Penetrating the Serpents Nest

Penetrating the Serpents Nest

A Story by Bruce Grimes
"

This is the short story teaser from my book.

"

                            Penetrating the Serpents Nest

  It took Zehn two days to lead the group through the towering trees of the Bendel Forest before emerging onto the southern Plains of Kayshall. Turning east they slowly headed out across the planes and made their way towards the demon swamp. The spring rains were coming down with such intensity across the planes; that they look like sheer mountain cliffs that would suddenly spring up in front of them; the rain itself was often frozen into hail stones which pelted the group without mercy; having little choice in the matter the group pressed on and seems to be making good time. After a week's travel the group had arrived and before them stretched out as far as the eye could see was the Demons Swamp.

  It was late evening and the Sun was starting to set over the Sea of Agarith, when the group made camp atop a small Hill not far from the swamp. Kallander was sitting at the edge of the camp looking out at the seeming less endless swamp before him, when Sep walked up.

  “So what do you think Kallander?” Sep asked without even looking at him as he stared out at the massive swamp. Kallander looked up at him for a moment and then back out at the swamp. 

  “I think I'm getting ready to go into the Dragon’s den with three warriors, two wizards, a thief and a Minotaur; and I still feel like were outmatched,” Kallander said in a low solemn tone as he stared out at the swamp.

  “That's because it is true Little One, we are outmatched. In ways that you could not even imagine,” A deep rumbling voice said from behind him as Zehn walked up, with Martex not far behind. 

  “But do not let that deter you Little One, Dragon slayers have always been outmatched, but then that is what makes them great. Keep in mind young Knight, if we succeeded at this it will become a legend and the ones to do it will become heroes throughout the land. Karnock has plagued this land for far too long, perhaps you are the would-be hero that will do away with that black wing menace once and for all,” Zehn said as he stood up to his full height of eight and a half feet.

  “Well said Zehn, I see you haven't lost your knack for speeches,” Martex said with a smile as Zehn flashed him an angry look. 

  “Is it my imagination or is that thing getting bigger?” Martex asks as he looked from Zehn out into the swamp.

 “It's not your imagination wizard; the demon swamp has gained over five hundred feet on all of its borders over the last century. It is fed by the River and runs clear to The Metheal Ocean where most of it empties, but a portion of it insists on spreading out on the planes,” Zehn said as he looked up and down the border of the Demon Swamp.

Martex stood there staring at the swamp that was only about a hundred yards away as a strange feeling started coming over him and beckoning him to come to it. Martex's mined started to fill with the power of it and he started to walk towards the swamp. Suddenly he was jerked back to consciousness as he was spun around and came face-to-face with Shamonah.

  “What are you doing Martex; where do you think you're going?” Shamonah ask with a concerned look on her face

   “I'm not sure what it is; there's something out there of immense power and it’s not Karnock,” Martex said as he held his hand out towards the swamp and concentrated intensely. Then suddenly Martex's stopped and he put his hand down.

   “It's gone now,” Martex said in an aggravated tone as he stared out at the swamp.

   “What was it?” Relic asks as she walked up and glanced out at the swamp.

   “I don't know Relic; but something tells me that we don't want to know either,” Martex said as he turned and walked back over to the camp. The group posted the guards that night but no one slept well; their dreams were visited by long-lost friends and long dead enemies and invaded by visions of the dead of past battlefields. The next morning the group woke early and they were glad to do so after the night’s nightmares, they had little to say as they turned the horse’s loose and broke camp and started walking towards the Demon Swamp.

   A foul breeze started blowing up from the South as the group approached the swamp. It was the smell of a thousand years of death and decay from everything that the swamp had consumed. On the first day of traveling through the swamp they found it to be a vast open marsh, planes land that the swamp had claimed. For the most part it was a knee-deep green mock that released nauseating green vapors every time someone took a step, with small intermittent islands of dry land here and there. As the group traveled that first day they found no signs of the Dragon, about midway through the second day the group reached the true swamp.

   The islands of dry land were more abundant here and a dark forest of swamp trees stood before them. The group noticed that unlike the marshland that surrounded this area, this part of the swamp was teeming with life. There were birds and small animals that could be seen all over the place, they could also see huge crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of some of the small islands. For almost three days the group searched relentlessly for any sign of Karnock, but still there was nothing.

   Early on the morning of the fifth day Zehn and Shamonah went out in front of the group to scout the area. Shamonah’s foot slowly cut the surface of the water as she moved across a small pool when suddenly she stopped in mid step and put her hand up, motioning for Zehn to stop.

   Zehn intensely scanned the opposite shoreline as he instinctively unstrapped his war axe and readied himself for battle. Shamonah could feel the hair on the back of her neck standing on and end as she scanned the area to find what was causing this feeling of uneasiness, and then just as suddenly as it had come it was gone.  

   As the group went further into the swamp over the next few days they started finding signs of Karnock; but they had yet to find any signs of her lair and it had been over a week. One day would just slowly drag into the next and this one is proving to be no different than the last. Sweltering heat and humidity made it extremely hard to breathe as the group waded through the waist deep crocodile infested water; as they moved from one island to the next in search of Karnock lair.

   It was on the ninth day that the group came across some of Karnock's tracks and a pile of feces on one of the small islands. Zehn noticed the partial remains of several large crocodiles as well as an area that Karnock may have bedded down in for a time; from the looks of this area she had not been here in days. Shamonah looked around for a moment and walked over next to Kallander. 

   “You and Sir Brannerd have been out front for long enough; Martex and I will take the lead now,” Shamonah said as she started to wade into the water.  

   Martex hurriedly waded into the water to catch up with her with Zehn not far behind.

    “You know Shamonah I keep getting the feeling that there's something vial out here in this swamp and it's not this Dragon Karnock,” Martex said as he moved up beside her. Shamonah looked over at him as she struggled to wade through the water. 

  “So you think we may have a foe out here beyond the Dragon,” Shamonah said as she struggled to pull herself up on to a small island of land.

