As Grace and Juniper ran off into the woods to track down the small, red dragon Piakol, Sigthyme and Riffen stood over the unconscious body of Tak. There was a large patch of blackened grass from where Tak exploded with dark magic, killing the two Elvish warriors that had tried to ambush the group and capture Piakol. Even though Tak’s magic rage had killed the two Elves, Tak then set his sights on the members of the group. That’s when Sigthyme had to step in and use his magic to put Tak into a trance.
Tak stood there examining the situation. One asleep Tak, two dead Elves, a Half-Elf Prince in recovery, and a black, blink dog.
“And a Owlbear in a Pear tree,” Sigthyme whistled to himself.
“Hmmm?” Riffen asked.
“Nothing. Nothing. Do you know where I can find a shovel around here?” Sigthyme asked. “The ladies said we need to dispose of these bodies.”
“I don’t have one on me, but I can check the wagon. We have supplies on there,” Riffen said.
“Great. Great. And if you see any guards or anything, make sure they don’t take an interest in what I’m doing, ok? I need to wake up Tak.”
“Wait, what? Wake him up? We just put him down,” Riffen said.
“Well I put him to sleep. And now I need him to wake up. Who do you think is going to dig the graves?” Sigthyme said. “Look at me. I’m made for playing the fiddle. Not digging.”
“I can help,” Riffen said.
“You? No offense royal highness, but you are still recovering. Maybe in your prime, you could dig a mighty nice hole. But right now, it’s best that you just stand aside,” Sigthyme said.
“Look, I’m not useless, ok,” Riffen said.
“You seriously think you have the physical strength to dig two shallow graves and drag these bodies over to them?”
“Well, no,” Riffen said.
“Exactly. You are still wobbling around on that cane, ok?” Sigthyme said. “You shouldn’t be fighting or doing any of this.”
There was a brief moment of pause.
“What do you mean?” Riffen asked.
Sigthyme let out a sigh.
“Look. You are a Prince. And I know you think you get that. But we’re out here risking our lives to make sure you get back to your kingdom and your palace or whatever. This is a dangerous place as it is and now we have to keep an eye on you too. My best friend…”
Sigthye looked over at Tak, who still laid there motionless.
“What if we couldn’t stop him? This thing that keeps happening to him. What if that explosion of dark magic would have killed you? Or what if those Elves knew you were a Prince? What’s a better bargaining chip than a Prince? They could have tried to ransom you off or had you killed to set up some sort of international war. I don’t know. What I do know is that if it wasn’t for you, Tak and I could be part of some sort of monster fighting group and I could be helping Tak with this.”
Sigthyme took another breath.
“But we’re here with you making sure you get home. So please, please. Just let us handle the dangerous stuff and go wait at the wagon.”
Riffen stood there a moment, his eyes looking down at the ground. He didn’t say anything, but Sigthyme got a sense that Riffen was looking for a rebuttal.
“Yeah I’ll go wait at the wagon,” Riffen said. “Come on Shadow.”
The black, blink dog barked before rejoining Riffen and they both started to walk back toward the road where their wagon sat unaccompanied.
Sigthyme tried to think of something to say, but he figured he had said enough. He just shook his head before looking back at Tak.
“Come on big guy. Time to wake up,” Sigthyme said to himself.
He pulled out his viol and played a quick succession of notes. The magic that was keeping Tak asleep, dissipated and the goliath began to wake.
“Sleepy,” Tak said as he began to rub his eyes.
“How are we feeling big guy? Any murderous intent?” Sigthyme asked.
“Murder intent?” Tak asked before looking around. “What happened?”
“You kind of blew up. Like you did back at The Titan’s League,” Sigthyme explained. “But this time you killed some people.”
Tak looked around.
“Grace? Juniper? Riffen?”
“Oh no! They are all safe. You just killed the people who were attacking us,” Sightyme said.
“But almost attacked you,” Tak replied.
“Uh, yeah. That did happen,” Sigthyme said. “But don’t worry. We’ll figure out what’s causing it and we’ll figure out a way to stop you from doing that again.”
Tak stood up and brushed the dirt and dead grass off of him.
“Too dangerous,” Tak said.
“What’s too dangerous?”
“Me. Too dangerous. Leviathan too dangerous,” Tak said.
“Look, big guy. I know that it doesn’t look good, ok. But we’ll figure it out.”
