Into the Halls of Stone
The two gorlocs paused at the edge of an abyss. Roo curiously glanced over the edge, then nervously shuffled back. "Is very long way. But makers are up there! You see, right?" Eck glanced upwards. "Is big jump. But can do! Hop up, little Roo. We can be good team!" Eck helped the tiny gorloc up onto his giant shoulders, coiled his powerful leg muscles and leaped upwards onto the gantryway to the Halls of Stone.
"Is very cold here," Roo said, shivering from the northern winds. "No wonder dry-skin so like. Ok! We go in!"
The two gorlocs pressed through the hordes of iron dwarves without any real difficulty. Eck did not have a whole lot of patience, and after a minute of beating things down, snapped and released his "true power."
"Wow!" Roo exclaimed. "You are amazing! This gorloc did not see such carnage since the big adventure with the dry-skin!"
"Thank you, little Roo," Eck replied, cautiously trying another Iron Dwarf. "I hear that iron is an important nutrient for a growing young gorloc."
Roo cautiously snacked on one of the fallen Iron Dwarves that Eck offered him. "Is high in cholesterol maybe? Tastes strange ..."
After wandering around semi-randomly for some time, the two eventually reached the tribunal of ages.
"We remember!" Roo bounced excitedly. "This is the place where we came with Branbronzan and dry-skin." Roo's eyes glazed over slightly, and his voice softened. "This is where ... Soo-Say ... he wants us to come."
Eck remained at the stairs, glancing around at all of the shiny things. Meanwhile, Roo bounded up to a large mechanical box with strange buttons on the top.
"We don't know what to do," Eck said. "So many shinies! So little time." Roo didn't respond and hopped up onto the terminal, gazing at the small glass screen and then stepping on a few buttons absentmindedly. A voice from above
Suddenly, a loud voice spoke from the heavens. "Warning! Life form pattern not recognized. Archival processing terminated. Continued interference will result in targeted response."
Eck and Roo hunched downwards.
"Who is talking?!" Eck said angrily. "Come out and say hi! Is rude to hide!" Roo waved his hands and held up a finger to silence Eck, then whispered loudly, "Is makers! Shhh! They say hi to us!"
The large, disembodied voice spoke again. "Security breach in progress. Analysis of historical archives transferred to lower priority queue. Countermeasures engaged."
Eck and Roo exchanged glances. None of them had any idea what any of these words meant. "We sorry, soo-maker. Roo is too small to understand big meanings. Please-see, use small words for small gorloc ears!"
Eck raised up warily, and looked back down from where they had come. "Something is coming," he announced. "Lot's of somethings." He flexed his hands and licked his lips hungrily.
Roo continued to beseech the makers. "Hi there, soo-makers! We are Roo again, from the time before! You remember, yes? Roo brought shinies like promised. Also, High Oracle Soo-Say said to say hi. Hi!"
Behind him, Eck watched in amazement as a veritable tide of Iron Dwarves and other guards poured out of the dark corridors towards him. "Uh ... Roo ... This might be bad time to say hi ..." Roo turned around and looked at the incoming horde. "Wow! So many! You okay to fight?" Eck smiled, without glancing back.
As the first Iron Dwarf closed into range, Eck opened up with a stream of acidic spray, arching around and drenching the first dozen that foolishly ran blindly in. Enraged, they struck with their cruel weapons upon the tough rubber flesh of the greater gorloc, who greeted their response with immensely powerful crushing jaws. The tide turns
Meanwhile, Roo continued to hop onto different buttons on the terminal. The makers hadn't programmed their machines to respond to small children playing with it. "Threat index threshold exceeded. Celestial archive aborted. Security level heightened."
Roo turned excitedly to Eck, to tell him the good news. Instead, he watched in disbelief as Eck was being overwhelmed by enemies. One of them slipped past and rushed up towards Roo, but before the Iron Dwarf could crush the baby gorloc with his hammer, Eck appeared behind him. Like a shark pursuing a seal, the giant jaws of Eck closed around the interloper. Roo could hear him screaming from inside Eck's belly.
Roo cheered and thanked his giant friend, then turned back without fear to the console. So many buttons! So many colors!
Eck fought with great courage and skill. He jumped around from enemy to enemy, never allowing himself to be caught in a corner, preventing the enemy from using their great numbers to their advantage. Dark pits of pure evil opened up beneath him, but he nimbly skipped away from them. Green lasers of instant death followed him around, but the giant gorloc was too fast to be caught by any such things. But there was simply too many of them. For every one he cut down, another two took their place.
