Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From the Mist of Hell: Chapter the First

Because my roommates were playing D&D for eight hours and I had my bedroom door open. And yeah, for you D&D MASTERS, I know eight hours can sometimes just be the prologue, but come on. This is the first song I know. Just dance with me.

… And so it was from the moat house the party traveled forth, satisfied to leave behind them one of the more disemboweling areas of their long journey. Andy stroked his orange dwarf hair and drummed his fingers on the horn that was habitually around his neck. It was reserved for emergencies; calling others to his aid when overwhelmed. As his barbaric nature often took hold in the heat of combat, the horn was of little use to him.

The moat house had required four separate horn blows.

The silence between them was not without a purpose. Although more often than not, the riches discovered at the end of a nightmarish passage far surpassed the struggles encountered while traveling through it; yet, in their previous saga, mistakes had been made. Andy now repeatedly turned to give disgruntled looks to his partner, Mike, hoping the words he wished to express would come to him.

He was glad Mike was in wererabbit form. As a human, Mike was a 173 year old man with a beard the length of a swinging vine. It was much harder on the conscience to get upset with someone who looked not only like a powerful wizard, but also, his great-grandfather, had he been 4 four feet shorter. It often felt as though Mike were less of a companion, and more like he was dragging home his dead dog on a sled. And the dog had been his best friend.

Mike unleashed an animalistic cough. In his wererabbit form, he was a hulking beast that walked with a dramatic lurch, spewing whatever fluid got to the top of whatever hole without much discrepancy. Andy sighed again, louder this time, at the sight of a six foot rabbit with ingrown teeth and a lazy eye walking in a somewhat straight line next to him. At least he wasn’t a snake anymore.

“Why the hell did you pick that serpent form, anyway?” Andy asked, his tone striking an angry, low-pitched growl.

“I was feeling traitorousssssss,” Mike replied, flapping his tongue like an insane person.

“You’re not a snake anymore.”

Mike let silence build up between them again before he cleared his throat, making a noise that for a human would probably signify death, rather than a normal, bodily housekeeping procedure.

"I think maybe we should have a moment for our fallen comrade," he finally heaved. "She... she... yeah."

Layla had been the most notable casualty of the moat house. The elf was ageless, of course, but frail as all holy hell, the physical equivalent of a 500-year-old human woman. The flesh didn't so much hang from her bones as it clung to them for dear life. And she was angry... so... brooding and angry. They would often awaken to find her sleeping in a tree.

"Aye," Andy stated.

They bowed their heads and let the natural snaps and groans of the old woods take over.

"Though she was kind of a bitch."

"She was definitely stealing gold, in a way that I would know about it but couldn't prove anything," Mike added to Andy's sentiment almost immediately. "That's all she ever wanted to do. 'Search the area for gold.' God damn elf."

It was because of Layla that the trip had been so murderous, mainly due to her own murder. A pitch black, stone chamber filled ankle-deep with human bones was usually an indicator that something decidedly undesirable was dwelling within. Setting up camp for any amount of time would be considered an ignorant and exhaustively oblivious notion.

"All right, let's move on," Andy had exclaimed, sprinting toward the sunlight that peaked through some holes in the structure. "I think we can bring this wall down. Layla, use your 'dagger scream' on it."

"Screw you mindless sacks of moose piss."

Already she had started searching the far corners of the room for treasure, making her voice the only evidence that she was even there. "Go on without me. I'm busy."

Mike slithered down from the tower's crest. "There's a village not far in the distance! We can make it in a few hours if we get slithering."

"Will you shift out of snake form, please?! There's still a pirate horde tracking us after our visit to the last town," Andy pleaded.

Layla smiled at the memory. She'd beaten a pirate captain to death with a bloody dragon's head in front of his crew. Then she got off his corpse and called them all "cunts."

A quick escape had been required. Andy's recollection of the scenario was met with less nostalgia than Layla's.

"Hell's teeth, Layla, let's go!" he yelled. "We have plenty of gold."

Layla's bony arm gave him the finger, but in the darkness, he didn't see it. He also didn't see her steal some gold from his pocket.

That's about when a series of suspicious, eight-legged thumps dropped off the ceiling.

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