DP Gregoire Fiction - An Adventure Lost - Chapter 5: The Perilous Journey
Sunday November 8th 2020
Though it was hard to sleep, Denderin knew he had to move on. If it was to be that troll would indeed leave forever, he could sleep comfortably knowing that troll served him and his family well throughout the years, and has paid its debt many times over. It were these thoughts that put Denderin's mind at ease and finally allowed him to sleep until the rise of the morning sun.
Morning came fast, the sun raising high over the mountains. The warmth of the sun glazed over the lands.
The tent Denderin was in felt like a hot box. He had woken up parched, and smelly. He was hungry, and had to go to the bathroom.
Groggy eyed he slowly undid the ropes that held the tent flaps closed. He came out into the world, but first he needed to take care of business before he could proceed on his journey.
The coals from last night's fire were still warm enough to cook morning's breakfast. And while it cooked, he decided to take a dip into the swampy pond.
Stepping close to its waters Denderin could feel the squish of mud between his toes. The smell of sulfur or rotten eggs or some stench found its way into his nostrils. He brought his soap with him, hoping it would combat any smell brought on by the swampy waters.
After washing he enjoyed breakfast, an omelet of generous proportions. He figured since troll was absent he could eat twice the portions he was planning on normally eating. And while eating he boiled water, to refill the waterskins with so that he may have a fresh batch.
With bags packed, Denderin headed off to continue his journey. However, he felt a bit more uncomfortable than usual. No, it wasn't the fact he's been journeying for several days, or the fact he is now carrying twice the load. It is something else that he can't quite put his finger on.
“It looks like whoever was here left already...” Clambaugh exclaimed as he came up from inspecting the ashes.
“Bah! I knew we shudda left earlier,” Maegrin scoffs.
Troll is on all fours sniffing around much like a bloodhound looking for somebody would. Its nose is strong enough to pick up a scent, even if it is a few hours old. Troll will lead them to the source of the previous camp. They just needed to keep on the trail.
“Thissssss way. They went thisssss way!” troll motions for the duo to follow.
“I told you, Clambaugh. This fairy would be useful, you just have to treat it well,” Maegrin gloated.
“Yeah, it will serve its purpose,” Clambaugh's tone lowers, “for now...”
Troll's ears were too keen however, it heard that tone in Clambaugh's voice. It had heard what he had said, and it knew it was disposable, at least to that one.
It wasn't particularly hot this day, but Denderin was sweating more than usual. The back of his shirt was completely soaked, and he even felt a little light headed.
Denderin took a moment to drink some of his water. Yet, no matter how much he drank, he still felt thirsty.
He wiped his hand across the back of his shirt to gauge just how wet it was. 'Blood?!?' he thought to himself. 'Why would there be blood on my back? What made me bleed?'
Dropping all of his gear, Denderin takes off his shirt. Upon inspection he realizes that the back of his shirt is completely covered in blood! Who's blood? His blood!
He immediately started to feel around his back to find the source of this blood. As his hands searched his back he felt several weird slimy lumps. 'What are they?!?' he thought to himself, 'Why wont they come off?!?' as he tries to pull them free.
SPLUTCH! SPLUTCH! SPLUTCH!
“YEEEEEAAAAAAAGH!” Denderin lets out a scream as he holds a slimy, black, throbbing creature in his hand, wriggling back-and-forth, blood oozing from its gaping maw.
He put his hand on his back where the thing once was. Pulling it back he seen it covered in blood. He grew pale with fear, or perhaps grew pale from blood loss, either way, he grew pale.
“AGH! AGH! AAAAAAGH!” Denderin ran around crazy, screaming as he ran. He desperately clawed at his back, trying to free the bloodsucking leeches from his body. But, there were too many! They held on too tight! They would not come off!
Denderin dove to the ground, rolling around frantically in the dirt, much like a dog would on grass in excitement. Unfortunately it was of no use, the little vampires remained on his back.
