Nightall 17: Missing Children
Fresh from victory against the terrors of the spider demon-queen, Diamond Cascade returned to find another horror awaiting him. Missing children! Led astray by misguided heroes into seeking adventure and fortune just as Diamond Cascade had been, once long ago! Without a pause to rest, Diamond Cascade immediately set off, heart filled with anxious hope, to their destination, the LOST SUNKEN CITADEL OF THE LIZARD PEOPLE!
Which is, like, about three hours walk from the town down the Old Road and while it might be slimy territory, there’s also a nice pub another hour in on in Oakenridge. All I’m thinking about as we come out of the forest all covered in spider guck is a few beers maybe and then a taste of sweet sweet loving from Shandria or Darlene. But no. We’ve been suckered. Lured in by the honey, now we’re put to work, as all of a sudden we’re the only people who can sort out any poxy little porblem that comes along. This time it’s runaway children. Next thing you know we’ll be rescuing cats from trees. We hardly get in the door when we’re turned around and sent back out again. Waste of bloody time, this. First of all, they’re not children. Just because you’re posh and have a prattish name like Hercal, it doesn’t mean you’re not all grown up by the time your fourteen like the rest of us. Second of all they were lured off by a “paladin” and a “ranger.” Well a ranger I can believe but what kind of paladin hauls a pair of posh shiny-faced wet-nosed novices off into danger without bothering to pass this by the little darlings’ parents. Either a paladin who regularly won the King Stupid award when they were at paladin school or a paladin who’s actually a backstabbing scum-eating faker piece of shit. In which case the little darlings are either lying raped and dead in a ditch, or else they’re a hundred miles away by now and the ransom note is on its way. And even if it’s all true and they’re just following the honest-to-gods King of Stupid, they should have been back days ago. It’s winter and its slimy country. Neither bodes well. Well not if the King of Stupid is in charge.
Still, it’s a day out, there and back, the weather’s OK and there’s a dead or alive reward, so hey. A brisk walk up past the ravine, five minutes yelling out their names in case they’re stuck somewhere, then on for pint at the Old Boar Inn in Oakenbridge and a brisk walk back. Maybe we’ll have a wrestling contest in a few thorn bushes so it looks like we had a tussle with something. Then back to the manor house, with long hangdog faces, much wringing of hands and going on about how heroically we tried and then a nice bottle of wine and we’ll see which one of Shandria and Darlene fancies spreading their legs.
Nightall 17: Taker
Two little hitches spring to mind. The first one is we’ve got ourselves a shadow. Seems like running off from Klengerford in search of adventure and a quick death is catching; having seen Klengerford, I can’t say I’m surprised (the delicious Lady Katrina aside). Today’s runaway calls himself Taker. I suppose he’s no younger than I was when I joined the army. Reminds me of me. Can’t see as I can really hold it against him that he’s tagging along. I’d like to say it’s annoying, but the worst it can be is still a drop in the ocean when there’s Elfboy and The Gnome around. I can’t even think of a name for The Gnome. Gah! I used to think my folks were racist when they started slagging off non-humans, but no, I think I see their point. Elfboy, Norch, The Gnome. All really, really irritating. Is it me? Is it a culture thing? Or is it like I see it and they just think they’re so much better than us?
Anyway, Taker following along probably puts paid to acting like we’d gone looking when all we did was stop for a pint. Then again, Elfboy probably wouldn’t have gone along with it anyway. And in the end, I’m thinking that girls aren’t as stupid as they look sometimes. They can see it in your eyes. Someone’s going to say something stupid (gods knows we’ve got enough candidates in our travelling circus that it’s more a case of which one’s going to win the foot-in-mouth competition most spectacularly) and they’re going to know. Shit. There’s no getting around it. I ain’t going to score when I get back unless we find these two missing dildos. Which is just so immensely unfair, because I would have been so in there after we took down the QUEEN OF THE SPIDER DEMONS.
Nightall 17: Horrors from Beyond Mortal Ken
The abyss lay before them. The earth itself, so offended by the vile rites of the lizard people who had once claimed this land, had swallowed their temple whole. Undaunted by the horrors that surely lay ahead, Diamond Cascade led the way down into the black scar in the land. Sure enough, in the dim twilight that filtered down into this subterranean mire, Diamond Cascade found old footprints, a certain sign that his instincts had led him soundly to the right place. Vaulting nimbly through the rubble, Diamond Cascade quickly scattered all manner of vermin and leapt across ever deeper chasms and ravines to the sinister entrance, etched with the blurred remains of dark and eldritch runes. Inside, dark shapes were moving, evil undead creatures: DEATH KNIGHTS! Ever ready, Diamond Cascade drew his sword and set about making the world a little cleaner.
