The two dwarf brothers meandered through the deep caves with one purpose in mind—treasure. The taller one, Biggs as his brother called him, was stout but a bit taller than most dwarves, though that is not saying much as most dwarves pride themselves on roundness rather than height. He had a blondish beard though it was difficult to tell through its thickness. It was braided into two longer pieces that stuck out from his chin more than ran down. They appeared as horns or tusks coming from his mouth from afar which often gave strangers pause. He wore the typical chainmail shirt of his kind, a tough helmet on his head and carried a large shield on his arm with a picture of a hammer decorating it. Indeed a silver colored hammer hung from his belt as did a crossbow and bolts.
His brother, Smalls, was squatter than most, but far from a runt. Thick as a tree trunk he had surprising mobility bounding through the cave with a quickness that would stun any who did not know him. He too had a thick beard, though his was darker than his counterpart and he did not bother braiding it but let it flow down to his chest like a waterfall. He covered his head with a steel helmet that had a spike on the top that was mainly for show in spite of the fact that he swore it would deflect a blade lessening the impact on his head and neck. He carried no shield but had a torch in his hands and a massively wide double bladed ax on his back. The head was nearly as wide as the shaft of the weapon was long, and it looked unwieldy. Any who had ever seen Smalls in action however, knew that he wielded the ax with deadly force.
As usual, they were in search of precious treasure. It was a task they had devoted their lives too, but rarely had they managed to collect anything of real worth. This day would be different however. As they rounded a curve in the tunnel that was dug by beings long forgotten, they heard noises. Both dwarves froze in their tracks and listened.
“Miners,” Biggs whispered.
“Of course it’s miners you twit,” Smalls retorted in a harsh voice.
“How should I know?”
“Let’s turn back. Could be a lot of em.”
“No chance. Could have gems, gold, even mithrill.”
“Not likely, most likely minin’ iron.”
“Only one way to find out,” gasped Smalls as he push his brother aside to buy himself a moment, pulled his ax from his back and jumped into the tunnel from where the noise originated.
“You fool!” Biggs shouted pulling his hammer from his belt and following his companion.
Smalls came around a sharp corner to find himself faced with grey dwarves, the underground nemesis of all other dwarves. Five of them stared at the pair in shock and considered them for a moment with dark eyes and tightly drawn faces. Before a word could be spoken, the greys lifted their picks and hammers in anger.
The nearest had a thick pick in his hands and he charged Smalls with it raised high above his head. He bellowed a war cry that echoed off the rock walls and dazed the brothers for a moment. Smalls lowered his ax, gripped his head with one hand and closed his eyes to focus on blocking out the sound. In that moment the grey saw his opportunity and raised his pick to kill the intruder.
He snarled and dropped his pick but just when it would have landed on Smalls’ head, a shield parried the blow. Biggs kicked Smalls to the side as he swung his hammer over his head and down on the attacking grey. The weapon fell heavy on the enemy’s shoulder, snapping bones and sending him to the ground in a shrieking mass.
The other greys were formed up into a tight line with one at the head. Three held picks, but the one in front had whip in one hand and a dirk in the other. He cracked the whip in front of him and growled in the brothers’ dwarven dialect, “You should not have come here. This is our territory and ours to mine. You are trespassing surface dweller and we will deal with you.”
Smalls recovered from the initial attack to stand shoulder to shoulder with Biggs. They looked at each other with eyes wide and faces otherwise surprised.
Biggs snorted, “You always get us into trouble.”
“But I always get us out too!” laughed Smalls as he lifted his ax and charged into the group of grey dwarves.
The leader cracked his whip at the wild dwarf, but he shifted to one side so the sting of the leather would miss him and then swung his ax into the group at no one target specifically. They all dodged and dove to avoid the heavy blade, but one was caught in the torso. Not wearing any heavy armor, the blade cut straight through his clothes and opened his belly. He cried on the cold stone floor holding his wound in vain.
The other three recovered and sought to counter attack the flailing Smalls, but before they could get an attack off Biggs crashed into them with his shield leading the way and sent them back to the ground shrieking and grunting as they tumbled in a chaotic mass.
Smalls wasted no time as he quickly began hacking down on the enemies, hitting sometimes with the flat of his blade and other times with the deadly edge. In a few short moments they were dispatched of and laid in a hideously bloody heap. Biggs sighed, “I didn’t want to kill anyone.”
Smalls was breathing deeply to catch his breath but replied, “Nor I, but they left us no choice.”
Biggs just turned his back and moved back up the site to where the first dwarf fell from his hammer. The grey enemy was still alive though he was badly injured and whimpering from the pain. Biggs knelt down and offered him a sip from one of the water skins he carried. The grey refused but Biggs looked at the wounds again before placing his hands on the shoulder and chanting a few words. The bones snapped back into place and the grey breathed easier. Biggs nodded and smiled as the grey stood up and began to move away. He sat on the ground and wondered about the life he and Smalls were living until he heard the sickening sound of snapping bone and tearing flesh. He quickly spun with his shield raised. Frozen in mid strike the grey dwarf he had just healed stood mouth agape and eyes wide, pick raised in his hands and appeared to be in mid swing—a swing that would have landed a blow on Biggs. Blood trickled from his mouth as Smalls tore his ax from the being’s back allowing him to fall to the floor dead.
“You never learn. Can’t trust anyone,” mocked Smalls. Biggs just sighed and sat back down next to the fallen foe.