Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Dwarven Tunnels|
Dodson directed me to a huge stone stable after we entered the gate. Several dwarf lads took the horses to a small corral after I parked the wagon. Green Bow and the other elves waved as they continued towards the large mouth of the main tunnel. I looked at Ellie and she smiled, “We might as well get comfortable, dwarves tend to take their time.”
I smiled and glanced at Little One and Charles as they headed into the barn, “Don’t get lost.”
Little One only flirted her tail as she kept going and Ellie laughed. I smiled and went to the wagon to bring out my dirty clothes. I looked around and Ellie laughed again before calling one of the dwarf lads. One came out looking annoyed and she smiled sweetly, “Would you happen to know of a nearby service to clean clothes?”
He looked at her and then me before grinning, “My mother can do it for a price.”
I laughed, “Tell you what. I’ll give you these and mage Ellie’s robes to be cleaned. I’ll pay you a silver when they are done.”
He nodded and walked closer as Ellie climbed into the wagon and handed her robe out. I grinned at her bare leg, “Maybe we can find a marketplace to get you a couple more robes or dresses.”
She grinned as I turned to give the lad the clothes. He grinned back at me, “Go inside the tunnel and take the first left. At the arched doorway on the right, go in.”
I took Ellie’s hand and we headed into the tunnel. We found the doorway the lad told us about and walked in. All around us was the hum and murmur of voices from hundreds of dwarves. Light filtered down from high overhead and I could see huge seems of crystal. I grinned and pulled Ellie after me as I headed into the busy market.
I headed through the solid looking shop like stalls walking slowly. I stopped when I saw the emerald green cloth on a counter. I grinned at the two dwarf women, “How long to make a nice dress?”
They grinned and the older of the two looked at Ellie, “An hour.”
I looked at Ellie as I pulled my large pouch of silver and started bargaining. I had noticed several other bolts of cloth in many colors. In the end I bought Ellie four dresses, the other three were to be finished and delivered to our wagon. While I waited for her I looked around the nearby stalls.
I wasn’t surprised when Little One clawed her way up my body and lay draped across my shoulders. I found another shop that was selling capes and bought three. One for me and two for Ellie, one was fur lined. I returned to the dress shop to find Charles draped across the counter while several young dwarf girls pet him.
I smiled as Little One sniffed and meowed in complaint. I reached up to caress her while looking towards the back of the shop. A grumpy looking dwarf with a beard down onto his chest stomped down the isle and looked up at me, “You Samuel Grey?”
I smiled slightly, “At least for today.”
He snorted as the girls giggled, “The counsel wants to speak to you.”
I sighed and glanced at the back of the shop as Ellie peeked out, “I’m busy right now.”
I looked at the dwarf, “I’ll be back at my wagon in a half hour if they still want to talk to me.”
He put his hands on his hips, “This is important human.”
I smiled, “Not to me dwarf.”
His eyes narrowed, “is it money you want?”
I laughed, “Well, right now I am shopping and enjoying the courtesy of these wonderful merchants.”
He looked around and blushed, “yes, well…”
The girls giggled again and he glared at them and then at me, “I will have the counsel meet you at your wagon.”
He turned and stomped off and I shook my head as Little One mewed softly. I caressed her and glanced at the back of the shop as Ellie opened the curtain and stepped out. She was stunning in the long dress and smiled as she walked towards me, “He was a grumpy old man.”
The girls laughed and the one petting Charles grinned, “He’s always like that.”
We stopped at a food vender on the way out and carried two meat and goat cheese sandwiches back to the wagon. I set Little One down as Charles meowed at her and they disappeared into the barn. Ellie grinned, “They must be going for lunch.”
I tossed the new robes in the back of our wagon and sat with Ellie to eat. A large group of dwarf men and women approached as we were finishing. I noticed Dodson walking along with those in the lead and sighed, “Another recommendation.”
Ellie laughed and leaned against my shoulder. The group gathered around us and sat down. One old dwarf that looked ancient cleared his throat, “We have a problem and you were recommended as someone that might solve it for us.”
I gestured, “Go on.”
He looked at the others, “We have a nest of goblins.”
I looked at him in surprise, “I thought…”
He held up his hands, “Actually it’s in one of the older, higher tunnels off the pass that they found a way into.”
