Wishes in Winter

Letters Home to Irrisen, Part 12

Hickory Dickory Dock

Piety:

Tonight we attack the clock and kill the dragon. That will be the signal for the Iron Guard and the Summer Heralds to stage an uprising, dividing the city’s attention. Scouting has told us that there is six ice trolls, a wikkawak, some fey (maybe), the dragon and his Jadwiga minder, some old witch that the Jadwiga have pushed to one side. People think the two statues posted at the front door are magical. Nothing like fighting inanimate objects. I hope I don’t chip a tooth! I’ll add more to this letter when I can.

Just a fast note while Temerith and Athelryn question the prisoners. I wish I could describe this place. It’s a really plain and boring clock tower. Not very Irrisen at all. We attacked through the front, which was the only way in or out. The two statues at the front path were alive somehow and we attacked them before they could do anything harmful. We smashed them before they even had a chance to raise their weapons. Nice weapons too. Weird. The trolls tried to stop us as we bashed through the door but we put them down really fast. Temerith fought two by herself. How does a Vrock fight? A lot of shrieking and a great deal of blood. Durzak was impatient. He knocked a hole in the wall and ducked through, leaving me blocking the main door. The trolls tried to surround us, three left and three right, but only succeeded in choking themselves in the hall. The trolls were all males except for the single female. No idea what that was about. Did we kill a family pack? The one I fought got pushed right up to me by the female, who was trying to get to Durzak. It was all messy. I saw the wikkawak come out of a room, take a single swing at Durzak, then duck under the one I was fighting and make it outside through the hole Durzak made. I tried to kill my troll to get to the wikkawak but it was too quick and I was blocked by the smelly foul idiot. The wikkawak met Athelryn outside and, I think, tried to attack her, hoping to get passed and escape. She pumped three arrows into him, one piecing his eye. He stumbled back and got caught on a bit of jagged wood. Caught just long enough for me to drop my troll and sink my fangs into his leg. So delicious! I dragged him back into the hall and tucked in. Wikkawak, Piety. It’s as good as we’ve heard. Especially the liver. Tender.

The trolls are dead and we’ve searched the first floor. We found a group of children who were being held by the Jadwiga. They’re all street urchins that no one will miss and the woman upstairs is cooking them. Even the fey don’t do this very often. I don’t know what to say. So much child murder! Remind me to ask the Iron Guard if cannibalism is normal among the Jadwiga.

Okay. So we are going upstairs. There’s an old witch, a dragon and ghosts. Ghosts? What else? I bet fey. Stupid fey.

(Speckles of blood)

No fey but we got to meet Granny Nan. Got to write this before I forget. You’re going to love this. Okay. The second floor is set like a small apartment. The old Jadwiga has a kitchen, pantry and a bedroom up here. We came up and I saw the ghost! It looked like a child, starving and hollow. So freaky! It ducked through a door. Just passed through it like the door wasn’t even there. We piled up to the landing (I had to shift to two legs for this part. Everything is so cramped!) and we heard a little old woman talking to someone. “Who is it? We have guests, deary?” said this cracked little voice. We kicked in the door and went for her. She was standing off to the side, a hunched little ugly crone who smelt of talc and blood with the haunted child near her, it’s hollow dead eyes staring straight at us. It didn’t smell like anything, Piety, but I could see the hate and desperation in those eyes. Durzak, Athelryn and Temerith sliced up Granny Nan but she was standing in a corner so I couldn’t get a swing at her. That left me clashing with the dead boy. It touched me. I could feel something awful. I don’t know how to describe it. This fleeting tingle, like old wind. Can wind even be old? I don’t know. The feeling was brief, just like the ghost boy. I hit him with this sword I have (Where did I get this thing? It wasn’t the Captain’s from the first tower and I didn’t have it made.) and he faded away.

Then the door behind us busted open and an oven attacked us. Sorry, Durzak said it was a stove. It has the flat parts on the top to boil pots so that makes it a stove rather than an oven, which is only uses the middle heated bit. Anyways, the stove smashed down the door. Granny Nan had a magical animated stove for cooking. Because the baking of children requires it? This is just so morbidly bizarre. “The Gobbler” (Yes, it has a name. A stupid awful name.) charged us and started trying to grab Durzak with it’s flexible chimney so it could shove him into it’s mouth. I just reread that sentence. This is just so surreal. Durzak and Temerith fought it, hacking at it with claws and a sword, but it’s a cast iron stove so it was very hard to do anything damaging to it. Athelryn fired arrows at it but they just plunked off it’s iron sides. I took one look at the flaming gaping maw and said “nope”, ducking to the back and out of reach. Of course, this meant I couldn’t do anything to it as well but better than getting burned! I looked around and then heard Granny Nan moan. The old hag was still alive, if only barely.

So I scooped her up and flung her at The Gobbler. Here the sound it made:

CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, SPLUT, CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH, HISSSSSSSSS

She was heavier than I was expecting. I guess all of that butchering of children built some muscles on her. It was still easy to toss her over everyone. And my aim was amazing, right into the red hot part. I don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, the woman was too light to possibly do any damage to the thing, no matter how hard I chucked her. Maybe it would choke? I just got this giggling image in my head of throwing her to her own stove and I went with it. Isn’t there a story about something like this? The Gobbler didn’t last. It gave Durzak a bit of a singe but he’s okay with the heat. It wasn’t okay with the amount of damage he did with his sword. Chopped a stove in half. Priceless.

So much for the second floor. We just took out a little old lady and wreaked her kitchen. Fear The Black Riders!

Okay, so we have her account books. Looks like she’s on a budget from the Queen and part of her duties is to feed the trolls. She doesn’t have enough to buy meat but it is enough to buy fresh vegetables. So she’s buying children from the prison and from the orphanages to feed to the trolls. This is some seriously weird shopping. If that isn’t bad enough, rather than just heaving a toddler to the trolls, she’s baking them into full meals with vegetables. Are these trolls that fussy? I mean she has a room with a chopping block and meat hooks. She’s butchering children and feeding them to the trolls. Am I the only wolf in the world that has a problem with this? I don’t even want to eat her anymore. I’m just going to leave her smouldering in the middle of her kitchen, surrounded by the remains of her shattered stove. Let the neighbours who are greedy enough to brave this place find her.

(More Blood)

I’m a bit shaky. This next bit was a little closer than I like. The next floor is part of the clock engine and storage. Cogs and gears grind together loudly, making it hard to think up here. There was two clockwork men stored here. They saw us and attacked with halberds. This area is so small and cramped and they attack with halberds. So, as Temerith and Durzak got up to and fought them, the clockwork men were reaching over their heads and hitting me and Athelryn. Mostly me! This is just so stupid. This is a ten by ten closet but they’re armed with 8 foot long weapons? Who does this? Why are they even here? I mean, they’re covered with dust so they’ve been stuck here for awhile. These things look really expensive. Did this clock have an elaborate chime mechanism? Two clockwork men march out every hour and hit a bell with their halberds? Durzak tells me the weapons are magical. Even better. These loyal tough clockwork soldiers, with magical weapons, were shoved off to one side, forgotten in a clock tower. How does anyone upkeep this fucking clock if these two are chopping up anyone who comes too close? I’m really hurt right now. I hate fighting on two legs. No tough hide to soak up the blows. Those clockwork men packed a punch. Damn.

One last floor. We’re still missing the singer, who should be around somewhere. I’ll let you know how this goes. Got to run, one more door to open!

Valour

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