The Hammer of Hu"Mod Part 26
by Joe Solmo
When the two Paladins returned to town they found most of the dwarves were busy burying their dead, for a second time. Surprisingly few lost their lives in the fight with their freshly risen ancestors. The Prophet lay on the ground, spears still protruding from his torso like a macabre porcupine. Grian’s eyes scanned the area for his friend, Birell.
“Where is she? Where is Birell,” he called out, half in a panic when he couldn’t find her body anywhere. Several of the dwarves stopped digging and leaned on their shovels.
“Last I saw, Hamas had her over by the windmill,” a brown haired dwarf called out that Grian didn’t recognize. He raced towards the windmill looking for the constable with Kregas in tow.
Hamas stood over the still body of Birell. Her face looked so pale, so frail. Grian fought back tears as he approached, each step adding weight until it was almost impossible for him to draw closer to his friend. Friend, it was the first person he called that after leaving his village. The first person who accepted him for who his was. He fell to his knees next to her and reach out with his hand as a teardrop fell onto his stubby fingers.
“I am sorry, lass. Truly,” he said as the sobs came rushing out of his mouth. He turned his face away from the constable, who also turned away to keep the air of dwarven stoicism. Kregas knelt by his friend and put his arm on his back. Another friend. Would this one end us as dead as the elf?
Kregas handed his friend the dagger. “She still lives, in here. All you have to do is bring her out of there and put her in there,” he said pointing from the dagger to the elf’s body. “If you could bring my sorry ass back, you can do this,” his friend said with a smile.
Grian wiped the tears from his face. “Seems like I sprung a leak. I’m going to have to see the doc about that,” he said.
“Aye, can’t have you running dry on us, your hair will get frizzy and you will look like your aunt Belga,” Kregas said.
“Belga is a lovely woman,” Grian said taking the dagger in his hand and turning it over. “She was good enough for you on your Quest Day.”
“Aye, she was my second choice, but me dog ran away,” Kregas said and smiled. Grian smiled back at his friend.
“What the hell are ye fools talking about?” Hamas said. He crouched down next to Grian. “Look lad, I am real sorry about what happened. I blame myself fully. It’s hard to admit, but I acted like an ass. If I could take it back, I would. If I could trade places with your friend I would,” he said in a rare moment of emotion.
“It’s not your fault. You couldn’t have known what would have happened,” Grian said.
“I am the one that called them here, lad.”
“You what!” Kregas called out angrily.
“I was mad at what happened to you, son. I didn’t want Grian around. I just wanted him gone. When the Prophet was here before he gave me a way to contact him if he ever came home. I used it and look what happened. I know better now. It was a mistake. People died because of my actions,” Hamas confessed. “Anything I can do to help, let me know.”
“Give me some room,” Grian said and placed the dagger on Birell’s chest. He took a deep breath and tried to calm the emotions that where raging inside of him. Both the other dwarves took a few steps back and gave him room to work.
He channeled his power, granted by Hu’Mod into his hands and placed one on the hilt of the dagger, the other over Birell’s heart. He called out to Hu’Mod to guide his friend back into her earthly vessel.
Kregas watched the entire ordeal wide-eyed. He was new to Hu’Mod’s power and even though he felt like was as strong as ten dwarves, the power his friend was channeling was another whole order of magnitude. It was a layman watching an artisan work.
Grian’s power nearly blinded Kregas, he couldn’t look on after a while, the white power of the god of the dwarves was too intense, even for him. He turned towards his father who was looking on with his mouth wide open.
There was no way for the constable to see the subtle things that the Paladin of Hu’Mod was doing, but still the aura of that power seemed to influence him. The radiant energy given off by what Grian was doing made him feel better. His old joints didn’t seem to hurt so much, and for the first time in years didn’t feel grumpy. He was aware of all this as he watched on.
A flash of energy, almost too fast to see, like a lightning bolt, shot from the dagger through Grian, stiffening him, and then passed along to his hand over Birell’s chest. Grian fell backwards onto the hard ground and lay still.
