Pain of Choice (short story)

As I’m sure you have guessed by now, I’m a big gamer geek. Once of the games I enjoy is LARP (live action roleplaying) games. During one of these games (a Werewolf the Apolocalypse game by White Wolf), I played a character that was a Galliard (teller of stories). Since the game was live action, all of my stories were told verbally and not written down, except for one major story that I decided to write first so I made sure I got all my ideas right. The story provided below is meant to be told in a verbal medium so keep that in mind while reading. As always, enjoy.

-Lucas

Pain-of-Choice – as told by Songs-of-Valhalla, Adren Get of Fenris Galliard

Breaking Bonds (short story)

This is a short story I wrote for my weekly Dark Ages Vampire game that I run. The main character is a non-player character (NPC) in that game who has been loved and hated by the group for quite some time now. This short story focues on her return trip home and her initial plan to begin building a vampire bloodline of her own. Though the game uses the White Wolf storyteller system and setting, the story has been written to exluded all mentions of their copyrighted/trademarked material as to not step on anyone’s toes. Enjoy.

-Lucas

 Breaking_Bonds (pdf file)

Better than Dead (flash story)

This is the conclusion of the second set of adventures of Karamus as told by an older and more bitter version of himself in a semi-journal format. These are written for fun so enjoy.

-Lucas

“Now, tell me what happened next.” The shadowed warden demanded.

“I don’t remember.” Karamus replied with a tired, but satirical grin.

“Yes you do.”

“No I don’t.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, I don’t.”

“You died.”

“I got better.”

“So you do remember.”

The old cansin gave a sigh, “Look berk, I got myself written into the dead book. What more is there to say? Blasted weaver destroyed me. Dead to rights. Next thing I know I’m in heaven.” he said with a smirk, “Thirty naked woman feeding me grapes. Can you imagine how great that is?” Karamus turned his head to the shadow outline of a person and only saw the head of the red-hot poker, “Nah, I guess you wouldn’t know about that.”

“Ow!” he screamed out as the poker seared flesh.

“You did not stay dead or we wouldn’t be having this conversation now would we. What happened next?”

Karamus turned his head back to look upwards again, “They say the only way to get back is to slip the bonds of death and ride the chains back to the world.”

“That’s rather poetic of you.” came a reply. “Why the change?”

Karamus turned his head back over to the voice and then held up his now free hands, “I slipped my bonds.” he said with a sweet smile before kipping up from his table just as the red-hot poker swung underneath him. The old cansin landed on the balls of his feet and quickly shot out a kick to the temple of his dominator before leaping off the table and rode his body down to the ground.

Several punches later, Karamus gave out a growl as he hoisted up the body of his tormentor onto the table, “Blubber your heavy.” he said with a pant and then bent backwards which caused several bones of his back to crack and moan. “So you want to know what happen…well, you’ve finally convinced me. I’ll tell you everything you want to know.

“So there I was, eating grapes like I said when this voice came to me. At first I thought it was another maiden wishing more quality time. As I got to listening more, it wasn’t a woman’s voice at all but that of a young man calling my name. A mage of all people. I expected the sodding farmer to come knocking and thus, my curiosity was peaked.”

“So I returned to the prime to see what was sooooo important that these berks would call me up from the dead. I get back and what do I get, demands and curses. Now the paladin I understand his anger. I truly do. I pissed in his garden of law and order. The funny thing is, I got away with it then and I’ve still gotten away with it now. Paladins are a funny lot, all self-righteous and imposing on others way of life but when it comes down to who gets shit done, you turn to the man who has the balls to do it.” the cansin stated coldly as he picked up the poker and jabbed it into the side of the man for good measure who let out a scream.

“So it turns out that the mage wants help in the City of Doors to find his father. I’m all about a revenge story and since I had unfinished business there anyways, I was all for it. The old group, back together again. Just like old times. Except for the paladin that is.”

“Turns out, half the berks can’t even walk through a portal correctly. I wasn’t surprised. The journey was a short one and soon I was in my old stomping grounds, living on the edge of the Hive. After a few inquires and…” Karamus paused for a moment and took a sniff in the air, “sweet, sweet Kylie, we found out who we needed to talk to, the new boss in town Shemeshka.”

