Ethernaut Saga Part II   Leave a comment


Escape From Guk – Part I
On a recent expedition into the lair of Trakanon, a team of adventurers uncovered a satchel of ancient parchments. On those parchments were a series of writings by an unknown bard by the name of Eylee Zephyrswell. Gnomeish scolars have dated the documents to some time within the heart of the Lost Age. This is the first of those writings…

From the pen of Eylee Zephyrswell —
This tells the account of the escape of Kaltuk Ironstein and Nurgg Rockfist from Guk and the hands of the trolls. My friends told me the tale over many an open fire, quibbling over the specific details. I most often stuck to Nurgg’s account, as he is not quite as prone to exaggeration as Kaltuk.

Escape from Guk
Part I

For as long as it seemed he could remember, he had toiled. He might have been someone once, but who could say? He’d had a home, a family — No. Nurgg slammed the stone heavily to the floor, not even flinching as a splash of green-colored water hit him in the face. He wasn’t going to think about it, because it didn’t amount to anything here in the dank.
As the ogre leaned against one of the cut rock walls, he meditated on the gradually intensifying pain in his back. He was… how old now? He’d been nearing forty when he entered that place, and it had been more years than he had bothered giving count since he’d arrive; more than a fair share of years for an ogre. The oldest ogre in his clan had been pushing seventy, but that was uncommon, and mildly shameful.
Leather stung his flesh and interrupted his thoughts. He set his jaw and looked down. A spindly troll grinned up at him with a mouthful of cracked teeth and tiny pupils that floated in the yellow puddles of his eyes. “Get a move on, then,” said the taskmaster, breathing heavily and smelling of rot. “There’s no time for lying about, rock for brains.”
Nurgg grunted. Oaf, dullard, rock for brains, they had many names for him — all but his own. His people may have been dim, but Nurgg had always been accounted bright for his kind. Why, at one time, he had even thought to forge metal for the making of weapons, distinguishing him among the whole of the clans of Oggok.
Drawing away from the wall, he lumbered toward the block he had dropped. Here, he was no weaponsmith, only a pack animal good for lugging heavy objects. Wrapping his arms around the now wet surface of the rock, he felt his muscles strain as he hoisted it upward. The stone walls of the room shone with a dull emerald light and figures shuffled around in the near darkness, making hollow echoing sounds as they kicked the thin layer of water on the ground. The taskmaster watched with narrowed eyes as Nurgg carried the stone over and fit it into the masonry, groaning with relief when it was down. He moved aside as a froglok scurried up and slopped caulking into the gaps. Nurgg stared momentarily into the creature’s eyes. It — he had never been able to distinguish male from female — caught his gaze for only a moment and then drew away without a word.
The whip hit him again, and the muscles of his arms twitched as he suppressed the urge to snatch at it. He’d tried that, once upon a time, and still bore the scars to prove it. There was nothing to be had with rebellion.
“Go on then, get another,” hissed the taskmaster. “We’ll be waiting!” The froglok knelt at the troll’s feet, stirring at the bucket of caulking, eyes fixed on its work.
Nurgg swung around and began the long trek back to where the wagon from the quarry waited, taking only mild satisfaction as he observed the way in which the green mildew crept further through the halls of Guk. Every day the trolls lost a little more of her, no matter how they might push their slaves to reinforce her walls. Maybe some day soon Nurgg would die down here, but at least he would be able to go knowing that in not too much more time, the trolls’ ancient home would be crumbled as well.
As he plodded on, he could hear the taskmaster exchanging words with one of the younger guards.
“Shouldn’t I go wit ‘im, boss?” asked the guard.
“That one? No, no need to worry about him. He’s well broken indeed!”
~~~
Nurgg lowered himself in the corner of the cell as the bar slammed shut behind him. The troll guard stuck his long, narrow nose through the g ap in the cell bars as he shouted out, “Dinner, oaf!” The metal plate clattered as it skidded across the ground. Nurgg shot a glance at it. He was the one they called oaf, but they were the ones who counted offal as fine eating; and what their prisoners received was something even less than offal. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. He’d rest a moment and then get to the business of forcing it down. Before he could stop himself, he’d drifted off into sleep.
