Cleric Journal: Day One Hundred and Eighty Five

DearFatherMulcahy

 

 

This was all taking far too long, of course. I have no idea how long Liz, Tim and the rest would wait before invading the frog stronghold, but I just knew I was gonna miss it. Did Liz think the same thing? Is that why she seemed so angry with me? Or am I over thinking that as well? Man, dealing with other people is hard. I sort of miss the days when it was just me versus the swamp.

It felt like I was leaving a string of unfinished business and abandoned individuals in my wake. It was beginning to feel almost tawdry and definitely disconcerting. I had to finish something I started, by Semaunzilla (may she provide a clue from time to time).

I helped Johann to her feet and healed the bruise on her face. Then I turned to Rufus and stared at him, hands on my hips and let the anger back into my voice. “I’ll help you,” I told him, trying to impart the best disdain I could recall from Brother Durham. “But you will never strike Johann again without her consent.”

Consent was always preferable. Sometimes people liked a little spanking and such, but abuse was intolerable.

He watched me, amused and a little uncomfortable at the angle with which he had to crane his neck to see me.

“I get over excited,” he grumbled. “I didn’t mean to hurt her.”

Which, I must tell you, set off all sorts of alarms in my head. Remember that temple guard who was sleeping his way through the temple virgins? Oh, wait. I’m not sure you knew about that. Oh, anyway. He had a tendency to hit people. I think he fell down a flight of stairs. No, I’m sure he fell down a flight of stairs, or it’s possible he was pushed. I can neither confirm nor deny he was pushed off the top of the east tower, onto the stairs like what, a dozen stories below? He did land on the stairs there, though. That’s the same thing, right?

I leaned in to Rufus and grinned at him. “You may be a wizard, but I’ve dealt with Tim and you don’t scare me.”

That was perhaps both the right thing, and the wrong thing to say to old weasel gnome. Tim was a rival, as I suspected and they hated each other. Something about a purple hat and a girl who’s father ran a tavern. The egos on wizards, I tell you. Power corrupts. But at least Tim had to the decency to bathe. I’m not sure Rufus had been out of that weasel outfit in a decade.

He was getting up a head of steam, ready to unleash his mighty vocabulary on me, and maybe one of those arcane bolt things that Tim had used to splatter the gorgewings when we first met. Before he could truly launch into me, I cocked my head to the side and said, “nice suit, by the way.”

That stopped him cold. Like, full stammering halt and a puzzled moment of blinking before he croaked out a thanks. Then I told him I could mend it for him.

And that is how I became dubbed the wizard’s tailor. That is a long story, and not one I want to help perpetuate, but once he said it, Johann repeated it, and it became a thing. I suggested that I repair his weasel suit while he took a bath, which drew a skeptical cough from Johann, but when I said that women prefer a man who has bathed in the recent past, he thought for a moment and acquiesced.

Funny how a sideways act of kindness can diffuse a volatile situation and make an ally out of a curmudgeon who needed his tiny little arse kicked. By the time he got back I had used my best clerical powers to not only restore the ratty weasel suit to its original glory, but I had managed, through the skillful application of divine, to remove the horrid stench that permeated the outfit. The colors came out nice and bright, while the seams were taut and the ears perked right up. Rufus came in wearing a towel and burst into tears. That suit had been given to him by his mother when he left the village to go off to wizard school and he had begun to think it was a lost cause. My divine had even strengthened the worn parts, returning it to a like-new state.

Safe to say, I was Rufus’s best friend from that moment onward. I explained to him that I had mighty powers, some in line with his own, but that there were other ways to exhibit such powers, and that I hoped my gift to him would give him pause the next time he thought to use his power to bully others.

He didn’t answer me, but I could tell he was thinking about things. I’m not guessing he had the best life growing up. I mean, he is a grown wizard who runs around a dragon lair in footy pajamas. Not the most stable individual.

He was so thrilled that we immediately went to Alfred and returned him to his normal, cheerful and pliable self. Then we went to the secret rooms that Cassandra did not know about and found that one of them held an adventuring party that had attempted to kill Cassandra a year ago and Rufus had turned them to stone. He said we could have them as a gift in our attempt to kill the dragon.

The second secret room had a similar set of statues, but these were the kin of the brigands. That is how Cassandra had power over them. Rufus promised me, after we killed the dragon, he would free these people and the brigands would be released from any obligation.

The third secret room we did not enter, but Rufus told me it held artifacts he had recovered throughout the ruins. Again, once the dragon was gone, he’d show me the contents and we could discuss my theories about the ruins being part of a much older civilization, which would destroy some of the academics over in that school he had gone to.

Then, and you’ll like this. After all that, he’d let me have pick of the dragon’s treasure and the key to the tower where Bob was being held prisoner. I had the map in my brain, thanks to Beatrice, but I had no idea there was a key. That would prove useful. I agreed to the conditions and Rufus began turning my new allies back from stone.

It’s a good thing we did that one at a time, in the room where I’d slept, after Alfred had carried each of them in one at a time. They were not very happy about their state and one of them, a warrior by the name of Calladil, punched Alfred in the knee.

Then the caster of their group started complaining he had no spell components and the thief said his daggers were dull. By the time their second warrior was returned to normal, I was about ready to send them back to stone land and deal with the dragon myself.

It was the whining. So much whining. They’d only been stone for a year or so, why were they complaining? I’ve done worse.

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