“Also turns out old Azlenar got himself written into the dead book for getting to rich. I figured it would have happened sooner or later. I would just have loved to get my hands on him before hand. Alas it was not…” he paused for a moment and the poked the man with the poker again, “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know a good cleric around these parts would you? No? And you call yourself a man of faith.” he said with a snort.

“Anyhow, we made our way over to the Fortune’s Wheel where we made a deal with the devil. Literally. It was worth it though I have to say, I would trade anything for my sister, any item, any berk, even my own soul. Thankfully, the king just needed Nightstar for a bit for a business meeting. I’m sure Shemeshka got the proper end of that deal.”

“From the lady’s ward we made our way to the crazy house where apparently old Primus had made a name for himself being crazy. Can’t say I’m surprised. You deal with the dead too much and you go crazy. They’re not known for their conversational skills you know. So after some long father-son talks, Ashton decided to pull his father out of the place and when we went to gather his things. And wouldn’t you know it, some chaotic thugs just happened to break in and grabbed the stuff. I was surprised. Were you surprised?” he asked with another jab and the answer was a blood churning scream. “I thought you might be.”

“So we fought the things off, not that bad of a fight all things considered but the weirdest thing happened when the last one fell. This wave of chaos enveloped the whole group like a tidal wave and I felt…different somehow. Changed. It was like I had a clearer insight to everything around me. Like the stars were now aligned and such. And thus, our mission was completed in Sigil. I had my sister and Ashton had his father. Well…ok, almost done. I still had some desire for Kylie but that’s another story that I’m sad to say you won’t get to hear my old friend.” he said and leaned in close with the poker which brought light to the face of the former tormentor.

A dwarven face came into view stricken with fear, “Now now, hush little baby don’t say a word, pappa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don’t sing, pappas gonna buy you a red-hot poker. And if that red-hot poker don’t sear your guts, pappas gonna leave you here to rot.” he sung as he drove the poker into the stomach of the dwarf. “Say hi to gramps for me.” he whispered and turned and walked away.

_______________

Karamus opened the door to the small home quietly as he figured everyone was asleep inside. He silently made his way into the den and climbed up into a chair and ended his long walk with a sigh of relief. Just as he closed his eyes a light flicked on which brought him out of his almost restful state. He caught the smell of perfume of honeysuckle scent and the sound of a twitching tail, “Turn that wretched light off.” he growled.

“I was wondering when you would show up.” said a female voice followed by the person sitting in a chair nearby.

The old cansin opened up his eyes and blinked several times to get use to the light. His scowl turned to a grin as he looked upon a tiefling woman, “Yeah, just need a place to hide out for a bit till things blow over.”

The tiefling gave a mock surprised gasp, “And you thought of little ol’ me? How touching.” she said with a wink. She then stood and Karamus could see that she was barely dressed as if she had truly been in bed before his arrival. “Come on you. My bed is cold” she said over her shoulder with a wicked grin.

Veiled Threats (flash story)

A continuation of the adventures of Karamus as told by older and more bitter version of himself in a semi-journal format. These are written for fun so enjoy.

-Lucas

Karamus frowned a bit as he woke up in the usual way in the usual place. Absolute darkness. He tested each hand and each found and as usual, found them bound tightly. “You know… it wouldn’t hurt to have some variety every now and then. Silk instead of metal… wine instead of mud… wenches instead of sodding paladins…” he began to mutter to himself as he relaxed his body against the metal surface. The room was colder than normal and as the cansin looked, the normal fire was nothing but a few embers.

