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Last Friday, me, Sun-Ok, Walis and Voran, along with Durok, me and Bel, set off to the Grippli encampment ta give Frankie his seeds. I was thinkin’ finally we’d be done with him and his clan.

Now there aint no wagon what goes from Foothold to Frank’s camp, so we had ta walk. Nobody cared too much ‘bout that ‘cause it was a nice evenin’ and besides, we’d had a week ta heal and rest up after gettin’ back from Arik.

We aint’ got too far out o’ the west gate of Foothold and Sun-Ok whispered to me she’d finally finished sewin’ up me pan . . . uh, me things. Oh geez! I’d been goin’without ‘em fer so long I’d forgotten I wasn’t wearin’ any, ya know?

I took a quick look in the bag she give me, and there they was! Soft and silky! Six pair! And in the special colors I’d asked fer! And each one with a tiny letter ‘K’ what she embroidered on ‘em usin’ a gold thread! Anyways, I thanked her, paid her for her work and tucked ‘em away in me pack and that was that.

The way the boys chose to go, would take us through Yar, past Old Man Brudabega’s Soup Store and part way ta Stonemark before we’d have ta turn south at the Everspring Inn and follow the road to Spinhold fer quite a ways. Then a short jaunt into the forest to the east o’ the road would take us to where the Gripplis had set up their camp.

Most times those roads is safe and its enjoyable strollin’ along ‘em without a care in the world. But oh geez, this night was different! We ain’t even got to Yar yet when we was ambushed by a bunch o’ zombies! And there was a Balor with them too!

A balor’s kind o’ a cross between a man and a fiend and they’s very powerful and it’s a rare thing ta see one o’ ‘em! I heard a balor’s job is ta check if an evil curse or spell what’s put on someone is still workin’ and nobody’s tried ta remove it! Yup! That’s what I heard!

Anyways, we killed the zombies and the balor too and off we went, the lot o’ us wonderin’ ‘bout that monster and why he’d decided on payin’ us a visit. We turned onto the road to Spinhold without nothin’ else botherin’ us. Sun-Ok was toddlin’along behind Voran and it seemed ta me she was gettin’ closer and closer to him, ya know? Almost steppin’ on his heels!

I turned my head for a moment and when I looked back at the two o’ ‘em, she’d grabbed Voran around his neck! Voran was strugglin’ twistin’ this way and that, tryin’ ta pull her hands away and throw her off but she was hangin’ on tight with no intention o’ lettin’ go and she was dead set on chokin’ the life outta him! Oh geez!

Walis was closest, and he balled up his fist and give her a hard whack right in the middle o’ her back! Whumph! Glory be! Well, the blow done it and Sun-Ok’s grip loosened just enough fer Voran to wiggle free! Sun-Ok slid down his back, her eyes glazed, and she collapsed in a heap in the middle o’ the road!

‘Course we healed her and Voran too but when Sun-Ok was finally able to speak, she kept mumblin’ somethin’ ‘bout some old lady what sold her a pair o’ purple gloves what was now forcin’ her to do evil! She wasn’t able ta take ‘em off ‘cause they was cursed, and stuck on her almost like a second skin, and now she’d have ta find someone kind enough to lop off her hands and on and on like that!

Then she glanced at my Falchion hangin’ at my waist and gazed up at me with a pleadin’ look in her eyes! Oh geez! Well, folks’ll be sein’ white blackbirds before they sees me lop off the hands o’ a good friend!

Sun-Ok shoulda known better, acceptin’ a gift from an old lady! I just don’t trust ‘em! They’s always cacklin’ and smilin’ at ya with one tooth in their mouth what’s rotten and turned all black! And they squints at ya outta their one good eye, ‘cause the other one stopped workin’ long ago and rolled back up into their head, so’s ya only see the white part o’ it! And they’s all got big long black hairs growin’ outta the middle o’ their chins and they’s always holdin’ onto a dirty soggy hanky what they uses to wipe their nose ‘cause its always runnin’! Then they want’s ta hug ya or pinch yer cheek and they never puts the hanky away, so they’s huggin’ and pinchin’ ya all the while still hangin’ onto the damn soggy hanky!

Eeeee! Disgustin’! Oh geez! I hates old ladys! They gives me the creeps! Now understandin’ better ‘bout what came over Sun-Ok and why she done what she done ta Voran, we pushed on to Frank’s camp, thinkin’ since we’d helped him and saved his tribe and the tree o’ shaftin’ he might be able to help us find a way to remove the gloves from Sun-Ok’s hands and un-do the curse the old witch put on her.

Well, I’ll tell ya, none o’ us was prepared fer what we walked into when we finally got to Frankie’s camp!