Earlier that day we took him out to the island which wasn’t probably the best idea. He didn’t believe us about the ruined castle full of skeletons. “Not just skeletons. They jump up and try and get you. They’re living skeletons.” None of us particularly good with words or talking or knowing anything about ghosts. Well, the castle – we heard it was full of ghosts. Back on the first day. Well… Maybe I should go back to the beginning.
Kisa, who I call Swampy, cause of how she is. Me, who everyone calls Baker, cause I can cook & grew up as a baker & Crazy, who’s name is supposedly Bismuth. Parents should’ve called her Batshit though. Nuts. The three of us are Grakky Legion – mercenaries from the companies down south. This mayor Reynolf or Randolf – (Can’t pronounce these northern names) sends word & money that he needs fighters to protect this dam he’s building. So they weigh his coin & command sends him us 3. We head up north to the town.
Maybe a week ago we show up – so Day 1 –
Meet the mayor & the locals. Town doesn’t have much – they crow on about how rich the land is but the inn doesn’t have coffee & the room’s just got one big bed for every traveler. They never even heard of coffee. The story we get is that there are bandits out in the marsh who want to mess up the dam. Doesn’t make any sense but sense isn’t really part of this, when I think about it – the mayor had to be pretty dumb to hire us in the first place. Now that I think about it. Anyhow- bandits out in the marshes – that’s what we hear so we go investigate.
On the first day we run into some kind of giant with two ugly heads. This thing seemed pretty crazy – but we came to find that the swamp was all but full of these kinds of freaks. It sure pissed of crazy who went berserk on it with her axe - me and Kisa helped & it got shot down with I think 4 arrows in its necks. Crazy Bismuth decided on keeping the teeth. Said she knew a guy who’d buy them.
Then, there’s bandits, we find ‘em, Kisa counts coup – pinkiess this time – she gets weirder every time we go back to the bush. Pinkies say we got something like 12 of them. I thought there were more but these swampbillies are dumb as rocks. I got one of them sword to the throat “Where are your friends! Where are they!” I’m yelling at him, bloode everywhere there’s just two left and he’s in this stinking tent in a buggy marsh crying and dumbshit can’t even come up with a lie to save his life. I think Crazy’s battle-chant had gotten to me cause I killed him & then his buddy – they couldn’t even make up a story to try and trick us. I don’t have any regrets.
Then when we’re camping out, getting ready to head back and get paid we run across or anyhow this little girl comes running up on us in the night. Bandits again, they got her whole family, she’s been trapped for weeks – just finally escaped. We try and keep her out of it, but she wants to follow – we find more of them & they go down like the others. After this we figure there’s more up in the marsh & Swampy thinks she can find the rest of them. We meet with this boatman who dropped us off in the first place at the appointed time. We figure we’ll send the little girl down the river with him and have him send our report to the mayor.
Well the kid doesn’t want to go with him & Crazy gets all attached, real fast, real crazy. She wants to hug her and pet her and… Kid hates the boatman for no reason - he’s just some guy with a boat – she bolts. This makes Crazy crazy and we try following – but even Swampy is stumped. We keep hearing her cackling from out in the trees – and these trees – they’re all moss-hung right? And still pools of water, and frog noises & crickets & on and on – it’s not a nice place – no matter what Swampy wants you to think. I say – this is all gonetohell and we all rally & decide to just go back to town with the boatman. Meantime – down the river we keep seeing the girl show up from behind trees & jumping up out from behind rocks. Suddenly it’s real supernatural. Crazy doesn’t care & still wants to get the girl – so we get the boatman to put in so we can go talk at her. Me? I got it figured out – she’s a witch. I say so.
The swamp had a lot of those twig-dolls – you know, like you hang up from trees? Swampy says they didn’t do that where she grew up. Anyhow there’s a lot of those & the witch-girl changes so she’s like a big elf lady & turns all the twig-dolls to life. This, I hate.
The witch turns out to be made of wood or something – you sock her with an axe or whatnot & it’s like cutting down a tree. We about dulled our axes by the time we brought her down – and no thanks to kisa who got so scared by her wicker-men that she ran off & didn’t even really help. Me and Crazy hacked the witch to bits & then Crazy – being crazy took her head to keep. Meantime the wicker dolls & killed the poor boatman.
So Day 3 –
We’re sleeping in the inn & telling everyone we meet about the witch in the woods. The witch said all kinda nonsense – this is what Kisa tells us cause she understands swamptalk. Supposedly this dam the mayor is building is going to make it so that the island with the ruined old castle won’t be separated from the mainland. This is a big problem, the witch says, because of the evil on the island. Sounds like the kind of thing a witch would say to keep you from hacking her head off to me, but that was my first witch, so I can’t be sure. Witches. Town is all aflutter because this pretty girl got stolen out of her house.
I don’t like mentioning it here but I’ve been having all kinds of weird dreams. Spider-ladies in the attic & so on – Crazy says she’s having dreams like this too – but I don’t say squat about it – bad for morale, bad for our image. Crazy doesn’t care – she’s out in the street selling giant teeth & spouting off about the dreams she has with the river full of eyes. Bad dreams – I don’t like this town.
