“And Life is Colour and Warmth and Light and a striving evermore for these; and he is dead, who will not fight; and who dies fighting has increase. "
18-1: To the Colorless Mountain
The party stood before the slain creatures, their violet blood staining the forest floor. Although Brevan’s Yellow Sign had faded away, he looked eastward, towards the area where Zerrik and Jewel had seen the comet crash to earth. Though he had no true reason to be there, his curiosity was getting the better of him.
“So that’s it, then?” Zerrik asked, noticing that the Yellow Sign had faded away.
“Not quite, I still have you for the rest of the night.” Brevan reminded the cleric. Zerrik raised an eyebrow at the halfling.
“Not quite? What more is there to do?”
“I want to go investigate that comet’s impact. Shuriel, what did the dragon say to you?” Brevan replied curtly, turning to the elf. Shuriel’s skin was now a black ebony; during the last battle, he drank one of his concoctions; his new coloration a sign that he had become Shiddrax. Brevan braced for the worst, but to his surprise, Shiddrax was much calmer and more collected then usual. The elf shrugged his shoulders.
“Not a whole not, to be honest. He kept talking about some ‘color’ thing that destroyed whatever it touched. He seemed like he was fleeing from it.” What in the name of Grandpa Kindlebrin’s crusty toes could make a dragon flee, Brevan asked himself. His curiosity was growing ever larger.
“We should check it out,” Bippy replied, her voice low and raspy. She had been wounded in the past scuffle, a fact she tried to disguise. Calling upon her mystic powers, she concentrated and restitched her flesh and replenished her blood. “Whatever that was, those monsters came from that area too.” The group looked at Omar, who tossed his blunderbuss onto his shoulder.
“S’long as I’m gettin’ paid, I’ll follow you to the moon, Kindlebrin.”
“Then it’s settled! We’re claiming the mountain,” Brevan cheered. Jewel sighed and took to the trees once more, for their protective cover only increased in the darkness of the night. As the group made their way ever closer towards the impact sight, Bippy piped up, sounding nervous.
“Shuriel, what direction are we heading, elf?” Shuriel was distracted in thought, however, and it was several moments before he realized that someone was speaking to him.
“Wha? Oh, I don’t know,” he replied quickly, sounding annoyed.
“We’re heating west, Bippy,” Brevan offered. She cursed under her breath. “Why? What’s wrong with west?”
“Nothing, except that if you all had been paying attention, the Bellytuff Village is to the west.”
18-2: An Old Friend
Bippy wasn’t wrong. As the path she and the others were climbing on became steadily higher, Brevan could see the Bellytuff settlement, scattered specs of light from the windows of homes and the open fires of the Gullykin refugees. Pointing this out to Bippy did little to calm her nerves, however. From the smell of smoke and the scattered fires around the wood, it was clear that the comet had crashed somewhere nearby.
As the group continued to scale the Wild Hills, it became clear exactly where the comet had crashed; before them, looking down on Bellytuff, was the largest hill in the Wild Hills. Bippy called it the Tall Hill after having it described to her, its peak once brimming with snow and ice. This was no longer the case, however, as the snow appeared to have been melted off and a large chunk of the hill was missing from the comet’s impact.
Near the top of the hill, the group stumbled upon a large cave; the sounds of running water echoing through its depths. Cautiously, the group stood outside of the massive cave for a time, listening.
“I think I hear something,” Omar said after several moments. “Someone talkin’. Real quiet-like. Can’t make out what he’s sayin’.”
“Can you at least pick out some words? We could at least figure out what language he’s speaking,” Shuriel-Shiddrax asked. Omar gave Shuriel an unamused glare.
“I can’t make out what he’s sayin’,” Omar repeated again, slowly. By his tone, he was clearly irked with Shuriel.
“We had best prepare for the worst, then,” Zerrik said before taking some time to offer prayers to Set in exchange for his blessings. Shuriel pulled several extracts from his satchel and quickly drank them, allowing their powers to flow through him. Quickly, the elf grew to nearly twice his original size.
“I will enter first, to check this place out,” Jewel offered. Before she left, Brevan cast a magical ward of whispering on her, so that her voice would carry back to the group.
