Fight, Swear, Loathe; Chapter 19

Without having Cinder around to keep watch, Hilde would have been very reluctant to continue this adventure in this way. The rocks and formations were so tall, it was like navigating a stone forest. There were no paths, and so many places the beholder could be hiding. Cinder stayed well ahead of Hilde and Belynda, though, and the xvart could feel the impressions from her familiar. The rat was anxious, but not fearful. And it had not spotted the monster yet.

There were a number of directions to head in, but they had seen from up in the dwarven bunker the direction that the creature had gone. It seemed so far away, but at last Hilde could see a low opening along the cavern wall. It was about ten feet high at the top, and one of the streams ran through it on the right side, taking up about two feet. On the left side, there was solid rock, and the entire opening was about six feet wide. Belynda tugged on Hilde’s arm, and pointed to the opening. Hilde looked at her, and the xvart silently made clapping motions, a huge grin on her face.

Hilde stifled a laugh, and nodded her head. She had already drawn her bastard sword, and was ready for action. Adrenaline had been coursing through her veins since beginning the climb down the waterfall, and it hadn’t let up. Hilde held her sword in both hands, ready to strike, and they inched up towards the opening.

About ten feet away from the opening, they hid behind a rock outcropping, and Belynda took a series of deep breaths. She dug in her pockets, and closed her eyes, quietly preparing a spell. The xvart nodded to Hilde, and then motioned to Cinder. The rat headed for a safe hiding spot, and Hilde picked up some small rocks from the ground.

Belynda padded softly to the opening, her heart racing. She was sure that the beholder could hear her breathing. She stepped into the opening, and squatted down, right in the middle. She placed something on the ground, and covered it with small rocks and dirt. Working quickly, Belynda seemed pleased with the result, and, holding her breath, she ran quickly back to where Hilde was hidden. Once she got to the outcropping, she nodded frantically to her mistress.

Hilde peeked around the rocks, and tossed a pebble through the opening, intentionally trying to make a bit of noise. She waited for a moment, and then threw another little stone. Belynda swatted her leg, pinging softly on the armor. Cinder, from her hidden vantage point, was impressing upon Belynda that something was coming. Hilde and Belynda both hunkered behind their outcropping, and were as quiet as they could be.

Belynda could now only tell what was happening based on her familiar’s impressions. Cinder was moving from anxious to fearful. The rat knew what Belynda wanted, the moment that she was seeking. That time was getting close. Belynda fought the urge to peek around the outcropping.

Hilde threw another rock, this time off to the side, away from them, and against the wall of the cavern they were in. She was terrified to look and see if the monster was in the opening yet. Belynda hadn’t given her any indication of what Cinder was seeing. Hilde was careful not to reveal her position, and tossed another rock, that bounced off of a formation just a little ways away and clattered loudly down to the floor. Cinder must have sensed something, because Belynda once again pressed against Hilde, to make her stop throwing rocks.

The longest moment of their lives ticked by, and then, without warning, Belynda whispered something, peeked out from their hiding spot, and cast a spell.

There was a terrifying crunching sound, metallic in nature, but with a very wet, and loudly squishing sound. It was a unique sound, probably never heard before anywhere in the world, and likely never to be heard again. Belynda saw it all happen, and she screamed in delight. Cinder saw it happen, too, but Hilde had missed it. Truthfully, she wouldn’t have wanted to see it. It was disgusting.

As the beholder had come hovering into the opening, Belynda had cast “dispel magic” on to the spring that she had buried in the center of the opening. Freed from the shrink spell, the coils slammed upward with enough force to positively obliterate the monster. It smashed the creature with so much force, that the top of the opening began to fracture. The flesh of the beast was pulverized into several hundred pounds of nauseating glop, and it dripped unceremoniously down the huge spring and into the stream. With stomach-turning plopping sounds, the exploded meat from the beholder fell to the ground, and the liquified remains ran down every surface within twenty feet of the impact.

That included Belynda, who had been looking around the outcropping when the spell went off. Her face was completely covered in whatever had been the inside of that horror. She blinked at Hilde, who was torn between laughing and throwing up. She wiped the worst of it off of her squire’s face, and flicked it on the ground.

Hilde said, “That was the most grotesquely successful trap I have ever seen.” She started giggling as Belynda tried to get the gore out of her hair, and added, “So, congratulations?”

Belynda softly replied, “I don’t think I am hungry anymore.”

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