It was as if a giant, mythical beast were closing in on them, and here they were, shouting on its doorstep.
The sound indicated that whatever was approaching them was getting nearer and nearer. It didn't speed up or slow down, and it never faltered from its cadence.
Step, two, three, step, two, three, step, two, three... It was either a giant monster or a medium monster dancing a waltz.
Goom wiped his face with the sleeve of his threadbare undershirt. He wiped away his feelings. His anger, frustration, and sorrow were replaced by a look of panic.
Very understandable given the circumstances. "Run. No, hide. Run and hide," he stammered.
But neither running nor hiding was possible when they still couldn't determine the location of the approaching beast.
The sounds of its steps reverberated off the stone walls, floor, and ceiling that encircled them.
Each step was punctuated by an echoing set of drips as bits of ground water were shaken from their stalactites.
They took their chances hiding behind a large pillar, and they hoped that they chose the right side.
As it turned out, they did, but it was of little consolation when they saw the Vaerkuna emerge from a large tunnel on the opposite side of the chamber. It had to be a Vaerkuna.
The fearsome beast was a pale white and its exoskeleton was opaque so that you could just make out the blurs of its internal organs. Though it had an exoskeleton, it couldn't be called a bug.
For starters, it was roughly one half-dragon in size, and the skin covering its four legs and two arms looked like snake skin. Each appendage ended with a set of claws.
Its two front arms were the largest and most pronounced. It rested on its knuckles like an ape to keep its upper-body upright in contrast to its trailing abdomen.
The creature had a large head accentuated by a strange set of frills on each side - almost like ears shaped like a man's hands. Its eyes were large, black, and cloudy.
A wide, unpronounced mouth traversed its face from frill to frill.
It stood in the threshold of the chamber and moved its head around slowly. It flared out it's ears as if they were the ear horns old men use to hear.
It made sense that hearing would be its most reliable sense. In the darkness of the caves, an apex predator would need to be able to find its prey hiding between the echoes.
It didn't take long for the Vaerkuna to lock its ears on the pillar which Goom, Murt, Dennis, and poor Fewla hid behind. It approached the pillar.
Stomp, two, three, stomp, two, three, stomp, two three.
"Well we have to do something," Murt said aloud as he stepped out from behind the pillar. He stood with a wide base, and pointed his stubby hands at the beast.
His fingers were spread wide as he mumbled to himself, summoning a purple cloud of energy which he launched into the face of the pale behemoth.
It struck the Vaerkuna like a snowball striking a volcano.
The unphased beast, bent its forelimbs to bring its face level with Murt and it let out a deep sort of roar that pulsated like a ringing bell.
Murt could feel each pulse as it struck his chest and drove him backwards until he fell down clutching his ears.
The monster slowly moved toward Murt, slamming its fists into the ground with a force that cratered the cave floor.
Goom could see Murt on the ground, and he could feel the methodical steps that brought the Vaerkuna nearer to his cowering brother. He was frozen with terror, and he could do nothing but watch.
It was Dennis who jumped to Murt's aid. The cumbersome companion himself - Dennis - jumped in to save Murt.
He stood before the Vaerkuna screaming and gesticulating madly like a gnome who'd been swindled out of his pantaloons.
The Vaerkuna flung Dennis and Murt aside with one sweep of the arm.
The beast turned toward Goom and Fewla, but just then a sort of high-pitched whistling filled the chamber.
The sound hit Gooms ears like a frozen arrow, and it must have had a similar effect on the Vaerkuna because it swung its head wildly as if it was trying to shake the sound away.
It gathered itself and grabbed Fewla with one of its giant clawed hands before letting out a half-hearted roar and retreating from the cave.