“Gaaaarlll… it’s fucking hot ooouuuut…”
Garl groaned softly but made no attempt to move from his place under the tree or to even open his eyes. Odra rolled across the ground and finally came to a stop in front of the gargoyle.
“How is it so hot? It’s not even midday yet. And I’m gonna burn to death.”
“It’s a heat wave, Odra,” Garl said, trying to be patient with the cranky child that was his companion. “We’re taking the day off from getting to the Underdark because of it, calm the fuck down and stop moving so much. Movement brings up your body heat. You’re not helping yourself.”
“Everything makes you hotter though!” Odra complained, throwing her arms up in the air. “Drinking booze makes you hotter, dancing makes you hotter, the only thing that cools you down is snow, ice, or a lake! And we have none of those!”
Garl sighed and pressed his hands to his temples. The heat was giving him a headache. “Odra. Are you naked?” he asked a question he already knew an answer to.
“Nevermind. Is that why Sylvia and Dullahan are nowhere to be heard?”
“Dullahan’s making an acid weapon out of his own stomach bile and… I don’t know where Sylvia is.” Odra scratched her ear. “What else did you expect me to do? It’s so hot out here a tiefling would be sweating his balls off. A fucking tiefling.”
“At least put something on your lower half. Not everyone’s used to seeing you run around in your birthday suit.” Garl was past the point of caring- he’d seen his little companion butt naked so many times he’d been pretty desensitized to it.
Odra whined before she rolled herself across the ground where her pile of clothes was. She did put her leggings back on, but even that was miserable. “I’m gonna die,” she declared before looking over at Garl and their special delivery. “So… how’s your friend?”
This finally got Garl to open his eyes. He looked over at the cart that was carrying the gargoyle’s body.
“He’s dead, Odra. Nothing’s changed from the last time you’ve asked, so why do you keep asking?”
“… It’s just weird.” Odra walked up to the cart, looking the statuesque creature up and down while being sure not to touch. “When everything else dies, it disappears. I mean, after swelling and bubbling and rotting, but it disappears.”
“That’s what makes us different from everything else.” Garl wiped the forming condensation off his face. “Ulgth. Even I’m sweating. How the fuck am I sweating?”
“The air’s super sticky. And you’re a fucking rock. You’re making me regret putting pants back on.” Odra flopped back on the ground and rolled back to Garl. “I’m glad I’ll disappear when I’m dead. I don’t like… just the idea of being here forever. It weirds me out.”
Garl hummed softly before he closed his eyes again. Odra wouldn’t understand. Goblins had such a blip of a lifespan. Even their elderly were barely fifty years before they croaked. Gargoyles were, in a quite literal sense, forever. Even when their souls were gone, they left behind their shells to forever watch over their ancestral dens.
This one would be returned back to its resting place soon.
“… Uh, Garl?”
“Something’s not right.”
Garl’s eyes popped open and he reached for his blade. “How not right?” he asked.
“Birds.” Odra’s ears twitched as she inched towards her rapier where it laid next to her discarded clothing. “They stopped singing.”
“Odra, fall back to the grass if you have an opening. I have to stay with him.”
Odra didn’t question him, but she didn’t have much time to. She barely scooped up her rapier when the first zombie stumbled out of the woods.
“GARL!” Odra skittered backwards, keeping her rapier at the ready as the rotting creature hissed and spat at the goblin. “I need my daggers!”
“In the cart! Fall back! And plug your ears!”
Garl took a deep breath before he threw his head back and roared. He didn’t care to bring so much attention to himself, but he needed to get the others back here, and fast- more zombies were coming out of the undergrowth, and not all of them were human. That big one with the loosely hanging jaw was a fucking ogre.
Odra dived into the cart before emerging with her daggers, flipping them around in her fingers. “I hope they heard that!” she fired back before throwing herself into the fray.
Garl looked up at the undead ogre that was now shambling towards him.
Garl charged forward with another ear shattering roar and swung his blade at the ogre. Thankfully the hit connected- zombies weren’t great at dodging. However, it didn’t seem to mind that its guts were now starting to drip down to its knees, and Garl grimaced as he saw it raise its morningstar.
Garl ducked under the blow, but the weapon instead crashed into a tree. The tree cracked down the middle and teetered for a second before it tipped to the side and fell… right towards Odra.
The goblin dodge rolled out of the way of the tree, but unfortunately right into the path of another zombie’s whack. She yelped as it punched the back of her head, sending her sprawling on the ground.
Fuck. Fuck fuck fuckfuckfuck-
Garl couldn’t have been more thankful when a shadowy beast came crashing out of the trees and bodyslammed the ogre, getting its attention off of Garl. While the ogre turned to deal with the new threat, Garl bolted over to where Odra was getting her bearings.
