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         Gorkan's          brother: A Prophecy Rises                    Every Time You Lead
Chapter 12

Every Time You Lead




Once again Darcey stands in front of the council, this time though, she's asking why they're not doing more to find her girls. Dargus told her that it would make it all the more believable.

"First me boy takes off on some grand adventure an now me be losin' me girls too?! An what are yeh doin' about it? nothin'!"

"Now I's know dat yeh'v had it bad but I's also heard dat yeh challenged da king himself, an yer bein' watched-"

"Yeah an they be blowin' up me friends houses an stores te git back at me. Yeh sayin' now they be takin me girls too?!"

"I's afraid this king don'na git mad, he gits ahead." Lars told her "So I's afraid yeh may never see yer girls again if he's gotten te 'em. Let's jest be hopin' he aint gotten te them an dat they be safe somewheres."

"so dat's it then yeh's jest gonna give up on me an me girls all because I's rescued a bunch o' dwarves! I still consider dat a rescue, NOT a challenge by da way!" Her fists clenched tight with rage, knowing that if her girls WERE missing that this is how they would react to it. She forced her tears because she knew that for now, as far as she knew, they were safe, but that could change at any moment.

"I's know how yeh be feelin' Darcey, I's really do-"

"Oh yeh do do's yeh? Yeh got's three little girls an a boy? Of which all o' them be missin'?" She interrupts. "Yeh thinkin' yeh know how I's be feelin', Yeh don't know a durned thing!" She yells in anger.

"Dat be quite enough Darcey!" Lars said standing up. Darcey knew that she had pissed him off severely; he's never stood before in all their confrontations. Yes, this time she got under his skin good.

"Me boy is still away wit yers, an he be bein' me only child. I's don'na know what I's would do if'n I's lost him, an it all be yer boy's fault, yer family jest keeps on dishonorin' itself time after time Darcey! Now I's been bein' patient wit yeh fer a long time, because I's like yeh's an I do believe, at least yeh bein' honest an honorable. So yeh's gonna have te keep te yerself fer a while an don'na make me have te banish yer entire family, yeh hear me? Keep hopin' an we's keep lookin. Yeh have me word Darcey, but if'n I's were yeh, I'd make meself extremely scarce. Don'na go stirin' up da pot no more. Jest be lookin' fer yer girls an be takin' care o' yer husband." Lars looked to the other council members and nodded. "Fer now at least I's be stayin' away from commander Dargus as well, somethin' be tellin' me he be gittin' hisself into some trouble soon. Go be wit yer husband Darcey. Now go home, we'll keep lookin'." With that being said, Lars led the other council members out of the council chambers, a sight she had gotten used to when she spoke to them. She turned and walked away and headed straight home.



***




"So this ring does what?" Snaznock asked.

"It gives me the ability to throw fire, yes, yes throwing fire is good. It can hurt those blasted Harpies. Yes, yes, I need that ring, it's mine, IT'S MINE!"

"An tell's us again why yeh can'no git it yerself." Mortog asked.

"There is something in my way, I can't stop it, no, no, you see, it's too strong for me, and fire could stop those Harpies from coming to get me." He explained.

"An what is this thing dat yeh can'no git through, an why yeh be thinkin' dat we's can do it when yeh can'no."

"You are the chosen ones and if you are to get that artifact than this little distraction won't be able to stop you, no, no you are the chosen ones yes." Bob told them with all reason waving his hands in different directions finally coming to rest on his cheeks. "And besides your better at combat than I am, I'm just a simple cleric, yes, yes only a cleric. I can only do good spells, or spells that destroys evil and undead things; and that thing in there is not undead it is fully alive, yes, yes, alive, yes. My spells do nothing to allow me to get the ring on my own." Mortog looks at his team and Snaznock's and just stared, heavy in thought.

"This be all up teh yeh Mortog, these are now yer soldiers, an me's team fer goin' wit yeh on this small little quest."
Snaznock told him. Graggum sat across the table eating his breakfast and looking ready to fight something.
"Alright, I's don'na expect yeh te be on da sidelines when we be fightin' this thing, yeh be dare te help us out wit distraction spells an healin' when we be needin' it."

