The Hammer of Hu'Mod Part 18
by Joe Solmo
The rumble of the old red stone shook dust loose from the vaulted ceiling. Grian contemplated pulling the Keystone back out of the throne to stop the temple from shaking. He didn’t know if this was supposed to be happening. As far as he knew it was just supposed to free Hu’Mod. He coughed from the dust and glanced around the throne at the chamber and his friends who were partially obscured by the falling debris.
The first thing he noticed was the corpse on the throne. It looked fuller somehow. He wondered how long it would take for it to rejuvenate enough to talk to Hu’Mod finally. The idea of having another conversation with his god filled him with elation. He saw his father, Jyr, standing over the unconscious mage, Skrat. Sreg fawned over his fallen younger brother as well, checking him for injuries and protecting his body from falling debris. Zeeg and Birell were trying to get the chamber’s doors open again. Somehow the doors had reformed after Moose had destroyed them upon entering. They looked the same as they did when Grian had entered the chamber. There was definitely some strong magic at work here.
Grian dodged a fist sized rock that fell next to him from the ceiling and went to Moose’s aid. The big guy lay on the floor unmoving but breathing, under a fresh layer of red dust. He squatted next to him and laid his hands on the chest of the biggest of the brothers and was shocked at what he found.
The Paladin of Hu’Mod had healed a plethora of different people since gaining his powers, especially recently at the Red Rock Castle. Birell, Sreg, the desert folk, to name a few and each one had a familiarity to them, something they all shared, a humanity to them, but Moose felt different. There was an inner strength there that Grian had never felt before. It was as if he didn’t need Grian to heal, his body was doing so on its own, but there was still more to it. It took Grian a few minutes to figure out what he was looking at.
At first there was some kind of blockage, stopping Grian from analyzing the big guy’s head for trauma, but it started to fade. Grian was sure it had nothing to do with what he was doing, but as it did so, it revealed something Grian had never ran into before. Moose was full of holy power somehow, nearly overflowing with the same power Grian used. He could feel Hu’Mod’s presence in Moose. It startled him at first and he almost pulled his hands back, but curiosity keep his hands rooted to the large man’s flesh. It didn’t make sense.
“Will he make it, Healer?” asked Zeeg with a look of concern spread across his dusty face. The eldest brother always looked over the rest, even though in most situations Moose could take care of himself.
“Aye, he is a strong one,” Grian replied and gave the leader of the brothers a smile. He concentrated on the large brother’s body before him, trying to find the source of the holy power nearly consuming the large man.
Movement caught Grian’s eyes and he turned towards Skrat. He watched as the mage sat up and rubbed the side of his head, a giant bruise was already forming there in the shape of Jyr’s hammer. “Watch yer step lad,” the older dwarf said pointing the business end of his weapon towards the mage.
“Did you place the stone?” Skrat asked, ignoring Jyr and focusing on Grian.
“Aye,” Grian said pointing at the throne. The body was nearly rejuvenated. The muscular structure was reformed and the hair turned from white to black.
“Black,” Grian said.
“What’s that?” Birell asked, giving up on the doors and coming to help with the fallen friends.
“Hu’Mod doesn’t have black hair,” Grian said, puzzled. “Could the dwarves have recorded it down wrong? He was always depicted with red hair, like mine.”
Skrat began to laugh. “Your race’s ignorance will be its undoing,” the mage said and stood on unsteady legs. “You still don’t know what you have done, do you?”
“I clobbered ye into naptime, and can do it again, so watch yourself,” Jyr said to him. Skrat glared at the older dwarf.
“It won’t matter anymore. Nothing you can do will matter,” Skrat said and turned towards Moose laying on the ground. “I believe Moose over exerted himself today. Unfortunate for him, but astounding for me. You are correct, Paladin. Hu’Mod doesn’t have black hair. Do you know who does? Lod’rum. And I am sure when he becomes fully awake he will thank you for resurrecting him and freeing him from this prison Hu’Mod had set him in centuries ago,” the mage explained.
“No,” Grian whispered, watching the body on the throne start to twitch. “I was betrayed,” he said. The horror of the situation struck the dwarf harder than and weapon’s blow. He suddenly felt empty inside, his stomach dropped and he fought the urge to throw up.
“There is no way to escape now. My god, Lod’rum will rise and take care of our little paladin here, and take control of the heavens once and for all. “Where is your god now, little dwarf?” Skrat said and laughed.
A large stone, the size of an anvil fell on the arm of the throne heaving the body to the ground. But Grian watched in horror as it began to rise from the floor. It didn’t use it’s or legs to lift. It looked as if an invisible force lifted him by his armpits. The feet dragged in the dust until the body was upright and the toes dangled inches off the floor. The eyes popped open, anger and flame stared back at Grian as a wicked smile creased its face. The look alone almost made the dwarf flee in terror.
“Where indeed?” came a booming voice from Lod’rum’s lips. He moved his hand from left to right and the rumbling stopped. His body rotated as he surveyed the room. His eyes opened wide all of a sudden.
