The Hammer of Hu'Mod Part 29
by Joe Solmo
The small company of dwarves spent the next few days traveling through the forest. A heavy rain fell upon them, trickling from the forest canopy above. It made them miserable and it kept conversation down to a minimum. Even Death Smite was silent, which made Kregas happy but the young dwarf wondered what the weapon would be like in a poor mood.
The idea of a sentient weapon at first was exciting, but he soon realized that just like dwarves, humans, and elves, among other creatures, there was a range of personalities. This Death Smite was kind of a jerk. Even so, Kregas had to admit the weapon was effective.
“Let us rest there, under those boulders,” called out Grian, pointing into the gloom to a grouping of large, moss covered boulders. The other two dwarves grunted in response and changed direction. The idea of shelter from the constant downpour started to turn their moods, but they knew there would be no fire, the wood all around was too wet, everything was too wet.
“I have never been this wet in all my life,” Jyr said wringing out his beard with his gnarled hands. “It’s like the Gods are trying to drown us. Oh no offense, son. It’s just a saying,” he finished.
“Aye father. I understand completely, Grian said and shivered as he placed his pack down on the relatively dry ground under the shelter of the rocks. There was room enough for them underneath, with some to spare. They shared a meal of dried rations and did their best to fight off the cold.
“Maybe Hu’Mod can do something for this rain?” Kregas asked.
“I dare not ask for such a trivial thing. We might need his help in the future,” Grian responded.
“I didn’t think of that,” Kregas said sheepishly. He drew Death Smite and whispered to the weapon, “I don’t suppose you can make a fire, can you?”
What next, shall I juggle for you too? Am I here to be your entertainment?
“Forget I asked,” Kregas mumbled.
“What was that lad?” Jyr asked, only hearing half of the conversation.
“Nothing, I was just talking to my axe,” Kregas responded.
“Did you give her a name too? Perhaps one day you two will be wed,” Jyr said and laughed, pulling a flask out from his soaked pack. The treated leather held back most of the rain, but the pack was worn, and had a few holes in it.
You going to take that from the fossil? You know you treat a sentient sword all wrong.
“Well I would have to ask Death Smite’s father for permission,” Kregas said to the older dwarf then whispered to his weapon. “What do you mean?”
“I mean you’re getting too attached to that thing,” the older dwarf said.
“Not you!” Kregas said and turned his back on the other dwarves.
“I think we lost him, lad,” Jyr said to his son. “Can you heal mind sickness as well?”
“He will be fine,” Grian said and held his hand out for the flask.
Have you not heard the stories of the sentient weapons? Do they not teach of our glories in schools? What kind of world is this?
“I have heard nothing. Vague references at best, barely a mention, really,” Kregas whispered and looked over his shoulder at his companions who watched him with worry in their eyes.
The sentient weapons, of which there are seven, are the souls of the old gods trapped in the mortal realm. When the new gods came here, they warred with the old gods and since gods can’t be destroyed, they forged weapons and trapped our soul inside. There is only so much power a god can have trapped inside the material. It was their way of defeating us.
“You’re a god now?” Kregas asked. “Am I to worship you?” he said with a smirk.
Now you are getting it! Revere me.
“I already have a god, weapon. His name is Hu’Mod. Can you make me a fire or not?” Kregas asked holding the blade up to his face.
One word of warning, be careful of phrasing. If I were more shadowy in nature I would have ended your existence just now.
With that said a fire burst to life along the sharp edge of the axe. Kregas nearly dropped the weapon onto the ground in surprise. He turned towards his companions, who also were shocked. They said frozen holding the flask between them, caught in mid-pass. It only took a second for them to recover though. They scrambled, looking for some kindling, or anything that would burn.
Place me on the ground. I will burn for you. Remember this favor, O’ bearded one, loyal subject of Hu’Mod. The great and powerful Hu’Mod who left you cold and wet on this night.
“What does making fire have to do with smiting Death?” Kregas asked.
An eon ago, a star exploded in the sky. That explosion created such a massive amount of power that it gained consciousness as it flew through the cosmos. That consciousness was me, and I fell into the great forges of the mountain dwarves of the Freonos Mountains. When the smith cooled the blade, I spoke to him. He thought himself mad and killed himself. That’s when I first wanted to fight death. The first other being I met died almost immediately. I had to end all death, being lonely is such a bore.
“That is not the story you told me a moment ago,” Kregas said, annoyed.
I do not know what you are talking about.
