A couple of weeks ago I asked my Facebook and twitter friends if they think I should post my first short story ever. I don’t have the first story I ever wrote, which I believe is a journal entry from second grade, but I do have this. This is the first story I wrote where I actually took it upon myself to recreationally create a tale. I did this often after this story and it isn’t my best work, but I love it dearly because it went a long way toward the path I am currently on. I even left all of the grevious editing and formatting errors in it, which is honestly a little painful for me to do, but I want you to be able to see my growth. So without further ado, here it is:
By: Jonathan T. Jones
He reached up with his short but powerful arms and gripped the ledge with his stubby fingers. He pulled up his entire four and a half foot, two hundred and forty-pound frame with one strong pull. With his other arm he threw his axe up onto the ledge to get a grip with both hands. With one deft move he threw himself up onto the ledge, scooped up his mighty double bladed axe, Kremsaron, and rolled into a crouch. He looked around to see where the two beasts who tossed him were. Once he was convinced that they weren’t around, he began to study the area.
These two were ugloths, and their trail wasn’t too hard to pick up. After all, he was Dumahrin Axeblade, dwarven prince of the Degrinne Mountains. He was once a noble, and to the thoughts of most, the next king of Degrinne. Now he was lowered to this, a simple fighter, clinging on to revenge because he had nothing left. He followed the trail of the two beasts and found them sleeping in a nearby cave. He stalked in and observed the huge creatures. Their big, coal black eyes were open but, Dumahrin knew they were asleep. Their ridiculously large maws were drooling and their jaw pincers were dry of their usual paralyzing poison.
He wanted to put Kremsaron into their skulls at that very moment, but he knew that once he attacked the first, it would let out a bloodcurdling shriek that would make his ears bleed and awaken the other. He stared at the beasts trying to figure out how to kill them safely, until he found his answer in the sound of their stomachs growling. The dwarven prince left the cave and searched the woods nearby. He found a suitable clearing and started to work.
* * * * *
The ugloths awakened to the sound of steel against steel above their heads and let out loud shrieks to try to incapacitate their unseen foe. They searched the cave until they found a small sling bullet rolling on the floor. They searched for a long while. Once they calmed down and were satisfied that there were no enemies in the cave, a smell found their nostrils. The scent of a fresh kill. They searched a little more and found a pool of blood just outside of the entrance to the cave. The blood trailed off into the woods, so the two beasts followed.
The blood trail led to a clearing. There was the body of a dead deer lying on the ground. One of the ugloths rushed toward the corpse. It tripped on an unseen wire and fell into a pile of leaves, which fell open to a deep pit filled with sharpened sticks. It let out one final shriek before it died.
* * * * *
Dumahrin watched from the bushes and smiled. Stupid beastie, no one tosses a dwarf over a cliff and gets away with it, he thought to himself . It took nearly all of the strength of his will to not let out a laugh as the other “stupid beastie,” as he called them, moved from its fallen comrade toward the deer.
* * * * *
The ugloth walked more cautiously than its companion toward the feast in front of it. It made soon made it to the fresh meat unscathed and opened its drooling maw. As its pincers grabbed the deer and pulled it toward the creature’s mouth there was a snapping sound and a sharpened branch fell from a tree. The ugloth shrieked as it was impaled and pinned to the ground.
A loud, robust laughter arose from the bushes and out came the dwarf that had been thrown over the cliff. “Ye want a piece o’ me beastie?” the dwarf taunted, “how’s about a piece o’ me axe?” Dumahrin burst into laughter again and began kicking the creature. “Hah, answer me ye stupid beastie.” He kicked the creature again and stopped laughing, a scowl arose on his face. “I think ye do want a piece o’ me.” He said in his newfound seriousness. The ugloth made its reply in a gurgling, clicking sound, which was its way of speaking. It sounded a loud shriek that would have made the dwarf’s ears bleed, if they weren’t caked in mud. Dumahrin walked around the creature and stepped on its back to hold it. He pulled out the branch and jumped back, Kremsaron at the ready.
The beast climbed to its feet and let out a loud shriek almost strong enough to break the dwarf’s mud-made earplugs. Dumahrin smiled and took the offensive. He swung his axe in many short swift horizontal swings and the creature backpedaled and jumped and dodged out of the way of the powerful weapon. The ugloth evaded the attacks for what seemed like many minutes and the dwarf smiled again, showing his respect for this opponent and slowed his charge. The beast took the offensive.