   “I'm not sure; but I have a feeling it will reveal itself very soon,” Martex said as he stepped up onto the island of land and turned and helped Shamonah up as well. Shamonah stood there for a moment looking up at the storm clouds that seemed to be rolling in across the sky from all sides.

    “Great, that means we have one more thing in this swamp that wants to kill us besides to crocodiles and the Dragon,” Shamonah said as she glanced back up at the storm clouds that were gathering. 

   “I think we better find a good place to camp and waited out the storm that's coming,” Shamonah said as she watched lightning start flashing from one cloud to another.

  “There looks to be an island large enough for us to make camp on not far in that direction,” Zehn said as he pointed.

   The island was larger than what it first appeared and was crowded with trees; but there seem to be a clearing towards the center. The group made their way through the trees to the opening; just as Martex was about to step into the clearing the wind started picking up. As it did a foul smell started blowing off of the swamp but it wasn't a smell that would come from the swamp. Martex suddenly stiffened; his eyes scanned the clearing from one side to the other as if he were searching for something or somebody. Shamonah stepped up next to him; her long silky black hair was blowing softly in the wind as it slapped her in the face and she wiped it away with the brush of her hand. Martex's eyes scanning the clearing straining to see something that didn't seem to be there.

 “There's something wrong here Shamonah; something drastically wrong, I can feel it right down to soul. I just can't put my finger on it,” Martex whispered as he wiped sweat from his brow.

   “Is it Karnock?” Shamonah whispered as she strained her eyes to see something in the clearing as the rain started to fall. Martex ignored the question continues scanning the clearing; and suddenly his eyes froze on the outline of a figure on the far side of the clearing.  

   Martex reached over and gently took a hold of Shamonah arm and pulled her to him; with his other hand he pointed at something on the other side of the clearing. The rain started coming down even harder now and at first she couldn't see anything, as she scanned the area where Martex was pointing she suddenly saw it. Shamonah stood there staring at the figure standing on the other side of the clearing watching them; then all at once he started moving towards her.

   Cold chills ran down her spine as she suddenly recognizes him, it was Eldrick! He carried a beautifully crafted, two-handed long sword known as Death Bringer and was wearing a finely crafted suit of Olive drab Elven chain. Lightning struck in the center of the clearing; lighting up the area as bright as the sun and sending out a thundering crash that shook the ground all at once. Eldrick did not even seem to flinch at having the lightning strike only a few feet away. As he reached the center of the clearing he stabbed, Death Bringer into the ground and stood there and waited.

   “Of all the evil b******s that this world has to offer; why in the abyss did it haft to cough this one up?” Shamonah said as she slid off her pack and dropped it to the ground. Shamonah unhooked her cloak and handed it to Martex. 

   “Wait here and make sure the others stay out of the way,” Without saying another word Shamonah drew her sword and took a step into the clearing.  Martex's face was riddled with worry as he watched her do this. 

   “Shamonah if need be; you can use my body to transfer too,” Martex said with an amazed look on his face almost as if he could not believe the words that come out of his mouth. Shamonah glanced at him and smiled and then turned her attention back to Eldrick.

   As Shamonah worked her way across the clearing trying not to step in the large puddles that were forming because of the rain, she could see that Eldrick was just standing there. As lightning flashed across the sky, it allowed her to see him clearly as he just stood there. His rain soaked hair was sticking tightly to his face, as his hands gently resting on the pommel of Death Bringer which was still sticking deep into the mud. The wind was cold and seamed to cut through to the bone as the rain came down in sheets now making it almost impossible to see him except when there was a flash of lightning.

   As Shamonah got closer to Eldrick she thought about the last time she had seen him in person. It was when she was young and he killed her family; her mother, her father; her little brother and her little sister had all been killed that day. But for some reason he had spared her and she had vowed that it would be his undoing. Now she wondered with him standing not twenty feet away; was this the chance for retribution that she had been waiting on for the last 700 hundred years?  Eldrick stood there motionless without saying a word until Shamonah was within about ten feet. 

   “Well if it isn't my young protégé Shamonah Siyling. It has been far too long since our last meeting. I heard that you're training with the Pedrick Witches; there not a very nice group of casters to train with but they're more than capable of helping you reach your ultimate power, and that pleases me.” Eldrick said as he stood there watching Shamonah.

   “You're right Eldrick it has been far too long. I have been hunting you for close to seven centuries and it's time for you to die!” Shamonah said as an orange glow surrounded her left hand and she readies her sword in the right.

   “Ha ha ha,” Eldrick laughed as his head leaned back. 

   “Shamonah my dear you haven't truly been hunting me; if you had you would've found me, because I haven't been hiding. There will come a day when you will kill me; but it won't be today. You're good, but you're not that good, at least not yet,” Eldrick said with a large smile as he tried to contain his laughter.

    “You murdered my family; so I will kill you Eldrick if it's the last thing I do!” Shamonah shouted as she pointed her sword at him. Eldrick stood there ignoring the blade and spell she had readied. 

   “You are a strange one Shamonah; what happened that day changed your life for the better, making you who and what you are today. You're one of nine of the most powerful casters on Kayshall, and you have the potential to become every bit as powerful as the enchantress Nattalass Larson once was. Now tell me how does that compares to the life you would've led, of being married to a drunkard who beat you when he came home drunk after the crops didn't come in, and day after day of wiping snotty noses and changing dirty asses,” Eldrick said as he stood there looking at her with a slight smirk. Eldrick's words hit Shamonah; like somebody punched her in the mouth. 

   “You b*****d; who gives you the right to decide who lives and who dies? Much less what sort of life a person should lead?” Shamonah ask in a loud voice as her temper was starting to flare. Eldrick stood there for a moment and pondered the question; then a sly smile slid across his face.

