“Papa! Papa! Tell us a story!”
Viggo smiled at the two youngsters bouncing in front of him. He took a deep pull from his pipe and sent a smoke circle floating over their heads.
“A story? Well, what story would you two rascals want to hear?” He leans forward in his chair and smiled at his sons. “Hmmm? Would you like to hear about how Papa stole back Mama’s sleep from the Lord of Dreams, Beebo? What about you, Tiggy? Do you want to hear how your father single-handedly chased the Shadows from Westcrown?” A snort sounded from Tysa, who sat quietly reading a book near the fire.
“Well, perhaps your ol’ man had a little help with that one . . .” Viggo muttered, winking at the boys.
“Tell us about the Exodus, Papa!” the boys shouted in unison. They had a strange way of doing that. Something about being twins, he supposed.
“Oh, you boys don’t want to hear that old story again . . .” Viggo teased.
“Please! Please!” the two shouted, pulling at his trousers. Beebo climbed up onto his head and shouted in his ear. “C’mon, Papa! Tell us!”
“Alright, alright! Get off me, you two maniacs,” he growled. As his sons settled down in front of him, Viggo began.
“So your mother and I, having bargained for our people’s freedom from His Darkness, the High Priest of Asmodeus, and having cleared the Rego Cader of the walking dead . . .”
“What about Auntie Risa and her Marshals?” crowed Beebo.
“Yeah! And Auntie Fiosa and the Children of Westcrown?” shouted Tiggy.
“Hey! Who’s telling this story?” Viggo cried. “Give me a second, for crying outloud! As I was saying, your mother and I . . .” Viggo felt a warm hand on his shoulder.
“Why don’t you tell your sons how your human friend burned me to death, Viggo.” He looked up, and Tysa stood before him, her skin burned black, her hair gone, her eyes smoking holes . . . Viggo gasped and tumbled out of the chair, away from the horror.
“Tell your sons how you watched Rufus be torn apart in defense of your “tall folk” allies. Tell them how you failed your people a hundred years ago, leaving them in bondage, to be ravaged by a devil that you and your comrades set loose upon Westcrown and the world.” The blackened corpse staggered after him. Viggo looked down at his sons and saw the bloody bodies of his brothers at his feet. He felt charred, hot fingers close around his throat as he began to scream . . .
His eyes opened to find Titus standing over him in the dark. The darkvision spell still in effect, Viggo could see clearly in the Arodenite’s stone shelter.
“You were thrashing in your sleep,” the human said. “Besides, it’s your watch.” Titus crawled into his sleeping blankets and was snoring in seconds. Viggo sat up. He could still smell Tysa’s burning flesh as he slid his harness over his head and checked all his knives. The foul odor followed him as he made his way around the sleeping bodies of the others. He crawled over the simple-minded ogre who referred to him as “half-man”. He slid around the human sorcerer who killed Tysa. He worked his way past the tiefling who argued not to “waste” the diamonds on bringing Rufus back from the dead. He stepped over the priest who was not there when his friends died, too busy following the orders of the God of Humans. Finally, he was out in the night air, but the stench was still there. Viggo walked about fifty feet away from the camp and knelt down in the dirt. Rummaging in his pack, he pulled out a twisted statuette of obsidian and placed it in front of him. Then he drew the Blade of Von Selar. Taking a deep breath, he slashed the knife down his forearm, and let the blood drip down onto the statue.
“Hear me, Crooked Man,” he whispered. “Here my prayer of vengeance. Help me against my enemies. Help me so that I might watch them as they suffer and die . . .”