Once again I welcome you to the story corner, children. Today I will recount a tale which took place in the south of the land of Galt, involving some bold adventurers, members of the "Pathfinder Society", an organization which, for those who don't know and who are about to enjoy their first story, hunts for treasure and knowledge, learning the unknowable things about the world. //children titter in excitement// Yes, yes, treasure hunting and adventuring is very exciting. But first, who was involved in this particular tale?
Foremost in knowledge and foolishness (as well as sleds, these guys are in the front one) is Professor Demetrius Zei, but we'll just call him Professor Zei! //children are silent// ... Yes, he's rather boring, but did you know? He's a pretend Professor! He didn't go to school! //children laugh//
Next is Don Diego de la Vega, who is a wizard? It seems our cast has changed since last time... wasn't Diego a rogue or something? No matter...
Always hilarious, we have Darian the Barbarian! //children cheer// Yes, he's always so silly!
In the rear sled we have Magdalyn, the summoner! She's so pretty, and powerful, to boot! //girls look interested// She has an Eidolon that looks like a Chinese dragon, but it doesn't have wings yet. Its name is Mittens. //children giggle//
And here's Baron Tolanariwan Imcarion again! You remember Tolan, right children? //children boo// Yes, he's a bad man, isn't he...? Always a good object lession for what happens when anger rules your life.
Ooh, the impressive monk Thessalonius, so strong! Grrr! //flexes, children giggle//
Finally, we have the bold and partly noble paladin Largo Keenburrow, riding on Moro, his trusty boar! He's so cool, isn't he, kids? //children cheer// Not the most paladinly of paladins though, as we've seen before...
We enter the story in a flare of excitement! Having cut their way through a horde of rampaging taer, our adventurers had just scrambled down a sheer cliff face to their dog sleds, tired and beat from killing a massive Remorhaz but towing their prize, a set of bones belonging to Amao, the Frost Blossom, and set off at a quick pace, losing the chasing taer quickly. Suddenly though, Tolan's elven ears picked up something.
The crack of some reins. He noted that it didn't come from Magdalyn, who was driving the sled he was in, or Zei, who was driving the sled ahead of his. He glanced around, and to his left, another sled appeared over a rise in the landscape! They were being pursued after all! And it was the vile Aspis Consortium, who they had been told to expect. //children hiss and boo// If only they had been standing on flat ground, this might be dealt with easily! Looking around himself as he pulled his crossbow off his shoulder, Tolan noted three further sleds, moving in on either side of their train to box the bold Pathfinders in. He steadied his crossbow and fired a long shot at the driver of the sled to his left, scoring a hit, while yelling to his allies, "Looks like we're not clear just yet!". It was time to fight!
Ever eager to push onward, Professor Zei cracked his reins to urge his dogs forward a little faster, but they didn't seem too interested in listening to him, not after the shenanigans he got up to on the way in. Fighting to steer his resistant dogs, he noticed a log in the path too late, knocked loose by the avalanche our heroes were almost caught in in their original approach, and struck the obstacle at high speed, losing control of his sled. In the twisting, bucking confusion that followed, Darian was flipped off the back of the sled! //children gasp// Poor Darian! He cried out "DAMN YOU AND YOUR AWFUL DRIVING, ZEIIII!!" as he flew, but any further curses were cut off by a mouthful of snow as he hit the ground and tumbled.
Quick on the draw as usual though, bold Thessalonius leaped to the back of the sled, grappling hook in hand, and hurled it at Darian, aiming to catch him by the armor and drag our barbarian behind the sled. A great plan, (although one that Darian cringed to consider) but Thessalonius missed him by a hair, and the hook landed beside our upended barbarian. //children cry things like "grab the hook, Darian!"// Yes, what will he do, children?
Meanwhile, Magdalyn expertly continued to pilot her sled, no doubt due to her skill handling her Eidolon, and dodged the log obstruction in the path, gaining speed and putting some distance between her sled and those of the surrounding Aspis agents. The evil Aspis agents, their weapons out, began to pepper the party with spells and crossbow bolts, and a cleric riding the sled Tolan was shooting at cried out, "Give us the bones and we'll let you escape with your lives!" As if! //children laugh//
One Aspis agent in particular aimed a spell at the dogs of Magdalyn's sled, trying to blind them, but the bumpy ride and intense speed made his spell less than effective, and the dogs continued to see. Thank goodness! Largo, meanwhile, galloping on his mighty boar behind the sleds, drew his sling staff. Putting a small blessing upon the bullet he place within it, he launched a shot at the driver of the sled to the right, pasting him right between the eyes! //children giggle//
Up in the front sled, Diego casually fired some magic missiles at the sled to his right, killing an unfortunate Aspis agent outright with his unerring bolts of energy, and the slain villain dropped his crossbow and tumbled off the back of the sled, immediately getting run over by the sled following him! These guys are playing for keeps! //children gasp// Diego casually put his wand away, though, and sat down. He had a plan, you see.