Nurgg was awoken as the cell door slammed open. He opened his eyes just in time to see a small shape hurtled through the door. It landed and rolled straight over his dinner plate before skidding to a halt. The small man picked himself up promptly and, wobbling, shouted after the retreating guards, “That’s right, run! Ye ain’t got the spine to face me standing, do ye?! Have to bag me in me sleep! Just like the sniveling whelps ye surely be!”
Nurgg closed his eyes and thought to himself, “Oh good. A dwarf.” The last dwarf they’d thrown in here had died — what? At least five years ago now, and no cellmate he’d had before or since had been quite so loud. At one time, he might have broken every tooth in the dwarf’s mouth to quiet him, but by that time, it no longer seemed worth the effort. It was an odd thing to see a dwarf on this continent, but it happened, and when they came anywhere near Innothule, they almost inevitably ended up here. The ogre opened his eyes and looked back at his new cell mate. Long white hair with a few thin braids descended down the back of a deep blue robe cinched at the waist with a rawhide leather belt. He’d been stripped of any armor or weapons he was once carrying, and only a stained ale skin hung at his side.
The dwarf turned to him, appraising him with one cocked, bushy eyebrow and then, glancing down, seemed to notice he was covered in Nurgg’s dinner. “What in the bleeding name of the gods is this tripe?” he demanded, scrubbing at his clothes as if that might do anything. “Have you ever smelled anything so foul?”
When Nurgg only stared back at him, the dwarf wheeled in close, squinting at him. His face was lined heavily and his eyes were shot through with red veins. The dwarf, Nurgg noted, was no more a youth than he, but the old man seemed stout enough. The smell of ale on his breath was unmistakable, and potent.
“You don’t say much, do you?” asked the dwarf. “Well, I can hardly blame you. You look as if you’ve been here a hundred years, thereabouts, and this dark is enough to break even the heartiest soul.” He straightened slightly and inclined his head back. “And this hearty soul is Kaltuk Ironstein, once a cleric of Kaladim and member of the Stormguard. Now not much more than an outcast and, as it appears, a miserable prisoner; if you beg my pardon for saying so.”
Nurgg nodded and looked down toward the empty plate. The gnawing in his stomach reminded him that offal it may be, but there would be nothing else for supper. Kaltuk followed his gaze. “That was supper, aye? If that’s what they feed you here, you’d be better off to starve.”
As if on cue, another plate slid under the cell store. The long troll nose stuck its way through the bars and said, “Little dwarfie must be hungry. Have a meal little dwarfie, for you’ll be working in the morning with nothing else to eat!” The sound of laughter followed the retreating guard down the hallway.
Kaltuk gave the plate a stiff eyeing and then plopped to the ground, waving his hand dismissively. “You can have it, I won’t crumble so soon.”
Nurgg shrugged and picked it up before the dwarf could take it back. Moving only far enough to pick up the plate, he quickly retreated to his corner. Aware of how much like a trapped animal he was acting, he lowered his head and focused on shoveling the food in his mouth too quickly to smell it.
“Well! You waste no time, do you?” asked Kaltuk with a laugh like a bark. The dwarf eased back against a wall and took a sip from the skin at his side. “I suppose you must need something to mark the days. It’s probably hard, isn’t it? Holding on to something? I’d reckon so. I was a prisoner once, you see, so I understand. For a full month I had to sit and consider what each day could offer when there was nothing to do but wait, and it did quite a number to my noggin’, let me tell you…”
~~~
Hours passed and still the dwarf continued. Nurgg had stopped trying to separate the dwarf’s ramblings into distinct topics and instead simply focused on the flow of the words. As much as he hated to admit it, he couldn’t help but keep listening. Hearing the dwarf talk about anything but this place reminded him that there was something more out there, that he himself had once been a part of it. Besides, the dwarf spoke animatedly, gesturing wildly and occasionally laughing deep from his gut at one thing or the other he’d said, pausing only to partake of his ale skin. Kaltuk was a captivating speaker, of that there was no denying.
