It was a typical Saturday afternoon for the regular crew. Housemates dilph, shivwuffy and b_dingo had regaled everyone with the spoils from a "Sleven" run (i.e. chips, Shapes and caffeine). Dilph was stretched out in a chair, Blundstones on the coffee table, practicing his belches. I was being quiet. stephenquoll had shown up fifteen minutes late with jaffa_ferel ...
Okay, so it wasn't quite typical. Stephen had shown up earlier than usual.
As we were pondering the cosmic implications of Stephen being early, from out of nowhere a small red dragon appeared. It said something along the lines of, "My name is Rufus! We're all going off together! I've cast a spell on this room and you all have five minutes to grab whatever you need!"
It took us a few moments for this to sink in. When it did, a few of us (Wuffy, Stephen, and myself?) raced downstairs to grab books from the library and other stuff from the laundry ... anything that looked interesting or useful. I'm not sure what the other guys did. They probably either didn't take it seriously or couldn't be assed getting up. ;>
We made it back to the room in the nick of time. Rufus told us to grab anything we wanted to take with us ... and *vwoomp*.
We found ourselves in a grassy field. At least, everyone else did. I found it very dark on account of my black t-shirt being draped over my head. Bingo helped me out there once he'd figured out his hands (paws?) were on backwards. Everyone suddenly looked a lot taller. Well, for a moment anyway, until I realised that I was shorter and covered in black feathers. I almost wet myself. ;>
Bingo was some sort of humanoid tiger guy (which we later found out was a rakshasa). Dilph was ... Smash: one butt-ugly half-ogre (although you wouldn't say it to his face) with clothing stretch-fit when they weren't supposed to stretch-fit. Jaffa was a ... silver-haired, purple eyed, pale skinned reptilian guy with an aversion to daylight (Bingo slung him a pair of shades that were worn with some difficulty due to the absence of a protruding nose). Wuffy was a purple-haired, pale skinned human(oid?). Goth! Stephen was a pretty-boy elf. Boy is he ever going to be suffering caffeine withdrawal for a long long time.
While we were getting over the disorientation (mmm...anthro raven *shiver*) we had one or two questions for Rufus, such as:
- "What the hell just happened?"
- "Why do we suddenly look like this?"
- "Where the heck are we?"
- "Who are you?"
- "What in God's name are we doing here?"
and other pertinent inquiries. Rufus looked rather puzzled as well as he looked around, then realised he'd spoken the wrong incantation so we were ... on the other side of the planet. :p As for our current appearances, apparently everyone is in their "true form" on this world. Either that or simply what each was thinking of at the time. (Good thing I wasn't thinking of any gryphonesses .. hehe.)
Rufus had picked us to help him defeat something called "The Shadow" (who knows what lurks in the hearts of men).
Well, that's nice, but we really had to get somewhere to get changed into other clothes, since most of us couldn't fit into our old clothing any more. Particularly Dilph, whose normally deeper than average voice was now speaking alto. Bingo made quick use of one of his claws down the seam of Dilph's jeans. His pants snapped and followed a sailing arc off into the distance. Now, a half-naked half-ogre isn't exactly a sight you ever want to repeat seeing, and if at all possible not being in the list of "first time for everything" either. And, should this by some terrible twist of fate befall you, your first words after losing your lunch are generally along the lines of "Put some bloody pants on!!", only with more expletives between the words.
Someone ended up giving Dilph a shirt to use as a loincloth. No, it was NOT my shirt. RRrr. Dilph's feet will thank him forever that he wasn't wearing steel-capped boots. However his boots chose that moment to explode rather spectacularly.
With some measure of decency we followed our noses (or beak, as the case may be) to the nearest town. (On the way, Dilph asked how many times I'd creamed my pants for being changed into a raven. I simply looked guilty and fanned my wings in front of my crotch.)
This town looked rather shabby. The stone wall was crumbling and both the guard and his sword looked old and rusty.
