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Opinvu
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Gastlinyk Gate Survival
…Continued

I hadn’t been to the lost city of Arik in many months. Allot can happen in such time. Allot could happen to me because of it. I didn’t know where in Arik I was going to either. I didn’t know where to start, or what way would be the safest. I knew from a reliable source there was a surprisingly dry towel hiding there. I also knew why I needed it and that was enough; Spana and the others told me everything concerning Kaldt. Even the shared dreams Spana and I both recounted. I had a long cold walk ahead of me yet. The wind on the desert was cold and pounding. For every step forward I was half a step back. I had to hide behind my shield and walk with eyes upon the ground. Thinking over the tale that brought me on this journey in my mind took me away from the cold and the fraught walk. My mind became lost in the tales of past events. The frozen sand and rock at my feet blurred together forming images of the past. I lost track of time for a good while.

It’s all because of that lich Sar Khan swore he killed. When it was over the first time, he didn’t want to be mentioned in the tale of its defeat, and now it is clear why. He knew it wasn’t really dead, he knew the broken Domeier didn’t get completely fixed. Whatever it did, it’s allowing the lich to harm Kaldt somehow. He knew something might happen and didn’t want to tell. While Sar Khan did beat the lich into some kind of remission, the Domeier sword didn’t exactly defeat the lich like it was made to. I remember writing the recounts of him and his party. They defeated the lich; the sword was lost to the walls of the magical crypt that was thought to be the phylactery, and it even collapsed in upon itself for some time. They believed it was done. I now know the lich lived on somehow; it grew its power back in its own new way. It crept up on the world through the ground, maybe the water supply and sewers under Yar Keep without notice, all the while execrating Kaldt from the forest and enjoying its own undeserved freedom. Kaldt called out for help to any that would hear; a band of selfish warriors for profit and fame would find the call first. It was their failures and lack of ambition to act in Kaldt’s favor that directed the drive upon me to make this journey alone. Images and memories of others as well as my own cascaded like waves of thoughts in my mind. I could feel the weight of Kaldt’s fate resting on my shoulders and this Magi-pry in my hand. My thoughts eventually came back to my own planning as reality sets in that I was closing in on the City of Arik’s walls. My plan was becoming clear, once I have the towel, I can soak up this evil Lich and his watery reclusion, sending him to the fate of countless other unfortunate ilks. I will search the entire city if I have to for it. As I saw it, Kaldt had been forsaken by the ones she trusted. Abandoned by those that once depended on her, I was the only one making the trek. Many of us in Foothold knew this tool was at Gastlinyk Gate, yet no one came for it or for me that I had seen in my trance. If they had, they would have made it a quest not a burden of conscience, I would have been found while I was trapped in the hub. Though it is easy to write off one man for dead I understand that, but Kaldt isn’t one you just give up on and hope death was quick to make your search easy and quick. She was reaching out to me, guiding me; I could feel it ever so strongly. As I strode toward the cliffs hiding the lost city her touch began to fade and the grounds detail returned to my focus. I still felt warm and comfortable thought the trance-like numbness faded.

Some say a hero does what I was doing, some would say stupid or brave, I think it was just the right thing. I have always tried to do what was right for my life, what was right to get it through to the next fork in the road. I made few obligations and tried not to do wrong that harmed anyone. I had never tried to be the world’s justice and law and order vigilante as the Vruruk Krain would demand. Helping Kaldt, here and now just feels like it was what I was here to do. I didn’t seek it, it fell upon me and I took charge of this runaway wagon. The more that became clear, the easier it got. The walk seemed less resistant and my pace quickened. I was at the walls of Arik before the sun was up. My stomach was growling and my feet were creaking, I needed to rest before the day came with roused and angry slavers. Following the wall to the north I found a small cave leading to a deep pit. Not much bigger than a platform for two people to shove off a dead body, it was enough room for me to plop down and wrap up in my bedroll out of the wind and sight of passersby. I didn’t care enough contemplate a patrol of any kind that might come looking there or to toss down any corpses; I just relished in the odd warm breeze exiting it and fell quickly asleep. I slept long enough to dream. Dreams of Arik and a day long ago, people walked the streets and peered out windows of buildings. As I looked about I felt as though someone was giving me a tour, all the people were pointing me in one direction. As I followed their lead I found myself in a somewhat familiar place on the west wall of Arik. Just north of a very large building I remember the dream vividly even now as I tell this tale it was so life-like. I recall wanting to see if I was still asleep over in that cave. But the people wouldn’t let me; they began pointing to the north wall of the city. I passed Loki’s temple in its youthful glow, then a second temple with no markings upon it, citizens’ stand at the doors blocking my way with their arms ushering me to the building next door. When I reached the door even streetwalkers here stopped to point me to it, I was getting frustrated at how pushy they were all getting, gathering around, surrounding me at the door. Strangely the door was hard to open; it moved enough to let some steam from within out into the street and raising the hairs on the back of my neck. The crowed hissed.