“No! Not listening,” Tak yelled and Sigthyme took a step back.
“Too dangerous to be with me,” Tak said. “Leviathan. Curse. Dark curse.”
Sigthyme let out a small sigh.
“I hear you, Tak. I do. I know that you worry about that Leviathan tattoo and obviously there’s some truth to this curse thing. You or your body creates this dark magic to defend yourself. And yeah it’s dangerous. I’m very aware of that. But what are we going to do?”
“Tak leave,” Tak said.
“Absolutely not,” Sightyme said. “I’m not going to let some curse take my friend from me. We need each other. We’re a dynamic duo.”
“Too dangerous for group,” Tak said. “Need to leave.”
“If you’re leaving, I’m coming with you,” Sigthyme said. “That was the plan from the beginning, anyway, right?
“Tak have to be alone,” Tak said.
“If you leave, where are you going to go? What are you going to do? Just hide out in the woods until the wolves get you? And what if those Elves come back and want revenge for their dead friends? Are you going to be able to take them all by yourself?”
“But we’re stronger together. And together we can find a way to keep your curse from acting up,” Sigthyme said.
Tak took a moment to think. Sigthyme could tell because Tak always bit his lip when he was deep in thought.
“Tak stay with Siggy,” Tak said.
“Great! Happy to hear it,” Sigthyme said.
“But if Leviathan hurt Siggy, Tak leaves,” Tak said.
Sigthyme wanted to argue, but Tak had made up his mind.
“Fine,” Sigthyme said. “We will deal with that if it ever comes to it. Now, can you help me with these bodies?”
Tak had gotten a shovel from the wagon, avoiding eye contact with Riffen, and had dug up two, shallow graves near the edge of the forest. Then with SIghtyme’s help, they dragged the two bodies over and covered them with dirt. The dirt mounds weren’t totally inconspicuous, but Sigthyme hoped that any passing guards or military personnel wouldn’t be searching over here for any bodies. The large patch of dead grass was odd but luckily the dark magic Tak unleashed didn’t leave any pools of blood. Sigthyme knew they couldn’t stay here forever so this would have to do.
A short time later, Grace and Juniper emerged from the woods.
“Did you find your dragon?” Sigthyme asked.
“We did,” Juniper nodded. “Piakol is safe and sound in my bag.”
“He got stuck in a trap set up by a centaur,” Grace added.
“A centaur?” Sigthyme asked. “Were they friendly?”
“She was. We’ll explain everything once we are on the road, but I don’t think our troubles with the elven freedom fighters are quite over. Did you…?”
“Tak and I buried the bodies. Should be good enough,” Sigthyme said.
“And Tak?” Grace looked over at the Goliath, who was standing a few feet back.
“He’s ok for now. No more outbursts. I told him I would help him figure out this curse,” Sigthyme said. “He said he’s too dangerous, but I talked him into staying with us.”
“He may have a point, Sigthyme,” Juniper said. “I don’t want to be mean, but we did just witness what he could do. What he almost did to us.”
“Look, Tak wasn’t in control of himself. I know that it can be dangerous, but I’ll make sure he stays under control. I promise,” Sigthyme said.
Juniper looked nervous. Sigthyme was promising a lot and Sigthyme wasn’t even sure he could deliver.
“If things get really bad again, I’ll leave with Tak. I won’t put the rest of you in danger,” Sigthyme said.
Juniper gave a small nod.
“Hopefully it won’t come to that,” Juniper said.
“Where’s Riffen?” Grace asked.
“He’s at the wagon,” Sigthyme replied and Grace began to walk over there.
“We should all get moving,” Juniper said. “The sooner we get to Frost Haven, the better.”
Sigthyme gave a nod.
“Are you alright? About everything?” Juniper asked.
“I’m fine. Or at least I will be. I’m just worried about my friend. What about you?”
“I’m worried about my friend too,” Juniper said, tapping her bag which held the sleeping dragon. “But I’m also worried that by trying to not get involved, I might have gotten us all involved in this conflict.”
“Well just add it to the crap of stuff we have to do,” Sigthyme said. “Let’s just hope we get to Frost Haven before any more of those Elves show up.”
“Right. Let’s hope so,” Juniper said and the two of them walked over to the wagon with Tak following behind.
The group began their journey out of Augendale and north up the Vern Road just a few gentle snowflakes began to fall.
Header Photo Credit to Myth Weavers
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