In the Shadow of the Tyrant

Karin's Missives (Letter 2)


See, I told ya I’d get back to you about yer piglets. There was no call fer that nasty little note you sent me last time. Anyway, we finally made it all the way to Fort Mullrose, safe and sound, though, lemme tell you yeah, it was one hell of a trip. Bet you wish you could have been here, eh? Eh?

Right after that first time I wrote ya, we ran into a bunch of beary owls out in the woods, attacking some poor adventurer sod on the ground. Now Nyrik, that piglet doesn’t like to stand for that sort of thing, so he was off like a bolt, tryin’ to defend the guy. Riwen and the others all joined in, even the fox was harryin’ the things’ paws, and they killed a couple of ’em before the rest turned tail and ran.

After that first fight, I decided yer piglets could take care of themselves, and started stayin’ out of the scraps they got in. Better for them to get some good battle experience so they can become big, strong Freystadtian hogs, eh? So from back where I was, I got a prime view of the big ol’ owlbear as it barreled right through the woods straight at the group. This must’ve been the mama, and let me tell you, it was the biggest beast I’ve ever seen. The piglets continue to impress though, Nyrik got himself all trapped in the thing’s paws, but Kham, that wizardy fellow, he cast a spell that made it slow down, and the rest of them had beaten it to death before it’d even got a chance to right its bearings. Ha!

’Twasn’t even one day before we ran across another beastie. This one was a creepy floaty mask all following behind us in the shadows and such. Right unsettling it was. I noticed it straight away of course, and didn’t take the others long. Gotta tell you though, that Kham fellow is right oblivious. He kept rubbin’ his eyes and muttering something about bees. Dunno what that was all about.

Anyway, seems like yer piglets knew what that thing was, and knew that it was powerless in the sunlight. The bastard was waitin’ for night to fall, so it could slink all out of the shadows and kill us at its leish leasu less kill us whenever it wanted. Now Nyrik, he lured the thing right into a windmill’s shadow, and hit the mask with that big shiny thing he calls a sword. Now I don’t know much about religion or all that shmuck, but I swear when he cut the mask, the metal started putting out all holy light and shining all over the place, and damn if that mask didn’t scream. Long story short, yer piglets killed it, and they found a nifty bag and a magic ring for their trouble. Not long after, we were back on our way.

So remember that ring I mentioned before? ‘Course ya do, ya just read it. Turns out that there ring was cursed! Nyrik put the thing on, and we didn’t notice ‘till the next day, but his hair started growing up a storm. Better, he can’t take it off! Now he has to cut his hair each and every night, so it doesn’t get too lucshu lucs luxurr too nice-lookin’. What a hoot!

Few days into our trip, and yer piglets and I found ourselves right outside Horstmar, that big tradin’ town. I never spend much time there, but seems like that’s where the rest of them are all from. Who’da thought? So we come up on this lumbermill area, and there’s all these stumps and logs all strewn about, and that Gilbert gal gets a haunted look on her face, and starts walking all around like she’s in a trance. Makes sense, I suppose, her bein’ a tree and all. Them stumps must have seemed like a graveyard to her.

So there she is wanderin’, and she comes up on this stump that ain’t quite like the others. The other piglets and I aren’t far behind, having been following her wonderin’ what’s come over old Barkwin, yeah? Sittin’ on that stump, waving at her like it’s the most normal thing in the world, is this rabbit wearing a waistcoat. Strangest thing I’ve ever seen, I tell ya. Now the rest of us are all confused and wondering what a rabbit is doing wearing such fancy rags, but Gilbert isn’t taken in. She shot an arrow straight through the rabbit, quick as lightning, and the thing bounced backwards but stopped – it was held to the trunk by a huge bunch of these stringy white veiny things! Right nasty it was.

The stump didn’t like this, apparently, and its front split open to make a big ol’ mouth, spewing out tentacles left and right. Riwen knew what it was, and started shouting out warnings to the rest of the piglets. She’ll make a damn fine commander someday, that girl will. Kham, that monk fellow, he looked a bit scared but did that magic thing of his anyway, and just like the mama bear before, the tentacle stump slowed way down – let everybody else just dart through its tentacles, safe as houses. Everybody but Obsidian, of course. That stump had a taste for meat, it did, and it grabbed the fox in one big tentacle and started dragging it closer. The others managed to kill it before he got pulled all the way to the mouth, but I don’t much fancy thinkin’ about what might have happened had they not.

