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Together We Fall

This was written over a few e-mails on the old list, before I cared to save them. I am not sure if this is the full original story as I cannot recover all the e-mails. I am trying to put it back the way I wrote it, maybe it is time for a rewrite. To help you understand, I will give you the summary. I started the story with the group in the middle of a battle with a dragon (surprise surprise). Then I gave more detail on the characters as they retreated and regrouped. Besides DarkDay, this is my favorite Non DragonSlayer Stories, because I loved the characters and the interaction that I developed. FOUND THE ORIGINAL START


Quietly they crept down the corridor, stepping over the dead orcs they easily dispatched. The short and stubby dwarf up front was glad everyone had infravison, this way they were harder to detect in the darkness that surrounded them. He gasped, just a little, under his breath when the elf tapped him on the shoulder and silently outlined the secret door. After carefully confirming there was no traps, they proceeded through and down the stairs on the other side. The mage thought it was all too easy as he looked over his shoulder. He was counting quietly to himself to time how long his silence spell would last. They picked up the pace, it was a long way down and they did not want to be here longer then needed. At last they reached the landing and looked at each other as the enclove they stood in quickly opened up to a massive cavern. The treasure they came for was in plain view. They all pushed the dwarf ahead and he begrudgingly advanced. It was a beautiful red egg, not nearly as heavy as the size would indicate. Gruffy, as his friends called him had the egg well balance when he was startled by the sound returning to his ears.

"Four twenty four, four... oops." the mage stopped his counting.

Gruffy looked at the party and they all looked in amazement. He knew something was up as they motioned behind him. He turned and gently set the egg back in the nest. Clearly it was too late. Clearly they would have to earn their name. Anyone who survived the next few rounds would certainly be called a Dragnslayer as the huge red dragon came swooping in.


After floating down the river, for what seemed like hours, Charbara pulled himself out near a clearing in the woods. He hoped others in the party had made it this far. As the rogue of the group, he felt he stayed in the fight as long as he could. How could any of them expect the battle to go like that. .....

Harmel took out his last magic arrow. It was him and the mage left to face the beast. It would not go down, he was not even sure he was helping. "Come on let's go" he shouted as the shaft flew. He watched as his flying companion, heck his best friend, tried one last spell. Almost as if his arrow back-fired, the beast let loose with a huge ball of flame towards the gesturing mage. To Harmel's dismay, his friend did not get his spell off. As the fire and smoke cleared, all he could see was falling dust and flaming bits of cloth. Vowing revenge, Harmel dived into the stream, following the cowards that left before.


She did not know whom to thank more. Her faith in Frey had gotten her out of so many situations, but this had looked hopeless. Her companions were the ones there for her today, when her faith made her overconfident. When the group entered the cavern, it was Teree herself who lit up the cavern, awakening the horrid beast. It looked like a charred and swollen dragon. Maybe because it looked half dead, she was overconfident. "We can take it?", she yelled as the battle began. Now, washing the blood off her face at the river's edge, she looked at herself and wondered if maybe Frey was trying to tell her something.


The brothers ended up together. They always did. At least this time it was in both their best interest. "What was that thing, Carl?" Kyle said after catching his breath. "I think... I think... I think..." Carl always took a little more time to catch his breath. "That was nothing you could ever imagine? came a voice from the woods. The voice was so calm, the brothers were instantly at ease. They just stared up at the lovely young woman exiting the woods. She appeared to be naked, with what little cloth on her body blending in with foliage. "I can take away your pain as I tell you what caused your wounds? Carl and Kyle were speechless. They held out their hands like hurt puppies. She took their hands and the men just smiled. Even Charbara was smiling as he plunged his blade into the Dryad's exposed back. "You two were always sucker for a real looker, but it's great to see you made it out?


Harmel & Teree were sitting consoling each other when they heard a commotion across the river. They really didn't care. Teree almost perked up when she saw the brothers trampling along the opposite bank. Harmel looked mad as he took out his bow and shot an arrow straight across. Kyle didn't miss a beat. He was too tired to shout or even wave but he pulled the arrow from the tree next to him and pulled on the attached twine. By the time he and Carl tied the rope that followed to the tree Charbara was back from his nature call and the three were helping Teree and Harmel across the river. Not a word was spoken. It was an eerie reminder of how things used to be, everyone knowing what the other was thinking. Teree handed out berries and nuts, Harmel whittled on some wood and Charbara was examining a trinket off his latest kill. By the time they got back to where the river came out from under the mountain, they realized it was time to talk. "Wouldn't it be easier to go around the way we entered the first time." Carl asked. He really did not like swimming, even though he was very good at it. Probably because every time he did he had to cut off his armor and them go diving to find it again. "We could if the entrance to the cavern had not collapsed. I think digging through that pile will take a lot more effort and certainly announce our presence. Our only hope is surprise THIS TIME" replied Charbara. Teree knew he was talking about her, she just had no answer. She was struggling to find an answer to any of the questions racing through her head. Harmel looked around and realized he had to take on the role of his lost friend. With a lump in his throat, he repeated word for word Mirage's favorite saying. "All we can do is do what we do best. Stick together, stick to the plan and let's stick it to them." "That's great" was Carl's sarcastic remarks, "What is the plan?"

