It wasn’t until the great axe became unsheathed and was being passed from left to right hand that the maniacal laughter replaced the talking to himself. Still the dwarf’s gaze remained fixed on the journey already behind them and an element of concern crept into Coefly’s mind as he tried to see what it was the dwarf had become obsessed with, but could see nothing.
“Hey Rohlen,” he shouted trying to get the mage’s attention. “Any idea what’s sparked the dwarf into life?”
He gave the pair a half hearted glance not expecting to see anything other than Tumbor being Tumbor, however he soon gave the situation his full attention having recognised one of the dwarf’s pre rituals before battle. Even Jax, over hearing Corfly’s original comments, shifted into a concerned state and began scanning the horizon behind them.
“What tracks us Tumbor?”
“Half breeds,” The dwarf spits heavily in disgust upon the floor beside him. “Not human, and not hound. Abominations of dark evil magic and they run hard to catch us.”
“Hard to say, but if so, they left not long after us which would suggest someone’s sold their soul in providing such information!”
Jax placed a hand on Tumbor’s shoulder forcing him to momentarily stop passing his axe from hand to hand which resulted in a fixed glare from the dwarf,
“You as well as anyone my friend, should recall all too well the manipulative and persuasive nature of dark magic!”
“It is a memory that will follow me to my tomb friend and one in which I vowed would never be repeated to anyone associated with me for fear of death. Death that will surly come to those that unknowingly now race towards it!”
“Tumbor I understand the thirst in you, the bloodlust that builds in wanting to see these creatures whimpering at the mercy of your blade, but please remember we are on a mission for information. If you could curb your temper enough to allow us one to talk to.”
“You claim to understand, yet you ask me under the intensity and revelry of battle to hold my blade against a foe that would show no such constraint. May I suggest you choose your informant quickly Jax DuPont, and you pull them from the mayhem before my blade silences them, you or both.”
It was with that statement, as cold and as yet clear as it could have been, Tumbor with axe in hand leapt from the back of the wagon, landing in a squatted crouch ready to explode off to meet those advancing upon him. That which followed never failed in raising the hairs upon the back of the neck of those that heard it, and never failed in whipping the dwarf into a maniacal frenzy, Tumbor’s battle cry!
Those that the dwarf has been following from afar, had now become close enough to be seen by the others in the group. Sleek black muscular bodies, running upon all four much like a hound, and yet appearing to be more human in form, save for the elongated muzzle that dripped heavily with saliva, and occasionally flashed a sight of the razor sharp teeth that dominated the mouth. Their naked upper torsos were adorned with patches of course black hair, very reminiscent of fur found on hunting hounds.
Coefly reaching for his short bow, took aim with an arrow notched shaking in his hand. Nerves were getting the better of him. Easily understandable given the man-hound was over twice his size, with a jaw that looked like it could snap him in half with one bite. The arrow struck the front shoulder, biting deep and causing the creature stumble in its stride, though it regained quickly eyeing the halfling with evil intent.
Rolen predictably called upon the power of his dragons, causing them to pulsate and convulse around his out stretched arms. Slowly they shifted in intensity from a sunflower yellow through to a deep crimson as they awaited the mage’s command to let fly. Jax prepared the others by warning them to hold tight!
As expected, the ethereal creatures sprung up high into the air from the mage’s arms, seemingly dancing and entwining with each other, almost impatiently awaiting their creator’s command, who in turn had been awaiting the dwarf to announce his arrival upon the conflict. It came with an earth shaking and blood curdling impact, the sound of bone shattering heard above all else. Leading with his shoulder, Tumbor hit the creature head on with the force of a dwarven siege engine, sending jaw bone, blood and saliva spraying outward from the impact. The creature itself found itself in a whelping heap several feet away from the impact, a merciless dwarf stood over its prone broken body with a large blade ready to deal a swift demise. A demise that did not come.
Behind the dwarf, two ethereal entities came spiralling earthward, slamming into the beast that Coefly had first wounded, sending a spray of molten lava and fire all over the beast. Its agonised cries of pain were almost too much to bear, as it tried to stand, charred chucks of flesh falling effortlessly from its frame. Too weak to continue, it slumped in a heap panting heavily trying to get air into its parched lungs. If time was merciful, it would bring an end to this poor creature’s suffering.
Tumbor always had a sixth sense it battle, knowing where he was, his companions and every impending blade or talon. He immediately left his quarry, instead turning his attentions to another than had been prowling since the initial impact, stopping its charge on the wagon, instead turning its attention to the dwarf. The two were now almost face to face, only a small rocky preface between them, the hound looking down on the dwarf with spit and bile falling upon his face and beard. Reaching up, he grabbed the beast by the throat and manoeuvred its head away from his own, he also found leverage to bring himself more eye to eye.
“So many questions I have, yet so many answers you’ll never give me.” said the dwarf in as menacing a tone he could muster. The creature squirmed, possible fear flashing across his eyes as Tumbor gripped a little tighter around it’s windpipe. Linn had been watching as everything unfolded. Jax had taken down of the creatures alone and was now busy cleaning the blood and bile from his blade. So quietly efficient as he, his contributions had gone unnoticed by all. Coefly and Rohlen were sat discussing the theatrical nature of magic and how spectacular the two dragons were in both effect and visually. Whilst Coefly was indeed a full grown halfling of several decades, his enthusiasm resembled that of a small child.
Tumbor on the other hand was the epitome of war and death. With one quarry grounded and well within striking distance, he held another by the throat seemingly being toyed with, and it was this one Linn wanted to get answers from. Carefully she descended the wagon from the spot she had remained the entire encounter, though by her own admission she had no fighting experience or skills to offer the others and so she had remained hidden as best she could.
“Come to take a look at what we’re fighting against have you?” said Tumbor presenting the beast to the cautious yet still advancing Linn, though as she appeared to get a little too close the creature attempted a lunge, only failing due to the dwarf’s tight grip.
“I cannot read his mind!” declared Linn staring intently at the beast.
“He’s not one for talking either,” grimaced Tumbor, “So he’ll no longer be needing this.” He ragged the creature violently in the air, still holding on tightly to its windpipe, before slamming it into the ground. Placing a boot upon its chest, he continued to pull until the windpipe tore through its neck and chest, blood and bile showering Linn and Tumbor in the process.
“Try the other one,” suggested Tumbor wiping his beard. “Maybe recent events may have loosened his tongue a little.”
Still in a state of abhorrent shock at the gruesome violence shown by the dwarf, seemingly with little or no remorse, she shuffled her feet over to the Tumbor’s first quarry. It lay breathing heavily, its face a bloodied pulp of mashed cartilage and broken bone. It tried to move as she drew near, but whelped in pain suggesting broken ribs or internal injuries and so remained instead, prone on the floor.
“Well, is it telling you anything?” shouted Tumbor continuing to clean himself as Jax joined them.
“I too would be intrigued as to whether their minds are susceptible to your reading them,” added Jax.
“Sadly all this one is parting with, is how he hopes to live long enough to see his kin folk rip the dwarven maniac apart and feast upon this organs!”
Tumbor laughed lightly and nodded a couple of times. Yet with one fluid movement his axe blade fell across the neck of the beast, separating what was left of his head from his torso. “No!” he added. “Though it is good to know that you can hear their thoughts, even disillusioned ones!”