Thursday, 16 June 2016

Brunhilde and the Beast (and Barry)

In the guttering torchlight, Barry regarded his employer as she waved her hands over tomb entrance. The Sisterhood had taught her well, he mused, as the heavy slab cracked noisily into pieces before crumbling into nothing.

“Come,” she barked. “Ready your crossbow. Lord Shrieve has been dead for centuries, but who knows what else dwells down here.”

Barry fumbled for his weapon as the Mistress strode through the dark maw. She was a Human, and a battle-nun to boot, whilst he was a Dwarf hireling of many decades experience; but even so he couldn’t help feeling a stirring of… something… Maybe it was the way her nostrils flared before she dispatched her foes or how parts of her swelled when she tightened her leather bodice and… He shook his head; thinking such things would not be appropriate.

A short flight of steps later and they were in the main chamber. Oversized beetles scuttled away as Brunhilde’s torch illuminated nooks and crannies that not seen light for aeons.

“There – there is the tomb.”

Heedless of the cobwebs that brushed her impressive frame, she moved forward.

“Mistress wait-!”

But alas it was too late.

The thin wire strung across the floor barely caught the light, but it was enough for Barry to make out in the gloom. Brunhilde, headstrong as she was, did not even register it before it snapped with a ‘twang’.
With a pained screech the stone trapdoor beneath her fell open, sending her down into the depths below.

Things chittered and skittered as Brunhilde screamed.

“Mistress!” Barry started for the hole, feeling for his backpack and the rope therein, but stopped dead as somewhere behind him, something chuckled.

He froze. “Lord Shrieve I presume?”

“The very same…” replied a deep aristocratic voice.

Barry turned to face the thing that was once Lord Shrieve as it stepped out of the shadows. Slowly and deliberately he reached into his pouch for a crossbow bolt.

“Maybe you’ll be quick enough to reach me before I can get off a shot,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady. “Although I’ll wager you’ve been down here for some time and that your joints are a little stiff…”

“Perhaps…” came the reply.

“Well then maybe-“

Suddenly the pale ragged form was before him, fangs grinning and crazed milk-white eyes boring into his.

“Or maybe not…”

The vampire snatched the crossbow from his unresisting hands and tossed it aside. “You know I usually find Dwarf blood a little too gamey. But I am so very hungry…”

“I-indeed.” Barry stammered. “Tell me, are have you ever heard of ‘g’sditch’? It’s a Dwarfish word – there’s no direct translation into common tongue, but it generally means ‘to deny one’s enemy simply out of spite’.”

Lord Shrieve frowned. “And I need to know this why exactly?”

“Because I dedicate what I am about to do to Goglik, Dwarf god of g’sditch. Good-day.”

He shoved the vampire back and, raising an imaginary hat, stepped backwards into the hole.

“You’ll have to fight the vermin for me you bastard!” may not be the finest last words ever uttered, but for the Dwarf gods they may just be enough to ensure a warrior's entry into the Great Halls of Feasting.

Three minis I bought second-hand. The dwarf and vampire are Reaper, but I have no idea where Brunhilde (who came ready-painted and just needed a little rework) comes from.

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