I sat back, “What do you want me to do?”
They looked at each other and the old dwarf cleared his throat, “Kill them.”
I shook my head, “can’t you just block the tunnel off?”
The old dwarf nodded, “We could but the problem would be protecting the workers. Also they would just find another way in since they know we are here now.”
I sighed and looked at Ellie, “I have always hated doing a job knowing it was to kill and not just protect.”
She nodded and then sighed, “You saw the goblins. They are mindless animals.”
I looked at the dwarves, “I’ll need a few things.”
The old dwarf looked at another that had a bright red beard, “Tolivar will provide whatever you need.”
Another dwarf leaned forward, “How much?”
I smiled and looked at Ellie, “Beside what I need, I want seven bolts of cloth of my choosing.”
They were looking at each other and the same dwarf cleared his throat, “That’s all?”
I looked at him and raised my eyebrow, “That’s my price. Do you want me to ask for more?”
The other dwarves grumbled and he blushed. I looked at the old dwarf, “Give me an hour to think about what I need and I’ll give you my list.”
He nodded and they all stood. Tolivar stayed as the others walked back towards the tunnel. I sighed and handed Ellie my pouch of silver, “Would you mind looking in the marketplace for some of the pipe herbs?”
She grinned as she stood, “I love the smell of pipe herbs.”
Tolivar grinned as we watched her head back into the tunnel. I pulled out my note book and gave him a list of what I needed. It was basically everything I needed to reload and make more bullets. I climbed into the wagon and started pulling out my extra magazines and ammo. I sat and started preparing.
I had only done one mission underground and it wasn’t a pleasant memory. I glanced at Ellie when she came back but kept working. I finally set everything aside and sat back and closed my eyes. She moved behind me and started rubbing my temples like she had done in the past, “Goblins are like weasels Samuel. Once they know prey is there they can’t stop themselves from killing. It’s a kind of blood lust.”
I sighed and nodded, “Killing is killing El.”
When Tolivar returned, I started making more bullets. It was late when Ellie pulled me to bed in the wagon. I woke to the sound of a lot of voices. Ellie shifted and moved to get up, “A wagon train from Kendal. It sounds like they have wounded.”
I sat up and began to dress as Ellie climbed out of the wagon. The area around the stable was full of wagons and horses, with dwarves and humans moving around both. I started helping with the wounded and was almost sickened at some. The goblins that had attacked them didn’t try to kill before eating and some wounds were horrific.
The sun was up before everything calmed down. I sat with Ellie and ate some bread and cheese before putting my gear on. Tolivar returned as I was finishing a shoulder bag that held extra magazines. When Ellie stood to come with me I almost told her to stay. Little One and Charles trotted at our feet as we headed into the tunnel.
A small party of dwarves carrying some type of chemical lanterns met us and started leading the way. I smiled at Ellie, “I need to look for those lanterns in the marketplace.”
Ellie grinned and bent to scoop up Charles. Little One leaped and used her claws to climb my body to her perch on my shoulders. Most of the tunnels were well travel until late afternoon when we reached a large shaft. Inside was a pulley operated wooden elevator. Tolivar explained that it mostly used giant stone counter weights.
I think we rose about a thousand feet before coming to a stop. Not even a hundred paces away was a second elevator that took us up another thousand feet. When we got off that elevator we stopped in a large room that looked like a common room and even had a stone fireplace. Of course they used coal they dumped into a basket beside it.
The other dwarves busied themselves and Tolivar sat with Ellie and I. He cleared his throat, “A short walk from here is another lift that will take us up to the level where the goblins are. That set of tunnels extends out to just below the tree line off the trail that leads to the high pass. There are about five leagues of tunnels we will be searching so it’s a good idea to be fresh when we start.”
I nodded and glanced around, “Beds and a place to cook?”
He looked towards a far corner, “The kitchen is in the corner. We have a supply train coming with supplies for a week.”
He gestured to the door beside the fireplace, “The sleeping room is through there.”
Little One and Charles both hopped off our laps and went exploring. It was an hour later that Little One scampered back and jumped into my lap, a few moments after that the supplies started arriving. That night I slept lightly with Ellie in my arms and my pistol in my hand. We were up early and ate before the dwarves finally decided it was time to start.
