Xanthos, my companion-in-arms, I thought you might find record of a certain strange incident amusing. This is my account:
Out of some curiosity as to what lay along the Dreaming River alongside the environs of the strange Vaults of Vyzor, I chartered a small boat from one Stonk, a dock-troll, and let myself wander the water, river-rat style.
I soon found myself drowsy and dreaming ... and when I awakened from said strange dreams, found myself in the midst of a great desert city on the coast of a vast ocean, with the docks hemmed in by the city walls, thus to form a strong breakwater and means of defense against outside attack. ((This being Jesse Goldshear's Vymrrys, from the "Smash the Dungeon" blog))
Wandering somewhat into this strange city out of curiosity, I happened upon a drug den from whence I heard certain familiar voices--those of Ilse Sleet-ne-Raagenkompf, and of Sapphean Grachit. Entering this establishment, named appropriately the Myopic Myconid, I found it run by ten clones of an identical Fungus-man; and as for the voices, there indeed were Ilse and Sapphean, with whom I have adventured in the vaults of Vyzor. They were accompanied by individuals unknown to me, but presently introduced, one Taimo (an "honorable" thief), and ultimately one Magic Meryl (a fellow Vyzorian, whose repute has preceded her to my ears, though this was the first true meeting between us). With Meryl were her companions Pitwin, a mournful gnomish child, and Arthur, a dungeon terrier.
Before introductions were quite complete, we heard a banging of tamburs and of drums, and plucking of citharas, from the streets outside, and looking therein, descried a procession of Otter-folk making their way along the street with a great din from their instruments.
|I felt a strong reminiscence of my old love for|
Brian Jacques' Redwall series and its bad-ass otters;
I loved that there were Otter-people
My own inquiries as to the nature of this procession were met with derision by the locals, but Sapphean successfully finagled a reward of lucre from one inhabitant of the neighborhood who informed us that though these Otter-bacchanals came only twice a year, they lasted a week, and drove the neighbors nearly to madness with their incessant banging and merry-making. This strange individual (who had glass orbs for eyes) offered each of us precisely 87 gold (that being a lucky number thereabouts?) and a reading of our fortunes if we should seek out the reason for and/or attempt to stop the Otter-bacchanals.
These conditions were acceptable, and we promptly set out to follow the processing Otter-folk, and just as presently lost them further up the street. Turning down an alley in an attempt to cut them off, Taimo and myself were enthralled by a vision of the sky in which the sun and the moon were transposed many times, and which seemed clearly a result of our enjoyment of the drug den, but we were jostled along by our companions to continue the chase. Sapphean in particular had "spider climbed" a tower and seen the procession of the Otter-folk to the north east, and so we made haste in that direction.
At a crossroads, Ilse sought information from passersby, and managed by chance to ask the ringleader of a gang of thieves on the street (identified for us as a gang by Taimo's sharp eyes). This thief attempted to draw a knife on Ilse, but her quick action to step in and check his movement, and her stern words, do nothing stupid, prevented further attempt at violence. The other thieves stepped back, and Ilse's man relayed that the Otter-folk lived north of the port.
Then we continued down the streets east, through a market of myriad marvels, and further, past an alley in which we witnessed a beggar devouring a live cat, entire. In the port itself, Magic Meryl questioned a longshoreman, and learned again that the otters' enclave lay to the north, but also that sometime a few years ago, during one of their bacchanals, a friend of his had joined and disappeared forevermore.
The evening was growing late; we hit upon a plan to find an inn for ourselves, but also a tavern of longshoremen who might know rumors, and who might also have loosened tongues. And yet, before finding any such establishment, we observed a number of lights receding down an alley. An investigation found the lights receding further, and three bodies left in their wake--three Elves, each disemboweled and quite dead.
Ilse determined little about them other than that they were slain by puncturing weapons, while the rest of the party looked out, suspicious of city-watchmen. None came, and we investigated the bodies, and discovered a small amount of gold and possible drug-powders on their persons.
Then Arthur, Meryl's dog, pointed north at the same time that "spiderclimbing" Sapphean indicated lights still moving north of us, and we continued along the alley after them.