Birell shot up suddenly into a sitting position gasping for air, as if to make up for all the time that she was not breathing. Her skin began to regain some of its color. She looked around, wide-eyed as if trying to figure out where she was.
“Here lass, drink this,” Hamas said holding out a flask to the elf. She took the finely crafted metal container and took a big gulp from the contents inside. She began to cough violently.
“This is whiskey!” she said between coughs.
“Not just any whiskey, that recipe has been in my family for over five hundred years!” Hamas said obviously hurt. He yanked the flask from her hand and drank some himself.
“Why would you give me whiskey? I thought it was water!” she replied.
“What’s water going to do? Whiskey will wake you up better,” the constable said in reply.
“He has a point,” Kregas said offering his hand to the elf. “Come on, I will help you up,” he said. She took his hand and rose to her feet unsteadily.
“Where is Grian?” she asked looking around. Her returning color faded once again upon seeing her friend laying there.
“Is he dead?” she asked.
“No, he yet breathes. He must have tired himself out bringing you back,” Kregas said.
“Back from where?” Birell asked.
“Back from the dead lass,” Hamas said putting his arm around her. “You have been dead for the last hour. Let’s get you to a bed where you can rest.”
“Not until I know Grian is safe,” the elf responded. “Where is the prophet? Where is Skrat?” she inquire.
“Both dead. The prophet is over there looking like a quill beast and the mage Grian and I hunted down to get the dagger with your life force in it back. I cut his head off myself,” Kregas said, rather proudly. “We left his body down by the river.”
“The prophet has come back before. I don’t know that either can be killed outright,” Birell said.
“Then let’s see the prophet come back from ash,” Hamas said and called out to the dwarves around. “Lads, let’s build a pyre for this one. Leaving nothing but ash of this trouble causing arsehole,” the constable finished. “We are going to have an old-fashioned dwarven bar-b-que.
A few young dwarves ran over to the prophet’s body and began to drag him where two other dwarves started to pile some wood. Kregas pulled Grian’s sleeping body up onto his shoulders.
“Both of you need rest now,” the younger dwarf said and pointed towards Grian’s home. “I will come get you when the job is done.”
“Thank you, Kregas,” Birell said and followed him with Hamas’s help. She was still pretty wobbly. She wondered if it took longer to recover from being dead, than just being injured.
Birell wouldn’t climb into bed until Grian was taken care of first, which wasn’t that big of a deal once Grian’s mother found out he was in trouble. The amount of fuss she made over her son made Birell blush. So much for dwarves being unfeeling.
Once Grian was tucked away in his bed and his mother sitting by his side, Birell finally could relax. She managed to eat a sweet roll before passing out herself. Her dreams were filled with all sorts of weird images, images of what she could only describe as hell. Foul things, lacking flesh, or even down to the bare bones clawing at her. Creatures with extra limbs and sharp teeth chasing her through a dead forest without color. The worst was the things she couldn’t even attempt to fight off. The ghostly faces that flowed through her body sending the chill of the grave through her each time. The wails of these creatures made her cringe, cower, and cry all at once. If these were the things on the other side she did not want to go there, and if this was what Lod’rum commanded he had to be stopped. She might have to return home. The threat might be too much for Grian to handle, she thought when she woke up.
Grian still slept, but his breathing seemed more regular. Birell checked on him almost every fifteen minutes throughout the morning. After the noon meal, she sat on the front porch looking at the bustling of the town. It was a quieter life than the elves, that was for sure, but seeing the way Grian’s family was made her homesick. She decided that as soon as Grian woke she would head home to warn her father of the danger of the dwarven gods return.
Kregas came to visit in the early afternoon. He had slept in because he wasn’t used to exerting himself and his new powers yet. Birell told him about her plans to leave.
“I can watch him lass. There is nothing more that you can do for him. Go on,” Kregas said.
“I won’t feel right about it until I know his up and around being himself. I owe him that much after what he did for me,” Birell said.