Bingo ran up to the guard and tapped on his helmet to wake him up, then asked him where the tavern was. We were told we basically couldn't miss it. To the guard and the rest of the townsfolk we looked quite a circus. In fact, we were asked to perform, and Dilph (being the social person that he is) called everyone up and showed off his first trick. The Richter Belch. Take two cans of Red Bull, chug, then let 'er rip.
The town young'uns were quite impressed, so Dilph proceeded to his next trick. For this, he asked for a tankard of ale and some bean dip. The kids whispered amongst one another and ran off. At first we thought Dilph had scared them off, but they soon returned with a barrel of ale (with cries of protest from the barkeep) and a pot of ... rather suspect chilli. I was already flying off to minimum safe distance (read: as far away as possible!).
All I could see from my vantage point three miles away was a skies-awful noxious mushroom cloud at right angles to the ground and directed towards a once green hill. The town gate buckled and tumbled through the air to land in the field quite some distance away followed by a shockwave of town citizens adding their own technicolour odours to the fouled atmosphere. Bingo just couldn't get far enough out of dodge with the dragon in tow.
Needless to say the townspeople couldn't wait to get rid of us. They even offered to give us all the supplies we needed and a cart to send us on our way. My material desires were simple: a pair of hand crossbows, a lantern, rope, grappling hook ... and I'm still not sure how I managed to score some fine leather armour that was just about the right size for me. You'd think they'd never seen a raven in armour before. ;> No, seriously. I'm going to be in the company of Dilph the damage magnet. I need good armour. They weren't difficult to convince of the truth in my words.
Brisfurs 1. Villagers 0.
Onward to the north! Considering the only way we could leave Crudin was out of the north gate, we didn't have much choice. Dilph pulled our cart for us, of course.
Fields as far as the eye can see. Kinda reminded me of New Zealand, actually. Guess I won't be going back there anytime soon.
We stopped at a small gully and stream. Bingo was game enough to taste the water first and, well, I can trust a feline's sense of smell. He said the water was pretty good so we filled up our waterskins. Some fish caught Bingo's eye and as he was splashing about in the water being his usual bouncy self, some glowing critters surrounded him and started dancing about. This proved quite entertaining and since we weren't going to get any better out in the sticks we stopped there for the night to camp.
Our dragon was getting pretty hungry so we let him have some of our rations but he kept eating and eating. Eventually someone muzzled him up again, but I didn't really care because I was tired and wanted to roost. Silly yowling dancing splashing cat keeping me awake. ;p Whose bright idea was it to give him a minidiscman anyway?
It wasn't any surprise to find Bingo curled up in the back of the cart purring away the next morning.
We arrived at our next town about mid-morning. This one looked a lot more civilised ... if you could call it that. But they had a grand old oak tree! I flew ahead to hop around in it, cos that's what birds do, and because I could! ;> I shot down some smartass comments to the two reasonably well equipped guards at the gate below, then looked quite innocent when they tried to figure out where the heck that voice came from.
To cut a story short, the smithies of Stonehaven sent us to retrieve some special stone from their quarry because they wanted to build a furnace. With their new furnace they could fix up our equipment and pay us some local currency too. This seemed pretty reasonable, although it unsettled me that the apprentices couldn't stop grinning when we were given this task. But they underestimated the might of Dilph and the smarts of the thinking brainbird. This place really is short on intelligence ... but then what's new?
After a night of feasting, drinking, and racking up quite a bar tab, we set out in the morning faced with about a three-day trip to the quarry.
Dilph and Wuffy were arguing about something as we set out but for the life of me I don't remember what it was.
An interesting thing happened as it was approaching dusk. Rufus was eating way too much of our supplies so we figured hunting wabbits was a good idea. I don't even remember how we found the rabbit but I certainly remember how it was killed: with a DDR arrow!