“Here!” came a voice from behind Grian and he spun as well, confused. Moose was standing just behind him with the hammer in both hands. He screamed out and swung the great hammer into the red stone floor with a crash that splintered stone. A white flash raced across the stone floor towards Lod’Rum and engulfed the newly resurrected god in holy light. Lod’rum screamed in pain.
“Quickly let us escape!” Lod’rum said to Skrat and the mage opened a portal. He whispered a few words and a gust of wind pushed Lod’rum between Moose and Jyr. The Null created by the dwarf interrupted the spell and as soon as the spell was broken Lod’rum fled through the portal.
“Skrat! It doesn’t have to be this way,” Moose called out. The pain in his voice was more than evident. The mage hesitated for a second and looked upon his brothers. “You can decide not to follow him. Everyone has a choice,” Moose explained.
“I am afraid it does. You may have gained back your identity, but the memories may still need some time. Goodbye, dear brothers,” he spat. “The next time we meet will be the last,” Skrat said and stepped through the portal. The energy holding the portal open collapsed and it winked out of existence.
“Someone needs to explain,” Jyr said putting his hammer down on the stone floor. Grian nodded his agreement as he went to one knee in front of Moose.
“What’s to explain, Moose is Hu’Mod,” Birell said and shrugged nonchalantly, going back to work on the door. Grian just stared after her.
“Well, that for one,” Jyr said looking around at the others. Sreg and Zeeg hadn’t moved since Skrat had disappeared.
“I don’t know if I could deal with the truth right now,” Grian said panting.
“Aye lad, maybe we should recuperate first,” Jyr said.
“No, let me explain,” Moose said and placed a hand over his remaining brother’s heads. A flash of blinding white light shot into them both. A quick convulsion passed through the brother’s bodies and they sagged to the floor, unconscious.
“It’s best you hear it now. In case my brother has another trick up his sleeve,” Moose said.
“Exactly how many brothers do ye have?” asked Jyr.
“My family is large,” the big man replied.
“Well, we aren’t going anywhere for a while,” Birell said giving up on the doors again. “Let’s hear the story.”
“As I trapped my brother, Lod’rum into stasis here in this temple he cursed me and companions. We wouldn’t be free as long as he wasn’t. Sreg and Zeeg are minor gods of light, soldiers in my fight against the darkness. Sreg is a nature god, a little chaotic, but he means well. Zeeg is a Justice god. He is about protection and seeing justice done. Skrat is a god of magic, capable of both great good and evil. His alliances shift, seemingly at random, but most recently he has sided with my strongest brother, Lod’rum. You see Lod’rum trapped me in mortal form and clouded our minds so that we wouldn’t remember who we were, me most of all. It wasn’t until days ago by being so close to the Keystone that the spell started to deteriorate enough for me to see glimpses of our past,” he explained.
“Are you guys really brothers?” Grian asked.
“In a sense all the gods are siblings. We were all born from the chaos of the ether. Those who use magic have a direct bloodline to the gods, and are family as well. If you wanted to put it into mortal terms,” Hu’Mod explained.
“Ok that kind of makes sense,” Jyr said.
“I am glad you approve,” Hu’Mod said and smiled. “The stone children are one thing I am very proud of creating,” the god said. “I love the brutal honesty. Oh and the ale!”
“He tricked you, my faithful servant,” Hu’Mod said with a smirk at Grian. “He tricked you into releasing him from this temple. The keystone can open anything, even a cloudy mind. One thing he didn’t plan on was you running into us in your travels. Skrat was at that final battle and was cursed along with us, Lod’rum has no loyalty to his followers. Somehow Skrat regained his memory and tried to steal the Keystone from you to release Lod’rum without me around so that it would leave me in a mortal confused form, but you proved yourself by taking it back. Words can’t explain how proud I am of you, faithful one. You are a true paladin of Hu’Mod. Now that I have returned, you can spread the faith among the dwarven people, my stone children. It is time for the dwarves to regain magic. I must leave now, and see what damage my brother’s agents have done while I was trapped. If you need me, all you need to do is call upon me, I owe you my life,” Hu’Mod said and bowed towards Grian.
A tear ran down the bearded cheek of Grian. He never would have guessed that Moose was Hu’Mod. It was such a surreal moment for him. Hearing his god’s praise nearly calmed the sting of knowing he released Lod’rum, the greatest evil, back into the world.
“I…I am not worthy,” Grian said.
“Your humbleness is amusing. Rise, my champion,” Hu’Mod said. The dwarf did as he was told. Hu’Mod took a step closer and placed his massive hand on Grian. The same white light flashed in the chamber. Grian fell to his knees and gasped.
“No longer do you have a sliver of my power, my knight. You now can call upon my power directly. Use it well, as you have so far and we can bring greatness back to the dwarves,” Hu’Mod said.
“I will do my best,” Grian said, his voice breaking up.
“I know you will,” Hu’Mod smiled. He lifted his hands and Sreg and Zeeg rose from the floor. He made a circle motion and a white portal opened. The three walked through it without another word. The room seemed dark once the white light faded from existence.
“Well ain’t that a kick in the arse?” Jyr said.
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