- May 13, 2008 at 6:23 pm #56244
Port finally showed up, after the battle was over, carpinâ€™ and goinâ€™ on â€˜bout how come we ainâ€™t found the hole yet. Ya see, heâ€™d stayed at Faithâ€™s house, flittinâ€™ about like a flutterby, helpinâ€™ her with the dishes.
I knows folks calls â€˜em butterflies but I donâ€™t know why, cause they ainâ€™t got a thing ta do with butter. But they does flit and flutter â€˜round ya. . . just like Port. So I calls â€˜em flutterbyâ€™s.
Anyways, we poked around a bit and finally found the hole down to the cavern in one oâ€™ the goblinâ€™s huts. Weâ€™d been in the hut before but missed seeinâ€™ it cause the goblins had covered it up with a funny lookinâ€™ yellow rug what had strange symbols painted all over it and no one thought ta pick the damm thing up ta see what was underneath.
The hole was a small one, but we had no trouble squeezinâ€™ down â€˜cept fer Durok who got stuck half way cause heâ€™s so wide, beinâ€™ a dwarf and all. The rest oâ€™ us had ta push hard on his head ta pop him through.
And there we was! In another part oâ€™ the cavern, on a narrow path with muddy foul smellinâ€™ red water stretchinâ€™ far off into the distance, on either side oâ€™ us! Ta clean the water we needed emeralds, sugar, sand and ginsing. Accordinâ€™ to the instructions Frankie give us, we had ta throw â€˜em in the water in that order, ta clean it up.
All went well til the boys got to the ginseng. As hard as Walis tried, he couldnâ€™t manage ta chuck the ginseng out far enough into the water fer it to have any effect. There was a slight breeze cominâ€™ in on us from off oâ€™ it and it kept blowinâ€™ the damm ginseng straight back into his face! No one knew quite what ta do about that.
I had some rope what I was savinâ€™ in case I decided somewhere down the road, ta hang Frankie from his damm tree oâ€™ shaftinâ€™. I suggested we use the rope ta tie the ginseng â€˜round Port ta give it a little weight ya know? Walis would get a good toss that way and . . . well, itâ€™d be like killinâ€™ two birds with one heave!
Well, ainâ€™t no one liked that idea, Port most oâ€™ all, cause he stopped his flittinâ€™ and right quick, disappeared behind a big rock and ainâ€™t bothered us no more. Walis kept at it, the wind died down a little and glory be, his last bit oâ€™ ginseg flew outta his hands and landed atop the emeralds, sugar and sand heâ€™d thrown out earlier!
The ground started shakinâ€™ and all the lights went out and we all grabbed on to each other ta steady ourselves thinkinâ€™ the cavern was cavinâ€™ in on us! And oh geez! When the lights came back on, the water was all crystal clear, and smellinâ€™ sweet, and you could even see little fish here and there, swimminâ€™ about in it!
We made our way up and out oâ€™ the cavern, and started back ta Frankieâ€™s camp, anxious ta give him the news â€˜bout cleaninâ€™ up the cavernâ€™s water.May 14, 2008 at 4:06 pm #56245
Frankie and the rest oâ€™ the frogs was happy ta hear â€˜bout our success cleansinâ€™ the water in the cavern. He reminded us there was four pictures we sto . . . . uh, removed from Sarâ€™s house.
On the back oâ€™ each was a thing we had ta do soâ€™s the tree oâ€™ shaftinâ€™ would get better. Oh geez! Four pictures meant four things and so far weâ€™d only done three! One, Monty had put the tree ta sleep, two, weâ€™d stopped the beatinâ€™ hearts and put out the fires, and three, we cleaned the water soâ€™s the shaftinâ€™ tree could suck up a nice drink now and then.
Frankie told us weâ€™d have ta go down into the cavern one last time to make the dirt good fer plantinâ€™ stuff. I just stood there starinâ€™ at his legs and wonderinâ€™ whether theyâ€™d taste better boiled and dipped in butter or rolled first in a nice batter with bread crumbs and seasoninâ€™ then fried up all crisp and crunchy.
He told us ta rest up a day or two from our battle with the goblins before we made the last trip down ta fix the dirt. But in the meantime, mayhap one oâ€™ us who wasnâ€™t hurtinâ€™ so bad might help him with another problem what popped up. Oh geez! Ainâ€™t he never gonna stop askinâ€™ fer things?
Frank said his tribe had a trade agreement with the Pellytes and the Grippoliâ€™s was fallinâ€™ short on their end oâ€™ it, cause oâ€™ all whatâ€™s goinâ€™ on with their tree oâ€™ shaftinâ€™! Now heâ€™s needinâ€™ someone ta bring a load oâ€™ axes ta Thane, the leader oâ€™ the Pellytes, who lives in a big castle up in Zariat pass.
Sun-Ok, beinâ€™ as she only had a couple oâ€™ nicks and scratches from the few goblins what got close to her, volun . . . uh, told Frankie sheâ€™d be glad to do it. I ainâ€™t knowinâ€™ much oâ€™ what happened later that night, if anything, cause I was really tired from all the fightinâ€™ and hikinâ€™ ya know? I just walked a little ways off, set up me tent and went to bed.May 17, 2008 at 4:44 pm #56246
Monday oâ€™ last week, I was in Foothold and met Sun-Ok outside the Temple. I asked her where she was off to, and she told me sheâ€™d be makinâ€™ a delivery oâ€™ axes to Thane, at his castle out by Zariat pass.
She asked me if Iâ€™d like ta tag along. I said sure, â€˜cause I always enjoys seeinâ€™ how kings and royalty is livinâ€™ in their huge castles, dressed up in fancy robes with all their servents and maids buzzinâ€™ â€˜round makinâ€™ things easy fer â€˜em. Anyways, off we went!
On the way there, we run into Bel who was standinâ€™ â€˜round doinâ€™ nothinâ€™ and he joined us. When we got to the castle, Sun-Ok run off to an empty room and changed quick into a pretty purple dress soâ€™s sheâ€™d be lookinâ€™ her best before she met with the head oâ€™ the Pellytes.
When she was ready, the guards ushered us into a big room and there he stood! All puffed up and proud and feelinâ€™ good about himself. Thane, the leader oâ€™ all the Pellytes!
Well I hailed him. I shouted â€œHail Thane! leader oâ€™ all the Pellytes!â€ Sun-Ok give me a dirty look, and Bel told me ta shut up and I did. But I thought all kings and lords and important folks like ta be hailed, ya know? When Lord Mark hops in his wagon and rides through the streets oâ€™ Foothold, I waves and hails him too! He always gives me a wink and a little smile as heâ€™s passinâ€™ by.
Ohh! Speakinâ€™ oâ€™ wagons Port told me Lord Markâ€™s got a new one! All fancy and painted in different colors with lots oâ€™ bells and whistles hanginâ€™ off oâ€™ it! Imported, I think! Thing is, itâ€™s got five wheels on it and a huge map built into it, what keeps droppinâ€™ down in front oâ€™ the driver blockinâ€™ the view.
The Lord and all his friends is havinâ€™ a devil oâ€™ a time learninâ€™ ta steer it proper cause oâ€™ the map and the fifth wheel ya know? And itâ€™s so heavy they can only go from one place to another really slow and they need twice as many oxen ta pull it as they needed ta pull the old one around!
Lady Markâ€™s havinâ€™ a conniption â€˜cause theyâ€™s doinâ€™ their practicinâ€™ in the court yard, and they keep runninâ€™ over her shrubs and nice flowers what she worked so hard on ta plant! Oh geez! The old wagonâ€™s sittinâ€™ in a corner somewhere and none oâ€™ the earls, and dukes and the rest oâ€™ Lord Markâ€™s friends is payinâ€™ much attention to it no more.
Men is like that, ya know? Theyâ€™s the same as children when they gets a fancy new toy. They just ainâ€™t wantinâ€™ ta put it down ever! And if ya ainâ€™t watchinâ€™ â€˜em close theyâ€™ll even try ta sneak it into bed with â€˜em!
And I heard that when Lord Mark finally gets the new wagon workinâ€™ right, him and his friends is all gonna jump in and ride off ta some other place much nicer then where heâ€™s livinâ€™ now! Yup! I heard that!
But one oâ€™ the earls said theyâ€™d paid the rent on the land here, for the next hundred years and it would be ok with him if any oâ€™ us wished ta stay here. Or weâ€™d be welcome to come along with them, even though all oâ€™ the other earls and dukes and the rest oâ€™ his close close friends already has reserved seats inside the wagon and there ainâ€™t none left.
But he said the new wagon would be pullinâ€™ a cart behind it which all oâ€™ us could cram into if we decided ta come along. Iâ€™m thinkinâ€™ he donâ€™t care too much whether we stays or goes, cause all oâ€™ the other earls and dukes and the rest oâ€™ his friends has decided to make the trip ta the new place with him.
But theyâ€™s gonna leave the old wagon here so we can ride around in it. Theyâ€™s gonna leave a few merchants too but theyâ€™s gonna be all business now, and ainâ€™t gonna chat no more â€˜bout things with us. Theyâ€™ll still be lots oâ€™ things ta do . . . like whackinâ€™ monsters and . . . well, like whackinâ€™ monsters.
Seems kinda sad ta me, ya know? All oâ€™ this started â€˜cause oâ€™ a new wagon what some oâ€™ us think ainâ€™t nearly as good as the old one. Nope. I guess the townâ€™ll be kind oâ€™ empty now. We ainâ€™t gonna be seeinâ€™ Lord Mark in his old wagon, ridinâ€™ down the streets oâ€™ Foothold no more. I wonder if heâ€™ll stop by some day, and tell those oâ€™ us whats left, one oâ€™ his tales . . . like he used ta do, in that nice park out by Stonemark.
Oh geez! Where was I? Oh! I know! Thane, the leader oâ€™ the Pellytes . . .May 19, 2008 at 8:18 pm #56247
. Sun-Ok made a nice curtsy to Thane, then she drug the huge sack oâ€™ axes what she was carryinâ€™ up to where he was standinâ€™ in front oâ€™ his throne. Thane seemed pleased with the axes and assured her their trade agreement with the Gripplies would still be in effect, at least fer another couple oâ€™ days.
Then I think the two oâ€™ them chatted a bit â€˜bout the weather. I aintâ€™ too sure â€˜cause me and Bel hung back and it was hard to hear â€˜em, ya know? I ainâ€™t hailed him no more and that was that and the three oâ€™ us left Thaneâ€™s castle and journeyed back ta Foothold.
The bunch oâ€™ us spent the rest oâ€™ the week healinâ€™ from our battle with the goblins and preparinâ€™ for our last trip down into the cavern ta fix the dirt soâ€™s things could grow again and the shaftinâ€™ treeâ€™s roots would be all cozy and comfy buried in it. By Friday, Bel had collected a load oâ€™ dead fish, and Sun-Ok the silk weâ€™d be needinâ€™, to finish our work in the hole below the tree oâ€™ shaftinâ€™.
But I gotta tell ya somethinâ€™ first. A man always smells a bit to me, ya know? Theyâ€™s all got a sour odor to â€˜em somethinâ€™ like pipe tobacco, ale and general grubbiness all mixed up together and I tries never to stand too close to a man. Yup! All men is kind oâ€™ stinky! â€˜Cept for Port oâ€™ course, whoâ€™s always wearinâ€™ perfume and Voran whoâ€™s got kind oâ€™ a pleasant scent to him.
Anyways, I ainâ€™t never smelled nothinâ€™ in my life as bad as Bel, carryinâ€™ all those dead fish â€˜round in his pack fer the better part oâ€™ a week! Oh geez! Bel stunk somethinâ€™ awful! The stench oâ€™ him was makinâ€™ me hair curl and my tummy queasy and givinâ€™ me a headache all at the same time and I just wanted ta writ all oâ€™ that down.
So we made our way into Barrelgoreâ€™s kitchen and shortly after, Bel, Durok, Voran, Walis, Sun-Ok and me was in the cavern, fixinâ€™ ta make the ground in it good fer growinâ€™ things once more. Tâ€™was my job ta dig little holes along the path we found ourselves on and Belâ€™s job ta drop one oâ€™ the fish he was carryinâ€™, into each hole I dug, makinâ€™ the dirt fertile again.
I done the very best I could digginâ€™ the holes. The ground was hard and I ainâ€™t thought ta bring a spade. I was scrapinâ€™ â€˜em out with me sword and some oâ€™ the holes was kinda shallow. After Bel threw in a fish, heâ€™d have to squoosh each one down hard with his boot, makinâ€™ the stink oâ€™ it even worse! Oh geez!
All the while, Sun-Ok was busy sewinâ€™ silk into every corner she could find along the path and securinâ€™ all oâ€™ it with Grippli Stick Sharps what she hammered into little cracks in the rock. She was makinâ€™ homes for the spiders and ap . . . uh, aphi . . . uh, all the other tiny bugs what lived down there.
Meanwhile Durok, Voran and Walis was busy guardinâ€™ those oâ€™ us who was digginâ€™ and sewinâ€™ from all the skinnies what had popped up outta nowhere and was doinâ€™ their best ta kill us all! We finished with the digginâ€™ and used up all oâ€™ Belâ€™s fish and Sun-Ok made some really nice places fer the bugs ta live and we all climbed back outta the cavern, leavinâ€™ most oâ€™ the odor from the dead fish down there.
We ainâ€™t let Bel come with us til he took off his smelly boots and threw â€˜em in the hole weâ€™d just come up from and he had to make his way back to Frankieâ€™s camp, limpinâ€™ and hoppinâ€™ along in his bare feet.
Frank was happy, hearinâ€™ â€˜bout our fixin up the dirt and makinâ€™ homes fer all the bugs and spiders in the cavern. He told us all ta rest up â€˜cause next week weâ€™d all be goinâ€™ off ta Arik lookinâ€™ for somethinâ€™ else he was needinâ€™
Ohh geeeeez! Arik!May 29, 2008 at 7:52 pm #56248
So off we went to Arik, Bel, Walis, Voran, Sun-Ok, me and Port. With Durok leadinâ€™ the way. Or Port doinâ€™ the leadinâ€™, dependinâ€™ on how ya was lookinâ€™ at it. Men is like that ya know . . . each one oâ€™ em always wants to be doinâ€™ the leadinâ€™.
Anyways, ta get to Arik, ya first gotta get to Balâ€™ynaz, the Duergar city. A long walk through Thrymâ€™s pass and a short walk through a caveâ€™ll at the end oâ€™ the passâ€™ll get ya there, but thereâ€™s also an express wagon you can take, what leaves from Foothold every couple oâ€™ minutes. Takinâ€™ the wagonâ€™s much safer and thatâ€™s what we done.
After ya gets ta Balâ€™ynaz, ya gotta cross the timeless desert to get to Arik and there ainâ€™t no wagon fer ya to be jumpinâ€™ on. Nope. Ya gotta walk. Now the timeless desertâ€™s directly under Thrymâ€™s control and he ainâ€™t likinâ€™ anyone traipsinâ€™ across it, ya know? If heâ€™s payinâ€™ attention, and he sees ya trespassinâ€™ in his desert, heâ€™ll start droppinâ€™ things outta the sky on top oâ€™ ya just outta sheer meanness!
Awful things! Frost giants! Dozens oâ€™ â€˜em! Woolly Mammoths! Theyâ€™s like hairy ele-fonts only much bigger and they tries ta squash ya under their feet and gore ya with their tusks! And Dragons! Oh geez! Mayhap four or six at a time belchinâ€™ their fire at ya! Winter wolves howlinâ€™ and snappin and tryinâ€™ ta rip ya to pieces!
But . . . Thrym musta been busy with somethinâ€™ else and he ainâ€™t seen us, cause we made it across the desert without havinâ€™ any problems. Soon we was outside the walls oâ€™ Arik and makinâ€™ our way to the gate soâ€™s we could get inside the city, and oh geez, all hel broke loose! Aloonies! A whole bunch oâ€™ â€˜em popped up outta nowhere and jumped right over the wall and came straight for us!
Now Aloonies is somethinâ€™ like mind-flayers, dressed up in dark robes and havinâ€™ squiggly tentacles hanginâ€™ outta their faces. But theyâ€™s got a much stronger magic, and itâ€™s a real chore ta battle even one oâ€™those things, never mind five or six!
Well, since I was nearest to where theyâ€™d jumped over the wall, oâ€™ course they attacked me first! I ainâ€™t even got a chance ta raise me sword before everything went black and when I awoke, Garm was standinâ€™ there above me, mumblinâ€™ somethinâ€™ â€˜bout if I decided ta stay awhile, heâ€™d let me have a nice room with a view! I told him no thanks, Iâ€™d be goinâ€™ soon. Then I felt somethinâ€™ tugginâ€™ on me, pullinâ€™ me away from Garm and his fire and back to the spot where the Aloonies had attacked.
Ya know. . . when ya goes ta Arik, yer half expectinâ€™ youâ€™ll be seeinâ€™ Garm if ya stay there long enough. Yup! The longer ya dally in Arik, the better yer chances oâ€™ makin a visit to Garm! But . . . I ainâ€™t even got inside the gates yet when the Aloonies took me. Iâ€™ll tell ya, dyinâ€™ before I even got inside the city, put me in an awful snit fer the rest oâ€™ the night!
Anyways the aloonies had moved on and we made our way to the gate that led into the lost city of Arik. Frankie was needinâ€™ a seed, I ainâ€™t sure why, and we was gonna look fer it in an ancient part oâ€™ the city.May 30, 2008 at 9:28 pm #56249
Through the gate we went, beinâ€™ as stealthy as we could, tryinâ€™ to avoid any Anal Slavers, or hill giants what might be wanderinâ€™ about.
Anal Slavers is cruel and ugly lizard like creatures with faces like dogs and scales stickinâ€™ outta their backs and they always travel in packs, each oâ€™ â€˜em carryinâ€™ a heavy stick with a big long knife tied on to the end o’ it with rawhide. And believe me, theyâ€™s just itchinâ€™ ta cut somethinâ€™ up into little pieces with it!
Hill giants saunterinâ€™ along, grumblinâ€™ and mumblinâ€™to themselves, lookinâ€™ fer somethinâ€™ to whack with the huge clubs theyâ€™s carryinâ€™. And they always has their shamans with â€˜em and those shamans is really nasty, with powerful magic what they hurls at ya!