The rope hanging over the edge was a bit of a clue too. Maybe they really did come here and the paladin really was King Stupid. Campfires all over the place. Slimies by the looks of it. Most likely, if they really did come here, they’re all long dead. We let The Gnome go down first. Screamed like a girl; I keep forgetting that’s what she is. Giant rats all over the place. Elfboy did his usual trick of trying to fight them by having them eat him and then die of food poiosoning. Don’t know why. I mean, just picture it for a moment. Ravine. We’re at the top. They’re at the bottom. We have arrows and bows. They’re giant rats. Their levitation and flying skills are poorly developed. I do the obvious. This works a lot better than Elfboy trying to break their teeth with his skin. Death from above, dude. Death. From. Above!
Sending The Gnome in front is still looking like the way to go when she then finds the entrance we’re looking for. She finds a pit full of more vermin too by helpfully falling into it. I’m all for leaving her there. Maybe picking her up on the way back or maybe not. Lunk and Elfboy spoil my fun and heave her out. Inside there’s dead slimies and a bunch of doors. We have no idea which way to go so we split up and try all of them, and then I’m mucking about with Taker trying to get a stupid spear off a dead slimy when we see some strange writing and then I spot the wall isn’t right, and there’s a hidden door, which is totally excellent, especially since Elfboy and Shifty are elsewhere and there’s bound to be treasure inside, and it’s going to be just the two of us sharing it; so I get the door open and go inside and there’s nothing but a bunch of skeletons, except the skeletons spring to life as I go into have a look around and make so much noise (when you add in Taker screaming his head off) that everyone knows what we found. Not that it matters much since there’s no treasure in there anyway. The Gnome does something vaguely useful and scares them, somehow. Yeah, the undead are scared of The Gnome. You can see their point. We, however, are made of harder stiff and manage to live with her every day for some reason. So we mash them to bits while they cower in a corner and there turn out to be a few crossbow bolts in there that looks a bit shiny for something that’s been buried in the ground for a few hundred years. Yeah, could be magic, and yeah, when I check later (making sure no one else is looking, they are! How cool is that? Magic stuff rocks. Not that I’ve got any use for them, but they’re magic, right, so they must be worth a fortune. Sadly Elfboy spots them and is hanging on to them ‘for the good of the party.’ Eh? The good of the what? Lying thieving git).
And then there was a barrel that I opened. Less said about that the better. Horrible water thing trapped inside. Jumps out, big fight, runs away, much mess. No one seems to have noticed it was my fault. Bunch of sapphires inside which might have made it worth the risk except they’re so small we keep losing them. Still, have a thought I might buy them off Elfboy (yeah, Elfboy’s got them, who else?) and have them made into a set of earrings and a necklace or something like that for Shandria or Darlene, whichever one looks more likely to put out. Treasure single-handedly salvaged from the clutches of DARK MINIONS OF DEATH makes women weak at the knees every time. Actually, with three sapphires, I should make three necklaces and save the other two for when we get to Neverrest. One should be enough shouldn’t it? They’re only maids, after all.
Nightall 17: Used Drool, Queen of the disappointingly Small Lizard People
Single-handedly destroying the death-knights, Diamond Cascade moved on into the halls of the degenerate remnants of the once great lizard-kin who lived here. Their hubris and their wicked sorceries had long deserted them, for they were reduced to a pathetic shadow of the dark glory they had once known. Taking pity on their state, Diamond Cascade agreed to lead them against their goblin enemies in exchange for their help in finding the lost children, and their word to change their ways.
