As the group of heroes and their new hosts began to settle down, Dremnin sat quietly with Hannah by a fire, both lost in their own thoughts. The Scout had a serious look on his face when he turned to Hannah and said, “Stay here little one, while I go speak to Ardor. I’ll be right back, I promise.” The human arose from his position and walked quietly over to where the T’skrang Taildancer sat, examining the Hammer of Derin Kuyu.
“It’s a magnificent weapon Ardor”, he said as he squatted by his new friend and looked at the deadly two-handed hammer. “Are you up to wielding such a beast? It’s beyond me, that’s for sure.” After a moment, Dremnin’s smile faded and he said to his friend, “I’ve been thinking a lot since we came to this foreboding realm, and I have come to ask your forgiveness, Ardor. In the Kaer, I apparently abandoned you as we fought those ghoulish child abominations together. I was struck by one of their spines and lost control of myself, and all I remember is feeling at peace while I walked into the gaping maw of that Kaer Mole.” He shuddered at the memory.
Dremnin paused for a moment as Ardor listened, then he continued. “Hannah and I owe you our lives for your assistance in the water, and I am ashamed that I lost control and left you at the mercy of those… things.” The scout dropped his eyes and spoke just above a whisper… “Can you forgive me?”
Ardor smiled and said, “Dremnin you, nor any of us came to this place of our own free will. I too was struck and felt the peace and the pull to do what we were told. There is nothing for me to forgive. You have more than shown your bravery in your last charge into combat with the wild horror tainted men today.” Ardor paused a moment and extended his hand in friendship and said with a smile on his face " Ardor is my formal family shell name. My chosen name is Skram, that is the name my friends use."
Dremnin smiled and firmly grasped the T’skrang’s outstretched hand of friendship. “Skram it is then, by your leave”, the human replied as they released their handshake and resumed their seated positions. “Thanks for understanding. For a scout to lose his freedom is an event which is unthinkable for us. We need to think of how best to combat those evil child-constructs when we exit this hellish realm and return to the Kaer, as I have no wish to repeat that action with the Kaer Mole.”
As he sat with Skram, Dremnin asked him, “Tell me Skram, what exactly is a Taildancer? From my life growing up along the Coil River, I have seen many T’skrang boatmen and fishermen, and some dashing sword masters as well, but I have never before seen a Taildancer.”
“Taildancing is a way of life” said Skram. “Not only do we dance and spin in combat. We dance our way through life.”
“So you use your tail for balance while dancing, and I can see where that would be a real advantage at times. I can’t recall… do you ever use it in battle? Can you strike with it?”, Dremnin asked his friend as he looked at the T’skrang’s tail.
“As for killing the tainted children, I have been thinking about how to get rid of them.” Skram paused to take a long drink of water and then offered the skin to Dremnin. Skram continued by saying “First we will need to fill out ears with wax and cloth there giggling seems to have an effect on us. And we should be better off this time against the stingers with all of us having armor now. Also we need to pick the ground, somewhere with one small door so that we can group up on them, kill them as they enter the room and keep them from surrounding us. Then when they are all dead we go kill the mole. But first we have to get out of this realm.”
Dremnin accepted the waterskin from Skram and continued. “Those thrice damned children of Selenys will be our bane if we don’t have a solution. I have no idea what to expect if and when the Nethermancer is slain, but I think we should be prepared to act in the event the transition back to the Kaer is like the one that brought us here.” The scout took a drink from the waterskin as he considered the proposed plan. “I like the idea of a choke point to deal with them, and having wax in our ears will be a benefit if they use sound to bewitch us. Thank the Passions we know how to sign to communicate, as we won’t be able to hear anything. Did you think it was their voices that made us feel peaceful and walk like lambs to the slaughter?”
“I think that their giggle had something to do with it” said Skram. “Not as much as the stingers did.”
“I knew you had to grow up near water”, Skram said and produced a full and silly smile. “You swim well for not having a tail.”
