The Happy Muggers

Flashback Session 4: the Water Palace

In which a crossing is made, a thrall is freed, a hideout is found, chicken is shared, a contest is fought, and a tragedy occurs.

Down the hill from Oakstaff is a lake, a wide expanse of calm water surrounding a single island in its center, upon which is perched a colonnaded structure that we all assume immediately to be the Water Palace, former summer home of Proferio and current hiding place of Orlando. There is a small raft tied to a small dock, and seeing no other ways across we commandeer it and KD pushes us out into the water, upon which we glide for a few moments before a thunderous voice behind us proclaims us trespassers, asserts that Kalbon is the ruler here, and issues a threat to our lives. Turning, we see a smoky visage of a fangéd man slowly dissipating from the air above a tiny blue-robed pixie, whose eyes share the glassy sheen of the enchanted we know from our encounter with the leprechauns. The pixie swirls up the water with a wave of his tiny hands, and four spouts of water and fury spin toward us, push us all off of our tiny boat, and generally make our passage quite impossible until, a few moments later, we manage to knock some sense into our attacker and dispel his watery servants. He is quite apologetic for his misdeeds, and after explaining how, after the assault on the ritual, he was left behind and eventually enthralled by the hag Soryth and the fiend Kalbon, he asks to depart and we allow him to go back to the Summer Queen’s Champion’s camp while we continue on our way, albeit somewhat more damp than we were beforehand.

The ascent to the Water Palace is short and sweet, through a small grove of flowers and over stepping stones in a small brook. We enter to find a still-hot dinner laid out on a long table, and find poor Orlando, his visage half-transformed as Julianna’s was, hiding in a small pit trying to keep his freedom. When we explain our situation to him he attempts to explain his to us, but like his beau he finds the task quite difficult, since, as he puts it, “part of me is in Kalbon, and part of me is in here.” KD, though, recalls that he has the young man’s locket– though I swore Saya had it last– and when it is returned to him Orlando’s whole appearance resolves, and his wits come about him long enough to recall the journey into the Crystal Cave, being set upon by Soryth, being captured and chanted at by the Hag, being freed in the assault on her Palace, being lured away by the dryad Rosaline, and being sent here by the Treent Oakstaff.

But no sooner was this story told than in burst Basal, Ragnar’s cousin and hunter of Orlando. He offers to fight us for possession of Orlando, and when it is clear that he will not take no for an answer the battle ensues, but it is clear that this brigand intends no such fight as he ignores us and hits poor Orlando again and again, despite the poor boy’s running away and despite our blows lashing red blood over the giant’s green form. When Orlando falls we know that he will not be rising again, and we encircle the brute who did the act, and the green turns redder and redder until there are two bodies laying on the ground of the Water Palace. We have failed.

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