Episode 37. The Finale. Druids are Crunchy.

Often, when you’re being told a story by a storyteller (or perhaps retold the account of one) that was actually there, you’re aware that the storyteller survives. I mean… They must survive right? Because you’re hearing the story.

Tak the Bard had taken great pains throughout his adventures to ensure that each section of his tale was sent back to his home tavern, ready to be compiled upon his return. Thus ensuring, that even should he fall, his tale would live on. Perhaps just missing the last part. Because he travelled with mighty heroes, it’s a fairly safe bet that his story would be told, regardless of him living through the final fight.

For, this is what this chapter is, the tale of the final fight against Corsinar. Now the question remains, did Tak make it? Or are the following words those of his companions retelling his tale?

We’d just fought Flower & his tree-friends. Everyone looked drained, and hardly ready to carry on fighting, but being so close to our destination, Dovin seemed to be vibrating and desperate to reach the stone. Izkin had burnt through his most powerful spells, and whilst I’d been careful, I had still wasted my most powerful on the cage for the druid. We huddled up to discuss what came next, and whilst there was talk of separating out to scout, we decided that the area was too dangerous for this, so instead Tak II scouted whilst Bunny II carried me alongside my friends.

Walking ahead as Tak II was an odd experience. I made no noise, which clearly meant I was near-on imperceptible. I decided to relish in this, by dancing along to an internal tune. I really was enjoying this. Rounding a corner, I spotted a circle of standing stones. In the centre, a single stone stood, surrounded by 4 figures. 3 seemed to match the druids we’d fought previously. The 4th stood in wood armour with a shield emblazoned with a tree. I had a sneaky suspicion this was a bad guy. He wasn’t twirling his moustache or anything, nor did he release a booming ‘mwah hahaha’. Instead, he just twisted his hand in the air, and suddenly Tak II was gone.

Rats. I quite liked Tak II. He reminded me of me.
A quick huddle later, and we were unsure of our action. A voice boomed from the stone circle.

“You can come out now, we know you’re there!”

I answered before engaging my brain “Yeah, hang on a sec moany, we’re just having a chat!”

Now was time for a plan… I looked around blankly, and went with the old adage of “Throw out a stupid idea, and people will step up with a better idea”. “How about we walk in and have a chat. If we don’t like what he has to say, we can always kill him! Dovin can hide as a mouse in Izkins pocket, and Izkin can sneak him to the stone.”

Around me everyone nodded. This was supposed to be the foolish idea to kick off the planning, and we were going with it.

Gah.

So, with me leading the way, we walked into Corsinars camp.
As we reached the edge of the camp, he shouted for us to stop, and walk no further.

I was curious at this point, so I asked “Are you Corsinar? I thought you’d be bigger!”

To be fair, he was a good six foot tall, clad in platemail, armed with a sword and shield. Nature magic crackled from his fingers, and three druids stood behind him. Perched on the standing stones two vultures looked down. Either these were also Druids, or a portent as to what was coming next.
He scoffed at my comment and replied with “I thought you’d be stronger!”

“Corsinar, I must ask. Why are you doing this? Why are you destroying the people and the land? Why the blight?” I hadn’t really thought much beyond this point. Perhaps we could make friends? He’d realise the error of his ways, and we could joke about it over a pint.

Yeah, that was unlikely, but if you don’t try, you don’t know!

“You think I’m hurting the land? You think my goal is to kill the forest? No, this is what the forest wants. Too long have the farmers cut away at the forest to domesticate it. The Forest wants this. The forest controls the blight. We will allow the druid past. He can take on the power of forest warden, and then seed this power to me. This is the wishes of the Forest.”

I’ll be honest, that didn’t really sound right to me, but I’m not a druid. So I turned to Tia, because she is. “What do you think Tia? Is he as full of crap as he sounds?”

Tia nodded.

“I have a counter offer for you Corsinar. You can pop off back home, take your druids with you, and we’ll get Dovin to take care of the forest instead? It’s not an order really, it’s more of a suggestion.”
Wording on these things is always important, and on uttering the word suggestion I twirled my fingers, wiggled my eyebrows, and cast the spell.

He nodded thoughtfully, and turned to instruct his followers to heed my words. Wow. It worked… It really worked! Then his brow furrowed, and he shook off the effect.

GAH!

He turned towards us, and summoned a mote of light. This is one I’ve seen before, and it bloody hurts. I wasn’t going to allow this. I grasped at the arcane light yelling “COUNTERSPELL!” Technically, I don’t have to yell Counterspell, but it always seems like the right thing to do. The arcane nature started to unravel, but one of the Druids closest to him reached out in a similar manner and undid my spell.

Wow, so that’s how that feels.

The beam of light summoned by Corsinar struck Maeb, Tia and Arn. All three were temporarily blinded, and a number of spell effects whizzed back and forth between us. Izkin tried a fireball, they cut the spell off. One of the druids changed shape into a massive corrupted Elephant.

But Tak, I hear you say, when have you seen an Elephant before? Truth be told, I’ve not. But not many creatures can pick things up with their nose. It’s not something that impedes research into animal names.

Bunny darted across, and started to bite and scratch at Corsinar. Sil’vari and Tia’Vari attacked the Elephant, Sil’vari bathing it again and again in frost. This didn’t seem massively effective, but Sil’Vari took a tusk to her side. She seemed a little out of it.

We needed to do something big to pull the druids away from the stone. Something big and stupid.

Nothing says big and stupid like a Takosaurus Rex. To be fair though, Bunny was much better situated than I, so Bunnysaurus Rex was born. Corsinar, and the Druid closest to Bunnysaurus were caught a little off guard. Bunnysaurus bit down hard on Corsinar, shaking him from side to side like a hound with a ragdoll. Her tail swung round, clouting the second Druid.

Arn snuck in an attack, hitting Corsinar squarely in the spine. I swear I could hear the crack from where I stood. Corsinar dropped the solar beam spell he’d been using, and screamed in pain.

Good. Serve him right. Shoulda gone home when we gave him the chance.

Then, Corsinar came up with a cunning plan. This plan was so cunning, it rivals most of mine!

Corsinar shifted shape into a small bird, thus no longer being held tightly by Bunnysaurus’s mouth.

“Oh no!” I hear you say, he’s going to escape!

Bunny snapped her mouth closed. The small bird was still inside. Bunnysaurus swallowed.

And that was the tale of how we defeated the dread druid Corsinar. We had a t-rex swallow him.

Yeah, only druids are tricksy.

Around Bunny, the druids were engaged in close combat with Maeb, Arn and Drax. Tia and Sil fought the Elephant, and I scouted around, tracking all our enemies locations.

“Izkin! It’s clear! Go!”

Izkin raised his cloak to cover his face, and blinked out of existence. He reappeared next to the stone, and dropped a small mouse next to it. He slipped into the shadows, and reappeared elsewhere.

From his new position, he threw a fell spells out to harass the druids.

Drax cast his Guardian spirit again, tasking it with protecting Dovin, and returned to exchanging blows with the Druids.
Bunnysaurus turned on the next Druid. Then, her eyes took on a slight glaze, and her stomach started to rumble. There was an odd sound, which rumbled louder and louder, and with a large noise Bunny crossed her eyes and a puff of green gas escaped from her behind.

The poor creature had the decency to look embarrassed. The green cloud formed up, and coalesced into the shape of Corsinar.

Further displays of Counterspell took place, with both the druids and ourselves getting ever more frustrated at the loss of power each time. Eventually though, a blow from Arn felled Corsinar, and Bunny picked him up in her mouth. We swiftly dealt with the other druids, including the two disguised as vultures! (See, I knew that would happen) and suddenly it was time to celebrate. Corsinar was dead, and Dovin had nearly finished his casting.

Sickly green light began to form around his body, and a moment later, Corsinar freed himself from bunny’s grasp, and leapt to the top of the nearest standing stone.

A window crackled in the air below us, showing a familiar bedroom in the Boss-hut. This was the room holding the Princess. His voice boomed out.

“You will all lay down your arms. Do so, and she lives. Carry on, and she dies.”

If you’d ever had tea with a Tyrannosaurus rex, and had chance to chat over biscuits, you’d know one thing. If you mention arms around them, no matter how innocently, they assume you’re taking the mickey out of their little arms.

Now, Bunny wasn’t a true T-Rex, no, she was a Fey, disguised as a Griffin, disguised as a T-Rex. But some things are built in.

Bunny bit him again, holding him firmly in her mouth. Drax stepped up, casting forth a spell of contagion. This caused slimy sores to appear on his skin. Izkin blasted him again with another bolt of chaotic energy.

I glanced at the portal. Perhaps we’d caught him in time. Maybe the Princess lived?

She did not, she lay unmoving where she was bound. We’d not caught him in time.

Dovin’s head fell, but he carried on with his casting. A blue corona formed around the centre stone. It leapt out, surrounding Dovin. He stepped towards Corsinar.

Corsinar was once more held in Bunny’s mouth. His ragdoll like body being shook back and forth. Dovin nodded.

“Hold him there, don’t let him loose. “ He stepped in front of the floating portal, and cast an unfamiliar spell.

In the bedroom the Princess’s form started to shift. Her skin turning a shade of green, and her shape adjusted. She no longer looked human, but instead seemed of Orkish decent. She opened her eyes, and stood up. The blight no longer covered her, and she gazed in concern at her hands.

Shuddering, he turned back to us. “Will one of you call that irritating god? I’d like a word.”

I looked around. Tia was seeing to Sil’Vari’s wounds. Drax stood watching Bunny chew on Corsinar. Arn stood, blades drawn at his side. Every so often, Corsinar would start to heal, and Bunny would chomp repeatedly until he stopped.

Maeb watched off to one side, bemused.

Taking this as my Cue, and realising that this was to be a moment forever immortalised in history, I struck a heroic pose. Turned my head to the sky, and in my deepest voice yelled…
“Oi, Thistle, get your bum down here!”

I’m well aware that in the retelling, other storytellers will re-write this in an attempt to make it sound more heroic. But this is Thistle, and she doesn’t deserve reverence!