This creature was a very skilled opponent. It caused the dwarf to almost slip on a slick stone. He caught himself on his other foot and quickly regained hi footing while parrying all the while. Dumahrin swung and angled his axe to defend himself from the creature’s attacks. More than once the ugloth’s clawed three fingered hands came uncomfortably close to hitting home only to be deflected at the last second. The prince of Degrinne backpedaled and defended waiting for an opportunity to strike at his opponent.
Then his opportunity came in the form of the creature making a forward lunge with one of its disproportionately long arms. Dumahrin angled his axe to intercept the arm and slice it between its two forward fingers all the way to the elbow. The ugloth quickly retracted its forked forearm and shrieked in pain. Another opportunity the dwarf quickly seized by cutting off one of the beast’s legs at the thigh. It fell to the ground and let out an even louder shriek. Dumahrin raised Kremsaron and took its head, silencing that damnable sound. As the dwarven prince walked away from the dead ugloth he thought to himself, as the thinking of any sensible dwarf would be, Nothin like a good melee.
* * * * *
Dumahrin made his way back to his camp outside of the cave and collected his traveling pack. He came for vengeance and he planned to get it. The dwarf donned his Aegillite full-plate mail but left his gauntlets off. He reached into his pack and took out a pot, some coal and a waterskin. He put the coal into the pot and began to heat it over his campfire. He put a bit of water into the pot and used a small stick to mix it with the coal to make a thick ebon paste. The dwarf smeared the paste onto his face with his stubby fingers and cursed himself for not waiting for it to cool first. He worked it onto both hands and put on his gauntlets. The dwarf grabbed all of the weapons he could hold and started back to the cave.
He walked into the cave and picked up his sling bullet. It was one of his twenty uniquely enchanted bullets of noisemaking. They always made for beautiful distractions. He made his way deeper into the cave and descended into the area where he figured enemies would be. He came to the inner caves and to an area where there was a rope bridge guarded on the far end by two swarthy dwarves. He truly hated swarthy dwarves, always about their evil ways and their claims of being the true descendants of the dwarven gods. He had to be supremely careful though, because he was taught swarthy dwarf tactics as a child. He figured that they would have advanced much since last they faced his kin, as had his kin. But he knew that a tactic such as cutting a rope bridge as a enemy crossed, no matter how widely known, would still be effective.
They stopped him about half the way across and yelled something to him. He cursed himself for not paying attention when he should have been learning their language. He looked around at his surroundings and thought Dammit, too far for a jump. They yelled something else to him but he still couldn’t understand. If he wasn’t wearing his coal and water disguise (which made him look like he was one of them) they probably would have cut the bridge already. He put his hands behind his back, one on Kremsaron and the other on a small but perfectly balanced throwing hammer.
He saw one of them ready his short sword to cut the bridge and he let fly his throwing hammer as fast as he could. It blasted into the chest of the swarthy who had his sword ready and knocked him away from the bridge. He began pumping his stumpy little legs as fast as he could in a mad dash toward the other side. The other swarthy cut the bridge and Dumahrin tore Kremsaron from his back and leapt toward the ledge. It was too far. He swung Kremsaron toward the rock face and luckily it cut into the stone and held him from falling. He soon picked a handhold and threw his mighty axe up over the ledge in a spin. The dwarven prince swung himself onto the ledge and readied two small hand axes for another melee.
He looked and saw the swarthy who had cut the bridge –and who he had not until now noticed that she was a female- lying dead on the ground with Kremsaron in her skull. He chuckled and said to himself, “I’m better than me own knowin’.” He was on his way to retrieve his enchanted axe but then noticed that the one who had been hit with the hammer was getting up. The swarthy ran toward him with his sword up and ready to strike. The dwarven prince could see the lack of skill in this opponent by the way he was charging. The amateur swarthy waited too long to come down with his blade and didn’t defend himself properly. Dumahrin saw ten thousand ways to attack just then which greatly disappointed him. He raised the axe that was in his right hand to block his opponent’s two-handed downward chop. He hooked the bottom of the curved axe blade around the blade of the swarthy’s sword and spun around to the left to put the sword to its wielder’s throat. “Ye should’ve trained longer.” He said into his opponent’s ear as he brought the axe in his left hand around to slit the swarthy’s belly.
