against Lod’rum. Hu’Mod is no god. He is fallible. Does that sound like a god to you?”
“You speak false!” Grian replied getting to his feet. “You try to deceive, to test my faith, but it won’t work, Liespinner!”
“Liespinner eh? I rather like that name. Maybe I will adopt it when I become ascended from ridding the world of you,” the Prophet said as he approached Grian, holding a black spinning ball of black energy in each hand.
“You can’t have light without the dark. Your god is nothing without mine,” the Prophet said with a sneer.
Even the dullest light can chase away the darkest shadow,” Grian replied sending a ray of light out of his fingertips at the Prophet. The other dwarf took the shot in the shoulder, sending him spinning to the ground with a scream. The black balls of energy dissipated. Grian stepped closer to the Prophet.
“Let me show you the power, my God has,” Grian said. His entire body was encased in light now, it was blinding to even his friends watching from the ground as they writhed in the pain of broken bones.
The Prophet rolled into a ball, clutching his shoulder where the light ad burned him. Grian approached. “I will give you one last chance to repent,” he said, placing his boot on the Prophet’s chest. The light surrounding him burning the Prophet.
“You will never convince me,” the Prophet said between agonizing breaths. “That Hu’Mod is anything more than a screw-up.”
Grian snarled at the insult and stepped off the prophet, lifting his enemy into the air with telekinetic powers. He encased the Prophet in white light as he floated there. “The light is my faith in Hu’Mod. In a moment it will represent your faith in Hu’Mod. You are inside of it. Repent now and you will survive, if you do not, the light will shrink, with you inside of it, until your body can’t take anymore,” Grian said.
The light began to shrink and the Prophet screamed. “No son! It’s not Hu’Mod’s way!” Jyr called out as he tried to crawl closer to his son. “Stop this madness,”
“Be a good boy…and listen to…your father,” the Prophet said between clenched teeth as his body started to break under the pressure. His left wrist collapsed.
“Stay out of this, father,” Grian said.
“Son think. Would Hu’Mod let this happened. Where does he teach to torture people that don’t believe in him?” Jyr asked. “Answer me that, son.”
“He has to die. He is capable of a lot of evil,” Grian said.
“So you kill him? A preemptive strike on all that one day would do evil? Is that what Hu’Mod teaches?” Jyr said.
“You hated Hu’Mod until today, father. What do you know? My God is in that building there, why don’t you go ask him?” Grian sneered. The Prophet screamed as his other wrist snapped under the pressure.
“Enough,” came a booming voice. It started Grian so much he lost concentration on the spell. Moose walked up and grabbed the prophet before he could hit the ground. He wrapped his large forearm around the evil dwarf and twisted his neck. The lifeless Prophet hit the ground and was still.
“No torture,” Moose said looking at Grian. “Not the way.”
Grian fell to his knees and covered his face with his hands. It sickened him to think of what he had just done. The anger filled him. The anger of the blasphemy of the Prophet’s words. He had never lost control like that before. He put his head down in shame as tears flowed from his eyes into his beard.
“Lad, you got caught up in the moment. Don’t let this mistake haunt you. Learn from it and don’t let it happen again,” Jyr said comforting his son.
“Not Hu’Mod’s way, Moose said shaking his head at Grian. The paladin turned and looked up at the large man, confusion crossing his face.
“You know of Hu’Mod, Moose?” asked Grian. Moose nodded up and down and sat next to the dwarf. His large frame hovered over Grian.
“It okay. All forgiven. No torture, okay?” Moose said gently to Grian. A smile crossed the large man’s face.
“Thanks, Moose. You’re right,” Grian said.
Birell turned towards Sreg and whispered, “Was Moose tortured at some point?”
“Not that I know of, but like you already know, the only one of us that remembers anything is Skrat,” the ranger said solemnly. Birell could see the sadness on human’s face. Whether it was from Skrat’s betrayal or Moose’s tender moment she couldn’t be sure.
“Don’t worry. We will find him. Don’t forget I am the best elven tracker, formerly employed by the royal family,” she said and bowed towards Sreg.
“How can I forget? You remind me of it constantly,” he retorted and rubbed her hair like one would do to a child with a smile and ran off a few yards out of her reach.
“What are you? Six years old? I thought humans were mature by age 20,” Birell said.
“Ah but it’s more complicated than that,” Zeeg said as he approached. Both Birell and the oldest brother watch Sreg stick his tongue out and make rude gestures at them. “Physically yes, but mentally, some never mature,” Zeeg said shaking his head.
Grian looked down at the body that lay in front of him. Never in his life did he think he would have to fight another to the death. He was ashamed he lost control, and he was also ashamed that Moose had to show him the way. He was supposed to be above these things. A paladin never let their emotions get the best of them. He realized he had a long way to go yet to be the man Hu’Mod wanted him to be.
He was grateful for Moose’s intervention, yet was confused as to why he reacted that way. Moose hardly objected to anything unless it directly harmed one of his brothers. The big man had been acting strangely as of late. Humbled, he returned to his feet, and mouthed thank you to Moose. The largest of the brothers smiled down at him.
“Now how about we get ye into that temple?” Jyr said clasping his son on the back, nearly toppling him over.
“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Grian said.
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