I turned to face Dovin, and she was already standing next to him. He raised his eyes to hers, and said “It’s time. I need you to do this now, as I asked before. I can feel the forest pulling at me now, trying to corrupt the power. Before I had the power, I could feel the forest trying to bend me to its will. If I don’t do this, another will replace Corsinar. He wasn’t the bad guy here, he was just an unfortunate that heeded their call.”

She nodded slightly, and answered.
“Speak the words. I’ll do it.”

Dovin raised his arms from his sides. Punching them firmly into the air. He bellowed at the top of his lungs.
“NO MORE DRUIDS!”

There was a blue flash, and he was gone.

In Bunny’s mouth, the body of Corsinar twitched a few times. Bunny took this as a sign to bite down again, and his spine snapped. Life fled his body, and with a lack of green lights surrounding him now, it became obvious that he wasn’t coming back.

I looked around. Thistle was gone. Dovin was gone. It was only us, and the bodies of those we’d vanquished. The green glowy lights that had dotted the landscape had faded away, and all seemed quiet.

Across from me, Tia stumbled slightly. “I feel weird” she said, “Like somethings missing? Some link that was there is now severed.” She raised her hand, and wiggled her fingers.
Sadness passed over her face. “I can’t do it. My powers as a druid are gone. I can’t manifest the flowers.”

Behind her, Sil’Vari stepped up, “Sister, don’t you see? The magics aren’t different. Not really. The link between Arcane and nature are there, you just need to manipulate it differently. See?”

A small rose climbed its way across Tia’s palm, and her face lit up. The grin was quickly gone as she spotted her audience.

“Time to go home?”
Drax nodded, “Yes, I think it’s time.”

He opened a rift, and on the other side we could see the second floor of our floating tower. Dirt busy cleaning. We stepped through, and we were home.

EPILOGUE
In the weeks following the fall of Corsinar, the land tried to return to normal.

The blight affecting the northern lands slowly started to recede, but its withdrawal stopped at the Great Forest. While the half of the forest occupied by Corsinar lost its air of corruption, the whole forest became more foreboding, the races of the land felt less and less at home under the branches of the trees.

The gnomes and other races slowly left the forest, or just disappeared, the trees continued to stir and the forest inhabitants were no longer welcome beneath their branches.

The Mud-men spreading the pools of filth dropped almost immediately upon Corsinar’s defeat, and the coming rains began to restore the farms. It took a few seasons before crops began to grow again, but through the collective hard work of the farmers and fishermen of the region, actual starvation was kept at bay.

All the druids across the land had lost their powers, with a single exception, the unlikely novice Tia’Vari.

The Order of the Tree were slow to accept this change, the paladins and clerics of their number still held their powers, but the druids were very much diminished. In the coming months they split, a small order with nature powers continue to try and tame the forest, while those with only martial skills formed a guard for the princess in exile.

The children affected by blight woke after a few days. The disease affecting them cleared, and their only recollection of the time was a series of bad dreams featuring nothingness consuming them.

The forces of the South, once bolstered by Corsinar’s strength had taken the seat of power and exiled the Order of the Tree. They hold dominion over the south and claim they will only relinquish it to the rightful heir of the royal line. Of course there are some problems with that, the princess being rather unrecognisable, but maybe that’s a tale for another day.

Tak, having found his story complete, vowed that he should tell his tale far and wide. He travelled across the land, North and South, spreading his tale where it’d be heard. He never did see Thistle again, but he swore every time he passed a statue of her, it winked at him.

Eventually he ended up back home again. The floating tower still floated above the dock. Ownership never completely having been agreed on. It was Tak’s plan to transform the lower deck into a floating tavern, where he could spend the rest of his days telling the locals about the time he travelled with Heroes.

 

Episode 36. Druids, Druids, and… trees.

The closer I get to the conclusion of this story, the more breaks I have to take! Honestly, the memory of the fight alone is enough to tire me out!

Lets see… Druid inna Cage. Check.
Chompy the Crocodile… Snap! I mean… Check.
Chompy was sitting there glaring at me. No tears on this monster. I grabbed hold of Bunny II, and winked at the Croc, then teleported away.
The Druid I’d catched vanished. (Bah, stupid Druids cheating their way out of my powerful spells!)

Arn fired off his crossbow at the croc, hitting it squarely between the shoulder-blades, then ducked behind a tree and vanished from sight. Maeb uttered a quick prayer, and the air around her shimmered an odd yellow radiance. Drax drew on the radiant energy, and sent a bolt of blinding light into the crocodile. There was a fair amount of stabbing, and throwing around of pewpew spells. I lost track at this point of who did what.

The second Druid reappeared outside the cage. He’d turned into a mouse and scurried between the bars. I must make a point of making it a solid cage next time!

The Croc, being black and blue from the spells and attacks morphed into another druid. Either Crocodiles are shapeshifters now… Or maybe this was never a crocodile to begin with! He struck a stance, and called down fire from the skies. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t overly fond of this idea, so I sucked up the arcane energy he was using, and counter-spelled it. He glared at me, (diddums) and his friend struck the same pose. Rats, I was in the middle of recharging, so wouldn’t be able to stop this one!

Tia’vari, bless her little silk shoes, Counter-spelled it. I was so proud! Then… Then she did something amazing. From the ether she pulled forth a giant hand. It mimicked her hand in every way, except size. This thing was 10 foot across. She raised her hand, and brought it down flat on top of the Druid. Scratch (or maybe Splat) one druid. She backhanded the other one, sending him flying. We made quick work of him while he reeled from the blow.

Then, we pushed on towards the “make Dovin a Forest Warden” place. We can only have taken another ten steps when Ents and mud-men assaulted us. It’s feeling very much like someone doesn’t want us to make it!
So, We killed them too.

Yes, I’m sure I could describe how Izkin used his disintegration beams, or how Maeb plucked a gem from her helm and cast “Tak’s Disco Spray” (Apparently she doesn’t call it that, apparently NOBODY calls it that…) There was lots of pews. lots of stabs, and ultimately, we’re that much closer to Corsinar. What’s important though, is that Flower decided to join the fight. He snuck up behind me, and stabbed me. I’d be offended, but that clearly means he thinks I’m the biggest most powerful person in the party! Either that, or he hates me, and let’s face it, it couldn’t be that!

So… I was standing there with bits of me falling out that shouldn’t. Barely holding it together, and thought this would be a perfect time for my new spell. I cast it, immediately making myself invisible, and a second, almost as awesome Tak appeared. He chased after Flower, making sure to keep him in sight. I say he… It was technically me. I could see everything Tak II could, and guided him where he needed to go. Everyone else gave chase after Flower, and he frantically turned and stabbed Tak II. I think he thought he was actually me. Fortunately for Tak II, he wasn’t real. So Flower stumbled through him, into the path of everyone else.

And they unleashed all the fire and anguish back on him that he’d caused us. He probably lasted around 5 seconds.

I stumbled over to his body, drinking potion after potion, trying to get myself back to a stage when I didn’t feel like two halves of me were heading in different directions. I grabbed the portable hole from his body, and a few other notable bits. Tia swooped in and grabbed her library book.

I very much doubt we’re going to get a chance to rest before we meet Corsinar, but win or lose, we got Flower first!

Episode 34 ½ (or 35… You decide, I won’t judge) Stupid #@$ing Gnome!

Ok, Ok, I said I’d get back to you on what happened next! I’m going to apologise though. I’m feeling angry, and it limits my storytelling!

Between us all, we disintegrated, fireballed, and generally stabbed Dandelion and her bunnies to death. Through-out the fight, Dandelion got angrier and angrier before ultimately falling to our attacks.

We made sure the orcs were well, and organised getting them back to our tower together with the food they’d been trying to rescue. On reaching the tower, we found a note. Once more in flowery writing.

It basically stated that Flower had visited. Quite liked our portable hole, and stole it.

With half our gold, and the one main method we used for controlling the height of the tower.

Stupid little git. When I get my hands on him…

So, we limped back to the city, in the tower, floating five feet off the ground. On reaching the city we passed the food and orcs over to the city and visited the bosshut.

The missions we’d sent out had sent word back. The Ent had died, our forces weren’t enough to save it. The gnomes had been saved. The line had held. We’d lost a fraction of our forces, but if ever there was a time to push forward into enemy lands, it was now.

We rode North east for as long as we could, pushing into the blight. After a day or two’s travel, it became obvious that the horses we’d brought were just a hindrance and we pushed on by foot. Each night, we’d rest, and I’d summon forth a small hut to keep us protected. (It provided shelter, rather than run around with a sword and shield!) This plan worked for a few days, when on the fourth, we encountered a strange figure leaned against a stump. It didn’t need much observation to recognise a druid, nor much extra to see the madness and blight in his eyes.

I started to pull Bunny II into a climb, but from the muck next to me, a giant Crocodile burst. It tried a bite, which I turned away with a witty remark. I was busy congratulating myself for saying “In a while!” when its tail smacked into Bunny, sending us both tumbling into the dirt.

The druid raised his hand, and started chanting. So, I did the only sensible thing, and threw a force cage around him. That should take care of him for a while!

Now, I just need to deal with Chompy the Crocodile!

Episode 34 A smattering of Disco.

Arriving back in the city, we were met by Sergeant Scoff. Apparently Rodrin would like to speak to us again. Honestly, we get no rest.

We strolled through the streets towards the Bosshut, picking up quite a following as we did. Initially I thought they wanted a song, but quickly it became evident that Sil’Vari’s presence was stirring up the crowds. Izkin siddled up to me, asking if we should perhaps sell tickets to make some fast cash on the side. We had to remind him at this point that our tower was over-flowing with gold! As he turned away to contemplate this, I spotted his wings. Suddenly I wondered if Sil’Vari’s birth would affect these! I reached out and pulled on his wing.

Apparently, you don’t pull wings in polite company. Lesson learnt.

Reaching Rodrin, he started to explain that with the area of blight cleared, a large number of forces were freed up to help push the advancing line of blight back. He outlined a list of forces. We added to this the approaching Goliaths, Dwarves, and Order of the Tree Druids. This gave us quite a decent number!
He then admitted that the general that would normally order the troops into battle had been lost in a tussle with mud monsters, and would we help with the planning.

