SilverHorn snatched up his hat on the run and vanished into the left passage. Taran and Mahrundl chased after him, neck and neck, throwing elbows and shoulders into each other as they ran.
Middleclaw entered the right passage and sank to the floor. His wings were tired. Once he got around the first corner, he waddled on as quickly as he could while still recovering his breath.
Gimor had decided to follow Rrraff. He charged into the right passage, almost brained himself on the first sharp corner, and slowed to a walk. He was only about 20 feet behind Middleclaw, but couldn’t see him, and barely heard him.
Meanwhile, Tmuwo looked at the room full of bones. “Hmmm,” he mused, “I don’t suppose having a club would hurt.” He began to search. Most of the bones were cracked, or split, or broken, but he finally found one that seemed stout enough to act as a club –looked like the femur of an Ogre. “Problem,” he said. “This will leave me carrying something in each hand.” He plinked a couple of notes on his kalimb . . .
Rrraff stared at the two swords and scratched his head. Big one? Little one? First, he wanted one, then the other . . .
SilverHorn skidded to a halt around the fourth corner. An idea had occurred to him. Taking off his cape, he carefully spread it across the floor of the tunnel, and then hid in shadows at one side while holding the edge of the cape. The next person to come along would get quite a surprise . . .
Taran and Mahrundl thundered along side by side, neither gaining any ground. Mahrundl started to get ahead, but Taran reached out and yanked him back. Half-running, half-scuffling, they came around the fourth corner in the tunnel together.
SilverHorn heard them coming. The smack of leathery flesh on stone, a muffled curse word, “Dang you, Taran, let me go!” They came around the corner and SilverHorn jerked the cape out from under their feet. At least that was how it was supposed to work. In reality, the two of them were much too heavy to be upset in this fashion, and SilverHorn nearly lost his fingernails as his hands slipped free of the cape, which barely moved.
Taran and Mahrundl stopped elbowing each other and looked at the Shadowjack. It was hard to see him hiding in shadows like that, but his hat was a deeper, hat-shaped darkness, and they could see that.
“Did you just try to trip us?” snarled Mahrundl.
“I think that was his evil plan,” said Taran. “Let’s get him!”
Thus, Taran and Mahrundl, their own quarrel forgotten, took a menacing step toward SilverHorn . . .
Rrraff was still scratching his head and trying to decide which sword to try to take, when Middleclaw waddled into the room.
“What are you doing?” asked Middleclaw.
“Ummm, magic swords,” said Rrraff, “stuck in the wall. I can’t decide which one to take.”
“Lemme see those,” said Middleclaw. “Oh good, one for each of us – you can have the one I don’t take.” The Dragoll examined the big sword and the little one.
At that moment, Gimor came into the room. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“Go away,” said Middleclaw. “We got here first, and there are only two swords.”
“Finder’s keepers,” said Gimor. “You don’t have either one of them yet.”
The three eyed each other malevolently . . .
Meanwhile, Tmuwo thought if he held things just right he could hold both items in one hand at the same time. “Now, do I want a drink, or should I get going?” he asked himself as the sound of angry voices drifted to him through the tunnel behind him.
(to be continued)
Racer Profile Number Four
Middleclaw – “Know Your Victim”
A strange creature of unusual proportions, standing only two-and-a-half-feet tall with a wingspan of three feet, he is the only one in the race to have the ability to fly. His background is unknown, thus the nature of his heritage is obscure. What is known, however, is his parentage: the offspring of a mating between a Rock Troll and a Great Dragon. How this came to be is still unknown. What is known is that, despite his size, he carries an additional threat to his race opponents: he has retained the ability to breathe fire with the strength of his Dragon parent – mother or father side is still unknown. His size and his natural weaponry make him a feared opponent.
Official Talent: Exceptional Sight
(Monster art by Jeff Freels, coloring by Ken St. Andre )