Friday, August 15, 2014

Giant Dire Woolly Tortoise

Bright Eye, Winter Night 2, 354 AC

            Gharad tapped the cleric on the shoulder to get his attention. The cleric ignored the warrior at first, focusing on the blood that stained the nearby snow. Finally Chai looked at the warrior, then to the horizon.

            A domed object made its way clear of the haze in a relatively short amount of time. Gharad clutched the hilt of his sword, as the domed object revealed itself to be a large creature with an elderly stocky dwarf atop it.         A full scraggly beard on his head and a quirky expression on his face, he drove the enormous tortoise burrowed through the icy dust and snow toward Chai and Gharad, making the elderly man appear to be riding the wakes of the barren Plains.

            Gharad drew his bow. Chai pursed his lips, a prayer to Chemosh at hand.

            As the dwarf on the woolly tortoise approached, he attempted to an enthusiastic wave  at Gharad and Chai, a broad grin on his face. But as he lifted his arm, the dwarf let go of the reins.  Noting holding him in place, the dwarf rolled off the back of the tortoise, tumbling into the frozen ground, "oof!"

            "What is that?" Chai said, keeping his eyes on the giant tortoise.

            The dwarf started shivering and chattering his teeth amidst his unkempt beard.

            The tortoise, now absent his driver, slowed to a stop. Its head slowly rose from the floor of the Plains to peer at the elderly dwarf stuck in the snow at least a foot.

            Gharad stared at the giant creature; his mouth gaped, though the cold quickly reminded him to close it.

            The tortoise tilted its head to the side and watched as the elder Dwarf chattered his teeth.

            Chai slowly turned his gaze from the woolly tortoise to the dwarf. The dwarf stared back at Chai and waived as high and as wide as his stature would allow, the grin on his face made even odder by the chattering of his teeth.

            "A hoy, ya der!" the dwarf shouted.

            Chai moved closer to Gharad, whispered something in to the warrior’s ear. Nodding at the dark cleric, Gharad readied his bow.

            Another person jumped off the back of the giant woolly tortoise, a young female, with long brown hair, and about half the height of a human. She waved at Chai and Gharad as she ran over to the stuck dwarf.

            "Oh come on Torz,” the dwarfs muttering could be heard over the dry air, “don't make me site here in da snow's with dis kender sneaking up on me! What sort of…" the dwarf continued mutter, mumble and swear as his kender riding companion reached him.
            “Hey! You need help?” The small kender asked, her high pitched voice reaching even Gharad and Chai’s ears.
            "AAAaaaahhh!" The older dwarf screamed, jumping with fright. As soon as he landed he scrambled through the snow, sinking in deeper with every step. The dwarf stumbled his way toward the now slowly moving tortoise as it started to leave without him.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Body in the Snow

Bright Eye, Winter Night 2, 354 AC

            It was two days after Famine Day and snow blanketed the Plains of Dust. A constant flurry had cut visibility in half and the caravan pushed forward as far as it could. As miserable as day was on the Plains, night was ten times worse. Several days earlier the caravan had turned around. But Gharad and Chai refused to follow them back.

            They were determined to make it to the city once known as Tarsis the Beautiful.  Cold days followed colder nights, at one point the duo killed a small group of goblins just to use their remains and tents as kindling for whatever small fire they could manage.

            Their grit and merciless determination had paid off. In the distance was Tarsis. Six hours away at most. Smoke from the chimneys of the city trailed up into the air. A tease as well as a beacon of hope. Chai muttered constant prayers of thanks to Chemosh, the God of Death. The god may have been turning a deaf ear to his cleric. Tarsis was close, but sunset even closer.

            Chai continued his relentless prayers under his breath. The temperature had dropped steadily over their trek, and tonight even tents would be useless.

            "We need to find something that can be used as shelter," Gharad said as he looked at the rapidly darkening sky and Tarsis silhouetted against it.

            Chai nodded but moved little as he watched the warrior climb on top of a nearby mound of snow.

            The warrior shook his head in irritation and made his way back to the cleric of Chemosh.

            "You see anything, warrior?" The cleric said, his voice not more than a hiss.

            "Nothing near," he responded, "though a wagon has passed through recently. Tracks are fresh. The snow has yet to cover them."

