Out of breath from knocking around krug, casting more fireballs in a day than I normally did in a year and lots of running, I sat down on the nearest thing I could find. A headstone. I looked at the tomb just down the road, where there was supposedly another route to town. What happened to the first one I tried? It was a bridge... a bridge loaded with krug... whom I promptly pelted with fireballs. The bridge burned, broke and those ugly buggers got a free flying lesson, which they all failed miserably.

I'd killed about two dozen of the things with minimal effort, but I'd also killed the easiest route to town at the same time. I suppose it could be worse. The way I was casting, it's a wonder I hadn't burned the whole forest down by now. Not that anyone would care. Apart from the krug, everyone I met up with was face-down in a puddle of their own blood. Which just made me wonder how dumb my neighbors were if someone like me, who can barely grow potatoes, is able to survive for as long as I have.

Leaning against the end of my shovel, I realized I must have looked like a grave robber sitting in the middle of a graveyard like that. Granted, the only ones around to see me were krug, and I doubt they'd say anything. Making sure none were sneaking up to add me to the local population of stiffs, I slid off the headstone, stretched and headed for the tomb. With a little luck, I wouldn't run into anymore of the things in there.


Skeletons are expected in a crypt. They're who the place was made for, after all. A nice stone tomb for those that have passed on and deserved a good resting place. Apparently someone forgot to emphasize the resting part to the ones in here. Smashing the skull of another one to pieces, the rest of its bones clattered to the ground. Maybe now it would get the point and stay dead. Now to just make that point to the other two in the room... as well as however many were shambling about between me and the exit.

A flash of green energy whizzed by my face. Which reminded me the boneheads weren't the only unnatural hazard about. There were also gargoyles. Yes, those things made of stone that generally fit into creepy decor. A number of them were flapping about as well. Damned if I know how they were staying airborne if they were rocks with wings, but asking them wasn't really an option since they were more keen on using me for target practice than having a chat.

Running around in circles to avoid the magic they were flinging at me, I countered with a few fireballs. They were stupid enough to stay in one place and shrieked as flames engulfed them. I idly wondered how fire could hurt a rock, but decided to label the explanation the same as how they could fly or move in the first place. Magic. That's always the answer to the crazy crap that happens. Don't even try to understand it, it's not worth the headache. At least that's my opinion on it.

Slowly making my way through the crypt and offering a few more complimentary cremations to the residents, I came to a long, dark room. Not hearing a thing and thinking I might be close to the exit, I started forward. The moment I was between two extinguished torches, they suddenly burst into flames, lighting up part of the room. Waiting to see if anything else was going to happen, I started moving again after a few seconds. The next pair or torches I passed between did the same thing... and the next two... and the two after that.

Wishing the things would come to life before I got to them so I could see what was up ahead, I was surprised to find it granted. As I passed by the next two, the ones further in blazed, illuminating the wide room the hall opened up into. Then I promptly wished I couldn't see what I was standing in front of. Remember those gargoyles I mentioned? They were all about half as tall as me if they bothered to stay on the ground. The one I was currently exchanging stares with on the other hand, was at least twice as tall as me.

It screeched, I screamed and dove behind one of the columns lining the room as it unleashed a streak of purple energy at me. Two blasts later, my cover was rubble and I was running like hell for the next one. If a hit from that could pulverize marble, I'd probably end up repainting all four walls and the ceiling if it struck me.

Luckily it didn't have very good aim. I was able to run from ruin to cover with only a few fragments of wall digging into me each time. Of course, I was going to run out of columns before long and the giant gargoyle was stubbornly staying in one spot, hovering right in front of the door I needed to go through. Sprinting toward the final pillar standing, the ground started to tremble.

I glanced at the giant gargoyle, who was oblivious to the shaking since it was still hovering above the ground. The floor cracked, followed by the ceiling, then followed by my cover as the damn monster blew part of it away. It was become apparent I was as good as dead if I didn't do something fast, so I did something incredibly stupid. I abandoned my cover and charged straight at the huge beast. I mean, why not? If it looks like you're going to die no matter what, a suicidal option doesn't really sound like that bad of a choice.

Bits of the stone ceiling starting falling away, finally getting the stupid gargoyle's attention when one bounced off its head. It looked up just as I got close, screamed and swung my shovel as hard as I could, slamming the metal into its groin. Now, I realize how stupid an attack that was since it was a sentient rock and didn't have anything down there to bash in, but I was panicking at the time. Not to mention the impact was enough to make it bend over to see what the hell had just happened, putting its head right in the way of a particularly large piece of falling stone and knocking it senseless.

I dove through the archway as the room behind me came crumbling down, burying the gargoyle. Groaning from the cuts and bruises I was bound to get from landing so hard, I looked up at where my shovel had landed across the room. Getting up hadn't even crossed my mind when a krug shouted, dashing at me with its cudgel raised. Launching a fireball at it on sheer reflex, it cried out in pain as its pants caught on fire, dropping its weapon and trying to put out the flames with its hands.

While I struggled to my feet, steel flashed and my shovel connected with the krug's head. I wobbled, looking at the woman wielding it and wondering where she had come from. She certainly couldn't have been a fellow farmer, not if she was still alive. Rubbing my sore head, I think she greeted me, but I was a little woozy and distracted by the dampness in my hair. Mainly because my hand came back from the touch red. Apparently the gargoyle hadn't been the only one to catch falling debris with its skull.

Beginning to fall and idly wondering why I'd bothered to take the time to stand up, I quickly decided it didn't matter. Mainly because I blacked out long before I hit the ground.