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Chapter 1

The somewhat howling sound of deaf emptiness that levitated across the air, spreading itself wherever possible, skilfully found a way into Fru’s ear.

Silence, dominated the room. That vacuumed oblivion of nothing, had presence annoying enough to wake a man up without a sound. Such simplicity,  such remarkable power. It was nothing, and yet it was everything.

“Ough…” Fru murmured.

A blurry sensation of dizzy feeling, radiated through his head, as his mind was waking up from sleep. A few moments later he opened eyes, but he couldn’t see a thing.

The darkness surrounded him. A vast black mass of the unknown was the only thing he could see at that point. And a sharp pain at the back of his skull, pierced his brain with each eye blink. He felt his whole body pulsating in that one spot with every heartbeat.

 Oh man, my head. It hurts so much, Fru thought.

He tried to remember what happened, or how he got here, but his brain gave him nothing.

Great Zoshnah, what happened to me?

The fact that he could not remember a single thing about his head injury gave Fru chills, but considering he was dizzy from the injury, he was remarkably calm.

Wait a minute where am I? What is this place? Fru thought.

“Um,  hello?”

The answer soon came back, but it was not the one he expected.

“Hello, ello, lo…” The echo drummed into darkness spinning back the words he said right into Fru’s face.

 Bloody hell, how did I got here? Fru thought.

Lying on the ground god knows where in a complete darkness, all alone without a memory of how he got there, sobered him in an instant.

This must be some dream, Fru thought. That’s right, I am in a dream, and I just need to wake up from this. Could’ve been a nicer dream, though. In a tavern, with all that free ale, and music and dancing ladies and friends around. But instead, I dreamed a dark cave. All right, let’s wait a bit and I’ll wake up.

He was lying on the ground waiting for something to happen, but nothing was happening. Patience was never Fru’s stronger side. That short fuse of his caused him more trouble than good most of the time in the past. But it also saved him from odd and awkward situations as well. For better or worse, his patience level made him the man he is today, luckier than the patient.

“Hm, three minutes have passed and still nothing,” he said. “Maybe pinching will help.”

“Aah!” Fru yelled. “Damn, this really hurts for a dream.”

And then a dark thought stroke his mind. What if this is not a dream after all? I am lying here for some time and nothing is happening. And this pinch hurt like it was real. The situation was becoming more serious with each next thought.

Great Zoshnah, what if this all is real? What if I am trapped here? No, no, stay positive Fru, this is a dream, but hey, what if it isn’t? Don’t freak out, don’t freak out. All right, just calm down. Breathe. Think about positive thoughts. Yes, that’s right, positive thoughts. I really love that browny ale.

A cold shiver passed through Fru. He felt cold for a moment. Oh man, not the coldness. I hate coldness. I don’t want to freeze to the death. That’s not quite the most pleasant way to go. Actually, that’s not pleasant at all. To get frozen slowly, yuck, Fru thought.

And that’s when it hit him hard. This was the real deal. He wasn’t in the dream or dreaming. He was never cold in a dream before. Add a hurting pinch to the coldness and you could easily figure out that this was the reality.

Another chilling shiver passed through him, only this time it wasn’t because of coldness but because of fear. Fru realized the truth that he was not in a dream. That thought froze his body momentarily.

Adrenaline level in his body jumped up. His heart was pumping it fast. He woke up completely as fear and adrenaline were boiling inside his chest.

 I  don’t like this darkness, he thought. I need to get out of here right now. All right let’s get the facts straight and think this through. I’m surrounded by darkness everywhere I look on one side, and an echo on the other. And I am not in a dream, that’s for sure by the looks of it. The smell in this place is ugly, moisty, wet, and stale. Like death, itself came here to die. So this definitely must be a Cavern or something. Probably. It certainly stinks like one.  That’s just great, Fru. That’s just great. 

He felt a little relief when he figured out that he was in a cave, but the feeling of unease was still present.

“Sigh, well, at least I’m still alive, ” he said.  And entrapped.”

 “Trapped, apped, ped, ed…” the echo waved in the background.

But wait how did I get here? Fru wandered. This is not good. I… I can’t remember how the hell did I got here. He tumbled through his mind but the most recent memories were simply not there.

It’s all black. I can’t remember a thing about how I got here. But what did I do before I got here? He focused hard to bring back any memory he had. A blurry picture of some short figures materialized in his mind. He remembered something.

Those damned dwarves. It must’ve been them. They poured something into my drink. I knew I shouldn’t trust them. Those double-crossing, lying, ugly dwarves. There was a party and we had some drinks….and… ah darn, I can’t remember a single another thing anymore.

Rage begins to fuel Fru’s thoughts. How did this happen to him? How did he allow himself to be so easily crossed by some lowlife dwarf thugs? He was usually more cunning than this, but now he was most definitely played out.

“I am so going to get you when I get out of this…this cave, or wherever the hell I am, that is,” Fru yelled.

“…hell I am…I am…”

“Damn echo. So annoying.”

The rage for revenge was growing in Fru. It gave him the necessary strength to do what was necessary, to survive and to get out of this blasted ugly smelling cavern.

He couldn’t remember what he was wearing so he touched himself to see if there was something left of his inventory and clothing.

“OK, at least I’m not naked. A pair of boots, trousers, a belt, and a linen shirt. Oh, look at that, I even got both sleeves, nice. It’s not much but it will have to do,” Fru said. “All right, let’s not waste any more time on sitting around, and see if I can find anything useful that could come in hand.”

