"Want to know why you possess no name, scribe?" the Skull paused and laughed aloud, not waiting for the scribe to answer him, "because the name is mine! I am Odan the Scribe."
"No," shouted the scribe, tears filling his eyes, his voice trembling with fear, realizing that a horrible truth had been spoken. He screamed aloud at the crystal skull, denying what the skull had said. "Odan the Scribe sinned. He was punished for his transgressions -- and he died. Now, Moultrance the Scrivener records the tales of this world."
The skull's thought vibrations echoed throughout the cavern. His answer, terrible and frightening for the scribe to hear, "I am here. I am Odan. You are but a vessel. Come, join with me."
Craven Justice listened intently to the quarrel unfolding before him. No sound reverberations echoed throughout the crystalline cavern, yet their voices filled his mind. "The voice of the mind" he shivered at the thought.
"Bard, behind you, beware!" screamed the scribe.
Malef's muscular arms encircled Craven Justice from behind his back, locking his hands around the silver dwarf's waist as he lifted him off the ground, the air forced out of his body.
Malef locked his right hand over his left wrist, and notched the rib crushing hold tighter and tighter. A smile crossed his face as he heard the bard "oomph" in pain and felt Craven's ribs begin to crack from the pressure of the waist-lock hold.
Craven pounded his fists on Malef's locked hands. It was a futile effort; one made out of instinct and desperation. Craven had seen Malef squeeze the breath out of a full-grown boar, using the same grip, until the boar had collapsed into unconsciousness.
Malef had come to settle a vendetta; only Craven Justice's life would satisfy the feud.
"Save him," demanded the skull, his thoughts flashing angry waves of red and yellow luminescence throughout the cavern. The scribe's eyes widened as Malef threw Craven Justice across the cavern floor towards the edge of the rushing waters. The young scribe backed up in horror. He watched Malef run after the fallen dwarf, grab him by his jet-black hair, place the minstrel's head into the crock of his arm, tightening it into a crushing headlock.
Malef then used his weight and height advantage to its fullest, as he leaned back and smirked, "I've got you, ya bastard, killer of women. I'll have me vengeance today."
The scribe stood wide-eyed with horror at the violence unfolding before him, throwing his arms out wide as he backed away, prepared to flee. He turned to run and felt his fingertips brushing the crystal skull. It was but a slight glance, one hardly felt by the scribe; he felt his body stiffen with fear as a white light engulfed him.
Never touch the skull, he had been forewarned a thousand times over. "No," he screamed aloud, "it was an accident," and the young scribe spoke no more.
An uttered word, "Amidah (Immortality)" echoed throughout the cavern.
Malef loosened his grip on Craven Justice's head, shocked at the sight of the human encased in the golden white light.
The scribe felt an enormous power enter his body; thought entered his mind; mental images formed. He looked directly into the darkened eye-sockets of the skull, as images of a forgotten time etched themselves into his mind. He looked down at the skull; felt himself suspended over it, and saw the crystal skull smile. "Thou revives the dead!" it said.
The scribe lost consciousness as the transference occurred.
Craven Justice glanced up, nearly blinded by the light surrounding the scribe, he watched, in disbelief, as the scribe was flung out of the light that engulfed him.
Craven knew the pressure hold of Malef would eventually crush his skull -- perhaps that was why he imagined what he thought he saw; the scribe's body flung from the light, across the cavern, landing in the bubbling pool.
The white beast reappeared in an instant, howling a greeting, as the scribe emerged from the water.
Craven saw the scribe emerge from the water, but he seemed larger and fuller, than he had appeared before.
Blackness began to overcome Craven. He saw the scribe rushing towards him. A faint moment of hope entered his mind, as he tried to squirm out of Malef's hold.
The scribe tried to wrench free the dwarf from the crushing headlock, only to be backhanded by the dwarven giant.
Craven felt Malef relinquish his grip for a moment, then notched it up again. "Begone, human," bellowed Malef, "this be dwarven business."
The human stood in front of the struggling pair. "Release the bard," demanded the scribe, in perfect dwarven dialect, causing Malef to lift his head in astonishment -- a human who spoke in pure dwarven tongue!