Quickly he sprung up running to the nearest tree. He vivaciously rubbed his back against the bark of the tree. The little bloodsuckers getting ripped up on the bark, and yet ripping from Denderin's skin at the same time.
His back was an amalgamation of feelings. It was wet, cold, numb, and even on fire all at once. His back had flesh torn from it, in strips from the force of the leeches being ripped from their meal. This caused the blood to stream down his back running to his pants and legs.
Denderin laid in the fetal position in relief, mainly to catch his breath because he was so drained of energy. This looked like a good spot to lay and nap for a while.
Troll was still on the trail, the scent still lingered. In fact, it was getting stronger, more recent... If troll didn't know better, it would think its goal was near.
Yes, troll was getting closer, indeed. It ran forward in excitement, it knew it was going to be upon its prey shortly! 'Then troll and the duo could acquire some shin.... A bloody shirt?!? A shirt?!? It's a bloody shirt!' troll was mad, and could only wonder why somebody would leave a bloody shirt behind.
The scent was still strong! Perhaps the target was close by! Troll sniffed about trying to narrow down the location.
“What es it, fairy?” Clambaugh asks.
Troll holds up the bloody shirt all the while sniffing, 'Hopefully the bloody shirt isn't an indication of an attack, leaving our mark with nothing of value.'
“Was that?” Clambaugh grabs at it curiously.
“It appears to be a bloody shirt,” Maegrin responds to Clambaugh's question.
“I can see that, Maegrin,” Clambaugh annoyed with the immediate response.
“Then why'd ya ask?” Maegrin reasons, equally annoyed.
“It was a rhit... rhot... rhe... it was a question that needint answering!” Clambaugh tongue tied by the word rhetorical either due to being flustered, or just being an idiot, or both...
“Who asks questions that needint be answered?” Maegrin scoffs in confusion.
“Don't ye worry about it, Maegrin!” Clambaugh yells at him.
“Well, Imma worry! Questions shant be asked unless they're looking for answers,” Maegrin says, spitting off to the side of the road while clearing some grass out of the way.
“Aye, most. And some don't need answerin', Maegrin. Some are just there because ya know ye know the answer, yet yer askin' yerself,” Clambaugh explains the “complexity” of it to Maegrin.
“Well, if ya know ye know the answer, then why ask it in the first place?” a puzzled Maegrin asks.
With all hope lost Clambaugh has seemed to of given up, “Nevermind, Maegrin. It's not worth... What is this?!?” Clambaugh bends down to investigate the scene near a blood covered tree, “Hmmmm... leeches! Leeches scraped all over the tree...” Clambaugh crouched to ponder for a bit.
Maegrin curious walks over, “What'd ya find? Ah, looks like a bloody tree covered in... are those leeches?”
Clambaugh nods, “Aye, they are.”
Maegrin looks at the bloody shirt in Clambaugh's hand and then back up at the bloody tree. He repeats this process several times before uttering a word, “Ah-ha! What it looks like we have here is a leech problem! The victim ripped their shirt off and came to this tree to scratch the leeches off of their back!”
Confounded by Maegrin's answer, Clambaugh just sits there in silence for a bit.
Troll walks up curiously, “Ssssso, you found the anssssswer? Leechesssss? Sssseemssss probable.”
Maegrin smiles at Clambaugh, “See, the fairy agrees with me. Faeries are smart.”
Clambaugh rolls his eyes, “Aye, alright, the fairy is smart, the fairy is useful, the fairy will lead us to riches...” Clambaugh quickly covers his mouth with both his hands, realizing his mistake.
Troll pretends not to take notice, acting like it's still investigating the scene. Troll was onto them, they wanted more than a companionship, they wanted riches. Troll knew it was too-good-to-be-true. But that is okay, because troll was using them as well. You see, where there are people, there is food. And as long as troll holds the power over them of being a “fairy”, they will respect troll, and help troll out. And on the day, if they ever expire, whether it be through the cruel, natural world, or their own demise, troll will descend upon them with a mouthwatering maw, ready to gobble them up.
