Saturday, 5 April 2014

Rashamoron



(Editors note; there are a lot more people in this story than simply those speaking below. I had to cut it down to only the few who had provided a first person narration, which meant that a lot got left out. Chris did a fine one in third person, Rey, I left yours out as it all happened some distance from Joe and Grunion and I didn’’t think it had enough context on its own to be self explanatory. Sorry. If other people add theirs for the same events I will bring it back in. It took hours to arrange as it was. If you were there and want to add your own, let me know.)

Gruntruck:
The northern city of Nornrik is a pitiless place of ice and stone. The trees thin, giving a wide berth to these jagged fortifications at the edge of the world. A suitable home for the contemptible white elves, whose clans are numerous and have names difficult to pronounce with southern tongues.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
    For years I had fled that place and my family with it, wandering deserts to ply my trade under strange stars with but a handful of copper pieces to my name. Now that I have returned, I have reason to wish I had not.

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
..somebody here owes me money. Alas, the (somewhat paltry) reward has already been given out, and now the nobleman whose son or nephew or whatever we returned is trying to convince us to kill the queen of this city.

Gruntruck:
 It’s here we found ourselves, being asked to assassinate the Queen of Nornrik by Baron Allrath of House Rath Orlath.

Said queen is a 100 ft tall frost giantess...and known lover(?) of Tizane, saviour and cleric of Vornheim...who was also in our party.

Pete Loudley: (Drunk)
And he’s only offering us 12,000 gold pieces, which is maybe a fifth of what we were paid to fetch a weasel. Admittedly, the weasel turned out to be much more than it appeared, and it was on a separate continent, but still. Market value, yes?

Gruntruck:
So we rejected the offer, and beat feet into the frigid streets of Nornrik, off to see the Queen and inform her of her subject’s treachery.

On the way we encountered a score of elf soldiers, all of them barbaric and drunk, or civilized and drunk. They quickly noticed us.

You there! Such fat creatures! What’re you doing here being so fat and wide!”

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
   “I am of your house, do you not recognise me?”

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
I won’t be the first amongst you that’s seen a fellah git stabbed by a member of his own family, why, there just about the folks most likely to do it, all things considered.

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
I have seen him slay a slaad in a single strike, and stand toe to toe with demons and cannibal mermaids, and he appears to have a strongly enchanted sword; I turn to the nearest bystander and start placing bets.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Ah was anti-chromatic at the time, that is to say, intangible to the eyes. Now old Joe looks kinda like somethin' you'd bang out of a biscuit or feed to an owl, so my ensorcelment was fortunate, visibility-wise, that is. 

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
The fight goes poorly, however. I miss the details, but Malice’s weapon lies on the ground, and Malice himself has been shrunk to a fraction of his usual size.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
So, when I seen this elven gentleman in my acquaintance feuding with his kin on the streets of his own city I say’s to myself;

“Joe” for it’s always been my nature to name myself in my own thoughts to make sure of just whom I’m addressing “Joe “ thinks I “this fools surrounded, shrunk and nowhere near drunk enough to be killin’ a cousin in daytime. Best you do with this like cousin Elwin did with that pig that went wild in the pantry, and occlude the fellow eyes. With delicacy Joe, with delicacy, for these are some fine folks, and use yer best bag too.”

Well that’s just what ah did. And down it goes, now that drunk cousin calmed hisself down right quick, just like that pig did, and it looks like things are lookin real pretty.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
For my own part, I only suffered a few minor scratches and a slight magical reduction in stature.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Well that fool Malice only goes and starts that fight right back up. That’s feuding for you.

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
At this point I remember all the times I have observed this same Malice fall from great heights, and stumble loudly about when trying to sneak about. A bag has appeared over someone’s head…

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
(I’ll speak frankly and tell you that the issue with the bag weren’t quite the first thing to leap to Joe’s mind. Truth is I tried just about every wild-mule scheme that a fellah can try when he’s invisible and monstrously formed in a city he don’t know with a language he don’t speak. I threw bout’ twenty kinds of bullshit at that issue and just at the end some of it stuck.)

