“Stupid little bastard,” Veraka cursed under his breath as he dove for cover. Right as he rolled under a rocky alcove, the sleeping troll’s eye flashed open. It lumbered up to its full height, and looked around for the disturbance. Time seemed to slow around Veraka as adrenaline coursed through his veins; his breathing slowed and calmed. His mind became clear of all distractions, and became solely focused on the awakened troll.
“What that?” the troll asked itself as it ambled around looking for what had triggered the trap. The bumbling giant goblinoid came across to where Veraka was, stopping directly in front of the Aranite. Silently, Veraka drew his adamantine long sword; if the sentry spotted him, he would only have seconds to kill it before it bellowed for reinforcements. The troll looked to the left, then the right, then left again, this time looking directly at Veraka. He froze in position as the troll continued to stare at him; Veraka held his breath as he saw the troll narrow its eyes on his position. Seconds turned into hours, hours into days, or seemed to as the beasts eyes glazed over him with a curiosity that was bordered hostility.
“Hey, what you doin’ away from post?” came another troll voice from the direction of the camp. “Me swear me heard something. Something sprung trap, me looks for it,” said the troll turning its head, away from Veraka direction, to meet the unexpected troll.
“Me know me heard something,” persisted the sentry.
“You heard nothin, ‘sides, I got snack for us both.”
“Mmmm, me starving, food good,” said the troll as it lumbered away at a fast pace.
“Rule # 13: Never pull guard duty on an empty stomach,” Veraka sarcastically admitted as he slowly let out his breath, and shifted a little in his alcove. He wandered how he had evaded detection by the troll that had stared him down, for what seemed like an eternity to him; looking down at his thigh plate, he suddenly realized that his answer was in his armor. Veraka’s armor was heavy, very heavy by most standards; however it was made for from Darksteel. Darksteel, while not as sturdy as regular steel armor, had a very dark hue to it. It just so happened, that that particular hue within Veraka’s armor, matched up perfectly with shadow that was cast by the alcove that he was hiding in.
“Damn, I’m lucky,” Veraka whispered, astounded about his armor innate color. When he was sure that area was clear, Veraka made his way back to the waterfall he saw back near the entrance of the cave. He found the fall right where he left it. Now he needed to figure out a way to get across the chasm to the rocks where the falls came flowing out from. The chasm before him was easily a forty foot span from Veraka’s edge to the falls, and there was no way that he could build up enough speed to jump that span; Veraka wasn’t even sure if he could jump that distance.
“Ok, then we climb it,” he growled to himself. He looked around for a moment until he found what he was looking for; a lengthy, if narrow, crossing that spanned the entire distance of the chasm. Veraka quickly crossed to the other side, ignoring the cracks and breakage sounds that kept coming up from the crossing. I’d best be getting off this bridge and quickly, Veraka thought to himself. With that thought driving him, Veraka started to scale the rocks that bordered the waterfall. The water itself hammered him with each handhold closer that he got to the origin of the fall. Once, Veraka almost lost his grip on the rocks. He managed to reach the top of where the fall started; the climb up to that point had drained him more than he had thought it would have.
“Huh,” he breathed, relieved that he’d made it, “I’m not doing that again.”
The young Aranite was happy to see that the small cavern that the fall flowed from was big enough for him to get through. The downside of the cavern was that Veraka would have to crouch, or crawl, all the way through until he found his target. He made his way upstream through the small cavern, until the tunnel forked off into two separate directions. Veraka chose the dry path. Continuing to crouch, he made his way through the tight confines of the dry tunnel, until he came upon an opening in the floor of the tunnel that he was in.
“Let me go, you wretched spawn of the hells!” cried a female voice.
“Ah, Xerb likes it when his dinner fights rather than gives up,” a deep, throbbing voice retorted.
Veraka peered down into the hole, to see a young girl he knew to be Nannally, strapped down to table. She was surrounded by what looked to be vegetables and other meats. When Veraka registered this, his angered flared, but he held it in, knowing that stealth and surprise were still the best elements that he had at his disposal at the moment.
