After The Fall: EarthFall

Memoirs of an Ableman part 2
"Every man dies. Not every man really lives"

“Every man dies. Not every man really lives”
Day 5 (continued)…

Truth and lies. The time has come for Victor and I to make a very important decision. Do we leave Pipes to its fate? Let the trolls attack and secretly head our own separate way? The answer is no. We must stay. Victor and I cannot turn away from our friends here in Pipes. We must, at all costs, protect our friends and our newly found home. I did not think that I would use that word “Home” for this little run-down town, but it has become our refuge in the wasteland and maybe our salvation.

Our path is leading us into danger once again. The sheriff made a deal with the trolls in order to save the town. We have been tasked with destroying the tooth and wing fortress somewhere in the north, a days walk from Pipes. The trolls claim that gargoyles are building a nest and killing everyone in the area. We must investigate and decide how best to deal with the menace, or Pipes will suffer if we fail.

Day 6
Our journey starts this morning, and the plan has been laid out before us. It is our intent to travel north to the gargoyle fortress but first we must get past the Mythra Car park. We have heard stories that the car park is the home of a gang. For me Gangs are one of the worst evils that this world has spawned, they symbolize lawlessness and are run by only the worst kind of men. It will take every ounce of will to leave that evil alone.

The day has almost come to an end and I am taking a small rest to add to my previous entry. We ended up actually going into gang territory and survived. I really can’t believe that we actually made a profit by selling our extra equipment to the merchants located there. As I had figured it our corpses would have been stripped bare and laid to rest in a ditch. I must admit that even though gangs house many evils, I was actually surprised about how some good still lives in their midst. I think that we might have come back here one day and sell off any salvage we have. Good business, plus maybe a we might have a chance to influence evils grip on this place.

Day 6 (continued)…
Don’t mind the blood drops on this page, Victor and I are ok, the blood is not ours. I feel the need to explain the last several hours so that one day I might be able to make sense of them.

After leaving the car park the night was approaching, we came across a ruined house located in a row of other buildings. We decided to make camp on the upper story and set up a few defenses. While Setting up our gear a strange noise broke through the nighttime silence. Before we could place the sound a weird scene befell our eyes. A man and a woman riding a smoke spewing machine stopped in front our makeshift campsite.

“Dexter!” the man yelled. Before I knew what was happening the man and woman burst into the house opposite of ours. A gun fight broke out inside and we witnessed a man being shot and killed. A moment later the strange man and woman ran out of the house and down the street, still raging over the name Dexter.

Victor and I decided at that moment to run to the house opposite of ours. Once inside I was nearly shot by a one armed man. I’ll call him “Mel’s Friend”, since I can’t remember his name, “Mel’s Friend” explained to us what had happened in the few seconds that happened before we arrived. His friend Mel had been killed by the strange duo. We decided to stay upstairs with the man in hopes of having one more gun to throw bullets if the need arose.

We heard another commotion from a house to the south of us, and witnessed a horrible sight. The strange woman was throwing junk out of a window, after several objects flew from the window we recognized what came next, a woman and her infant.

I remember Victor and “Mel’s Friend” open fire on the woman. I sat stunned and could only watch as their gun fire tore though the woman. Justice served. A few moments passed, we all took aim at the building waiting for the man to emerge and we knew the fight was just about to begin. The man came at us with his crazy shouting for “Dexeter!” on his lips. He took several hits from our bullets but kept on coming. After that brief fight everything else is just a blur of motion in my mind. In the end “Mel’s friend” lay dead by the window with Victor and I standing victoriously over the unconscious body of the crazed man.

Little did I know at that point but the strangest thing was still yet to happen. We had searched the man and removed his belonging and then we tied him up so that we could actually get some rest. The night passed without further incident but when we awoke the crazed man was gone. I find it rather odd that anyone could escape one of Victor’s knots, that man could tie up a troll with its own nose hair.

Day 7
Victor and I did what we could to lay to rest the many souls that died in the night, and said our farewells to Mel, his friend, (sorry to you that I never knew your name) the woman and her newborn, and lastly with regret we even buried that crazy woman.
Little else can be said, we must continue on.

“Get Busy living, the dead will only drag you down to them!” – Grand Father Bristle.