“… and I must admit, of all I miss, I miss my children the most. If not for them, I wouldn’t spare a thought for the place at all. Perhaps you have a family, perhaps you don’t, but if you did –”
“I did,” blurted Nurgg. The sound of his own voice startled him even more than the fact he had spoken at all. Though he hadn’t seen it coming, the words had forced their way to the surface, and then out. “I had a family,” he continued, gaze leveled at the stunned looking dwarf.
The dwarf was stunned. Then, he slapped his knee. “Aha!” he said. “I knew you were still in there somewhere. I knew you couldn’t be all gone.” He rose to his feet and took a few steps forward. Nurgg considered him a few moments, and then shrugged, and nodded. Kaltuk lowered to a crouch beside the ogre and rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, taking another swig from his ale skin. “Now, my friend, as much as I love to speak, I think you need it a bit more than I. Tell me about this family.
Nurgg lowered his head, listening to the sounds around him. In the distance, he heard the soft sound of weeping, and a single piercing cry, and the shuffling of timid feet. The stone wall he leaned against was cold, and wet, and his skin sucked in that cold so that even the tips of his fingers and toes seemed to feel it, numb and awkward. The Nurgg who lived in this almost ruin of a city was not a man with a family, or a trade, or a clan. He lugged stones and broke ground and did as he was told. Could the other Nurgg, Nurgg of the Rockchest clan, come back out after so long?
The moments ticked by and Kaltuk watched him expectantly.
Finally, he opened his mouth and said, “There was an ogre called Nurgg of the Rockchest clan. He made weapons like no ogre could. Strong weapons. Sharp weapons. He had a wife. He had children. He had a name. He did not eat offal or lug stones for lesser beasts. This was until his rival killed his family, and none in his clan would give him the vengeance he deserved. There was an ogre named Nurgg Rockchest, and that ogre was me…”
In a stream of words, the Nurgg that was began to wake up.
It took only five days for Kaltuk Ironstein to hatch a plan for escape. Nurgg watched the dwarf, amazed, as the plan was laid out before him. Nurgg had been here for twice that many years, and never had he truly considered it, but then, the ogre who had wandered in here so many years ago was broken, drowning in grief. Had Nurgg of the Rockchest clan not been broken by the slaughter of his family, and the betrayal of his clan, he would not have been pacified so easily.
Kaltuk traced imaginary lines along the ground, visualizing their pathway to freedom. “It’s a good thing we aren’t in that village of theirs. There’d be more of them there. They can lock us tight here, but it’s all but empty in the night time. It’d mostly be upon us to get past the cell guards, and we’re on our way. Well, excepting the perimeter guards… and the scouting parties that circle regularly. I ken get us past the cell guards, trust in that, if ye can fashion us some weapons to get past the rest.”
Nurgg cleared his throat, hocking a thick glob of slime to the ground. “This is a dead man’s task.”
The dwarf pressed his eyebrows together and gazed at Nurgg. “You aren’t thinking of backing out, are you?”
Nurgg muttered under his breath and looked away. “We will die, most like,” he repeated. “That is all.”
Kaltuk stood and walked to Nurgg. The ogre felt a distinct sense of discomfort as the strange little man approached and set a hand on his shoulder. “Tis high time for you to leave here, my friend, whether by death or flight,” he said. “We’re not young, anymore, not you nor I, and it would be a crime to spend the rest of our days here in the dark. There must be time for one last great adventure for two such hearty souls. Maybe we’ll die, aye, but we’ll die with glory.” The dwarf pulled his hand back and shook the pouch at his side. “Besides, my ale will be runnin’ dry soon, and then I’d just prefer be a dead man.”
