Back around the Skara area, things were pretty much back to normal… Mu took to randomly walking around the road, pausing to chop a tree, hunt birds, and roast some meat over an open fire, a largely forgotten activity which had the pleasant side effect of raising not one but two skills which were largely considered to be useless.  There was also ample opportunity to hunt bigger game here… apparently all of the trolls, skeletons, lizardmen, spectres, ogres and orckin from the Atlantic shard had gotten tired of it as well and come to Catskills.  Eventually, there was so much fighting going on that Mu was forced to reluctantly trade in his ratty old studded leather armor and splintering shield for new gear, not so much out of any concern for his safety,  but more out of a lingering fashion sense from his old life.

Having spotted Kull at the Skara bank, Mu thought his sparring partner might be available for some more nonsense, and so with his usual sparse gear, he ran up to the area he had encountered Kull before.  Sadly, Kull appeared to have taken leave of the area, and so Mu occupied himself with fighting the various monsters that seemed to appear here and there for no particular reason.  Why is it that monsters insisted on appearing in random areas of the world, with no purpose except to wander about and get attacked by bears and campfire cooks?  No doubt they must have committed some awful crime in their subterranean homelands to deserve such a fate, exiled to pointless meandering and bad pathfinding AI.  Perhaps they  will someday be integrated into Britannian society, to take up trades and become productive individuals, maybe even go help kill Kull once in a while, but until then they sure do make nice archery buttes.

As usual, Mu’s forays into the woods tended to drag on for several days without Mu needing to return to resupply… one of the advantages of his new lifestyle.  He would simply run around without a plan, fight whatever happened to pop out of the undergrowth, fletch more arrows when needed, and do that mysterious "cooking" thing when nourishment ran short.  As a result, he was actually carrying about a thousand in gold and valuables when he ran across Pitt.

Pitt, in full plate and riding on horseback, rode past Mu as the latter was dealing with an Orc Lord, pursued by an ordinary orc.  He simply ran past without bothering to respond to Mu’s "Hiya," leading the orc off to the side of a building.  Several moments later, the orc came back to attack Mu from the rear… no problem, it’s good practice, convinced Mu as he maneuvered his shield around between the two.  On one such swing of the shield, he noticed Pitt’s horse’s feet sticking out from behind a nearby building, like he was preparing some sort of cartoon ambush.  Sigh… here we go again…

Sure enough, an arrow flew out from behind the bulding, but unlike in his previous encounter, this one actually connected.  Sidestepping the orcs, Mu turned his attention to his new assailant, whose timing was a little better than Kull’s, yet still managed to get plugged a few times.  After a few of these back-and-forths Mu suddenly realized he had no bandages available, and so ducked off into the woods, picking his way through some brambles that Pitt’s overloaded horse would have trouble with, and quickly snipped off some cloth.  Packing his wounds, he returned to the scene.

He had just picked up Pitt’s tracks when the horseman came out of hiding, firing again.  "The runner," mocked Pitt.

"The newbie," corrected Mu.

"Run boy run," said Pitt, keeping up the uncreative archery assault.

A few more shots made it apparent to Mu that an archery battle would probably be neck-and-neck, Pitt no doubt having the edge in skill but with some rather shoddy maneuvering.  Expecting Pitt to follow up with some inconvenient magery, he jumped right at him with kryss and shield, hoping to take him off balance with this odd tactic.  Right on cue, Pitt began the PK litany… rather, the litany of PK’s who have figured out the usefulness of the energy bolt,  but not how to use it on effective combinations.

"Corp Por."  A cloud of smoke appeared.

"Corp Por."  Mu caught the edge of a gesturing hand with his kryss, slicing in and distracting Pitt.  "Crap," said Pitt, quickly downing a bottle of foul yellow liquid, instantly cauterizing his wounds from less than half-essence.  This was good, since it reminded Mu that he had a couple of those lying around in his pack somewhere, probably scavenged from some critter earlier in the day.

"Corp Por."  This one connected, and Mu shuffled his gear around and downed a yellow of his own.  Blech… that ginseng flavor that you can never really get rid of.

"Corp Por."  A slice across the cheek prevented another bolt from flying.

"Corp Por."  A nick in the ribs distracts Pitt again.

"Corp Por."  Another one connected… Mu grabbed a dressing with his weapon hand and packed it over the wound, then realized he had once again run out.

"Corp Por."  Mu begrudgingly ran off behind some more houses as the last bolt singed his leather a bit, snipped a few more bandages, and ran back before he was healed to keep the pressure up, preventing any sort of pesky meditation which might be taking place.  Fortunately, Pitt wasn’t big on reading up on magery news, and was just standing there when Mu tracked him to his location, following the signs of lameness that lay strewn about.

Another arrow flew out at Mu, and Mu  returned fire… a lucky shot, catching Pitt square in the chest for about a third of his remaining vitality.  Once again charging in with fencing, Mu pressed the attack, packing bandages on  as necessary, knowing Pitt was running low on magical energies; the gods of the occult have little patience for those who suck this much.

This time around, Pitt could not afford to launch magical attacks, instead opting to heal himself;  "In Vas Mani", and once again he was pulled back from danger.  However, he could not run from the area…  his horse was tired as hell from running through the brush like an idiot, and he probably never even fed it properly.  Pulling a halberd, he weakly tried to defend against Mu’s assault, forgetting that the only people ever to successfully use the halberd in close combat were the Swiss, and they were nowhere nearby.  His clumsy swings were absorbed by Mu’s shield as the point of the kryss found home again and again, and soon he was at a third of his life force, bleeding heavily.  "Ha ha" he weakly muttered, slowly forcing his nag to flee from the backwoods hick.

"Hehe," chuckled Mu, and he thought for a moment of ceasing his attack and having a drink… he didn’t really need to kill this fool.  But then he was overtaken by the madness… Free platemail I won’t wear… Reagents I can’t use… A horse who may give me better fighting skill increases than Pitt… MUAHAHAHA!  There was no turning back, and Mu ran around in front of the horse, tripping it up with his weapon and once again freezing Pitt in place, now pressed to a wall with Mu’s shield, and being scored again and again by his kryss.  Now begins the second part of the PK litany…

"Kal Ort Por."  A stab in the thigh and then the upper arm, throwing him off balance and his concentration is destroyed.  One quarter life.

"Kal Ort Por."  A vicious cut to the abdomen… Pitt is surely doomed, just hanging on by a thread!  One more hit…

"Kal Ort Por."


Once you embrace the madness*, you can never turn back.

*"Embrace the Madness" blatantly plagiarized from the Journals of Grog Fu.


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