Dumahrin put away his two hand axes and retrieved his throwing hammer. After which, he picked up his fallen opponent and carried the swarthy dwarf to the ledge and threw him off. Then he pulled Kremsaron from the female’s skull and the kicked her over the ledge. He had continued walking farther into the caves and was thinking that this was too easy.
Then he walked into view of a large set of double doors guarded by two more swarthies. This is getting better and better, he thought to himself. He noticed that these two weren’t paying attention to their surroundings. They would’ve noticed him by now if they were, they were probably sleeping. He readied his sling with a bullet of noisemaking and placed it in his right hand and two throwing axes in his left.
He slung the bullet above the heads of the two swarthies and on impact it sounded off as a dragon roar. They looked up, searching for the dragon, and Dumahrin let fly. The first axe hit its mark perfectly. Not a killing blow, but a throwing axe to the groin was just as effective. The other axe missed, only by a little, but that was still not enough. He rushed forward while the swarthy dwarf was still confused, looking for the dragon and trying to help his howling comrade. He tackled the dumbfounded wretch and punched him in the face. The Aegillite gauntlet ripped the skin and flesh from the swarthy’s face with ease. He pounded and pounded until his opponent’s face was little more than bloody mush.
Then he turned to the other, who had taken the axe out and was attempting to kill himself. If the Prince of Degrinne wasn’t in a full battle rage of pure vengeance, he might have left him to it. But he was. He took the throwing axe and tied and gagged the fool. Then he placed both of them in a small hole in the cavern wall, the dead atop the living, only to further the fool’s pain. And as he grinned at his grim work, he wondered why he hadn’t seen more enemies.
He took off his gauntlets and pulled out a small cloth. He wiped the blood from his armor and face and then replaced the cloth to where he had retrieved it. He then replaced his coal and water disguise, which had been ruined by his previous activities. The brave dwarf put his gauntlets back on and took a deep breath. He uttered a quick prayer to his god, Blaera, The Axe Queen, and pushed open the huge metal doors.
Now he knew why he hadn’t seen more enemies. Apparently this was some form of assembly. He walked into a gigantic room filled with goblins, orcs, kobolds, swarthies, humans, ogres and lots of other creatures. He even saw some elves in there, though they were not with the larger group. This was, without a doubt, the army that was leaving Degrinne when he had returned from his negotiations with the Hammerhurl clan of Aegillite Cove. There were thousands, all listening to the words of some large cloaked figure. Magic had to be involved to get this army to work together, and this robed giant–the apparent leader-was the source of it. He would get his vengeance soon.
“We have taken one clan of the damnable dwarves, but our work is far from over.” said the giant figure in a loud booming voice. There was an orb floating about the giant’s head. Dumahrin correctly guessed that it was magically translating his words and projecting it to everyone in the room. “Clan Axeblade is no more,” it said, and the lone dwarf winced at the words, but took heart in the fact that his enemies didn’t know that two hundred of his six-hundred-dwarf clan had survived and were now working to rebuild Degrinne. He worked his way through the crowd trying to make his way to the giant. He would at least kill this one before he fell. “Next we will take clan Undertree, then Hammerslam, then Battlerage, then Wiltingtree, and on and on until all of Jugath is purged!” The entire crowd went into an insane frenzy at the giant’s words, Goblins and kobolds yelping, orcs howling, ogres roaring, and humans and swarthies screaming.
Dumahrin almost vomited at the sickening sight. He followed the giant as it went into a door in the side of the room and he slipped in before the door closed. “Good speech.” Said Dumahrin in the orcish tongue. The robed figure didn’t even turn, “Thank you,” it said, “but you acquired no permission to gain a private audience with me friend.” Dumahrin brought his speech back to the common tongue, “I ain’t yer friend, an I wasn’t knowin I needed permission ta kill ye.” He stated with no fear. The giant turned to look at him and laughed, “You mean to kill me do you?” It asked sarcastically. “Of course you do. You wish to kill me and be the savior of the dwarven race.” It laughed aloud, “Do you realize that even if you kill me, I have well over twenty thousand followers out there who share my dream?” It was Dumahrin’s turn to chuckle, “Yer followers couldn’t stop me from gettin in here ta talk at ye.” Said the confident dwarf. “Who’s to stop me kin from slaughterin all of em?” He asked rhetorically. “And I’m not meanin to save the dwarven race, I’m meanin ta get revenge.” The giant cocked its head, “Revenge?” it asked, still chuckling. “Aye.” The dwarf replied in all seriousness. Then its tone changed to one of seriousness. “Who are you fool?”
