The Morghun Host (title image)

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The Unit
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Uses for a Helm

Several decades after the incident wherein I came upon my sword, I was adventuring. This was even more common place back then, as bounty was even more plentiful than it is now. It also beat going to war, which was less profitable, and often more painful. Anyway, as I say, I was adventuring, away to the north. It was raining, and I decided to look for shelter, as looking disreputable and being an elf doesn't mix. I happened upon a hollow in the side of a hill. "Aha!" thought I, "somewhere to keep dry and maybe cook dinner", and so set up camp.

Soon I had a cosy fire going and was spit roasting a rabbit I had waylaid earlier. I picked up my dragon helm to inspect it for rust, and leaned back to relax. Imagine my surprise as the soil behind me caved in and set me to tumbling backward, helm in hand. I crawled back out and grabbed a stick from the fire to light my way, and went back to the hole, to further investigate. Peering in I could see the hole was in fact a passage, stone lined and ancient in appearance, I decided to go in and have a prod around.

I descended into the stygian gloom of the long dank tunnel, fastening my helm as I went (a rock on the head would never do). The walls were carved with glyphs and weird pictures of some race long since dead, some of the looked to be inlaid with some lovely pearl like substance, which gave of a pale light of its own. Down and down I went, until I felt a slight draught on my face, and my footfalls rang hollow, as if I entered a large cavern.

Sure enough I saw ahead of me some tomb, covered in the same pearly substance as the walls in the tunnel, giving light enough to see by, albeit dimly. Atop a stone sarcophagus in the middle of the chamber there was a stone, about the size of a human fist, shining with the white light emanating from its surroundings. " I'll have away with that," I said to myself. My voice rang hollow in the tomb, words seeming to be eaten up by the very air, which was still and had a peculiar musty smell about it. I sauntered over to the stone, and after having a glance round for obvious traps, lifted it from its cradle. It was beautiful. It glinted like white fire, and seemed to glow with a cold radiance from within its faultless depths.

I turned to leave, and that is when I saw I wasn't alone. In front of me was a thing from a nightmare. Its skin was black, and ichorous drool slipped from its razor-lined maw. Its red eyes burned into me as it pointed at the stone I held, and seemed to grin. I drew my sword and prepared to sell my life dearly, as I was sure I was doomed. It closed so swiftly I barely had time to defend myself, and swung wildly at its face. My sword bit in a little, but with no appreciable damage. The thing lashed out at me, hitting my helmet, smashing it from my head, and sending me sprawling, swordless and helmless to the floor. In the tumult I had dropped the gem, and it had shattered. The beast howled in fury, and loomed over me, ready to strike a mortal blow. Reaching out I grabbed for the first thing to hand to defend myself, and my hand came to rest on my helm. I swept it up and hit the fiend full in the face with all my might. The foul being stood still for a moment, arm hanging pendulously by its side, then it toppled backwards, and lay still.

I didn't stop to see if it was dead, I just ran as fast as I could manage. When I reached the surface it was getting dark, and my dinner was a burned ruin. Stooping to retrieve my kit, I noticed a pale light illuminating my camp. It came from some splinters of that bright gem, somehow lodged against the brow of my helmet in the fight. I took the shards with me to the nearest black smith, some weeks travel from the site of my adventure, and had them installed in my helm, so as I would never have to walk in the dark again. And they still shine.

Was that a good story? Should I tell another some time?

Source: S. Erridge

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