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Soul Stone - Part Three

Freddie Freeman
Old Vault Category: 
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"We follow him, by the six heads of my half-sister!" Kalamaar rumbled.

"Your family sounds quite... 'exotic', Kal." Ruien stated.

"Not quite as exotic as an elf impaled on a bloody stick, long-legs!" Kalamaar blurted in eager retort, "I've been listenin' to you elves for too long - I says we follow Arinar!"

"I... agree." Edele said, choking the words out.

"Good!" Kalamaar shouted, picking up the trio's empty supply pack, slinging it around his shoulder.

With that, Kalamaar, Edele, and Ruein followed Arinar's general direction.

They traveled at a steady pace through the dense undergrowth, Kalamaar clearing a way for the fragile elves. They came upon a free-flowing brook and drew water from it, refilling their skins. As the silent gray of the coming dawn came upon the threesome, Kalamaar decided it was time to rest.

"These old bones ain't what they used to be." Kalamaar puffed, sitting himself down on a moss-covered log, which was halfway engulfed by the stream.

"A rest would be most wise, brother." Edele stated, hiding the sweat beginning to appear above her brow.

"Very well. We shall take a brief of rest." Ruien replied.

Kalamaar got up off of his log and plunged his face into the cold brook, inhaling huge gulps like a horse. Edele and Ruien, disgusted, pulled water with their hands to their mouths, sipping the cool water.

"This water is refreshin', I says! I think I'll take a quick rinse-off!" Kalamaar exclaimed, removing his leather tunic to reveal his overly-hairy dwarven back.

"Kalamaar, now is not the time to bathe. We have to make good time to the cabin Arinar spoke of." Edele explained, but Kalamaar wasn't paying any attention.

The now naked dwarf tumbled down into the stream with a terrific splash. Edele, cringing, sighed and looked at her brother, whom merely shrugged. Kalamaar bathed merrily in the cold stream, singing off-tune an old dwarven folksong. The water, to the elves' relief, covered the dwarf up to his shoulders, though they wish they hadn't seen what they did when the dwarf walked ashore to pick up his clothing.

"Ah... by the stark-naked shamelessness of my second father! A more refreshing bath this dwarf has never taken!" Kalamaar merrily said, slipping on his pants.

"Ya'ra ma gnuaryai. Et rur ara?" Ruien started, "Et Kalamaar arayr."

"What's that about me? You say you want me to place Bravecleaver into your skull?" Kalamaar said, mostly to himself.

"Et Arinar. Yai ran... etear rann." Edele replied, further perplexing the dwarf.

Suddenly, Edele broke off from the conversation and turned her head to her side.

"What is it, sister?" Ruien asked.

Edele made no reply.

Ruien, glancing about feverishly, asked Edele once more what she was looking or listening at.

"Something ain't right 'round here.." Kalamaar said, quickly putting on the rest of his clothing.

Edele, turning to Ruien and Kalamaar, stated, as calm as ever, "Orcs."

Ruien focused in the direction his sister had been looking. He then realized that his sister was correct; he heard them as well.

"I suggest we depart." Ruien said.

"It'll be a cold day in the deep depths o' the Nine Hells before you'll catch Kalamaar Ironforge runnin' from an orc or two!" Kalamaar said, slipping Bravecleaver, his trusty double-bladed battleaxe, from its holster on his back into his hands. Spreading his legs, he eagerly looked in all directions, awaiting the enemy.

Birds flew from their nests in the beautiful trees about the trio, while fierce battle roars could be heard in the distance. Kalamaar tightened his grip on Bravecleaver, while Ruien and Edele began speaking in a language that wasn't Elven or Common.

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, the orcs appeared. It was a standard raiding and scouting party, about 20 or so orcs in all, including a handful of Trolls and Ogres.

"The Lightbearer protect us all." Kalamaar whispered through his wet beard, though his voice was lost upon the shouts and rumbling of the oncoming attackers.

The orcs spearheading the assault drew closer and closer to the threesome. They wore crude clothing and assorted pieces of armor, no doubt scavenged from numerous battle sites. Their faces were painted with dark shades of reds, blacks, and blues. Their limbs bore many tattoos, mostly of sharp rows of teeth. They wielded curved scimitars and wooden shields that bore the insignia of their clan on it. The insignia was a row of teeth, with the incisors being jet-black; the symbol of the Blacktooth Clan.

