The Hammer of Hu'Mod Part 40
by Joe Solmo
Grian stood in the street, his knuckles white as his hand gripped his weapon. He stared across the plaza at the two enemies. The world had gone silent as he stood there, focused. The weight of the stare of evil seemed to root him in place.
Lod’rum made no advance, neither did Skrat, for the moment both seemed content to stand there staring at the dwarf. Several scenarios raced through his mind, trying to figure out which was the best way to handle this. The doubt that always sat in the back of his mind came to the surface like silt from turbulent waters. Maybe he could handle Skrat, but not Lod’rum. Certainly not both, he thought. He would do his best to at least slow them down giving others, and maybe Hu’Mod himself time to come and aid the people of the world.
The Paladin’s eyes fell on the crumpled forms, blood spilling from the broken bodies laying still. No help came for them. They would never again smile, or see a loved one, or enjoy a joke. They came here, trusting him, and he failed. When this was all over, if he survived he vowed to bury each one of them, and do what he could to send them onto the reward of the afterlife.
Grian took a deep breath, his chest heaving, pushing his red beard away momentarily. He began to channel the power of his god into him. The energy started to flow into is body, electricfying his muscles with power.
“Look, he draws power from him,” Skrat said, turning towards his liege.
“Let him, the victory is sweeter if we can take his hope, before we take his life,” Lod’rum said looking interestingly at Grian standing there.
“Shouldn’t we destroy him now? Before he gains power. We shouldn’t underestimate him,” Skrat said beginning to channel power of his own.
“Do you doubt your God?” Lod’rum said as small shadows left his cape and entered Skrat’s body. The power faded from the young mage.
“Of course, you know what’s best,” Skrat said through clenched teeth. The Dark God nodded and turned his attention back to the dwarf across the plaza.
“Not all the players have arrived yet. I want his death to be witnessed. I don’t want there to be any doubt which side is more powerful. The dead will also be here soon. You are young, and still need to learn patience, apprentice,” Lod’rum said.
The scorned mage turned his attention to a group of soldiers approaching from the western part of the city and sent a ball of green fire racing towards them. The screams of the soldiers broke Grian from his daze. He focused on his enemies and struck the ground with his hammer, sending white, holy light racing across the cobblestones.
Skrat dove to the left to avoid the power, but Lod’rum held his ground. The holy light parted around him and he began to chuckle. Your god’s powers are no match for the power of death,” he said with a hiss and spread his hands out wide. The dead from the fireball jerked on the ground and began to rise. Charred arms reached for Grian, charred faces looked at him blankly and they began to march towards him.
“I am not afraid of you, or your trick. You may have tricked me before, but it will not happen again. Begone, undead!” Grian said and turned his hammer towards the shambling corpses. White light shot forth and struck them. The charred bodies dropped to the ground and stopped moving.
“Your abominations can not touch me. Hu’Mod protects me!” Grian said more confidently than he felt.
“Where is he? All this destruction and where is your protector now? You have been duped again, dwarf!” Lod’rum spat.
“Hu’Mod looks over me and the souls of these people,” Grian said spreading his hand to indicate the bodies laying on the ground.
“Their souls belong to me. I control them,” Lod’rum said and raised his gnarled hand. The bodies once again began to move.
“All you control is the body. Their souls belong to Hu’Mod!” Grian said and charged, infuriated at the blasphemy spouting from the dark god.
Enregy filled the paladin as he raced across the plaza, closing the gap between them. His vision narrowed until all he saw was the face of Lod’rum looking back at him. He brought his hammer to bear as he closed in swinging with every once of energy he had.
The swing hit an invisible barrier just before Lod’rum and the power shot around the dark god. Grian fell to his knees dropping his weapon. “Your god’s power can’t touch me, you bearded oaf!” Lod’rum said and kicked out, sending Grian onto his butt. He looked up at Lod’rum confused. He channeled more power than he ever had before, how strong was this guy?