See! I was right! I made the bit about lizard creatures up and here they are. That’s freaking me out, really is. Except there are slimies here too, and the little lizard fellows, evil and wicked or not, are at war with the slimies down here, so I’m with them. Elfboy has some other ideas, but we just ignore him. It’s a well-practised skill, that. Don’t know what these little lizard-folk are, really, except that they’re tiny little wimps, small enough to make even a slimy look tough. Seems like the slimies have desecrated their stupid little holy place, not that you’d notice given the general level of crap and filth they live in. It’s like being in the army again. Oh, and the slimies have nicked their god, apparently. Don’t know what that is. Some sort of manked-up dragon cuddly toy by the sounds of it. What matters is that the lizard-folk have seen the idiot pretend paladin, King Stupid, and his posse of losers. At some point I think it’s The Gnome who turns out to have wasted enough of his life to have bothered learning their language. Or maybe they’re both talking slimy at each other. Words seem a bit familiar sometimes, but it’s hard to tell, and frankly, who cares? Apparently the lizard creatures have a queen called Used Drool, which pretty much fits everything I’ve seen down here. Some sort of deal is done. Don’t know what and don’t much care. I have more important things to do, such as pick my nose. Still reckon the pretend-paladin was probably in league with some dark wizard or something to bring a pair of kids to a place like this.
Nightall 17: Diamond Cascade: Dragon-Slayer
The lowly lizard-kin guide led Diamond Cascade to the hideous tunnel complex of the goblin king and the dark master of corruption who guided him. The tunnels teemed with the vile creatures, but they fell like wheat before the scythe of Diamond Cascade and his faithful friends. Hundreds upon hundreds of corrupt souls were put to an end and the world became a cleaner place. Diamond Cascade did not flinch from ending the foul lives of the mates and children of these evil spawn, certain in the righteousness of his cause. As Diamond Cascade pressed further into this LAIR OF EVIL, stranger creatures came oozing and creeping from the darkness. Wicked tree-men, more death-knights and many other horrors. Diamond Cascade easily slew the goblin king himself, and many foul priests of the dark gods, yet this was not the end of the evil that hunted this place. No, for before Diamond Cascade could face the DARK CORRUPTOR himself, lo, he found himself face to face with nothing less than a DRAGON, whose dire breath of vitreol flayed flesh from bone. Undaunted, Diamond Cascade and his faithful companions threw themselves upon the monster. Many dire blows were given, and many received, yet in the end it was Diamond Cascade himself who drove his shining blade through the creature’s jaw and deep into the corruption of its brain, striking it dead.
Yeah, and this place is full of weird shit. Like some old fountain thing that drips red liquids when you say ‘let there be fire’ in dragon. This is like way more interesting than this stupid rescue mission, but of course, no one else particularly gives a shit. I manage to soak some into a piece of parchment. Yay. Then it’s on with smashing the crap out of slimies. There are a lot of them, and this is like the most fun I’ve had in a while, thanks to the total lack of opportunity to take advantage of Shandria and Darlene. Hey ho. Like there was this one time when the rest of them were mopping up and rescuing some prisoner or other (A gnome. Yeah, like we needed another gnome to slow us down), and I kick down this door and there are six slimies on the other side. Six, right. Six of them and one of me and that’s no shit, that’s how it was. And when I came out of that room, everyone of them was dead and I hardly had a scratch on me. I’ll admit that maybe Lunk and Wolfgirl might have taken one or two down when they burst in the door behind me, and Elfboy was doing his usual trick of distracting the shit out the enemy by falling over his own feet. But still. Six slimies. God of death, me. God. Of. Death.
Right. The dragon. Did I really kill a dragon? This time, no. Truth be told, I pretty much missed the whole dragon episode. There really was one, though. The lizard-things obviously meant what they said. It wasn’t much of one through, not much bigger than a slimy with wings, but still. The real deal. I don’t want to go into how much time we spent afterwards cutting it up, taking every possible but of stuff that might be saleable. Dragon skin, dragon bone, dragon blood, dragon heart, dragon teeth, dragon… yeah every bit you can think of. Really, every bit. Got to wonder, though, where an itty little baby dragon thing like that came from. From what the Used Drool one was saying, it was snatched by slimies and before that it was in a cage held by the even crappier lizard-things. Got to wonder how it got there. Thing can’t have been long out of an egg, and so you have to ask the question about where’s mummy. Not here, I hope and pray. If it were down to me, I’d stop this charade right now, go running back to Klengerford and spread the word that there’s likely a fuck-off big green dragon somewhere about the place and it’s probably mighty pissed off about having its little one slaughtered for parts. I think we mentioned it when we got back. No one said anything about mummy being anywhere nearby. After that, I guess we pretty much forgot about it.
Gods. If we’d know what we’d just done, if we’d had even the first inkling of where killing that little hatchling was going to take us, we never would have gone near that place. Would probably have avoided Klengerford completely, just to be sure. But hey. We did what we did. There are plenty of other things we did that don’t look to good. Just not so many that led to… But that’s a long time ahead of this story. You’ll see when we get there.
