Continued from Part 1
Josh: Hello and welcome back. We're here with our friend Wimbly the Hauflin...
Wimbly: Spooner! Get out of his coffee! Where's your manners!?
Josh: ...and his faithful sidekick, Spooner.
Spooner: [Sploosh!] [Kerplunk] Ribbit.
Wimbly: Sorry about that. He he. Forgot to mention Spooner usually has a bath after the noontime; I've tried to tell him to use the loo like a proper gent but he's got this thing for that exotic "coffee" brew and I don't know where he picked it up cause I don't even drink the stuff ever since that wise Elf said it "exasperated my condition" - whatever that means...
Wimbly: Yes! That was it. And Spooner says it's his favorite because it makes him feel all tingly and alert but I think he just likes the bubbles.
Josh: Coffee doesn't have...bubbles.
Wimbly: He makes them. Oh! By the way, you might not want to drink that. Shame on you Spooner!
Josh: Thanks I...don't think I will. Why don't we just set this down over here.
Wimbly: Say, did I ever tell you about the time Spooner and I got captured by a band of Orcs, and they put us to work in the kitchen, only they didn't know it at the time but Spooner had just made friends with a Dragon who had the most dreadful case of the fire-sneezes and these Orcs you see were making this contraption and they were really excited about it, something called a 'powder keg' or the like and...
Josh: Stop! I mean...um, we're sort of limited on time now and the listeners...you see they had some questions they're eager to ask you.
Josh: You and Spooner I mean.
Wimbly: Oh well yes of course! Why didn't you just say so. Why if you catch me running off at the gibber lip why you just do what old Spooner here does and give me a good poke in the ear. He he, it always tickles when he does that. Of course, now that I think of it you might not want to do that what with you not being a frog and of course Spooner here has a terrible jealous streak and did I ever tell you about the time Spooner's fifth girlfriend lost her foot only it turns out...
Wimbly: [Digging through his knapsack] Spooner! Where'd you put my Fizzy tablets!? I thought I told you I need these whenever I'm drinking Buttered Pickelprune juice.
Josh: You're drinking wha- Nevermind. Ok. Here we go. Our first question comes from Melissa. She wants to know, 'What's the most exciting thing you ever saw in ALL your adventures?'
Wimbly: Oh that's an easy one. Wait a minute. Oh yeah. This one time Spooner and I were invited to the Royal Court for a Suuuuper exclusive party (we had just spared the kingdom from a terrible fate worse than terrible) and they were having a Graaand Ball, you know the kind with all the dancing and prancing and bowing and all that with the dresses and gowns and funny little masks on sticks (he he, reminds me of me grammy when she used to show off her taxidermy collection) and Spooner and me well somehow we got lost and ended up deeeeep underneath the castle where no one had been for ages and there we met the Great Badger Underboss and he had this AMAZING contraption called a "Pinball Machine" and Spooner here why he set the high score that no one could beat, not even ol MacBadger's 3rd daughter Lilith (who was really hooked on that game and boy did she ever try to beat that score and she was pretty good too) and then when my turn came around said it was broken but I'll be a Yakabeast's dandruff if it wasn't just a clever ploy to kershuffle us back to the Royal Shindigery. Of course, her being the daughter of an esteemed figure of the underground and all well you can understand how Spooner took a liking to her and well I told him he better watch out gettin involved with Underboss' daughters but you know how Spooner is and...where was I?
Wimbly: Oh, right! Thanks Spooner. They had Cream-Cheese Truffles!
Josh: [Blinking] Er... Um. Thank you for that, articulate response Wimbly. I'm sure it was more than Melissa could have, hoped to hear. [Reaches for his coffee and then remembers] Next question. This one is from Todd and Jeremy. They want to know, 'What is the grossest thing Spooner ever ate that he thought was something else?'
Wimbly: Hmmm. That's a tough one. Spooner, what did you eat that one time that made you all purple and bloated and we had to give you a levitation potion and tow you behind the caravan and then the leader finally paid us to "Go our separate ways" and we ended up in the Northlands since that's where the wandering Viking fellow said his cousin was and we thought maybe they had a cure for purple bloated frogs with the icky-bloops?
Wimbly: Ah Yes! That's what it was.
Josh: [Waiting with a look of mild anticipation]
[Whispering to Josh] Spooner has a bit of a problem with the dairy mind. That's why he's always sneaking my Fizzy tablets.
[Aloud] He thought it was a leftover bit o crumpet, like the ones the innkeeper used to give us for cleaning out the stables.
Josh: Well. You'll both be glad to know there's no Parmesan around here. Come to think of it I'd better have a chat with Lisa; she was planning on cheese and crackers for a snack in a short while. I don't suppose you know how he reacts to Cheddar?
Wimbly: Better not.
[Whispering again] Reminds him of his stepmother.
Josh: Right. Wait a minute.
Wimbly: Have you got any Zucchini Mousse? Spooner likes his with fermented Elderberries.
Josh: Fresh out.
Wimbly: Oh. Don't worry Spooner, we'll stop by the tavern and besides that nice Hildegard says she has a special treat for us if we do the dishes again only you can't bring that Fairy friend of yours cause Normund says it's been swiping the silverware and you know I told you...
Josh: Excuse me Wimbly but we have another question for you (and Spooner).
Josh: Ok, let's see here. "Aw3sumLiteSaber" wants to know [stares intently at the notepad], 'What shood I majorin cuz i'm don't hav a grlfrnd and i'm reely shy but also smart and reely g00d at Dance Dance Revolution? Also whut kinduv deoderant do u use?'
Wimbly: Yes, I think you're right Spooner. Reminds us of my little nephew - fourth cousin twice removed on my mother's side - Fennie Hiccup. Nice lad. Means well, tries REAL hard. Except, heh, we think he's not altogether together that one.
Josh: Sounds like someone we know.
Wimbly: Who said what?
Josh: Oh. Nothing. Sorry.
Wimbly: Where was I? Oh yeah. Little Fennie got imself a full scholarship yes sirree, over at RPG 'U' - playing Wiffleball that's right. We recommend the same...and eating lots of Asparagus.
Josh: Alright. Thank you for that.
[scribbles a note-to-self on the notepad, something about not letting Wimbly give advice to impressionable youngsters].
Wimbly: Spooner! Excuse yourself!
Josh: Next question. Diana and her son Luke want to know, 'How old are you really?'
Wimbly: Oh why that's an easy one. Now let's see. Hrmmm. My half-uncle Wilbow just celebrated his 85th birthday. I know because Spooner accidentally swapped his present for that package we were supposed to deliver for those shady chaps that hang out behind the tavern and things really got ugly when the Royal Guard showed up looking for Spooner and of course you know he has sort of a reputation and they dragged us off just like they always do but of course the King, being the good-hearted king that he is, saved us from a dreadful interrogation where they dip our toes in cold cream o'the wheat until we can't stop giggling, and by the time we got back to Aunt Gelda's the youngins had ate all the cake, which is well and good given what we did to the first one (of course it was an honest mistake you understand), and anyway we weren't all that hungry cause Spooner here had swiped that bag of jerky from the guard and we got to snacking on it and you know what too much jerky does to poor Spooner's indigestion and pretty soon the youngins were begging us to tell the story of the time we came face to face with that eeeeevil wizard in the dungeon and how the Miniatures had to rescue us since they owed us that favor and...where was I?
