The Half Elf, Volume I

Chapter II

‘Hurrraaaaahh!’

Joshua charged at the massive snake, swinging his long sword in massive circles over his head. The snake, however, seeing the berserk man charging him, lunged for him with razor-sharp teeth. Joshua, quite skilfully, managed to block the attack by battering the snake’s head with his tall shield, slightly stunning the monster. however, it knocked his balance and caused his own attack to go wide.

A few feet behind him, Talos had taken the long bow off his back and was drawing an arrow, keeping an eye on the snake the entire time.

‘Aha! A bow: the true weapon of an elf. I see you have not forgotten your heritage, Mr half.’ Rathron pointed out, preparing another spell from his book. At this point Talos was too busy taking aim to acknowledge Rathron’s stubborn refusal to use his name.

‘Oh powers that be, grant me your strength to smite this beast down!’ Rathron raised his right arm, and suddenly a flurry of spears, shining brighter than anything else in the room, shot towards the serpent. They struck its head, and Talos let loose an arrow just a few seconds later, impaling the snake to the doorframe.

The snake then let out a blood chilling screech, causing Joshua to drop his shield in an attempt to cover his ears. Seizing the opportunity, the serpent darted towards Joshua, starting to constrict him with its powerful muscles. Its charge dislodged tore the arrow from the door frame, now lodged in its body.

‘Ah Mr Joshua! It seems you’ve got yourself into a pickle! I recommend you brace yourself, as…‘

‘Oh just shut up you old elf! If you’re gonna help the man bloody well do it’ screamed back Talos, drawing another arrow.

‘Excuse me! This next one is dangerous, I’ll have you know! I’d hold onto something pretty quickly!’ Rathron, rather angry, yelled this out, before throwing his arm out again. Talos heard a sudden clap of thunder, and he doubled over in pain, dropping his arrow, as he felt a sharp sensation searing through back, so much so that even talking felt impossible.

From the corner of his eye he saw that Rathron’s spell had stunned the snake much more than it had him.

Joshua took the opportunity and escaped from the snake’s coil, slashing through its skin like paper. Talos began to see the snake raise its head again, trying to kill the man tearing through it, and so he drew back another arrow and, with a near silent thud, hit it right between the eyes, which gave Joshua the perfect opportunity to decapitate, and finally finish, the serpent. Its lifeless body collapsed on the ground, spraying snake blood over the entire room and all its occupants, as Joshua let out a roar. He then dropped to the floor, catching his breath.

‘After that, I’m famished.’ He remarked.

After drinking some water, and using some more to rinse his clothes of snake blood, Rathron noticed that Talos was slicing up the corpse of the snake.

‘Oh deary me, I knew you half ones resorted to eating all sorts of dirty things, but snakes? Dear Atmenae, what is the world coming to?’ He said to the crouching half-elf.

‘Old man,’ Talos replied, ‘I’m almost certain not even the most isolated of goblins resort to eating this sort of snake meat: a giant plains constrictor, such as this, is meat far too tough for anyone to eat, and is about as nutritious as that pickaxe we picked up earlier. I am taking his skin off: any skilled tanner can make all sorts of fine garments from these. In any event, if we feel like sleeping, an extra cover wouldn’t hurt, as it’s gonna get colder the further we move down.’

Rathron looked back with the face of a man who knew everything before Talos told him, and walked away to another corner of the room to study his spell book. Joshua was tending to his own wounds, and that of the unconscious man on the floor. Talos wasn’t completely certain he would trust Joshua’s medical ability, but decided that as he wasn’t using his sword to patch the man up there wasn’t much he could do wrong.

After Talos had got off all the skin he could from the snake, the man started to come to in the corner, coughing and spluttering.

‘Hey, you alright there?’ Joshua asked the man.

‘Been better’, he responded, with a weak smile.

After some conversation between the four of them, the man revealed that he was called Joseph, a travelling bard who had come to the mine in search of treasure. While searching one of the rooms, he was struck from behind and knocked out.

After telling his story, the bard thanked the party for saving them, and promised to pay them back some day. He then departed from the mine, humming a tune to himself as he left.

‘What an odd fellow,’ Rathron commented, ‘makes you wonder whether being a bard is actually his day job…’

The other two ignored him, as they were packing up their things, and before long the group had set off again down the mine.

‘Look, I think I see some light over there!’ Talos observed, seeing a dim, orange tinted light originating from the next room.

‘Looks like firelight.’ Rathron replied. ‘We’d better be careful, there could be others there.’

Joshua, clearly not hearing the elf or otherwise not understanding, strode onwards confidently into the next room before either of the other two could protest.

‘Joshua! Oh for Atmenae’s sake!’ Rathron shouted towards him, before giving up and chasing after him. Talos, realising by now that their entrance was anything but subtle, chased the other two in.

Talos couldn’t help but gasp when he entered the room, the mangled, dismembered body of a Duergar lay on the floor. Behind it, stood a tall, proud half-elf, wielding a knife in one hand and a mask in the other.

Talos had seen corpses of dozens of different races in his life, but this one almost made him throw up.

‘Good Pular, did you…?’ Talos started

‘Oh my, is the half-elf crying because of a deady duergar? One would think someone accustomed to hate and lies such as yourself would be used to this sort of thing.’ The half-elf turned to face them.

‘Used to? What in Pular’s name are you saying?’ Responded Talos

‘This mask really does do a lot for its owner. What a shame I seem to have spent all its power. Oh well,’ the half-elf said, tossing away the mask and retrieving a spell book from her bag. ‘Killing you will still be effortless for me. Perhaps you know my name? I am Shava, the scourge of elves and humans alike!’

Next Chapter: The Mask of Maesroton