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
..and a voice from the crowd begins shouting about a fire. This understandably concerns some people, but they do not know that a number of my comrades have taken to wandering about invisibly, and are prone to shenanigans.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Came about’s that my boy Malice won that dang duel. (Ah never had a lick of doubt about it.)

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
A duel which certain of  my travelling companions, afraid I would lose, used as an excuse to start a panic in the city by use of invisibility, sacks, and calling out that the house of my ancestors was burning to the ground--after the crowd believed them, and a panic began to spread in a city already much oppressed by both local and foreign intrigues.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
It was about that time that folks about started thinkin’ that they house was burnin down. Might be I had something to do with that.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
The dragoon apologized, and I sent him home with money, a crutch, and my name.  I re-joined my companions and the Witch-Consort before they entered the palace.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Well they got fair het up about it, started dashin’ and runnin’ hither and yon. So I thinks to myself;

“Joe, old Fiddlin Joe Cooper” you’ll recall how I address my own self internally, that is to say, in the privacy of mah skull. “Joe why don’t you follow those fellahs runnin’ home and see just what they’re about.”


Gruntruck:
Here the party splits. With the duel concluded, most of the party enters the castle, seeking an audience with Oscula. Meanwhile, Fiddlin’ Joe, Malice, and Grunion make haste to House Aforth Ot with the small mob of elves.

Upon seeing their home safe and unburned, Fiddlin’ Joe invisibly puts a sack on another elf’s head.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
“Now Joe” I  hear you sayin “when you bagged that first fellah, it near almost made sense. That is to say, we could follow yer logic. But now you go baggin another, for no reason? And usin yer last bag  for it too? Old Joe, why you go do a dammn stupid thing like that?”

Truth is, I got no explanation for you. It just seemed the thing to do at the time. I’ve always had a devil in me for mischief. Lookin’ back on things, it might be real lucky for us all that I ran out of bags.

Gruntruck:
Cries of sorcery and panic fill the streets.

“A plague of sacks! Sorcery! All is wrong!”

In the castle, we’re served wine (its description eludes me, but it sounded great).

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
We are received graciously at the palace, which is a remarkably rare occurrence. The wine here is fantastic: I briefly consider the feasibly of exporting it in quantity before remembering the erratic nature of inter-universal travel. Ah well, maybe I can obtain some before we leave...

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
It would be unnecessary, and furthermore impossible, to convey in full detail the splendour of the palace, the sumptuous wine, the titanic beauty of Oscula herself or her voice, which one feels rising within their bones as much as hears through the ears.

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
A one hundred foot tall giant whose every step reverberates through the entire palace has just surprised me. I should drink less.

Gruntruck:
Tizane presentes Oscula with numerous gifts of vanquished enemies and pet dinosaurs, while the rest of us explain the situation.

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
I am trading shop talk with the Court Alchemist, discovering uses for several bits of monsters we’ve been ghoulishly carting around for just this reason

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Ah grew lonesome and sought out the crew ah came in with. Found em’ just about right where ah expected, takin’ tea with a giant in a palace of ice. “That’s their style right enough Fiddlin Joe’” ah thought to myself, makin’ sure to add mah name at the end there to be certain of who ah was talkin’ to.


Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
My compatriots, after a brief reflection on the relative value of hundred-foot-tall semi-divine rulers compared to geographically inconvenient mustelids and the obverse proportionality of the sums offered us to acquire or destroy such beings, chose to betray the treasonous acts of a certain Baron Alrath of House Rath Orlath in attempting to hire a band of travelling murderous vagabonds (to wit, ourselves) to remove the head of state.

Gruntruck:
Queen Oscula thanked us, and promised us a reward. She then used her booming voice to call out Allrath to answer for his crimes in a trial by fjord. This gave the party time to mill about, ask questions, and get things done.

Tizane bathed, washing the blood from her numerous presents. Malice sought to contact his family via letter:

Do you have a salamander?”

“Um...not on my person?”

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
Before preparations for the Trial by Fjord were carried out, word came back that House Rath Orlath had struck down their fortress’ bridges and risen in open rebellion, and that the Queen's soldiers anticipated a long siege.

