Hullo people and party members!
Well, at least the great emmerdement that is University Applications is out the way… This chapter is mainly around for laughs, nothing too serious here. After all, who can take seriously an area of a game involving “Werebadgers”? Special thanks to Weyoun, who has so kindly allowed me to borrow Ipsiya for this chapter (Ipsiya, for those who aren’t in the know, is the moonblade of one Laska Leafwalker, the witty, elegant, charming, and radiantly beautiful star of Tankards and Tempers… That should be enough brown-nosing, now can I borrow your weapon for a bit, please???)
One final note – there is quite a lot of strong language in this chapter.
Chapter 10 – More Gratuitous Spelunking
So, that was Torak, the Trash Talking Orc Chieftain out the way, and the random villagers saved. We all felt justifiably heroic, well, not all that heroic, okay, so we didn’t feel heroic whatsoever, actually, in all honesty we felt like we’d wasted our time, apart from Oberron who was beaming and smiling in the sort of grin that resembles those “leveller” machines we used to use in the Underdark to eliminate inconvenient mushroom fields. After all, there was nothing heroic about persuading an entire tribe of orcs to commit mass ritual suicide. Amusing, maybe, but not heroic.
And so from there on in was a minor detail to locate and return to the hamlet with the bedraggled hostages in tow. Thanks were exchanged; Oberron and Shayla handled that (although not with much sign of any affection or friendship between them, for Oberron was well on his way to antagonising every other member of the party), whereas I just bit my lip and looked thunderous – a skill which every Drow male must develop at some time or other, preferably sooner rather than later.
And so we left the pissant village and headed inexorably higher into the mountains, which was a winding, twisted track which Darik described as “the wimp’s ascent”. If it was the alleged wimp’s ascent, the “real man’s ascent” would have been to climb up the Shaengarne’s waterfall – a feat which I did not fancy my chances of taking on and succeeding at intact.
The track was not only potholed and twisted and broken and what Talyn so correctly described as an “ankle-fecker”, but there were also crags and overhangs on one side of it, forming a solid wall of rock. This, of course, counterbalanced the other side, on which there was nothing whatsoever, apart from a fifty-foot drop onto a rock-strewn wasteland, and the darkened smears of the last unfortunates to lose their balance in this perilous locale.
As we ascended higher and higher, the wind began to whip about our ears, the same cold wind that was in the lower parts of the mountains, and looking across into the steely sky, one could see a wave of snow drifting across the wastes towards our present position. And we were stuck up here on the bare mountain with a ball-shrinker of a storm approaching. Things looked not so good.
That was when Darik noticed the cave. It seemed fairly deep, and with the approaching blizzard, we slipped into it until the storm had come and gone.
“About bloody time!” exhorted the irrepressible Darik upon our entry into the cave and subsequent realisation as to its depth. “About time we got underground and did some proper adventuring!”
Talyn seemed rather worried by this. “How any daft feck can possibly think serious-like aboyt livin’ in a feckin’ hole when there’s a whole feckin’ forest oyt there to explore, I’ve not a feckin’ clue.”
Shayla seemed very wordless, even when asked she said nothing on this whatsoever. Perhaps there was something on her mind… I made a mental note to ask her about this at some point.
And so we penetrated deeper and deeper into that dark hole, which twisted and wound its way further into the mountainside, until we came to a natural grotto illuminated gently by some naturally shimmering crystals. It seemed a safe enough place to camp, and there was a supply of (hopefully) fresh water in one corner of our little cubby hole, and so we flopped out for a well-deserved rest.
Oberron seemed on edge; being underground possibly alerted him to “the insidious pwesence of Evil-Doews who might twy and sneak an alewt postuwe,” as he put it. Darik was spending his time analysing the rock strata in the time-honoured dwarven method of tasting them; Talyn was telling an extremely rude story about an Elven sorceress who had an accident involving a string of razor blades, a candle and a cat, which caused Shayla to blush quite visibly at this. I was simply squatting in the corner on my haunches, tensed up, and thinking to myself…
“Hey! You!” came a disembodied female voice from within the pool.
I looked around towards it. “No, not you!” it said. “The stupid looking one with the pointy ears and the scruffy black hair!”
“Are you feckin’ talkin’ ter me, ye great weaseltupper?” said Talyn, rather agitated by this, and slowly approaching the pool.
“I beg your pardon!” exclaimed the voice. “Do you know whom I am?” it said, rather haughtily.
“No,” said Talyn, “and I can’t say that I feckin’ give a badger’s toss. Awaity’feck’yabam, ye shitefeck bollockferret!”
There was a stunned silence, at which point I approached the pool and had a poke about in it until my fingertips brushed on something metallic.
“Hey!” exclaimed the voice, shocked. “Get your grubby hands off me, you filthy drow!” it continued, as I extracted it from the silt at the bottom of the pool, and marvelled at just what it was.
A moonblade. A real, elven moonblade. Ahh, I thought to myself. Another exhibit for Museum Devore at the end of all this… The sword, of course, was having none of this, and was yelping and protesting at my handling of its pristine surface. Just in an effort to get the stupid metal lump to shut its pie-hole, I handed it to Talyn.
