Rude Dolf the Red-Nosed Drain-Deer (Part 6 - Finale)
Dolf awoke to the queasy feeling that usually accompanied overindulgence. That was odd: he didn’t remember actually drinking anything.
“Excuse me, could you please stop the world? I’d like to get off,” he murmured.
Hermaphrodity turned around and shook their head.
“Seriously, mon, you gotta stop getting incapacitated! We’re almost there!”
“Almost where?” the Drain-Deer asked.
“To the Weirdomancer of the Wastes. That thing behind you is tracking him.”
Dolf turned around slowly, trying not to upset his stomach any further. There was a blubbery, one-horned creature floating in a tank of water that extended from the floor to the ceiling.
“Where are we?” he asked the Elf.
“On the Professor’s ship. This thing is amazing! I’ve never seen a flier this size, let alone an item that can carry passengers.”
“And this…sea creature?”
The Professor had shuffled into the room and was checking a bank of lights in one of the corners. Hearing Dolf’s query, he straightened up and adjusted his glasses.
“That’s Leelu, and you leave her alone! Not only is she flying the ship, she’s tracking the Weirdomancer of the Wastes.”
“Wait, what?” the Drain-Deer yelled. “Our lives are in the fins of a fish? And just how is it tracking the Weirdomancer?”
The Dollamancer shook his head.
“I can’t remember. It came to me in a dream, and I forgot it in another dream.”
Hermaphrodity squinted in disbelief.
“You forgot how…in a dream?”
“Oh my, yes. Don’t you have dreams like that?”
Dolf and Hermaphrodity looked at each other and replied in unison.
“What are your dreams like?” Dolf added.
The Professor cackled his peculiar laugh.
Before anyone could ask a follow up question, a high pitched squeal emerged from the tank behind them.
“We’re close now!” the Dollamancer shouted. “Leelu’s bringing us down. Get ready for battle!”
There was an odd sensation in the pit of Dolf’s stomach as the ship descended. It must have been flying near the very top of the airspace, because the feeling lasted several minutes. Pressure built up behind the Drain-Deer’s ear drums. Dolf swallowed a few times as the ship halted its forward progress and slowly lowered itself to the ground. The motley assortment of units assembled near the rear of the ship: the Professor, who looked too decrepit to croak anything, Blender, Fry Guy, Hermaphrodity, and Dolf the Drain-Deer.
“Ok, when I open the door, we’ll rush out and croak the Weirdomancer before he knows what hit him!” the Dollamancer cried.
He pressed a button on the side of the ship and a portion of the floor fell away, forming a ramp. Dolf was the first out of the gate, charging into the powdery snow. He looked around for something to croak, but the only unit in sight was a scruffy looking feral Prospector, who was sitting on a small hillock and crying in a most unprepossessing fashion. The Drain-Deer approached carefully.
“What’s the matter, Prospector?” he asked when he was close enough for conveseration.
“The Weirdomancer of the Wastes croaked mah tribe! Ole Scruffy’s the only one left,” the white haired man sobbed. “T’would be a mercy if yah croaked me with ‘em.”
“Okay,” the Drain-Deer assented, licking his chops.
“Wait, you moron!” the Professor cried, inching into the conversation. “Leelu brought us down here for a reason, she’s got the heart of a Predictamancer, you know.”
“I’m fourty-percent Predictamancer!” Blender boasted, rapping a fist against his metal chest.
“Quiet!” the Professor snapped. “Anyhow, why don’t you come along with us, Scruffy? We’re tracking the Weirdomancer now.”
“Yeah, so we can croak the dastard!” said Dolf.
The old Prospector wiped a not so clean sleeve across his face and through his mustache.
“I kin….I kin go with y’all?”
“Sure!” the Professor nodded. “Okay, everyone. Back to the ship.”
They took to the airspace once again, this time with an extra passenger. Leelu set a course almost due north, straight for the Cyclopedic Mountains. Dolf kept expecting the ship to steer around the taller mountains, but they cleared even the highest peaks with ease. The Professor’s ship truly was a remarkable vessel.
After several hours of flying, Leelu emitted another high pitched squeal. The Professor waddled over.
“Okay, Leelu. Go ahead and extend the grappling arms.”
Hermaphrodity, who had been admiring the view from a window, turned.
“Did you say ‘grappling arms’ mon? Like this whole ship is a weapon?”
“Oh my, yes!” the Professor confirmed. “I had them installed in case I ever had to open an enormous jar.”
“It could happen!” he added querulously upon seeing the look on Dolf’s and Hermaphrodity’s faces.
The Drain-Deer was saved from further response by an ear piercing whistle from the tank.
“What did she say?” Hermaphrodity asked.
“Oh, nothing much. We’re going down, that’s all. The Weirdomancer removed the ship’s flying special.”
Dolf’s first instinct was to look around to see if there was something he could use to save himself. Not being familiar with the Professor’s equipment, he couldn’t make heads or tails of anything he saw.
“But, good news, everyone! The ship still has the ‘crash landing’ special. We’ll survive the landing.”