“Sto-omp the-eir bo-ones!
Ma-ake the-em blee-eed!
Virtuous are we!
Thee mighty three!
Is what they see!
When they see thee mighty three!
The misfit band of gruff looking halflings rides atop fierce looking badgers. And just like the band members, the badgers are decked out in “fanciful” outfitting as well.
Each badger is black, with the white stripes on its face, except the lead singer's badger. For some reason that one is purely white. He probably thinks he's a special snowflake seeing as he's the lead singer, so he probably felt it necessary to have an all white badger.
Anyway, enough of how special he is. Each of the badgers has a black, leather saddle seated upon their back, with two chain reigns that connected to a studded metal bear in each of the beasts' mouths.
Each of the badgers have red eyes. Now we're not sure if this is natural or if it were apart of some modification. But, none-the-less, each of the badgers eyes would glow a fierce red color.
Each of the badgers hair was styled a different way. You see, the drummer's badger had a mane, as the fur around its neck was styled in a way to give the beast an opposing looking hairstyle. The lute player's badger had its entire fur braided, into thousands of tiny braids all around it. Each braid appeared to end in a barbed tip, giving it a real fierce look. The horn blower's badger by contrast was shaven around the body, revealing its pink skin. The only place for remaining fur was around its head, legs, and tail. Oddly enough the lead singer left his badger's fur alone. One could assume it's due to the unique nature of its fur color and lack of fur design like other normal badger fur.
Each of the badgers had a name. The one with the mane was named Mengeron, owned by the drummer of the band, Excillius. The badger with the barbed, braided fur was named Brissalis, and was owned by the lute player of the band, Armond. The shaven badger ironically was named Fluffy, because its owner loves irony all-so-much. And Fluffy was owned by the horn blower, the one in the crazy leather outfit, her name is Shaé. Then there is the lead singer, who legally changed his name to Auxwhither, who owns the white badger which he calls Eistrum. And that is the legend of the badgers, and their names.
“Uuuunnnngh... aaaagh... how long have I been laying here?” Denderin asks aloud.
He looks around confused, a pool of blood dried on the dirt beneath him. He gets up, dusting himself off. He feels a stinging sensations with every wipe of his hands.
He was sun burned, and bad. Each touch was filled with a lot of pain, even the air stung his skin. He felt drained of energy, and extremely thirsty. So he drank from his waterskin, hoping to quench his thirst.
He was too tired to pick up both bags and walk. He only had energy to drag both bags behind him, 'Surely a wizard's caravan would come by to save him? Or perhaps a wagon of traveling belly dancers would see him, and offer him a ride. Maybe they would massage him with exotic oils to soothe his burns?'
Denderin was growing delusional. This could possibly be due to heat stroke, blood loss, dehydration, or a combination of all three. In fact, his condition was looking rather grim. If he were to continue like this, he would not make it much further. Oh how important troll was to his survival.
“How much further do we hafta go?” Maegrin asked Clambaugh who was leading the trail.
Clambaugh snarls at the question, “I told ya before, as long as it takes us! I'm sick of yer belly achin' asking every-so-often. How about ye quit yer whinin' and do somethin' a bit more useful for the three of us!”
Troll was surprised. Not by their arguing, no, that didn't surprise troll. But instead, surprised by the fact that Clambaugh recognized troll as a part of this traveling trio. Perhaps troll's value to the party was increasing.
“But I'm so thirsty,” complained Maegrin.
“Aren't we all?” Clambaugh retorted.
Troll nodded its head. It was regretting its decision to leave Denderin, only under the condition that food and water seemed to be scarce with these two. At least Denderin came properly prepared.
“Aye, I'm so thirsty,” Maegrin wipes the sweat from his forehead, just to lick it off his wrist.
Clambaugh rolls his eyes, “Alright, yer so fucking thirsty, how about ye start diggin'?” Clambaugh hands Maegrin a shovel.
