Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chapter 10: ...We're Just Waiting for the Hammer to Fall

Brant cut through goblin after goblin until he saw it, the cave troll. It brandished dead militia men in one fist and a gigantic maul in the other; then roared. The battle, which had pressed in on all sides before had moved away from the troll and Brant. It threw the man at Brant and brought the maul smashing down towards him. Brant ducked under flung corpse and sidestepped the maul. He swung his bastard sword deep into the monsters exposed leg; it bit deep into the troll’s hamstring. With more speed than previously shown, the troll swung his arm around and knocked Brant flying. With a thud, that Brant was sure to have left an impact, he landed. By the time he could shake away the stars, they were replaced by the tremendous silhouette of the troll standing over him. It had raised the maul again high over head and brought it down directly towards Brant’s soon to be pulverized ribcage.

Brant sat up with sweat all over his face. It had been a dream. Thank the gods it had only been a dream. It had been so real, but his ribcage was still in one piece so he assumed he would be just fine. He sighed ruefully as he saw the sun had already begun to fall and was already a quarter covered by the horizon. He splashed some water on his face, raked his hair into place with his fingers and re-donned his armor.

It appeared he had gotten down before any of the other casters and decided to grab some food while he had time. It seemed some bread, cheese, and dried fruit would be his last meal. He ate slowly, savoring not the flavors, but the time. He was nursing a half-pint along before the rest of his party came down to pick over the stores provided.

As they nibbled and drank quietly, Branwyn came in to see how they fared. After replies to the affirmative, he started to lay out what he had planned for the village defenses. Ryan, Brant, and Edir all added here and there till there was a solid, unified understanding of what they would do. Edir would shield the eastern side of the village to allow the village to focus on only one side. The maintaining of this would be Edir’s main focus. Tywed would set up a sort of medic tent next to Edir. This neatly isolated the number of militia men necessary to guard them. Branwyn hadn’t been idle while the casters slept either. He had finished several make shift palisades and accompanying earthwork. This allowed, with Edir’s shield, to funnel the numbers to only two points of contact instead of the massive tidal wave that it could be. The Fools would defend these key points and stem the tide as best they could. The sheer numbers seemed daunting, but there were a few factors that held in the Fools’ favor.

First, the town had a few scrolls and wands that would be passed out to any caster that wanted one. A few weren’t that impressive, such as spells like erase or feather fall. There was, luckily enough, a wand of cure light wounds that was given to Tywed so he wouldn’t have to use all of his personal spells during the fight. Steven and Peace wouldn’t be focusing on protecting a point. They would instead stay back offering ranged help; Steven with his bow, Peace with the many combat spells the town had come up with (including a wand with a few fireball spells left in it and two scrolls of chain lightening) and those of his own.

The second was that they doubted they needed to kill all the goblins, just enough of them to make them feel the town wasn’t worth the trouble. These things made the huge numbers difference into much less of a problem. Having decided a plan of motion, the Fools filed out of the Inn and headed to their positions. Brant and Renee had been paired up on one side and Ryan and Beard had been given the other.

Everyone had their weapons, physical or metaphysical, drawn and their shields at the ready. There was a nervous feel to the militia as they stared at the huge surrounding army. Brant thought about his dream and the fight ahead, then smiled. He wove his fingers intricately for the somatic component and the hummed a few bars to set the way for his ghost sound. The intro guitar riffs surprised the militia men, but Ryan just looked over at Brant then nodded. Brant decided that as the enemy now beginning to approach with the failing light, it was a good time to try and boost morale.


Here we stand
and here we fall,
History won’t care at all
Make the bed, light the lights,
Lady mercy won’t be home tonight

Ryan shouted in, “We don’t waste no time at all.”
Don’t hear the bell, but you answer the call,
Ryan and Renee rejoined, “Comes to you as to us all”


Brant rushed forward along with Renee to meet the now charging goblin horde as he shouted, “Yeaaaaaahhh, We’re just waiting for the Hammer to Fall.”

The clash was thunderous. Brant’s bastard sword cleft through swaths of the goblin front line. Renee’s war hammer was falling in time to the beat Brant had set up; her shield swinging out to intercept blows and knock back unwary attackers.

The militia men joined in, thrusting their spears to keep flankers off the outset Fools. Ryan could be seen at the other gap, walking over the bodies he and Beard had slain. Beard’s eyes were rabid as he waded headlong into the flailing goblin blades, either impervious or not noticing them as they banged off his hide armor or barely finding purchase in his skin itself. Ryan could be heard calling out orders to the militia men, guiding them to make a kill-pocket formation with their spears.


Every night and every day,
A little piece of you is falling away


Steven’s presence could be felt through the number of feathered corpses littered amongst the other slain. Each arrow sinking home, whether it hit bare flesh or had to pierce their boiled leather armor. The number of feathered fallen was matched by those that smoked and smelt of ozone as Peace let tongue after tongue of lightening or flames fan out over the masses of pressing goblin troops. Eventually this cleared a small area for the two gap teams to press the advantage forward. It was then that the troll lumbered forward with cadaver and maul in hand. It was too much like the dream. It was so unreal and yet all to real at the same time.


But lift your face the western way
Build your muscles as your body decays.


Brant again dodged the flung dead weight, and rushed forward to meet the troll.


Toe the line and play their game
Let the anesthetic cover it all


He swung sword against maul, angling his blade to redirect the deadly force that pursued him. He brought his blade up into his raised guard and miss guessed the angle of a swing, putting him seriously off balance. The troll continued with a sweeping backhand that sent Brant flying. He looked up from where he had landed to see the hammer high over his head. As it started its decent the next line echoed in his mind:


Till one day they call your name
You know its time for the Hammer to Fall.


Brant closed his eyes as it neared him, then opened them again to meet his death to its face…only to see a blossoming bloom of fire explode into the trolls exposed flanks. Brant looked over to see Peace had entered the field to get a better vantage. The Troll had decided against hitting Brant and turned to face this new threat that he could not regenerate from.

Brant watched it start its trek over singing out loudly over the battle din:


Rich or poor or famous
For your truth its all the same (imaging Peace hurling more balls of fire in time to the oh no’s here)
Lock your door the rain is pouring through your window pane
Baby now your struggles are all in vain


Peace was dancing out of reach continuing to sling ball after ball at the troll, keeping it off its guard. Steven was picking off goblins that thought it a good idea to try and backstab Peace in the midst of this. Ryan was ordering injured militia back to the med tent and yelling for the next line to come forward. Beard had literally disarmed a goblin and was using both his battle axe and the sword still clutched in the goblin’s hand to allow space for them to come forward. Renee had her war hammer whizzing around her body with immense kinetic energy, only changing its glowing path with every crushing smash of connected hammer and goblin flesh. The Fools were doing it some how, they were keeping the swollen masses at bay, ripping the shrinking difference down with every swing, spell, and twang of the bow string.

Brant started to run forward to aid Peace in his fight…


For we who grew up tall and proud,
In the shadow of the mushroom cloud,
Convinced our voices can’t be heard,


Peace threw another burning sphere at the troll to give him time to adjust his stance, but the troll threw its club in an intuitive counter and side-stepped the fireball. Brant watched in horror as the hammer collided with Peace full in the chest; Peace's eyes wide with shock.


We just started screaming louder and louder
What the Hell we fighting for!?
Just surrender and it won’t count at all


A yell ripped out of Brant’s throat as he jumped up on the troll’s exposed back; ramming his bastard sword into its skull. The giant wavered for only a moment before falling forward. Brant rode its body to the ground then ran forward to Peace. It was too late. It was just too late. Brant looked up to see the remaining goblin horde retreating and falling back into the forest. They wouldn’t trouble the area anymore, moving on to easier prey, but it was still too late.


Just some time to say your prayers
While you’re just waiting for the Hammer to Fall

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chapter 9: Comes to you, as to us all....

