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. For a moment
his movement ceased, as if he had been frozen in a grip of ex-
The hammer remained poised above him as his body stiff-
ened, wracked within the blue glow that outlined him. The
gentle, almost beautiful cocoon belied the supernatural grip
of its power. Only the dwarf's eyes moved, growing wider
and more desperate with the slowly increasing, inevitably
fatal pressure of dark sorcery.
Abruptly the light vanished, and the hunchback shuffled
backward, melting into the darkness.
The dwarven smith's hammer finally slid from his gloved
hand with a loud clang to the anvil. Slowly, the corpse top-
pled forward, the stocky body splaying across the anvil and
the nearly straightened wheel. It slipped silently to the cold
Watching dead leaves swirl into his windowss, Flint
Fireforge threw back his mug and swallowed the last of his
draught. A satisfied belch ruffled his thick mustache. For
cheap ale, it wasn't half bad, he concluded. But it was gone.
He held the empty bottle - his last - up to the light of the
fire. The dwarf stroked his salt-and-pepper beard out of