Before the attackers could reach the party, however, they were stopped cold. They seemed to be impeded by an invisible wall, only a foot or two away from the trio. As the orcs slammed into it, the invisible wall flashed a shade of light blue, revealing a dome structure encasing the group.

"By the fourth eye of my long-lost brother!" Kalamaar snorted.

He glanced back at Edele and Ruien. Edele was holding her hands upward; she trembled each time an orc slashed at the wall or slammed into it. Ruien was still speaking in some arcane language, drawing invisible symbols in the air with his slender hands.

The orcs slammed against the force field with their shields and scimitars, though Edele held fast. Eventually, a great battle cry was heard, soaring over those of the other orcs. The enemy force stood aside, allowing their leader to walk through.

He was twice as big as the other orcs; probably 12 feet tall. He wasn't pure orc, that was for certain. He wielded a huge, two-handed sword. He wore a horned helmet; bones and skulls were impaled on the sharp peaks of the horns as trophies. The chieftain's eyes were a ghastly yellow, with a tiny red orb in each. His overhung jaw's teeth were painted black.

Lifting his sword high into the air, he laid into the dome a ferocious hit with tremendous power; a fluctuation in the color of the shield revealed to the orcs that it was weakening. They cheered and ranted as their leader continued to hack at the dome.

"How much longer can that elf-hag hold?" Kalamaar asked, without turning to face the elves behind him.

The elves didn't answer.

The orc chieftan continually wailed on the dome. Some of the other orcs used each other as living battering rams.

Edele was beginning to shake violently. She held fast by sheer force of will, though she cried out in pain as each successive hit was landed upon her force field.

Kalamaar, looking at the dome's fluctuating color, knew that it was about to give out. He began to hum an ancient dwarven battle song as he rocked himself back and forth where he was standing, making sure his feet were firmly planted.

Eventually, Edele collapsed, along with the shield. At that moment, Ruein released what he had been storing up. He outstretched his hands, and a huge sphere of ice slammed into the heart of the attacking horde, spreading deadly icicles in all directions as it shattered. Six orcs and a troll were killed instantly, and three more fell afterward, impaled by freezing spikes.

"I'd say there were at least fifteen or so more to kill, elf. You just leave it to me." Kal stated.

"Dwarf - no! You fool!" Ruien shouted, but to no avail.

Kalamaar charged, axe raised high, into the horde.

He laid his axe into the chest of the orc leader, caught off-guard by the dwarf's sudden charge. Cleaving downward, the black innards of the chieftan were cleaved in two as Bravecleaver eagerly cut through flesh and bone with ease.

The orcs slashed at Kalamaar ferociously; however, the dwarf seemed immune to the pain. He was in a berserk fury; his mind was singularly focused on killing as many orcs as possible.

With a disturbing sound, such as a thin stick snapping in two, an orc head flew into the air. Kalamaar hewed off orcish arms and legs as one would prune a tree's limbs.

Kalamaar kept hacking. He was at one with Bravecleaver; the ancient double-bladed battleaxe gleamed an enraged shade of red as it tasted the orcs' black blood.

Kalamaar was bleeding from head to toe. Though he felt no pain, the injuries were taking their toll. His blood poured freely onto the ground where he stepped, and he was now staggering instead of charging. He kept on fighting, though. As the thought passed his mind that this could be his final battle, he brushed it away with thoughts of his two friends, Ruien and Edele, of whom he felt he had to protect.

A huge, two-headed ogre met Kalamaar head-on. He cut at the ogre's stomach, but its tough hide wouldn't give way. The ogre wielded a spiked club, which it swung back and forth at Kalamaar.

Before the ogre could hit Kalamaar with its raised club, one of its throats was pierced by a bolt. The ogre yanked it out, choking on its own blood. The target head went limp, blood pouring from its wound. The other head was stunned, having lost its link with the other. Another bolt pierced the remaining head's throat. Another flitted through its black heart, while many more filled his torso and legs. They burned and bit into his green flesh, and dripped with a green solution.

There were probably seven remaining after the ogre was felled, and Kalamaar was in no shape to continue fighting. He glanced back at the elves. Edele was lying on the ground, her eyes closed. Ruien, hands pointed towards the remaining orcs, began to flicker as bolts of electricity jumped from one hand to the next. Kalamaar knew enough about this elvish magic to get out of the way, and he did so just in time.