"No,no,no,no. I will be right here, my presence could entice this thing into attacking me alone, it doesn't like me for some reason." Bob said under his breath, but not enough so that Mortog couldn't hear him.

"I's beginnin' te not trust yeh Bob. Why should we be helpin yeh? An what did yeh do to this thing te be pissin' it off?"

"Oh not much I just tried to kill it when I was trying to retrieve the ring."

"Yep, dat would do it." Jackel said grabbing his bow. "I's say we jest go git da durned thing." He finished by heading to the other side of the room, to the tunnel that would lead them to the cavern that held the ring.



"Da ring must be's in dat pile of loot on da other side o' this pool." Jackel says.

"Looks too invitin'. There must be a catch or somethin' dat guards this little pool." Mortog said. "Almost lookin' like it bein' a trap."

The cavern was large with stalagmites and stalactites hanging from the ceiling. The pool at one end of the cavern had several stalagmites rising up above the water.

"Where dat light dat be shimmerin' off da water be commin' from? It be nice fer seein' around us, but where it be comin' from?" Scanning the area he noticed a large cavern to the left of the pool. "An I's don't be smellin' anythin' funny either. Must be fresh water."

Mortog sets his battle pack on the floor of the cave and gets his book out. "I's not fer knowin' fer sure, but me thinks this be da freshwater pool." Mortog says turning the map upside down and all around. "Ryuul, come here dear. Can yeh tell what any o' this means, maybe dare be somethin' yeh can see dat I's be missin'."

She looks at the map and backs away in fear.

"What? What be wrong? It be dat bad? Bah! We can handle it whatever it be bein'." Mortog exclaimed. But he looked back at Ryuul and she was shaking her head in total disagreement. "Well, spit it out, what we be up against?"

He had never heard or seen her pale before and when she spoke he couldn't hear her.

"A Waylorn Dragon." She said almost backing out of the cave entrance.

"A what? I's be knowin' Yer scared but we's gotta know what we be up against hun." Mortog noticing her panic, tried to sound as comforting as possible.

"A waylorn Dragon." She said a little louder.

"What be this 'Waylorn' Dragon?"

She backed completely out of the cave, she was now in the dark, cloaking herself completely.

"I's jest be guessin', but I take it we be down a team member?" Mortog said kind of chuckling and a little worried as to why she was so fearful of this "Waylorn Dragon."

"It be a class o' Dragon, Mortog." Jackel explained somberly and quietly, Mortog noticed. "These Dragons eat elves fer breakfast. One of these cleared out a whole kingdom about fifty years ago. It was a Waylorn Dragon dat did it. He ate almost every elf he be seein', only a few escaped wit their lives. It be said they be very crafty, cunnin' an intelligent, much more so than other dragons; except they hate elves. Dare almost like a whole separate species of Dragon, an they all hate elves fer some strange reason. They can usually fly, though me thinks this one climbs; but they all have smaller powers and look completely different from normal dragons. They also be like regular Dragons in da sense dat they all still love treasure, but elf skulls are dare biggest weakness, I's be guessin' if'n we had an elf skull, we's could jest barter fer da ring. Dat be why Bob couldn't git te da ring. He doesn't have an elf skull. Dat is also why I's thinkin' we shouldn't be sendin' her back te babysit Bob right now, he might'n jest take a likin' to her skull an try an take her head, but we's has gots te keep her outta sight, agreed?"

"Agreed." Mortog replied. "Somebody go an find her an be tellin' her dat. Jest be tellin' her to stay outta sight."

"If'n we git into a scuffle wit this Waylorn Dragon bring it over here if'n yeh can." He said pointing to the dry part of the cavern next to the pool. Graggum an Branthony yeh'll try's te flank 'em from each side, most likely I be on dat side." He said pointing to the far side, away from the entrance to the cavern.

"That will never work," Came this small girlish sounding little voice. It seemed to come from everywhere, bouncing off the cavern walls. "She can see and hear ya now ya know. She knows your plan." The mysterious voice said. "It will never work."

"Who is dat? An how do yeh know?" Mortog replied.

