I never thought coming home would feel so….cold. Del expected to be disoriented after returning from the Fey. Going there had felt like waking from a drugged sleep, where your body doesn’t want to respond to your mental commands. But this was different. Even after the grogginess wore off, things still seemed broken. The colors, smells and sounds were askew. These were things Del prided himself on paying attention to – you never knew when having to turn left after the third tree with the pair of upturned roots meant the difference between diving to safety or a ravine. Plus, it was winter.
“Git me out’a dis fookin swamp! SUZIE and I are ripe fer some ass kickin, and I think I’ll start with a soggy PANSIE!” The twinkle in Kok’s eye and spittle in his insults had not changed. Thank the Gods for consistency, Del snickered to himself.
“Oh, so yer ‘tinkin SUZIE is to be laughed at?!” Kok said sharply at the snicker. Del also recognized that tone and knew it was not to be ignored. “Oh no, Lord Kokurl, I would not dare to insult your instrument of killing….ness. I was laughing at the ‘soggy pansy’ part, because the Common Pansy or Pansillius Domensticus is a cousin to the water lily and…”
“Shut yer idiot ARSE you LILLIE PANSIE! Fookin’ hell, yer dumber than you look…” Kok triumphantly interjected. He stomped off and began to consult with his axe in his guttural language, exactly as Del had hoped he would. Thank the Gods for consistency, Del thought, without the snicker this time.
Before Del could let out a relieved sigh, an all too familiar voice rang out from the woods. It was Montalban and he seemed both amused and upset at our return. Del knew that he was a tough cookie, so he quickly got to checking strings and fletchings. He was racking his brain for the lay of the land here as well, so he could consider the best spot for cover. A pond in a meadow was nowhere for an ambush. Sadly, his thoughts were cut short by something quite unexpected; the soggy visage of a woman. She moaned something about joining the murky depths and violently drug Del under the water. In doing so, she also sapped him of his strength. It was the second time this week he thought he was going to die, and he was not very happy about it.
Better than Redcaps, I guess, Del idly thought. His resignation felt more easy now, and he wondered if being a hero meant less a willingness to die and more an acceptance of its omnipresence. Well I hope the group makes it, even if it means I’ll have to deal with a smug Dwarf…
“Ahh, the wee lassie awakes. Did ye enjoy yer beauty rest, you sissy PANSIE?!” Kok lamented the twitching body of Del. After vomiting what seemed like several gallons of pond water, Derek looked Kok in his smug eyes and noded, “Yes, it was nice. You should dive in and see how deep it goes…” Del knew the comment lacked force, but it was the best he could do. He felt like crap and Kok’s subsequent insults fell on deaf ears. The group spent a bit of time drying their clothes and getting their bearings before heading off in what they thought would be the best direction back to civilization. Del did his best to compose himself and regain some strength, even with the help of the Bard, but he was unable to fully recover from the drowning. Bad day. Bad week. Bad everything. No luck for this band of merry heroes…
“Oi! PANSIE! This is definitely the wrong direction” Kok blared into Del’s ear. The Dwarf had taken to thinking he was a scout and stayed abreast of Derek in the marching order. The protests of Del and the rest of the group seemed hollow – everyone was a bit off – and it seemed easier to let the temperamental terror have his way then pick a fight. Del knew having him near point was a bad idea for so many reasons, and his worry was validated when he saw the group had walked right into an ambush.
“Ambush, take cover!” Derek yelled. The words burned his pride as they left his mouth. Always the Dwarf was all he had time to think as a few javelins shot out from some all-to-near trees. The group oriented themselves quickly and began to push the ambush, only to discover too late that there were Ogres backing the Orc ambushers. The men asserted themselves quickly, but it all seemed a little out of practice. Benji darted into the middle to strike, only to end up in a “Maidens spit-roast” of hidden enemies, happy to see such eager prey. Eammon purposefully popped from cover to draw fire, and did just that, getting a javelin deep in his leg. Kok started to melee like usual, but then took cover behind a rock when the combat shifted. Belarus stuck to ranged combat and some other flim-flam jibberish, which in retrospect was pretty typical. It seemed everyone was not quite themselves, and especially Eammon and Benji. They seemed a little more reckless than back in the Fey. Perhaps we took something back with us, Derek mused.
The group managed to cobble together victory, but it was bittersweet. Benji was knocked unconscious and they were in no place for rest. This infuriated Derek even further that they had been ambushed in such an obvious fashion. His grip tightened around his longbow and the desire to put down the rabid Dwarf thumped in his ears.
“Dead weight is contagious” Del thought behind a clenched jaw. His father’s cool logic haunted his mind, and Derek made a mental note to re-evaluate things in earnest next time he was not scrambling for his life. Whenever that will be, he snickered to himself. The day was going from bad to worse, and Derek wished for nothing more than the Dwarf to remain quiet, which he knew was like wishing for the sun in the deep of Winter.
It sure is fucking cold, isn’t it