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
Word comes back that the nobleman is resisting arrest, and has apparently been planning to do so for some time, as his manor is rather effectively turned into a fortress, moat and all. One of our number offers our services to the queen in this matter;

Gruntruck:
“Your large majesty, it would be our pleasure to bring these vile traitors before you. Leave it to us, your tallness!”

Pete Loudly (Drunk)
apparently we’re doing this now, instead of sailing away. My hopes to sail over the edge of this cubic world will have to wait. Metaphors involving cats and herding come to mind.
                                    
Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
My compatriots offered their services to bring the traitor to justice, and I rode away to advise my house of the crisis.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Turns out we got ourselves hired! As what, you ask?

LAWMEN.

That’s right, old Joe done turned workin’ for the Pinkertons. Well you can’t say ah don’t have the skills. Mah familiarity with the criminal kind is known and remarked upon.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
After so many years, they greeted me with open arms. After so many years, they still treated me as a child, and ignored my counsel. I asked them to hold their peace. They promised only caution (and delivered less than that.) I left mere minutes after arriving, telling them I would go and observe the siege. They made no attempt to bar my passage. I wonder if I will ever return again?

Gruntruck:
So we set out to the fortified keep of House Rath Orlath, only to find it almost impregnable. A massive ‘poisoned’ moat, archers in the towers, and after a few stray magic missiles, a magical rune barrier!

Still, some progress was made.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
At House Rath Orlath, my associates were already in motion. Invisible wizardss flew overhead, gathering intelligence. An attempt to breach the wall by magic was made, and runes warding it against such attempts discovered.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
The city has a number of canals crisscrossing it, with bridges at several levels. This manor has a sizeable wall, with a door set flush with it, and the lone bridge stops about a dozen feet short. The canal underneath appears to have been tampered with, as well.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Now, there was only one difficulty with this fellow we was arrestin’, that is to say, his castle. An the army inside it. An the moat, (acidic you know?) together with the towers and walls and, oh damn, just about every dang thing a fellah would need if he was dead-set on not getting’ arrested at all.

And it addition to that, that dang place was buttered up with some kind a hoodoo-resistant coating. Ain’t a damn lick of magic could get in or out.


Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
It was at this point that the descent into calamity began.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Well old Joe never did like waitin’ So he asks these two invisible wizardss he knows, Loud Pete and Gaffer Sticks (ah named him that on account of his birdlike legs and extreme age) to just scoop him up and hurl him at that dang wall.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
Fiddlin' Joe, a human-sized cockroach and the bravest of us, volunteered to be flown invisibly atop the walls and vanished, presumably inside the fortress somewhere.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
Notice a woozy feeling pass over me as we fly over the wall, put it down to the drink. In retrospect, I could easily have died; that was an anti-magic barrier, which fortunately did not affect me this time.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
It’s right about now my tendency to avoid over-thinkin starts getting’ in my way. That is to say. To an observer, it might seem that old Joe had no real idea what he was doin’. Well hold on, says I, and we’ll see about that.

Well you’ve probably seen the inside of castles, more often than not they tend towards a state of locked. That is to say, almost designed to impede yer progress.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
We deliberate, again.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
It’s about this time that my state of induced translucency starts coming in right useful. Those damn guards didn’t know what the hell was going on I tell you! Up goes Joe, and down again, dashin all over that place like the bug he is. Seems ah managed to filch a set of keys of one of those mightily confused elves and just like that, in I go!


Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
Within minutes, we heard shouting and the familiar sound of crossbow bolts shattering on stone, followed by silence.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Well not entirely. I was shot somewhat. Pin-cushioned  to be precise. And beaten somewhat around the head. And captured.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
I had been hesitating, bound by a lack of clarity. The world is all labyrinths, intertwined and obstacle-filled, which must be navigated with cunning and, at times, hewed through with brute force. A maze of stone and blood and thought through which the only sane path leads towards power. Any other course is madness.