There were four issues that needed seeing to.

Holding the line of blight

Rescuing some fishermen who’d been providing food to the city.

Helping the last remaining Ent hold back the blight.

Gather a village of Gnomes that had refused to leave when the blight encroached. Apparently the Forest Warden had told them not to.

We sent the majority of forces to the front, and split the remainder between the Ent and the Gnomes. We decided to head to the village of fishermen ourselves to see what people and food we could salvage.

We spent a day preparing the troops, before heading out ourselves. The journey along the coast became perilous as we drew closer. High winds buffeted the tower, and the tame Elemental struggled. I summoned a second, and after a few minutes working together they managed to start making headway again.

On reaching the village, we spotted flames leaping into the air. A quick recon mission was needed, so Izkin and I took to our wings, swooping around the village to find out what we could see. Several Fire elementals dotted the landscape, clawing away at the village buildings setting them on fire. Orcs ran for cover, with a small bunch trying desperately to load a wagon with crates. This should be quite easy. We’ve fought elementals before. It’s no biggy.

We returned to the others to explain what we’d seen. Whilst we’d been gone Maeb had also had a look, so between the three of us we had a pretty good idea of the terrain. I think that’s why we didn’t really think things through and come up with a plan. Normally we’d go in as a single group and attack the same things. Today though, we scattered.
In scattering, it meant we were each dealing with elementals of our own. Izkin, Maeb and myself stayed up high, raining damage from above. Drax, Arn and Tia’Vari (with her sister Sil’Vari in tow) made a beeline for the closest two elementals.

Being on Bunny II’s back certainly gave me an advantage, I could see a wider view of the battle, and as I glanced down, I spotted two large semi-familiar creatures leap from bushes.

These looked remarkably similar to the mounts a lot of Gnomes rode. In fact, Dandelion had told me when we first met, the she’d been a herder for Jakelope (Ja-Ka-Lope), breeding them for riding.

I’ll be honest, They basically looked like giant Bunnies. Dandelion had always described them as having massive antlers, and being viscous beasties, but every one we’d ever seen didn’t have these antlers. Massive Bunnies. Apparently, most of the time it was because either “they grew them in mating season”, or “This is a female jakelope, their antlers grow in at a later age”. There was always a reason why it wasn’t just a giant bunny.

Anyway. Giant Bunnies leapt from the bushes, only… They weren’t giant bunnies. These had weird boney protrusions from their faces. Not antlers, no, these were more like an ants mandibles. They looked rabid, and ugly as hells! I think these might have been JakeNopes.

Izkin spotted them first, whilst sending a beam of frost arcing through the air towards an elemental. It connected, sending hissing steam into the surrounding area. Tia’Vari followed up with a globe of ice that she summoned from the air, sending it hurtling towards another elemental. Arn dashed over, wielding a new blade we’d had crafted for him by the town weaponsmith. Stab, stab, and a final stab. The first JakeNope reeled back from these blows, and kicked out at him. How it didn’t send him flying into orbit I’ll never know.

Izkin peppered the area with an icestorm. The icy projectiles damaging elementals and dampening the fire surrounding them. Tia followed with a Sleetstorm, which had a similar effect. Maeb swooped in, stabbing left and right, and Drax summoned forth more guardians to help.

I glanced at the JakeNope pacing below me. It had leapt a few times trying to reach me, but I was just a little too high. Perched on its back, angrily screaming was a familiar face. Dandelion sat snarling with her firey red hair slashing backwards and forwards. On closer inspection her hair didn’t look like hair any more, it more resembled firey tentacles. As I watched it, it appeared to also be watching me.

Freaky!

I glanced across the battlefield again, and noticed that most of the elementals and Jakenopes had nicely lined themselves up for me. I whispered to Bunny II, and she swooped down in a dive at Dandelion. As we rushed closer, I grabbed my lute, and whispered a few words on an incantation I’d been working on.
“Disco Disco Disco Spray!”

Ok, the catch phrase could do with some work, but a wedge of multi-coloured light leapt out from my lute. Red, Orange, Green, Yellow, Blue, Indigo, Violet and Black. Where the light fell across the enemy. One Elemental immediately vanished, one was blinded. Acid, Poison, and ice damage abounded. Unfortunately, I’d not been as careful as I’d hoped. Maeb and Rarity also we hit with multiple beams. Whoops. Sorry. Rarity froze in place, and Maeb leapt from her back.

I think I might need to refine this spell. Bad Tak!

On the plus side, a second Elemental also died!

I swooped back up, momentarily placing myself within Dandelions reach. She lashed out with a very familiar axe we’d had made for Wordi (Damn you Flower).

Ow.

Then the hairs eyes (yeah that sounds weird) turned on me, and the hair also lashed out.

OW!

And now I’m on fire.

Izkin swooped a little closer. Double pointy fingers at the ready. Two black beams lashing out at the JakeNope and Dandelion. The pretend rabbit reeled back in pain. Dandelion just looked angrier.

Turning her attention from me, Dandelion spotted Maeb at an easier to reach height, and rushed in to attack.

We needed a plan. Maybe it was time to pull something big out of the hat, though I think most of us had already swung with our biggest weapons. I’ll get a drink, and tell you what happened next. Hang in there.

 

 

Episode 33 – Finger Guns and Gravity.

So we surveyed the potential battlefield from above. Bunny II and Rarity struggled under their dual burdens, and after seeing the sheer number of mudmen crawling around, it became obvious we’d need a little help. We took a quick vote and decided to go back and collect Drax and Izkin.
Back at the tower, we discussed potential methods of attack. Eventually Arn just slammed his fist on the wall and said “We take the tower!” I didn’t write that in full caps, but that gives a good hint at the gruffness of voice he used.

So we took the tower.

We hovered at about 100 feet up. I figured if I couldn’t cast spells on things on the ground. They couldn’t cast spells on me. Once we’d found a good spot, filled with mudmen, it was time for our attack. The plan was simple. Featherfall down in wizard Special Forces style. Firing arrows and spells as we descended. Wipe out all the bad guys. Win.
At this point. We could probably see around 20 mud men. We destroyed at least half of these before we hit the ground.

Glancing around, I realised that Tia hadn’t joined us. She was sat up on the tower still, watching us with a bemused smile on her face. To our left, a fireball bloomed. It had her signature all over it. Ok, so she wanted to stay at far range then.

Izkin reached over and patted Bunny II on the leg. He waggled his eyebrows. I swear he didn’t pick that up from me. I started to feel a bit queasy. 10 beers queasy. From Bunny’s stance, I don’t think I was alone. Behind the mudmen, a ripple formed in the air, and suddenly where once was nothing, not a huge gnarled tree stood. Its bark glistened with the familiar oily residue that we’ve come to recognise as blight. Off to the left and right, similar shimmers resolved into other corrupted Ents.

So, that’s how it is eh?

From above, another fireball bloomed. Tia again. Maeb plucked a gem from her helm, and a second fireball exploded.

Bunny II hiccupped, and opened her mouth, A wide beam of fire leapt forth, dowsing the closest Ent and Mudman in fire. I was about to pat her and ask if she was ok when I felt a sneeze brewing. I sneezed and lost my eyebrows in the process. Another lance of fire tickled at the Ent, and his outer branches caught fire.

Izkin turned slightly, positioning himself so he could easily see two Ents. He poked out both fore-fingers, pointed at each of the ents, and muttered a command word. Two beams, blacker than anything I’ve seen before leapt from his fingertips. Direct lashing out at the ents. A section from each of his targets just vanished. On one Ent, it was a section of his main trunk. A massive hole in the middle just gone.

Izkin blew his fingers smugly, and holstered them. Behind him, one of the Ent’s he’d targeted lash out, knocking him left and right. His eyes crossed a little, and he looked concussed, so I had Bunny swoop in. I jumped from the saddle and teleported with him to a safe spot next to Tia’Vari.

Back below in the battlefield Drax and Arn were being batted around like Cat toys. Maeb had engaged one of the Ents in combat from Rarity’s back. The Two Goliaths had managed to rain retribution on the corrupted Ent’s, and with a swift well-placed blow, Arn dropped first one, then the other. I jumped back down, intending to float back to the fight, but Bunny II caught me mid-air. We made a beeline for Maeb, releasing one of my more powerful healing spells on the way. Trying, whilst I did, to target as many of my friends as possible.

The tide of the battle had changed, all the mudmen were down, and only one final Ent remained. It struck a pose, grabbing low and thrusting its hand up. Around us, twenty more Mudmen rose. That’s just not fair. I didn’t read in the rulebook that they could do that! I call shenanigans!
Izkin swooped from his perch, He was yelling something as he did. I’m not sure what it was, but it sounded awfully like

“Whoops sorry!”

I was confused. He hadn’t done anything. Suddenly, almost all the mudmen and the Ent looked very alarmed. They started to fall upwards. Flailing like Dolls. Maeb, having been stood next to them, als started to fall upwards. It took a moment for Rarity to re-orientate herself, and as a result, they fell upwards slower.

Izkin giggled, yelling “All change” and he dropped his anti-gravity spell. All the mudmen and the Ent had fallen to around 100 feet up in the air, suddenly found that 100 feet up in the air became 90, 80 60, 30… SPLAT. The Ent… Ended. The Mudmen, died. Everything that was standing around just stopped. No more mudmen. I’d say it was anti-climatic, but looking around, everyone looked beaten and bruised, with the possible exception of Tia’Vari, who hadn’t let the tower platform. We ferried everyone back up, dragging with us the last corpse of the fallen ent. Its skin giving off some kind of arcane essence. We started to examine it, when Dovin came bursting into the room. Apparently Tia needed us instantly. Something was going on with her Egg.

Fearing the worst… (Well, I say the worst… In my mind someone had stolen the Egg, or Someone had dropped it. Scrambled sibling all round maybe?) I grabbed Drax and teleported upstairs. On the table in front of Tia, the egg rocked slightly. Tia was frantic with worry.

