A muscled mass of teeth and fur bounded towards the oblivious Wizard who was watching the Goblin’s performance. It opened its wide jaws and sank its fangs into the Wizard’s arm, who dropped his crossbow in shock and pain.

“What the hell is that?” shouted Trogdar.

“Squig Hound,” said Jandyr, reaching for his quiver and drawing a thin black arrow.

“Aye, they use them to flush out squigs in the depths,” said Short-arse, readying her axe and trying to anticipate the Wizard’s movements. ‘Growler’ was still clamped on for dear life, and the Wizard was frantically running round the corridor trying to shake him loose.

“What the hell are squigs!?” asked Trogdar, his foot and leg still in pain from Gubbinz’ attack.

“Little creatures, squishy like,” said Short-arse, swinging for the hound but missing, “Orcs eat them.”

“Sound revolting,” said Trogdar, curling his nose up. He strode over to the flailing Wizard who had turned paler than normal.

“Right, stand still you and we’ll have this over with in a jiffy.” He put a hand on either side of the hound’s massive jaws and began prising them apart.

“When I let go, you swing for him,” he said to Short-arse. “Ready.”

“Ready,” replied Short-arse, her fingers tensing on her axe.

“Now!” Trogdar shouted, wrenching his arms apart and releasing the bloody tatters of the Wizard’s right arm. He threw the hound towards Short-arse who swung her axe back to deliver the killing blow.

As the hound tumbled through the air toward her, a thin black arrow pitched out of the darkness, hitting the beast in its forelimb. The momentum of the arrow caused Short-arse’s swing to miss, and she toppled forwards, falling heavily onto the stone flags.

Growler yelped as he landed and, limping, ran off back towards the darkness, biting the arrow in half as he went.

“Just tell me why…” growled Short-arse as she picked herself up off the floor.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d miss,” replied Jandyr calmly.

Short-arse stood silent for a while, taking in deep breaths. Eventaully she cut the tension between the two, saying, “Know this, Elf. If you ever doubt my axe again, it shall find its way to your head.”

Turning from the smirking Elf, she looked for the Goblin jester, but was surprised to see he had vanished.

“Well where did he go?” she said to Trogdar.

“I dunno,” said Trogdar, “I was sorting magic-boy here.”

The Wizard was slumped against the wall, his eyes vacant and white, his arm covered in a thick layer of frost.

“Little bugger’s legged it,” said Short-arse, stomping off into the darkness.

“Well where you off?” shouted Trogdar.

“Bring him and follow me,” she said, indicating the catatonic Wizard.

Trogdar hoisted the Wizard over his shoulder and hobbled after the Dwarf. He turned to see Jandyr peering through the keyhole of the locked door.

“What you up to now?” he enquired forcefully.

“I think I see something shiny in there,” replied Jandyr, “could be valuable. Best let me have the key when we find the jester.”

“Never mind the key or your treasure, get your arse over here my foot’s killing me,” bellowed Trogdar.

“What do you want me to do about it?” said Jandyr.

Trogdar sucked in a long, deep breath before quietly saying, “Give me the herbs.”

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