Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day Six-Fifty-Seven: Skyward!


Today, we began the climb. It was... is... not fun. Not one damned bit of fun at all.

Rodentia remains under siege. The sloth's progression through the city seems to have weakened a little, and the siege cannons used against it continue long into the night, so I assume greater numbers of the Imperium's armies have arrived in the city. It's difficult to tell - even at the great height we reached today, the once fabulous city appears to be naught more than fire and chaos. In other words, one big fat distraction. Woo.

Still. Gotta feel sorry for all those civilians down there. They've got rough lives ahead, repairing the damage. I'm already sorry enough for my prayers that the sloth lingers in Rodentia at least long enough for us to find Libby and flee.

A giant, frozen beanstalk is hardly a call for concern under the circumstances, and so we found the checkpoints surrounding the Stalk of Rodentia deserted. We slipped past one of the small forts at its base, made wary by signs that the Stalk was 'closed', and approached the narrow road winding up the length of the great plant.

To say this is the scariest journey I've ever faced would be a lie. The descent into the hole chilled my bones to the utmost, and I've gone through even worse since. But ascending into the sky... it's preeeeetty bad.

The Stalk of Rodentia, much like the talk of Cheem, consists of a braided pair of emerald green slopes around an enormous central vine. The slopes are just level enough that we can walk up them at a decent clip, and gravel has been laid down all the way up to ease the passage. This gravel, of course, is now covered in snow, and the green is encased in large sheets of ice and crusty frost. These things do not bar our passage, but I can see why citizens are barred from climbing the Stalk of Rodentia in the winter.

The first ten minutes were not so bad. I was more focused on maintaining my footing and getting used to the brisk wind. But then I made the mistake of looking down, and even after so short a time I found myself far too high above the ground for my comfort. Squirt, traitorous bladder, squirt.

"Keep movin', fearless leader." Grylock slapped my rump with the flat of his poisonheart. "Don't look down. It only gets worse."

I gulped. "You... you sound like you've done this before."

"Nah. Not quite." He paused, scratching his tuft of white hair. "Had te spy on Gok, once. Wouldn't come outta his damned tower. Forced me t'peek on him from outside. Right through the windows. That was a climb I'll ne'er forget. Much worse 'n this."

"Oh." I cast a quick eye over my shoulder. The dancing fires of Rodentia waved at me. "What was he doing?"

"Affair. With some pug-ugly human girl." He grinned and spat. "Didna want the queen te find out. Sticky matter. Ye understand."

"Ahhh." The thought of the squat goblin king with his thinger... out... ack. "So what'd you do? About, y'know, the affair."

Grylock's grin broadened. "Boffed the queen. What else?"

Class act, that man.

We're now camped about a third of the way up the Stalk, our tents and food stolen from an abandoned house outside Rodentia's walls. (We left money.) I suspect the small fire we've started is visible from the city, but, really, who cares? No one's gonna bother us right now.

Hang on, Libby. We're coming for you.

Sincerely,


Dragomir the Wanderer

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