Chapter Thirty-Six

January 21, 2012


9th of Stormmonth


            As we approach the crossroads, I notice a very large rat woman wearing a white cloak and armor standing in the road next to another creature which is bundled up so that I can’t recognize it.  She is waving a flag of truce.
            Ulric and Briggette ride forward to meet them, along with Gustav bearing the standard.  Ulric asks if one of them wrote the letter of challenge.  The rat woman, who must stand at least 18 feet tall, says that she did, and that among humans she is known as “Misty Tail” and her companion, who turns out to be an orc, is Darlok.
            “If you stand with her,” Ulric addresses Darlok, “I hope you are prepared to meet your maker.”
            The rat woman’s servitor raises her hands to show she is unarmed, and hands Ulric a parchment which contains four names:  Misty Tail, Darlok, Death’s Grace and Smunia.  She says, “These are the people who have come to fight you.  Should you win, I imagine your names will be sung amongst the bards.  Give my servant your names, so that when you are defeated, we may sing of our victory.”
            “I am Ulric von Zurwald, third son of His Excellency Count Zurwald.”

“I am Sir Briggette Bellyn, paladin of Cuthbert.”  As Misty Tail hears Briggette’s name, for a very brief moment, an expression of recognition crosses her face.

Ulric continues, “With us, we will have Gizli Biraz.  She is of common birth, but is a very reputable person.  This is Boian, he is a servant of . . . I don’t really know.  But he seems to find the Serpent Mother very distasteful.”

She salutes us, and Ulric turns to rejoin the rest of our party.  We form up, and I fire at her, but the bolt appears to glance off of her.  Ulric charges the orc and as his lance strikes, the creature simply disappears.  He turns his lance toward Misty Tail, and when he strikes, she also disappears.  Suddenly, a massive tangle of vines sprouts up and begins to entangle and entrap those of us in the road.  Briggette and Chancellor manage to avoid the green gauntlet, and Briggette yells, “Show yourselves, cowards!”

Suddenly, a tiny spark floats in between Ulric and Briggette, which then explodes into a giant fireball.  At the same time, a large rat, about the size of a Great Dane begins to charge toward me through the brush as if it’s not there.  It leaps at me, and in the air, it transforms into a rat woman.  She slams into the side of Obsidian and drops to the ground.  I stab at her, and though my hit was solid, she doesn’t seem to be harmed as much as she should be.  Obsidian also lands two solid blows with his hooves, but where he ripped open her flesh, it immediately heals.

Ulric turns and charges the orc, who has crawled out of the woods with the rat woman, while across the road, Boian fights with some creature just inside the edge of the woods.  Briggette charges the orc, and the rat woman at my feet pops up and attacks me with a heavy mace.  I slice into her with a well-placed blow, but again, her wounds heal before my eyes immediately after the impact.  Ulric drops his lance and swings at the orc with his longsword.  Briggette does likewise, wielding Helga against Misty Tail.  The rat woman by me pounces on me and pins me to the ground.  I manage to escape and slash at her again just as three arrows appear in her chest.

Briggette swings and screams.  “By Cuthbert’s cudgel!”  Helga tears into the rat woman’s face.  “Begone fiend!”  She slices the carotid artery, and a brilliant red spray erupts from her neck, carrying the last of Misty Tail’s essence along with it.

The rat woman attacks me, slashing at me with both of her claws and snapping her teeth at me.  About that time, several strange ghoul-like creatures come out of the woods and surround us.  The same happens to all of my friends.  We each hack and slash at our foes and slowly, one by one, take them down except for the rat woman who was on me; she manages to escape underground. 

When the battle is done, we find a scrawny little rat man sitting alone off beside the edge of the woods.  He did not fight, and explains that he is the “keeper of knowledge” rather than a warrior.  Ulric lays out some knowledge he can take back to his people, “You can go back and tell your people that Sir Briggette and Sir Ulric will not cotton to our people being attacked in our own lands.  If I catch any of you back here, I will hunt down every member of your race until you are all exterminated.”  He indicates that he understands and wishes the two knights a glorious death before taking his leave of our party and heading to deliver our message to his people.