“I will accompany here,” Shuriel offered stepping forward. Jewel turned around and stopped him.
“You’re too large now, Shuriel. You’ll give me away.” Still, the massive elf paid no heed to her and followed behind; abet at a distance, but behind nevertheless.
Suddenly, the air grew thick and heavy, as if a mighty presence had decided to reveal itself. Its force, the sheer power of its will, was nearly overbearing to Brevan, but with great mental fortitude he was able to cast off the alien presence, unwilling to allow anything to stand in his way after coming so far. Though he couldn’t determine the source of this power, he quickly checked his allies to make sure they were okay. Bippy shared his knowing gaze, clearly having won over the force as well. Both Zerrik and Omar, on the other hand, looked completely glazed over; as if they had both recently been crying. Omar stepped into the cave, gasping in awe of something. Zerrik remained rooting to his spot; as if to tread any closer or away would ruin the majesty of something.
“Wow … Brevan,” Jewel whispered by means of the magic he had placed upon her. “This cave … it’s so spectacular!” Clearly Jewel had been enamored as well. “I mean, just look at the rock formations … and the the beautiful sound of water … and wait. What’s this?” Brevan could make out the sound of Jewel scratching at something. “It’s … it’s gold! Gold! Guys, there’s gold here. There’s go ….” And suddenly, Jewel’s voice stopped.
“In. Now. Brevan commanded as he pulled out a wand and rushed into the cave. Shuriel was already ahead of him, and both Zerrik and Bippy followed behind him, Zerrik still looking dazed. The cavern was as Jewel described; fantastic. On the inside, it was large enough for the grandest of creatures to comfortably enter, the ground patted down to a traveled flatness. A massive hole in the ceiling opened up the cave to the stars, which twinkled brightly in the night. By Brevan’s count, it would have had to be nearly midnight by this point. Water rushed in from the destroyed peak and pooled in back of the chamber, centered in what appeared to be a ditch of some kind. Though the pool of water did not catch Brevan’s attention. It was the massive creature that hovered above it.
It was the largest thing that Brevan had ever seen, a giant, writhing mass of colorless jelly floating among a scintillating membrane that fluxed between an ivory white and an ebony black. Hundreds of thousands of tendrils floated from this membrane and swirled around the cave’s ceiling almost rhythmically. And standing before this awesome creature was a man in yellow.
“Ah, wonderful!” He replied, turning around as the five companions entered the cave. “I had a hunched that if she survived, then you did as well,” the Yellow Prophet spoke almost excitedly, as if his prior acts of attempting to destroy them all by hurling them through time was a minor detail. When he spoke of Jewel, the Yellow Prophet gestured over to a corner of the cave. Shuriel’s eyes followed the prophet’s hands, finding Jewel crumpled in a heap on the ground. She appeared to be awake, staring at the cave’s ceiling and mumbling.
“She’ll be fine,” the Yellow Prophet continued, reading Shuriel’s face. “At least, for now she will be. The Colour Out of Space hasn’t fed on her yet.” Shuriel was overcome by rage. He reached into his satchel and pulled out the heaviest thing he could find; a solid brick, and hurled it at the Yellow Prophet. The brick flew true, stopping inches in front of his masked face before shattering immediately.
“A shielding spell? Were you expecting combat?” Brevan taunted.
“One must be take the proper precautions before standing before a Colour Out of Space.” The Yellow Prophet simply replied. “It is marvelous, is it not?”
“Ya. Nice setup you have hear.” Omar replied, listlessly. Brevan turned an eyebrow at his friend as the Yellow Prophet laughed.
“It would appear that your friend has succumbed to the ennui of exposure to the Colour. He’s not the only one,” The prophet spoke amusingly, looking upon Zerrik and Jewel with his mask’s painted eyes.
“Why don’t you just get the hell out of her!” Shuriel roared in anger. The Yellow Prophet laughed again.
