Solside stories - chapter 16

The game ended after 17 seconds. Details are sketchy, but according to onlookers a giant man screaming ”HOO-KEE!” stormed the rink, flattening two players. The ensuing brawl ended the lives of another 6 players. The true mystery to this disaster is how the giant managed to slip away and disappear in the commotion. Again, according to onlookers, two men who they described as “shrimpy” helped the beast. What made of the party, no one knows. The only certainty is that the boys of Grabbtuna will be sharpening their skates, since they now have a mortal enemy.

Not so frisk in Frisktorp

Some time later, we find our party of mercenaries standing at the gate to Frisktorp. The settlement surely has seen better days and definitely doesn't live up to its name (Frisk = healthy). The air is foul and the ground has a certain sickly characteristic to it. The people are no better. Most are either wearing protective gear, or the boils and growths that come with not wearing such gear. It's not hard for Ola to convince his partners that they shouldn't stay long. Fortunately for Ola, they're not going to have to. The caravan that carried Emma Bendixen has been raided on its way to Frisktorp. What's left of it is smoldering just outside the walls. A man who goes by Knut is asking for volunteers to help the beleaguered caravan. We sign up immediately, our ward, and meal-ticket, was in that caravan.

The caravan is a mess, the things that aren't set a flame are destroyed or over-turned. Looks quite alot like another caravan we once ran into. There is, however, a disturbingly small amount of bodies for such a large caravan. One of the survivors fills us in. Apparently, the caravan was raided by slaving ghasts. They killed the guards and took whoever they could find prisoner. They hauled their new won prizes over to their hide-out in a nearby cave.

Just as we are about to leave, a survivor approaches us and urges us to not go. “It's too dangerous in Pestånger cave. It's worse in there than out in the wastes. Those prisoners are already lost! You'll just throw your lives away!” he urges.

“Ha! We'll show you! Look at us! We have no lives to throw away!” Counters Gunde, not fully understanding what he just said.

Say what you will about Ghasts, they do have some sense for interior design.

Ghasts are funny (and weird) creatures. Once they could be described as people. But ages of living in highly irradiated areas (and being generally weird) have changed them. Now they're tall, lanky and pale. Some of them have even mutated beyond recognition. Growing extra arms and becoming almost as big as Börje. When looking at the Ghasts, it is understandable for normal citizens of the Krater to feel fear. Good for us that we aren't “normal citizens”, we're the “no-life-no-problem” rag-tag mercenary crew. We are the thing that causes fear to run down the neck (and pant-leg) of the Ghast. Our group has become so proficient at dungeon-pest-control that this “the most terrible hole in the east” is reduced to a canvas of blood and guts in mere minutes. This is actually not all our groups doing. The ghasts here are very polite. So polite, in fact, that some even strap pressurized tanks on their backs and blow themselves up. It seems that these nice fellows (who seem to want to do our job for us) are very eager to please. The minute one of them spots our party, they rupture the tank and run towards Börje. This would probably be dangerous for any “normal citizien”, but the ensuing explosion only serves to give Börje a nice, but uneven, tan.

We find Emma where you would expect. In the holding pen, at (of course) the bottom of the cave. It seems that we're just in time. Since it's only her and another man there. She explains that the rest have been taken away. The man is her friend Oswald, and before she can fully explain who he is, she collapses. Ola, our resident Medikus, applies a light healing-stream and some light slaps tot he face to get her up again. She says that one of the ghasts bit her and she's not been feeling well since. We take her and Oswald back to Frisktorp immediately.

The Frisktorp medical-station (if you can call it that) is staffed by a scruffy guy who smells like a distillery and looks like he's been double-dipping in the buildings medicine cabinet.

“No doctor here, man. *hic* That guy cleared out ages ago, man. Something about Bloodclot and such..* hic*” The man slurs before falling headfirst on the floor. A small pool of drool starts collecting at his mouth.

“Shit, now then? Where should we go? That Emma lady isn't looking any better, and my medical skills are sorely lacking outside of stitching you lot together.” Ola says and gives the old junkie a kick.

“Hoo-kee town closest. Hoo-kee town take care of pretty lady” Börje counters.

“That's a great idea!” Gunde proclaims. “I wasn't even allowed on the ice. This might be my chance!”

“You idiots! Don't you guys remember what happened there? JUST A COUPLE OF HOURS AGO?!” Ola shouts.

Emma, who's been standing silently in the corner this whole time heaves over and pukes. The sickly yellow bile mixes with the junkies drool to create a stunningly disgusting smell that seems to stick to you. Our group takes that as the ending argument and quickly packs up and heads for Grabbtuna.

At Grabbtuna, the sound of whet-stones sharpening blades can be heard throughout the settlement.

A shadow, lurking.