I Hear Howling In The Mountains

Home of Izira Nyte and The Forgotten Layers Inn. Resting in an unnamed magical realm, the place is easier to find when lost if one is without the aid of a map drawn by the lady herself.

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Gren Blockman
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I Hear Howling In The Mountains

Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Aug 29, 2020 10:45 pm

June 1, 2019

Gren and Izira had made it home from the Sibreth vineyard the night before. Their adventure had physically and emotionally drained him, and Gren was grateful for a long night’s sleep in the familiar bed at the Inn. He had awoken before Izira, and crept downstairs to grab a cup of coffee. Rubbing his eyes, he absently took stock of the main room and bar area, making a mental checklist of chores that would need to be done due to his lengthy absence. He had just lifted his cup to his lips while deciding whether to clean the fireplace out first or not, when he heard a distant thoom thoom thoom sound. His eyes bugged out when it became louder, the THOOM THOOM THOOM being the telltale sound of a large beast approaching the Inn.

“BLOCKMAN GET OUT HERE.” A booming voice could be heard outside, and a milky green eye the size of a serving tray could be seen peering into one of the side windows of the main room.

Gren swallowed the wrong way, and coughed explosively, trying to pat his back and get his coffee to go down properly. Stumbling to his feet, he ran out the front door and gaped at what he saw.

An eighty foot long, scaly, spiky Black Dragon was now moving around to the front porch of the Inn. The beast slowly lowered its neck so that its large head would be level with Gren’s line of vision, and he bared rows of fangs in a wicked smile, some jagged and broken, but plenty of them whole enough to be wary of. “Greetings, Mister Blockman. I trust you remember me.”

“Ossah . . . ossah . . . oh-suh-suh-suh . . . . “ Gren tried to answer.

“OSSIDERAX. Cease fumbling your words, it annoys me. Yes, Ossiderax, also known as Ossiderax the Cruel, Ossiderax the Remorseless, and Ossiderax the Perilous. You DO recall our little . . . bargain, do you not?”

“Hey hey, look, we held up our end of the deal, don’t eat me . . . “ Gren cringed reflexively and held his arms over his head.

“OH STOP IT. First of all, I am well pleased at how things turned out. Watching that flabby toad, the so-called Emerald King, flapping his arms like an overstuffed chicken while spiraling into oblivion filled me with a satisfaction I have not felt in millennia. Second, I am aware of the rules of this . . . place in which you reside. I can bring no malicious intent aimed towards the inhabitants within. Considering the malevolence in my heart, that was a bit of a struggle, but I do believe I passed the test. HAHA! Now then, you do remember the stipulation to our bargain, hmm?”

Gren nodded dumbly, too afraid to speak.

“Silence,eh? At least it is better than you stammering like an idiot. In the interest of time, I will remind you. If you removed the Emerald King, I was, as the small Mage said, to leave those accursed waters behind forever. I knew that intolerable, flowery island for a ridiculously long amount of time. Now that I have my revenge, I am more than happy to abandon that insufferable world and find a new domicile, start a new chapter in my life. But unfortunately, I do not know how to go about locating a new world. So I contemplated the situation most keenly. I reasoned that you and the small Mage must have the ability to travel between worlds, since you popped in and out of mine so quickly. I followed your unmistakable stench of pine needles and stone cold panic, and found my way here. Eccch. How you beings can live above ground covered in twigs and glass is beyond me.” Ossiderax glanced over the structure of the Inn with a disapproving look.

Gren gulped and wiped the sweat from his forehead. “ME? Find you a new home? I can’t do . . How am I supposed to . . . “ Gren pictured Ossiderax barging into an unsuspecting world through a portal near the Inn, unleashing a rampage of fire and destruction on its poor, helpless inhabitants. “I won’t do it! You’ll just have to go back to where you came from!”

“I refuse to return to that place. If you decline to assist me in this endeavor, then I will just have to stay here until you do. Although I dislike it, I can wait patiently until you see reason.” Ossiderax circled the fountain in front of the Inn, the one with the winged woman with her hand out, then laid down around it, the white rose bushes smashed by his bulk with an audible CRUNCH.

“Aaaaah! Izira’s flowers! Oh she’s gonna be so mad! You gotta get outta here!” Gren said, exasperated.

“You have a destination in mind, Ranger? Hmm?” Ossiderax had his front paws extended out, and had lowered his head slightly to make eye contact with Gren.

Just then, a family of dwarves could be heard approaching the Inn from the west. “Oh what luck! Finally, to have found shelter after our long journey! I could eat a . . . . “ Here the father stopped and stared at the immense Black Dragon. “AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!” He and his family screamed simultaneously, and went running back up the path they came as fast as their legs could carry them.

Ossiderax calmly swiveled his head to watch the dwarves with a detached, nonchalant look at their fearful retreat.

“This is a nightmare! An absolute nightmare! I’m . . . I’m hyperventilating . . . I need a brown bag . . . “

“I can see you are wrestling with a moral dilemma. I am quite spent from my trip through worlds, so I will take a nap. Wake me when you are ready to do as I ask.” Ossiderax lowered his large head to the ground and closed his eyes. Soon curls of mist rose from his nostrils as he snoozed.

Gren stood with his hands clenched in his hair, wondering how he was going to get out of this one. He couldn’t have a Black Dragon sleeping on their front lawn for obvious reasons, but how could he justify sending him off to some other world to wreak havoc? “Oh Lord, what am I going to do? Are we stuck with Ossiderax the Cruel, the Remorseless, the Peril . . . “ Gren stopped and his eyes got wide as he recalled something.