“Maybe he can’t hit you, but I can,” came a voice from above, Grian looked up as Sreg loosed three arrows. The first pinned Skrat down to the pavement, the other two struck Lod’rum in the ribs, sinking into the flesh under the robes.
“Who are you?” Lod’rum called out as he turned to face his new adversary. Grian used the distraction to get back to his feet, grabbing his hammer. He began to channel his power again.
“I’m the guy that’s going to help you with your porcupine costume,” Sreg said sending more arrows towards the dark god, again they broke through the protective barrier and sunk into his body. Lod’rum yelled out in rage!
“How dare you attack me, mortal!” he said and shot a purple beam from his finger at the ranger. Sreg ducked behind the edge of the roof he was standing on and then returned fire when the beam stopped.
“It’s impossible. No holy power can penetrate my shield!” Lod’rum said
“I’m not what anyone would call, holy,” Sreg said. Inside me is Kilyn. He’s the elves god of nature, and he doesn’t like the unnatural bullshit you have been pulling!” Sreg launched himself from the rooftop dropping his bow and pulling two sickles from his waist. The wicked curved blades reflected the sun’s rays in Grian’s eyes and he had to momentarily look away. That was when he noticed Skrat whispering something. He was casting a spell!
The paladin raced over to Skrat and sunk the heavy end of his hammer into the young mage’s face. At one time he would have hesitated, but had given the mage enough oppurtunies. The impact knocked Skrat back onto the pavement, the sound of the crack of his head echoed off the nearby buildings.
Sreg launched into a furious attack on Lod’rum who had to concentrate on defense. The dark god blocked the sickles with his staff and quick pulses of force magic to repel the blades. Grian raced over to help Sreg, settling in behind the evil god and striking from behind. Only one in five swings connected, but none with full impact. Lod’rum’s magic still protected him from the power of Hu’Mod.
Lod’rum roared. “Enough!” and a wave of force sent both Grian and Sreg flying through the air. Grian struck the wall of an inn with enough force to knock the wind out of him. He fell to the ground, dizzy. As he fought to keep his eyes open he saw Sreg laying motionless a few yards away. He tried to pull himself together. He tried to make it over to the ranger. If only he could heal him before he lost consciousness, he thought.
“I will put an end to this now,” Lod’rum said as he approached. His shadow fell over Grian, and he shivered. The shadow must have been thirty degrees cooler than the surround air.
Grian groaned as he reached for Sreg. He was still a few feet away. He saw Lod’rum approach and knew he wouldn’t make it in time, but he had to try. He pushed off the ground again and made it to his knees, he tried to jump towards Sreg, but fell to the side, his vision blurred.
“You are just a tool of the gods. The sooner you learn your place the better. When I raise your corpse, I will make you do heinous things. There will be just enough of you left in there to know what is happening, but not enough for you to do anything about it. You will be my slave, instead of my brother’s,” Lod’rum said as he placed his foot down on Grian’s back.
Unable to move any closer, Grian tried to channel Hu’Mod. He called out to his god begging for the strength to save Sreg. He didn’t care what happened to him, as long as he could save the ranger.
“Are you praying?” Lod’rum said with a hint of laughter in his voice. He rolled Grian over onto his back. “You dwarves are a tenacious people, I will give you that. You have amused me,” Lod’rum said as he began to crackle with power. “That is all you mortals are to me. A clown, a jester, a play-thing. Something to pass the eons away.”
Grian tried to respond, but his face was pushed into the ground. He reached towards Sreg, but he was still too far away. Once again, he asked Hu’Mod for help.
“When my army of undead reach your town, we will devour the souls of your followers. This is your punishment for vanity. Know this, Paladin. These people all die because of you!” the dark god said as the power crackling around him reached a creshendo. Grian refused to close his eyes and show fear to Lod’rum. Every moment the dark god was focused on him, gave Sreg a chance to recover. He looked death in the eye, refusing to look away.
