Puzzled, I studied the message I had just received...who is Harriet the Hag? Her message requested help to fight a strange blight that was infecting Paupa. I put down the message. This was indeed dire. With the lost of Dahlia, our spy master, we hadn't heard of this blight.
I hastily wrote a message to alert the King of the new problem. I hurried out to visit the many taverns of the lands to pass the word. The Royal spies were needed and to meet at the hall.
The hall was noisy as we greeted each other once again. There was much discussion about the rabid and diseased animals that had been found in many cities. The latest sightings, diseased goats in Luna.
Harriet arrived quietly and greeted us. "Citizens"
"Hail," Butterball and Demoss answered.
"Hello" Fortunata and Belle said.
"Greetings Harriet." I replied while hiding a smile when Firestarter woke up with a start. "I received your message. How can we be of service?"
"My age has become so great that I cannot cope anymore with the evil of this land." Harriet the Hag looked down at her hands.
"There is trouble in my neighborhood." With a worried looked, Harriet the Hag studied us seeming unsure if we could or would help.
I motioned for her to continue, "What type of trouble?"
Fotunata quickly tried to reassure her, "But you are wiser with your age and experiences."
Harriet gave her a small smile. "I live somewhat West of the town you call Papua. We know our world is ...different. But there is an evil erupting from the ground there. Fouling the soil."
Muttering and worried looks filled the room. "That is not good." I whispered to myself. Demoss nodded.
Harriet the Hag waited for quiet.
"And the evil spreads. A toxic foul smell it is." She wrinkled her nose in memory. "I've beaten down what I could...a stray cow or dog here or there."
"We can help. " I frowned remember past troubles in Paupa. This was something new and troubling.
"But now there is more crawling from the hold in the earth." she shook her head. "The animals eat the land or other animal s eat them."
"Slime covered things with festering boils." She explained urgently, "It wont be long until it spreads here."
"This must be stopped before it spreads." I stood up. "Lead the way my lady."
"I can take you as far as I can. But I am old and can no longer fight." nodding at us, she slowly lead us outside. "I will cast a gate outside."
"My spells now take too much energy from me. " she sighed. "Allow me to cast one spell to get your there. Then I must rest."
Stepping through the gate, I stayed close to Harriet the Hag. I was determined to provide what protection I could. Several others, having the same idea, form a guard.
Arriving in Paupa, Harriet the Hag began to lead us across the north west swamp area . "This way brave ones. She pointed at a strange hedge that seemed to block us in.
I could tell that she was tired so was not surprised when she began to walk toward town. "Follow the diseased plants North West friends. Good Luck to you all."
Left to ourselves we divided up to explore. All around us were evidence of the corruption.
I hadn't gone far before I found a Mad cow. Carefully I approached... energy bolt ready to cast. Even so it was a close call. I hurried back to the others "Wow almost got me!"
Barry Manilow gave me a puzzled look. " What?
"A rabid cow." I told him. "A very, mean rabid cow."
"Where?" StinkyPinky asked joining us.
"Up the path." I pointed back to where I had found it."
Following the diseased plants, it didn't take us long to find more animals affected...rabid deer, rabid swamp scorpion, dangerous swamp spiders and raging bunnies.
It seemed to take us forever to advance up the path. No sooner did we clear it, when another wave of creatures attacked.
Coming to a divide in the path, a few of us went left. To my surprise, we found ourselves passing the entrance to Paroxysms' Palace.
We continued to find a strange pit filled with bubbling pools of slime and ooze. Guarding it a rabid swamp spider and scorpion.
Once the area was cleared, we went to rejoin the others. I stopped when I heard a sound...something huge was moving through the brush.
Following the sound I found a creature tearing apart fungus and eating it. Backing slowly away, I found others and lead them to it.
Quiet as we were, it still heard us. "Back Away Humans!" It roared.
Hoping it would understand me, I questioned it. " Who are you? Why have you come?.
"What are u doing?" Bug asked
"I HATE YOU ALL!" It shouted moving to more fungus.
"Why?" I asked puzzled. "What did we do to you?"
Serephoyle had come up to stand beside me. "You just need a hug." she smiled.
It's answer was to turn around and rush back down the path.
"I call upon my ancient kindred! Remove these humans from my PATH!" It shouted when it saw the path blocked. "You may have the rest of your world! Humans Leave me to my place in this world!"
"Why don't you leave?" Neptune replied. "Before you make us mad."
The King od Decay looked down, "Go now, leave me here to this place."
I shook my head. " We can't until you stop infecting the animals and plants."
"I have no place but my home!" The King of Decay roared again. "BEGONE HUMANS!"
"You idiot!" Neptune shouted back. Then to my amazement, Neptune whacked it with a bow.
I wasted no time in moving back. But instead of attacking, it pushed through our forces and hurried to a little valley.
Cornered it faced us again. "Leave me to home home." It said almost pleading.
"Let us help you." I offered. "We have helped others."
"To convince you to stop infecting the land." I replied firmly. "If you do not, we must stop you."
Shaking with anger, the King of Decay began to shout at us. "FLAPPY HUMANS...HUMANS EVERYWHERE...: FLAPPY HUMANS AND YOUR PETS."
He stopped to climb up a small hill over looking the valley. "BEGONE HUMAN FORMS"
His brother? I shivered. that doesn't sound good. Looking around I saw warriors preparing their weapons, tamers feeding their dragons as they whispered to them, and mages casting summons.
"GO NOW BEFORE HE ARRIVES!" The King of Decay shouted at us.
"No!" Firestarted shouted back.
The creature looked around. "MY BROTHER COMES! GO NOW BEFORE HE ARRIVES AND YOU WILL BE SPARED!" The King roared then disappeared.
Down from the hill rushed a interred grizzle like creature, a festering coagulated disease.
It's cacophonic sound lambasting us , suppressing our ability to move. Its infernal ooze scorched us , setting us and our equipment ablaze!
Worse it summoned all forms of fire creatures to join it. The valley was quickly filled with summoned spawn. Predator hellcats, lava elementals, fire steeds, a blistering, sweltering, fiery gargoyles, to name a few.
Finally the battle was over. "Was that it?" Tiredly, Revenge asked.
My voice to sore from shouting spells, I nodded my head.
Grimly, Skadi looked at the bodies, "He was right, we should have left before."
The hall was empty when I returned to Britain.
On the way home, I stopped by the tavern to buy a bottle of wine.
Sitting down in my favorite chair, I began pulling off my boots... the soles full of holes from burning ooze. Doubting my cobbler would be able to repair them, I tossed them into a corner.
Deciding the fire didn't look inviting, I poured a glass of wine and found a cool corner. Picking up my harp, I began to write...a new saga began.
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"Help, Paupa's plants and animals are infected. I fear it is spreading" Harriet the Hag. An infection spreading? Could that be the same one...