Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day Six-Sixty-Nine: The final player

Oh fuck me. FUCK ME. WHY





After yesterday's... encounter... with the wild man... I decided on a different approach. 'Why not,' I asked myself, 'try and track him down? Maybe he's seen Libby. Maybe he knows where she is. Maybe he's got her captured somewhere.' It was a feasible line of inquiry - and since Evan the Dragon Researcher kinda wants the guy gone, he agreed to tear himself away from the Contest for a day to help us search for the wild man's lair.

We found it. Kinda. Kinda sorta.

Our little section of Above The Sky consists of a series of cloud islands. The largest one is hooked onto the Stalk of Rodentia, 'tis true, but there are plenty of offshoots that hover around the main landmass. (Airmass? I don't know what to call it.) Some are flat, some are hilly, some are covered in dense vegetation and small forests (sky dwarf territory), and some... okay, one... has a mountain. A rather large mountain. A cumulus mountain.

Evan calls it Mount Thunderstorm. I didn't ask why. Might've dissuaded me from going.

Why would we go to Mount Thunderstorm? Because, naturally, that's where the wild man went. Every time Evan's crops are raided, the tracks lead (vaguely) back towards freaking Mount Thunderstorm. And when I led Grylock back to the spot where we'd been ambushed yesterday, he confirmed that the wild man was on a direct path back to Mount Thunderstorm.

So... yeah... Mount Thunderstorm. Yeeeeah.

In fairness, Mount Thunderstorm is not that bad. Its base is about as steep as Pubtwon's mountain, may we never speak of it again, so the majority of the climb is tiring rather than impossible. But the very top of the mountain is a pointed tip, giving the whole cloud a rather funnel-like appearance, and climbing to the top... not fun. Not fun at all. (I'm also not a fan of Mount Thunderstorm's darker appearance compared to other sections of Above The Sky, but let's not get into that right now.)

Mount Thunderstorm is maybe an hour's hike from the Contest grounds, so we stopped by briefly to see how the dragons were doing (there are only eight left - Barrel and Ridges are among 'em) then set out for the base of the mountain. The moment we crossed the thin cloud bridge between islands we knew we were on the right track, as bare-soled footprints covered the entire length of the thing. The wild man lives there, no contest.

He also made it rather obvious upon our arrival, 'cause the dude was basking in the sun near the base of Mount Thunderstorm. Asleep, nude, surrounded by fruits and vegetables, and... alone.

"Brozer!" Antonio bellowed joyfully, though we were still a hundred feet away. "BROZER! HEY, BONEHEAD! IT IZ ME! WAKE UP!"

A shaggy head half wrapped in bandages immediately rose from its resting place. One bleary eye peered over the wild man's hairy chest at us. He mumbled something and got to his feet, a big, dopey smile on his face.

The rest of the group paused as Antonio rushed forward to greet the wild man. My mind raced to make connections. Brozer? Brother? What did that mean, exactly? I looked around at my party to gauge their responses.

Evan sneered, scratching at his beard. "He stole my parsnips. I can see them from here! I wanted those for a soup!"

Jeffrey pulled out a granola bar. He really likes those things.

Grylock peered back at me. "The hell do ye want?"

Fynn seemed unusually anxious, though he said nothing. He fixed his gaze on the top of the mountain.

Logan groaned. "Oh, gods, it's not really him, is it...?"

Logan was the only one I found helpful. I pointed at him. "Explain."

He just shook his head. "You'll find out in a second. And I doubt you'll like it."

Antonio and the wild man embraced, the wild man whooping and hopping around gleefully all the while. Strapping his jacket tightly around the wild man's waist, Antonio ushered the fuzzy horror over to meet us. "My friendz, zis iz my brozer. Traveller, zeez are my friendz."

Traveller extended a sweaty hand, a vapid grin on his face. Fynn was the only one to step forward, and I quickly pulled him back. Traveller didn't seem to realize that he'd been snubbed, and his hand remained hovering in the air.

"Hi," he eventually said, turning to me. "Have you seen my boots? I think I lost my boots."