The dwarf smiled and wiped his disguise from his face with a cloth, “I’m Dumahrin Axeblade, heir ta the throne o’ Degrinne. Ye killed me father, me mother, me five brothers, me woman, and more n’ half o’ me clan. Now I aim ta pay ye back.” The giant bowed, “And I am Jeremyah Dungin, the bane of the dwarven race. Let us waste no more time with mere talk of our fight and let us get to it.”
He began casting a spell. Dumahrin threw a hammer to disrupt it. The throwing hammer bounced off an unseen barrier inches away from the giant’s face. Jeremyah didn’t even flinch, he just continued to cast his spells. The dwarf cursed and readied a bullet of noisemaking in his sling. He slung it at Jeremyah’s face and on impact against barrier, it made the sound of a ugloth’s shriek. The giant fell to the ground holding his ears. Dumahrin jumped atop the robed giant and hacked away at Jeremyah’s knees. He knew that the magical barrier couldn’t take too many strikes from a weapon as powerful as Kremsaron. He was proved right as the axe broke through the barrier and through the robes, all the way to the ground. He was confused. Why did he hear breaking wood when Kremsaron should have met flesh. The dwarf grabbed the robes and ripped them from Jeremyah.
It was a creature a little shorter than he, with a smaller build, a large nose, a thick mustache, and a bald head. He uncovered a gnome. And it was indeed wood that he had broken, for the gnome wore long wooden stilts. Dumahrin laughed harder than he had ever laughed before. “Stop laughing!” Jeremyah demanded in his new high-pitched voice. Dumahrin laughed louder. “Stop laughing damn you!” He said while propping himself up on his elbows.
Dumahrin managed to stop laughing long enough to say, “Ye’re pitiful…and weak.” The gnome stood up and started jumping about angrily. “That’s why I hate dwarves,” he started, “always talking down on others, always calling others weak. You beat those who you see as weaker than you, and those you do see as strong, you kill for sport. Oh I hate dwarves, I hate them!” He started jumping about more wildly and began kicking rocks around. Dumahrin laugh even harder at the gnome’s ridiculous display.
Jeremyah stood still and began his casting again. “Laugh at this!” he said as he pointed his right index finger toward the dwarf and let loose a bolt of lightning. It struck Dumahrin in the chest and knocked him to the floor. “I don’t hear you laughing now dwarf!” the gnome taunted. “Hah!” the dwarf shot back as he stood up. Jeremyah started casting again and Dumahrin charged forward and punched him in the face, knocking him cold. He stomped on the gnome’s hands to break his fingers and keep him from casting anymore spells. He collected his weapons and looked down at the gnome, shaking his head. “Ye forgot yer shield was gone.” He said while chuckling. “Yer pitiful,” he spat on the gnome, “if ye didn’t have yer army I’m thinkin ye’d be even more pitiful.” He shook his head once more. As he looked around the room he frowned, “Stupid gnome.” He saw a door that, belonging to such a cowardly gnome, probably led outside.
He left a gift for Jeremyah’s minions in the center of the room and walked through the door. He heard a roar that he had only heard of in fireside tales and looked up. He saw the reptilian creature looking down at him from a high ledge. With a flap of its large leathery wings the manticore swooped down at him with its needle-shooting tail trained on him. He readied Kremsaron and spread his legs in a defensive stance.
* * * * *
Two humans walked into their leader’s private chambers to check on him and thought it curious to find a gnome unconscious on the floor. They wanted to find their great Jeremyah because the army had turned against each other for some unknown reason and they needed him to calm things down. They found it even more curious to find a cloth sack with an almost burned out, oil-soaked rope sticking out of it.
* * * * *
As Dumahrin crawled on the grass of the surface, bruised and bloody, with manticore needles protruding from his flesh, he smiled. He heard his little surprise going off as he spat blood in his laughter. He had just set off enough boompowder to cave in two caverns that size. Jeremyah’s entire army was just defeated and the dwarven race was saved. Most importantly to Dumahrin Axeblade though, his vengeance was complete. After one night of rest he would go back to reclaim Degrinne. He thought it odd that he felt so empty after such a great victory. Such was always the way of vengeance.