Tolan released another crossbow bolt, having hardly taken note of Darian bouncing past as the Rogue/Barbarian reloaded after his initial shot, his mind instead filled with curses while his comrade had filled the air with them, their shared training (and mounting frustration) obvious. What he really wanted was to clear the gap and fight the Apsis hand-to-hand (or more like sword-to-face) instead of at a distance, so with sleight irritation he taunted the sled opposite, calling out to them to make sure he had their attention, then spinning around and dropping his drawers! What a cheeky guy! //children giggle//
Things took a turn for the worse with Zei though, as his sled started to twist and bump dangerously. It wasn't satisfied with throwing off just Darian! As Zei struggled to right his sled, he noticed Diego calmly and quietly chanting to himself while gathering arcane energy in his hands, seeming to be unaware of the danger and the bucking sled, or at least seeming to not be bothered by it. Zei, though, was barely hanging on, and he knew he needed to do something soon, one way or another. He was not interested in simply falling off and missing out on his chance to take the fight to the Aspis agents!
Meanwhile, back with Darian on the ground, a grappling hook landed plop on the ground by his ear. Not hesitating, but sighing to himself, Darian grabbed the hook just as it was yanked away by the dogsled, and our accident-prone toughguy was now being roughly pulled along the ground, his face scraping on the ice, dirt, and snow. Ouch! //children cringe// Hard to maintain one's decorum while being scraped along the ground like a blade on a whetstone, but let's see if things get sorted out for him in a way that allows him to keep face... literally! //light chuckling//
Up on the rear sled, Thessalonius grunted as the rope was pulled taut by Darian's weight, but our monk is made of sterner stuff than that! He expertly muscled the rope down and tied if off so he could focus on doing something productive instead of babysitting the barbarian. Noting that there were a lot of sleds and more Aspis agents, he started digging in his bag for something that could deal with a lot of grouped enemies at once. What could that be...? //a kid shouts "Alchemist's fire!!" and is instantly hushed down//
Magdalyn was better at handling the dogs than anyone expected though, and coaxed them into speeding up further beyond their already breakneck speed. She was determined to get her sled away from the ambush, and was well on the way to doing just that even before her speed boost, so now things were getting a little... concerning. As her sled sped away from formation, both of the hot-headed guys riding with her cursed to themselves: all they wanted was the chance to lay a little smackdown on their pursuers!
Fortunately for them (unfortunately for Magdalyn), they would get their opportunity, as one of the Aspis ambushers' spells struck home. Slowly Magdalyn relaxed her posture, and calmly stated, "Uh, guys? I can't see anything." The light drained from her eyes, as did the colour from Thessalonius and Tolan's faces respectively, and Thess asked, "Like, you..." "Yes," she stated flatly, "I'm blind.". Now, more than ever, they wanted off of that sled! //children chatter excitedly// The Consortium sleds continued inward, closing the trap on the Pathfinders, and disaster seemed to close even tighter!
Largo, meanwhile, continued to rain his fury upon his target in the sled to the right of Magdalyn's, the very sled from which came the blinding spell. The third passenger in the Aspis sled began to get annoyed with the distance between he and Largo too, just as Tolan was with the other sled, but drew his blade, as Largo was much closer. If only he was a little more so...! His knuckles white upon his blade, the villain tensed in anticipation of his moment upon the edge of the hurtling vehicle! ... Yet Largo remained just out of his reach, showing yet again the cunning for which the paladin was renowned. //children are hushed, some nodding agreement//
Up in the front, Diego's spell had reached fruition! He pointed his hand, and from his fingertips burst a cloud, no, a blizzard of sparkling dust, which coated the dogs of the sled to his left completely, causing the hounds to begin to whine in fear. They seemed to lose their way and cease to move with the subtle turns of the path. He'd blinded them! The driver cried out in panic as well, realizing what this means. Now, more than ever, he'll need considerable skill to guide his dogs, and it was hard enough in this battle!