--

Harbring knew his lot in life. Being short, even for a dwarf, meant stretching to be considered equal. As a fighter, he knew he could hold his own in any battle. But even since the brothers came along, he found himself struggling to stand out. He had to stand out. Even when he was standing up he was overlooked most of the time. He left his clan because he did not stand out. Now as the only dwarf in simple group of adventures, he did not stand out. With all this weighing on his mind, he looked up at this would be Dragon. This was his time to stand out. He ran with all his might, swinging his mighty ax as he charged. Right at the blacken creature, who raised it's head on approach. Harbring kept right on, now going for the exposed underbelly. The creature was quicker then expected, lifting it's massive weight off the floor far easier than other creatures it's size. Harbring has one last chance to plow his ax in and prove himself. The ax came full circle, the dwarf held on, hopping to be lifted as the metal sank into the creature's back claw. First blood was indeed drawn as Harbring tumbled along the ground. "Take that you vile creature!" he shouted and he stood on the stump of his claw, cleaved from the mighty beast. Certainly, the beast did not hear as it roared in agony. Indeed, Harbring was noticed, and was quickly rewarded with a slap on the back. Unfortunately, the slap came from the tail of the creature, throwing the brave dwarf back at the rest of the party like a bowling ball. With the party already dispersing, the only real effect was knocking over Teree, interrupting her spell and knocking her out of the way. She was the lucky one, just out of range as the creature enacted revenge by toasting Harbring with a ball of fire as he rose to his feet. As close as Teree was, the best she could do is to bid his spirit well wishes on its journey. Quickly Teree went back to casting, though this time, she was casting protection against fire.


(New 10/29/07)

Harmel was not happy. Not only had his best friend in one of the worst battles they had been in, but now the rest of the party could not agree on anything, especially, who should lead. Carl and Kyle thought they should, as they were the most visible fighters, and they were upfront already. Teree was not ready to lead, though her position was second in line to the fallen Mirage. Charbara thought it was his turn, he had the experience and cunning but no one was ready to trust a rouge to lead the group. Harmel felt the need to get past this; he did not want to lead but he was sure he would be the best choice. "Listen, this does not have to be decided now. Let's look at this as one task that we all are going to accomplish for the sake of our fallen, to finish this beast and avenge our friend's death." Surprisingly, they all seemed to agree.

“The first time, we had no idea what we were dealing with. We sill don’t know what to call it but we know it is a fast flyer, though it does not turn well. It breathes a massive amount of fire but not often and it does not seem to cast like most dragons.” Harmel paused to see if any one had anything to add.

“It did not chase us.” Teree said softly. “What’s….” Kyle started to ask with an attitude before Harmel put his hand up and answered without degrading. “It means most likely it is protecting something, thank you Teree. That makes the plan clear. Carl and I will swim to the far side of the cavern. Kyle and Charbara will enter on the near side and Teree will be in the middle to help who ever needs it first. Which ever way the creature moves, those behind it will attack while those in front disperse and defend.” Harmel was surprised. Everyone just looked at each other and nodded. The twins that never wanted to be separated just started making bets on who would deliver the killing blow. Harmel stopped the discussion with just two words “For Mirage”


(Mew 11/26)

The plan was working. Everyone was in position. Harmel signaled everyone to approach the center of the room. There was no apparent reaction from the beast; clearly it was tending to what ever it was guarding. Everyone, even Teree got into striking distance and as if they had practiced it a hundred times before, they all struck simultaneously. Still, no reaction from the beast; the brothers started shouting to each other “I got it, no I killed it.”

“Actually, I think Harbring did.” said a familiar voice.

The party rushed around the dead mass to see their friend and mage Mirage sitting on a chest, surrounded by piles of coins and weapons. Every was speechless, though some more so for the treasure before them and not their friend they thought lost. Kyle held back Charbara as Harmel composed himself and simply asked “How?”

“It seems most of our blows did little or no damage, I think at least one of my spells got through but it looks like that toe Harmel cut off just kept bleeding. That ax is more then just a pretty blade.” Mirage said with a smile. “Oh, did you mean to ask ‘How did I survive’? He continued amid the distracted party members tried to resists digging into the gold piles. “I figured the beast was tracking me by the stench of that burlap bag I had from a few rooms ago. The meat in it was meant to be lunch, not make me lunch, so I let it go; just as I was going Ethereal. I thought for sure you would know Harmel. You know that type of travel is slow and dangerous so I just stayed and watched and waited. When I saw the beast collapse from the damage of the bleeding toe, I returned to this plane and started going through this pile.”

There was much joy in the room as the tension was broken and coins were tossed and mages we hugged.

Mirage again had to interrupt. “For Harbring!” and even Charbara dropped what he was holding and took a moment of silence.