The Hammer of Hu'Mod Part 39

by Joe Solmo

Birell pulled an arrow from the chest of a dead dark elf. She placed it in a quiver she had liberated from another corpse, as well as a bow. The wood was foreign to her, she couldn’t name the species but it felt comfortable in her hands. Sreg followed her through the alley towards the stone wall near the end. Without slowing she leaped to the wall and pushed off, her leg muscles springing her upwards. Her hand gripped the edge of the room of the main dining hall and she pulled herself up with a grunt. She lowered her hand down for Sreg, but he launched himself next to her. The elf god was indeed inside the human, she thought. There was no way he could have made that leap before.

From up here on the roof of the second story building, the elf could see the chaos that was assaulting the city her friend had built. Portals glowed around the city as waves of dark elves poured forth. The desert folk were defending the southern end of the city, attacking with the ferocity they learned living in such an inhospitable environment. She knocked an arrow and fired into the alley below her as a pair of dark elves looked for stragglers. The thud of the arrow alerted the other dark elf to the attack a second before his partner sunk to the hard, stone floor. He only lasted a second longer as Sreg’s arrow found it mark and sunk six inches into the dark elf’s forehead. He fell over backwards due to the impact of the arrow.

“Two down, only ten thousand to go,” Sreg said with a crooked smile. Birell laughed.

“At the rate that you actually hit them we will be retired before we get them all,” the elf chided.

“I hear you talking over there, but I don’t think the words mean what you think they mean. Since I met you I believe I’m still up by at least twenty,” Sreg replied.

“Humans were never good at math,” Birell said and turned towards her friend. He was staring off into space. “Sreg?”  Her friend didn’t move, he was staring in the direction of the temple. “Hey, you in there Sreg? Kilyn? Anyone?” she said and moved in front of her friend, concerned.

Once his line of sight was broken, Sreg seemed to snap out of it. He looked the elf in the eye and watched the concern leave her face. “Yeah, I’m ok. I was just taken by surprise,” Sreg replied.

“Taken by surprise of what?” Birell asked looking around. “The dark elves? We knew about them.”

“No, not them. I knew about them. He’s here. Both of them actually. I didn’t think I would see them so soon,” Sreg said.

“You’re not really making any sense, you know,” Birell said feeling his forehead. “You don’t feel sick.”

“It’s Skrat. He’s here again. This time he brought the big boy with him,” Sreg said and checked his weapons.  “I can’t let them get away. I don’t know if your friend is strong enough to fend them off. Or any of the others that have come to aid in the fight. Even the ones who haven’t revealed themselves to the paladin. I can sense their power. They are like fireflies compared to Lod’rum’s Sun. I have to go help, even if it is a lost cause.  Help them close those portals,” Sreg said and ran towards the plaza, leaping at the end of the building and disappearing from view.

“Don’t you die! Not until I can beat your record!” Birell yelled after him. Birell thought she heard his faint response.

“You won’t.” Birell couldn’t help but smile. She ran towards the closest portal where Jyr was struggling to keep the horde of dark elves from entering. So far, he was holding a line, keeping them at bay with crossbow fire as they entered this world. It would only take one poisoned attack to start to fold the fragile dwarven line.

From her vantage point she set up shop, swinging the black leather quiver off her shoulder and placing it on the tile roof in front of her. She brought the bow up and fired into the closest dark elf that was threatening the dwarves. The enemy dropped in front of Jyr, who saw the arrow and turned around. Birell waved to the older dwarf before pulling another arrow out of the quiver.

A few more of the dark elves dropped to Birell’s arrows before they took notice of her. As newer elves came through the portal the others let them know and she had to duck a few arrows heading her way. She was forced to change positions on the roof top to return fire. When she peeked over the edge she saw Jyr was down, with an arrow sticking out of his shoulder. She fired two arrows into the nearest of dark elves and leaped from the roof. She landed on her feet and rolled with the momentum and ran towards Jyr. His own men were trying to defend him, parrying the thin quick swords of the enemy that swung at the older dwarf.

Birell slipped through the melee and grabbed Jyr and threw him over her shoulder as his soldiers blocked the dark elves’ advance. She could hear their cursing her as she carried him away. The old dwarf groaned as she carried him.

“I’m sorry, you’ll be safe in a minute,” Birell said as she made it behind the fighting. She put the dwarf down gently on some crates and examined his wound. “How does it feel?” she asked.

“Like a night with me wife, how do you think it does?” Jyr spat back.

“I meant is it poisoned?” Birell asked.

“Not that I know off,” the older swarf said. Birell grabbed the shaft of the arrow and wiggled it. Jyr winced.