    I did not know which side in this conflict would have the upper hand. I did not even know which side I preferred, aesthetically or otherwise. But saving the lives of those I travel with, and having my life saved by them in turn, is both a habit and a professional necessity in our way of life.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
But that ain’t the end for old Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper. Never has been never will be! Turns out by capturing and nearly killing me, these fools had walked right into my hands! They never had a chance I tell you.

Gruntruck:
Growing impatient, Malice considered buying a flatbow to shoot vials of acid at the door, but thought against it.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Well old Joes always been a student of what the greeks called Rhetoric. That’s Bullshit to you and I. So I cracks open the old dung-box and gets spreadin’ just about the most extreme example of de-lusional clap-trap that I or anyone has ever heard tell of at all.

Gruntruck:
Tizane leveraged the might of Vorn to cancel the magical barrier, but it proved too strong.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
“Fellah” I tells this gent I was sent to arrest “why you aint’ locked in, its them out there that’s locked out. Just cause’ you trapped in a castle with people tryin’ ta kill you, it don’t mean they’re against you. Why that’s just circumstance! Turns out most of those folks out there thinks just the way you do about things. Now, obviously, ahm a hideous creature to your eyes, and a thief to boot, havin’ very clearly just broken in, but think about it fellh’ , can’t you see ahm just about as tied up in this situation as you are? Why its that dang Frost Giant Queen out there’s got both of us buffaloed her an”

I’ll remind you to pay especial attention to this part as it’s here that old Fiddlin’ Joes ever-adaptable genius with the human, and in-human mind comes into play.

“why its that Queen and her hidden Goblin allies.” Says I. “They’s all wrapped up in illusion and soon as you get rid of that, well they whole damn city’l be with you!”

Gruntruck:
 After that, the party spent a while throwing flasks of oil onto the far away door and shooting them with flaming arrows.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Well, they bought it. Folks who lock themselves in the house for safety are likely to believe just about anything about the world outside. My old Granny was the same way.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)         
    A rope had been slung from the top of the wall near one of the gates by Grunion, one of the aforementioned invisible wizards. The gap between bridge-end and rope was not too large. I climbed into position, took a running start, slipped, and plummeted several dozen feet through the air into the moat.

Gruntruck:
Gruntruck cast a spell to make his voice more imposing, and then shouted like an idiot, accomplishing nothing.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)       
    I have had a fair bit of practice at falling near-fatal distances, and so it wasn't until the waters of the moat closed over my head and began to dissolve my flesh that I became truly concerned. At the same moment, the hallucinations began.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
I fish a hallucinating Malice out of what is clearly a poisonous acid.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)         
    I remember hauling myself from the moat onto a squirming python, which tried alternately to buck me, strangle me, and bite me with its dripping fangs.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
 (He is one of few people I would bother to do this for, though I muse once more upon his vast swings in competence), narrowly avoiding breathing in the hallucinogen myself.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)            
I remember trying to throw my grappling hook to the far wall, only to discover that it too had become a snake and turned against me. I remember the walls rippling and closing in on me, the world moving farther away somehow, a complete departure of my sense of gravity.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
The end result is a stone door covered in oil and burning desultorily, a rope hung from the top of the wall past the door, and another invisible comrade, this time a fellow arcanist named Grunion, swallowed up by this frustrating manor house. One of the runes has been destroyed, to no apparent weakening of the barrier. Perhaps they merely guide the anti-magic, which is powered from deeper within the residence? Tizane decides to leverage her connections for a catapult.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)         
It is an embarassment to be so often indebted to a human wizard, but a lesser one than being drowned and dissolved in hallucinogenic acid with your own rope tied around your neck, or choking on your own death-froth surrounded by laughing toads (as I found myself mere days before this, but I write too much already.)