Anyways, there’s this girl in the town called Pretty – that’s what they named her, pretty girl. She got robbed or run off in the night. Me? I think she kidnapped herself. Run off with some boatman y’know? We go look in her house – the fat old mother is after us “please please my baby!” so we’re looking around – find a false wall in the girl’s bedroom – we break that down – find a trail of blood – it goes down the side of the building. So Kisa tracks her to the river – looks like someone drug her over to that island the witch was on about. Someone loans us a boat and we go.
Over the island it’s all forest – after a minute we run into this thing… Ugh. This thing is big & green & has like fingers growing out its arms & boils all over it. You hack it to bits & the bits keep growing back. We cut this thing to ribbons & it would not quit. We decided to try burning it up & that worked okay, once we’d chopped it apart the head started yelling about hating fire and how that hurt it or whatever – so we made sure to keep up with the fire. Worked.
At the castle we find the girl – she’s up in the one still-standing tower – but there’s a whole mess of skeletons in the courtyard – just laying there – but still, they jump up lively & mean as soon as we get close & then it’s a fight. We’re outnumbered so we head for the tower- it looks like we can hold it. Crazy has a time trying to break down the door & finally just cuts it to bits with her axe. We get in and I do what I can to barricade the hole – this after the skellys all but creamed us. I hold the door while they get the girl – she’s upstairs & waiting for someone to save her. Me and Bismuth lower Kisa & the girl and then Crazy & then me – rappel down – almost got by the skellys. Craziest thing I ever saw. We run back to the river & boat it back across.
Now – Crazy keeps giant teeth & foams at the mouth when she cuts off witch heads. She’s crazy. She notices that Pretty has bites on her neck and says she’s a vampire. Which is, if you didn’t know, a type of guy who lives forever by drinking people’s blood. I’ve been a cook my whole life - there’s all kinds of people who eat blood all the time – they usually have bad BO – but I never knew one to live forever. Supposedly it’s because of eating people’s blood. We put our heads together and none of us know much about any of this. Crazy says they die in the sun – but its midday without clouds so I don’t think the girl is a vampire. We take her home & tuck her in – the mother pays pretty good.
Day 4 –
Again they wake us up to start complaining – stupid town without coffee.
The Gravedigger & town priest are on hand to piss us all right off with jibberjabber and nonsense. I duck out of this bullshit to go to Pretty’s house and look around. There’s a secret place behind the wallpaper where there’s this painted on door - or burned in door-picture that was hidden. It has a keyhole & I’m pretty annoyed & puzzled to see it. Stupid magic door. Turns out Pretty has a key stashed in her jewelry box. I give it a thought, take the key. Pretty & her servant are all “Buh Buh Buh!” About me tearing up their wallpaper but they give me the key when I ask kinda nice. I figure it’s a magic key for some kind of magic door & so I pitch it in the latrine. Thought about the river but that whole bit Crazy kept saying about the river full of eyes made me reconsider.
We figure we’re up against some kind of magic guy which freaks us out. My thought is – maybe we can find something out at the witch’s house. This is all I’ve got to go on besides the town charlatan & this lunatic gravedigger who are after us about nonsense. The two of them probably couldn’t find their own asses between them – but they’re all on and on about curses and the old mayor who used to live in the castle. I believe in Swampy so we figure, let’s go back to the swamp, let her figure out where the witch house is – then we’ll see if she knows something – cause she seemed like she was upset about that island an all before we killed her. So we go to the marsh again – but Swampy is stumped. I get the idea that we spin the witch’s head and go where it points – since its magic and all. Magic stuff… Man I don’t know? I don’t get paid enough for that.
Luckily Crazy keeps the head on hand with her other collection of trophies so we spin the head on a flat stone to see where it points – figuring that’s the way to find the house. First spin & the head starts yelling and screaming – making all kinda noise. This sets Crazy off and she shakes it by the hair till it shuts up. We go in the direction it was pointing though. Supposedly the head kept breathing – that’s what Bismuth says – Me? I think she’s doing it somehow cause she’s crazy. I caught her doing some kind of puppet show with it before. The Marsh & the town & the dreams – they have a bad effect on people I guess. That’s my opinion.
We wander off and end up getting ambushed by more of those fire-hating things we saw before. A lot of them. One was almost too much for us & against 20 we decide trying to talk is the thing to do. Well, I do. I’m the best at talking so I get tapped- plus it’s lucky these guys speak Giant which I’m familiar with. The main one has two mouths growing out of its face & neck, says he’s Grishgrash the grampa of trolls – which is what these guys are. So what I get out of them is that the witch was Grishgrash’s wife or maybe all of their wife? Or mother- they get real weird about it. I tell them that there’s a problem on the island and we need to check on her house for clues cause there’s a magic guy who’s evil or something.