“Very well. I have much larger plans, after all. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to leave you all at the mercy of the Colour. But first, a parting gift from great Hastur himself!” The Yellow Prophet began calling upon the magic of the gods, focusing it towards Brevan and his allies. Through perseverance alone, Brevan was able to resist the gull of the spell, but watched in horror as Omar and Zerrik’s movements became slow and sluggish; the Colour’s aura clearly affecting their ability to ward off such magic. Before their eyes, the Yellow Prophet merged with the shadows, and with the prophet gone, the Colour erupted to life, it’s tendrils raised to the sky. Brevan, Bippy, and Shuriel prepared for combat, determined, but worried in face of such odds. Zerrik and Brevan were both overcome by apathy now while Jewel was still collapsed on the ground, muttering. This would be a trying battle indeed.
Shuriel wasted no time. He owed Jewel his life, and his first order of business was to move her as far away from the Colour as he could. Using the burst of speed allowed by Brevan’s magic, he dashed out into the room and hoisted Jewel onto his shoulder before running back towards his comrades. Zerrik and Omar both ran out towards the monster as well, though neither man possessed Brevan’s magic to carry them closer to the beast, nor did they possess the battle spirit to urge themselves forward. Sensing this weakness in its prey, the Colour Out of Space directed its massive tempest of tendrils towards Omar, the tendrils circled around Omar’s body like vultures awaiting the death of their prey. They struck out at Omar, hitting every available bit of him they could. Each strike caused Omar to moan in pain as the color on his body and clothing began to drain away, leaving the once black elf a frail shade of gray.
Bippy quickly began her work, guessing that such a monstrous creature to be wicked. She quickly set to work, trying to protect her allies from whatever dark magic that the monstrosity before her; what the man in yellow had called a, “Colour Out of Space,” would try. Brevan, on the other hand, had a different tactic in mind. Remembering the tales of old and how the green dragon’s description of what Brevan could only assume was this beast had mentioned the best had a weakness, he took his best shot at the monster, sending a volley of arcane missiles at the monster.
The cave shuddered as the missiles made impact, the monster’s physical bonds weakening slightly. Brevan was convinced; his magic had definitely scarred the monster. Grinning, he yelled at the monster.
“That’s right! You’re dealing with the mayor of Gullykin now, you amorphous blob!” Brevan’s boasts, however, were far from well-placed as it wrapped its tendrils around Omar once more; by the end of his second attack, Omar’s clothing and equipment were starting to become affected as well; the color draining away from everything Omar touched. Omar himself was in a lousy state; his body looked weak and frail, as if the slightest breeze would topple him over.
Shuriel had just dropped Jewel off behind a stalagmite as he turned around to face the beast once more. He reached into his pouch to grab one of his bombs when two things made him stop. First, he watched Brevan launch his volley of magic missiles at the monster with clear signs of how critically effective the spell was against the horrid beast. Second, he watched Zerrik, who had been trying to hide behind a pillar leap out at the beast, wading through the water to reach his mark. Zerrik unleashed a medley of powerful blows against the creature, striking true with his sword. The beast’s membrane, however, was as solid as a rock, and though a single attack was able to penetrate the membrane, when it did, Zerrik nearly lost his balance as the weapon rushed through the inside of the creature, as if it weren’t there at all. Grunting in frustration, Zerrik called upon the dark power of Set to rip his foe asunder, but the creature’s overpowering presence was mighty indeed, and the shadowy attack had little effect.
In desperation, Zerrik unleashed his final trick; a powerful, fiery spell that Brevan had stored inside of his weapon before the climb up into the peaks of the Wild Hills. The fiery burst to life inside of the monster, seemingly creating a massive, burning explosion. Zerrik grinned, but his smile fell from his face as the fiery explosion quickly began to lose its color, as Omar was. When the color had faded from the fire, it fizzled and collapsed upon itself, having absolutely no effect. Zerrik was stunned, and Shuriel decided that attacking the creature may not be the most effective means of attack. Pulling a wand from his satchel, he secretly thanked GLaDOS for giving him a wand with the ability to cast magic missiles back in the Fire Enrichment center; he activated the wand and sent his own barrage of magic at the monster, noting that the force magic seemed to strike the creature even when Zerrik’s own weapon did not.
“Zerrik, that thing’s incorporeal!” Shuriel yelled out.
“What does that mean!?”
