It’s starting to get dark as we make our way towards the thick thorns of the Briar Patch that is supposed to be the nexus of the different spheres in the Harrowing. I look up into the sky to try and gauge what time it is… but it’s kind of difficult when the moon and stars are wooden props held up by scsffolding. Hmph… I guess with the death of Sonneray also went the budget for this play.
“This briar patch looks like a mess that goes on for a while,” Lenata says forelornly. “If only we could see how far it goes!”
I look at one of the trees covered in thorns at the entrance and groan inwardly. The things I do to keep the cleric happy. After a few choice swear words I’m able to get about 30 feet up… but there just doesn’t seem to be any end to the thorny briars in the distance. With a grunt of frustration I jump down from the tree and hold out my arm to the cleric with a pout, as the fur is now matted with blood and scratches.
“Thank you, Kenari… I appreciate you trying,” she whispers with a smile as her hands glow and the pain goes away.
A thought comes to me as I pick a few thorns out of my headscarf. I think I’ve seen this Brian Patch before! I pull the Harrowing cards from my sash and quickly start flipping through them. Come on… where did I see it… AHA! I pull out a card called “The Tangled Briar” in hopes that it might aid us on our way. Small motes of white light fall upon each of us, and then nothing.
“Let’s see what it did!” Vedis exclaims and reaches out to touch the brambles. “Ouch! Damn it!” she swears and sucks at her bleeding finger.
“Hmmn…perhaps if we just try walking?” Ef offers and walks towards brambles that soon part and show a path.
“Now why did that work for you and not me?” Vedis pouts.
“I didn’t try to touch them… I just pretended they weren’t there at all,” Ef answered with a shrug. Vedis’ mumbled reply was probably best unheard by all.
Eventually, after what seems about an hour of travel through the thorns and briars, we come to a clearing decorated with banners and pennants… with a little one-room house in garish colors.
“Hello? Anyone home?” asks Melchoir as he tips his hat back and knocks on the little door.
“Shoo! Begone with you!” comes a voice from the briars. “I am not your nursemaid!”
“Excuse me?” Lenata calls out. “We are just weary travellers looking for a place to camp!”
The brambles rustle as out comes a rather disgruntled looking rabbit wearing noble clothes and a dented crown on his head. “I told this clearing to leave me alone, but it just wouldn’t listen!”
“Please, we would just like to ask you some questions. You are Brambleson, are you not?”
“I don’t like questions,” Brambleson answers with nervous twitches of his ears. “I only like stories.”
“Then let me tell my story, and perhaps you can contribute to its telling?” I offer. “There once was a group of adventurers who accidentally ended up in the land of stories. They weren’t supposed to be there, however, and decided to look for a way to get home. After many trials they discovered that the Bard who wrote the stories was now gone…”
“It was all her… all lies!” Brambleson replied. “I don’t like those stories.” he then hops off through the briars and I have to scramble to try and keep up with him.
“I kind of like how I’m in two stories now, though… that makes me a two story rabbit! I’m huge!”
After many twists and turns I almost bowl over Brambleson as he stops in disbelief. “Do you see what I mean? This is NOT my house! I swear… I think the glade wants to marry me!” What do you know… we’re back to the clearing again.
While the rabbit is occupied, I reach into my sash and pull out the card for The Rabbit Prince. I whisper a prayer and play the card in the hopes that maybe it will calm him down enough to talk… but after a shimmering of light around him, there is nothing. Damn.“Look, Brambleson… we’d love to help you with your little lovers quarrel, but we really need to get out of here. If we could just borrow your token…” I say in frustration as I notice Ef and Melchior coming out of the house and shaking their heads.
“Aha! I knew it!” Brambleson shouts as he hops up into the air and spins around with his sword drawn. It’s a rather short and broken sword… but a sword just the same. “I declare my right to challenge… and I will duel… that one!”
Vedis tries her best not to giggle as she notices the broken sword pointed at her. “Ok then,” she replies as two weapons of energy appear in her hands. “Are we playing to first blood?”
“YES!” Brambleson screams as he leaps at her in furry rage.
Thanfully Vedis doesn’t seem to have any problems with dodging the hyperactive rabbit… but after watching him jump out of the way of her energy beam it looks like he has no problem dodging her attacks either.
“Well then… anyone want to take bets?” I ask the others just in case. From the grim looks I get I guess no one else sees the humor in all of this.
“Have at you!” Brambelson yells out as he leaps at Vedis, this time from the thorny trees. Thankfully this time Vedis was ready for him, however, and caught him point blank with a blast of her cold energy push. With a heavy thud Brambelson is sent back into a tree and knocked unconscious.
“Over already?” I call out. “Melchior and I were just about to share a pipe!” The rabbits ears twitch nervously as I gesture with the slightly smoking pipe.
“They’ve got fire … they shouldn’t bring fire here!” He immediately pulls a chain off from around his neck and throws it at Vedis before disappearing into the briars.
“Hmmn… what a strange bunny with an even stranger token,” Vedis mutters as she dons the necklace with a charm of a green shoe.
“Well I am glad that’s over,” I say as I tamper the bowl and slip it back into my sash.
“It’s not over yet,” Melchior insists, “because Brambelson must pay for his crimes.”
“You mean because of the bard? But that’s all a part of the story, right? How are you supposed to kill an imaginary creature?” says Vedis.
“Imaginary or not, he was complicit in the murder of Sonnaray the Bard, and therefore must be punished,” Melchior insists again.
“Could we even subject him to our own laws?” Lenata asks. "Would we be any better if we killed him?
“Hey, in my country they cut your hand off if you take something and take your life if you take anothers… so I don’t see a problem with a little old fashioned ‘eye for an eye’ justice, you know?” I offered with a shrug. If they all want to argue law and moral ambiguity, they can keep me out of it.
“Are you sure you can even kill anything here?” Lenata asks. “Maybe we should experiment with something smaller scale first?”
I look at the cleric with a raised brow. “Really, Lenata? You want me to go find some harmless animals and slaughter them for you?” That room with the cards must have had a greater effect on her than first thought…
“Look, if you really want to deal with the rabbit, he’s got to come back here, right?” Ef Utan says as he silences the rest of us with his hand. “We’ll camp here for tonight and see if he comes back. If he doesn’t come back my morning, however, we forget this crusade and get back to our mission.”
Melchiors lips tighten for a moment and then he nods.
“Thank goodness, because my feet are killing me!” Vedis groans as she pulls out her sleeping roll and stretches out her legs.
“I guess I’ll take watch,” I offer as I spring up the side of the house to perch on the roof.
The night passes rather uneventfully… but in the morning I am awoken to the feeling of falling as the house disappears from under me. Thank goodness for those Boots of Landing, because while I wasn’t totally awake yet I did manage to land on my feet.
“What in the 9 Hells?” I mutter as I look around to notice that not only is the house gone, but the whole clearing has changed.
“I guess we had it the other way around,” Lenata suggests. “The rabbit doesn’t keep coming to the clearing… the clearing actually keeps coming to him!”