A Veil of Smoke
Broken, banished - and lost to time. As he pondered over a mug of stale ale, the sullen thief quietly mumbled the motto of the fallen order. Audentes fortuna juvat. His brothers and sisters-in-arms once commanded a wretched, but merry, band of mercenaries and thieves. All with prodigious appetites for mayhem and donning the color as dark as their deeds. However, those days were but a memory.Much to the thief’s distaste, East Leinster was not a desolate place. The streets, merchant shops and taverns bustled with the growing populace and all his silent prayers to Duach couldn’t drive them away. The beat and warmth of commerce pulled him from his reverie. He noted a provocative scent of cheap wine and cloves that filled the air of the establishment. Autumn weather and its accompanying indulgences usually lifted the thief’s spirits, but his brooding reflections had been hard to shake of late. Inadvertently, his eyes roamed the tavern surveying the possible exits, patrons, and of course, their coin purses ripe for the taking. Instincts of the trade.Abruptly, the thief froze. The tavern’s ambiance was completely deafened by one emerging detail. Deeply etched into the far end of the wooden table and filled with black dye was a simple carving, [XIII]. Several pale splinters along the edges marked the work as fresh. Disabling shock was replaced by hopeful curiosity. His mind raced. Have my comrades of the dark order returned? Were new faces to fill its ranks? Did the Red King assent to a resurgence? The questions battered the thief. Staring at the carving, he willed the stained grooves to answer. He thought furiously and grew more decisive with each passing second. False trail or not, he knew the truth led beyond the Leinster commonwealth. As almost-forgotten memories of raucous laughter began to lighten his mood, the thief vanished. Drune would hold the answers. He chuckled as he prepared for the journey. After all, the barkeep and his patrons had unknowingly financed it.
Faint tendrils of dark smoke drifted toward the eastern border of the elven city. A predatory grin spread across the thief’s face. He knew this territory well through many years spent plucking coin and cloth from nobles and prosperous tradesfolk. An ominous sign within these pristine walls meant only one thing: the rise of the Black Mercenaries
Girth’s Brothel Problem
I opened my eyes to the sounds of singing birds and the lovely blue sky. After a nice nap one would think that I would be in a good mood, but I had a freight train in my ears. One of my lovely team member's snoring ruined my peace and quiet. Oscure was probably hiding in the trees practicing his magic. Ugh, wizards. Always practicing and doing the most.
"Hey, are you awake?" Elena, a red-haired woman asked with two long swords at her hips.
"Yes, ready to go too." I answer about to grab my quiver and bow before Oscure appeared out of nowhere. He looked at our snoring team member curiously. He's not used to beefy blockheaded soldiers.
"This one snores like a hurricane." I roll my eyes at the wizard's comment already annoyed for some reason. I was glad that no one said his name. He says it enough.
"You should wake Girth up." Elena cringed while saying his name like she always does. His mercenary name is Girthy Destroyer, but for sake of giggles and laughs, we go with Girth. It still gets strange looks and giggles.
He named himself that because of his big broadsword and battle axe. We just wished it was more appropriate. I poke an arrow at his side hoping to wake him smoothly. When he's woken suddenly or goes to battle, he proudly announces his whole mercenary name. Why couldn't he have picked something else? I must have poked a little harder than I thought. His eyes snapped open suddenly and he jumped up after grabbing his axe and sword.
"It is I! Rod the Girthy Destroyer! My giant sword and axe will destroy you!" I and Elena sigh as Oscure claps innocently.
Please don't encourage him." I groan rubbing my head. Girth looks around confused.
"Come on Girth. Break is over. We're almost to the cave." Elena commands and we follow her through the forest around a giant lake.
We walk down the path in complete silence, which was suspicious. Normally Girth would be practicing his introduction, but nope, he was silent. Instead of focusing on the silence, I focused on the objective. A group of four men grabbed a chest full of items from a brothel that we are to retrieve. Simple enough. Completely normal… Right?
"I see the cave! Come on." Elena shouts as we all run towards the cave in a hurry. I hated caves. Not a good place for an archer.
We slowly walk through the opening of the cave and wait when we hear movement inside. On the wall in front of us, a campfire light glows and we can see shadows. Around the corner, a small pit.
Elena peeps around the corner and then turns to us and sighs with relief, "Ok, so they haven't opened it yet. They're trying to get it open now so they're distracted." She says. Thank goodness they're distracted and not paying attention.
"So, we can just sneak up on them, right?" I ask, but Girth began walking into the open for no apparent reason.
"What are you doing!?" Elena tried to stop him, but he kept moving. The men stopped fussing and all eyes were on the soldier. Here we go.
"I am Rod the Girthy Destroyer. My big sword and axe will destroy you and we'll return to the brothel with that package." They all bust out into laughter as Girth posed with his sword in the air shining in the sunlight. This is just embarrassing.
While they laugh, Oscure sighs and his hands glow a purple and red color. A wisp flies to each of the men and hovers over their head. A spray knocks them out instantly and they drop asleep.
"At least it was easy." Elena groaned and then went to grab the chest. Girth grabbed the small chest throwing it on his shoulder before she could pick it up. We walked out of the cave with the prize.
Girth smiled happily while walking down the dirt path back towards the town. I really hoped that the job was well worth it. We really shouldn't have taken a job from the brothel to begin with. It made our reputation worse than what it already was.
We walked into the wooden building with a desk at the front. There were two people at the desk looking at us curiously. I didn't remember the brothel being this organized when we left.
"Hello welcome to our brothel. Do you have an appointment with us?" She looked at us with a curious look, we all nodded quickly as we got eyed suspiciously. Girth looked serious as we walked closer to the counter. She gasped suddenly.
"Oh my gosh it's Girth! He's so famous here. We get so many good comments about him." My mouth dropped in response. No wonder she thought we had appointments if he had a reputation in a place like this.
"He's so heroic. Even got our chest back." Oh… They meant his job reputation. For a second I was worried that our reputation in the town was ruined.
"Look everyone Girth's back!" She squealed summoning a bunch of women from the back room excitedly.
They began carrying him away from the counter with the chest still over his shoulder. The three of us looked at each other in confusion.
"I guess we're not getting that reward money." Oscure looked down sadly as we were about to walk away from the counter.
"Oh wait, here's the quest reward. Have fun." One of the women appeared from the back room and threw a sack of coins at Elena.
"Guys aren't you going to help me?" He shouted as we continued to walk away towards the door.
"Sorry Girth. We're not getting paid for this job." Elena mused happily as we walked out of the brothel. We happily went to the closest tavern for a few drinks and some food. Happily eating without care.
In The Realm there were two little wizards, a husband named ImLost and his wife Vickstress who lived in Wen. They lived happily in the land together. Then one day the swamp appeared in their homeland and disrupted their way of life and they had to move to dusty Asgard where monsters abounded and threated their very lives. They decided that they wanted to live in Silverbrook with Vickstress sisters Vickster, Roxzie, and Lacie. Surely, they would find a way to move to that beautiful place, of fairies and gentile way of life. So they bought Soveriengs and bought deeds to Silverbrook and moved in and even bought a basement. Vickstress and ImLost lived happily forever in The Realm.