Malef shook his head in anger and disbelief. Two more seconds and he would be through with Craven Justice. Then he would attend to the infuriating human who taunted him so.
The scribe's hand lashed out, slapping the giant across the face, once, twice, followed by a third resounding strike.
Malef bellowed with rage, insulted that he should be struck in such a manner. He released his headlock on Craven and tossed the dwarf aside. "Smack me!" bellowed the giant, "I'll break ye in two." Malef jumped up, lunged at the scribe, as he rubbed the side of his face, the stinging smack hurting more than the punches he had been expecting to rain down upon him.
Craven Justice shook his head, trying to clear his mind, astonished, that Malef had relinquished his death grip.
Odan the Scribe felt his mind entering the body of the scribe. It was not an easy transformation, painful to the body, but not the mind. It took but a few moments to make the adjustment.
Odan boosted himself out of the Pool of Life, water cascading off his entire body, as he hauled himself out of the pool by the strength of his arms and flipped himself up into a standing position.
He heard the dwarf's lute strum a cord, a honey-coated sound echoed from her strings, as they moved without hands to guide them, to the sounds of "Beloved Immortal."
"Unhand the bard," Odan called out in ancient tongue, a smile crossing his face as he ran towards the giant and the dwarf.
Odan flung himself into the fight, joining the life and death struggle-taking place in front of him.
Frustrated by his inability to make the giant release his death grip, he followed his instincts. He did not know why the giant was crushing the strange colored dwarf, but knew the dwarf had to be saved.
Odan stepped back, paused for a moment, and realized he had no chance, but one to save the silver-skinned dwarf. He recognized the giant's death hold, knew that he would never have the physical strength to break that iron grip.
There must me something he could do. Suddenly, his hand flashed out striking the giant dwarf across the face, once, twice, three times. The giant dwarf bellowed at the infuriating, stinging blows.
Malef screamed in rage. How dare this human interfere in dwarven matters? Malef lowered his body into a wrestler's crouch, protecting his face from those stinging slaps. "I'll crush you, human," he shouted.
Odan the Scribe kept circling to the left of Malef, his open hands moving in a blur, the right hand following the left, smacking at the giant's face, infuriating him, over, and over, and over again, and again, always dancing out of Malef's lunges. The open handed blows stinging the giant's face, adding to his rage.
Malef ducked low, feinting back, trying to draw the scribe into an attack where he would be closer to Malef, but it was to no avail, The scribe seemed to read his thoughts, and kept his distance.
Odan stumbled on a hollow in the ground. It took but a moment, as Malef bellowed in rage, charged ahead, and placed the scribe in a punishing bearhug. "Now I've got ya." Malef taunted aloud, hoisting Odan up off the ground.
Odan, being shaken like a dog would shake a rat caught in its mouth, dug his thumbs deep into Malef's neck, into a pressure point behind Malef's ears.
Craven Justice pushed himself upright. The scribe was finished, of this he was sure. No one escaped Malef's bearhug. His hand went to his bolo; he began to whirl it above his head, when, to his amazement, Malef dropped the scribe, screaming aloud, holding his hands to his ears in pain.
Craven let loose the bolo, aimed low, letting it fly through the air, its song filling the cavern with a deadly verse:
"Hear me sing my deadly song...
As I bring you to your knees,
writhing in pain and uttering pleas...
They realize their life is done...
Regrets for dead men? I have none..."
Malef heard the bolo's deadly song. Fear now appeared on his face. The bolo's strands encircled his body, tying up his arms.
Odan the Scribe leaped upon the giant's back, wrapping his left arm around Malef's neck, then locking his left palm around his right bicep, he exerted pressure and began to cut off the blood flow to the giant's brain.
Malef roared his defiance, twisting and turning, trying to shake the scribe loose, forcing his body back into the cavern's walls he attempted to crush the scribe behind him.
"Bijou," yelled the scribe. The white dog streaked forward hurled himself at the giant's legs, knocking Malef off balance.
Craven Justice ran towards the two of them, brandishing his knife. "Don't kill him," he screamed at the scribe, as he watched Malef's eyes close and his head slump forward.