The Way to Kumas (Part 3)

III.

     The breath of the travelers came heavy now. It felt as if they had been running for days, although the night sky had yet to lighten to dawn. Flanking Growgash, the two older men struggled to keep pace. Finally the one with beard turned to shout across to her.

“This jaunt is not for me!” The other looked across from the other side of the half-orc.

“Indeed, cousin, ‘taint for me, either. What say we make our stand here?” The one with the scar over his eye answered. Jaxom pushed them on with Growgash at the rear. She glanced back and saw their shadowy pursuer rise up upon the two men and over them. Then there were angry shouts. The darkness seemed to rush over the two only to leave them standing astonished, but unharmed. They turned back to glare furiously at their escaping comrades, soundless curses on their lips.

The half-orc turned to look ahead of them, and her eyes met the priest’s.

“If it catches us, we will be dead,” he said with certain fear in his eyes. “We make for the temple. Once there we will be…” And he continued on with redoubled speed, as if Hell itself were at his heals.

“We will be what, old man?!” but her scream was lost as all five dashed haphazard through the thick undergrowth. Beside her, she saw the young soldier go down, and leaping a broken tree, she scooped him up and flung him over her shoulder. “Stop struggling, little pig, or I’ll throw you to the wolves behind us.” And indeed, there were wolves behind them now. The half orc could hear the familiar snarling growls, but she dared not look back no matter what fantastical shape their pursuers took.

Ahead their salvation loomed in the form of a stone door built into the side of a small overgrown knoll. The priest and his boy stopped short, just long enough for the former to slice his thumbs and press them into the stone on opposite sides of the entrance. Then they were greeted with darkness ahead and from behind, but to Growgash, the entrance to the tomb was a bit less animated than their enemies. She regretted this thought with a last push into the stifling blackness. Safe but not safe.

With a thud, she dumped her load upon the warm stone floor and approached what looked to be the silhouette of Jaxom. The bag the priest carried glowed blue with just enough light to guide their way.

“What is this place?” the man asked their wards, his eyes flashing angrily in the dark. “And what of the others left behind?”

The apprentice boy turned to them, “Worry not of them. They were dead before, and are still now. Their shares are yours. If you live. If we live.” He turned to his master and the old man nodded.

“What do you mean? They looked alive enough back there,” Growgash heard herself say.

“Yes, the trick is to convince them they are alive.” With that, the boy and his master turned to move further into the tomb. “This is the place of our gods. We will not be safe here.” His young, high pitched voice echoed through the passage. Behind her, Growgash felt the hand of the young mercenary grope at her shoulder.

“Wh-Where we goin’?” his voice wavered.

“Forward,” the half orc turned to follow the others before the light could grow much dimmer.

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About romeomoon

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an Associates of Science and Art and a Bachelors of Science and Art. I'm the creative lead of the Lounge L33ts podcast, a regular guest on An Unearthly Podcast, write anime reviews and short stories, and create artwork in both digital and traditional media. I am a full time staffer for the Geek.Kon convention in Madison, WI. I am also an avid player of Massive Multiplayer Online Games and live stream various MMORPGs.
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