Companions Once More

In response to the Piper's greeting, Fangtail pulled back his lips to reveal his slightly yellow teeth in what could have been either a smile or a snarl. There was never any way to tell. That unnerved people; naturally he knew this, and used it to full advantage.

He might as well have used it on a wall for all the visible effect it had on Piper. The Piper swept back his cloak in an elaborate flourish as he sketched a bow. "Your court awaits you, Fangtail. What do you wish? Wine? Wenches?"

Fangtail snorted. The Piper had potent magic, but it carried with it a stringent limitation - it only lasted as long as he played his flutepipe. With it he could do many things: heal wounds, create food, conjure constructs, command animals and men, and more. But only until he stopped playing. Then any healed wounds would break open again. Food and drink would disappear, including any that already been imbibed, thus robbing the imbiber of any nourishment that may have derived from it. Whatever he had conjured would vanished, just as the men and women here in the tavern had. And those he controlled would return to themselves - possibly with a vengeful eye on the one who had suppressed their will.

But beyond these, there always seemed to be new limitations discovered. "My apologies, Fangtail, it seems I forgot to mention how I cannot control a stone-drunk man." "I am SURE I've told you that cold iron negates my magicks."  "Now you're just pulling my leg, O Scourge, for you know that a strong enough blow can shatter my conjurations into smoke."

Still, the Piper made a potent companion. He had kept mortally wounded men going with temporary healings until the battle was over, for example.

The Rat King grunted. "Come, Piper, we are leaving." The bard-magician grumbled, but acquiesced, taking a long pull on a tankard before slamming it down on the bar and heading towards the door.

Fangtail looked around at the empty tavern. "Where is the barkeep? The help?" he wondered.

The Piper shrugged. "Seems magic frightens them. Not my fault." Fangtail caught a glimpse of frightened eyes peering from behind the bar and suppressed a laugh. Covering up his momentary good humor with an irritable thump of his tail - the barb leaving a long scratch along the floor - his footsteps thudded outside and along the beaten road - if road it could be called - with the Piper following him.

The Piper had struck up a tune. Fangtail shot him a glare. "Quiet!" he hissed. "I must be able to hear if any danger comes near! These ARE the Woods of Grimmerdell."

The Piper did not stop, but did make his tone much softer, barely audible.

It was nearly dusk, when they were deep inside the Grimmerdell, when the Piper finally stopped playing. "About time," Fangtail snapped. "What purpose did that racket have?"

"I laid down conjured gold on the bar," the Piper smirked. "But I did not want him sending out a posse after us until we were long away."

"You shouldn't have done that, Piper," Fangtail ground out.

The bard-magician wrinkled his brow. "When did you become a bleeding heart?"

"No," Fangtail replied, "but I could use a good slaughter right about now..."

The End

5 comments about this story Feed