“What a disappointment,” muttered the old woman. “I expected more.”
All but Yulien had succumb to their confines, passing out where they were held. Jax and Rohlen had been all but consumed by the entwined barbed roots, Tumbor fell under the weight of the expanded spores. The old crone wandered over to the still coughing cleric and bent over further than her hunched back already made her do. She looked into Yulien’s eyes,
“I must have grown a deadlier crop than last time, or perhaps maybe your constitution is particularly weak.”
“Or maybe I am exceptional at feigning discomfort.”
Terror flashed across the old woman’s eyes as the dagger Yulien had been concealing was unexpectedly thrust into her chest. Blood quickly consumed the hilt and ran like a river over her hand and down her arm, and yet still she pushed the blade deeper. The old woman screamed an ear splitting, painful screech so loud that birds in the near distant trees took to flight, before once again looking into Yulien’s eyes.
“My sisters will avenge me,” her words almost silent and yet demanding full attention. “Sisters avenge me.”
As the lifeforce drained from her body, and her final breath was taken, the old woman slumped heavily to the floor. In doing so, the roots slowly withered releasing their hold, and the spores deflated around the dwarf. Checking the three of her companions, Yulien placed a hand upon their heads and said a prayer to Lyra for each. They would soon wake under their own volition.
“What are you doing?” groaned Jax shaking the unconsciousness from himself.
“She’s digging a grave,” said Rohlen watching, having woken minutes earlier.
“Because all deserve a proper burial?”
Tumbor appeared in the doorway of the old woman’s house, pockets full to bursting and feasting on cooked leg of deer.
“There’s plenty for everyone,” he commented mouth full of meat. “She’s not going to need it.”
Yulien dropped the small shovel she had found amongst a collection of other garden tools and wandered over to where the old woman lay.
“Will one of you help me?”
Before Jax or Rohlen could stand, Tumbor bit deep upon the deer’s leg, wedging it in his mouth before taking out his axe and making his way to the body. With one mighty downward strike he parted the head from the body, sheathed his axe and bite clean through his mouthful.
“She’ll not return now!” he mumbled, kicking the head and body into the hole.
“Shall we set her on fire too?” suggested Jax with heavy sarcasm.
“Good idea. Got any spare flint?”
All in unison, the reply was, “No!”