You wish a tale? I suppose I can provide. Indeed, I’ve just been to one of the Realms’ most lighthearted romps, Green vs Gold, a tournament pitting the young and strong vs the old and treacherous! There’s a tale worth telling, I wager!
I arrived at the tourney grounds with the members of Mayerling. I’ve sort of taken them under my wing, doing what I can to assist them in their mission. Among other things, I transport them aboard my ship, Stormseeker, as they travel the lands and seas in their search. Fine folk, even if they do have a tendency to call me “demon”. On this particular day, I found myself in the company of their captain, Charwindle, the elven healer Camilla, and Darvan, a young and energetic fighter.
Anyway, due to my association with those red-clad archers, I found myself being assigned to the Green team. Those Mayerlingers are indeed in possession of some powerful magic – they made me young again!
Yes, old gaffer, I suppose I am young compared to you. Dirt is young compared to you.
So, the Green team was graced with the presence of many of the Realms’ up-and-comers, including some young lads just taking up the sword. Perhaps the spirit of the event infected us, but we wound up electing the youngest participant our general – Tuilli’s son Kyram. What he lacked in strategic acumen, he made up for with enthusiasm. In order to assist in the organizing, Wrath of Grimloch became his de-facto assistant.
Come to think of it, Wrath makes up for lack of strategic acumen with enthusiasm too.
Having selected our general, we then set to for a day of martial contests, which began with open field battles, then moved on to fighting over bridges, capturing objectives, squad skirmishing, and bear pit fights, sprinkled with the occasional surprise Chaos Ninja Battle. Though the Green team fought with heart and vigor, the wily veterans of the Gold team proved up to the task of testing our mettle.
I like to think the Green team gave a good account of ourselves (except trying to battle across the two bridges, where the Gold team held us off for the better part of an hour!), but I can only imagine the Gold team proved ultimately triumphant. Still, we left the field in the spirit we stepped onto it, in the spirit of camaraderie and friendly competition.
We also left the field having worked up a powerful appetite, and a good spread awaited us – grilled meats and fresh green vegetables. While we ate, the Knights of the Eternal Flame took the opportunity to attend some public ceremonies, including inducting Sir Guilliam into their ranks.
There also seemed to be some tension within the ranks of Grimloch. We were warned to keep weapons handy, but violence did not ensue during dinner.
Good thing too, those grilled sausages were delicious!
As night fell over the tourney grounds, the Adventurer’s Guild began offering commissions. I poked my nose into this on behalf of my Mayerling friends. They had a number of missions they were offering payment for, so I selected one purported to be negotiation, thinking Charwindle would prefer rational discourse over force of arms. Joining us were the gypsy Kallan and his two boys Lyran and Wierl, and Tuilli’s boy Kyram, who I think preferred the company of lads his own age to geezers his father’s age.
In addition to the missions, the Guild was collecting a particular sort of crystal, one lit from within by a rainbow-spectrum of color. They offered a bounty for any found in our travels, which they were putting to use in developing magical tools for the assistance of adventurers.
Our mission turned out to be safeguarding a young woman from a local village. She and her fellow citizens were tasked by their lady with collecting a particular type of lily which began growing in their village after their lady planted some sort of unique seed, in return for which their lady levied no taxes against them. Before you go thinking this arrangement is uncommonly enlightened, when the villagers began picking the lilies, plant-monsters rose up out of the ground and attacked them.
When we got to our guide’s village, we discovered the veracity of her claims – picking the lilies in question did indeed cause plant creatures to attack. We commenced negotiating with them, using swords and spells as our arguments. Initially, we had difficulty hurting them, but rapidly discovered we needed to destroy the roots they exposed when they pulled themselves out of the ground, slowing them and making them vulnerable to killing blows.
Eventually, we were able to collect all the blooms and kill all the creatures, but while we were distracted battling the animated shrubbery, a woman came out of the shadows, killed our guide, and stole the crystal she bore. When I raised our guide back to life, she reported her assailant had born a particular device – a serpent eating its own tail. She was perturbed by this course of events, but when we presented her with a bouquet of rare lilies and informed her the village was plant monster-free, she delightedly took our leave, leaving us to return to the guild for payment.
Of course, nothing is ever that easy.
When we returned to the guildhall, we found it sealed magically, and through the windows could see the guild master lying dead on the floor. Searching for the perpetrators and for a means of breaking the magical seal, we encountered all sorts of shifty folks skulking about in the night, bearing the very crystals the Guild had been stockpiling. Questioning them proved nonproductive – they were quite hostile. We then tried commerce, but offers to buy the crystals were flatly refused.
Rebuffed, we fell back on the sort of negotiation that served us so well against the plant monsters.
This yielded not only the crystals in question, but coins and artifacts with that tail-eating-snake symbol. Based on this evidence, Janus informed us we were dealing with the Order of Orobouros.
However, that was as informative as Janus got, claiming he wasn’t cleared to tell us more. That said, I already knew enough about them to apply lightning bolts to them with minimum preamble, so we warriors and mages of the Realms tracked down the groups of Orobouros warriors, defeating them and collecting the crystals.
Our efforts eventually yielded enough crystals to break the seal on the Adventurer’s Guild. When we revived the guild master, he informed us the guild’s stockpile of crystals had been stolen. He knew not to what end, but sent us out to put a stop to whatever the Order was up to. This involved negotiating our way through waves and waves of their warriors. Breaking our way through the last of them, we found what they were up to – they’d summoned a giant wolf demon to our plane.
This was a situation which required not only skilled negotiators, but cunning minds as well, as the warriors fended off the monster’s attacks while the mages worked out how to banish it back to whatever hellhole it spawned from. This involved Lako and Janus diving repeatedly into its maw and getting chewed up and spit out again. They were either finding out information about the magic binding it to our plane or trying to give it a fatal case of indigestion. Eventually, they succeeded at least in the former, cleansing our realm of its foulness.
The trip back to the guildhall was uneventful, and with the guild master restored to life, we were able to get paid not just for the jobs we’d undertaken, but also received bounties on the Order’s coins.
Liking getting paid for what I tend to do anyway, and not caring fot the cut of the Order’s jib, I closed out the night by joining the Adventurer’s Guild.
Yes, I suspect we haven’t heard the last of the Order of Orobouros, but when next they choose to darken our lands with their footsteps, they’ll find me just as prepared to negotiate with them as their slaughtered compatriots found me. And, I’ll get paid for it!
I know I already mentioned it, and I probably will again. The novelty hasn’t worn off yet.