244/366 – The Cavern

“I feel like we’ve been set up to fail,” Namolin said as he looked up at the top of the cave opening. “I think this thing is much larger than they said it was.”

Namolin leaned against a large boulder near the mouth, flexing his nimble fingers and double-checking the daggers and swords affixed to the black studded leather armor covering his torso. Once satisfied, he reached over his shoulder and grabbed one of the fresh apples he had knicked from the market earlier.

Gronlow, a hearty dwarf with banged up platemail armor and a black beard that he kept in tiny braids, stepped forward, looking around at what the sun revealed about the cave. Namolin could see his bushy eyebrows twitching as he deduced new information about the rock. He half-expected the dwarf to fall into one of his trance-like states and speak to the stone itself.

“It’s just a natural cave, Namolin. You need to relax,” Gronlow replied, pulling his axe from his back. “I’ve seen many such caves before. Not a terribly rare thing.”

“You tell me to relax as you produce your weapon? I think you may need to reconsider your words, my friend,” Namolin teased. “Besides, naturally occuring cave or not, you’ve hear the size of this thing in the stories too.”

“Size is one of those things that only you tall folk prize,” Gronlow said, shaking his head. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a mountain, with enough determination, you can reduce it to rubble.”

“Mountains don’t fight back, though,” Namolin argued.

“Will you quit your jabbering and get behind me?” Gronlow hissed as he crept forward.

The cave entrance was well-lit at least, with the sun casting light onto the interior, Namolin could easily see a hundred feet into the opening. Scattered about the floor, fallen smashed spikes of stone drew both of their attention to the ceiling a hundred feet over their heads. While some stalactites still hung, the majority through the center had been broken, carving a path through it.

“Still convinced it’s just stories?” Namolin said, stepping into a shadow. “I think maybe we’re in over our heads on this one.”

“Gronlow Brewbeard has never not finished a job he’s taken,” Gronlow growled, giving Namolin a harsh look. “I’m not about to start now.”

“Can I do some recon first?” Namolin asked, “Before we just rush in and get eaten? Maybe we can figure out if this thing has any weaknesses before we fight it.”

“Alright, elf. You’ve got fifteen minutes before I start calling that thing out. You’d better hurry,” Gronlow replied with a wry smile. “My axe will taste this murderous monster’s blook today.”

Namolin only half heard the last statement from Gronlow as he vanished into the shadows and crept along the wall. CHoosing his steps very carefully, he quickly traversed to the point of the cave where the light grew so dim that the world became a thing of greyscale.

Further ahead, Namolin came across the first in a long line of bones, some crushed, orthers simply stripped of their meat. A shiver shot up his spine as he passed a handful of elven skeletons still wearing their armor.

“Rest now, my brothers,” Namolin whispered in elven as he made the symbol of his god with his hands.

Beneath his feet, Namolin felt the floor vibrate suddenly. It wasn’t a violent vibration, but strong enough that a few pebbles near his feet bounced a few times. A few seconds later, the vibration came again.

“A giant?” Namolin said, counting the time bewteen footfalls, “no. They are too spread out. It’s bigger.”

Namolin pressed himself into a small alcove as a horrific creature stepped into view. Just the force of the step of the creature sent shockwaves through the cave that made Namolin nervous about where he had chosen to hide. If there was too much movement, it was possble his alcove could collapse.

The creature walked on all fours. Each foot was nearly ten feet across, and each leg nearly sixty feet tall. The smooth, lizard-like skin of the creature gave Namolin the impression that it’s skin was like the rock of the mountain and less like actual skin.

At the head of the monstrosity was a massive maw with teeth taller than Namolin. On either side of its face, three eyes looked around independently from the others, as though it were searching for something. The mouth lolled open for a moment before a huge, echoing series of sniffs of the air commensed.

“What are you?” Namolin whispered, leaning out from his hideaway to get a better view.

In an instant, all three eyes on Namolin’s side of the head snapped to focus on him. He felt the blood drain from his face as the creature’s head turned to face him.

“Shit, shit, shit, shit,” Namolin muttered as he tried to slink back into the corner again.

“Do not leave, mortal,” the creature said, though it came out like an earthquake. The force of the voice alone was enough to shake the cavern. “What brings you to my home?”

Namolin hesistated to answer, assuming that a creature like this had seen his comings and goings nearby over the last few days.

“To be honest, my friend and I were hired to kill you,” Namolin said, taking a risk on the truth.

“Interesting,” the creature replied, shaking the room once more. “What makes you think that you can killl me? Do you have powerful magics?”

“No,” Namolin replied.

“Powerful warriors?”

“No,” ‘Namolin said once again.

“A plan?” the creature asked finally.

“Working on it,” Namolin said. “Though, I can tell you I wasn’t expecting you to be able to talk.”

“What’s so impressice about talking,” the creature asked. “I see many people do it. It’s not that special.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Namolin said, “So, can I ask you a question?”

“I suppose,” the creature said, turning its head to get a better look at him.

“Do you have any weaknesses that can be exploited?” Namolin asked, slowly putting his hand behind his back to the hilt of his elven short sword. “I’m asking for a friend.”

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