Wimbly: Right! Two gumdrops and a pinch of Season salt.
Josh: But you...didn't even answer the...never mind. Alright, looks like we're running short on time. Just enough for one last question. The Anderson's up in Walamazoo want to know, 'How did you and Spooner first meet?'
Wimbly: Ahhhhhh, why now that's a grand tale my boy if ever a tale there was. We usually save this one for storytelling night at the tavern, with finger puppets and costumes and Spooner even does this little dance (it's so cute!) and they never tire of it. Normund says it brings in the Copper Pieces every time and he even tips us as long as Spooner doesn't try to hit on the nobles or take a bath in the middle of the performance, which almost never happens except when he's heartbroken. Let's see now. How does it begin. [Long pause] It was a fuuuull moon that night, though you could never tell for the clouds were as thick as a Dwarven sandwich and a lone Hauflin (that's me) had just stowed away - I mean 'booked passage' - on a graaand sailing ship...
Josh: Hold on. Wait. Sorry Wimbly. It doesn't look like we'll have enough time for that story today. Perhaps you can share it with us next time.
Wimbly: Can I at least tell the part about the drunken sailor who fell asleep in the peach barrel and then got traded to the Malornian pirates in exchange for safe passage?
Wimbly: Oh. Alrighty then. Spooner and I must get along anyhow. He has an audition with the Fighter's Guild for a new character they're promoting - they call him 'The Masked Avenger!!' and he has to wear this funny mustache only Spooner thinks it makes him look primly and actually so do the ladies; that's why I've got to negotiate his contract like a shrewd Human cause that Guild Boss is a real Copper pincher if you get my meaning...
Josh: And that concludes our interview with Wimbly the Hauflin and his ever-faithful companion Spooner. It's been a...pleasure. Thank you for joining us. Until next time folks. We'll see you back at Wayfarer's Rest.
[Takes a big gulp of his coffee].
Josh: Hello Everyone. Today we have a special guest. We've been trying to get an interview with him for some time now, and believe me he isn't easy to track down. Lisa and I have known him for years and now it is our great privilege to...
Wimbly: Be quiet Spooner!
Josh: Heh heh; he's a cute little fella.
Wimbly: He has indigestion. Accidentally swallowed a Willow Wisp this morning.
Josh: Awe, poor little guy. Is there something we can do for him?
Wimbly: Have you got any Ogre mead?
Josh: Um, not at the moment. Uh, we...used it all up yesterday.
Wimbly: Oh that's too bad. He's going to be a bit burpy then. Tried everything the first time this happened...Elvish peptate, Khajathi Sithle root, spam cheese hogey dogs...
Wimbly: Buuuut, for some reason the only thing that seemed to calm his belly down was a nice swig of Ogre mead (you know the homemade kind with the little sprinkles o' maggot fly garnish).
Wimbly: Also, he may act a little, uh, he he, peculiar here and there. Just so you know. But pay him no mind (he's also a little nervous, you know, being on teleo-vision and all).
Josh: We're not on television.
Wimbly: Oh. Did you hear that Spooner? No Feonora's Funniest Home Gladiators tonight after all. Tsk tsk.
Josh: Well, ah hem. Sorry we're all out of Ogre mead old boy.
Wimbly: Point the other way Spooner! Your breath is killing me!
Josh: As I was saying, we've got a real treat for you today folks. I'm joined by my good friend Wimbly Middletoe...and his faithful companion [checks notepad] Spooner Bartholomew Francisco Achoo the Third...Esquire.
Wimbly: You can call him Spooner for short.
Josh: Thank you. And his faithful companion - Spooner. As many of you already know, Wimbly is one of the most famousest Hauflins in all of Feonora, who has made quite a name for himself - especially around about the town of Villageton and, we hear, even in the halls of the Royal Court.
Wimbly: Did I ever tell you about the time I had to rescue the Queen's favorite royal gown from the clutches of an eeeevil tailor, bent on the destruction of the entire world!? You see, his devious plot involved a conspiracy to tie everyone's shoelaces together...
Wimbly: I love that story. Especially the part where the tailor had captured and cruelly stitched me into the gown and I couldn't call for help or anything and Spooner was nowhere to be found because he had run off with that Froglet from the traveling show and then the Queen went to put on the gown and...
Josh: Uh, Ok. I'm sure we'd all love to hear that story again Wimbly, but our time is limited and we have some questions for you sent in by our listeners. They want to know more about you (and Spooner). You know, get to know you better and find out what sorts of things the two of you enjoy doing in your spare time...that sort of thing.
Wimbly: Ah well then my boy. Let's not keep the the good people waiting. Now, where shall I begin...Ah yes, I was a tadpole once.
Josh: Beg your pardon?
Wimbly: Sure and righty too. It was after Spooner and I had infiltrated the lair of an eeeevil Human Wizard (who used to feed his prisoners big gooey flattened pies called "pizza" with little fishes and sour fruit on them and the smell was worse than old Spooner here when he's got the indigestion...) Where was I?
Wimbly: Right! Well, we had been sent there on a super seeeecret mission that only the King...and his Fifth General Sir Wellington...and a few of the lower Lieutenants...one or two scribes, three of the Queen's Ladies in Waiting...six (no seven) members of our Pinochle club...and my little niece Lucy (because she had a cold that day and we couldn't leave her home, what with the explosion in the bathtub)...
Wimbly: As I was saying we had just finished (he he) procuring a sample of his secret experimental tooth-whitening potion, only it turns out we had swiped from the wrong container and then it got mixed up with Spooner's allergy curative and...
Josh: Ok. Thanks Wimbly; that's a great story. But, I think the audience wanted me to ask some of their questions...so if you don't mind we'll start with some of those ok?
Wimbly: Why of course my good man. What are you waiting for? We haven't got all day you know. Deadlines to meet, vegetables in the kettle don't boil without water that's what I always say. Come on then. Out with it already. Say, where did I put that tobaccin pipe. Spooner! What did you do with Mr. Beldofire!?
Josh: Uh. Why don't we take a little break. When we come back, an interview with Wimbly the Hauflin, one of Feonora's most heroi...um, well known figures.
Spooner: Burp! [Sproink!]
Josh: Ow! Why did he do that? [rubs head]
Wimbly: Spooner! What's the matter with you!?
Wimbly: He thought you were that Goblin who stole his hair brush.
