Merwenna crept along the rocky outcropping that barely hid her body as she made her way along the southern wall of the great cavern they had picked to make their stand. Cristiana was close behind with bow in hand, an arrow in the other ready to fire at a moment’s notice. The outcropping hid an old path that ran along the circumference of most of the cavern. In the distance several stone and crystal ruins could be seen sitting precariously along the edge of a massive chasm in the middle of the cavern floor.
The ruins were once part of the great city Kholdorum that had been destroyed by Serovax the first time it had been captured. The chasm was the tube that leads to the heart of Anoria hundreds of miles below the surface of the lands above. The gnomes knew it would be the one place the creature would use to get back quickly to its home where it could recharge and then wreck havoc once more on the peoples above.
The gnomes were reluctant to come here but there was no other choice and no other space large enough to take on the creature underground. So they had made their plans as best they could, prayed to Eschua for help, and made their way here.
Merwenna could see the others pairing off and making their way around the cavern to their predetermined destinations. The gnomes however stayed together and followed Adoril to the heart of the ruins that leaned precariously over the lip of the chasm. There she could see Adoril and the other gnomes begin working on their contraption. Ballistae the size of the Scarlet Bard Tavern lay in ruins on a large platform that looked out over the darkness before them. The gnomes worked tirelessly over the great machine like ants on a mouse carcass. A few of the soldiers with Sir Gavland came over to help with hurrying up the repairs.
Barbossa and several men had positioned themselves throughout the nearby tunnels that headed off in the direction of Geldwheel the gnomish capital. One of the tunnels would be used by the creature to get back to the ruins, but Barbossa and his men would make it difficult to do so. Several Dwarven and gnomish traps from the old city and some new ones were set up at various locations amongst the tunnels. Either the traps would slow down the creature or detour it to another tunnel of their own choosing, thus herding the great beast to where they wanted it to go.
Cristiana leaned in close to Merwenna so she could whisper, “My lady, I do not approve of this plan. You are in a direct line of attack from the entrances of several tunnels. It’s my duty to keep you safe, and I can’t do so if you put yourself in the thick of things.”
Concern and frustration washed over her face and Merwenna glanced back at her bodyguard. She remembered well their first meeting all those years ago when her father had introduced the 2 of them. Of course she had been completely against having a bodyguard, a babysitter, around her every minute of the day. But they had become more than just protector and protected, they had become friends. “I thank you for the concern Cristiana, but if this creature isn’t stopped now, it won’t matter if I am in Geldwheel or back home,” she pointed in opposite directions, “the creature will attack again, killing more innocent lives.”
Cristiana shook her head for she knew Merwenna was right, but she still needed to voice her concerns. Merwenna knew she could have stayed back in the ruins far from the fighting and watch over the group from there. But Merwenna was a fighter, a stubborn woman, and every bit of Lord Orin’s daughter. There would be no chance of getting the girl to change her mind or much less get her away from the fighting. She didn’t want people to die in her stead if there was some way she could help it. She admired Merwenna for that determination but it still made Cristiana’s job that much harder.
“Remember my lady; I was the voice of reason here. I had to say something before the creature came.” She turned to look out over the cavern and the chasm at the center. She looked for weaknesses in their defenses and other possible ways to get in and out of the cavern.
“I know you mean well Cristiana, and you are a good friend and bodyguard for doing so. But this is my duty; I must do my best to protect the people of the Reach whether it’s with a voice or a sword.” She turned back herself to look out at the scene before them.
The contraption was just about ready and Adoril could be seen walking along the top of it overlooking every detail. He pulled out an elaborate vessel attached to a long golden chain that he began swinging as he walked back and forth over the top of the machine. A faint echoing of his chanting could be heard around the cavern as he walked. Light flooded out of every crevice and opening in the vessel as it poured down the sides to splash on the machine like water. The light washed over the machine and glowed brilliantly for several seconds before dissipating.
“What was that, lady Greystoke?” Cristiana had lowered her bow as she watched the spectacle.
Merwenna smiled as she watched her friend, “Adoril is placing blessings from Eschua on the machine in hopes of strengthening the contraption and making its aim true when it comes time to use the device.” She began to go through her own prayers and rituals for the coming battle.
Cristiana watched Merwenna as she went about preparing, though her mind was elsewhere.
Berwyn my love, where are you right now?