“It has no physical body; it’s like a ghost, your armor isn’t going to stop it!” Sure enough, as if the monster had understood Shuriel completely, it lashed out at Zerrik with its black membrane, striking straight through Zerrik’s armor and hitting him squarely in the chest. Zerrik bellowed in pain and watched in horror as the monster retracted its tendril; where the monster had passed through his armor and struck him, flesh, blood, bone, and metal alike had all completely disappeared; vanished before his eyes and burnt away into a fine powder.
“What the heck IS this thing?” Zerrik yelled as the monster blasted not only Omar, but Bippy as well with its tendrils. Both the halfling and the drow were drained of their coloration, and by this time, Omar looked ready to collapse; he was barely able to stand.
All the while, Jewel remained in the front of the cave, completely oblivious to the world around her. She didn’t even notice as a particularly foul-smelling undead stumbled into the cave past her, moving up close to Brevan. Focused in launching another round of missiles at the monster that was quickly decimating his friends and allies, Brevan didn’t hear the undead either until it was practically on top of him.
“Your deaths shall be at my hands!” The unholy monstrosity bellowed, echoing through the cave. Shuriel and Zerrik turned around to see a charred, beaten husk wearing a sailor’s uniform covered in cuts and slashes across his body. His eyes were blackened, but his most noticeable feature was the long, jagged harpoon that jutted from his chest.
“Brother!” Zerrik yelled out, the aura of ennui fading for a brief moment at the recognition of his long-lost brother, whom he believed to have died in the Lich’s Laboratory. The bodak of Zerrik’s brother, Montreaux, staggered forth from the mouth of the cave.
“If anyone is to be killing them,” the undead announced. “It shall be me!” As fast as it could manage, the bodak of Montreaux changed up alongside of the monster, swiping at it with its claws. Being incorporeal, however, meant that the monster was not harmed in the least by its attacks. Similarly, the bodak lashed out at the monster with its life-stealing gaze, but the monster was from beyond the stars and was completely unharmed by the soul-wrenching attack. Similarly, the bodak attempted to feed on the spirit and body of the bodak, but the monster had no soul, and its body was already so decayed and worn that the monster found no nourishment there.
Meanwhile, Jewel had finally snapped out of her trance. She rubbed her head and gave in to an overwhelming urge to round the corner that Shuriel had placed her on. She gasped at what she saw, as memories started to return to her. The monster in front of her, the Yellow Prophet, and the spell that he had cast upon her that left her in a confused heap on the ground. Well, no more. Jewel pulled out her rapier and her magical dagger and charged into the battle alongside Shuriel and her friends.
Omar, meanwhile, had finally found his panache. Loading a bullet into his gun, he fired his weapon directly at the beast and watched with little success as the monster grew ever fainter. The true champion of the battle, however, was Brevan, who managed to continually pelt the beast with magical projectiles from a far; each time scoring a more grievous hit then the last. Recognizing its most dangerous adversary, the monster tried to drain Brevan as it had Omar and Bippy, but the force armor that Brevan had conjured served him well, warding off the body and soul sapping tendrils.
The monster bellowed in rage, deciding that if it could not feed off of its attackers, it would kill them off by feeding on the world around them. The monster’s tendrils lashed out and grabbed the very walls and ceiling of the cavern; the group watched in awe as the stone, the moss, and even the very shadows that flicked about the room all turned gray and broke apart, granting the monster even more power. The cave collapsed, sending rocks and debris everywhere. Through quick thinking, Jewel and Shuriel were able to dodge the rocks and protect themselves from harm, but the others weren’t as lucky. Sharp rocks pierced and drove deep into the others, greatly wounding them, while the bodak was buried beneath the rubble, only a lone, still arm hanging out from underneath the debris. The debris mearly fell through the Colour harmlessly; the collapsing mountain did not harm it, for it had no corporeal body.
Shuriel and Zerrik stepped back from the seemingly unstoppable monster; Omar was all but dead and their allies were severely weakened from the falling rocks. Still, despite being near-death, neither Omar nor Zerrik could bring themselves to leave the cave; the monster sapped their very will, their desire to do so. Zerrik healed himself, trying to repair the damage that the monster had inflicted to his body. Shuriel popped out a potion to protect Zerrik, knowing that it would do him little good. He threw the potion to the cleric, calling out to him.