“Ut oh, lad. I think they are having a lover’s quarrel,” Jyr said and cracked up. He laughed so hard he fell over clutching his sides. Even Grian broke out in laughter, if only for a few seconds. If nothing else, their moods have lightened since finding the shelter of the large rocks.
A few hours later, they had dried their clothes by the fire of the magical weapon Kregas had found. Jyr and Kregas were asleep, but for some reason Grian could find no rest. His mind was full of plans for the future. Plans that relied also on questions he needed answered. Maybe that was why he couldn’t sleep. There was no point in tending the magical fire, so he found himself growing bored.
The rain let up to a drizzle, and Grian once again felt the urge to get moving. He looked at his companions and thought of waking them. He knew they didn’t have the drive he did. His father only followed him to keep him safe. Some kind of guilt over letting him run off on his own as a child.
He turned his gaze to Kregas, his childhood friend. Kregas was also following Hu’Mod. Almost like a Hammer of Hu’Mod in training. Grian could feel the power radiating from his friend. He wondered why Hu’Mod chose Kregas of all the dwarves in the village. He came to the realization a moment later that it wasn’t his position to question his god.
The paladin rose to his feet, only having to crouch a little under the rocks, and stretched his muscles. He put his cloak on and pulled the hood up and left the shelter looking for fresh food.
It didn’t take him long to stumble upon a buck drinking from a stream that ran faster than usual due to the rain. He didn’t carry a bow and he wondered how he could take such an animal down. The buck raised its head and looked over its shoulder up river. Something there spooked it and it bounded away gracefully into the forest. Grian whispered a curse and craned his neck to look at what spooked the animal, but didn’t see anything.
He waited a long time, not moving but saw nothing that would spook the deer. He gave up, realizing he was just going to get wet all over again, and headed back towards the shelter to see if his companions were awake yet.
When he returned the fire was out and his companions were packing up. They looked at him expectantly, hoping for fresh meat, but he had returned empty handed. Without another word they shouldered their packs and raised their hoods as they continued into the forest, with the rain dropping occasionally on them. It seemed like the rain had stopped.
The sloshing of their boots in the mud made a rhythm for the dwarves to march too, and they made good time. Even skirting the Forest of the Damned was uneventful, and on the next morning they saw their destination. The temple of Hu’Mod was a bustle of activity. The forest had been cleared all around the small lake and building. Tents surrounded the start of the stone bones of buildings being erected in the style of the Desert Folk that were building them. Grian stood watching them all. It reminded him of ants traveling to and fro. When his gaze settled on the temple he was amazed. They must have repaired that first. The stones were freshly refinished, the golden inlays around the doors shone in the morning son. The doors themselves were redone. This was how it must have looked in its heyday, when it was built, he thought.
“It’s a beautiful sight, lad. Is this the army that followed you in the desert?” Jyr asked.
“Aye. The Desert Folk. They helped me get the Keystone that freed Lod’rum,” Grian said putting his head down in remembered shame.
“Don’t forget lad, it also freed Hu’Mod,” Jyr said.
“Truth,” Kregas said and patted Grian on the back. “These desert folk, they have females, right?”
Grian rolled his eyes and gave a smirk. “I don’t think they would like you. They like their men clean shaven and also not arseholes,” Grian said and headed towards the newly built city.
“The most important question is do they have alcohol?” Jyr said following his son.
We don’t need women, we need to kill the undead things. Kill them all. This is just a distraction.
“Quiet you, we are going to meet some real people,” Kregas said.
I am insulted. I think I shall give you the silent treatment. That will teach you a lesson. You will be lost without my wisdom!
Kregas laughed and followed the other dwarves down into the clearing. He had heard stories of this place from the Jyr and Grian, but it didn’t look like anything they described.
Someone pointed at them as they grew closer and excitement spread through the camp. A small delegation met them halfway to the village. Grian recognized Stone Spear among them. “Greetings Stone Spear, much has changed since last we met,” he said gesturing at the grand undertaking around them.
“Greetings, Healer. We have done as you wished. We received your message. Let me show you around.” Stone Spear said. Grian nodded and followed them back towards the temple. They passed countless people that cheered at him as recognition reached them. He felt a little embarrassed at the attention he received. He waved back at them with a smile. He even recognized a few faces, and a few names.
They led him down a worn avenue to a large building that was nearly constructed. Stone Spear turned toward him. “Your new home, and headquarters,” he said and spread his arms out in a flourish.
“Home?” Grian said and turned back to his companions.
“Aye lad, home. You always have a bed under my roof, but this is where you belong,” Jyr said.
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