"And boy are they going to be disappointed in only finding the man's body," Jarlath mutters as they leave the town on their purchased horses, "So....who did this terrible crime?"
"Well, whoever it was, the poisoning attempt showed just how nasty he or she was," Ti'mma says, her younger part speaking.
Though it's was her young side speaking, the others agree with her.
"Whoever it was actually for, since we know that Belboz probably wasn't behind it," Annafrid says, "Whoever it was, I think we should be careful....just in case for some reason it was us the poisoner was after. Why, I could say, but we saw in that the thought of other people being poisoned as well as his targets didn't worry him."
The others mutter in agreement. This special trip is turning out to be more "exciting" (in the Chinese sense) than anticipated.
And the mastermind the poisoning? How is he taking the news of the results of this latest?
"They live?" Prang asks softly, face blank of expression, "And you say that you saw them eat enough for it to where they should have died? No....I think not."
Symes begins to protest, but a casual gesture by Prang causes him to freeze.
"While I must say that I admire cunning," Prang goes on, in a friendly tone, "Covering your part in the poisoning by playing on the villager's fear and hatred of Belboz AND making sure you had enough of the substance to make you look like a victim yourself....one that only got sick from the poison, I don't appreciate being lied to. If those people had eaten as much as you say they did...... No, I believe you are just covering for your own incompetence.....and you know what the penalty is for this little revolt that lying to me entails!"
Symes' eyes grow wide, pleading!
Oh God, not her! he pleads silently as a picture forms before him....and his beloved (if larcenous) daughter appears.
One has to wonder why, sometimes, people do what they do.
In Symes case, the thing that ensnared him in Prang's web was a desperate need to save his daughter from a curse laid upon her by an irate ghostly mage when she disturbed his tomb. This was especially bad, for (though even the legends of them had been lost in time on this world) the tomb was that of an Atlantian (as they are called on some worlds).
For this Moon Dancer (her street moniker), the transformation was much slower than it's counterpart on several other Terra universes.....but just as powerful....and undesired.
Her father, upon seeing her plight, had desperately sought out the one wizard that dark rumor had said could possibly help.
Deals were made, contracts signed in blood, and Prang (after much effort and using arcane.....VERY old scrolls he'd discovered long ago during a "dungeon crawl" adventure long ago) was able to halt the transformation and reverse it even.....but not remove it.
Moon Dancer, while grateful, went back to her larcenous ways and continued on and even rose to the head of her local Thieve's Guild.
Her apprentices are very shocked and frightened indeed when a sigil on her forearm flares and Moon Dancer is engolfed in a golden flame. The flame winks out, and a frightened, chittering white furred minx stands in her place.
The look of intelligence fades, extinguished as the final part of the curse snuffs it out (and basically killing the mind within). The minx then scampers out of the room, frightened....and then looks for a meal. It's hungry.
Prang hadn't gotten let trivial things like "decency" and "mercy" get in the way of what he wanted. Not even a little bit. He was very apt at acting like he had such, but he had dispensed with those "liabilities" long ago.....
Symes, tears streaming from his frozen face, then keels over, dead, as Prang invokes a clause in the contract he'd signed.
The body doesn't even leave ash as it disincorporates.
Prang then turned his attention to the other "tools" he had watching.
"Tonights lesson is what happens when you try to defy or rebel against me," he smiles coldly, "Heed me. You will end up like that fool if you try in any way, shape, or form."
Prang then smiles as he breaks contact, enjoying the shaken looks on their faces.
"I guess I'll have to deal with them myself," he sighs, making plans for the eventual arrival in case his little "pets" fail as well, "Seems that one can never get good help, nowaday!"
Prang then seemed to slip into his old, feebleminded facade as he exits his private room. Bingo on in five minutes and he felt lucky!
Later, during the night the adventurers have made camp, Ti'mma and the others are enjoying a meal of venison (Astra had done some fine hunting awhile ago). That's when they catch the reek of corruption in the air and a sinuous monster bursts forth!
A wave of fear hits the brave adventurers and they reel in disorientation as images and feelings course through them, not their own.....
"Okay, who let Madcoil out?" Ti'mma (remembering the comic book) quipped as she rose to face this foe....
The battle is fierce, but brief.
Prange's magical mutate monster (styled after the snake/sabertooth tiger thing from Elfquest of all things....Prang had liked the idea and created a monster in that image) lay at their feet....smoking from spell bolt and bleeding from sword cut.
Prang has no idea how ironic he'd been when he'd fetched this thing on Ti'mma's group.....
Days later, nearing a town that is a days travel away from the retirement castle, Annafrid and the others have a rather strange encounter.
They'd been driving their steads and selves VERY, very hard the last few days, in order to complete this desperate quest as quickly as possible (since the elfin children back home needed this herb desperately). That, and for some reason they kept having these strange encounters with monsters, so something wasn't right. So, the few days on the road the fewer monsters would be met! Jarlath and the other mages had caste light spells in order to make the journey for the horses easier (i.e. no tripping in the dark). Therefore, they were way ahead of the schedule that Prang had accounted for them (since he didn't know how seriously the adventurers wanted these herbs). Thus, he thought nothing about the fact that today was Supply Day.....
Karin and Coren, having been drafted by Mistress Cratchet to come along to buy supplies and other sundry things in their monthly shopping for supplies, notice a familiar figure.....that they'd been missing for quiet a while.
Their favorite butt of jokes had apparently run away after meeting Prang. Therefore, the two maids known as Karin and Coren, two insufferable braggarts, leeches, and lazy good-for- nothings, were bored (and sore because of not being able to dump their share of their work upon "Helena.")
"Hey Helena, you better get that floor scrubbed before the Big Potato gets here." Karin calls out, repeating the same lines from days ago.
"Helena's got the palsy," Karin singsonged. "Helena's got the palsy, the palsy, the palsy!"
Annafrid looks down (from horseback) at the two dimwits, then over at the others with a questioning look.
This morning they'd been talking about how much they looked forward to a nice bed in an inn and talking about "....how much travel between distances had sped up...." on Terra Prime compared to here. That aside, Annafrid was just glad to be getting to town. Life on the road was fun, but a bed was more welcome than a sleeping roll right now!
10/18/2000 5:17:30 AM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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