With no goblin in sight for leess, the now reunited Fools went inside along with their hosts to grab a bite to eat, something to drink, and discuss their current position. After they all had been thoroughly fed and watered, the Fools ovaled up to talk. Half of the group (Steven, Peace, and Beard) sat while the other half (Brant, Ryan, and Renee) stood to face them. Brant and Ryan were standing to speak with the Fools, Renee was standing because plate mail is uncomfortable to sit on the floor in. Ryan started the meeting.
“Okay gang, I know we’re all excited to see each other, but we have a towns worth of people’s lives on the line. While we were coming in, Beard was tracking their movements as best he could and estimated the force to be in the lower thousands. How they got that many goblins together and across so much land I will never know. What are we going to do? Or, more to the point, where do we stand in matters, and how ready are we for this? Rhubs?”
“A complicated question, sir.” Brant just couldn’t help himself now that Ryan had an actual rank. “We, Steven, Peace, and I, are already promised to lend our aid to the town of Parity and were dispatched out here to get our hosts here to aid in the fortifications. We have been in multiple skirmishes and at this point are getting near exhausted in the daily spell area of things. We might be able to go back to Parity as the six of us and raise the defense there, but it will be hard pressed. We really need the McErdan brothers here. What can we do, sir?”
“I’m not sure. And stop calling me sir.” Ryan said.
“Yes, sir,” Brant said almost under his breath.
“I can try talking to them,” Renee said as she levered herself off where she had been leaning against the wall. She walked over to where the brothers were sitting and began talking to them in hushed tones. That there was some kind of argument, everyone could see, but none could hear. This continued for a minute or two; all the while the other Fools were exchanging glances, before finally she came back over. “Its settled.” she said. “The McErdans will shield this place as best they can and come with us to Parity’s defense.”
“How did you do that?” Brant asked keeping most of his incredulity out of his voice.
“Well Guilt is a standard issue Paladin negotiation tool, not to mention they realized that they would have no where in under 15 leess to trade their farms goods anyways if we failed.” Renee said with a small smirk.
The spell took only a few minutes to set up and then set. The group all mounted up and began the trek back to Parity. They passed the first few leess relative silence. Now that there were stickier people than he, Brant maintained a position along with Steven to put their moderately trained Listen and Spot checks to good use, up near the front. Beard and Renee brought up the back with the casters bunched in the middle. Ryan was just slightly behind Steven and Brant. Brant heard it first, but it was Steven that discerned what it really was. They had heard a dull thudding sound, plodding ahead and off to their right. The two called a rest of the others and then went off to scout what it was. Steven found the tracks and then discerned what it was. They talked about what else it could possibly be but there was little to no doubt. They returned to the rest of the group, greeted by curious stares. It was Peace that spoke up first. “Well? What is it?”
Steven and Brant exchanged a glance, then nodded before saying simultaneously, “They brought a cave troll.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Beard muttered as he flourished his axe and rolled his eyes.
“We’re pretty sure that’s what those tracks are. What this means for our plans in the future, only time will tell.” Steven said sagaciously before mounting back up on his pony.
When they were only a half leess away from Parity they heard the clatter of spears on shields. The goblin forces were getting ready to attack. Brant signaled them to circle there horses and said, “Okay, guys, we need to bust in through the lines and get quickly repositioned inside the city to aid the militia as best we can. Paxus, do you have any more fireballs?”
“I have about two. Why?”
“I need you to blow us a hole to ride through. Think you can do that?” Brant asked with a small smile.
“I’d like to see them try to stop me.” Peace replied.
The group got reordered for the charge and then began at a distance-eating canter. As they cleared the last of the forest they saw the goblin forces surrounding Parity. It was a huge force that had besieged that little village. As soon as they saw the goblins, they broke into a gallop with Peace at the head. Peace had already begun to hold out the material focus for the spell and recite the incantation. If one had been observing this death charge from the side of things, it would have seemed like Peace’s impact with the back goblin happened with such force that a ball of shooting flames erupted form the collision. Just as Peace’s horse moved it’s front hoof to trample the goblin, Peace finished the semantic component to the spell and released it. It blew a swath of death and combustion almost all the way through the goblin ranks. By the time any of the other goblins had time to react, Peace had already shifted his position to the center of the group as Steven, Ryan, and Brant took point.
As they got closer to the front rank, Steven whipped out his bow, while Brant and Ryan unsheathed their swords. The goblins at the front turned to face this new threat only to have many of their number subsequently shot or cleft as the three cleared the rest of the way. They made it past the frontline and began to cover the modest intervening distance between the foes’ front lines and the hastily set barricades surrounding Parity.
They barely made it to the midst of the gap before Brant heard the twang of bowstrings behind them. The first volley of arrows reserved for the villagers had instead been fired at the Fools. With a wave and a word, a arcane shield was raised by Edir. Only a few got through, before the shield was up, and were caught by Renee’s heater shield on her back and by Steven.
The militia pulled the barricades apart for the Fools then dragged them back together. Dismounting before his horse had even stopped, Brant jogged up to Branwyn and saluted.
“Reporting as asked sir. What’s next?” Brant said with a breathy grin.
“Well bless my soul, so you have. And with even more aide than was asked for.” Branwyn said with a short laugh of disbelief. “What’s next you ask? Well I doubt there will be much fighting today. That’s too bold for a goblin by half, even if he does have a couple thousand of his closest friends. No, we won’t see any action but a couple of stray arrows till nightfall.”
“Well then I suppose we shall have to let our casters rest a regain their strength for the fun to come.” Brant said and started back to where his friends were dismounting and walking their mounts to the Inn’s stable.
Branwyn started forward and grabbed Brant’s arm. “Thank you, master bard. You may have just saved us all.”
“Don’t thank me yet Branwyn. We have a long night to go before we have thanks bandied about.”
Brant told the casters to gather their strengths about them and prepare for the night, then he went to his room at the Inn and allowed glorious fatigue overcome him before his anxieties could keep him up.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chapter 8- Fools Errand