“Odra! You all right?”
Odra hummed before stumbling to her feet, rubbing the back of her head. “You’ve hit me harder,” she joked before she slipped both of her daggers out of her belt. “Keep their attention. They’ll never see me coming, hehe!”
A bottle of a nasty yellowish liquid soared through the air and shattered in front of a few of the other undead. One made the mistake of stepping in it and immediately it started to melt. By the time it reached the other side of the puddle it was little more than arms, shoulders, and head.
“Well, this is a lot of dead bodies.”
Dullahan strode out of the trees and tossed another bottle of that vile looking concoction between his hands. Garl grimaced as he caught a whiff from the puddle. “That’s your vomit, isn’t it?”
“Garl, the things I know about how to weaponize hairwould make you stay up at night.”
As if to demonstrate this, one of the zombies ambled closer to Dullahan, swiping at the madman. Dullahan took a step back and Garl watched as the hair rose on the human’s arms before it grew and shot out to stab the zombie through the head. The zombie twitched before it dropped to the ground, back to being dead.
“… Oh. Well, that’s actually new. Interesting.”
“Are you fucking kiddingme!?” Garl snapped.
Dullahan shrugged before he sidestepped another zombie coming to eat his face. “Well, as much as I’d like to continue this experiment, it’d be appreciated if someone took care of that one…”
Odra flung herself out of the bushes and onto the zombie’s back, stabbing both of her daggers into its skull. Blood and brain flew through the air as Odra cackled, obviously having completely forgotten about the heat of the day. Nothing made a rogue happier than pulling off multiple sneak attacks, which considering zombies had just about as much awareness as you’d expect, she was getting a lotof those.
The ogre zombie finally toppled over as the shadowy creature bit its head off. Sylvia walked out of the trees. “Oh gods, it smells,” she gagged, reaching up to cover her nose.
Garl dodged another zombie’s pitiful grab for him before he slashed the corpse down the spine. “Where did they even come from?” he said.
“Who the fuck knows, and who the fuck cares- GAH! GET OFF!”
Sylvia shoved a zombie back but not before its rotting fingers tore open her cheek. She hissed in pain as she covered the bloody wound. Without another word, she just barked an order at her summon while lifting her crossbow up to fire.
The bolt stunned it for a second, enough for the summon to get its claws into it. Sylvia spat out any of the blood that dripped into her mouth before easing back into the shadows, her eyes positively glowing with rage.
How were there still more of these sons of bitches out here-
Garl felt something in the air change and he knew to hit the ground before the lighting hit.
The drow mages dropped from the shadows as the zombies twitched and writhed. Now everything smelt like Dullahan’s shitty acid potions, rotting flesh, and burning flesh.
At least once they stopped twitching they were all dead. One of the drow, likely the one in charge, took off her helmet to reveal a nifty pair of goggles that likely shielded her eyes from the daylight. She snapped something in Elvish, her lip curling at the sight of the party.
Garl shook the blood off his blade as he glowered at the sorceress. “Speak Common, for the love of-”
Dullahan cleared his throat and raised his hand to cut Garl off. Then he responded in perfect Elvish to the drow sorceress, dropping to one knee and bowing his head.
This clearly got the right impression from her, as a smile crossed her lips and she patted the human on the head. They had a brief conversation before Dullahan was allowed to rise.
“We’re good. She knows a shortcut into the Underdark, she just thought we might have something to do with the zombies that have been apparently harassing their entrances. We can bring the dead guy too.”
Garl took a deep breath, counted to ten, and said, “I hate him. I really do.”
Sylvia snorted as she pressed a handkerchief against her scratched cheek. “Join the club,” she grumbled before she followed after him.
“You okay, Garl?”
Odra dropped down on Garl’s shoulders and Garl managed a smile before he grabbed the cart and pulled it as they joined the others. “Just fine. How’s your head?”
“I got a thick skull, I shook it off. And Dullahan gave me a potion that I’m pretty sure had a few of his fingernails floating around in it judging by the texture. Very. Sharp. And metallic.”
That was something about that that made Garl shudder. “I hope he lets Sahsi give him manicures sometimes. That’s fucking disgusting.” Dirty fingernails. No thank you.
Funny, he’d wanted to actually bring the hexblood with them, but she wasn’t in her room when he went to recruit her. Pity. He’d prefer her sissy healing potions that smelled like rose petals over whatever gods forsaken crap Dullahan pulled off or out of himself to make his concoctions.
They would’ve missed this entrance to the Underdark if they hadn’t had a drow guard. The leader woman murmured some secret words at a stone and it just rolled out of the way, revealing a dark tunnel that seemed to go on forever. At the sight of it, Odra sighed with relief.
“At least it’ll be cooler down there!”