In June Lenny faces off with the legendary kholoth.
So listen here. I never done saw a kholoth up close’n I never done wanted to neither. But there I was, Buster in hand, knowin’ it was comin’.
As it got closer, the ground shook more’n more. I could almost hear the piss runnin’ down the legs of the boys behind me.
‘Cept fer Jimmy, that is. He was clutchin’ his lady hand spear’n grinnin’ like his momma was bringin’ a roasted chicken to the dinner table.
I know we was in danger’n all but I did start worryin’ ‘bout Jimmy. I’d only known him fer maybe four durn months is all, but still.
I’d never seen that mage lookin’ so hungry fer a fight. In fact, he usually avoided a battle. He was a healer, not a warrior, dag-nab it!
“What’s wrong with you, Jimmy?” I asked him while the ground of the tunnel was a quiverin’ under our dag-blamed feets.
He just turned his fevered grin my way. “A monster of legend, Lenui. That don’t get yer blood boilin’?” I frowned at his stupid arse.
“‘Course it does!” I said, but I was lyin’ my arse off. I mean, dog-gone it, I was bein’ forced to fight the garl-friggin’ thing!
The kobalds was lookin’ real nervous now. The rumblin’ got close’n some of ‘em started a scurryin’ away. Scurryin’! That’s hard fer kobalds!
“Alright, Jimmy,” I said. “Listen here. This kholoth ain’t like the kobalds you been killin’. He’ll be tougher and- Holee Turds!”
The kholoth walked in and it weren’t nothin’ like I expected. It weren’t much bigger than a reg’lar kobald, maybe tall as a tall human.
But its scales stuck out in long rocky spikes out its skin like a dag-blamed porcupine! Also it was a girl. Pink bow in its hair’n everthin’!
It laughed, a sound like two boulders doin’ the nasty’n said, “What is it, dwarf? You surprised to find that yer enemy is a purty lady?”
Couldn’t tell you if it was good lookin’ fer a kholoth, cuz it was the only one I ever seen, but I knew it was a lady ‘cause of its chest.
Now most kobalds wore clothes ‘round their tender parts like all decent folk, but thisun weren’t wearing nothin’. I could see why.
No clothes’d be tough enough to stay on. Hell, its chest parts was like two hedgehogs. Shouldn’t’ve mentioned that, but it was weird is all.
“Thought you’d be bigger is all,” I said. It smirked, or at least I think it smirked. Hard to tell through all the dag-gum spikes.
It took a step towards me’n the ground shook again. I knew right then that despite its size, it was dense as hell and friggin’ heavy.
“So yer a firegobbler,” it said and I think it grinned. “I done et lots of dwarfs but firegobblers are nice’n spicy. I like spicy.”
It stuck out a gravelly toungue’n licked its lips. I knew we was dead. I thought it was a stupid thing to try from the beginnin’, but damn.
You might be thinkin ol’ Lenui was a wimpin’ out, but I don’t care how many Firegobblers it et. I didn’t want to be next.
Becomin’ a monster of legend ain’t easy. Kholoths’re the toughest monsters in the dag-gum world. Don’t matter what yer weapon is.
I knew just lookin’ at the thing that Buster’d barely chip it. The lady hand was our only chance, but I was doubtin’ its strength.
Even at full strength all the curses Blatche put on the blade were a long shot fer piercin’ its skin. Now it’d been weakened.
“Well?” it said. “You gonna attack me or what?” Jimmy started to charge at it, but I held him back. “Y’all stay put, dag-blast it!” I yelled.
“I got a question fer you, Kholoth,” I said. I needed a way out fer us dag-gum bad. “You heard of a wizard by the name Blatche?”
Any hint of a grin left its gall-durn face’n I knew I’d hit a tender spot. “Blatchy?” It said. “I heard of him. Why you askin?”
“He seemed to want you dead is all,” I said. “You know why?” To tell the truth, that question’d been weighin’ my mind anyways.
“Blatchy fed me dwarf parts fer years. But when I became kholoth he wanted be to do his biddin’.” It made a spiky fist. “I said no.”
“He send you?” it asked. “He tried to kill me,” I said. “Then when I kilt him back, he cursed me-uh, I mean all of us with a death curse.”
“So Blatchy’s dead?” It said and the smile came back on its ugly durn face. “You sure?” “He dag-gum ‘sploded all over me.” I said.
“Then what you doin’ here?” It asked, takin’ a rumblin’ step forward. “He said his Death curse’d go off if we didn’t hunt you down.” I said.