Things were heating up as Tolan finally saw his opening. Affixing his crossbow to his shoulder, he stepped as far to the right edge of the skipping sled as he could muster, and, drawing a breath and his grappling hook, he leaped off the left side of the narrow vehicle, seemingly into infinity. Time slowed as he soared, closing the gap between himself and the Aspis sled.... mostly. Though he had intended to, hitting the ground wasn't exactly desired; yet no plan is perfect. Our vile hero slid along beside the sled, and his hook stabbed out! He had the ski! Deftly, he flipped up onto the top of the sled, drawing his sword in the air. With a grin he faced the Aspis Consortium's cleric, her expression mixing surprise and rage. "Impressive... now give me the bones!!" she cried. A smirk slid across Tolan's countenance, and with a mocking salute of the sword, he said, "You're welcome to search me, though I fear I have only one bone for you." A quick blush chased by a scowl and a roar of anger were all he got from her, and she surged toward the rogue, her sword raised for the attack! ... I guess that made her mad? //children laugh//
Attempting a similarly impressive display, Professor Zei decided to abandon his sinking ship. Unfortunately, he'd spent less time jumping and more time studying, so despite the distance between his sled and Magdalyn's being about the same as Tolan's jump, Zei's maneuver didn't involve sliding so much as smashing. As in, his face. On the front of the sled. //children groan and laugh// Maintaining his grip, (but not his dignity) Zei climbed onto the sled. Seeing almost no reaction from the summoner, The Professor continued past her and decided to use the relative calm of the ride to cast some bolts of magical force at the driver of Tolan's sled, forcing the already wounded man to buckle down further. Go Zei! //children echo cheers//
We move the focus back to the ground, or specifically to Darian, who, against all odds, was not only still hanging onto the rope but was climbing back toward the sled, despite a faceful of gravel and snow. If ever there was a more determined man, I've not met him! Of course, there was never a more foul-mouthed man either, but one could assume that more than a little of that legendary barbarian rage was fuelling his climb up that rope at that point. Truly, beyond reason, Darian endures.
Speaking of endurance, Thessalonius' focus is also the stuff of legends. Magic whizzing about his head, curses in his ears, Rogues and Professors jumping around him, Thessalonius measured in his head and waited for his moment when he could best loose his payload. And that moment had arrived. Suddenly Largo's hesitation to move toward the sled he was in combat with made sense, as he had noticed Thessalonius' vigil and had planned for when best to jump in. And jump in he did. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Thessalonius hurled his shot true, and Largo spurred his boar.
The fireball blossomed, a crater was born, and the Aspis fiends shrank back as the flames filled their vision, and yet, through the flames and over the gap soared the Paladin, his sword drawn and ringing through the fury of the explosion, and snick-snick! The driver of the sled fell dead, a spray of blood and a gout of flame all that signalled such a fate. Largo's boar landed with a slight stumble and he charged on, closing on the sled once more. //children cheer loudly//
If that wasn't enough! Back on Thessalonius' sled, perhaps startled out of her shock by the explosion, Magdalyn hit upon an idea: why attempt to drive when you can get someone else to drive for you? This decision was easy to make, as she was quickly losing control over the sled. Searching within her mind, she settled upon the perfect coachman, and with a bang and a puff of smoke there sitting, with the reins in its' goopy hands, was a devil. A lemure, actually, but not just any lemure. A lemure in a top hat. She turned to it blindly, and it turned to her stupidly, as it has no actual ability to interact. Of course, she didn't know that. "You can drive this, correct?" she asked, and as a response, it grinned, if such a creature could grin. Waiting a beat, she concluded the interaction by saying, more to herself than the devil, "I'll take that as a 'yes'."
Of course, as I said, the lemure had no idea what was being asked of it, so it continued to sit, staring forward, considering the dogs, perhaps. At this point the group reached the fork in the road, and as it was probably also insane, the lemure chose the path leading downhill. The dogs did not like this, and quickly the sled began to have problems, besides speeding up. Even more quickly those problems became an issue, as the sled began to go out of control. Magdalyn may have been blind, but she could feel the sled buck. She also felt acute fear. As did the other occupants of the sled. Except for the top hat-wearing coachman. He felt vague hunger.
