Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day Six-Fifty-Eight: Iz high, ya?

Woof. Another third of the Stalk finished. I think. It's kinda hard to tell from way up here.

I am not afraid to admit that my breeches are awash with piss. This climb is terrifying. Not as dangerous as I'd anticipated, true, but terrifying. The wind howls and blows all the stronger the higher we get, there's less snow and more ice, and the world far below seems to be rounding out and disappearing. Rodentia still looms large before us, but it's a lot smaller than it was.

We've reached some normal clouds, now. That's some scary shit. I can touch fucking clouds. Haven't been this high since my ride with Barrel two years back. (Has it really been that long? Yikes.)

The group has mostly run out of things to talk about, so we spent much of today pondering over why Libby's Micro-Dragon would drag her onto a fucking cloud. The orc gypsy, largely silent, took the lead.

"Must be their natural habitat," Jeffrey offered. "It's got to be. I don't know much about Micro-Dragons other than their role as scout vehicles, but that seems logical. Doesn't it?"

"Didn't know anything lived on clouds," Logan replied, a little miffed he had to speak to his father. "Is there food up here? Water? How do they survive?"

"Could swoop back down to land when they're hungry," Fynn offered.

"That's a helluva trip when ye want a glass of water," Grylock shot back. "Think before ye speak, lad."

Fynn sagged. I patted him on the shoulder. He might be my height, but he's still a little boy - and a sensitive one, at that. I pulled him away from the pack as the others continued to argue, making a mental note to give Grylock a whack on the head.

I squeezed Fynn's bicep lightly. "How you feeling, son? Arms all better?"

Fynn pulled away shyly, though he nodded. "Yeah. Whatever they stuck on me has almost worn off. I, ah, I can kinda use magic again. Mostly."

"Show me."

Fynn stopped for a moment, bracing his feet to avoid slipping to his doom, and closed his eyes. A faint, brownish aura glittered into existence around him for a few seconds, then faded again. He took a deep breath and flexed his arms, grinning - though not as confidently as I've seen him.

"Bet you could benchpress the Dauphine," I said, hoping to encourage. "Atta boy."

"Zis vun could lift zat hooge vehicle?"

The voice caught us by surprise. Looking up, I spied the gypsy Antonio staring at us, his wide, enigmatic smile as impenetrable as always.

I nodded, wary. "Maybe. Done it before. What's it to you?"

"Vell!" Antonio slid down the path towards us, teeth-chatteringly oblivious to the hundreds upon thousands of feet from our position to the ground. He offered up his hand, I assume to arm wrestle. "Vhy not tezt zat, ya? I vould like to zee zis might in action."

Fynn stared around at the group. Everyone was watching. "Uh... uh... um... dad...?"

I let Fynn cower behind me. "No. Lay off, gypsy. He's just a baby."

The smile on Antonio's face did not falter. "He doez not look zo young to me."

"Well, he is. I don't want him getting hurt." I planted both hands on my hips, doing my best to channel Libby's maternal rage. "You wanna stick with us, you keep on walkin'."

The orc seemed to consider this, then shrugged. "Az you vish. I am not here to ztart a fight. Zat vas more often my zizter'z job, ya? I zimply helped clean up ze mezz." Antonio wandered back to lead the pack, happily silent the rest of the day.

I'm not honestly sure why Antonio came along. I didn't ask him; he barely even volunteered. I just discovered that, hey, he'd invited himself. Surprise! I'd much rather have had a known variable, like, say, Plato, or even his rat. (Though Plato waddling up the Stalk... with his stubby legs... maybe not. He'd have tripped and fallen five minutes into the climb.)

I have to say, too... his speech pattern... it's very familiar...

And... he's an orc...?

... hm...


Nah, couldn't be.


Dragomir the Wanderer

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