The expression on Maegrin's face is that of anger and confusion, “And what the fuck am I supposed to do with this?”
“Dig a fucking hole, what do you think?” Clambaugh holds the shovel out for Maegrin to take.
“Yeah, but for what?” Maegrin looks suspicious.
“For you to piss in! For some fucking water, you dimwitted dip shit!” Clambaugh seemed to be at whit's end.
“So yer sayin' to find water all we hafta do is dig a hole?” Maegrin seems a bit more comfortable, but still has an aura of confusion about him.
“That's what I said, innit?” Clambaugh really had enough, spiking the shovel into the ground.
“So wait, if we just had to dig for water, why didn't we do that before?” Maegrin's question was the checkmate to Clambaugh's hypothesis.
Clambaugh gave Maegrin a deadly stare, “Ya see these plants around? Ya see those trees? They all grow where water is present, do they not?”
Maegrin nods his head. It seemed reasonable enough, so, why not agree?
“Alright, good! That must mean water is stored somewhere deep in these grounds. I want ya to dig a fucking hole until ya find some fucking water! Do ya understand?!?” the veins were bulging from Clambaugh's neck, his face red with blood.
Maegrin took the shovel without a second thought and started digging. He realized the immense anger in Clambaugh's eyes, and through the tone of his voice.
Clambaugh turned his attention to troll, who was acting like it had no idea what was going on, “And you! Do a fucking fairy rain dance or whatever it is ya fairy kind do. Or else Imma chop ya into fairy bits and sprinkle ya on these grounds myself!”
Troll was terrified, and could feel the blood pumping through its veins. Adrenaline filled its body, giving it a renewed vigor. And without a second thought, troll started to do some random dance, while muttering random words in its own language. And if that didn't work to appease the now murderous Clambaugh, troll would just run, for troll was surely faster.
Maegrin dug that hole. Sweat beaded over him, his body warmed over with the heat rays of the sun. Yet, despite all of that, Maegrin dug that hole.
Troll danced, wildly, unadulterated. Troll felt a primal essence fill its being. It felt one with nature. For a moment, troll understood the cosmos, both the natural and unnatural laws of the universe. It wasn't that the rain needed to come, it was that the rain needed to want to come.
Clambaugh sat upon a rock, cleaning his nails, brushing them with a brush. He went through Maegrin's cleaning kit, using everything inside to groom himself while the other two worked tirelessly.
Clambaugh found some interesting things in Maegrin's personal belongings. A book? He thumbed through it, it appeared to be a book on prayer. Another book? He poured through that one's pages as well. This book appeared to be a journal of sorts. Clambaugh tried to read it, but had a hard time deciphering Maegrin's scratches. It didn't help that Clambaugh was partially illiterate.
A bar of soap? A blanket. Flint & steel. A small knife. A quill. A vial of ink. A small cloth with something inside? Clambaugh opened up the cloth.
'NUTS AND BERRIES?!?' Clambaugh thought to himself, his pulse quickening.
He found another thing tucked at the bottom of the bag. A waterskin?
Clambaugh unscrewed the top. He smelled it. It had no scent. He tasted it. It was water. He took a few sips before standing up in anger, “Fucking water?!?”
Maegrin didn't hear, he kept digging. Even with troll's good hearing troll didn't hear Clambaugh's voice either.
“FUCKING WATER?!?” Clambaugh screams at the top of his lungs.
Maegrin stops abruptly to see the commotion. With a terrified look on his face, he look Clambaugh's way.
Clambaugh walks closer to Maegrin, shaking the waterskin back-and-forth, while seething with anger, “A fucking waterskin?!? Are ye fucking kiddin' me?”
Maegrin held his hands up in defense of himself. Truth be told, he forgot about that waterskin. If he knew about it, he would have had to earlier.
Troll took notice to the commotion, and stopped its “rain dance” to witness the display before it.
“Ye had a waterskin the whole fucking time and have been belly achin' about wantin' water when ye knew we were all thirsty? It's bad enough ye had a whole napkin of nuts and berries wrapped up and tucked away,” Clambaugh starts to violently beat Maegrin over the head with the waterskin.