   “I do of course and that's all the approval I need; at least I think so. It seems to me that you think the same way. Because if what you say is true that you have been hunting for me for over seven hundred years and you would kill me now if you were capable; and just whose consent do you have to do this? No one's of course but your own; but then that is all you felt you ever needed because you believe in what you're doing,” Eldrick said with a slight grin.

    “I have news for you Shamonah and you should pay it close attention. You seek to kill me, and one day you shall, I have foreseen it. When you do this you will have accomplished your revenge, and in doing so you will have reached your greatest threshold of power and you will become my greatest creation,” Eldrick said in a flat and emotion less tone as he stood there staring at Shamonah. She felt as if all the blood had suddenly drain from her face and she found it hard to stand. The idea that killing Eldrick had been part of Eldrick's plan all along was hard to comprehend.

About this time the rest of the group caught up to where Martex was standing, as he watched Shamonah and Eldrick stand facing with one another in the center of the clearing. The rain was coming down hard enough that it made it difficult to see little more and then outlines of the two figures.

  Sir Kallander strained his eyes to see through the down pore as he started to go into the clearing. Martex grabbed a hold of his arm, shaking his head. 

  “What's going on out there Martex?” Sir Kallander asks as he looked from Martex to the clearing where the outlines of the two figures were standing.

   Martex glanced over at Kallander and then back out into the pouring rain. 

  “It’s an arch mage by the name of Eldrick; he's an old and powerful enemy that Shamonah has been seeking to destroy for many years,” Martex said as he strained to see better through the rain. Sir Brannerd burst forward pushing his way between Martex and Kallander.

    “Are you referring to Eldrick Ur-Dagon the Death Slinger?” Sir Brannerd asks as he stared through the down pouring rain at the two figures standing in the center of the clearing. Martex looked over at Sir Brannerd as a sense of worry came over him. 

   “This one has been known by many names and yes that is one of them. Why do you ask?” Martex asks as he watched Sir Brannerd slide his hand down to the hilt of his sword as he started drawing it.

 “That is Eldrick out there, with Dellandorrod's blessing I will kill him Martex,” Sir Brannerd said as he drew his sword and started to walk into the clearing. Lightning struck the ground followed by deafening thunder crash causing the ground to shake. Martex noticed that neither one of the figures in the center of the clearing even moved. Martex grabbed Sir Brannerd by the arm, halting him for a second. 

  “Sir Brannerd if you go out there it won't be with the blessings of Dellandorrod, it's more apt to be his curse,” Martex said in a stern voice as he tugged on Sir Brannerd's arm trying to get him to back out of the clearing. Kallander stepped out in front of Sir Brannerd. 

  “Sir Brannerd; Lord Martex believes that we should leave this to Shamonah, so let's get back out of the clearing,” Sir Kallander said as he held up his hand and stepped toward Sir Brannerd.

 “Get out of my way boy!” Sir Brannerd said as anger started overflowing in his voice as he slapped Kallander's hand beside. Just then Zehn stepped forward and stood up to his full height of eight feet nine inches; and placed his hand firmly in the center of Sir Brannerd's breastplate to make sure that he listened to Kallander. Sir Brannerd stood there for a moment glaring at Zehn with his hollowed skeletal eyes and then he turned and walked back to the edge of the clearing. Sir Brannerd stood there with his back to the clearing and just shook as he tried to contain his anger. 

   “Sir Brannerd I have known Eldrick for almost a millennium, and I have seen him rip men like you apart without putting any more thought into it then what you would, if you'd stepped on a cockroach,” Martex said as he placed his hand on Sir Brannerd shoulder.

   Sir Brannerd reached up and removed his helm to reveal his skeletal face; the outline of the flesh could vaguely be seen surrounding his skull.

    “Martex don't you understand,” Sir Brannerd said in his hissing voice. 

   “Eldrick’s the one that cursed me to walk the land in this wretched form. How can you ask me not to at least try to kill him?” Sir Brannerd said as the anger continued to boil inside of him.

Martex looked from Sir Brannerd out into the clearing at Eldrick and then he turned and faced Sir Brannerd. 

   “Yes Sir Brannerd that may be, don't you realize what happened, you still live. That curse is designed to destroy one's soul and yet somehow; you managed to defeat it and kept your soul alive. You did not become the evil and vile creature that was intended by the curse. Shamonah is the only one of us that might have a chance at defeating him; so calm down and let her do what she does best,” Martex said with a firm commanding voice.

   Sir Brannerd just stood there staring down at him with his hollowed skeletal eyes; and then he placed his helm back on his head and started pacing back and forth as he tried to contain his anger with every step he took. The lightning continued to flash from one cloud to another; lighting up the clearing and revealing Shamonah and Eldrick standing across from one another.

 

Then suddenly Sir Brannerd turned and charged past Zehn and Sir Kallander, knocking Martex to the ground as he started into the clearing. With a quick glance at each other Kallander and Zehn started running after him, with Sep and the rest of the group following close behind.

Just then Eldrick noticed that the group had entered the clearing and his expression went from a smile to a frown, as he pulled Death Bringer from the ground. 

   “It would appear that are reunion is going to be cut short my dear; your friends have decided to join us,” Eldrick said as his left hand started to glow a light yellow. As Eldrick attention was drawn away from her; Shamonah saw her opening and suddenly an orange bolt of energy shot out from her hand, exploding as it hit Eldrick in the chest. The bolt knocked him from his feet but he simply rolled back into a standing position and cast a spell, which cause the ground in the clearing to glow yellow for a moment and then with a sudden flash of white light he was gone.

Sir Brannerd came running into the center of the clearing and search frantically for Eldrick. 

  “Where is he,” Sir Brannerd yelled as he readied his sword to strike Eldrick down if he could be found.

Shamonah looked down at the ground and watched as the yellow glow faded away.        “He is gone Sir Brannerd; but I believe he left us a parting gift,” Shamonah said as she looked at the ground.

    “Ready yourselves for battle, the necromancer left some of his friends behind,” Shamonah yelled as she looked around to see seven green whiffs of smoke start rising up from the ground.