Dremnin nodded, “I thank my father for teaching me to swim, and I can tell you truthfully that I was highly motivated to swim like a fish back in the cave water. When I felt you come up and help with Hannah, I was grateful, as my wind was all but done.”
“You were doing fine, you can swim much farther than you think when you are out of air.” Skram said. “Besides you were the one that Florannus used to save Hannah from drowning. Now that was impressive.”
The scout shook his head slowly in the negative and said, “Dont forget, Skram, we both prayed to Floranuus on the girl’s behalf.” Then he settled in against the rock wall before continuing the conversation.
“I hope you’re hunch about the wax is right. To think that those abominations had some of us thinking they were friendly before they…”. Dremnin shivered involuntarily at the thought of those things again. “It’d be good to be able to whack them as soon as they come in range… but we need more rocks”, he added with a big grin and started to chuckle. Skram and he had used simple rocks to bring down one of the wild men in their fight earlier. “This time we’ll be better prepared.”
Dremnin’s eyes moved down to Skram’s tail, which had been moving the whole time they’d been talking. “So, can you use your tail in melee?”
Skram started to laugh “That would be like asking you if you could fight with your arms and legs, my tail is as much a part of me and my life. Not only can I strike and grapple with it some of us strap weapons and shields to the end of it.” “I tend to follow my Niall’s (Family) founder by using a mace head strapped to the end of it.” Skram took back the water skin using his tail and took another drink. “There are so many other ways to use the tail,” Skram added with a lift of the eye brows. “too bad there are no T’skrang women here. I was in that mine a long time.”
Dremnin looked at Skram for just a second with a blank look on his face until the tail comment sank home, then he burst into laughter. “Oh man, that’s rich”, he said and tried to stop laughing. “I understand, brother, life in the mines left no time or opportunity for, ah, recreation”, and he winked knowingly at the T’skrang. Then he got more serious for a moment and asked Skram, “If you are going to place a mace head on your tail, are you going to try and do it before we go into battle with the Nethermancer?” The scout started to rummage through his haversack while he waited for Skram’s response.
“If I can come up with one” answered Skram. “I have not had time to see if they have one to give me. I will check with Thorin in the morning.”
“Aha”, Dremnin said with a measure of triumph in his voice, and he brought out the rusted dagger he picked up in the Kaer, just before they came to the Netherworld. “Thorin said they were desperately short of metal here, so this may be your answer”, the scout said as he held the dagger. He handed it to Skram and said eagerly, “When you see him tomorrow, give him this and ask him to use the metal to make your mace head. That way it won’t deplete his metal stocks.” He handed the dagger to Skram and smiled. “I wondered why I picked it up at the time”, the scout continued, “but now we know it is intended to help us achieve victory here.”
With a wide smile Skram replied “Thank you friend, this is a truly great and rare gift here.” Skram thought for a moment and then started, “I do not like to get a gift without giving one”. Skram paused. Reaching behind him, Skram grabbed the shield of Darin Kuyu. Skram stated " If I am going to use this big two handed hammer, I will not be able to hold on to this too. Take this and make good use of it, if you are going to charge in to battle like you do you should have a shield in front of you."
Dremnin was thunderstruck by the generosity of his new friend. “The thane’s shield in return for that simple dagger? I know you’ll not be able to use both in battle, but…”, he paused and looked down at the footman’s shield, then continued quietly, “Skram, are you certain of this? That dagger is unworthy of such… such…”, and his words failed him. He looked at the T’skrang Taildancer with a hint of tears in his eyes, and then said in hushed tones, “Your generosity is beyond measure, my friend. I will try to use this shield with honor, and perhaps I can give cover to us both if we charge into battle as a team.”
As both beings sat together quietly for a moment, Dremnin slowly rose and, carrying his new shield, said, “I need to go back and check on Hannah, so I’ll leave you to your rest, Skram. Think about how we can raise the spirits of Thorin’s people, and I’ll see you tomorrow.” As the T’skrang nodded in reply, Dremnin quietly made his way back to Hannah with thoughts on his new friendship. It had truly been a good day.
Dremnin and Skram