“So let me see if I have this straight… You three want venture to the mountain of unavoidable doom, and face the devil king, Terrormandoran?” I asked three people whom had, much to my dismay, sought out my services.
“Yes,” said an eager young man who was the outright embodiment of unbridled charisma.
Makes me sick.
“And you want me to be your guide?!” I asked.
“We were told you had ventured there once before,” said the girl accompanying them. Her dark hair, olive skin, slender body, and deep blue eyes was exactly my type.
Inversely, my pale skin, weak frame, and unruly hair had already firmly placed me on her ‘no way, no freaking way, not ever gonna happen… no no no please no… not if he was the last man on earth’... list.
“If by ‘Ventured there once before’ you mean that I took one hell of a wrong turn then yes I have ventured there. But make NO mistake, it was not of my own free will, and I have no intention of ever going there again!”
The two people with the annoying hero type seemed disheartened, but hero boy didn’t falter.
“Please, we’ll do anything you ask… we’ll pay any price… Terrormandoran must be stopped no matter what!” He said, one hand clenching into a fist, another gripping the palm of what I can only assume to be a recently bestowed sword… probably the only one with the power to seal Devil Kings… or some other crap.
“What did Terry do to anyone? From what I can tell he’s a shut in with no real desire or capacity to do anything really that bad,” I said.
Up to now, the hefty fella in the back had yet to speak, but it seems I’d struck a nerve as he piped up.
“Legends speak of him, and the evils he’s committed. They speak of a Devil King atop The Mountain of Unavoidable Doom, brooding and awaiting the day that he might unleash his ultimate evil upon the world,” he spoke with breathless passion.
“Oh yea? Name one,” I said.
“One… what?” He asked, puzzled.
“One bad thing ole Terry did,” I explained.
“I… Well... Uh…”
“Yea, sounds to me like legend foretold a bunch of poorly thought out crap. Your prophecy didn’t even bother with the backstory…” I sneered.
“Don’t listen to him,” said hero boy as he white knighted in front of my unrequited love. “We’ve gotten this far without him… We’ll find a way.”
I looked over his shoulder to the village barely a mile down the road.
“Excuse me but by ‘this far’ are you referring to the path from Ninden Village to here?” I asked in disbelief.
“Come on, let’s just go,” he cut me an angry look as he strode off.
“Hey hero, sunset is back that way,” I goaded him. “I’m just saying, it looks less dramatic with you walking that way.”
The guy has no sense of dramatic direction.
As I watched them walk away, I thought about the last time I was in this very spot.
I thought of how I went left when my god should I have gone right.
I thought about the perils I faced down that road… I also thought about how it’s crazy how close perils are to town these days…
And I thought about what legend might say someday about the guy who let three would be heroes walk to certain death…
“Fiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeee….” I moaned.
No sooner did the word leave my lips than did the merry band rejoice and frolik back my way.
“Alright, yes yes you’re all very happy… First things first, though. I’m tired of using the names I made up for you… Your names… gimme.” I said.
“My name is Gwint,” said the hero boy with a toothy smile.
“Alright, next,” I said turning to my dearest love.
“I… I’m Reyna,” she mumbled shyly.
I took a mental picture of her adorable fear of me.
“Alright, and what about you?” I asked the third wheel.
“I am Achahooindan,” he said.
“That was a weird sounding sneeze your nose just made,” I said.
“My father said it was the name of a noble from our family generations ago.” He was quite a lot more offended than I had expected.
“Yea I’m not buying it… Pretty sure your dad is just an idiot,” I said. I held up a hand and cut off his response.
“Alright! First order of business… What kind of money are you working with? I’ll need to know where we can afford to stop along the way,” I asked them.
“We… don’t have any money,” said Gwint.
“...Alright guys we need to have a serious talk…”
I imagine future legends are likely not to foretell about the time I gave the party a basic lesson on financial preparation and resource management. I took the opportunity to assess what I was going to be working with for the next week or so.
Manpower wise, the party was pretty archetypal. Gwint came off as a sort of agile dextrous fighter. I don’t know much about his sword yet but I imagine I’ll find out soon enough when some villager elder gawks at the mythic blade… or whatever.
Reyna was a pretty rounded out mage. She’s been healing their injuries up to this point, and is also probably the most pound for pound powerful member of the team. I think “Glass Cannon” would be a good term for her.
Achahooindan, or just Dan as I’ve taken to calling him, wasn’t at all what I had expected. Believe it or not, he was NOT in fact, a tank. Turns out he’s a freaking botanist.
Anyway, he’s really… REALLY into plants. Concerningly so.
That aside he’s not too bad with a bow, but he mainly uses it to deliver poisons and other creations of his directly into the flesh of their would be foes.
As for resources…
“I still can’t believe we didn’t think to bring food,” Dan mumbled.
Let’s just say the circumstances are undesirable.
Our first stop would be Steedville, a village at the base of The Mountain of Unavoidable Doom renowned for its world class sugar crop…
And also they breed horses.
As we entered, sure enough there was some old geezer sitting about breathing what are likely his precious few last breaths.