Concern whipped through his mind at the thought of having been left in the room alone, forever. Even being alive for as long as he had been, forever was still a bit of an unbelievable dream in the back of his mind. Certainly those of the adventuring type typically don’t live long lives but those who do tended to be some of the most powerful people in a realm. Karamus only needed to think of uncle Klimmerfall for a perfect example of that. “No, not the person to think of…” he told himself, “He died in a torture…room… just… like… this… one…”

The thoughts of death raced through the old man’s mind once more, conjuring a particular memory of a time when he was in Cauldron. He figured the memory was really brought up during a previous torture session and has just lingered in his mind since. He had nearly died that day, a hair’s breadth from slave labor at the feet of a uncaring god in an uncaring environment. Yeap, eternal life was sounding better all the time. Now was a good time as any to reflect…

The incident was preceded by the group’s usual aimless wanderings. My own devices and plans were set in motion once the ring was obtained from Kort’s belongings. Why I did not hold onto that ring myself I will always chide myself over. Must be more forward thinking!

I spent most of my time for the next two or so days at the inn to distance myself from the company activities. I found this to be the best solution so as to not draw attention to my business dealings. Speaking of which, I think my poor underling might need a raise for when I asked for the world, he delivered in excellent fashion. Upon the morning, Maavu had been arrested, Tercival was rumored to be a fake and the half orcs were giddy over the chance to go into Redgorge. Only the last item was left to be uncovered which was delivered on queue.

I received a message from the company that a letter had arrived for me and so on time I arrived and feigned disbelief that the Shadow Academy had made their final demand on my sister. For the most part, everyone was ready to help in my quest to get back to Sigil though the sodding paladin was suspicious of the events but seemed more occupied by the events that had cropped up over town.

When I tried to speak with Ashton about the best means of getting to Sigil and the rest of the group was talking aimlessly like normal, the room was suddenly filled with unholy fire. I had caught a whiff of sulfur just before it went off and my training took over as I dived for cover. From above, a half-orc jumped down from the balcony and began to slice and dice his way through the group with the intent of turning Bransen into a steak dinner. Quickly I moved to flank the assassin, running Nightstar through his side with practiced ease. I had hoped that the half-orc would continue to focus on Bransen so I could continue my assault but for some reason, he suddenly turned on me, brining both blades down and nearly severed both my arms. The room went cold and dark as I sunk to the ground and then I blacked out.

I don’t know how long I was out but when I came to, most of my injuries had been healed but the battle was still raging on. When I looked around, I saw the half-orc charging by me and I quickly got to my feet and chased after him. He didn’t get far as the paladin and I cut him down in short order. Next we both moved on to the archer who was helpless but floating in the air. I switched into my slippers in short order and climbed up where the archer was and slid my rapier into his heart. The wizard managed to get away from what the others had said and all I could do was shrug. “Who wants us dead and how did they know so much about us?” was the universal question.

__________________

The old cansin was awakened from his slumber by the searing of flesh, his flesh by a red-hot poker. He screamed, his senses quickly snapping to attention to figure out the situation he was in. He was still in his room, still tied down to a table and still being tortured. “Oh good…I was afraid things might go right for a change.” He mutters.

“Now now, if you only tell me what I want to know, you can have change.” Came the voice of his torturer.

“You have yet to ask a question worth answering.” Replied Karamus. More pain from the poker shot through his body, “Alright! I’ll tell you everything you want to know.”

“Excellent. Tell me of Calmus Vel.”

“Moron. Likes altar boys and long walks on the beach. Likes things that dissolve.” More pain coursed through his body with a single hand motion from the dominator. “Fine. Priest of Wee Jas. Picked a fight. Ran his mouth. Got disintegrated.”

“The long version.”

With a sigh Karamus put his head back against the bed, “Well…we got put onto his trail after the assassin attack. You see, after removing their items, we notified the guard of what had happened and they said they would attempt a spell to speak with the spirit of the assassins to try to garner information. While they went off to do that, we sold some of their gear. Might as well turn a profit from their attempt right? The sodding paladin and farmboy went to try to uncover more info on why Maavu was in jail. He claimed he was setup but didn’t have a way to prove it.”

“That afternoon, we all got back together to hear what the guard had learned which was that the assassin’s were not native to Cauldron and their employer was someone by the moniker Veiled Lady which we knew to be another name for Wee Jas. As it so happened, there was a new temple going up in the city for Wee Jas. After some debate, we decided to demand some answers from the priesthood.”