“It’ll protect you; we’re not out of tricks yet.” Zerrik nodded and downed the potion’s contents, a magical shield appearing before him as he did.
“No, we’re not,” Brevan whispered as he summoned forth all of his power into one final barrage of magic missiles. The missiles struck true and Brevan’s powers overcame all of the monster’s defenses. The blow was enough; the entire room scintillated back and forth, as though all of reality were a painting canvas that was being rolled up and beaten clean. The monster began collapsing in upon itself, shrinking and shrinking until, finally, it was gone. No one moved for a while. Every fighter held their breath until they were certain that the beast, the Colour Out of Space, was gone.
18-3: Family Issues
“So, what’d we get?” Omar asked as Shuriel and Jewel shifted coins, art, and gems among the treasures of the mountain. When the party was finally convinced that the Colour had been vanquished, their minds immediately drifted to Jewel’s observation upon entering the cavern; that there were gold coins scattered along the floor.
And how right she was. When Zerrik was fighting the Colour Out of Space, he noted that there were sparkles of gold within the pool, but now that the mountain had been blown away, no more running water was being fed into the small pond, so the waters quickly receded. The group was in for an amazing sigh;t the entire pond, nearly 250 feet of space, was completely filled with treasure nearly a foot deep. So the elves got to work, quickly pulling out, sorting, and organizing the treasure.
“This probably belonged to that dragon,” Shuriel pointed out as he was at work. “The cave is large enough to have one been a dragon’s hoard. By the looks of it, he’s probably inherited a lot of this from his parents. He’s too young to have a cache this good.” Shuriel wasn’t lying; along the thousands of coins, many objects of power were discovered; some of them odd. A massive sword, nearly as thick as a man, made from a shining steel, set with an obsidian jewel in its hilt and on its handle, and the image of Set inscribed onto the weapon’s blade itself, a magical ring that Shuriel and Jewel had almost lost, for it immediately mimicked the coloration and texture of whatever it was set against, and, most curiously of all, the finest gun that Omar had ever laid eyes on; a piece of technology that had few equals in the region. The gun was stylized, ironically, as a green dragon; the dragon’s head forming around the barrel’s opening, the shaft consisting of its neck, and the handle carved and set with flakes of gems to appear like a scaly dragon torso.
“That gun has a special property,” Brevan pointed out. “It appears to magically coat any ammunition you shoot out of it with acid. Very fitting for a green dragon gun.”
“I’ll say,” Omar grinned, clutching the treasure tightly.
“And that sword,” Shuriel continued, “Is a masterpiece of a marvel. It’s got a spell storing enchantment, similar to your axe, but it also has a curios property. It seems that if you focus your divine energy into it, the weapon will glow with an ashen light, which in turn will alchemically alter the blade’s metal into a mithril, cold iron alloy.”
“Sounds like a great boon, indeed!” Zerrik exclaimed with satisfaction.
“And the ring,” Shuriel said, giving it to Jewel,“has the power to magically alter your appearance whenever you want it to, in addition to making you blend in better with your surroundings.” Jewel grinned as she slipped the ring over her finger.
“On top of that, we have a bunch of scrolls, a few potions, another ring like the one we found for Zerrik within the tree, a ring that makes you jump better, and a necklace whose beads turn into fireballs.” Brevan continued.
“That last one sounds kickass,” Omar commented. “How does it work?”
“Well, you take off the bead and throw it at someone,” Shuriel replied. “But the problem is that if you’re hit by anything fiery or hot, there’s a good chance that the necklace’s magic would explode, causing all the beads to break and …”
“Barbecuing me. No thanks,” Omar said quickly.
“Well, that’s all of the trinkets,” Zerrik said. “How much gold is there?”
“Nearly 300,000 gold pieces.” Shuriel replied quickly. Omar and Zerrik’s jaws dropped; neither of them had ever imagined such a sum of money before; let alone lived to see it all in one place.
“What are we going to do with so much money?” Omar asked, a greedy shadow creeping on his brow.
