“What a revolting development this is,” Taran muttered to himself as he watched a small horde of gibbering Goblins hop around Rrraff. The gigantic Balrukh was more like a huge black shadow than anything else he had ever seen, though the flames of hell shot out of that darkness in odd places every few seconds.
“Trolls make very nice pets,” said Rrraff. “And by the way, I hold your son to his word. He promised to show me the big iron bridge, and I still want to see it.”
“A Balrukh’s word is sacred,” roared the Shadow. “Rarrkk, take him to the big iron bridge, and then bring him back. But first, pet, show us a trick.”
“I will need a pie, and a volunteer from the audience,” said Rrraff.
“What’s a pie?” a Goblin asked.
Taran left Rrraff trying to explain the concept of pie to Goblins. He made his way back to the stone archway as quickly as he could, and the sound of drumming faded away behind him.
Back at the bridge once more, he found he had three choices: try to cross it, turn right and retrace his steps, or go straight ahead.
As he was considering his options, a Dwarf came out of the tunnel to his right, and saw him. It swung its pickaxe up to attack position. “Where is the treasure?” screeched the Dwarf, and it attacked.
Following behind the mad Dwarf, Gimor heard it suddenly screech something about the treasure and then launch an attack. He closed the distance between them and saw it advancing menacingly, but cautiously, toward Taran, who seemed ready to defend himself with a bone club that he had picked up somewhere . . .
Meanwhile, SilverHorn recovered from a dream of drowning in marmalade and woke up. There was a tunnel in front of him, flickeringly lit by lava light. Alone, naked, and wounded he set off down that tunnel.
It was a long, long tunnel, and it twisted around quite a bit. Finally he came to a split in the path, and there at the split was a rock table with two Uruk guards sitting there playing cards. There was no way to sneak past them, so he marched boldly up and said, “Hiya!”
“Look, Lefty,” said one of the guards. “This guy has left the tunnels behind.”
“That’s right, Righty,” said the other guard.
“What’s all this?” said SilverHorn.
“It’s a moment of decision,” said Lefty.
“That’s right,” said Righty.
“You must decide whether to go left to fight in the arena,” said Lefty.
“Or go right to Certain Doom,” said Righty.
They looked at him expectantly . . .
(to be continued)