"I am Corazon and because she's watching you right now. . . the little elf too."

Mortog looks back, he doesn't see her but knows she's back there. 'I's sure hope she can stay safe through all o' this.'
"Yes she will be safe until you are all dead, then she will have her way with her. Yes. I can read your mind, I can read all of your minds."

They watch as a glowing little sprite about two feet tall flies out from behind a rock causing it to go dark behind it.
"I am way too quick for you to cut me in half Branthony, but nice thought, as if I have never heard that one before, do ya know how many bones of the fallen warriors lay beneath her wings from all those who thought the same thing as you. She will enjoy adding your skull to the rest of her collection." The little sprite said sailing around in circles spreading dark purple sprinkles as she flaps her wings.

"What is it that you want?" The voice now seemed more demanding and much harsher in tone.

"We,ve come fer a certain ring an we don'na want no trouble, we'd like to git it an leave peacefully if dat be possible." Mortog said to try and reason with the sprite.

He knew right away that this sprite with glowing wings could be the cause of the problems but also the voice of reason. 'If'n it's master can hear me's then maybe he'll let us jest have it an leave, after all it's jest a ring.'

"Well, SHE want's to know what you have to trade for it. Remember I can read your minds and it's a SHE not a he, Mortog!" The sprite said going back to its original childlike voice.

"Can we take a few minutes te go back te our packs an git some things te trade wit? Mortog asked.

"One of you may go and retrieve one special and rare item to offer up for trade." The sprite told them. "But remember, you only have one chance to trade with her, so choose wisely."

"Ask Bob fer anythin' dat he might have fer trade fer da ring. Tell him we don't have a lot of time, so hurry." Mortog asked of Snaznock.

"Right." Snaznock told him and turned down the corridor towards the lair pushing past a terrified Ryuul.
Mortog went back to his guys at the opening to the cavern.

"What yeh be thinkin'? We's be able te barter wit this thing?" Mortog asked making sure they all whispered.

"Not as long as we has us an elf wit us, an she knows it. We will be forced te fight her, da question is, will we have te fight both o' them at once?" Jackel asked leaning against his magical bow. "Sprites can be very powerful in magic an they be tricksters as well, She may jest be goadin' us into bringin' more stuff to her so dat in da end, when she wins," Jackel scoffs. "She can have another good magical piece fer her collection."

"well, we's can'no let dat happen can we." Mortog looks at Jackel then turns back to the group.

"I can still hear you." The childlike voice taunted.

"Halgic? What yeh be?"

"me's a battlemage."

"I like yeh already." Mortog said. "What can yeh do fer us?"

"Well, I's bein' able te summon things te fight wit yeh, an I bein' a high level mage too. An I's got all kinds o' weaponized spells at da ready. They all be tattooed on me body already, it seems I's didn't needs 'em cause yeh guys took care o' all da monsters ahead o' us so I's still gots all me spells at da ready."

"Good. Yeh can take care o' what I can'no." Mortog stated. "Tranvock, yeh ready wit dat giant sword o' yers?"

"I's can handle whatever comes me way."

"Graggum? Nevermind yer always ready te fight somethin'." Mortog said sarcasticlly. "Ryuul, hun, yeh stay outta site but if yeh be seein' a way te help us an stay safe I's want yeh te do it. Okay?" He couldn't see her but he knew she was shaking her head in agreement. 'I jest hopin she knows enough te keep herself safe, I'd hate te lose her now.' As he thought this he remembered how Telis had betrayed him and felt as if this rogue elf would never betray him, she came here to save him so why betray him?

'She's an elf, she will always betray you!' a little girlish voice told him inside his head. He just put her out of his mind. He knew Corazon was just trying to get under his skin, trouble was, he had just had one woman betray him, would this one do the same?

As he finished planning Snaznock returned with a shiny golden mage's staff with a bright gem on top surrounded by diamonds. Down the length of the shaft held runes of some kind, but that was irrelevant at this point, it was just a bartering tool right now. The golden piece certainly looked majestic and it was heavy enough to be real gold, Ryuul gasped at the sight of it. Now they would see if it was enough.


