We have been scouring the Murque River for days. At the point where the river spoke with the lake, we heard shrill cries on the wind. We hobbled our horses and made for the trees’ edge. Someone or something had secured itself behind large, pointed timbers. Are boggards capable of such construction? Could they torture children? Children!? The boggard we met in the Narlmarches did not seem capable of such.
“Tig must be in there,” Katara said, through coughs. She is still not well.
I spoke softly as to not let my voice carry over the waters. “We must be swift to action. The child needs us!”
“Agreed, but we must not forsake our intellect in such a matter,” Nix cautioned. “We must not let emotions conflict logic and precision.”
We swam the waters length to a walled shore. The vertical timbers were not so tight that the smallest of us could not squeeze through, but I was not going to fit.
“If we climb here, they will never see us coming.” Wade suggested much to Katara’s agreement.
“Then I shall find the gate and further draw their gaze away from you.” I decided.
The gate was sturdy. Two lizardfolk stood watch at the gate. I demanded entry. The savages scoffed and hissed at me in their strange tongue.
With all my might, I kicked. The gate did not budge. The lizardfolk did not take kindly to that. They produced spears and began stabbing at me through the slits in the wall. The creatures and I repeated our dance of spear and kick several more times with neither achieving our goal. I let fly a hatchet, catching one of the lizardfolk in the exposed chest. Both the savages slunk away from the wall as I jumped up, grasping the narrow part of the pointed timber and pulling myself to the platform where they stood.
Dirt and sand flitted as I landed on the inside of the gate. A large beam barred the door shut. No wonder I was unable to break it down! I heaved the beam aside and opened the gate. The lizardfolk watchguards had disappeared into one of the number of huts. One scurried out of one hut into another.
They are waking the village.
Four of the lizard people came out of the first hut and began to surround me as Nix entered the open gate. I began the slaughter by slashing deep into the first creature to reach me. More creatures began pouring out of the second hut as the guard I buried a tomahawk into ran into the large, central hut. Nix through one of his mixtures into the group, killing one and setting another on fire. I rushed the second group of creatures again cutting one down.
Water swirled into a sphere capturing two lizard people. It was refreshing to be reminded that she was here, fighting beside me. A pair of dog-sized horned lizards crawled out of a small hut. I left the lizardfolk who stood to deal with their pets. I believed I knew them. Animals. Prey. The lizards had a shocking surprise for me. What at first seemed to be simple animals possessed magical abilities. They died all the same.
Before I could turn my axes back on the lizardfolk, a large reptile came from the central hut, with black scales accented by red paint.
“Katara!” I yelled over the roar of the battle. “Blood caiman! Stay away!”
These lizardfolk could overpower us in a swarm, but a blood caiman could kill most any of us by itself. Seeking the safety of my family and forgetting my own, I lunged at the overgrown lizard. Its massive jaws gaped open in a hiss, before snapping shut with blinding speed. A breeze startled the hide door as a second set of teeth filled jaws clamped shut behind me. My blind fighting had left me trapped between two of the creatures.
The second blood caiman crawled out of the hut in such a way to avoid the arc of my blade. These beasts had been trained. As I struck one beast, the other dug its teeth deep into my arm. The beast tucked its leg and rolled. I stood my ground, though I might as well have lost my arm. Katara’s arrow struck the second creature and it thudded to the ground. Wracked with pain, I hacked into the first blood caiman and it dropped.
Wade appeared from behind a mound and released an arrow from his hiding place. Where had he been that entire time? I suppose it doesn’t matter now.
From the central tent emerged four lizardfolk, each bearing a large, round, hide shield in front of them. They were females judging by their lack of brightly colored ridge on their head. Behind them stood the tallest and strongest of the lizardfolk, no doubt their leader. Decorated in bone fetishes and purple paint. He held a mighty trident in his hand. The chieftan spoke in the Common tongue, “Who will fight me in single combat? Who will test their mettle against a real warrior?”
“Allow me a moment’s breath, and I will finish this battle once and for all.” But before the words had even left my lips, the chieftan was already leaping through the air, his trident held in from of him. The blow pierced my side and I was already weakened from my other injuries. My strength left me and I fell to the ground. The chieftan and his shield bearer harem stepped over me and slowly made their way towards my family.
The edges of my vision began to blur, but I could see Katara and Nix standing near the gate. Katara drawing water from the river to drive the harem back and Nix downing two of the shield harem with a bomb.
I looked to Wade for help, but he had been found by another lizardfolk and one of those shocker lizard pets. He was fighting for his own life now.
I turned back to Katara and tried to pull myself to Katara to save her, but I had no strength left and my fingers only clawed at the mud. The chieftan was on them now, his harem slain. Katara captured the chieftan in her sphere of water and I smiled. I thought the battle won, but then the chieftan broke through the sphere and leapt at Katara with his trident raised to strike. I made to scream out her name, but the cloud of death covered my eyes.