Her mind went back to the night before he left with Lord Orin and the others. It wasn’t a long moment together but it had been enough. She always worried about him, since she wasn’t of noble blood or from a rich family. She knew what the Greystokes wanted for Berwyn, she new it was the right thing to do, the proper thing to do. But she also knew it was wrong because then Berwyn wouldn’t be following his heart, and she didn’t care that his heart happened to hers right now, as long as he was free to follow it.
She loved Berwyn with all her heart but she knew they both risked a lot with their secret relation. They could only hide it for so long, only sneak off to so many places and bypass so many people without someone catching on. Even though that was no longer true since she heard from Berwyn that Halfgrim had figured it out. She was worried at first but Halfgrim had pulled her aside one day and told her that he believed in their relationship. She was relieved and happy that finally someone else knew and wished them happiness.
Coming back to reality, Cristiana heard a faint groan coming from one of the tunnels directly opposite them. It sounded like a deep horn blast from far away. She noticed the men and gnomes had heard it too. They began to scurry about finishing up with the ballistae and getting to their positions around the chasm’s lip. Merwenna pulled out her own bow and knocked an arrow. She continued to pray under her breath as she watched the tunnel where the sound was emanating from. The sound slowly grew louder and more intense, but then there were other sounds. Cristiana realized that Barbossa and his men were springing the traps and engaging the beast. She prayed to Eschua that they make it back safely.
A faint light showed through one of the tunnels with shadows dancing around its heart. Cristiana and Merwenna watched as a deadly silence blanketed the cavern. It was the waiting that was the hardest on everyone, the eternity that passed by in minutes that ate away at the mind. The light grew brighter and took on shades of reds, yellows, and oranges as both its source and the shadows came closer to the mouth of the tunnel.
Shouts could be heard and the clanking of metal as soldiers came bursting through the tunnel and dove left or right. A billowing cloud of noxious fumes mixed with flame exploded out of the tunnel, shaking the very walls of the cavern around them. Pebbles and dust fell around the women as they watched from their perch on the opposite side. The tunnel acted like a furnace chimney as more and more clouds and flame burst forth from the entrance. The clouds of noxious gas flared and rippled as it spread out across the cavern floor before washing over the edge of the chasm like a waterfall. Everyone did their best to cover their mouths from the fumes and tried to muffle their coughing.
Barbossa suddenly appeared through the clouds and flames, stumbling and gagging for air. He leaned on his bastard sword for a moment while his arm holding his short sword just swung lazily back and forth as if the arm had been pulled out of its socket. Some of the soldiers tried to help him away from the tunnel but he pushed them away, “Get to your positions now! It’s trapped for the moment but it will be here soon enough,” he turned toward the tunnel as he reared back and lifted his sword up before him. “This beast is no gonna be easily taken down.” He coughed and gagged some more as he pulled out his water skin and took a long swig, causing him to cough some more.
The soldiers scrambled to position, some with bows, others manning more contraptions and traps. They waited for what seemed like an eternity, until…
The sound blasted like a wave across the cavernous room, rushing along the walls and causing everyone to drop their weapons and cover their ears. The creature sounded like it was in pain and outraged at the delay of getting home. Merwenna could hear it crash against the walls of the tunnel, she assumed to be untangled from one of the traps. More flame than cloud came forward this time, melting the rock walls around the mouth of the tunnel. The molten rock cooled quickly and became like glass around the tunnel edges. What seemed like lava poured out of the tunnel across the floor as if someone had taken a bucket of the stuff and dumped it on the tunnel floor. The stone around the pool heated up and cracked. Men near the tunnel had to back up for the heat was literally cooking them in their armor.
Merwenna tried to peer through the clouds and flame into the tunnel to get a good look at the creature. What stared back at her, made her skin crawl and her blood feel like lead. Liquid amber eyes pierced the cloud and flame, nothing else could be seen yet, just the two orbs. They seemed to have a life of their own as they looked out through the tunnel entrance and seemed to take in the entirety of the cavern with their gaze. A spearheaded maw poked through the clouds as if it were breaching a watery surface. The jaws split open into 3 separate jaw lines with rows upon rows of razor-sharp teeth gleaming in the fire light. The tips of the jaws were obsidian beaks that curved upward like hooks.