"You lost a lot more than your boots," I mumbled. I tried my best not to notice his thinger poking out of a hole in Antonio's jacket. I pray the orc burns the garment. "Er... have you... gods, I can barely look. Someone else ask him. Turn around, Fynn."

Apparently unphased by human anatomy, Antonio did the talking. He slapped his bro none too lightly on the arm. "Zis one iz looking for hiz wife, ya? She haz zhort dark hair und musclez zat make yourz look puny."

"Wife." Traveller's eye went blank for a second, as though he needed his entire brain to process the word. "Wife. Wife. Girl? You mean a girl?"

"My gods, is he retarded?" Grylock muttered behind me. 

"Might explain why he runs around naked," I hissed back.

Traveller mulled the question over in semi-silence for a minute. He kept saying the word 'girl' to himself, testing it in different tones and stretching it out. Then, abruptly, a candle sparked to life somewhere in his head. "OH! GIRL! GIRLFRIEND! I have one of those! I think she has hair!"

My stomach lurched as a terrible idea formed in my brain. "You... you have a girlfriend... is her name..."

"LIBBY!" Traveller proclaimed happily. "She screams at me a lot! It's fun. We've been playing house. I keep trying to kiss her, but she slaps pretty hard. I dunno why, but she doesn't like most of the stuff I bring her - "

That was enough for me. Ignoring all I'd heard of Traveller's reputation over the last year I stepped forward, hands up, ready to throttle his stupid, muscular neck. "YOU GIVE HER BACK! YOU GIVE HER BACK RIGHT NOW!"

Traveller recoiled. He hid behind Antonio, and the big orc shuffled in front of his brother to block my grasping hands. "HE WANTS MY OTHER EYE! DON'T LET HIM TAKE MY OTHER EYE TOO! I NEED IT FOR STUFF!"

"He will not take your eye," Antonio assured Traveller before turning back to me. "Zhow reztraint, Dragomir. You muzt not alarm him too much, or Trav vil - "

"GIVE HER BACK GIVE HER BACK GIVE HER BACK!" My persistent demands eclipsed all other noise. I was filled with a deep-seated rage in that moment, suddenly aware of just how worried I was for my wife. I suppose I'd buried my concern away for two weeks, knowing it wouldn't help me find her... but now that I had a lead on her...

My bellowing apparently startled Traveller enough for flight. Ripping Antonio's coat away from his nethers, he bounded up the side of Mount Thunderstorm at a superhuman pace, abandoning his stolen food. His powerful legs left massive indents in the clouds, a trail I quickly - but stumblinginly - pursued. I didn't stop to consider what he could do to me if I cornered him, though the thought gives me pause now.

I made it to the steeper half of Mount Thunderstorm before Traveller reappeared. He had a very familiar pair of flailing legs slung over his shoulder. When he saw me standing in his path, he gasped -

- and leaped -

- and basically flew -

- and landed somewhere behind the rest of the party, who'd followed on my heels at a slower pace. Between his first appearance and his last my wife, my wife, let out a raging roar... and then they disappeared. 

Returning to the rest of the party, stomping the ground, I looked around for someone who could match such speed. The only one who stuck out was Logan. "YOU! GO AFTER HIM!"

Logan shook his head. "No way, man. That dude's as strong as Eve, 'n twice as unpredictable. I wanna keep my head." 

I raged. I pleaded. I threatened. I attempted to bribe. Nothing worked. Antonio didn't help, either, as he recommended allowing his 'brozer' to settle down before approaching him again. The first signs of a frown tugged at Antonio's implaccable face, though he didn't chastise me for my haste. Maybe he understands.

We tried to track Traveller down, but his tracks disappeared in a thick field of verdtvines. We have no idea where he went - though at least we know he'd been hiding Libby atop Mount Thunderstorm all this time.

Yeah. How... how comforting.

I don't know what to do now. Libby seems healthy, so that's something, and she's... still got all her clothes on. From what I saw. So there's been no funny business. But we still have to find her, and with Traveller on the run we may have a devil of a time finding the guy. 



At least Evan got his stupid vegetables back. Hmph.


Dragomir the Vexed

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