He took one look at Gwints Devil-King head trimmer and let out an obnoxiously loud gasp.
“Careful old man, that was about thirteen breaths you can’t afford to lose right now,” I said.
“The sword of kickadevilassaden,” he lauded over it.
“So you know of it?” Gwint asked.
I think I’ll just go find a seat. This will probably take a while.
“Legend fortells of-”
Oh god I hate when I’m right.
“-a sword with the power to slay evil. Unmatched by anything on this earth,” Nigel said. I don’t know if that’s his real name, but he looks like a Nigel. Good ole Nigel. Thank god for Nigel.
“He found it deep in lake bodyahwater a few days ago… The scribes said it was a sign,” Reyna said. She actually seemed pretty giddy to tell the tale.
“It surely is… You three are in for quite an adventure. Oh how I envy your youth,” Nigel said.
“Four… There are four of us… I am here too,” I said, apparently to myself as no one paid me any mind.
So I just sort of sat atop some barrels and kicked my feet around while waiting for them to finish their business with Nigel. Actually he’s ignoring me, so I’m downgrading him back to old guy. You don’t get a name, old guy.
At last, they waved their goodbyes.
“And don’t forget, stay away from the blind witches!” He called out to us.
“We won’t!” They all cheerfully called back.
“The what now?” I asked.
“Apparently there are three blind witches that live just outside town, in the wicked woods.”
“I… think his information might be a little dated…” I said as I remembered my encounter with three very dead witches whom had plummeted to their deaths after I called out to them from across a fallen rope bridge.
Which I don’t regret because man were they creepy.
“You’ve faced them before?” Gwint asked.
“...Uh… Yea… sure…” I said.
“You don’t seem sure,” Dan said.
“Saying I faced them just feels like an exaggeration… You know what… Doesn't matter. Forget about it.” I ushered them into the barn we would be spending the evening in.
Reyna looked rather disgusted with this evening accommodations.
“Not up to your liking” I asked her as I pushed some hay together for a bed.
“It smells like horse crap,” she spoke nasally through a pinched nose.
“There’s a faint smell of sugar, too. You’ve got to get a big whiff to pick up on it though. One of the horses must have gotten into the crop… gonna be a bad harvest this year. Anyway, I’m rambling… You could always try selling your body,” I suggested offhandedly.
All three of them so quickly began ranting at me with an alarming ferocity that I ALMOST regretted what I had said.
“Calm down, I’m just saying try taking your stockings off and letting them see your feet. These people love feet. Kinda like Dan loves plants,” I explained.
“I do love plants,” Dan said wistfully.
“I’m not doing that,” she crossed her free arm and glared at me.”
“Alright, well you’d better start pulling a bed together while there’s still some good hay left,” I said.
As the night began to settle in, they went out back and put together a campfire.
I stepped outside and pulled up a log to sit on.
“I’m pretty sure this is a fire hazard,” I said as I warmed my hands by the fire nonetheless.
“Are you always such a downer?” Gwint asked me.
“I think the word you’re looking for is realist,” I retorted.
“I don’t think we should have brought him,” Reyna said to Gwint.
“I don’t know,” Dan said. “Aside from his comment about my name, I kind of like him. He’s funny.”
“Aw. Thanks, Dan. I appreciate that,” I said.
“I take back what I said,” he said with an annoyed look in his eyes.
I realize that I’m being pretty hard on them. Frankly I was hoping that if I could dishearten them enough, I might dissuade them from going forward with this, but it doesn't seem that it will work out that way. For the first time in my life I’m going to have to follow through with something.
I sighed, though I tried not to be too obnoxious about it.
We sat together by the fire for some time. I imagine each of them is slowly realizing that maybe this adventure isn’t going to be as cheery as they might have hoped.
They’re beginning to wonder about what perils lay ahead of them.
The path that they-
Reyna’s stomach began to growl excessively, much to her horror.
And I started to laugh.
And so did Gwint.
Finally even Reyna grinned a little.
I might as well act on the mood before I feel inclined to do otherwise.
“Here… as an apology for how horrible I’ve been to you all today, I’ll buy you all dinner just this once. You can repay me in full after you’re showered in money for defeating Terry,” I said as I stood up and brushed horse hair off of my tunic.
Gwint looked pretty surprised to hear me say that.
“That would be pretty great, actually,” he said.
“Alright, I’ll be right back… Oh, hey, Achahooidan, you dropped this,” I said, reaching for his pestle that had fallen from his alchemical bag.
“Oh… Uh… Thanks…” He was a little taken aback by my calling his real name.
As I was about to round the corner, Reyna called out to me.
“We, uh. We never got your name,” she said.
Oh yea… My name.
It’s kind of funny, thinking about it now.
To think that if we are successful, and history does remember our adventure, it will likely be sung round hearthfires, and recited in ballads.
Legends will tell of Gwint, wielder of the mythic blade, Kickadevilassaden. Rayna, the wise and fearsome magician, Achahooidan, their crafty alchemist… and…-
“-Kevin.” I said.
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