   Within moments armored skeletons started pushing their way up out of the ground to stand before the group.

   “Waste no time, kill them quickly,” Sir Brannerd yelled in his hissing voice as he plowed into one of the skeletons knocking it to the ground and swinging down at it with his b*****d sword. The skeleton blocked his blow and kicked him in the knee sending Sir Brannerd stumbling backwards; the skeleton flipped itself back into a standing position and attacked Sir Brannerd.

   Zehn charge one of the skeletons attacking it with his war axe, the skeleton blocked with its shield but the tremendous force of the Zehn's swing caused the skeleton turned to dust.

   Kallander attacked one but it dodged the blow; jumping to one side and landed one of its own sending Kallander stumbling backwards almost knocked him to the ground.

The skeleton long sword cut through the air with a swish only to come to a crashing halt as it met Sir Brannerd's b*****d sword; then Brannerd quickly slammed the skeleton with his shield knocking it to the ground. Attacking with his b*****d sword the skeleton rolled from one side to the other dodging the deadly blade as it cut deep into the ground. Sir Brannerd swung down on the skeleton again; but this time the skeleton slammed its shield into Sir Brannerd sword blocking the blow; the skeleton shield shattered along with his arm but he rolled back to its feet ready to continue the fight. Sir Brannerd attacked the skeleton again as it tried to defend but its weapon was knocked to the ground.

   Shamonah was still standing where she had been frantically searching around the area for Eldrick as her left hand became encased in an icy Spike. She seemed to have forgotten about the battle that was going on behind her all together.

   Zehn attacked another skeleton but this one deflected his blow easily; jumping off to one side it attacked him. Zehn barely managed to block the blow; caching the skeletons sword in the end of his war axe and with the flick of his wrist the skeletons blade snapped like twigs. The skeleton started to move towards Zehn.

    “Die you wretched creature,” he said shouting as he swung his fist in a backhanded swing catching the skeleton on the side of the skull; shattering it and then watching it turned to dust.

   Kallander tried to regain his balance as he dodged the skeletons next blow, quickly jumped forward swing his sword down on the skeleton again and again, and again; then suddenly it shattered and the skeleton turned to dust.

   Sep and Dimez took a quick look around and attacked a skeleton that was coming up behind Sir Brannerd. Between the two of them they made short work of it.

   Martex’s hands became encased in a black aura and then a bolt of black energy shot out and hit the skeleton; encasing it in the black aura and then it vanished.

  Sir Brannerd swung on the skeleton with his b*****d sword but much to his surprise the skeleton grabbed his wrist. Then the skeleton slammed its body into him hard enough to knock his shield to the ground; Sir Brannerd stumbles backwards from the force of the blow and the skeletons started punching him, knocking him to the ground. Suddenly the skeleton stopped in mid-swing as an ice shard shot through the center of its skull, causing it to turn to dust. Shamonah stepped up, looking down at Sir Brannerd lying on the ground and put out her hand.

  “It looked like you could use a hand,” Shamonah said as Sir Brannerd took a hold of her hand and she pulled him to his feet.

  Zehn looked around, his nostrils flaring and his eyes burning red as he searched for another target.

    “I see all of your old friends are just as friendly as ever,” Zehn said as he walked over and checked to make sure that Shamonah was all right.

Shamonah glanced up at Zehn with a slight grin. 

   “Remember Zehn he was once your friend to,” Shamonah said as she fought to restrain a smile from the outburst that she knew was coming.

  “The hell you say! That wretched creature was never my friend,” Zehn yelled at the top of his lungs and then stopped abruptly as he saw Shamonah laughing uncontrollably at his outburst.

    “There are days Shamonah that I would dearly love to bend you over my knee; it is only the fear of being turned into ice sculpture that keeps me from it,” Zen said with a frustrated look on his face.

   “One thing for sure, Eldrick is still around,” Shamonah said as she wiped the rain from her face. Zehn took a deep breath and calmed himself as he looked around at the rest of the group. 

   “I take it you were not expecting to fine him here,” Zehn said as he stared down at Shamonah with an almost accusatory look on his face.

   “No, I knew he was in the area but I did not think we would run into him,” Shamonah said as she looked down at the ground and walked away from him. Zehn turned around abruptly as he watched her walk away. 

   “You know you put us all in grave danger, when you keep things such as this from us,” Zehn said as he put his axe back in its holster. Shamonah stopped and looked around at the rest of the members of the group. 

   “Yes perhaps I should've told you that Eldrick was in the swamp; but it would only have served as a distraction. We're not here to Hunt Eldrick, were here to Hunt Karnock. We must keep our focus on Karnock where it belongs or this quest we are on will end in disaster,” Shamonah said as she slowly looked from one member to the next of the group ending with Zehn. He bowed his head almost as if he were ashamed.

   “Forgive me my lady I should not doubt you,” Zehn said as he stood there humbled before Shamonah.  Shamonah smiled at seeing this. 

   “Zehn you and I have fought beside each other from one end of Kayshall to the other; and you're one of my dearest friends. So there is absolutely nothing to forgive,” Shamonah said with a smile. At hearing this Zehn stood up to his full height of eight feet nine inches and his chest swelled with pride, Shamonah laughed a bit under her breath at seeing this as she walked over towards Martex.

Zehn walked over to Kallander and slapped him on the back, almost knocking him to the ground. 

   “You did well Little One; these creatures were no simple task to deal with and you handle them with great skill,” Zehn commented as Kallander struggled to catch his breath.

Kallander looked up at Zehn as he straightened himself. “Lord Zehn could you answer a question for me; I've been wondering since we met why you call me little one?” Kallander asked Zehn as he noticed Sep walking up to them.     

Zehn looked down at Kallander and smiled a broad smile; showing his large pointed teeth.

    “Well Little One, it's no insult I assure you; there once was a time when I traveled with a great man who was a great hero. But he was not always such; he was once just like you. I had the privilege of watching him become the great man and hero he is today. You may not be a great man or a great hero yet; but you are one in the making; and when I look at you I see him all over again; so I call you Little One,” Zehn said to Kallander and then he walked off to talk to you Martex.

