Part XII: An Old Friend

The elven encampment stood proudly across the raging river from the orcish hordes. Keen-eyed archers kept vigilant watch on their ancestral foes looking for any signs of attack. For their part, the orcs were just as vigilant if perhaps a bit more vocal. Great shouts and cries would rise from the enemy ranks as they worked themselves into a lather about the inevitable battle that would be soon upon them.

Into this stand-off came Zyf, devoted cleric of Myn, and his group, Zyf’s Talons. Together they had defeated the Morrigan‘s avatar, rescued Quintain’s confused father, banished Balar, and freed the elvish tree from its corruption. An elven honor guard escorted the brave adventurers to their leader’s tent.

“My liege,” began the major-domo, “may I present our elven cousin, Quintain; the monk, Chun Yao; the fabulist, Flann; the Triufir, Dannis; the lady, Emma Carlyon; and a humble dwarf whose reputation and prowess exceed all further embellishment, in fact, words cannot do justice to…” (fifteen minutes later) “…the cleric, Zyf, devoted to the goddess Myn, from whom all glory and honor shine.”

The people of the tent looked on in amazement. Never had such poetry been spoken before, tears flowed like mountain streams down the faces of those in attendance for here, here in this very tent, their wildest dreams had been realized; Zyf was among them. All fears about the upcoming battle were quelled. No harm would come to them this day.

The elven leader broke the silence, “Welcome Zyf, devoted cleric, cunning warrior, masterful negotiator, generous lover…” (fifteen minutes later) “…and you others. How may we serve?”

“Our quest lies beyond the river,” said Zyf, the humblest of dwarves, “and our need is great. Traveling alone, I could complete this task and be back for afternoon tea, but alas, these others must also go. If we could but take modest refreshment here for a few short hours before our journey, we would be grateful.”
“All you ask for and more will be yours. Prepare baths, bring food, open the treasury!”

That evening, refreshed, the party gathered together on the beach where a great silver dragon awaited them. The horses were ensorceled to sleep and laid gently in the wagon, and the Talons joined them holding firmly to the wooden sides. With huge claws, the dragon gripped the wagon and leapt into the air flying directly over the orcish encampment. Screams of fear filled the air as the orcs gazed upwards and saw their worst nightmares come to fruition: Zyf was looking down on them. Many hundreds died from fright right on the spot. Hundreds of others wet themselves in public disgrace. The orcish war-leaders immediately called for a full retreat and/or surrender saying, “An Elven brigade is one thing. A huge silver dragon is something else. But, Zyf the mighty? Zyf the fearless? Zyf the destroyer? Zyf the generous lover?…” (fifteen minutes later) “…it’s, it’s just not fair!” And they fell on their swords rather than face the legendary dwarf in combat.

“Take us NORTH!” yelled the mighty cleric over the rushing wind. “NORTH! You great leathery beastie! Ha-ha-ha!”

Moments later, the silver drake gently touched down many miles north of the elvish encampment. “Is this sufficient, good dwarf?” asked the argent behemoth. “Aye, my reptilian friend, ye have done well, very well indeed,” replied Zyf in perfect dragon-speak as he bowed to his unusual mount.

As the party coaxed the animals from the wagon, they discovered amongst their belongings a stowaway!
“What have we here?” asked Quintain admiring the curves of the amply-endowed lass.
“Put your eyes back in your head, elf,” said the lass crossing her arms.
“Ai tink itsa gurlie wit a cupla joosy casabas in ’er jerkin!” observed Dannis.
“I think I’ve been objectified,” said the jiggly gal.
“Crikey!” said Flann. “I’ll be in them bushes for a few minutes flogging the cyclops.”
“Oh, that’s just disgusting!” said the youthful stranger.
“Why did I take that vow of celibacy?” whined Chun Yao.
“Your loss, baldy,” said the sexy strumpet.
“Hey! I’m the only woman allowed here! Let me give her some mouth-to-mouth and a vigorous chest massage,” said Emma advancing on the buxom beauty.
“Um…I’m not unconscious,” said the stranger.
“Not YET!” replied Emma stealthily removing her sap from her belt pouch. “It’ll be easier this way.”
“Hold!” commanded Zyf. “Let’s not get too carried away with our stereotypical behavior. There must be some reason you’ve decided to stow away in our wagon, stranger, but let’s start with your name.”
“I am Keiara,” said Keiara, “and you must be Zyf. Only one as wise, humble, handsome, generous…” (fifteen minutes later) “…” (fifteen more minutes) “…and that’s why I’m here.”
“Right, let’s go people,” said Zyf.