Suddenly his view was clear of dark gods. He blinked twice trying to focus. No longer was Lod’rum on his chest. He turned towards the unconious Sreg and started to crawl over.
“Impossible!” Lod’rum called out from the other side of the plaza. Grian turned his head towards the dark god’s voice and what he saw relieved him. Standing between him and Lod’rum were two people. Zeeg crouched in a defensive stance, a shield between him and Lod’rum who was staring intently at Moose who had an aura of white energy flowing around him.
“It’s time for you to pay for your sins, brother,” Moose said towards the dark god.
“Leave that flesh bag and face me,” Lod’rum said. He sent another purple beam towards Moose, who was ready for him. Moose fired back with a white beam of his own. The two crashed into each other sending a shockwave in all directions. Dirt and debris from the fighting hit Grian in the face. He coughed and rubbed his eyes.
“Sreg, can you hear me?” Grian said as he pulled himself up to the ranger. Still Grian saw no movement from his friend. He placed his hand on the still form and began to channel power. He didn’t know if it was because Hu’Mod was fighting Lod’rum or his own weakened state, but Grain couldn’t focus the power into Sreg. He gave up and laid back down on the pavement.
“This is no time for a nap, sir dwarf,” came Birell’s voice. She reached down and helped the paladin to his feet.
“Good to see your still alive,” he responded, holding his head.
“You as well. How is he?” she asked crouching down next to Sreg.
“I can’t help him. I don’t know what’s wrong,” Grian said. “I tried. I really did.” A tear fell into his bearded cheek.
Both of the friends ducked as debris from the god’s fight flew overhead. Most of the surrounding buildings were in ruins now. Zeeg was blocking most of the damage with his shield from the mortals.
“Is that Skrat?” Birell asked.
“Yeah, I knocked him out,” Grian said without looking up. He couldn’t make eye contact with his friend. He didn’t want her to see the failure in his eyes.
“He’s not out,” Birell said and drew her sword. A pale green transparent rope launched out of Skrat’s hand and wrapped around Sreg. The ranger’s body spasmed in pain as the rope wrapped itself around Sreg’s heart.
“No!” Birell yelled out and threw her short sword at the mage. With a wave of his hand and a mocking laugh he deflected the throw.
“It’s too late, elf. He is no more,” Skrat said and let the rope dissipate. “But now I am fully healed!”
He flicked his wrist and sent a green ball towards Birell, and it hit her in the chest. She collapsed onto the motionless ranger.
Zeeg dropped his shield and raced over to them. He grabbed Skrat and wrapped his hands around him in a great bear hug, keeping him from casting spells. “Little brother, you have caused too much pain in this world. It is my duty to take you out of it,” he said and brought a meatly hand up to the mages throat. He wrapped his fingers around the windpipe and began to squeeze. Grian moved on unsteady feet towards Birell but something stopped him. He saw a green gas like substance leaving Sreg’s body and entering Birell. At first, he was alarmed, but as he got closer he sensed no malice from it. It had a primordial power, something older than good or evil. He realized it must be the power of Kilyn leaving the ranger. He truly was dead.
His concentration was broken when he heard the thud of Skrat’s body hit the ground. He turned towards Zeeg who stood there with a pained expression on his face. “I should have done this a long time ago. I am sorry for the damage my brother has caused,” Zeeg said between sobs. He dropped to his knees.
Grian walked over to the oldest brother and put a hand on his shoulder to confort him. “I am sorry for your loss, truly,” Grian said and looked at the battle raging between the gods who had taken to the sky above.
He saw something coming from the west through the air and crash into the ground near him. He raced over once he recognized the shape. He helped Jyr to his feet. A large grin split the old dwarf’s beard and giggles escaped his lips. “Lad, I think I am in love, don’t tell your mother,” Jyr said and raced off down the street. Grian watched his father disappear behind a building in disbelief.
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