Sep and Sir Kallander just stood there for a moment at hearing what Zehn had said.        “Well Kallander it appears that you have gained favor with the King of the Minotaur’s,” Sep said as he watched Zehn walked away.

   “So it would seem, but who is it that I reminded him of that is what I'm wondering?” Sir Kallander asks as he glanced over at Sep.

   Suddenly they herd laughter coming from behind them; turning to see Shamonah standing there. 

   “Kallander it is all too obvious as to whom you remind King Zehn of; and it is only your modesty that keeps you from realizing it yourself. You remind him of King Raylanty Larson one of the greatest heroes Kayshall has ever known,” Shamonah said softly as she smiled at him.

   The group made camp in the clearing to wait out the rain and finally after two more days of down pore the rain let up. Zehn and Shamonah went out to scout the area to see if they could find any sign of Karnock or anything else that might point them in the right direction. After a few hours of searching they came across a small trail that had a large amount of goblin tracks running back and forth along it.

Shamonah bent down and examined the tracks. 

   “These are fresh, only a few hours old,” Shamonah said as she glanced up to see Zehn unstrapping his war axe. 

   “If these things belong to Karnock they could be a real problem,” Shamonah said as she stood up and drew her sword.

  “Were definitely inside their territory; so if they don't know were here already they soon will. We should track them down and destroy them before they have the chance to do it to us,” Zehn said as he readied his axe.

   “We will track them and find out where the camp is; then we will tell the others,” Shamonah said as she started following the tracks off to the East. Slowly they made their way through the swamp following the tracks from one island to another and then suddenly the trail was just gone. They searched the surrounding islands, but were unable to pick up the trail again.

  “We need to find that camp Zehn and if need be destroyed it. Let's go back to camp and tell Sir Kallander what we've found; and see what he has to say,” Shamonah said as she turned to head back towards camp. 

Back at the camp they found several of the members were trying to dry out the clothing after the many days of rain. Sep had killed a crocodile and was trying to cook some of its meet on a spit over the fire. Sir Kallander and Lord Martex were sitting by the fire talking when they noticed Shamonah and Zehn, walking back into the camp.

Shamonah took a quick look around the camp and then focused on Kallander. 

   “Where is Relic; I need to speak with her about something,” Shamonah said as she walked over and sat down by the fire.  

   “She found some Goblin tracks earlier. So I sent her an Dimez to see if they could find out where the goblins are hold up at, they haven't returned yet,” Sir Kallander said with a concerned look as he warmed his hands by the fire.

  “Zehn and I found some as well, but we lost the trail when it went into the water and didn't come out the other side. We need to find there camp and if Karnock is there master; then we need to destroy them before we try to take her on in her nest,” Shamonah said as she scooted over next to Kallander.

Kallander watched Sep as he nodded his head in agreement.

   “I agree with you Shamonah, what do you think King Zehn?” Kallander ask as he looked up and at Zehn.  He stood there and thought about the question for a moment.

   “For the most part the goblin tribes here are small and they tend to wage war on one another for dominance over territory. So were probably looking at numbers of somewhere between forty to seventy tribe members, from the young to the old and around twenty to thirty warriors. By itself this will give us a real fight, of that I have no doubt. I do know this and make no mistake about it; if we face Karnock and she has a band of goblins in her cave then we will all die,” Zehn said as he checked to see if the crocodile had finished cooking yet.

  “I agree with Zehn that if Karnock has goblins under her control that we must destroy them before we face her. The first thing we must determine, are these goblins the slaves of Karnock; and if they're not then we will move on unnoticed if possible. If they are, then we will destroy them. Remember we're not here to wage war on random goblin tribes, were here to kill Karnock and if that means killing her goblin slaves then so be it,” Lord Martex said as he stood there and looked from Shamonah to Kallander and then over to Zehn.

   It had been several hours and Sep was in the process of checking to see if the crocodile meat was finished cooking when Dimez and Relic walked back into camp.

Dimez eyed the crocodile meat suspiciously, and then he turned to Kallander.

    “We've found a goblin camp, and it’s not far from here. We estimate there are around a hundred goblins in the camp. There’s a Witch Doctor in the camp who appears to be their leader. There's nothing usual about that, but the amulet the Witch Doctor is wearing is very unusual; it appears to be the fang tooth of a young adult Dragon. Which leads me to believe that these are the goblins that serve Karnock,” Dimez said as Sep handed him some of the crocodile meat.

   The group woke just before sunrise the next morning taking only their weapons; Dimez and Relic started leading them through the swamp. Dimez led the group through the muck and the mud until almost an hour after sunrise and then they stopped.

Kallander watched with interest as Relic strung her longbow. 

   “The camp is about fifty yards ahead of us on the right. From what I could see the Witch Doctors hut is in the center of the camp. When I scouted the area I only found two paths; the one leading into the camp and there's one that leads out the other side to a large pool,” Relic said as she pointed off in the direction of the goblin camp.

Kallander stood there for a moment as he looked at the different members of the group.

    “Okay I want you,” he said pointing at Dimez.

    “Relic and Sir Brannerd to work your way around to the other side of the camp, and come in from the pathway that leads to the pool,” Kallander said as he looked at the three of them and Dimez nodded in understanding.

   “Zehn I need you and Martex to take up a position about fifty yards over to our left and wait for the attack to begin,” Kallander said as he watched Zehn unstrapped his battle axe and Martex ready his spell components.

   “Sep you and Shamonah will stay with me; and were going to go about thirty yards over here to the right. Dimez the rest of us are going to wait for you to get into place; when you attack we will all attack. With any luck we will divide and conquer and it will all be over quickly,” Kallander said as he walked over to Relic and handed her a green shafted arrow.

    “Fire this into the air when Dimez begins your attack, that way we will all know,” Relic nodded her head as she put the shafted it to your quiver. The group started splitting up and heading off in different directions towards their designated areas.

