The last kobold hit the ground with a resounding thud.
For half a moment, Braum just stood there, his breath coming in short ragged gasps. His head was spinning and his fingers were numb. Despite this, he could easily feel the liquid collecting in extremities of his armor; the combined blood and sweat from the fight pooling and sloshing about in the metal gauntlet's fingertips and at the base of his boots.
Some of it was theirs. More of it was his.
With a crackle and sizzle of electricity, the eidolon settled next to him as Ember made his way down the stairs, stepping gingerly over the corpses.
"Well that was fun." the summoner commented.
Braum could do little more than scoff as he brought his hand to his chest, the palm growing a distinct golden hue. A warmth spread through his body as his god's divine blessing touched him and, while he would need actual rest to properly heal, he felt the blood from his wounds stop flowing as the flesh began to knit itself back together.
He let out a sigh as the burn of battle began to be replaced by a wash of relief.
"Yea." Braum agreed with a half-hearted nod before turning his attention upwards towards the orb. "But at least we found the o-"
The entire room shuddered with the force of a small earthquake.
"-rb." he finished and quickly added. "What was that?"
Another shake and shudder, the echoing explosion could be felt in their bones and Braum could actually see the shockwave run through the walls; sending dust and bits of loose debris skittering about.
Ember's eyes narrowed and Braum, his body still burning from the battle moments before, wearily lifted his hammer again, ready for a fight.
Unfortunately, they weren't ready for what came.
A jet of flame, blazing blue with tinges of red and orange, exploded through the wall on the far end of the room. The solid stone didn't fragment as much as it did turn instantly to molten rock and splatter like liquid wax from the sheer force and heat of the blast.
Half a second later, what wall hadn't been liquefied by the flames collapsed as the head and neck of dragon came crashing through. The beast was larger than any creature Braum had even dreamed about; a mountain turned monster. It's bright red scales shone brilliantly in the firelight and the gargantuan creature, quite literally large enough that it could likely use the entirety of Wyrmshorde as a nest, was quickly followed by a bolt of lightning that struck it across its face from somewhere beyond the wall's precipice.
"GRAB THE ORB AND RUN YOU FOOLS!" the magically enhanced voice reverberated off the walls, echoing from the room the beast had just broken through from.
While the speaker was unseen, both men knew instantly who it was. It was the priest of Bahumut. They very man who had sent them on the quest.
And so they ran.
Sparing an extra few seconds to climb the small pillar in the center of the room, Braum snatched the orb and tucked it away in his bag before sprinting for all he was worth. In that time, several more blasts of flame had turned the walls, ceiling, and a number of nearby treasure piles to boiling slag and at least a dozen bolts of lightning had ricocheted off the beasts glittering hide.
"Just remember the old Elvish proverb!" Ember called back as they barreled up the stairs and away from the chaos. "One does not need to outrun the dragon. They just need to outrun the dwarf!"
Braum could do little more than growl as the summoner laughed at him. The taller, lither man quickly picked up speed but, to his credit, used the headway to open the magical armoire at the far end of the hall instead of simply leaving him behind.
With Ember at the front, Braum behind, and the mage's Eidolon taking up the rear, they quickly navigated the twisting stone tunnels and didn't stop running until they were a half mile out the cave's entrance and down the road.
Once there, they both collapsed in exhaustion; their faces and bodies drenched in sweat as they openly wheezed.
"Th-That was..." Ember started.
"And the priest..."
Nothing else needed to be said. The two sat there for a minute, trying desperately to catch their breath while watching hesitantly up the mountain road at the cave's entrance. Nothing followed them out, although Braum doubted that such a beast as they'd seen would use the cave. Based on its sheer size, it very well might take the mountain with it if it decided to pursue them.
Weakly, he stood up.
"Let's get back to town." Ember said, his words barely a whisper through his hoarse throat. "I'm not sure what we're supposed to do with this damned orb if our payday is in their with a dragon, but I'd rather not wait around here."
"Agreed." Braum said with a nod.
And so, after another minute of collecting themselves, the pair began their trek back down the mountain. He noted that the necromancer seemed to be missing but thought little of it at the time. There were other things on his mind.
Braum was thinking about the glowing orb in his pocket. He was thinking about how strangely heavy it was and how it felt in his palm, a slight sensation of energy tingling through his nerves at every slight touch.
He was also wondering. He was wondering what he was supposed to do with this thing now that they had acquired it and whether the priest, who very likely saved their life, would be able to collect it from him.
What he was not doing was thinking about the future.
He wasn't thinking about some sociopathic mage with a love of dead bodies. He wasn't thinking about the implications that such a man, with an entire troop of dead goblins, was no where to be seen. As he was not a fortune teller, he wasn't thinking about how this one act, this one little quest they had just performed, would change the world forever. And finally, he certainly was not thinking, wondering, or really had any way of knowing that this orb and its quest would not only lead to his death, but his rebirth, and how the wheels that were now turning would strip him of his title in the eyes of his god and his position as a paladin.
Instead, his mind was on the orb and no where else.
(Hello Lovelies. I hope you enjoyed 'The Dragon's Maw'. While I'm going to be stopping here for a little bit, worry not, Braum will be returning later. More of his story exists and hopefully the ending gives you a hint at some of what is to come. For now though, I'm going to be returning to Little Island Tales as well as a few other new pieces. Some of them will be a return to the classics and heavily horror oriented while a few others will be attempts at branching out my talents. Check in soon for more and I hope you have a wonderful day.)