Thessalonius, meanwhile, felt that it was time to ride a different sled, so he backed up to attempt what others had failed: jumping right onto the back of the sled to his left. Not the one Tolan was on, mind you, but the one ahead of it, as his speeding sled had closed closer upon the next up. But what's this? A sinister-looking man on the back of that had that same "I'm going to jump this gap" look in his eye, looking at the sled behind him. The sled with Tolan on it. Thinking he could surprise the sinister acrobat, Thessalonius braced himself to jump, but too late! The sinister man was in the air, and his landing outdid all of the others' that day, as he made a three-point landing flat on the unstable vehicle, his rapier drawn and pointed behind himself! What a showoff! He was Tolan's problem, now. Thessalonius made his leap, sadly not as impressive as the sinister acrobat but still worthy of note as accomplishing what was intended without undue harm. It's musical sleds! //children chuckle//
Unfortunately, (that seems to be a theme for Magdalyn in today's story) a particularly nasty bump came up on the hill that she was riding down, and, being unable to see it, Magdalyn bit her tongue and was bucked off the sled by the surprise attack! She tumbled along the icy path and the sled continued to careen out of control. It looks like nobody is left on that one... Oh wait, what's that grappling hook there, dragging behind?
Meanwhile, Tolan was distracted. A rather sketchy-looking fellow just joined his little party on the rear Aspis sled, landing right beside his new cleric friend. He pointed at him and said, "I'll get to you later," but suddenly noticed the cleric casting a spell. He steeled himself, and felt voices in his mind, but Tolan's seen a lot of things. He's heard a lot of voices. She wasn't impressing him much. Her attempt at a paralysis spell failing, the cleric cursed quietly, and Tolan slashed her arm, reprimanding her with a waggle of his finger and a tsk-tsking, and sneered, "You'll have to be a bit more convincing, my dear. Maybe ask a little nicer this time? I'd hate to have to punish you again..." Once again, but this time with considerably more frustration, she brandished her sword, and the two villains began to advance on the cheeky Rogue!
Returning to Diego, we find him on an empty sled. A crashing empty sled. "This is the second time today I've been abandoned like this," he complained to himself. Standing, he cast a charm spell at the driver of the sled behind him and to the right and just... stepped off the side. The now empty sled crashed into a boulder in the path almost immediately after, shattering into a million pieces and showering the wizard in debris. The charmed driver happily slowed to a stop though, to the astonishment of his fellows, and Diego nodded to his friendly enemy. The driver returned the gesture, tipping his hat in respect toward his newfound friend. You know, maybe those Aspis guys aren't so bad... //children shout "Noooo!" emphatically//
Zei had a plan! Seeing as every sled he got onto seemed to crash, he decided that the ground was probably the best place for him after all. Intending to slide like Tolan, he leaped toward the sled his friend was on, his whip in hand. Finally, his whip! You see, children, Zei is renowned for his whipping. Why, once he was yanking goblins out of the ceiling when nobody else could reach them! Ah, but that's another story for another time. This time, his practically prehensile whip lashed out, encircling the cleric of Norgorber's ankle and yanking her right off her feet! Her forward foot yanked past her other foot, she fell on her face in a blink, and Zei laughed heartily as he skidded past. That Zei! //children laugh//
Darian. Finally, Darian. Sensing his time was finally at hand and feeling the bright flame of hope in his heart, the raw-faced barbarian climbed up the back of the sled. What he encountered was something else, though. Not destiny. Not glory in battle. Just a lemure in a top hat, grinning maniacally at him while holding the reins to an empty dogsled. Tipping his head back to the heavens, Darian bellowed in impotent fury: "FFFUUUU-" and then hit a final log. The sled disintegrated beneath him. The barbarian took to the skies for what seemed an eternity. When finally he stopped bumping along the path, he threw a tantrum. Like a child. But, that is how Darian enters his legendary Barbarian Rage, he starts small, lets the world beat him up, and blows up into an inferno of fury. The snow began to melt beneath his back, he was so mad. Clouds scattered in the heavens, and Rovagug himself was taken aback amidst his rampages, saying "Damn, brother is pissed!" //children look skeptical// No, I'm serious! Taking up his sword, he spotted Tolan's sled racing upon him and did what Darian does best. Darian smashed that tiny sled. Passing between the dog teams while still on his back on the ground, Darian aimed a furious slash at the driver, who spotted him just in time to dive across the seat. His foot, on the other hand, did not escape the barbarian's fury, and Darian cut his appendage clean off and through the sled as it passed over him. Who else would feel his wrath? As it turned out, it was the recently felled cleric! His mighty blow cleaving right through her armor, Darian let out a primal roar, his fury sated by the only thing it ever responds to: the pain of others. She cried out as the sled sped away, leaving the ice-thrashed warrior on his back in the snow. He had a smile on his face.
