Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Dragon's Maw (Final) - The Chronicle's of Braum Stormforge

    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..."
    "Don't know."
    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.)

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Dragon's Maw (Part 7) - Chronicles of Braum Stormforge

Artist Unknown - If Identified, please let me know -

    The sound of the kobold being crushed under the weight of Magna was sickening. Worse yet, it came down cleanly on top of his head and split it like an overripe melon, spraying its contents across Braum and the other kobolds. In a heartbeat, the creature was snuffed out of existence only to be replaced by two more of the little dragon-kin, their blades flashing and searching for purchase beneath his steel hide.
    Fortunately, he didn't have the time to think about the implications.
    With his shield in his left hand, he knocked away a spear that was aimed for the slot in his helmet, bashing the beast backwards. A half moment later, a sword came from his right, seeking to cut out his knees from below him. That monster met the still gooey head of his hammer and was sent sprawling, its ribs shattering beneath the blow.
    But for each one blown away, more seemed to seethe from all around.
    And for each one that appeared, a blow landed on his armor. A blade slipped beneath a plate. A wound was cut into his flesh. And he fell back, bellowing in rage as much as pain.
    "ANYTIME NOW!" Braum roared and spared a half second to glance back at the summoner at the top of the stairs.
    None of the kobolds had been able to surge past him. Those few that had were brought down with utmost ferocity and their broken bodies now littered the way, blocking others from making the journey easily.
    But they still needed more time.
    The eidolon could clearly be seen in the runic circle now. The summoner's eyes were open but where irises would normally have been, Braum could make out nothing but a hollow, iridescent glow.
    And so he fought on.
    One kobold was kicked square in the chest only to be trampled by its compatriots.
    Another was sent sprawling by a well place shield blow.
    He had just taken out several of the little blighters in a great swing of his hammer when two things happened. First, he felt the bite of pain and the warm outpouring of blood as a spear slipped into a crack in his armor. The hard ridge of the blade bit into his flesh and rested just between two of his ribs, lighting his chest ablaze with pain and causing him to let out another bellowing roar.
    Second, a group of kobolds uncovered a very functional, very deadly-looking ballista some hundred yards away.
    For half a moment, Braum just stared. Through the haze of the pain and the shock of the massive bow-and-arrow like machine, he felt himself just go numb. Had it not been for his steel, he likely would have been killed in that moment of surprise.
    It was only when the ballista started being aimed towards Ember, the still unfinished summoner, that he was brought to his senses.
    "HEY!" he bellowed, trying to get their attention.
    But they weren't looking at him. They were getting ready to fire.
    And he had to do something.
    Using his considerable bulk and his massive tower shield, Braum plowed through the kobolds that were still in front of him. He moved through them like a bulldozer and ran as hard and fast as he could. He still had one problem...they were too far away and he had no ranged weapons.
    Think, Braum, Think. I just need a moment. Just need...
    He laughed out loud as the idea hit him.
    While he might have simply used some of the debris lying around him, Braum didn't want to slow down and possibly be caught by the horde that was now following on his heels. Instead, he quickly sheathed his hammer and reach back into his bag.
    A moment later, in a single, seamless motion, Braum drew out the cast iron pot that he'd taken from the priest's room and threw it for all he was worth.
    The great, black cauldron soared with an elegance and grace that no cookware should ever really see, particularly when thrown at another person. It struck true. The lead kobold, a little monster slightly larger and more scarred than the others who was just settling in at the controls of the war-weapon, didn't even see it coming. The pot hit dead on, slammed him to the ground, and lodged itself to the little dragon-kin's head with a resounding KLONG!
    It struggled and screeched and clawed at the pot, trying desperately to get it off, but by the time he and three others had managed to pry it from his crooked skull, it was already too late.
    A wall of steel and blood and fury descended upon them, hammer first, bellowing in a rage that even the Dwarf had not known up to this point.
    He roared and screamed and swung his weapons, decimating everything in front of him. While many still fought on, some began to back away in fear of the ferocious display that Braum was putting on. Bodies were broken, the ballista was crushed, and, just as more of them decided to back away in favor of their lives, a new threat emerged.
    It started low; a soft grumbling that quickly built up to a rushing boom. But half a moment later, the entire far end of the room lit up with arcs and bolts of blue and white electricity that shot this way and that, shattering stone and violently tearing a crater out of the platform where the now complete eidolon hovered; its deep blue eyes narrowed and sparking with energy.
    With Braum in front and the Eidolon behind, the kobolds turned tail and began to run, but it was already too late. The sound of lightning and thunder from the magical beast coupled with Braum's screams of defiance and rage drowned out their cries; the only thing louder being the sound of Ember's laughter as he watched the destruction from his perch above the stairs.


(Alright, so I misjudged the length of Part 7. There's only one more entry into Dragon's Maw before we switch back to a few other pieces. Promise. ;P )