Nightall 17: Treasure and Prisoners and So Forth
After that we pretty much cleaned the place out. Slimies all gone. Men, women, children. I mean it’s hard to tell the difference, but even I could be bothered to they all have to go. I’ve seen what they do to our kind when they fall on a village that’s lost its defenders. If I could, I’d kill every slimy in the world. Did we butcher their women and children? Damn right we did. Waded through ankle-deep blood and entrails making sure there wasn’t a single one of them left faking it. What does a baby slimy grow up to be? Someone shooting arrows at my brothers, that’s what.
OK, so if someone show arrows at my brothers, I’d probably applaud. But that’s not the point.
We get a bit of a beating while we’re at it. Can’t be helped. By the time we get to the goblin king, we’re a bit the worse for wear, and he’s got this walking tree thing with him and a couple of them big slimies we call hobbos. Well, doesn’t bother me. I hang at the back and stick a few of them while Elfboy does his usual Flurry of Failure attack, gets whacked on the head by the goblin king and falls over. For once he doesn’t get up. It’s looking a bit dicey for a moment, with Lunk and Wolfgirl holding the line, and for once I actually honestly had to do the hero thing, wading in with cold steel against the goblin king and his priest himself, yeah, the both of them, while Lunk took on the tree-thing and Wolfgirl held off the rest of the slimies. Could have gone either way, but then Shifty and Taker managed to sneak round and take them from behind and after that it was all quick and dirty and bloody and it wasn’t our blood. Got to say that Shifty and Taker both know how to take a man down from behind. Got to keep an eye on them. Curious thing though: In the middle of the fight, Shifty takes a moment out to put a press on Elfboy’s wound and stop him bleeding to death. Kind of good-natured that from Shifty. If that’s what he was really doing. Then he gets his own whack on the head from the goblin priest and he’s out for the count as well, but by then it’s all took late for the slimy bastards. I’d like to say I killed the goblin king, but actually it was Shifty with a knife in the kidneys. I was the one actually facing when he went down, though. I’m the last thing he saw, so that ’s the picture he’s taken to goblin hell with him. Me, laughing in his face.
Nifty thing about the aftermath of killing the gobbo king, what with Elfboy and Shifty both down, is that there’s no one thinking about the chest full of treasure except me and Taker. Mostly because there’s this pit full of creeping vines in the middle of the room that goes down to Tyr-knows-where and Lunk’s sword’s gone flying down it in the middle of the fight and now The Gnome wants to set fire to everything. I don’t ask why. It’s the chest that I’ve got my eyes on, and I see Taker’s got the same thinking going. So we take a quick look while everyone else is arguing about Lunk’s sword and who’s going to try and get it back. Taker reckons he knows a thing or two about locks. Me, I reckon he knows a thing or two about bullshit and not much else. But he swears there’s no tricks or traps on it, so I open it. Being not stupid, I do this carefully standing well to one side. Taker, on the other hand, gets a spring-loaded needle between the eyes. He’s a lucky bastard really. An inch or two to either side and he’d have been Taker One-Eye. Inside the chest is a whole pile of gold. Kid’s got the sense to take my lead on this after the needle-in-the-face thing. There’s a couple of rather nice gemstones and a couple of potions and so we help ourselves to those. The gold we can share. No point in being greedy. Oh, and some weird-ass magic scroll with a draconic love poem on it (you find the creepiest stuff in places like this. Dragon love poetry?)
The Gnome has managed to set fire to some of the vines in the pit by now. That’s what happens when no one else is paying attention. Mostly she merely annoys other people, but it’s surely only a matter of time before Lunk or Elfboy picks her up and throws her in something. Like the next passing big hole in the ground. Especially one that’s on fire. Thing is, by now, The Gnome setting fire to the vines is all that’s needed for me to know that that’s where we need to go. Down the hole.
Still, no harm getting a second opinion. Turns out the slimy priest I thought we killed isn’t as dead as we thought he was on account of Lunk randomly losing his grip on his sword, heaving it into a (now fiery) pit, and having to finish the job with the traditional mailed-fist-in-the-face, a sure end to any argument. A bit of good old-fashioned torture and we find out that the dark wizard or whatever it is that orders the slimies about lives down the hole with some weird magic tree thing. So right, now we know what we’re after. A man who grows evil fruit. There’s probably a word for that. Turns out that the dimmest paladin in the world really was here, too. Prisoner of the slimies, having lost his partner. The two Hercal idiots were still alive when they got here. The boy got turned into a mess right here, but there might even be one of them still alive down the hole. So I reckon that’s where we go. Now that we’ve set fire to it.
