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The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past, Part Thirteen
Posted on Tue, April 19, 2016 by LordCeb
CruelSummerLord writes "
Blood streaked down one side of Kalrek’s face, but if he was at all upset by the blow he didn’t show it. His smile grew even wider, as he began to laugh once more. With a murderous light in his eyes, he blocked Airk’s next strike and thrust once more with his sword. Airk moved to block it with his shield, but Kalrek hooked his sword under Airk’s shield and heaved it upwards, throwing Airk off balance and leaving him completely defenseless.

Kalrek didn’t waste the opportunity, slashing Airk across the chest and down to his leg. Blood poured down Airk’s chest, a flow that was only worsened when Kalrek followed up with another blow that cut deep into his hip and thigh and caused another well of blood to rise up. 




Weimar gritted his teeth as the massive hammer pounded into his shield, sending a shock up his arm. He struck back with his axe, but the armored man easily danced out of the way and swung again, forcing Weimar to duck.

That led the other armored man to slam a flail into Weimar’s knee, causing him to nearly lose his balance. Cursing at his disadvantage, Weimar swung his shield back and forth to deflect their attacks, and struck back at the warrior with the flail, tearing a deep gash in the man’s hip. Deflecting yet another blow from the other man’s hammer, Weimar rushed at him with his shield leading, ignoring the throbbing pain in his leg as he did. As he drove his shield into the man, causing him to overbalance, Weimar struck with his axe, cleaving deep into the man’s arm.

As the hammer-wielding man fell back, favoring his unwounded arm, Weimar spun around to deflect a blow from the flail wielder, and swung a vicious cut that would have taken the man’s head off if he hadn’t ducked in time.

Taking a moment to catch his breath as he repositioned himself, Weimar smiled wickedly at Kalrek’s hired soldiers.

They came at him again, and he eagerly responded. 

***

Kalrek struck first with a long series of sword thrusts, the jeweled blade seeming to come from every angle as it forced Airk back. Unable to find an opening to strike back, all Airk could do was maneuver his shield to deflect the blows, the clanging of their weapons outdone even by Kalrek’s mad laughter.

Eager for the kill, Kalrek sprang forward, bringing his sword down in a vicious overhanded slash, but Airk nimbly dodged aside. As Kalrek stumbled, trying to regain his balance, Airk leapt in, swinging his morning star at the other gnome’s exposed shoulder. He learned too late that it was a ruse, as Kalrek immediately sprang back to his feet and cut at Airk with a vicious backhand slash. Airk managed to get his shield in line to block the blow, but Kalrek quickly reversed course and swung his sword the other way, tearing a long gash in Airk’s weapon arm. He thrust at Airk’s neck, but Airk managed to duck the thrust and countered with a chop of his morning star, which struck Kalrek in the leg and sent him stumbling back.

The two gnomes quickly regained their footing, staring at one another for a moment before they charged at one another again. They exchanged a long flurry of blows, each one deflected with more difficulty than the last, until they finally broke off, realizing that there was no advantage in that exchange.

Breaking off the melee, Airk and Kalrek circled each other warily, each looking for an opening.

Airk struck first, swinging his morning star back and forth as Kalrek dodged each of the blows. Finally, Airk struck down low at Kalrek’s legs again, causing the other gnome to bring his shield down to block the blow. Faster than Kalrek expected, Airk brought his morning star up in a wide arc, smashing it into Kalrek’s face.

Blood streaked down one side of Kalrek’s face, but if he was at all upset by the blow he didn’t show it. His smile grew even wider, as he began to laugh once more. With a murderous light in his eyes, he blocked Airk’s next strike and thrust once more with his sword. Airk moved to block it with his shield, but Kalrek hooked his sword under Airk’s shield and heaved it upwards, throwing Airk off balance and leaving him completely defenseless.

Kalrek didn’t waste the opportunity, slashing Airk across the chest and down to his leg. Blood poured down Airk’s chest, a flow that was only worsened when Kalrek followed up with another blow that cut deep into his hip and thigh and caused another well of blood to rise up. 

***

Amyalla was ducking and dodging desperately, knowing that she’d be torn apart in a straight fight against either of the two gnomes slashing at her. They were skilled foes, however, each of them reacting to the other’s movements as they kept Amyalla off balance, and following up on his partner’s attacks as they forced Amyalla back and around.

