The wind howled around Titan, whipping the canvas of the yurts with icy vindictiveness. This was a terrible place for a goat, let alone a whole village. Titan hated the outdoors in general, travelling was nothing but a catalogue of hardship and rain of ravenous beasts and runny shits. Only complete loons like Envar liked the wild and it made Titan weary to put on his hard face all the time. To not let the others, know how much it rankled him to be so useless and weak on the road, dependant on them for food, warmth, shelter and everything in between. Everyone knew he was not one for complaints. Titan the stoic they ought to have called him. There was even a moment, after he got his hand unfrozen, that he’d seen the distant, sparking peaks of the Spine of the World mountains and found them almost…beautiful. Now he was up close he knew better of course. This was a cruel, stark place. It offered only death.
And now it was set to take Korotir. It had been a fool notion to come here in the first place, a worse one to stay. Titan had thought Korotir to be just about the most terrible opponent imaginable in combat. When he fought, he seemed to flip between steely martial discipline and raw elemental fury, it was hard to know which was the more terrifying. This…thing Korotir was supposed to fight though, next to that he looked small and weak. Worse, he had to fight it in the open, on his own, without trickery and in front of hundreds. Madness.
Then there was the smug corpse- thing that passed for the priest around here. After the challenge was issued they’d all retired to a yurt for a vigorous, and completely pointless, debate about what to do. The problem was apparently the rules. To interfere in an orcish duel was dishonour, at best a failure to recruit the tribe’s warriors, at worse a grizzly end at the hands of the enraged mob they were surrounded by. It was ridiculous. The other side was so obviously cheating, the priest so obviously pumping her champion completely full of horrible devil magic, yet they were supposed to wait idlily by? Just watch as Korotir was torn to shreds in a battle he had no hope of winning? Korotir himself seemed to think so, every solution they had proposed had been met with a flat refusal and a resigned shrug. Titan knew the half-orc well enough to see that they’d have no sense out of him. He was well past clever stratagems and cunning ploys. Even as the debate raged, Korotir was deep in his battle-trance, he’d weighed his impossible opponent and seen his own death, was determined to meet it head on, was maybe even a little excited about it.
So it was up to the rest of them. But as mouths flapped the likes of Natalia, Atarah and Tranled proposed a lot of pretty little solutions that involved subtle magics or the winning of hearts and minds. Everyone agreed that Korotir could win a fair fight, agreed the priest was the problem, but when Titan had very helpfully suggested that he simply kill he priest he’d been dismissively shouted down with a chorus of mewling about the importance of not being seen to interfere and the rules. It made Titan seethe with anger, of course he wouldn’t be seen! When had anyone ever seen a blow coming from Titan Quickhand? Never! ‘The silent death’ they called him. Well, maybe they didn’t quite yet, but they would! As for the rules, Titan knew a thing or two about evening up the odds against a bigger opponent, and it had nothing at all to do with rules.
Perhaps they hadn’t yet learned to fully trust their technician, but they would! Titan picked his way between the tents, stepping gingerly around the filth that surrounded them. Maybe he’d been around Natalia too long. Become all soft and precious about a bit of grime. There were his new boots to consider though and this wasn’t the honest, useful refuse of the city but the long rotted carcasses of forest beasts, their gnashed bones poking all about. Titan spat. Out the corner of his vision there was movement. A little orc girl, naked as the day, elbows deep in offal that was long, long past its questionable best. Their eyes met. Titan’s nose started to wrinkle but then she realised how thin she was, she must have been ravenous. He thought back to his youth on the backstreets of Waterdeep, pilfering and begging for scraps. He’d been there. There was a moment of silent agreement, the transcendent language of mischief. Two souls seen a little too much and decided it would be better if they hadn’t. He tiptoed away.
He came to the end of the village. Just the end of a plateau really, with the sharp sides of the mountain soaring vertiginously overhead. There was an excited roar back from the centre of the village, the champions had emerged from their tents, and the crowd was humming with the anticipation of violence. Not much time. Titan took a deep breath and ran, jumped towards the mountain working his legs furiously. His last step sprang off the frozen ground, then, miraculously, his next propelled him upwards off of empty air. Up, up he went, every footfall taking him higher, just as if he were running up a hill of solid earth. Well, maybe not solid earth exactly, more like a sand dune but such distinctions were for other times. These boots were the greatest thing that he had ever owned, easily worth every privation of his adventuring career and more. If only Smyth and all the others from the others from the orphanage could see him now! Titan laughed and cackled at the sheer joy of it before remembering again the urgency of his mission.