Nightall 18: The Dark Corrupter
Having destroyed the lesser minions of darkness and despair, Diamond Cascade and his companions reached the PIT OF EVIL, within which lay the DARK CORRUPTOR and the TREE OF EVIL. Without pause for thought of his own safety and heedless of his many wounds, Diamond Cascade descended the pit at once, certain that his quest was at last nearing its end. More goblin slaves and wicked tree-creatures fell before Diamond Cascade’s sword, before finally he faced the DARK CORRPUTOR himself. And behold, there was the last of the two missing children and the foolish knight who had led her here. Epic was their battle, for all were possessed by the tree of evil, yet finally the dark one fell, riddled with arrows from Diamond Cascade’s bow. Alas it was too late for the dark one’s victims, for they had already been consumed by the tree of evil, and when the tree fell, they too died. With heavy heart, Diamond Cascade took the signet ring from the last of the tree’s victims as proof of his deed, and began the long journey back to the surface.
I’d like to say this is where it all started going wrong, but that’s not true. Still, already proven experts at clusterfucks as we were, I think we found a new level here. Taker, for example. Trap-finder extraordinaire. Not content with the needle-in-the-face affair, Taker manages to be ambushed by a giant orange worm apparently made of lava. How? How you can be ambushed by something that’s huge and orange and singes your hair at ten paces? How? How many senses do you need to be NOT WORKING for that to happen? Right after that he finds a book that explodes in his face. Sucks to be him, I guess, but all this pales in comparison to The Gnome.
The Gnome is MAD. There’s this dragon statue thing we find on the way which she stands by and recites some words or other and then suddenly she’s all sexed up. It’s really creepy. And distracting. And disturbing because it’s distracting. It’s not right, not right at all, but she really is quite… alright, alright, there’s a part of me that can’t help noticing that, for a gnome, she’s about a sexy as it gets, and that’s the same part of me that hasn’t had any action for a month or more and keeps on thinking about Shandria and Darlene and how I can’t wait to get out of this godforsaken hole and get it on with at least one if not both of them. And then there’s the other part that remembers that we’re in a creepy dismal dark underground place full of damp and goblin shit and undead critters that want to EAT US. And that she’s a GNOME, for pity’s sake. But still. But still… Aaagh! Maybe I could live with my own urges and put it down to desperation, but whatever this magic is, it’s gone to her head too. I swear I saw her groping Erky. Damn.
Erky. Yeah, forgot about him. The other gnome. Found him as a prisoner back with the slimies. Got his head screwed on pretty well for a gnome. Can’t imagine he’ll stick around for long.
There’s a few eeny-weeny details about our fight with the Dark Corrupter that won’t make the epic songs I’m going to sing about it afterwards. We won’t mention how the possessed knight of Tyr or whatever he really was beat the shit out of me and Lunk, on account of us being the only ones who apparently could be bothered to face him. We won’t mention that although it really was me that took him down, that was largely because he tripped over Lunk’s bleeding near-corpse on the floor at a lucky moment. We won’t mention the magic sword that used to belong to the knight that now sits on my hip; he might have family after all and they might come asking for it back. We won’t mention the magic wand I managed to half-inch off the druid’s body when no one was looking (yeah, Shifty, you missed it. Ha!) We particularly won’t mention how the possessed girl we were supposed to be trying to rescue got killed by The Mad Gnome before the Tree of Evil was felled. We won’t mention that in the chaos of it all, I don’t think any of us know who did the deranged druid in the end, although obviously Shifty was the first to reach the body and loot it.
Might mention Shifty, though. Did a strange thing. Obviously he didn’t actually do anything useful in the fight as a whole (as far as I could tell while I was having the shit kicked out of me, he was lurking off in the shadows somewhere and did nothing useful whatsoever). But he didn’t keep the stuff of the Dark Druid. There were potions and he poured them down the necks of Erky and Lunk, and there’s a fair chance he saved their lives. Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt. At least a little bit.
Seriously beat up, we took our rest. And that’s when it all started to go really wrong.