“What if its bad. What if its evil? What if it’s a new minion of Corsinnar?”

Look, I’m not proud of what I did next. It totally wasn’t hilarious and was immature and unfunny. Honest.

I invoked one of my cantrips, and hushed infernal whispers started to surround the egg. The faint sounds of chanting and whispering echoed around the room.

Everyone started to freak out, but I couldn’t keep a straight face. I dropped the spell as I fell into fits of giggles. Tia fixed me with a firm stare, and her silence said enough. Bad Tak, no cookie.

She turned back to the egg as a long crack appeared along the width of it. A chunk of shell fell away, revealing a small silver eye. Something uncurled inside, and more shell cracked and crumbled. As the creature inside stretched, the final pieces of shell dropped away, and we were left facing an incredible small, yet shiny and fully formed Silver Dragon Wyrmling. It fixed its eye on Tia’Vari, and she jumped. We found out afterwards that it had been communicating with her by telepathy. This was her sister, Sil’Vari. Last of the silver Dragons. Tia was to be her Guardian, and Sil would possibly hang around for a while.

Currently, she was roughly the same size as Arn. I’d never seen a Wyrmling before. I’d imagined baby dragons to sit in your palm, but if Sil sat in my palm I’m not sure I’d still have a palm.

Well. Another joins the party. Now all we need to do is create a new forest Warden. Simple!

Chapter 32 – A suit for an Orc.

Eiuw. Just Eiuw.

Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself, but Wow. Disgusting.

We rested for the night in the tower. Halfway through my watch I could hear voices from the floor above. I popped up to check, and found Thistle and Dovin talking. Dovin looked sad, and I only caught the end of the conversation, but he was clearly worried about being up to the task of Forest Warden. Thistle was her normal annoying self, and spotted me seconds after I arrived to listen in.

She turned from me to Dovin, and said “You only need to call me, and I’ll come.”

I called out “Don’t listen Dovin, she only comes when it serves her! The rest of the time you’re just shouting into the void!”

She chuckled and answered “That’s a very accurate assessment Tak.”

I started to answer, but it was too late, she was no longer there.

“Dovin, if you need to talk, I’m on watch downstairs, you could com…” It was too late, he’s shifted into an owl, and flittered out of the window.

This is obviously becoming a thing.

I turned and descended the stairs, and resumed my watch. On the floor next to the spot I’d been leaning against previously was a small white envelope. It hadn’t been there before!

I poked it with my toe. It conveniently didn’t turn into some sort of monster and try to eat me.

I lifted it up and sniffed it. It smelt like an envelope. I guess that’s ok then.

I opened it.

Inside, in cute flowery writing (this is amusing to me now, but hang in there, you’re not there yet) was a letter and a large key.

The letter said “Who you’re looking for is in a basement near the Wandering Hand. Take this key and use it on one of the grates in the Inns cellar, don’t get lost it’s even more of a rat’s warren down there than the streets.”

Right. I guess this counts as a clue.

Clue or not, it was still the middle of the night, and you don’t get to be as pretty as me without a good night’s sleep every 16 hours or so. So I did the sensible thing and got a good night’s sleep.

The next morning, I passed the letter round. We all agreed that the best time of day to mount an exploration into the cellar of a pub was first thing in the morning. We gathered our stuff together, leaving Izkin and Drax in the tower. Drax mentioned something about setting up a small alter on the middle floor. Somewhere to pray and commune with someone or other. I’ll be honest, it was all religious to me, and I tend to zone out with the opening hymns.

We quickly arrived at the tavern, and on opening the door I had vague recollections of having been here before. The Barmans name was Vilgorth, or something odd like that, but everyone called him Dave. I’m pretty sure I’m not making that up.

The tavern floor was covered in bodies. As were the stools, tables, and oddly the bar. Fortunately, these bodies were of the breathing, snoring, hung-over type. We did the best thing we could, and tiptoed past them towards the cellar door at the back. Dave sat slumped across the entrance to the cellar. I held a hushed conversation with Tia.

“What do we do here? Should I wake him?”

“You said you knew people here, and that we should play it cool!”

“Yes Tia, but what is playing it cool? sneaking over him? or Waking him and asking him to let us down?”

Tia shrugged.

I turned and shook Dave’s shoulder.

“Dave, wake up, its morning. I’ve covered for you so far, but you need to be managing the bar!”

“Huh, whassup? what time is it?”

“Its morning Dave. Tell you what, go sit on your stool, I’ll grab you something from the cellar to wake you up a bit.”

Dave’s eyes seemed to be focusing into different dimensions, and any pact with the god of hangovers was obviously well off the table. He stumbled over, took two attempts to sit on a stool, and face planted into his arms on the bar.

We all exchanged a look, and slowly backed down into the cellar.

Masters of deception! That’s us!

A bit of scurrying around in the cellar, and we found the door that the key fitted into. It started to squeal as we opened it, but a simultaneous casting of ‘mending’ by Maeb and myself instantly cleared up any issue with the door and it smoothly opened.

Inside the door a figure sat slumped in the corner. It was vaguely familiar, and the cloak on its back certainly rang a bell. Wurdi had been wearing it last time we met. A second glance and the slumped figure turned out not to be a figure at all. No, this seemed to be some kind of mask attached to the cloak. I picked it up and poked it. A little leathery, but definately looked like Wurdi. Whoever had been wearing this was obviously a master of disguise. I lifted the mask to my face. It stank. The inside of the mask felt leathery, and a bit gross. like the insides of a person… There were hollowed out hands attached to this disguise too. It looked like someone had basically skinned Wurdi and worn her skin for a disguise.

And here I was holding it up to my face.

Eiuw!

Eiuw! Yuk!

A small note dropped from the Wurdi skin to the floor. It said “Thanks for the Axe, my friend needed a new one! xoxo Flower.”

It was also written in a neat Flowery (Ha! you get it now?) text.

So, to summarise for those of you that may have zoned out there. It looks like Flower had been wondering around, wearing Wurdi’s skin, pretending to be her. Flower, not Wurdi, sent us off on those collection missions. Flower got the axe, Flower got the coin, and… OH NO! Flower has tia’s library book!

These are things we’ll have to deal with, so we decided to push on and see what else we could find down here.

A left, and a left again, and we were face to face with a large metal set of bars.

I guess this is where I use the “Well thats grate” pun!

because grate… Metal bars… Honestly, I get better crowds in Gnomehome!

The other side of the bars stood an Orc, a Dragonborn and a Tiefling. The Orc being the familar form of the Heir, Narack. The two with him were clearly the other two children. We gave them a quick poke to make sure they weren’t Flower in a Child-suit. Apparently they weren’t. Maeb cast a quick detection spell, and couldn’t find any trace of corruption on them. This, I hope, is a good thing, though a little odd.

We hurried them out of the cellar, grabbing a bottle of something evil-looking on the way out. I placed it in Dave’s hands as we left, after all, I’m a Tiefling of my word! (mostly).

We quickly made our way to the boss hut, walking past sets of guards briskly. Each set we saw jumped to attention, with one of the first rushing off ahead to announce us. Rodrin was waiting for us by the time we reached his office. His old face beaming with joy at the sight of the Heir.

“You… You found him!”

“Well, yes, it was quite simple really, we just had a look around, and there he was!” I started with, but Rodrin looked confused. “No, I’m joking, it was really quite a search, and led us into the darker underbelly.”

We talked for a while, explaining how Flower had been posing as one of the key figures in the cities underground. How he’s been manipulating things and knew what was going on. We also warned about the type of disguises he could use, before changing the subject due to the intensely yucky nature of the disguises.

Arn sent a message off asking Dovin to join us, and we started to explain to Rodrin about the approaching groups of Goliaths. It sounded like the perfect time to give warnings of the help from our allies in the south.

“Rodrin, you’ll recall we spent some time south of the border. Whilst there, we befriended the order of the tree.” (I say befriend… We led an ancient dragon to them, killed it in their courtyard, stole one of their order, and snuck out under cover of darkness, we’re clearly best friends!)

“At some stage in the near future we’re going to need their help. I’d like you to prepare the way for that. People here need to understand that we are all working together for the good of the realm, and we’re no longer enemies.”

Behind Rodrin, the guard on the door looked like I’d spat in his porridge. Clearly the thought of help from southerners didn’t sit well.

Rodrin on the other hand seemed fine with it. “Well, its clear to me we should take any help offered, regardless of its origin point.”

A guard picked this moment to rush in, clearly out of breath and had been running for a while.

“The Fires *pant Pant* The fires *pant* someone put the fires out! We need help fighting back the blight.”

Honestly, they never pick the best time… It’s never ‘Tak sat sipping his cocktail, he finished it feeling energised and…’ but no, you go right ahead and interrupt our chat!

We ran outside, and the four of us jumped upon Bunny II and Rarity. the two steeds groaned a little under the weight, but carried us out to the circle of blight by the city entrance. Four orcs stood staring hopelessly as a line of fire flickered out.

The largest of the four turned to us and sobbed “It aint our fault boss. we sticked da logs on dere, and keep the fire going, but dis big creature with a flaming gnome on its back leaped over. As it did, da fire all leaps up and joins with da gnome. Honestly Boss, we got no more logs. and Da Wizards aren’t going to be ‘ere in time.”

Behind the Orcs, large logs still burned with a feverish intensity, but two sections of the blazing wall had spluttered out. Almost as if two gateways had been created in the flames. For now, nothing moved inside the blight, but it was unlikely to be long before something did.

We held a quick hero huddle, and Maeb said she could block off one of the entrance points with a line of her own fire. This would leave a single point of entry, and her and Arn would lock this down. Tia and I would stand back and throw magic at the problem.

I’ll be honest, blowing things up with magic has never been my strong point. This was always something that Tia or Izkin excelled at. I’ve always been all about boosting others.

I looked down at Bunny II. Bunny II (for those that have forgotten) is a Griffon. Griffons are pretty much made of beak and claw and have the wonderful habit of ripping apart things when hunting. I could send Bunny II in, and boost her! That’d work.