“We hit up the temple late in the afternoon. After some trial and error, we were left scratching our heads on who to speak to our how to get inside without busting down the door. Ashton lost his patience and decided to teleport inside. Moron. I had to work quick on my feet to try to pick the lock on the door which was an excellent lock by the way so we could get inside after skello and the whole time the sodding paladin is yapping in my ear about how this isn’t the best way to get inside.”

Ignoring him, I got the lock open in under 10 seconds and as we rushed inside, we found Ashton facing down two giants, three half orcs and Calmus Vel who starting running his mouth about sheep when Bluejack turned to him and looked and then poof, ash. I tell you what, funny looking man, but never say that to his face. He’s a little sensitive about it. Anyhow, as usual, the group took care of business quickly and efficiently. When all was said and done, only a single giant remained. He said that he had been hired to guard the temple. Since that was obviously a bust, he surrendered and we let him go. With that handled, we started our way up the stairs.”

Feathered Goo Serpents (flash story)

 The continuation of the adventures of Karamus as told from his older self in a semi-journal format. These are written for fun so enjoy.

-Lucas

I hate goo. It smells, it gets into everything, and it isn’t even pretty. This pretty much sums up Greyjerk. As Kort followed me into the tree line to find the gnome, we found the mind bender shifting forms back to his usual self and not necessarily an improvement. Between him and his talking rock, I could make a fortune on the circus market. If only he would go along… I wonder if he would work for peanuts.

After a quick inspection with Kort’s missing eye, we looted the poor gnome of his possessions and moved on our way to the temple to meet the feathered lizard. Now, when one such as myself walks up to an ancient temple housing a planar creature of immense power, one would assume that it would be hard to gain an audience. Now add in two big muscles with heads at the door and I thought for sure we would have to fight our way inside. As Bransen would have it, these guys were as bright as the void and let us inside stating that we would be received. That didn’t sound right to me. Strike one.

Inside the temple was the scent of flowers on the air. No planar creature sits in a place scented with flowers. It’s bad for business and reputation. Strike two.

Upon seeing the creature, I was amazed at the sight, too amazed really. I blinked my eyes and looked harder and sure enough, the image before was perfect, too perfect for a normal creature, even a planar. Strike three.

I was convinced what we were seeing was an illusion because really, I am trained in such things. I leaned over to Kort and whispered to him my suspicions just as he finished listening to the sodding paladin about feelings. He whispered back to me to watch the entrance and the two guys at the gate before taking two steps forward and loudly stated that he didn’t believe in the feathered lizard which was echoed by Ashton in the form of a fireball. I sighed, that was not what I had in mind.

With the fight on, I whipped out my scroll of greater invisibility so I could handle the two guards outside easier but they never moved. Ah, the weak-minded indeed. Just as dumb as they looked. Amused with myself, I was a little startled when I heard and felt the movement of the behir. I turned to look in time to see Jarvyk get eaten alive. Well, not a total loss but I knew the rest of the group wouldn’t be happy so I made my way across the battle field of flying gargoyles (I must have missed them showing up) and beams of fire hitting mages. Glad that I wasn’t a mage myself, I finally skated across a bench to get alongside the monstrous lizard (again with the lizard theme) and began to plunge Daystar into the body of the beast, looking for its oversized heart.

The fighting was easy, that is, until featherbrain dispelled my invisibility. Apparently it was back to old-fashioned ducking and weaving before Jarvyk finally carved his way out of the behir’s belly. I was going to say the smell was an improvement but considering the look in his eyes, I decided against it for my own well being. We attacked in sequence and quickly dropped the beast with my sword through its brainbox.

