Raiia lay in their room upstairs, hopefully still sleeping. She had frequent nightmares he had learned since they rescued her from the Island, though she slept more peacefully since the healer they found had corrected much of her physical scars and deformities with his magic. The physical damage to her body from the abuse she faced at the hands of the Islands twisted master had been great and the mental scars would be far more difficult to recover from.
Her dreams were not the reason Bontraeger stood alone in the cool night air pondering the Dwarven gods whose images adorned the sky. It was common for him to dream of the mines, his stone work or the tunnels and caverns near his home beneath Weathertop. He even dreamed of battles against the various monsters from the pit that burrowed through the city’s core. His dreams this night were different, intense and surreal.
Bontraeger leaned casually against the handrail of the boardwalk in front of the Tavern, pipe smoke curling toward the starry night. His eyes followed the smoke into the sky and watched the constellation of Tharron Hark slowly creep from behind the building across the street. A dense stream of stars making up the wild God’s Dorn Dergar, chain weapon would follow his image into view if the oncoming clouds did not consume the sky first. The thought of the Dorn Dergar sent chills down his spine and brought on vivid flashbacks of this nights dream. Coincidence, the God Hark rising in the sky as his sleep was disturbed by wild dreams?
Tonight he ran wildly through a dense Jungle at incredible speeds, hacking and slashing with his Picks through branches and vines that clutched at him as if alive. He felt a sense of urgency to get to his destination, knowing that lives depended on him. He also felt more than saw his pursuers… dark, ominous creatures leaping through the growth behind him but always a few steps too far to strike.
Suddenly, he burst through the dream-scape into a clearing surrounded by slender, towering rock formations and massive trees. From the branches of the trees hung cocoon like bundles that writhed and twisted and he knew without having to see, that each contained a dwarf trapped there by some Aberrant creature. Angry striated clouds swirled in the sky above. He heard the thundering crash of splintering branches and whirled around to face the creatures that chased him here.
Similar in size and build to a bull, but with a large open maw encircled by teeth and surrounded by a mass of tentacles but no eyes; there were 5 of them and they charged wild and uncontrolled like a small stampede. To his own surprise he charged toward them in the dream, leaping a second before being trample to come crashing down on the one behind the leader, Picks whirling at the tentacles that grabbed at him. Severed chunks of meat flew in all directions from his attacks and the creature gave an ear splitting shriek of rage, tossing and bucking to dislodge the attacker now straddling its neck. He felt the grip of his legs on the creature begin to slip, time slowing down and everything moving in small, terrifying increments as his knees slipped.
The world sped up as he was dislodged, flying through the air in a blur to crash into the trunk of a massive tree, bones cracking in various places. His picks were gone and he rolled over in pain, fingers clawing at the soil trying to drag himself to cover. The snorting breath of the creatures grew closer as they sensed his agony and slowed down their pursuit to relish in his pain. His fingers met shrubs and bushes that he grasped at and pulled, but they dislodged from the soil easily without helping his cause.
He twisted sideways stretching forth his hand, clawing for purchase, and at the same time looked up into the tree above him. He came face to face then, with the image of his long dead uncle peeking from the nearest cocoon hanging in the tree he had hit. His Uncle’s face was stern and determined, seeming to stare through him at some distant threat, identical to the expression depicted in the painting in his mothers sitting room. In that moment he knew, he must survive beyond all else! A burning resolve burst forth in his gut and spread through his tingling limbs. He scrabbled frantically then, clawing and kicking at the turf to get away and propelling himself toward the thick, dark undergrowth deeper in the trees.
The creatures reacted to his sudden efforts with a squeal of anger and lunged toward him. His hands clawing at the dirt hit something rough and hard and naturally dug into the soil to grip the rusted links of a large chain, barely covered by the soil. He felt the remaining seconds of his life fading away as the creatures bore down on him and he pulled furiously on the chain as he turned to face them. He ripped the chain from the soil as if his strength was suddenly boundless and swung at the lunging beasts, thirsty for his blood. The large Iron ball at the end of the chain, some 12 feet in length, came flying from the earth and swung in a brutal arc that crashed through the front legs of the first two creatures charging side by side. Bone fragments and blood exploded from the impact and both creatures crashed to the earth in front of him, their toothy maws clamped shut and the tentacles coiled in tightly as pain consumed their shuddering bodies.
Bontraeger stood then in his dream, sidestepping and beginning to circle the edge of the clearing. The three remaining creatures backed away uncertainly, pawing at the turf, growling and gnashing their teeth. His whole body still tingled and he began to swing the chain two handed, the Iron ball arcing around his body in a dangerous pattern as he awaited the attack that was certainly coming. The creatures spread out like pack hunters to circle and flank him. He stopped moving and set his stance, focused on the three Aberrations and the pattern of his new found weapon whirling around him, fingers gripping the rusty chain. He could sense the gaze of Dwarves trapped in the trees around him, hundreds of them, maybe thousands; relying on him alone for their salvation.
With a simultaneous howl the attack came and he altered the pattern instinctively to meet the nearest, the weighted end hurling toward the spinal area directly behind the maw, watching the other two in his peripheral vision closing with incredible speed. He felt the crushing impact jolt through his arm and immediately shifted the weight and pull on the chain to guide it to the next. He was snarling in fury and determined to save his brethren when he suddenly awoke with a sharp gasp to find he was lying in bed next to Raiia, drenched in sweat. The dream was vivid and fresh in his memory and he could still feel the course texture of the rusted chain in his hands.
He quietly slipped out of bed, dressed, and went out to the cool night air to ponder his dreams and gaze at the stars for answers they wouldn’t give.