Where We Were and What We Did
Two demons on the small island of Tedium, Fourth Circle of the Nine Hells
It took eons, but they had formed a rudimentary communication system with their eyebrows. A quirk up was one point. A turn down was a dash. Through this structure, they were able to get the most elementary fundamentals of language. They did what any demon would do with a secret and a lot of time…they told each other stories.
Through rapid brow, Zazzafax said, So what else happened?
The Ugallu replied knowingly Well, they meet, of course…
The Captain voice is lost over the roar of the waves. “Hard to port, ship in sight!” He screams over the cannonade. These raids were common up Luskan way and he knew that the sea would not permit him from skirting too far around port. The patterns of pirates were as random as they appeared. These were not men, but sea-faring dogs, driven not by the will and faith of the human heart, but the vicious instincts of sharks in the sea. He hated them in the abstract but admired, like any Captain would, their skill at shipping.
It was a galley that moved like a schooner from the way it cut thorough the waves. It was a Vorpal sword cutting thorough skin, a delicate, almost surgical, incision of bow through waves. The seafoam churned beneath it, sending spray into the air. He turned to the three at the stern. “Do something!” he cried, hoarse. And to his surprise, he watched the pink creature unfold and turn her attention to one of the cannons and begin to help.
Alright, so that happened Zazzafax said after a century of lifting and dropping his brow. What next?
Well The Ugallu paused, and in that span entire empires rose and fell and rose again. They got to the city…
A Gnome, a Human and a Dragonborn entered the bar. It was almost like a bad joke, but Othie didn’t laugh, he was too drunk to do anything but sulk. Ednel was still fresh on his mind, the way she said “Don’t sleep here tonight”. It made him shiver, as if someone had dumped ice water into his veins. He went to the Leviathan because it was close, not because it was cheap, and he drank down his shillings until he barely had enough for a carriage out of the wharf. He was about to order one last tankard of mead and settle into a rich state of sullen inebriation when the group walked in and he stopped himself.
Without thinking about it, he found himself making a story for them. The Gnome, the Human, the Dragonborn, the…whatever that thing is following them. He told themselves they were four adventurers searching for glory and riches in the city of New Neverwinter only to find the squalor of the overpopulated Blacklake district and oppression afforded to the city by his high lord Neverember’s Mintarn guards in the Protectorate. Now they’re here to drink themselves to death until the bleak midwinter, where the frost comes and scares them back into their home.
He raised his glass to them unseen. “Good luck.”
This is getting good, Zazzafax said, his face passive and still, only his brow communicated his excitement. So what happened? Did they find the guy…
Oh ho, said The Ugallu, Did they ever…
Pace walked out into the evening, turning into her leather slightly as a wind gusted. She dropped the grate above the door of her store and locked it with a heavy brass key. She munched on her bottom lip. How was she going to tell Ilturn that she would have to go? How would she let her know that she doesn’t have the space for her and Jorhan and the boy. It was not a far walk to the bridge. She would think of something then.
In truth, she had been wanting to say something for a good long while, since the spring when they first came. She wanted to tell them “no” after the first night, after the baby inexorably wailed into the first sliver of morning. She never wanted children, never deign on a husband, never sought suitors or courted working men. She liked her solitude, the freedom afforded to her by the pale mark on her neck that demarcated her as a spellscarred. She disliked the revulsion she met in others, of course, but that would never change. She chose to see the brighter elements of her affliction. The silence afforded to her by the lack of a social life was one. The ability to move small things around without getting up from her chair was another.
But now, that had all change. Ilturn had come and had interjected her life into Pace’s. She was now the dutiful aunt, the pragmatic sister-in-law, the working professional supporting not just herself but three other lives. Pace resented that, resented the intrusion into her seclusion. Sometimes, at home, at the breakfast table, she just wanted to scream for acquiescence. She wanted to tell them all to be quiet and let her think.
She almost didn’t look up until the cart was almost onto of her. She squealed and threw herself down, catching only a brief glimpse of its rumbled passed. She wanted to yell, to bark harshly at it across the night, but it was already gone, turning down the lane and disappearing amongst a tangle of shops and homes. She stood and for a while stewed on the corner, feeling a ball of anger sit heavy on her chest like an iron weight. Her pale skin reddened and the mark along her neck seemed to itch like never before. She began to sink into ire when they crossed the bridge.
They were four of them from what she saw. Their footsteps made staccato melodies into the night. The Dragonborn passed the closest and the way his scales caught the light made him appear as dashing and gallant as a creature from a story. She felt her heart skip as he passed by and her breath hitched just a bit as he disappeared into the shadows with the other. She felt her lips and said “Oh my” into the night.
Then she started home again
And then?, Zazzafax said, but The Ugallu couldn’t reply, not thorough the raven feathers and the fluttering of crow wings. Zazzafax watched in the only silence they had ever known as the crow darted his little black beak into The Ugallu’s socket and pulled out his eye.
And that was the last story The Ugallu told, for a long, long time.