That door had a strange pressure or force behind it, maybe the air was so thick with steam and tension of the occupants it leaned on the walls and doors of the place with such a force that required me to push with all my strength. I asked for help from any gathered there, but they wouldn’t, only watched and pointed. This struggle with the door gave me glimpses into the eyes and faces of those gathered around. All had black glossy eyes, like a thick tar in water, their lips were sewn shut with straws made of wood or bone or metal sticking out the one hole left in the center right under their nose. I oddly wasn’t terrified by that, but I was startled that I wasn’t afraid and began to question what I was doing. The fact I was trying to break into this building next to a temple with freaks such as these watching, coupled with the fact that it felt perfectly natural that I do so, was circling in my mind. To recollect back into the dream I can see it. I was under some kind of mind control, my mind was free but my body wasn’t. My perceptions and senses were all blocked and numb to the surroundings, and after all, it was only a dream it wasn’t so strange. When I awoke in the cave it was still dark, but night had not yet fallen, the clouds of storm clusters in the sky blocked the sun entirely. It looked as though it was to rain. The thunder from its struggle woke me right quick just before I could get the door open in my dream.

I have seen many storms in my lifetime, but none such as this or in a place like this. We have probably all heard of fantastic spectacles of weather and its stormy shows. But it isn’t until we see one larger and fiercer than the ones in the stories do we really appreciate the good stories. Here before me a new kind of hell was brewing. From my cave opening I could see the northwest corner of the city walls as well as some distance over them. The wind was picking up its pace and frequency of extreme gusts. The clouds wanted to rain but the air wanted it to snow, what came down was a mixture of the two swirling at glorious speeds that blurred their movements into long tracers. Much like what you see after being hit with a bar stool after drinking half a barrel of ale. The distance I could see rapidly retreated to the city walls. It was nearly a white-out blizzard, only worse. I thought this was a great time to sneak into the city. Conditions like these depress everything, even slavers and conceal strange noises. I was sort of wrong. Dragons flew just under the clouds, circling and swooping about like sparrows catching swarms of bugs. I knew from Ederyn that if they hadn’t taken notice of me by the time I spotted them, then they most-likely aren’t interested. I thank Odin for my 4 foot height every time it comes up. Little people don’t make meals. Dwarves do! I just might make it in undetected after all.

Despite dragons over head playing games with the lightning I ventured out repacked up and ready to climb a wall. This wall is five feet high. But most of it is frozen, with layers of ice like miniature glaciers forming atop miniature mountains. Too slick to risk a hasty climb, but I had Magi-pry with me now, I intended on using it here as well, somehow. As soon as I stepped into the weather brewing before me I felt its awesome sting across my face. Ice and snow on this punishing wind cut my face causing it to bleed from two wounds. I felt it swell up with blood and freeze over bringing another pain to the fray. To climb this wall in this weather without being heard or smelled or both, I was going to need some kind of protection from the painful sleet and the hard corners on the wall. I retreated back to my cave and fished out more clothes and cloaks to wrap up in. I still had a half torn off cloak from my mother on the day I left. It was the last bit thick enough to do any good in this temperature. I could still smell my mothers perfume about the clasps. If I loose it here and now I would be devastated, but necessity took rule again. My mementos of home have dwindled down to only two items, this cloak piece and my shield. The rest stolen, lost or given away in trade to sustain myself, if this cloak is lost so then might be the fate of hope for me I thought.

I made it this far afterall, and this dangerous storm is the perfect opportunity to make it further. I had a last boost of inspiration before I set back out into it. Better camouflage I needed now, I still had this coating of dust from the city that actually stuck out in this frozen desert. Using a notch in the stone wall of the cave, I filled it with icicles I found outside around the entrance. Placing a rock atop the pile I cast an enchantment upon the rock, as it lit up the room and glowed brightly, the rock heated up melting the ice and snow making a nice puddle of lukewarm water. I soaked my cloak and the gifted remains in the water rinsing off the dust and doing the one dangerous thing to do in a frozen climate, I got them soaping wet, then rolled around in it myself. Before I let them freeze I smacked them against the frozen ground. Eventually the ground became loose and dusted my cloaks with their likeness. As they became stiff I wrapped myself up in them. Cold at first, the heat from my body warmed up and I would get wafts of warm air to ease the cold stinging from where the cloaks repeatedly touched my skin. A brilliant idea, I was protected from the elements of on the wind and I looked liked it too. My only obstacle left was the wall, again. This was going to be more difficult now that I had on two layers of armor and one of them being frozen stiff. I moved quickly reaching it down wind from where I started, like crossing a river I was swept down wind a good ways off from my originally planned crossing. The wall wasn’t as high at this point and was going to be the better path, though the ice was more jaggedly stepped smooth from the wind. Magi-pry in hand I found a good hold in the wall to set the tip of the tool into the base at the ground. I gave it two heaves with little success. The sound it made straining on the wall and in my shivering hands it nearly sounded like a dragon screeching at its prey. So much so I turned round and looked up to my surprise, a blue dragon was swooping down on me and was about to pick me up. I jumped to the side leaving the pry bar to its own fate in the path of the dragon and tumbled along the ground to a tree a few yards away.

…Dun dun dun…. 😯