“Damn bats!” screamed Trogdar, flailing wildly, “it’s in my hair, get it out of my hair!”
A whistling arrow obliged, striking the bat between wing and body and pinning it to the wall.
“What has gotten into you today, manling?” asked Short-arse, hacking apart two skeletal archers guarding a large darkened archway from which flickering flames could be seen illuminating a large statue in the room beyond, “you’re acting worse than the Wizard.”
The Wizard slunk along sulkily. He had been trapped in the dark, dank tomb for quite a while before the others had sought to relieve him.
Trogdar watched him go past before turning on the Dwarf. “You really know how to make friends, don’t ya?” he hissed.
A pang of guilt stung Short-arse as she followed the Barbarian through the arch. She looked up to see the Elf glance at her smugly as he pulled the arrow from the pinioned bat, and she had to resist the temptation to give him a short, sharp kick on the way.
As they entered the cool, high-ceilinged chamber a familiar shape resolved itself from behind a large bronze brazier set alight with roaring orange flame in front of the statue. The green-skinned figure was carrying a long staff topped with a leering skull and was wearing a bat atop his fang-toothed head. Skabnoze the Orc Shaman stood revealed in front of them, and he was laughing.
“I’ll knock that smirk off your face you green git!” shouted Trogdar.
“WHAT SEEK YE HERE, FOOLISH MORTALS?” The voice was booming, resonant, seeming to come from all corners of the room at once. Strangely, it did not seem to be coming from the mouth of Skabnoze, whose eyes had rolled back and who had gone into a trance.
Trogdar turned and looked at the Dwarf and Wizard. Jandyr was still in the corridor outside, his keen eyes never leaving the altar upon which the great bronze idol was placed. Trogdar whispered with the others for a while before turning back to the altar.
“We’d like some gold, some booze, and maybe a map please?” he answered, earnestly. The others nodded in silent agreement.
“YOU MUST LEAVE, OR DIE!”
At this last command, 4 hulking warriors armed head to toe in heavy plated armour stepped forward from the darkness beneath the altar where the light of the flames could not reach them. All the warriors held their breath, but Trogdar was the first to speak their name, “Chaos Warriors.”
Seeing the hated foe of his race, the Barbarian finally overcame his frustrations and went into a berserk bloodlust fury, charging at the nearest warrior who had a large key strung around his neck. As he did so, all four raised their axes in perfect unison, mimicking the strike of the one facing Trogdar.
“Dark Magic,” whispered the Wizard to himself. The battle seemed to stop and then move in slow motion as he concentrated.
He saw arrows inch their way from Jandyr’s bow at the archway towards the Chaos Warriors, perpetually in the air, never dropping. He saw the Dwarf and Barbarian fighting side-by-side, their axe and sword dancing ever-so-slowly. Occasionally the tip of Trogdar’s blade would scratch the Dwarf’s face, which would change incrementally from concentration to annoyance.
The Wizard looked down into his knapsack and saw his hand inch towards a dusty old scroll he had found somewhere. He could feel the pressure building from the Shaman as the creature tried to summon another foul beast and knew he had to act now. Finally, eternally, he reached the scroll and unfurled it with a flick of the wrist. It uncoiled one line at a time, the Wizard reading each as it went, memorising the incantation.
As it finally reached the end, time began to speed up again and the Wizard spoke, “Let’s Bring the House Down!”
There was a dull rumble from the ceiling above and all stopped fighting to look upwards. Cracks appeared in the ceiling overhead as centuries old chunks of heavy masonry came crashing down over the bronze brazier, crushing it and burying Skabnoze and the 4 Chaos Warriors under boulders of rock. The Barbarian and Dwarf who were stood inches from this looked on in amazement, frozen in shock.
The Wizard burbled with unbridled glee and bounded over the rocks to claim his prize, determined to take the head of the Shaman. All he could find however was a key hanging from a rock and a thin trail of blood leading off behind the idol.
“Remind me again why we make fun of him,” Trogdar spoke out of the side of his mouth to Short-arse, still stood stock-still in shock.
A sudden gust of wind blew through the cavernous chamber, momentarily blowing out the fiery cauldron. From the darkness, a pitiful voice shrieked, “The Winds of Magic have deserted me!”
“That’s why!” said Short-arse as the flames sprang back into life to reveal 5 ghouls who were in the process of descending from the gaping chasm in the ceiling and climbing down the idol. As they neared the bottom, a mighty crash like thunder broke and rocks were flung aside as the 4 Chaos Warriors rose from the rubble, bloodied but unbroken.
“Oh no you don’t!” shouted Trogdar as he swung the bone blade in a mighty arc, neatly decapitating the Warrior with a key round his neck and sending his head flying through the air to rest at the Wizard’s feet. The 3 other Chaos Warriors exploded into dark matter, their vapour rising through the air into the opening above. Seeing this, the ghouls panicked and fled from whence they came.
“Not bad,” said Jandyr, who had quickly located a secret door beneath the altar and was removing what looked like a priceless relic of unknown origin. His eyes had never left the spot once. “If we can stop you attacking everyone else there may be hope for you yet.”
Panting, Trogdar began to calm from his berserker rage, “let’s get the keys and get out of here.”
“Are you not going to talk to the statue?” asked Short-arse.
“Har-har, very funny. I don’t talk to them all you know,” Trogdar replied.
“WHO DARES SLAY MY CHAMPION?” boomed a voice from the idol.
“But maybe I should with this one,” said Trogdar, sheepishly, “Err, I do. Trogdar the, err, mighty?”
“YOU MUST DIE!”
A bolt of lightning coalesced around the idol’s head before arcing from its eyes and earthing into Trogdar. His bearskin smouldered and his skin blackened but he miraculously survived the assault.
“Right lads, time to leave,” he said in a croaking voice as another bolt started to form. He looked around to see the others running for the arch before hastily running after them. “I think I preferred the bats.”