“Ahh, about time. Do you know how long I’ve been sat there?” it said. “Fifty-seven years. And in all that time, every single elf that passed me by has ignored me or told me to shut up. Ungrateful little brats. If only they knew who I was…” it droned on and on.
“Yes, I know who ye feckin’ are,” swore Talyn at the weapon. “Ye’re a feckin’ pain in the arse!”
Darik found innuendo in this statement. “I’ll give you a feckin’ pain in the arse if you like! Hur hur hur…” One could always count on Monsieur Ironbeard to lower the tone of the occasion.
“No I am not!” the moonblade rabbited on, in the sort of rusty-tap voice that is normally reserved for haughty schoolmistresses. “I’m none other than the Lady Ipsiya, and best you remember that, Talinarionathon Vasethryriel Longbranch! Really, young people today, no manners!”
Talyn looked acutely embarrassed. “Ahh feck, please don’t go spreadin’ me middle name aroynd…” he said in the smallest of small voices.
“Whyever not! You should be proud of your name and your bloodline, young man! Hmph!” replied the moonblade. Already I was absorbed in a brilliant daydream in which I was threatening to plunge Ipsiya into a blazing furnace and hammer her into an unrecognisable lump, and I dare say other members of the team were having similar fantasies.
“But, Ipsiya… my middle name means, ‘tiger’s rectum!’ How the feck am I meant to take meself serious-like with a name like that?!” Talyn yelled in anguish.
Shayla was unable to contain herself at this, and burst out laughing. Oberron muttered something about “a lack of mowals”, and Darik just guffawed dirtily.
“See?” Talyn went on. “Even me friends find it ridiculous!”
“Friends?!” said a shocked Ipsiya. “A filthy drow, a rock-eating dwarf, a paladin, and a cheap-looking, half-blooded fiendling tart?! You should be ashamed of yourself, Talinarionathon!”
Shayla seemed extremely offended by this, and glared at the irritating moonblade.
“Well, it’s no use her getting upset over it, the truth hurts sometimes. Anyhow, Talinarionathon, when are you going to settle down with a nice elven girl from a good family then?” said the tactless sword.
Talyn’s reply was, as always, a paragon of wit and virtue.
“When me cock drops off from all the gratuitous casual feckin’ I intend ter do over the next few decades! And then I’ll have it reattached so I can go roynd the track again! And again! And again! That’s how long you’ll have ter wait, yer weaselshite ferretfeck arsebadger!”
Ipsiya gave off a long gasp and one could imagine the sword falling into a dead faint at Talyn’s barrage of abuse and what Oberron would term “gwoss immowality”.
Sooner or later, we left the cave and headed back towards the mountain pass, Ipsiya complaining all the way about all manner of things. And the blizzard had passed overhead so as to allow us to continue higher into the mountains. Eventually the rock appeared on what was formerly only delimited by a sheer drop, making traversing the path much easier. Still, it was pretty cold.
The area seemed to be a form of plateau punctured by crags of rock, some large, some small, some higher than one’s head, which provided at least a few windbreaks. However, at the same time, the track vanished completely, and the sheer monotony of the plateau’s landscape facilitated instances of getting lost, especially as the wind blew out all our tracks within seconds.
“Well!” exclaimed Oberron upon realising this. “By Towm, whewe awe we? ‘Tis most unbecoming to my weputation as a paladin to be twudging wound these snowy wastes! Thewe is evil to be smitten back the way we came!”
“Oberron,” remarked Shayla, “Is your entire objective in life smiting evil-doers? Even if you haven’t seen them to be evil doers?”
“Well…” squirmed Oberron. “Of couwse thewe awe some individuals who awe not twuly evil but misled, but foul cweatuwes bown of evil such as owcs and fiends and dwagons… thewe is no wedemption! Smite them all!”
“Even,” I began, slowly sidling up towards him, “if they convert from evil-doing to good-doing? Or have the capacity to thus convert?” I questioned him.
Oberron thought for a second, and it was clear that this was a painful experience for such as him. “Of couwse!” he spat out. “Nevew twust an owc ow a twoll! Just smite them! It’s kinder weally,” he hastily added as if to clarify this statement. “Othewwise somebody else might twy to smite them, or they’d get lynched! As I said, it’s kindew weally.”
There was evidently to be no reasoning with this… man.
“What aboyt werebadgers?” asked Talyn.
“Wewebadgews?” exclaimed Oberron. “Thewe is no such thing as a wewebadge – AAAAAAGGGHHH!” This last section was to do with the fact that a large stripy-headed, vaguely humanoid individual has wrapped a brawny arm around Oberron’s neck and was crushing the life out of the unfortunate holy warrior. His screams alerted yet more werebadgers which came crowding across the plateau like so many angry bees. And there were lots of them.
“Ahh, so DAT’S what ye look loike then!” Talyn said as he saw the lycanthrope’s facial features. “Yer ugly! Ye’ve got a face loike a ferret’s arsecrack!”