“We’re going to use it to rebuild Goldmeadow, that’s what we’re going to do,” Brevan snapped, causing Omar to break loose from his fixation with the gold. “We’ll take our fair share for a finder’s fee; I think about 3,000 a piece would be fair, especially considering that we’re keeping all of the magical items we’ve found here and along the way, including that gun, right Omar?” Omar looked at his new gun and sighed; he knew that he couldn’t buy a gun better then his blunderbuss for 3,000 gold in any shop in Sigmar, let alone that beautiful gun.
“Yeah, alright,” he grumbled. “But that’s not entirely what I meant. That’s a shit-ton of gold we’re looking at. How are we going to get it all out of here?”
“That’s easy! We’ll just load it all into Shuriel’s bag of holding.”
“Well, actually,” Shuriel began. “My bags are almost entirely full from the stuff we’ve taken from the Lich’s Laboratory and the forest. We’ve never had an opportunity to sell off any of our junk. My bag’s would explode before we took a third of this treasure.” Brevan stared at the elf blankly.
“Well, then, we’ll just take a few trips.”
“And leave the gold here in the meantime?” Shuriel asked. "Not to mention we have nowhere to put it and that dragon’ll come back sooner or later.
“We could always just go back to Bellytuff and hire some men to do it for us. Some workers, bodyguards; a few silver pieces each would be plenty fair to get us nearly anywhere in Sigmar.”
“Do you honestly think that we’re going to be able to hire anyone loyal enough to carry this much gold with them?” Omar asked. “They’d be more likely to succumb to greed and slit our throats in our sleep.”
“All this fuss for a little bit of gold, dear? I thought your father and I taught you better then that!” The group’s heads whirled around to see who owned the lighthearted voice that wafted through the chamber. It was Brevan’s mother, accompanied by her trusted companion and Brevan’s childhood pet, Swiftfoot the Fox.
“Hi mom,” Brevan replied courtly, trying miserably to mask his contempt. He was still sour with his mother after finding out that she was a witch; a mistress of arcane powers with the aid of Swiftfoot, who served as her familiar.
“That’s all I get? A ‘hi mom?’” Mrs. Kindlebrin joked as she walked deeper into the cave. “Saw the mountain collapse earlier. Thought there could be trouble, so I went to check it out. Shoulda known that my Brevy-bear would have been at the bottom, or in this case, the top of it!” Brevan turned a shade of red as his mother strolled deeper into the cavern, eyeing the sparkle of gold from afar.
“Oh, a treasure. I had guessed that the comet crashed into Maim’s mountain, but this is a pretty lucky break. Fine any good treasure?”
“Maim? Whose Maim?” Zerrik asked curiously.
“Oh, no one important. Just the local green dragon. He and his mother have lived up on that mountain for ages; his mother died about twenty years or so ago. This must be their family hoard. Where is the dragon, anyway? I don’t see his corpse lying about.”
“We encountered him in the forest. He was fleeing from the Colour Out of Space that arrived here on the comet.” Mrs. Kindlebrin looked only slightly surprised that Shuriel knew what a Colour Out of Space was.
“You all defeated a Colour? And none of you is a pile of ash? You’re either very fortunate or very lucky. Either way, this is a treasure well earned, indeed. How do you plan on getting out of the den before Maim returns?”
“We were just discussing that right now, Mom.”
“Well, for a small fee, I could simply teleport it out of here for you.” Mrs. Kindlebrin’s eyes sparkled in the dim light of the moon, tinted gold from the wealth that lay before her.
“What’s your price?” Shuriel asked.
“1,500 gold pieces.” She said calmly. The companions looked at each other warily. 1,500 gold pieces was half a share, and no one looked thrilled with the idea of parting with his share.
“That’s outrageous!” Shuriel yelled at Mrs. Kindlebrin. “1,500 is twice the spellcasting rare for teleport magic!”
“Yes, it is,” Mrs. Kindlebrin said simply. “But you are in a country where magic is illegal. You aren’t going to find anyone of my caliber to do the job.”
“And where would we store the gold?” Shuriel snapped, clearly not wanting to include Brevan’s mother in on the treasure.
“Where would you store it in any other situation?” Mrs. Kindlebrin asked sweetly.
“I’m not paying my mother,” Brevan said flatly.