“Perilous”, he said. “Ahmicilla.”

tbc . . .
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Gren Blockman
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Re: I Hear Howling In The Mountains

Post by Gren Blockman » Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:53 pm

December 18, 2017

A year and a half before Ossiderax’s visit to the Inn, Gren was exploring the forest in its pocket realm. He wondered if one day he might find some humanoid form of life that was indigenous to it, but during the four years or so he had been there, all the people he had found were from other worlds. Anything was possible, he thought, as he looked at the sun on that bright morning. The day before it had rained hard, and the ground was still muddy. He was so busy staring at the beautiful, clear winter sky that he nearly tripped over the dead body lying there in the grass.

He stopped and stared, as if taken aback by its sudden appearance. It was a young man who looked like an elf, due to his pointy ears, but his skin was deeply tanned, and his long hair dark brown. His clothing was light blue and was covered with reddish dirt. There were multiple slash marks across his body, some deep, and a pool of blood underneath him as if he bled out where he lay. His left hand limply held a weathered brown journal. Gren knelt next to him, his eyes rapidly searching his body as if looking for some sign of life, until he had to admit to himself the person had long been deceased.

Gently, he took the journal from the man’s hand. He thought maybe he could learn something about who he was. He flipped open the cover, and saw a thin necklace with a green leaf made out of emeralds. He briefly admired the stunning piece of jewelry before turning to the first page that had writing.

Journal of Nerrleng “Nerr” Leafrunner

Day 1

I call it this, because the world ended yesterday. The one we used to know.

We spent the night running for our lives. The volcanoes that appeared around the Golden City were alive with fire. We got out with the Princess and whoever was brave enough to come with us. We watched the men with vacant, devastated looks and the women weeping in the streets as we filed out into the Wildlands. I tried to block out the tragedy, the destruction, the helplessness.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Because I have a plan. I think for that reason alone, the others decided to follow me. Not that I wanted to be the leader. That should be the Princess. But she’s not able right now. And I don’t think anyone with a heart of compassion would blame her.

As the Red Mist falls around us, I can’t help but acknowledge that the Warlocks have won. They have destroyed the Golden City. But we can rebuild, if I can just get to the Sacred Ground.

Day 4

I held the Princess in my arms all night as she cried. Not full weeping, but the sobs of someone exhausted. I look around at the camp, and I see three dozen or so faces. Most of them look haggard, fearful, confused. This won’t be easy.

My days as a Leafrunner benefit me greatly. I know the Glens and Vales. Most of the survivors with me can’t move at half my pace, so I spend my energy encouraging them and trying to make the path ahead as simple as possible.

The route to the Sacred Ground is long, though. I don’t think they can make it. I might have to find a safe place for them. That sounds like the punch line to a bad joke. I can’t imagine anywhere being safe in this new world.

Day 7

All day we heard it. Faintly, but there. Howling.

The Lords Above only know what inhuman creation the Warlocks have conjured to terrorize us now. As fearful as the people were before, they’re positively frightened now. We can’t go on. We have to find shelter. I know a place. It took some convincing the Princess. She wants the safety of the Sacred Ground, not some temporary reprieve that might not be so temporary. I point out the old, the sick, the children. Reluctantly, she changes her mind. “You just saved their lives”, I told her.

Day 11

The shore of the Grey Sea appears before us. Beyond is the Isle of Clouds. Not exactly the most cheerful place, but it is secluded and protected by the waters. “This is as good as we’ll get”, I tell the Princess. I help them lash logs together for makeshift rafts before the Suns set. Its better to wait until morning, The Lords Above only know what could be waiting for us in those waters at night.

I had one more task to perform for our people. I visited the Princess in her tent. I told her that the people would be safe on the Isle for now. But with all the devastation we had witnessed over the last eleven days, there was no guarantee that the Sacred Ground even existed anymore. Honestly, I had only been there once, and saw it from afar. Could we make a trek like that, through all that territory, and arrive only to find it obliterated? It was a sobering thought.

‘So what are you suggesting?” The Princess asked.

I told her I would make the journey alone. Scout out a safe route. Make sure we weren’t walking into a trap, or a fool’s errand. Then I would return and lead us all to safety.

She cried and begged me not to go. But she knew I was right. We made love that night. Perhaps that was rash of us, me being a commoner and she being royalty, but in times like these, you have to live when you can.

She thanked me for everything I did, and gave me her emerald necklace. Then she bade me a safe journey.

Day 15

The Red Mist is everywhere and water is scarce. I’ve had to run from more monsters than I can count. I can’t even tell you how I got this far. The Lords Above watch over me. If it wasn’t for the Princess . . . .

Day 18

I am too weary to think straight, let alone write. So forgive my scratchings. But I have done it. I sit here by an old stone well, deep in the mountains. I can barely see my hand writing on the page, the Mist is so thick now. But . . . for a few brief moments . . . a wind blew through and lifted the Mist just enough for me to look in the sky and see . . . the Sacred Ground. The Perilous Peak lies nearby as well. All the gold of the Princess’ family. We can start over.

If I can make it back. I am at my limits. And that infernal howling has returned. Closer, here in the mountains, all around me . . .

And then finally, in hurried, sloppy letters:

I hear howling in the mountains.

tbc . . .
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