The Troglodytes introduced themselves as Liz’th High Shaman of the Four Warrens and Ber’ta, Protector of the Warrens. The Trogs explained they found a queen white worm of the earth near their Warrens and they were humbly requesting Cearul and Déclán’s help in defense. Liz’th said that soon the queen would breed enough worms that they would spread out corrupting the ley lines, glade and surrounding lands. Cearul and Déclán agreed to help.
Liz’th shrank them down to Trog size and they followed on Cearul’s ravens. Liz’th and Ber’ta led them to their underground Warren. Cearul and Déclán were given a tour of the common, sleeping, food and egg crèches of this southern Warren by Car’da the Warrenkeeper. She explained there were three additional warrens (east, west and north), a water source and the ley line focus. The ley lines were kept in tune by the shamans, the warrens were protected by the warriors, and kept clean, stocked in food and the young raised by the drudges.
Soon, more mortals arrived and Liz’th said these were debtors – people for whom the Trogs have done favors and now they were calling in their debt. The first was an American woman named Cheryl Abraham. She lived in nearby Fanore and the Trogs refined a small ley line on her property. The next was the familiar face of Abban Dougan. He was a young man in Siobahn’s class and they were often seen together. The next was a dour-faced man named Ben Smith. The Trogs gave him the location of silver ore in his nearby mine. Liz’th pointed to a skull on her belt and explained that this was Ben’s partner who was unwilling to pay his debt. Finally, Oscar and Bree Walsh arrived. They were a pair of brothers and miners. They were not here to pay off a debt but rather to help the Trogs. The Walsh Brothers recognized Ben and threatened to pound his face in because he stole their mine.
Cearul and Déclán and the debtors talked, excepting Ben. Déclán helped Abban with his spear. Cearul, concerned about Ben’s willingness to put himself in danger, took him to the mousery and told Ben to kill mice so as to judge his ability and help him overcome his fear. Ben attempted to bribe Cearul by offering him money and even his mine if Cearul were able to convince the Trogs to allow him to leave. Cearul led him along but was interrupted by calls to battle. The scouts returned and the Queen’s worms were moments behind them.
Cearul and Déclán led the charge to the passage as the worms burst into the room. Ben hung to the rear while Abban and the Walsh Brothers took the right flank along with Liz’th and her shaman acolytes. Cearul opened fire with his pistol and Déclán swung his mighty axe, each dropping the worms by the group. The left flank began to crumple. Liz’th and her shamans caused stone to flow from the wall and floor, half sealing the worm’s entry. Cearul and Déclán focused on the left, bringing it back in line. A rush of larger worms shattered the stone blockage and the fighting grew more desperate, yet the line held. Abban was lost from sight but rescued by Cearul. Bree Walsh fell with a wound to his leg but was pulled to safety by his brother. Many of Ber’ta’s warriors were wounded or killed. Cearul, fed up with Ben’s lack of willingness to fight, tossed him clear over the front line of worms and into the passage. Ben stood and fought for his life. Liz’th and her acolytes caused a section of the passage to fall away, giving a brief respite to her warriors and a chance to kill the remaining worms.
Cearul and Déclán charged down the passage, betting each would be the one to land the killing blow to the queen, but were blocked a massive worm. A second massive worm erupted from under the Trog’s battle lines. Cearul returned and cut down the rear worm while Déclán leapt into the forward worm’s mouth and choked it with his feet and axe.
Cearul and Déclán charged down the passage, cutting down a dwindling stream of worms, until they found the Queen’s chamber. The Queen’s chamber was massive – high ceilings and wider and longer than three football pitches. It was lit by a grey glow from the writhing living worms which made up the chamber’s wall, floor, ceiling and supporting pillars. Far down the chamber, the massive Queen lay stretched out. Her body was thicker than a four-lane road, and her length was hundreds of feet. Cearul and Déclán leapt through the chamber, each to an opposite side of the worm, and lay in with their weapons, finding each blow cut deeper into her flesh. The Queen squirmed and rolled, attempting to knock the attackers loose. The knives and axe cut deeper into greasy flesh and tough sinew, creating a man-sized opening which Cearul and Déclán jumped into, and pulling their way in deeper.
Cearul pushed his way into a smaller chamber just as he saw a pair of feet pop through the ceiling of the rolling room. Déclán shoved his way into the chamber. On the opposite side, Cearul and Déclán saw Alexander Magot, or at least his torso, arms and head protruding from the wall. Four tentacles lashed from the wall and attacked Cearul and Déclán. Cearul dodged in close and cut tentacles while Déclán threw his hand axes. Déclán ended the Queen’s life with a hand-axe to Alexander Magot’s head, and the chamber began to shake more violently.
Cearul and Déclán each dove into their own hacked wound in the worm’s sides. Déclán reached the outside of the worm’s body first and leapt towards the passage as the chamber around him collapsed into a shower of dead worms. Cearul pulled himself free to see Déclán leaping far overhead and focused himself in his speed and set off across the chamber. Cearul and Déclán tie crossing into the passage before Cearul zoomed ahead. The two of them set off for the Warrens to see how their allies had fared.