Oh, but while I was at it, perhaps I could send someone else in to help Bunny II. These things hate fire? I’ll send in Scorchy the Fire Elemental. Between the pair of them, it should all work fine. Then I can hang back here, and help out where needed.

Within a moment of this decision, the first mudmen appeared. Oozing across the blight towards the entrance. Two to the left, two to the right. Tia, Arn and Maeb covered the right flank, Bunny and Scorchy covered the left.

Tia and Maeb threw fireballs in, and Arn fired quickly from his crossbow. Bunny II and Scorchy made short work of their targets too.

Four Mudmen down! We’re awesome. Panic not though, because more mudmen headed in.

More fireballs, some scorching rays, lightning strikes and some more biting/clawing and scorched punching. We were dealing with these Mudmen far too easily. Could keep this up all day!

Which is always totally the wrong thing to say. From behind a large ruined stump ahead of us squelched another mudman. This one easily three times the height of the mudmen we’d been fighting. Further back, more mudmen lurched.

I was just lining up to throw some powerful spells its way when Maeb spread her wings, help out a hand, and softly said “Begone.”

Where the creature had stood, the imprint in the ground slowly started to seep back to cover the complete absence of mudman. Wow. Maeb just made it vanish! That’s impressive!

So, we did the right thing, and blew up the rest of the mudmen.

Another of the large beasts lumbered into sight. I glanced at Maeb, but she shook her head. The vanishing thing was obviously a one time deal.

So We poured on fire, lightning and beaks. Maeb closed in, swinging her blazing sword, and the creature fell.

Behind us, the Larger Orc sounded excited. “Dey are here! Da Wizards are coming!”

Of course they are. We finish killing things just as they show up. Just like a wizard to wait till the heavy lifting is done. Two of the wizards rushed in, with a large sack each. They upended the sacks, spilling a massive log which each individually blocked the gaps in the wall of flames. Two other wizards cast walls of flames which quickly took hold of the logs.

Maeb uttered a softly spoken “Return” and the Large Mudman popped back into being. Slap-bang in the middle of one of the flamewalls. It went up in seconds.

I bet the wizards claim that as their kill!

The problem was now contained. The circle complete again. Now all that we needed to do was work out whether something was causing this blight. We all mounted up again, and took off on a scouting mission across the blight.

Dark pools of ooze spotted the landscape, and each stump, rock and tree that protruded hung with fetid nastiness. Gloopy oil dripped from the dying vegetation, and strange lights flickered around each lump of land visible.

This was going to take some investigating. Possibly at closer range. Me-thinks we might need to grab Drax and Izkin for this. Things might get sticky.

Tak – It was on the books.

So finding two gnomes in a city of refugees. Simple eh?

Slightly easier when you consider that gnomes aren’t a massive section of the population of Roccor. The town of Gnome-home isn’t far from Roccor, so most choose to stay there. If you’re an evil servant of Corsinnar gnome, it’s unlikely you’d have left the city though, so we’ll ask around, sure SOMEONE has seen them?

The line of questioning went something like;

“Excuse me?.. No, don’t run away!”

“Excuse me?… why are you screaming? We’re not scary!”

But finally, “Oh, hi, I don’t suppose you’ve see two gnomes. One with badger face tattoos, flaming red hair and a tendency to break things, and the other with a pointy hat, and the ability to look as generic as possible.”

The gnome we asked this of paused for a moment. “Well, don’t ring no bells, no. But you’d be best asking at ‘the Wandering Hand’ Tavern over there. Or maybe…”

He trailed off, then backtracked. “No, the Wandering Hand is where you want. Yes, it’s your best bet.”

One thing I’ve learnt, is that the unspoken idea is often the idea to pursue. I asked him to clarify his unspoken thought.

“Well, there’s a small building just before you reach the Wandering hand. It’s along the street, two doors down on the left. It’s a dangerous place though, filled with dangerous people. However, they tend to know what’s going on in the city. If you ask there, they may be able to help. Please don’t tell them I told you about it though!”

So, shadowy less-than-legal operation with its finger on the pulse! Just like all the tales! This is going to be awesome!

So we followed the gnome’s instructions, and tapped on the open door of the place. The interior resembled a small tavern, with tables set out for a number of occupants. An elderly Orcish lady swept at the floor half hearted, mumbling to herself about the wiles of a guardsman. She turned at the sound of us tapping at the door, and beckoned us inside.

Her name was “old Wurdi”. I’m not sure if old was actually part of her name, but she often referred to herself in the third person. It was a little odd.

She asked us what we wanted, and we explained we were looking for some old friends. Gave their description, and she was quiet for a moment. We may have neglected to describe them as ‘evil monstrosities’ but that snippet may not help us at the moment.

“Well,” she said, “Old Wurdi (there she goes in the third person again) has a terribly busy morning ahead of her! A whole list of tasks to carry out. I’m sure if someone was to take care of it, Old Wurdi could get to helping folk!” She was waving a to-do list with a number of scrubbed out items on. I took the list, and gave it a cursory glance. Only three items remained, and fortunately “Clean the midden” was already scrubbed out.

Item 1 – Return a library book to the Dragon School, and get the next book in the series.

The book in question was “The Orc maiden, the Guardsman and the Thief – Part 1, the strong arms of the Law”. Oh good grief, this was a romance novel, and judging by the curled corners, a popular one. The cover showed a rather muscular female orc cradling a guardsman in her arms.

Item 2 –  Collect the monthly rent from the knickknack shop on Crooked Alley (200 gold)

So now we have to shake down people for money? That’s not a good look for us.

Item 3 – Sort out what’s taking the blacksmith so long?

Apparently Wurdi had commissioned a weapon for a Guard friend of hers. We were to check in and work out why it was taking so long.

I guess when I heard we’d be mingling with criminal masterminds, I’d imagine we’d be leaping from roof to roof, pursuing unlicensed thieves. Not handling a little old ladies shopping.

Let’s look at this in order then.

Dragon School. – That’s Tia’s stomping grounds. She’ll have that one.

Convince a shop keeper to pay on time. – I guess that means a bit of persuasion, I’ll take that one.

Chat with a burly creator of weapons. – That has to be Drax!

 

Seeing as how a shake-down might require some muscle, we decided all to visit the knick knack shop first. Opening the door, we were greeted with a familiar sight. Not the shop itself, but the shop keeper. I wracked my memory for a moment and then it struck me. This was the same Tiefling lady who’d served us in a shop in treetop.

“Oh, Hi!” I started with, “It’s great to see you again! I’m Tak, and I’m terribly sorry but I forget your name!”

Her name was Linara Zap, and we chatted for a few minutes about treetop before she revealed that the trees had started to drop, and the village had to be evacuated. There was always call for shops of this nature, and despite losing most of her stock, she’d managed to set up again her.

In my mind, asking for money now was going to go one of two ways…

1 – I’m so poor, I have nothing – begging.

2 – I don’t owe money to anyone, get out of my shop. – fighting.

We couldn’t really counter the second, but I’d already thought of a way to make sure she had the money to pay up!

“So, why don’t you show us what goods you have?”

Cunning eh? Buy stuff, then take the money we gave her for rent.

We got a bit carried away buying stuff though, and ended up with a bundle of potions and items that we probably didn’t need, but to be honest, that’s not a major problem. We have the tower after all!

We discussed payment of the rent after this, and the plan went as intended. We left with the rent money.

Now, onto the Dragon school! How hard can it be to return a library book and get a new one?

Tia did all the talking on this one, at least initially. I fully expected it to go something like.

“I am Tia’Vari, give me what I want, don’t you know who I am?”

I was fully ready to back up this line of conversation, but what actually happened was this.

We stepped into the library, from outside it was a small non-descript building. Not much large than a shed. Inside though was another matter. Two bookcases lined the wall on each side, and they stretched off into the distance. Lights flickered oddly, and no matter how far I tried to look, my eyes seemed to bend away from the further shelves. Tia switched from “Lady Tia’vari” mode instantly, and flat out lied to the librarian. I was shocked to say the least! That’s my job!

“Oh hello,” she started with, “I’m Tia’Vari, and Alumni of the college. Whilst studying here, I requisitioned this book for my Aunt. She’s very ill, and has taken a while to read it, but it’s one of the few things that keeps her going! She’s desperate to know what happens next. Could I have the next in the series.”

The Librarian looked puzzled for a moment, then looked down at the cover of “The Strong Arms of the Law”. He turned his nose up and said “Oh, fiction.”

He turned to a card index, and over his shoulder said “Ok, name or student id?”

“Tia’vari”

He pulled a drawer out with a T on it, rifling through the cards. “Tandell, Taragore, Tenta, Tiack, ahhh, here, Tia’Vari. It says here you graduated several months ago? And your library card has expired!” He turned to face her, and ripped up the index card.

Well, that went well…

Tia’vari asked if we could reactivate the card, and the librarian frowned. He was looking inside the book.
“This has never been checked out? The ticket is still here!”

Tia’Vari switched back to Lady Tia’Vari mode almost as if a switch was flicked.

“Well, if someone forgot to do that when I checked it out, that’s hardly my fault! I’m bringing it back now, so why would you accuse me of stealing it?”

The librarian took pause at this, then reached back and grabbed a thick sheaf of papers.

“If you’ll fill these out in triplicate, we’ll reinstate your library card. It shouldn’t take more than two weeks!”

Ouch. I think now it was time to see whether we could grease the wheels of bureaucracy.

I joined in the conversation. “Excuse me, I’m terribly sorry to interrupt. I’m wondering if perhaps we can speed this process along. Tia’Vari’s Aunt is very ill, and may not have long left! I’m happy to make a donation to the ‘librarians social fund’ of 200 gold. All we need is the second book in the series!”

You could see the internal battle between morals and high quality food and drink fighting a battle behind his eyes. In the end his stomach won through, and he took the forms from Tia. He uttered a small incantation, and said aloud “The Orc maiden, the Guardsman and the Thief – Part 2, Taken without Permission” There was a whooshing sound, and something that looked a little like my invisible servant Phillip took off at a speed Phillip couldn’t replicate rushing down the Aisle. Moments later it came rushing back, with a book floating half a foot in front of it. The Librarian snatched it out of the air with a quick grab. The cover for this one showed a masked figure clad in black slung over the shoulder of the same female orc from the first book. Its pages looked just as curled and dog-eared.

