The Curious Case of Master Mongrym
Everything possessed the power to transform itself, or else, and what meant more, to be transformed. – Wallace Stevens
Travin felt his blood pumping within his veins. The beating rhythm from within echoed in his ears. And from outside the heavy rain pounded down on him, rebouncing as soon as it hit the stones of the castle’s barricades. Lightning flashed from the ominous night sky, making it possible to see one’s surroundings, though distortedly. Somewhere to his left, Gurul roared and charged forward, ascending the outdoor staircase in one powerful jump, preparing to sink his teeth into the flesh of the grinning atrocity that stood at the top. Through a haze Travin heard the others yell below him and he recognised the soft sound of arrows being released – the snap as they settled in the ground close behind him as well. One, two, three, he counted as he ascended, the menacingly sharp scythe raised above his head in his stretched arms. The dwarf felt battle prowess and balance surge through his hole body. “Nature give me strength, Nature guide my aim,” he whispered under his breath, and fixated his eyes on the giant in front of him, just in time to see it bash in Gurul’s head with its massive, iron spiked club and a vehemently cruel yet stupid grin. Travin was hardly aware of the splash of warm blood that hit his face and neck. Sheer rage was the only imminent sensation in his mind as he threw himself at the giant monster. Slightly surprised the big man stumbled a few steps backwards as the infuriated dwarf attacked, but he managed to get his club between his own head and the curved blade. However, he only held the club in one hand while Travin used both. The dwarf was quick to use his advantage and considerably smaller height, but equal strength. He pulled down and made himself as heavy as possible. The giant wouldn’t let go of his weapon though, and was instead forced downwards. Travin reacted quickly and bashed the pommel and upper edge of the scythe’s blade into the face of his opponent, who stumbled backwards once more, his hands covering his injured face. Travin took advantage of the situation and swung the scythe across the torso and right leg of the giant, inflicting grievous wounds. Blood and fat welled out of them, but it was speeded away with the furious rain. The giant man fell to his knees, still with his hands in front of him. Travin lined up a final blow, but then the giant let his hands fall down, and he looked up at travin with slumped shoulders. “mercy,” he stammered with blood and water running down his face. “Auch sorry – mercy,” he cried and his eyes were filled with sadness and loneliness. Travin held the killing blow back for a moment while thoughts and emotions flew through his mind. Could he trust him, if he showed merci? Was he a creature fit to live? How much hurt and suffering had he caused, and how much would he cause in the future? He had perhaps killed Gurul. A life for a life. The scythe speedily descended and severed the giant’s head from its shoulders in a single, fluent strike. A low thump was heard when the head hit the ground and rolled a little away from its former body. Travin felt a sting of wrongness in his heart, and the rage seemed to seethe out of him. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed that Barim had stopped and stared at him in disbelief. Travin could imagine very vividly what his ally and friend was thinking in that moment, and the wrongness turned into shame. Then an arrow settled in the hides of his armour, and he realised that he was still in the middle of a battle. He caught sight of the archer standing on a bridge just to his left. He charged the archer, who nervously tried to get a new arrow stringed. Certain of his victory Travin raised his weapon once again to strike his new opponent dead. But the rain was heavy indeed and the wooden bridge had become slippery. Despite his physiologic stability, he became unbalanced, and tumbled forward as he attacked the archer with a powerful swing of the scythe. The latter, however, was quick to take advantage of the dwarf’s uncontrolled movements and took a step backwards, barely getting out of harm’s way. The miss caused Travin to continue his swing far wider than he should and consequently he slipped and landed on his own weapon. Too easily the keen blade sliced through his back and its tip protruded from his stomach. Yet the pain doesn’t seem so bad, Travin mused while a bolt of lightning flashed across the sky leaving nothing but utter darkness. The open glossy eyes of Travin Mongrym gazed into the emptiness of death.
The next time Travin’s eyes perceived something again, he was looking up at a beautiful blue summer’s sky with fleecy, white clouds. Underneath him he could feel the soft moss and smell the wonderful scent of green grass and flowers – hear the sound of bees lazily flying around and birds twittering, feel the warmth of the sun invigorating him. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt such a freshness. It was not just in his mind, his body too felt new. Like a newborn baby, he thought smilingly and lay completely still, afraid of stirring this most wonderful dream. “How good that you are finally awake,” the voice of the Orlovsky cut through the perfect tranquillity and harmony. Travin turned his head and saw the wizard sitting on a nearby tree trunk. “What are you doing in my dreams?” the dwarf mumbled though in truth, he was glad to see a familiar face. Daniel chuckled. “I am afraid this is not a dream, Mongrym,” he said and rose, a big mirror in his hand. “You should take a look in it,” Daniel said and presented it to Mongrym with a sudden seriousness in his voice. Travin sat up and took the mirror watching Daniel suspiciously. Then he confronted the mirror image and a startled roar left his mouth. “Are you playing tricks on me, damnable wizard?” he shouted with a voice that suddenly struck him as much lighter than it ought to. “This is not me,” he continued and clambered to his feet. Why was the Orlovsky suddenly so tall? “You died and I had to get you raised,” Daniel explained and waved his hands apologetically in front of himself. “I had Jhod use druidic magic on you,” he added. Travin looked at the wizard for several moments. “Hm, I see. I guess this is the will of Nature then,” he said and looked into the mirror again. His face had become small and delicately shaped, without a single scar or hair. He then looked at his hands and feet that had become equally small and fine. His height and weight was diminished considerably, and instead of a heavy and stable corpus he now felt nimble though more fragile. “I’m afraid that your equipment doesn’t suit you any more, but we will of course get something new for you as soon as we get back to Oleg’s place. Right now we have to get back and get the others though,” Daniel explained, clearly relaxed now that Travin had taken the news so well. “Where are they anyway?” Travin asked.
“Still at the fortress.”
“Well, Henry and Erin got bitten by a werewolf and we will have to contain them until full moon to see if they are infected.”
“Hm, better get moving then.”
“Yes,” Daniel replied and started walking towards their horses that grassed nearby. The halfling followed a concerned look on his face.
“Do you think they will laugh at me?” he finally asked. Daniel couldn’t help smiling a little. “Probably.”
“Hmpf,” Travin grumbled. “Damnable humans.” Daniel’s smile broadened. Obviously, the halfling was still very much a dwarf.