“Yous should consider yous self fortunate for yous kind, human. Most humans that enter Xerb’s belly are rarely dead before eaten; since you are Xerb's first meal, Xerb will give yous honor of dying before Xerb feasts on yous’s flesh,” the troll said, saliva dripping from his mouth.
“Not on my watch,” Veraka said in his low, about-to-kill-everything, tone. By that time, Veraka had already maneuvered himself into a position to which would give him a clear shot to lunge at and tackle the troll chieftain.
“And now Xerb will feast. Do you wish yous self dead before Xerb begins, human?”
“Do your worst, monster!” shouted Nannally.
“As yous wish it, human,” and with that, Xerb bit down into Nannally’s leg. Veraka felt his rage and anger come surging up from deep within him, but this time he didn’t suppress it, he just let it loose. Veraka saw Nannally scream from the pain of Xerb’s bite; he let out a battle-roar that startled Nannally and made Xerb look up from his feast in confusion, just in time to catch the full force of Veraka’s dive-attack.
The young warrior cannoned into the troll chieftain, and recovered quickly, rolling off of the troll and to his feet, skidding to a halt. Xerb, still dazed from Veraka’s battle-roar, struggled to shake off the impact that the young Aranite had imposed upon him.
“Xerb does not know how yous got in, human, but he knows how yous is getting out.”
“Is that a fact,” Veraka retorted, lifting his long sword above his head and placing his off-hand in front of himself, assuming his counterstrike stance.
“Yes, puny human, yous will leave in Xerb’s BELLY!” the troll bellowed as it came charging in at Veraka. Deftly sidestepping the troll, the young Aranite slashed at the beasts left leg. His sword connected and put a cut of decent size into the leg. The troll chieftain turned to Veraka, his face contorted with rage. Again the chieftain charged the Aranite, though this time, he managed to grapple Veraka’s shoulder, sending the young man to the ground. Slamming an armored fist into the dirt, Veraka got up and back on his feet just in time to dive out of the way of the charging chieftain. This went on for about a minute, with Xerb careening at Veraka, and occasionally scoring a hit on the Aranite. Though he could keep it up, Veraka was beginning to tire from all the jumping and dodging he was doing to keep himself from being trampled by the chieftain. Xerb yet again charged the Aranite, roaring as he came in.
Veraka countered by shifting his weight onto his right foot, and when Xerb was within six feet of him, he launched himself over the troll. Using the troll’s opposite shoulder as a guide for his off-hand to grip, Veraka slashed the other shoulder in a powered stroke. His long sword dug its sharp edge through the trolls shoulder muscle, and came out the other end. Veraka smiled as the chieftain cried out in pain to his perfectly executed counter-attack.
However, that smile quickly deteriorated as that same shoulder, and the arm that’s attached to it, came whipping around at tremendous speed. Xerb’s reverse arm-smash connected with Veraka’s shoulder and sent him spiraling into the throne room’s east wall. Veraka slammed into wall hard, and collapsed to the floor.
“So, yous spawn o’ tribe leader that Xerb kill not a ten-day ago.”
Upon hearing this Veraka’s thoughts flew back to that image of Armanth’s mangled body, twisted and bloody. A new energy surged up from deep within Veraka; the fatigue and exhaustion faded as that image, adrenaline, and a new found rage took over. Veraka got up as quickly as he fell, and, with a renewed vigor, charged the chieftain. As Veraka came within striking distance of the troll, he saw a glint of metal flash right as the troll pulled out a huge black sword from behind its back. Veraka dove into a roll and barely missed the sword as it slashed the air where his head used to be.
“Behind you!!” screamed Nannally as Veraka recovered from his roll; Veraka was barely able to get one of his bracers up in time to block the chieftain’s overpowered attack. The troll’s sword slammed into Veraka’s bracer, knocking him backwards. Veraka now understood one purpose for Ter’yial’s Fists; they were capable of absorbing a tremendous amount of punishment. Veraka whipped his sword around in a powered spin, and brought it down in a high-arc. Xerb brought his sword up just in time to prevent Veraka’s blade from smashing his skull in. Adamantine clashed with night black steel in a clang that resonated throughout the room. Veraka knew that he had mere minutes before the entire troll clan was upon him and Nannally.
In War, Justice; In Peace, Hope; In Death: Sacrifice