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Crucible

They have been wandering the subterranean tunnels for two days now, scrawling crude grid-maps that always turn out wrong. Black Dougal complains about the iron rations, and Silverleaf is gaunt from lack of daylight. Slagjor’s body lies under a crude cairn two levels up. Even Crucible is beginning to tire.

“Let us click the key fob again,” intones Silverleaf.

“I already tried it in this area,” says Black Dougal. “And what if its battery runs out?”

“It shall not be.”

“It might!”

Crucible scans the empty rows of parking spaces, clockwork heart sinking, wishing he’d just written the damn number down.

Token

“Do your worst, demon!” grunts Slagjor, as Gr’nThax’s fireburst splashes from his gleaming blade.

“It’s time, young friend,” whispers Poniard Toepad.

“What?” says Token Smallchÿlde, surprised. “But you’re–”

“The beast knows my tricks,” Poniard hisses. “But he discounts you. You’re our only hope!”

Gathering his courage, Token bursts from his hiding place and scrambles up Gr’nThax’s snout. With a whoop, he slides down and leaps from its thrashing tail.

“What?” Gr’nThax roars. “NO!”

But Token’s already snatched the gleaming treasure from its pedestal.< "At last!" exults Slagjor. "The Next Arc of Plot!

“Dangit!” says Gr’nThax. “I die in that one.”

Slagjor

He’s down and scrambling, the great club out of his hands. Slagjor has no breath to curse, but spends it trying to launch himself toward the corner. He can’t get much purchase, and doesn’t get far; he hears the whistle of the crude broadsword, and just manages to roll to one side. Chips shower his face.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: magnificent, inspiring, a vicious monument. It’s only now that he considers the practical aspect. All the other warlords looked good in their throne rooms, but they never told him how slippery a bone floor can get.

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