Below is a short scene showing the drak twins, Kale and Delilah heading off to do what they think is a mundane job. Naturally, it wouldn’t make good drama if it really was mundane. Think of the oroqs as similar to the Uruk-hai in Lord of the Rings, though their physical appearance differs slightly. I apologize for the formatting; my knowledge of HTML is rudimentary. I guess there’s a reason most web pages don’t indent the first line of paragraphs.
“Kale, help me!” Delilah reached out for her brother as the drak twins traversed the Finger Streams in the lower caverns. The Finger Streams were a series of seven parallel-running streams that crossed Dagger Pass, a minor thoroughfare in the secret rear areas of Twilight Dungeon. The streams were formed by runoff of melting snow from the volcano’s peak which flowed through dormant lava tubes. They were often used as a short-cut to get from the front sections of the dungeon to the deep sections. If one could navigate the difficult terrain, one could save nearly an hour travel time.
Kale rolled his eyes and grabbed his sister’s hand and helped her hop across the fifth of the seven streams. He hopped over the sixth one and yanked on her as she landed which caused her to stumble and step ankle-deep into it. She shrieked and hopped back and shook the chilly water off her clawed foot.
“Come on, Deli, it’s only water.” Deli was Kale’s nickname for Delilah, and he was the only one who got away with calling her that.
“But now my foot’s wet!”
“Hurry up!” Kale jumped over the last stream and ran for the passageway that led out of Dagger Pass. He adjusted his belt and pouches as he ran and checked to make sure his daggers were still in their sheaths. They weren’t running late, as such, but after stopping back at the barracks to pick up their gear, he wanted to get to the Deep Road Gate as quickly as possible. When working on the traps at the front entrance to the dungeon, the twins brought little with them, but when trekking to the lower reaches, it was important to be prepared for anything, especially dwarves who might stray too far from Deep Road and accidentally stumble across the Deep Road Gate.
He heard Delilah curse as she jumped the last stream. She wasn’t as good of a jumper as Kale, but it wasn’t like a little water would hurt her. She caught up to him as the passage narrowed and curved as it began a downgrade. The little bits of bone and feathers on her harness rattled, and the bottom of her staff occasionally scraped the ground as they ran.
“It’s just a little further, Deli.” Kale gasped as he picked up the pace. “Just think, we’ll get this done, and then we have the whole rest of the day!” The thought of not having any work to do in the afternoon was enough of an incentive for Delilah and she started to overtake Kale. He laughed and looked over at his sister. She flashed him a toothy grin and thrust her staff between his legs which sent him tumbling.
Kale fell to the ground, the breath knocked out him. He looked up to see his sister’s feet disappear as she rounded the corner. He heard her call back to him. “See you there, brother!” He gasped and pulled himself up. Pain shot up from his left ankle.
“Damn.” He winced and grasped the tender area. It didn’t seem like it was broken, but it was going to be sore for a while. It hurt to run, but he could manage a brisk jog. By the time he made it to the Deep Road Gate, Delilah was already sitting atop one of the lightning cannons and was peering into the hatch.
The lightning cannons were one of the first-line defenses of the Deep Road Gate. They were similar to traditional cannons, except where the barrel would be, ten metal rods protruded. A hatch opened the breech of the lightning cannon which allowed access to the magical elements that generated the lighting and projected it through the rods and into whomever the cannons were pointed.
The oroqs stationed at the gate jeered as Kale limped past them. He wasn’t sure what all they called him; his grasp of the oroq language was shaky at best, but he was sure they not only called into question his relationship with his sister, but also his masculinity and his culinary habits. He ignored them and squatted down by the cannon’s wheels, pulling his wrapped tools out of his pouch and unrolled them onto the ground beside him.
“Took you long enough.” Delilah arched her leg and wiggled her toes in his face. “I thought you wanted to finish early.”
“I’m pretty sure you sprained my ankle tripping me like that.” He shoved her foot out of his face.
“Awww.” She leaned over and stuck her tongue out at him before sticking her hand in the breech. “Really?”
“Yes, really. It hurts, Deli.”
She looked down on him and frowned. “I’m sorry, Kale. I just wanted to win. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Kale looked up at his sister. He couldn’t see any mockery in her face. He smacked the bottom of her foot and shrugged. “It’s okay. It’ll probably be better by tomorrow.”
