In May Lenny draws even nearer to his battle with the kholoth.
Here’s the thing I knew ‘bout cave worms. Only sharp parts’re in the front end. Since I dove in, I done got past its dag-gum chompers.
I also knew the blasted thing was long and I knew it would be a dag-gum long time ‘fore it crapped me out. Holdin’ my breath wouldn’t do it.
What I didn’t count on was that it was dag-blamed cramped in there. Weren’t no way to stand up or nothin’. Not like in the stories at all!
I needed to cut my way out but Buster had no edges and my shield didn’t neither. Had to hold Buster’s handle in my teeth to grab my knife.
Got a mouthful of worm-insides-slime doin’ it. Durn stuff tasted like dirt’n boogers mixed with vinegar. Not somethin’ you’d try again.
I was barely able to grab my knife from my belt, but it was friggin’ slippery. Only made one cut ‘fore it slid right out my fingers.
I squirmed ‘round best I could but I couldn’t find the dag-blasted thing. My skin was startin’ to burn too. Damned stomach acid!
‘Nother thing I learnt ‘bout cave worms. They’re just one long damn tube. Whole dag-gum thing’s a stomach. Ain’t no light in there neither.
Not that I was openin’ my eyes to find out. Didn’t want an eyefull of acid. Movin’ was tough. Bein’ in there was like a full body slime hug.
Now you might be thinkin’, “Liar! Ain’t no way you done survived that, Lenui! Gods know there ain’t no air in worm guts.”
Well you can believe whatever the hell you want. Us Firegobblers’cn hold our breaths fer a long damn time. We’re blacksmith stock.
There’s of bad fumes at the forge workin’ with metals. Specially dealin’ with magic ore, you wanna be careful breathin’ that stuff in.
I am a champeen breath holder. Won a contest ten years runnin in Wobble. Thing is, yer right, I was just ‘bout out of dag-gum air.
I knew I was deader’n hell if’n I didn’t get out soon. I started kickin’ my feet. I was desperate, thinkin’ maybe I could swim out its arse.
Well my feet kept hittin’ somethin’, so I reached down’n felt around. It was wet’n hairy and I realized it was Candle.
Poor dog’d been bit in half but he was still glowin’. I chanced openin’ one eye and I saw somethin’ else. It was One Hand’s head.
Felt kinda’ bad fer the half-orc, but I knew he had a sword. My eye burned like a bandham’s arse hole, but I kept lookin’ fer the durn thing.
Finally I grabbed the sword blade. Cut my durn finger, but I never been so dag-gum happy to cut myself before. I grabbed the handle.
All a sudden there was this rumblin’ around me. The worm’s stomach started squeezin’ tighter and tighter ‘round me. It got real hot.
It was too tight to bring the sword round proper, but I was cuttin’ best as I could. I was startin’ to black out. Angels was callin’ my name.
Then boom! There was a sound like thunder and light blazed as I was thrown in the air. Didn’t know what friggin’ happened.
I hit this rock wall and fell to the ground, worm guts’ pieces fallin’ all ‘round me, like a gall-durn . . . worm guts rain, I guess.
I sat up’n realized I was in a wide open cavern. Whole place was covered in blood’n guts. It was durn nasty. I wondered if I was in hell.
Then some of the guts started movin’ and stood up. I realized one was Gundy. Thank the gods, some of them Dag-gum boys was still alive!
Durn near hollered my arse off in joy ‘fore I realized how few of us was left. I counted ‘em up’n swore up a storm. It weren’t purty.
I only saw Gundy, Pig Nose, Dougless, Biff, and Ronney standin’ up. Then I saw someone else movin’. Luckily it was our healer Jimmy.
That was three of us dead ‘fore we even saw the garl-friggin’ kholoth! I punched Gundy in the gut. “What the hell happened, you idjit?”
He fell over on a pile of worm parts’n wheezed, “I was just sneakin’ down the tunnel and this worm busted out of the wall next to me!”
“Well next time don’t go leadin’ it to us, dag-nab it!” I said. “So what happened to the dag-blamed worm anyways?”
Jimmy blinked. “I . . . stabbed it,” he said, holdin’ out the Ladyhand spear. “It just . . . blowed up.” “You ain’t turd talkin’!” I said.
Fer that thing to blow up a cave worm that big, it was more dag-gum dangerous than I thought. Hell, maybe it really could kill the kholoth.
“Thanks, Jimmy. You saved my dag-burned life!” I smacked his back hard ‘nuff to rattle his teeth. “Just be careful with that thing.”
