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The silence resumed, but this time with heart-stopping suspension. Balamor gripped the dirt below and held his breath. The bright particles patiently floated their way to the ground as subtle rumbling escalated into a thundering stampede of beasts. Only feet behind them the creatures stopped and trotted the dusty ground, snarling at one another. Their hulking figures stomped the soil and could be heard sniffling the air for a scent. A deafening bark shook the atmosphere and Awkid snapped his eyes to Balamor. Their feet shuffled heavily and another yelp screeched through the forest. The dwarf nodded towards the Wisebeard’s dagger as the footsteps drew closer.

The creatures were yapping almost painfully as they neared the adventurers. Awkid gripped the shortened polearm in his left hand while the young hobbit peeked to his right. A thick black liquid dripped to the ground, sizzling as steam wandered up from its shiny surface. Balamor slowly lifted his eyes to see the long gray snout of a grotesque beast moving around the tree. Fanged black teeth lined its jaw, razor sharp and coated in hot black tar. Balamor’s chest was beating with fire, he wanted to run but he knew there was no chance. He glanced at Awkid who readied his weapon to strike. Another dripping monster approached from around the trunk to the left, sniffing out the dwarf with ease. In a flash Awkid jabbed the spear through the side of it’s mouth and Balamor immediately followed after the other. A ghastly yelp rung his ears as he shoved the silver blade of his dagger through the beast's gullet and into its massive head. Tar and blood gushed from within and spilled onto his hand, boiling the skin beneath. He screamed as the beast’s head slumped to the ground and its bright yellow eyes faded to black.

The forest was now roaring with demon like chatter as Balamor and Awkid jumped out of their cover. The dwarf wrestled the spear from the other creature’s head when Balamor finally saw the terrors in full. Tarr Wolves, and he was certain of it. Almost twice the size of any wolf he had ever seen. Their gray fur was matted with hot black tar from head to toe. Oozing to the ground with steam billowing from their bodies as they approached. Now six remained, snapping their jaws at Balamor and Awkid. The dwarf ripped the broken spear from the lifeless beast and slowly moved back.

“The torch!” Awkid yelled to Balamor as the remaining wolves were closing in.

Laying in the ashen dirt only feet between them was the dark steel handle of the torch. Balamor scrambled to its position, kicking up a cloud of dust as he secured the torch in his hands but it was too late. One of the wolves leapt through the air with its jaws wide and pounced onto the hobbit. Awkid quickly stabbed into its back with the best of his strength. Balamor screamed as he fought the beast on top of him, shoving the handle of the torch into it’s mouth he tried to wrestle it off. Another dove for Awkid but barely missed as he jumped away and dug the rusted pike into its gut. Balamor was losing his grip when the claws of the wolf began tear through his robes and into his skin. Tar flung spastically from the beast when Balamor shouted in one last attempt to save his life.

“Hels!”

The End

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