Branwyn looked the trio up and down (mostly down for Steven) and said, “Well you lads seem to be of some mettle. We need more men and you seem to be a good set of lads to get us some. The McErdan Farmhold is to the east of here, about 5 leess, and is a gathering place for the land holders to far out to get to town quickly. If you three go out there and convince them to come to town, we might stand a chance. I haven’t seen a goblin uprising this big since before the founding of New Union…” He finished as he walked away to help some militia men shore up a barricade.
Brant turned around and looked at his compatriots. Steven seemed nonchalant, Peace seemed to get a slightly cocky smile and a vacant expression for a second before he snapped out of it and said, “Sorry. Was just thinking of casting fireball at a long line of goblins. It would be good experience.”
Brant shook his head and said, “Alright then let’s try to help this people as best we can. Before we go we should all decide on an adventuring name for each of us. The townspeople already know me as Rubs so I’ll just change the spelling to make it look more like a name. How about we just use Drewcifer for you, Peace?”
Peace thought for a second, then said, “How about I use a different form of Peace, like Pax? We could make it sound cooler if we spelled it more Roman.”
“So… Paxus?”, Steven said sounding uncertain.
“Yeah. Paxus the mage.” Peace said with a nearly starry eyed gaze.
“What about you Steve? Are you going with an Angelhair or Saltsman derivative?” Brant asked of his long held friend.
“I’m thinking a Saltsman one. How about Saul for the first name and Tzmæn for the last one?” Steven said smiling in a slightly impish manner.
Brant stared at him for a few beats before sighing and muttering, “It’s going to be a long campaign. I can already see it.”
The three moved to their horses and levered themselves onto them. Brant checked his saddle girth on Brea as Peace and Steven got well and set on their steeds. He moved up into his saddle smoothly and looked at each of his compatriots equivalently. Peace looked at Steven, then back at Brant before saying, “What are you looking at us for? You’re the one who has been here for a month. Surely you learned more than just town gossip in all that time.” Brant started, he had not expected to be taking the lead anywhere, but there it was.
“Ok, then let’s head out with me taking front, Steven, you take back; and the squishy can stay in the middle…”
“Hey, I’m not that bad!” Peace interjected.
Brant continued as if he had not heard “… I’m sure it’ll come naturally but yell if something attacks and ride on if it doesn’t. We need to move quickly through a lot of territory.” Brant said, met with silent (more or less) agreement from both.
They left town at a mile eating trot, slowing to a canter while going uphill and letting the horses take their lead on the downhill. They were saving full gallop for real emergency. For the first leess, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but after that, signs slowly became ever more prevalent of the goblin incursion. The three adventurers didn’t meet any trouble till they went around a bend in the road about 2 leess into their trip. The roadside was devoid of any underbrush or trees for about 50 feet to prevent ambushes, but the trees on the inside of the curve, obscured the three’s view from seeing the patrol of about a dozen goblins marching down the road. It was tough to decide who was more surprised, but it was Steven who recovered first as he aimed his bow and fired in one smooth motion, cleanly killing one of the goblins in the front rank. Brant knew that getting away from this engagement, while completely possible, would be difficult, and would just lead to more problems down the road; literally. He drew his bastard sword from its saddle sheathe and dismounted Brea at a run.
Now normally Brant’s style was to play a defensive game, drawing an opponent out, then taking advantage of a mistake, but with a rogue and a wizard, he was actually the least squishy amongst the group. This plus the time constraint led to Brant taking the more direct approach of continuing with the momentum from the dismount and charging into the front line. The goblins, having finally recovered from the shock, drew their weapons and charged the three travelers. The first goblin to get into Brant’s range ran full bore at Brant with a small battle axe raised above his head… only to take an arrow through the throat. Steven, it seemed, had taken a position off to the flank of the line of engagement and was picking goblins off as fast as he could reload. Brant adjusted accordingly and shifted to the other flank of the enemy, hoping to put the goblins in a pincer of attacks. The goblins on that end intercepted Brant’s attempts and thrust at his stomach with their short swords. Brant swept these aside, kept the momentum on his sword, and swung full on into their shields, knocking both of them prone. From out of nowhere a ball of flames blew through the enemy ranks, annihilating two whole columns. It seemed Peace had finally finished the somatic components to his fireball spell.
The remaining goblins decided that splitting their focus was the best way to progress, as two ran at Peace, three ran at Steven, and the two that had been knocked down plus one other, moved in on Brant. Brant swung a hard cut, cleaving right through one of the rising goblins and carrying on to land a blow on the other’s shield. While doing so, the third goblin slashed at Brant’s forward leg, scoring a nice little cut across Brant’s shin. Brant grimaced, but quickly replied with a full body thrust into the offending goblin, taking him in the chest. He recovered quickly from the lunge only to find that his sword was stuck in the goblin’s ribcage. The last goblin made several rapid fire attacks at Brant, which he only barely managed to parry due to the added weight. Putting his entire body into an upper cut swing, Brant finally managed to dislodge his sword and parry the goblins next attack. From here it was a quick beat, parry, riposte to dispatch the last goblin assailing him. He then looked about to see the status of his companions. Peace was busy warding a goblin off with only a dagger in hand. The other goblin that had been approaching Peace had a familiarly feathered arrow sticking out of his back.
Steven had put away his bow, and was now dual wielding a short and a long sword against two goblins of the three that had assaulted him. Deciding that Peace’s even odds put him at less risk than Steven’s uneven ones, Brant charged to his small ally’s location. By this time, Steven had started slowly giving ground until his was further into the wood. His agile movement and quick blades kept the goblins from surrounding him. Brant ran up behind of the goblins, yelling the whole way to attract attention. It worked. Both goblins allowed their focus to stray from Steven just long enough to allow Steven to capitalize on the distraction. He beat the goblin to his side’s sword, then stabbed the goblin in between him and Brant, in his exposed kidney. Brant adjusted his stance for this and then cleft the remaining goblin firmly through the neck. From here he turned to move towards aiding Peace, but Steven was already on the move. Steven whipped a knife out from his belt and threw it end over end, only to miss the goblin and graze Peace’s cloak. Peace, being slightly jumpy while fighting for his life, dove and rolled away from the goblin he was engaged with. Despite missing it, the goblin still hesitated for a moment before realizing he was the last of his entire patrol. He then began to run as fast as he could towards the wood line. Before either of the other two could change direction to give chase, a beam of liquid fire shot out in the intervening gap, melting a neat whole in the goblins torso. “You will not run away from me!” said a rather disgruntled sounding Peace.
“Uh, no. No, I suppose they won’t Peace. Are you guys okay?” Brant asked, chest heaving slightly as he caught his breath.
“Okay?” Peace said, sarcasm heavily added. “We each just got about six or seven hundred experience. We keep this up and I might just make some scrolls.”
“Huh?” Steven said as he looked up from the goblin corpse he was rolling for valuables. “Oh yeah, I’m fine. Only lost a couple of arrows. Little green bastards rolled as they fell and snapped the shafts off in their thrice-Vecna-cursed throats.”
Brant looked back and forth between his comrades in arms, and had to fight the urge to throw up his hands as he walked back to Brea saying, “Well as long as everyone is okay, let’s get moving.”
They continued another leess before hitting any other goblin resistance. This was only a group of seven or eight and the Fools were more alert this time. Steven downed two before the two groups even met in melee. Brant clove two from his horse and trampled a third. Peace was busy casting magic missile to clean up the rest. From there on, they met a group every half to quarter leess, till finally they were within a half leess from the McErdan farmstead and Peace ran out of spells as they finished a group of goblins moving on the farmstead itself it seemed. Brant had used all of his level 2 and 1 spells on heals and a Shout. The group conferred on its relative stores of spell power and decided that a hellride for the last half a leess would be for the best.
The ride, while made at a jarring gallop, was uneventful. They made it to a field, across which they saw a large farm house back dropped by an even larger barn and what had to be a curing shed. They made it halfway across the field before they were stopped by what appeared to be a sentry covered in mud. They hadn’t seen him for most of the ride, until he stood up that is. He recognized the lack of green skin and directed them to the farm house with a backwards gesture before he laid back down; crossbow in hand. The group continued and dismounted, tying their horses to a hitching post. Out of the farm house strode two men in their early 30’s or late 20’s. The older looking one was of medium height, with dirty blonde hair, and blue robes. The younger was slightly shorter, with black hair, and white robes. The younger spoke first, “Blessings of Ehlonna on you travelers. You must have crossed much goblin-infested territory to get here. I can only assume you were sent here from Parity. My name is Tywed McErdan, and this is my brother, Edir.”
“Good to meet you. It is always nice to see a disciple of Ehlonna out in the world.” Brant started. “My comrades and I have indeed rode from Parity and wish first for your neigh immediate aid to Parity, and second for a night to recuperate our resources and ourselves over all."
"As to a place of rest, you have found the best place for leess." Edir said in a very subdued and quiet voice. "The chances of my brother and I leaving our farm to the tender mercies of the goblins are substantially less. I am sorry."
"But, if you don't come into town, the militia will be overrun in next to no time. The number of goblins out there is horrendous." Steven said
The Fools kept making attempts to convince the brothers but eventually had to concede defeat. They went to bed, minds heavy with worries and thoughts. There were goblin attacks all night, but nothing to the point of actual worry. An hour after dawn, the goblins attacked the farmstead in force. The Fools reacted to the call to arms, and rushed out to meet the goblin hordes; working to defend the homestead of their hosts. The sheer numbers of goblins made it easier for Peace to cut huge swaths of fiery death, but harder for Brant and Steven to do much more than literally wade into battle and hold them back as they could. Edir, it turned out, was an abjurer of some substantial power, warded the dominant portion of the rear, allowing the vastly outnumbered defenders to focus on only one direction of threat. If Edir hadn't warded each of them, and Tywed hadn't healed them as necessary, the fight would have ended almost as soon as it started. The sun had only climbed slightly above the horizon before spells were starting to run out amongst the four casters.
Brant had slashed and struck his way back to where Tywed was under assault from 3 goblin warriors. Between bastard sword and mace, the three were dispatched without too much issue.
"Thank you Rhubs. Your assistance was of much use." Tywed said, wiping sweat with the back of his sleave.
"No matter, Tywed. I don't know how much longer we can stand up to this pressure. There are just to gods damn many of them." Brant said leaning only a little heavier on his point-planted sword than was intended.
"No, I know not how we shall survive this force, let alone survive through it." Tywed said with sadness heavy in his voice.
Suddenly from the East, a disturbance appeared among the goblin ranks near the forest. A shape taller than the goblins was swinging a giant battle axe through the unsuspecting back ranks as easy as Brant had chosen his dump stat (Constitution). Apparently one of the goblins finally landed a hit as the figure let out an inhuman yell and started whirling the axe at greater speeds around his body. It was then that a clarion call from a horn sounded and two figures clad in steel burst from the forest whipping their blades back and forth catching many goblins unaware and in the back of the head. It was only when Brant could discern the relative height of one of the riders that a smile broke out upon his face. "Well that works too." Brant said almost under his breath.
The goblins were thrown in complete disarray as the riders raked through their collumns of troops and the lone axe-wielder slogged towards the farm as an indomitable force. Between the surprise attack from their rear, and a morale boosted attack from the front, the goblins quickly realized that they had been routed and began to flee en masse. The wielder's axe fell in time to the arrows that Steven had begun to release into the retreating mass.
The three newcomers, fresh out of goblins on which to vent their spleens, rode/jogged over to where Tywed and Brant stood. Steven and Peace moved likewise, till all of the combatants were standing together laughing and saying their hellos. Brant walked over to the shorter rider and snapped a quick salute. "You are two days earlier than expected for such a heroic rescue sir. Your supposed to wait for the third day at dawn to come and join our little tea party." Brant said trying to keep a straight face but failing horribly after 'tea'.
"At ease, Master Harper." T-Rex said as he slid down from his warpony's saddle. " I decided to break with tradition, and save your sorry keesters.
The two moved forward to clasp forearms and quickly move into a full bodied hug.
"Good to see you guys. We've got other things to do right now though. Parity is going to quickly become besieged with goblins and is going to need our help. Its a pity Beard used his only rage for the day already."
"Oh, he has more than one now, but it was his last," Ryan said shaking his head.
"When did he use the first one?!" Brant asked incredulously. "Its only 7 or 8 in the morning."
"He was making breakfast for us and burnt the bacon. Renee had to wrestle the pan out of his hands before he started to trying biting through it. It only took a minute or two to beat it back into a useable shape." Ryan said almost too nonchalantly.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And Trouble Begins