The next moment I remember is Katara standing over me. Don’t be afraid to cry, I wanted to say. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts. Bu my lips did not move. There is no death, only a change of worlds.
I could feel her tears falling on my chest, hear her weeping, taste both salt and blood. She was working her water magic on the wound in my side and I could feel my strength slowly returning. I managed to blink, though my eyes burned with the dust of battle. Slowly, Katara helped me sit up. The lizardfolk dead laid all around me and Wade was already looting the bodies. I felt arms around me. Katara was hugging me.
“I’m glad you’re not dead.” Katara said quietly.
“Me too… Urgh!” I winced as Katara squeezed. I glanced around the village, but I saw not our gentleman bomber. “Where is Nix?”
Katara’s eyes were downcast. “He is dead. When the chieftan jumped to attack me… Nix pushed me out of the way and the trident pierced his chest through…” She looked away as tears filled her eyes. “Just another friend that I have lost.”
“I will never leave you, Katara.”
Katara nodded and wiped the tears from her eyes. “Come. Wade could use some supervision. I already had to convince him not to loot Nix’s belongings, and we have to find Tig. Now is not the time for crying.”
“The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears.” I said quietly. She did not hear.
“No XP? What a rip-off!” Wade said cursing the heavens.
We searched the creatures, and most the huts. The central hut contained a hidden tunnel leading to three nests. The nests and smell of sweet herbs convinces me this was where the chieftan’s harem slept. A single egg survived the conflict outside. I suggest destroying the egg since it will not survive without the warmth of its mother, but Katara takes the egg for herself. Always so caring. Even for the like of her enemies.
We gather the treasures the village had to offer and divided them amongst ourselves. Whimpering came from the rear of the camp, near an unexplored hut.
“Nature Guy! Water Girl!” Wade said boldly. “I think I found someone!”
Katara and I rushed to him. Wade stood before a hut. Inside a small boy stood chained to a wooden pillar.
“Help me,” the boy cried. “Before it comes back.”
“Before what comes back?” Katara asked as I pulled the chains free from the pillar.
“It floats around and it scares me,” the boy said. “It likes to make me scream.” He began to cry. “I want to go home to my mommy!”
“We’ll get you home, Tig,” Katara said. “You are safe now. It will all be like a bad dream now.”
“Watch out!” Wade cried.
Suddenly, we were not alone. A spirit was in the hut with us, appearing to be the skeletal face of a lizardfolk. The boys screamed and I picked him up and rushed from the hut. I heard Wade scream and felt my hair stand on end. I carried the child to the gate. “Wait here until I return.” I instructed the boy.
I turned to see the spirit standing over wade, dozens of fingers of crackling electricity arcing between its hideous face and Wade. Though his face was twisted in pain, Wade made no noise. I drank the liquid remedy I found on the chieftain and hurried to Katara’s aid. The spirit had turned on her now, she seemed like a puppet involved in a cruel dance suspended on strings of electricity and the evil spirit was the puppeteer.
I hurled my last tomahawk as she fell. The spirit crackled as the axe seem to fly right through it. I grasped Katara as a jolt of electricity surged through my body from the spirit. I fought through the pain and carried Katara’s limp body to the gate and the boy. But the spirit was not far behind. I reached out to grab the child to run, but he shrunk away from me as the spirit shocked me yet again.
My legs buckled beneath me and the devilish face of the spirit hovered close to mine. My hair stood on end and it prepared to send me on to the next world. I was ready. I would see White Swan again.
Suddenly, a cry above the noise. “Run Mr. Biggense!” Pervilash yelled. “We’ll hold it off so you can get away.”
“Tally-ho!” Tyg-Titter-Tut called out from Pervilash’s back. “Take the little biggense and the Mrs. Biggense and find shelter and safety.”
I snagged up the boy and carried both across the water. I took one last glance at the island, and through the open gate I could see the Pervilash fall as the spirit forced him to the ground with his many deadly fingers. They had sacrificed themselves for us. I can only imagine that they are dead just as Nix and Wade are, but I could not return to make certain, especially not with Katara and Tig in such weakened states.
Securing Katara to her horse, I tied our horses together as to not lose each other. I saddled myself and the boy and rode until the night halted our progress.
I taught the boy how to start a fire as I pulled from my kit the tools I needed to mend Katara’s wounds.
“You like her, don’t you, mister?” the boy asked. “You look at her the same way Pappa looks at Momma.”
“Child, we… Katara and I, are family. Brother and sister. Connected by the spirits. Yes, I like her, but it would prove unwise to cause attraction elsewhere.”
Katara moaned in pain, but I breathed a sigh of relief knowing she was still alive. I helped her rise to drink: water first to quench the thirst and a tonic second to speed the recovery.
“Rest, Katara, I will look over you tonight as you have done for me so many times before,” as I gently laid her back down. “Rest for it will be a long journey ”/wikis/dhunmoor" class=“wiki-page-link”> home."