Or Mind Flayers what like ta suck yer brains out right through yer ear and leave ya standinâ€™ there, babblinâ€™ like an idiot! â€˜Cept men donâ€™t have to worry so much â€˜bout mind flayers, ya know? A man can loose a good deal oâ€™ his brain to a mind flayer and it donâ€™t bother him one bit. Like I said a few pages back, most oâ€™ a manâ€™s brain is just paddinâ€™ anyway.
On top oâ€™ all that, Thrym could decide at any moment ta drop a load oâ€™ dragons or a huge purple worm or a bunch oâ€™ dire bears right down on top oâ€™ us! Oh geez! Arik really is a horrible place ta be walkinâ€™ â€˜round in!
Anyways, Sun-Ok lead the way, doinâ€™ her scoutinâ€™, clearinâ€™ traps and lookinâ€™ fer monsters, makinâ€™ sure the path was safe fer the rest oâ€™ us. Shortly we found ourselves in front oâ€™ Njordâ€™s temple with the boys arguing â€˜bout whether we should go in or not.
Durok and Walis was thinkinâ€™ they knew a better place to start their huntinâ€™ for the seed what Frankie was needinâ€™. And Port was jumpinâ€™ up and down, his face gettinâ€™ all red and blotchy lookinâ€™ with spittle shootinâ€™ outta his mouth, stompinâ€™ his foot, insistinâ€™ Njordâ€™s temple was the place to look first!
Well Durok and Walis, and I aintâ€™ sure who else, went off to do their lookinâ€™ in some other place, and Port, Bel and a few oâ€™ the others made their way into Njordâ€™s temple leavinâ€™ me standinâ€™ there between the two groups watchinâ€™ them each go their separate ways.
Well Iâ€™ll tell ya! Beinâ€™ in Arik with a bunch oâ€™ folks is bad enough . . . but when the group splits up, with each goinâ€™ their separate way, its just about the worst thing ya can do in a place like this! I just donâ€™t think men is too bright, ya know?
Anyways Iâ€™m standinâ€™ there alone realizinâ€™ that now I ainâ€™t part oâ€™ either group and I better join one soon or for sure Iâ€™ll be seeinâ€™ Garm again! I chose ta go along with Port â€˜cause he always seems ta be good at findinâ€™ things weâ€™s lookinâ€™ fer.
With Port, itâ€™s almost like heâ€™s been to the place weâ€™s lookinâ€™ in many times before, and he knows just where ta look! Well . . . mayhap in another life?
I followed Port and Bel inside, and straight off we were set upon by a bunch oâ€™ water elementals but they ainâ€™t caused us much oâ€™ a problem. We poked around a bit and found a few pretty sashes, purple ones! The color matched perfect with the trim on me armor! And they was infused with magic too!
There wasnâ€™t much else in the Temple so we headed outside again and glory be, Faith was standinâ€™ there makinâ€™ small talk with Durok, Walis and all the others whoâ€™d returned, tellinâ€™ them sheâ€™d decided she was gonna help us in our quest!
Well, I canâ€™t think oâ€™ anyone better ta have along then that girl! She can conjure up some potent magic! Now back together again, the bunch oâ€™ us made off to another Temple, this one close by, and built in honor of Loki. Once inside, Port found a key what was tucked away in an old chest. We decided to keep it, thinkinâ€™ it might unlock some doors to other places in the lost city.
Loki’s temple was dank with a bad odor to it and gloomy too, and I ainâ€™t wanted ta stay any longer then I had ta â€˜cause I just donâ€™t like Temples oâ€™ any sort, so when our searchinâ€™ was over I was the first to leave.
I made my way out the door and walked away from the entrance and through the gate, breathinâ€™ deep, gettinâ€™ some good air back into me lungs. I happened ta glance up and ohh geeeez! Not twenty paces in front oâ€™ me was Father McGreggor and with him, at least five Aloonies! And they was all headinâ€™ straight at me!! Oh geez!
Well, fer sure I ainâ€™t no hero, and I was determined not to be dyinâ€™ again that night so I gave McGreggor me nicest smile and said â€œHello Fatherâ€ and â€œGoodbye Fatherâ€ in the same breath, gave him a quick curtsy, turned and ran like hel away from them wicked things as fast as me legs would carry me!
I guess when Bel, Port, Faith, Sun-Ok, Durok, Walis and Voran came outta the Temple, they was more than a match fer McGreggor and the aloonies. I ainâ€™t sure â€˜cause I was still runninâ€™ ya know? I ran all the way to that hut near the house where the slavers eats their meals, and climbed in the hole what leads into the basement and after I stopped shakinâ€™ I curled up into a little ball next to the wall and went to sleep fer three days!
Iâ€™m sorry I canâ€™t tell ya anymore â€˜bout what happened that night in Arik. I ainâ€™t seen anyone all week ta ask. Footholdâ€™s pretty much deserted these days, ya know.
But weâ€™s all goinâ€™ again tonight. Yup! Back to Arik! Mayhap weâ€™ll find the damm seed what Frankieâ€™s needinâ€™. Mayhap weâ€™ll find some other things too. Weâ€™ll see, I guess.June 1, 2008 at 11:31 pm #56250
Sheâ€™s been trapped in â€œThe Forgotten Chamberâ€ in the sunken ruins below the lost city of Arik for almost four days without food or water. Sheâ€™s tried to grab for the rope at the top of the stairs which would bring her up and out and perhaps to safety, but someone or something must have moved it and it now lies beyond her reach.
Sheâ€™s convinced sheâ€™s been â€˜forgottenâ€™ also. Sheâ€™s scratched a short message on one of the walls of the chamber with her skinning knife and then collapsed below it in exhaustion and despair. It reads:
“I was here with all oâ€™ my friends. I think theyâ€™s trapped upstairs someplace and I ainâ€™t able ta get up to â€˜em. We fought well and ainâ€™t run away from nothinâ€™. Keliana Weiler.”
I had so much to tell â€˜bout this place, but I ainâ€™t about to scratch it all out on a wall with a skinninâ€™ knife. Iâ€™m sayinâ€™ a small prayer ta Odin now, hopinâ€™ heâ€™ll send someone along to lower the rope again soâ€™s I can climb outta here and get somethinâ€™ ta drink.
Or mayhap if he ainâ€™t too busy, heâ€™ll just wisk me right back ta Foothold! Gods is able ta do things like that ya know!June 4, 2008 at 5:52 pm #56251
Well, shortly after I said me prayer to Odin, I picked myself up, and stood there below the hole we dropped down out of, starinâ€™ up into the darkness. I was lookinâ€™ at the tip oâ€™ the rope, dangling there with the end oâ€™ it too high fer me ta grab onto.
Then ohh geez! A big skin full oâ€™ water comes shootinâ€™ down outta that blackness and lands right at my feet! Whump! Along with the water, some healinâ€™ kits, a few loaves oâ€™ nice dark bread, a few pages oâ€™ blank parchment and a quill, tied up together with a pretty yellow ribbon!
Lastly, a small bottle of me own special tobacco juice ink, what broke when it landed, splatterinâ€™ its contents all over me! There was also a note attached to the water bag what said the others was camped upstairs in a little house and someone would be along soon ta lower the rope, soâ€™s I could climb back up to â€˜em!
Oh geez! Well Iâ€™ll tell ya! Prayers does work! But Iâ€™m thinkinâ€™ tâ€™was not Odin who dropped all oâ€™ this stuff down ta me, ya know? Odinâ€™s always busy sittinâ€™ at that table oâ€™ heros in his great hall, drinkin ale, singinâ€™ battle songs, carryinâ€™ on the way men does, enjoyinâ€™ himself and gettinâ€™ tipsy along with the rest oâ€™ his friends.
Iâ€™m thinkinâ€™ it was his wife, Frigg who done this kind thing fer me. Sheâ€™s the one they say is always weepinâ€™ â€˜bout somethinâ€™. Well, Iâ€™d be cryinâ€™ too if I had ta keep the ovens goinâ€™ fer eight hundred hungry men, never mind runninâ€™ â€˜round that damm table with a big pitcher oâ€™ ale, tryinâ€™ ta make sure everyones mug was full! Geez, Iâ€™ll tell ya! Men is sometimes really inconsiderate, ya know?
Well, now beinâ€™ in a really good mood, I started chewinâ€™ up a new batch oâ€™ ink, sat myself down and got set ta writ â€˜bout all oâ€™ the things what happened to us over the last few days . . .June 5, 2008 at 11:35 pm #56252
Well gettinâ€™ back to last Friday, like I said, we all set off to Arik again, in search oâ€™ the seed Frankie the frog was needinâ€™. I think the travelinâ€™ magic in Barrelgoreâ€™s kitchen musta wore off, â€˜cause Bel, Durok, Walis, Voran and me and Durok had ta take the express wagon again, what leaves Foothold every few minutes or so, ta get to Balâ€™ynaz.
Sun-Ok and Monty wasnâ€™t able ta squeeze on with us, but they took the very next wagon and soon the bunch oâ€™ us was hikinâ€™ our way across the desert and on to the lost city.
Thrym musta been takinâ€™ a nap, or he ainâ€™t seen us, â€˜cause he ainâ€™t dropped nothinâ€™ outta the sky ta try and murder us. We made our way through the gate and before long the bunch oâ€™ us was standinâ€™ in front oâ€™ a stone ramp with two big iron doors what was locked up tight on either side oâ€™ it.
On a platform at the top oâ€™ the ramp was sittinâ€™ a statue oâ€™ huge dragon, with his wings spread out, as if he was gonna take off and fly away any moment. Sun-Ok made her way up the ramp with a crown what she took out from her pack, and stuck it somewhere on the dragon statue. I ainâ€™t sure where she placed itâ€˜cause Bel was blockinâ€™ my view.
Then she stepped back a bit, and oh geez, the tumblers in the lock on the left hand door started whirrinâ€™ and grindinâ€™ and clankinâ€™ and soundinâ€™ as if they hadnâ€™t been used in a thousand years! Ever so slowly, the door creaked open; with stale fetid air now shootinâ€™ out oâ€™ the crackâ€™ with a hiss from where it had been imprisoned for god knows how long.
And there it was! Weâ€™d found a way down into the depths that lay below the lost city oâ€™ Arik! Mayhap Frankieâ€™s seeds were down there too.
Tâ€™was at that moment, Ghak, who is a troll, who was slinkinâ€™ along behind us all the while without us knowinâ€™ it, chose ta pop out from where he was hidinâ€™ bellowinâ€™ with evil laughter, yellinâ€™ at Monty, tellinâ€™ him he was sittinâ€™ right next to him in the wagon what took him and Sun-Ok to the dwarf city!
Monty couldnâ€™t see him in the wagon â€˜cause Ghak kept drinkinâ€™ invisible potions for the whole trip! Then he stepped close, whacked poor Monty, who was standinâ€™ there, his mouth half open in surprise, right on top oâ€™ his head! Oh Geez! Well oâ€™ course, straight off, we all came to Montyâ€™s aid, ya know? We put Ghak down right quick but that wasnâ€™t enough fer Monty.
He . . . well, uh, ya see, like I said, Ghak fell quick. The troll was just layinâ€™ flat on his back, leakinâ€™ blood from a hundred places, moaninâ€™ and groaninâ€™ with his eyes rolled back in his head and we was kinda done with him, ya know? But Monty wasnâ€™t and he forgot all about his magic and started beatinâ€™ away on Ghak with his staff! And spittinâ€™ on him too!
All the while, screaminâ€™ and cursinâ€™ at the troll! Oh geez! I ainâ€™t never heard anyone use language like that ever, except mayhap fer Sar! Then Monty hops up on Ghakâ€™s chest and begins ta jump up and down on him with his eyes shut tight, his fists clenched up into little balls, while still screechinâ€™ away at the troll who ainâ€™t heard or felt nothinâ€™ cause he was unconscious, ya know?
Oh geez! We could hear Ghakâ€™s ribs snappinâ€™ and cracklinâ€™ and poppinâ€™ and air wooshin’ outta his lungs each time Monty landed! Finally we had ta drag Monty off oâ€™ the troll, and hold onto him tight till he calmed down and stopped shakinâ€™ with anger! Oh geez, Monty hates that troll!
Anyways, we left Ghak outside layinâ€™ there bleedinâ€™ and dyinâ€™ and the rest oâ€™ us stepped through the doorway what Sun-Ok had unlocked a few minutes before, with the crown. We wasnâ€™t more then a few paces inside, when the whole place started shakinâ€™ and huge pointy stones started risenâ€™ up outta the ground all around us!
The shakinâ€™ stopped, and whoâ€™s standinâ€™ there between the stones, but Lady Kaldt with a big smile on her face, her hair done up, lookinâ€™ all neat and spiffy in a light blue and white full length gown what Iâ€™m sure she ainâ€™t bought in Stonemark! Sheâ€™s a Valkyrie in case anyone donâ€™t know that.
Well she tells us sheâ€™s aware oâ€™ the Grippoli plight, and how weâ€™s tryinâ€™ hard ta help them and whatever we does for them will be good fer the forest. But thereâ€™s another one whatâ€™s needinâ€™ our help and his name is Opinvu. Oh geez! Another one needinâ€™ our help!
It seems heâ€™sâ€™ been doinâ€™ research fer a book heâ€™s writinâ€™ â€˜bout the fall oâ€™ Gastlynk, or somethinâ€™ like that. Now heâ€™s layinâ€™ low somewhere in that city and canâ€™t find a way ta get out â€˜cause the Titanâ€™s minions know heâ€™s there and now theyâ€™s out and about, lookinâ€™ fer him, and theyâ€™ll skin him alive if they finds him! Well, Bel and Monty knows Opinvu quite well and I met him once or twice.
He seems like a nice enough chap with always a ring or an amulet for sale, and a funny thing to say, so we told the Lady Keldt weâ€™d do our best to rescue him. She thanked us, then the ground started its shakinâ€™ and the pointy stones came out again, and Keldt was gone.
There was some talk between the men â€˜bout whether we oughta split up, with half oâ€™ them goinâ€™ off to rescue Opinvu and the rest oâ€™ us pushinâ€™ on in search oâ€™ the seeds Frank was needinâ€™. In the end we decided to stay together and keep searchinâ€™ for the seeds.
We turned and started down into the darkness and mystery and danger, and only Odin was knowinâ€™ what else was waitinâ€™ fer us, deep below this lost city of Arik.June 6, 2008 at 6:04 pm #56253
A few paces beyond the entrance, we passed by a scargalopafuss. Actually, there was two oâ€™ â€˜em, each one sittinâ€™ on its own slab, with an iron gate goinâ€™ â€˜round three sides oâ€™it.
For those oâ€™ you what ainâ€™t knowinâ€™ what a scargalopafuss is, theyâ€™s big sturdy boxes, very well made and usually chiseled outta stone, with a really thick slab sittinâ€™ atop oâ€™ them.
Theyâ€™s constructed that way â€˜cause their makers ainâ€™t wantinâ€™ anyone to be openinâ€™ them up and pokinâ€™ round inside . . . or, â€˜cause they aintâ€™ wantinâ€™ what awful thing theyâ€™s stuffed in it to be getinâ€™ out ever again! I ainâ€™t really sure which. Probably a little oâ€™ both, ya know?
Anyways, they always has a bad odor leakinâ€™ out oâ€™ them and most times, they feels warm when ya touch â€˜em. Itâ€™s best to leave a scargalopafuss alone. We made our way past â€˜em and along a narrow wooden ramp what twisted this way and that, with Sun-Ok out ahead clearinâ€™ traps and makinâ€™ sure the path was safe fer the rest oâ€™ us.
The ramp was narrow soâ€™s we could only walk two abreast and every so often, spikes would come shootinâ€™ up outta the floor, blockinâ€™ our way, leavinâ€™ a few oâ€™ us on one side and the rest oâ€™ us on the other! Oh geez! Well â€˜Iâ€™ll tell ya! Iâ€™m beginninâ€™ to understand why Monty hates Ghak so much! We ainâ€™t killed him at all! I think heâ€™s immu . . . uh, I think acid donâ€™t have no effect on him like it does on most trolls! Somehow the damn thing musta healed itself and then followed us in here!
As soon as the spikes would pop up and separate our party, Ghak would pop outta the darkness and beginâ€™ harassing and tormenting and tryinâ€™ hard to murder those oâ€™ us what was left behind! Oh geez!
On top oâ€™ that, Doom Knights was sneakinâ€™ up behind us whackinâ€™ away, doinâ€™ their best to stop us from goinâ€™ any deeper into the cavern! We fought like demons, with Durok, Voran, Walis and Bel choppinâ€™ at them and Sun-Ok lettinâ€™ loose a hail oâ€™ arrows, and Monty shootinâ€™ spell after spell at the Doom Knights, and Ghak, to keep him at bay!
Eventually, we managed to make our way across the ramp and after killinâ€™ a few skinnies and searchinâ€™ â€˜round a bit, we found a door what led to a place below where we was, and in we went, all oâ€™ us keepinâ€™ an eye out fer Ghak â€˜cause we was sure weâ€™d be seeinâ€™ him again before the night was over.June 8, 2008 at 10:03 pm #56254
We made our way through the door and found ourselves in a huge chamber with corridors branchinâ€™ outta it, leadinâ€™ every which way. I was more interested in a big round couch sittinâ€™ in the middle oâ€™ the room what had pretty red velvet slipcovers, and thinkinâ€™ I could snip off a few pieces and make a nice gown fer meself!
While the boys was standinâ€™ there debatinâ€™ which corridor to search, a horde oâ€™ Amal Viziers what was hidinâ€™ somewhere, leaped out at us and began slashinâ€™ away, tryinâ€™ ta drive us back to where weâ€™d come from!
I think theyâ€™s cousins oâ€™ Amal Slavers except much more brawny and powerful and before I could say Odinâ€™s apples, things went black again, and when I regained con . . . uh, finally opened me eyes, Garm was starinâ€™ down at me with a big smirk on his face! Oh geez!
Anyways, the boys musta finished off the Amal Visiers, â€˜cause I felt somethinâ€™ tugginâ€™ on me again and shortly after, I was back in the chamber, with them standinâ€™ â€˜round me, grumblinâ€™ about somethinâ€™. I ainâ€™t sure exactly what, and I could be wrong cause me ears was still ringinâ€™ from the blows I took on me head, ya know?
