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    Yeoldebard
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Stolen Dreams - 7. Davik Nettle

WULFRIN

 

“You didn’t summon your devil during the fight. Why?”

Wulfrin looked up from brushing Leopold, trying to figure out why the catfolk had asked such a strange question. Surely Ramiel wouldn’t want to summon a devil; he was probably using the creature as a last resort. So why would the armiger summon him for simple bandits?

“I do not need to explain myself to you, cat.”

The armiger was sitting on a burned crossbeam, reading from a small book as the last light of day slowly faded. The house they had found was old, put to the torch nearly a year ago, and the tiefling seemed to think the man who lived here was still nearby. Wulfrin wouldn’t be surprised if he was; people who had died unjustly often found ways to remain and haunt the living.

“Hey Elias, why don’t you get some sides cooking for whatever Ilyas brings back?” Hope called. “I’m sure Wulfrin can help you make something palatable.”

“Fine, but I still want to know why he refused to call his devil. Amethyst and I almost died because of it.”

“You have no idea the price I pay for his service,” Ramiel snarled as his book snapped shut. “And you never will know. Be grateful he helped at the post.”

“You might as well ask why I didn’t use my sword, or why Ilyas dismounted to fight on foot,” Wulfrin added, setting his brush aside.

The gnome dug through his saddlebags, pulling out a large cast iron pot and a spit. It didn’t take long to hang it over the campfire, a bit of oil sizzling quietly as it heated.

“I found some mushrooms,” Elias said, staring intently at the undersides of several large fungi. “Looks like parchment, found it near some… well, they looked like maple logs behind the house... I don’t think it will kill us.”

“A little dark for winter mushrooms, but they look okay,” Wulfrin shrugged, cubing a potato to toss into the pot. “We can make a nice stew with them. Add some rosemary, a few turnips, some garlic…”

“That does sound like it would make for a good stew in the cold,” Elias agreed, cutting into the mushrooms with a dagger.

Tipping the resulting bits into a pan with bits of garlic, Elias began stirring a few drops of oil into the mix. Soon, the camp was filled with the smell of cooking, Wulfrin looking around for Ilyas. They had agreed, no more than an hour hunting so they could all get a decent rest.

The Qadiran appeared around the burnt husk of the house, hands empty and a scowl on his face.

“Tomorrow will be better,” Hope told him, glancing up from a book of arcane writings. “Well… provided I can get this watch spell to work… Hey Ramiel, want to try it out? I promise it won’t harm you… hopefully… And before you say anything, we’re an adventuring party. We have to look out for each other. I would not put a spell on you that I wouldn’t also subject myself to.”

“Yet you’re not sure if the spell works,” Wulfrin remarked, looking up from his bag filled with foodstuffs.

A salted sausage fell into the stew, cut up to offer some sort of meat for dinner. Setting a lid over the pot, the gnome sat back with a sigh. Dinner was going to be rather sparse.

“I’m sorry, it will take a little more than mutual survival for me to trust someone-”

“-who holds chaos dear to their heart, yeah yeah…” Hope sighed. “Fine, you can deal with your watch on your own. I’ll just prepare a different spell.”

“I thought mages prepared spells in the morning,” Ilyas mentioned.

“Usually, yes. But I like to prepare mine at night for the next day. That way if shit goes wrong in the night, I can meet it at full strength. It really fucks would be assassins over,” Hope smirked. “Speaking of would be assassins… I think the stew is as finished as it’s going to get.”

Wulfrin frowned as he checked the pot.

“I’m not sure what my cooking has to do with assassins…”

“Eh, nothing that’s your fault,” Hope shrugged, opening a small pack of nutty bread from his bag.

The gnome tested the stew, licking his lips curiously.

“It tastes fine. Maybe the slightest bit bitter, but it’s not too bad,” he said, raising an eye at Hope.

The tiefling shrugged as the gnome began plating the food.

“I’m not at liberty to say what’s wrong with it, so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the show. Perhaps Ramiel could get some water from the river? It will help a lot tonight.”

“Look, we have plenty of water-”

“Oh, maybe right now you do. But trust me, we’ll need more.”

“Should I just throw the food away?” the gnome demanded.

“Oh no, not after you put so much work into making it. Besides, Ramiel and I can handle the watch tonight, right Ramiel?”

The armiger cast a scowl at the tiefling, and Wulfrin sighed as he spooned out portions of the stew. It wasn’t much, but it would at least help preserve their rations a bit longer.

Which was a rather large issue. They had four days of rations between them all. That was nowhere near enough for a major expedition, yet Elias claimed he had bought every bit of food Oleg had, spending nearly a fifth of their credit on food alone. Sure, Ramiel had replaced their lost gold with the gold from the bandits they had slain, but that did little good if Oleg had run out of trail rations. It did not bode well for the group.

“Ilyas, you should work on learning the land around us. I think you’re going to be our main hunter. I’d suggest sending Elias with you, but I doubt that would end well,” Hope said. “We do need to extend our rations as much as possible. I think what we have might have to last us nearly thirty days.”

Wulfrin let out an incredulous laugh.

“Thirty days? Eternal Rose have mercy, you are insane!”

“Well yes, but not that insane,” the tiefling shrugged, watching Amethyst and Elias scoop some of the stew into their mouths. “It can be done, as long as we get lucky with the hunting. But for that, we need to get Ilyas to level. Hopefully by the time we reach the old sycamore we’ll be level four, but that’s probably asking far too much. I just want Ilyas to take a skill focus in nature. And the story won’t allow it unless he works on that.”

“Look, I don’t know what you’re on about, but there is no way the food we have will last us an entire month.”