With the death of the behir, the rest of the fight went well as the company grouped together to dispatch the gargoyles and then featherbrain. It was the gook Greybox that got the final… look? What the hell do you call what he does? Mind sodding? Anyhow, the thing fell dead eventually. If looks could kill. Heh. Turns out the lizard wasn’t even a lizard but a snake with a humanoid head. Even worse, now they are trying to look like us. Maybe that’s why they wanted poptart’s mentor. They want to be more… elven? Man, someone needs to explain to these a thing or two about elves…

The old cansin closed the journal and sat up from his chair to make his way over to his desk. He opened one of the drawers and pushed several papers away until he found a velvet pouch which he held tightly in his hand. He made his way back over to his chair and slide back into the groove of the leather which had molded to his form and posture after years of use. He opened the bag and dropped out a ring which he held up to the light, “Ah, a precious thing you are.” he whispered to himself. The ring was of the family of Tercival from Cauldron. With a deep breath and exhale, he slid the ring back into the bag. As he tied it shut, a loud crash came from the door.

Karamus quickly moved up from his chair, the charade of old age gone from his mind. He grabbed a knife from his desk and opened the door to find two brawny and well armored men stepping through his broken door. He quickly looked to his wife who only nodded to him and began to slip out the back door. With a quick flick of his wrist he sent his knife sailing through the air and into the visor slit of the helmet of the lead enforcer. With a quick few steps Karamus made his way into the kitchen where he flipped a switch along one of the cabinets before calmly grabbing several knives from the butcher block.

A metallic grinding sound began and was followed by a rush of fire that filled the entire entryway. The screams of the enforcers was loud enough to be heard down the block. “Gods I love gnomes.” he muttered as he opened up the window to the kitchen and slipped out of the house. Quickly he made his way around front where he found several more enforcers as well as a black mage backing up from the fire. “Shadow Academy.” he muttered again before moving swiftly and quickly around the group.

The old rogue descended upon the mage first, slicing through his spinal cord in one fluid motion of the knife. The mage yelped as he collapsed to the ground. Without pausing he threw a knife at one of the enforcers who fell clutching his neck. The third and fourth enforcers fell in similar fashions. Surprised at himself, the cansin gave a smile, “It would appear I hav…” he started to say before a large metal object knocked him over the head, sending him into blackness.

______________________________

The cansin awoke to find himself chained to a metal slate. The room was mostly dark with the only light coming from an overly hot set of coals to the side. The air was humid and thick with the smell of blood. “Fargal…” he started to say.

“You’re awake. Finally. Has old age finally caught up to the infamous Karamus?” asked a deep rumbling voice from the dark.

“I was just checking my eyelids for holes, that’s all.”

“Let’s begin again shall we? What happened after you left Pearlglen?”

“I told you already you oversized gnome, we went to Cauldron. Ran into a couple of giants along the way. Big guys, shiny rocks, I think one of them was your mother.”

A snarl answered the jab, “Silence you wretch.”

“So which is it? Talk or be quiet? You know you really ought to make up your mind about these things.” No answer came forth and so the old cansin continued, “As I was saying, we ran into some giants that were after some woman. The group drove off the giants while I made sure the dear lady was ok cause really, I am a gentleman at heart… well, most of the time.”

“With the lady rescued, we reached the city about two days later, pretty much the same as we left it except, no war and a bunch of half orcs with nothing to do except meddle in my affairs. Seeing that our company issues were minor, I made my way off to see my people to see what had been going on. Turns out, the war I was hoping for between Cauldron and Red Gorge never happened. Apparently Tercival had given an apology which blew the whole thing over.”

“But you see, there was one problem with that. The sodding paladin was de…OW!” screamed the rogue as a sliver of white-hot metal slipped between his ribs, the pain shot through his body like a asp’s poison. “Careful now… no need to be insulting.” the voice said.

“Sheesh… just… oh nevermind, you couldn’t understand anyhow with that armor on so tight. Breathing ok? You sure? Cause that can’t be heal… ok, ok, ok.” he quickly said as the poker came closer to his body again. “So… paladins, right. Tercival is dead you know… of course you know… being a paladin and all… oh sorry, ex paladin. OW!”

“Fine! I took the ring of Tercival which would prove that the one who gave the apology was a fake meaning that Cauldron would head full steam to war which would mean my people could finally get some work done without the half orcs getting in the way.”

“Good start. Now, explain to me the part about the Shadow Academy.” said the voice in the darkness.