We didn’t spend much time in Horstmar, but kept on going right into the forests leading down West. Not a mile out of town, and we spotted a real ugly bat thing just sitting off the side of the road, watching us. This time Nyrik knew what it was – he called it a Berbabblebang or somethin’, and decided that, as a Paladin and all, he had to kill it. Now I wasn’t going to argue, I don’t want anythin’ looking like that hanging out anywhere near a Freystadt town. Everybody approached it with weapons drawn, but the thing just kept staring at us. Its eyes were shining like lanterns, but looked like nobody was home. It went all blurry too, and it took Nyrik a coupla tries to get a good hit in, but when he did he just right cleaved it in half. End of problem.

Now the next few days were pretty empty. Surprising, yeah? All that stuff happened to us right out of Freystadt, then we get into the real wilds and it’s quiet as Ludolf. Seems like just the other night we had some giant gorillas sniffing around the camp, but Kham, Nyrik and I just slept right through it. Didn’t even hear about it until the next day. Turns out Riwen and Gilbert managed to calm them down, thanks to some timely help by the little Captain. That piglet ain’t as burly or forceful as the others, but lemme tell you Alana, she’s got a good ‘ead on her shoulders. Good job making that one the Captain, that’s for sure.

Nothin’ else much exciting happened till the very last day, right before we got to Mullrose. Some bastard had put a giant tree right in the middle of the path. Fortunately that little Kohler came up with a solution, and dug a tunnel down under the log and up out the other side. It was a bit of a tight fit, but I managed to crawl through, and the others didn’t have nearly as much trouble. So we get to the other side, and I’m just in time to see the fairy shoot a great jet of water at this lumberjack-lookin’ fellow standing on a ledge above us and holding an axe.

Things got a bit hectic after that, and next thing I know, I’m runnin’ down the hill bein’ chased by that big mother of a rolling log, with Obsidian and Nyrik carryin’ the unconscious lumberjack. Two other burly ‘jacks were running backwards on the log, arms crossed, keepin’ their balance, right ridiculous it looked, and Riwen was up there with them! Quick as a cat, she is. Kham did some fancy teleporting to get behind the rollin’ thing, and the Captain can fly so, of course, she didn’t have anythin’ to worry about. The rest of us though, we had a grand old time. Runnin’ through streams, jumping down cliffs, smashing through brambles, all the while being chased by what had to be a ton of huge, rolling tree. It was fantastic fun, let me tell you!

So as we’re running along, tryin’ our best to keep pace with the log, I hear some sounds of fighting from behind. There’s a brief whooshin’ noise, and the first lumberjack, Beck, they called him later, came tumbling down off the side of the log and landed right in front of it. There was a horrible thumpin’ noise as the log rolled right over him. Damn painful, it had to be.

The other ‘jack only lasted a little longer, then he fell off too. Jack, Jack the ’jack, he managed to get up and get a runnin’ start, stayin’ just in front of the log, but ran straight into the brambles Obsidian had dodged earlier. He got caught just like a fly in a web, then the log ran over him too. Thump thump! Ha! It was great.

Seemed like both the lumberjack twins had been dealt with, so I decided it was time to put a stop ta all it. I was still doin’ fine, of course, but Nyrik was startin’ to look tired, and had that unconscious ‘jack still draped over his arm. I got a bit more of a runnin’ start, then turned around and raced up to the log. One swing from that axe of mine and bam! The log split in two and rolled off in opposite directions. All the piglets stopped running around and stopped, givin’ me this incredulous look. Guess it wasn’t quite as fun for them, but what’re ya gonna do, yeah?

It was just a hop, skip and a jump ta the fort after that, and I handed the piglets off to that nice young Private they assigned to them at the gate. Some angry-lookin’ guards came up and took the ‘jacks off our hands, so I reckon’ that’s the last we’ll see of them, and I headed off to my quarters here for some well needed sleep. Helluva journey it was, and yer piglets were damn entertaining. Ya ever need me to cover them again, just say the word.

Your friend colleague,
Karin Armbruster


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