Nightall 19: The Long Long Long Long Journey Back to the Surface
When the epic poems are written of Diamond Cascade and his deeds (and they will be, because I’ll be writing them), none of this will go in there. Not one bit of it.
After a day or so of resting and eating and tending our wounds, we’re just about ready to move on and make our way back to the surface. Now I’d say I’m feeling better at this point, and in terms of blood coming out of holes in me, in terms of aches and pains and bruises why then yes, indeed I am. But something’s not right. I got the shivers and I’m not quite thinking straight. Don’t know if it’s something I ate or something that got in my system. Gods know, in a place like this it could be anything. Taker’s got the shakes too, but I got it pretty bad. Maybe it’s being in the vicinity of The Gnome, although thank all the crappy deaf uncaring gods that whatever weird thing that dragon statue did to her has worn off. Fancying a roll in the long grass with Wolfgirl, despite the fact that she’s old enough to be my mother, is quite bad enough without lusting after a creature half my size.
Or maybe it was the Bat Shit Fever come back for another bite at me. Who knows? Whatever it is, there’s a limit to how long I can pretend to be OK and I don’t entirely trust certain others here not to take advantage of my state. I say this now, as a justification for my actions to come.
It takes us a long time to climb back up to the upper levels and I can’t honestly remember much of why except that everyone wanted to look at stuff lots. Loads and loads of intricate little carvings. Mostly all smashed up but really fascinating to look at. Don’t know why I didn’t notice it so much on the way down. As we go back past, I try to play with the dragon statue that made The Gnome all sexed up, but it doesn’t want to play with me. So eventually we make our way back to the top and find ourselves back with Used Drool and the lizard-kin. Now maybe it’s the fever making me slow, but I’m seeing no particular reason why we need to be fighting with this lot. We’ve done what we came here to do, we’ve got the signet rings off the two dead kids, we’ve wholly failed to bring them back alive. I’m feeling pretty down on the whole business, even if we managed to wipe out a whole nest of slimies and I got myself a magic sword. Don’t see why we need to be fighting this lot. Pathetic they might be, but evil? I don’t think so. They fight with the slimies too, so they’re good with me. The only thing that has my attention is this weird key that Used Drool offered to give us if we returned their dragon hatchling. Well, we can’t return the dragon on account of having chopped it up into little bits. But we can just not mention the bit about slicing their demi-god up into little bits and having most of its internal organs in a particularly unpleasant sack somewhere. Yeah, we can not mention that and hope they don’t notice and bargain for their key anyway. That’s what I thought we were doing. Buying the magic key with the bottles of alchemist’s fire that we found.
Apparently we weren’t. Apparently I missed something. Apparently this was all some elaborate ploy that no one bothered to mention. Around me, it all kicks off (later inquests lay the blame for this with Shifty). Well I have to defend myself, and any lizard-kin that has a go at me gets skewered, but I’m not really up for this and neither is Lunk (hint for aspiring adventurers of the more sneaky kind â€“ if you want to kick off a ruckus, make sure the two people who actually do the bulk of the actual fighting are all bought into your plan next time). But no, I got nothing against these people, even if they’ve got something against me now because of the company I keep. Used Drool, it turns out, is something of a wizard and with some pretty cool spells, some stuff I could even learn from. Now I don’t want to be stabbing my friends any more than I want to be stabbing the lizard-kin queen, but no one wants to listen to me, dammit. It’s a farce. There’s Lunk wiping the floor with anything that comes near him, but not in the least bit interested in fighting anything that’s happy to leave him alone. There’s me, trying to stop the others from killing Used Drool, trying to make peace. There’s her zapping magic missiles into Taker and anyone who has a go at her and there’s Taker, Shifty, Elfboy, Wolfgirl and The Gnome all trying to hack one poor little lizard wizard to bits. Doesn’t surprise me from most of them, but I expected better from Wolfgirl. Five of them, all crazed with bloodlust and just one little old me as the voice of sanity, so the inevitable happens. I can’t stop all of them and eventually they win. I take out my frustrations on some slimy prisoners we find a few minutes later. Slimies are different. Slimies don’t deserve to live.