“I knew you were going to say that…”

Bringing Order to Chaos

This is the fourth of an ongoing series of blogs detailing how I go about my writing process. This is here to help those people who are trying to find advice on how to get started themselves or for experienced writers looking for fresh ideas. My process may not work for everyone and I encourage every writer to find the process that works best for them, whatever that may be.

-Lucas

So far we have taken your little idea and have expanded it into a full-blown paragraph that gives you a glimpse of what your story will be about. From here on out, we will start expanded and refining your idea until you reach a point that your are comfortable with beginning the actual writing of your story. First we will expand upon your single paragraph and then we will begin working on the characters for your story.

Step 3: Where One Becomes Many

Our single paragraph contains the heart of our story, but it is very limited in details right now. Only the major events of your story are covered so you know what the general direction of your story is. From here, we want to expand each sentence into its own paragraph to detail out each major event. Don’t go into crazy detail here as you are still just writing a single paragraph. What you generally want to shoot for would be a how that event begins, what happens during the event, and how that event concludes with some details along the way. Generally, this should come out to about a page or so of structure for your story and you will begin to see the inner workings of your story, the little bits of awesomeness that makes great stories great.

So you know have a good solid set of notes to work off of. From here you can take a couple of different routes depending on your need or desire for more detail. If you prefer lots of detail (like me), you could go a step further and expand your paragraphs once more so each beginning, middle, and end of your events gets its own paragraph that details how it plays out. Going this far will start to really flesh out your details and will probably require a lot of foresight into how you want your story to go. This might be too much detail for some people and I get that. Stop where you are comfortable and then beginning writing.

Step 4: Caterpillars to Butterflies

This point in the design process is also where your characters will start to appear. They may just be names right now with a general concepts, but that is ok, they will get their treatment in just a moment. Unless your writing about inanimate objects, your characters are the center piece of your story and so they deserve as much love as your plot, if not more so. However, we can’t necessarily handle character development in the same way as we just handled your plot. Characters support and drive your story and so the focus of their development should be different in order to flesh out the appropriate parts. 

The type of story that you are writing will largely dictate what sort of background information you need for your characters. We will focus on creating some simple background information for your characters first. I use a series of questions to help define the basics of my character and where they come from. This will then allow me to understand and develop their goals and motivations as it relates to your story.

  • What is your character called?
  • List your characters parents and any siblings that they have
  • Where is character from (geographically)?
  • How old is your character?
  • What does your character look like?
  • What kind of childhood did they have?
  • What does your character do for a living?
  • Who else is in your character’s life?

From here you now have a basic outline for your character. We have a general idea of who they are and how they started out prior to our story. We then want to focus on how our character relates to our story:

  • A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline
  • The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  • The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  • The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  • The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
  • A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline

Alright, we now have a full blown character write up. Of course, if you don’t have enough information after these questions, you can always go through and expand each question further by using the three W’s. Why? Why? Why? By asking why to the original question, you are forced to create a reason (and therefore back story) for the answer. The second why adds further detail and insight, and the third why generally gets you to the deepest root reason for the original answer that you gave. It is a good and easy way to generate detail in a logical and organic way.

New Directions (flash story)

A continuation of the journals of Karamus, my dnd character from long ago. This story marks the beginning of a new adventure after his adventures in a plane of specialized hell. As before, these are merely written for fun. Enjoy.

-Lucas

The old rogue leaned over and picked up the book he had thrown at his son earlier and settled back down into his chair. With all of the children gone, he finally had some peace and quiet. With idle curiosity, he opened the book to see what was inside. He began to read over some old passages he had written after the journey to the planes. He remembered seeing the book at the market at Sasserine and thought it a good idea at the time to write a few thoughts within its pages for such a time that he couldn’t remember the minor details of the adventuring days. “Damn paladins. Damn dwarves.” He muttered and looked out the window near his chair, “I will have my revenge Durvek. I am a patient man.” With his anger abated, the cansin looked down to the book and began to read.

“Where are we Bransen? Does anyone recognize this place?” asked Jarvyk as he scanned the horizon to find a city a short distance away and a beach. Most of the group shook their heads except Ashton, who acknowledged the location. “Sasserine!” he exclaimed.