The maw opened and closed as flames rippled over the black leathery skin. The skin seemed to be constantly burning itself, and looked as if it had been cooking in flame for all eternity. Parts of the leathery skin blistered and flaked off in black and white flakes that fluttered in and around the clouds.
Merwenna gasped and jumped back in fear, her head hitting the rock wall behind them. She grabbed the back of her head as Cristiana crept over to her. “Are you alright my lady?” She looked Merwenna over a couple of times, checking for blood dripping anywhere.
“I am fine, its just that creature,” she shook her head and closed her eyes for a moment, “How could anyone think they could imprison that thing for all time?”
Cristiana looked back at the beast as its body was still shrouded in flame and noxious fumes. More fumes bellowed out of the spearheaded maw, spilling down over the rocks and eventually washing over the chasm’s edge. “I don’t know lady Merwenna but we must figure out a way to stop it. If that thing recharges in the Heart and then comes back, all of the Reach will be in great danger.”
Merwenna looked up at Cristiana for a moment in respect and understanding and then looked back at the creature. “Forgive my weakness, you are right Cristiana. We must stop this creature here and now.” She moved back to the rock ledge and knocked an arrow once more, waiting for the signal from Barbossa.
“For the Reach…” Cristiana said as she knocked an arrow as well.
“For Helmcross…” Merwenna said as she pulled back on her arrow.
“For everyone we love…” Cristiana pulled back on her arrow as well, her muscles bulging under the strain.
Barbossa ran up to a large outcropping of rocks just above the entrance to the tunnel where the creature stood poised to strike. He climbed to the top of the rocky monument and looked down as he drew his sword high into the air for all to see…
Merwenna, Cristiana, and everyone else with a bow released their arrows at the same time, a black shadow passed over the chasm as they came raining down on the other side. They kept firing one after another, pouring their arrows into the tunnel entrance and causing the creature to shudder, and cry out in pain. It roared and hissed as arrows burrowed into its skin causing some pieces to fall off or arrows to burn away.
Barbossa turned to his men on the left side of the tunnel. “NOW!!”
With that one word, that one cry, the ceiling fell in a glorious rain of rock and dirt across the tunnel entrance; snuffing out the noxious clouds. The creature disappeared under the chaos of rock and dirt as clouds of dust erupted from the cavern floor and blanketed the surrounding area.
Brother Thomas grabbed his staff by the door and turned back to the others. Lord Orin had his pack strapped on over his axe and was gathering up the priest’s things. The priest looked across the room to see Hudmo rummaging through several shelves and drawers as he grabbed random items, “Hudmo, what are you doing?”
The dwarf looked up for a moment, his mechanical glasses whirling and clicking as he looked at Brother Thomas. He smiled as he looked into the priest’s eyes, “I am over 400 years old, and of those 400 I have been protecting the second scroll for almost 300 years.” He stuffed several books and scrolls into a bag before turning to his desk. “Father Alban came to me all those years ago with an honor and a responsibility.” He opened a drawer on the left side and pulled out several leather folding satchels. Inside 2 of them were tools of all kinds and other contraptions Brother Thomas had never seen before. Another on Hudmo didn’t open but stacked it with the others before tossing them into another bag.
“What are you saying professor? Do you mean to come with us?” Lord Orin had followed Brother Thomas over to the desk.
“Precisely my dear boy, I mean to come with you, at least as far as the next scroll.” He tossed both bags on top of the desk, sending several papers flying off. “Oops, hehe. Oh well, I won’t be back anytime soon.”
He walked over to 2 large oak doors at the right side of the desk. At their center was a diamond-shaped silver block over 1 foot in length and width. 3 rings and 4 ruby gems were at the center of the box similar to the safe Hudmo had retrieved the key from. The doors themselves were trimmed in gold and had several cog wheels and clockwork mechanisms built into the wood.
Hudmo began working on a series of button patterns and ring turning. “Now for the best part,” he stepped back as the buttons glowed in a repeating pattern while the rings turned in different directions on their own. The cogs and clockworks whirled, clicked, and turned as the doors groaned before sliding open. As the doors slid open several shelves folded down and slid out. The inner walls were plated in glass and protected an array of weapons; both known and unknown to Lord Orin. A black obsidian countertop lined the back 3 walls of the inner room with shelving underneath. A myriad of glass containers, leather pouches, and metal boxes cluttered the left countertop.
