Responding to the Frost Giant's death threat, Gasby immediately backed against a wall and hid, any thoughts of heroism dashed."Very well, if we must," sighed Satyricon, readying himself for a battle against Zaji. Gazing at his opponent, Zaji felt nervous, but he knew he must fight to help the Frost Giant. The two Wizards stood side-by-side, prepared to exchange volleys of punches as well as spells.[Here, Gasby has sketched the opening moments of the battle]Savoring the sight of two incredibly skilled Wizards engaged in a struggle for life, Gasby chanted, "Fight! Fight! Fight!" Leaning over the fires, she watched eagerly as lightning bolts sparked above the cauldron, and the mages mutually poisoned one another in their opening salvo."Do you like it?" Cyana asked. It was difficult to determine if she was asking the Frost Giant or Gasby. Regardless, the Giant banged their club against the ground, undeniably thrilled to witness the bloody spectacle. (This reportedly elicited a cute "eee" from Cyana.)And bloody it was indeed. As Gasby gleefully relayed, both Satyricon and Zaji nearly died at least twice apiece. It was clear even early on, however, that Satyricon's years of training in the art of Resisting Magic gave him the edge.As the two warrior-mages quaffed their potions and exchanged fireballs, bolts, and explosion, mikomi looked at the Gaper standing guard at the entrance of the Frost Giant's room."Dragon laaaave!" mikomi exclaimed, watching from a safe distance.The battle between Zaji and Satyricon raged for several hours, and during that time, both combatants tried many combinations of attacks. Zaji famously poisoned Satyricon three or more times in a row, and Satyricon responded with a triple-lightning bolt combination.In time, however, Satyricon devised a most devious means of attack: after meditating to regain his ability to cast, Satyricon bolt Zaji twice, then hit him with a Fireball. With Zaji's health thus reduced, Satyricon was able to finish the red-clad Wizard off with an explosion or magic arrow.At last, the Frost Giant's wishes were granted, and they could at least an appropriately intoxicated scent to woo their love. To this end, the Giant combined the blood-soaked "essence of Zaji" with the perfume, putting it on.Realizing the pain he had inflicted upon his friend, Satyricon turned on the Frost Giant, enraged. With a steady glare, Satyricon prepared to fire the deadliest of spells toward the Giant...only to look in confusion at the Giant's next actions."You win!" said the Frost Giant, handing Satyricon a package. "Gift for winner.""Hrm?" wondered Satyricon, pulling the gifts out of their wrapping paper. Finding himself momentarily speechless, he eyed the finely-wrought Black Robe of Protection in his hands. An impossibly ornate Lesser Mana Ring tumbled from an inner pocket in the robe, which Satyricon collected.[Here is Satyricon inspecting the fruits of his deadly conquest. While he appeared to regret killing Zaji, his bloody actions did, in a certain manner, recompense him well.]"Gift for loser!" said the Frost Giant, handing a freshly Resurrected Zaji a similar parcel. Opening it with more than a touch of excitement, Zaji found he had received a reward similar to Satyricon's...except in his preferred crimson hue. Rather appropriate, given the bloodbath in the cauldron.After an unexpected but thankfully brief incursion of Ice Dracos, an Ice Dragon wandered into the Frost Giant's lair, at long last unable to resist the luscious bouquet coming from their would-be lover.[While Zaji announces his Grandmaster Red Robe of Protection, the Ice Dragon moved close enough to the Frost Giant to fully experience the charms of their irresistible odor.]With the heady scent of the Zaji-perfume almost a saccharine fog, the final moments in the Ice Dungeon are not recalled clearly by our roguish counterpart. However, Gasby noticed the Ice Dragon had no reservations about the thought of building a future with the better-scented Frost Giant."Come, let us make a nest together!" said the Ice Dragon. Or maybe it was the Frost Giant? Gasby's head was fuzzy, and she was not even the intended object of the concoction's magicks.
"Can you stop right there?" says Gasby, a disturbing tranquility overtaking her tone. Nial looked up with furrowed eyebrows, waiting for her to speak. "Yeah, this is the bad part. Gotta stop. Y'know, you've taught me Black Magic slowly destroys a person's physical form. It's sorta...a corrupting influence."
"Okay?" says Nial, not remotely sure where Gasby is going with this tangent. "We were almost done giving a 'summary' of the events, but if it's that important...go on..."
"What if...the magic the Frost Giant got from Zaji was the same way, except...with the mind. And, umm, I'm sure you'd want me to say, 'with the spirit.'" Gasby pauses, looking unusually somber. "What if the perfume they made for the Ice Dragon was, like...corrupting the mind of the Ice Dragon, until it felt something like love?"
Nial cannot help himself. He clicks his tongue and disapprovingly shakes his head. "You are wrong. I am sure the Frost Giant merely mixed a Love Potion of sorts. Why, Lady Fuoco has told me tha-"
"-not listening to me," Gasby says, a weariness entering her tone. "It wasn't the 'Love Potion,' as you optimistically call it, that was the issue. It's just a thing. Things aren't good or bad or somewhere in between. People and creatures are bad."
