The day grew late as the duo trudged down the mountain path out of Dinglesfuhr. Despite the increasing winds and chillier air, they knew it was best now to leave this land.
Between all the cultists and the goblins and the Helltowners, it was obvious that it was lost. Despair welled up in Gottschalk then, knowing that he might never see his homeland again.
Noticing the look on his face, Gorm put his mighty barbarian hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Don’t worry Gott-chalk, now we go to save Narq-... we go to Narq-... we go to Frankish lands now.”
Gottschalk nodded back. He was hopeful that not all the lands in the Vale had been overrun by inhumans and tyrants.
He was also glad that Esservassa was no longer with them. The one-handed woman was just as lost as Dinglesfuhr, wholly given in to the mad belief that letting others destroy your land and exterminate your people is a reasonable way to ‘Make Amends’, even for some apparent misdeeds by one’s country, nearly a century ago. Last they had seen her, she was heading to the Darkastle, jabbering about being reunited with her cult leader again.
Suddenly, something flew over them, but it was no natural bird. The creature looked like a vulture, though almost as large as Gorm. It might be common for the Vale, except for one feature: its head was that of a deranged woman!
Gottschalk dove for cover as the thing raked at Gorm’s head. The large barbarian looked up at it blankly, only readjusting his mullet as it passed.
“Gorm: we need to fight it! It looks like a harpy!”
“It only bird! Who fights bird with woman’s head? It small monster!”
The harpy came again. They caught a glimpse of a collar around its neck: it was a hammer and sickle device within an inverted pentagram- the sign of Helltowne!
It swooped at Gorm who was still standing upright and now laughing. That soon changed. The creature gored its talons into his face, causing blood to erupt from around his eyes, and lifted him up into the air. It then shifted its flight path again, released its grip, and let Gorm collide with a tree.
Gottschalk finally got the nerve to stand up then, looking for something to throw at the harpy. And to his relief, Gorm rose too, though the barbarian seemed blinded from the copious blood pouring from his face.
“Ow. Me no like small monster.”
The harpy dodged a rock that Gottschalk had found and began to soar towards Gorm again.
“Look out!” said Gottschalk. “It’s-”
But then he could not speak, the harpy turned its head and stared into his eyes. “There is no room for your Hating Words here!” it shrieked. “And I have the right to rip out the Hating eyes of anyone I wish. You will Oppress no longer, Hate-sayer and Hate-looker!”
As much as he would have liked to challenge the creature’s obvious tyranny and hypocrisy, Gottschalk could not reply. A great fear had come over him, preventing any words from forming upon his lips.
Gorm had less need for words, for when the harpy grabbed and lifted him up again, he only roared. His mighty yell echoed upon the path and trees, the rocks and mountains, even all the way back to Dinglesfuhr it seemed.
It was apparently too much for even a harpy of Helltowne to bear.
The creature shrieked and tried to release Gorm again, but he only grasped its foul talons to remain aloft. The bleeding around his eyes diminished somewhat.
“Me got you now! Me not be quiet, you not rip out my sight!”
“Your Intolerance will not be Tolerated!” screamed the harpy. “I will quash your Hateful tongue and gouge out your Hateful view!”
It headed towards a cliff with Gorm still grasping its talons. Though the barbarian was mighty, Gottschalk doubted that he would survive his next fall. He struggled to speak, to coax the creature back, but couldn’t. The fear had become dread, dread that whatever he said would be twisted, turned back against him, and used for his own destruction.
The harpy’s voice was within his mind now, echoing dire warnings to remain silent. But then Gorm’s words came to him too:
“Me not be quiet!”
Gottschalk began to roar and, though his lungs weren’t nearly as mighty as Gorm’s, the harpy circled back, a look of distinct spite upon its face.
“Silence! I’m going to snatch you and lock you up, Hater! All your friends will know what a Horrible One you are then! How could you Defile such a free land as this with your Speech! Do you know what they do to those who make Hating Words in Helltowne?” The harpy now had a look of wicked glee.
But he would have no more of it. “You’re the one who hates! You’re the tyrant!” roared Gottschalk and he threw another rock at the harpy. This one struck true, shattering its face.
Its body dropped immediately, hurtling down with Gorm spinning too. Gottschalk ran forward in horror, terrified that Gorm would fall to his death. But then he realized where he was falling to. The landing would be soft, but perilous.
Gottschalk took off down the road to catch up to his friend.
Gorm had fallen into the Draining Swamp.
Gorm had fallen into the Draining Swamp.