Nurgg folded his arms across his chest and cast a glance down the hallway, listening to the not too distant chatter of the prison guards and wishing the conspirator could keep his voice down. “You speak pretty, dwarf,” said Nurgg, “but I don’t know yet if you speak true. I will listen, though, if you keep your voice down.”
“Fair enough, brother, fair enough!” said Kaltuk. The dwarf lifted his aleskin and tapped it with shining eyes. Nurgg eyed it skeptically.
“You plan to drink us out?” asked Nurgg.
“On the contrary, I plan to drink them out,” said Kaltuk, lowering his voice to a hush. “Aye, I plan to drink them out.”
Nurgg was shocked to find that nothing about that statement seemed strange to him. He shrugged and said, “If you think you can do it.”
“Think I can? Hah! I know I can. They used to sing a song about me, you know,” said Kaltuk, chuckling to himself, “and about my love of a good drink. They don’t sing it so much anymore.” His voice grew high and wistful as he began to sing, “Raise ’em high for me boys… And drink ’em low for me boys… Raise ’em high for me boys… For I’ll soon be on me back.”
Kaltuk’s voice trailed off slowly before quieting. There was a moment of silence as the two figures sat solemnly in the dark. “I’d like to hear your song sometime,” said Nurgg.
Kaltuk grinned and clapped a hand on the ogre’s back. “My friend, if we get out of here, you shall.”
End of part one…

Escape From Guk – Part II
The halls of Guk were the deepest dark. With the prisoners’ confines afforded no windows, the only light came from the torches in their stone sconces, and as the night wore on, those torches dimmed to the point of near extinguish. Nurgg sat at the edge of the cell in one of the small slants of light given off by a nearby torch and retrieved a piece of wagon wheel banding he had stored in a gap between the cell wall and the floor. Squinting in the light, he ran his finger down its edge. Dull, dull, dull, but perhaps he could do something with it.
The sound of Kaltuk’s snoring filled the cell — an unlikely blessing. If Nurgg was really going to do as he had set down to do, then the noise might help mask the sound of his work. He held the thin, brittle piece of metal in one hand and a whetstone he had lifted from one of the guards in the other. Staring at them, he released a heavy sigh and leaned his forehead against the bars.
But he didn’t let himself stay there long. After a few moments, he sat up and began grinding the stone against the metal in a futile attempt to sharpen it. He began at first softly and then more fiercely until sparks burned the skin of his hands. Grinding away, he felt his teeth clench and the muscles of his neck tighten and everything in him became focused on the act. He began to think to himself that maybe the dwarf wasn’t so crazy, that perhaps this really could work, and that maybe some day soon he would be free of this place.
But then, the banding snapped in his hands, one half clattering to the ground and the other hand gripped between his fingers. Breathing heavily, he sat for a few minutes, frozen and staring at the remains of his work.
With a grunt of frustration, he tossed the whetstone across the cell so that it clattered off the wall and fell down onto Kaltuk’s chest. The snoring stalled for only a moment before resuming, and the whetstone traveled up and down with the rise and fall of the dwarf’s slumber.
Nurgg’s head fell heavily against the cell door again as he felt the burning in his hands subside and the emotion the act had stirred in him quell until his usual feeling of numbness had returned.
Sitting in the deep dark, he muttered to himself, “A dead man’s task. This is nothing but a dead man’s task.”
It was a good thing, he was later to say, that at that time, he was no better than a dead man.
Nurgg sat in the back of the cell scratching at the dirt between the stones of his cell floor with a fingernail as Kaltuk rapped his hands against the cell door. “Hey there! You lot paying attention?” he shouted. “Come here if you have the mettle to face my fearsome mien.”
There was quiet down the hall in the station where the troll guards forever sat, gambling with bones and drinking their foul liquor. After a moment, one of the guards came shambling down and with a frown said, “What’s this? What are you on about, dwarf?”
Kaltuk pressed his chest against the bars and raised his aleskin. “I’m dry; can you good sirs fill me up?”
