A mighty barbaric belch erupted from Gorm’s mouth as he watched his companions hike further up the trail. They had been bickering ever since breakfast with the Maurians, though Esservassa had been the one to start it, of course. At least the remains of the meal still tasted good on the way back up.
He studied the insane blue-haired woman for a moment: despite her many signs of abuse- an expected consequence of spending too much time around orcs and goblins- she still had her wits about her and was shapely. Why did she continue to follow that Cult of Special Grow-People? And why didn’t she use her real name anymore? He remembered when he had first met her, she had been riding bareback in the Vale. She and...
Gorm’s thoughts then sank to sadness as he remembered her former companions. Elfriede had been captured and Gudre had...
Gottschalk looked back when he noticed that Gorm had begun to sob. The large man started to shake and mighty barbarian tears rolled down from his downcast eyes onto his mighty barbarian overalls.
“Are you alright?”
“Me just memembering...” His sad eyes went to Esservassa.
For a moment, she appeared to show some sympathy, but then quickly glared and turned away. “The Liberators will find you both soon!”
Both Gorm and Gottschalk looked back in the direction of Dinglesfuhr. A smaller snoollab, one of the fell airships of the invading red dwarf forces, had been approaching their position for the last few hours. Even though they were high in the forested mountains, it still seemed to be creeping inexorably closer.
“Me get rock and pop it!” Gorm rubbed the tears from his eyes and clenched his jaw as he searched the ground.
“Probably not wise,” said Gottschalk. “I doubt even you could damage it.”
Gorm turned to Gottschalk, outraged. Gottschalk didn’t know whether to be afraid that the barbarian might go berserk or happy that he was no longer crying.
Knowing that he had little time to spare, Gottschalk quickly thought of a way to redirect Gorm’s rising fury.
“Esservassa: are you leading them to us?”
It seemed to have the desired effect, for Gorm quickly turned his attention to her.
Despite the threat he posed though, she merely laughed. “By all that’s Rainbow- I wish! I can’t wait to see the look on your Amaranthine Faces and Miniscule Encroachments when the True Equalitarians get a hold of you. Oh, by Thrym, then you’ll get a taste of Diversity!”
Gorm had trouble grasping all the large words that she used; Gottschalk knew that she was merely spouting more Cult nonsense.
They then turned to each other with knowing glances: perhaps it was time that she left their company.
Though still wrapped up in her vitriol, Esservassa soon began to realize that the men might abandon her on this mountain trail. Despite her intense dislike for ones who so obviously didn’t agree with her, she didn’t like the idea of being separated from them just now either.
“There might be a way to spare you... to have the Equalitarians Annihilate You in the Name of Acceptance... at a later time...”
Gorm looked up at the sky in terror: that a-word she used sounded awful!
Gottschalk only smiled at her sardonically though. “Want to keep us around? Scared of the goblins finding you again... all alone?”
Esservassa shrieked furiously and made to strike him with her wine bottle. “You would insult a Womyn with your Womyn-hating Hate, you Womyn-Hater?!”
But just as quickly, a strange understanding came over her: if she struck Gottschalk, then they would abandon her for certain.
* * *
The sun creeped towards its apex, peeking through a few winter clouds. Gorm and Gottschalk sat around a small fire that provided little warmth. Strange, multicolored objects were placed around it, some quite lewd, all suggestive of gender. Esservassa danced around them in a circular manner, her spectral robes fluttering as she passed by, marking her as out of place with the cedars and barren oaks all around as her unnatural faith.
“All the many choices... are we men, or just some boy’ses... oh, Great Teacher, here our voices!”
To Gorm and Gottschalk’s increasing discomfort, she then began to gyrate in bizarre ways as she continued to recite the lyrics to her twisted, demon song. It also seemed that she was having some sort of argument with a phantom adversary- something bizarre for even her.
“In one end and out the other, by all that’s Rainbow, I can have any lover! Any lover! Any l-o-v-e-r! You can’t tell me, can’t tell me! Thrym, please stir my genital stew, for oh Great Wise One Guy, I call on you!”
The sky went dark as a cloud passed over the sun. A strange, rainbow shadow filled the area and a fell odor came from the fire, one of perfume and dung. Esservassa immediately prostrated herself, bowing before a sinister looking man that had now appeared amongst them.
Gorm and Gottschalk arose quickly, weapons ready, but did not strike, hoping that this... person... might help them in avoiding capture.
The man’s eyes shown as red spirals in the strange light and he adjusted his insidious, crossed tie. “My friend here says that you need some help, that you need to change yourselves to avoid capture?”
Gorm and Gottschalk nodded to him cautiously. They knew it was unwise to consort with demons- if that is in fact what this ‘Great Wise One Guy’ was- but they also knew that the red dwarves would be upon them within the hour, and they would show no mercy.
The strange man smiled insanely. “Did you know that there are, in fact, 666 genders?”
Both looked at each other in confusion. He giggled and then continued. “...and that there are certain fish, somewhere in the world possibly, that can change their gender?”
Gottschalk’s eyes narrowed: he didn’t like where this was going. Gorm wondered what any of this had to do with them: men weren’t fish!
The Wise One Guy continued: “And the red dwarves are looking for two men...”
Gorm struggled to understand what he meant. Finally, he ventured a guess: “You mean, we should dress up like fish?”
Gottschalk began to look for a place to escape.
“No...” the strange man adjusted his crossed tie again and looked down at their pants.
Gorm finally realized what he meant and covered himself defensively.
Esservassa then arose and began to dance with the Wise One Guy, gyrating strangely, shouting out more demon lyrics. It was almost as if the area itself, still cast in bizarre light, was providing some sort of very troubling musical accompaniment.
When the strange man finally removed his pants to reveal garishly-colored undergarments, they knew it was time to leave. Gottschalk led Gorm away.
“But won’t the red dwarves a-nye-he’ll-hate us when they catch us?”