***



Beltron has faced off with other warlocks before and knows how to handle himself. He wasn't completely sure it was a warlock, but with the way the Evil Queen, Darla, was, he didn't doubt she would send someone to replace him regardless of whether he found the artifact or not.

A sticky spiderweb formed out of thin air all around him limiting his movements and rendered him incapable of making movements to cast spells. 'He's only got his innate abilities now. He'll be fine.' Jadus watched from afar as fire engulfed the webbing ceasing to hold him any longer.

Beltron extends his arm out and says a few words to himself and a wave of heat flashes forward setting every little twig or leaf ablaze until a form is seen at the top of the rise, then. . .Nothing. On the rise stood nothing, Beltron made it rain fire in that area and then ice as quickly as he could. The fire spider off to the side was almost completely dead until it became twice its size and began maneuvering its way over to Jadus. The ethereal big cat right next to it now doing almost no damage but the spider was still mortally wounded, the wounds growing in proportion to the spider. It was the only spider left but had to go down fast. Jadus had to think quickly as she had to dodge fireballs from the spider headed straight for her. 'This warlock's not fucking around! Gotta kill this thing quick! I hope he's having some luck against that warlock.'

The ground beneath Jadus's feet grew slick, almost too slick. She couldn't stand, she was sliding around whichever way her momentum took her, but luckily it affected the spider the same way. It came crashing down into the slick rocky floor when all of a sudden it froze almost solid and slid straight towards Jadus who was now resting against a wall. All she could hope to do now was get out of the way. Jumping up would be impossible because she couldn't jump in this slick goo. She tried to move sideways. At the last second all she could do was put her foot out to try to deflect the spider away from her. Her foot broke through the outer skin of the spider and she pulled her foot out as fast as she could. The spider, being almost frozen solid took a few seconds after her foot when into it, to start bleeding its lava blood. she was able to pull herself to safety by latching onto some bricks sticking out of the wall and pulling free of the blood. The spider twisted and convulsed and eventually stopped moving all together, burning in its own blood.

A cloud began to form over Beltron; it began Hailing within that cloud and the webbing appeared around him once more. The hail began bouncing off of him pelting him continuously until Beltron was on the ground. The spell only lasted a few seconds after he was put down. He lay there for a few more seconds before standing up and Jadus saw one of his tattoos light up then a creature was born. At the same time another creature was put into play. 'Whoever this is has similar powers, I need to think outside the box.' Beltron thought. With that thought he waved his arms around and said a few words and set his own creature on fire which in turn set the other creature on fire as well while they battled with each other. With a few more movements of his hands he had a large fiery rock storm reign down on his opponents head. Beltron looked back to see that Jadus was safe.

Beltron had already turned back around to face his invisible assailant when he no longer detected any magic from that area, from anywhere for that matter. 'And here I was just beginning to have fun.'

Jadus, not being stuck by slick stuff anymore, the spell obviously wearing off, Came up to Beltron and looked him up and down.

"What made you think to turn this spider into ice now, and not when we were fighting them then?" Jadus sarcastically remarked.

"I had only one of those spells left on my body, and had to use it at the right time and that seemed as good a time as any."

"Well, thanks, but we need to find one of those old armories and see if they have any quality weapons left. These are only Dwarven weapons after all, nothing like my -Elvish ones."

"Elvish ones," Beltron said at the same time as Jadus. "They're the best in the world. I know!" Beltron belted back rolling his eyes.


***



Phaebeus got what he wanted. He found out how Beltron fights his battles and how strong he's become. Now he can put his plan into place. 'Now, maybe I can find those foolish kids.' He travels back to camp to get his things so that he can follow Beltron down whatever path he follows. He will wait until Beltron and his friend camp for the night, only then will he scry the kids and send the wisps. For now, he'll just find out more about Beltron and toy with him a bit. 'I bet he's wondering who I am, oh won't he be surprised!'