Maegrin backs up to evade the blows. His eye glances over the pack that was strewn about on the ground. He quickly picks up his shovel while backing up, “Stay back! Don't come any closer, ye son-of-a-bitch!” Maegrin swings the shovel wildly.
“Or what, yer gunna hit me with that there shovel?” Clambaugh taunts while pouring some of the water out of the waterskin.
“What the hell are ye doin'?!?” Maegrin moves forward, swinging the shovel wildly as Clambaugh moves back to evade the attack.
Sipping the water, gargling it, and spitting some into the air, Clambaugh taunts Maegrin further while dancing around Maegrin's attacks, “If we can't have it, no one can!”
This flustered Maegrin further. He threw the shovel aside, closing in on Clambaugh. Clambaugh was faster though, as he pulled a knife from a sheath upon his belt.
“Go on, come at me, Maegrin!” Clambaugh has a wry smile drawn on his face.
Maegrin didn't care this time. Clambaugh has pulled a knife on him many times before. And it has always ended the same way, neither man ended up seriously hurt, but instead yielding to some sort of agreement.
Maegrin came in at Clambaugh, his arms stretched outward. Clambaugh stabbed inward at Maegrin's gut, except Maegrin parried the strike, getting in close enough to bear hug his partner/nemesis.
The knife enters into the side of Maegrin's gut, yet this didn't stop his forward momentum. He rushed forward, scooping Clambaugh high into the air, readying for a big slam.
Clambaugh stabs the knife in a couple more times, though, in his anger Maegrin seems not to notice.
Maegrin slams Clambaugh down hard, knocking the wind out of him. This causes both the waterskin and knife to fall loose from Clambaugh's grip. Maegrin mounts Clambaugh, one arm resting on his throat, the other swinging down wildly at Clambaugh's face.
SLAM! SMASH! SLAP! SLAM!
Maegrin lands many good blows into Clambaugh's face, Clambaugh struggling to parry the blows, even the ones he caught were just to strong to parry. He had to do something out of desperation, he fumbled for the knife.
BASH! SLAP! SLAM! SPLASH!
Clambaugh's vision was getting hazy. His one eye swollen, blood covering his face. In fact, he saw a few teeth flying from his face, one of them a golden tooth! He lay back struggling, choking on his own blood.
SPLUTCH! SPLUTCH! SPLUTCH!
Clambaugh managed to grip the knife, plunging it into Maegrin's side over-and-over again, until eventually Maegrin fell off Clambaugh.
Troll didn't even have to wait for them to succumb to their own hunger and thirst, it appears as if they were going to do each other in. Then troll could feast on whatever food they had remaining between the two of them, and whatever water was left from that waterskin. And after that was gone, which troll assumed wouldn't take long, troll could feast on their flesh and bones! They would provide troll with many, many meals.
Clambaugh managed to turn the tables on Maegrin, getting the upper hand. Now mounting his former companion, now foe, Clambaugh holds the knife up high. Dark strands of hair matted his bloodstained dirt covered face.
With heavy breathing Clambaugh raised the dagger for the kill, “You son-of-a-bitch! It's now time for ya to die!”
Through labored gasps and blood pooling out from his wounds, Maegrin had enough energy to parry the knife coming down. He swung the arm around into an arching motion.
Unfortunately for Maegrin this caused the knife to go straight into his hip. The blow harder than any of the blows Clambaugh had delivered before.
Clambaugh's arm was locked by Maegrin's, who was holding the blade arm stuck to his hip. With the other arm he grabbed Clambaugh by the throat. Clambaugh tried to fight the grip, yet Maegrin possessed an unnatural strength.
After a few short moments, Maegrin stood up while holding Clambaugh with one arm by the neck. Clambaugh's feet dangled from the ground, he felt helpless.