Kort looked over the city for several moments and then looked to the necromancer “You recognize this place?” I was confused myself on what he said. I must have had sand in my ears. I thought he’d said “sass Irene” which I admit didn’t make sense at the time.

“Ashton, aren’t you from here?” asked Jarvyk. Somberly the mage nodded, “Yes, this is home. We can go there to stay for now.”

The late spring breeze off of the sea felt great against my face. Of course, anything mildly refreshing would seem as a paradise compared to the oppressing landscape and “weather” of Occipitus. As we approached, the approach to the city was easy to make and just as easy to walk through. It was pleasant to see a prime city again after our last adventure and I must admit, prime women are just as beautiful. The estate of Ashton’s was a large, expensive place and I must make a note to visit this place in the future. Upon entering, Ashton mentioned it was his family’s estate, though no servants came to great us nor carry our belongings. Clearly the estate has fallen to the side. I wonder where the master of the estate is?

Everyone made their way to their own rooms to unload their packs and belongings after the weeks of travel. It was nice to have the burden off my shoulders. As we gathered back in the main room, Jarvyk suggested we hit the market place which I readily agreed to, as well as Bransen. I was famished for real food and a real merchant to haggle with. I would have been more pleasant to go alone, alas, I think the group may suspect something so I should probably lay low for awhile to throw off any suspicion.

The boat trip to the market place was decent, though the birds where a bit out of control. With our loot bags in tow, we spent the better part of the day haggling prices with merchants. Overall, Bransen does make a good haggler, even with his simple ways. While in the market, Jarvyk brought up the topic of help Ashton look for his missing father, another necromancer. I didn’t know they ran in packs, I always thought of them as loner types… well, minus the undead of course. Can’t count them for company these days, so little intelligence in today’s undead. What is the world coming to? Anyways, I offered to help ‘cause where there are mages, there is money, ‘cause spells just don’t create themselves, you know. Unless your Bransen. Sodding cleric in denial.

As we spoke the details, a rather odd elf stepped into my conversation. He mentioned that he was looking for his mentor, a half-elf (problem number one) with grey hair (problem number two) wearing a bow and leathers (problem number three). For an elf, he was really… chipper, like he stood out in an ice box for longer than was necessary. Uncommonly for an elf, well, at least the elves that I know, he assumed I was already interested in helping him. I was unsure about the whole thing until he mentioned buying breakfast at a nearby tavern. I was sold on the idea and let Bransen finish up the shopping so I could steal this man’s money… er, eat breakfast.

The food was good, the conversation was boring, and I had to break the poor man’s heart with the fact that I would charge him for my services. Why would he think I would work for free? Charity? Me? Who does he think I am? Bransen? Sheesh. Anyways, we came in an agreement that he and another guy would meet the company to help us if we would help them in return. It sounded like a decent idea because where they go, dead creatures and money are sure to follow. As well as trouble, but we won’t get into that.

The company meeting was more of the usual. Kort crying, Bransen daydreaming, Jarvyk evangelizing and Ashton… well… doing something anyways. We agreed that since we had no leads to follow up on Ashton’s missing father that we would head back to Cauldron, which was about a week or two away. There was a quick suggestion about moving operations to Sasserine, which I immediately voiced against. I can’t leave my business unattended after all. We made plans to get everything ready to go when Kort voiced his thought of stepping down as captain. I personally didn’t care if he did or didn’t, we normally don’t listen to him anyway unless he’s asking us to push him into a column of hellish fire. I think he decided to continue to be captain, but I kind of lost interest as I started thinking about Cauldron and my people that got left behind. It would be a shame if the city was engulfed in full war or something equally disastrous. Bad for business unless your into weapon dealing… hmm, now there an interesting idea…

The old cansin set his book down on his lap and leaned back into his chair. He turned his head to look out the window where he could see his children playing out in front of the house, carefree and innocent, much like the town of Pearlglen. They never deserved the devastation they received but the gods picked them anyhow. With a shrug and a sigh he reopened the journal and flipped over several pages of notes and thoughts until he got to the entry about the company’s pending departure from the city.