Ellie’s staff had appeared from somewhere as we entered the lift to ascend the shaft. I caressed her cheek and set Little One down, “Stay behind us.”
She mewed and sat but I wasn’t sure she would stay and shook my head as I moved to the front of the lift. When the lift came to a halt I brought the rifle up and looked through the scope. I nodded and gestured before moving forward. I watched as the dwarves set up a hasty position. I had studied the tunnel diagrams and moved forward slowly when the dwarves were ready.
The plan had been to check and clear tunnels thought to be free of goblins. The first tunnel went deeper into the mountain before coming to an end. When we returned to the tunnel intersection I waited while they blocked it. The second tunnel was the same and then we started on the third. We had barely entered when I saw the goblins.
Looking through my scope, I almost became sick as I saw them ripping another goblin apart and eating it. I stopped everyone and took a deep breath before taking aim. I fired until the magazine was empty and then changed it. That was when the goblins attacked. I fired rapidly and went through three magazines before they even got close.
There were only a few left when I started on the next magazine and that was when the dwarves fired a volley of crossbow bolts. It was quiet after that and the dwarves started down the tunnel killing any wounded goblins. I replaced the used magazines with loaded ones from the shoulder bag. Ellie took the empties and made them disappear somewhere.
We checked the tunnel carefully and I watched as the dwarves started removing the bodies. We still had four more tunnels to check. The one that exited out onto the pass was going to be the last one. After we finished checking and blocking the tunnel we moved back to the lift. We rested and drank water before eating bread rolls and cheese.
Little One and Charles found a large rodent somewhere and were having a feast of their own while the dwarves laughed. Finally I stood and we headed for the next tunnel. I moved slowly scanning ahead of us with the scope. The group of goblins I found was small but almost seemed to smell us as I started shooting.
Two full magazines and several bolts and it was over. The rest of the tunnel was clear and Ellie leaned against me and whispered as the dwarves went about blocking it, “These are just weak splinter groups looking for food.”
I knew when we entered the next tunnel it would be different. I had a large group at extreme range rushing towards us. I started firing and changing magazines, I was on the fifth before the dwarves began using their crossbows. The bolt of lightning that exploded in their midst startled me but I kept firing.
When I dropped the magazine the last goblin fell with three bolts in its chest. I reloaded the rifle and then placed full magazines in empty holders. Again Ellie made the empty magazines disappear. I shook my head, “Don’t lose those, I might need them later.”
She grinned and kissed my cheek, “They are safe.”
Slowly we checked the tunnel and then the dwarves started removing the bodies. I was almost tempted to ask what they did with them but Ellie must have read my mind. She leaned against me as we held our bond cats, “They have a system of cartiers waiting on the level below that take the bodies to a narrow cleft and dump them over a cliff.”
I relaxed as I watched the two remaining tunnels while the dwarves started blocking the one we had just cleared. Tolivar appeared and wiped sweat from his forehead, “After we finish blocking this one, we are going back down to the break rooms.”
I nodded and he grinned, “Your weapon is very impressive.”
I smiled as he turned to watch the other dwarves. When they finished we went to the lifts and descended slowly to the next level. It was a quiet evening as I cleaned my rifle and reloaded the empty magazines Ellie handed me with a small smile. Little One stayed close as I lay in bed with Ellie holding me. I woke to a crash and yelling. I rolled out of bed reaching for my rifle.
I reached the doorway to see goblins fighting several dwarves in the common room. I killed one biting the shoulder of a nearby dwarf and Ellie shouted a spell that lit the room with bright light. I shot another across the room as it leaped toward the back of a dwarf already struggling with a goblin. Other dwarves rushed past as I shot a goblin off Tolivar.
I moved into the room and shot goblins as I went past them. When it was over there were twenty goblins on the floor and two dwarves. I quickly went and dressed while Ellie and other dwarves began taking care of the wounded. I reloaded the magazine I had used and came back into the room.
Tolivar was nursing a nasty bite as I sat across from him, “Do you know how many came down?”
He nodded, “The sentries gave a warning and one was still alive in a smaller locked room. These were all that came down.”
I nodded as Ellie looked up from bandaging a nearby dwarf, “It was a splinter group scavenging for food.”