The troll took one look at the aleskin and let out a peal of shrill laughter. Turning, he called down the hall, “Little dwarfsie wants some of our grog, boys!”
The chorus of laughs that followed did nothing to deter Kaltuk. In fact, it only seemed to encourage him. He stood up a little straighter and said, “You’re right in assuming your spirits are quite foul, and if I had any choice in the matter, I’d nay drink them for all the gemstones of Kaladim, but I’m dry, and that’s enough to drive any dwarf to desperation. You’ll not find my constitution lacking when it comes to a stiff drink, I promise you that.”
The troll scratched at a boil that protruded from his temple as he seemed to consider it. “All right,” he said with a snicker. “You can drink with us, dwarf, but only if you drink all that we give you.”
“A fair deal, indeed,” said Kaltuk with a bit of a bow. “I only ask that for every two I drink, you all drink one as well. I hate to drink alone.”
“Two for one?” asked the troll. “Haha! I believe we can promise that.” Nurgg watched with mild amazement as the door swung open, and Kaltuk, pausing only long enough to lean back and wiggle his eyebrows at Nurgg, followed after the troll.
Minutes passed, and then tens of minutes, and then what must surely have been hours. In the distance, the trolls all chanted as Kaltuk downed flagon after flagon, followed by a hearty roar from Kaltuk as they took their compensatory drink. Nurgg felt every moment tick by as he wrapped his arms around his legs and watched the cell door, half-expecting the trolls to deliver an unconscious dwarf at any moment and barely daring to hope it would be otherwise.
But as the night drew on and morning threatened to arrive at any moment, the chanting grew quiet and slurred and only the dwarf’s voice continued to resound. Finally, when Nurgg had all but gone insane with waiting, Kaltuk’s blue clad figure stumbled up to the cell door, fumbling with a ring of keys.
Nurgg shot to his feet and crossed the space of the cell in two steps. Kaltuk swayed dangerously as he stared up at Nurgg and said, “You didn’t think I could do it, did you? Well, I have done it! Tell my wife and all those miserable elders that I am still a penitent! That I still deserve a place in Kaladim! Let it be known that Kaltuk Ironstein never failed to drink for the glory of the gods! For Brell Serillis, that miserably ungrateful whelp! I did it all for you, do you hear me!”
The ogre waited uncomfortably through the dwarf’s diatribe, glancing constantly down the hallway. The guards were well unconscious, of that he was sure, but there were others to hear what was going on. Already, other prisoners had begun coming forward and staring at them from the doors of their cells.
“Do you hear me?!” shouted Kaltuk, thrusting his head back.
“I am sure Brell hears you,” said Nurgg through gritted teeth. “All of Guk can hear you. Be quiet, you drunken fool.”
Kaltuk peered through one eye at Nurgg. He raised one indignant finger and then toppled forward. It was all Nurgg could do to catch him through the bars and wrest the key ring from his hands. Minutes later, he finally had the door open. Kaltuk hadn’t so much as stirred since losing all consciousness, and in the distance, Nurgg swore he could hear footsteps. “You poor little fool,” grumbled Nurgg. He knelt down and drew out the crude machetes he had made in a more successful attempt to fashion them some weapons.
Hoisting Kaltuk, he threw him over his shoulder and began to retreat.
“Don’t leave us! Please!” Nurgg whipped back and saw the froglok from the construction site. The voice was soft and feminine, and he could see tears in her eyes. Nurgg looked at the keys in his hands and then back at the froglok. He stepped back only far enough to throw them to her cell.
“I am sorry,” he said. “Free yourself, if you can.”
With that, he set off, Kaltuk’s limp body slapping against his chest and back.
~~~
It was difficult for Nurgg to recreate what followed, and Kaltuk was, for obvious reasons, little help. When trying to describe it, he admitted to have felt as if he were in some sort of trance. Years of servitude were shed further with every step, and he had to command instincts to resurface that had long since gone dormant with neglect. And if the events that followed had not been of such an unusual caliber, maybe then it might have been easier, but they were most unusual, and Nurgg did all that he could to carry Kaltuk and he through them with their lives in tact.
