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Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories

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Tales from Grandpa - Chapter 2

--Grandpa, grandpa tell us another story, puhleeze.
--Oh all right. What'll I tell you little buggers about this time.
--Tell us what happened to the dog that wasn't a dog!
--Oh him, well that's a long story kids and it's getting kind of late and....
--Oh okay, but like I said it's a long story and I'll have to tell you what happened after
we'd rescued him from the ogres. You see, it happened something like this...

We'd fought them ogres and their fiend and managed to survive relatively
unscathed...well except for that Storm Bull that got ripped in half by the fiend that is, and Stikklebrix's leg wound and...oh, nevermind.

Well we'd survived and managed to keep the Storm Bulls from getting too pissed off at us over the lack of loot by paying to resurrect their boy and buying em a lot of beer.

The next day we made our way into the Rubble to the place where we were to meet Sax Bolderson and pick up the package we said we'd deliver for him. It was Storm Season so the sky was pissing away as usual. The plan as Hallelujah'd told us was that Sax would have three separate parties delivering identical packages for him to reduce the chance of the package being intercepted. When we got to the meeting place who did we see but that bugger Stikklebrix and a bunch of stinkin' Pol Joni waitin' there on their stinkin' taboo horses lookin' as cocky and self-satisfied as a Lunar tax collector backed up by a Tax Demon and a coupla units of Lunar hoplites. Sax hisself was there with these horrible claw marks on his face that kept slowly oozing blood. (He'd told his sister Hallelujah
Harnsdottir, the Barbeester Gor, that they'd been made by a troll. All I knew was that I didn't want to meet the troll that done that).

There was a third party there as well, a little spook covered from head to toe, all dressed in grey with even his or her face covered. Hallelujah, Stikklebrix and the spook went over to talk to Sax.

He was sitting on that thing he rode-(meanest critter I ever seen anyone ride. It looked mostly like a taboo horse when you looked at it dead on but if you looked at it out of the corner of your eye sometimes you'd get a different view of it. I heard that a Lhankhor Mhy looked at it once with shaman's vision and fainted dead away. All I know is that anything that was as fond of eatin' human flesh as that thing wasn't a horse and wasn't anything I wanted to either snuggle up to or try and ride. The general consensus among the local kahns and shamans was that this critter wasn't a horse (no matter what it looked like) so it wasn't taboo to ride.

Anyway, Sax told the three of them where the packages were to be delivered to, who to and by when. Lou, err Hallelujah took one, Stikklebrix took another and the spook took the third. Stix tied his to his horse while the spook hefted its box, sort of turned sideways and disappeared!

Lou came back to our group with her box which was about the size of a human torso.    The box had been covered by green hides stitched together which were then left to dry so the box couldn't be opened without cutting the hides off. It was real heavy about the weight of all the junk those Sun Dome templar wimps regularly schelp around. She stashed the box on the back of Greystone's bison and we got ready to leave. She was just about to quietly tell us where we was to go when that idiot Stix makes his horse rear up and shouts, "Off to Corflu!" Then the whole bunch of Pol Joni tear off towards Yelm's breakfast nook whooping their fool heads off, yippin' and waving their weapons about.  Morons. Kids, let me tell ya the only good horse rider is a dead one. Na, forget that there ain't no good horse riders!

We got ready to go and quietly headed off towards Garhound. We had enough grub for a week which we figured would get us to Rabbit Hat Farm where we could replenish our supplies. Lou told us that we were supposed to travel to Corflu before Sacred Time and deliver this box to some priest there. We figured this would be pretty much a cake walk.  Ha!

The trip to Garhound was quiet and we had a nice reunion with Caryllon Squally and his wife Melisande and the triplets. Damn kids were as big as five year olds even though they were only two or so. Weird kids. We spent a nice evening sitting around drinking and swappin' lies. We were just getting ready to sing "Cold Wind over Sartar" when we heard the drums. Bloody Zorak Zorani war drums. Guess the trip wasn't going to be as much a cake walk as expected. Since we were planning on travelling right through Sun County we didn't think we'd have too much trouble.

The next day we travelled down to Harpoon where we were going to spend the night.   This is where the first real snag occurred. They (meaning the sun lover in charge, some old geezer by the name of Valdus Creakylimbs or something like that) wanted the box opened so they could inspect it for contrabrand. And us travelling with a Sun County noble, (Baron Durnfal Strongspear of the Five Ears Fief), and having faithfully performed services for the son! We didn't know what to do. Sax hadn't said that we couldn't open the box but we was reluctant to. Valdus, the old priest who'd been left in charge in Harpoon (the rest of the chief stick-up-the-butt types were at the main temple for some big meeting) said that he'd perform a divination the next day to get an idea whether the box contained anything of interest to the cult. This wasn't good. We didn't know what the hell was in the box nor whether it was something the Yemalio cult would value. If it was something they wanted would they grab it? You bet your llama they would. The

We all met in the "baron's" room to talk about it. Graystone cast a detect magic and discovered that the box was a very powerful magic source. I cast a detect gold and found out that the box was full of gold. This was looking worse and worse and those damn drums throbbing away in the swamp down river weren't helping much.

