If you think about it the concept that attacking a spellcaster as they’re casting a spell is pretty elementary tactically – but why would you ever think about? Why would anyone ever be casting a spell on you? And if they were why would it be a bad spell that you wanted to stop? I wish I still lived that kind of life, not as much as I wish other other things but still. Not to state the obvious, but wizards are an odd bunch. In addition to being odd in the way they talk, dress, act, and pretty much every other way, they don’t seem to understand the concept of dodging. Which is pretty basic stuff. Someone wants to hit you? Get out of the way. But I suppose it’s hard to dodge and cast a spell at the same time – casting spells seem to involve a lot of histrionics. That must be why wizards generally like to have big brutes in mail standing in front of them, although I guess everyone likes that. My point is while Endrin was just about to incinerate me I shot him in the stomach.
Now, I’ve done this a few times at this point, disrupting a wizard’s spell, but every other time I’ve done this the spell fizzled. Where does the magic go? Does it go to some other dimension where the entire ecosystem is based off stray magic? Don’t ask me, but here in this world nothing happens usually. Usually. This time was a little bit different. Endrin got a bolt in the belly and what happened next is that in the ten yeards around him it started raining peaches. You know, peaches. The tree fruit that is sometimes delicious but often times disappointing. There’s not much better in the fruit kingdom than a good peach, but they’re a tricky fruit – it’s hard to get a good one. These ones seemed too soft to be good based on the way they were squishing and squashing as they fell from the sky on the two wizards.
A rain of peaches would have been quite comical if not for the fact that two mages were trying to kill me. Whatever spell Aurisk was trying to cast was spoiled by bushel of peaches bouncing off his noggin. I tried to shoot again but here’s a surprising fact, I haven’t trained for shooting in a peach rain. I ended up fumbling my reload and dropping my bolt on the ground, although I doubt it would have flown straight with a peach lodged on the end anyway. Next thing I knew the crossbow was ripped out of my hands as if by, well magic, and then I was waylaid by a scorching ray of fire that in addition to burning the crap out of me exploded a dozen flying peaches. Being pelted with burning peach juice actually hurt more than the ray itself. Is that irony? No, it’s just something that happened. When people talk about about epic battles they never mention the peaches.
I ran out the raining peaches and around the side of the cabin, going for my Deck of Curses since I didn’t have much else in the way of weapons without my crossbow. Aurisk came after me first, around the side of the cabin and I flipped a card right into his face. He fell to the ground with a shout more of surprise it sounded like than pain as his legs twisted and withered out from under him. Endrin came around the other side a moment later and I had a card waiting for him but it had no noticeable effect. That’s the problem with these curse cards, I’m sure it did something, but whatever it did it wasn’t terribly helpful in the moment. Endrin made a punching motion in the air and I was slammed by a ball of electricity that knocked me into the wall of the cabin and crushed me to the ground, gasping for air. He walked towards me, hands glowing with ugly blue energy. I went for my badge of last resort, turning it into a poisoned dagger and stabbing him in the foot but it didn’t seem to bother him overly much. I believe he would have killed me had Dondarian not appeared at that moment and skewed him from behind with his tiny rapier. I’ve seen a couple people run through now from up close, it’s not a pleasant site. Endrin toppled over, dead as ever dead bird that has ever died, and Dondarian helped me up.
I laughed hysterically, and I mean that literally “Hey, you want a peach?”
He made a weird face “Are you okay?”
I continued laughing “No, no I’m not!”
After I got a hold of myself I cut Aurisk’s throat as he begged for mercy and tried to crawl away on his forearms with his wasted legs trailing behind him. I didn’t love doing that but what else was I going to do? Peaches continued to rain down for several more minutes. As soon as it stopped I saw a bunny hop up and starting nibbling on one of the thousands of peaches that now were scattered around the area by the cabin.
“You ever seen anything like that?”
The little rake shook his head “No.”
“Yeah, me neither. So, you were saying something about the ring?”
“Yeah, I think you should put it on.”
“And then what? The creature is defeated?”
He shrugged “Defeated? I think it will be trapped again. As long as you wear the ring.”
“That seems a little anti-climactic. So what, am I related to these people?” He shrugged again “Maybe if they’re all dead now that means I’m going to inherit a bunch of land and money. Although I’m not sure how well the magic ring claim works in court, it’s not like I can call the nightmare monster to testify for me. ‘Your honor I can attest that this woman is the rightful heir to Whiterock Castle because when she wears that ring it makes me hide under a cabin in the woods’. I don’t think that’s going to get me very far.”