Brant let his fingers dance across the lute strings, plucking out the hard and fast melody of “Johnny B. Goode”. Just as the kids of the 1950’s, the people, of whatever D&D time period he was in, were less than openly enthused. He had assumed something like this would happen, so he quickly followed this up with a sped up rendition of “The Maiden’s Willow Weeping” and “The Road to New Union”. These were received a bit more excitedly. For the night, that was all he played for them, but from then on he played a couple of songs every night. He would always chose a song from his memory’s repertoire and then fill out the rest of his portion of the night with songs that they were more familiar with. After a time, Brant began to gain a following all his own of farmers that had taken a liking to some of his songs. The trend was an appreciation for classic 80’s rock. It was unexpected and slightly disturbing to see a bunch of farmers try to sing along to “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. During the time he was off stage he spent equal parts of time practicing music for that night, chatting with any and all of the farmers that frequented the bars, and studying lore with Nester and Master Quick.
Brant’s month passed quickly in this way, till it seemed he had had very little other life before it. Finally, one morning Brant woke to Master Quick plucking some of “Johnny B. Goode”. She looked up when she noticed that he had woke and said, “Today I will be leaving you. You have learned all I can fit into a month and today you shall meet up with your comrades. If you will allow I have a few final words for you but you will have to see me off to hear them.” She finished with a bittersweet smile.
Brant got up and dressed in his original garb provided by Zeddicyme, with a certain feeling of solemnity. He got down to where Master Quick was sitting astride her horse and looked up to her expectantly. She had been looking off into the sky until he got there. She then looked down and started her words of advice.
“Young Rubs, mark me well. You have made much progress in the musical arts of the Bard, but now you must hear this, the words of my final lesson to you. As a Bard, you are everyone’s best friend. If you fail in this, you fail at your duty to your friends. You are first and foremost the best friend of your comrades. No, you do not have the most excellent capabilities to wield a blade into combat in the face of hordes, bend the primal forces of the universe to your will, remove pain and injury from your allies, or to sneak into the depths of some hold or keep, but you will be the second best at all of these and your abilities will make your comrades better at theirs. Your second job is to be the best friend of everyone else. You, out of all your comrades, have the time spent and the finesse to deal with everyone from a farmer in a pub to a king in his own throne room, from the guard of the jail cell you are in to the High Priest of Orcus. You are the go between, the “in” man, the envoy, and the diplomat. The barbarian has not the patience, the wizard has not the empathy, the rogue has not the social acceptability, and the paladin and marshal have not the connection with the everyman. You have what they do not and they likewise with you. You will be the best at going it alone but will be so much better with allies to aid you and be aided by you. This is all I have left to tell you, now go make preparations for your friends shall arrive today.”
“I understand, Master Quick, but where is Nester? I want to bid him farewell as well.” Brant said looking around for signs of his frailer tutor.
“He was called away on other business and had to leave suddenly. He told me to say his goodbyes for him. And with that, I will wish you all of the luck Olidammara can give you.”
Brant nodded in respect and waved as Master Quick rode off into the sunrise. He walked back into the Inn and ordered some bread, cheese, and a pint; he might as well start today as he intended to finish it, in revelry with his comrades. They would all probably stay for a night and then make a good start the next morning. He had just about finished the cheese that, while good, was hard, when a farmer burst in with torn clothing. Brant had seen this farmer several times and had spoke with him quite a few times. He was one of those well-meaning old men that would always exaggerate things just a bit past where they were believable. If one could be bothered to listen, Parcive would regale you with the tale of how he bested a full-grown owlbear in his youth. Everyone in the Inn, this being Brant and the Innkeeper, looked up at this noteworthy entrance. Brant got up first and asked Parcive, “What happened to you friend? Looks like you let your boy have a go at you with the sheep shears.”
“If there was one, there was a hundred of them. Goblins, all marching over the hill at me on my horse. I barely got into town alive. Rouse the militia, we’re about to be invaded!”
“Now calm down, Parcive. I’m sure things aren’t that bad. Maybe it just seemed like a hundred of them in the dim morning light.” Brant said trying to sound as rational and non-patronizing as he could.
“Pelor’s blood, boy! You think I’m crazy?! I was attacked and almost killed and you think I’m making it up! “ Parcive yelled.
“Well, if you’re that certain, go talk to Ol’ Branwyn. He’ll gather the militia and investigate.” The Innkeeper said barely paying Parcive any mind.
“I shall do just that,” and with that Parcive got up and walked out just as abruptly as he had entered and almost plowed over the elf in robes that was in the process in entering. It wasn’t until Brant heard the muttered, “Crazy peon” that he realized that the elf was in fact, none other than Peace.
“Drewcifer!”, Brant excitedly exclaimed while motioning him over.
“Brant! I’d heard you were frequenting this Inn, though why is another question completely.” Peace said semi-jovially and walked over and gave Brant a huge hug.
“Oh, hush up. This place might not look like much but the ale they serve here isn’t too bad. Speaking of which, Barkeep! Can I have a pint for my friend here? He just got off the long dusty road here and has a powerful need to get his thirst quenched.” Brant called out.
The Innkeeper, who was still beaming slightly from Brant’s well-placed compliment, pulled a pint and slid it down to where Brant was sitting. Brant handed the mug to his enrobed friend and watch the elf’s face go from skeptical to moderate approval.
“Now that you have something to lubricate your voice, why not tell me what you’ve been up to in the past month?” Brant prompted. He had spent a month learning how to pull people into a chatty mood and was using this training to the fullest; not that Peace was that reluctant.
“Let me start off by asking you a question. Have you ever wanted to be able to make fire at will?” Peace said almost conspiratorially.
“Only about everyday of my life.” Brant responded, half in jest and half with a fervor.
Peace raised his hand and gestured and swirled his hand. Brant watched appreciatively at the small bloom of flame that was then sitting in Peace’s palm. Another gesture and Peace closed his hand, extinguishing the fire.
“Other than that, I’ve been busy being the bitch of a crusty codger with heavy social ineptitudes. It was a lot of unnecessary menial labor before he finally started to teach me some useful things. Lucky for me he was an evoker. He understood exactly what I wanted to learn the most. So he made me wait the longest for those spells and instead taught me a couple of cantrips that make light and noise. Aside from that its just been a lot of studying. I actually didn’t get here on a horse. Rode in on a griffin, and then just asked around until I found someone to tell me where you might be. Now here I am telling you all this and am wondering what you have been up to?”
“Mostly doing this, just listening to people and learning the bardly arts. Though I have to say this is the first time I have ever been listening to someone who was being mugged at the time.” Brant said with a sly smile.
Peace looked around him in surprise to see Steven buying a drink with a coin purse with neatly cut strings. He looked over at Brant and Peace and smiled a little. “What gave me away?” he asked as he accepted his pint and handed Peace his purse back.
“Not much,” Brant said, “ if it weren’t for as much time as I have been spending learning to fine tune my listening skills you would have been totally unnoticeable.”
“Have to try again later then. So chaps… how are things in the sticks?” Steven said with a polite and interested intonation to his voice.
“Tell us first how the big city was. You probably have more to tell anyways.” Brant said.
“And pass over the copper you owe me.” Peace interjected.
Steven smiled and dug a copper out of his backpack while he started with, “Well I’ve only spent half of my time in the big city. The first two weeks I spent going through survival training in the wild. Actually the first week was training and the second week was mostly me demonstrating an ability to not only survive on my lonesome but to improve some of my skills on my own. That went over without too much of a hitch, though I gained a real big disliking for goblins and bugbears over that week. After that, my classroom was moved to the urban jungle. I spent the first week there just doing small cons and pick pocketing. I got enough in my takes to decently feed and house myself and my teacher. I also bought myself a nice set of thieves tools. This was good as my final test, that I was set upon, was to steal a dagger from an expert weapon smith’s shop. He kept everything well locked and even had a cursory booby trap on his weapons chest. It almost got me with a sleep dart but I dodged it well enough. From there I just started off towards here. Do you know there is a goblin problem in this area?”
“So I hear, but it shouldn’t be anything big though. The farmers say there are always a few goblins heckling the farms out on the rim.”
“Um, this is way more than a few goblins. It’s more on the magnitude of a few hundred goblins.” Steven said somehow not letting any incredulity into his voice.
Brant failed to match this feat as he asked, “Are you serious?”
“Well, if I can count campfires and guestimate how many goblins would use each fire, then yes. I am totally serious. If either of those is wrong, then I am less serious.” Steven replied.
“We have to get this village mobilized and barricaded. The goblins could be here any minute.” Brant said hurriedly as he dashed outside to see Branwyn directing militia to put up barricades and to station themselves equally throughout Parity. Brant did a quick count of heads and saw that there were only eight militia members and Branwyn himself. Brant turned to Steven and Peace who had followed him out of the Inn.
“Guys, there is no way a bunch of farmer’s militia can turn back several hundred . I can see their levels and they only have one level five, three level threes, and the rest are twos and ones. Besides that they only have levels in NPC classes. We are all level three PCs and we know more about the rules here than they do.”
Steven and Peace gave Brant a rather blank stare, until Brant said, “Look, I’ll explain later how I know this, just accept that this world is based off of D&D for right now.” They exchanged a mutual look and a shoulder shrug then nodded at Brant. Brant ran over to Branwyn and said, “Bran, me and my friends want to help. Is there anything we can do to help?”

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chapter 6 ~Chuck Berry Don't Fail Me Now