We didn't want to turn the box over or let them open it so we decided to bug out. Only one obstacle. The "baron" refused to leave and was threatening to call the militia to keep us from leaving. What could we do? Talk hadn't worked so we jumped him.  Unfortunately it was kind of a half-assed effort at jumping. I befuddled him but he shook it off right away. Then Lou jumped him. (A scary sight, a Barbeester Gor almost two metres tall jumpin' you). Unfortunately Lou only had her fist and Durnfal had his iron kukri (sort of a crooked little sword kids). He parried her first blow and then chopped her in the leg which knocked her down since she still hadn't recovered from the acid burns the Cacodemon priest had given her. The Baron said he'd kill her and anyone else if anyone tried any thing fishy. He said that we could go and that he'd give us till dawn before he'd raise the alarm.

We healed Lou up, gathered up our gear and headed down to the river. We managed to persuade a boat man to take us as far as Chomorro where we could get off and head overland to Rabbit Hat farm. Had to pay the bugger 2 wheels to get him to do it. We took off and headed down the river.

Well we'd got away from Harpoon and headed down the river towards Helmbold. We travelled all night (sleeping all the way while the poor boatman had to stay awake to steer) and hid out in the swamp just north of Helmbold. Meanwhile, in Harpoon Durnfal waited all night like he promised and at the crack of dawn he went to the old priest and spilled the beans.

The old priest sent a vrok hawk carrying a message about us to Sun Dome and cast his divination. He discovered that the box did contain something important to the cult.    Durnfal said he would head to Chomorro and try and head the party off. He went down to the water front and used his status as a River Voice and his meager oratory skills to persuade the boat people to help get him to Chomorro. They believed his spiel and agreed to help him. Relay teams of riverfolk sped him down river to Chomorro and the bugger even beat us there. When he got there he was told that Belvani, the Light Son's Lieutenant and 18 templars would be force marching down to Chomorro to "apprehend the miscreants. "

We got off the boat and marched around Helmbold. The boatman headed past Helmbold, picked us up down river and then we decided that we would spend the day hiding and then travel to just before Chomorro, get off the boat and head cross country to throw off the pursuit.

We slogged cross country to the edge of Vulture Country. Quite a change from the last time we'd been in this area back in Fire Season. The dash across country was pretty uneventful and once we hit the edge we turned south and skirting the edge of Vulture Country avoiding Lunar homesteaders. It took us about five days to hit the edge of the river delta and the marsh along the shores of the Rogazzi Sea. Then, like the bunch of geniuses we was we finally remembered that Corflu was on an island! We decided that we'd wander along the edge of the delta, through the marsh and then turn west along the beach until we reached a point south of Corflu and then head north somehow.

I never want to see that damn marsh or delta ever again. It was a nightmare. Picture it key mile after key mile of water and mud, mosquitos as big as tick birds, leeches as long as your leg, and every other kind of stinkin' bug you never want to see. Thank Waha it was winter or it'd been worse. I still shudder to think what worse would be like. Nowhere solid to rest your butt and walking like a slave. Stupid little islands that look solid enough until you try and walk on em. We was down to short rations since we'd been planning on stopping at Rabbit Hat Farm to resupply. Nothing to eat unless you like cattails or leeches. Nobody in our bunch could catch a fish to save their life. It took us two days to wade through the muck. Worse two days of my life. Well almost. I was so happy to see the dunes along the Rogazzi that I lay down and kissed the sand. We headed along the beach eating raw crabs and sleeping in the rain. At least we was out of the marsh.

At the end of our second day on the beach we was hailed by some burke in fisher folk garb. We told him we was looking for Corflu and he said that maybe his folk could help us. He was cautious around us until we indicated that we was River Voices. Then he said (cheeky bugger) that for 2 wheels he'd head back to his village and bring enough coracles to take us there. We waited another day until six fisherfolk in coracles returned.  As usual that bloody Humakt Svart Ulfsson was suspicious of an ambush but these simple buggers weren't any threat to us. (Sigh, back into the damn marsh). We paddled away in these tubs and towards nightfall we reached this village of stilt huts. That bloody Humakti was nervous again but the chief greeted us and offered us salt and fish. We settled down for a welcoming feast. I was never so happy to eat cooked fish as I was that night.

The next day we talked to the headman and asked him how far we was from Corflu. He told us we was all the way on the other side of the delta from it. We asked whether he would send someone to Corflu to check whether Amur An Zed was there or not. He agreed to send somebody and we asked him to take Ratbane with him to scope the place out. It took him a week to travel there and back and when he got back he told us that there was no sign of the priest and that his ship wasn't in the harbour. There was however definite signs of the bloody sunny spear holders. About twenty of them including that bugger Durnfal. Livin' high on the hog at the one inn in town, dining on fish eggs, newtling tails and diddling serving wenches (devout follower of Yemalio my ass!) We decided to wait a week and then the lot of us would head to Corflu. We spent the next week helping out as best we could with the day to day life in the stilt village, eating fish and cattail biscuits, cattail stew, cattail stir fry, etc., bloody, etc.