It sounded like they was complaininâ€™ â€˜bout Raise Dead Scrolls beinâ€™ expensive, and I should be spendinâ€™ my time preparinâ€™ for what might be lurkinâ€™ behind a door or around a corner, waitinâ€™ ta jump out and beat me silly instead oâ€™ worrying â€˜bout red velvet slipcovers! Well oh geez, ainâ€™t that somethinâ€™! Raise Dead Scrolls is expensive!
Let me ask ya? How many times have ya seen a man go out and spend a small fortune without blinkinâ€™ an eye, on a useless old war axe with the blade all rusty, chipped and bent and the bindinâ€™ rotted and hanginâ€™ off oâ€™ it? Important to him because some famous dwarf swung it in a battle hundreds oâ€™ years ago what nobody remembers anyways?
Then you stand there watchinâ€™ him destroyinâ€™ the wall above your mantle, poundinâ€™ iron spikes into it soâ€™s he can hang the damn thing up? Oh he ain’t gonna use the damn axe . . . he just want’s ta look at it! Then he plops himself in a big chair in front oâ€™ the fire, along with his friends, all oâ€™ â€˜em just starinâ€™ at it with really dumb looks on their faces! And all the while youâ€™re slavinâ€™ away in the kitchen, tryinâ€™ ta fix them a nice meal! Oh, the nerve of â€˜em!
Well, weâ€™ll see how quick Iâ€™ll be pullinâ€™ out my scrolls if one oâ€™ them gets in a fix! Anyways, they give me a minute to recover me senses, and on we went, searchinâ€™ all the halls connected to the chamber, and carefully openinâ€™ all the doors we could, hopinâ€™ we was gettinâ€™ close to findinâ€™ the seeds Franklin was needinâ€™ and wishinâ€™ Port had come along with us, cause heâ€™s always good at findinâ€™ stuff.
Along the way, we run into a room full oâ€™ wyrmling blue dragons, and further on, some Korns, and even Ghak made an appearance, now and then, doinâ€™ his best to torment us. There were some other evil things too, lurkinâ€™ about what I ainâ€™t knowinâ€™ the names of. All oâ€™ them doinâ€™ their very best to murder the lot oâ€™ us! With Walis and Bel and Voran up front, we ainâ€™t had much oâ€™ a problem choppinâ€™ our way through â€˜em.
Me and Walis cought up to Ghak and put him down again, and we ainâ€™t seen no more oâ€™ him the rest oâ€™ the night. And by the way, Korns is the strangest lookinâ€™ things Iâ€™ve ever seen! First off, they ainâ€™t got no body, just a big round head with stalks, stickinâ€™ outta it fer arms and legs! And where a personâ€™s belly would normally be, theyâ€™s got massive bulginâ€™eyes stickinâ€™ out! And instead oâ€™ hair, theyâ€™s got a large gapinâ€™ mouth sittinâ€™ right on the top oâ€™ their head!
We kept up our search and managed to find a trap door in the floor. When we climbed down . . . oh geez! Well we ainâ€™t found Frankieâ€™s seeds yet, but we sure as hel found somethinâ€™ else!
Weâ€™d just dropped down into the real Lost City oâ€™ Arik! Not that shabby collection oâ€™ huts and hovels and Temples sittinâ€™ hundreds oâ€™ feet above us half buried in the ice and snow, Nope! This was the true city!
Hidden under tons of rock, its streets thick with dust, the echo of human footsteps not heard on its cobblestones for ages!
The real Arik now stretched out before us! Residence after residence towering above us! All of them built from stone! Some large enough to house a hundred! Shops lining the streets! And the avenues as wide as any youâ€™d find in Stonemark! Mayhap even wider! Oh geez!June 9, 2008 at 7:08 pm #56255
Sheâ€™s sitting on a rickety hardwood bench beside the little table she works at when writing her bio. In her lap is a gift Port gave to her, weeks ago. A fine helm, hammered out with great care, from a rare, luminous yellow ore.
Sections of it dyed a deep purple and polished to a high luster, with golden rivets perfectly spaced around its sides and back, running up to the top, securing heavier strips of some unknown exotic metal, giving it great strength.
And with the words, â€œHeadband of Intellectâ€ emblazoned in bold letters across its visor. Truly a work of art! Sheâ€™s looking intently at it and she senses a powerful magic emanating from within and sheâ€™s debating whether or not she should slip it on.
Now why the hel would that conivin’ little gnome be givinâ€™ a thing like this to me? Mayhap beause he likes me? But . . . if I put it on, Iâ€™m thinkinâ€™ its supposed to make me into somethinâ€™ . . . well, different from what I is now. Will he still be likinâ€™ me then?
Oh geez! Or . . . by givinâ€™ this helm to me, is he implyinâ€™ that he donâ€™t like me the way I is and heâ€™d be feelinâ€™ better â€˜bout me if I changed a bit?
Well damn that little twerp! Sittinâ€™ here tryinâ€™ ta figure all oâ€™ this out is givinâ€™ me a headache! I ainâ€™t knowinâ€™ what the hel was in Portâ€™s mind when he give this to me, and I ainâ€™t carinâ€™ anyways! But . . . if I put it on there might be a number or two inside what I could learn about, ya know? Itâ€™d be worth it to try. Iâ€™m always wantinâ€™ to learn somethinâ€™ â€˜bout numbers!
She picks up the helm and places it on her head.
Oh . . . ohhh OH! OHH GEEZZZ!
Boggle, Boggle, Boggle! Alhoon, alhoon, alhoon! Sarcophagus, sarcophagus, sarcophagus! And . . . E=mc2 . . . and . . . a photon is just an electron traveling backward in time!
Huh? OHH GEEZZ!
She quickly removes the helm and tosses it into a far corner of the room.
Eeee! What the hel was that! Well . . . just what I thought! A worthless piece oâ€™ junk he give me! All full oâ€™ gabble cloudinâ€™ up me thinkinâ€™ and it ainâ€™t had even one number in it I could recognize! Its only good fer one thing! Iâ€™ll make a planter outta it! Yup! Gonna get me some dirt and a few seeds and soon Iâ€™ll be growinâ€™ me very own tobacco!June 12, 2008 at 12:12 am #56256
Where was I? Oh! The real Arik. Well, we all stood there, lookinâ€™ this way and that, kind oâ€™ discouraged, thinkinâ€™ now weâ€™d be havinâ€™ ta search through the whole city, huntinâ€™ fer the damn seeds what Francis the frog was wantinâ€™. It would take weeks to do it and weâ€™d only brought enough supplies ta last us a few days.
Sun-Ok had wandered off a bit, and now was hunched over, starinâ€™ close at the dust what had built up on the streets what ainâ€™t been walked on fer so long. She beckoned to us to join her and we toddled over to where she was standinâ€™.
She clasped her hands together as if she was gonna say a prayer, bowed to us, then pointed at the cobblestones below her and said, â€œHumble comlades . . . ah . . . you look . . . stleaks and swirls in dust on floor please?â€ Sun-Okâ€™s got a really odd way oâ€™ speakinâ€™ ya know?
Anyways, she stepped back, bowed to us once more and pointed at the stones again. Oh geez! Streaks and swirls! It could only mean one thing! Mind Flayers! Mayhap Aloonies even! Glidinâ€™ along, a couple oâ€™ inches off the ground! Their robes dragginâ€™ in the dust, makinâ€™ those marks! Oh geez! We wasnâ€™t alone!
Well, straight off, five things popped into me head. Number one, we wasnâ€™t safe standinâ€™ out here and weâ€™d best be gettinâ€™ off the street, and inside someplace right quick before we run into any Flayers, or Aloonies what happened to be out and about!
Number two, ta me it just ainâ€™t seemed right that someone would leave those seeds layinâ€™ â€˜round unprotected in one oâ€™ these empty buildings. Nope! I was thinkinâ€™ those seeds was nowhere to be found in this city. They had ta be hidden in a secret room, mayhap a Forgotten Chamber or someplace like that, locked up secure, inside a strong chest with wards and traps set all â€˜round it.
And number five, I was really wishinâ€™ Port was here with us, even though I ainâ€™t likin him too much fer trickinâ€™ me with that damn helm! Port always seems ta know whatâ€™s best ta do next!
Anyways, we found a door with hinges what ainâ€™t seemed rusted too much and managed to work it open a bit and squeezed our way inside. The room was empty and dark, but Voran lit a torch and we seen a hole in the middle oâ€™ the floor with a sturdy rope, one end tied to a post what was stickinâ€™ outta the wall on the far side oâ€™ the room, the rest oâ€™ it danglinâ€™ down the hole and into the blackness below.
Well, what the hel . . . whoâ€™s gonna pass up a chance ta climb down a rope whatâ€™s danglinâ€™ into blackness and God knows what the hel else, and down we went!June 12, 2008 at 7:11 pm #56257
Sun-Ok, Voran, Bel and me inched our way hand over hand, down into the murky gloom, hanginâ€™ tight onto the rope. Or mayhap hand under hand . . . â€˜cause we was goinâ€™ down, ya know?
I was next to last on the rope, with Walis behind me and he kept stompinâ€™ onâ€™me head with his boot â€˜cause he thought I was climbinâ€™ downâ€™ too slow. Shortly, we found ourselves standinâ€™ at the top oâ€™ a stone ramp what led into what looked to be a large, well lit room.
Chisled into the stone floor below us we read the words, â€œThe Forgotten Chamberâ€. Well, oh geez! Now we was really gettinâ€™ somewhere!
Its really hard fer me ta writ about what happened next â€˜cause, whenever I think about it, I gets afraid and me knees start knockinâ€™ together, and my writinâ€™ hand wonâ€™t stop tremblinâ€™ but Iâ€™ll do me best.
We gathered at the foot oâ€™ the ramp, all oâ€™ us wonderinâ€™ what the hel we ought ta do next, when I felt an icy tinglinâ€™ what started on me neck, and run all the way down the middle oâ€™ me back, stoppinâ€™ just short oâ€™ . . . lets say I could feel it quite a ways down me back.
I turned â€˜round quick to see what might be behind me causinâ€™ it. Well standinâ€™ there, green eyes sparklin and her hair the color oâ€™ wheat ready fer harvest and hanginâ€™ down in front oâ€™ her eyes, was another me! Sheâ€™d even tied it up behind her head in a ponytail exactly the way I fixes mine!
Oh geez! She was the same size and build as me and was even wearinâ€™ the same clothes! The only thing I could see different â€˜bout her was that her teeth ainâ€™t had no tobacco stains, and was a pearly white! Was I lookinâ€™ at a . . . uh, doppelganger? Thatâ€™s a word what I found inside oâ€™ the â€œHeadband of Intellectâ€ Port give me and it kinda stuck with me, ya know?
Anyways, I was speechless, and it was a good thing, cause awhile later when I finally did get my voice back, Iâ€™d utter a few words and theyâ€™d wind up cominâ€™ outta her mouth instead oâ€™ mine! I kept tryinâ€™ to run away from her but she kept pullinâ€™ me back!
Then she musta got tired oâ€™ me runninâ€™ and she put a spell on me what stuck me onto the wall right next to her! I couldnâ€™t move a finger and she took me voice away too!
Geez! The boys was confused, not knowinâ€™ which one oâ€™ us was me, and Walis fell down in a dead faint, probably thinkinâ€™ heâ€™d now have ta be dealinâ€™ with two oâ€™ us when one was bad enough!
Leavinâ€™ me stuck against the wall, she went off and wrapped her arms around Bel, which is somethinâ€™ Iâ€™d never do cause Belâ€™s married to Aels-witch. I wouldnâ€™t do it even if he wasnâ€™t married to nobody, ya know? I think it was then, the boys realized which one oâ€™ us the imposter was!
Then she started in on them! Beratin and abasinâ€™ â€˜em, tellinâ€™ them they was a bunch oâ€™ worthless fools and on and on like that! To demonstrate how powerful she was, she then knocked â€˜em all down! All at the same time! Oh geez! The boys got up and Voran who was really angry, went after her, his knives flashinâ€™ away!
She give him a scornful laugh, then disappeared in a burst oâ€™ flame and smoke! The spell she put on me was broken now, and I slid down the wall Iâ€™d been stuck to and collapsed in a heap on the floor, shakinâ€™ like a leaf.
We talked fer awhile â€˜bout who or what could oâ€™ managed to pull off a stunt like that. Bel thought it mighta been one oâ€™ the thirteen pokinâ€™ â€˜round in our business but I donâ€™t think so.
Iâ€™m thinkinâ€™ somethinâ€™ with that kind oâ€™ power had to be a God. Probably Loki. They sometimes calls him the trickster God. Anyways, it wasnâ€™t no comfort to me knowinâ€™ powerful entities, was watchinâ€™ and mayhap had some interest in the things we was tryinâ€™ to accomplish.June 13, 2008 at 11:50 pm #56258
We began our search oâ€™ the place, all oâ€™ us troubled â€˜bout what weâ€™d just seen. I mean, a monster is one thing, but havinâ€™ to deal with one oâ€™ the thirteen, or even worse, a God with a bag full oâ€™ tricks . . . well, oh geez!
Sun-Ok picked the lock on the first door we got to. Bel swung it open and a bunch oâ€™ rust monsters shot out at us, takinâ€™ us by surprise, their mouth parts whirrinâ€™ and clickinâ€™ and clackinâ€™, doinâ€™ their best to grab hold of one oâ€™ us!
Straight off, some oâ€™ â€˜em snatched at our weapons while the rest oâ€™ â€˜em began chewinâ€™ away on our armor, tryinâ€™ ta eat it right off our backs! Rust monsters is small, mayhap a bit larger then a badger, and to me they looks like huge bugs whatâ€™s made outta some kind oâ€™ strange metal. And by the way, thatâ€™s what theyâ€™s hungry for! Metal!
They look somethinâ€™ like what a blacksmith might throw together as a joke, from scraps oâ€™ whatâ€™s layinâ€™ â€˜round his shop. Anyways, one oâ€™ em caught hold oâ€™ Walisâ€™s sword and chomped on it till there was nothinâ€™ left, except a little nub oâ€™ steel stickinâ€™ outta the hilt! Oh geez, was he upset â€˜bout that!
And before we slaughtered â€˜em all, they managed to gobble up Voranâ€™s armor, leavinâ€™ him standinâ€™ there almost naked, with only his small clothes coverinâ€™ him! Well I dug â€˜round in me pack real quick, lookinâ€™ fer somethinâ€™ what might fit him and I found a nice red outfit, a bit large fer me, what I thought would do fine, till he could get a new set oâ€™ clothes fer himself.
I gotta tell ya, Voran sure looked silly, struttinâ€™ â€˜round in a bright red outfit all full oâ€™ frills and ruffles what was special made fer a girl! I couldnâ€™t look at him direct, afraid Iâ€™d burst out laughinâ€™!
With the rust monsters outta the way, we continued our exploration of the chamber and found another room what was filled up with chests, most oâ€™ â€˜em locked up tight with strong wards and traps put â€˜round them. Theyâ€™d be difficult to open and there was a risk oâ€™ destroyinâ€™ their contents if we ainâ€™t disarmed them properly.
It was late, we all was tired, and the boys decided to camp upstairs, and after we got a good rest and our minds was fresh, ta come back down and have a go at openin’ up those chests. It sounded good to me. I was really exhausted, and when they started back to the rope weâ€™d used to climb down, I was lagginâ€™ behind â€˜em by quite a bit.
They turned a few corners, went through a few doors, and I lost sight oâ€™ â€˜em but ainâ€™t thought too much about it, cause I knew my way back. Well, when I got to the place in the chamber weâ€™d came down from, the boys was gone. I figured they had climbed up already.
When I looked fer the rope to begin haulinâ€™ myself up, it was too high fer me ta reach! Now I ainâ€™t accusinâ€™ anyone oâ€™ pullinâ€™ up the rope. Mayhap it was Loki, playinâ€™ his tricks again. Mayhap the boys thought Iâ€™d climbed up ahead oâ€™ â€˜em . . . and was thinkinâ€™ I was lost up above someplace. Or . . . mayhap Walis was finally gettinâ€™ back at me fer chewinâ€™ on his fingers, weeks ago and figured heâ€™d leave me down here ta rot, ya know? I just aintâ€™ sure.
Anyways, thatâ€™s how I came ta be stuck in this place till Voran finally came along and rescued me. The two oâ€™ us spent the next few days camped up above, in a nice quiet room, and nothinâ€™ tried to murder us . . . and nothinâ€™ happened!! I swear!
Later, we found the others, and we made our plans about how weâ€™d disarm the traps and wards what was placed â€˜round the chests in the Forgotten Chamber below, and started down again. We ainâ€™t had much trouble findinâ€™ our way back and shortly we was down and makinâ€™ our way to the room what was full oâ€™ all the chests.
We looked careful at the boxes and found one with strange markings on it what appeared to be Grippli Glyphs. It aintâ€™ took too long before Walis disarmed the wards and popped it open. Well glory be! There they was! Frankieâ€™s seeds! Weâ€™d finally found â€˜em after all this time!
Oh geez! We all joined hands and danced around, doinâ€™ a jig, laughinâ€™ and singinâ€™ a little tune! But there was more! Besides the seeds, the chest had loads oâ€™ treasure in it! Somethinâ€™ fer everyone! Walis laid it all out on the floor fer us and we went about pickinâ€™ up the things each oâ€™ us wanted.
I chose a Falchion! A huge curved sword, weighted at the tip soâ€™s it could deliver a crushinâ€™ blow! All fancy and shiny with not a speck oâ€™ rust on it! And words was inscribed on it, naminâ€™ it the â€œArik Defenderâ€ and sayinâ€™ it was made for a golem who was goinâ€™ to protect the city from the Gods but that ainâ€™t worked out so well so they just stored it down here long ago! Wow!
And Grippli Sticks! And Grippli Healinâ€™ kits! Oh geez! Well everyone picked out what they wanted, Walis tucked the seeds away in his pack, and we started the trek back up to the surface. We had to battle a bit here and there, but finally we was out, and makinâ€™ our way towards the gate and the timeless desert what lay beyond.
We had just cleared the gate and Lady Kaldt is standinâ€™ there waitinâ€™ fer us, somehow knowing weâ€™d be along shortly! Well, she reminded us of Opinvuâ€™s dilemma, beinâ€™ stuck in Gastlynk, and about to be ambushed by Father McGregor, who was settinâ€™ a trap for him!