    Tizane of Vornheim, the aforementioned Witch-Consort, was able to heal me, and my senses returned shortly. We tried to come up with a new plan of attack--using acid to destroy the antimagic runes? Calling for a catapult?--

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Some folks are always eager to believe in what you might call invisible enemies, that is to say, secrecy and plottin and sucklike. You punch these boys in the nuts and they’ll just send you the doctors bill without a second thought. But you hint that someone out there, hidden away, was plottin and plannin’ to punch em in the nuts…. Well they go loco. And that’s just what this fellah did. He went plum loco.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)       
--and as we did, a voice arose from within the House calling for all elves to rise up against the Usurper, the Tyrant, to restore their dignity, and so forth.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
Presumably our target or his relative, though all of these elves look alike to me. Especially in my condition. He exhorts the city to revolution (doubtless we would have his humble leadership to look forward to), citing the use of siege weapons against the native populace.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)         
Having no patience for speeches, I thought to distract and humiliate the speaker, and fired an arrow tipped with a screaming Akenian flower into his trumpeter's trumpet, where it emitted wailing pleas for death.

Gruntruck:
Let it never be said again that the pitiless white elves of Nornrik are easily vanquished. And now, with panic in the streets, and cries of a “sack epidemic” on their lips, they’re ready to revolt. Subjugation under the frost giantesses has only made them colder and harder; their faces taciturn masks of hate and spite.

They make good wine, though.


Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)         
    Unfortunately, this served to strengthen his cause, as he began to rant about concealed goblins already active among us. Lamentable paranoiac raving, but--given the epidemic of invisible creatures performing pranks, and the horrible screaming flower--plausible.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
Unfortunately, the House of Afforth Ot, Malice’s own people, heed his words and ride forth. There is fighting in the streets.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
We tried to batter our way into the castle by catapult, as dragoons and infantry clashed in the streets,

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
The catapult stones fall into the acid moat, splashing it everywhere.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
and eventually succeeded in destroying a single door.

Tizane expressed a need to depart, but said she would leave a blessing of Vorn with us to protect us and our troops from the chaos that threatened to engulf us.
   So saying, she surrounded us with a huge whirling circle of rusty man-sized blades, spoke a single word, and vanished.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
I will admit to a small amount of jealousy, but constant obeisance to the whims of another is much too high a price. She then is called away, or simply tires of our antics, and disappears.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
   The blades followed me wherever I went, keeping the same distance, obliterating anything that attempted to cross them. This kept us safe,

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
Unfortunately our soldiers are inside the whirling blades, and moving the spell would dice them finely

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
but also trapped our soldiers and meant that we destroyed buildings before we could enter them.
    It was then that I had the idea…

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
so we have them climb the catapult and jump over. This puts them in danger from the marauding House of Afforth Ot, and fighting breaks out.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
   We ordered the soldiers out of the circle, using our catapult as a makeshift bridge, and when only Pete and I were left I tied myself into a harness of ropes, and had him carry me into the air.
    The blades remained on the ground, following us as your shadow does when the sun is directly above you. It was here, looking down over the city, that I had my vision.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
. Once in the air, though, I must reconsider…

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
    Perhaps it was an aftereffect of the acid.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
I have no particular compunction against bloody destruction,

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
Perhaps it was divine inspiration, directly from Vorn—

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
but to wreak havoc with no purpose, upon friend and foe alike, is not a long term strategy worthy of an intellect such as mine.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
Perhaps it was simply born of stress and confusion and irritation at having no clear way to proceed, no real certainty of which foe it was I should be moving against…

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
Besides, that barrier is still up, preventing spellcasting inside the manor.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
..but until this moment I had never understood what it would mean to wield the power of a god.

Suspended over the city, with the freedom to move and destroy, I saw a battlefield where those who served my family were killing those I had undertaken to serve, and realized that it was within my power to reduce this sorry mass of complications and conflicted loyalties to a simpler geometry of rubble and red ruined corpses; to end it all so suddenly and with such incomparable force that all who saw would be overcome by their awe and dismay.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
We will need warm bodies to feed the gods of war, as none save the monk and Malice are even remotely competent in a clash of arms; my alchemical and mutative abilities are vast, but ill suited to open fighting.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
    We advanced, and the blades of Vorn rent apart the facades of thousand-year-old buildings on either side of the street. Dust kicked up. The melee increased in intensity as each side fought to throw the other towards the spinning blades. I called for surrender, exhorting them not to turn elf against elf at a time when the whole world stands imperilled by Tiamat and Demogorgon.
    My words, well-chosen or ill, were too quiet to be heard over the whirlwind of destruction below. No one listened. And it was here that I made my mistake.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
With reluctance, I convince Malice that we should turn around, and test the might of Tizane’s god upon this barrier instead.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
    I relented. I listened to the drunken mumblings of Pete about this being, "Maybe a bad idea, man." I did not look through the forms of the elves struggling in the street below me to the essential meaninglessness of it all, but was trapped by pathetic sympathy for them. I ordered Pete to turn about, to test the power of the blades against imperfect strength of a damaged anti-magic wall.