    After about an hour of maneuvering through the swamp; Dimez, Relic and Sir Brannerd arrived on the East side of the camp next to the large pool and started making their way along the trail towards the outskirts of the goblin camp. Relic spotted a guard; ducking down behind some bushes she raised her long bow and pulled firmly back on the string, taking careful aim at her quarry. Just as Relic was about to release certain death on the unsuspecting goblin, another one walked up and the two of them started arguing about something. Relic gently eased up on her bow string and then she pulled another arrow from her quiver and laid it on the ground within easy reach. Dimez eyed the two goblins and looked at her nervously.

    “Relax Dimez, this is child's play,” Relic said as she once again raised her bow, firmly drew back on the string, taking careful aim and then she released; and with a twang the arrow was off. Dimez watched it fly and before it even hit its target he heard that all-too-familiar twang again as Relic sent her second deadly missile speeding toward its target. Her first arrow struck one of the goblins in the throat pinning it to the tree; it shook and convulsed as it spewed light green blood from its mouth and nose. A look of shock came over the other goblins face as he turned; an arrow struck it in a four head bursting out the back of his skull knocking the goblin from his feet; sending it sliding along the ground. Dimez quickly went up and slit the throat of the goblin that was still convulsing; as it hung there pend to the tree with the arrow through his throat. Relic and Sir Brannerd moved up to where the two dead goblins were.

    “You see, like I said child's play,” Relic said as she removed her shaft from the goblins throat and then glanced down at the shaft that was sticking through the other goblins head.

    “Ah, he can keep it, I don't need it that bad anyways,” Relic said with a slight smile as they moved on down the trail.

  On the North side of the camp Zehn and Martex had managed to move into position and were awaiting the signal; when Zehn spotted three goblins standing off to his left in a small group. Zehn started to move towards them when Martex motioned for him to weight; he waved his hands around and then pointed at the goblins and a moment later they just collapsed to the ground. Zehn looked over at Martex and grinned, a big toothy grin and then he promptly walked over to where the goblins were and found them comfortably sleeping on the ground. With one quick and heavy stomp; there was a crushing sound and a slight squeak and then the goblin was no more. Zehn repeated this action once for each goblin.

   Kallander, Sep and Shamonah were moving to their position on the South side of the camp; when suddenly a goblin jumped out of the bushes swinging his short sword at Shamonah. Its blade was about to strike true and cleave deep into her chest; when suddenly the creature just stopped and stood there for a moment and then collapsed in a heap on the ground. Shamonah stood there breathless trying to get over the shock of the suddenness of the attack; then she noticed that Sep was standing there wiping the goblins green blood from his dagger.

   “He just thought he was having a bad day.” Sep whispered as he grin and slid his dagger into is belt instead of its scabbard.

   Dimez, Relic and Sir Brannerd had moved up to the edge of the goblin camp and were crouched down behind some bushes. They watched the goblins for a few moments as they went back and forth about their daily lives totally oblivious to the hell that was about to be unleashed upon them. Relic removed the green shafted arrow from her quiver and set it to string.

   “Do you think the others are ready yet?” Relic asks in a low whisper as she scanned the goblin camp and started sitting out arrow in a nice neat line on the ground.

   “Yes there just waiting on us,” Dimez whispered as he readied his sword and shield.

   “Then let's have them wait no longer. Send up that signal arrow; and let's introduce ourselves to the neighbors and let them know that Hell has come to breakfast,” Sir Brannerd said as he stood up went over to a nearby hut and kicked in the back wall and started killing the goblins that were inside. Relic shot the green shafted arrow straight up into the air; it immediately turned into a green ball of flame with a long tail on it; when it reached its full height it exploded into a brilliant array of color. A moment later Sir Brannerd came crashing out of the front of the hut; he started tearing into any and all goblins that were in his path. Dimez charged into a hut, attacking and killing everything within and then crashed through the sidewall.

  At seeing the green explosion of light in the sky over the East side of the camp; Kallander and Sep charged in attacking everything that lies in their path. Shamonah walked into the camp as her hand became encased in a pointed shard of ice; taking aim at a goblin warrior as it charged at her. She fired an Ice Shard at it, and then another; and then another. The shards ripped through the goblin; throwing him backwards and sticking into the ground behind him, it let out a pitiful scream as it fell to the ground dying. Another goblin came running out of one of the huts and started ringing an alarm gong and suddenly the entire camp came alive. Shamonah fired two more Ice Shards; killing the goblin that was ringing the gong, but it was already too late.

  Zehn and Martex saw the green flare burst in the sky and started walking into the goblin camp; for the most part there were no goblins to be seen. Then suddenly they herd the alarm gong being sounded and then there were goblins coming out of the huts in the masses. Zehn readied his axe and, suddenly a huge group of them started following to the ground sound asleep; Zehn looked over at Martex and smiled. 

   “You're bound and determined, to take all the fun out of this aren't you,”  Zehn said as he went around and started stomping skulls. 

   “I don't know, you appear to be having quite a bit of fun,” Martex said with a smile as he watched Zehn go from one goblin to the next, killing them as they slept.

  Suddenly Shamonah saw the camps Witch Doctor and it was obvious that he had seen her as well; he appeared to be in the middle of casting a spell.

  Shamonah stood there concentrating as she stared at the Witch Doctor; with her swords in her left hand and her right-hand stretched out towards him she started chanting and the almost musical language of witch magic as she casts her spell. The Witch Doctor was chanting in an almost rhythmic form as he waved a small totem in a circle over his head. Then just as the Witch Doctor’s spell was about to go off he suddenly screamed as shards of bone ripped through his flash and flew out hitting any and all goblins that had gathered around him. As the witch Doctor fell to his death he finished casting his spell and a fire ball flew out and exploded about ten feet away; killing everything within its forty foot circle. Shamonah quickly ran over and grabbed the Dragon's tooth from around the goblin Witch Doctors neck and tucked it away.