She give me a dirty look â€˜cause Iâ€™d completely forgotten â€˜bout that part, and I was thinkinâ€™ it was only the minions what was after him, ya know? Geez! How the hel does she know all that stuff?
We told her that it was the very next thing we was about to do! Our plans were to cut across the Timeless Desert, and on to Gastlynk, goinâ€™ in the back way. She nodded to us, wished us luck with our venture, and then she was gone.
We ainâ€™t run into nothinâ€™ trekkingâ€™ across the desert and shortly, we was approachinâ€™ the gates oâ€™ the city what now belonged to the Titan and his minions. We met some resistance at the gate, and a minion or two once inside, but none oâ€™ â€˜em give us too much trouble.
Eventually, after lookinâ€™ â€˜round a bit, Walis found McGregor hidinâ€™ in a doorway, waitin fer Opinvu ta amble by soâ€™s he could pounce on him and kill him dead!
Well instead, the lot oâ€™ us pounced on McGregor and we beat him to a bloody pulp! Nope, fer sure he wonâ€™t be botherinâ€™ Opinvu no more.
Anyways, weâ€™d saved Opinvu and we now had Frankâ€™s seeds and we ainâ€™t seen Loki or any oâ€™ the thirteen again.
We headed back to Foothold, our heads high, with Bel whistlinâ€™ some old marchinâ€™ tune. Walis and Voran had big smiles on their faces, and I was strollin’ along behind â€˜em, swinginâ€™ my new Falchion, gettingâ€™ used to the feel oâ€™ it, and feelinâ€™ really good â€˜bout how things had turned out fer us.June 19, 2008 at 11:24 pm #56259
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 thinkinâ€™ finally weâ€™d be done with him and his clan.
Now there aint no wagon what goes from Foothold to Frankâ€™s camp, so we had ta walk. Nobody cared too much â€˜bout that â€˜cause it was a nice eveninâ€™ and besides, weâ€™d had a week ta heal and rest up after gettinâ€™ back from Arik.
We aintâ€™ got too far out oâ€™ the west gate of Foothold and Sun-Ok whispered to me sheâ€™d finally finished sewinâ€™ up me pan . . . uh, me things. Oh geez! Iâ€™d been goinâ€™without â€˜em fer so long Iâ€™d forgotten I wasnâ€™t wearinâ€™ 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 Iâ€™d asked fer! And each one with a tiny letter â€˜Kâ€™ what she embroidered on â€˜em usinâ€™ a gold thread! Anyways, I thanked her, paid her for her work and tucked â€˜em away in me pack and that was that.
The way the boys chose to go, would take us through Yar, past Old Man Brudabegaâ€™s Soup Store and part way ta Stonemark before weâ€™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 oâ€™ the road would take us to where the Gripplis had set up their camp.
Most times those roads is safe and its enjoyable strollinâ€™ along â€˜em without a care in the world. But oh geez, this night was different! We ainâ€™t even got to Yar yet when we was ambushed by a bunch oâ€™ zombies! And there was a Balor with them too!
A balorâ€™s kind oâ€™ a cross between a man and a fiend and theyâ€™s very powerful and itâ€™s a rare thing ta see one oâ€™ â€˜em! I heard a balorâ€™s job is ta check if an evil curse or spell whatâ€™s put on someone is still workinâ€™ and nobodyâ€™s tried ta remove it! Yup! Thatâ€™s what I heard!
Anyways, we killed the zombies and the balor too and off we went, the lot oâ€™ us wonderinâ€™ â€˜bout that monster and why heâ€™d decided on payinâ€™ us a visit. We turned onto the road to Spinhold without nothinâ€™ else botherinâ€™ us. Sun-Ok was toddlinâ€™along behind Voran and it seemed ta me she was gettinâ€™ closer and closer to him, ya know? Almost steppinâ€™ on his heels!
I turned my head for a moment and when I looked back at the two oâ€™ â€˜em, sheâ€™d grabbed Voran around his neck! Voran was strugglinâ€™ twistinâ€™ this way and that, tryinâ€™ ta pull her hands away and throw her off but she was hanginâ€™ on tight with no intention oâ€™ lettinâ€™ go and she was dead set on chokinâ€™ 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 oâ€™ her back! Whumph! Glory be! Well, the blow done it and Sun-Okâ€™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 oâ€™ the road!
â€˜Course we healed her and Voran too but when Sun-Ok was finally able to speak, she kept mumblinâ€™ somethinâ€™ â€˜bout some old lady what sold her a pair oâ€™ purple gloves what was now forcinâ€™ her to do evil! She wasnâ€™t able ta take â€˜em off â€˜cause they was cursed, and stuck on her almost like a second skin, and now sheâ€™d have ta find someone kind enough to lop off her hands and on and on like that!
Then she glanced at my Falchion hanginâ€™ at my waist and gazed up at me with a pleadinâ€™ look in her eyes! Oh geez! Well, folksâ€™ll be seinâ€™ white blackbirds before they sees me lop off the hands oâ€™ a good friend!
Sun-Ok shoulda known better, acceptinâ€™ a gift from an old lady! I just donâ€™t trust â€˜em! Theyâ€™s always cacklinâ€™ and smilinâ€™ at ya with one tooth in their mouth whatâ€™s rotten and turned all black! And they squints at ya outta their one good eye, â€˜cause the other one stopped workinâ€™ long ago and rolled back up into their head, so’s ya only see the white part o’ it! And theyâ€™s all got big long black hairs growinâ€™ outta the middle oâ€™ their chins and theyâ€™s always holdinâ€™ onto a dirty soggy hanky what they uses to wipe their nose â€˜cause its always runninâ€™! Then they wantâ€™s ta hug ya or pinch yer cheek and they never puts the hanky away, so theyâ€™s hugginâ€™ and pinchinâ€™ ya all the while still hanginâ€™ onto the damn soggy hanky!
Eeeee! Disgustinâ€™! Oh geez! I hates old ladys! They gives me the creeps! Now understandinâ€™ better â€˜bout what came over Sun-Ok and why she done what she done ta Voran, we pushed on to Frankâ€™s camp, thinkinâ€™ since weâ€™d helped him and saved his tribe and the tree oâ€™ shaftinâ€™ he might be able to help us find a way to remove the gloves from Sun-Okâ€™s hands and un-do the curse the old witch put on her.
Well, Iâ€™ll tell ya, none oâ€™ us was prepared fer what we walked into when we finally got to Frankieâ€™s camp!June 20, 2008 at 8:13 pm #56260
Well, there must oâ€™ been a frightful encounter what took place in the camp! The poor gripplis was scattered about, with some oâ€™ them stretched out dead on the ground while others still alive and bleedinâ€™ was thrashinâ€™ about, screaminâ€™ in agony from dreadful wounds theyâ€™d suffered!
Off to the side oâ€™ the camp was a huge pile oâ€™ dead ones what someone set ablaze and the fire was cracklin, and poppinâ€™ burninâ€™ away the fat and flesh from the corpses! ! Oh geez! The stench oâ€™ it was somethinâ€™ awful! And there was cages set up â€˜round the camp too! And more gripplis what seemed to be unhurt, locked up tight in â€˜em!
Standinâ€™ there in the middle oâ€™ all this was Ebb, a boy we sees sometimes in town who I think lives with his wife in a house somewhere along Spinhold road!
The lad had a wild look in his eyes and straight off, we seen his weapon was all bloody with grippli guts drippinâ€™ off oâ€™ it! Ebb ainâ€™t wanted to talk much about what had happened here. All he seemed concerned about was the seeds fer Frank what Walis was carrying in his pack and I ainâ€™t sure just how Ebb knew â€˜bout â€˜em, ya know?
Anyways, Ebb wanted us ta give the damn seeds to him instead oâ€™ Frank! He told us someone . . or something, was holdinâ€™ his lovely wife hostage in the Spider Temple and he needed ta have those seeds fer ransom! Oh geez!
Then he tells us he ainâ€™t got much time ta waste dickerinâ€™ back and forth with us and weâ€™d better hand over those seeds right quick or heâ€™ll go about killinâ€™ the rest oâ€™ the Grippilis and us along with â€˜em! Why the nerve oâ€™ the pimply faced half pint little twerp!
Well, like I said, weâ€™d noticed his sword, drippinâ€™ blood and we was sus . . . susp . . . uh, we ainâ€™t trusted Ebb one inch or believed his story about his wife. While the rest oâ€™ us was havinâ€™ this pleasant chat with the boy, Walis and Durok had worked their way ’round behind him and we now had him surrounded. We was ready fer anything he might be tryinâ€™, ya know?
So a moment later, when Ebb flew at us in a rage, swinginâ€™ his sword like a mad man, tryinâ€™ ta chop us up into little bits, we began swinginâ€™ right back! And oh geez, we wasnâ€™t battling Ebb anymore â€˜cause right before our eyes the little twerp turned into Kalem Salt, one oâ€™ the Thirteen and now we had a real fight on our hands!
With all oâ€™ us hackinâ€™ away at him he ainâ€™t had much oâ€™ a chance and before long he was makinâ€™ a trip to Garm, or wherever the hel one oâ€™ Thirteen goes, when theyâ€™s dead. Then we ran quick to the cages and we let out the rest oâ€™ the Grippilis soâ€™s they could go about patchinâ€™ up the others oâ€™ their tribe what was still layinâ€™ wounded, here and there around the camp.
We found Frankie in one oâ€™ the cages and he ainâ€™t had a clue to why Kalem Salt wanted the seeds. He suggested we keep â€˜em, thinkinâ€™ theyâ€™d be safer sittinâ€™ in walisâ€™s pack then in the camp with him. Later we talked a bit with Frankie â€˜bout Sun-Ok beinâ€™ cursed and unable to remove the gloves what was makinâ€™ her do evil things. He tugged on â€˜em himself, straininâ€™ hard ta pull â€˜em off but he ainâ€™t had no luck either.
He told us the only one what could take off those gloves was Sun-Ok herself and sheâ€™d be needinâ€™ a huge amount oâ€™ wisdom to be doinâ€™ it. He told us if she did manage ta get â€˜em off, they must be burned in a kiln or somethinâ€™ like that what had a really high tem . . .uh, somethinâ€™ really hot, ya know?
Then Sun-Ok, beinâ€™ afraid she was gonna hurt someone else, run off into the woods somewhere and I donâ€™t think nobodyâ€™s seen her since!
Walis left a bag on a post by the Foothold gates marked with her symbol and a little note tied on it, hopinâ€™ sheâ€™d come by and notice it was left fer her. He put some things in the bag what he thought she might be needinâ€™ and the rest oâ€™ us has been addinâ€™ almonds and other stuff to it durinâ€™ the past week, tryinâ€™ hard ta keep the poor thing from starvinâ€™ to death!
Weâ€™s been collectinâ€™ magic rings, amulets, charms and potions too! Weâ€™s lookinâ€™ fer anything we can find what could give her a boost oâ€™ wisdom. I heard Aelswort whoâ€™d heard about the whole thing from Bel, met Tam the other night in the Dragon and handed her two really strong potions â€˜o â€˜Heroic Wisdomâ€™, thinkinâ€™ they might be helpful!
Anyways, weâ€™s done all we could think of, to do fer her. Weâ€™s hopinâ€™ weâ€™ll see her tonight and with what weâ€™ve collected between us, mayhap the girlâ€™ll be able to pull those damn gloves off.June 26, 2008 at 8:04 pm #56261
. I walked into the Dragon Inn that Friday eveninâ€™ and Bel, Durok and Walis was already there, discussinâ€™ what we ought to be doinâ€™ about the seeds Walis was carryinâ€™ fer Frank. Voran was kneelinâ€™ on the floor beside â€˜em in some kind oâ€™ trance payinâ€™ no attention to anyone and burblinâ€™ some strange twaddle to himself in a language nobody was familiar with.
Shortly after I came in, Monty joined us. Barrelgore had told us his kitchen was open for transportation again, so except fer Voran, still kneelinâ€™and burblinâ€™ away, thatâ€™s where the rest oâ€™ us headed. We was thinkinâ€™ weâ€™d wind up in Frankâ€™s camp but the travelinâ€™ magic must o’ been the local kind, cause we made another stop first.
We found ourselves in another part oâ€™ the woodland and glory be, whoâ€™s standinâ€™ there waitinâ€™ for us but Sun-Ok! She ainâ€™t had too much to say and kept backinâ€™ away from us, I guess afraid oâ€™ assaultinâ€™ someone cause we seen she still was wearinâ€™ those damn gloves!
We put the things weâ€™d collected fer her on the ground and she went about pickinâ€™ all oâ€™ it up, all the while noddinâ€™ and bowinâ€™ to us in that funny way she has. Iâ€™ll tell ya! Ainâ€™t no one in all oâ€™ Markshire whoâ€™s as well-mannered as that girl! Some oâ€™ the oafs I hangs around with would do well to take a lesson or two â€˜bout manners from her! Yup!
Anyways, Sun stepped back a good bit from us, closed her eyes tight and scrunched up her face like she was concentratinâ€™ hard on somethinâ€™ ya know? After what seemed like forever, well oh geez, those gloves came slidinâ€™ off her hands like they was all greased up with lard inside!
Sun-Ok run quick over to where we was standinâ€™ and Monty, knowinâ€™ the gloves had to be burned in a fire, shut his eyes tight and began gibberingâ€™ and jabberinâ€™ his magic words, and oh geez, a huge fireball shot out o’ his fingers and flew in the general direction oâ€™ where Sun-Ok dropped the gloves! There was a gigantic clap oâ€™ thunder, the ground shook, and when the smoke finally cleared, there was nothinâ€™ left in that spot! Nothinâ€™!
There was an enormous hole in the forest floor where Montyâ€™s fireball hit. Iâ€™m sure them gloves was burned to a crisp! Vaporized! Along with seven trees, a pixie, three badgers, a whole bunch oâ€™ squirrels and birds and I ainâ€™t sure, but I think I seen three Pellytes strollinâ€™ by that spot just before Monty let go oâ€™ the fireball and now they was gone too!
Well, the thing was weâ€™d gotten our good friend back and ta me it was all that really mattered.
The next stop on the magic local was Frankâ€™s camp and in the blink oâ€™ an eye there we was! Frank and the rest oâ€™ his friends had worked all week cleaninâ€™ up the mess from the battle last Friday. Theyâ€™d dismantled all the cages and buried their dead. Theyâ€™d patched up all the wounded and they was all healinâ€™ nicely.
He told us he ainâ€™t seen or heard from Kalem Salt no more and he ainâ€™t thought theyâ€™d be bothered again by that monster. Then he told us itâ€™d be safe fer us to go about plantinâ€™ those seeds Walis was carryinâ€™ â€˜round for a week in his pack.
Theyâ€™s gotta be planted near the roots oâ€™ the shaftinâ€™ tree, he tells us. Ya know, weâ€™s so used to doinâ€™ stuff fer that damn frog, we ainâ€™t even thought to ask him why the hel canâ€™t he plant the darn things himself! Oh geez! Then Frank says we canâ€™t use any oâ€™ the holes weâ€™s used before to get into the cavern cause theyâ€™s all plugged up! Weâ€™ll have to slog all the way to the Oneâ€™eyeâ€™s fortress in Zariat pass, and then lower ourselves into a cave full oâ€™vipers!
Somewhere in that pit full oâ€™ snakes, Frank says we should be able to find a hole what will lead into the cavern! Iâ€™ll tell ya! That cavern must be vast! Iâ€™m bettinâ€™ if ya dug a hole deep enough, just about any place in all oâ€™ Markshire, for sure youâ€™d find a piece oâ€™ that cavern underneath!
So, off we went, headinâ€™ toward the pass and the One Eyeâ€™s Fortress what lay beyond. We was all wonderinâ€™ â€˜bout Voran, and whether he was still kneelinâ€™ on Barrelgoreâ€™s floor, chantinâ€™ away in that strange tongue what nobody understood.June 27, 2008 at 10:55 pm #56262
We was uneasy â€˜bout the trip weâ€™d be havinâ€™ to make through Zairat pass â€˜cause like the Timeless Desert, these mountains belongs to Thrym and he donâ€™t like nobody strollinâ€™ around in â€˜em.
Before long we reached the gates oâ€™ the Cyclops camp and made our way to the cave they stays in when the weather turns bad. We ainâ€™t seen no ‘one eyes’ inside . . . they all must oâ€™ been out huntinâ€™ or somethin. But before they left, they set powerful traps â€˜round the mouth oâ€™ the cave, what Sun-Ok had to disarm before we could move on.
Shortly after she cleared the traps we found a rope what was layinâ€™ by the edge oâ€™ an outcroppinâ€™ and we used it to climb down into the place below, where the vipers lived.
The snakes ainâ€™t give us much oâ€™ a problem and it wasnâ€™t long before weâ€™d killed the lot oâ€™ â€˜em and began searchinâ€™ for the opening in the floor what would lead us to the cavern what the tree oâ€™ shaftinâ€™ was growinâ€™ up out of.
We turned a corner and oh geez! Standinâ€™ there, bold as brass was Voran, who weâ€™d left in the Dragon Inn, kneelinâ€™ on the floor twaddlinâ€™ away in some strange tongue! Now I ask ya? How the hel could he have gotten here ahead oâ€™ us! And how the hel did he even know where we was goinâ€™?
He uttered a few words and although the voice was Voranâ€™s, the words he spoke was icy, cruel and brutal and Voran donâ€™t speak like that at all. So we knew straight off the thing standinâ€™ there in front oâ€™ us was not the real Voran.
The imposter, sensinâ€™ we was onto his deception, lashed out at us with his rapiers. There was a short struggle, we triumphed and sent whatever it was imper . . . imperso . . . uh, pretendinâ€™ to be Voran off to Garm!
Shortly after, the real Voran came runninâ€™ up to us, huffinâ€™ and puffinâ€™ apologizingâ€™ for beinâ€™ so late in joininâ€™ us! Barrelgore had told him where we was goinâ€™ and heâ€™d run all the way as fast as he could, afraid heâ€™d be missinâ€™ somethinâ€™!
Awhile later, we found the hole in the floor we was lookinâ€™ fer, and down we went, thinkinâ€™ it led into the cavern close to the spot where the shaftinâ€™treeâ€™s roots was anchored into the soil.
