In keeping with the little story building my Brother and I have started, I give you the next installment.
Time waits for no Dwarf
Udrath was troubled. He paused his toil chopping fire wood and wiped sweat from his brow. Looking down over his beard at his bare chest, the hairs grey and sparse with age and lifting his arms he observed his muscles, now wirey and taught where they were once bulging and strong. Shaking his head he resumed the task and finished chopping the pile of wood he had gathered. Merecraft had headed out to hunt a few minutes earlier leaving Udrath to tend the fire and to prepare the spit. They had both decided to share camp together until they could decide what to do about the serious matters at hand.
Udrath chuckled and shook his head at the ridiculous situation as he placed two study sticks, upright on either side of the fire pit he'd dug to hold the spit. Sitting back down on the tree stump with a loud "oomph" he warmed his hands and waited for Meres return. Digesting the information had been hard enough, but all the things Udrath had seen in his many centuries had convinced him to never discount a thing. He didn't know if what Mere suggested was possible or not, but he knew he trusted his old friend and lets face it, he thought, he had nothing better to do. He knew his time was near, and where better to spend his last few months than at Merecraft Oakenhearts side fighting for a good cause. It was where they both excelled, he knew. Aye, a happier more apt way to see out his end of days on this world he couldn't think of. Udrath had already made up his mind. No matter the futility of the venture, he would stay by Merecrafts side.
When Merecraft returned, a brace of pheasants slung over his shoulder, Udraths thoughts had already turned to more serious and grave matters, his rumbling stomach. Smiling at Mere he stood and took the offered birds and sat back down setting to plucking the largest of the pheasants. As Merecraft unshouldered his pack he looked at the bare chested Dwarf pulling furiously at the feathers. He couldn't believe how old his friend looked, his shoulders once tall and proud now hunched forward his once rotund and healthy gut now tight and wirey. Uddys complexion was greyer too, as was his thinning hair and beard. Having been transported so many years in to the future, he had not even considered the fact a lot of his old acquaintances and friends would be dead or ancient. But even so, regardless, here was Udrath, his wit as sharp as ever, albeit with a body less willing.
"So," Udrath said, looking up from the near ready bird. Resuming his plucking but still looking at Merecraft, he continued, "I'll be going with ye lad. The Gods know why though, I've little strength left in me old bones for adventure my friend." his eyes turned down back to the bird, and his tone became more solemn, respectful. "She's gone ye know lad. I lost her. Damn near seventy seasons ago now." Looking back up at Merecraft the human saw that the Dwarves eyes were cold but red rimmed, and he saw the haunted look return. "Life's been hollow since then" He said, the rumble in his voice returning to cover the lump in his throat, "It's nice to have a reason to live again lad. Regardless of this folly, I'm grateful for that true enough".
Merecraft said nothing and simply nodding a warm smile on his lips and standing he walked passed the Dwarf, words not necessary as he placed a brief hand on Uddys shoulder, then gathered more wood for the fire from the pile Udrath had left. Megan, Uddys wife had been as good a friend to him as Udrath. Taking him in, giving him solace whenever he required and never enquiring or judging about his business, save to ask if he was well. A more kindly and long suffering Dwarf he had never met, he would miss her greatly. His stomach knotted briefly at her memory and whispering a brief prayer to Tunare, he turned back to the camp.
Udrath spoke again as Merecraft sat back down. "You do know we're not going to win don't you lad? We didn't beat that motherless whoreson last time and we were in our prime away back then, " he paused, "and you were Half Elven too." Laughing he added, "a once Elven and a geriatric Dwarf taking on a Shadowknight who has the power to move through time. Should be a riot laddy, but I suppose a couple of heroes like ourselves will cope admirably'".
Sharing in his friends rare good humour Merecraft smiled, "I guess you are right good friend, I guess you are right. Only time will tell for sure though," Nodding towards the pheasant still in Udraths hand he added, "Are you going to cook that bird or play with it old timer?" he chided.
"Keep ye goatee on Laddy, she's a comin'", Udrath said as he cleaned his boot knife then started gutting the bird. As he set to with the small knife, Udrath wondered silently what he would do about the knowledge he had of his death. If he would tell Merecraft he already knew his own time was short. Ironically enough, as predicted by Carinus Dhrak himself, hundreds of years ago during a meeting in Neriak. "Bahh", he muttered to himself, it would not matter. Thier chances of surviving even that long was slim. If the time was right, he'd tell his old friend, and if not, well, then he'd just fulfil his destiny with proud stoicism. He was a Stormheart after all.