  Martex then started shooting fire balls into the huts; killing everything inside and leveling the huts in the process as well as setting the surrounding ones on fire. Within a very short time the goblins were either dead or fleeing into the swamp but either way; the goblin threat had been eliminated.

  Zehn and Martex and wondered over towards the East side of the camp as they looked for stragglers; they were on the trail that led to the large pool. Zehn walked up to the edge of the pool and suddenly froze; as he looked down at a deep and clear impression of a Dragon's footprint leading into the pool.

  “Well my friend I believe our searches has ended,” Zehn said in a deep rumbling voice as Martex walked over and looked down at the footprint.

    “I would say that we have found the entrance to the serpents nest!” Zehn said as he shook his head almost as if he regretted finding it. Martex looked at the pool which was over a hundred feet across and this fact alone worried him.

  “Everyone, over here; we have found it,” Zehn yelled in a thundering voice back into the camp at the rest of the group. Within moments they had all arrived and were looking at the footprint and the large pool.

   “We have found the entrance to Karnock lair; but we have to go through this pool in order to get to it. So I'm going to cast water breathing on all of us, just in case,” Martex said as he started casting the spell on the group. Shamonah also started casting a spell on them as well; which seemed to turn the group a dark gray in color.

  “Just a little something to help protect us from Karnock's breath,” Shamonah said as she went and stood next to Kallander.  Kallander looked over at Relic. 

  “Okay this is what you're here for; I need you to move ahead of the group and disarm any traps you come across. Will be right there with you so don't worry; and don't forget to watch for guards down there,” Kallander said as Relic took out a small pair of glasses with red lenses and put them on.

   Martex waved his hand over the end of his staff and it lit up with a white light as the rest of the group readied there weapons; and then they all waded into the pool. The water proved to be very murky making it hard to see; if not for the light from Martex and staff it would've been almost impossible. The murkiness of the water did not seem to affect Relic however; and she soon found a large tunnel entrance on the far side of the pool. Relic set to work searching for traps but was unable to find any; the tunnel was only about fifty yards long. The group followed her closely; and found Relic waiting below the entrance, where they could see a dim light.

  Martex extinguished the light on the end of his staff and then the group; started one by one poking their heads above the surface of the water. Off to one side four Troglodytes were worshiping some sort of Idol built in honor of Karnock; there God. Kallander laid his sword and shield down on the ground as he pulled his dagger. The others did the same as they slowly pulled themselves out of the water and crept up behind the Troglodytes. Then suddenly without warning and with deadly accuracy; they stabbed or cut the throats of all four troglodytes, instantly killing them and then gently lying then on the floor of the cave. Shamonah went over and examined the Idol; finding a Dragons horn, two teeth and some scales which she quickly picked up; putting them into a bag that seemed much too small for the items. Then suddenly out of nowhere; another troglodyte appeared in the hallway.

  “Relic kill it; kill it now!” Kallander said in a harsh whisper as he saw the troglodytes coming down the hallway. Seeing the group the Troglodyte stood there stunned for a moment and then it turned and started running back down the hallway. Relic shot after it, in a flight of speed that the Troglodyte could not hope to match; she jumped through the air and came down sticking both of her short swords, up to the hilts in the Troglodytes back. The creature hit the ground with little more than a moan as Relic rolled off of it into a standing position; she spun around and quickly cut its throat with her dagger.

   Kallander walked up and nodded with approval as he looked down at the dead troglodytes. Relic smiled as she pulled her short swords from its back and then they all started moving down the long hallway. After about a hundred yards light could be seen at the end of the tunnel; it opened up into a huge chamber that had light shining down from above. Shamonah stepped back into the darkness and quickly cast a spell; suddenly the Black Streak Lance appeared in her hand, she walked over and handed it to Kallander. As the group looked from the tunnel into the chamber they could see a large opening in the ceiling; which was allowing sunlight in. There were large vines as well as large amounts of moss hanging down from the ceiling and growing out of the walls of the chamber. There were also small waterfalls the seemed to flow in from the walls of the chamber and back out through holes in the floor; creating the constant and tranquil sound of water flowing over rocks.

   The small amount of light that was shining through the hole in the ceiling; constantly fluctuated from dim to dark to bright and then back to dim again as the clouds passed overhead. This made seeing anything clearly in the shadowy chamber that much harder; as the group scanned the huge chamber trying to spot Karnock somewhere within its endless shadows. Then suddenly Relic crouched down by the tunnel wall; as she appeared to be looking at something extremely hard, and then she looked up at Kallander and tapped him on the arm and pointed at something off to one side in the chamber.

   Kallander strained his eyes as he looked into the shadows off in the direction where Relic was pointing.

   “There; behind the rock,” Relic whispered as she shook her finger as she pointed. Then he saw the end of her tail shrouded deep in shadow lying next to the wall; his gaze followed it around the edge of the chamber till it reached the body which was hidden deep in shadow and behind hanging roots and moss. His eyes moved on around the edge of the chamber reach Karnock neck and followed it till it came down to her head. All in all from the tip of her snout to the tip of her tail, Karnock was around a hundred and fifty feet long. She was a true giant in her own right; and her glossy black scales, being the oddity that they are made her a truly beautiful sight to behold.

    Kallander's eyes got wide; as the reality of just how big Karnock really is, started to sink in.

   “Oh s**t; what did we do to aggravate all of the gods of the abyss at once?” He said as he looked back and forth at her tucked back in the shadows the way she was. 

   “Do these things come in any other size besides gargantuan?” He asks as he looked over at Shamonah; she just shook her head. 

   “It figures, I guess it's all been fun and games up till now; it's time to go to work,” Kallander said in a flat, almost monotone voice as he looked around at the rest of the group and readied the Black Streak Lance.