He opened the front cover, removing the ticket and passed the book to Tia. She quickly pocketed it, and I passed a small pouch of gold to the Librarian. He quickly hid it, having the decency to look a little embarrassed, and we were off on our way again.

Two tasks down. This was easy stuff.

Time to visit the Blacksmith.

This’ll be easy. Show up, ask for the weapon, take it to Wurdi.

Only, things are never that easy. Drax walked in to talk to the Tiefling Blacksmith. His name was Traxion, and he looked relatively competent at his job. At the mention of Wurdi he let out a big sigh. “I already told her. She’ll need to provide the giant crab claws. I can’t get this done without them.”

I wonder if there’s some chance that us telling her that was enough to finish her tasks. Spoiler alert. Zero percent chance. We told her, she said “That’s why I sent you, you’ll need to get the crab pincers.”

I mean, where are we ever going to get…Hang on, let me just flick back to the start of my tale. Bear with me…

Roocor, Mission to recover the heroes, little old lady in the woods who wants her pigs back, down into the caves, Hmm, yes, Giant Crabs. There it is. That’s where we can find giant crabs! Back outside the city near the gnome home.

So, in much the same fashion as we originally did, we decided to head out to the caves. Only, rather than riding borrowed mounts, we took our flying tower. Because flying tower.

Landing near the caves, and old familiar woman came running up to us.
“You must help me, large spider-like beasties have surfaced, and made off with my pigs!”

I looked her up and down, yes, this was the same woman as before. There was no recognition in her eyes. Odd.

“Yes yes, we’ll get them back. I take it they went down this hole here?”

“They grabbed my poor piggies, and took them down the hole over there!”

This lady is Odd with a capital O, D and D.

“Right you are. Off we go.”

We headed over to the hole, I cast Featherfall (a spell I researched after we fell down a lot of these holes last time I may add) and we gently floated down. We took a left turn, a right turn, straight over at a junction, then we met the crabs. These ones were bigger, uglier and tougher than last time, but so were we. We decided to front load our damage, letting off our bigger spells. Let no one claim we’re Shellfish. (a little seafood humour there) I could give you the rundown on how the fight went, but it was pretty straight forward. Couple of pows, some pewpew, a little Thwack, and the Crabs became ex-crabs. We ferried their corpses back up to the tower, and Dirt set about gathering crab meat from them, and salvaging the claws.

Now, dear listener. I already can hear your questions. “Tak”, I hear you say, “Tak, why didn’t you rescue the lady’s pigs?”

Two reasons.

One. This lady has lost her pigs to the same monsters’ multiple times. There comes a point where she deserves what she gets. Honestly, look after Mr Piggy better!

Two. We just don’t have the time. The heir is missing, Corsinnar is taking over the land, Blight is spreading and towns are falling. A few piggies can find their own way home.

Three (I know I said Two) I’m really bored of all this weird stuff happening. Us dying, Thistle making weird stuff occur, and now the same lady trying to get us to do the same thing again! Without even remembering us from the first time. Sod her!

So, we packed the crabs into the castle, and flew back. Dirt cooked up the crab meat, and we passed it out to the hungry as we headed back to the armorer. We gave him the claws, and popped to see Wurdi.

Wurdi, however, wasn’t there. Instead we met with a rather handsome chap by the name of Merrymack. He took the book and payment from Miss Zap, and confirmed that Wurdi was out gathering information for us. They would get word to us as soon as they had information. We told him where we were staying, and decided we’d had enough of city life for the night.

Back at the tower Dirt was cleaning up the remains of the crab. Izkin sat munching on the remains of Dirts cooking. We were all exhausted, it had been a day. Hopefully tomorrow will bring us word of the two missing gnomes. After all, I’d hate to have to go door to door in the city.

Let’s keep that as a plan D eh?

Tak – Homeward Bound.

It was obvious that we were going to have to return to the camp of Goliaths, and the more I thought about it, the angrier I got.

Onenu Firehart had put the blame for an entire tribes death onto the Rock Tanners. The Stone Breakers hadn’t questioned her, hadn’t seen any red flags in her argument, and had helped her in attacking other tribes as a result.

I was more than a little angry.

I practised speaking to them diplomatically whilst Drax navigated the tower closer to their camp. I took deep breaths and reminded myself that Onenu has deceived them.

It didn’t help though, the moment Brak Githson smirked when we approached the village, I lost my cool.
“Oh, so you’re still alive then!” he opened with.
“Yes we’re still alive”, I fired back, “No thanks to anyone in this village.”
I took a breath.
“You’ll be pleased to know we’ve dealt with…” I hiked my thumb over my shoulder towards the volcano. “That.”

Drifting up lazily from the crater was a small white stream of smoke. The plumes of black ash no longer fed the air, and the hissing clouds of steam had settled.

“You’ll also be very pleased to hear that your betroved was behind the whole thing. She was summoning elementals, widening the volcano, and murdering any tribe that tried to stop her.”
Brak’s face was reddening in anger at this point. I’d seen similar anger before in my comrades. Me, I’m obviously immune to such things, being such a peaceful soul.
Shut up, why are you laughing?

“Anyway, we’ve cleaned up your mess, and stopped her from working for Corsinar. You’re welcome.”

I tossed out the brown bag I’d filled with her ashes.
“Here, you’ll be wanting this.”
Brak sneered, and looked down. “What’s that?”
“That’ll be what remains of Onenu. As I said, we took care of it.”
I thought he was about to stab me where I stood. Arn, I think, thought the same thing, because he stepped forward. Gith, though, had already put his hand on his sons shoulder, and pulled him back.

“Why should be believe you with this wild tale? Why should we take the word of a low-lander?”
Maeb stepped forward, and began to incant a spell, she drew an area around us with her finger and spoke the final word of power.
“What Maeb has just done, is made it impossible for a lie to be told in this area. Let me just recant everything that has happened to date, and you can make your mind up for yourself.”

For the purposes of brevity, I won’t repeat the whole tale. You’ve read it this far, and know whats going on! Blah Blah Blah Forest Warden, Blah Blah Staff of Seasons, Blah Corsinar, Blah Blah Onenu evil.

When I’d finished, he still didn’t look convinced.
“Pah, Lowlander magic. We don’t hold with such magics here. We decide the truth in a very different way.”
I guess I knew what was coming, but I couldn’t resist a dig.
“Here it comes. Now we decide who can do the biggest poop.”
Both Goliaths looked puzzled. “I don’t think you understand how this works!”
“Sure I do,” I replied. “You think the truth is solved by punching each other till someone falls over.”
I think I could feel Drax grinning behind me.
“Oh, you do understand. Yes. The victor determines the truth.”
I looked Brak up and down. It’d be a tough fight, but I reckoned I could take him.
“Ok, then, bring it on, I won’t go easy on you!”Gith looked amused. “No small one, you’ll not be fighting for truth, you’re not a worthy opponent for Brak. He looked past me at Drax and Arn. Without turning their heads, they Boulder/parchment/shears for it, and Arn won.
He stepped forward. “I’ll be fighting for this truth.”
I almost felt sorry for Brak. Almost.

“Before you fight, Arn, you have visitors from another tribe awaiting you. They wish to speak with you urgently.
Arn glanced towards the tent, seeing something distasteful. He marched towards the tent.

I called out “Do you need help?” I got a negative grunt back, and then he was out of hearing range.

Off at the top tent, Arn stood talking with an older Goliath, and a female Goliath. I couldn’t hear their words, but I’m a brilliant reader of body language, and based upon that, I present to you my best guess at their conversation.

Arn: Grawr, I am Arn, I am mighty
Old: I am old and not mighty. But I dislike you, as you have a bad smell.
Female: I don’t dislike you, but Old says I must, but I think you’re alright.
Arm: I dislike you all, you offend me. Grawr
Old: Yes, you said that. I still dislike you, you smell like 5 day old meat.
Female: However, we wish for you to catch food for us.

I’m pretty sure that’s the gist of it.

When Arn returned, he looked angrier than I’ve seen him since I tied a bow into Echo’s tail. Maybe even angrier than that. He punched a rock, and I’m pretty sure the Rock said ow.
Brak was going to get his bottom kicked.

Gith staked out an arena, and both combatants readied themselves. I made sure to position myself beside Old, and gave a running commentary on just how awesome Arn was, and how he didn’t smell too bad. As the resident priest, Drax stepped up and blessed the two combatants, adding a little extra bless for Arn. Maeb had already woven an enchantment and I yelled from my vantage point “You can do it Arn! Kick him in the danglies!”Beside me, Old scowled. So because I’m polite I added “Then punch him in the face!”
Arn grinned at me, and turned towards Brak.

Brak beckoned him in, expecting a slow approach. Arn was on him in a flash. Stabbing, slicing, weaving and stabbing again. Brak reeled back from the initial assault, trying in vain to attack back. Then pain took hold, and he began to froth at the mouth. I’ve seen this happen before, with Dandelion. Theres someone I’ve not thought about in a while!

Ignoring any defence, Brak slashed back, left, right, and at each attack Arn caught the blade on his own, or side-stepped the clumsy attack.
I yelled once more “Its ok Brak! You’re allowed to surrender!”
This only brought a glare from old, and a covered smirk from Female.
You know what? I shouldn’t be calling them that now. I actually know their names, though at the time I didn’t. Old was actually called Vriff, or something equally fart-sounding, and the female Goliath was called Maeve. Maeve was also Arn’s big sister.

Back in the ring, Brak had now struck two lucky blows on Arn, and two stripes of blood decorated his arms. Brak, on the other hand, looked a mess. He stepped in wildly for another attack, which Arn neatly sidestepped, hammering his fist into Brak’s cheek.

I’d like to say “Brak teetered for a bit, wobbling uncertainly”. You know, building drama. But Brak went out like a light. Dropped to the floor like a felled tree.