“Isn’t 15,000 gold trivial compared to giving birth to you, dear?” Mrs. Kindlebrin asked sweetly.
“What if I offer to cast the spell for the same price, Brevan? Would you pay me?” Swiftfoot pipped up.
“You’re a fox! You can’t cast spells!” Shuriel said with a sneer.
“On the contrary, boy, my role is mediator between Abbenrose and our patron. I have full access to her power; mock me again, and we’ll turn it upon you in an instant,” Swiftfoot proclaimed darkly. No one spoke for several moments after such a threat until Omar decided to break the silence.
“She has a point, Shuriel,” Omar replied. He could tell that neither Brevan nor Shuriel wanted to include Mrs. Kindlebrin in on the deal. Mrs. Kindlebrin seemed to notice as well; she waited around with a smile for several minutes while they argued; Shuriel having nothing nice to say about Brevan’s mother. When she heard enough, she spoke again.
“Alright, boys. I can see when I’m not wanted. I’ll see myself out, then. Come, Swiftfoot.” The pair walked out of the cave, convinced that the lot wasted a great boon. Omar agreed with her.
“For a bunch of self-proclaimed wiseguys, you’re acting like dumbassed. You just like a free ticket to instantly completely work walk right out of the cave! And for what? Because Brevan has mommy issues? Or because Shuriel doesn’t seem like people who use magic? Buncha idiots, I’m about to go out there and pay the dues myself!” Brevan and Shuriel stopped to consider his words.
“Fine, we’ll go out and ask her,” Brevan mumbled. As the group headed outside, they didn’t see Mrs. Kindlebrin anywhere in sight. What they did see, however, was a large wagon sitting in front of the cave. Embrazened onto its side via magic was a large, cartoony heart and on the inside was a small note addressed to ‘Brevan and friends.’ Brevan skimmed over the letter, looked up, and spoke three words.
“God dammit, Mom!”
8-4: All Hail Kindlebrin!
The wagon that Abbenrose Kindlebrin had left behind for her son was a magical one. Enchanted with the same magic as Shuriel’s bags of holding, it possessed the power to store incredibly large amounts of objects inside of it. Mrs. Kindlebrin had warned in her note, however, that the wagon required powerful magic to stay functional, and that it would be completely out of power within 5 days time; anything left inside of it at that moment would violently burst out of the wagon and destroy it.
“No wonder you don’t see the things everywhere,” Zerrik commented as he helped load up the treasure. The magical wagon had a very simple activation system; inscribed onto an inner wall, near the front of the wagon was a small image of a bag, burned into the wood. With relative ease, however, an individual could slide around the image of the bag magically, loosening or opening the bag’s drawstrings. When the image was opened, the bottom of the wagon gave way into an extradimensional space; closing the image caused the floor to return, hiding the contents.
“Well, we won’t need it for 5 days, hopefully. We can get the gold somewhere safe and spend most of it in advanced to get Goldmeadow up and running,” Brevan replied as the six heroes made their way down the mountain. Although they had found a scroll that summoned spectral horses, Zerrik insisted on pulling the cart himself, not wishing to waste magical resources on such a mundane task.
The heroes had returned to the Bellytuff village before the sun rose above the horizon, and despite the late hour, many of the town’s men and women and older children were awake, awaiting the return of their heroes. Many had watched the peak of Maim’s mountain collapse into nothingness and saw the flashes of battle from so far away. Bippy excused herself, saying that she had business to take care of in her home. As Zerrik pulled the wagon into view, Brevan asked him to pull the wagon to the residence of the halfling that had cursed him out the previous day. Zerrik obliged and the halflings quickly gathered around his home. Brevan knocked on the door. Looking tired, the halfling opened the door.
“What the heck do you want?”
“I require logging for the night,” Brevan said simply. The halflnig huffed.
“And what in the bloody Hells makes you think that I’m gonna take a no-good Gullykin like yourself into my home?”
“Why?” Brevan’s eyes flashed for a second in the light of the halfling’s lantern. “Because I’m going to be your mayor! Together with all of you, we’re going to return to and rebuild our ancestral home of Goldmeadow.”