“How is he doing?” Kregas asked.
“His breathing is better, but he hasn’t awoken yet,” the elf replied.
“Maybe I should look in on him,” the dwarf said pushing back the wooden chair he was sitting in.
“No whiskey!” Birell said and followed him into the house.
Grian hadn’t moved since the last time Birell had checked on him, but she was relieved to see that his breathing was getting steadier. His mother was brushing his beard. She looked up at Kregas and the elf.
“I can’t have him looking bad. It just won’t do,” she said and stood, straightening her clothes.
“That’s the best I have seen his beard look,” Birell said and gave her a smile.
“You call that a beard?” Kregas said and maneuvered around her to be at his friend’s side. “Has he eaten or drank anything?”
“Of course not, he is sleeping,” Birell said. “But if he doesn’t wake up soon we will have to figure out a way to make him take at least liquids.”
“I can make soup!” Grian’s mother said and left the room, glad to have a way to help with her son’s recovery.
“Ok Birell, remember how I said I kind of have the same powers as Grian?” Kregas said.
“I remember you claiming something like that when you arrived,” Birell replied.
“I got this,” the dwarf said and rubbed his hands together taking a deep breath.
“What do you mean you got this?” Birell asked.
“I mean I got this!” Kregas said and placed his hands on Grian’s forehead. Birell watched on as the dwarf stood over their friend. Nothing happened.
“Are you sure about this?” she asked.
“I need positive energy. Don’t be negative!” he said and rubbed his hands together again. He dramatically placed them over Grian’s chest this time and clenched his face muscles together.
“Does it hurt? Your face looks like it hurts,” Birell said.
“No…I am concentrating,” he replied through tight lips.
“Grian doesn’t make that face when he heals people,” Birell said.
“Positive energy…” Kregas responded.
Grian coughed violently. Kregas lost contact with his friend. “I think I did it,” he said. “Quick reach into my pocket and get the flask.”
“No whiskey I said,” the elf responded.
“Whiskey…please,” Grain said weakly reaching up and grasping Kregas’s arm.
“You damn dwarves,” Birell said under her breath and reached into Kregas’s pocket and pulled out a flask very similar to Hamas’s. She opened it and handed it to the dwarf.
Kregas took a swig off of the flask and then lowered it to his friend. He poured at least half the flask into the dwarf’s mouth.
“If you drown him I will run you through,” Birell threatened. Everyone ignored her, knowing it was an empty threat. A few seconds later Grian’s eyes opened. He looked around the room at his two friends.
“Did I black out at the after party?” he asked and tried to raise up onto his elbows.
“Relax,” Kregas said and filled his friend in on what had happened. Once they were done telling him everything he looked at Birell.
“I understand you need to leave lass. I am leaving too, as soon as I can walk. I do not wish to endanger my people anymore. Besides, we have the desert folk army waiting for me. I made a promise to return to them. I hope our paths cross again,” he said and tried to shake the elf’s hand. She brought him in for a hug instead.
“Well this is a unnecessary,” the dwarf said, obviously embarrassed by the show of affection.
“Indeed,” Kregas said. The elf turned on him next wrapping her arms around him.
“Thank you for making him better,” she whispered in his ear. She turned towards her friend. “I am sure our paths will cross again. You would probably get yourself killed with me there to keep you in line. You need me, sir dwarf,” she said using the honorific she used when they had first met.
“If I need advice on a vegetarian diet, or which berries are poisonous I will inquire to your whereabouts,” Grian replied and smiled. He watched his friend leave the room, and possibly leave his life for good. He sighed and turned to Kregas.
“She is ok, I mean since she came back?” he asked.
“Aye, as far as I can tell,” Kregas responded. “Let me see if your mother has anything for you to eat.”
Grian watched his other friend leave the room. He sat there alone, contemplating everything that had happened to him over the last few days. Was it true that the Prophet was truly dead? Would he come back from the ash the dwarves spread on the wind? He prayed to Hu’Mod for guidance he would need in the next few days.
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