True to the Professor’s word, every unit aboard did indeed escape unharmed. Everyone but Leelu tumbled out into the hard packed snow on the side of a tall, lonely peak. The Professor pointed up to the mountain’s peak.
“Leelu said the Weirdomancer of the Wastes is up there. Let’s all stay close to Fry Guy as we climb so we don’t croak in the snow.” He shuffled over to Fry Guy and turned a knob. Instantly the heat radiating from the lava golem intensified.
The lava golem indeed made the climb bearable. Not only did he melt the knee-deep snow, just being near him kept the worst of the cold away. Dolf actually had to fall back a couple times because he started sweating. Before he knew it, the Drain-Deer found himself standing at the entrance of a dark cave near the mountain’s summit. The rest of the crew straggled up one by one, and before long they were assembled at the cave’s mouth.
“Professor, this is a fight between Casters,” Hermaphrodity said. “Do you have any advice? Last time I tangled with this guy I lost me wings.”
“Just keep shooting arrows at him when he tries to cast. Is that too hard to understand?”
“Not all all, mon. You can count on me.”
“What should I do?” Dolf asked? “Can I drain him if I have the chance?”
“Just follow Blender and Fry Guy and screen for me until they can engage him. Then do whatever you want.”
“Good enough for me.”
Blender hunched over in disappointment.
“Awww, man, you mean I gotta screen for you AND engage the Weirdomancer!”
“Quiet you!” the Dollamancer commanded. “Okay, let’s go, everybody.”
The five units entered the cave cautiously. The dull light emitted by Fry Guy rebounded off the icy walls, floor, and ceiling, coating everyone in red. Dolf’s life sense showed a strong life sign to the right.
“This way,” the Drain-Deer said he cocked his head to the side. “We’re getting close.”
The Professor pointed down the right hallway, and Fry Guy took point at his unspoken order. The lava golem managed to take three steps down the corridor before he froze, literally.
“Fry Guy!” Blender shouted as rushed up to examine the now icy golem.
The Professor laughed.
“The Weirdomancer stole Fry Guy’s lava special, but don’t worry, Blender. I layered the enchantments. Fry Guy is now an Ice Guy.”
“He always was a nice guy,” Blender sniffed.
“I said an Ice Guy!” the Professor shouted. “Now shut up and let me cast! Outkast , Igloo, Subzero!”
As the spell’s effect poured forth, sharp cracking sounds emerged from the golem. Fry Guy, now woefully misnamed, crackled back to life and lumbered forward.
“Ice to meet you!” he chuckled as he picked up speed.
“Charge!” Blender shouted as he raced to catch up to the ice golem. “Croak all humans!”
Hermaphrodity and Dolf weren’t far behind. Together, the four fighters burst into a sizable cavern ringed with Powerballs. The far end of the cave opened to the outside, revealing a gorgeous view of lesser mountain peaks stretching as far as the eye could see. The Weirdomancer was waiting for them in the center of the room, transmogrified into a giant bipedal creature with white fur. Beside him was a familiar figure: Doctor Zoid Berg.
“You!” Dolf yelled. “I’ve got a score to settle with you after we take care of this giant ape here.”
The Doctor ducked behind the Weirdomancer as a Hoboken whizzed by. The Weirdomancer roared as Blender and Fry Guy approached from either flank, and Hermophrodity used the opening to plant an arrow deep in the beast’s chest.
“Hubert! Hold Monster!” Doctor Berg cast. Dolf, who was charging straight at the giant, shaggy ape, looked side to side to determine which of his comrades had been affected. Both Blender and Fry Guy were still going strong. When his gaze returned to foe before him, he saw something that caused him to slide to a halt. The Weirdomancer had almost entirely frozen in place, his giant muscles quivering. Doctor Berg was clambering up the beast’s chest, a strange fleshy lump in his mouth.
“Thith’ll thop him!” the lobster-man mumbled as he spat the object into the Weirdomancer’s open mouth and flung himself to the ground near Dolf’s hooves. The Drain-Deer eyed the Healomancer dubiously, unsure which side the good Doctor was on.
“Wait!” Zoid cried, holding his claws up in supplication. “That was the pineal gland of the Shivian Yeti. It’ll dispel the Weirdomancer’s transformation.”
Hermaphrodity pointed toward the Weirdomancer and shouted, “He’s free! And he’s getting even bigger!”
“Oh no!” Doctor Berg shouted as he sprang to his feet. “It’s turning the Weirdomancer into a double Yeti!” As the Doctor attempted to scuttle away, whooping in fear, a short, squat figure bowled him over and sprang at the menacing Yeti with wooden staff held high. It was Scruffy.
“Scruffy’s goin croak how he lived! Prospecting with’n mah rod!”
The Weirdomancer stumbled back under the rain of blows, roaring and swiping futilely at the bundle of fury kneecapping him over and over. His giant foot caught on the ledge of the cavern and the Caster looked behind him for a moment, which was just enough time for the panting old prospector to lunge forward and body check the Weirdomancer right off the mountain. They fell.
“Scruffy!!!!” The Professor cried. “We barely knew or cared about you!”
The remaining warriors ran over the ledge and stared down in hopes of catching a glimps of the croaked Yeti on the mountainside below. Nothing.
“Is he croaked?” Fry Guy asked.
“No mon,” Hermaphrodity said with a sniff. “I didn’t get me wings back.”
A white flash and a roar announced the Weirdomancer’s return. The giant ape now sported two enormous white wings.
“My main wings!” The Elf cried.
Two giant paw swipes sent Blender and Fry Guy flying into the cavern walls. Dolf alone stood between the rampaging beast and the Professor, but the beast had left himself wide open with his last attack. Dolf dove between the beast’s legs, turned, and sprang into the air. His fangs found purchase deep into the back of Weirdomancer’s neck. As DOlf activated his drain life special, the rush of juice along with the caster’s life force almost overwhelmed him. Here was a soul par excellence for him to feast upon, not even the enormous Tannenbaum was its equal. Dolf actually leveled mid-drain.
The Weirdomancer was now beset on all sides. Although his hits were numerous, the unceasing onslaught from Hermaphrodity’s bow, Fry Guy’s ice hard fists, and Blender’s spinning blades forced the Yeti to give ground until it once again reached the ledge. This time, the Weirdomancer jumped of his own accord, no doubt hoping to do away with Dolf the same way he had Scruffy.
“Dollffff!” Hermaphrodity yelled as they sprinted over to look out over the mountain-side.
“Oh, I get it!” the Professor announced. “You have tiny wings on your feet. I was wondering why you said ‘main wings’.” He chucked.
“Not now, mon. Dolf’s gone!” He gasped. “My wings!”
The Elf flapped their newly grown wings experimentally and laughed.
“Oh, mon, I’ve missed these! Okay, I’m gonna go see if Dolf survived that fall somehow. You never know!”
“Ohh, pish-tosh,” the Professor scoffed. “He’s gone for good. No, nothing can be done….unless…I could make a doll out of his body. Oh my, yes. Would you like that?”
“I suppose,” Hermaphrodity assented after a moment of thought. “I’ll go find him.”
As the Elf unfurled their wings, ready to take flight for the first time in countless turns, the Drain-Deer himself zoomed into view.
“Guys! You’ll never believe this! I can fly now!”
“Yes, yes, good for you,” the Professor simpered. Now let’s get out of here.”
“What about me?” Doctor Zoid Berg asked from where he’d been cowering behind a giant column of ice.”
Dolf licked his lips.
“I think it’s time for Lobster A La King.”
“Are you sure you can’t stay?” the Professor asked Dolf and Hermaphrodity as they prepared to take off from the Island of Miscast Dolls and return to their respective tribes.
“No,” said Dolf.
“No, mon,” Hermaphrodity answered. “Well, it’s been good working with you, Dolf. Sorry about your buddy Frank.”
The Drain-Deer sighed.
“Yeah, Marissa is going to be bummed for a long time. But hopefully being able to see normally will help her get over him.”
“See ya, mon.”
Dolf took flight and soared high over the island before proceeding, keeping an eye out for the atomic mutants. He didn’t see any movement in the ruins below, so he flew across the water and out of the hex. It was quiet up in the sky, and cold. He shivered and dropped altitude until the air felt comfortable again. He couldn’t believe how fast the ground was whizzing by underneath him…it’d only be two turns before he reached his home. Just two more turns till he could see Marissa again.
The flash of Shockamancy came unexpectedly five hexes later. When Dolf came to his senses, he was a caged prisoner. Manacles held his four legs and antlers. Where was he? What was going on?
The answer to his questions appeared in the form of a red and white garbed Warlady with a red stocking cap. She smiled at him, and it wasn’t the good kind.
“Well hello, there, little Drain-Deer. You’re special, aren’t you?”
Dolf said nothing.
“I mean, flying units are nothing special. But a Drain-Deer that can fly? That’s unusual, to say the least.”
The Warlady stepped forward and caressed Dolf’s face. He shuddered and tried to pull away, but the chains held him fast.
“Shhhhhhh…don’t fight it. The sooner you acquiesce the better. I don’t suppose you’d consider turning to our side, would you?”
Dolf shook his head as vigorously as he was able to. The lady smiled once more.
“Good, I like a challenge.”
She reached out her hand to pet him again, except this time short, sharp blades extended from the Warlady’s fingertips and dug into the fur of his snout. Not enough to actually hurt, but enough to herald that the torture would commence shortly. Dolf swallowed.
“Who…who are you?” he managed to whisper.
The lady stepped back and held up her hands. The blades flicked out again, this time exceeding the length of her fingers. She took a step towards the Drain-Deer.
“I’m the Chief Warlord of his excellence, Zaintnick. You will refer to me as ‘Mistress Claws’.”
Aww... I know Dolph was mostly a jerk, but no one deserves to live a life of slavery. Hopefully being a Natural Ally means he's going to be immune to turning individually.
Failing that, I'll just join Bandaid in imagining Dolph helps stage a coup that puts Zaintnicks daughter Keri Smash on the throne, and they go on magical adventures.
But hey, February is coming up, a follow up adventure with Hermaphrodity rescuing Dolph (with the power of loooOooOoove!) would be hilarious.