He got on his knees almost like an animal and began the search in the dark. He touched the ground in front of him step by step. The mushy feel under his fingers was not what he expected. He actually didn’t expect anything but it is what it is.

“ Ooh, gross. ”

The ground in front of Fru was full of moss and dirt and it was somewhat muddy. Although gross this was a good sign. If there were moss and mud, that meant there were air and water around. And that meant possible vegetation in the cavern and a basic food resource. He might just survive this ungraceful event deep down in this caverns of darkness.

Fru continued tapping the ground around him, but so far it was only moss. He moved straight step by step. Without sight, his other senses got enhanced more. But despite enhanced senses, he couldn’t figure out in which direction he was going or should go. The smell was equally stale in all directions.

I’ll just move forward until I find something or get to the end of the road, he thought.

He made a few smaller steps when he stepped onto something. A rubberish feel different than moss suggested that it might be some plant. Fru touched it gently trying to figure out what it was. It was shape of the circle and it was flat.

“A-ha!  A mushroom! Not bad. This might come in handy.” He grabbed the mushroom gently under its head so that he can rip it out of the ground. He pulled the mushroom but it didn’t break.

“A fighter, eh? Oh you won’t win this one, that’s for sure, so you better let go,” Fru said to the mushroom. The mushroom stood still in the mossy ground.

Fru pulled the mushroom again, but nothing happened. He tried again, and again, and again. It seemed that the mushroom was entrenching itself in the ground even more with each new pull Fru did.

“Damned mushroom, let go!” He yelled at the mushroom. He was losing the patience and the mushroom was annoying him more and more by each second.

“Get together Fru, it’s just a mushroom. How hard can it be?” He wiped a few drops of sweat that appeared on his forehead with his sleeve and prepared for another shot at the mushroom.

He grabbed the mushroom with both his hands gripping it even tighter and pulled back with his legs.

“Aargh!”

But no luck. The mushroom was standing on the ground firmly as ever, stronger than a rock.

“You’re food and nothing more! And that’s what you will always be!” Fru screamed at the mushroom in the darkness.

The echo of his own cavern voice yelled right back at him. That broke his patience threshold and he snapped.

“Aaargh, darned echo!” He screamed again.

Don’t lose your cool, get a grip and chill down Fru, you can do this. It’s just a mushroom. Nothing more, nothing less, just a mushroom, he thought.

He took a few breaths to calm down. He rubbed his palms to warm them up and prepare for a new encounter with the devil mushroom.

Ok, Fru it’s now or never, you need that mushroom if you want to survive. It’s you or her, and you don’t want it to be you. The mushroom gotta go.

He grabbed the mushroom again, this time with the tightest grip so far. He begins to pull up. He pushed the ground with his legs. He pulled up with all his strength. He felt the pressure in his whole body. And then something happened. The mushroom loosened up a bit.

Fru ground his teeth. Sweat covered his face, his grimace showed pain, and his strength was at maximum. But the mushroom was still bound to the ground. The fight between Fru and the mushroom was getting more intense by each passing second. And then another thing happened. Something broke the silence.

The squeaking sound that felt like bending of the metal filled the cavern from the ground up. Followed by the echo it multiplied several times, enhancing the actual sound, making it even more troublesome than it already was. Tension and drama in the caverns. Fru vs. The mushroom. The fight was getting at its peak.

Fru’s muscles were at maximum power. The stem of the mushroom was tightened as much as possible from the ground up. And then it began to crack and rip. Howling scream of a dying tearing metal was pulsating through the caverns rapidly. The mushroom stem was now stretched almost to the point of breaking. Its strings were slowly tearing apart from the ground, one by one. Each torn string screamed in air with a dying metallic howl.

Fru was almost out of strength and at the peak of his point of breaking. It’s now or never, it almost cracked, so pull like it’s your life Fru, PULL!! Will he make it? Will he break the mushroom? Or will the mushroom break him? The tension boiled the atmosphere in the caverns to the point of explosion.

“Die already, you bloody mushroom, die!” Fru yelled from the bottom of his heels and poured all he got in one more pull.

The mushroom stem stretched out beyond its limits and it finally broke, releasing a sharp metallic scream worse than death, sending Fru out of the balance. He staggered back a few steps and felt down on the ground on his butt.

“Yes!” He cheered.

After a fight larger than life, Fru successfully managed to rip off the devil mushroom from the ground.

He held the dead mushroom in his hand victoriously.

“Hah! I told you, you are only food and that you will lose.”

The dead mushroom in Fru’s hand, began to vibrate and produce another slightly different less screaming, but still metallic sound.  And then it just exploded into dust right in Fru’s face.

“BLOMP! LOMP, OMP, p…,” the explosion echoed in the cavern.

“What? It..it exploded? Bloody hell. All this was for nothing? Just. My. Luck.”

Now vividly annoyed because his food exploded right in his face, Fru tossed the stem in the darkness of the caverns.

“There must be something else that I can use in this cavern. I need to find something to make fire and torch.”

He got back to his knees and continued to search for solution.

“A-choo! A-choo!” Fru snoozed. The dust of exploded mushroom got into his nose.

“Great Zoshnah blesses you,” a voice said.

“Thank you,” Fru replied. “Wait, what?!”