“I think you should put the ring on now.”
I slid the ring on my finger “There, happy?” He nodded “Gods what an ugly piece of trash. I tell you Dondarian, magicians have no sense of style whatever. Are you sure I have to wear this thing forever? Isn’t there some way we can send this thing back to whatever insane impossible dimension it came from?”
“I don’t know, you’d need to ask a magic guy about that.” He glanced at the corpses of his former adventuring companions “And we seem to be short of them just now.”
“Well if I know anything as soon as people hear about this place some of them are going to want to come here to worship this damn thing or try and control it like these two hoopleheads were, or just to set it free because . . . because . . . well because of whatever reason crazy people like to set monsters free. So what do we do about that?”
“Bury it again? Burn the cabin down maybe?”
“What about the three dozen people that were out here all day digging it up? Should we kill them to keep the secret?”
“Could you do that?”
“Morally? Sure. But hunting down and killing that many people, plus anyone they might have talked to already, that’s a ton of people. Seems like a whole lot of work, so on in that sense I couldn’t.”
Dondarian and I stood there for a long time not saying anything, we were pretty shaken up by what had happened the last twenty four hours. Eventually Adriane came galloping up, intent on warning us that Endrin and Aurisk may be coming and they may mean us harm – a little late on that’s score but you can’t really blame her. After she rambled herself out talking in circles she asked me again what she should do.
“Welp, you can try to get some magic man out here to check it out if you want, but I think what happened here is that old grandpa Whiterock summoned up some kind of horror from beyond space and time, as wizards are wont to do, and he trapped it here. And by trapping it somehow he used it to make his family rich and prosperous. I don’t know how that works exactly but it seemed to involve human sacrifice, as is often the case with eldritch entities from beyond the stars. Once he was good and rich he didn’t want to go through all that trouble – kidnapping people and killing them is a lot of work. So he kept the thing trapped here and didn’t tell anyone about it – making sure that his heirs all wore the special binding ring all the time. I suppose in eighty years some of them probably took it off from time to time and maybe some weird shit happened out here, mutilated mooses and so forth, maybe a random traveler got their heart torn out, you’d probably know better than me. Anyway, I have the ring now, and I guess I’m related to these people so . . . everything’s fine now?”
“What about the case?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure that Nacario didn’t kill his wife, but since he’s been hacked to pieces also I don’t see as that it matters much. I assume the case will be dismissed, they don’t usually put dead men on trial that I’m aware of, but as an officer of the court you’re probably more familiar with how that all works. It would probably be best to try and keep people away from here, but of course whenever you try to keep people away from something that makes them want to go there more. Maybe you can put a pig farm here, a nice layer of pig shit tends to keep people away. Of course the pigs will probably grow shells and tentacles and weep blood so you’ll have to find a farmer that can take these things in stride.”
“I can’t tell if you’re being serious or not.”
“Yeah. Me neither.”
With that unsatisfying non-conclusion Dondarian Saltfoot and I mounted up and headed back to Beresford, leaving poor constable Adriane Dekros standing by a cursed and horrible cabin looking confused and afraid – and rightfully so. Neither of us said anything until we were in sight of the city when I looked down at the little hotspur on his spirited war pony.
“Are you going to be okay?”
He smiled wanly “Eventually, we’re resilient folk in the Shires.”
“So I’ve noticed, it’s impressive – humans tend to go to pieces of little things like sanity-destroying monsters from incomprehensible dimensions of horror.”
“How’s your cousin going to take the news that her client is dead?”
I shook my head “That’s not my cousin.”
He frowned “What? Stinty told me that . . .”
I held up a restraining hand “Just . . . just don’t . . . not right now.”
“If that’s not your cousin what was all that even for?!”
“That’s what I’d like to know.”
Funds: 27,817 platinum, 44,828 gold
Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Badge of Last Resort, Stone of Good Luck, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Censer of Dreams, potions of cure moderate wounds (5), potion of invisibility, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Deck of Curses (four cards used), Ring of Urban Grace, Bewitching Gown, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering, Token of Summoning, Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding)
Courtier’s Outfit, noble’s outfit (5) collegium ring, pocketed scarf, wrist sheath, signet ring (2) assortment of fake signet rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), garnets (700), severed hag head, gold necklace with jade pendant, ivory combs, tax collector’s badge, gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, silver and gold brooch, silver necklace with ruby pendant, glass vials of something awful (8), disguise kit, covenant ring , tiny diamonds (27), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55)
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa