Magog. Alone, covered in mushrooms, and clearly angered by us. I was still shaken by finding the lives that I had been protecting since the beginning of this madness changed in such a fundamental way. I didn't notice my comrades had started the fight. Eventually the roars of Magog, the thrashing from Timmy, the battle cries of Seravin, the general chaos of the field brought me back. I picked up my bow to begin firing on Magog, none of us wanting to close with that monster. We saw how easily he turned his bully boy into paste and we wanted none of it.
It was strange. Slowed down. Everything felt unreal, especially as we kept doing damage to Magog. A particularly devastating blow from Chicago ripped away a portion of Magog's skin. Inside, instead of guts, there were more mushrooms. The started sporing out and we needed to end this fight. I rushed him with my swords, doing more damage, but Seravin was the one who finished Magog with an arrow. Then the blighter exploded.
A shower of gore was expected. Instead I got a shower of spores as something was standing in Magog's place. It looked vaguely like an insect, with stubby wings, razor tipped appendages, and multiple heads. There was some form of fungus growing on it, and the entirety of the creature looked moldy. Seravin, not caring that I was in the way used a spell on his arrow creating a rain of thorns that knocked me unconscious. The next thing I know I'm on my back and the creature is in the sky, Nanfoodle's magical bolt of light hitting it, followed by another of Seravin's arrows, droping it from the sky.
With the creature's death (note to self: we really need to figure out what that was) the goblins around us came out of their stupor. Some went fetal. Some babbled like idiots. And some threw themselves from the edges of the coliseum as others fled. Nearly entirely spent we gathered what materials we could before fleeing Fort. I cradled the witches to myself while Nanfoodle and Aukan (for Timmy took off his amulet, a task that looked to be getting harder and harder) grabbed weapons and armor from the bugbears.
About two hours into our hike back to where we left Brenda and Socks we found them. Captured by a bugbear and bound. He identified himself as 'Lefty' a bugbear that left Magog when he started changing. He demanded to be declared king of the goblins and in return we could have Brenda and Socks. I agreed immediately and glared at anyone who spoke out. Being the oldest has its perks sometimes.
After discussing the ritual with Brenda and showing her the spiky balls she declared them 'Witchballs'. She informed me she had only ever read about them, but her master might know how to change the witches back. She described a bit of the process of changing witches into these forms so other beings can consume them and increase their power greatly. Chicago got a look in his eyes and said he wanted to try one. I reminded him of the orphan Sam that used to live with us until he tried to swallow a pine cone. These were far more sharp than mere pine cones. We set a watch and rested for the night, in the morning Nanfoodle and Chicago pointing out a floating castle, one Brenda, socks, and I had an intimate encounter with before.
I dreamed. I didn't think that was possible in the Dreamland. I dreamed of geometry, angles, planes, forces, that didn't make sense. They fit together in ways not possible in the natural world. And behind that, I could hear the witches, calling for help. I still shake hearing those voices in my head.
Seravin grew incredibly excited seeing the castle off to our South and East. He exclaimed it was his to explore and claim its riches. I shrugged him off, saying we didn't want to go there while the giant was around. That didn't dampen his excitement at all. As we headed south, towards the witch's home and Brenda's master we talked. We discovered that this master went by Divinicus, and he is the wisest druid in the land. He told all the witches conquering Brittania is their birthright. While I quailed inside at the thought of more violence in the lives of these little girls and young women I had already thrown my lot in with them. My fears grew as Brenda explained that when the witches got their mortal bodies back they would gain untold power after being Witchballs.
Our first day of travel proved light and easy, something we were grateful for as we were still trying to recover from our clash with Magog and the thing inside him. The second day things took a turn for the interesting. A cat approached us in the middle of the road, glaring daggers at Socks. Nanfoodle started talking to it as the rest of the group got into an argument about some inane thing.
Nanfoodle's translating did not reveal good things. The cat wanted to kill Socks for violating 'the treaty' and entering cat lands. Asking Socks for confirmation he stated that there was a treaty in place, but the cats were not usually this far north. He'd give his life for us. So I turned to Aukan and told him the cat liked to start fires. This prompted him to put on his necklace and try to squish the cat. Chicago saw through my bluff and called for him to stop, but it was too late. Timmy's inertia caused him to slip and squish the cat with his massive bulk.
Socks dropped before Timmy, thanking him for saving his life. Chicago started looking wary around myself and Socks, but that's not something I need to deal with right away. Nanfoodle, surprising as ever, helped to make a disguise for Socks so we could travel freely. Socks is now covered in feathers and is colored blue.
Chicago continues to look at me with distrust, Timmy seems deeply affected by killing an 'innocent' animal, and that castle in the sky continues heading South with us, always slightly ahead and to the east…