I turned to walk to the door and checked the tunnel with my scope. The mass by the lift had me squeezing the trigger as I called out, “There’s more coming down the lift!”
I kept firing as dwarves hurried into the hall. They knew better then to get between me and the goblins as I dropped the magazine and replaced it. They lined up and prepared their crossbows as I went through another magazine. The goblins finally started rushing towards us as I started on the third magazine. Of course by then there were only a few left.
The volley of crossbow bolts killed the last of them and I reloaded before the dwarves moved forward to make sure the goblins were dead. Tolivar came back from the lift, “Nothing else coming down but we better move up to the next level and finish this.”
I nodded and walked towards the lift. It didn’t take long before the dwarves had the lift packed and ready. I knelt inside and used the scope as we began heading up. It was clear all the way to the next level. I led the way to the second tunnel and began to slowly move down it. This one was a little longer than the others.
Somehow I was surprised when we didn’t find any goblins. We moved back to the lift and I watched the last tunnel as they began blocking the one we just came out of. Little One and Charles both appeared running from the last tunnel and I could hear a distant roaring. I glanced at Ellie before bringing the rifle up, “That wasn’t a goblin.”
I didn’t see anything for awhile and then they were rushing towards us from the bend over two hundred paces away. I started firing and went through a magazine and then a second and third. I started on the fourth when the larger bodies appeared behind the goblins. I concentrated on the goblins in front as I fired, “There are three bigger animals behind them.”
I knew what they were as I dropped the fifth magazine. Ellie whispered, “Fire Drakes!”
I started firing again as the dwarves fired blindly down the tunnel. When the rifle locked back after the sixth magazine, I let it fall on it’s strap and pulled my pistol. I ignored the several goblins as I aimed at the closest drake. I shot it three times, twice in the chest and once through the head.
I switched to the next drake as lightning exploded down the tunnel. I shot the second drake like I had the first and dropped my pistol to pull the sword over my shoulder. I side stepped and swung the sword to take the head from the third drake. Quiet came to the tunnel as I knelt to retrieve my pistol and wipe my sword clean.
I replaced the magazine in the pistol and then the rifle. I kept watch and moved forward with the dwarves as they checked and killed any goblin still alive. When we reached the bend in the tunnel I shifted the rifle and came around the corner looking through the scope. The large creature was something I had never seen.
It roared and the dwarves panicked and ran. It had to bend its neck as it lumber towards me. I knelt as I remembered Ellie telling me they had thick skins. I aimed at the throat and fired slowly. After six bullets it was still staggering towards me. It opened its mouth to roar again and I shot it through the mouth.
Its head snapped back as it froze and then fell. It started jerking and twitching and I glanced back to see Ellie standing there wide eyed. I reached back to touch her and she shook herself, “I never thought I would see a troll or see one killed.”
I shrugged, “How long before the dwarves come back?”
She grinned, “A day or two.”
I looked at the body of the troll, “Well, I’m not trying to move that thing by myself.”
I moved forward around the twitching body and then started checking the rest of the tunnel. At the very end was a common room with a wide doorway. Ellie crossed to it and glanced out before looking back, “The troll must have chased the goblins and drakes in here.”
I moved to join her and looked out at the open forest with a wide well used tail going past. Ellie took my arm, “It will take us four days by trail to reach this spot and two more to reach the high pass.”
I nodded, “How long to get down?”
She shook her head, “We’ll be in the pass for at least three maybe four days. The trail leading down the other side will take a week or more, than there is…”
I laughed, “One step at a time El.”
I turned and went back into the rank smelling room and crossed to the tunnel, “We should head to the lift.”
I led her back through the tunnel until we reached the lift. We yelled down the shaft for ten minutes before we were answered. Even then it was a full lift that came up to get us. At first they didn’t believe I had killed the troll and then they had to creep down the tunnel to check. Finally there was jubilation before they began clearing the dead away while Ellie and I sat with our smug looking bond cats.
When we finally made it back to my wagon the whole dwarf community was celebrating. No one had touched anything in my wagon and it was late when I pulled Ellie into bed and held her against me before closing my eyes. I spent the next three days replacing ammunition I had used. Ellie was very good at finding the supplies we needed and bargaining for them.
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