            Chai nodded, his hood fell off and snow quickly covered his brown hair. Chai brushed off his hair and pulled his black hood up once more. His grey eyes looking to Tarsis in the distance. The dark cleric pulled his cloak tightly around him, "we might want to run. The caravan won't travel fast in this weather, and I'm going to freeze soon in this wind."

            "Agreed," Gharad replied. His green eyes stood out sharply against the white snow.

            The duo wasted little time. Once their decision was made, they ran with Gharad leading the way.  Their booted feet kicked up snow, dust, and sand. The latter two were the red color only found in the barren Plains of Dust. Their chests burned from the dry air, as their faces stung from the chill.
            Chai followed the warrior as close as he could, and didn't complain though his muscles ached for more oxygen than he could possibly take in with his lungs. The dark cleric said nothing
to the warrior, but he was grateful when Gharad stopped to examine something ahead of them in the snow.

            Chai joined the back haired warrior as fast as his aching lungs would allow. He looked past the warrior to see what had slowed their progress.

            A human body lay in the snow, sticky with quickly freezing blood. A mashed face and heavy winter clothing made determining much else about the body impossible from a distance. Quarrels from a crossbow littered the body. Gharad had his hand to its chest. A feeble attempt to figure out if he or she was alive.

            Chai pushed Gharad aside, hoping to get a better look at the body. He could tell it was  man. And blood still pooled from some wounds when Chai pushed the body around slightly. The victim was male, that much Chai could now tell as he pulled the blood stained coat and cloak away from the body. The slain man had a dagger in a sheath at his side, and wore boots caked with horse manure. The man's hands were calloused.

            Chai muttered a quick prayer to his god as he removed the dead man's warm coat. Blood stained as it was  still better than his own cloak and leathers. The coat was made of fur and had been treated with some sort of oil to help make it water proof. It would still have been waterproof if not for the holes from the crossbow quarrels.
            "That's better," the cleric muttered, "no more freezing for me."

            Gharad nodded only half paying attention since Chai had pushed him out of the way. The warrior was carefully following what tracks he could, searching for signs of battle and death. Several minutes of his cold search and Gharad found where the conflict had began, and could see blood and spent crossbow quarrels in the trampled snow.  A running battle heading to the south and away from the safety of the road.

            "I think," Gharad began as he saw the now much warmer dark cleric approach him, "this fellow might have been on that wagon we are trying to catch. Maybe they got attacked?"

            "Apparently," Chai shrugged.

            "We should continue." Gharad stated as he looked at Chai's coat, wondering if it would really be much colder with the wet, now frozen blood, that must surely have soaked the inside.

            "Not much to do here," Chai agreed, "let's follow the road further."

            On the Horizon, a floating cloud of red dust and powder snow floated across the Plains. Loose snow and barren red sand billowed away like a small subtle wake on a massive lake far in the distance.

            "What in the name of the Dark Queen?" Gharad cursed as he a distant dome like shape formed at the edge of his vision. Rapidly it drew near.

Alone on the Plains of Dust

Gateway, Winter Night 1, 354 AC
            Torz lunged forward, biting the eye stalk in half. The buried creature screamed in pain, nearly making Odren's ears bleed.
            Odren cheered and cackled, slapping the Tortoise's back in excitement and ignoring the pain in his ears.
            A flash filled his vision, followed by a clap of thunder. Odren fell backwards in shock, and nearly off of his giant wooly dire tortoise. Beside the buried creature a man stood. His head cowled, and his body covered in a long black robe. The red dust of the plains floated away from the robe, as if repelled. The snow, newly fallen and beginning to fall again, did not dampen the man's clothing.
            "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY PET!" The man screeched. Odren had never heard such a shriek form a man before. At least not that he could recall.
            "Torz here saved the world from this here Demon spawn." Odren nodded proudly, his chest puffed towards the mage. "Don't worry we don't need a reward."
            "Demon Spawn?" The man shouted as he foamed at the mouth. "Do you know how long it took me make that? How much blood I had to gather? How much tissue? And you just go and kill it. It was only hungry! What do you have to say for yourself?"

            "Ummm..." Odren scratched his head. "Why did you make a Demon? Demons destroy worlds ya know. Maybe we could put it back together as a lovely butterfly."

            The man shook his cowled head as he walked over to the buried creature. He reached into the mound of snow, red dust, and infertile dirt and gathered up the torn stalk. "This is not over dwarf."
      The man reached into the floor of the plains and muttered a few words, another flash. The mound and the man were gone. Odren was once again alone on the Plains of Dust.