“Not with that attitude,” Hope scoffed.

“Ugh, enough. I can’t just sit here and listen to you two squabble. I’ll go get your damned water,” Ramiel said suddenly, dropping to the ground.

“Say hi to Nettle for me,” Hope waved after the armiger. “Wulfrin, we can absolutely make it a month on 24 packs of rations. We take each pack, split it in half. Mix in whatever forage we can find, and pray that Ilyas can find meat to fill our bellies. We’ll be hungry, but I’ve been hungry my whole life; it’s really nothing new.”

Wulfrin let out a sigh, finishing his food. His head was feeling a little stuffy, and the gnome set his plate to the side. He’d take care of it when he woke up.

 

RAMIEL

 

A series of waterskins hung from his belt, the night’s bitter chill biting through his armour as he left the shelter of the campfire. The dark of night took him, his eyes adjusting to the low light provided by the stars to give him as much vision as the middle of the day.

Plenty of vision to see the river flowing two hundred yards away. And the fish that were slapping around, trying to swim upstream.

Ramiel let out a disgusted grunt, casting his eyes back at the camp. They went hungry when there was plenty of food to be had for those who knew where to find it.

The aasimar made his way down to the water, uncapping his waterskin. A sudden gurgle made him startle, dropping the flask in favour of the mace on his hip. A list of water monsters came to mind, and he systematically ran through them all, discarding those that didn’t fit the situation even as he backed into a defensible position.

A waterlogged corpse rose from the water, filling the air with the stench of rotting flesh, and Ramiel gagged. Pressure formed at his temple, like a force trying to get into his mind, and as he spat on the ground, the aasimar slipped.

Instantly a vision formed in his head, a bridge destroyed by bandits, a house burned. His hands and legs were bound, his body dragged into the water as he screamed helplessly into the fabric that gagged him. There was panic, unimaginable panic as laughing bandits shot arrows at his drowning body, filling him with agony as water flooded his lungs… and then the agony of returning to his body, a mind trapped in torment.

“Who… who are you?” Ramiel spat, patting himself as he tried to reassure himself that he was still alive, still Ramiel, armiger of Citadel Dinyar.

There was no verbal response, instead an image of a signpost. Weather worn wood held black letters, Nettle’s Crossing, 5 copper toll.

“What is it you want from me spirit? You are dead, there is nothing for you here.”

A man appeared, wearing a crown of a stag’s head. A bellowing laugh escaped him just before a mace- Ramiel’s mace- shattered his jaw. Blood sprayed everywhere as the mace fell again and again, obliterating the one called the Stag Lord.

“That will already be done,” the armiger scoffed. “Is that all you desire? To see revenge against one who has harmed you? You’re undead, desecrating this place with your presence. Begone with you or I will send you back to the Boneyard myself.”

A rattling sigh escaped the corpse of Davik Nettle, and he stumbled away, every step increasing the stench of rotting corpse. Ramiel groaned, checking the direction of the water. He would have to find a way to get upstream, or there would be no water for the camp that night.

Nearly thirty minutes later, the aasimar finally reentered the camp, only to be confronted with chaos. Elias and Wulfrin were stabbing at the air near the edge of the camp, Amethyst babbling random arcane words as white furred hands flailed. Ilyas laughed as he watched the three fight invisible foes, and Hope just sat beside the fire, reading his spellbook.

“What in the Nine Hells is going on here?!”

“I’m reading,” Hope shrugged. “Oh, do you mean them? They’re fighting a necromancer and his pet skeletons. I warned them about the stew.”

“So you did… should we be worried?”

“Nah, I’m keeping an eye on them,” Hope waved off. “As long as you have some water. We might be here for a while though.”

“I see. Are you going to explain why Amethyst’s hands are white?”

“They’re a kitsune,” the tiefling provided, turning a page. “You should ask him some time, it’s a fun story.”

“That you know,” the armiger said accusingly.

“Naturally. I’m your friendly fourth wall breaking tiefling, at your service. But I am not your guide to avoiding your companions and talking behind their backs. That would be rude.”

Ramiel scoffed, turning back toward the burnt house. He sat against the blackened wall, pulling out his annotated copy of the Measure, a thick book that was only an eighth of the codex of laws he was required to memorize as an armiger of the Godclaw.

“I trust you understand what that means,” Hope said suddenly. “I understand who Abapad is. You would be wise not to make an enemy of me.”

The book snapped shut, Ramiel’s eyes glowing slightly as he stared the tiefling down.

“I could kill you at any time. It is you who better keep his mouth shut, lest you find yourself on the wrong end of the Chain.”

“As long as we understand each other,” Hope said, leaning back against his pack.

The aasimar scowled at his book. This was going to be a long campaign, especially if he had to deal with the beastbrood. But there was nothing he could do. Hope hadn’t broken any laws that Ramiel knew of; he was safe from the armiger’s punishment. For now.

Copyright © 2021 Yeoldebard; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Poor Davik. I really hope they show no mercy to all those bandits! Very powerful scene though.

The tensions in the party still on the rise. Maybe the night of hallucinated fun will help them unwind a bit? lol 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, IkeNeko said:

Poor Davik. I really hope they show no mercy to all those bandits! Very powerful scene though.

The tensions in the party still on the rise. Maybe the night of hallucinated fun will help them unwind a bit? lol 

 

 

We can only hope the shrooms will chill them the fuck out. Unfortunately, Ramiel seems to have missed his dose...

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24 minutes ago, Yeoldebard said:

We can only hope the shrooms will chill them the fuck out. Unfortunately, Ramiel seems to have missed his dose...

poor angel going hungry? that definitely won't improve his mood either...

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