The Hammer of Hu'Mod Part 28
by Joe Solmo
Grian was placing his flask back into his pack after taking a last pull off of it for the night. He tightened the leather drawstring and tied it shut. He was ready to roll out on a moment’s notice. He would hate to admit it, but he was fidgety. He was having a hard time focusing, there was a lot of work to be done yet. He just hoped he was up to the task.
“Run son!” Jyr said and charged through the camp and straight on through to the trail they had been following.
“What the hell?” Grian said slinging his back and gripping the handle of his hammer in his hand. “Where is Kregas?” the paladin called out to his father, who was already out of earshot.
The ground jumped up and smacked Grian on the chin; at least that was the way it seemed to Grian. His vision cleared in time to watch his friend take off the same way Jyr had run off too. “What is going on around here?” he called out as he regained his feet.
Suddenly a loud roar erupted from behind him. He felt the hairs rise on the back of his neck. He slowly turned around, almost afraid to look. He instinctively began to channel the power of Hu’Mod within him.
What Grian saw was terrifying. It took him a few seconds to process exactly what he was looking at. Slickened with gore and viscera looked like several bodies sewn together. Three arms and twice as many legs jutted from a human torso that was bent backwards like it was crab crawling. The mouth was impossibly large, at least twice as big as a normal human’s mouth. The face was contorted in anger, the eyes black with a bestial look upon them. Suddenly the head twisted around and yet another face was sewn onto the back of the head. This one had a normal sized mouth and it spoke.
“Son of Stone. Your time has ended. The Undying own this realm now. You have no choice. No one can run from Lod’rum, King of the Undying,” it said in a sepulchral voice that made Grian’s hairs stand up and try to leap from his arm.
“If you are Undying, then you must be alive. Hu’Mod is provenance over Life. It is to him that you owe fealty,” Grian said and passed the handle of his hammer back and forth between his hands, anticipating the battle ahead.
“Alive things can die, like you. Yet I am Undying, the monster said and charged.
You’re going the wrong way. What are you doing?
“Trying to stay alive,” Kregas replied as he brushed a branch out of his face.
But this is what we are made for. It’s an Undying. Do you know what that means? That would be a worthy fight!
“Yeah, that doesn’t sound like a good time. Let’s catch Jyr and figure it out from there,” he said to the weapon.
Great! Hundreds of years waiting around, and I get a coward.
“I am no coward! I just don’t want to die too soon. I still have a lot of life to live. Maybe have a kid or two at some point.
They would just grow up to be cowards too.
“Listen here DeathSmite. Unless you want to spend the next hundred years at the bottom of the next lake I find, you better be quiet,” Kregas said.
Kregas easily overtook the older dwarf. He matched pace with him. “What the hell is that thing?” he called out between labored breaths.
“Hu’Mod only knows. Where is Grian?” Jyr asked slowing down.
“Oh no. I thought he was right behind me,” Kregas said leaning over trying to catch his breath. “I tapped him on the shoulder and told him to run,” the younger dwarf finished.
You knocked him over, you big cowardly oaf!
“Shut up, you,” Kregas said smacking the hand of the axe.
“I didn’t say anything,” Jyr said giving Kregas a sideways look. A deep rumble came from the direction of the road, and a wave of energy reached out towards them with an eerie purple glow that made the trees wilt and fall to the ground as it raced towards the pair of dwarves.
“Down!” Jyr said and tackled Kregas to the damp forest floor. The wave of negative energy washed over the forest just inches above their heads. They both let out a relieved sigh as they rose to their feet unharmed.
“Grian!” Kregas said and started to race back to the camp. Jyr rolled his eyes and followed calling out to the younger dwarf. “I didn’t run all this way just to run back. I’m too old for this stuff.”
Kregas held the axe in his right hand as he scanned the darkness for his childhood friend. There was no sign of him as he retraced his path. The camp fire was up ahead, he could see the flames illuminating the area around it, but the trees blocked his view.
“You want undead, you got it, axe,” Kregas said.
It’s about time! Let me at it!
When Kregas broke though the underbrush into the clearing he saw Grian holding a bubble of protection around himself that the Undying was trying to penetrate with powerful blows. He didn’t slow his pace and ran yelling headlong into the monster, axe coming down on it.