The dwarf pulled out another bag and started throwing items into it while filling various pockets in his vest and coat with items as well. Lord Orin studied the weapons for a bit before noticing the dwarf’s actions. “What are you doing Master Grimbolt? Too many items will slow the group down, and none of us can carry extra packs for you.” He crossed his arms as he looked down at the professor.
“Not to worry lad, I have help when needed,” He reached for a decorative rope hanging next to the doors and gave it a quick jerk. He then turned to the glass cases of weapons and flung them open. Somewhere behind the opposite wall there were very large gears turning and numerous mechanisms clicking and clacking away. A low groan could be heard as something was slowly coming up to their level from deep below the university.
Lord Orin and Brother Thomas exchanged glances before turning back to the dwarf. They didn’t like the sound that was emanating from behind the wall. What ever it was it was large and getting closer.
“Lord Orin, would you be so kind as to grab the trunk that is against the back wall?” He pointed without looking up, “It’s under the table holding the model of an airship.”
Lord Orin irritated, looked to Brother Thomas who only shrugged as he gazed upon the strange and handsomely crafted weapons. He made his way over to the table, and with one hand, easily hefted the empty trunk onto his shoulder. Coming back he set it behind the dwarf and opened the lid. The dwarf grabbed 2 axes, several daggers, and then grabbed 2 strange contraptions that he laid on the countertop.
The first was similar to a crossbow; though the brass cylinders, clockworks, and springs were not typical. Next to the bow he laid 3 brass bundles down that looked like 8 cylinders wrapped together in brass strips.
The other contraption was a long steel tube with a wooden handle at one end similar to a crossbow. There was a trigger on the handle and several mechanisms as well. On the opposite end of the steel tube was what appeared to look like a funnel.
“Now what are you bringing with you?” Lord Orin asked with a mixture of interest and confusion.
Hudmo beamed from ear to ear as he turned around and laid his hand on the crossbow. “These are my most prized possessions you see before you. The crossbow has been modified to fire both single shots and multiple shots at a fast rate of fire.” He lifted the weapon up and turned it in different directions for them to see.
“Multiple shots?” Brother Thomas raised an eyebrow as he looked intently at the modified weapon.
“Yes indeed,” he lifted up one of the tube bundles, “With one of these. Each bundle holds 16 bolts for the crossbow, and can either shot a single shot at a time or 16 in a rapid succession.”
Lord Orin winced at the idea of being in front of one of those things. “And the other?” He pointed to the long tube like weapon.
“Ah, my own invention and my pride and joy. This is the Hudmo Cannon.” The dwarf winked at them when he said his name. He picked up the cannon and moved it around for the others to see it. “A miniature cannon ball, the size of a walnut goes into this chamber here,” he pointed to an opening on the wooden handle just behind the scope. “He then load the ball, cock the firing mechanism into place, aim at your target using the scope, and pull the trigger.” He made hand motions and pretended to load the weapon.
“Ingenious master Dwarf, though it must be quite loud.” Brother Thomas looked on from behind Lord Orin.
“Yes, unfortunately it is loud, like a real cannon. That is something I am still working on, but it packs a punch in the toughest of surfaces.” He strapped the cannon to his back and clasped the crossbow to his belt under his work coat. He slipped several of the knives into holders around his belt and along the insides of his coat.
“Looks like you’re a one man war machine.” Lord Orin said as he shook his head and smiled.
“No my friends, that is a walking war machine…” Hudmo pointed behind them as the noise stopped directly behind the wall as two hidden doors slid open. What stepped out of the room from the hidden closet shocked Brother Thomas and caught Lord Orin’s breath. A humanoid statue stepped into the office; its steps thudding on the floor from its massive weight. It looked like it was made entirely of adamantine armor; the strongest stuff beside dragon scales, and several gears and mechanisms could be seen whirling away at every joint. Its metal feet ended in tripod like a bird; two metal talons facing forward and one pointing behind its ankle joint. Its jointed clawed hands looked more suited for a dragon than a machine; but the claws were indeed sharp enough to pierce armor. In its chest sat a crystal tucked behind plated glass, and glowed like the setting sun.
Hudmo noticed their gazes setting on the crystal, “That is its power source; similar to those that once powered the great underground city of Barnok.”
Both men turned on their heels at the mention of Barnok, “You mean the Barnok that was guarded by golems and inhabited by both Dwarven and gnomish engineers and inventors?”
