Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Hacks of Gorm, Part V: Campfire Terrors

A continuing series that follows the exploits of Gorm in the Nights Skies Over Valhallow World

Night had fallen and the stars shone brightly. Even Esservassa was now finally quiet. The blue-haired woman had taken her time in grasping what had been done to her fellow cultists by the red dwarf ‘Liberators’. Whether she was finally beginning to understand the insanity of her views or if she had instead begun to justify their attack with yet more of her strange cult beliefs though, Gottschalk could not say.

They climbed the mountain trail further, their muscles aching at the endeavor.

Gorm huffed finally when they reached a more level spot. “Me not get high enough to see what really happening.”

Gottschalk was perplexed: “High enough for what? We’ve already seen the Helltowners invade Dinglesfuhr.”

“Ha! Ha! HA!” Gorm laughed heartily and clapped Gottschalk on the back, his mighty barbarian comradery nearly knocking the man off the precipice. “Me want to get high enough to see why they invade Dinglesfuhr!”

At that, Gottschalk gave a bitter laugh after steadying himself. “Because of people like her inviting them in.”

Gorm stared at Gottschalk and then at Esservassa. Finally, he began to laugh again. “No! They invite goblins in, not squat-red-dwarf-people, silly Gott-Chalk!”

“They came together: the goblins disrupted Dinglesfuhr, so that it could then be conquered by the red dwarves.”

Esservassa made to make a reply, but then stopped herself. She looked exhausted and seemed to realize that the two men wouldn’t be very open to hearing any of her cult’s Edicts.

The three climbed higher on the mountain trail for a few more minutes until they came upon an open area to the right. It was flatter, had some frozen grass upon it, and two stout cedars gave some cover from the winter winds.

They entered cautiously and set about making camp. Gorm dragged in some dead branches from the woods behind and broke them with his mighty arms. Gottschalk cleared an area of grass to make a fire pit and some bedding. He looked at Esservassa, unsure whether she could be trusted to stay with them. She ignored him and instead glanced down at Fjord Vallee far below, a look of regret on her face. 

After a simple meal of heated rations, they all lay down to rest.

Gorm spoke first: “Me want to stay warm! You want cuddle, Kalla?”

Esservassa simply rolled over away from the barbarian, and lay very still.

“You want cuddle, Gott-Chalk?”

Gottschalk then lay very still too. He had considered asking them both about setting a watch, but he guessed that all discussion for tonight was now officially at an end.

* * *

The firelight grew dim and Gottschalk awoke suddenly. He had been dreaming about the prior day’s dark events: the goblin attacks and the red dwarf invasion. His land had been destroyed! Still, he was tired. He crunched his body together in an effort to get warm enough to fall asleep again. Gorm did not seem to have that problem: the large man lay snoring loudly. For a moment, he even considered taking the barbarian up on his earlier offer.

But then he realized that something was wrong. Where was Esservassa?

Gottschalk leapt up and began looking around the path near their small campsite. He was no ranger, but he guessed that the woman had made her way back to Dinglesfuhr.

Suddenly, he heard a shriek further down the trail. He rushed as quickly as he could, almost feeling like he was back in his own home, running down the hall to check on some urgent matter.

Soon he came to the level spot upon the trail where they had stopped earlier. Esservassa was there, screaming and crying: a number of dark forms were upon her!

Gottschalk looked around, trying to decide what to do next. There were too many for him to fight alone. Still, though he didn’t care for Esservassa, he wouldn’t leave the woman to her fate.

He realized then that having to cuddle with Gorm wasn’t the most terrifying thing that one could face tonight, after all.

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