“It was a knock at the door that through me out of my reverie. I lazily looked over at the door and mentioned that the two I had met earlier where suppose to be dropping by to talk business to the rest of the company. And so, the talking began, everyone getting a handle and feel for the newcomers, Katie and Greysmoke. Kort, in his usual bravado wanted the two tested to show what they could provide to the company should trouble find us. Then again, I don’t think it needs to go looking, it pretty much knows where we are on a daily basis. It turns out the elf is an archer! Wow, I never would have guessed. And he can cast spells! Surprised my liver right out of me. The other guy, Greytool apparently is another magician of the mental variety with a floating, talking crystal. I’ve seen odder, like the sodding paladin’s talking sword. Alas, I was unimpressed with their showmanship but the group was impressed enough. Not that it’s hard or anything, especially wonder boy farmer Bransen.

It was agreed, apparently, that we would head to Pearlglen in search of Cassidy’s mentor, another mage and archer. Color me shocked. The town was rescued some years back by a flying snake with feathers posing as an angel of sorts. They were so impressed with the poser that they made a statue in honor of him. I could only hope to be so lucky. It would be a two day trip to the town, hopefully only a couple of hours to find the elf so we can get onto more important matters.

Extortion at its finest. Civic projects, memorial tombs, call it what you like, it’s getting money out of everyone so you can get what you want. Sure the public gets a nice little keepsake to awe over while you skim 20% off the top. When the company arrived in Pearlglen, I was astonished by how blunt the town was about the civic project. Sure, a pint here, a pint there but everything? I know assassins with more leniency then these people. They say people having been giving this town a wide berth, I say it’s because of the prices. Sheesh.

Anyhow, our arrival in town was with its usual bravado and the first stop was the local temple to Pelor to get the skinny on what was going on. We were greeted by a zombie of a man who had his brain box liquored up with magic. Bransen made quick work of that small problem and viola, new priest, same clothing. Apparently the head priest was out of town talking with the feathered lizard but that was odd for her (I can’t say that surprises me. How many people talk to feathered lizards?). He suggested we talk to the Chief Warden to get more information and let him know about the drunk minded priest. The guards at the blockhouse said that the Chief was out and that they didn’t want any help. An obvious brush off but I was willing to explore other avenues when Cat Tails went storming back into the blockhouse to demand answers. This began a comedy of errors which gave me a chuckle as the elf came running out for fear of his pansy life. There was like, two guards and he wants to help us?

The suggestion came up that we should look into the site where the former warden had been attacked. Now this was at a graveyard and frankly, the whole place crept me out and then the gnome showed up. Now Halflings I can deal, but gnomes? Creepy little buggers. To boot, he introduced himself as the new warden. Great. So the group talked with him about the current events and he said he would go talk to the feathered lizard for us to see what could be done and if there was any information on the elf’s mentor. I tried to follow him after he left but like I said, he’s creepy and fast. I lost him in the forest.

The next day we sat for half the day waiting for the creepy gnome to show up. I was about to start up a game of dice when the group announced that they were tired of waiting and elected the rest of us to go out to the temple ourselves. Since I was bored to tears, I readily agreed to go. The walk to the temple was scenic and forested, rather nice I would say if I were a druid but I’m not so bleh. As we traveled we came upon three massive sized bears. Who lets these things get so big? I mean really. Is it truly necessary? We started to debate how to deal with the bears when I heard the faint sounds of someone casting a spell off to our left. I was about to say “Someone is here,” when the dead-wannabe necro threw a fireball at the bears. Sigh, I guess we are fighting. Fighting bears.

To the cage with that. I decided to go after the spellcaster that was hidden in the trees while dodging bear teeth and claws. Apparently Greyjacket had the same idea and guess who was sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g his pet wolf? The sodding gnome. He started to pin me down with arrows and then bolted when flying puke man got to close. They chased like school girls until the gnome suddenly just fell over holding his head. Looking back to the rest of the group, the bears had been slain. I looked at myself, my weapons still sheathed and I wondered why I didn’t just break out a bottle of wine and watch. I would have been just as effective.