Delilah offered him an encouraging smile before turning back to the cannon’s breech. She rattled something around inside it. “I think the oroqs have been shooting at shadows again. How long has it been since we worked on these cannons?”
Tightening the bolts on the trunnions, the parts attaching the cannon to the carriage, Kale grunted. “About two weeks, I think.”
“Have we fought off any dwarven invasions in that time?”
Kale shook his head. “We raided a caravan hauling booze, but that’s about it I think.”
Delilah leapt down and marched over to the nearest oroq. She poked him in the chest with the skull-capped top of her staff. “Now listen. Stop shooting these things off at every little cave lizard and bat that dislodges a pebble.”
The oroq shoved the top of her staff away. “You don’t look like our guard captain, little lizard.”
Delilah scowled and tapped the butt of her staff against the ground and growled. “Ophayra!” A ball of fire appeared in her hand, and her eyes sparkled and glowed blue with the build-up of magic. The color of magic could tell a person a lot of about the individual using the magic. The magic of the pure of heart, what the peasantry would consider “good”, tended to be shades of green. Wicked, cruel sorcerers’ magic tended to be tinged with harsh red tones. Those who lived with a balance in their life, like Delilah, tended to draw their magic in shades of blue.
Clearing his throat, Kale warned her. “Deli, play nice.” The oroqs around the gate murmured, some drawing their weapons, some making a point of ignoring the display.
The oroq drew his sword and assumed a defensive stance as Delilah threw the fiery ball at his feet. It exploded and threw him back toward the gate and showered the area with steaming dirt.
“I shouldn’t have to remind you cretins that we’re Twilight Defenders.” Delilah shouted, muttering “Ophayra” under her breath, conjuring a second ball of fire. The oroqs put away their weapons. They had no respect for draks, but they knew any one of the Twilight Defenders could have them executed for insubordination, or worse, sent to the front area of the dungeon to fight with the goblins.
Delilah looked at each of the oroqs in turn until they averted their gazes from hers. The one she blasted picked himself up off the ground. He brushed the dirt off himself, picked up his sword, sheathed it and grumbled to himself as he walked away.
“Eshfanite.” The ball of fire Delilah conjured disappeared in a puff of smoke. The sparkling glow in her eyes faded as she climbed back onto the cannon. She stuck her hand in the breech and yanked on the mechanism until a cracked crystal came out. She threw it, and the crystal bounced off Kale’s leg before it rested on the ground.
“Cool it, Deli.” Kale reached up and grabbed her foot. He gave it a squeeze. “Let’s get this job done and go get a few drinks.”
She tossed out another crystal, this time, to the side of the cannon on which Kale wasn’t working. She reached into one of her pouches and pulled out two crystals and peered at them, and then held them up so they would catch some of the light from the lanterns near the gate.
“I’m fine, Kale.” She shoved the crystals in the mechanism and wiggled them around until a faint click echoed in the breech.
Kale looked up. The click seemed too deep. In fact, it didn’t seem to come from within the cannon at all. He looked around, noticing that some of the oroqs near the gate seemed restless.
“Did you hear…?” He trailed off as another thump echoed through the gate’s cavern.
“That wasn’t me,” Delilah whispered, sliding off the cannon.
Kale strained to listen. Even the oroqs were silent. Then he heard it, leather boots on rock. Rhythmic. Marching.
“Dwarves.” Delilah closed the hatch on the cannon’s breech and waved to the oroqs to come and move it back in position.
“Shit.” Kale rolled up his tools and shoved them back in his pouch.
“Go get Sarvesh and the team, Kale!” Delilah ran up to him as the oroqs wheeled the cannon back up to its firing port near the gate. The twin steel doors of the gate shuddered under impact. Dust and rocks rained down from the cavern’s ceiling.
Kale shook his head and limped up to the firing port. He could barely make out the eyes of scores of dwarves, glowing in the dark, their superior night vision causing them to reflect what little light from the gate’s lanterns escaped.
“I can’t move fast, Deli. You’ll have to go.”
Delilah ran up to Kale and tugged at his belt. “I can help the oroqs with my magic. You need to go. You’re hurt.”
He shoved her away. “I’m telling you, I’ll never get there in time. Go! There’s no time to argue. This isn’t just scout party.” We shouldn’t have nicked their booze.
Delilah turned and ran.