Once a week, if all goes according to plan, I will be meeting with a group of my friends to play a homebrew adventure of Dungeons and Dragons 5e. The adventure, Realms of Alurn, should last awhile, and I hope will interest you. After every session, I will be posting a report in the form of a short story. Obviously, the story will make the narrative seem a little more coherent, but this is for the benefit of you, the reader. In actual fact, as all D&D players will know, no game could ever be this organised. In general, however, I hope to portray the story and player interactions as well as possible. I hope you enjoy!
“I’m glad you’ve all come. I trust you saw my notice and aren’t just sitting here drinking my booze without any intention of taking on my job. Right? Good.”
The Halfling, Yengin Silkfoot, took a sip from his brandy, on the rocks. He was a stout fellow, possessing a belly carrying a lifetime of good living. He was balding, his only hair being twin tufts of reddish-brown flanking his pudgy face. His accent was smooth and whimsical – typical of a Hwenian. Despite this, his face was stern. He was a broker for the Guild of Explorers, and wouldn’t tolerate any form of wasting his time or tricking him.
“The job is simple. You are all to take a ferry north, to B’thain. Once in Crestfire, find a guide and go to the ruins of the Moon Kingdom. There’s a tomb there. Meant to be the biggest. Belongs to their God Emperor – Zaikere. He being a God didn’t save their nation, but he did have some valuable treasure. You’re to get in that tomb and find the Staff of Zaikere. Any other things you find, take what you will. All I need is the staff.”
“Why you need the staff?” Kenshin, a gruff Ronin, asked.
“That is my business. Your business is bringing it to me,” Yengin replied, waving the question away.
“Payment?” Meowzer chimed in. The Cat-Paladin was friendly, but was desperate for gold, since his last binge of praising Sharess.
“500 gold, each,” Yengin was reluctant to announce the amount, but this was not a man to state thing’s lightly. He didn’t like it, but he was willing to give out the amount.
The table was silent, but the adventurers struggled to contain their delight. Meowzer purred. Kael’thas, a high elf wizard, tapped his fingers together, happily content.
“When you have the staff, return to the mainland on your own terms. There are Guild boats in Crestfire. You can use them to return. Meet me in Hyktha, at the Guild Lodge. You will be paid on delivery. Your boat leaves March Crossing in about an hour.”
Yengin stood up and made his way to the entrance of The Manticore Inn. The group stood up from the round table and dispersed. Pemnaq, a young human bard, rushed to Yengin, making sure that his companions didn’t notice.
“Yes, boy? What do you want? Got the staff already?” Yengin replied sarcastically, his annoyance showing through. He glanced hastily at his wrist-sundial, enchanted to always be able to detect the time.
“It’s just that – don’t you think 500 is a bit low?”
“A bit low!” Yengin bellowed. “You could live like a Duke off of that. A farm boy should be fainting with joy, ingrate!”
“It’s just that…well, I know the others don’t know this…but between you and me, I know how much that staff is worth. My village is awash with stories from me uncles about a legendary staff from the Cat Kingdom. Meant to be worth a Duchy. Something like that isn’t worth a mere 2000 gold divided among four of us. It’s worth fiefdoms!”
Yengin was sweating. His mouth twitched and he clucked his tongue. “Shush, fine. What do you want?”
“Why should I deal with you at all? Can trade the staff in with the High King for a barony. The others will probably go along with it…”
Yengin chuckled. “A peasant Bard having an audience with the High King? No. You need the Guild to certify the staff. Won’t get a seller any other way. But you’ve been quite astute. You keep your mouth shut and I’ll throw in another 500 for you.”
Pemnaq nodded. Yengin smiled and then turned, leaving once again. Pemnaq sauntered towards the counter, ordering a beer. Kael sidled up to him and whispered, “Any luck?”
“Nope,” Pemnaq replied, presuming Kael’s meaning.
“Damn shortling. Tight-fisted midge,” Kael swore quietly.
Meanwhile, Meowzer was praising Sharess, the patron Goddess of Cats and Hedonism, by drinking his full. Kenshin was reciting something under his breath, polishing his blade. Kael was glancing around the room, studying the inhabitants. Pemnaq finished his beer and made his way to the stage, wiping foam from his lips.
The previous bard had been a lute player. The tune had been sombre, and not befitting what Pemnaq pictured to be a happy coastal tavern – despite its mourning of the King of Ankor, their now dead liege. The King had died in the first attack by the Void, only a year ago. The magical attack had left a gaping crevice in the Pike River, renaming it to the Desolation. In the same attack, the palace of Ankor was flattened.
Upon the stage, Pemnaq cleared his throat and started up a bawdy sea-shanty.
“The Queen is neat
Her hair like wheat
Every man cannot resist her
Yet as fair her skin be
She be a bitch to all but me
I be the one that tamed
That cow, putting her feet above me head…”
The mood of the inn livened up, with the majority of the tavern joining the common Agthenfall tune. The Queen, of course, was the High Queen of Glerania. Allegedly, any who were caught singing the tune was immediately hanged in the High Kingdom. Luckily, they were a continent away.
But as the song escalated again in its explicitness, making Kenshin blush, a horn sounded in the distance. The tavern ignored the interruption and continued, but then they heard a scream. The horn sounded again.
Meowzer, sobering up in an instant, pricked up his ears. It was an orc horn.