End of Part 1 - An Interview with Wimbly
Continued from Part 2It had been a long walk back to the village, blindfolded and with her hands bound in front of her, Shila had fallen more than once in the thickened mud of this forsaken place. Always she was picked up and pushed to continue ahead, as if they had some schedule to keep. No one spoke. Without the ability to see the sounds around her took on a new life. Suddenly, it seemed, she could hear things she hadn't noticed before, like the subtle differences in the slurp and plop of footsteps (or the absence thereof) depending on the viscosity of the mud. The sounds of the swamp, still mysterious and so alive, reminded her how far she was from home. Thoughts drifted to home, familiar faces, and one beautiful face in particular...Her sole companion, and close friend, had been murdered by a traitor, and there's no telling what they might do to a prisoner...especially one who belonged to a great noble house. She must not let them know her true identity. Or maybe, that was the test that now lay before her, to face her fate with dignity, to triumph (in some small way) in spite of her failure. Her mind turned to Gelden then, the traitor spy, and cold murderer who had, like these filthy tribals, not and ounce of honor running through his blood. The rage in her heart boiled at the thought of him and her mind danced at the thought of bringing justice to Agan's betrayer. Only she would not sneak up from behind, or deliver poison from the shadows. She would face him.They had descended a small, twisting stairway and made a few turns; the surface beneath her feet was, to Shila's surprise, made of solid (smooth) wood and barely creaked under the weight of them. They must have entered a room for the sounds gave a different echo now and she could feel the illumination of torches or candlelight. They had come to a full stop; there was only the sound of footsteps and low murmurings and then, the blindfold fell loose, untied from behind. Her eyes strained to adjust to the light and the blurry figure now standing in front of her, untying the binds to her wrists. By the time her eyes had adjusted she could see that this room was not a prison cell or torture chamber, as she had half expected, but what appeared to be a Study of some kind, complete with an array of bookshelves, several comfortable looking chairs and an elegant desk of a most unusual design. Her brief survey of the room revealed that she was also now completely alone and for a moment Shila wondered how she had not heard the tribals leave the room. There were only two doors, the one behind her, from which they had entered and another in the opposite corner. Inspection revealed both were bolted shut from the other side and, as she immediately noticed, also fashioned of solid wood...good Cheramu wood such as they had back home, which she was sure did not grow out here in the swamplands. What is this place? Shila looked over the room again, more carefully this time. The top drawer of the desk revealed several sheets of paper, unused, and a small letter opener, also ornamentaly crafted...possibly Elvish, maybe Human. What fools would leave her in this room to find such a useful weapon? Unless it was a trap. Shila brushed off the thought as she gently slipped it under her left bracer.Something chirped from across the room and the sound of it breaking the dead silence startled Shila so that she knocked over the chair behind her (and very nearly had leapt across the desk). What was that!? There it is again...a single low pitch chirp, with a distinctive trill. Though her nerves were on edge Shila quickly composed herself and strode cautiously to the source of the strange sound. There, on a small stand (which had been obscured by a large overstuffed chair) was a metal cage, half covered by a decorated piece of thin cloth. Again, the craftsmanship of this cage was an impressive sight, no doubt stolen or looted from a wealthy noble, or perhaps even from one of the Elvish clans. Shila lifted the cloth to reveal the mysterious creature and instantly found herself gazing into the tiny round eyes of a curious, delicate looking thing. The shape of it resembled that of a small bird, with a brilliant deep brown (almost orange) outer coat and a fuzzy belly of light blue. The tiny beak was unlike any she had seen on a bird this size, except that instead of feathers its coat seemed almost unreal, as though it had been fashioned from the lightest, fluffiest cotton and then tinted with color. It had no wings or appendages other than two little bird-like legs, and the thing was perched comfortably on a bar. At first it didn't move, just watching, with its eyes as Shila studied her new discovery. She tilted her head, trying to recall if she had ever encountered such a creature and in unison with her movement so too did the little wingless bird. This was followed by a low purring, almost rolling rumble, though its mouth didn't move, and the thing just gazed adoringly into Shila's weary face. “Another captive...” she spoke aloud, “...probably taken away from your mate. And now trapped.” Like me, she thought to herself. Shila's thoughts returned to Agan, and like a flood her heart began to ache and she felt the tears welling up, blurring her vision of this poor and lonely creature.The door crept open and through stepped Gelden. His attire was different now. Shila stood slowly, turning to face the traitor, full of questions – but mostly rage – and casually her hand moved toward the bracer on her left forearm. Gelden's face was different somehow, his expression difficult to read for it almost resembled...concern. He was still several paces away from her and she would have to be swift and fierce, choosing her moment carefully. “We have very little time,” Gelden spoke without a hint of urgency. “Yes, we do” said Shila as she stared into him. To that Gelden reacted, slightly, and then, as if her meaning had suddenly clicked into place his expression changed again. “Ah, yes...Well, before you avenge your friend – at the expense of your own life – there is something you should know about him...” Shila froze. And a sense of dread enveloped her. “He's alive, and well...and as we speak on his way home.” Shila began breathing again (not realizing she had been holding her breath). “How...” Shila struggled for words. “How is that...possible?” “The poison you mean?” At that Gelden pulled the tiny device out and held it up. “That dart did carry a poison, yes. A special mixture that saved your friend...by giving the appearance of having killed him. In fact, it probably saved both your lives, because if the two of you had stood and fought you would both be dead now.” Shila scoffed at the thought, but Gelden paid her no mind. “You are confident and skilled young one; but you underestimate these people.” He was making his way to one of the bookshelves. “You can never rely too much on the stories of others...Some things can only be learned, and understood, firsthand. But there's no time for this. If I had not administered the antidote in time he may never have recovered. It was good that you did not fight back there, a brave and sound judgment.” Shila's eyes narrowed, “How can I know you're telling the truth?” “You can't. Not now.” Gelden had taken a small book from the shelf. “As I said, some things you will have to figure out for yourself.” Shila's emotions wavered between joy and suspicion, hope and confusion. “When you are ready, when the time is right, you can give me a message. I will see that he gets it. You may also write your parents.” Gelden emphasized his next point, “But keep the messages brief. They will already know your fate.” “So I'm not to be executed then,” Shila replied. “That is up to them.” Gelden's tone was serious and he looked deeply into her eyes. “I cannot rescue you. The risk is too great, and there is too much at stake...things I cannot reveal. You can search for a way to escape, but don't count on my presence or aid.” Gelden paused and then continued as if he had just thought of something. “You should know they have trackers, competent as the best Elvish scouts. You would never know you were being followed.” Gelden had placed something in the book and, glancing over at her, replaced the book back on the shelf. He then pulled something out of a pocket, glanced at it quickly before putting it away and then, without another word, left the same way he had come in.Shila was alone again. Well, not completely alone. Her little bird was still there, quietly perched and watching her contentedly. Shila began moving toward the bookshelf when the other door opened for the first time. Two figures stepped into the room. The first was a horribly disfigured Malornian, older in years, and looked as though he had been trampled in some terrible way or attacked by Orcs and left for dead many years ago and only barely survived. And yet, he walked mostly upright with an unnerving degree of confidence. The second was a woman, similar in years and possibly the most beautiful Malornian Shila had ever seen. For the longest time they stood there and watched her, studying her, and she couldn't understand