Pig Nose started a-bawlin’. I turned’n saw that he just found One-Hand’s head. I sighed’n patted his back too. “Sorry, son. Durn kobalds!”
“They like to keep these cave worms as pets!” I lied. We probly saved kobalds by killin’ that thing, but I needed Pig Nose mad at them not us.
Pig Nose growled and thumped his club in his hand and I knew I had him. I looked ‘round’n tugged my stache. “Where the hell are we?”
“We ran down a side tunnel and ended up here,” Jimmie said. “I’ll check down the next tunnel,” Gundy said. I poked his chest.
“Listen here, you hoop-skirtin’ toe-stubber. No more screwin’ up!” I gave him the evil eye’n he gave me a scared nod and limped off.
I grabbed up Buster’n my shield and gathered the rest of the boys together. “Look, don’t want no more of you kilt, so mind me. Understand?”
I really was feelin’ bad I got ‘em into this, so I started goin’ over kobald killin’ techniques with ‘em. Real Firegobbler family secrets.
You might think I’m a durn idjit for holdin’ secrets back before, but my daddy told me long ago that secret tellers are goin’ to hellers.
I know, daddy weren’t a good rhymer, but he meant it. Anyways, I got the boys learn’t up’n we headed down the tunnel after Gundy.
For once, Gundy didn’t screw up. He met us part way in with news. There was a kobald camp just ahead. Five dag-gum big nasty fellers.
Now I know you may be wonderin’ how big a big nasty kobald could be. I ain’t talkin’ tall. I’m sayin’ they was real dag-burned wide.
I know I don’t talk much ‘bout my momma. She ain’t always been the kind of momma you’d brag on. Truth is I love her anyways.
There’s been times I wondered if’n my life woulda been better without her ‘round. You know, if my daddy’d raised me by hisself.
I wouldn’t have near so much to be ashamed of without momma. But I wouldn’t be the same Lenui without what she taught me.
Now that’s what kobalds do. They get wider as they get tougher. Dwarves on the other hand get . . . thicker. Denser maybe you’d say.
Also don’t forget that kobalds get tougher by eatin’ dwarf. I was rarin’ to bust them rock-hided bastards to pieces. Still I was careful.
These kobalds was maybe two dwarfs wide’n that meant trouble. It also meant it was more likely the kholoth was somewheres nearby.
Kholoths like to keep tougher kobalds nearby ‘cause the weaker ones’re too dag-blamed scared ‘round ‘em to be useful.
So I told the boys my plan. I was gonna run right in there’n bust open the biggest gall-durn kobald in the camp while they was surprised.
They would be runnin’ behind me and could take second pick. That don’t sound too careful, but when dealin’ with kobalds this was a good plan.
Thing is when they’re surprised, kobalds’re slower than a turtle tryin’ to find its hind end. You gotta do as much damage as you can fast.
‘Cause as soon as they get goin’ kobalds’re hard as hell to stop. That’s how Chad got killed.
So we snuck up till we was just ‘round the corner of the dag-gum camp. Then I started runnin’!
I saw the five of ‘em standin’ ‘round a fire, cookin’ up a goblin’re somethin’ on a spit. Soon as they saw me I started hollerin’.
By the time I reached the biggest one, they was still just a blinkin’ at me like I flew out a cave worm’s arse. Which almost happened earlier.
I jumped in the air’n swung Buster as hard as I could, which was purty damn hard, even one-handed. Hit the big-un in the gall-durn neck.
Buster thumped louder’n the sound when a cow falls off a cliff. Shattered the kobald’s stone scales. Sent ’em through his neck like shrapnel.
That’s one of the secrets to killin’ kobalds. Use their hard scales against ‘em. When their scales shatter, it hurts like a fistfull of bees.
Even though you won’t have nothin’ like Buster, hit ‘em twice in the same dag-gum spot and you’ll send scale shards into their body.
We call it softenin’ ‘em up. Works good too. Didn’t need a second hit on this one though. Buster wrecked that rock-licker up good.
That wide-arsed kobald grabbed his neck’n fell on the floor gurglin’ blood. His buddies went fer their pickaxe’s just as the boys hit ‘em.
Gundy stabbed one of ‘em in the eye. That magic blade melted through its scales like butter. Didn’t shear through the bone though.
Biff got one in the belly. Pig Nose’n Dougless started beatin’ on the other two with their clubs. Kobalds hollered. It was friggin’ loud.
That’s when I knew Gundy’d screwed up after all. More Kobalds came a runnin’ in from the next dag-blamed cave. We was in a blasted mess!