Lord Orin pointed at the golem, “They were destroyed along with every one of the citizens of Barnok when Eesakar and his minions laid siege to the great city.”
Hudmo winced and his expression saddened, “You are right that Eesakar destroyed the place, but myself and him.” He pointed to the golem who had come to a stop by his desk. Its eyes were a deep blue sapphire that seemed to pierce your soul when you looked into them. The head was a solid piece of metal that swept back like the horns of a dragon’s skull.
“I lost many friends and family to that war, and the one thing that has kept me going was the protection of that scroll. Now that that is over with, I have a chance to strike back and Eesakar and the Dark Lord by helping you guys.” He grabbed the trunk and started lugging it over to the golem. “This is Sam’El, named after the Eschrehim that killed Heruno the Monstrous. He can carry over 2 tons, running for long distances with out stopping, and knows just about every kind of fighting style out there.” Hudmo beamed as the Sam’El grabbed the trunk and strapped it to its back. It then grabbed two of the bags and threw them on top of the trunk and strapped them to its back and chest.
“If it knows so many fighting styles then what weapon does it favor?” Lord Orin asked as he came closer to Sam’El, looking the machine over.
Hudmo chuckled as he tapped the golem on its left leg, “A staff…”
The golem reached down towards its calf and pressed 2 runes that were embossed into the metal. They glowed, the light throbbing in a pattern before a small compartment opened on his calf and he pulled a short metal pole out. The compartment closed and the runes turned back to their black embossed look once more.
“That’s fairly short…” Lord Orin was cut off.
Sam’El pushed a small emerald green gem in the center and held out the pole as it telescoped to a full height of 7 feet. The pole, like the golem, was solid adamantine and was sharpened on both sides.
“Now gentlemen, any other questions? Or may we start heading for the vaults?” He chuckled as the two men just stared in wonder at the golem for a few seconds more. Hudmo strapped the last bag over his cannon on his back and headed for the door. Sam’El fell in step behind the Dwarf as he crossed the room.
Lord Orin and Brother Thomas gathered their things and followed the two out into the hallway, giving the golem plenty of room to walk. The golem stepping into the hallway seemed to have the desired effect Hudmo wanted. Students and staffed screamed or cried out at the sight of the great machine and scurried out of the way or ducked into a nearby classroom or office. Hudmo began to whistle a cheery tune as he marched down the hallway, fixing his bag every so often.
The cloud and the silence seemed to linger forever. The waiting put everyone on edge as they checked their arrow supplies and kept a vigilant watch over the rock debris. Nothing stirred yet, but nobody was delusional in thinking that they had stopped the beast with a few rocks and arrows.
Barbossa made his way around the perimeter of the debris, looking for any sign of the creature underneath. A few other soldiers started to follow but he waved them back, “No, stay back in case it emerges. We don’t need any needless deaths.” They nodded their heads reluctantly and went back to their positions. Barbossa went back to walking the perimeter, looking for anything. The hair on the back of his neck was tingling as he peered through the dust and clouds. A few pebbles and loose rock fell down the pile disappearing into crevices and pockets of air.
Merwenna and Cristiana moved to the edge of their hiding spot and watched Barbossa as he investigated the debris. Merwenna glanced over at the gnomes as they worked on the siege weapon; Adoril looking up every so often to see the progress of Barbossa.
“It couldn’t be that easy, my lady. Did you see the size of that thing?” Cristiana shivered as she looked across the chasm.
“No, I don’t think it’s over just yet, Cristiana,” Merwenna gripped the rocky outcropping they were kneeling behind. Her knuckles were turning white as she clenched the stone surface.
Barbossa began to climb the rubble after walking the perimeter. Each rock was dusty and his hands slipped as he climbed; his palms were sweating as he picked his way along. He looked around the cavern as he climbed, noting the positions of everyone else. He turned back as he made it to the summit, a few stones bouncing down the rockslide stirring up more dust. Barbossa whipped the grit off his hands as he surveyed the mound around him. He shook his head as he realized nothing was moving, not a single stone. “It couldn’t b…”
The rocks erupted 10 feet below and to his left, launching him into the air, as the explosion ripped along the mound. Barbossa flipped end over end 30 feet across and down the side of the mound. He landed with a bone crunching impact onto a large slab of granite, his entire body unable to move.