Several hours after leaving the ruined housing block we ran into a family heading south. The Andersons, let me take a moment and describe this motley group. Sara, the mother, sad and weary from her trials for caring for her children. Trish and Jenny, the eldest daughters, Billy and Pacwin, the boys, Billy being the current head of the family (as I suspect their father is no more). Finally the little ones, Melanie and Wind, the cutest and dirtiest girls you have ever seen.

Billy tells us of the family’s strife, they were formerly from the town Mayflower which has recently been destroyed. The family is fleeing with no known direction as to where they should head. Victor and I help them with what supplies we can spare and point them in the direction of Pipes. If we did not already have a desperate situation on our hands I would have chosen to escort this family back to Pipes, but we did as much and even more then most would do. I truly hope they make it.

Day 7 (continued)…
We traveled on, before long riders on horseback appeared on the horizon behind us. As it turns out it was a group of Ablemen heading toward the town of Mayflower to determine the cause of its destruction. We talked to them and told them of about our task to find the gargoyles and we learned from them that Mayflower was probably destroyed by the very same creatures. The Ablemen could not afford to waste time helping us to get to our destinations any faster so they continued on.

In the few short moments that we talked to these men I had learned that they knew of my Grand Father, which is not a surprise, most true Ablemen have come to know about my grand fathers legacy in one way or another. But I can’t help feeling strange that others are also trying to follow in his foot steps.

After the dust from the horses settled Victor and I continued on and eventually made it to Mayflower. The only thing we found there was death. We helped the Ablemen pile and burn the bodies of the dead. Evidence surely does point to a gargoyle attack. After laying the dead to rest, the Ablemen once again left without us, as we could only slow them down due our lack of a faster means of travel.

Traveling again at our slow pace we finally sighted what the trolls deemed as “the tooth and wing fortress”. A large rusted metal dish protruding out of a hole in the ground. We cautiously made our way to a better vantage point only to notice a large pile of dead horses at the center of the crater. Victor let out a gasp that conveyed my own thoughts and my heart sank, were the Ablemen dead?

As it turns out this had been their plan all along. The horses were just decoys, so that the Ablemen could hide under the sand and ambush the gargoyles. We hid under the sand with the Ablemen waiting for the gargoyles to return. The waiting was unbearable.

My breath was stolen from me as a shadowy apparition passed overhead, fear threatened to set my body into retreat. I glanced at Victor and saw his determination, that quick look gave me the will I needed to quench the rising fear. The apparition came into my sight and hell was unleashed upon the demon. The Ableman, Victor and I started shooting at the great beast. As the shots rang out we saw that the bullets seemed to have no effect on the creature. Fear was quickly growing inside us again, this time we could not wrestle ourselves from its grasp. The fight was short and unsuccessful and it was now time to retreat. We quickly decided that we could not head back south because we did not want to lead the evil gargoyles back towards Pipes.

Victor tells our group about a rumor of the Old Repeater way station to the north, and we quickly decide that it is our only choice. We ran faster then I remember running in my entire life, fear keeping us going long past our muscles were willing. As the fear slowly starts to fade we eventually realize that our group has shrank. Victor, Tod Sanderson, Heath Feather, Randy Sinlin, and I are the only ones remaining, fear turns to dread and heartache.
Heath yells at us to stop, “Tod is hurt and needs to rest”. I checked Tod’s wound and know that something needs to be done quickly or else Tod will die.

The Old repeater way station, A tall rusted metal tower rises out of the ground at an odd angle, that combined with disturbing buzzing sound that surrounds the area. What is this place? Why did someone build this crazy structure in the middle of nowhere? Too many questions come to mind. I see Victor eying the tower and know that he calculating the value of all that metal, I almost laugh at the thought but Tod’s health must come first.

We entered a run down structure at the base of the tower. Tod is in bad shape, we bandaged Tod up as best we can and decide that someone must go for help. Randy volunteers to head back south to find what ever help he can muster. As Tod rests we search the building for supplies.
I found Victor messing with a strange machine with the words “generator” inscribed on it, whatever he did to it only shows our ignorance of the past. No, maybe I am wrong Victor is a smart one, he might have actually fixed the device. Whatever it is remains a mystery to me.

Day 8
Food and water is running low. What food we do have is rationed out equally. Heath saves his portion for Tod. Tod seems to be getting better, but he is still in need of proper medical treatment.

