“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
-Grand Marshall Tyrell Andronicus III
“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.”
-Prince Gautama Siddharta
“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.”
NoBark, my childhood friend and boon companion, is blessed by the gods. Of course, all mad men are. I do get ahead of myself as I am wont to do, so let me take a brief step back. NoBark and I have arrived in the Capital of Kelwan, Rillanon, a week ago hence. The trying times and economic struggles have not afforded the populace to award me with the typical praise I receive when I perform. Even NoBarks efforts in garnering payments from the disinclined have not been as fruitful as they usually are. It was not our economic woes that made this particular day so interesting, but the results of NoBark’s aborted efforts at pilfering a particular individual.
I could see all three arrayed before him from my spot on a busy street corner. (Interestingly enough we ran the full gambit of humanoids from Elven to Human, for of the three one was Elven, another Half-Elven, and the last a Human. It was the human that NoBark attempted to employ his arts against.) I was taking a moment, during my song, and observed NoBark being caught by the man he was attempting to steal from. I was getting ready to intervene, when the Elf dissuaded the human and gave NoBark a hand-out. (Well, more fools to them, as once NoBark sees a “shiny” he has a very difficult time turning his attention from it.) NoBark attempted to steal again, with all three pairs of eyes on, and of course he was caught. The Elf gave him another donation of gold. Of course, I was then forced to intervene because it appeared the Elf wanted to take him in. I was afraid they might take him to an asylum or the lock-up and I know that attempts to restrain NoBark have usually have explosive results.
I ended my song and introduced myself as NoBark’s caretaker. The Elf, foolishly noble with the arrogance to match, introduced himself as Xavier Silverstar III (A minor son of the noble family?), the silent and foreboding half-elf was simply named Walker (Watchful and, as I later discover, having an interesting possession), with towering wall of armor as Calpale (A bounty hunter of sorts, I assumed). All three smelled of the road. With quick introductions made, I sought to disentangle NoBark from the mess he created; when another opportunity presented itself quickly thereafter.
A priestess of the Goddess Harlan, acting upon the behalf of the wise and benevolent Chancellor Restive, requested our services. She escorted us to the bath house, so my male companions to compose themselves in a way that would benefit a man of Restive’s stature, and to the palace. It was here that Restive presented us a grand opportunity to shape the ways of the Kingdom for generations to come. He requested our assistance in passivising the wilds for, what must be, the early stages of settlement. His plan was simple in its elegance, he was looking for capable individuals to map the lands. He also requested that we deal with those who flaunted the King’s Laws in a manner befitting their crime. He then outfitted us with horses, feed and a sum of gold to speed us on our way.
Now our company was many weeks away from the wilds and we elected to travel with Beebo’s Amazing and Spectacular Carnival Extravaganza (Or something along those lines) allowing some of us to take on work as entertainers. (I always welcome the opportunity to expose the world to the soft sound of my voice and the insight of my stories, for it is a cold dark place and it is always worthy to illume the soul.) Some of my companions also took time to entertain, NoBark with pyrotechnics, Walker spent time with the animals and Xavier spent time learning the art of the tight rope. It was not the traveling itself that was interesting, but the knowledge gained.
Walker has a similar amulet as mine, different runes, but similar. We discovered that it resonates with some of the standing stones that can be found around the country. Beebo, who noticed our discovery, also showed that he had a greater understanding how these stones work in conjunction with the amulets. They also us to use the standing stones as portals. Beebo shared that their amulets are “different” and that they only allow us to teleport one way. Calpale expressed reservation at this form of travel, who knew that this towering warrior could be unmanned so, but eventually relented and we made use of the portal.
It was, simply, miraculous. We covered a weeks worth of travel in moments, the only curious moment was a feeling of a dark, malevolent, intelligence that, thankfully, let us pass by. We then arrived in the wilds and were quickly able to ascertain our location relative to Oleg’s Trading post. (I had neglected to contact that he was our contact in the Wilds, another person caught up in the flow and ebbs of history and civilization.) Our travels had us cross paths with an Owl Bear, slavering with a hungering intent. My companions proved their strength with blade, bow, and explosions and we quickly made an end of this dangerous beast. (Walker almost found himself crushed, but amazingly he was able to use his brute force to escape from the claws of the Owl Bear’s grapple.)
The next day had us at the entrance of an old wooden fort, which had seen better days, that was bequeathed upon Oleg as his trading post. Oleg braves these untamed lands with naught but his loyal and stalwart wife, Svetlana. They, at first, assumed we were mere soldiers coming to aid them in their fight against bandits who have been terrorizing them. We quickly disabused them of their notions, but their spirits were soon up lifted to learn that we were representatives of the King, here to administer his justice and to blaze a trail in civilizing these hostile lands. Oleg, as hard and indomitable as a mountain range, informed us that these bandits have been terrorizing them for sometime and making a mockery of his efforts in cultivating this land. They are led by a woman named Keller, a most nefarious villain, who threatened harm upon Oleg and to allow her men to molest the motherly Svetlana if he did not capitulate to her demands. Keller, an elf(?) and wielder of two axes, has since grown complacent in her unlawful extortion and is now sending her flunkies to commandeer her ill gotten tribute. We all, heroic in our enterprise, agreed to assist Oleg in overthrowing this criminal endeavor
We spent the day planning a trap, ingenious in its weaving, to detain these cowardly brigands and laid in wait. (Xavier and Calpale took guard in a storage shed, awaiting the moment they could charge out and take charge of the land. Walker, NoBark and myself took command of the heights, so that we may cut the blackguards down from the very skies.) About eight of these brigands strolled insolently into the compound, as if they owned the place. Oleg and Svetlana distracted them momentarily, providing me the opportunity to employ my bardic arts and ensnare their leader with charm. I was then able to use the leader to coral his members in a position to allow easy ambushing by Xavier and NoBark. He also agreed to disarm himself, making himself more vulnerable to his assault. He spoke that Keller and himself answer to the Stag King, an individual he has never met.
Before his men could become aware of our ruse, I signaled the attack. Walkers bow sung, each note a pointed delivery. NoBark joined him in song, his javelins accentuating the song. Calpale and Xavier took up the beat, darting out amongst the thugs and laying waste with blade and shield. The only discord was when one of the blackguards took a moment and struck at Xavier cowardly from behind, felling him. I did what I could to aid my companion and I was able to pull the villain off his feet, so that he was unable to harm Xavier.
These lawless thugs were unable to compete against our sense of purpose and mettle and we quickly subdued them, netting to prisoners. Oleg and Svetlana sang praises to our bravery as they thanked us from freeing them from this injustice. Both of the captured bandits were bound and jailed, while we awaited for soldiers from the garrison to come and take them to justice.