It's weird how you don't notice you have lembas bread until it's gone.
The following day just after dusk we went hunting again. I sent Rufus off ahead to find some rabbits or something. I saw him circling over something, so I went to investigate and Bingo tagged along on foot. The dragon had found some deer. I wasn't sure about killing them because they looked so cute. There were wolves hunting them. Rufus was keen on killing those, but I said we should leave the wolves to the deer and find something else. Unfortunately, the wolves noticed Bingo and they circled in on him. The tigerboy retaliated with a DDR arrow to their alpha. I think they took off, but I was preoccupied with keeping an eye on Rufus.
Sure enough, Rufus went crazy with his spells again and ... dear skies, that was nasty! A huge ball of flame, an evening dawn, crater, burnt wolves ... ugh, what a mess! And Rufus said that was only a weak spell! I made a point of telling him not to do that again unless we ask him. Definitely need to keep an eye on that dragon.
On the plus side, we ate pretty well. Certainly wasn't the Hog steak but you can't complain.
In the morning I scouted ahead, found a fork in the road and the quarry nearby. That was quicker than expected. I flew back to the crew and a couple hours later we finally arrived at our destination.
There were a couple of armoured corpses standing guard with the mark of Stonehaven on them. Ugh. I'm really starting to get sick of awful smells. And I was lead to believe that birds don't smell too well! Sheesh. We found some mutilated centaur bodies down the path into the mine. Joy.
The path into the quarry spiralled in on itself. And it went down DEEP! I didn't think it was possible to dig a quarry that deep! It must have taken AGES.
Our idiot dragon announced our presence into the mine. Dammit. And I was going to sneak in and scout ahead. Sigh. We were greeted by deep chants of "Rufus! Rufus!" from down below, far in the depths of the quarry. So much for stealth.
We went down for some time and discovered some rock giants down there. Giant humanoid rock things. Bugger. And there seemed to be a lot of them.
I half-heartedly suggested a plan involving Rufus, myself, and some rope, but everyone else seemed more interested in going back up top to fight them. I didn't really see what advantage that gave us, but there wasn't much I could do in the face of peer pressure (and what seemed like common sense - get the heck away from those nasties!).
Or was there? On my way back up I noticed that the path was consistently sloped inwards. When I got back up top I found a nice rock and got in some sunbathing while those slowpokes came back up to join me.
I shared my idea about pulling an "Indiana Jones" trick and bowling those creatures down. Between us we found a couple of good, hefty boulders. Everyone helped push, except for myself, who helped by supervising them. Hey, do you really expect me to risk getting squashed under a rock? I think not.
Needless to say, bowling was fun and quite satisfying to hear the screeches and crunches of stoopid rock giants. Huzzah!
Thinking Brainbirds: 5 or so. Rock Giants: 0. (Or 4 if you count those dead bodies. I still win, though!)
It sounded like we needed a new rock and the other one we had was too square, so I took off to grab some molten glassy rock from that crater Rufus had caused yesterday. When I returned, it looked like the Earth itself (or whatever the heck this planet is called) had orgasmed out of the mine, cos there was lava everywhere, but my friends had managed to grab some of that valuable rock so all was good. They told me something about a large winged creature they saw briefly and Rufus throwing in the Holy Hand Grenade or something like it. Oh, and they managed to pick up a souvenir toe from a rock giant.
We returned to Stonehaven as heroes! Yay for us! Yay for recognition of our talents. ;>
Yay for upgraded armour. Mrrrr. Oh, er, and other equipment too. Yes. Nice crossbows.
Rufus found us a map and .... damn do we ever have a long way to go! Not that I'm in any rush to find this Shadow.
Bingo found out a little bit about what he is now but he got kicked out of the library. That sucks.
A couple of useful tidbits of info we picked up:
- A blue dragon by the name of Crusilla works for The Shadow.
- Stonehaven supplies arms for a war between Stonekeep and Mason Ridge.