***



"Thrazzulin want's te talk te yeh about somethin' te do wit yer plan, somethin' important, but she can'no meet yeh in public an she can'no meet yeh at da homestead; so she's sendin' Grofelda to yer house te make contact wit yeh as da mail lady. If'n yeh can'no make arrangements te meet, then yeh'll have te talk at yer place wit Grofelda." Dargus said knowing that they couldn't see each other for a while because the kids would be in danger as well as him. "Which be where yeh'll hafta meet me thinks, unless yeh can somehow meet at The Cherub or some other establishment. An I's know we can'no be seein each other fer a while, maybe it's fer da best, yer husband had dat scare wit dat explodin' cave-in at da mines jest da other day.

"But I's wants te be wit yeh, B.C. Dargus."

"Now yeh stop dat yeh hear, only me students need te be addressin' me as battle commander Dargus, yeh can still jest call me Dargus." She knew it got under his skin when she called him that.

"But yer always gonna be my battle commander. Oh me gods, dat sounded so corny, I. . . Gots te go, I's sorry." She told him giggling while she walked away.

"Jest promise me yeh'll lay low?"

"Ok love, I be layin' as low as I can fer now."


***



The staff's weight surprised Mortog as he took it from Snaznock. It was much heavier than he first thought. Ryuul gasped aloud when she saw it, but now was not the time to ask questions of his crew, they needed that ring, after that they could have anything down here they wanted, that's what Bob said, just don't take ALL the gold.

He held on to the heavy staff and held it out to Corazon and she grabbed it with ease. "Ah yes, this piece of garbage, Bob has been trying to pawn this off on me as a real artifact since he got here. He will never get the ring until he has what were looking for, and this isn't it. I'm sorry." She takes the mage's staff over to the treasure pile and sets it down. "I will give it back if you all surrender before she kills you. But it has to be just before she kills you. And you all have to surrender at once. But enough with the chit-chat she is now here to kill you. Get ready to die."

"Wit whom do we be fightin'?" Mortog asks.

"Why, me of course!"

The lights go out and they feel a rush of wind and then nothing.

"Got a light anybody?" Mortog cries.

As if in answer, a light appeared above the creature glowing like daylight in the cavern.

They can see a shimmering metallic red bat-like creature hanging from where the ceiling meets the wall at the pool end of the cavern. It smelled like rotten eggs, something Mortog had grown to hate. It had bone white fur on its face and some of the wings. Tiny little claws at the end of its colorful glistening wings hung onto the ceiling like stalactites that were just as blackened as its maw.

Jackel shot a couple of arrows towards its face and it turned its head sending the arrows bouncing right off with a burst of fire and into the pool below it with a splash.

"Da claws!" Mortog yelled to Jackel and he understood, but so did she. Before every explosion Corazon would simply move away from the arrows.

The light went out and Mortog knew that Cleary only had so many spells he could cast before he was out of energy and out of spells. Cleary was doing this all on his own.

"Da light blinds him!" Mortog exclaimed.

"Her! Damit! Her!" Corazon yelled in protest.

"Sorry Corazon, my mistake we will call yeh her from now on." A smart-assed Mortog told her, just as she let loose a sonic blast from her maw. The instant Mortog heard the air sucking in he jumped to his left, towards the treasure. He was able to get away from most of the blast from the creature, but his feet were somewhat caught in the sonic part of the blast. Yeah, it hurt. His armor was torn off and his feet throbbed as he screamed in pain.

"Don't git hit! It's a sonic blast!" Mortog yelled to his friends out of breath and nursing a sore foot.

"Get away from my stash!" Corazon screeches.

"Keep throwin' arrows to his claws te git him where we want him Jackel!" Tranvock yelled and got into position to slice the beasts belly open when it came down on him. Jackels arrows only offered a glimps of light for the crew to see where this creature was.

"Light!" Tranvock yells.

As soon as the light shone, Graggum lunged at what was presumably the dragon's throat seeing as how bats don't have throats as such, he seemed to slice open its jaw with his giant Axe. Blood poured out into the crystal clear water of the pool and seemed to sink to the bottom. Corazon used one of her powerful wings to bat Graggum into the side of the wall knocking him unconscious. The light went out again and they could all hear the beast moving around in the water somewhere but couldn't see where.