I cheered loudly, turning to face Vriff. “See, I told you he was awesome! How cool was that?” Vriff huffed again angrily, and stalked away from the camp.
I’m starting to get the impression he doesn’t like Arn. Can’t quite put my finger on it though.
Maeb stepped in, and healed Brak up a bit, and I turned to face Gith.
“Right, there you have it. Arn royally kicked his butt. You have our truth now. We’ve a land to be saving from an evil druid.”
Gith looked split. 50% glad we’d proved ourselves, and 50% sad his son had lost a fight. “Please stay a little while. There is to be a feast.”

I’m not one to pass over a feast, especially as it meant I could practise some of my new tales.

Through-out the evening, Arn and Maeve talked about his old tribe. How he’d been cast aside, and how the tribe had suffered since. Maeve told tales of songs that had reached them of Arn’s (and our) adventures. She asked for clarification on some parts, and after a while I realised that these tales she’d heard were my own! Other bards had picked up on my stories and resang them, spreading them wider than the lands we’d actually travelled.
Hang on a moment, I’m feeling a bit emotional.

Over the next hour or so, Arn and Drax negotiated with the two tribes (Gith’s and Maeve’s) and both offered to lend help in the fight against Corisnar. They’d travel the mountains, speaking with the other tribes, and organising support which would be sent to Roccor.
With our work here done, we headed back to the tower. Arn seemed happy in himself, though everyone else seemed withdrawn and quiet. Too much ale? Maybe, or perhaps the consequences of the war against the naughty druid was sinking in.

At the tower, we summoned up Augustus the Air Elemental. He didn’t have a name, and Gus sounded like a suitable one. Drax bound him to our service for a month, and he was given the instructions of where to guide the tower to. With that taken care of, I bedded down to sleep for two days!

I considered spending some time crafting a candle of my own, but according to Dirt Tia’Vari hasn’t let the egg out of her sight, so that might not be the cleverest plan.

It took two quiet days to reach the city, during which we had time to observe the changes to the land since we’d last travelled this way. Whilst no oily goo coated the land, its effects were certainly being felt. Farms no longer seemed able to grow crops. Live-stock was scarce, and most people were just abandoning their homes, and heading to the city for aid.
The land wasn’t this bad during the wars, at least farmland was left then!

As we closed in on the city, Arn pulled a small statuette he’d claimed. It depicted a small silver falcon, and on whispering a command word, he passed it to me to give a statement to send to the city. I had to limit myself to 25 words, so I practised carefully.

Dear Rhodrin (that’s two) Your Heroes are returning in a flying tower (ten) We will be coming via the docks (Seventeen) Please do not shoot us down (twenty three). Love Tak!
There, that should do it. Arn sent the bird fluttering away, and we sat in to wait.

A few hours later, a small dappled owl hopped down from the window. I held out my finger in my best forest princess pose, and it hopped up. It opened its mouth, and hooted gently, then its voice turned deep, husky and… old, and it said “Tak. What have you done to the Air!”

I stood there confused for a moment. And said “Theres nothing wrong with the air?” The Owl nodded, jumped up, and flew off.

That was a little surreal.

We guided the tower over the river, angling it to arrive over the docks. Normally the docks would be a bustling place full of industry. (apart from that time we accidentally set fire to it) Today it was bereft of activity. We slowly lowered the tower to the jetty, and Dovin summoned vines to hold it in place. Drax instructed the elemental (and Dirt) to protect it. I stepped outside, turned, and made a big sign of magically protecting it. Sometimes that works better than actually protecting it.

On the dock stood a few guards. Well, a lot of guards. Basically, two squads of guards.
They had their weapons drawn, and the Sergeant had a very grumpy look about him.
“We’re here to escort you to the Boss-Hut” He growled. I mentioned he was a grumpy Orc right?
“What in the hells is that?” he barked, pointing at Izkin. “That’s not a gnome!”
He’d obviously missed the sensitivity training, and I was sure to tell him this.
“You can’t just go commenting on someones species? That’s just not on! Izkin here is a Kobold, and you’re being very insensitive. Ignore him Izkin, he’s just set in his ways!”
I then turned to the guard, “And I’ll have your name and rank please, Rhodrin will hear of this!”
He didn’t even have the decency to look embarrassed. “Sergeant Scoff. Now hurry up. You need to be questioned about the air.”
Why do they keep going on about the air. Its fine. We’re breathing without difficulty.

The two squads of guards served dual purpose. The first set were to clear the path. The roads were packed full of people running from the blight. The guards had to manhandle people out of the way for the second squad to escort us through. I waved to people as we passed, but the toll of their paths seemingly removed any chance of a happy encounter from their minds, and their eyes slid past us to the guards.

It took a fair while longer than normal to get to the boss-hut, and on arriving the first squad stood down, leaving Sergeant Scuff and his men to escort us to Rhodrin. The old Dragonborn looked irritated, and half-frantic when we finally got to him. Behind him, clearly putting on a brave face was Freya, Mother to the Heir to the kingdom Narack. Mother to the Heir Narack. Heir. OH HEIR! Not air.
The Heir is missing, oh I’m glad we sorted that out.
Oh god, the Heir is missing.

Suddenly the panic made sense. Rhodrin stared straight at me.
“Tak. Tak. What have you done with the Heir?”
Hang on, what? Why would I have the heir? So I asked him.
“Hang on. What? Why would I have the heir?”
And he told us. I can’t repeat this word for word, because he wheezed a lot, coughed a fair bit, and used some words that I’m not sure what they meant.

So, to summarise;
Lots of gloopy blight appears. Wizards, Guards, people with sharp sticks show up to fight it off. They’ve learnt from us that fire gets rid of it, so they spend days building pyres to keep the blight back. Whilst they’re doing this, someone snuck into the city and kidnapped the son of a Gnome merchant. The second night, Orimeila, daughter of Zraskan Vilreth (a prominent mage in the Dragonborn community) was kidnapped. On the third night the daughter of Mavthros a Tiefling Noble was taken.
On the morning of the fourth day, Rhodrin and Freya had a visitor. Flower, our friend and colleague, seemed agitated and worried. He told them there was a plot to kidnap the Heir, and that on my orders (ha, like I ever order anyone!) (Well, except people that really need it) he was to take the Heir to a place of safety.
They sent the heir with him, and that was the last they saw of him. This was a month prior. In the mean time, each of the parents had received a letter. It was enscribed on enchanted vellum, and contain a Geas. They were to read this at midnight, and their child would be returned to them.
The Geas would basically bind them to Corsinars service.
Two of the parents contacted Rhodrin and reported this, One did not. The Dragon mage school had examined the paper and identified its nature. The single non-responsive parent was Mavthros, who was refusing council with the Boss-Hut. Guards had been turned away at his door, and Rhodrin was unsure whether this warranted forced entry.

We decided to help. But for this we’d need two things.
First, we’d need an escort to his house.
Second, we’d need Sergeant Scoff to apologise to Izkin. He was incredibly rude!
We got both of our wishes, and we were escorted to Mavthros’s home.

Knocking on the door there was no answer, so I went to plan B.
I knocked again.
This time, someone answered. “We’re taking no visitors. Please go away!”

A small Dragonborn lady, hunched and sullen peered out at us. I already had my clipboard out by this point. “Excuse me young lady, we’re here on official boss-hut business, and need to speak with Mavthos. Its regarding his daughter. We think we can help her.”
She peered at me for a moment, and sighed. “Wait here. I’ll go speak with him.”
She then closed the door in my face.

I counted to 30, grabbed Drax, and teleported to the other side of the door. I opened the door for the others, and listened carefully to see if I could tell where she’d gone to. Once we worked out where she’d gone, we followed on behind. As we closed in, she spotted us following.
“You can’t be in here!” she gasped. “You need to leave!”
From further up the passageway a male voice echoed from out of a room.
“Who is it? Who’s come”
I stepped around his servant, and into his lounge. Sat on a stool, an elderly Tiefling hunched over. His eyes tired, and his skin pale.
“Ah, you must be Mavthros, I’m Tak, appointed by the council to investigate your daughters disappearance.” I looked down at the couch next to him, seeing his daughter lying there.
“And here she is. Marvelous.” Behind me, Drax moved to check her over. I nodded to Maev, and she sketched out her zone of Truth again.
“Mavthros. Did you read the incantation?”
He turned to look at me, but didn’t answer.
Drax, after investigating the child, cleared his throat.
“Just like the Princess. She’s infected with the Blight.”

I could see it now. The dark ooze curling across her arms, the fever, the lack of consciousness. Damn. They were using it to infect children up here.
Mavthros looked up at this point, turning to face me. “Of course I read it. I couldn’t risk anything happening to her. I read it at midnight as it stated, and within the hour a small gnome, with badger tattoos and flaming hair brought her back. She too was covered in the black stuff, but she wore it with pride”.

Oh god, he’d just described Dandelion. Corsinar had Dandelion, which removed the slim hope that Flower was actually trying to help.

Oh no.

“Mavthros. You’d joined with the Forces of Corsinar. Whether for a good reason or not, you’re now under his power. We’ll take your daughter and care for her, but I’m afraid you need to be placed in a cell where you can’t hurt anyone.” He hung his head, and nodded.
We summoned in Sergeant Scoff, and left him to deal with the details.

Now we just need to find where two gnomes are hiding out with three children. The city can’t be that big, right?

Tak – Going with the Flow

I’ve had my sandwich! I hope you’re sitting comfortably!

So Izkin was standing next to an earth elemental, and a fire one was drawing in on him. He was left with a choice between blowing things up, and running away. He thought about it for a second or two, and did something I’d not seen before. He blinked out of view. This wasn’t a teleport, or an invisibility spell, he literally wasn’t there anymore.

This was evident when Drax stepped into the spot where Izkin had previously been. I expected a crunch underfoot, but no. He just wasn’t there anymore.

Drax summoned forth another batch of guardians, one to guard him, and the other to harass Elementals that got too close. Maeb, entrenched with two elementals and Ohhoitsyou took a few swings at her, whilst dodging the blows (mostly) of the other two attackers.