The day is long, and uneventful. To pass the time we share our stories of our time traveling from pipes and learn that the strange man in the ruins goes by the name “Masterson”. This Masterson fellow is known by the Ablemen. What little we learn about Masterson is that he is apparently hunting down Dexter who is an Ableman from Ithica. More then that Randy and Tod are not willing to tell.

Day 9
As dawn arrives we hear the sound of horses being ridden fast. Randy returns to us with extra horses and supplies. None too soon. The ride back to Pipes was quick and uneventful.

Upon our return we are happy to find the Andersons alive and well in Pipes. They are thankful for our assistance and have decided to make Pipes their new home. Sara invited us to have dinner with her family. As our journey ends we learn that Tod is doing better and he will survive his injuries. The Ablemen leave Pipes and head toward their home in Ithica. The time has come for us to rest and renew ourselves. The journey was dangerous and unsuccessful, but we survived… I am sure grandfather would have something to say about that…

“those who never step, never stumble.”

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Adventure Part 2

Beginning for Friday’s story.

Story part 2
Men and women armed with all manner of ragged weapons rush to the front buildings that offer a small screen of cover from the approaching trolls. The guard continues to ring the bell alerting the town to the incoming menace. Children are swept off streets, those unable to fight rush to back of the town and into whatever buildings that can house them.
The frantic pace slows as the defenders continue to check and recheck weapons while the trolls, still incredibly distant continue in their almost mechanical march towards the town.
As the sun climbs higher into the sky the heavy smell of sweat and nerves collect all around you. Ben Bobbin moves to your side and stands next to one of the faceless buildings that face the desert. Scattered metal railings are dragged out and efficiently block off the roadways that enter the town on both ends. Though they will most likely do very little good against the Trolls.
Far out into the distance you can see the tawny black and red skin of the revenger as it towers above the trolls. Chains connect it at the arms and neck to 3 handlers who juggle its control, keeping the blindfolded creature on pace with the trolls leading it.
The Revengers head is covered by a helmet of old car rims, one on its crown and a rim covering each side of its head. Even from this far away you can see the blindfold that covers its massive eyes. Along its shoulder appear to be an old steel beam. Either from an ancient building or some other massive construction.
“What the fuck do we have here Ben?” Marshall Wallace tromps up to the deputies side, barely coming up to the thin man’s chest. His bearing and the general feeling of threat that he exudes makes him look equal to the human. His black curly hair and beard and streaked with dust and sand.
“Looks like a 5 by 5 formation Marshall. Revenger in the back.”

Wallace spits onto the side of the building, pulls a large long cylinder from his side and holds it to his eye. “Aye. That’s what it is. Good eye Ben.” He looks at you both as you stand there.
Then he looks back to the Trolls. Then back at you.
“Ben, go get Grot from his mine.”
“Yes Marshall.” Ben runs off.
The dwarf says nothing to you, simply pretending as if you don’t exist. He pulls an old long cylinder handgun from the holder on his side and checks the chambers. The gun is massive and as he checks each bullet you can see that they are almost the size of a human’s index finger.
He sees you staring at the gun. “And old earth Paladin carried this. His name was Harry. Saw a pic of him once.” He clicks the cylinder back into the gun. “Ugly fucking human.” He adds muttering to himself.
A moment later Ben returns. Behind him, still wiping soot from his face, stands an 8 foot troll. His black and gray hair matted down with soot and sweat. he wears no shirt, but wears dirty brown breaches and massive boots. He bristles with troll muscle. His features are bulbous, brows as thick as a mans’ fist, eyes like palm size saucers filled with glittering gold and black flecked eyes, and a nose like an engorged sausage with deep black nostrils.
“Grot!” Marshall greets the troll.
The troll looks from the Marshal to you and then back to the Marshall. “I am not digging.” The troll says plainly.
The Marshall nods, “I will get you back to your mine. I need you to help us out Grot. We have some of your brothers on their way here. Can you talk to them?”
Grot looks out into the desert and then back to the Marshall. Thick black fingers folding over a belt around his waist he looks as if he is staring down a child.
“Came to fight.” Grot says matter of factly.
Marshall nods at that. “Rare though. We haven’t had problems with them in some time. I would rather not kill them all.”
Grot stares him down for a couple more seconds. “I need a new shovels.”
Marshall nods again, “I will make sure you get them.”
“And a pick. Short one. The tunnel is small. No room to swing. No…2 picks.”
“Wayland will get you what you need. On me.” The troll nods to Wayland who is standing behind a series of boxes and barrels he has piled up beside the building. The shopkeeper calls back over his cover, “Grot. Its yours!”
“I like horse.” Grot says to no one in particular.
Marshall shakes his head. “I told you. We need them for riding. Wayland has jerky.”
Grot thinks a moment, “Hard meat?”
“Yes just the way you like it. Lots of pepper.”
Grot nods. “Deal.” Without another word he walks past the Marshall easily steps over the barricades the town has put into place and begins to walk out into the desert.