"Please hurry, Roo," Eck said. "We not invincible."
The giant voice intoned once more, "Critical threat index. Void analysis diverted. Initiating sanitization protocol." Roo stamped at the console frustratedly. "We no understand!"
A hammer blow caught Eck on the side of his skull, knocking him down. Instantly the other dwarves were atop of him, smashing and stabbing. Eck rose up and slammed against the walls, knocking some off, and crushing others with his immense bulk against the hard, unmoving walls. A sword stabbed down through his webbed feet, and an iron golem slammed into his stomach. Eck fell downwards. Time seemed to slow down.
"I sorry, Roo ..." the greater gorloc whispered.
As Eck hit the ground, he remembered back to when the little gorloc had come to visit him for the first time. He had been beaten – like he had now and lay helplessly on the ground. The dry-skins had stepped forward to mercilessly finish him off, when the tiny creature had flung itself in front of them, sobbing. "He just like me! Please no kill! He very sorry!" Eck smiled softly. "I always waited in the dark lonely place. Until Roo came, Eck did not know what the sun was like. I always very grateful for your kindness, little one."
The loud voice of the Maker broke through the room, but Eck paid it no attention. Eck watched as the Iron Dwarves ran as a group towards the unknowing baby gorloc, still playing with the console. Something inside him snapped. He owed his life to Roo, and by the makers, it was a debt that would be paid.
Eck the Ferocious pulled to his feet, breathed deeply and spewed his guts all over everything in the room. "I NOT DONE YET! COME FIGHT SOME MORE!" As one, the Iron Dwarves accepted the challenge. Eck was too tired to move nimbly, but fought on, even so. He felt pain in every part of his body as the cruel dwarf weapons struck again and again. He felt his cheek sacs torn away, his jaw broken and smashed, and his skin opened up in many different places.
"Roo, Roo ..." he called, "You've got to go now ... I can't stop them ... please ..."
Roo turned and looked in horror. "Noooo, Eck! You my best friend!" The tiny gorloc leaped off of the console and flung himself at the Iron Dwarves, beating them futilely with his tiny claws.
"Makers, please help! Take all the strength we haves and gives it to Eck!"
" System online. Life form pattern recognized. Welcome Soo-Roo. Query?"
Roo picked up a small throwing hammer that one of the Iron Dwarves had dropped. "All this time ... Roo has been alone," he sobbed. "First parents gone, then dry-skin had to leave ... Roo won't let another friend go away!" The weapon was immensely too large for the tiny gorloc to wield effectively. Desperately, he arched it overhead.
At that instant – lightning flooded the room. The iron dwarves and their allies staggered and collapsed. Electricity arched into the throwing hammer held overhead by Roo and into his head. His eyes flared with bright light, and he dropped to the ground. The great hand of Eck the Ferocious carefully closed around the prone body of Roo, shielding him from the immense weight of the iron dwarves falling all around.
A different feeling
The chamber was silent, except for the sound of Eck's ragged breathing. After a minute, Roo shook himself back to his senses and stood up.
"We feel...different..." The little gorloc hopped around Eck, worriedly touching the many great wounds all over him. "Eck, we very sorry for the trouble we caused..."
Eck smiled. "You smell ferocious."
Roo's face was streaked with tears. "You not allowed to die!"
"Everything has to die sometime, little Roo. You showed Eck many good times. We went to meet many new friends. You showed Eck so many places. You good friend. All my life in the dark places Eck didn't see anything nice. Before you came, if Eck died, all he would know is sad and loneliness."
Roo clasped Eck's hands in his tiny paws. "Don't speak...you will be okay...Soo-Say can fix!"
"You gave me many happy things, Roo. We ate many good things together. This Eck is very happy to meet you. He doesn't regret ... anything ..."
Eck fell silent.
Roo trembled and stepped back. "We feel different," he said, confused. "We feel...different."
High Oracle Soo-Say could fix anything, Roo knew. If only he could be High Oracle Soo-Roo, like the future him that he had met with the dry-skin! "You be okay!" Roo said, focusing on his strange, lightning-discovered feelings. "Roo knows how to fix ..." Warm light emanated from his hands, and Roo gently pressed them onto Eck's side. After a moment, the wounds started to slowly close over. Eck's eyes slowly opened, and he smiled.
"You did it, Roo ... you gonna be a great oracle one day ... Eck knows it ..."
A yellow glow appeared underneath Eck.
Suddenly, the Tribunal of Ages spoke again. "Achievement Unlocked by Eck: Brann Spanking New."