what they were looking for. A feeling of defiance welled up inside her and Shila said nothing for she would give them nothing they sought. Perhaps sensing her discomfort the man spoke at last, “I am Argyle.” Gesturing, “This is my life-mate Ilthune.” “May we have the pleasure of knowing your name?” Shila steeled herself, knowing that whatever courtesy or emotion she displayed must not betray the survival of her companion, or tip them off that she knew of his return journey home. Agan is safe now, she thought, and this path is mine to walk alone. Shila lifted her head and spoke, “My name is Shila, firstborn and daughter of house Methazar, to whom you owe your allegiance.” The two of them looked at each other as if they had heard the words they had hoped for. No doubt she would make for a prized captive, though Shila also knew that her people were not predisposed to paying out ransom. Perhaps in defiance at whatever plot they had in mind, or in a desperate attempt at seizing the momentum Shila spoke again, more defiant as before, “You would make a great mistake keeping me a prisoner. It would be better for you and your people if you let me go...or kill me.” Argyle responded visibly to the suggestion, “Kill you? Is that what you think we do?” Then he seemed to consider for a moment. “Although, you have been caught a spy. Do you deny it?” Shila mustered up her courage. “I do not deny it.” “But you admit you know very little about us,” interrupted Ilthune. Thinking back to Gelden Shila wasn't sure how to answer the question. She hesitated. “I know what I know.” Her confidence was quickly betraying her. The disfigured one moved forward and spoke again, with a much different tone. “Though you have committed a grave crime, you won't be executed. We could never kill our own daughter.” ______________________________The tale of Shila Methazar is a sad one; although, she doesn't realize it yet, there is also great hope (and a few more mysteries to unlock). We may return to her story some time in the future. But for now, other characters are waiting to be introduced. Here is the Character Sheet for our noble Malornian, a capable female warrior, whose identity has just been thrown to the wind.
Continued from Part 1It was late in the evening when they reached the village, deep in Bogwood Swamp. As usual the misty haze that permeated this marshy lowland, gave poor visibility to the surrounding vicinity, blurring the shapes of structures and inhabitants alike. "Are you sure this is the place?" whispered Shila without turning around. "Yes" came the reply, "I've been here before, and remember it well." Shila turned to look at Agan, whose eyes were fixed on the buildings below with a look as though he were recalling a very specific memory. This he had never mentioned before. What would Agan, someone of his social status have been doing in a place like this? Had he been sent here on a prior (secret) mission...or was it something more personal? Why hadn't he mentioned it until now? The tribal Malornians who occupied this village went about their daily business, unaware that they had visitors...unwelcome visitors. "Can you see him?" Shila said, half in an attempt to avoid the topic of Agan's connection to this place. "No. And I don't think we will. At least, not until after nightfall. We'll scout the perimeter, and then wait." Agan reached over and took her hand, and slowly they faded back into the tall reeds.The strumming of crickets and burps of Burple bugs joined the chorus of unseen swamp life filling the night air, and continued even as a light rain began to fall. The trees were thick here and the cloudy sky and dense canopy colluded to form a darkness that only the swamps could manage, the kind of darkness that even a strong torch would struggle to overcome. The sounds of swampy night and the murky blackness would serve them well. The two intruders made their way slowly toward one of the larger structures, sturdy looking, but pieced together with all manner of materials, some clearly not native to the swamplands. A few well-placed torches managed to cast a dim glow over the center of the village, which was already forming mud puddles illuminated by the firelight. Voices could be heard, faintly through the ambient noise and steady rain, but no audible words as the inhabitants went about their nightly business. The occasional sound of laughter emanated from the largest structure, which seemed to be serving as a public house or meeting place. There weren't but two guards on patrol, each positioned on opposite sides of the village and Shila thought it strange that there should be so little security. Very few of the Malornians she had observed, aside from their unusual attire & adornments, carried weapons. And yet they seemed calm and confident in the safety of their village.Shila's thoughts were interrupted when a lone Malornian stepped outside, pausing to survey the surrounding landscape, casually emptied the contents of his smoking device into the mud, and then faded into the fog. "That's him" said Agan, with noticeable excitement in his voice. Checking carefully to see that no others were lurking about they bolted from their hiding spot toward the fog that had enveloped their target. The tracks were easy to follow but they had moved quite a distance into the surrounding swamp, at a quicker pace than it seems they should have. The two found, at last, that the footprints ended abruptly at the base of a giant fallen tree. Shila half expected to see a cadre of warriors standing atop the half sunken tree trunk, waiting for their arrival...but instead there was only the pitter-patter of a lone Goblin fleeing frightfully into the distance. The sack of mushrooms spilling over the ground indicated they had probably startled him away from his foraging duties. With the swiftness of a Khajathi Agan leapt up onto the tree and slowly began surveying their surroundings. "What are you doing!?" Shila exclaimed in a whispered shout. "You'll see in a moment," came the reply, and already Agan was looking across at something. Shila glanced over to see the Malornian, the same who had led them here, to this strange place, and her senses shouted the word “trap” in her mind. Instinctively she whipped out her crossbow and aimed at the target, who stood calmly, first taking the time to assess Agan (who hadn't moved a muscle), and then looking down at Shila. The fog was still thick, but when he looked at her she was almost sure that he had somehow recognized her, though she had never seen this Malornian in all her life. Surely she would have remembered the scar that ran diagonally across his neck. No one spoke. Shila could feel and hear her heart beating. "Put it away!" Agan whispered sternly. "This is Gelden; he's one of us!" Shila's eyes narrowed as she assessed the information. "Do you have it?" Gelden spoke for the first time, calm and collected. Agan nodded respectfully and then, approaching the stranger, pulled out a folded leather cloth. So this was our real mission...to deliver a message to this...spy?Shila allowed herself to relax as the pieces slowly fell into place. She looked on inquisitively as Gelden took the cloth, unfolded it, looked it over but for a brief moment, and then handed the cloth back to Agan. As Agan placed the message back into his satchel Gelden was again looking down at Shila, and that's when everything took a deadly turn. A band of warriors burst forth from the surrounding trees. Agan leapt down to stand beside her and in no time at all they were surrounded by a contingent of fierce-looking 'tribals.' She looked at Agan as if to question what they should do (to fight or flee) but just as their eyes met Agan reeled in pain, grasping the back of his neck. Within seconds he had fallen, a tiny dart had found its mark and as Shila turned to look up at the Malornian traitor she caught a glimpse of the small device being calmly tucked away. There was no chance for a fight. Only now she held the limp body of her companion and knew that all was lost. In her rage and fear she turned her crossbow to Gelden, who didn't flinch. His eyes were locked on hers and she found that, somehow she couldn't bring herself to pull the trigger. Perhaps it was her survival instinct, knowing that she would be cut down by the warriors the moment she loosed the bolt. Then Gelden spoke, addressing the men, "He's finished. Take her to Argyle; I'll deal with the body."End of Part 2
In the world of Feonora, the Malornians are a race of reptilian humanoids, tall and slender...intelligent, tough and agile. The natural body tone (or coloring) of a Malornian is usually solid and even, though the color itself may range from light green to dark blue, with hues of gray in between. It has been observed that the "pattern" - for a few rare members of this race are adorned with a pattern - of any given Malornian is based not whatsoever on the parents. Malornian society, though it has many distinct facets within, universally adheres to a staunch view of class, nobility, and a kind of fighting ethic that few fully understand...the closest analogy we may conjure is something the Humans might call a 'Warrior Code.'