They decide that they’ll take us to the witch house & then eat us after. We go in, where they won’t follow & I get the idea that I’ll cook for them. I say to Grishgrash – he’s making bad choices eating raw people – I know how to cook something that’ll curl his toes nice. Luckily the old witch had a chicken at her house – one of those scaly ones that bites – I’ve cooked with them before- they’re tough but they take to spice easy. Takes three whacks to get its head off and it bit like the dickens – but I get to cooking while Kisa and Bismuth sack the house for cues.
Kisa comes up with a chest that’s locked – there’s no key… Whatever – let Crazy break it open. I’m not going to even think about keys ever again. You ask me from now on? There is no such thing as keys.
Chest was full of witch-swords & we take them. I do a good job at cooking & the trolls seem to like it – they say we can go & Grishgrass gives me a fingerbone – says if I break it the trolls will come to help out. He wants to learn cooking but is scared of fire – I let him know you can get meat to ‘cook’ if you soak it up in juice – he says they’ll try that out. Old trick – southern style cooking is an art, I don’t mind spreading out this way.
We get back to town just in time for everyone to be going on about how Pretty & her ma & pa are dead.
Day 6 – Crazy Bismuth is all on about this dream she had about Pretty’s house being haunted & bad, and how in her dream the door that I found was trying to open & then there were monster-demon things tormenting her and she kept fading in and out of existence & how she saw me there, in her dream. Maybe she did. Maybe I had a dream like that too. But I have the sense to keep shut about it. Nobody likes hearing about your dreams.
Still no coffee so I start with whiskey. The mayor is all “there are no such thing as skeletons that jump up on you in abandoned castles.”
I lay it on real professional. “You hired us as contractors & we are telling you there is a problem. If you don’t want to listen that is fine, but we are professionals so job done.”
He says well maybe there are skeleton castles. Agrees to go over with us so we can show him.
Of course there’s no skeletons at all when we get there. The door Crazy broke down looks just like it did before she ever put an axe to it and the mayor is acting like we’re idiots. Except then we see Pretty up in the window. Now me – I think – the stupid broad kidnapped herself again. I go to say just this to the Mayor after we go and find her and then he starts laughing like an asshole and flies right out the window. He’s a fucking witch too. Magic guy turns out to be the mayor! Who was evil as hell or something.
Pretty’s all wrong & starts biting & clawing poor Kisa & who tries shooting down the mayor out the window. Crazy & me go after her & she walks out the back window – like, just walks on the wall all no-good at all. Like a spider. All the while Kisa is freaking out about something outside.
Turns out the mayor conjured up all the dead guys the first time and now the courtyard is full of them. He flies up to the window and whammies us with some kind of magic cold that all but killed us. Kisa calls on nature to save her & the vines in the courtyard grow up around the tower door – Crazy runs down to hold the door against these things as they march through thorns getting all torn to hell. Kisa shoots out the window again and says she got the mayor – I’m not taking chances – I jump out the window and get Pretty between me and the ground – I get her head off and she turns to ashes – too late to break my fall – the rocks hurt like hell – but I get on my feet and start running for where the mayor fell or landed. Magic guy. Fucker.
We run to find him – Kisa’s faster than me – and find him – but it’s not a real guy at all – some kind of ghost figure with fake money! He’s got tricks. We realize Crazy is fighting off a few hundred dead guys and run back to get her. I climb up and in and head downstairs where she’s going berserk on these dead guys with her magic witch sword. I’m starting to think about breaking the magic finger and hoping the Trolls weren’t just playing some shitty joke on me – but I tap Bismuth on the shoulder so as not to get killed by surprising her while she’s having her battle-fit. “We’re going out the upstairs window.” I barely finish telling her before she grabs me and runs me up the stairs – the dead guys are chasing up behind us and I catch it in the face when a really big one uses a little one to hit me with. We dive out the third story window & run to catch up with Kisa – run to the boat and then find it gone. Of course. The Mayor!
We swim back to town & the mayor is having some kind of torch & pitchfork meeting to try and pin all this bullshit on us. Kisa sneaks on up ahead in the shadows while Bismuth helps me out – she’s got eyes like an eagle. I get two arrows into the Mayor before he can say boo and Crazy runs up to make sure he’s really dead this time – the magic sonofabitch. She gets up there in time for him to come awake just briefly and then… Well he blows the fuck up – Bismuth is down all her eybrows & hair – townsfolk are running away from the fire & the houses are all going up like tinder. I see this… devil, I guess, shoot out of the explosion & I get a couple of arrows into it just as it goes and stings Bismuth – that’s the thing that finally brings her down – after the skeletons, the cold, the undead, jumping out windows & finally getting blown the hell up – she just can’t take anymore and is KOed. I dot the devil-things eyes with a couple of arrows and it goes up in fire & bad smells. Kisa’s on hand to use her nature-whammy to bring Bismuth back – when there’s The Fucking Mayor- again. He starts like he’s laughing at us or something acting all scared – so I let Bismuth get a little revenge- he goes down again and starts bleeding out – I realize this is against our contract – so I say to Crazy Bismuth, as she’s going for his head, to cut his hands off so he can’t do magic on us anymore. We tie him up and Swampy does her nature juju and he wakes back up.
That’s how we saved the town.