Speaking of the now footless driver, his time in the spotlight had arrived! Sadly, for him that also meant that his part in the adventure had come to an end. With a whoosh and a thump, a grappling hook suddenly attached itself to his jerkin. He grabbed the hook in surprise and looked up. Surprise gave way to horror as he followed the rope to its source, comprehension dawning on him: the line was connected to Thessalonius, and he had a very determined gleam in his eye. Horror gave way further to pants-crapping terror //children snicker// as Thessalonius heaved with his great arms, and the driver was lifted clear out of his seat and out in front of his dogs. His fate is best left to your imagination, but let me tell you that he shows up in no further of my tales.
Magdalyn stood uneasily, and brushed off her fancy dress. Feeling a hole in the fabric with her fingers, she cursed, and a sudden realization washed over her; she'd been left behind! In the excitement and the blinding she'd completely forgotten that she was on a freezing mountain in the dying hours of the day. She couldn't survive out there for the night! And what about the other dangers on the mountain, which included the taer they'd just escaped?? No, this wouldn't do, so she did what she does best: she looked into her mind, calling up her mental checklist of creatures she could summon. Yes, a horse would work, she decided, and with another bang and puff of smoke, there was a beautiful brown horse, majestically pawing at the snowy ground, a saddle on its back and a desire to run in its eye. Speaking of eyes, how exactly did she expect to ride this beast? I suppose we will never know, knowing what was coming!
First though, what was going on with the others? Well, Largo still had another foe before him, but he doesn't lo-WHA, he's jumped! Yes, the fiend leaped off of his now driverless sled toward the paladin. What his intentions were, nobody knows, but perhaps his heart was filled with such hatred that he just needed to kill the brave halfling at any cost? Perhaps he honestly thought he could ride the boar with Largo and they'd have a wonderful adventure together, and maybe learn something about each other... and themselves? At any rate, the fiend jumped from his crashing sled, his blade in hand and murder in his shiny eyes, but Largo was quicker. Largo is rarely quicker, but this was his moment. He reacted instinctively with his readied sword and slashed the fool out of the air, letting him hit the side of the boar limply and tumble away along the path. So much for wonderful adventure! //children laugh and cheer// The bold Paladin decided to right the sled, as they'd need one to get down the mountain, so he deftly jumped from his trusty mount onto the toboggan and got it under control, but Moro had other plans. He stopped and turned. He wanted that Aspis agent. Perhaps he wanted the wonderful adventure, too? //more laughter//
Meanwhile, Diego climbed aboard the Aspis sled. The passenger's shock melted into anger, and he bellowed, "Now hold on, old man-" while the driver urged the dogs into acceleration. The disgruntled passenger stepped up to take a swing at our wizard, but in a flash, Diego's eyes were burning with arcane fire, as well as his fingers, and he spun, fingers making pistols, and incinerated the man with both hands. His victim stumbled off the back of the sled as it accelerated away, a smouldering husk melting the snow. The driver, meanwhile, regained his senses, but in fear continued to drive the wizard, pretending he was his friend! They accelerated away, attempting to catch the remaining sleds, and Diego blew smoke off the tips of his fingers.
Tolan's sled was out of control now, nearly cleaved in half and bearing no driver. Looking up in a daze, the cleric of Norgorber saw a swiftly approaching rock on the upcoming rise in the track, as it moved up to rejoin the other path. Abandoning all defense in her desperation to avoid it, she rolled over and dove for the reins, but Tolan had anticipated this, and with a wicked grin he lunged with her, cutting her hand off just as it touched the fallen reins. As she cried out and finally succumbed to the shock from her wounds, the acrobat dove at the opening he saw as well, but Tolan moved just enough to dodge the attack, skipping across the fallen cleric and chuckling to himself. "Well, looks like our time has come!" he crowed, but at the moment they readied their weapons the rock made its appearance, and the sled ran over it on its right side, the more damaged end where the cleric had lain. With an ominous crack, the sled began to rock and pitch violently. With nothing to hold onto but his sword, Tolan and his acrobatic foe teetered on the edge, and our "hero" stepped onto the weaker right side as he stumbled. It broke off beneath his weight and as he fell he cried, "I'm not going to hell without you!!" and took a desperate stroke at his enemy. Despite his daring, the acrobat couldn't avoid everything. Tolan's falling stroke cut his abdomen wide open, and as his organs fell out, the acrobat stumbled off the back of the sled and into Pharasma's open arms.