Brant slept hard after his day of learning. It was a lot for one human mind to hold but Brant knew he didn’t need to be able to recite it all, he just needed to have it told to him and let his associative memory do the rest. When Brant woke up, the dragon was gone. He got up from where he lay and stretched vigorously (gold is poor bedding for any but a dragon) before he looked around to see if Pob left him anything to tell Brant where he was. There was nothing. To pass the time, Brant pulled out his harp and started practicing first his chords for warm up and then a few of the short songs he was supposed to know by heart by the time they got to Parity. It was when he was in the third refrain from “Court Birds A-Prancin’” that Master Quick walked in with a elderly man with washed out auburn or rust colored hair. He wore glasses that were perched precariously on his nose and was bent of stature; giving him an over-all feeble look. Despite all this he walked with an alacrity that belied his age.
“Good day, Young Rubs.” Master Quick said with a small smile. “I see you are still in the right arrangement of body parts, so I assume all was fine with you. I have brought the contact I spoke of, a librarian by the name of Nester Andrews. He has extensive amounts of knowledge and, more importantly, access to the library of a monastery near here. He will be spending some time with us to make sure you get a good smattering of everything we can throw at you. I wish I could make you a bit more specialized, but we just don’t have the time so we shall have to give you a little bit of anything and everything.”
“It is good to meet you, Young Master Rubs. You and I shall get along quite well I bet.” Nester said in a slightly wizened voice.
Brant nodded along, “Uh huh. Okay. Well that is cool and all, but before we go we should wait till Pob comes back. I want to thank him for everything and say good bye to him.”
“We don’t have the time. Pob will be out hunting for at least a week.” Master Quick said pulling Brant along towards the exit of the cave.
“A week?” Brant said slightly incredulously.
“Do you know how much food it will take to feed him?” She replied.
“Well, yeah, but can’t he just find like a manticore or something big enough to eat off of?” Brant asked.
“When was the last time you saw a manticore? They don’t exactly grow on trees, thank the gods.”
“Okay, okay. Well then I guess let’s head to Parity.”
The rest of the trip to Parity was filled with talks about all sorts of trivia. Now that Brant had an inkling that he was in a world based on D&D he was actually more knowledgeable than either of his teachers expected him to be. He played it off that he had learned it all from Pob. They were impressed at his retention rate. He used his bracer to scan Master Quick and Nester Andrews and found that it gave stats for them too; just as it had with Pob. Master Quick was a level 12 Bard/ 5 Swashbuckler. She had a rather high Charisma and Dexterity, but Brant already knew that. Nester was a level 10 Wizard/ 2 Loremaster. This fit in well with his personality as a quiet librarian.
The trio rode up in sight of the small little village of Parity. It wasn’t very impressive. This was actually giving it too much credit in and of itself. The “village” was barely a group of hovels together around a village green which had the only really stable looking building around, the Crying Wolf Pub. Surrounding Parity was a roughshod palisade made of poorly sharpened logs.
Brant stopped his horse where it stood and just starred at the villagette. When the other two realized his absence from their presence, they turned around and looked at him in askance. All he could do is to look Master Quick in the eyes and say, “You expect to teach me how to deal with people in this meager gathering of lost souls? It would take a third the time to make a Gather Information check here as there are only 5 people to actually ask.”
“This is as good a place to learn as any, Young Rubs. And what is a Gather Information check?” Master Quick said in reply.
“It’s a…. never mind Master Quick. You would not understand me if I told you. Either way, I find it doubtful to learn much in the way of people skills.”
“Actually, the presence of not one, but two bards in a little village like this will bring in all the farmers from the surrounding countryside as well. You will double Parity’s population in next to no time.” Nester piped up and added to the conversation.
“Fine, fine, forget I said anything. I will follow the wisdom of those much older and wiser than I.” Brant said raising his hands in defeat, with only slight traces of sarcasm in his voice.
The three travelers rode into the quiet little town and felt sorely out of place. Everyone in the town stopped what they were doing and starred silently at the new comers, probably astonished at seeing people that rode horses instead of just driving them in front of the plow. They rode into the small stable aside the pub and stabled their own horses. Brant promised his horse, that he had named Brea, that he would get a rub down before Brant went to bed. Brea snorted appreciatively. It was weird, but Brant thought the horse could genuinely understand him.
They walked into the pub and were greeted by the rather unwholesome smell of stale ale mixed with sawdust. There were several chairs and tables in an order best described as bedlam. The bar itself was only inhabited by three people: a quiet elf staring into his mug, a snoring man with his mug’s remains dribbling out onto the bar, and the bar tender himself who had a mug in hand that he was polishing with a cloth that was probably doing more harm than good in the cleaning. He looked to be a man of maybe mid-thirties, with graying hair, a sharp nose, and sallow skin. He looked up at the three strangers and said in a tired voice, “What can I do for you, friends? It is so odd getting new customers at this time of day.”
“Well, Master Innkeep, my protégé and I are bards by occupation and were wondering if we could get room and board in exchange for raising your sales for the duration for our stay. We don’t require much, just a solid roof over our heads, some food to keep us strong at our work, and customers to ply our trade to.” Master Quick said in what sounded to be a well rehearsed, and tried and true spiel.
The Innkeeper seemed taken aback at being propositioned so, before putting on a face of deeper thought. Brant could tell he was trying hard not to leap at the offer so he could drive a better bargain. The cogs almost visibly clicked around till the Innkeeper finally said, “I shall have to hear your skills before I could accept such an offer.” The Innkeeper said in a falsely shrewd voice.
Master Quick knowing better than to insult a possible patron, no matter how dull witted, began to unsling and tune her harp as she said, “Of course, Master Innkeeper. I can not blame you for wanting to make sure my word is true, and it is good sir, it is. I have a repertoire of songs that would fill several books. I know stories from all eras. Just ask for a song of your choice and I shall pluck it airily from my harp.”
Again beset with a request, the Innkeeper’s face scrunched once again in thought before he said with a small smile, “I would like to hear ’Effington Way’. I have not heard that since the last bard came through four years ago.”
“A fine choice, good master.” Master Quick said as she began the rapid staccato plucking that now familiarly started the requested song. She wound through the choruses with a deep feeling of knowing that transcended simple practice and required actual skill to pull off.
The Innkeeper had to give himself a start when the music had finished. He looked at Master Quick and her companions appraisingly before he said, “I can give you food, but you will have to find another way to get room. I don’t think you are quite worth as much as all that.”
“Oh, give over, Haetor. You know damn good and well that a single night of her bringing customers in would more than pay for her room.” The entire room turned and saw that the man that had previously been snoring in his ale had woken up enough to shout out thusly.
“Shut up, Vaylen. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Haetor said in a mix between embarrassment and anger.
“Just give them the room you old skinflint. You’ll more than earn it all back anyways.” Vaylen replied. “How about another pint?”
“Fine, you drunken sot. They can have the room too. Why not just run my pub into the ground? Then where will you drink?”
“I always get by. You know me.” Vaylen said with a cheeky grin.
Brant, Nester, and Master Quick took their things to one of the only three rooms in the inn. After setting their things down, Nester laid down on one of the cots provided and said he was going to rest a bit. Master Quick and Brant went down into the village streets with their harps and found a grassy patch to sit in and start practicing songs for that night. The intent of this was, of course, two fold, first to get Brant ready for whatever patrons they had that night, and second to attract attention to the fact that there were two bards in town. After a while, there formed a small crowd around the two harpers. As night began to set in, Master Quick stopped playing and stood up.
“Thank you all for being so attentive, if any of you would like to continue hearing me play, sing, or maybe want to hear legends of yore, my apprentice and I shall be performing at the Crying Wolf in about an hour. I hope you all shall join us then.” Master Quick said to a set of quiet applause.
That night there was an audience of mayhap nine patrons. Judging from how hard Haetor had to work just to keep up with these nine, this was the biggest audience the place had seen in a while. The next day went similarly, and the next night had even more people watching raptly as Brant played simple songs while Master Quick sang or told stories. This continued through the rest of the week, with the crowd slowly growing bigger and bigger till Haetor had to hire one of the local girls to bus tables for him while he made all the drinks.
Finally at the end of the week, Brant’s musical skills had progressed enough by Master Quick’s standards that he would be taking center stage for a while that night. As night drew closer, the familiar feelings of butterflies fluttered weakly in Brant’s stomach as usual before any sort of performance. He subdued these as he picked through a dozen songs that he knew till he finally landed on one that he was sure would win the audience over. Walking up on stage, Brant smiled a little inside feeling a little McFly in him as he knew he was about to rock these people’s worlds.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chapter 5 ~ Oh For The Lack Of A Hobbit

Brant stared at the small plant that was supposed to be good for thickening blood, or so Master Quick had told him. He walked over to where she was busy gathering some mushrooms; they were growing at the base of a tall tree that appeared to be an oak. “So can you tell me what the defining features of Soldier’s Gum is?” She asked as she examined the cap of the mushroom she had just picked.
“Soldier’s Gum grows mostly in damp areas and always in well shaded places. It has variegated leaves and is recognizable by the thick tuber-like stalks it has. Master Quick, am I training to become a bard or to be a druid?”
“I have often been confused for one. Listen, Young Rubs, you will not always have a healing spell for the day or have access to pre-made medicines. You won’t always have lots of food in your pack either. I am teaching you things that can get you by when necessary. Now, I think we will spend tonight over near that cave to the east of us. It’s a good place to rest and I think you will be needing some more time before meeting people.”
They made camp and began their evening meal preparations. While Master Quick toasted the mushrooms, she told a story of Gotheryn the Mad, a sorcerer that had done great and terrible things before he was defeated in a battle with a group of wanderer led by Robin Bellerond, a good mage in his own right. After the mushrooms were toasted, if not to perfection, at least satisfaction, Brant had to recite the entire story from memory and one from the past night or so; both with personal embellishments. The first time he had been required to repeat a story back, he had tried to keep it as close to her story as possible. She congratulated him for a nicely parroted story. She told him neither she nor any patrons he might ever serve wanted to hear a story just memorized by rote; there had to be a sort of feeling and connection between the teller and the story to make it worth while. He was supposed to keep all the main points as faithful as memory allowed if not more so, but beyond this he was to add flair and flourish as he saw fit. She said, truly, that the story that she had told him was not like the way her master had told her and Brant’s story wouldn’t be like hers. This is what made each and every bard, gleeman, minstrel, jongleur, or jester unique and kept people coming back to hear the same tales and songs over and over again.
His music advancement, while slower than Master Quick liked, was progressing nevertheless. After practicing several commonly requested songs a few times through, he plucked a little at the other assignment his Master had given him, write an original piece to be finished by the end of the apprenticeship. He thought over the repertoire of songs that he had learned so far. A few ballads like “Willows, Over and Down”, “Song of Asphodel”, and “Lost Love’s Loss”; a few dances like “Dark Lark A-Risin’”, “Round She Goes”, and “Horses Trotting”; and a few bawdy songs “The Tinker’s Mistress”, “King’s Crux”, and “Gnomish Lullaby”. Aside from these he knew how hundreds upon hundreds of songs sounded like and with a little help from the spell, Ghost Sound, that Master Quick said she’d teach him when they got to town. He thought after the lyrics came to him, he could just add music themes from songs he knew from back home to make a song unlike any anyone here had heard.
Brant was picking at his harp long into the night watching the stars complete their slow promenade across the night sky. Master Quick fell asleep after only an hour of listening to him pick out random riffs from songs he knew. He looked over behind his teacher and saw into the aforementioned cave. It was pitch black, as was to be expected, but the cave’s opening was a bit to neat and tidy for Brant to accept that it had happened naturally. He grabbed a large branch, wrapped some moss around the head of the branch-now-torch, and lit it before preceding into the cave. He progressed slowly into the cave and decided that he had been correct, this was no natural cave. There were no stalactites or stalagmites to be seen. Walking and keeping his eyes on the walls and ceiling, Brant tripped on some uneven flooring. This caused him to drop his torch and, of course, it went out without much of a fight at all. Trying firmly not to panic at being in such oppressive darkness, Brant tried to concentrate on the energy within him to caste one of the few spells he had managed to learn without too much trouble. Humming a few bars of “Here Comes the Sun”, Brant managed to get his fingers to cooperate and make the proper somatic components to cast Dancing Lights. Four bright orbs of light bobbed and wove around Brant in a satisfactory manner needing only his occasional attention to putting energy into the spell. He decided that while he had the spell going anyways, he might as well continue for a bit to see where this artificial tunnel lead to.
He rounded a corner to see where it ended shockingly in a huge cavern that had a pile of gold and, atop the pile, a dragon. Brant’s heart almost leapt to lodge itself in his voice box before he noticed that the dragon’s scales were a shiny brownish color. Brant guessed it to be a Copper Dragon. As Brant was trying to decide where to go from here, his choices were taken away from him. The dragon awoke and just raised its head off his front claws like some vaguely interested dog. A very, very large dog.
“What Have We Here? Some Lost Wanderer Perchance, Or Maybe A Scoundrel Here To Take Some Of My Hoard. Speak Intruder!” The dragon’s voice boomed in the relatively small cavern.
“What, scoundrel? Me? No, Sir Dragon. I am not here for your riches. I am afraid that I am simply plagued with a bit too much curiosity for my own good. I apologize for intruding on your slumber, I’ll just be going now.”
“Hold Mortal! You Cannot Leave Here With Knowledge Of What You Have Seen. My Hoard Would Be At Risk.”
“I don’t suppose my word as a bard wouldn’t be enough to assure that I have no such intentions?”
“Hardly. Mmmmm. Perchance We Can Come To An Agreement. I Am Bored For Lack Of Entertainment. If You Could Mayhap Offer Some New Story Or Joke, I Can Let You Leave, With Your Word As A Bard To Tell None Of What You Have Seen Here.”
“A joke you have yet to hear Sir Dragon? Of course. I can offer the odd joke or riddle, if that will assure my good will.”