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
We veer, mighty blades whirling and sending up chunks of cobblestones, tearing gaping holes in walls where the street narrows. As we reach the moat, a vortex of acid whips up. Metal screams, winds howl, there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. We aim for the precise point where the sigils have been damaged and we deem the barrier to be weakest.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
    We wheeled about in the sky, inscribing half a block of the city with deep-cut spirals, and launched out directly at the impenetrable fortress. The blades whipped into the acid lake, enormous, unstoppable, blasting it upward into a frothing vortex of physical and mental dissolution that pocked the surrounding walls and streets with deep pits.

The blades whirled on, touched the warding surface..

Pete Loudly: (Drunk)
The blades wink out of existence. I hate this place. Why did I stop him? This city deserves bloody ruin.

Malice Afforth-Ot: (White Elf)
     In the next few moments, we were shot several times with crossbow bolts--not too badly, but they served to punctuate the immensity of what had been lost. We made it back out, and stared at the barely-dented fortress, once again reduced to a tiny fraction of an immense circumstance beyond our control.
    I have heard it said that the measure of one's character can be found not only in the analysis of actions, but also in the analysis of regrets. Know, then, that I regret nothing more than not dragging the shadow-halo of Vorn's destruction through the streets of the city I was born in, ripping it apart and destroying all who would stand against me. I regret that I am not more of a monster than I am. Ruthless action has carried me as far as I have come, and I feel that it alone can carry me further.
   The opportunity is lost, the error made. It is better not to dwell upon it--but should another present itself, I swear I will not be so weak.


“Gaffer” Grunion
Captured, cunningly, unwelcome guests were we, the Seeliest Grig and I, the woeful wysard of joy bereft and the jigging joyful waylorn monstrosity veiled both by dwimmer-craft.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Well I ain’t been captured but a lick of time and ah’ve just about got the guards convinced that either they, or me, or lord whatshisname is a doggone goblin spy, but who gits dragged in, invisible to boot?

Why it’s good old Gaffer Sticks! The old fellah came in ta help me out!


“Gaffer” Grunion
In an oubliette we languished unseen and forlorn

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Well turns out old gaffer has a real good idea. You recall that fellah we brought back after rescuing? They reason we came to the city at all? Well he’s right here!

“Gaffer” Grunion
until in wisdom unparalleled I cried out to our wicked captors and invoked the name of Duke Vaulwraath whose wretched life we had in foolish younger days snatched from terrible paws. A scion of the House was he and inane with credulity beyond the most gullible idiot child.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Now I’ll be frank, this guy ain’t much smarter than his paw is and it aint long before gaffers got him wrapped right around his little finger. (Fact is, we did save the poor boys life, couple of times maybe, and dragged him home half way across the whole world, so he had reason to think we was upstandin’ citizens, specially me.)

“Gaffer” Grunion
He came and lead us forth, through the frozen citadel, babbling like a gowk, showing us here a demon frozen in a sorcerous snare, there an aqueduct of sacred tears, all foulness and depravity, unspeakable blasphemy harnessed by tyrant sorcery.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Turns out these boys got themselves a dang daemon in an ice cube! Well I’ll be! Must be that what’s powrin’ that anti-hoodoo shell they got.