“Right, and where on earth are you gonna get the money for all of that?” the halfling scoffed. Many of the other halflings murmured about in the crowd, asking each other the very same question.
“My companions and I,” Brevan gave an elaborate gesture to Zerrik, Omar, Jewel, and Shuriel, moving towards the wagon as he spoke. “Have already recovered the lost deed to Goldmeadow Fields. And further more, we have plenty of ways to acquire wealth, for example, we’ll be selling valuable alchemical components such as this!” Brevan pulled out the drake head that Shuriel had cut from the frost wyrm what seemed like months ago, the lesser dragon’s head reeking of filth and rot. Though Shuriel knew and Brevan had a hunch that the head was worth little, the people of Gullykin were clearly impressed with the find. The less people who know of our wealth, the better, Brevan thought to himself.
The halfling that Brevan had been arguing with had no remarks to combat something as visual as proof. Just when he was about to make a quippy comeback, Bippy finally reached the crowd of people, demanding attention.
“Silence! I have an announcement to make,” Bippy called out. Bellytuff and Gullykin alike were silent as their oracle, who had never steered them wrong before, spoke. “I have given it great thought and I have traveled into the depths of the Wild Wood and witnessed the sheer might of Brevan Kindlebrin and that of his allies. They are powerful folk, and if he says that he will bring prosperity to the Kin, then I believe him,” the halflings of Bellytuff quickly began chattering among themselves, questioning what the oracle’s words meant. She informed them herself as she silenced the chatter once more.
“I have gazed upon the matter, spoken to the bones. I do not know for certain which path is the correct one; the path here, in Bellytuff, or on the outside, in Goldmeadow. But in my own wisdon, I do not think that Brevan will lead his people, or ours, into ruin. I believe that we should return to Goldmeadow alongside our former Kin and rebuild what we had lost so long ago. I will be leaving Bellytuff for Goldmeadow. I have seen enough to know that the times ahead will be hard. We will have to move our families, rebuild our houses, and reclaim our lands. But I truly believe in Brevan Kindlebrin, and I urge you, my friends, my neighbors, and my children, to believe in him too,” and with that, Bippy left and returned to her home atop the hill.
The halflings, Gullykin and Bellytuff alike, were silent for a time. Then, suddenly, a single voice; a familiar voice; the voice of Abbenrose Kindlebrin called out of the crowd, “All hail Mayor Kindlebrin.” Soon more people joined in; Jeremiah, Brevan’s father, Samewaeld and Elijah, until all the halflings yelled out in unison, “All hail Mayor Kindlebrin!” Brevan could only smile.
8-5: Orders of Business
Compared to their last few weeks, life was calm for Brevan, Zerrik, Jewel, Omar, and Shuriel on the day following their triumphant return to the Bellytuff village. Brevan, Zerrik, Omar, and Shuriel decided to head out immediately, urging the halflings to quickly pack their belongings.
“They’ll need at least five days to get there,” Bippy told Brevan as he bid her his temporary farewell in her home. Her assistant was busy running about, packing things away and tidying up their home. “We’re going to dismantle the houses in order to salvage the supplies for building in Goldmeadow, and such work takes time.”
“I know. I’ve asked Jewel and the halflings of Gullykin to stay and help you,” Brevan explained. “I don’t want my people to be caught alone during the journey, and Jewel is a better scout than anyone else I’ve ever known. You’ll be safe as long as you stick with her.”
“I don’t doubt it. What about your people?” Brevan shrugged. “These last twenty-five years have been a burden on us all. I think they can shoulder another week of hardship. That will give us time to go out to Moufette and hire the workers we need to start rebuilding our homes and our lives. Hopefully, by the time you reach us, construction will already be underway.” Bippy smiled slightly.
“You know, you just might be what the Kin need after all, Kindlebrin.”
“I suppose we’ll find out. If I succeed here, I’m shooting for the top. I’m tired with the way our people are treated around here. I’m tired of unfair laws and unjust rulers. I’m going to take them all down, and when I do, we’ll rebuild this nation from the ground up.”
“You’re a regular anarchist,” Bippy commented.
“No, not anarchy,” Brevan said quietly. “I’m looking to start a revolution.”
~ End Chapter One