Ahead up the hill, Thessalonius was rather pleased with himself, but turning, he saw that the blinded dogs were aimed directly at a rather huge pillar of stone in the middle of the path, one of many stone pillars that they'd navigated around during their initial approach. Of course, on their approach they'd been going at least half as fast as he was now, and they'd still crashed into one. The driver didn't even notice him as he approached, as he was fighting with his dog team to try to steer them out of the way of the gigantic obstacle. As Thessalonius moved toward the driver, he drew a dagger and swiftly cut the reins off right in front of him. The man shrieked, "WHAT THE HELL D-", and Thessalonius promptly kicked him in the stomach, throwing him back into his seat as he drew several alchemist's fire flasks from his bag. Dropping them on the fallen driver, he turned and ran the length of the sled as fast he could, seeming to completely negate his forward momentum from the sled with the speed he ran. Then, reaching the back, he jumped. //children are spellbound by the tale, saying nothing//
In the air, Thessalonius twisted to look back at the sled, and almost immediately after he leaped from it, it hit the wall. The fire bombs all went off at once, seeming to have their explosion aided by something in the sled, and the force of the explosion threw Thessalonius down the hill backwards. He lay in the snow in the divot he'd carved for a moment, laughing from the adrenaline and trying to calm himself, but noticed the sound of the burning wreckage moving toward him. Looking up, it was practically on top of him, rolling back down the hill! He leaped out of the way just in time, and the smoking fireball and freed rocks rolled past on their warpath down the frozen hillside, running into the now vacant and shattered remains of Tolan's sled and adding them to its mass. What could he possibly do to stop it? //children are silent, collectively holding their breath//
Diego was the only one left on a sled, but something didn't feel right. He looked at his driver, and his driver turned his head slowly, his face awash in sweat. They stared at each other a moment, both forgetting the dogs. The moment seemed to stretch into infinity. Slowly, Diego raised his arm, pointing at the dogs running before it. He mouthed the word "haste", and in a flash the driver reached onto his belt for his blade, but he was too slow. Of course he was too slow. The acceleration drove them both into the seat, and in one smooth move, Diego pulled his second surprise from his bag and coated the sneaky man in a tanglefoot bag even as he was pulled back by the acceleration. The man was covered in glue and adhesive and stuck to a speeding sled! He finally got his sword out, but Diego was already over his shoulder and off the sled! //children cheer in excitement//
The Aspis agent slowly turned and saw what Diego and Thessalonius had seen rapidly approaching from in front of him: the giant pillars of stone and the burning wreckage of his ally! He simply closed his eyes, and Pharasma claimed another fool from that day.
Diego landed hard on the snow, feeling pain run all along his legs, as he heard something crash and crumple up ahead. He was getting too old for this. A little ways down the hill Largo looked up, spotting the aged wizard, and slowed his sled to pick him up.
Magdalyn was looking for her horse. She had been for the last little while and just couldn't find the damned thing, it had disappeared or started to hold its breath or SOMETHING!! If she could just get- Suddenly she heard footsteps and looked up, crying out, "Don't come any closer or I'll fireball your ass!!" Darian chuckled and said, "Come on, you don't know how to make fireballs. Anyways, you'll scare your horse away." Limping a bit as he walked slowly toward her, he grabbed the horse's reins and handed them to her (yes, it was right in front of her), when suddenly he heard Zei say something behind him up the hill at the same time that Thessalonius called "LOOK OUT, DAMN IT!!". He turned, and yelped. He had a face full of fireball, well, a kind of fire- and snowball at this point, and had just enough time to see Tolan in the snow after flipping out of its path before it completely bowled him over. Needless to say, his limp might have been legitimate, because he did NOT avoid it, and neither did Magdalyn's horse. By the time the others had rushed down the hill, the once more furious barbarian was trying to get to his feet, bleeding profusely from his wounds. Magdalyn was still holding the horse's reins in her hand, and she asked quietly, "Mr. Plops? Are you still there...?"
And that, as they say, is THE END.
"So children, what do you think of that tale? I-" As the children chatter excitedly, I begin to notice stern-faced parents moving into the group to snatch up their progeny, and I trail off before I can deliver a suitable epilogue. "Is something wrong?" I ask, unsure what is happening. One disgusted father turns on me: "You dare to tell such a violent and crude story to mere children?? Have you no shame? ... I'd say you've about outstayed your welcome in our town, bard." The parents and children filtering away, I can't help but ask, "So, no tip?"