Merwenna gasped as she watched Barbossa get tossed like a paper doll from the mound erupting like a volcano. Out of the explosion of rock was the spearheaded maw, damaged and oozing from several gashes. Its skin was ripped in several places as it slowly emerged from the rock pile. The rocks cracked and melted under its taloned paws turning the rubble around its body into a smoking slag. Serovax stretched its massive muscles as it dragged its body out of the rocks. Its amber eyes gleamed in the dim light of the fires it had started earlier as it looked around, getting its bearings.
Barbossa gasped from a sharp pain in his chest as he rolled over and looked up at the beast before him. He kept one hand on his blade as he reached for his right side; he winced in pain when his fingers touched his side. He must have several broken ribs and Eschua knows what else could be damaged. Barbossa watched as the towering beast limped out of the rubble and begin to make its way down toward the edge of the chasm. Its body smoldered and flaked as it checked over its wounds. Serovax’s back left leg was broken and hanging limp as it tried not to put too much weight on it. The baked leathery skin crackled and tore in several places as Barbossa noticed it was riddled with gashes and deep wounds.
A deep guttural sound uttered from the throat of the creature as its maw opened and closed, its beaks clacking against one another. Barbossa gasped as he tried to move, the sound echoing louder than he had wanted. Serovax turned its great leathery skull toward Barbossa as he tried to crawl backwards on his one elbow and his feet slipping on dirt and rocks. Fire burned his soul as Barbossa looked into the amber pools of the beast, its gaze freezing the blood in his veins. Others must have realized that Serovax was fixated on Barbossa because several arrows slammed into the midsection and side of the beast’s neck. Their wooden shafts smoldered and withered from the heat of the creature’s body, but Serovax didn’t seem to notice them.
Merwenna gasped as she realized that no amount of arrows would deter the creature from devouring Barbossa. She gave a horrified look as she turned to Cristiana who mirrored her emotions. “What can we do? We are too far away…” Merwenna looked down along their side of the cavern trying to figure out away around the great chasm went she heard several war cries. 4 soldiers stationed among the rocks came charging up the stone carrion firing arrows and waving their swords, desperately trying to get Serovax’s attention.
Again the arrows that didn’t bounce off withered and smoldered into nothing as soon as they hit the ashen skin. When the soldiers got within 30 feet of Serovax, it turned on them, irritated by the peppering of arrows and rocks that they now threw at it. It slipped on the loose rocks of the rubble as it tried to turn swiftly to face the soldiers, disrupting its breath attack that was welling up inside. Fumes billowed out of its maw as it righted itself just before two of the soldiers reached its midsection. They screamed as they swung their swords at Serovax’s body, but the intense heat and noxious fumes of the creature almost did them in.
Serovax screeched in frustration as the blades bit into its flesh, causing more gashes to open up and ooze out noxious fumes and a silvery blood that burned human flesh. The men cried out in pain as some of that blood splashed on them and ate through their armor like acid. They dropped their blades and clawed at their armor trying desperately to rip it off. The creature used the distraction to turn on them, bringing its clawed forearms to bear. A foot long curved claw swiveled downwards as it slashed at the first soldier, gutting him from neck to navel. His cries were silenced instantly as his windpipe was both severed and cauterized from the blistering attack. He crumpled into a heap in the smoking remnants of his armor. The other soldier tried to turn and run but Serovax’s massive skull whipped around and speared him through the armor. The three hooks protruded out of the man’s chest and stomach, horror etched across his frozen visage as he was snapped back and forth before being flung through the air and swallowed by the abyss of the chasm.
The other two soldiers began to back up as Serovax turned its attention toward them. The amber eyes seemed to laugh at them as it limped toward the men, its 3 jaws clacking in a rhythm that put the soldiers on edge.
“RUN!” Barbossa shouted as he crawled toward the beast holding his rib cage as best he could with his hurt arm.
The men didn’t hear him.
They didn’t hear him when Serovax opened its gaping maw.
They didn’t hear him when the creature roared as its body convulsed and shuddered, its throat glowing from the inside.
They didn’t hear him when fumes burst forth covering them in an acidic compound that ate at their flesh.
And they didn’t hear him as flame and embers engulfed them.
Two blackened husks of ash and burnt flesh were crushed by Serovax’s front paws as it turned to face Barbossa once more. The soldier stopped crawling; he started to reach for his sword but realized it was pointless.
What could one injured man do that 4 soldiers couldn’t?