So those little tossers caught us on their holy land, I’ve been pissing on their holy land since we got inside of this foul little swamp. So it’s no wonder their commander laid into me like he was angry about something. Now their filthy spider-god wants us to explore some ruins in exchange for our lives. They bark like little dogs, telling us what we’re going to do, how we’re going to be tested.
They killed my best friend. They’re going to find out what a test is, sooner or later. And they will regret their decision to “let me live”. As a matter of fact, I think I want to leave the children of their tribe alive and singing a lament of that decision.
They’re lucky. When I look to her, and see the crimson streaks in her lovely golden hair where they smashed her in the head to take her down, I’m thankful those yapping dogs didn’t take the only other person that really means something to me. I’m not a person of deeply-held faith, like she is, so I’m not going to waste the breath in thanking some icon or idol for that.
I shake my head to clear my thoughts as we set up this makeshift camp inside of the tower to rest. She’s the last thing I need to think about right now anyway; a woman who always keeps me at arm’s length and yet I feel drawn to despite that fact. We’re stuck in an inhospitable land and fighting for our lives, yet again. The last of our friends have fallen, leaving only she and I among veritable strangers.
Duule, the savage bull-man who glories in combat and takes little other joy in life, accompanies us simply for that thrill. Vanessa the witch joined us not long after my little friend Kaleb was corrupted by the influence of Andi Halfelven; she said she would guide us as she was familiar with the lands. And now there is the strange little gnome Finkle Flashbang, who seems to come from a time not our own and can remember a day when the Shroud did not cover the skies.
She must feel as alone as I do, having left behind her brother and Robin, losing her friend Charlotte to the gods, witnessing Kaleb’s corruption and suffering the loss of Hugo as well. I find myself stifling an urge to go to her in the night and slip my arms around her, grinning wryly. She’d surely mistake that gesture for something else anyway.
So this must be what it’s like to care for the whole of a woman rather than just certain parts of her. Although, don’t mistake me, those parts are certainly just as temptingly delicious now as they’ve always been. But it’s a weakness I can’t show anyone. Not even her.
So instead, I move through the shadows beyond the camp and retrace our steps into the tower so far. I follow each hallway back to the entry, to make sure we haven’t been followed. And to make sure Hugo lies undisturbed.
As I find his body, I pull back the shroud to look upon his face. So peaceful in death’s repose. I unwrap his hands, to place in them the sword that I had been given upon graduating Kresh’s tutelage. I cover him up again slowly, wiping away a single tear as it winds down my cheek.
“Goodbye, my friend. May you find fields of glorious combat, and fall into the arms of a thousand half-orcish women, wherever you are.”