A/N All characters in this story are © their creators. AKA: Novek Dace is © me, Azrael belongs to Leg, Schnitzel to Fish, Tarquin to Anonymous Matt, and everyone else to Blizzard/Vivendi. The word 'Ngk' is Copyright Queen Smithy and Me. Me be Novek Dace. Do NOT steal our word. **grin**

This Chapter is dedicated to Smithy, who still insists I can write. Note: all of the current reviews belong to her **more grinning**

Chapter 4

"So . . . What are we doing?" Tarquin was clueless, as usual. This also provided the authors with an opportunity to fill in the readers; Tarquin was so unintentionally helpful. Azrael gave a theatrical sigh,

"Our ultimate goal is this Andariel, Maiden of Anguish, we've got to kill, but Charsi wants us to get back some hammer thing. There's pretty prizes . . ." he added in a singsong voice. Dace whirled around on her heel,

"How much?" she fired,

"Wh . . . What?" Azrael arched a brow.

"Gold. How much gold?" Azrael's jaw dropped at this implication,

"Charsi's a blacksmith. She make weapons, not gold." He slurred.

"Damn."

"OooOoOoooOO . . ." Tarquin exclaimed. He shuffled off, mumbling incoherently to himself.

"So, Azzzzz . . . . . . " Schnitzel blinked. "What was I saying? Oh yeah. Where's this hammer thingy?"

Azrael looked around, brow furrowed in thought,

"It's around here somewhere . . . Though Akara warned about some monster built like a. . . A . . . A really big monster."
At this point, there was a crack, and a vague bit of cursing (of the rude variety). Schnitzel had walk head-long into what he thought was a wall,

"Arrrg!!! MY F***ING NOSEEE!!!!!!! Who put that wa . . . " He trailed off, his gaze slowly traveling upwards, until he finally set his eyes upon what can only be described as a 'face'.

"Ahahaha. . ." the small necromancer mumbled something inaudible and irrelevant. Slowly, he backed away, aligning himself with Tarquin. The two heroes were now stood behind Dace and Azrael, who were staring at the monster (the Smith, for those of you too dim to come to this conclusion so far) with growing menace. Tarq seemed to be simultaneously casting firewall and nova, all the while scratching his balls. None of his companions, save perhaps Dace, seemed to give a damn. They thought of it as good luck.

The Smith, growling, lumbered clumsily forwards. He swung his enormous and, quoth the Tarquin, "beasty" hammer, smashing Azrael full-on in the stomach. Azrael flew backwards a few feet, and crumpled against the far wall with a "Ngk!"

Dace gave a worried glance over her shoulder,

"Shite!" was exclaimed. Unfortunately, she was cut off by an incredibly badly aimed swing from the Smith. Had this not been a near-death situation, Dace's attempts to not trip over her own feet would have been hysterical.

Meanwhile, however, her companions were saving her arse. Just as Dace had regained her balance (and her dignity), a sleek, green, expensive looking arrow skimmed over her shoulder and lodged itself into the Smith's eyesocket. This was presently followed by an impressive blur of more arrows, bone spirit, random boney mages, and, amazingly enough, firwall and nova inputs from Tarquin. Dace, finally getting into the swing of things, decided that maybe now was the time to actually do something, less she be ridiculed later for her complete incompetence against the Smith. She did her favourite thing, and just hacked the hulking giant with all her might.

After a while of hacking, slashing, burning, shooting, and much more assorted killing activities, the Smith did a most unimpressive 'groan, slump and die' routine. As he fell to the floor, out popped some random items: a couple of gems, a large heap of gold, and an ist rune.

"BAGSY ON THE ITEMS!!!" chorused Dace, Schnitzel and Azrael. Like a group of school kids, they pushed and shoved their way to the corpse, trying their best to kick/punch/step on each others' feet. However, when they reached the dead Smith…

"What the…?" Dace blinked. All three of them swiveled towards Tarquin, who stood, his hands full of glowing riches.

"Ooh. . . Erm. . . Topaz, Ruby, Amethyst. . ." the sorcerer had done pretty well in identifying the gems.

"How. . .Ho. . .Wha'. . . ?" Schnitzel blurbled. Tarquin simply beamed,

"Put some points into Telekinesis!" he looked genuinely chuffed with himself. The others just looked. . . Smouldery.

"BASTARD!!!" Dace yelled. She'd been beaten by magic, she knew it. But she just didn't want to admit it. "I wanted them. . .And will you PLEASE stop fiddling with your crotch!"

"What. . ? Sorry . . .I. . . Um. . . . . . ." There was a pause. "What. . .?" Dace rolled her eyes.

There was a yell from the corner,

"Look what I found!" said Schnitzel, in a rather sarcastic way. Tarquin didn't catch the tone.

"Ooo! OOo! What?!"

Azrael sighed, Dace rolled her eyes, Schnitzel just grinned.

"It's a staff. For you." Schnitzel pulled a stomach muscle trying not to laugh. Tarquin's eyes widened,

"For me? Which one. . . ?"

"It's. . .Um. . ." Schnitzel tried to suppress another laugh, ". . .A. . .hehe. . .A Salamander. It's a battle staff!" he started sniggering.

"OoOo. . .Is it good?" queried Tarquin. Dace snorted.

"Oh yes, very good. You'll kill everything in seconds." replied Schnitzel, in a highly sarcastic tone – which was once again lost on Tarquin. "I'll give it to you for. . .Say, that crappy little stick you're using now, and that Ist rune." Tarquin made the trade eagerly, handing the Baron his Oculus.

"Thanks!" he exclaimed. He took the staff in both his hands and swung it inexpertly. He seemed pleased. So did Schnitzel.

"Where do we go now. . .?" asked Dace, bored with bullying the sorcerer – for the moment, anyway.

"I saw the way down to the Jail just back that way. . ." Schnitzel pointed a pale hand down a pitch black corridor that looked like all the others.

"Damnit. . .Stupid Smith. . .Made a hole in my sixty percent increased attack speed wyrmhide armour! Look!" Azrael was moaning again. He pointed to the tear. Dace gave him her most withering glare, and he muttered a bit, "Eh. . .I s'pose it. . .Doesn't matter that much. . .Just get Charsi to fix it. . ."

Schnitzel peered into the gloom of the corridor ahead,

"Tarq, can you fire a few flame bolts down there. . .?" he pointed. Tarquin bit his lip,

"Uh. . .Yeah. K." He concentrated – Azrael noted what a scary sight that was. Rare, too – and suddenly a few spheres of perfect fire bolts flew from the tip of his new staff. As they illuminated the passage, Dace noted a door on the left hand side – which they had just come through – and two unopened doors on the right. As the fireballs hit the wall at the end of the hall, she also noticed the splattered blood.

"OK, follow me." she let her sword swing by her side, and walked off down the corridor.