Mortog had a feeling that Ryuul was helping because the light came on again a few seconds later. A half a minute later lightning rained down in the cavern but it struck everywhere and only hit Corazon once causing her to scream out in pain.

"Keep usin' lightnin'! It seems to dislike lightnin'!" Mortog yelled.

"I told you I am a she!" She cried out. "And I LOVE lightning it charges me up!"

"Haa haa!" Mortog laughed at her ironically.

She charged at Mortog who was standing directly in front of her treasure. He picked up a shield to block her next attack She pinned him to the floor with one of her large claws with only the shield between them. She bowed her head toward his face. He could smelly her Sulfuric breath as it grazed his cheeks. She almost appeared to smile as Mortog tried to wiggle his shield between his face and hers. He just managed to get under the shield before he heard the sucking in of the air around him once more. 'I hope this thing is magical.' Mortog thought as she let out a sonic blast that rattled the shield violently, but kept him in tact.

Mortog couldn't get to his axe so he had to reach around on the floor to find something to stab her in the face with, since it was so close to him. He grabbed the handle of something he couldn't see because the weight of the dragon's claw and the shield blocked his view.

"Put that down you slimy little dwarf before I eat you whole after blasting you to bits!"

'Sorry hun, yeh've lost already when yeh messed wit me yeh old bat!'

'I'm not that old ya young dwarf, it's so sad that you will never get to be my age for this is where I kill you.' She said to his mind.

With the light still illuminating the cavern Branthony ran forth to the water and lunged from the edge of the pool with one foot and his swords pointed out. He plunged his swords deep into the beast's side causing it to writhe in pain releasing its focus from Mortog to Branthony. It finally jumped to the other side of the cavern. Corazon had come from the south wall where she cocooned Graggum to the north wall.

'Great!' Mortog sarcastically thought. 'Now we havin' te be freein' him when we be done here, an now we even be down a fighter.' Refering to Graggum. Mortog really hoped that no one would be dumb enough to set off another lightning spell with branthony still attached to her sides while holding onto his metal swords. He looked around and found his axe and prepared to do battle once more.

Branthony was still riding the bat dragon as she tried to get him off of her. He wasn't letting go of his swords at any cost, B.C. Dargus had taught us all that, never, ever, lose your weapon. He was riding that dragon like a pro giving Mortog the opportunity to run over and slash at the creature's head. He left only a bloody trail where he sliced into the thing, but it was just another wound that would ultimately lead to her demise.

Branthony was finally flung into the wall with one of his swords in his hands, but he was exhausted. Mortog knew they didn't have much more time before they all became exhausted, and it didn't help that the light kept going out as it just had.
"I's be seein' where she be headed an I's be right dare te slice open her belly!" Tranvock yells.

"Stay back!" Mortog screams. "Don't be a hero! Yeh can't be certain, yeh can't see her!" But it was too late. Light had already shined and Tranvock could clearly see where the beast was going and was positioned square in the middle of it all. Inevitably, the sucking of air sound came in the second the light was born. Snaznock tried his hardest to get Tranvock out of the way by trying to tackle him, but the sonic wave that followed reverberated in both of their armors acting as a sound resonator making the vibrations even worse; she couldn't have asked for a better package. They were thrown into the far wall of the cave. All they could hear was the horrified, painful screams of the two dwarves that echoed through the halls and deep into Mortogs bones. The Dragon had lunged at them as he blew out his sonic blast. Tranvock must've thought he would be able to duck below the sonic blast as the creature lunged. He was wrong and now the beast stood in front of the twisted broken remains of the two dwarves.

"Give me the young elf girl and you'll still walk away with that bogus staff and the ring, give up now! Don't allow more of your men to fall prey to my superiority!"

Another volley of lightning, this one more directed, struck Corazon in several places slamming the creature hard into the ground; mere seconds after the lightning strikes hit, a volley of meteor sized fireballs hit the creature from somewhere above them. With the Dragon pinned to the ground under the weight of those meteors Mortog scrounged up his guts and ran up to the beast with his axe and slammed it into the beasts head with a loud crack. Corazon flung her head sideways ripping the axe right out of Mortog's hands and flinging it into the far wall next to Branthony who was still on his knees catching his breath. Seconds after the meteor storm hit, a curtain of blue electricity sliced through the creature right down the center of her cutting her in half side to side. As he did so the light when out and the only light came from the electrical wall. Ryuul had enough power for her torch spell, It lasts longer but isn't as bright as the 'daylight' spell they were using during the battle.

