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.