Nostalgia trickles through my veins and crawls underneath my skull. The conversant, cold earth against my back ripples throughout my body. The smell of stale, underground air. The feel of rough against my arms and palms. The echoing raucous roars of drunken dwarves echoes infinitely away from me. I feel it again: home. Yet the second I open my eyes, I see nothing but my own mangled body. A void of breathable air, a sight of infinite nothing, and a feeling of faltering life strangle my senses. Right at my feet, I see myself in a gnarled position. My skin melts off the bones like wax. My bones crack and splinter in a strange, rhythmic manner. The splinters of my ribs spiral around in a hypnotic pattern that I do not understand. I stand here, with my hammers in my hands. Why am I here? Am I dead? “Welcome back, Dwinger ,” an esoteric greeting rings in my ahead. From the surrounding darkness, a dwarf appears before me. His stature matches mine in every way
An explosion engulfs my feet and sends me flying into the trees behind me. Another fireball flies from the brush ahead and explodes in the treetops. Fire melts the snow away in an instant and begins to leap from leaf to branch. Ash and powdered snow fill the air. Our adversaries still lurk in the shadows. Vahnikopa and Gailyn jump in different directions, avoiding the blast of flames. Jeth clumsily leaps forward to the avoid the explosion, but now he lays belly down in the cold snow, waiting for the enemy to attack. In the distance brush, a mage glows in the dark, readying another spell to toss. In the trees to my right, I see a half-elf with a bow eyeing Gailyn. Finally, from our flanks, two humans rush forward with swords. Jeth reacts first by filling the air with a boisterous song. Of all the time to blow a tune, he chooses the midst of the melee to do so. The melody of his tune dances around in the frozen night air. My fatigue fades, and my senses sharpen.
“Dwinger!” Gailyn shakes me. “Are you okay? Dwinger, wake up!” “Aye, lass, I’m awake.” My eyes break open, and the bright sun shimmers off the snow, forcing me awake. As the snow covers me, I lay right outside of the little cabin, and the black lake silently waits nearby. I don’t know when I have fallen asleep, and the dream or hallucination or whatever last night may be something sinister or mere delirium. “How are ye two?” I stand up and look around. “We’re fine. You should’ve woken up Vahn for the second shift, but instead you pass out in the snow like a drunkard!” “Do either of ye felt something last night?” “What do you mean, Dwinger?” Vahnikopa reaches from behind and pats me on the shoulder. “Did something happen last night?” “Nothing. I must be cleaning cobwebs in me sleep.” “Well… Gailyn and I feel rested. Mayhap we can continue onward to find a town not crawling with cannibals.” “Right ye are, greenskin.” I g