10 minutes pass as the solitary troll and the phalanx make their way towards one another.
Out in the sands you see the phalanx come to a stop and the center of the troll group separate to let one of their members walk forward.
For many minutes Grot and the troll talk, occasionally gesturing back into the desert and towards the town. For a moment the conversation seems to be at an impasse. Then both trolls step forward slap one another on the shoulder and turn around.
In a few moments the troll phalanx is heading away from the town while Grot makes his way back. An almost tangible feeling of relief comes over the town but no one leaves the battlements yet.
Grot makes his way up the little incline and steps back over the battlements. The troll phalanx is almost no more than a dot in the distance now.
“So?” Marshall asks.
Grot points to you both. “Came for them. Says that these two killed a tribal brother.”
Marshall shoots you both a look of disgust, “How did you get them to leave.”
Grot smiles, yellow and dark skinned teeth flashing rarely, “They want help. There is a tooth and wing fortress 1 days walk to the north. They have killed all the trolls nearby. They want someone to destroy the fortress. If we don’t they will come back and take the town.”
Marshall thinks a moment, “How the hell does a Gargoyle kill a troll?”
Grot thinks on that a moment then looks up.
Marshall doesn’t understand and says as much.
Grot looks up again.
Only then does the Marshall smile in understanding. “Ah. You guys can’t look above you very well.”
Grot nods. “They drop us. We weight lots…fall fast.”
“How many?” Ben asks the troll.
Grot smiles again and slowly chuckles “Less than a phalanx.”

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Memoirs of an Ableman
"Damned if you do, dead if you don't"

Memoirs of an Ableman, “Mad” Ezra Bristle.

Day 1 (Not sure of the date, lost track many suns ago. Lets call it Tuesday)
After another mishap in the wasteland Victor and I find ourselves without any water. Our luck never seems to hold up anymore in this fucked up world. I am writing this now because death is getting closer by the minute and we wont be able to make it back to Pipes without a miracle.

I have to laugh at Victor because he is either insane or brilliant, only time will tell. Victor says he came up with a plan to get us some water and as absurd plans go this one is over the top. Victor says that trolls always keep water in abundance and he means for us to sneak into a troll encampment at night and steal their supply.

Grandfather Bristle always said “Damned if you do, dead if you don’t”, I suppose he meant that no matter what you do either way you are screwed.

Day 2
Victor proved me wrong again, I guess I owe him again, his plan worked flawlessly. We got enough water for today and tomorrow. It should be enough to make it home.

Damn it to hell, I thought those stupid trolls would not be able to track us down. I can see their dust trail getting closer. At least we managed to find a burned out scrapyard to hold up in and I think this is where we will make our stand against them. There is no way to make it to Pipes in time so we will just have to dig in and give them everything we have. Victor just gave me the thumbs up sign and for whatever reason I got chills running down my spine, again. He must have hatched another brilliant plan. Shit on me.

The fight was quick and deadly, albeit comical. I lay here nearly dead in a junkyard car being blasted by sand and wind and Victor is unscathed and sound asleep. That boy never seems to even get a sunburn. All I can say about the fight is that we used everything we had against them and I barely survived. At one point I remember being pinned under a car while Victor “thinned the herd”, as he calls it. He had a chance to leave me there and flee but he stayed, amazing to have at least one friend out here.

That just reminded me of another saying from Grandfather Bristle, “Only your real friends tell you when your face is dirty.”