Whilst they did this, I had a very important role. I choked on billowing lava particles as a gas cloud passed me. In my defence, it really hurt my throat!

Over by Maeb, OhShowMeBalloons turned into a massive magma elemental. Maeb took a few blows on her shield and kept on trucking.

Izkin popped back into existence, reached out with both hands, pointing a finger at a fire elemental and an earth elemental. The Earth elemental side stepped the beam, the fire elemental wasn’t so lucky, and turned to dust and ash in front of me. Izkin blew his finger tips and popped out of existence again.

Arn smashed his swords together, and roared at the close-by elementals. The Air and fire ones ignored him, the two Earth ones seemed shaken, and ran from him. Both ran past me, but I was too shocked to lash out at either. The pair of elementals hit the far wall, and cowered away.

Maeb and OhGoEatSnow battled it out, and with Maeb taking more and more hits. Drax and Arn finished off the Air and Fire elementals, and moved towards Maeb. I managed to cough enough dust up, and fired off a new spell I’ve been working on. I call it ‘Melty Brain’ because it basically… well… it hurts heads, and makes you do dumb stuff.

In doing so, I did dumb stuff too, I targeted OhBlowSomeCoal, forgetting it covered a large area. This also hit Maeb. Fortunately, Maeb ducked aside from most of the force of the spell. OhHoLetsGo and the elementals weren’t so lucky.

Izkin stepped closer, seeing them reeling from some melty brain, and hit them with another cold burst. This had the amusing side effect of stopped UtOhThatsLow from being a Magma beast, and she turned back to her goliath form. She yelled out, and summoned forth another elemental to help her.

Nope. Not this time sister! (I may have actually said that out loud.) I sucked all of the energy out of her spell using a counter-spell.

Maeb took this chance, and planted her foot firmly on OhNoLavaFlow’s Chest, and booted her back into the lava.

There was a sizzling sound, and a smell not unlike that of a bacon sandwich. She let out a scream, and the earth elemental leapt down into the lava, picking her up quickly.

Izkin wasn’t having this. Summoning forth the last of his power, he sent another cold wave winging towards them. The elemental braced itself, taking the hit. UtOhLetsGo didn’t. Her smouldering body became a smouldering corpse. The elemental held her up to look at her. Shook her a bit, then dropped her back in the lava.

NOOOO, my loot!

No, I meant, oh no, the evidence!

I quickly summoned an elemental of my own, and sent it to recover her body. Around me, my colleagues finished off the remaining elementals.

Its ok though, because the loo…. Body was safe.

Once the sounds of battle had died down, we called back in Rogart. He immediately grabbed a bundle shoved in one corner of the forge. Apparently this contained his armour and spell book.

We gather in all the items we found, and I started to examine them. As I removed the items from UtOhSheGo she started to dissolve into dust. Initially I panicked at this, but amongst her stuff I found a brown leather bag. I emptied its contents out, and scooped most of her into it. The previous contents were two slabs of bread and some ham! Yay, a sandwich!

I may have eaten it. It’s not my proudest moment, ok?

It was then that I realised how beaten up Maeb was.

Drax and Arn may have mentioned it once or twice, but I was busy checking the loot.

We decided to rest for a bit before we made any solid plans for the blowing up of the forge.

The next morning, we woke full of vigour. Most of Maeb’s bruises had gone, and between us we carefully moved the barrels into the forge. Rogart pointed out the best place to plant the explosives, and Izkin and Bunny Two ferried them into place.

Now came the cunning part. I summoned a fire elemental. Drax bound it to our service for a day. We tasked it with the command “Wait for eight hours, then go hug that barrel”

Then, we ran.

Well, we grabbed our stuff and ran.

Walked briskly.

A little over eight hours later, and we were standing outside. Nothing had exploded. Can Elementals tell the time? I turned to ask Drax this question when an almighty boom echoed across the valley. Small rocks started to rain from the sky, followed shortly after by slightly larger rocks. I activated Mr Krabbs and started to run. I noticed at this point that everyone else had started to run already.

Behind us, the thick black smoke pouring from the volcano top eased to a white plume, and with this firmly at our back, we set off home to the travelling tower.

Tomorrow we can deal with the goliath tribes. Tomorrow we can deal with a lot of things. Today, today I just want a comfy bed.

Tak – Forging ahead.

So before I fell asleep that night, I gave the pipes a quick check to see what they could do. Turns out they summon and control swarms of rats, so I dropped them in my bag for later. We finished our nights rest, and woke semi-refreshed in the morning.

The new addition to the party was called Rogart, and he was still naked the next morning. I’m not sure what I expected to be honest with you. I took my old set of armour out, and grabbed a cloak from my bag. We also grabbed a spare mace for him. He seemed a little critical of the gear we gave him, but to be honest he was JUST NAKED! Seriously, some folk have no manners!

We decided that what we needed now, was a plan. Here was the plan… Stick with it, its complicated.

We head back to the junction. Find a small cave. Hide the powder. Find the bad guys, and kill them.

It’s a wonder no one crowned me chief tactician before.

We were doing well on our plan, in that we made it to the junction. Arn headed off to explore a little, hoping to find a suitable location to stash the powder.

Within moments he came running back shouting! Either he had found the most amazing hiding spot ever! Or something was trying to kill him.

I stashed Mr Krabbs and Bunny, and broke out the ice spells. Just in case it wasn’t the former.

It wasn’t the former.

Two large Cats came bounding into view. Both had wonderful red manes. On second glance, both had wonderful fiery red manes. Fiery on fire red manes. Basically their manes were fire.

Fiery Fire.

So I shot one in the face with an ice bolt.

Izkin had the same idea, only he went bigger, and frosted the entire area (Maeb included) in a cone of frost. Then he shot one with an ice bolt.

Keep it together Tak, its not a competition.

Arn, having hidden himself behind a rock jumped out and stabbed one. Drax summoned several spirit guardians, who also laid into the Kitties. Maeb swung and sliced at them. In return, the two kitties mauled at us. Maeb and Arn spouted flames from the attacks, and Izkin rushed over to put Arn out, (he also threw an ice bolt whilst he did this. It was just showing off at this point)

The combat swung back and forth, the first cat falling, and the second one leaping onto Izkin. Maeb stepped in behind it finishing it off, and those that were on fire… stopped themselves being on fire.

They were a lot calmer about it that I would have been. I’d have been running round flailing my arms yelling “Ow Ow, Hot Hot”. But no, apparently only I do that.

They sat for a short while, taking a breather following the fight. This was a good time to examine how we’d done. Arn’s armour seemed to be hindering him more than helping, so I gave him the new studded leather I’d found. It was enchanted to help turn blades and was certainly quieter than his old scale-mail. The scale mail went to the no-longer-naked-dwarf Rogart, and I took back my old armour.

The Necklace of Adaptation we’d found previously went to Maeb.

Arn had also found some powder pots, which Maeb also took. A short while later she’d ditch them rather than accidentally blowing people up. It was a wise move. If only I’d thought about that earlier before we hit the lightning trap.

We returned for the powder and pushed on. Arn scouted ahead again, and after an hour or so’s travel, found a large set of stone doors. We searched around for an alcove to stash Mr Krabbs and the barrels. Once safely secured we addressed the problem of how to sneak through giant stone doors.

Out came the parchment and charcoal again.

With the aid of my companions we opened the doors in as authoritive a manner as possible.

“Hello, I’m here to carry out a spot forge inspection, I do hope you’re up to code?”

The room was silent.

Several Fire Elementals, Earth Elementals, Air Elementals, and Ononononononou Firehart turned to face me. None of them looked convinced.

Oh well, it was worth a try.

Ononononnononowoo started a traditional villain monologue. I’ll be honest, I can’t tell you exactly what she said. It was something about Corsinar wanting us dead, and killing Dovin, and something about sandwiches.

That last part may not have happened, I’m just hungry and it plays tricks on my memory.

Whilst I was trying to think of a witty way to tell her to shut up, Izkin dropped a snowstorm on her. It caused the lava… Oh hang on, I’ve not told you about the lava.

Or the room.

I get bad at story telling when I’m hungry.

This room was huge. It was the dwarven forge, and dotted around the room were a number of anvils. If you were expecting built up kilns or similar, you’re going to be surprised. This room contained rivers of Lava, conveniently placed for the dwarves to smelt stuff in.

Narrow rivers of lava crisscrossed the room, and at each forge a series of elementals worked the bellows and hammered at metal.

Well… They were doing that, then we strolled in asking to inspect the place. Blah blah blah snowstorm.

So, the snow and hail hit the lava, bursting up with steam and smoke. It also hit a number of elementals and Onnooneonetwo.

She replied by throwing a fireball at us, which… hurt a lot less than I expected. It was a massive explosion, but Maeb seemed to shield us from most of it.

A small expulsion from the lava in front of her formed into a massive cloud of gas, which started creeping towards us. Drax summoned another guardian, and set him between the majority of elementals and us.

This would be great, if two of them didn’t completely ignore the lava flows, and stroll across to start punching me in the face.

Onunuooh readied to cast another fireball, but Arn quickly shut her down with a spell that removed all the sound from around her. She looked angry for a moment then levelled her staff at us instead.

She poured energy into the staff, getting ready to release another fireball at us.

Not this time lady! I wiggled my fingers, sucking the magic from the air, and her staff fizzled.
“Suck on Counterspell!” I yelled. It struck me moments later she probably couldn’t hear me, so instead I made a rude gesture in her direction. That’ll show her.

Then, I realised that the two elementals were standing less than five feet from me, and their last blows had really hurt! So I teleported to the other side of the forge.

Maeb uttered a few words, and sprouted wings. She flapped once, twice, and when within 30 feet of Ohnomytoe she teleported next to her.

Arn, seeing the number of approaching elementals, dropped the silence spell, instead trying to frighten them away. These elementals were obviously made of sterner stuff, and didn’t frighten easily.

Things were getting tense. With ten elementals attacking us, Onenu Firehart throwing spells, everyone stuck in a small area. Things were not looking good.

But I’m hungry, so I’m going to make that sandwich. I’ll tell you what happened after