The plumes of smoke rose lazily from the ashes of the tent, and I was partially relieved to see that its former occupants were relatively safe. Relative meaning that I was glad of the fact that orcs had supernatural healing powers, and the mad have good reflexes.

Even from a far distance I could see Sythius peeling his burnt flesh off, to the great amusement of Iria. The madman with a mix of horrified fascination and glee, took a hold of a flap of skin. Ignoring the orc completely, even when the amused banter turned to horrific screaming, Iria started peeling the skin off of the orc, paying no attention to the fact that he was taking off more that quite necessary.

As I got closer, I could see the steam rising from the raw muscles as skin regenerated itself, and suppressed an urge to laugh as Grrda admonished the young orc for his complaints.

I saw I had no reason in particular to worry, for Nikkita had attached himself to Iria's side, listening with slightly boredom to Iria wondering what to do with fresh orc skin. Kaiv was gingerly peeling the dark green burnt off himself, with some help from Jralm, who apparently had reflexes to rival Iria.

I raised an eyebrow in question, and Jralm nodded back at the bound and gagged wizard at his feet.

"Bounty hunter?" I asked, drawing my sword I was rewarded with a shrug from the orc. Iria tossed the orc skin aside, and leapt in front of the hostage. He studied the nervous wizard for a good long moment before giving forth a cry of triumph.

"Aha!" said he, cutting away the gag with a well timed flick of the wrist. "I knew you!"

"Err. No you don't good sir. Don't know me at all." The wizard said quickly, not quite meeting his eyes.

"Sure you do! You're that one wizard Ganegrel hired once." Iria said cheerfully.

The wizard jumped at the mentioning of the name, and attempted to stutter an excuse or a denial out, when he recognized Iria.

"You!" he shrieked.

"Yes, me?" said Iria.

"Iria Katald!"


"Of Kingdom Gestalt!"


"Of Dictator-King Berramont's Shock Troops!"


"Who was in the dungeons for traitorous actions!"


"But- but you're alive!"

Iria gave a small, quiet grin.


The wizard began whimpering, then shaking, and finally began screaming.

And would not stop.

Iria kept on smiling.

"Shall I take care of this... oversight?" He asked politely, deferring to no one in particular. Seeming to have the approval of whatever demons that drove him, he gave us a strange, militant bow and proceeded to drag the horrified wizard off in to the woods. They disappeared from sight, and moments later, the screaming quieted.

There was a long silence.

"And you sleep around the same campfire with that?" Grrda asked, a sort of horrified fascination in her wise eyes.

Kaiv nodded.

Grrda walked off, shaking her head and muttering some sort of orcish prayer/curse.

I saw out of the corner of my eye Jralm and Sythius giving me some very strange looks themselves. I gave off the most innocent smile in my repertoire.

From far, far off in the woods, the screaming started up again.

My smile grew, just a little bit.