Oh geez! Instead, we found ourselves in a place called the Dreamscape Desert! A pleasent little valley it was! We could see it was bounded by mountains on every side. The land around us was sandy and smooth and the sky overhead was clear, with a bright sun shininâ€™ down on us warmin’ our backs! At first, the place looked rather peaceful. But . . . nothinâ€™ is ever peaceful fer long in Markshire.
We hadnâ€™t walked twenty or thirty paces when we was assaulted by . . . uh, well, by us! Yup! And we was tough! I mean, they was tough? Well, I ainâ€™t minded much â€˜bout thumpinâ€™ some oâ€™ the men in me party, ya know? Sometimes a good wallopâ€™ll do a man some good. Especially Walis!
But I couldnâ€™t bring myself to go about choppinâ€™ another Keli into little bits and sendinâ€™ her to Garm. But she ainâ€™t had no qualms about hittinâ€™ me at all â€˜cause, oh geez, she whacked me good and sent me to see him instead! Iâ€™m tellinâ€™ ya the truth!
Anyways, while weâ€™s all goinâ€™ about hackinâ€™ away at each other, Iâ€™m hearinâ€™ a buzzin in my ear, â€œDESTROY THE CRYSTALS! DESTROY THE CRYSTALS!â€, and on and on like that. Iâ€™ll tell ya, when you gets a message in yer ear cominâ€™ from god knows where, youâ€™d better be doinâ€™ just what itâ€™s tellin”â€™ ya to do and not be askinâ€™ any questions!
So in between killinâ€™ ourselves, now weâ€™s havinâ€™ ta run all over the place lookinâ€™ fer crystals what weâ€™s gotta shatter, and only Odin knows the reason why! We was all gettinâ€™ the same message about the crystals, and while we was killinâ€™ our counterparts we also managed to look for and find all the crystals and smash â€˜em into little bits. Pretty blue crystals they was!
It took awhile, but we also delt with those oâ€™ us who wasnâ€™t really in our party, if ya knows what I mean!
None oâ€™ us was wantinâ€™ to be here no more and in a short time we found the place weâ€™d came down from and back up we went. â€˜Cept when when we climbed up, it wasnâ€™t into the ice cave full oâ€™ vipers. Weâ€™d climbed into the cavern what Frankieâ€™sâ€™ tree oâ€™ shaftinâ€™ was stickinâ€™ up out of!
But we ainâ€™t got too far in when somehow, we all got stuck in here and no matter how hard we try, we ainâ€™t been able to get out oâ€™ this damn place!
Me and Sun-Ok is sharinâ€™ a little corner on one end oâ€™ the corridor while the boys is down at the other end. And . . . when they sleep it sounds like thereâ€™s elevendy six wagons drivinâ€™ really fast over cobblestones, â€˜cause they snores! And . . . when they sleep they takes off their boots, and their feet stink somethinâ€™ awful! And . . . if I donâ€™t get out oâ€™ this place soon . . . . Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™m gonna go loony!July 2, 2008 at 10:11 pm #56263
None oâ€™ us gave up tryinâ€™ to get out and little by little over the next few days, we kept slogginâ€™ away at one end oâ€™ the corridor, pushinâ€™huge stones aside and usinâ€™ our picks and shovels to scrape and burrow around the rocks what was too big for us to move.
Finally, weâ€™d cleared a path for ourselves and we was able to press on. We ainâ€™t found no more obstica . . . uh, the rest oâ€™ the corridor was clear and it ainâ€™t took too long for us to get to where the roots oâ€™ the Shaftinâ€™ tree was growin up outta the floor oâ€™ the cavern.
But we wasnâ€™t alone! Now I ainâ€™t got no idea how they managed it, but somehow Opinvu and Ebb had gotten there before us! Yup! Ebb again! And theyâ€™d brought a big cow along with â€˜em too!! Well straight off, the both oâ€™ them began tellinâ€™ us what a mistake weâ€™d be makinâ€™ by plantinâ€™ the seeds what Walis was carryinâ€™ into the ground anywhere near the shaftinâ€™ treeâ€™s roots!
Opinvu told us a lich had taken up resi . . . uh, a lich was livinâ€™ inside the tree and if we made the tree well again, weâ€™d be also be makinâ€™ the lich stronger! Oh geez! Ainâ€™t none oâ€™ us was wantinâ€™ to help a lich! What a dilemma we was facing! After all we done to finally locate the seeds and get this far! Weeks and weeks oâ€™ work wasted! Odinâ€™s apples! What the hel was we gonna do now?
Opinvu told us the Gripplis was gonna have to find a way to get along without their tree oâ€™ shaftinâ€™ beinâ€™ hale and hearty and that was that! Meanwhile, the cow theyâ€™d brought along with them kept edginâ€™ closer and closer to where we all was standinâ€™. And it had an evil look on its face too! Well . . . I mean, if a cow is capable of havinâ€™ an evil look on its face, you know?
Nobody was quite sure what to do next. Then Bel spoke up, but to no one in particular, wishinâ€™ Lady Kaldt was here â€˜cause for sure, sheâ€™d be able to help us make the right decision regarding what to do with Frankieâ€™s seeds. Well glory be! Lady Kaldt must oâ€™ heard Bel cause there was a puff oâ€™ smoke and there she was! Standinâ€™ right next to the tree!
She told us there wasnâ€™t much she could do in the way oâ€™ helpinâ€™ us. For some reason, that was beyond her power. But . . . what she could do was tell us that Opinvu was safe! Yup! He was safe! I ainâ€™t makinâ€™ this up!
We all got to thinkinâ€™ hard â€˜bout what Lady Kaldt had said. Here we was, with a mad cow creepinâ€™ up on the lot oâ€™ us and lookinâ€™ for sure like it wanted to take a bite out oâ€™ some onesâ€™ leg. And . . . at the same time weâ€™s standinâ€™ here havinâ€™ a chat with Ebb whoâ€™d tried to fool us once before in the Grippiliâ€™s camp. Remember that? And . . . Opieâ€™s standin’ there alongside him and the two oâ€™ themâ€™s lookinâ€™ like they is the best oâ€™ friends!
We could see things was fast cominâ€™ to a head and all oâ€™ us got a firm grip on our weapons, sensinâ€™ the pressure buildinâ€™ up between the two groups. At that point, with that kind oâ€™ tension, nobody was really very safe in that cavern, includinâ€™ Opie! But . . . Lady Kaldt had told us Opie was somewhere . . . safe!
In a flash we realized the thing standinâ€™ there in front oâ€™ us wasnâ€™t Opinvu but a charlatan! An imposter! And they knew we was on to â€˜em too, cause a second later their swords came out! Opie, Ebb and the damn cow set upon us, and oh geez, we was all fightinâ€™ for our lives!
Iâ€™ll tell ya, they picked the wrong bunch oâ€™ folks to be attackinâ€™. With Durok and Walis and Bel swinginâ€™ away, Sun-Ok lettinâ€™ loose with a hail oâ€™ arrows and me whackinâ€™ at â€˜em with me new falchion, they ainâ€™t had no prospect oâ€™ winninâ€™ that battle!
After weâ€™d finished with the lot oâ€™ â€˜em we checked the dead cow, lookinâ€™ on itâ€™s rump fer a brand or somethinâ€™ soâ€™s weâ€™d know what farmer theyâ€™d stole it from. We found one. It read, BOVINUS THE DESTROYER. PROPERTY OF THE SPIDER TEMPLE. Oh geez! The Spider Temple!
Then Walis pulled out the seeds heâ€™d been keepinâ€™ safe in his pack, scraped out a little hole alongside the shaftinâ€™ tree, and dropped â€˜em in. Soon as Walis was finished with the sewinâ€™ oâ€™ the seeds, Lady Kaldt came back and con . . . congra . . . . uh, she told us weâ€™d done a really good job oâ€™ things!
She said while we was battlinâ€™ away here in the cavern, the real Opinvu had made a trip to a crypt under Yar where the lich really was! Heâ€™d brought along a magic towel that was soakinâ€™ wet, what he kept flickinâ€™ at the lich! Ouch! Ouch! Eeee that stings!
Sometimes boys does that to girls when theyâ€™s all at a party or somethinâ€™, ya know? A boy done that to me once and I socked him right in the eye! He never done it again! It was a few weeks before we even talked to each other!
Anyways, Opie was distractinâ€™ the lich with his flickinâ€™ and he kept edginâ€™ closer and closer till finally he was able ta wrap the lich up tight in that soppinâ€™ wet magic towel! Then he stuck the lich in a dark corner at the very bottom oâ€™ that crypt and it ainâ€™t gonna be botherinâ€™ no one for a long time!
Lady Kaldt said that there had been a pact between the lich and Garrison, the Demi-Dragon, who sits atop the Temple in the Meadow. With Opinvu doinâ€™ away with the lich, the pact was now broken!
And with us finally fixinâ€™ the shaftinâ€™ tree and savinâ€™ the Grippili clan weâ€™d made the forest healthy again! Lady Kaldt told us between what Opie had done and what the rest oâ€™ us accomplished, weâ€™d weakened the Spider Temple and all the evil things what was livinâ€™ in it! Now the balance oâ€™ power in Markshire was finally shifted to the good and all weâ€™d have to worry about was the Titan! Yup! She said that to us!
Then she give us her blessinâ€™ and, poof, she was gone! We had to kill one more oâ€™ those cows before we finally managed to climb up and outta the cavern. It was sportinâ€™ the same brand as the other one. Before long we was standinâ€™ in the Grippili camp, right under the shaftinâ€™ tree, tellinâ€™ Frankie the frog all the good news.
I was in such high spirits I give him a little hug and a kiss and I ainâ€™t thought once about cookinâ€™ up a bunch oâ€™ Grippli legs in a big pot! But when I kissed him he ainâ€™t turned into a prince or nothinâ€™. I was kinda hopinâ€™ he would. Sometimes a storyâ€™ll end that way, you know? With a frog turninâ€™ into a prince!
Then, oh geez! The shaftinâ€™ tree started to shudder and shake and then huge boxes started droppinâ€™ down outta its branches! One hit Durok square on top oâ€™ his head and knocked him flat! Oh geez! The tree was raininâ€™ boxes!
Frankie laughed, and told us his tree was rewardinâ€™ us now for the wonderful job weâ€™d done and to look inside oâ€™ â€˜em! Well glory be! We found a fine set oâ€™ Armor for Voran! Heâ€™d had his old armor chewed right off his back by the rust monsters in the Forgotten Chamberâ€ deep under Arik. Armor for Durok too! A helm made special for me! Lined on the inside with soft cotton and the very finest silk what was spun by worms that lived inside Amal Slavers guts!
And unique gripili rings called Grippligeddons, with our names engraved on the inner band! And theyâ€™s able to heal ya a little at a time while youâ€™re wearinâ€™ it! Its like havinâ€™ a miniature Father Ryche wrapped tight â€˜round your finger instead oâ€™ havin’ to make a trip to that damn office o’ his, when your all bruised and bloody and your needin’ to be patched up a bit!
And robes, and staffs, and other nice things too! Odinâ€™s olives! There was somethinâ€™ fer everyone! Even those oâ€™ us who for whatever reason, ainâ€™t made the last few trips!
Word got around quick â€˜bout what weâ€™d done and when we finally made our way back to Foothold, all the folks we met greeted us with a big smile and a warm hand!
Anyways, weâ€™s done things together what Iâ€™ll never forget! And weâ€™ve been to a few places no oneâ€™s ever seen before! All I can say â€˜bout the whole thing, is Iâ€™d do it all again in an instant!
And there ainâ€™t another bunch oâ€™ folks I can think of who Iâ€™d rather be trudginâ€™ around with or fightinâ€™ and dyinâ€™ alongside of! And . . . and . . . we all lived happily ever after!
Well, at least we stayed happy for a few days, till we heard a rumor makinâ€™ its way around â€˜bout some crazy lady up by Stonemark whoâ€™s chokinâ€™ the life outta all the folks she happens to run into! Oh geez! Weâ€™ll have to see about that, wonâ€™t we?July 12, 2008 at 10:10 pm #56264
Ainâ€™t nobody gonna believe this, but Iâ€™m writinâ€™ all oâ€™ it down anyway.
The other night, me and Sir Aetion was standinâ€™ by the west gate â€˜o Foothold what leads out to Thrymâ€™s pass and beyond. We was just chewinâ€™ the fat. Sir Aetionâ€™s a good friend oâ€™ mine and heâ€™s the head guard at the gate.
Before heâ€™ll unlock that gate and swing it open you gotta show him a piece oâ€™ parchment with Captain Hillarâ€™s special seal pressed into it in the lower right hand corner. That paper states youâ€™ve enough traininâ€™ to be able ta survive the dangers what lie beyond.
Anyways, me and Sir Aetion worked out a deal oâ€™ sorts. Sometimes folks whatâ€™s new to Foothold is curious â€˜bout what lies on the other side oâ€™ those big sturdy wooden doors what Sir Aetion always keeps locked up tight. Well, fer a handful oâ€™ gold, Iâ€™ll oblige â€˜em by givinâ€™ them a little tour!
Of course I gotta give Sir Aetion a per . . . a . . . percen . . . uh, I gives him a cut soâ€™s heâ€™ll look the other way when I sneaks new folks out the gate. The excursions is always kinda short cause after theyâ€™ve seen a giant and dodged a stone or two, their interest seems to wane and theyâ€™ll stand there tremblinâ€™, as pale as ghosts, carpinâ€™ and complaininâ€™ theyâ€™ve seen enough.
Theyâ€™re wantinâ€™ me to lead â€˜em back to Foothold right quick and off we go! And I got a big smile on me face, listeninâ€™ to their coins jinglinâ€™ and janglinâ€™ tucked safely away deep inside one oâ€™ my pockets!
Anyways, before I leave with a customer, I always check the pass myself, to make sure there ainâ€™t no minions or dragons lurkinâ€™ about. I mean giants is one thing, but it would be bad fer business if word got â€˜round I was runninâ€™ a tour what nobody was ever returninâ€™ from, ya know?
Anyways, that night I had one customer interested in my little venture. A paladin in traininâ€™ whose name was Lawson Goode. He had a starry look in his eyes, and was hopinâ€™ weâ€™d find a dragon in the pass soâ€™s he could slay it! What a fool! A typical man! Theyâ€™s always lookinâ€™ fer conquest and glory, and for what Iâ€™ll never know!
I donâ€™t like paladins too much anyways but business is business so I took his deposit and told him thereâ€™d be no dragons for him to be slayinâ€™ tonight. Tâ€™would be too dangerous, and that was that! I asked him to give me about five minutes to make sure the pass was relatively safe for travel, and to wait by the gate for me.
I flashed my parchment with Hillarâ€™s seal on the bottom, Sir Aetion swung open the gate for me, and off I went. I ainâ€™t traveled into Thrymâ€™s Pass more then a couple oâ€™ paces and a boy, makinâ€™ his way from the east, gives me a wave and a smile and walks right up to me! Around the same time Sun-Ok pops up outta nowhere and joins the both oâ€™ us! Sheâ€™s been doinâ€™ that a lot lately. Poppin up outta nowhere. Iâ€™m thinkinâ€™ itâ€™s a new kind oâ€™ magic trick sheâ€™s learned.
I ainâ€™t sure oâ€™ the boyâ€™s name but he says heâ€™s a town crier on his way from the dwarf city, and heâ€™s bringinâ€™ a message to all those livinâ€™ in Foothold and Yar â€˜bout whatâ€™s been goinâ€™ on in Stonemark!
Itâ€™s a warning to all those whoâ€™ve a mind to be visitinâ€™ that fine city! It seems the maniac lady doinâ€™ all the stranglinâ€™ ainâ€™t been caught yet and itâ€™s become dangerous for folks to be walkinâ€™ the streets! Theyâ€™s even gonna have a curfew in effect after dark!
Oh geez! Well me and Sunny looked at each other, the both oâ€™ us thinkinâ€™ the same thing. Someone was gonna have to catch this mad woman, this Stonemark Strangler, and put a stop to these dreadful crimes she was committing! Even more important, Lord Mark might be offerin’ a hefty reward fer bringin’ her in!
Well, with Sun-Ok beinâ€™ a good tracker, and me trailinâ€™ along behind her, guardinâ€™ her back while sheâ€™s bent over lookinâ€™ fer clues, we figured weâ€™d make a good team and decided to give it a try. We made our way back to Foothold and to the wagon what would take us to Yar, and then on to Stonemark.
I gave the paladin back his deposit and told him the tour was canceled for the night. I also told him if it was dragons he was lookinâ€™ for, to buy a nice warm cloak then start walkinâ€™ north. Eventually, heâ€™d meet up with a dragon or two that he could have a go at.
I ainâ€™t seen him since. Iâ€™m wonderinâ€™ how he made out.July 22, 2008 at 10:44 pm #56265
The Carona Stable Company runs a kind oâ€™ shuttle wagon between Foothold and Yar and the tripâ€™ll cost ya ten gold either way. If youâ€™re goinâ€™ on to Stonemark you gotta change to an express wagon in Yar, what donâ€™t make no stops in between and the driverâ€™ll charge ya fifty gold for the trip.
Now, when youâ€™re payinâ€™ your fare to the driver, if you look close at him, youâ€™ll notice his eyes is crossed, and they always has a glint in â€˜em too. And heâ€™s got a silly smile on his face with a bit oâ€™ his tongue hanginâ€™ out oâ€™ the corner oâ€™ his mouth. Thereâ€™s dribble drippinâ€™ off oâ€™ it, runnin’ down his chin and onto his neck, gettinâ€™ the collar of his shirt all soggy.
I think heâ€™s a little dippy, you know? Yup! Dippy! I suppose the lady what owns the place hired him â€˜cause he ainâ€™t afraid oâ€™ drivinâ€™ that wagon as fast as he possibly can and thatâ€™s just what he does! Well, itâ€™s an express wagon, remember? It seems like he can make the trip between Yar and Stonemark before you blinks your eyes two times!
Oh geez! He works those poor oxen what heâ€™s got yoked up to the wagon into a lather, cursinâ€™ and swearinâ€™, flailingâ€™ away at â€˜em with his whip, pushinâ€™ â€˜em faster and faster till youâ€™re shootinâ€™ along the road at an incredible speed!
The passengers in the back is banginâ€™ and bouncinâ€™ all around inside, laughinâ€™ and cryinâ€™ at the same time, holdinâ€™ tight onto each other, cause there ainâ€™t no hand rails for hanginâ€™ onto!
