The Hammer of Hu'Mod Part 41
by Joe Solmo
Kregas stood back to back with the old dwarf from the bazaar, Valin. Surrounding them were a dozen dark elves, holding their bladed weapons in their hands and grinning menacingly at the pair of dwarves. Kregas held onto his own weapon with an iron grip. “I know they aren’t undead, but these things need to die,” he whispered to Death Smite. His eyes scanned the enemies, watching for their first strike.
I hardly think these things are worthy of my time. They are just elves, albeit a little more evil…eviler? than their forest cousins, but still…These are beneath me.
“Just trust me, axe. They are pure evil. We need to…,” Kregas was interrupted.
Axe? Axe! Well, I am no common axe! I let it slide the last time you called me that, but I will have you know I was crafted by the best smith and Clerics of Hu’Mod! The Great Alexai Browbeater himself struck the first blow onto the perfect piece of metal that became such a distinguished creation of not only form, but of beauty. Axe? It takes more than three letters to describe me! Pfft. I should find someone else who is worthier to wield me, you bearded oaf!
“Are you going to help me or not?” Kregas whispered holding the weapon up to his face.
“Good, now save your breath for the war cry.” The young dwarf turned towards his companion. “Valin are you ready?”
“Well I’m not getting any younger! Follow my lead, pup!” the older dwarf said and pulled his weapon from his belt. The metal of the axe blade gleamed in the sunlight like a thousand candles, perfectly polished. “Death Smite, meet Skull Cleave!” the old dwarf said raising his weapon above him. He turned his aged face towards Kregas. “Bit of a jerk if you ask me, but he gets the job done,” he whispered and winked.
“Jairus Vinnen Drescol,” the old man said and white light flowed from his hand into the weapon. Sparks of energy shot out in random directions, arcing from metal object to metal object. At the sight of the arcing energy the dark elves took a step back, whispering to each other. A large arc struck Kregas on the nose, singing his moustache. The old dwarf smiled at his partners pain. “Now you try what I told ya, lad.”
Kregas looked down at Death Smite, who was still mummering about how he wasn’t just an axe, and magical sentient weapons had feelings too. Kregas sighed and blocked out the sound of the complaining weapon. “Garu Breeman Fytr!” he yelled and held the axe high. His closed his eyes tight in anticipation of the rush of Hu’Mod’s power that was going to be channeled by unlocking the weapons potential with the words he was taught.
At first nothing happened. He took a quick breath, then held it in, clenching his eyes shut still. A few more seconds passed and still nothing. He opened his eyes and looked at the old dwarf. “What did I do wrong, old one?” he asked.
“It’s not you,” the dwarf said and looked up over Kregas’s head. Reluctantly Kregas lowered the weapon back down.
“Listen. You’re more than an axe to me. You the best weapon I have ever had,” Kregas whispered to Death Smite.
“Weapon and… I don’t understand,” the young dwarf asked.
With such a low intelligence it’s no wonder why.
“You are the best weapon and…” Kregas turned towards the older dwarf for help. Valin nodded, encouraging towards Kregas and motioning his hand telling him to get on with it. The lull in the fighting wasn’t going to last forever. The surrounded dark elves seemed to be confused by what was happening, but soon they would get their courage back.
“Death Smite…You are the best weapon and…friend a dwarf could ask for. A weapon worthy of Hu’Mod’s hand itself.” Kregas said. A few awkward seconds passed in silence before the weapon responded. It flared up in magical power so bright, Kregas had to squint.
That wasn’t so hard was it? It just took a little longer to get through that thick dwarven skull of yours. A truly poor design for a humanoid. More fitting a battering ram one would say. Anyway, let us kill in the name of our God. That is what we are made for. By the way, do you think Skull Cleave shines brighter than me?
Kregas sighed and looked at Valin. The older dwarf nodded and together they spun their axe blades into the confused dark elves so suddenly it was nearly a massacre. Blood sprayed in every direction as beard, blood and blade became one whirring death machine. Throughout the chaos, Kregas took a cut to the thigh, but it wasn’t deep, and he ignored the pain and fought through. It was more of an annoyance than anything else. Valin took a dagger just under the ribs, but he told Kregas he was fine. “It was nothing more than a glorified butter knife, lad. Besides, we got better things to do than practice healing magic, pup! Let’s finish these damn dark elves off!” the older dwarf said as they took on the last two. Kregas and Death Smite fought furiously with the larger of the two remaining dark elves, but he kept a concerned eye on Valin, who now fought one handed, the other clutching his abdomen and the wound he received a few moments ago.
“Lead the way,” Kregas said when their enemies were slain. Valin sprinted away faster and more lithely than an old dwarf should. Kregas found he had to actually try to keep up with the ancient dwarf, all the while reassuring Death Smite that he was not only the best weapon and friend, but the shiniest weapon and friend the dwarf has ever had.