“Sorry!” she said and pulled a small knife out. She cut the shaft in half. “I’m going to have to push it through.”

“Aye lass. Go ahead. I’m drunk enough I won’t feel it,” Jyr said putting his head back on the crate. Birell put him up on his side so she could get to the back of the dwarf.

“We are going to have to find you some armor, so this doesn’t have to happen again,” Birell said as she pushed the arrow though the dwarf’s shoulder.

“Lass, I have to tell you something. I know we got off on the wrong foot. I just wanted to say that I approve of ya. You’re a good friend to my son,” Jyr said through lips clenched in pain.

“Save your strength, you’re wounded,” Birell replied.

“I don’t want to die without telling you, there is no hard feelings between us. If I said anything rude, it was in jest,” the old dwarf said.

“You are not going to die,” Birell said and pushed the arrow clean through the dwarf. Jyr tried his best to not show any pain.

“We won’t let him,” came a voice from behind. Birell turned and saw one of Grian’s acolytes standing there. “I have been sent to help heal the wounded, ma’am,” he said.

“He has a shoulder wound,” Birell said and gave the acolyte room. She watched the fight at the portal. A dark elf walked through the portal wearing a headdress made from black feathers and centered just above the nose some kind of animal skull. He held a long wooden staff in his right hand, decorated with obscene decorations.

“You got him?” Birell asked looking down at Jyr.

“Yes, it is not life threatening,” the acolyte said.

“Okay, then I got this one,” Birell said pointing at the new dark elf who was creating a swath through the fighters with wild staff swings. She dropped her bow and quiver to the stone and drew both short swords she had strapped around her lithe waist. She charged towards the dark elf without another word.

            As she reached the dark elf, she let out a battle cry and swung both weapons in a spin maneuver. They were both deflected by the dark elf’s staff, which felt as solid as steel. The larger dark elf looked at his attacker and sneered. “A betrayer survives. Not for long,” he said.

“I will make you pay for what you did to my people, my father,” She said and pushed away from her adversary. She spun a low attack, but the staff blocked her strike. The dark elf brought the top of the staff down and Birell barely had time to bring her other weapon up to block it. The force of the dark elf’s attack shockwaved up her arm. There was more than just a physical attack happening.

Two more times she tried to find an opening but the dark elf was a well-trained enemy. He answered her attacks with his own. Birell find herself admiring her adversary. It seemed they were evenly matched. In a whir of metal, she swung quickly high then low trying to find an opening. She finally found success with a quick jab to the ribs, slicing through the dark elf’s hide armor. His eyes grew large with anger more so than pain and he swung the staff in an uppercut catching Birell off balance from her strikes. She fell to the hard ground dropping one of her swords.

The dark elf’s lips parted in a wicked smile. “I have you now,” he sneered and raised his staff. Birell kicked away in the nick of time and avoided the blow. The hardwood staff rang out on the cobblestones that paved the avenue. She looked around for help, but the dwarves were busy closing the portal. She moved back a little more to buy time and laid her hand on something hard. Her bow! She grabbed it and reached back for an arrow.

The dark elf screamed in rage and began to chant, sickly purple mist started to swirl around him as the arcane words left his mouth. Birell fired two arrows, one struck him on the shoulder, spinning him with the impact, the second sunk into his back, just to the right of the spine, piercing his lung.

Birell got to her feet as quick as she could and charged the dark elf. She grabbed her adversary around the throat and placed her blade under his chin. “Close these portals. Leave this place. Go back to the hell you came from!” Birell shouted in anger.

“Just like a betrayer, to shoot me in the back,” the dark elf said and coughed up some blood. He began to chant again. Birell wasted no time and pushed the blade into the soft flesh under his chin as far as she could. She felt the dark elf’s body go ridged for a second before it slumped out of her hands, taking her sword with it. She stood over him for a second catching her breath.

A pat on her back brought her out of a trance she didn’t remember falling into. Jyr was shaking her. “Good job lass, the portal is closed. It’s the magic casting ones that control it,” the old dwarf said.

“Yes, well that’s good news then,” the elf said, still disoriented.

“Yes. Well there are more portals where that one came from, let’s move out lads,” Jyr said raising his weapon in a cheer. The dwarves and desert folk around him cheered as well and they ran off down the street towards the next portal. Birell retrieved her weapons and looked around. She wondered where Sreg had run off too.

She rolled over the dark elf and looked at him. This betrayer nonsense was getting old. Whatever happened back then had nothing to do with her, she wasn’t born yet. She took a moment in the din of battle to catch her breath before heading off to find her friend.   


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