The dwarven camp was busy with activity. There were around a dozen dwarves all told… a few of them running around as if on some important task. They were encamped on a small plateau near the mountain’s edge. There was only one way in or out of the camp… a wide path leading down into the camp that was about 20 meters from where we were hiding. Near the far edge of the camp was a wheeled cage… that had to be Wargie’s cell! A heavy tarp was wrapped around all sides… whether for protection from the weather or to simply hide what was inside was unclear, but I could faintly smell her scent. Chucaro must have sensed the same thing as her gaze was locked on the cage. “She’s in there… I know she is,” she said, as if thinking out loud. I was hopeful this nightmare would soon be ending for us all.
A thorough scan revealed two dwarves patrolling the entrance… each walking in opposite directions… another appeared to be the dwarf we had followed here… running between the four campfires that raged in a feeble attempt to quell the biting winds, placing water containers in each location. Each campfire showed a pair of dwarves huddled in heavy cloaks wrapped tightly around them… unmoving as if they were already frozen statues. Finally, there were two dwarves working on the moving cage… they appeared to be frantically repairing one of the wheels… outside of the faint noise from the workers, there was not a sound to be heard.
We quickly made our plan… take out the 2 on patrol before an alarm can be sounded… the small packs should be easy enough to catch by surprise with the weather conditions the way they are. We took our positions near the top of the path… the dwarves had just passed each other at the mid-point. The nearest guard reached the edge of his patrol path and slowly turned to begin his march back down… his eyes slowly surveying the area as he spun about. Before he could take his first step, Chucaro attacked! I watched closely as she quickly closed on him from behind… in one quick motion, her jaws clamped around his neck… her teeth penetrating the skin, but not killing him. His eyes bulged from his head and a look of sheer terror covered his face… he could barely breathe, let alone make any movement at all. The second guard had begun his climb up the path and was past the halfway point… his hand on the hilt of his axe as he slowly approached the immobilized guard.
“You there, what’s wrong with you? You look like you’ve just seen a…” his sentence was cut incomplete as I sprang at him, slashing his throat in one massive swipe… his body hitting the ground, dead, as I landed nearby. The first dwarf’s eyes slowly moved between me and the other guard… his eyes betraying the inevitable outcome he knew he would next meet. He tried to move his mouth to make a feeble call for help, but Chucaro’s sudden twist with her jaws ended that attempt… his headless torso falling limply to the ground. Chucaro tossed his head into the nearby snow. I simply smiled at her as I turned around… there was no more efficient killer in our tribe than Chucaro.
Before I could go back into stealth, the water gatherer suddenly appeared on the path below us… a look of shocked surprise on his face as I launched myself at him. He tucked himself as he fell to the ground, avoiding the majority of my attack. A simple yell of “Attack!!” was all that left his lips before he died, but it was enough. The dwarves sitting by the campfires were on their feet in a heartbeat, with weapons in hand. “So it was a ruse… they were simply waiting for any kind of attack to happen.” I thought to myself as Chucaro joined me over the latest victim.
The two dwarves that were working on the caged transport appeared to be caught by surprise… as the dwarves from the campfires rushed to meet our charge, one of the workers frantically started pounding away at a replacement wheel while his partner scurried behind the cart… probably rushing to grab from a hidden stash of weapons… my attention was diverted to the first pair of dwarves that were nearly upon us.
They appeared to be rather green as far as fighters go… Chucaro and I easily made quick work of them. As we ran to meet the next group, movement out of the corner of my eye made me stop… the worker who ran behind the cage came into sight with a crossbow in his arms… cocked and loaded, his aim towards me. I prepared to evade, but was saved from any defensive effort as he was still moving with the crossbow aimed at me. He cut the corner around the cage too close and crashed into the support holding up the wheel-less axle… “Stupid dwarf!”I thought, as I turned my attention back to Chucaro and the upcoming dwarves… a sudden, loud snap stopped everyone in their tracks and turned their attention back to where the cart and the workers were… Chucaro and I watched in horror as the caged cart momentarily teetered on the edge of the cliff before slowly falling backwards, over the edge and out of sight… there was a deathly silence before the sound of wood and metal was heard crashing on the rocks below… the working dwarf staring out in disbelief, still holding half the heavy rope that was supposed to secure the transport.
“WARGIE!!!!” Chucaro cried out and my heart sank in my chest… the next sound I heard made my blood turn to ice and would have made Sauron himself cower to his knees… it was a howl filled with such deep sorrow and heart-breaking loss, but also of a deep, burning rage and hatred…. the likes of which I had never heard before. The look in her eyes caused me to take a step back… I thought she had simply snapped as I saw only death in her eyes. Before the closest dwarves could recover from the interruption, she was upon them… her claws and jaws moving with such speed, strength and precision, that when the short battle was over, you couldn’t tell from what was left that they were even dwarves… the remaining guards simply dropped their weapons and turned to escape… but there was none to be found… Chucaro systematically cut each one down… their cries quickly muffled out by the whipping winds.
I raced towards the work area where the cart had previously been. The worker regained his senses in time to see me approaching rapidly. He started backing up, dread in his eyes as he still tightly clung to the rope… his mouth moving, but no sound coming out. Still backing up, he hit the edge of the cliff and took one step too many… as he realized what had happened, he screamed, “Help me!!!!” as he rapidly flailed his arms, trying to regain his balance. I simply looked at him, contempt in my eyes and said, “Die, dwarf,” as he finally fell from the cliff. I leaned over to watch his body slam against a protruding rock, breaking his back and killing him instantly. I could see the remnants of the smashed cage directly below… about 40 meters from where I stood. I quickly started jumping down the ledges towards the cage… I had to know that she was really gone.
Jumping down from the last ledge brought me near the wreckage. I could smell Wargie’s scent and started pawing at the splintered wood and broken metal to try to locate her. I was able to get to a section of the cage that still had the tarp attached… I tore the tarp free with my teeth and stood there, motionless… Wargie was nowhere to be found… my mind in a blur, I pawed frantically to find any clue… I could smell her… where was she?? As I push aside a broken section of the cage, I found the source of the scent… a section of Wargie’s hide had been nailed to the cage floor… those sick, torturous bastards had skinned a piece of her hide and planted it here! I quickly regained my senses… she is still alive! I hurried back up the slope to tell Chucaro what I had found…
As I leaped back up to the camp, I was met with dead silence… dwarven body parts littered the site… I couldn’t see a single dwarf left in one piece… Chucaro’s rage couldn’t be stopped… she had turned into a whirlwind of destruction. I could sense someone rapidly approaching and was barely able to dodge the attack in time… I turned to see Chucaro stalking me in a circular pattern… madness clearly showing in her eyes… she quickly attacked, but I was again able to barely side-step her… she was fast! Before she could attack again, I went stealth and put some distance between us… standing downwind in hopes she couldn’t find me by scent. I have to stop her without hurting her, if I can… before she kills me…