And theyâ€™s all prayinâ€™ they donâ€™t fall out the back and hopinâ€™ an axle donâ€™t snap or a wheel come off and send â€˜em smashinâ€™ into one oâ€™ the buildings theyâ€™s flyinâ€™ by, whatâ€™s been built up alongside the road!
And God help anyone who happens to be out for a walk, cause the driver ainâ€™t gonna slow down or veer outta the way tryinâ€™ to avoid â€˜em! Nope! Heâ€™ll run right over â€˜em squishing â€˜em flat for sure if they happen to be in his path! Yup! I seen him do that a couple oâ€™ times!
By the time he gets to Stonemark, the oxen is half dead and all the passengers got sore bottoms â€˜and queasy tummies cause oâ€™ the jostlinâ€™ theyâ€™ve had to suffer durinâ€™ the trip. But, like everyone always says, it sure beats walkinâ€™!
When me and Sunny got to the Corona Stables in Stonemark we met Belfron. He told us heâ€™d been doinâ€™ some shoppinâ€™ in Market Square and asked us what we was up to and we told him about the plan we had, to catch the Stonemark Strangler. He said heâ€™d be glad to help!
Well oh geez! All I could think about was now weâ€™d be havinâ€™ to split Lord Markâ€™s reward three ways, but I ainâ€™t said nothinâ€™, you know? Well, mayhap I grumbled a little to myself, but I donâ€™t think nobody noticed.
Just then, a guard ambles out oâ€™ Corona Sarâ€™s office, walks up to us and starts askinâ€™ questions â€˜bout who we is and what weâ€™s doinâ€™ there. He starts goinâ€™ on about the murders and how Stonemarkâ€™s streets is dangerous now! As of that night, he tells us theyâ€™ll be imposinâ€™ a ten oâ€™clock curfew, same as the little boy we met in the pass said!
Then he stops his babblinâ€™ for a moment, eyes Sun-Ok’s boots and informs us they matches the description oâ€™ the ones what the Stranglerâ€™s supposed to be wearinâ€™ and demands she take â€˜em off and hand â€˜em over so he can get a closer look!
Well Iâ€™ll tell ya! Ainâ€™t nothinâ€™ what upsets me more, than a pushy guard, doinâ€™ his best to harass and aggravate a poor civilian, never mind one oâ€™ me best friends!
He must oâ€™ seen somethinâ€™ in me eyes what alarmed him a bit. He gave me a long look, glanced quick at my falchion, noticed my hand wrapped tight â€˜round the hilt, with my knuckles white from squeezinâ€™ it so hard, then let out a nervous laugh, stepped back from us a few paces, and told us heâ€™d decided it wouldnâ€™t be necessary to be checkinâ€™ Sun-Okâ€™s boots after all! Tâ€™was a wise decision he made, if you know what Iâ€™m gettinâ€™ at.
With that settled, me, Sunny and Bel turned, pushed open the stable door and made our way outside. The strangler had been busy that night. We ainâ€™t had to look far for clues. There was bodies strewn about all over the place. Some of â€˜em was still warm so we knew this monster couldnâ€™t be far off.
The trail oâ€™ corpses led us to a courtyard what had a metal grating in the middle coverin’ up a hole that led down into the sewers under the city. We thought the killer might be on to us, and could be hiding down there somewhere, hoping to avoid being captured. We ainâ€™t wanted to leave no sewer unturned, if you get my meaninâ€™! So we moved the grating aside, and down we went.
We searched in every nook and cranny but we ainâ€™t found no trace oâ€™ her. No bodies, no blood, nothinâ€™. All we seen was a bunch oâ€™ rats, some sewer people who was really mad at us for invadinâ€™ their abode and oâ€™ course their king who fought gallantly but was no match fer the lot oâ€™ us. So, back up we went and, oh geez! While we was down below the Stonemark Strangler had been hard at work right above us! More bodies! Some still twitchinâ€™ with a bit oâ€™ life left in â€˜em!
Sunny and Bel began to search the corpses, lookinâ€™ for somethinâ€™, anything, a piece oâ€™ thread from her garments what she might have left, what could lead us closer to findinâ€™ out who she was and eventually catchinâ€™ her. I heard someone sneeze and knowinâ€™ it wasnâ€™t one oâ€™ us, I glanced up to see whoâ€™d done it, and glory be, there she was!
The sinister Stonemark Strangler! All decked out in her funny lookinâ€™ helm what had the workinâ€™ end oâ€™ a broom stickinâ€™ out oâ€™ the top of it! She was standinâ€™ there on a walkway just above us leaninâ€™ on an iron fence, gazinâ€™ down on us as if she ainâ€™t had a care in the world!
Well Iâ€™ll tell ya, the sight oâ€™ her really got my blood boilinâ€™ and I took off, runninâ€™ as fast as I could towards a stone ramp what led up to where she was standinâ€™. She seen me cominâ€™, made off in the opposite direction and the chase was on!July 26, 2008 at 7:16 pm #56266
She kept throwinâ€™ darkness spells behind her, makinâ€™ it difficult for me to see and early on, I stepped into a big empty flower pot made out oâ€™ iron, what somebody left out, and my foot got wedged tight in it!
It wasnâ€™t no picnic tryinâ€™ to follow her through that inky blackness she kept placing in front oâ€™ me but I managed to catch a glimpse oâ€™ her here and there, and I ran like the wind, clankinâ€™ and clunkinâ€™ along with my foot still jammed into the damn flower pot and managed to gradually close the distance between us!
Iâ€™ll tell you, if you’re really determined to catch someone, you can make a fair job oâ€™ it even if you have a big iron flower pot stuck on to yer foot!
I finally got close enough to give her a good whack on the back with my falchion. I used the flat part oâ€™ my blade, thinkinâ€™ sheâ€™d be worth a lot more alive than dead, ya know? I could see myself now, me pockets stuffed full oâ€™ coin, lookinâ€™ through rack after rack oâ€™ gowns in Anastasiaâ€™s fine Apparel, an up-scale clothing shop just down a block or two from where I was standinâ€™!
Well anyways, down she went but she ainâ€™t stopped wigglinâ€™ and it was annoyinâ€™ me so I give her another hard wallop, she whimpered a little and then she lay still. Then I stomped hard on her fingers with the flower pot, squooshinâ€™ â€˜em good so sheâ€™d not be shootinâ€™ anymore spells out oâ€™ them at nobody.
I had a bunch oâ€™ rope in me pack and I used some oâ€™ it to bind her hands and feet, makinâ€™ a nice neat bundle oâ€™ her! I wrapped what was left oâ€™ my rope around a lamp post and tied a huge knot in it thinkinâ€™ if she had a mind to go anywhere, sheâ€™d be havinâ€™ to take the lamp post along with her!
Sun-Ok and Belfron had fallen behind in the chase â€˜cause Bel donâ€™t run so fast and couldnâ€™t keep up. Sunny decided to stay with him, makinâ€™ sure he didnâ€™t take a wrong turn and get himself lost, you know? The both oâ€™ them came along soon enough and the three oâ€™ us just stood there staringâ€™ at our captive, wonderinâ€™ what the hel we should do next.
The lot oâ€™ us was curious â€˜bout what she looked like, so straight off, we decided to remove her funny lookinâ€™ helm what had the broom stickinâ€™ outta the top oâ€™ it. Well Odinâ€™s apples, was that helm stuck on tight!
Belfron got a good grip on it by curlinâ€™ his fingers under the lip what came out from both sides. Then I wrapped my arms â€˜round Belâ€™s waist and Sunny got hold oâ€™ my foot what had the flower pot attached to it. The three oâ€™ us yanked and tugged and struggled so hard we actually bent the lamp post Iâ€™d tied her to!
Finally we popped it off, the three oâ€™ us tumblinâ€™ backward, end over end windinâ€™ up in a heap, with our arms and legs all tangled up with each other, and Sun-Ok clinginâ€™ to the flower pot what had also come off oâ€™ my foot in the process!
We sorted ourselves out and made our way over to where our prisoner lay, anxious to have a look at her. There she was, stretched out before us! Finally un-masked for all to see! The malevolent Stonemark Strangler!
And, oh geez! . . . It was Vala!July 30, 2008 at 6:21 pm #56267
You remember the guard what confronted the three oâ€™ us in Carona Sariâ€™s Stables who wanted to take off Sun-Oksâ€™ boots, thinkinâ€™ they looked like the ones the strangler was wearinâ€™? Well he must oâ€™ been followinâ€™ us all over the place cause right after we popped Valaâ€™s helm off, he comes runninâ€™ up to us huffinâ€™ and puffinâ€™, his face red with anger and lookinâ€™ for sure like he wanted to take a bite out oâ€™ someone!
He insisted we tell him which one oâ€™ us had been tearinâ€™ through the streets, clatteringâ€™ along with an iron flower pot stuck onto their foot! It caused a dreadful racket and he said it woke up just about everybody who lived in the neighborhood!
Oh geez! He tells us heâ€™s got a list oâ€™ complaints â€˜bout the noise from half the folks in the Laatner district!
Well . . . Sun-Ok was standinâ€™ there, still hanginâ€™ onto the flower pot what sheâ€™d pulled off my foot a moment before . . . and friendship only goes so far, and most times Iâ€™m in enough oâ€™ a pickle with Father Ryche and I ainâ€™t wantinâ€™ no more trouble added on to it. So right quick I caught the guardâ€™s eye and kinda nodded my head a few times in Sun-Okâ€™s direction, thinkinâ€™ for sure, heâ€™d notice her holdinâ€™ the pot, ya know?
But when the guard seen Vala laid out on the ground in front oâ€™ us, his jaw dropped and he stood there gapingâ€™ at her, his eyes growinâ€™ large as saucers and he forgot all about those poor folks what I disturbed during the chase!
â€œAh ha, what have we here?â€ he said, in that deep authoritative tone what all guards seem to have. I thinks they only makes guards out oâ€™ men who can speak like that. Yup! You canâ€™t have no guard sayinâ€™ â€œHalt, who goes there?â€ or â€œStop or Iâ€™ll shoot!â€ in a squeaky little high pitched voice, cause no one would pay â€˜em no mind at all!
Anyways, Bel tells the guard the girl on the ground is none other than the Stonemark Strangler and her name is Vala Felt Marker! Or . . . somethinâ€™ like that. Belfron goes about showinâ€™ the guard her helm what matched the description he had oâ€™ it, and Bel also pointed out the day-glo colored threads hanginâ€™ off oâ€™ Valaâ€™s gloves what she still was wearinâ€™!
Everyone knows that Boppi, one oâ€™ the stranglerâ€™s first victims, is the only person in all oâ€™ Markshire who wears a day-glo colored scarf!
So, there it was! All the proof he needed! While the guard was occupied with the criminal, Sunny managed to place the flower pot directly behind her and then she sat down on it, her gown flowinâ€™ â€˜round it, coverinâ€™ the pot up and all the while glarinâ€™ at me and mumblinâ€™ somethinâ€™under her breath I couldnâ€™t quite understand.
The guard untied the ropes what Iâ€™d used to bind up Vala, which I thought wasnâ€™t such a good idea, but I kept my mouth shut about it. Then the four oâ€™ us started marchinâ€™ our prisoner off to a little building the guard told us about, what was down the road a bit that had a shield bounty booth and a tiny jail just big enough to hold one person.
We figured weâ€™d lock her up tight in it till we could alert the proper authorities about her capture. All I could think of was the reward money, which for sure Lord Mark was gonna be handinâ€™ over to us as soon as he heard the news!
I figured my half and Sonnyâ€™s half should be about the same cause even though Iâ€™d done most oâ€™ the catchinâ€™ she hid the flower pot from the guard, thereby keepinâ€™ me from gettinâ€™ into a big mess, you know? Bel whoâ€™d done almost nothinâ€™ at all in the way oâ€™ helpinâ€™ me and Sonny because he ran so slow and had trouble keepinâ€™ up with the chase, deserved the smallest half out oâ€™ the three oâ€™ us. At least thatâ€™s how I seen it.
Anyways, while the four oâ€™ us was makinâ€™ our way to the jail with Vala, the guard kept yammerinâ€™ at her, goinâ€™ on and on, not lettinâ€™ up, tellinâ€™ her he hoped heâ€™d be the one the judge picked to lop off her head or at least let him torture her a bit before she was put to death! Oh geez, Sunny, Bel and me could see he was workinâ€™ himself up into an awful frenzy!
By the time we got to the steps in front oâ€™ the building the guard was demandinâ€™ Vala remove her gloves â€˜cause he wanted â€˜em for evidence and if she didnâ€™t, he threatened to chop off her hands right there where we was all standinâ€™! Vala just stood there tremblinâ€™ and mumblinâ€™ over and over again somethinâ€™ about not beinâ€™ able to take the damn gloves off.
Sunny and Bel seen things was startinâ€™ to go down hill real fast so the two oâ€™ â€˜em run off to the Temple to get Bishop Kolton, knowinâ€™ he was a good mediator and thinkinâ€™ heâ€™d be able to calm things down. I stood there watchinâ€™ Vala and the guard not knowinâ€™ quite what I should do.
The guard started screaminâ€™ heâ€™d have those gloves one way or another, drew his short sword and went straight for Vala, aiminâ€™ for a spot on her right arm â€˜bout half way between her wrist and elbow.
As quick as a cat Vala dodged his blow, and with a fierceness Iâ€™ve only seen in one possessed by a demon, she went for the front oâ€™ hisâ€™ neck what was bare and un-protected, with those gloved hands oâ€™ hersâ€™, clamping down with a vice like grip, tearing away a huge chunk, spattering blood and gore all over the three oâ€™ us!
The guard fell to his knees a look of shock and supprise on his face, his left hand reaching up for the large piece of his neck that was no longer there. He gurgled once, turned and looked at me, knowing his time would soon be over. He could no longer speak. That part of his throat had been ripped away, but in his eyes I read his message. He was pleading with me to stay with him. He did not want to die alone.
I knelt, cradling his head in my lap as I watched my reward and my new gowns along with Vala run off, finally disappearing behind a building far in the distance. The guard looked up at me and gave me a little smile. I suppose he was thankinâ€™ me for the bit oâ€™ kindness I was showinâ€™ by stayinâ€™ there on the steps with him. Then he sighed once, closed his eyes, and he was gone.
I guess thereâ€™s a lesson or two what could be learned from all that took place that evening, you know? The first one beinâ€™ you shouldnâ€™t be countinâ€™ the reward money before the chickens hatch . . . or somethinâ€™ close to that.
The second one applies to the guard. I know heâ€™s dead so itâ€™d be hard now for him to benefit from it, but Iâ€™ll writ it down anyway.
The thing is this. He tried twice to remove items from a woman. He wanted to take off Sun-Oks’ boots when he first met us in Carona Sariâ€™s stable. Iâ€™d say it was good luck for him he changed his mind and backed away. Then, here on these steps only a few moments ago, the poor man tried to remove a pair oâ€™ gloves from Vala. This time he wasnâ€™t so lucky and as Iâ€™m lookinâ€™ down on him, lifeless, with a huge gapinâ€™ hole in his neck and his body already cooling, Iâ€™m thinkinâ€™ he paid quite a steep price for attemptingâ€™ that trick!
I guess lesson number two would be that a man ought not to be tryin’ to remove any clothing from a woman . . . unless he gets express permission from her first!!August 1, 2008 at 1:11 am #56268
. I was hanginâ€™ â€˜round outside the Temple in Foothold last night with Sunny, Tam and Raven just shootinâ€™ the breeze when a dwarf I ainâ€™t never seen before, saunters up to where we was standinâ€™.
The little man was well-mannered, acknowleging us with a proper bow and a warm smile. We said hello to him and introduced ourselves. He told us his name was Hermie, or somethinâ€™ like that. I ainâ€™t too good rememberinâ€™ names. He said he hadnâ€™t been to this part oâ€™ Markshire in quite awhile.
While we talked I noticed his military pick what he kept twiddlinâ€™at and I suspected at one time or another heâ€™d belonged to a militia or some kind oâ€™ army. He had the look oâ€™ someone whoâ€™d journeyed long and hard from someplace far away because his clothes was a bit ragged and his armor tarnished.
But he was polite, seeinâ€™ he was a man, and he reminded me oâ€™ Durok a little. Both he and Durok had the same sparkle in their eyes so, straight off, I decided I liked him! At least until heâ€™d be doinâ€™ somethinâ€™ awful what would make me change my mind, you know?
Anyways, he asked us where he might be findinâ€™ a blacksmith and we pointed out the entrance to the bazaar up on the hill what lay beyond. In there he could find just about anything he might be needinâ€™ includingâ€™ a master blacksmith. We also told him â€˜bout the Dragon Inn, where he could buy a decent meal for a fair price, â€˜cause he looked to us as though he could really use one!
So off he went, smilingâ€™ and bowingâ€™ to us one more time, which I thought was so nice!
With Henry gone the conversation started up again with Sunny askinâ€™ me about the . . . things she made for me awhile back, and had I tried each one oâ€™ them out yet? I told her Iâ€™d worn every one except for the pair she made out oâ€™ leather cause I ainâ€™t got no idea how to go about washinâ€™ leather . . .things! Tam laughed at that and suggested I use saddle soap.
Well, between you and me, I ainâ€™t even asked her to make me any leather . . . things, and I ainâ€™t got no idea why she done it. I guess sheâ€™d run out oâ€™ silk. Anyhow, straight off, Raven and Tam was wantinâ€™ to know what the . . . things was, and could they see the . . . things, and what colors did Sunny make, and was they comfortable and not binding, and where did Sunny sew on the monogram, and oh geez, they went on and on like that for what seemed like an hour!
Finally Tam and Raven decided before theyâ€™d go about placingâ€™ an order with Sunny for any . . . things for themselves, they wanted to see what I looked like wearinâ€™ them! Then Sunny chimed in, agreeingâ€™ with the both of them, tellinâ€™ me it would be a grand idea â€˜cause sheâ€™d have a good chance to show off her merchandise on a real live model!
Ohhh geez! I remember not too long ago, back home in the village I come from, havin pajama parties every so often with the rest oâ€™ my girlfriends! Yup! Weâ€™d be runninâ€™ all over the house, screaminâ€™ and laughinâ€™ carryinâ€™ on like a bunch oâ€™ maniacs and havinâ€™ a grand time whackinâ€™ at each other with huge down filled pillows, never thinkinâ€™ for one moment â€˜bout what we was wearinâ€™ . . . or what we wasnâ€™t!