“Death curse?” the kholoth said and it laughed so hard my ears was hurtin’. “I ain’t never heard of such a thing. Have you, Dwarf?”
“Uh . . .” Actually it had a point, blast it! I thought ‘bout it and felt my face turn red as a friggin’ beet. I turned’n asked the mage.
“How bout you, Jimmy? You heard of a death curse?” He started blinkin’and frownin’. His eyes got wide. “I cain’t say as I have.”
“Aw hell!” said Gundy. “Don’t tell me that dainty-arsed wizard tricked you, Lenui.” At that point Jimmy would’ve laughed if it was funny.
“Oh Lenui, you idjit!” he said. “Gundy’s right! There’s no way. Any spell he cast would have to have an immediate effect.” Well hell.
“There ain’t no spell smart enough to follow us ‘round and curse us if’n we didn’t fulfill it’s requirements!” he added. I felt sick.
“Well, damn my dag-gum brains,” I said. “But you gotta understand. When Blatche said it just before he popped, it was scary as hell.”
Dougless tapped me on the shoulder, his face white. His eyes was frozen on the kholoth. “Uh, Lenui, does this mean we’cn go now?”
It was a good idea, but I did’t think the kobald’d let us. Still it was worth a try. “So, purty lady? Since Blatche’s dead . . . can we go?”
It snorted and I swear a rock shot out its nose holes. “You killed some of us. ‘Sides I got me a hankerin’ fer some spicy dwarf parts.”
“What ‘bout the rest of us?” Pig nose asked. “If you eat the dwarf, can we go?” I had half a mind to put a boot up his dag-burned arse.
Then again, who could blame him? He was doin’ fine yesterday, I killed his boss, dragged him down there with me’n even got One Hand Kilt.
Also I was very aware that it was my blasted fault. Even if the wizard’s curse was real, he’d only put it on me. I was to blame if they died.
So, dag-nab it, I tried to do the right thing’n said. “That’s right, kholoth. If’n you let the others run off, I’ll let you eat me.”
Even as the words fell out my mouth, I knew it was useles. Kholoth’s didn’t give dwarf kids with nightmares ‘cause they was nice, after all.
It rolled its gall-durn eyes. “I’ll eat you either way, dwarf. But I’ll tell you what. Only the mage dies. The others can be my slaves.”
For the others it was probly a dag-burned good deal, considerin’ what we was up against, but bless them boys, they wouldn’t take it.
“Screw you, rocky!” said Gundy. Again, Gundy was damned awful at comin’ up with insults, but it did the trick. The other boys nodded.
It’s gall-durn hard to keep up yer diary when yer under siege by evil dag-blamed wizards’n monsters, but dag-nab it, I had some stuff to say.
I know I’m interruptin’ my story’n I’ll get back to that monster of legend, but I got some words to leave fer my future kid.
Now listen, son or daughter, My daddy’s been on my mind a lot lately’n I thought it’d only be right to tell you somethin’ ‘bout him.
I should be able to tell you ‘bout him in person some day, but hell. Considerin’ the situation, I though I should write it down just in case.
My daddy taught me all I know ‘bout bein’ a smithy. He taught me how to make a fine pepperbean wine, and durn it, he taught me ‘bout sewin’.
He taught me to drive a mean bargain, but you do right by folks too. But it’s more than that, dag-nab it! Daddy saved me from yer granny.
I wear my mustache today ‘cause of him. He taught me to be dag-gum proud of who I am. He taught me to be a Firegobbler.
I hope to be just as good a daddy to you as he was to me. But if I don’t meet you . . . dag-blast it, know I would’ve been.
“Then I kill you all,” the Kholoth promised and took a rumbly step towards us. We all took less rumbly steps back.
I was purty sure at this point that we was all gonna die then and there. Then Jimmy screamed and charged like a garl-friggin’ idjit!
He stabbed forward with the lady hand spear and the kholoth didn’t even try to block him. ‘Course, why the hell would she?
To ever’body’s surprise, the dagger sunk into her chest like half way ‘fore bindin’ up, Then the da-gum ropes holdin’ the dagger snapped.
Jimmy’s spear was now just a wood staff. The kholoth stared down at the blade lookin’ surprised as a cat got bit by a dag-burned mouse.
Soon as the lady hand came off his staff, some of the crazy left Jimmy’s eyes. I dunno why. Maybe it made him think he was immortal.