We headed off after the week in six coracles (one for each of us and an extra for the package). It must have took us a couple of days to reach Corflu. We sent one of the coracles on ahead and he came back and told us the priest's ship was in looking rather the worse for wear. He also told us that a squad of Lunar marines was guarding the ship and that there was a couple of boat loads of Lunars rowing about with torches. We decided that Greystone and Gerhardt would "sneak" up towards the ship at night in coracles and Gerhardt would try and mindspeak someone on deck to see where the priest was at. The rest of us held back in our coracles just within his spell range near this little island that the boatpeople told us was the site for a Magasta shrine. We could see the Lunars in their boats and the Churner (that was the name of the priest's ship-not that it was his ship mind you) tied up at one of the deep sea docks.

The two coracles (no wait it was three, the package went as well!) got within range and Gerhardt cast his spell at a bloke on deck. Well, who should he mindspeak but the captain of the ship some bugger named Barran the Monster-slayer. Barran told Gerhardt that the priest was on board and that he'd make arrangements to pick up the package. He went down into the boat and after a little while he and these two other burkes came up and one of them slid into the water. A little while later a merman stuck his head out of the water and asked for the package. They handed it to him and turned to leave. Just about then the Lunars spotted them and all hell broke loose.

They started rowing over shooting "Surrender in the name of Moonson!" Us lot in the back couldn't really tell what was going on but later on Greystone and Gerhardt told us that they both decided to try the water at the same time. Good thing they were both River Voices. They cast their spells and slipped into the water. Literally. Daft buggers couldn't swim to save their lives. Literally. There they was, able to breathe water and see perfectly, slowly sinkin' into the 12 metres of muck at the bottom of the Delta.

Gerhardt told me he actually managed to swim a bit but it wasn't good enough.
Fortunately for them the merman or another merman from the ship came and saved both of them. (It's a good thing they was already in the water. Probably made cleaning their britches a sight easier. I would have had to change mine alrighty).

Meanwhile the rest of us was sitting tight as our coracle boys paddled off. That is until they realized that the Lunars was gonna catch us and one of em took a crossbow quarrel in the side. That reduced their enthusiasm somewhat. The lot of them dropped their oars and surrendered right then and there. The Lunars rowed up all cool and collected and demanded that we throw our weapons into their boat. That fool Humakti refused to do so saying he'd be on his honor not to put up a fight. Well, them Lunars weren't buying this and told him he had two choices do as they says or they'd run over his leather washtub and send him to the bottom. He changed his tune but he wasn't none too happy about it I'll tell ya.

The next thing we know the three of us ( Lou, Svart and me) was tossed in jail. The red cloaks was pretty nice I must say-for red cloaked, chaos loving scum. Just cuffed us a bit if we was sassy, made some crude remarks about Lou and then left us alone. They left us to rot in jail all night not knowing what had happened to Gerhardt or Greystone. We were separated from the boatpeople and later we heard that when Durnfal and Belvani went to talk with them (intending to play good town guard/bad town guard) they sang like tick birds spilling all the water in the bag to the last drop.

Meanwhile Gerhardt and Greystone was taken to the Churner by the merman and helped aboard. Barran the Monsterslayer had em dragged below and locked in a cabin until morning. He met with Belvani and Durnfal the next morning and told em and the Lunar authorities that he only needed what was in the box for one short trip and then he'd return em. Them being these three torches of everburning that Cragspider crafted from the living blood of the god Yemalio hisself shed at the Hill of Gold! Didn't our jaws drop when we heard that. The reaction of the Yemalio Belvani and the Lunars puzzled the lot of us cause they seemed reluctant to do anything about Barran having the torches.  Durnfal explained it to us later in that snotty tone of his.  He said that we (meaning the Yemalians) had just as much power in Corflu as the Lunars were prepared to give us (meaning none) while the Lunars weren't ready to rile any deep sea captain in case the rest of them started staying away from Corflu. Besides, Barran paid his taxes on the torches and that was that, no Lunar laws had been broken after all.  So the trade was on, Barran got to use the torches for one trip, with Durnfal going along to make sure he returned em (seems Belvani didn't care for sea voyages) while Barran kept his two guests and got the use of the three prisoners the Lunars had. (They'd let all
the boat people go after warning em not to do it again and chopping the little finger off of all their left hands to mark em as troublemakers).

So there we was, on this damn boat with our buddy Durnfal agin wondering what some crazy burke nicknamed the "monster killer" wanted with us and three torches that kept burning no matter what.

Now piss off and let me sleep!

On to the Tales of Grandpa 3

Last updated October 07, 2016

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