Presently, we came upon a party of three Otters, two clearly slain, the last crawling, wounded, trailing blood. Ilse found that the ground was holding the Otter-man's guts in, and that she could do nothing; Magic Meryl offered her potion of healing to the Otter to cure his ails, and as his wounds knit up, he thanked us heartily. After a moment collecting himself, this Otter informed us of a recurring war between the local Elves and Otters that flares up every bacchanal-season; these were victims of said war, caught too late outside the Otter enclave. He thanked us for our aid; we offered to escort himself and his fallen comrades back to the Otter enclave, and he heartily agreed.
We made good time and soon ended up in a dead-end courtyard, where the Otter began an exceedingly complicated series of knocks on a sandstone wall, presumably summoning his fellows beyond; unfortunately, because of the complexity and length of his signal, there was plenty of time for a party of Elves who had come up behind us to rush in and engage us.
Taimo hid in the shadows of one corner; Meryl and her henchcreatures ducked behind the other corner; and I stood brazenly in front, doffed my helm to reveal my ears, and awaited these Elves. They were hesitant at first, seeing myself; but seeing the Otter-man behind me, they crowed victory at having finally discovered the secret entrance to the Otter-enclave, and attacked.
Now, the combat was confused; but I can tell you that Ilse cast some kind of strange spell that made rain fall upward from the ground in the first instant, and seemed to do nothing else; Magic Meryl had an "unseen servant" present, which she commanded to go and flip the cloak over one of the Elves' heads; Sapphean used his presence above to surprise one of the Elves with a "magic missile" and kill the offender with a stroke to the head; and Taimo bravely leapt from the shadows to cleave the bow of an Elf who was otherwise certain to shoot myself through the middle.
As for myself, I cast a spell of "sleep" (forgetting that the Elves of other worlds are generally immune to such things, as I am not)--nevertheless, the fellow in front of me fell over, dead asleep, and I calmly slit his throat with my sword and demanded the surrender of the two remaining Elves. They surrendered; Ilse nevertheless eviscerated the fellow in front of her; and the last was tripped by his own bowstring (dropped at his feet when the bow was cleft by Taimo) when the unseen servant wrapped it around his ankles.
By this time, a strange rain of crabs with pale human hands was falling from the bizarre cloud summoned above by Ilse, and as I ran forward to seize the one living prisoner, the Otter behind us finally got a response from below and a secret door opened onto a descending stair. We all piled down the stair, doing our best to avoid the eldritch crabs, and ultimately found ourselves in a vast underground space filled with tidepools, hovels, and reveling Otter-men.
Our Otter--and now he revealed his name to us as Ottarwankenoby--agreed to lead us to his chief, and amongst the festivities we witnessed Otter-folk singing from a stage to a great crowd, all of their furs dyed with fantastic colors and patterns; and also a fountain of fish blood (it stank terribly) through which cavorted a number of nubile Otters that seemed vaguely feminine in a mustelid sense.
|I definitely envisioned the Otter-folk on stage doing a Ke$ha song, e.g. "Take it Off"|
Thence we entered the pavilion of the great Ottarmuspryme, the chief of the Otter-folk, reclining on a sofa and cracking clams with a stone before slurping them down. He seemed a veritable cliche of pompous barbarian chiefs--an utterly likable fellow.
This Ottarmuspryme was grateful for the return of his living subject, and also of the two dead bodies; he offered to let us carouse with the Otters and enjoy ourselves (of which offer we meant fully to take advantage); and yet, he was irritable about our report that the folks of the city were unhappy concerning the Otter-bacchanals, because of the excess noise and merriment that ensued. Indeed, he mentioned that the excesses of merriment were meant as revenge against the other races of the city because of their poor treatment of the Otter-folk! We suggested perhaps a compromise could be found, if only the Otters and the other city-folk could agree to something. Lastly, we offered up the prisoner, a poor pathetic Elf who begged for us to spare him--fool!--and he was picked up and broken upon the bench by the very Ottarmuspryme himself (whom I had not guessed capable of such a feat for his smallish size, yet relative girth).
And that was that. Already offered the enjoyment of this mammalian bacchanal, I myself enjoyed it thoroughly, and perhaps a little to bestially. Much was done that cannot be clearfully remembered. Alas! And yet, when I awoke from this drug-stupor, I found myself drifting down the Dreaming River, once again beside Stonk's dock underneath the Azure Tower of the Sorcerer of the Blue Mask.
I tell you, Xanthos, I have found myself in strange straits--the Dreaming River is no place for timid folk.
Your companion-in-arms under the Black Dragon,