Day 3
We finally made it back to town. Sold our salvage and cleaned our wounds, in that order. Heh, when did health take second place to salvage. I don’t remember it being like that when I was a kid. Wayland was kind on us again and gave us a fair price for the crap we had salvaged.

I had another run in with the town marshal, this so called lawman will bleed the town dry if he could. The marshal is as crooked as a Dorgals hind leg. This time it was my fault, I just can’t stop myself from telling that bastard off.

Teresa, proprietor of the Pipes inn, told us about a job. The town is willing to pay us to find out what is happening at the Freedorn farmstead, apparently the much needed produce shipment from the farm is late. We will have to talk to Wayland tomorrow.

Day 4
Off to the farmstead to find out why the shipment is late. We were told to head north to the “white rock” then turn toward the twisted tree and follow the path to the farm.

On the trail we ran across a few troll tracks, Victor and I agree that there might have been a troll revenger among this group, for the troll foot prints in soil were quite large.

Another strange site, we found a troll that looks to be squished flat, either stepped on or fallen from a great height. Very unusual.

Luck is with us today, we found an old vehicle that was uncovered by the sand storm. Inside we found some nice salvage that will have Wayland drooling. Maybe with all this potential cash Victor might actually want to spend some of it and get his clothes washed. Hard to hide from trolls with that smell. Maybe I should start calling him “Troll-bait”.

Arrival at the farm. I write these next sentences with care, whether to provide an accurate account of what transpired or to just give meaning to the chaos that is this world.

We arrived at the farm with relative ease and we were not greeted by anyone. Nell, the owner of the farm, is known to be a expert marksman and she usually greeted “guests” with a keen eye and uncanny aim. At a distance the farm appeared to be deserted.

Victor and I hesitantly approached the farm house and proceeded to search for clues. We entered the house we found poor old Nell. All I can say about her is at least she died in her own bed, but I would not choose to die that way. It appears she died from what I have termed as “Black Rot”, possibly just another sort of wasting disease brought on by this harsh climate.

We proceeded to search the farm and found it in good condition. The pigs were amazingly still alive and the greenhouse is intact. We also found the missing Dorgals, who were apparently still working the farm and did not have any knowledge about Nell’s death. One of the Dorgals was not so lucky though. The dead Dogal was shot and killed by someone, another mystery for us to solve. The other Dogals have no knowledge of what transpired, they just want to finish their work. They have been blindly following orders from their dead master since her death.

Victor spotted someone on horseback coming down the trail, we prepared for the encounter by telling the Dorgals to hide as we ran into the farm house. The man rode up to the house and tried to barter with us. He wanted to buy the Dorgals from us, disgusting. We instantly peg him as a poacher and are appalled that he skins Dorgals for profit. Guns are drawn, and a shoot out ensues.

In the end Victor and I are still standing as the stranger lays on the ground collecting flies.

I am again reminded of another saying from Old Grandfather Bristle. “Take what you need, use it to survive, die if you don’t.” The meaning is as clear as glass, its not stealing if they don’t have need for it anymore. We proceed to take anything of value.

Afterwards we helped bury the dead, Nell and the dead Dorgal are at peace now, and the stranger just fills another hole in the ground. Good riddance to his kind.

The day grows late so we decided to stay the night in the farmhouse. It is going to be a long and cold night.

Day 5
Victor must be a salvager at heart, he came up with an idea to make a drag sled and attach it to the strangers horse. We will pack the sled with fresh produce for the town and valuables from the farmhouse. Then make our way back to town.

The ride home was uncomfortable on the horse but the time flew by. Our first stop was at Wayland’s to collect our reward and to inform him about Nell. Wayland can see profit from a mile away. Wayland and the marshal are planning on sending a family out to the farm to take over for Nell, and also to provide the town with a food supply. Problem solved.

After settling up with Wayland and selling some of our salvage Victor and I now have enough profit to keep on living for a few more days. If we can get a few more jobs that pay well Victor might be able to start his own Armatist shop one day. As for me, well Grandfather’s legacy is looking more appealing every day…

I am startled out of a daydream by a loud ringing noise, I glance away from my journal to see Deputy Bill running through town. He stops for a instant and plainly says.. “Trolls are coming..” then he continues on running alerting everyone of the approaching danger. I clearly hear Victor say.. “Revenger…” and an image of the large foot prints snaps into my mind.

Shit on me……

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