As the dwarf rolled to the side, a huge bolt of lightning leapt out from Ruien's outspread hands. It hit a single orc; it was roasted black by the time it stopped convulsing. The bolt split from the first orc and went to the next, killing it with terrible ferocity. The remaining orcs were engulfed in electric fury as well, leaving charred corpses behind.

"Dirty orcs," Kalamaar said, and then collapsed.

Ruien, leaving his exhausted sister lying upon the ground, ran over to the fallen dwarf.

"Kalamaar... you crazy dwarf." Ruien started, tears filling his eyes, "That was stupid... you could've gotten yourself killed..."

Kalamaar didn't answer. His leather tunic was torn to shreds, his back gouged in many places, and his chest filled with deep slashes. The wounds were dire; his blood poured onto the ground beneath him, staining what was left of his clothing. Bravecleaver laid at his side, resting with its fallen master.

"Edele!" Ruien yelled, "Come here!"

Edele staggered towards Ruien, barely able to stay on her feet, still worn out from creating the force field.

"What is it, brother?" Edele inquired.

"Kalamaar... he's barely hanging on to life!" Ruien started, placing two fingers upon the dwarf's bloody throat, "I can barely feel his lifebeat - can you do anything for him?"

"Ruien," Edele started, "magic is not capable of everything. This is beyond my power. We should get him to a healer. Poor thing; he shouldn't have done what he did."

"He did what he did to save us, Edele." Ruien explained.

Out of the trees above, a wood elf dropped from the trees high above, making not a sound as she landed. Her hands held a repeating crossbow, loaded with many bolts. Her belt was stocked with several vials of a liquids in varying colors; some were pearl white, others a fiery shade of orange, and still others were a deep crimson. More vials of different colors could be seen as well.

The she-elf was draped in a forest-green cloak, its hood drawn deeply over her head. Her hands were covered in thin leather gloves, her feet in thick hide boots.

"I am Erana. I hail from the wood elven city of Kalashar, deep within this forest. What are you doing here?" The elf demanded.

"We... we are on a mission to find an important item. We are of the Sylvan Wanderers." Ruien said.

"Mercenaries." Erana sighed.

"We were following a friend through your forest when we were attacked by orcs. We nearly lost our friend to them." Ruien explained, his tear-filled eyes glancing at the dwarf.

Erana eyed the unconscious dwarf. She walked over to him, leaving not a track in the ground beneath her. She crouched at Kalamaar's side, removing her gloves. Placing her fine hands on his muscular body, she looked upward and began whispering something, reverently.

A faint white light filled her hands. It grew in intensity; Ruien and Edele could feel her hands radiating an intense heat. The white light moved from her hands to Kalamaar's body.

As the white light washed over Kalamaar, his wounds closed. If anyone present could see past one's skin, they would notice Kalamaar's broken, shattered bones mending, returning to their proper places. With a bright flash, the dwarf opened his eyes, laying them upon Erana.

"If there's elves in the afterlife, send me straight to the Nine Hells." Kalamaar murmured, gasping for air.

Edele and Ruien couldn't hold back their wide smiles. Edele turned away, covering her mouth, while Ruien merely stared at Erana in disbelief.

"You are a cleric?" Ruien asked.

"I am a ranger, and thus I wield certain powers of nature; both destructive and benevolent." Erana explained, watching the dwarf come around.

"My people have heard reports of orcs spreading throughout this forest, recruiting Trolls and Ogres and breeding with them. I was sent to measure this threat, and destroy their leader, if possible."

"A single elf for such a monumental task?" Edele asked.

"I move with the speed and silence of the wind, my dear. A single bolt through their leader's heart would send them into anarchy." Erana said.

"Well," Ruien started, "it seems we have a common enemy. One of the orcish raiding parties stole the item we are searching for." Ruien said.

"Some sort of stone." Edele breathed, shaking her dizzied head, still recovering from her force field creation.

"Which is no doubt in possession of their high warlord." Eran started in a high whisper, "I would like to accompany you on your mission... this quest you have undertook. It seems we both seek the orcish leader; we should travel together."

"Three blasted elves and a single dwarf. Give me my axe, Ruien; allow me to end the suffering." Kalamaar moaned.

Ruien, ignoring Kalamaar, nodded at Edele in agreement.

"We would be pleased to have you." Edele began, "You should prove a valuable member of this group."

"She gets none of my share of the loot, blast it!" Kalamaar roared, trying to piece together his torn garments.

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