But this was different, you know? Now donâ€™t get me wrong and I canâ€™t exactly put my finger on the why of it, but thereâ€™s somethinâ€™ about those three . . . and the thought oâ€™ paradinâ€™ around in front of them wearinâ€™ hardly nothinâ€™ at all . . . Well it was givinâ€™ me a nervous stomach!
They said they was even gonna build a ramp for me to traipse up and down, and Sonny knew a cobbler what could make me a pair oâ€™ shoes with pointy heels stuck on â€˜em so Iâ€™d look as though I was walkinâ€™ â€˜round on my tiptoes and that was that!
After all that gabbin’â€™ we was thirsty so the four of us made our way to the Dragon Inn, found a table and we sat there drinkin’for the rest oâ€™ the night. We seen Howie one more time. He came in late, loaded up with the new gear heâ€™d bought in the shops weâ€™d told him about, and before he left our table he sang us a lovely ballad!
It was late for me too, and I said my goodnights to everyone and walked out the door. Oh geez! Who do I meet on my way home but Loli Elgyr! You know that old lady monk with the wart on her nose and one short leg?
Well, anyways, we get to talkinâ€™ and I tell her all about the plans what Sunny, Raven and Tam is makinâ€™ to have me model my . . . things for â€˜em and how the thought oâ€™ doinâ€™ it is givinâ€™ me a nervous tummy!
Well, glory be! She tells me sheâ€™s always wanted to try her hand at modeling, and sheâ€™d be glad to do it for me! I gave her a big hug, and except for the ones I was wearinâ€™, I dug down into my pack and pulled out the rest oâ€™ my . . . things and handed them to her! She looked at them a moment, then looked at my waist, and the rest oâ€™ me, then looked down at herself and began to shake her head. I snatched a pair back from her and began to stretch ’em out till my arms were as wide apart as they would go. â€œDo you see Loli? Sunny wove Spandex into the silk!
Youâ€™re able stretch â€˜em out so far youâ€™d be able to cram a horse into them! Not that I think youâ€™re anywhere near the size oâ€™ a horse, mind you! And look!â€ I let one end go and they snapped back into shape with a twang. â€œYou see? One size fits all!â€
Her face lit up with a smile and my nervous tummy ainâ€™t bothered me no more, and I went home to bed, knowinâ€™ Iâ€™d be dreaminâ€™ about Loli, scootinâ€™ up and down that ramp, twirlin and twistinâ€™ and giving those three girls a show, the likes oâ€™ which theyâ€™d never seen before!October 19, 2008 at 9:53 pm #56269
Lo all! Well, I been away fer awhile . . . in case nobody noticed. There ainâ€™t much to write about in Markshire no more, but I know some oâ€™ the boys Iâ€™ve met in Foothold over the past few months has a hobby oâ€™ huntinâ€™ and fishinâ€™ in their spare time, so I thought Iâ€™d writ a little â€˜bout where I been, and what I done while I wuz away.
I spent the summer back in my old village far south oâ€™ Markshire where a bunch oâ€™ my friends and me rented a tiny beach cottage on the shore oâ€™ a vast ocean! My brothers was there too, â€˜cause they likes to fish and they brought their fishinâ€™ poles and bait and all the stuff they was needinâ€™ fer fishinâ€™ along with them.
For awhile, they was even givinâ€™ me lessons â€˜bout how to cast. They had an extra fishinâ€™ pole and a gizmo with buttons and knobs stickinâ€™ out all over it called a reel, what they let me use, but they ainâ€™t had no extra pair oâ€™ boots what come up to your chest and have straps you buckle over your shoulders, so I done most oâ€™ my fishinâ€™ in my bathingâ€™ suit. Well, most times I was at least knee deep in the water anyways, you know?
After awhile they kinda left me on my own, thinkinâ€™ eventually, Iâ€™d figure things out by myself. Well Iâ€™ll tell ya! It ainâ€™t so easy holdinâ€™ a nine foot pole over yer shoulder whatâ€™s got a huge live eel danglinâ€™ off the tip oâ€™ it! ! The poor thingâ€™s fastened onto a big hook whatâ€™s tied to a string and itâ€™s squigglinâ€™ and jigglinâ€™ every which way, even tyin’ itself into knots, doinâ€™ its best to work its way off cause it ainâ€™t enjoyinâ€™ the pickle it finds itself in at all!
Well . . . you wouldnâ€™t like it either if someone stuck a huge hook up under your chin and kept pushinâ€™ and twistinâ€™ till finally the sharp end popped out a little bit above your nose! Eeeee! Iâ€™ll tell ya! There ainâ€™t no way Iâ€™ll even touch one â€˜o those squirmy, slimy things, never mind havinâ€™ to pick it up and try to stick a hook into it! Uh uh! Iâ€™m sorry but someone else gotta do that part for me.
Anyways, now you have to try to fling that eel as far as ya possibly can, by whippinâ€™ the pole fast over your shoulder with all your strength, aiminâ€™ for a spot â€˜bout a mile out into the deep! Well, thatâ€™s where all the really big fish is right?
All the while, yer strugglinâ€™ to keep a good balance while yer feet is sinkinâ€™ deeper and deeper into the wet sand below you and yer beinâ€™ pummeled by a roilinâ€™ surf whatâ€™s tugginâ€™ away at your bathinâ€™ suit, and it’s a two piece suit, and your worried â€˜bout that cause you got both hands on the pole, and you ainâ€™t able to make no adjustments, you know?
And the tide is also doinâ€™ its best to suck ya out into water what you know is gonna be way above yer head! And god help you if ya loose what little balance ya have, â€˜cause for sure youâ€™ll soon be swimminâ€™ â€˜round out there with the very fish youâ€™re tryinâ€™ ta catch! Oh geez! The things men dreams up to amuse themselves! And then they calls it a sport!
Well, I ainâ€™t gonna let no man beat me at nothinâ€™ and practice makes perfect, so I kept at it. I found out thereâ€™s only two things whatâ€™s really important when Iâ€™m tryinâ€™ to heave an eel whatâ€™s danglinâ€™ off a huge stick, far out out into the ocean. My back, which after a short time was hurtinâ€™ me like hel, and my index finger, what you use to curl around a string thatâ€™s wound up tight â€˜round a spool on the reel.
To those oâ€™ you men what might be interested, but didnâ€™t know, your index fingerâ€™s usually the one what grows right next to yer thumb but I ainâ€™t too sure â€˜bout it havinâ€™ to be there exactly. I suppose it could grow outta some other spot mayhap. Most folks has two oâ€™ â€˜em, one on each hand. I ainâ€™t never seen no one with more than two index fingers.
Anyways, I had to time it perfect, swinginâ€™ that stick as hard as I could over my shoulder and unbendinâ€™ my index finger allowinâ€™ the string fly off the reel at the right moment or really dreadful things would happen.
If I let go oâ€™ the string a bit too soon, the eel would travel straight up â€˜bout elevendy three feet, into the air above me, and I wouldnâ€™t be knowinâ€™ where the hel it went, mayhap even thinkinâ€™ Iâ€™d made a nice cast, and lookinâ€™ â€˜round fer the splash oâ€™ it! Finally it would come down, smackinâ€™ me hard on the head, with the eel drapinâ€™ itself around my neck all wet and wiggly! Oh geez!
More than once, my timing would be really bad and that damn eel would go flyinâ€™ backward, scatterinâ€™ anyone who happened to be standinâ€™ behind me! Yup! Folks would gather there every day, watchinâ€™, laughinâ€™ even sometimes cheerinâ€™ if I managed once in awhile, to flip the damn eel into the water! They was actually enjoyinâ€™ my trib . . . tribula . . . uh, difficulties! I think some o’ them might even have been takin’ bets ’bout how long it was gonna take before somethin’ I was wearin’ came off and started floatin’ away!
I ainâ€™t cared none â€˜bout them anyways. I enjoyed makinâ€™ them run like hel away from that eel shootinâ€™ back at them as much as they enjoyed pokinâ€™ fun at me. So I guess we was about even on that score!
Sometimes Iâ€™d do everything perfect â€˜for sure, â€˜cept the damn reel would break or somethinâ€™, and the string wouldnâ€™t unwind proper. Somehow itâ€™d get all tangled up in itself and make an awful mess! That happened so many times I canâ€™t think oâ€™ a number for it.
I guess I spent most oâ€™ my time sittinâ€™ there in the sand, tryinâ€™ to unravel everything. I ainâ€™t minded too much though, â€˜cause with me sittinâ€™ and not castinâ€™ I wasnâ€™t much oâ€™ a show no more, and most oâ€™ the crowd what was gathered â€˜round would fade away. Driftinâ€™ off to look fer someone else to torment, I guess.
It seemd like forever, but after a few days oâ€™ practice, and a whole bunch oâ€™ dead eels, I finally got the rhythm oâ€™ it, and after heavinâ€™ that eel out into the water a good distance, I caught my first fish!
Oh, the crowd behind me was cheering, clappinâ€™ and even whistlinâ€™ for me! It was a big one too! At least three or four pounds! A blue fish, my brother called it â€˜cept it aint looked blue to me. He took a pliers outta his bag, got a firm grip on the hook and wiggled it out of its mouth for me. Then he held it up and asked me if I was gonna use it for bait!
The crowd standinâ€™ behind us was silent for a moment, mayhap waitinâ€™ to see how I was gonna respond to that bit o’ nastiness and than they started roarinâ€™ with laughter! Well, sometimes brothers will say a thing just to get ya riled up, you know?
I ainâ€™t said nothinâ€™ back to him, but I was burninâ€™ inside and it made me even more determined to catch that coveted prize, a striped bass, sometimes weighinâ€™ thirty or forty pounds what the men was always hopinâ€™ theyâ€™d hook onto. It was only a day or two after suffering that embarrassing moment on the beach, I finally got my chance to do that! Well . . . kind of, you know?
But my mouth is dry now and I ainâ€™t able to squeeze out one more drop oâ€™ ink. Youâ€™ll just have to wait till I can spit out some more.October 21, 2008 at 9:52 pm #56270
Iâ€™ll finish writinâ€™ â€˜bout my fishinâ€™ incident some other time â€˜cause more important things has popped up and I wants to jot â€˜em down before I forget.
I was in Foothold town the other night and I ran into two old friends! Nitha, with her raspy voice, which by the way, I think is gettinâ€™ worse! And Voran too!
Tagginâ€™ along with them was those two new boys, Jon Duh Fist, and Celadur Moâ€™ped. Jon sticks an â€œhâ€ right after the â€œoâ€ in his first name but I ainâ€™t writ it â€˜down cause its obvious you donâ€™t need that letter when writinâ€™ the name Jon. Iâ€™m thinkinâ€™ he just ainâ€™t too good with spellinâ€™ words, includinâ€™ his own name!
Anyways, Iâ€™d met Jon and Collider not more than a few days ago and the three oâ€™ us cleaned out a cave full oâ€™ orcs a bit south oâ€™ Foothold. They impressed me, beinâ€™ so brave and all, battlinâ€™ those orcs and even layinâ€™ low a giant or two! Iâ€™ll tell you, that Ciludur; got a hand what donâ€™t shake with fear, and a sharp eye and he donâ€™t miss hardly nothinâ€™ with that bow oâ€™ his!
So . . .I figured it wouldnâ€™t be too much oâ€™ a risk if I gave the two oâ€™ em a little tour oâ€™ the pass. After all, Nithaâ€™d be cominâ€™ along with her magic spells and all . . . and Voran too, bringinâ€™ his steadiness and that quiet confidence he always seems to have. Ya know I thinks Voran musta been trained in the military arts somewheres. I ainâ€™t never seen him get rattled â€˜bout nothinâ€™! And he donâ€™t smell half as bad as most other men I knows!
I give Sir Aeton a big fist full oâ€™ coin ta swing open the gate and look the other way while we was sneakinâ€™ Jon and Colander by, and off we went! We ainâ€™t traveled more than a few paces and, oh geez! minions! A whole bunch oâ€™ â€˜em! I hates minions almost as much as I hates bugs!
Well those two new boys let out after those malevolent nasty things, hackinâ€™ and slashinâ€™ away at â€˜em and it wasnâ€™t long before all those horrible monsters was layinâ€™ there dead at our feet! â€œCourse Nitha, Voran and me did our share oâ€™ killinâ€™ but fer sure weâ€™d not be havinâ€™ to baby-sit those two boys!
We pressed further on, slayinâ€™ one giant after another, doinâ€™ a good job â€˜o dodginâ€™ the stones they was hurlinâ€™ at us! We even stopped along the way, radinâ€™ a cave what had a gigantic dragon livinâ€™ in it! Oh geez! Anyways, after a fierce battle with that scaley fire breathinâ€™ monster we finally managed to slay it. Nitha busied herself chippinâ€™ away at some rock, lookinâ€™ fer gems while me and Voran just stood around catchinâ€™ our breath, watchinâ€™ Jon and Celery go about lootinâ€™ the substantial treasure they found in the back oâ€™ the dragonâ€™s cave.
The boys finally finished with their lootinâ€™ and Nitha managed to break a few pieces oâ€™ emerald off oâ€™ a big rock. So out we wentâ€™ pushinâ€™ on, whackinâ€™ more giants along the way, till we reached the cave what leads to the dwarf city, Balâ€™ynaz.
Just before we we got to the cave, we was attacked by three tigers. They was so pretty, white with black stripes! A shame we had to put â€˜em down but one oâ€™ â€˜em had hold oâ€™ Voranâ€™s leg and was chompinâ€™ away on it and he was needinâ€™ that leg, you know?
We made our way through the cave and shortly after, the seven oâ€™ us arrived in the dwarf city oâ€™ Balâ€™ynaz. Twas there I said my goodbyes and left them. I was tired from the trek, and took the wagon back to Foothold, to bed and good long rest.
Tomorrow Iâ€™ll speak to Capt. Hillar â€˜bout issuinâ€™ passes to Jon and Celeder. Those twoâ€™s ready and able as anyone else I know to brave Thrymâ€™s pass and Iâ€™ll tell him so.October 26, 2008 at 11:30 pm #56271
Now Iâ€™m gettinâ€™ back to writinâ€™ â€˜bout fishinâ€™. Like I said a page or two back, I ainâ€™t gave up at it and I kept plugginâ€™ away, achinâ€™ back and all, each cast a little better than the last.
Well . . . mayhap not each cast, but I was gettinâ€™ better at it, you know? And thinkinâ€™ â€˜bout how my brother and his friends had schooled me on the arts oâ€™ surf fishinâ€™.
Yup! Over and over they told me things like, â€œListen up Keli! If somethinâ€™ tugs on the string, give a hard yank or two right back and that way yaâ€™ll stick the hook good in its mouth! And remember, always keep the pole pointed up at the sky while youâ€™re fightinâ€™ with that fish! That way, the poleâ€™ll be helpinâ€™ too!
And if ya hooks onto somethinâ€™, back yerself outta the water and up onto the beach! Do your fightinâ€™ on the shore, not in the surf! Watch the waves! Use the â€˜strength oâ€™ â€˜em em to help ya pull the fish in!
And donâ€™t be foolinâ€™ round with no knobs or buttons on that reel! Weâ€™s got it all set up just right fer ya! Weâ€™s even re-wound a whole bunch oâ€™ special heavy duty string on it and what ever you might hook onto, ainâ€™t gonna have a chance in hel of breakinâ€™ it!â€ That last part, theyâ€™d always say with a snicker, you know?
Anyways, my brother was upset with me â€˜bout killinâ€™ all his eels, banginâ€™ and bonkinâ€™ them all over the beach without ever gettinâ€™ them into the water and he wouldnâ€™t let me have no more. Instead he give me somethinâ€™ to fish with called a lure.
A lure looks kind oâ€™ like a little make- believe minnow, mayhap â€˜bout six inches long. Itâ€™s mostly carved outta wood and it has a cluster oâ€™ really sharp nasty lookinâ€™ hooks danglinâ€™ outta the belly oâ€™ it. Lures comes in a bunch oâ€™ different colors, all painted up nice and pretty with fake eyes and everything! He told me the blue colored ones was best for today but I insisted he let me have a yellow one, beinâ€™ as I likes that color more than blue.
Yup! Lures! I figured Iâ€™d be okay usinâ€™ â€˜em â€˜cause heâ€™d already cought a few truly big fish with those lures oâ€™ his, one oâ€™ them weighinâ€™ in at almost thirty pounds! A striped bass it was!
Anyways, lures is easier to throw, beinâ€™ they ainâ€™t nearly as heavy as those damn eels, but the wind would do tricks with mine, blowinâ€™ my pretty yellow lure what had a bunch oâ€™ horse hair stickinâ€™ outta the back end oâ€™ it every which way, spoilinâ€™ my aim!
Besides fightinâ€™ the wind on each cast, I was also fightinâ€™ a terrible throbbinâ€™ soreness what had started the other day in the back oâ€™ my neck and had gradually spread downward, now almost reachinâ€™ my . . . well, really far down. Tâ€™was the price I had to pay from all my castinâ€™ practice! Oh geez! The things a personâ€™ll endure just soâ€™s theyâ€™ll mayhap have a chance to catch a big fish!
It was late in the afternoon with the sun a big red ball sinkinâ€™ down toward the horizon to the right oâ€™ me. A stiff breeze blowinâ€™ all day outta the east had finally let up a bit and I was just standinâ€™ there up to my knees in the surf, the pole sittinâ€™ atop my shoulder. I was breathinâ€™ deep oâ€™ the clean salt air, enjoyinâ€™ the moment, thinkinâ€™ â€˜bout dinner and what my friends was cookinâ€™ in that big barbeque pit what we dug out a few days before.
I was also watchinâ€™ a huge flock oâ€™ seagulls what had gathered out over the water directly in front oâ€™ me. The gulls was dippinâ€™ and divin into the ocean, squawkingâ€™ at each other, makinâ€™ a terrible racket and havinâ€™ a great time oâ€™ things! More often then not theyâ€™d fly up and away after catchinâ€™ a little silvery fish what happened to be swimminâ€™ up near the top oâ€™ the water, sometimes even jumpinâ€™ right out oâ€™ it!