Oh, and shall we talk about the key? Please let’s not. After all that pointless slaughter, the magic key has somehow gone missing and there’s half an hour of searching and acrimonious argument about who picked it up (Lunk and the Gnome claim to have seen Shifty pick it up, which is no surprise). Now I have a pretty good idea where it is because it’s magic and I’m sensitive to that sort of shit. It’s in The Gnome’s pocket. I’m good natured and wait for a quiet moment to have a quiet word, and the next thing I know she’s making out that I put it there. Could have pretended she found it on the floor in a corner and kept it just between us, but no, she has to make a big accusation thing out of it. And a part of me still wants to jump her. By now I need to get out of there. Need to get some fresh air and some fresh water. My head is spinning and I’m sweating and I’m starting to have some really strange thoughts. Feverish thoughts, where whatever sensible stuff you were thinking (say, maybe, Must not fancy The Gnome, or Must hit Gnome with big sharp thing, or Surely there’s more treasure than this down here or even maybe Why am I here with this gang of crazy lunatics?) sort of hiccups and flips through the walls of your head onto the other side and is suddenly something like This would be a really good place to build a cheese factory. Yeah, fever is really getting to me, I reckon. I remember heading for the way out and then thinking that I ought to try and get some of that dragon blood from the fountain thing we passed on the way in. I’m thinking maybe dragon blood will make me feel better. Can’t be bad, can it? Can’t do any harm. I don’t remember quite what happened next, but then there was Wolfgirl hanging on to me, which was nice, or maybe I was hanging on to her. No matter. Still nice. Think I was sick a bit too. And she was trying to take me somewhere for something. Fresh air and outside maybe, except I wanted the dragon blood, because that was going to make this fever go away and I was really feeling pretty bad.
And then I remembered! I soaked a piece of parchment in the last dregs, didn’t I? Might not be very much, might not be enough to make any difference, but it was worth a go. So I get that out and start chewing on it, sucking out the dragon blood. And wow. WOW! I think maybe I got the wrong idea about this fever. It’s like a transformation. I feel amazing, if still grotty. Like a big change was going on. A lot of pain and feeling bad, but also something awesome growing inside me. And then I look up and what do I see? I see Taker hitting Wolfgirl. My Wolfgirl who was being nice to me. Well that’s not on, no way, so I go after him (possibly roaring something about doing something with his insides â€“ I’m a bit hazy on that) and he runs away and then all hell breaks out behind us as well (much later I will find out that this is nothing more than The Gnome finally suffering a libido overload and throwing herself at Erky over and over again to the point of trying to rape him. If you can use that word when it’s that way round). I don’t care about that, though. Taker’s OK, but he’s got to learn a bit more respect than that. Can’t go slapping about Wolfgirl. So I bolt after him and he legs it and I just get to see him dive through a door where the dragon blood fountain was (which isn’t working any more â€“ we try this lots later). I reckon that’s my point made, so I shout out after him a bit about having some respect and stuff and then this overwhelming urge comes up inside me and I roar at him and then the room fills up with fire and it’s ME! I’m breathing FIRE! All over the place! AWESOME! I am dragon-man!
No one else sees it, but I think Taker gets the message. And then I fall over. Eventually Wolfgirl helps me up again. I lean on her lots. I really don’t feel very well.
Nightall 19: At The Door of Undead Dragons
Yeah. We probably won’t mention this little episode either.
Apparently while The Gnome was trying to molest Erky, Elfboy has had enough. Or maybe it was me and the whole man-dragon thing. Or maybe he was having the same Why am I here with this gang of crazy lunatics? line of thought and it didn’t happen to randomly flip out into something about cheese factories. Anyway, he’s gone. Just dropped the sack of treasure he’s carrying and walked off. That’s the last we see of him. Later I might wish he hadn’t (actually, later I start to wonder if someone didn’t have enough of him, on account of…Â well, being Elfboy. Abandoning your friends and running off with all the loot, that makes sense. Running off without it, though..?) Anyway, at the time I’m too busy being delirious and thinking I’m a dragon to much care. Oh, and rooting around in the treasure bag he dropped forÂ those sapphires we found earlier in it. Some things even delirium doesn’t dampen: I just know that getting hold of those to give to Shandria and Darlene will make a night of erotic pleasure a certainty on our return. That and being half man, half dragon. Wheee!