It got rough durn quick. I was a bashin’ kobalds right’n left. Gundy’d learnt how to handle ‘em better too, dodgin’ and slicin’.
Biff was holdin’ his own too, blockin’ with his shield and slicin with his magic sword, The big gall-durn surprise though was Jimmy.
Our healer was stabbin’ kobalds like crazy. Whenever the Lady Hand punctured a dag-blamed kobald’s hide, they swoll up’n ‘sploded!
Jimmy was laughin’ like a maniac. I wondered if maybe he become a healer cuz he was worried that he liked killin’ too damn much.
Ever get hit by explodin’ kobald pieces? It friggin’ hurts!
Every time one of them kobalds blew up, we was pelted by dag-gum shards of rocky scales’n bone’n all sorts of kobald chunks!
I knew I was gonna have big ol’ welts all over me’n I was a gall-durn dwarf! The human boys that got hit was cursin’ up a storm.
Sounded like a garl-friggin’ Firegobbler family reunion in that cave, what with all the cursin’ and shoutin’. Didn’t stop Jimmy, though.
He went on killin’ kobalds with the Lady Hand tied to the end of his staff till they stopped comin’. They was waitin’ outside the cave.
Somehow all the boys survived. Dougless’d been knocked silly by a dag-burned chunk of kobald skull, but he was still standin’.
Now we had a new problem. The kobalds knew we was here, but they was just waitin’ outside the cave fer us to make a gall-durn move.
Jimmy healed Dougless up real quick like and I thought up a plan. Wasn’t sure how many there was in the next dag-gum chamber.
The longer we waited, the more time they had to go lookin’ fer friends. We needed to press on, dag-nab it or high-tail it outta there.
Jimmy made up my mind fer me. Dag-gum crab-snatcher hollered, “Let’s Go!” and run down the tunnel screamin’ and wavin’ the Lady Hand.
‘Course I took off at his heels knowin’ everybody’d run after me. Couldn’t let the dag-blamed healer get himself kilt, after all.
The kobalds was surprised to see that skinny robe wearin’ human mage runnin at ‘em with his makeshift spear. That was their bad luck.
They backed away like a bunch of confused donkey-arses. Jimmy started stabbin’ ‘em. Sounds good, but when I got there, I nearly dropped turds.
He’d run into a big camp. The cavern was huge. There musta been a hunnerd kobald shacks. We was screwed.
Even worse, I noticed that the kobalds wasn’t ‘splodin’ as fast. The gall-durn cursed power of the Lady Hand wasn’t workin’ as good.
I had to think quick fer he used up all its magic. So I yelled as loud as I could,” Where’s yer Dag-Burned Kholoth?”
Dag-burned diary got lost ‘cause Gwyrtha went and run off with it! Found it stuffed in Bettie’s pack. Rogue horse’s gettin’ smarter.
‘Course it was her! I know’d it ‘cause the Gall-durn road apple plopper feft tooth holes in it and the cover’s slobber stained! Oh well.
Now where the hell was I? . . . Oh yeah I was a shoutin’ fer them kobalds to bring the kholoth ‘fore the Lady Hand ran outta juice.
Now they froze when they heard me holler fer the Kholoth. They stopped’n stared. Even Jimmy looked at me like I was garl-friggin crazy!
Now I expected ‘em to say somethin’ like, “You know ‘bout that?” or “Who told you ‘bout our Kholoth?” But it weren’t like that.
They was just like, “It’s a dwarf! Get him!” How stupid was they? None of ‘em saw me bustin’ away at their dag-gum friends ‘fore then?
Anyway, I wasn’t bout to let ‘em change the subject. I started bustin’ more heads sayin’, “Get!” Wham! “The Damn” Thud! “Kholoth!” “Idjits!”
Slowly but surely this started gettin’ their attention. Finally they backed away’n stared at me while some of ‘em ran into the caves.
“That’s right, you dirt-eaters! Go tell him Lenui Firegobbler’s here and I got business with him!” They stared at me, lickin’ their lips.
“We don’t eat dirt,” said one of ‘em, a big wide one. “We eat dwarfs!” He licked his lips, and patted his belly. “Yer momma was delicious.”
I picked a pickaxe up off the ground and chucked it at him. Kobald raised his hands, but it still bounced off his dag-burned head.
“Momma’s hide’s too tough fer the likes of you to chew,” I said. “You’d just break yer blasted teeth.” I weren’t lyin’. She was that tough.
Then the ground started shakin’ and the kobalds stepped back, clearin’ a path. That’s when I knew the kholoth was a-comin’.