My brother who was fishinâ€™ â€˜bout a couple hundred paces along the beach to the west called out to me, started wavinâ€™ his arms like heâ€™d gone loony, yellinâ€™ somethinâ€™ â€˜bout birds and began runninâ€™ in my direction. What an oaf! Did he think I ainâ€™t seen the damn birds? Geez! They was right in front oâ€™ me! So I ainâ€™t paid no attention to him and prepared to make another cast.
I aimed a good bit to the left oâ€™ those birds, not wantinâ€™ my lure to be cominâ€™ down in the middle of â€˜em, mayhap spookin â€˜em and possibly spoilinâ€™ their dinner. It was one oâ€™ my better casts. My pretty yellow make-believe minnow streaked up and out over the water travlinâ€™ in a huge lazy arc headinâ€™ far off to my left and away from the flock. Then a gust oâ€™ wind caught it and kept pushinâ€™ at it till the damn thing plopped down smack in the middle oâ€™ all the seagulls!
I watched it flutterinâ€™ down outta the sky, finally makinâ€™ a little splash. Tâ€™was not more than a second or two after it hit the water and there was a really big splash in the same spot! My lure, what was made outta wood and was supposed to float on top oâ€™ the water, disappeared and . . . oh geez, all hel broke loose!
Well let me tell you! Whatever the hel it was what sucked in my little yellow lure and swam away goinâ€™ â€˜bout as fast as a race horse, was doinâ€™its best to tear my arms outta their sockets! It also had its own idea â€˜bout how and where this battle was gonna be fought!
Attemptinâ€™ to keep the poleâ€™ aimed up toward the sky like my brotherâ€™d told me just wasnâ€™t gonna happen! Nope! Instead, my pole, string and all, stretched out in a line, straight as an arrow, pointinâ€™ out and down a bit, and directly at the monster what was hanginâ€™ onto the other end oâ€™ it!
Iâ€™d managed to get a good grip on the pole with both hands just after I seen the splash near my lure and now I was hanginâ€™ on for dear life! My grip on the pole was way down toward the butt end oâ€™ it and a good distance away from the reel. It wouldnâ€™t oâ€™ made any difference anyways had I been able to reach it. There was no way Iâ€™d be able to crank the handle what winds the string back onto the spool.
And backinâ€™ outta the water and onto the beach wasnâ€™t gonna happen either! The damn thing kept yankin and tugginâ€™ on the string and was doinâ€™ a good job oâ€™ pullinâ€™ me further out into the water! Now the waves was becominâ€™ a big problem for me, sometimes the breakers smackinâ€™ me right in the face, but I wasnâ€™t givinâ€™ up!
Oh geez! My brother, whoâ€™d been runninâ€™ toward me from a ways down the beach, was closer now and had a really good view oâ€™ the battle. Heâ€™d stopped his yellinâ€™ about the birds and was now screaminâ€™ something â€˜bout the drag beinâ€™ too tight! Sometimes men will say the silliest things, you know?
I guess what he meant was fer me to hold tight onto the pole, which I was already doinâ€™ and to drag the monster what was chewinâ€™ on my lure, closer to the beach, but I was fast loosinâ€™ that battle! The damn thing kept pullinâ€™ hard on the string and yankinâ€™ me out into deeper water!
Now the waves was sometimes breakinâ€™ over my head, givinâ€™ me a real thumpinâ€™ and Iâ€™d swallowed a good bit oâ€™ salt water. My heart was poundinâ€™ with the excitement oâ€™ it. Mayhap there was a good bit oâ€™ fear mixed in with the poundinâ€™ you know?
Yep! The thought occurred to me, I might be havinâ€™ some real difficulties if Iâ€™d soon be havinâ€™ to continue this struggle under those waves!
Funny, the things you notice while your battlinâ€™ a colossal fish on the very edge oâ€™ the ocean. For instance, I took note oâ€™ the crowd oâ€™ folks what was standinâ€™ on the beach watchinâ€™ this epic encounter. Normally theyâ€™s noisy, laughinâ€™ whistlinâ€™ and clappinâ€™, some even jeerinâ€™ when I do somethinâ€™ wrong, you know? Well, they ainâ€™t made a sound throughout the whole ordeal. Not a peep outta them!
And when some oâ€™ the boys in the group realized I might be gettinâ€™ in over my head, so to speak, they began makinâ€™ their way out to me, slogginâ€™ through the surf, clothes and all! I thought that was so nice oâ€™ â€˜em! They got there â€˜bout the same time as my brother arrived. But . . . it was too late.
You see, Iâ€™d already let go. Yup. My brotherâ€™s custom made one piece nine foot surf castinâ€™ rod, and fancy reel what was crafted by some guy named Van Staal, went sailinâ€™ off into the deep, attached to what had to be the largest fish what ever swam the ocean depths! Least ways, thatâ€™s how I like to think oâ€™ it.
My brother and the rest oâ€™ the boys helped me back to shore and I thanked all oâ€™ â€˜em for beinâ€™ so chiv . . . uh, gallant fer rescuinâ€™ me. Than the group wandered off, leavinâ€™ my brother and me alone on the beach.
I told him I ainâ€™t wanted to head back to camp till my eyes cleared up a bit, you know? Uh . . . beinâ€™ they was all red and irritated from the salt water. So, the two oâ€™ us sat there for awhile, on the shore, enjoyinâ€™ the sunset and listeninâ€™ to the surf poundinâ€™ up onto the beach. I said I was sorry â€˜bout losinâ€™ his pole and fancy reel. He just laughed, threw his arm â€˜round me and told me he was thinkinâ€™ his sister was worth at least a couple more pieces oâ€™ gold than an old pole and worn out reel and not to fret â€˜bout it.
Geez! As much as I hates my three brothers, sometimes, they can be really nice, you know? We could see the cookinâ€™ fire aglow, â€˜bout a quarter mile to the east and the wind was waftinâ€™ the aroma from the things what my friends was preparinâ€™ for our nightly feast right down the beach at us.
We was both starvinâ€™ for a good dinner, so we picked ourselves up and started the walk back to camp. We ainâ€™t spoke much along the way. each oâ€™ us alone in our thoughts, goinâ€™ over the days events in our minds . . . and thinkinâ€™ â€˜bout what new adventure tomorrow was gonna bring.November 4, 2008 at 10:47 pm #56272
A few days ago, me, Jon, Gunny, and that funny lookinâ€™ little fella, Celadur Mayâ€™fly, went off on another trek through Thrymâ€™s pass.
We put down a load oâ€™ stone giants and even a few frost giants but we ainâ€™t seen even one minon! Can you imagine that? Not one oâ€™ those nasty, evil things!
We pushed on, eventually makinâ€™ our way to Balâ€™ynaz, the dwarf city. For those oâ€™ you what might be interested, Balâ€™ynaz is pronounced, â€œBale-ye-naz.â€ For the life oâ€™ me, I cantâ€™ understand why the hel they donâ€™t change the spellinâ€™ in that word and writ it down the same way they pronounces it!
Anyways, on we went, eventually crossing Thrymâ€™s desert and windinâ€™ up in Arik where Jon and Cecil had a chance to show off their newly learned fightinâ€™ skills!
Well let me tell ya, those two battled mind flayers, and slavers with a fierceness I ainâ€™t seen in a man in quite awhile! Geez, they really impressed me, you know? We even managed to slay â€˜bout seven Dragons! Well . . . mayhap two Dragons.
Gunny fought hard also, but she ran into an aloonie in one oâ€™ the houses we raided and the damn thing done her in! I always carries a bunch oâ€™ â€œRaise Deadâ€ scrolls, and I managed to snatch the poor thing back quick from Garm before the heat oâ€™ that awful place singed her too badly.
The boys got a good chance at lootinâ€™; collectinâ€™ all sorts oâ€™ nice things, axes, rings, cloaks and stuff. They was both itchinâ€™ to get back to Market Square in Stonemark soâ€™s they could sell the lot oâ€™ it and we made our way out oâ€™ the lost city and back across the desert, without much trouble.
But . . . it kept botherinâ€™ me â€˜bout not seeinâ€™ any minions in the pass, you know? I mean, when I go trekkingâ€™ through Thrymâ€™s pass, I always sees a minion or two. Always! Sometimes a whole bunch oâ€™ â€˜em!
Where the hel did they go? What the hel was they doinâ€™? Was they planninâ€™ somethinâ€™? Was the Titan gatherinâ€™ his forces? Was he preparinâ€™ to bring down another city, murderinâ€™ everyone, slaughterinâ€™ women and children, and burninâ€™ it to the ground, like he done with Gastlynk? Oh geez!
Well, last night I decided Iâ€™d do a little checkinâ€™ â€˜round. I figured Thrymâ€™s Desert, might be a good place for the Titan and his minions to congregate and off I went, hopinâ€™ Iâ€™d be able to track â€˜em down and then report my findings to Captain Hiller or Ederyn. Mayhap theyâ€™d decide to send out a patrol, and disrupt whatever malarkey those wicked monsters might be up to.
I ainâ€™t got too far into the desert when I heard a commotion to the north oâ€™ me, in the direction oâ€™ the Frost Giantâ€™s Castle. Tâ€™was only a short distance from where I was standinâ€™ and I began runninâ€™ hard in that direction. When I arrived at the little bridge what leads into the courtyard in front oâ€™ their castle, there was dead giants strewn about all over the place! Some oâ€™ them still twitchinâ€™ with a bit oâ€™ life left in â€˜em!
I heard a frost giant inside the castle bellowinâ€™ at the top oâ€™ his lungs in anger! I heard human voices too. And, oh geez, they was screaminâ€™ in pain! I dug â€˜round in my pack fer some potions to fortify myself, downed â€˜em quick, drew my falchion and made for the entrance to the castle . . .November 6, 2008 at 1:14 am #56273
I paused for a moment, a few paces inside the castle, ignorinâ€™ the biting coldness oâ€™ the place. I spit once and watched my gob oâ€™ tobacco juice freeze up quick on the stone floor before it had a chance to spread out. It sat there on the icy granite, staringâ€™ back up at me, lookinâ€™ like a chunk oâ€™ hard candy what someone had dropped!
My body was tense, like a coiled spring, my eyes dartinâ€™ every which way, lookinâ€™ for movement of any kind. I had my falchion raised high above my head, graspinâ€™ the hilt so tight my knuckles had turned white and I was ready to strike hard and fast at any creature what might decide to jump out at me.
Warily, I moved on, realizing thereâ€™d been a horrific battle fought here. I carefully stepped over one dead frost giant after another. The corpses was gray, almost colorless in their death, each one oâ€™ them bled out now, and lyinâ€™ in a fast freezinâ€™ pool of their own blood. And, oh geez, who ever done this, ainâ€™t even had time to loot the bodies!
Anyways the bellowinâ€™ had stopped, but in the rooms below me I heard the shufflinâ€™ oâ€™ heavy boots and a groan or two, so I made my way to a little narrow stone ramp what led down to the lower level oâ€™ the castle. Once on the ramp, I took care not to loose my footinâ€™ â€˜cause for sure, if I slipped Iâ€™d be fallinâ€™ forever down into the abyss below!
After safely navigatinâ€™ it I made my way to where I thought the moaninâ€™ was cominâ€™ from. I seen two bodies, and from the looks oâ€™ the dents in their helms, I was sure they was both sufferinâ€™ concussions. One oâ€™ â€˜em was that new boy, Jon Duh First. The other, a girl Iâ€™d only seen a few times before. I ainâ€™t had no idea what the hel her name was.
I bent down close to the both oâ€™ â€˜em thinkinâ€™ I could help â€˜em with a healinâ€™ kit or two. I heard that shufflinâ€™ noise again, what heavy boots makes, and whirled â€˜round just in time to see a colossal frost giant shaman â€˜bout to brain me with a huge hammer . . . then, oh geez, everything went black!
When I awoke, my head was achinâ€™ somethinâ€™ awful and every tooth in my mouth was loose! I think some oâ€™ the ones in the back was missinâ€™ even! Likely Iâ€™d swallowed â€˜em, you know?
Jon was sittinâ€™ up and was a pasty green color, lookinâ€™ like heâ€™d eaten a bad apple or somethinâ€™. The girl Iâ€™d found with him, was awake also, moaninâ€™ â€˜bout a sore arm, and complaininâ€™ she was havinâ€™ trouble breathinâ€™. She was havinâ€™ trouble? I was havinâ€™ trouble!! Somehow she managed to wind up draped over the top oâ€™ me, and geez, she weighed a ton!
That other new boy, Caleb Maâ€™fer was there too, standinâ€™ a bit away from us, havinâ€™ a nice chat with the damn frost giant shaman what had just tried to maim me! Oh geez! It seemed the shaman wanted us to do a chore for him and if we done it proper, with no trickery, heâ€™d let us live.
He told Carlyle the bunch oâ€™ us would have to make a trip to Arik for him. Yup! We was gonna have to make our way to a Temple in the lost city, what someone, or something, called Angrybody lived in! Anyways, this Angelbellyâ€™s got a special ruby shard what was chipped right off one oâ€™ Helâ€™s tears! It has a devine power locked up in it and the giant shaman had an itchinâ€™ for it!
Yup! He told us this Annabelleâ€™s got it hid somewhere in one oâ€™ the rooms along the east hall of her Temple! The shaman said heâ€™d be watchinâ€™ our every move, even sendinâ€™ along evil spirits to observe us, and theyâ€™d report back to him if we faltered!
If we failed, heâ€™d be roundinâ€™ up every frost giant between here and Thrymâ€™s mountains and sendinâ€™ them off to hunt us down and slay us! Hundreds of â€˜em! And he meant it! You could tell he wasnâ€™t foolinâ€™ â€˜round none! Then the shaman stalked away, but not before remindinâ€™ us he was an impatient sort, and if we ainâ€™t returned soon with the shard, heâ€™d be unleashinâ€™ those damn giants!
We made our way outta the castle, with Chadwick helpinâ€™ the poor girl who could hardly take a step without wincing in pain. He kept callinâ€™ her Helena, so I guess that was her name. Jon was still quite a bit woozy, and I was aidinâ€™ him as best I could. We stood around outside, talkinâ€™ â€˜bout what the shaman had said to us.
None oâ€™ us had any idea where this Temple was in Arik. Carlos was sure Gunnyâ€™d know but that ainâ€™t helped us none, â€˜cause Gunny wasnâ€™t here. Iâ€™ll tell ya, sometimes a manâ€™ll say the most useless things, you know?
Anyways, no one in our party was in any shape to be makinâ€™ a trip to Arik. Besides, Cuthbert told us he ainâ€™t had no potions to protect himself from the magic the mindflayers would be throwinâ€™ at us. Well, that clinched it! Weâ€™d be headinâ€™ back to Bale-ye-naz and then on to Foothold to heal up a tad, and get ourselves a good rest. Weâ€™d see â€˜bout makinâ€™ a trip to Arik, later on in the week.
Chauncy threw together a makeshift sled, lashinâ€™ together a few old giant rib bones what he found stickinâ€™ up outta the sand, usinâ€™ some rawhide what he had tucked away, deep inside his pack.
He strapped Helena tight onto it, ignorinâ€™ her moaninâ€™and made ready for the trip back. â€˜Bout that time a dweeble pops right outta thin air startlinâ€™ the four oâ€™ us, and starts goinâ€™ on and on about the ruby shard, and how he knows just where Abblebabbleâ€™s got it hid, and how happy heâ€™d be to guide us right to that Temple! Oh geez!
Well . . . for a moment I thought about takinâ€™ him up on his offer , but Jon kept nudginâ€™ me in the ribs, and Conan was makinâ€™ all sorts oâ€™ faces, so we, thanked the dweeble for his kind offer but told him it was late and weâ€™d decided to head on home. Caleb started off ahead oâ€™ us, dragginâ€™ his sled with Helena bound tightly to it, now lookinâ€™ quite comfortable, and sound asleep.
I waited there with Jon till his head cleared a bit, then we started out, followinâ€™ the tracks Cormacâ€™s sled had made. The journey across the desert and through the cave what leads to Bale-ye-naz, was uneventful. I mean, we ainâ€™t met nothinâ€™ on the way what tried to murder us, you know? We finally reached the gate what the guardâ€™ll swing open when you show him yer pass and I asked Jon if heâ€™d do the honors, so to speak. He stuttered a bit, then blurted out he ainâ€™t had no pass.
Well, I knew the little twerp ainâ€™t had no pass, and he ainâ€™t had no business beinâ€™ out there in Thrym’s desert gettin’ himself mixed up in all sorts o’ trouble either! So . . . I flashed my own pass to the sergeant guardinâ€™ the gate, he swung it wide open for me, then I ran in quick and slammed the gate on Jon, leavinâ€™ him stuck outside!
Then I made him promise me two things. One, not to go anywhere near that desert till heâ€™s got the proper traininâ€™ and has his own pass, or unless heâ€™s tagginâ€™ along with at least two folks who are qualified! And two, to stop callinâ€™ me Keli lady, or lady Keli, or lady! My nameâ€™s Keli, short and sweet! And I ainâ€™t wantinâ€™ nobody tackinâ€™ anything else onto it!
After some hemminâ€™ and hawinâ€™and a bit oâ€™ begginâ€™ he give me his word on both, so I had the sergeant swing open the gate again and let him in.
He stood there for a moment, staring at me with a dumb look on his face. Then he smiled, gave me a little bow and said, â€œThank youse lady Keli!â€ Ohhhh geez! When the gods was layinâ€™ out the blueprints for how to make a man, they give â€˜em too much muscle, and left all oâ€™ â€˜em a little short on brains!!
Its been a few days since I got back and my teeth has tightened up again. Theyâ€™s sittinâ€™ right proper in my gums! I ainâ€™t missinâ€™ the few I swallowed when the giant shaman conked me on the head with his hammer at all.
The two front teeth in my upper jaw is good and tight, but now thereâ€™s a tiny space between â€˜em what I ainâ€™t had before. I found out I can squirt a good healthy stream oâ€™ tobacco juice through that gap! Yup! Accurate too! Iâ€™m able to shoot a fly right outta the air at about ten paces!
I canâ€™t wait to try it out on Father Ryche. Yup! Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll be able to reach his desk with a good squirt without havinâ€™ to go in his office! He ainâ€™t chased me for quite awhile. Like I said â€˜bout elevendy six pages back, its fun when he chases me!
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