Wishes in Winter

Letters Home to Irrisen, Part 13

Of clocks and dragons


The dragon is dead, the opera singer is safe and we’ve delivered our message to the Queen. “The Riders have returned”. We attacked during the day rather than the night and did a lot of property damage so the message is a bit muddled. We’ll say it was from the Red Rider. It doesn’t matter. For now, parts of the city are in revolt and the Winter Guard is spread out trying to fight it.

We found the little singer. She was in a room in the storage area. Had her own little place with a bed, a dresser and a mirror, which we quickly covered. I have to admit that, after getting axed by the clockwork men, I was feeling a little malicious and maybe took it out on the her. I heard her trying to be quiet behind the door so I crept up and knocked, saying “Curtain in five”. There was a quiet “Thank you”. Then I opened the door and told her I was kidding, the show’s been cancelled. I could see the shock and confusion as we stood face to face. Finally she asked us if her friend had sent us and we told her yes. We let her go, telling her to wait until we started attacking the dragon before making a break from the tower. Temerith even gave her a hand axe for protection. She took it nervously and held it like she knew what it was but not how to use it. “She thinks it’s a prop”, Temerith said in a giggling whisper.

A prop is an item that actors use on stage. They’re usually fake so they don’t hurt themselves. I guess that makes sense. I guess. Apparently a lot of actors are really really dumb.

The singer told us a little about the dragon but nothing that we hadn’t already known. It likes soprano arias. Athelryn told me that soprano means that the singer sounds like the high pitch pup howling, which sounds awful. Opera, Piety. It’s weird stuff.

I drank a half of dozen healing potions to get over the damage the clockwork men did to me. I’ve never had that many in one sitting. They’re pretty bland tasting.

Durzak made the plan for us. One of the faces of the clock tower has been removed and a twenty foot ice ledge sticks out, giving the dragon a launching pad. We couldn’t let the dragon take to the air because, once airborne, it had the advantage and only Athelryn could fight it. I went up first, hoping to draw it’s breath weapon, followed by Durzak then Temerith. Athelryn would come up last and use the trap door as cover as she fired.

Durzak gave me a potion. It turned me invisible. Invisible! It was amazing. I was in plain view but not. I see why Heartseeker likes this. Just think of the fun we could have! Too bad it faded when I attacked.

Durzak, just before he opened the trap door, used his magical hat to look like the singer. It was jarring to suddenly smell the woman beside me even though I could still smell her leaving down the stairs. Damn magic. I blame that for my fuck up. He popped the door and I jumped up.

The dragon must of heard us downstairs because it was ready for us. It was an ugly little thing. Long necked and scaly. Long spikes that looked like icicles protruded from its neck and back. And white like fresh snow. It smells like nothing I have ever known. Like a lizard mixed with a blizzard. It was clinging to a wall of gears, about fifteen feet of the floor, watching the trap door. The vicious thing stared at me, then looked confused and a little offended, which confused the hell out of me.

Then I realized it. I was invisible and it was looking through me at Durzak. I jumped through the door and tried to sink my fangs into the bastard. Those things are a lot tougher than they look because I couldn’t pierce it’s hide like I could with a human.

Temerith burst up and took flight, using her wings to propel herself up and into the dragon. She slashed it with her claws and screamed at it. A long savage wail. Her talons snapped and burned its flesh. Durzak jumped up next and cast some spell on himself, making him grow to twice his size. Athelryn popped up and fired arrows into it. We had it surrounded.

The dragon was desperate and tried to bolt passed us. I focused on it and got my fangs into it’s haunch as Durzak grabbed it’s other leg. It stumbled and fell flat on the ground with a thud. That was all the opening we needed. Temerith scored it’s back with her talons while I ripped it’s leg. A few more arrows and it died. It gave a sad little croak and then was quiet. We have slain a dragon!

They taste awful. No wonder nothing hunts them for food. Just foul. I walked over to the ice ledge and licked it to get the taste out.

We gather up it’s tiny hoard and even packed the dragon away in one of our magical bags. Temerith’s demonic sensibilities perked up because she was insistent that we break the ice ledge off and let it fall to the ground. So Durzak and myself picked at it with a admantium sword and war hammer until we got the job done. Temerith swooped down and warned the crowd that had gathered and most of them ran. Even the little singer disappeared into the alleys. Then we dropped 2000lbs of ice 70 ft to the Bone Road. It was a glorious smash. Sadly it also took out some of the clock tower which began to creak unpleasantly. We retreated pretty quickly. I don’t think the tower is going to fall but it’s in need of some repair.

The forger’s brother met us as we left and led us to the hidden temple of the Rebel Goddess. The little singer had just beaten us there because she and the priestess were… talking when we entered. The little singer tried to put on a brave face but we noticed she tried to keep the priestess between herself and us. I don’t care. I laughed and we bragged about our victory. Dead dragons, trolls, wraiths and fire belching stoves.

Lord Oryo came back from his mission and we gave our report. Luckily, giving reports is something I was taught in basic training so I was able to keep it clear. I forgot that we’re technically his superiors, being Black Riders, and that must of been hard for His Lordship to deal with. We got through it. His forces have disrupted the Winter Guard enough that it’ll take a week for them to restore order. But we need to strike while the ice is still thin. So we’re going to rest for the rest of the day and, as the night approaches, head for The Hut. Today was for the Red Rider. But tonight is the Black Rider’s turn. Time to make our desertion complete. Tonight we kill Nazhena Vasilliovna. Tonight free The Hut of Baba Yaga.

I’ve made arrangements for this letter to be delivered to Heartseeker. I hope you read these and get some enjoyment out of my exploits. Heartseeker, Piety, Patience, Hope, Mercy and Courageous: If you’re reading this, know I love you and miss you. Hopefully this will be over soon and I will be hunting with you all again.

Valorous, Get of Heartseeker, Dragon Slayer and Black Rider of Irrisen.

P.S. It turns out that the Jadwiga don’t routinely do horrible things like murder children. The forger’s brother was disgusted when he read Granny Nan’s account books and Lord Oryo openly spat when he read them. Even the Jadwiga find child murder to be one of those crimes they can’t abide by. He claimed that there was no skulls of children in the Bone Road. Baba Yaga forbade it. He said that had he known of what Granny Nan was doing he would of ordered her quietly garroted. I got the impression he might of done it himself, if he had the chance. I told him that we fed her to her own stove and he nodded approvingly. I like this guy. I hope he survives.

P.P.S. I approached the singer and demanded she sing the song that offended The Queen. It was a pretty tense moment as the Priestess edged up to protect her tiny lover. The singer is just so small and pathetic, like a bird. She acquiesced and sang. It’s not like a pup’s howl. It’s more controlled but just as high pitched. I don’t know. I told her it wasn’t like the howls I have heard and she seemed sad. What did she say? “Not many people survive hearing the howls of Winter Wolves, especially a hunting pack”. I told her about the howls that follow some of the Great Gatherings, where many packs gather in a valley and sing. It didn’t make her very happy. Humans.


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