The amber rays of the evening light filtered down upon the face and shoulders of Pethanlu, casting a long shadow across the oval-shaped room. His formidable size, tall and muscular even for a Malornian, belied the position of a noble or a warrior...the head of an important house...or, as it happens to be the case...all of these. The adornments of this well-decorated room, with its sturdy furniture and hand-woven tapestries, basked in the light coming through three magnificent windows, and as Pethanlu gazed at the distant mountains his mind and thoughts were fixed on the words that had just been spoken. "You've made up your mind then..." he spoke aloud without turning from the window. "Yes," came the confident reply from across the room. "I will go. I want to do this. And I DO believe I am ready father." Pethanlu turned to look at his daughter, so confident and strong, as she had always been, and felt a rush of pride, which quickly gave way to a current of concern. "You'll set out tomorrow, before the dawn breaks. Your companion has already been decided by the Group of Nine. The two of you will meet at the Yuanizu cliffs...from there you will depart together. Whatever happens...” He paused to choose his words, “...remember that you are...special. You always have been." Pethanlu placed his hands on Shila's shoulders and gave her a look of reassurance, and, not wanting to say 'goodbye' departed quietly. And though Shila didn't know it at the time, this would be the last she would see of her father for many years.
Shila had grown up in one of the most well-regarded Houses in all the land. The first of five children, she had been raised from the start to represent her family with honor, and to serve her people. Leadership, of course, is not a quality that can be fostered only through conditioning, for it is well known that leadership ultimately comes from within, a natural gift that very few possess from birth – though many try in vain to coax it from within (or mistake other qualities for it). But that was a concern put early to rest, for Shila had always displayed such natural confidence and charisma that she had been one of the most well thought of younglings, always caring for the younger Malornians and keeping her oft-misguided peers out of trouble. It seemed her destiny had been set from the beginning, which was both a joy and a pride to her mother and father, both of whom carried a heavy responsibility as ranking members of the Malornian nobility.
The morning light touched the top of the cliffs above, signaling the start of a new day and, for Shila, a new adventure more exciting than any she had previously known. She of course had arrived early and in her usual, dutiful manner had been diligently tending her small crossbow, which was one of the most well-maintained and, in her capable hands, deadliest of weapons...at least if you counted the Malornians in her age group. As with so many of her qualities this was an attribute she seemed to possess which somehow extended beyond her training. With a special buckle attachment the crossbow (no larger than her two hands placed side-by-side) stayed secured to her waist, leaving room for the small, rounded weapon she carried in her hand.
"Are you ready?" Distracted by so many thoughts Shila hadn't noticed the figure, her companion, approach from behind. She turned abruptly to find a calm, familiar face. "Agan?" Agan's physical features had long been a trademark, for he wore a pattern not of a solid hue, but one consisting of two discrete tones, a kind of dark green mixed with gray blue, that gave him a distinct quality of appearance. The two had known each other from childhood, he only a year younger than her, and they had practically grown up together - Agan being from another of the noble families. He had always been a serious one, bearing, like Shila, the responsibility of a future leadership role. Being a member of one of the few noble families brought with it a great deal of privilege but, as Shila had come to learn growing up, carried with it a heavy burden. "I'm ready." Agan watched her, much as he had always done, in a way that gave her mixed feelings...as if she were being tested, or compared to some unknown thing (or person). Their eyes were locked on one another for a moment longer, and then, without another word, they turned and departed.
The weather had favored them on the long journey, with only a few brief shower storms, followed by the bluest skies filled with large white clouds and flocks of Gulls and at one point Agan swore he caught a glimpse of a dragon passing through the clouds but Shila was sure that it had just been his imagination. He watched the sky intently for some time after that and she marveled at the thoughts and wonders they both were surely feeling on account of this special mission. The days passed. They had traveled and hunted together, taking special care to avoid notice of the occasional wandering bands of Goblins and Orcs, or loud blustering Humans (who were usually best to avoid unless you were running low on supplies). They had been seen by only one group of Elves, from a distance, and that had resulted in nothing more than a brief look, and a respectful nod. In the evenings they would set up a simple camp and talk about their families and childhood. There were occasional moments of laughter though, it seemed to Shila that Agan was being even more reserved than usual. They barely spoke of the task at hand, each knowing what was to be done, and their own role in the affair. Every so often one would catch the other watching or stealing a glance, which usually resulted in both of them quickly turning away in shielded embarrassment, and although neither would dream of openly admitting it, they were enjoying this time together...in spite of the circumstances.
