Friday, November 30, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Forty: The long dark

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Today's another multi-part instalment, folks. One this morning, one in the early afternoon, and the last 'round dinnertime. Enjoy!)

Barrel is my safety net. He is my assurance that, physically, everything will be okay. Nobody can beat Barrel, nobody. He's a fucking dragon.

I was wrong. Something beat Barrel. Something beat Barrel badly. So badly that Pagan and I nearly died as Barrel dropped out of the sky.

It came upon us as I was writing, in case you hadn't guessed. One second we were looking at a gentle landscape, tinged with the first hints of the sun; the next there was a massive black shape, easily as big as our dragon, bearing down on us from the east. It swooped at Barrel, silent and vicious, claws poised -

- and then it had Barrel, and they struggled, and Pagan and I fell past their beating wings, dropped and falling to an inevitable death -

- ripping, shredding, clawing, roaring, fire -

- and we hit the ground. Pagan in one of Barrel's claws, I wrapped up in his tail. He took the brunt of the impact, carving a deep crater in the landscape, knocking down trees and disrupting the flow of a stream. Animals scattered in all directions as the boom of Barrel's impact awoke every sleeping critter within a thousand miles.

We groaned, rolling out of Barrel's slack grip. My pants soiled in so many ways, I brushed myself off and looked to the sky, praying that the black shape would not come in for the kill. It didn't, instead sweeping off into the fog, heading towards Pagan's estate.

Pagan, now standing beside me, took a deep breath. "Son of a bitch. Look what you idiots have done. Now all of my people are at risk of losing their homes. Are you happy?"

I watched Barrel, curled, crumpled, groaning Barrel, shrink to the size of a dog. Licking at his wounds and moving slowly, he disappeared into the scattered underbrush. I haven't seen him since.

"No," I said. "Not fuckin' happy at all, m'lord."

We're walking. We've been walking for hours, now, trying to get to Pagan's manor. We came a fair distance, but Pagan twisted his leg pretty badly on the landing, and the going's slow. Probably would've been faster to take a stupid horse, Pagan's original option.

It's early morning Friday right now. We rested for a few hours before continuing our painful trek. Pagan tells me we'll be at his manor in a couple hours. What we can do when we get there I have no clue, but… we'll see.

Three Hours Hence

Pagan and I talked. Sporadically. He's grumpy, I'm grumpy, we're grumpy. Our conversations have stopped short of bickering, mainly 'cause I don't think Pagan is the bickering type, but we're not terribly friendly with each other.

"It's your fault," he said sometime 'round midnight. "Your fault this is happening."

"Oh, fuck yourself, old man. We didn't do this."

"Of course you did. I haven't had any problems in years. Then along comes your ragtag band, supposedly from King Jeffrey's ruined kingdom, and what happens? My manor's under attack, my slaves are being killed - "

"You shouldn't have slaves in the first place!"

"They're perfectly happy the way they are. Don't try and judge me, boy. My point is, there's a correlation between this mess and your presence."

"Oh yeah? Prove it."

Pagan hesitated. "I can't. Yet. And it hardly matters now. The damage is done, the world is changed. I will adapt to live in what remains."

Silence. Hard to counter that, when he effectively shut down the argument.

"You said you knew something. I assume that's true, if you came along. What was that thing? In the sky?"

I shook my head. "I don't know. Not really. But a bunch of 'em killed me, once, and they ruined my old home."

Pagan hesitated when I said 'killed', but only for a second. "You've died before?"

"You don't sound surprised."

He chuckled. "You don't get as old and grizzled as me without biting the dust a few times, young man. I assume you've touched the blue flames in dark places?"

"Yeah. Just one. Guess that was enough."

"It is, if you want to endure multiple lifetimes of pain." Pagan winced, rubbing his ribs through his armour. "Do you have any advice on killing these creatures?"

I laughed. "Do you really think I'd know anything about killin' 'em if I've died myself?"

"That depends."

"On what?"

"How battle-hardened you are." He looked me up and down. "I suppose you haven't done much killing at all in your lifetime."

"Bingo, grandpa."

He chuckled. "Many times over."


"Focus on the road, mayor. These woods are treacherous in poor light."

Five Hours Hence

We're standing on the edge of Pagan's manor. It's a mess. The fields are burning, most of the wooden structures are either ablaze or smashed to bits, and the manor… well, it stands, but… things are there. I can see them moving in the dark.

Green. Evil green. Familiar green.