With one final horrifying scream Corazon's front half fell forward face first into the ground. Remarkably there was no blood, the electrical curtain cauterized the wound as it cut her in half.

"Come an help me Cleary! They be needin' healin'!" Halgic said franticly running over to his two friends. Cleary was out of power, he would need a full eight hours of sleep after inscribing new spells onto his body in order to be at any kind of strength to heal them, if he even could.

"Branthony an Jackel, when yeh git a moment we have te be freein' Graggum from his cocoon over dare on da wall." They released him from the wall and swam him over to the shore where they cut his cocoon open and found that he was awake with his axe pinned to his side.

"Did we win yet?" He asked all groggy.

"Yeah, we gutted her bad." Jackel told him.

"Good cause me be starvin'."

"Yep, he be back." Mortog said as he stood up to go and console Halgic who was still trying to figure out what to do with his two friends.

"This be all yer fault! They still be here if'n it not be fer yeh an yer stupid plan!" Halgic stood up and shoved Mortog backwards in a fit of rage, what happened next was completely understandable; in a quick breath they all saw a strong glow coming from one of his arms and just then he looked away from Mortog to Corazon and a steady stream of fire rained down on its bottom half, catching it on fire, Mortog was sure that first volley was meant for him, but he realized that at the last second, his focus, shifted from Mortog to the carcass of Corazon. Then with another glow, another wall of electricity after that, a full barrage of lightning strikes hit the now fully dead Corazon. That's when most of the crew moved out into the tunnel coming into the cavern. Branthony tried to grab Mortog's axe but it was just too heavy. Mortog would retrieve that when Halgic was done mourning, only Cleary remained with his hand on Halgics shoulder and his head down in somber remorse with Halgic. He knew the spell wouldn't touch Halgic so he was safe as long as he didn't let go, but he also felt as if he were to let go, Halgic would lose it all.

Halgic collapsed from exhaustion and Cleary helped him into the tunnels where he could sit down and rest without being in sight of his two beloved friends. Cleary was worried, and rightly so, that Halgic had gone beyond his magical limits to sustain his rage. He worried because that could cause a coma, or even death.

"It still be light in da chamber here, good work Ryuul. An Ryuul. . . Thank yeh." Mortog told her, she smiled a little bit, 'Maybe he isn't so bad after all.'

"Branthony, yer wit me. We goin' to look fer dat blasted ring after I gits me axe."

The two set out into the treasure trove to look for the ring where Mortog could get away from most of the group to reflect on the battle and how things could have gone differently.

"I's told them not te be heros. I's told them te stay back. Why they not be listenin' te me?" He said in barely a whisper.

"I's not fer knowin Mortog, maybe he jest made a bad choice." Branthony replied startling Mortog. Branthony knew Mortog was in pain from losing the two dwarves.

Mortog knew in his heart that had he not brought them into this battle they would both still be alive but he wasn't going to show that kind of remorse to his crew, he must stay strong, must remain vigilant as a leader. 'If they be jest listenin' te me, they still be alive.'

"Me be thinkin' dat staff be worth somethin'." Mortog said at last as they approached the treasure pile. "Me thinks we should be keepin' dat, I's not sure why, me's jest got a gut feelin'. Feel free te look around fer a sword or two dat yeh may be feelin' comfortable wit. But look fer da ring too."

"Alright boss." Branthony said, but it was doubtful Mortog even heard him. Mortog was still thinking about the battle and what he could have done differently so that those two would still be alive. In reality, it hurt more than he would ever let his crew know, but that just means that he will have to become a better leader from now on.

As he was thinking about the battle he was absent-mindedly putting all the rings he found into one pile. He passed up on a shield and helmet that were most likely magically enhanced. Branthony watched him with some concern and thought that he would ask him later about it. It did not look good, but Branthony simpered anyway.

                   12

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