Eternal Winter

More. Fucking. Bugs!

I woke up with red lipstick all over my face, a naughty sonnet scribbled in my journal, and bloody hair matted to my accordion. Best not to try to remember what that’s all about— and judging from the empty bottles of whisky by my bed, it was the clear intent of Yesterday Orgoo to discourage Tomorrow Orgoo from remembering much at all. Onward to more heroism!

We tromped back to Fa-Lir, now with new party member Wreath in tow. [This being the revenant played by Tyler last session.] Wreath is a bit unsettling, being undead and all. Still, he’s nicer than many living people I know, so who am I to judge? In any case, we need all the help we can get.

As we went through the forest, there was a great rushing of wings above us. Brave as we are, we hid under the tree canopy. And then with a WHOOMP landed a hippogriff! Man, I’ve only seen those in paintings. And those were naughty paintings in which the hippogriffs were not, um, flying. Anyway, riding it were a guard in Parsy livery and… Aria! That was a relief. I had been sending her messages but no reply lately so I was a bit worried. Apparently she had been captured by the snakey guards we defeated in our last adventure. My first message got a reply from her that she had been captured, so I messaged Parsy to let her go immediately. Then I heard nothing. Now here she was, nice dropped off by Hippogriff Express, but she seemed a bit off. She did not remember what happened to her in the castle, and seemed a bit dazed. Hopefully the trauma did not involve the hippogriff. Anyway, the past is the past, I always say, so we bade her come with us and surely she’d get back her memory, or at least a happy approximation.

We went back to the Fa-lir church to pick up where we left off. As Markus and Rosy snuck in through a broken window, we waited outside. Then we all heard a mighty flapping and something very heavy landing on the roof of the church. Then a mad titter that sounded a lot like the Organ Guy. Before we could get away to see what was atop the church, it flew off. Soon we heard a thump and a roar from another part of town. So most of us ran that way, with a few left behind checking out the back room of the church. In that room they found a prayer book, which they took, and an altar to some barbarian god. Rosy climbed the roof and saw a part in the trees south of town. Cunning archer that she is, she shot an arrow toward us with a note telling us to meet her at that path. We all gathered up again and headed south.

After a couple hours we came to a striking clearing in the forest, with a stump in the middle, which was carved with some draconic lettering. That reminded us of the prayer book so we looked at it. It was written in, in an odd way: a number of apparently random letters were scrawled over with purple ink of the same letter. We wrote out all such letters and looked at it. We soon realised that the letters when read backward, and sprinkled with appropriate spaces, said something like “At the stump in the clearing turn toward Mother”. Hm. Mother? Some of us who knew religion remembered that the barbarian clans often called the sun the Father and the wind the Mother. Sure enough, we felt a cold breeze drifting across the clearing, so we went through the forest towards its source. And boy howdy, we found a cave! From it breathed an icy chill. So, having our usual overdose of pluck and deficit of self-preservation, into the cave we went.

The cave was coated inside with a thick layer of ice and we had to pick and jump our way from one non-icy spot to the other. Seemed like the perfect place for… an ambush… er… And we were right! Swarms of More Fucking Bugs broke out of the floor everywhere and proceeded to try to turn us into chitinous pincushions.

Not only were there heaps of them in three fun sizes, but the ice was more slippery than… er… c’mon Orgoo you can think of a good metaphor… er… slipperier than my girlfriend’s… no, too easy… um… I got nothing. It was really fucking slippery, OK? Steeple spent most of the fight on his living metal ass and the rest of us did not even try to walk across it. I used my Mr. Shuffles routine a few times to get friends off the ice. This place would be great for the kiddies if it were not for all the bugs. So we killed them, and then (note the order) tried to think about what they were and what they might do. Some of us finally recalled our nature training [till now none of us asked for a Nature check, oops] and realised that they were kruthiks:

…and were probably being controlled by a hive lord somewhere. Now we knew who to send our next Happy Holiday card to. We went deeper into the cave to find a fitting recipient.

But surprisingly, we found not a huge bug-mom-thing but a large cave containing one adult white dragon and one crazy, babbling Organ Guy. Aha. Now we knew what he was flying on. Great, so these guys were in charge? We knew better than to mess with an adult dragon unnecessarily so we tried to talk a bit. The OG was babbling about sinners and such. The dragon was obviously wearing the pants in this little family and occasionally told the OG to shut up, but he never really did. The dragon did not seem inclined to eat us right away, and when we paid due deference to him and told him we were not here to kill him, we were just trying to find out what was killing everyone in town and where Princess Parsy might be found, things started to look good.

The dragon did not seem to care about our heroic stance, and even told us that we should look in the west of the woods to pick up the Parsy trail. Then things went a bit downhill. The OG started to brag about how the bugs were cleansing the town of sinners, and when we asked about the sword slashes on some of the bodies, OG tittered “guilty as charged”. We asked if the dragon would mind terribly if we killed this madman, since we really can’t have him murdering more people. My silver tongue did not prove up to the task [rolled too low on Diplomacy] and the dragon lost patience with us. Before I knew it, a fight broke out. I really have to stop hitting the bong at times like this. [Once again, Orgoo had poor rolls: a low Insight roll to realise that the dragon was going to attack, so he missed out on the surprise round, and a 1 for initiative, putting him last in the order even after he realised that there was a fight.] The OG was some kind of wicked druid or something, using freaky psychic lightning to dazzle and blind us, and a mystical magical whip that would teleport us around when it hit us.

We tried to stay out of his grasp as the dragon proceeded to exhale very cold, cold, smelly, freezing cold breath all over us.

It took us a while to get smart enough to properly spread out, so we got breathed on a lot. When we tried to hit the OG, he was able to charm nearby attackers into thinking he was actually a great guy. I dominated him into whipping the dragon, and tried to bluff a clever betrayal scenario, but the dragon must have known my reputation [he rolled 20 on Insight] and the OG for the first time screwed up his whipping and missed the dragon. My luck is astounding. So things were not going too well. Eventually, though, we knocked off the dragon thanks to the mighty powers of those of us who actually use weapons other than accordions. Particularly impressive was the nourishing black mist that Wreath’s weapon sucked out of the dragon’s wounds and, er, other places.

The dragon collapsed, we men paused only a moment to feel how large our testicles felt after slaying an actual dragon, and then turned out loving attention to the Organ Guy, concentrating on hitting him from a distance. Soon he was interspersing his mad titters with bloody coughs, and soon after that he went down. When he died, he radiated a beautiful light which healed us all, and grass grew all around him. In the center of the grass was a single rose, just beginning to wilt. I paused to reflect on the sad poetry of this scene and wondered if before his madness, he was a good man. My reverie was interrupted by Steeple stomping on the rose. Okay, so maybe this was not the place for sentimentality.

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MatthewFord

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