His swing brought the blade across the right shoulder of the monster severing one of the limbs that grew from there.
This is what it is all about! I will destroy this Undying. I mean we… We will do it together!
“Don’t you forget it,” Kregas said as he readied the axe for another blow. It seemed the damage didn’t slow the beast down, but it did get its attention.
“Another living come to sacrifice to Lod’rum? My Lord thanks you,” it said with a snear and struck out insanely fast at Kregas. He barely got the axe up in time to deflect the blow.
“Deathsmite has been found. How interesting. No Matter. You won’t live long enough to make a difference,” the creature said through lips stained with old blood.
Kill it! Kill it now. Plant me into its flesh, I will do the rest!
With a wild side swing, Kregas planted the axe into the ribs of the Undying, which gave Grian a chance to mount an offense. He pushed with a holy force, pushing the Undying back towards the trees that surrounded them. Kregas lost his grip on the axe as it happened.
A pale glow surrounded the head of the axe where it met the undead flesh of the monster and it began to turn the pale skin black, looking almost burnt. The Undying cried out in pain, both mouths voicing the agony in unison. The blackened flesh of the creature began to flake off and rise on the breeze that travelled the night.
Jyr showed up and took a log from the fire, still burning and pushed it into the face of the Undying. “Eat fire, you jackass,” he said and shoved it into the open screaming mouth. If the fire had any effect it was hard to tell because the axe’s power was disintegrating the creature from the middle out. Soon it fell over, no longer able to sustain structural integrity.
Even though the Undying lay on the ground in two pieces it still looked at them with those black eyes, reaching out with all of its limbs at them, clutching weakly at their boots. “Don’t just stand there with that dumb look on your face, lad. Help me drag what’s left into the fire,” Jyr said slapping Kregas who was standing there watching the axe do the work.
The younger dwarves quickly came to their senses and helped pile the wretched flesh on the campfire, where it burned with a sickly greenish-purple flame.
Oh I missed this. Thank you dwarf. I have forgotten how good it feels to bite into undead flesh.
“You’re being pleasant,” Kregas said as he wiped the blade clean.
“Who are you talking too? Grian asked running his hands through his beard.
“No one, just my axe,” Kregas responded.
“I thank both of you for your help. It was all I could do to fend that thing off. I was on the defensive the whole time,” Grian said.
“It was a powerful undead. Maybe the most powerful,” Jyr said kicking a limb that still twitched deeper into the coals of the fire.
Tasty undead. It gives me strength. I hope we run into twenty more!
“Oh I hope not,” Kregas muttered with his back to his friends.
“I know it is dark, but should we continue?” Grian asked. “I know I won’t get any sleep tonight.”
“Yeah, let’s put some distance between that thing and us, even burned up, it gives me the creeps,” Jyr said shouldering his pack.
In the swirling darkness a dim red glow surrounded a large iron pot. A liquid came to a boil in the center of the pot, disrupting the image on its surface. Three dwarves moved through a forest at night, looking over their shoulders every few seconds.
“Yes, keep moving, Son of Stone. March towards your false god. Bring Hu’Mod out of hiding, the time grows close,” a raspy voice called from the darkness. The red glow light up the features of Lod’rum as he moved about the chamber. “Bring me the body,” he called out to the darkness and two shadows flew out of the room. The God of Death began to collect the fetishes needed for the ritual. The ritual to breathe new life into an empty vessel.
The shadows returned carrying the body of the mage with them and settling it down on the ancient bronze altar. Lod’rum approached the corpse and turned its face towards him, its neck sown on roughly. “I am not done with you, my servant. Rise again and do my bidding. I call to you, Skrat,” Lod’rum said and sliced his hand open with a wicked looking dagger, dripping it into the face and into the mouth of the body. A moment passed as Lod’rum clenched his hand and closed the wound. Suddenly the corpse said up with a gasp, his eyes glowing the same sickly greenish-purple color of the flames of the burning Undying.
“Servant of Death arise. You have been reborn with my power. I have a special mission for you,” Lod’rum said with a smile and began to laugh manically.
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