This enraged the werebadger who was attempting to throttle Oberron, and sent it charging towards Talyn, who promptly plugged it with an arrow through the eye, sending the blood gurgling out and its arm dropping lifelessly from Oberron’s throat.
“Troy this fer soize, ye squirrel-sodomising eedjit!” Talyn swore, while notching yet another arrow and sending it hissing towards another werebadger, hitting it in the neck. Oberron had got out his Freudian greatsword and was challenging the enemy to “come and taste wighteous fuwy”; Darik was laughing like a deranged maniac and was in the process of charging into the midst of the werebadgers. Shayla levitated way above the battlefield in order to send her deadly barrages of spells into the enemy, while I efficiently dropped them from behind just a few at a time. Yet such aggression, although we eliminated a fair few of these lycanthropes, was in vain, for we were surrounded and, in spite of our best efforts, each of us was clamped tight about the stomach by a brawny, coarse-furred arm and lifted bodily off the ground.
“RESISTANCE IS USELESS!” yelled one flea-infested man-beast, and the group parted to allow a much larger werebadger through to see us. He was huge, brawny, and he stank like an Illithid cesspit.
“So,” he began. “You were trespassing on Werebadger territory, and you resisted us. There is only one punishment for that!”
“Let me guess,” I mock-thoughtfully replied. “Death?”
The huge chieftain nodded, and motioned that we should be taken away.
So it was that we were destined to spend the night in a stinking, droppings-infested cage embedded in the side of the mountain. Now, this would have been okay if it hadn’t have been for the fact that every so often, a werebadger would spit a wad of filthy gunk into our faces, engendering a curse from Talyn. Originally these were just as fiery as ever, but as the night drew on, they reduced themselves to half-hearted limpnesses such as “Sod off, weaselface” and “Awaity’feck’yabam, arsefeatures” and the like.
Darik, of course, was asleep and snoring, having exhausted himself trying to bend the bars of the cage and escape. Oberron had lapsed into uncontrollable self-pity, and every so often I would have to slap him to shut his mewlings up. This would engender a barrage of accusations of evil-doing and that it was all somehow my fault, which was arguably worse. Yet I did find his allegedly steely paladine resolve crumpling at the prospect of his execution at the hands of a bunch of were-badgers quite an amusement.
Shayla seemed resigned to her fate, she just sat passively in a corner, her face blank and her eyes glazed over, and her knees bunched up into a form of foetal position, staring out, and not saying or doing much, even if roused, she would look back at the individual who roused her for a few seconds and then continue staring vacantly ahead. I was pacing about like a caged beast – which, in a way, I was – trying to figure a way out of this trap. They wouldn’t get me. I would not become lunch for a pile of stinking werebadgers. The ignominy would be too great to bear.
Problem was, lunch for a pile of stinking werebadgers looked like it was on the cards, and hope was eroded even further when Ipsiya decided to open her metallic mouth and lecture us on things.
“Well, Talinarionathon, this is a fine mess you’ve got yourself into! I thought you would have known better than to antagonise those nice werebadgers. Just think what your mother would say if she could see you!”
“Well she can’t,” replied Talyn.
“That’s not the point! Well, fine, be that way. See if I care. I won’t be the one who’s going to get boiled alive! Honestly, young people these days… And I notice you didn’t even bother to wield me, you ingrate scumbag!”
“I don’t like slashing people!” yelled Talyn.
“I know. You’re one of those nancy-boy archers, aren’t you?” said Ipsiya, in an accusing voice. This caused Talyn to snap, and he grabbed Ipsiya and, in a fit of fury, flailed her against the walls, ceiling, floor, and the bars of the cage, bending the bars with the force of his anger.
“Watch what you’re doing, young man! You don’t want to chip me!” she screamed.
“THAT’S THE FECKIN’ IDEA!” yelled Talyn, as his bashing bent a hole large enough for him to escape through. It was the dead of night, and I am still surprised that his yells didn’t wake all the werebadgers.
“Gotcher, arseface!” came Talyn’s voice as a werebadger has his throat cut while he slept.
“Revenge, ye stroipey headed letch!” as another one bit the dust.
And so on, and I smiled knowingly.
A few hours later, it was almost dawn, and Talyn had recovered our kit, and we had managed to cut out the bars from the cage.
“Only thanks to me, of course,” said Ipsiya. “Really, young man, I know wielding a moonblade is the most glorious event in any elven life, but you mustn’t take the credit for it all. And what would your father say if he heard you uttering all that… Netherese… as you killed those hundred and ninety five werebadgers (unjustly I hasten to add…)”
Talyn looked directly at Ipsiya.
“Me feckin’ father’s dead, ye cowshite eedjit! So I can feckin’ swear all the feck I like! FECK FECK FECK FECK FECK…”
“Oh, please, make it stop!” pleaded Ipsiya, and as Talyn threw her off the cliff, her voice could be heard saying, “I’ll get you, ingrate scumbags!”
Well, that’s it for now. Hope you liked it! Coming next – Dambusting!
The Kandron Affair - Part the Tenth.
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