End of part two…

Escape From Guk – Part III
On a recent expedition into the lair of Trakanon, a team of adventurers uncovered a satchel of ancient parchments. On those parchments were a series of writings by an unknown bard by the name of Eylee Zephyrswell. Gnomeish scolars have dated the documents to some time within the heart of the Lost Age. This is the third and last of those writings…

From the pen of Eylee Zephyrswell —
This tells the account of the escape of Kaltuk Ironstein and Nurgg Rockfist from Guk and the hands of the trolls. My friends told me the tale over many an open fire, quibbling over the specific details. I most often stuck to Nurgg’s account, as he is not quite as prone to exaggeration as Kaltuk.

Escape from Guk
Part III

The morning was just beginning to break as Nurgg emerged from Guk, and it was unlike any morning Nurgg had ever seen before. The sky was lit with an eerie purple cast, and veins of silver light threaded through what seemed like gold specked dust clouds high above him. Nurgg had met no one progressing through Guk, but he found where they had all gone.
The ground in front of the crumbling stone city was littered with bodies all of them trolls and all of them with wounds that had bloated in shades of purple and blue and black. What enemy, he wondered, had come through here and not managed to lose one of their force, when the trolls had lost so many.
Kaltuk had begun to stir and mutter by the time they emerged and Nurgg hissed, “Quiet, Kaltuk. Quiet.”
Kaltuk muttered something inaudible and seemed to fall back into unconsciousness as Nurgg stole across the earth, glancing from side to side. Just as he was about to enter a line of trees, a troll reeled up in his pathway, gripping a long, wicked blade. Panic surged up in him for just a few moments before he reminded himself, “A Rockchest doesn’t fear one measly troll.” Though the years might have taken their toll on him, it had taken a whole squadron of them to bring him down when he was caught. This one would not stand in his way. He raised the machete and brought it down quickly through the troll’s chest, but just before he did, he started as he noticed the troll’s eyes. They were completely black, and where the machete struck, darkness seeped out from the wound.
Nurgg broke into a run, pushing his way into the surrounding swampland and away from the carnage. He continued running, even when his feet stopped hitting dry land and started sinking deeper with every step, coming up with sick slurping sounds as the ground grew less and less sturdy beneath his feet. Finally, it was no longer possible to go above a walk, as he was trudging through knee deep water. Only then did he notice the way in which the swamp was completely silent. Despite his time beneath the ground, he knew immediately that something wasn’t right. There should have been a buzz of insects and the flap of swamp birds as they flew through the low hanging trees and high stalks of willowy reeds, but there was none of that.
All of the sudden, a beast descended down in front of them. It was all Nurgg could do but react. Rockchest or no, the sight before him was enough to make any ogre quake. He swung wildly with the machete, aware only that what was before him was unlike nothing he had seen. It had no eyes, only an expanse of black skin and long, lashing tentacles. The noises it made drove him to want to drop his machete and drunken dwarf and clamp his hands over his ears, but he didn’t. Acting without thought, he slashed and hacked furiously. Finally, he managed to shove one of the machetes deep into the creature, and immediately he was struck by a single cry so sharp that he did indeed drop all he was holding into the swamp. Nurgg fell to his knees with a groan. After a few moments of waiting expectantly for death, he finally opened his eyes and dared to move. He felt blood, wet and sticky, as he drew his hands away from his ears. Kaltuk floated beside him in the water face up, by good fortune, with his mouth agape but the creature was gone, having disappeared completely and left no trace.
~~~
They encountered no more of the creatures, but Nurgg had often hidden the two of them beneath overhangs when he heard the sound of nearby combat. Frequently, these skirmishes concluded with the sound of trolls screaming in pain and defeat; only rarely did he hear anything that indicated any trolls had survived. Throughout the day, he heard many more of those unnatural wails and every time, he fought the urge to fall to the ground and cower like a child.