End of Part 1
Continued from Part 1The distant shouts and thundering hooves pierced through the wind and rain as Northa ran hard toward the edge of the woods. 'Maybe they weren't after her' she thought. Could be a disturbance in the city, or a training drill. But if they were chasing after the butterfly, her only hope lay in reaching the woods and finding proper concealment. As Northa made a turn her feet slipped out from under her and she must have slid a good twenty feet before crashing head-first into a thick bush, which now felt as if it were trying to keep her captive and helpless there in the open. Glancing back, and ignoring the pain of the fall, she could make out the blurry shapes of men on horseback, bearing torches and...heading in her direction. They couldn't possibly see her from this distance. She was right at the edge of the woods. Finally freeing herself from the tangle Northa sprang to her feet and bolted toward the safety of the wood, and darkness.Well off the main path she at last found herself out of breath and scanned desperately for a place to hide. Things were not going according to plan. 'They never do' she thought, trying to lift her resolve and calm the pounding in her chest. There! A thick bramble of giant roots at the base of a twisted old oak. Quickly she clawed and squeezed herself into the deep depression, now half filled with mud and rainwater (and who knows what) and she tried her best to recede as far as she could into the deepest recess of her hiding place. The rain beat down as Northa listened, and waited. There was only the slogging rain, but no sign or sound of the horsemen. 'This is going to be a long night,' Northa thought to herself. As she began to contemplate the situation, weighing the odds of staying put or moving on, Northa felt something...as if a Wiggly Worm had somehow wriggled its way into her shoe. And now, it writhed and slithered between her toes. Her shoe! There it was, caught between two thick roots near the entry point where she had squeezed into the depression. It was barely visible, and so caked with mud, surely no one would notice it even if they were staring directly at it. Northa wasn't taking any chances. She slowly inched her way through the thickening muddy soup, carefully listening for any sound of movement out there in the cold and rain. Ever so slowly she reached out and grasped a hold of the shoe, and gently began tugging it free. Almost there. 'I've just about got it.' THUNK! The sound of a throwing axe embedding itself in the base of the tree (not but three inches from her head) signaled to the small Hauflin thief that the game was up.When the guard pulled the indigo pouch from her custom made satchel he looked at her, almost as if to see her expression at having been caught. Northa did her best to remain stoic and expressionless, though she knew that things were about to go very badly for her. Gently untying the knot the solder tweezed open the pouch, and without touching the stone, used his bottom hand to gently lift it halfway out. He inspected it closely, almost admiring the treasure for the beauty it possessed and then quickly sealed it up. By then most of the others had come into the wooded clearing, including the Captain in charge, who had just arrived. "We've got it sir," declared the guard, handing over the pouch. Without hesitation the Captain opened it up widely to inspect the butterfly for damage. Of course, other than being a little wet and muddy, there was none. Placing the treasure into his saddlebag the Captain approached, lifting a torch so that he could see Northa's face up close. For a brief moment he studied her, almost as if she were the very person they had been searching for. In a moment he turned to two of his men, ordering them to take the prisoner to the "cave" for questioning. "The rest of you will accompany me and the stone back to the keep." This was an organized and disciplined lot and not a moment later they were off.Much to Northa's relief the "cave" of which the Captain spoke had only been a code word. For despite her blindfold Northa could sense and hear that they were entering some kind of small building, somewhere within the same wood. She felt her hands being unbound and instinctively lifted the blindfold from her eyes. It took a moment for her eyes to focus on the man sitting across the table. Hercind. "Hello dear," he smiled. "You've been busy, and productive." Her mind started to race and Northa, trying to maintain her composure quickly glanced around the room. The two soldiers were still there, one standing by the door, the other warming himself in front of the fireplace. They were in a small shack, which she now recognized as her first rendezvous point. "Don't worry little one, you are free. They're with us," Hercind gave a slight nod to the soldiers. "You didn't think you were alone all this time did you?" He paused to consider. "Of course not; you're too smart for that. Naturally you must have guessed there were more pieces to our little puzzle. But you kept to your part and stayed faithful, and you will be rewarded for it." Hercind was right of course, Northa had suspected for some time that there would likely be others involved in the plot. But of course they would have kept them from each other, lest anyone be tempted to devise their own little scheme - though only a fool would dare it. Hercind continued, "Soon the Captain will be handing the prize back over to us, thinking he has just performed a most noble duty. And you my lovely thing, are going to be rewarded." It all made sense, in the usual twisted sort of way, though that didn't alleviate the instinctive feeling of danger, or the many questions that began swirling around in her mind. If only she had a little time to sort it all out...Hercind must have sensed her anxiety, "I see that the events this evening have found you out of sorts, but let me assure you my dear things could not have played out more perfectly. And you, well, you were simply magnificent. Just as I suspected, no one could have done a better job of it." For the first time since her capture Northa began to feel a tiny hint of relief. "There's only one last thing we need to do. You're still to make for the boat. There's no time for a change of clothes I'm afraid, but we've prepared you a few supplies for the journey." One of the soldiers then handed her back her satchel. "Inside, there's a few meager things, but most importantly a sealed message. You must deliver it to our agent - you already know who that is." Northa began pulling herself together. "Your share of the payment is waiting for you there..." and he emphasized this, "to be given upon delivery of the message." Taking a quick moment to confirm his words Northa peeked in the satchel and indeed spied the sealed envelope. She instantly recognized the seal as a counterfeit of the Merchant's Guild. "There's no time to waste," Hercind interrupted. "You must go now, and make haste." Northa could sense that her questions would not be answered. At least, not here and now. Without a word she grabbed her things, gave one final glance at the man across the table (whose expression revealed nothing) and made for the door. Once more she was off.It was still the middle of the night, cold permeating the dreary darkness, though finally the rain had subsided just enough to ease her physical discomfort a bit. Things had certainly taken an unexpected turn. Northa sighed. At least she had her shoe back; they were kind enough to giver her that, especially after prying her and the shoe from her hiding place. The dark rain clouds still dominated the sky and there was no moonlight to guide her path or offer a better sense of time, and in some way it felt like this terrible night would never end. Still, Northa had become familiar with these woods, and she knew her way to the relief that awaited her. She walked, and ran, got her bearings, and then walked some more, quietly chewing on a piece of stale bread the men had so kindly given her back at the shack, never mind that the fruit she had stashed there was conspicuously absent. The rushing stream down below assured Northa that she was on the right path. It was usually much lower and more calm, but the heavy rains had brought it to full life these past hours. She shuddered at the thought of how cold the water must be on a night like this. What she wouldn't give for a warm fire, a fresh block of cheese, and some nice hot herbal tea. What was that! Something in the distance...a snapping twig. Northa paused, and listened. But the sound of the rushing water below made it difficult to hear. She stood frozen, hoping that the darkness would conceal her, and now she was certain that she could hear footsteps. The sound of running. Something was after her! Northa turned to make flight just as the echoes of a barking dog resounded off the surrounding trees. She paused to look back just in time to see the floppy-eared mutt lunging toward her. Suddenly there was a loud Swoosh! and a piercing howl as the animal tumbled into her, a crossbow bolt protruding from its side and the two of them went tumbling down the shallow ravine. For the briefest moment as the two slid down the muddy embankment Northa thought she saw the shadow of a cloaked, hooded figure aiming, weapon raised. But in the next instant they were out of view and being carried away in the rushing current.Panting and out of breath the two bedraggled companions slowly climbed out of the water, where they had luckily washed up onto a small sandbar. Her furry friend could barely move and had he lost all consciousness Northa was sure she could not have kept him above the water. The poor thing must have endured great suffering to be so calm and brave in these conditions. But it had lost blood and strength and the wound needed tending. Slowly, carefully, they inched across the ground, searching for a place to hide once again. A small outcropping of rocks provided some cover and concealment from the drizzling rain, and whoever it was that hunted them. Northa felt sure they must have lost him as they had traveled some distance downstream. Together they huddled, and Northa began dressing the wound. After all that work had she finally been betrayed? This bolt, as soon as she could free it from her new friend, would be her first clue. What now? Did she dare meet her contact at the boat? What had really happened this night? What was Hercind (and company) really up to? Northa promised herself she would find out. "But first," she whispered aloud to her barely conscious friend, "We've got to get back to that tree. They'll find out soon enough that there are two fakes at play, and then the Guard and the Guild will both be on the hunt for it." Northa's thoughts turned to the butterfly, still tucked away deep in the muddy depression beneath the tree. "We've got to get there first my friend. And I'll need your help in finding it." The dog knowingly licked her hand and looked at her as if to say she was the very person he had been searching for all his life. He had finally found his home. And there they waited, together, for the approaching daylight. _______________
_________And that is the tale of how Northa the Hauflin came to meet her most loyal friend in all the world, and also how she most unfortunately came out on the wrong side of two very powerful groups in Feonora's realm.
