The morning air felt colder—likely remnants of that vivid “dream.” Yet, with nothing else to do, we continued on down the coast. The following day was uneventful outside of stumbling across an abandoned hut which Percival proceeded to loot and burn down. I may have my fears, but he sometimes appears to be operating one nut shy of an acorn. In any case, that evening found us under a giant tree…
The chill down my spine I suddenly felt on my watch was familiar and had nothing to do with the temperature. But before I could process the feeling, a dart zipped out of the woods, sticking painfully into my shoulder. At least my vocal chords were unfrozen, “Wake up you fools!”
The others awoke, blinked their eyes of sleep and squinted as my light spell illuminated several shapes moving amongst the trees about 20 strides away. Mites! But not the blue-skinned ones we had recently faced, but equally grotesque yellow-skinned horrors. As we counter attacked, one of them started jerking until it exploded in a yellow mist of puss. That seemed to deflate the rest and we made short work of them. Outside of washing the puss off, the chill was gone and the rest of the night went by peacefully.
It was midday when we found our destination: a large castle on a small island connected to land by a three pace wide and one hundred pace long stone bridge. Following their usual methodology, Pervical and Sorob decided the “welcome” sign (“Grand Circle – Members only, absolutely no admittance, enter at own risk”) would look better in the sea. While the eight and a half foot tall earth golem guarding the other end of the bridge seemed nonplussed by the petty vandalism, it did take offense at any attempt to cross the bridge and seemed otherwise undeterred by Oedinn’s attempt to grease it into the water. Discretion being the better part of valor, our hearty group fled down the beach away from the golem only to discover, at least without further provocation, it would not set foot on the land. Clearly we needed to sleep on our next options.
We returned to the bridge as the morning broke, only to find it unguarded and the gates opened. My trepidation at our apparent good fortune is overridden as my companions stroll into the castle courtyard as if they own the place. Percival strolled to the nearest door and confidently knocked. However, I was troubled by a vague feeling of familiarity about the castle and realization dawned on me the instant before Percival kicked the opening door, knocking down a little, black-eyed girl. Her sobs were covered up by a booming voice from the castle walls, “Stop that right now!”
I turned bright, angry eyes upwards; eyes that became slightly dulled by fear as I took in the many black-eyed children and yellow mites surrounding Clown-Face.
A crashing noise sounds from another door to the courtyard. While I was distracted, the black-eyed girl in the doorway attempted to grab Percival, but not before taking a quarrel from Percival’s crossbow between the eyes. Our brief victory was quickly forgotten as a grossly oversized mite riding a praying mantis burst through the door. With a leap, the mantis landed on top of Sorob, grabbed him and was about to do its best impression of post-mating behavior when Timeria plowed into its side and ripped apart the mantis’s neck. My arrow caught the mite in the side as it leapt from its dismembered mount, but rather than sinking it, the arrowhead simply broke from the shaft. Crap, what kind of freak of nature were we fighting?
As Sorob regained his feet and engaged that mightiest of mites, my next arrow took the laughing jester in the side. With a laugh (“Really, you fool!”) the jester jumped into the arena. And then things got strange.
The jester whacked Oedinn with his scepter, but rather than appearing hurt, Oedinn simply broke down into chuckles. Dodging jets of fire from Percival’s hands, the jester thumped Percival across the brow; an injury that put both Percival and Oedinn into hysterics. With our wizards otherwise distracted, Sorob takes the Mitiest down while Timeria turns her fangs on the jester. Whatever enchantment that was put upon the wizards broke, as Percival became noticeably uglier. The jester soon learned that one makes a dwarf laugh against the dwarf’s wishes at one’s own peril; Oedinn smote the jester into a pile of nothing and took the jester scepter for his own!
But before we could savor our victory, the walls of the castle melted and we found ourselves back on the beach; Oedinn with scepter in hand. We looked around at each other; our tired expressions said it all: the complete destruction of our fool of a nemesis would be too much to hope for…