“Gaffer” Grunion
Away and afar, below and beneath in its fastnesses of ragged stone our compatriots in righteousness suffered and died in brutal fight with the wicked white unseelie thralls of frozen hate. For Vorn they bled and wept in a honeycomb of nightmares while the flippant popinjay blathered his blatherings. Their sacrifice was not unnoticed. Their blood fell like rain and their iron sang a hymn of Vorn.


‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
We’ll this damn deamon’s got some kinda coolant system keepin’ it all chilled out as they say. We’ll what powers that we ask him. He aint shy about showin us neither.

“Gaffer” Grunion
On we went. And it came to pass that we entered the last hallow and looked upon that which none should see, the end of worlds, despicable dark unending and immortal radiance. His eye, in a cage of spines, weeping his truth. 


‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
It’s a damn GIANT EYE. ‘What the HELL’ I thinks. And you can tell ah was distressed cause ah neglected to name myself as I do. Now this big weeping eye was bad enough on top of everything else, but, even though I’d never seen anything like it, ah couldn’t shake the feeling like it knew me somehow.

Anyway, that fellah whose life we saved? Reason we ended up here? Pushed him outta window.

“Gaffer” Grunion
To an attic we ushered that giggling abhorrence to an unceremonious defenestration and the swift embrace of stone unyielding. Then quickly to the aid of Him we rushed and five spines did that chitinous apostle of the Truth remove from his sacred flesh.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Ah got real busy bangin spikes outta that eye like chiggers from a boot-hole. Why, seemed just about the only thing to do. Old Gaffer Sticks disappears for a while, then turns up sayin we got elves askin about the fellah they seen fallin outta the window.

“Well get up her boy!” says I “An help me free this dang GOD EYE, less you think you got somethin’ better to do?”

“Gaffer” Grunion
In ages to come, in iron shrines in the northern rain shall those mighty deeds of Yusephus the Fiddler  be in gilded ikons rendered. But the sixth spine that perpetuated his agony was mine to remove. And he was free.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Well the damn thing got free, and no sooner but it goes rollin! That’s spheres for ya. Strange thing is, just as that giant eye rolled towards me, lookin like it about ta crush me ta death, all that goes through old Fiddlin’ Joe’s head is “Not again”. Aint that strange?

“Gaffer” Grunion
 And we touch him and of a sudden we could see, a blissful servitude, a chosen seat among his templars. Far and far the thunder of his silence rolled.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Now it’s about this time that Fiddlin’ Joe goes and gets religion. Rather unexpectedly too.

“Gaffer” Grunion
A sky of fire. Mountains of ice in tumult, dying and born again. To be the servant of a living god is no servitude, nor ignominy, nor shame, but a storm of joy, unspeakable laughter in the rain.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
And we RIDE THAT EYE! Ah tell you we hopped on that there god eye and rode it just like a dung ball from back home! We crushed and murdered just about every sunbitch got in our way and rode that eye right through the walls and off the roof! Praise be ta Vorn!

“Gaffer” Grunion
From his broken cathedral must needs we flee to the lap of his daughter to prostrate ourselves before her, whose wrath will free him and succor his woe. Him who is ever after the master of us and we his beloved slaves.

‘Fiddlin’ Joe Cooper (Hobo)
Turns out we got a friend out there, Nack the Monk, Kung-Fu fellah you know? With the punchin and such? Well Gaffer and I get crushed and shot just about to pieces and I don’t reckon we woulda minded much cause it was a hellofa ride. But that boy Nack hops right over the wall, shrugs off some arrows like they aint nothing but ticks, kicks three boys to death in about twelve seconds (the last one fled you know?), then before we know it he got potions down our throats and away we go!

After all that we’re kinda back where we started, with us outside and them in, cept now instead of invisible we’re fumitory and two-dimensional respectively. That’s adventuring for ya.

Ah still feel kinda bad about that boy we murdered though. But what do ya expect if you go keepin’ a dang GOD EYE in ya house? An’ in the attic too?












1 comment:

  1. I wish I could find a place to fit mine in, but it ends up being like one of those old Marvel crossovers where Spider-Man shows up, webs a guy to save one of the main characters and makes a goofy quip, and then briefly mentions the whole thing in that month's issue of his own comic.

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