August 20020814 – Rehash

 

And so it was that our brave band found themselves ensconced in the troubled village of Riverside. Though the villagers treated them as welcomed heroes, and indeed, as bona fide adventurers of regard, our stalwart crew waited tensely, for Minister Edici was on his way.

 

This was not all that discomfited our heroes. Their comrade Archimedes was still lost, and it seemed they were to lose another. For gray-haired foul-tongued Yosh seemed to figure heavily in the discussions of the village council, and could be seen attempting to train the villagers to defend against cavalry assaults. Though the rambling band of villagers did not seem to meet with his approval, the keen appraisal of the group was that he was having great fun based on the near constant stream of profanity that issued from his lips. Of course, that state being not much different than at any other time, this is only a guess.

 

It was four days into their stay in the bucolic village when Leviticus finally emerged from his room. Much attention was given to the near constant stream of women, both young and old, buxom and bulbous that seemed to visit him at all hours of the day and in great numbers. With a wry smile the humble mendicant only remarked on their interest in the baby, to which our brave band could only reply “Baby? What baby?”…nevertheless, rumor soon spread of the great healing that Leviticus had performed, for the child’s maimed tongue was restored, and it’s scarred legs showed signs of returning to their normal length, even to restoring the babe’s feet! As is his nature, Leviticus quietly succumbed to the wondrous adoration of the village women,  and boldly ignored the multiple offers of marriage and other gifts suggested to him in whispered tones. Indeed, a few blushes, some wide-eyed blinks, and an oddly distended loincloth were the only sign that he even heard the whispers of the friendly Yrken women of Riverside.

 

While waiting for Edici, a seeming miracle occurred, for a river fisherman found Archimedes floundering in the mud of the marshes! Soiled and stinking, in control of his wits but not his bowels, the courageous war wizard informed his comrades of his brave and exceedingly foolish solo scout after he left the village of Durum. With the village burning Archimedes set out on a sway-backed draft horse. Using the Star of the Morning to guide his direction, he headed west to find his way home. When the draft horse wheezed, coughed up blood and died a ten miles from town, our noble wizard escaped death by a fraction, throwing himself wildly from the beast and barely avoiding being crushed by its flea-bitten carcass. But this was not the worst he would face.

 

For Archimedes had little to rely on but his wits and his power. Neither would fill his belly so he was forced to rely on the foul-smelling contents of his ration bag. Although the moldy biscuits, tainted salt pork, and slimy cheese gave him some quite interesting visions, they also loosened his bowels egregiously. Moving as stealthily as he could, with the exception of intermittent anal eruptions, the brave war wizard staggered across the Wounded Land, eventually finding an old Yrken road. It was then that he found the graves.

 

Following the neatly spaced graves, the wizard wondered who could have dug so many, for he counted hundreds, in a seeming geometric pattern. Examining the dimensions, he wondered how a Ken could be fit in them, for they were too short for any but a teenaged child. Grabbed from behind and thumped upon the head by an Eldren, Archimedes called for his mommy.

 

The Eldren seemed intent on burying him alive, dead, or in pieces if that must be, so our hero released his bowels, then all his remaining magics in an attempt to evade the demon. This chronicle can not claim which was the more effective, but the wizard escaped, and two days of running brought him to the shores of the mighty Troos…he remembered the words of the ferryman, and followed the great river west, seeking Riverside. And he found it. All that is spoken further of the incident is the condition of the great tub in which he bathed himself at the Weary Wench, and the indignity it suffered, for from that day none would bathe in it, indeed, animals refused to drink from it when it was retired as a watering trough. Legend states that it was later melted down and minted into Yrken copper pieces, which even beggars refused. But that is another tale…and few are interested in the trials and tribulations of bathtubs.

 

For our interest is on the heroic scouts, and the noble Minister of Galava who traveled to meet with them. Reading their reports, Edici was appalled…but upon remembering the general level of education of our brave band deemed it wise to forget the grammatical errors, overlook the hackneyed stylings, avoid the appalling alliterative assaults, and disregard entirely the misspellings and flagrant inaccuracies. Upon doing this, he found much that interested him…

 

So it is told that on the 21st of Tarak our heroes received their new orders from the Minister. They were to await further word in Riverside while he continued to Ector’s great city of Maridunum to consult with his liege the Count, and the prodigious Count Caw of Stratchclyde…and the Lord Protector himself, Eracusin. In the interim, they were to satisfy the oath they made to the tree spirit Entwhistle, and so seek to drive a wedge between the Eldren and their ancient ally, and secure the area around the Tower of Malvagel. Indeed, the Staff of Entwhistle appeared to be wilting, growing more limp and listless by the day…time was short.

 

Providing the promised monetary reward to those who submitted reports, thanking them for their service, and brusquely apologizing for sending them to what he thought would be their deaths, the compassionate Minister departed, leaving our brave band to determine their course of action. With a few hours of sunlight left, they decided to set out to what they were told was the only great forest nearby, Crowley Wood. Scoffing at the tales of evil spirits, laughing openly at warnings of haunts, scratching their heads puzzledly over the tales of disemboweled farm animals the stalwart adventurers set out. It was a short journey to Crowley wood, and…

 

…our heroes awoke, wondering why they chose to sleep in an open meadow. They also wondered why they had flowers braided in their hair. Also perplexing were the flowering vines wrapped around their martial gear, holding swords in scabbards, arrows in quivers, and spell books closed tightly. Not to be explained were their splitting headaches, and the multiple swollen, blackened insect bites which each had. Itching them furiously, our brave band considered the neat piles of stones their heroic heads had rested upon, and the concentric circles of crushed grass which surrounded them in the meadow.

 

And when they considered the eerie sculpture of sticks hanging from a nearby tree, between them and Crowley Wood, Archimedes found, to his dismay, that the battle with his bowels had not yet been won.