Did I mention the door made of undead dragon bits? There’s a door made of undead dragon bits that Taker seems to have found and it somehow ends up opened. Don’t know who did that because I was too busy rummaging through the sack of treasure that Elfboy left behind. There’s all sorts of shouting and screaming really quite close by, but most of that has stopped by the time I’ve found those sapphires. Tiny little buggers, stuck right down the bottom. Seems like there was some sort of trap on it that’s sliced up Shifty. Best I can make out, what happened next was that Taker tried to disarm the trap and lost. That would explain why he’s missing a hand and screaming. You’d have thought the needle in the face might have learned him, but apparently not. Oh well. Taker One-Hand it is. Beyond there’s a bunch of sarcophagi and some weird alter thing. â€œDon’t touch it!â€ we all shout, even me, so of course Shifty starts prying things open. Guess what? The bunch of sarcophagi have a bunch of skeletons inside them. Shifty goes down. The door slams shut. The trap goes off again, slicing up Erky. Lunk and I go back to arguing over the treasure bag.
I guess, since Shifty didn’t end up dead, someone must have forced the door open again and dragged him out. Being a dragon as I was at the time, it’s all a bit hazy. Wasn’t me.
Since Wolfgirl is being nice, I give her this magic tree charm thing that the kobold queen had. Apparently we now have some magic whistle thing too. Finally we leave. In my pocket, I still have the weird dragon-key thing and we never found a lock to put it in. Hey-ho.
Nightall 28: Oh Gods, As If The First One Wasn’t Bad Enough!
Victorious against the vile corruption of the sunken citadel, Diamond Cascade and his companions returned to the quiet town of Klengerford. Their joy was muted, for the two young lives they had set out to save had both been lost long before; nevertheless, the evil was destroyed and the town was safe for the winter. Refusing all reward save a little hospitality while his wounds healed, Diamond Cascade bid a fond farewell to Klengerford and set out for Neverrest, carrying with him a precious message for none other than the High Priest of Tyr in that great city, and offering escort to blind warrior elf, himself on some great quest.
At least The Gnome is just The Gnome again. Either the magic wore off or there was no magic in the first place and I was just more delirious than I thought. But never mind that. Sapphires did their magic. Score and score! Sandria and Darlene. Surely my wit and charm knows no bounds. Wolfgirl, watch out. Can you feel yourself weakening before that Vale charisma? And score again when we totally rip off the town jeweller with our fake diamonds. I mean, they were fake, right? So there’s not much else to say about Klengerford. Glad to see the back of that little hick town. Erky hangs around with Ironheart the dwarf so much that I have to wonder if there’s some homo-erotic cross-species thing going on there. It would explain Erky’s reaction to The Gnome. Although common sense and sanity would explain it too, it has to be said.
Oh gods, The Gnome. Who cursed us with The Gnome? We have a lovely send-off courtesy of Lady Katrina (we’ll see about here some time in the future when lover-boy Thannis isn’t around, but since he’s showing me all kinds of cool and useful stuff, I reckon we’ll leave that lie for now). I’m having some fun, singing some songs, Thannis is singing some songs, I’m trying to decide which one of Sandria and Darlene are going to see me on my way (OK, OK, I’m thinking of both of them at once, but best to be realistic). Then The Gnome pitches in. Tries singing, whichÂ just isn’t her thing and then she’s dancing on the tables and throwing flans about the place and generally making an arse of herself. Which I’m quietly enjoying although I might well be the only one. And then the town Justicar arrives with this dumbass letter and even more dumbass elf and she starts throwing cakes at him and the next thing you know there’s a knife at her throat (was that Stalker? Might have been. Too drunk to remember) and she simply won’t stop and the next thing you know the whole evening’s gone to rat-shit. Gnome-girl gets her ass thrown out and I get to sleep alone. And the elf? This warrior elf on a great mission to serve his people? What kind of dipshit jackass people send a blind warrior out as their champion? Unless elves have a sense of humour that I’ve missed so far. Elfboy II is called Tiarth. So far he’s every bit as much of a jerk as Elfboy I. Thank the gods we only have to take him as far as Neverrest and then we can be shot of him.
Actually no. Think about this. I can be shot of all of them. Wolfgirl I can live with but I don’t think she’s a city girl and I am definitely a city boy. Stalker and I could do something. Shifty too maybe, except he’s from Gammersbridge and he’s a thief and I don’t trust him an inch.
One little thing. While we’re in Klengerford, I get to have a good long hard look at the whistle. It has a name. Azun-Gurd, the Nightcaller. It calls the dead back from their graves. It’s not exactly nice. One piece of magic I’m happy not to carry, although I’ll admit a steadily growing curiosity to see exactly how it works…
NEXT: DIAMOND CASCADE AND THE SECOND QUEST FOR A QUIET NIGHT IN