One of them slammed a mace into her arm.

The other one tore a gash in her stomach with his sword, and it was only by sheer willpower that the halfling hadn’t collapsed altogether.

Blood mixed with sweat as the weary halfling tried to catch her breath, throwing a dagger at one of the gnomes to force him back.

The gnome simply knocked it away with his shield. 

***

Kalrek’s laughter was reaching a fever pitch, echoing even above the screams of metal as he easily struck aside Airk’s desperate counters and struck yet again at his former friend. Torn and bleeding from his newest wound, this one deep into his shoulder, it was all Airk could do to block the next strike and dodge aside.

A mad light shone in Kalrek’s eyes, the eyes of a demon or a devil, as he lunged in for the kill. His laughter continued to echo in Airk’s ears, the laughter that had resonated in the ears of a hundred victims before him, the laughter that would resonate in the ears of a hundred more.

His friends, his kinfolk from Flinthold, the people of Oakdale, Laessar Bradon’s family.

Airk’s morning star slammed into Kalrek’s shield, knocking him back several steps and shattering his forward momentum. As the other gnome staggered back, Airk charged forward, his morning star a blur as he struck over and over at Kalrek. Shrieks of metal clashing on metal filled the air as Airk brought his morning star down on Kalrek’s hand, drove it deep into his gut, and slammed it into his hip.

Kalrek was no longer laughing. 

***

For your glory…Kalrek thought.

For the slaughter I conduct in your name…Kalrek repeated.

Grant me your aid, Lord Urdlen! 

***

Kalrek seemed to fade away before Airk’s eyes, his form becoming indistinct and wavering, as if Airk looked at him through the haze of an intense heat. He thrust at Airk yet again, his laughter resuming as Airk’s morning star passed harmlessly by him. Again and again Airk struck, but always he struck short, unable to get a bead on Kalrek to strike him down.

Kalrek had no such difficulty, thrusting forward with a strike that would have run Airk through if the other gnome had not been able to dodge aside in time. As it was, Kalrek’s sword tore a long gash along his ribs, and Airk felt the blood rising before his eyes, realizing that another thrust would finish him.

Images of his murdered kinfolk, particularly Laessar, flashed through his mind, as did the sight of their deaths at the hands of the Steelhearts. He could almost see the first of the dwarves striking at him, the bearded wretch bringing his hammer down at Airk.

Airk easily blocked the blow with his shield and struck back, slamming his morning star into the dwarf’s chest and causing the sadistic creature to stagger back. The dwarf came on again at another angle, but Airk brought his morning star down on the dwarf’s weapon hand. The weapon struck home with a sickening crunch, causing the dwarf to howl in agony as he dropped his weapon.

The desperate dwarf tried to regroup, dropping his shield and attempting to pick up his sword with his off hand, but Airk struck him in the face with his morning star yet again. The dwarf seemed vague, indistinct and all around him at once, but Airk struck home, the images of his dying kin all around him, as the dwarf screamed in pain and horror.

Finally, the bloodied and exhausted dwarf sank to his knees.

Airk’s morning star struck him right between the eyes.

The dwarf collapsed as Airk dropped his morning star and shield. He fell to his hands and knees, barely able to avoid collapsing, as the screams and sights of his kin faded away. 

The corpse of Kalrek Burunne lay several feet away, its face beaten and torn almost beyond recognition. 

***

Kalrek felt himself falling into a seemingly endless abyss, darkness all around him as he struggled to find his bearings.

His entire body was on fire, his shrieks of rage mingling with the cries he heard all around him, which seemed to grow in intensity as he continued to fall.

When he finally landed, he realized where he was.

The tunnels extended all around him-but how could he have fallen when there was a ceiling above him?-and he knew whose tunnels they were, suffused with bones and skulls all around him the way an oerthly tunnel might otherwise be suffused with rocks and roots. 

An angry hissing sound behind Kalrek made the blood freeze in his veins, as slowly turned around.

The nightmare towered over him, a huge, mole-like creature covered with the blood and excrement of its countless victims. Its claws extended over twice Kalrek’s height in length, and his fangs were half of Kalrek’s length, able to tear a gnome in two with a single stroke.

The creature was angry, and it was time to feed.

Kalrek’s soul was a long time being devoured.

He only stopped screaming towards the end. 

"
 
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