For a moment, the three adventurers and the monstrous worm were motionless, as though sizing each other up. Then, with a roar, the creature lunged forward at a seemingly impossible speed.
Tac, Mhyra and Eveneye were barely able to dodge out of the way as the head of the worm slammed into the ground they had been standing on. The ancient stone cracked and as the beast raised its head back up a crater was visible.
“How can it do that?” Eveneye shouted as he regained his footing, “It goes against all known natural laws!”
“Who cares!” Mhyra shouted back, “We have to beat it!”
Tac simply roared in defiance as the other two came to stand next to him. Eveneye unhooked his hammer and, raising it to his mouth, spoke a few words. The handle of the hammer extended, allowing him to hold it in two hands. The head of the hammer became wreathed in lightning, crackling with lethal intent.
Mhyra twirled her staff around her head and slammed the end into the ground before her. There was a flash of bright light and the tip of her staff blazed with fire, matching the blaze that now shone in her eyes. She took the staff in both hands and held it before her in a defensive stance.
Tac drew his greatsword and roared again louder this time, and as he did so his muscles bulged and his stature seemed to increase until he was head and shoulders taller than the others. Raising it ready to strike, he charged at the worm, Eveneye and Mhyra following close behind. Tac reached the creature first and swung his weapon with immense strength. Eveneye arrived a moment later and swung his hammer, striking the hide of the worm. Lightning discharged on the surface but the worm was unharmed. Mhyra cast spell after spell with as much power as she could channel, however her fireballs also had no effect.
They swung, struck and dodged as the worm lunged left and right, trying to crush them under its weight. Nothing they did seemed to harm the creature, and as the battle went on they felt themselves starting to wear down.
Eveneye landed another blow with his hammer and barely dodged a swing of the worm’s tail. “This isn’t going as well as I’d hoped!” he called to the others.
“Nothing’s working!” Mhyra shouted back, “I’m trying every spell I can think of! Its skin is too thick! I can’t get through!”
Tac, uncharacteristically, was silent. His attention was divided between attacking the monster and glancing around the room. Suddenly, he called out to Eveneye, “You! Attack its tail! Now!”
Eveneye rushed to do so without thinking. He swung his hammer with all his might at the skin of the worm, half wondering what the point was. The blow landed with an impact that would have shattered the bones of any other creature. As expected, the worm’s hide was unaffected.
The worm responded by swatting its tail at him. Eveneye attempted to dive out of the way but the tail caught him and sent him flying. He landed some distance away, winded but otherwise unhurt. The tail continued its swing and smashed through one of the nearby pillars. There was a creaking and groaning of tortured stone from the ancient balcony above. Eveneye somehow managed to scramble out of the way as several tons of rock came crashing down. The stone landed directly onto the worm’s tail, crushing it and pinning it in place.
The worm reared up its head and roared in pain. Gaps opened up in its segmented armour and Tac saw the opportunity he had been waiting for. He slashed viciously at the exposed soft sinew underneath. Not wasting a moment, he turned to Mhyra. “Mage! Now!” he shouted.
Mhyra did not need to be told a second time. She stabbed her staff into the wound as far as it would go, then she summoned all the magical power she could muster and channelled it directly into the creature.
The worm started to thrash in pain as it was incinerated from the inside. Smoke started to belch from its mouth as it howled. Mhyra held on, pouring in all the magic she could until eventually flames started to spew from the worm’s hide. Eventually, the worm became still and the stench of burned flesh filled the air. Slowly, and with difficulty, Mhyra withdrew her staff. The upper half of it was covered in foul dark blood and ichor.
“We did it,” she breathed, as though hardly able to believe it.
Tac grunted and nodded at her, as though at an equal. He returned his sword to its sheath and walked over to the worm’s mouth, which was now scorched and blackened. Tac reached inside and pulled out one of the razor-sharp teeth. Seeing Mhyra’s look of disgust he shrugged. “Trophy,” he said simply. Now that the heat of battle was over, he felt his body shrink down to its normal size. Mhyra watched in amazement but didn’t say anything.
A groan made them both look over to where Eveneye was lying. He stood up with difficulty and brushed some dust from his cloak. He looked at Tac. “You’re not telling me you planned that?” he asked.
Tac simply shrugged.
Eveneye shook his head and turned towards the pedestal which held the urn they had come for. As expected, the pedestal had been destroyed, however, the urn was intact. It was lying on its side in the rubble. Before the others could move, Eveneye went over to it and picked it up. “At least we have what we came for,” he said as he put it into his pack. Mhyra opened her mouth to protest but Eveneye shook his head. “We can discuss who gets it once we get back to the Kobold’s Head. Is that alright?”
Mhyra nodded. Tac growled slightly but he too nodded. Together, they made their way back up to the catacombs and out to the ruins.
The moon was shining when the group reached the entrance. It was unusually bright this night and the three adventurers found that they could see almost as well as in the day. The moonlight reflected from the stone ruins around them and from the ground before them.
It also reflected off the dozen or so arrows pointed in their direction.
A band of men surrounded them. They wore scruffy clothes and armour but there was no question that they were capable fighters. The one in the centre – obviously the leader – stood in front of them with his arms folded and a fierce grin on his face.
“Oh. Well, this complicates things somewhat.” Eveneye said.