Reins of Darkness

Fa'Kseen's Ranting: The Dwarven Cairn Part 2

And so we learned that his true name was Mr. Puddles...

To The High Council of Stewards and the Paragnostic Assembly,
From Fa-Kseen, High Quartermaster of the Council,
Concerning the continued exploits of Anansi Corps.
Continued…

As Ulfen, Zeruch, and I sat partaking in Arithon’s memory, a group of wolves came upon us. Have I mentioned how delicious wolf smells? Anyways, we smelled them coming and I made greeting. The wolves clearly had great respect for Arithon, for they ate what remained down to the marrow. The wolves claimed that they served “The King” (more on him later), and gave us directions to his camp.

As we made our way to visit “The King”, the father of the three lovely ladies we had met earlier in the day, we asked the wolves about “The Devourer”. For things so ready and willing to devour, they had little nice to say about this kindred spirit, even being so rude as to suggest that the Devourer of Worlds may be less than sentient—as if any being with such a discerning palette could be anything less then brilliant.

On the way we suddenly saw a snake-like head breach the ground ahead of us, like a great, delicious fish or whale breaching the surface of the ocean. It looked very much like the dragon which I had seen Master Strasby Nash turn into just a few days prior, save that it bore upon its back a pair of men. The first was a human, tall and broad of shoulders, very much like misters Smash and Zeruch, and introduced himself as Raule. The second was black of skin and white of teeth, dressed all in black, and called himself Shard (or Shatter or some other such moniker). While his name was obviously false, I found him to be a most level-headed and well-spoken individual, with many insights to share concerning furnishings—a master architect or carpenter he must have been. He was able to shed much light on the nature of the Chi-Julud induced hallucination I was experiencing, though I did find it odd that he seemed to be able to hear the doorknobs speaking as well.

The six of us (Ulfen, Zeruch, Nash, Raule, Shard, and my esteemed self) proceeded through the forest, plagued all the way by pesky pixies—not even a mouthful those things. The wolves rushed ahead to a clearing where we met yet more of the talking trees from earlier. We passed them without consequence. These were not even nice enough to share a single of their berries, let alone a kind word.

Shortly thereafter we encountered a band of legates, five of them, mounted on their great mammoths. Have I ever mentioned how delicious mastodon is, boiled in a sauce of orc cheese and elderberries?

The mammoths ran over us, clearly possessed by spirits the magic-sniffing dogs of the Dark Lord, but did little damage, despite their impressive meatiness. A few fireballs from myself and Master Nash, some creative application of electricity by Ulfen, and some assistance by the wolves, and the beasts and their riders were soon nicely braised and added to our larders. Here I must mention Mr. Shard, for he seemed to know quite a bit about the legates, even going so far as to repeat some of their prayers of healing, but I suppose that only goes to show how fine, knowledgeable, and sensible a fellow he is—more so, in that he clearly appreciates a good gazpacho. Oh, and he also had a sword which seemed able to disintegrate Legates with minimal effort on his part. A most agreeable and outstanding fellow…I think frying may be the best use for him…perhaps with a sauce of basil and plums.

Nash was most overjoyed by some scrolls we found on the bodies of the legates. These were the first extant examples of post-umbral writing we had found, an transcription of the Black Speech, using the characters of Ancient Gressil. We took a few minutes to copy the contents—spells to heal significant wounds, disrupt magic, and give communion with the Dark Lord—into our notebooks before proceeding.

The hunger then came upon me greatly, and I was determined to cook up the mastodons (preferring mammoth meat well-done, rather than lightly grazed with fire such as these were), right there. But my companions convinced me of our haste, despite the time taken to indulge Strasby’s bibliophilia, so I was forced to put them on ice to collect later. A waste really, as mastodon is always better served as fresh as possible, and fresh, warm, legate brains make a wonderfully delectable paste when spread over toast.

We pressed ahead and came upon the great yellow tents of “The King”. His retinue were a ghastly lot: slim-wasted wastrels of women with satiny wings, great clawed things with overly-small mouths, and emaciated snake-like women with more arms than hips. The King himself was not-at-all jolly, dressed all in yellow, and similarly thin, multi-armed, and snakelike. A manifestation of my Chi-Julud addled mind obviously, for nothing so ill-fed could truly be called a king, and he showed none of the royal appreciation for fine cuisine. The king bade us slay the Devourer on pain of death.

While I feared little at his hands, I saw the Devourer from afar as we approached and the hunger came upon me fiercely. A great winged turtle it was, and my mind, addled with dreams of Devourer soup, could do nothing but hurl the Lance of the Giants at the thing, cleaving its head from its body in one blow. On closer inspection, we found the teeth of the great thing to be black, hard, and mirror-polished, as if its mouth were a gate to the Dark Lord. We smashed its teeth, obviously. Then Ulfen shoved a door bearing Conway, a talking doorknob, down its throat. Nash and I leaped to the rescue, hurling ourselves down the headless beasts esophagus, dreading the thought of so much meat being transformed into a dragon as small and gamy as Nash now was. Nash struggled mightily to wrest the door from its throat without the knob contacting it, but to no avail. The knob grazed the Devourer’s flesh and it began to shrink.

I quickly brought forth a lovely carving knife which had been gifted to me by Mr. Shard, and cut free the beasts larynx—a tough bit of tendon, but still quite delicious—then cut a hole through which Nash and I could exit the beast’s stomach. It shrank, and sharnk, and shrank, and died (though Nash claims he could heal it)…quite the waste of a perfectly good, immensely huge, turtle. Also, did I mention that the head which I had previously removed with my spear grew back? Let it be hereby put to the record that I request Ulfen be reviewed before the Courts Martial for his severe negligence in allowing a potentially infinite supply of turtle meat to be transformed into a small, lean, and terribly finite chunk of dragon flesh…and also for his clear lack of the refined taste buds expected of a soldier of his rank, though I’m not sure if that is really a punishable offense…it should be.

Anyways, the Devourer was slain, its mirror-teeth smashed, and no one was eaten. Which I guess is a good thing.

Next…a recipe for larynx bortsch.

Oh! And I forgot to tell Nash about my wonderful discovery and the ship you have waiting for us! Next time I guess…

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