The blue glow of the gemstone bathed the darkened chamber in a light more dazzling than even Northa had imagined. It was as if the room was alive with thousands of distant stars, twinkling as they do on a clear, moonless night, and somehow she had come to be among them, suspended in time...weightless. Well, the harness and cord from which she hung were of expert craftsmanship, and she was rather light (even for a Hauflin) so, in a way, it almost felt as if she were floating in space. As her eyes came to rest once again on the small stone, shaped - naturally they claim - in the nearly unmistakable form of a butterfly, it was easy to understand how this had become one of the Royal Family's most prized possessions. It was simply enchanting, and now, finally, within her reach. There is not a thief this side of the Great Ocean (or perhaps beyond she thought proudly to herself) who could have gotten this close. Not only is this treasure one of the most well-guarded, but its location a carefully protected secret. And how hard indeed she had worked to get here. Taking a job as a lowly Kitchen's Apprentice nearly two years ago had been but a stepping point. Oh the long, hard hours she had slaved away in that time, the never-ending chores, mopping floors, fetching endless supplies & sundries from the storerooms, dirty dishes piled so high you'd think the entire kingdom had been invited for a banquet. But her efforts had finally paid off, and she was about to be rewarded for them. Of course, the true beginning of this adventure took place well before her arrival at the royal kitchens, in a wealthy manor deep in the heart of the City, and a meeting with one of the most important figures in the whole of Feonora's underworld...
"...and THAT is why no one has been able to pull off this job...they've been going about it all wrong, and tipped their hat to the those Royal Guardsmen. They're a clever lot and no mistake. We've given them far too many insights into our tradecraft, and wasted more than a few good Blackcaps on this little gem of theirs." Northa was beginning to get the feeling this had grown beyond just a quest for treasure, but rather something of a personal challenge for the Guild bosses. "Fortunately, time is on our side, and the highest bidder is in no hurry to gain possession of the prize." Just then Hercind exchanged a knowing glance with the Malornian who had been standing so still in the far corner of the room, uttering not a single word since she had arrived. Northa attempted to study his face, but found it difficult in the dimly lit room, not to mention the ragged hooded cloak, which mostly concealed all but the outline of his form. Just then his eyes met hers and she could sense that this was no common guild member. No, someone of rank she thought...or an outsider. "So you see my dear, this is why you are perfect for the task..." continued Hercind. You've proven a certain flair for this sort of assignment, you have the 'look' we need, the plan itself is a masterwork, and...some of us feel that you've got the gift." Northa wasn't sure if his words were sincere or mere flattery, but if they weren't he sure gave a convincing performance. "Plus" he added with a sly grin "You'll be set for life." For Life...the words echoed in her mind as Northa's thoughts drifted to an imaginary cottage, deep in the forest, far away from the dirty streets and alleyways she spent so much time creeping about in, forever following orders and never seeming to get ahead in this world of humans and men. "All you have to do is not bollocks it up." There was a long silence, and then, "Well, what say you?"
Thinking back to that day Northa probably didn't have much choice. Hercind was right, she was their best chance at pulling it off, especially after so many failed attempts. Besides, when you're summoned for a face-to-face meeting with one of the bosses, declining a job isn't exactly a wise (or healthy) thing to do. And this one was indeed a masterwork, every minute detail and nuance considered from the bottom up. So secret had been her assignment that even her usual betters were led to believe that she had been expelled. Even that little matter required a brief adventure all its own. This was imperative, it was explained, for the Elite Royal Guard surely had managed to infiltrate the Guild at higher levels than most would openly admit. Even the bosses couldn't be sure precisely where they were vulnerable, only that these agents were a cunning lot, their methods and manner wholly unfamiliar to that of their high-nosed counterparts in the main Army. Northa had even heard tell that the Guild itself was merely an extension of the Royal Guard, being craftily manipulated at the highest level. Of course such nonsense was the talk of fools for that just wouldn't make sense. And Northa was no fool, for here she was, reaching out to take hold of the very thing so highly sought after, and slipping it neatly into a tiny burgundy pouch. From a second pouch, she carefully removed another, strikingly similar gemstone, gently placing the fake into its proper position. The forgery was convincing, but only at first glance. No matter, it only needed to serve its purpose long enough to carry this through. As Northa winced to the sound of footsteps echoing down the passageway, she could see that the glittering stars had disappeared entirely. It was time to go.
The footsteps drew near and Northa could make the outline of a guardsman's shadow surrounded by torchlight. She knew that this chamber was to be patrolled twice this night, once at the top and bottom of the hour. Whoever this was either didn't know how to tell time or wasn't following the schedule. No time to analyze. Quickly adjusting her accoutrements Northa began the ascent back up the rope, and slipped quietly through the small hole she had prepared these many months. Before replacing the stone bricks she paused for one final look into the dark chamber below, hoping to catch a glimpse of whoever was passing through. She heard no sound, and no footsteps. There was only a dim light somewhere near the entryway, still and silent. And then, without a sound, it flickered out. There was only darkness. Northa's heart quickened as she tried to decide whether she should replace the stone bricks, as planned, risking the noise it might make. Maybe the guard had left? Maybe it wasn't a guard at all...Northa turned, and quietly as a cat crawled through the narrow space, leaving the hole unsealed.
Five minutes later (though it seemed to her much longer) Northa emerged from another makeshift hole in an outer wall. The dreary rain was going to make her descent much more difficult than she had hoped. Climbing down a stone wall in the pouring rain was no small task, and for a brief moment a memory triggered, of a falling companion and the distant figures gathering round his broken body...There was no other choice, to leave behind even the smallest trace would be folly. And besides, she had no spare rope. Down she went as the cold wind and heavy rain sought to weigh her down (or send her to a most disagreeable fate). By now her mind was racing. Who was it that entered the chamber back there? If there were any suspicion of foul play the alarm should have gone up by now. To the best of her ability Northa could neither hear nor sense any commotion. There was only the sound of the rain beating against the wall, and her body rubbing up against the cold, wet stone. Almost there.