Thella awoke to a thunderous sound that came blasting from the depths of the cave behind her. Apparently, the dragon was still in residence in the cave. She looked to see where her apprentice was sleeping so she could roust him and move them to somewhere farther from the over-sized lizard. However, he was nowhere to be seen. She felt her stomach bottom drop a bit as she looked at the cave, shaking her head. Why did she get the stupid apprentices all the time?
Casting, Bull’s Strength, Good Hope, and Dancing Lights in rapid succession, Thella ran into the cave with her rapier drawn until she got to the cavern where she saw both here apprentice and the copper dragon, Poblin’nestura’gnoc laughing.


“So he said, ‘It’s a knick-knack Patty Jack, give the frog a loan, his old man’s a rolling stone!” Brant yelled above the dragon’s bellowing laughter. He looked over at the cavern exit and saw his Master run in stop and just hit her forehead with her palm.
“What in Fhalanghn’s name are you doing in here?!” she yelled stalking towards him.
“Master Quick, allow me to introduce you to Poblin’nestura’gnoc. He….”
“We Know Each Other.”
“We’ve met before.”
“Oh,” Brant said taken aback. “Well, that’s easier I suppose.”
“How are you doing Pob? Your hoard looks to have grown nicely since I last saw you.”
“Yes Thesallonius. I Have Done Well By Myself. I Would Like To Inform You That I Approve Of Your Apprentice.” Poblin’nestura’gnoc boomed.
“So glad to hear it Pob. I don’t think he does too bad of a job but he has much to learn, like not wondering into a dragon’s cave while the dragon is home and asleep. It’s a good way to get melted, wouldn’t you say, Young Rubs?”
“Uh, I mean, of course, Master Quick. I was just admiring Poblin’nestura’gnoc’s workmanship on his tunnel and sort of found myself here. He taught me how to cast Prestidigitation. It should be useful when we reach Parity, don’t you think?” Brant asked with a very innocent expression on his face.
“Yes, Young Rubs, I suppose it will at that. Well unless Pob requires your presence any further, we should head on……hmmm, unless…. Pob, would you be willing to watch my apprentice for a day or so? You have a better memory of history and legend than I and I have a contact that might be able to help me better teach my young apprentice in the short span of time that we have together.”
“Hmmm, I See No Reason Why I Can Not. It Would Provide An Interesting Diversion And I Have Taken A Shining To The Lad. Certainly Thesallonius. Go And Make Your Contact And I Shall See How Much Of My Centuries Of Knowledge I Can Impress Upon Him.” Poblin’nestura’gnoc said with a smile at the end.
“My thanks to you, friend Pob.” She said then redirected her gaze at Brant. “You don’t suppose I can leave you here and have you not run off or get involved with some other being of immense supernatural power, do you?”
“But of course, teacher dearest. I wouldn’t dream of it. Besides, what better story can I tell my friends than that I was trained by a dragon?”
“Few enough, Young Rubs. Few enough. Well don’t cause trouble and ask lots of questions because there are few who have more knowledge than a dragon,” Master Quick said as she walked outside with Brant. He gathered his belongings and watched his teacher ride off into the early morn.
For the rest of the day, Brant spent time in Poblin’nestura’gnoc’s cave hearing story after story of wars, kingdoms, wizards, and knights. He learned a few other song’s as Pob was quite knowledgeable about entertainment at large. They exchanged shortened life stories (otherwise Brant would have been listening for the entire day and more) and became rather fast friends in the short amount of time they spent together. For awhile, Pob even transformed himself into a human, with coppery curled hair, and drilled him one rapier and longsword forms. With the knowledge of ages to back him up, Pob was a learned teacher and skilled to say the least.
Later in the day, Brant was just listening to Pob recite the history of the city, New Union, and playing with a small dragon bracelet, admiring the craftsmanship. Pob stopped and eyed Brant and the bracelet he was holding.
“Something wrong, Pob?” Brant asked sitting up from his relaxed position.
“When You Started Playing With That Bracelet, A Small Magic Resonance Sang Out. Do You Have Anything Magical That It Might React With?”
“I don’t think so. Not except this bracer that I got from Zeddicyme.”
“Try Putting The Bracelet On The Bracer.”
“Okay.” Brant did as he was told and felt the bracelet slide up his arm till it came to the end of the bracer near his elbow where it clicked and stuck. Brant held up the bracer to show Pob, when suddenly a hologram of sorts projected itself a few inches above the ruby in the bracer. It was a hologram of Pob and all sorts of stats were being projected next to the picture of Pob. What shocked Brant the most was that he was very familiar with these particular stats. It traced out Pob’s Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Hit Dice, Base Attack Bonus, Spells per Day, and Spell-like abilities. These were all statistics that could be found in the Monster Manual for D&D 3.5.
“What Is It Rubs? What Happened?”
“It’s hard to explain but I think this bracer, combined with the bracelet let’s me see information about those around me. Everything from their relative Strength to how many spells they can cast per day.” Brant said still stunned from the discovery.
“If This Is True Then You Have Found A Very Powerful Artifact Indeed. You May Keep The Bracelet As A Gift From Me To Aid You On Your Journey. Now Then Where Was I….” Pob said as he trailed back into the story he had been telling.
Brant was only paying half attention as he watched the information about Pob scroll alongside his picture. He didn’t know how things had worked out like this but this offered interesting considerations for him to bring forth to his comrades when he saw them next. Maybe the Fools were not as out of their depth as they originally thought.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chapter 4 ~ Adventurer Wanted: No Resume Necessary

The Fools offered their thanks to Zeddicyme then walked out the large wood-worked, double doors. Outside was a long stone bridge leading from the ground to the palace over the moat that was at least 30 yards. All along the bridge were several horses with a single person to each two horses. Some of the people had the look of being the trainers themselves and some looked to be lackeys sent to retrieve their Fool.
Peace was approached by a boy of no more than 16 in long dark robes similar to the ones that Peace had been given, except his were the rich red burgundy of the Master Summoner. In a rather squeaky voice, the young boy said, “My Master has sent me in respect of your Master, as your Master is very busy, to retrieve you for your Master to begin your instruction.”
“Riiiiiiggggghht.” Peace said cautiously. “Well guys, let’s hug it out. (Much hugging ensued.) Then I’m off to see the Wizard, hell, next time I see you I’ll be a wizard. Have a good month guys.” He followed the apprentice to the two roans and mounted. The horses started at a run and suddenly grew large leathery wings and took flight to the south.
A lithe man in a dark cloak walked towards the Fools and looked directly at Steven. “You look like the kind of fighter I’m supposed to train. Don’t worry about it though. You and I will get you a set of leather armor once we find a town with enough supplies to suit your training. Say goodbye to your friends, they’ll be seeing you soon.”
“That’s my cue, guys. I hope things go well for all of you. Fare well.” Steven said turning.
“Hey you!” Brant called out. Steven turned back quizzically. “After you join the fighter-in-leather brigade, you and me are gonna spend some time in a tavern to talk about our month right?”
“Sure, you buy.” Steven said smiling. He followed the man in the cloak and walked with him and the horses towards the forest to the northwest, all the while the man in the cloak was showing Steven how to hold the bow right to avoid snapping his arm.
Beard was the next to be approached by a man wearing a mix between cured hides and furs. He nodded at the Fools as a group then eyed Beard up and down. “So I suppose I’m supposed to turn you into something intimidating. Maybe you can help your friends out of a tight spot with just intimidation. I personally think you don’t have it in you to start a fight right, let alone finish it.” The man said in a gravelly voice.
Without hesitation, Beard strode forward and said, “What does a solar plexus say?”
“What?” The confused wild man uttered before Beard planted a full-bodied punch to the man’s solar plexus. The man looked at where Beard had punched, and started to laugh uproariously. “You’ll have to do better than that to injure me friend, but maybe you do have what it will take. Let’s go see if we can make men into monsters and monsters into scared and running children.” Beard gave them all a gruff but heartfelt nod and walked off to mount his stallion and ride due north to the Wastes.
Renee’s trainer is the next to approach. The Fools knew this was her trainer as he was covered in scale mail, had a sword strapped to his back, and a large shield strapped to his arm with the golden emblem of Pelor the Sun God emblazoned on it.
“I am Yuren Tobal, and I have come for thee, maiden. Thou and mineself shall spend many an hour together for the next two fortnights. Bid thine companions farewell, they willt seest thou ever sooner as we progress in thine training.”
“Well then fair companions, see ya in a month.” Renee said with emphasis on her separate structures by her accent moving from Elizabethan to Bronx.
“Take care Renee. We’ll see each other soon enough and we will all have a lot to joke about.” Ryan said with a small smile (no pun intended).
“Of course T-Rex. You two take care as well, don’t get stabbed or anything.” Renee said. She and Yuren mounted the two white mares and rode off to the southwest where mountains rose high on the horizon.
A man in plate armor, holding his helmet under his arm, walked forth briskly and gave the kind of unit marching stop that made both Brant and Ryan stand at attention and snap salutes. The man gave a smile that didn’t seem to appear often on his face then said in a clear kurt voice, “Which one of you recruits are going to be my lieutenant for the next month?”
“I am, SIR!” Ryan yelled in response.
“Good response, soldier. At ease, you two. I am Sgt. Mazram Awellin. You are about to undertake a very exhaustive month if you do not have the ability to lead to satisfaction. For the first half you will be spending time as part of a unit during the day to learn your troops well, and will be spending the night learning tactics and orders with me. For the second half you will be taking command of a unit and leading them in exercises against myself to show me what you have learned. If you are lucky Lieutenant, you will be seeing some actual battlefield experience on the eastern war front. Have you any questions?”
“Sir, no SIR!” Ryan replied. “Good bye, Brant. I wish you the best of luck.”
“And to you Ryan. Sleep well. I think your nights shall become very short in the nights to come.” Brant replied.
“I shall. By the way, Game Time. Ready to go sir.” Ryan said turning back to the Sergeant.
“What is this game you speak of Lieutenant?”
“It’s better you don’t know.” Brant said with a small smile as he recovered from having just lost the Game.
“We have a long ride ahead of us to where the army is bivouacked. Why don’t you explain this game on the way, Lieutenant?” the Sergeant said with a note of more command and less suggestion in the ending question.
“Sir, yes sir.” Ryan said with a smile as he mounted his horse aside the Sergeant and rode to the south and turned towards the east. Brant just shook his head at what kind of havoc had just been unleashed on an entire army.
He looked over at the last set of two horses and saw a woman leaning on the ornamental corner work of bridge. She appeared to be asleep. He took this time to observe her a little. She wore a hose and doublet combination not unlike his own except that instead of a vest she had more of a corset. Her cape had embroidery but was worn on the bottom edge. She had a rapier on her belt and had some lace coming out of her sleeves. On what he assumed to be her horse, there was a bow and quiver strapped to the saddle in easy reach. On the other side he could see what appeared to be a lap harp case. He saw a second one strapped to the other horse as well. This excited him a little. He had always wanted to learn such an instrument. He walked forward to see what his harp looked like, reached for the case, and if he hadn’t been expecting it he would have been hit by the dagger that clattered to the stone. He looked over at his teacher and said, “Are you CRAZY?! You could have killed me.”
“First things, first. I was NOT going to kill you. Next, I knew it was only going to graze you at worst. And lastly, yes I’m crazy and the sooner you accept that the better off this little learning experience will go. What was it that tipped you off then boyo?”
“Well, crazy lady, there were a few things. First, I saw the small head shake that you let escape when I looked so intently at your harp case. Then I noticed that there were some cuts in your lace. I assumed that instead of you just keeping some really long nails, that you kept throwing knives up your sleeves. From there I was just hoping that either you wouldn’t actually throw knives at your student or that I could dodge fast enough.”
“Well at least you have observational skills on your side. Do you know how to play an instrument?” she asked rapidly.
“Um, drums, I guess but nothing that can do any sort of melody.”
“Okay she said. How about stories? Do you know any stories that could entertain a tavern crowd?” she continued her barrage of questions.
“A few probably. None from this land. I should probably learn some from here, I bet people have favorite stories they like to hear.”
“That’s later. Can you use a weapon?”
“I have decent ability with a rapier and some skill with a long bow. I at least know the forms to use a bastard sword appropriately.”
“Well that is better than average I suppose. Do you know any magic?”
“Hmmm actual magic? No, I can not say as I do. That will take some learning.”
“Well, I suppose overall you are a more skilled apprentice than I am use to. Teaching you what you need to know in a month might not be as impossible as it seems.”
“So what am I supposed to call you besides crazy lady? That might start to get awkward in most social circumstances.”
“Well, Thellonius the Quick is how I’m known in several of the major cities. That’s taken a few years to build up and put out there in the publics eye. If you want Thella works, Master Thellonius, or, hell, Master Quick will suffice. Tell me you name in turn my young feisty apprentice. It won’t be the one you continue with after our time together is at its end. That is the name you need to earn. But I need something for now.”
“My name is Brant. I’m also known as Rubble or Rubs. I’m pretty easy as well.”
“Hmmm Rubs…..okay. Well let’s get started. We have a three day trip to Parity, and then things get really started.”
“Wait, I thought we weren’t going to Parity till the end of the month. Why do we need to go there?”
“What use is a bard in the wild, Young Rubs? Not much I’ll tell you. We shall use the time we spend in the wild learning stories, legends, music, and hopefully magic. Then when we get to town we start to teach you your true job, dealing with other people. Who knows, you might even earn some coin in the process.”
The two mounted up and started at a walk towards the west. There was a road to be followed and the horses wanted to follow it by and large as mostly underbrush was at the roads edge. This left their hands free most of the time, so Brant started learning his scale on his harp. As he plucked out some tunes he knew by pattern more than skill, he realized that this was going to be an interesting endeavor.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chapter 3 ~ It's Like A Second Puberty...

