Did you seriously just ask me what it’s like when they battle?
As if you actually give a damn? You haven’t bothered to care about any of us before, not when it really matters, at least. Why ask now?
Yes, I am still mad about that. And about a lot of issues.
I don’t feel like talking to you, frankly.
I can sass you all I want. I’m too useful for you to kill.
Well, I suppose I could be turned into a worse animal. Quite right.
But it’s not like the fights take the shape of a story I can tell you. How does one delineate something so swift and violent? How does one narrate, for instance, an explosion, or the swoosh and shine of a guillotine? It’s not something that lends itself to plotting. It’s maniacally harried, and horrible.
Honestly, I don’t pay much attention to who’s being battled from week to week. It’s none of my concern. Sometimes it’s blue goblins; sometimes it’s bandits; and I feel like it was a werebear once – but actually now that I reflect more carefully I think Bartak talked that one down. He’s indispensable. In fights, he’s a one-dwarf path of destruction, his braids swinging outwards with spatters of blood and glory. About halfway through each skirmish I catch him sometimes reaching some kind of climactic power surge, crunching his body down into an angry ball and then standing to release a terrifying cry – actually that’s the wrong word. Cry has connotations of alarm, confusion, or fear. Bartak knows exactly what he’s doing. From there on out, I often have to look away; even for a stomach accustomed to ingesting dusty, maggot-eaten road leftovers, what ensues after the yelling is sometimes a shock. He becomes a little blonde cyclone of murder.
But without that rage, none of them would have made it this far.
Vilig’s a force to be reckoned with, too, but there’s something almost graceful about his brand of dispatching. Where Bartak butchers, Vilig’s an artist, swooping swiftly from one corner of the field – the sword moving like a quill as it deftly ends one person after the other, his hair lingering behind him in the air like a paintbrush. Stab, stab, stab goes the quill; he calls it a mercy blow, and he certainly makes it quick. He dodges out of pickles that would certainly kill a human, but even I, as an elf, was never quite this fast. I was languorous, slothful, reluctant even to pass a dew drop without examining it more closely, sponging up every delicate second as if I knew I’d one day lose the life I’d been born into. Vilig is something else. Time speeds up for him, rolls like rapids under his feet, and he commands it like no one else in the fray. It amazes me – and exhausts me – to watch it.
On the other hand, I always did lose interest with the religious segments of existence, so I tend to tune out with Ilios. It’s nothing against his personality, which I find quite amiable and generally harmless. It’s just that, when he raises his holy symbol and it glows across the battlefield, one incantation blends into the other in a pious mush that makes my eyelids droop even in the midst of such excitement. Don’t mistake my tiny birdy attention span, though, for any true complaint – the entire party would all be goners without those healing spells. Daba in particular. She owes every one of her feathers to him by now.
…although I’ll say on her behalf that she’s hatched out a couple of useful spells of her own at this point – one being a slumber hex, which, combined with Vilig’s “mercy” is rather effective, and the other (my personal favorite) being a thundercloud which she can create and manipulate at will to float around any given area and shock her opponents to death. I will say I do get a perverse enjoyment from watching her, hanging out in the back, squinting and holding up her talons as they guide a black vapor cloud of electric doom.
Wait, what did you say? How am I watching her if I’m with her?
You must have gone daft after all these years. Do you seriously think I am on her shoulders during this madness? Absolutely not. Out of the question. I fly as high as I can into a nearby tree until the chaos blows over. Obviously.
Well, genius, if I die, what will happen to all her spells?
Allright then – maybe that’s not the only reason. Maybe I’m flying the coop, so to speak. So what? You required me to accompany her, not die for her.
I can’t help much, regardless. What do you want me to do – peck out their eyes? You’d like that, wouldn’t you? That would fit your little stereotypes.
You disgust me.
I was kidding in that last part, of course.
Just don’t make me a frog.