(2 months later)
His footsteps were making too much noise, he was sure of it. Furtive glances over his shoulder revealed nothing but empty passageways, but someone was back there. He was sure of it. The shadows of this place were not right. There were spirits here – dead dwarves, like the ones that tormented him in the tunnels of Godsforge. The stories those dwarves told were so real, yet somehow like dreams. The more he tried to remember, the more the memories slipped away, like a piece of ice melting in his hand.
Ice and fire – yes, these were things he remembered well, and painfully, from the tunnels. There was something important, something he needed to tell his masters. No, it was gone. In his hazy stupor, Tim-bo ran head first into the door. Immediately he spun and pressed his back against the door, frantically scanning the hallway with his eyes. Fool! He strained his eyes, trying to pierce the darkness of every shadow. Did he hear the footsteps of a dwarven spirit? His masters should not have taken this place as sanctuary, there was too much blood here.
Footsteps were audible now, and at the end of the rough hewn passageway a sizeable half-orc passed by. Imsh was his name. He stopped and looked at Tim-bo, who tried very hard to become small, to become part of the door itself. There was a long pause, then Imsh took a quick step toward him and shouted, “Arrgh!” What happened next was a blur. He needed to get away, anywhere but here. Slowly he became aware of a scraping sound – his own fingers on the door in front of him. The voices laughed at him, and laughed, and laughed, until Tim-bo became aware that it was not the spirits laughing, but the half-orc. The large warrior had collapsed to one knee, with one hand holding his heaving belly and the other wiping tears off his cheeks.
Tim-bo tried to manage a small smile for his tormentor, and ran a hand through his snow white hair. As usual, some of it came out in his hand. Looking down at the knotted tuft, he realized his hand was covered in blood, his fingertips rubbed raw, and one of his nails missing. In another life he would have hurled profanity and doubled over in pain, but Tim-bo’s thoughts raced to the door. Deep gouges ran down the wood, and blood was smeared in crude circles. His heart dropped. Master Justinius would be furious!
The thought of Justinius jarred Tim-bo back to consciousness. Master Justinius had summoned him! With his bloody hand he pulled open the large double doors and ran into the banquet hall of what used to be the noble quarter. For the most part, his masters had left Dusaro intact, and most of the tables around the room were original furnishings – handiwork of dead dwarves. However, the centerpiece of the room had been changed out for a large brass sculpture of a mighty stallion, rearing on its hind legs.
Although modeling guild ranks after horses had seemed odd at first, the guild members had really taken to their new equestrian theme. In particular, they began rubbing the hindquarters of the statue for good luck. At first it was a joke, but superstition runs strong among thieves, and before long it was ritual, leaving the statue with shiny, golden hindquarters. On this particular day, someone had constructed a child-sized doll out of burlap and straw, and placed the tiny rider on the horse’s back. A couple guild members were pointing at the doll and snickering, but Tim-bo paid little attention. He sprinted through the room and down the hallway to Justinius’ office, sucking on his bloody fingers to keep them from making a mess. They were delicious.
By: Mike, 05/08/12