I'm sorry, diary. I shouldn't have brought you along. This was a terrible idea, and I don't even know what I'd hoped to achieve. Other than… some kind of… confrontation, I guess? I'm hoping that HE'LL be here? And maybe, just maybe, he'll give me back my daughter?

Yeah. I guess that's it.

I'm leaving you here, diary, hidden in an old groundhog's den where you can't get in trouble. Hopefully somebody will find you.


  1. Dragons are pretty badass, Dragomayor, but remember, Dragons aint got shit on a Tarrasque, and most standard demon lords or Arch-Devils will stomp all over them like it's going out of style.

    Dragons are rarely apex predators unless specifically designed as such.

    ...unless we're talking about Force Dragons. Go look up a D&D Force Dragon. Flail your arms about and try to find the words to understand that level of absolute bullshit without biting off your own tongue in the process.

    Dragons Dogma is probably one of the rare modern examples of Dragons really being the Dominant Badasses they used to be.

    1. Worst D&D dragon I ever had to face in a campaign was Pyroclastic. It dragged my poor Kenku Rogue through lava for several turns. Poor bastard just barely survived... and his feathers never grew back. Went insane, too. Judging by the 3.5 stats I would not want to face a Force Dragon, never no ever.

      Also, Tarrasque mercifully has no wings. So Barrel at least has the option to fly away.

    2. By stats alone, Prismatic Dragons are even more obnoxious. They're not INVISIBLE, mind. But they've got basically double the HP. And Force dragons are already standing in a pool of health points so thick that the players are more likely to kill the DM than the dragon.

      Personally though, I have my own signature style for killing dragons. What you do is you climb onto its back while it's flying, rip its wings off, and then have your Cleric rez whatever bits of you survive the crash landing.

      Bonus points are granted for singing Priests Screaming for Vengeance as you roll your impossible saving throw for not dying on impact.

      Haven't tried it on any Greater Wyrms, but I believe the ground will still do more damage than my puny Monk fists, regardless of the number of dice I have to roll for every minmaxed attack chain.

    3. HA, that reminded me of the best encounter I've ever had with a dragon. We were in a city under siege, and we saw a big one flying towards us from a fair distance away. I can't remember how we managed it, but all five of us mass-teleported into the air just above it, landing on its back. We had a surprise round to shred the shit out of its back, and we did just that, mashing its HP in a single go. I vividly remember Sneak Attacking it for more than a hundred damage with just a rapier. It didn't even know it was under attack before it was dead. None of us hit the ground, either - all had ways to avoid the impact.

      I've never had luck with Monks. On paper they look awesome, but something always seems to go terribly wrong when I or the people I know make one. Usually relating to horrible rolling on saves.

    4. Monks have sweet abilities if you get them high enough and Munchkin it up properly. But I play them mostly for the sake of punching trolls, wizards and demons with my bare hands. Oh, you can bend the forces of the cosmos to your will? I roll to Grapple.

      Go all Zangief on the poor bastard.

      Unfortunately, Unarmed Strike frequently sucks and blows. And why be a Monk anyways? Spellcasters do more damage, Fighters and Barbarians are sturdier and Barbarians STILL do more damage. Can't even compete with a Rogue under most circumstances. Monks are sort of a terrible class. Really neat abilities later on, but mostly terrible.

    5. If I remember correctly, it was either 3.5 of 4th edition rules that had Monks as being pretty badass. Someone showed me once that they could get the second fastest speed/agility out of all the classes, due to wearing virtually no armor. Plus they had a move that let them jump in/out of combat and to an ally's aid if they were under attack. Or something of that nature.

      I don't do D&D anymore since I moved away from my D&D buddies. And our Online 'Starwars D&D' kinda crashed and burned since we had 12 people volunteer to play, and only 4-5 ever showed up. Had a Ewok Jedi named 'Mr.Fuzzles' who had such INSANE jump/climbing stats that he could move a extra 2 spaces, jump 8ft high, and climb any surface (except things like flat vertical walls), and I somehow became the Tank of our group XD (The DM was laughing when I rolled my stats and ended up the most powerful character regardless of my racial penalties).

    6. I'm guessing that was 4th edition. Never played it, but Monks were kinda looked down upon in 3.5. They didn't get a hell of a lot better in Pathfinder, either, and it's a straight 3.5 derivative.

      I'm starting to wonder if there should be a Dragomir DnD campaign played over Skype some day. That would be... interesting...

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! I really like your art, by the way. Saw it through your profile. I envy anyone who can draw and paint like that without relying on Photoshop.