Deep into the northern reaches, the party traveled. There was some discussion about making a detour to attempt to destroy the Eye of Balar, but Zyf, in his infinite wisdom, declared that the primary objective had to be the ‘undoing of the undoing’ of the seasons. Closer and closer the companions moved toward their goal. Desolation and the harsh winter made the route very treacherous for everyone physically and mentally, but the baritone voice of Zyf, part-time bard and excellent song writer, kept the party going in the face of adversity. Early one morning, the party saw a lone man in the distance beckoning to the group. “It’s Malc!” cried Zyf, “my personal shopper. What’s he doing way up here?” And the adventurers hurried to hear Malc’s tale.

“Hail Zyf! Hail Talons!” cried Malc. “Welcome to ’Malc’s Outlet Mall, Northern Branch’! What brings you up here, my good friends?”
“Malc, you are a sight for sore eyes,” said Zyf. “We travel north to complete a quest.”
“I ask you to turn aside,” said Malc.
“What ho, Malc?” said Zyf. “We’ve traveled many a league with a burden great. This quest must be completed so the land can replenish itself.”
“I ask you again, turn aside,” said Malc.
“Nay, good friend. And though your counsel is much appreciated, you are mistaken here. This quest must be fulfilled,” said Zyf.
“One last time, dear friend,” said Malc, “turn you aside. I can offer you riches undreamed of if you acquiesce to this small request.”
“Malk, this is unlike you. You know my course, ask me no more to rescind my word,” said Zyf.
“Thrice asked and thrice denied! Courtesy met with courtesy received. The ritual is complete. Farewell-ell-ell-ell,” said Malc as his form faded from view.

The party was struck dumb by this. Here was their boon friend Malc of the Southern Kingdoms requesting that they turn from their noble quest. Malc who had seen his family slain on the docks by the Culling. Malc who had been rescued by the mighty Zyf and his compatriots. Malc who had traveled to the Wyld lands to start a new life. Malc being used as an apparition to sway the party! This was an outrage! Who would dare? Who indeed?

The Termilatude, that’s who.

Just then, three of the chitinous spider beings appeared in the snow. Their mandibles clacking in what appeared to be laughter. The largest of the three pointed at Quintain and uttered a quick spell.

“Disjunction!” yelled Zyf instantly recognizing the arcane magics. “Look to your trinkets, elf!”

Quintain immediately dropped what he was doing and heeded Zyf’s words for Zyf had never been wrong. “It’s my ring,” he screamed. “Ouch ouch ouch!! Dagnabbit, that hurts!”

A low rumbling filled the air and rattled the bones, burrowing from out of the ground rose a winter worm a full ninety feet high! It swallowed one of the mules and destroyed the cart before turning its attention to the party and breathing freezing cold breath on one and all severely irritating the mighty cleric.

Quintain ripped the ring off his finger and threw it at the Termilatude trio who were already fading away, laughing their chitinous mandibles off.

Turning to face the gargantuan worm, Zyf struck at it time and time again to no avail. Its frozen hide protecting it from the mightiest of blows from the powerful cleric while the rest of the party cowered beneath the remains of the cart.

The discarded ring exploded and the spirit trapped within escaped to the outside world…a mighty white dragon! Its evil gaze looking over the battle-field.

Seizing the only option, Zyf teleported to the crown of the newly arrived white dragon and subdued it with his iron will and vise-like thighs. “Slay the worm, wyrm!” ordered Zyf, and the dragon launched itself at the wintry beast. Jaws snapping, claws raking, and teeth piercing, the worm was defeated in short order and Zyf, the sure-footed, standing atop the dragon’s head, ordered it to carry the party the rest of the way north.