My dream (nightmare?) has ended. Lire and I are free, although our return to the “real” world was less glorious than I had hoped…
I freed Lire and we tried to make our way to the Hedge. Unfortunately, the way turned out to be a cold tunnel into darkness and frigid water. I’m not sure what the turnaround on escapees is, but we quickly found ourselves accompanied by two women (I think), a badger and a Minotaur. A grey bat-person-thing crashed into me at first, as well. It took awhile to sort out that it had intelligence greater than a dog’s, but I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself.
Stella, the golden-eyed creature in charge of Ken the Minotaur, was injured at first, and I did my very best to patch her up with bandages Mother had used on Lire. I regret that my first glimpse underneath her clothes was conducted in such a clinical fashion, for her wound was placed in an area better encountered after sweet words and wine. I was… A bit lacking in the patching up, perhaps due to such wandering thoughts, but no matter. I gave her my jacket at least, as she was temptingly underdressed for the cold. Ken, I should note, seemed like an upstanding gentleman, and gave me cause to reconsider my attitude towards the many Minotaur guards I may have looked down upon in my time enthralled. Lire found us some wonderful warming berries that staved off hypothermia, and it was at this point that the little wooden girl, Zai, came forward with her badger. She was a fearful creature, but pleasant and cooperative. We quickly realized that the berries were the only source of light in the room, and consuming them meant we were without illumination. I remedied that rather artfully, I think, with a dash of rolling flame over my arm – an action which deeply upset and frightened Zai, and with good cause. Being made of wood has its disadvantages around me.
We proceeded onward, and met two scavenging gentlethings with harpoon guns. After an initial attempt on the part of my brother to trick them, we were outed as escapees and conscripted via Pledge into some seemingly mundane service. For the price of a few bits of memorabilia, they would escort us to safety. Only then were we informed that we were in the capsized Edmund Fitzgerald, deep underwater, and we would be traveling downward towards its Captain’s cabin to loot pieces with the ship’s moniker on them. It’s a far cry from hunting the Great Golden Boar alongside Mother and a host of Faerie courtiers, but that’s leaving the nest for you.
None of us were particularly dressed for the occasion, either. Lire and I had our Faerie finest on, Stella was wearing a dress, the bat-thing was naked, and Zai was mostly naked. Clad such, we cracked a rusted door and climbed together on a circuitous route towards the cabin. We were interrupted halfway when we entered one of the crew quarters. A man, or what was once a man, hanging by his back from a hook and with sagging flesh, hailed us. He appeared to be in a great deal of pain, so I took him down and asked him some questions. Someone called “the bagman” put him there, but recovering this information was difficult as the man was highly irrational. He lashed out at me in fear, but I still had quite a bit of flame on me. He was burned and recoiled. It seemed my efforts to help him would not meet with much success, and I wondered where the bat had gotten to, so I left Lire and the others to deal with the flabby skinned-creature. It is nice to be a twin again, I must say. It’s good to have someone you can rely on.
So I followed the bat thing, strange entity that it was, and found it wrestling with a door. I gained us entry to the cabin, and we found our first set of items. The creature was a pain to deal with, concerned more with taking the hat I’d found than anything. I considered throttling the bastard, but he was marginally helpful and as much a part of our escaping group as I was. Besides, one doesn’t do such things in polite company, and if I am to build my own life away from Mother, I ought to be a model leader. We rejoined the group, and I allowed the bat thing to give my hat to Stella. We are all in this together, after all.
At this point, this Bag Man chose to awaken and scare us with creepy music. We beat a hasty retreat, memorabilia in hand, with Ken bringing up the rear. I armed him with some metal torches, but I did not expect them to make a difference. Indeed, they did not. He was lifted and crushed by the Bag Man, who was apparently a being bonded with the water – a useful trick given the preponderance of the stuff.
Poor Ken. But there was no time to mourn. We ran. I brought up the rear and lit the reinvigorated (and disgusting) crew aflame as they came to delay us. I think I made an impressive show of it, if I do say so myself. Wreathed in flame and bashing my way through monsters, I cannot help but imagine I looked quite the hero. Unlike Ken, I wasn’t willing to die there, so my heroics were cut short in favor of a longer lifespan. Lire and Sam (I find it appropriate to call him by his name at this point, as it was the first time he was not just a pain in the ass) assisted everyone in getting out, and we left with the two hobgoblins we were beholden to.
Out in the cold night, we traversed the water for hours in freezing rain. I offered comfort to Zai, which she accepted, although she quickly became more interested in her badger. I had hoped Lire would talk to Stella, as my influence was likely not what she needed at the moment, but I think everyone was trapped in their own heads. On the subject, I do not know what terrible things happened to the others. If experiences are like mine and my brother’s, I can only imagine theirs are as unfathomable to me as Lire’s is. Poor Ken. Poor Stella.
We found ourselves by our old house, returned to the world once again. Lire investigated through the window, at which point Sam gave us a very brief lesson on Fetches. I guess returning home wouldn’t be simple. No, not simple at all. But when I left I was just a boy. I return a powerful, beautiful thing, and I expect to live quite differently because of it.
We robbed a house. We visited a bar where Sam stole a wallet and I taunted its former owner. Apparently Glamour, the stuff that I must have been swimming in with Mother, is not so easy to come by here, but it is oh so good… I will need to figure out a steady way to acquire it. The Freemonts seduced some women with stunning teamwork and talent (I led, of course). As the night proceded in a warm, dim haze, I could not help but feel relieved. Lire and I can make it here. We could even thrive. From small beginnings grow big things.