At last she dropped to the muddy ground. Looking back up one could only make out a thick growth of vine, but not the small hole it concealed, not that any man could fit through it anyway. Her path was set. She now need only make it to the shack, where a change of clothes and her travel pack awaited her, and a short journey to the boat. She crept along, pressed up against the wall, then readied herself. As the next thunderclap bellowed she leaped into a full sprint, and, coming into her stride stumbled headlong (and with great force) over something that gave out a horrendous shriek. In a single, swift move she leapt to her feet and set to flee with all her might, only that's when the unmistakable whimper of an injured animal caught her ear. Turning around she could see the form of a wet and mangy dog sprawled out on the ground and it was looking at her with such a look of desperation she found herself in a full stop without even thinking. What was this wretched animal doing out here!? Shouldn't it be inside curled up in front of a warm fire? That's where she'd surely like to be. It was then, as she moved back toward the animal, that Northa could see this poor, floppy-eared mutt had been most cruelly mistreated. It was half-starved, with a soaking wet coat of unsightly fur and not a few scars on its paws and backside. And of course it too was shivering from the foul weather. The poor dumb animal must have been sleeping when she tripped over it. Though she surely must have given it a start the dog watched her, not with alarm, more like with a hopeful curiosity. "Oh bother" she said aloud to herself as she wrestled out the last of her homemade peanut butter cookies. "These were supposed to be my dinner for the night, but I suppose you could use this more than me." As the dog gently removed each one from her hand, savoring every morsel, she thought, soon enough I'll have all the finest food I want. And she realized now that the animal was licking her hand clean. "Well, I'm sorry about waking you up" she whispered, "But I really must be going." As Northa turned to leave another thunderclap filled the air, followed by the sound of rain, and another distant rumble...that unmistakable thunder of horses.
End of Part 1
As a young lad Patrick-Thomas spent many wonderful afternoons under the tutelage of Uncle Matthew, a quiet (if not somewhat gruff) man who lived out his days in a small, though sturdily-built home. His uncle's appearances gave the first impression of an old warrior, or maybe an experienced traveler who had seen much in long ago days, giving him the look of a time and age much older than he truly was. The story of how Uncle Matthew lost his left eye, so heavily scarred as it was, never seemed to be told the same way twice, whether by Patrick's other older relatives or one of the old-timers who spent long evenings down at the tavern relaying the grandest tales that seemed to grow grander as the evening wore on, and it was almost as if no one knew the whole truth about old Matt's eye but felt the need to fill in the details with no small bit of their own imagination. The one time young Patrick mustered enough courage to ask his uncle outright was met with a brief pause, almost as if the man might be considering sharing in a deep secret, only to be followed in a calm and distant voice by a short, "Protecting my duty lad; now go fetch me another bucket of water before this timber starts to crack," and Patrick knew then that it was not a subject to be brought up again.Patrick's father and mother (as well as many of the townsfolk) were quite adamant that Old Matthew had served gloriously in the King's Army, especially during the 5th Great War under General Ambher. But despite their insistence to this supposed fact, Patrick had spent many hours in his uncle's home and seen no evidence of military service, glorious or otherwise...not an old uniform, not a ribbon or decoration or papers of any kind...not even a single piece of armor to indicate that he had once been a serving member of the King's Army. In fact, the only item of note in the entire place (aside from a few pieces of marvelous hand-crafted furniture) was an elaborate sword, worn and sturdy, that Uncle Matt took out during their training exercises. "You want to be a fighting man do you...?" said his uncle one day. "Well then, you'd best learn what that really means, and learn it proper." Since then, and only after Patrick had completed his other duties around the place, he and his old uncle would head outside (rain or shine or in the muddy snow) to spend a few hours training in the age-old art of swordsmanship, which was far more than Patrick ever would have imagined and involved a strict code of engagement that stretched far beyond the bounds of mere 'swordplay,' which Uncle Matt gruffly referred to as 'for the rogues.' It was during these lessons (in which Patrick received, he thought, more than his share of bumps and bruises) that he saw a side of his old uncle that was much fitter and more agile than his normal manner let on. And it was during these times when those fables of his parents' and townsfolk almost seemed real...even if they were surely too fantastic to be believed.And over the years young Patrick grew in strength and confidence and, thanks in great part to the guidance of his sometimes peculiar uncle, his understanding of honor and duty and the importance of a strong 'presence' that could more than often help avoid a fight altogether...matured alongside him. And whenever the lessons were over Old Matt would put away that battered old sword, wrapped in a sackcloth, and placed carefully behind the bookshelf, out of sight of company that, so far as Patrick knew, came rarely (if at all).It was no small thing when word of Old Matthew's death reached their home. Patrick had been with the man just three days prior, and seen nothing to indicate that his uncle might be readying for a journey. The news came as a shock, as it seemed to many that he would remain a steadfast member of the community, if not a very active one, but someone who, to them, represented an ideal of quiet nobility and longstanding living symbol of the 'soldier's code.'Deep in the Forest of Rhinn, near the base of the Rugged Mountains, Old Matthew's bloody and torn shirt had been found, along with a few articles that seemed to identify him as the owner of that ragged mess...including, a short ways off, the unmistakable workmanship of an Elite Orcish Archer's spent arrow. These few small artifacts had been returned to Patrick and his family by the Elves (and not merely messengers mind you), who Patrick (though not his parents) had been surprised to find had known his uncle quite well - though they had little to offer by way of explanation, other than to point out the small note found in a shirt pocket. In scribbled blue ink it simply read, "My dearest Matthew...we need you again. Lily." The name was a mystery to everyone, including Patrick's father; though, as always, there was no shortage of rumor and speculation as to whom this "Lily" might be, if that were even her real name. But surely it was Old Uncle Matt who had died in the forest that winter, for he never returned to his small house & workshop, and the old sword that Patrick had become so familiar with was nowhere to be found. __________
________Of course, how Patrick later came to be in possession of that sword, as well as the details surrounding the fate of Old Matthew, are both rather long (though I dare say quite interesting) tales...for another time.Patrick-Thomas, as you might have guessed, is one of the twelve Ready-Made Characters, you will find pre-packaged with Heroes of Feonora. The purpose of these Characters is to offer a way for players to get up and running with a game as quickly as possible. Well, really they are more to offer an example of what a completed Player Character might look like, and perhaps provide something for newcomers to use in a game where the other players already have Characters ready to go.This post marks the beginning of a series in which we'll do our best to introduce each of the Characters included with the game. Although, rather than committing to a schedule, such as once a month or the like, we'd prefer to do this more when the mood and the timing feels right. In the meantime, we expect that posts here on the official Heroes of Feonora Blog will remain somewhat few and far between...but it might not hurt to check in from time to time.For a quick view of Patrick-Thomas' Character Sheet (or just to catch a glimpse of what the Character Sheets look like), click HERE.
You will find that he has grown up to be a Charismatic fellow and, not surprisingly, an excellent Fighter. Folks seem to enjoy Patrick-Thomas' humble personality and natural leadership qualities, and it is rare that you will find him traveling alone.