Stonehaven was certainly a better town than Crudin by a mile, but I wouldn't want to live there. Powered up, we kept moving along, going west (life is peaceful there) since eventually we'd need to go southwest.
Crevice. That was the name of the next town. It looked pretty well fortified, and with good reason. We were waved in urgently by the town guard as it was approaching dusk.
We were weary travellers with coin. Inside the gate, Dilph called out for wenches. The guards mistook this for offering wenches. We didn't have any, of course. The closest we had was Stephen, the pretty-boy elf. Dilph set about bargaining a price for him, then when we saw they really were quite interested - nay, desperate - he jacked up the price and ... well, we got a look at the clientele. One of them reminded me of Fenelon - GAH! Dilph tried his best to put them off, talking about Stephen's last clients as zombies and green ooze and so forth. Yuck. I was quietly distancing myself at this point. Do I know these people? ;>
I'm ... reluctant to record this next part. Thankfully I can skip most of the details as I wasn't there. But it certainly should be recorded since it was funny in a rather morbid way and perhaps lessons could be learned from it. Oh who am I kidding? It's yet more blackmail for Bingo and we're not going to let him live this one down either! >:D
As the dozen or so stinky guards were tripping over each other, dropping their clothes and reaching for their coin pouches, Bingo decided to step in to help his friend in need. He'd already had luck with DDR arrows, so why not try something else? He focused on making Stephen look as skanky as possible. Dilph pitched in shouting "Goatse! Goatse!" and bending all his thought on projecting disreputable images at Bingo.
I believe I shall leave it for someone else to recount this part. Suffice to say, the spell did go off, but Bingo forgot to point his hand in the right direction. Funny how a simple mistake like not knowing which way your palms face can have so much bearing on your humility. And when you have twelve skanky guys who haven't seen action in months watching as you turn around and present yourself to them ... well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened to Bingo for the next several hours.
Needless to say, I needed something to distract myself, and what's more distracting to a raven such as myself than SHINIES. XD I knew those sweaty unshaven fools had left most of their clothing and weapons on their way down from the guard post thingy, so I figured maybe I could pick up a bit of coin as well. I grabbed a sack and stashed some crossbows and armour into it, and pocketed a few silver pieces. Obviously they'd taken most of their money with them.
I caught sight of our red dragon and he looked rather green. I was trying my best to numb out the sounds of yowling, grunting and ravishing. Mmm...shinies.
We ended up getting the second floor of an inn to ourselves with all the gold we'd picked up. Bingo curled up in the tub. Unfortunately we heard some rather loud howls, the sounds of combat and shouts of "Where the heck is my crossbow?!" followed by snarls and gurgles. ...Oops. ;> Serves the bastards right.
Brisfurs 2. Villagers 1.
It sounded like the wolves were winning so we figured we should step in and help.
I got a couple of shots off with my crossbow. One of the wolves I hit let out a high pitched yelp as he was shot. He certainly won't be fathering any pups.
Dilph ran off to barricade the front gate while Bingo and Wuffy took a parapet each. Stephen and Jaffa had a vantagepoint on the inn rooftop. Rufus didn't have much luck with his spell as he was flying over the swarms of oversized wolves muttering incantations. His spell didn't do anything at all! What a waste of time that was.
I tried to take a shot or two at a cloaked rider that was herding the wolves but I missed. He blew his horn just before dawn and called off the attack.
After the fight I had a dream that I was back home and trying to organise movies or a Hog run or something like that. Then I realised that all my friends were gone, and I spent the rest of the dream trying to explain that I was going to be away and ... having a lot of difficulty explaining where everyone else had gone. I didn't want to admit that I was a raven ... and fortunately I was in human form in this dream. I ended up saying that we were on a road trip and I'd come back for stuff we'd forgotten. Batteries, matches, caffeine, Pratchett ... that sort of thing. Those would be really useful right now.