They raced through the unfinished streets of the growing city looking for people who needed help and cleaved their way through the enemies they found blocking their path. The old dwarf swung Skull Cleave with such finesse, Kregas was in awe. Even when his young muscles began to tire and his swings began to weaken, the older dwarf stepped in and picked up the slack. Valin had a font of vitality inside of him that would make any dwarf a hundred years younger jealous.
After a while, they lead a procession of dwarves, Desert Folk and random other races through the streets towards the edges of town, where fighting wasn’t as vicious. They armed who they could and helped the weak or injured. Soon the parade of people grew too large for them to keep an eye on. A few dozen wounded couldn’t move fast or secretly.
“Valin, we need to find a safe place for these people. The group has grown too large for us to be effective in finding others,” Kregas called out to the old dwarf who was leading the group about twenty yards ahead.
The white bearded dwarf turned to him, as if just now realizing he was there. “Of course, lad. You’re right. Once second.”
Kregas gathered the group under the awning of a stone building while they waited. The sounds of battle were distant at the moment, they had some time to catch their breath. He wondered how his friend Grian was making out, and even the elf girl crossed his mind as he tended the wounded.
“Let me show you another trick, my boy,” Valin said as he approached. “Now, it’s too advanced for you, only a true Hammer of Hu’Mod, a living weapon of the great god, could do or even have the god’s permission for such a thing. But, if I show you now, and something happens to me, maybe the power won’t be lost.”
“So, it is true then. You are a Hammer of Hu’Mod,” Kregas said in wonder.
“Not all of us were there that day. Some of us were on missions. I came home to the world I knew destroyed by the god I loved. I wandered for years, the mere mention of my god like venom, making me sick. I struggled with my faith as the gods left the world, but when they began to stir again I knew my path was to return, and teach the dwarves the power I secreted away for all those years. You will be the first new Hammer in many years, lad,” Valin said and patted the younger dwarf on the shoulder.
“I am honored, Valin, but shouldn’t that be Grian? He is much worthier than I,” Kregas said.
“I am afraid his path lies in a different direction,” Valin said. “Now watch.” The old dwarf began to chant something and Kregas had to strain to hear what the old dwarf was saying. He watched as Valin moved his hands in almost a rhythmic way to the chanting and soon a mote of light energy appeared before them. It grew in size until it was as tall as Kregas. With a spreading of his hands, the old dwarf flattened the mote out and opened it into a doorway. On the other side was only white light.
“What’s through there?” Kregas asked trying to peek inside.
“The white path. It’s the pathways holy magic takes from their gods to their believers and back. Through here these people can find sanctuary in Hu’Mod’s own home,” the old dwarf explained.
“That’s incredible!” Kregas responded.
“It’s the safest place I know,” Valin said and winked. “Come you all, step inside and down be afraid. I shall lead you to safety.” The old dwarf turned towards Kregas. “I must go to navigate the path. Trust in your power, and your weapon. You will make a fine Hammer, my boy. I can monitor the situation from Hu’Mod’s home, but won’t have a way to contact you. When it is safe I will return these people here. Now go, there are more that need your help. Remember life is more precious than glory in combat. Rescue as many people as you can. Trust your friends can handle their tasks as well.”
“Thank you, for everything, Valin,” Kregas said and shook the old dwarf’s gnarled hand. Still such a strong grip, he thought.
“It was my duty, and my pleasure,” the older dwarf said and stepped into the white portal after the last of the procession passed through. “Now don’t screw up, I’m watching you!” the old dwarf said and closed the portal.
“Great, thanks,” Kregas said and ran down the street. He listened for the sound of people, or combat. Most of this section of the city was deserted, but he did manage to round up a few of the Desert Folk who had gotten lost from their warrior escorts. There were three women and five children. Kregas led them towards a stone building near the newly clear-cut fields. He knew they were building a keep there and thought it would be a good place for them to lay low until the fighting was over. He didn’t see any dark elves in this side of town, which he thought was a good sign but when he arrived at the keep and the gates were wide open with no one in sight,
I’m getting a creeping doom type feeling. Ooh wait I know what this is! Finally!
The weapon began to pull Kregas towards the gate, and away from the people he was trying to protect. The pull was so strong he was struggling to keep his feet rooted to the hard soil underneath. He turned towards the confused Desert Folk, as if to ask for help as the strong magic and personality of Death Smite pulled him into the shadows of the gatehouse.
It was a good thing the Desert Folk didn’t immediately follow. There was nothing inside there but death. Dwarven bodies littered a floor that was slick with blood. Kregas retched a few times looking at the carnage below. He turned to leave and something caught his vision. Was that movement? He turned back around just in time to stop a sword strike. He looked in horror as the wielder of the weapon, a dwarf about his age stumbled blindly towards him. The dwarf was blind because the top half of his head was missing. A hiss escaped his lips, like death’s last exhale, and the stench of the grave assaulted Kregas’s nostrils.
It’s about time!
Death Smite nearly pulled himself out of Kregas’s hands as it swung at mid height and cut the undead dwarf in half.
More! More! More! Kill them all! Re-kill I guess would be a better phrase. Can we kill some more?
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