Maegrin's angry, pale face stared into Clambaugh's terrified, pale face. And though their faces were pale for different reasons, Clambaugh felt Maegrin had enough strength to kill ten more men after him just before Maegrin himself would die to his wounds.
Maegrin opened his mouth to speak, “If I die this day, ye are gunna die right before me, Clambaugh. I swear to ya, by my own two hands, I will rip yer head from yer body, and then I can die happy knowin' I out lived ya.”
And in one quick movement Maegrin slammed Clambaugh hard to the ground. In the same movement he removed the knife from his hip, swinging it around stabbing it through Clambaugh's hand, pinning it to the dirt.
“YEEEEEAAAAAAGH!” Clambaugh lets out a terrifying scream of pain.
Maegrin spits at Clambaugh, his gasps for air heavier than before, “That's right, Clambaugh. If ya wish to be free, ya must free yerself.”
Just then Maegrin seemingly fainted, falling right onto Clambaugh. This caused some blood to rush out of Clambaugh's nose and mouth. That was it, he was going to die here, under the weight of his dead, former companion. Die choking on his own blood. He sure wished the fairy would help him, but for some reason he didn't think that was going to happen.
The sky was darkening. Clambaugh knew his hour was at hand. He would soon meet whatever fate would greet him at the afterlife. Truth be told, he didn't believe in an afterlife. He thought that nonsense was for babbling idiots who didn't know better. Though he knew Maegrin believed in an afterlife, and despite their final differences, he had hoped that Maegrin at least makes it to his afterlife.
A bright light flashed before Clambaugh's eyes, followed by a loud sound. He knew this must have been it. He closed his eyes, knowing that life was to soon be fading. Everything was calm, everything was peaceful. This is what it must feel like to die.
Clambaugh's dying was interrupted however. A cool, prickly sheet of rain washed over him. He opened his eyes, sputtering blood out of his mouth. Maegrin even sprung up surprisingly out of nowhere.
Clambaugh was surprised as the almost seemingly supernatural resiliency Maegrin had. I mean the man had suffered half a dozen or more stab wounds, yet still mustered enough energy to leap up like that.
Clambaugh stood up, both men dusting themselves off. They washed away their dirt in the rain, dancing in its presence.
Troll seemed mystified by the whole experience. One minute it's hot out, not a cloud in the sky. The next minute the two men are fighting over water, while troll does some fairy rain dance. The next moment both men seem to be dead or dying, and now, out of the great blue sky, clouds come from overhead leaving a blanket of rain. Perhaps troll's rain dance did have mystical powers?
The storm clouds closed in overhead. Denderin saw a storm coming in. This shouldn't of pleased him, yet it did.
He was too exhausted to walk, and hurt to move on. It would be ideal for him to setup camp now and wait the storm out, possibly even the night. He could start fresh in the morning.
Quickly, Denderin found a place for camp. Just off the road a bit, on top of a small hill. He figured if it was going to rain, better he on a hill with water flowing down than be on the bottom of a hill with water flowing in.
As the storm poured in he emptied the nasty, smelly water of the swamps from his waterskins. Instead he filled it with the fresh water of the rains.
He lay in his tent, as the cool rain battered on the tent. He relaxed with a book by the light of his lantern.
Recovery would not be immediate, he knew this. It would take days at least. But, that is okay, he would take his journey at a slower pace, which didn't bother him. Life was peaceful, and that is all that mattered.
When he mustered enough strength he and a bar of soap went out into the showers of the storm. There he cleaned himself up good, washing dirt and blood from his body.
Luckily for him he had several changes of clothing. He took his dirty, bloodstained pants and tossed them from the tent. He will no longer be needing those, much like that shirt he left behind. He learned one thing, and that is to not swim or wash up in a swamp, because swamps harbor leeches.
Though he felt dumb for not knowing it then, he knows it now. Though perhaps he did know it then. Perhaps it slipped his mind due to the exhaustion from the heat mixed with dehydration, and if he were in the right state of mind he wouldn't of washed in that pond. No matter, he was safe and recovering.