Gasby faces Nial, eyes like twin bolts, and he is startled to notice there are tears in her eyes. "When you take away another being's ability to decide—even to screw up on their own—you're not letting them be a person or creature. You're making them into a thing, and that's wrong."
Nial protests, "I thought you didn't believe in right and-"
"-and just listen to me, mmkay? I'm not done." Gasby has tossed her dagger down beside her, but balls her tiny hands into fists. "The 'love' the Ice Dragon felt for the Frost Giant wasn't real. It was as fake as me pretending I'm you, as a joke. It was as harmful as a Bone Mage hitting you with a double-whammy of Poisoning. It's...gonna make them feel wrong, and the Dragon might never understand why. 'Cause their head has been screwed with! Face it: that's messed up." Gasby glares at the Ranger. "And that's the truth, even if you don't want to hear it, or acknowledge it's true."
Nial falls silent. Gasby has never spoken so strongly about something, and that is surely commendable. And her rich use of Common's vocabulary...something he also appreciates. He mulls over the contents of her soliloquy, at last opening his mouth to speak:
"That is ridiculous."
Gasby's jaw drops. "Wha-"
"-think you have any understanding of the agony the Frost Giant was suffering? The sleepless nights, tossing and turning during what should have been a restful occasion?" Nial feels venom seep into his normally cheerful voice.
"Do you even know what it feels like to want someo-something more than you want life, and to be separated from it forcibly, time and time again? To lose it forever, until the barest memory of a languishing love is all you can hold onto, never again holding her in-" Nial stops, realizing Gasby has picked open an old wound. She looks stunned, and takes a half step back.
But he's too far in to stay his hand. It is time to show Gasby why Marali's Armsmen were once feared the world over.
"And who are you, of all people, to judge the Frost Giant's long-awaited requited love as somehow 'wrong' or even 'corrupted?' I heard just today of the excitement you felt, when Satyricon and Zaji were going to kill one another. That is bloodlust, and it is wrong
. I have seen the perverse joy with which you pick apart Pixies and Rats...and even Cats and Wolves! Harmless creatures that Elara entrusts us to protect. I've seen you consider killing honest, hardworking men simply because you were bored."
Something in Gasby's face shifts, and he is looking at a dead piece of flesh, devoid of any expression or humanity.
"You are," Nial says, "a monster."
For a moment, a sound seethes through the air that reminds Nial of the crowned abominations in Marali. His homeland. This sound, however, simmers and rises until Nial becomes horrifically aware of its source:
It is Gasby. She is giggling, but there is no single shred of happiness or hope in her tone.
"Oh, Nial," Gasby's tone is a gentle purr, but that makes its malevolence all the more apparent. "Oh, Nial. Remember how I tried to protect you? Even save you from yourself, when you needed it?"
Gasby reaches out to Nial, who finds he has backed against the pillar. Two glances, south and east. No other adventurers to help him.
Gasby stands on tiptoe and cups Nial's face in her hands. Nauseous, Nial strikes her hands away, feeling something left on his countenance. Soil and grime, from Gasby's unwashed hands.
"What are you-" he protests.
"Sssh, just listen." Gasby's eyes are empty cobalt. "Remember how I've never been scared to die? You always thought it was strange, even ungrateful of me." Gasby's face twists into something like a smile. "But that's the secret!
"Y'see, it's pointless to care about living or dying, since we'll all be gone, someday soon! Every last one of us, wiped out. Swallowed up by a void. All gone!" Gasby raises her hands in a gesture of triumph. "See? Isn't it great?!"
"No. L-Lies! Elara and the GoDs will preserve-"
"And nope, there's nothing after this. It wasn't added to our world. All there is, or ever will be, is gonna be gone in an instant. And we won't even know it!"
Nial swallows. He musters his resolve.
"Go far from Andris. You are not welcome here." Nial finds a bow, and his trembling hands nock an arrow. "Go!"
Gasby closes her eyes. "I would rather not. Let's not play games."
Keeping the arrow at the ready, Nial reaches up to his face and flicks some dirt from it. "I will not abide your threats of annihilation, your...monstrous thirst for destruction."
Gasby shrugs. "Then...I dunno. Maybe you could leave, instead?"
Nial does not glance over his shoulder as he exits Andris's east gate. To Marali, then. To Marali, to seek refuge from this madness.
[The final part of the missive is written in a shaky, hurried scrawl, a stark contrast to the neatness of the earlier portions]Frost Giant demanded party leave their lodging. Somehow, used some remaining magic from Zaji's remains to teleport. Group landed at the bank unharmed.Rogue claims to regret not granting Frost Giant the Crystal Ring she located, but this is dubious. It went into bag game, with Spoons, Amulets, and her accumulated miscellany.Following the encounter, members felt more experienced, as though there was some truth in the actions taken those two days. Love prevails. Death's price is not too great.We were made to be the heroes of our own tales.