The kholoth drew one arm back to punch him and Jimmy stood there not movin’, just starin’ at the end of his dag-blamed staff. I swore.
I hurried’n grabbed the back of his robe and yanked him back just in dag-gum time. The kholoth’s fist barely missed him. It growled at us.
“You think you can hurt me?” it roared and reached down’n grabbed the blade of the cursed dagger. Then it frowned’n looked down at its fist.
It grunted’n pulled, but the dagger wouldn’t come loose. “What is this?” It asked as its tugs became more frantic. “The hell is this?”
“It won’t come out!” It shouted, and my dag-gum ears started hurtin’ from the power of its roar. “My hand’s stuck! What curse is this?”
It stomped the ground and big durn stalagtites started a-fallin’ from the ceilin’ high above. They crashed into the gathered kobalds ‘round us.
A real huge one cracked overhead’n I knew it was comin’ at us. I shoved the boys back’n it hit the ground right where we was standin’.
It was bigger ‘round than the tallest of us and the heavy end crashed down on the kholoth. Well, more like it shattered ‘round the kholoth.
It shoved the huge pieces of stalagtite away’n growled as it stomped towards us. It didn’t look too damaged by the blow neither, dag-gum it.
Some of its head spikes was broke off and the pink bow’d fallen out of its hair, but I didn’t see it bleedin’ none. It looked Dag-lamed fine!
More important, though, its hand was still stuck to the gall-durn Lady Hand stuck in its chest. “Take this curse off!” it yelled. “Now!”
“We cain’t!” I said, but it kept comin’. It wasn’t gonna stop. “Run blast it!” I yelled and we backpedaled, but Dougless weren’t fast enough.
It reached out, grabbed Dougless’ leg with its one unstuck hand, and lifted him high in the air. There was a terrible snappin’ sound.
Dougless screamed and I said. “Put him down!” knowin’ it was too late. “Down?” It slammed Dougless into the ground with a crunch.
“Down?” It stomped its foot down on top of him and I shoved the others back. “Run!” I said. “Blast you garl-friggin’ idjits, run!”
It was our best chance. The fallin’ stalagtites had scattered the kobalds and our only advantage against the kholoth was that we was faster.
I had to drag Jimmie at first, but the rest of the boys didn’t need no more encouragement. Dougless was dead and we was down to six.
Wait, that’s five. I forgot, gall-durn it. Ronney was hit by a dag-blamed stalagtite. Busted his head in two. There was only five of us left.
So we ran. We’cd hear the kholoth yellin’ after us. The tunnels shook with the stomps of its feet. Dirt rained down from the ceilin’.
It weren’t right, I knew. We’d went all that way fer no reason and got so many of us kilt. It was all my fault too, dag-blast it!
Four men, a half-orc, and a sweet damn dog, all dead ‘cause Lenui Firegobbler lied ’cause he didn’t want to hunt the kholoth alone.
Fer a minute there I felt the stink of my youth back on me’n I hated it. It was my momma’s curse, the reason I wore my stache and it burned.
I nearly turned ‘round then and there to face the thing. My pride was sayin’ :face it like a dwarf!” My brain was sayn’ “Run the hell away.”
I struggled, but finally my brain told the rest of me that if I stopped, some of the boys might stop too and damn me that was a good excuse.
So we ran, the tunnel ceilin’s threatenin’ to collapse on us. Dirt’n rock fell ever’where. But Kobalds’re good dag-gum cave builders.
The tunnels held. We made ground on the kholoth. Its stompin’s and hollerin’s grew fainter, but I wouldn’t let the boys let up.
We run into kobalds here’n there on the way, but the commotion must’ve had ‘em scairt turdless ‘cause they mostly run off when they saw us.
One kobald charged at us, his eyes lookin’ all crazy like and Gundy stabbed him with his magic sword. Barely slowed us down.
But the whole time we was runnin’ the guilt tore me up somethin’ fierce. There was nothin’ I could do to make up fer the boys that was dead.
When we reached the cave exit it was dark out. There was a small tremor in the ground under us, but we knew we’d escaped.
There was smiles all ‘round when we smelt that crisp clean night air. We got back to Blatche’s castle so tired we fell right asleep.
We planned on splittin’ up the wizard’s dag-blamed treasure in the mornin’. My sleep was restless though ‘cause of the rumblin’s.
Gundy woke me up when it was still dark out. The ground was shakin’ the whole buildin’. That garl-friggin’ kholoth was still comin’.