He sprinted a path parallel to the mountain, past a jagged, jutting spur of rock that gave good cover from any wandering eyes that might happen to look upwards. Fat chance of that, a duel to the death between two colossal warriors for the fate of the tribe was the perfect distraction, and the bloodthirsty orcs would be the perfect audience. If Korotir’s lust for violence was anything to go by, they were as likely to forget to watch as they were to forget to breathe. Still, Titan was nothing if not a consummate professional, no-one could accuse him of being prone to overconfidence! He weaved from cover to cover, an otherwise torturous and impossible climb reduced to the work of a moment. Anyone who did look up would quickly dismiss the movement as a bird, a fox or some other meaningless animal.
He was high now, high enough to enact his plan. The Titan solution. Ahead was a tiny bluff scattered with a pile of boulders from some long-forgotten rockslide. He scampered over to it and risked a look at the combatants far below. The fight had started. At this distance it was like watching a pair of stick figures knock lumps out of each other but even from here Titan thought he could see that Korotir was on the defensive from that curse-amped monster Erogash and his enormous axe. The quickfire staccato rumbling of Korotir’s thunder-shield confirmed the suspicion that he was under serious assault. Titan grimaced, ground his teeth in anger and started rifling through the rock pile.
Titan considered the first he pulled out, hardly more than a stone, not devastating enough. A huge boulder was next to it, it would crush a house, much less a puny wizard- priest thing, but even one so mighty as he wouldn’t be able to aim it and a missed attack would be worse than no attack at all. Titan buried himself in the pile, furiously considering and throwing aside dozens of potential missiles while the thunder continued to ring out down below, every repetition of it electrifying Titan with further fury.
Then he saw it, the perfect rock. It was about the size of his torse, round on top, but sharp down below, narrowing to a cunning point like a cut diamond. Desperately he grabbed for it, set his feet, strained for all he was worth to pry it out from between the two huge rocks where it was pinned. All at once he came and titan had to dive away at the last moment to avoid crushing himself. That would not be a fitting end for one of his remarkable fame and remarkable-er talents. Not fitting at all.
Titan cackled as he felt its weight. He had to use his legs to lift the thing! It was going to crush that fool flat!
Now came the tricky bit. He wasn’t exactly sure how much weight these wondrous boots of his would bear. He waddled to the lip of the bluff, felt the icy wind below up from far, far below. He didn’t relish this bit, but Korotir might be in trouble and time was of the essence. Titan gulped, closed his eyes and stepped into the empty air…
He began to drop, not so fast as a freefall, but losing altitude at an alarming rate all the same. Titan began to pump his legs furiously like he was treading water. it arrested his fall but it was hard work and his heart began to hammer as he whooped in lumgfulls of freezing air.
It was hard to see much past the rock but the situation sounded like it’d hardly improved. The savage growls of the combatants echoed from below, the clash of weapons, the roar of the crowd baying for violence. Titan reckoned he could make out arcane babble of Tranled from within the hubbub, the strong resolute prayers of Atarah and Natalia. The snapping of metal rang out. Korotir would have been in dire straits indeed if they were intervening. Titan breathed a curse, this would even the odds.
He was right above that hateful priest now. An inch right, two inches forward. Everything had to be perfect. It would have been an impossible shot except for the fact that the smug, obvious fool was standing stock still, feet planted arrogantly like victory was certain. He was just about to loose when he remembered to rotate the sharp end downwards.
‘Special delivery’ cackled Titan as he dropped the huge rock.
The improvised missile dropped away. The world slowed. The axe whirred. The flail span. One second, two, three. Titan’s breath was caught fast in his throat.
Then it connected. The rock had hit the priest flush on the head, a perfect bullseye. It was a catastrophic blow. It crushed her flat, exploded her body, dark ichorhous blood and crimson black gore blossoming out instantly in every direction like the blooming of some great glorious flower.
‘Yes! That’s what you get! That’s what you get when you cross Ttian, when you cross Korotir! Ahahahahha!’ Titan danced and cackled in the air before he realised that perhaps he ought to make himself scarce. He didn’t look back down but instead just threw himself sideways as fast as he was able towards a patch of deep snow he’d seen twenty feet below. He carrened through the air, the sides of the mountain and its sharp, terrible rocks flying up to meet him and threatening a terrible impaling end if he’d miscalculated.
Then the pillowy snow was all around him. He’d made a crater in it five feet deep. Titan hated snow, but just then it felt like a hug. Had anyone seen him? Of course not, he was Titan the mighty and they were just a gaggle of ridiculous lunks.
He cackled in his hole.