Brant woke up first amongst the Fools. He had had a rather nice dream, but he rather forcefully made himself understand that it was just a dream and that he wouldn’t be getting out the easy way. If that even was the easy way. Nothing really made as much sense as it should, and at this point making sense of it all was almost a wasted effort. Brant sighed lightly then heaved himself up to sitting position on his bed. The morning was still on the horizon and it was this more than anything else that made Brant feel like things were going to be all right, for all that his opinion mattered in the occurrence of events anymore. Brant looked over at the table where the Fools had had eaten last night to see all signs of their repast completely gone and was instead replaced by what looked to be a breakfast of tea, toast, and porridge. Quietly getting up, Brant saw a small stack of clothes at the bottom of the bed and began to put them on. He had to sigh yet again as he slid on the provided hose; he wasn’t a huge fan of hose but at least they were a rich forest green hue. The lighter green trousers slid over that and fit like they had been tailored just for him; eerily so. The poet shirt came over his head and airily rested on his shoulders while he tucked it in making sure to not get any awkward bunchings. Next came the vest, also in green as seemed to be the pattern, followed by a leather belt with belt pouch, leather mid-calf boots, and a brown, hooded cape made of some unknown light material with a simple hook clasp. Brant moved around quietly in his new duds, and found them very natural moving and aesthetically pleasing. He walked over to the other side of the room to look into the full length mirror that he had been avoiding with the bed he had chosen.
Brant’s jaw dropped and he uttered a horrified “JABBA!!” as he had been so stricken speechless by what he saw. His features had become more slender, more vulpine in nature, and his ears had taken on a rather distinct pointed aspect. Brant had turned into an elf!! Over from his bed, with the sound of being still asleep, Ryan yelled out “MURDER, MURDER, MURDER!!” At this the other fools woke up to varying degrees and at seeing each other all yelled in one unified “JABBA!!” All of them had been changed to one degree or another, all except for Renee. Beard had become more squat, compact, and his prodigious beard had grown to enormous proportions. Peace had become even more vulpine in nature and had ears with a more excessive point than Brant’s (so apparently he was a half-elf). Steven and Ryan were both very much smaller in stature than they had been. Ryan was shorter and Steven had grown a very neatly kept goatee. Drawing from what he knew, Brant assumed this made Ryan a halfling and Steven a gnome.
Everyone began talking at once:
“Omigawd, your beard is…”
“Ryan you’re even shorter than…”
“Dude your ears are really…”
“Awesome my goatee is all like….”
This was the point where Brant, who had had the most time to cope really, yelled, “TIME OUT!!!” And all the Fools stopped what they were talking about and replied back, “HUZZAH!!” “Time in,” Brant finished. “Okay so I woke up like this…well not all dressed, I did that, but with the ears and all. At this point I think we just need to talk to Zeddicyme about this. Until then, let’s all get dressed and have some of the breakfast provided to us, because I have a feeling that today and the next couple of days will be difficult.” Brant scanned the faces of the rest of the Fools and then walked over to the table and started making a cup of tea. The other Fools began to slowly, one-by-one, get out of their beds and apply clothes. “Apply” was the best term as few of the fools got much beyond hose and poet shirt equivalent. The lacings were unfamiliar, the medieval style of buttons, while simplistic, wasn’t necessarily intuitive. Brant set down his tea cup and walked over to aid the Fools in dressing themselves since this was his bailiwick and he had been dressing in Medieval garb for three years now. Beard had all of the different leather thongs appropriately tied well before Brant got to him. Renee had the most clothing items to put on but was rather functionally capable. Brant just had to help her lace up her bustier on her underclothes. The Fools were all familiar enough with each other that being this close to each other was no really big deal.
After everyone was well and fully clothed, they all sat down to eat. For Steven and Ryan, a couple pillows from the beds were required to get them up to normal eating level. All the Fools knew this was a minor grating matter for Ryan, but he seemed to take it in stride as well as Steven did. Breakfast went well enough, and was almost as entertaining as the conversation going around the table. Brant put some fruit, of some nature, along with some honey in his porridge and stirred it while watching the rest of the Fools experience their race shift. After the sun had gotten a hand above the horizon, the familiar girl servant walked in. She had a slightly bemused expression when she saw the changed Fools before she said, “The Master Summoner requires your presence so he can see you off on your way to your respective trainers.” She waited expectantly while the Fools made small attempts at ordering their dishes before following her to the Two Stones Room from the day before. On the desk, that had been covered in scrolls the day before, was now covered in trinkets of all sorts: baubles, rings, necklaces, and other jewelry.
Zeddicyme was standing next to the desk with a broad, Stu-like smile. “Welcome friends. I can see you have all sought your internal race aligned with this plane. Don’t worry this is natural. It will change some of your abilities slightly, but not by too much. I hope, of course, that you had a good nights sleep and two good meals in you as you shall all be training for at least a month with your assigned trainers, and knowing where your next meal will be coming from will be hit or miss. Before you leave however, I have here some trinkets of some small magical worth that will aid you in your endeavors. Each of you may choose one before you are transmitted to your trainers. Who is first?”
Peace stepped forward and grabbed a small clear spindle shaped stone and said, “Is this what I think it is?”
“If you believe that what you hold is an ioun stone then yes my friend. It is. It will alleviate any requirement for food or water so long as you let it orbit your head.” Zeddicyme replied. “Then this is my choice. I mean who needs to eat really. I’m already an elf so sleep is out anyways.” Peace said.
Beard stepped forward and looked over the table before he picked up a pair of gloves, one was blue while the other was brown. “Ah, those will probably aid you well in the wild my friend. Those are the Gloves of Swimming and Climbing. Inventive name isn’t it?” Zeddicyme said wryly.
Ryan was next to grab an item and chose a small cloak covered in patches. “Interesting choice. That is the Cloak of Useful Items. It is more of a just-in-case item in any set of circumstances. Guard it well, it might help you in odd circumstances.”
Steven strode forward and intently stared at all of the magical accoutrements before and grabbed up a backpack. “Please let this be what I think it is…”
“Heward’s Handy Haversack. Interesting choice my rogue friend. It will aid you well in all of your endeavors. Legal or otherwise.”
Brant walked forward and contemplated a few choices, a ring here, a necklace there, but what really caught his eyes was a worked leather armband with an emerald embedded into it. There seemed to be places to put other stones and attachments. Brant picked this up and looked askance at Zeddicyme. “Hmm, that particular arm guard has an interesting ability to give the status of a given target. It uses a language unknown to me and even more foreign words. Maybe you will eventually learn to work it. And you my dear? What would you like?”
Renee walked forward firmly and took up a necklace with two baubles dangling at the end and said, “I’ll take this. It calls to me for some reason.”
“Oh, uh… well that isn’t a trinket at all, that is some of my past wife’s jewelry. You can keep it if you like, but I would like you to take an item of actual worth as well.”
“Okaayyy. Thank you. I guess then I take this ring.”
“I am uncertain as to how useful that will be but maybe you will get lucky. That is a Ring of Fire Resistance. Hopefully you are the target of some flame to get the full use of the gift. But either way you have made your choices. I must apologize yet again, but I am required elsewhere in the world. I shall wish you the best of luck in your quest, and tell you that I will certainly see you again. After each of you have finished your individual trainings, you are to head towards the little town of Parity and wait for the rest of your party to catch up. From there, go where you will and find the reason of your quest. May the Gods guide you. Fare thee well.”