He walked far into the next night before it had been long enough since he had encountered combat that he dared to think of stopping to rest. By then, Kaltuk was snoring lightly and stirring more frequently. When he had finally found them a suitable spot to camp and had already gone about the business of stirring up a fire, the dwarf let out a monstrous yawn and sat up. Kaltuk blinked heavily and looked around in a daze, finally stopping and regarding the ogre. Nurgg sat stirring the fire, dimly aware of the dwarf’s eyes on him, unable to stop going over the day’s events in his head.
“Well?” asked Kaltuk, breaking the silence. “We survived, then? Or is this some vengeful god’s idea of a blissful afterlife?”
Nurgg looked up and caught the dwarf’s gaze. Something in his face must have struck his companion, because Kaltuk’s eyes widened. Before the dwarf could say anything else, Nurgg said, “You have first watch.”
With that, he curled up by the fire and rolled over. Kaltuk gave no hint of protest, and in time, he fell asleep; but his dreams were troubled with the black, soulless eyes of the troll he had encountered, and the high, piercing wail of the creature that no doubt had something to do with them.
Nurgg woke up some time just before sunrise. Kaltuk sat cross-legged on the other side of the fire, which had burned low in the night, regarding him with curiosity.
“You didn’t wake me,” said Nurgg, sitting up slowly as the stiffness in his joints argued against moving.
“You seemed like a good sleep was in order,” said Kaltuk with a faint smile. “Aside from that, I feel oddly refreshed. Just how long was I out?”
Nurgg shook out his stiffness as he stood. “Long enough,” he said.
“Ah-hmm,” said Kaltuk. “Now, would you mind explaining just what happened? And why it was you cried out in the night? I’ve not been sharing sleeping space with you for too long, but it’s been long enough to know that’s not usual.”
Nurgg considered how to answer. “We escaped,” he said. “But the trolls did not.” He explained about their escape, and about the field of dead trolls, and the troll with the black eyes. Finally, he told of his encounter with the beast and of the skirmishes he did his best to avoid for the rest of their run. Kaltuk sat and took it all in with a surprising stillness. His brows were knit together tightly as he regarded his companion and the tale.
“I think it was fate I came here,” said the dwarf, when all that needed to be told had been said. “I think it’s fate we ran from that place when we did. Nurgg, I would be very surprised if you and I did not have some great destiny waiting for us, and if these beasts didn’t portent that Norrath has some very dire destiny coming for it.”
Nurgg considered his companion’s assessment before responding, “We should move.”
Kaltuk laughed, and Nurgg was surprised to find how pleasing the sound of it actually was. “My friend,” said Kaltuk, “you have proven thus far to possess a great deal of simple wisdom, but never have you uttered such wise words as those.”
~~~
Around them, the sun seemed to strengthen as the overhang of the swamp began to thin, allowing resilient shafts of light to penetrate and brighten their path. Every step they took away from Guk seemed to remove a stone that Nurgg had been shouldering for, he realized, quite some time. The sounds of life had begun to return by midday, and Nurgg had to reflect that he had never been so glad to swat a biting fly.
“So, do I remember correctly that you were heard to say you wanted to hear my song some day?” asked Kaltuk.
“Maybe,” grunted Nurgg. “Does that mean you have to be the one to sing it?”
“Ahh, there’s no backing out of it now, my friend!” said Kaltuk with a grin. Perhaps it was indeed time for a song. Nurgg shifted on his feet, and tipped his chin to Kaltuk in ascent. The dwarf seemed to spring a little as he launched into it. “They used to sing it in all the bars of Kaladim! Back when the Church of Ale was growing in faithfuls by the day, with yours truly at her head. And it went a little something like this…”

Why, let me tell you a story of a lad most dry!
Always stone cold sober, oh it makes me cry…
To think this lad didn’t know the joy!
Of a dark frothy ale… Let us pity that boy!

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Posted December 30, 2012 by Michael in mobile

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