Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day Six-Seventy-Three: Recon Gone Wrong

Why the hell is this happening? Is there even a reason? Or have the gods decided this happy world above the world needs to be punished?

After spending a terrible (but safe) night beneath the massive thorn bushes near the entrance of the Valley of Thorns, we awoke this morning to relative quiet. Fynn, eyes still red from a night of silent crying, IDed the distinct thrum of sky dwarves somewhere to the east, though that was all. No draconic roars, no harsh rasps from gouts of flame, no screams from colleagues going down.

I hope Fynn never reads that. I know he blames himself for Evan. It doesn't matter that he saved the rest of us. In his own mind, Fynn will always have failed. I tried to reassure him, but... yeah... 

We got a bit turned around after our mad dash yesterday, and we were loathe to head back out into the open, so we got a bit lost trying to pick our way towards the dragons' meeting grounds. The normal path there is nice and clear; back paths... not so clear. I have about a thousand wounds from thorns pricking my skin, and I'm not even as poorly off as the rest of my party. Bless my mangled breastplate for that much.

We stopped for lunch two hours before arriving near the aerie, and everyone sat in moody silence while we picked away at a meagre meal of pickled radishes. Eventually, inevitably, nature called.

"Gotta pee," I whispered, handing the last of my radish to Jeffrey. I wasn't very hungry, and had forced myself to eat. "Right back."

Fynn grabbed my arm. "Don't go alone, dad. Please. Lemme come."

I shook my head. "Stay here. Stay by Antonio. He'll keep you safe."

"What're we, spammed liver?" Grylock sniffed. "I'm half a time better than that oversized greenskin over yonder. At the least."

"You are velcum to challenge me to boxing, little goblin." Antonio's smile didn't budge an inch. "Zo I vear your fiztz vill not vit in boxing glovez. Perhapz you could cram your head in vun, ya?"

Grylock sniffed. "Psssh, boxing. Piss on that sport. Let's see ye with a sword, maybe ye won't be so smarmy - "

"Shhhhhhh." I held a finger to my lips for emphasis. "Stop fighting. Jeff, come watch my back? We'll only be a sec, promise."

Jeffrey nodded. Cramming the last of my radish into his mouth, he patted Fynn on the head, gave Logan a thumbs-up (he tries too hard to bond), and followed me into the thorns.

Grylock's nose is very sensitive to human urine, and he bitches whenever we piss too near to him, so we walked quietly for a few minutes before stopping. Jeffrey settled down behind a cluster of thick vines while I found a suitable place to unlace. It's nice, sometimes, to pee outside my britches. I should try it more often.

A few moments of satisfaction later, I noticed the low sound of Jeffrey's humming. I scowled, thoughts of reproach immediately forming into complaints. I turned back to scold him -

- and found myself face-to-face with a sky dwarf.

It was alone, perched upon a pair of strong vines, legs splayed carefully so as to avoid pricking thorns. Its wings were folded against its back; I assume it skittered down the vines to approach me covertly. Its red, buggy eyes glared hatred at me, though its pudgy mouth was upturned in a fierce grin. It held a wiry spear in both hands, the point aimed at the back of my neck... and, as I turned, my throat. 

Its eyes widened in surprise. No doubt my own did the same.

I'm sure the average person would spend the eternity that follows such moments thinking of their life. Of past regrets, perhaps, or how best to preserve what little time they had left. I might've better spent that moment considering how I could appeal to the little bastard for mercy.

I had but one thought, however: Scout. Don't let it escape.

My hands twitched, and within less than a second a vibrant red light pulsed out of them, forming a huge, two-handed blade. The Crimson Catastrophe cut through the air in front of me, its two prongs shearing most of the sky dwarf's spear away. The beast shied away in an instant, squawking out a sound I assume was a curse or a scream. It tried to fly.

Scout. Don't let it escape.

I didn't.

Vines fell in a torrent, shorn away instantly by the power of the Crimson Catastrophe. The sky dwarf, no more resilient than plant life, collapsed to the ground in two pieces. Most of its head was gone.

Jeffrey burst out of his hiding space, gawking at the Crimson Catastrophe as it faded. My hands dipped, and a fierce, pounding headache battered my temples. I dropped to one knee and rubbed my head.

It took a few moments for Jeffrey to approach. Even through the painful haze settling in my brain I could see the fear on his face. "D... Dragomir... are you... okay...?"

I nodded, pointing at the remains of the sky dwarf. "Got... got it."

Jeffrey kicked at the haft of the sky dwarf's spear. "Yeah. Yeah, you sure did."

We didn't speak of what happened to the rest of the group, feigning ignorance of the sky dwarf's scant death throes. I simply warned the rest of them to be wary of scouts, claiming it was a 'feeling', and bade everyone carry on with the trip.

We're currently resting on the periphery of the aerie's meeting place. The dragons are all here, huddled together, occaionally fighting off large bands of sky dwarves that weave through the thorns to attack. I'm amazed the Valley of Thorns isn't burning, truth be told, so I'm guessing the dragons can somehow choose what they want to burn.

Who knows. I guess Barrel would. I'll ask him tomorrow.

Agh. Enough for tonight. My head... hurts... so fucking much. I'm surprised I managed to write this much. Is this gonna happen every damned time I use that thing? Maybe I'd be better off not learning how it works after all...


Dragomir the Wanderer

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