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chapter 2 ~ Which Hat Will I Wear?

The Fools followed Master Summoner Vebron over to two large upright standing stones with various runes inscribed all over in various colors of some kind of ink. The stones were vaguely the height of a really tall man and were within another pentacle on the floor. Zeddicyme walked to the stones then turned around and said, “Who will be first to have their traits judged?”
None of the Fools were shy about things, but as far as getting to it first, Steven had the rest beat. “Dibs!” he called as he jumped forward. Zeddicyme smiled slightly, in a way that was scarily like Stu, and motioned for Steven to step between the stones. After Steven had complied, Zeddicyme started to chant under his breathe in a language that was foreign even to the two linguists amongst the Fools. At first nothing occurred, but slowly, after 10 or 15 seconds, several gold bands formed around the two stones. Upon looking closer, Brant realized that the bands were actually characters of some language moving rapidly around. After only a minute or so the bands started to slow in their spinning until finally a parchment appeared as if from no where and floated down into Zeddicyme’s outstretched and waiting hand.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” Brant said suddenly curious, “But where did that parchment just come from?”
“Ah well as to that,” Zeddicyme started, “the short answer is magic. The long answer is conjuration magic.”
“You just conjured that piece of parchment into existence?” Ryan said questioningly.
“Oh, no. That wouldn’t quite work out right. I keep forgetting that not everyone can see the little imp.” Zeddicyme waved his hand and a small red imp holding a clipboard and quill materialized from on top the left stone. He glared at Zeddicyme then looked at Peace and drew his finger across his throat.
“That is enough from you!” Zeddicyme said as he waved the imp back to invisibility. He scanned over the parchment then looked up and said, “Well according to this you have plenty of agility, a decent amount of charisma, and have a small penchant for being a wealth redistribution specialist. Looks like you could work with either Gert Hyals, our resident thief trainer, or Oberes Tapis, our archery marshal and woodsman. Perhaps you should speak with both and see what works best for you. Who is next?”
Peace stepped forward into the circle and went through the same process till Zeddicyme was reading from his parchment. “You have an interesting mixture of traits. You have interest in the cogs that drive the universe, enjoy complex work, and have an odd want to set things on fire. Sounds like you should study with one of our wizards. There is only one that as of yet has no apprentice, Karse Whuvias. He’ll be a good master, I bet.”
It preceded similarly for each Fool with the minute of standing in the Dweomer, then the analyzation of their personality, and then an assignment of a teacher to guide them in their new occupation.
To Beard: “There is a lot of anger with you. I don’t see how you can function in normal society but then again that is just me. You have some proficiency with different kinds of weapons. I believe a friend of mine who lives in the wastelands to the north can help you find a constructive, or maybe more destructive, focus for that anger. He goes by Dest the Darker.”
To Ryan: “You have much potential as a leader. You are goal oriented and are great at supporting those around you. I think I’ll send you to my line sergeant, Sgt. Mazram Awellin. He will teach you the ways of leading troops in the midst of a battle.”
To Renee: “You have a pureness of self and compassion that can lend itself well to our goal. I think you can train under our local paladin. He has been on several quests and fortunately is here between questing. I shall send a missive to Yuren Tobal at the local Church of Pelor about the subject.”
And then he came to Brant’s: “Well this shows that you aren’t really good at anything.” Brant’s face fell a little hearing this. He had hoped for his skills in archery or fencing to give him a bailiwick worth doing. Or maybe his love of nature to lead him to becoming a druid. “Your best trait is your people skills and how you relate with them. I believe that with the training in weaponry, interest in the occult, and love of music you could make a nice minstrel. You will be able to open doors for your friends that they cannot open themselves. And I mean doors in a social context, the ones your roguish friend will probably be unable to even get close to.” He finished with a smile. “I will summon the royal bard from court. I am sure Thellonius will find an apprentice to be an interesting diversion from court politics.”
Zeddicyme rolled up the parchments and turned to walk out. “Wait,” Brant said, “So that’s it? You’re just going to give us jobs and send us off to do battle with some vague evil without even seeing if we want to or any sort of assistance from you?”
Zeddicyme turned slowly and looked slightly thoughtful in an expression that looked completely foreign on Stu’s face. “Well as to your acceptance of your task, it is completely up to you but you cannot go home until you have fulfilled your task. I assumed you would want to go home eventually and so would go forth on the quest naturally. As to the assistance, I was of course planning on providing you with gear, directions on where to start your quest, and a little magical trinket for each of you to aid you in the trials to come.”
“Oh…. Well. Yeah, that makes sense then.” Brant said loosing steam as he went.
“I shall have you housed here till I have arranged for your training. I bid you good night, I have much business to attend to. Take heart friends, you shall be making a great difference for many people. I shall see you off on the morrow.” Zeddicyme said as he walked out of the room. Before the Fools had a chance to exchange much beyond glances, several servants bearing the Master Summoner’s livery walked in and beckoned a separate Fool each to follow them so they could get clean and prepare for bed. The Fools all exchanged looks once again and through means of communication only born through close teamwork, they all agreed to follow the servant’s but remain watchful.
They were all lead down the hall into two separate roman style baths. There the servants started to undress the Fools. The guys, while leery with there being some females aiding in the undressing, they had all played ankles and tried to pass off their laxity with the other guys there. Renee, the flipside, could be clearly heard giving the male servant hell for trying to help her undress. The very chastened male servant walked into the men’s bath to switch places with the girl helping Beard undress. All the male Fools were smiling broadly at the man.
They bathed without talking much about what was on all their minds while they were being watched. Instead they talked mostly over how bizarre this all was and how much the lye soap they were using burned. Steven made a Fight Club reference and all the Fools looked a bit more disgustedly at the soap. Drying and dressing in the clothes provided to them was done in near enough silence. From there they were lead to their mass room were there was a small repast laid out for them on a table in their room. The head female servant, the one that had retrieved them from the pentacle rooms, showed them how to summon the servants in the night if needed and then left them to eat and sleep at their leisure.
The Fools, all realizing how exhausting and draining being summoned to another world was, set to the meal of what looked and tasted like roast chicken with vegetables of both known and unknown nature and a light cream based soup having what seemed to be potato in it. After all had had a chance to eat sufficiently to quell their immediate hungers they began to eat with a more moderate pace and to talk over their predicament. They all agreed that while this particular situation might be less than ideal, doing good and adventuring in a world of knights and magic would be nice as well. They all had varying reasons for saying so, but they all agreed that they would do their best to right the wrong in the world so they could go home. After coming to this conclusion they began to animatedly discuss their assignments for trainer. Most of them agreed with their descriptions by Zeddicyme and with their associated job.
They all finished their food and started the motions to getting ready for bed. Most of them were talking in pairs about this or that. Peace talking to Beard about how, soon, he would be able to shoot fire from his hands; Steven talking to Renee about how interesting her assignment sounded; and Brant and Ryan mostly just talking of enjoying the food.
As they got into bed, Brant paused in the conversation and then said, “Ryan….how do you feel about this whole setup? I mean I like how this place sounds, its right up my alley so to speak. I mean if you go with either my major or my D&D hobby, this place seems to match right up with it, but it just seems a bit coincidental. And what about Cowboy and Stu? Why didn’t they come along with us, ya know, as one of us?”
“Hmmm well, I don’t know good buddy. At this point, I’m just sorta going along with the ride. I think we all. Thankfully, as improv comedians we are all pretty good at just accepting what comes and moving on.” Ryan said with his hands behind his head on his pillow.
“What do you think about how much our wonderful benefactor, Zeddicyme, looked like Stu? Do you think it coincidence or do you think that our collective psyches are having an effect on this world and that people we know are represented here?” Brant asked quietly as he laid on his side facing Ryan’s bed.
“I don’t know Rubs. Hell for all we know this could be a parallel universe and it just has a lot of people that developed differently than the people we know and love in our world. Who knows?” Ryan said, turning over, clearly preparing to sleep.
“I don’t know either Ryan. I mean that makes sense but until we meet other people, I just don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to go with the flow, but then as you said we are pretty good at that. Good night, Ryan.”
“Good night, Rubs.”
Brant continued to think over the events over and over until finally he realized that he had really just gone to sleep in his world only a scant few hours ago. Maybe he would wake up there and this would all be a dream. Maybe it wouldn’t be… but as the darkness of sleep over took him, Brant quietly hoped that this wasn’t a dream and that a real adventure would finally be his.