   Martex cast a spell and a small ball of flame suddenly appeared in the palm of his outstretched hand; it hung there for a moment as he stared into the shadows at Karnock. Then suddenly his hands thrust forward and the ball of flame streaked across the chamber and exploded against the far wall; hitting Karnock at the base of the neck. She let out a hideous scream that echoed through the chamber and down the hallway as she jumped to her feet and started climbing up the wall of the chamber. With the flick of her wrist Shamonah right hand became encased in ice; and she fired five ice shards at Karnock. The first one missed and shattered against the cavern wall; but the other four hit their mark sinking deep into Karnock's right shoulder; causing her to scream emphatically as she fell to the cavern floor below.

  Relic and Sep fire their longbows at her as she climbs the wall of the chamber but they seem to have little effect; either bouncing off or just sticking into her scales and hanging there. When she fell, Kallander; Zehn; Dimez and Sir Brannerd all charged across the chamber at her, hoping to catch her before she could get her footing again.

   Karnock saw them coming and scrambled to her feet; tilting the front of her body down low and digging her rear claws into the stone floor she charged the four warriors. As she barreled through them they had to dive to the side to keep from being trampled by her. Snapping at Kallander with razor sharp teeth he barely rolled to one side, losing his grip on the Black Streak Lance. At the same time her tail whipped around and smacked Sir Brannerd square in the Brest plate sending him flying up against the cavern wall; shattering his armor as if someone had just taken a hammer to a walnut. Sir Brannerd rolled over and pulled himself back to his feet.            “You'll have to do much better than that, if you're going to kill me,” He yelled as he stood there in nothing but his leggings and gauntlets for armor. He picked up his b*****d sword and started walking back towards Karnock.

    “You're not the only legend here today,” Sir Brannerd yelled as he started to run towards her.

    Kallander and Dimez were frantically scrambling to get out of the way of Karnock's massive jaws has they would come crashing down around them; snatching of huge amounts of gold coins and treasure and then spitting them out and attacking again. Zehn suddenly jumped through the air with the axe over his head and came crashing down across the neck of Karnock. Blood and scales flew in all directions and Karnock let out a hideous scream as she turned her attention to Zehn; and then suddenly she screamed again as Sir Brannerd rammed his b*****d sword up to the hilt into Karnock's left flank. When Sir Brannerd tried to pull it free he found that it was stuck; Karnock jerked away from him as she screamed in pain and Sir Brannerd lost his grip on his sword. He looked around quickly as he searched for something he could use for a weapon, a few feet away he saw a two-handed great sword that was glowed a bright yellow. Karnock looked down at the skeletal appearance of Sir Brannerd and just stared for a moment; and just then Zehn and Dimez both sunk there weapons deep into her right side, sending purple blood and black scales flying in all directions.

Karnock let out another horrific scream and swung her tail up into the air; slamming it down in between her body and her foes and then swinging it outward throwing them up against the cavern wall. Then Karnock reared her head back and slammed it into the ground, as she tried to grab Sir Brannerd raking up coins and gems alike. Sir Brannerd dove out of the way of her razor sharp teeth at the last moment; but she still managed to nick his left leg. He rolled to his feet and ran over and grabbed the glowing two-handed great sword.

   Martex cast a spell and suddenly a bolt of lightning streaked from his outstretched hand; striking Karnock in the head and causing her to let out a deafening scream of pain as she seemed to seizure uncontrollably. Seeing their chance the four warriors charged Karnock all at the same time. Shamonah came running out of the tunnel as well, and her hand was encased with a red glowing energy; three bolts of energy shot out from her hand. Two hit Karnock in the chest and the other hit her in the head.

  Kallander noticed that the black streak Lance was lying on the ground just in front of Dimez. 

   “Dimez; grab the Lance run her through!” He yelled as he charged Karnock. Dimez saw the lance; dropping his sword and shield and grabbing the Lance. He hit her full on in the right side of the chest; the Lance sunk almost half its length into her. Karnock reared up screaming in pain and lunged forward and then collapsed onto the ground; directly on top of Dimez.

   When Kallander saw this he stopped in his tracks and stood there; just then a huge hand grabbed him by the arm and almost pulled him off his feet as it pulled him towards Karnock. 

   “Come Little One; we have not the time to mourn the dead; we still have work to do,” Zehn said as he pulled Kallander back into the battle. Sir Brannerd ran up and attacked with the great sword and made a huge gash in Karnock snack; her purple blood started spewing in all directions as it flowed freely onto the ground. Karnock started to open her mouth as if she was going to breathe; seeing this Kallander ran over rammed his sword down through the roof of her mouth pinning it shot so she could not use her breath weapon. Zehn swung his great war axe sinking it deep into Karnock skull several times until he was satisfied that she was dead. Then everyone just stood there for a moment and waited as he looked at her closed motionless eyes, then they breathed a sigh a relief.

  “Is she dead?” Relic asks as she held her short swords at the ready. Zehn nodded to her and walked over by Kallander

   “Maybe I was wrong about you Little One; perhaps you and Sep already are true warriors,” Zen said as he put his huge hand on Kallander shoulder and smiled down at him. Just then one of Karnock's eyes opened and her pointed tail shot forward; Zehn suddenly had a look of shock and disbelief passed over his face as Karnock’s tail burst through his chest. Then the grate king of the Minotaur's fell to the ground and Karnock's eyes glossed over as they both passed from this world.

  Each member of the group stood there deep in their own thoughts; of what they had won and what they had lost and wondered if it was worth the cost of this day.  

© 2012 Bruce Grimes


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That was yummy.

Perfectly paced and intriguing tale!!!! This is something I would buy!

The action almost stopped my heart. :D That was lovely.

Posted 12 Years Ago


pretty damn good. I like the way you spin tales.

Posted 12 Years Ago



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Added on March 20, 2012
Last Updated on September 7, 2012

Author

Bruce Grimes
Bruce Grimes

Hastings, MN



About
I had a rather unique childhood to say the least. This and the firm belief that I had a angel watching over me; made it to where I lead a rather eccentric young life. It also contributed greatly to my.. more..

Writing