Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pray That The Woods Forgive, Part 1

Please keep in mind that the stories I post here are considered "rough drafts"  and will be different from the "finised product" but I like to post them here to share what I am working on and to show how I "interpet the AD&D 1E/OSRIC gamme world.

The group rushed into the small building to get out of the downpour.  They were soaked and cold after walking for three hours through the Kindred Woods that the road meandered through coming South out of Kerren's Landing, the large town they had left only that morning.  Although "left" was putting it nicely.  "Run out" was much more to the fact.

As the four men and one woman found a table and began setting down their gear, they had a chance to look around the building's interior.  A very simple building that looked much like a tavern or Inn with tables and benches scattered about haphazardly.  A roaring fire in a large fireplace that took up the entire West wall and a polished wooden bar that one would usually only expect to see in the fancier taverns to sit at and drink imported liquors and spirits.

As they took their seats at one of the larger, circular tables they finished removing the assorted gear, packs and weapons that commonly accompanied wandering groups of travellers and adventurers.

Elsa, the sole woman in the group, was a relatively new Magic User of the type known as an Illusionist.  She wore the bronze amulet shaped like an eye inside a cloud shape that was commonly worn by Illusionists trained by a guild.  Her short, flaxen hair was still dripping and she wiped water from her elfish face without thinking about it.  Elsa was not "Full Elf" as her brothers were but had been born to a human mother in a dalliance with her Elf-Lord father.  While human society was more accepting of her, even considering the occasional racist or odd look, they were preferable to the outright snubbing she received from the Elven community.

Douglas was a human thief.  He preferred to call himself a "good hearted Rogue" but while he made it a point to not take from people he thought of as good, his practice still boiled down to thievery.  He was a slight young man with indescript features he worked hard to maintain.  "A Rogue that stands out is not a successful rogue at all." he was fond of saying.

Mikal was a human Fighter, First level, trained in the army of General Harcroft of Vaseria.  Once he had attained first level status, he was given a month's leave to attend his father's funeral and help his family re-establish themselves.  Being back home and finding out that his father had been murdered by the minions of an evil Cleric wandering the lands, he pledged he would not return home or to the army until he exacted vengence in his family's honor.  The army gave him one year of extended leave to meet his vow but told him that if he did not come back to the army by the designated time to inform them of his situation, he would be considered Absent Without Leave and hunted down as a traitor.  They would rather help him exact his revenge than lose their investment in training, boarding and supplying him entirely.

Viktor was an easy to spot half-orc.  A very large one at that and despite his general churlishness, due to being half-Orc, he was a good person all the same.  He hadn't been made an outcast like Elsa had by his Orc side but instead they insisted on forcing him to hate all humans.  After spending so much time with his human family, he simply could not bring himself to to hate them.  He had been a wanderer for nearly two years now, preferring to keep moving than to stay in one place around humans or orcs for too long.  Viktor was also a type of fighter but more of a general brawler.  He'd picked up some informal military fighting techniques but preferred what he referred to as "Guerilla Tactics" that he'd had much more training in and success with.

The last of the group was Brother Thelonius.  He was a Monk from the Temple of Truth.  He was the most experienced member of the troupe being of the third tier and his abilities at hand to hand combat and other mysterious tricks he had up his sleeve were nothing short of impressive to the rest of the group.  He had been sent out into the world to learn it's ways for a decade.  After his travels he would return and provide information and awareness about the world to the Masters within and take his place as a Master himself.

The group was intrigued by the simple and warm interior of the tavern, for they agreed it must be a tavern of some sort.  Yet in the entire five or ten minutes they had been noisily making themselves at home, they had seen no one to greet or serve them.  They were glad of the dryness and the warmth of the fire though and took to biding their time with idle chat and looking things over to make sure nothing had come to ruin from the storm.

After about a thirty minute wait, someone finally did make an appearance.   A small man, came waling into the main area from a room behind the bar, he was having a conversation with someone they couldn't see and he appeared not to notice them.

"I'm telling you for the last time Jack, you will not be going outside for the rest of the day so quit bugging me about it.  Look at the mess you made after you came back the last time."  The small man turned back to the door as if listening to someone but still focusing on something he was doing at the bar.  "Yes, I know you will 'have to go' at some point before the night is over Jack, but you can just use the outhouse like everyone else."   The little man went back to his task, it seemed he was cleaning off a large dish or a bowl and setting it on the bar and now was looking for something to put in it.  He also appeared to be halfway listening to the someone else they couldn't hear.  Yet what they did hear was nothing more than what sounded like the chirps and noises a squirrel might make.  "Oh do shut up." the man muttered partly under his breath.

The group was starting to feel a little uncomfortable as if they were eavesdropping when suddenly, the man started talking again and seemed to be talking to them.  "You know, he's really not a bad fellow, my Jack, but he tends to get a bit high on his horse now and again if you ask me.  He won't be anything but pleasant with you folks though."  He had spoken apparently to them without ever looking up from his tasking of filling the dish.

He stopped, looking directly at them now and said, "Though he's always nice to the guests, I tell you,  he just can't be so pleasant when it's just us alone.", then he grinned at them and started to walk toward their table.  "Welcome to 'The Promised Land', perhaps the finest meadery of it's type in the world."  He stuck out his hand waiting for one of them to shake it.

Brother Thelonius took his hand and introduced himself.  He then hesitated for just a moment then said to the man, "If I'm correct, your name is Bar right?"  The little man grinned widely revealing pointed teeth and exclaimed loudly, "I am, at your service.  Might I say 'Bar' is a pretty good first try at it, most people completely slaughter my name, I pronounce it 'Behr' but that's close enough."

Mikal spoke up next, "I'm sorry if we interrupted you, is there another person we are interrupting?"  "Oh no", said Behr, "There's no other people here besides you and me."  The group looked at each other unsure how to proceed.  They know they had heard Behr having a two sided conversation. "Oh, OH, I know, you mean Jack"  Behr said as it occurred to him what they seemed confused.  "Jack, come out here, we have guests you know!" The little man exclaimed.  He looked back at them. "I don't normally get a lot of company so pardon my lack of societal manners."  As he said that, a rather large skunk wandered nonchalantly out of the doorway from the room behind the door and walked over to their table.

"Jack, meet everyone.   Everyone, meet Jack." and he stood there, looking pleased with himself that he made the introduction.  The members of the group nearly shrunk away from the skunk hoping their movement wouldn't cause it to spray them.  "Oh, don't worry about him, he won't stinkbomb any of you.  He's been trained out of that."  The skunk made a variety of grumbles and other sounds and the man looked a little cross at the skunk.  "Yes Jack, 'trained' is the right word to use in the company of humanoids.  You know that as well as I do so let's not get huffy." The little man looked back at the group and shrugged his shoulders, "He's always trying to correct my grammar.  I hate when he does that."

At that, Elsa broke up laughing and the rest of the group followed her.  The man stood there, looking perplexed with a slight, unsure smile on his face.  Thelonius began again, "Forgive me if I've been mis-informed sir, but if you are the Behr I've heard about, then you are a druid, are you not?"   Behr scowled at him suddenly.  "Who told you that?" he said harshly.  "Umm, I heard a tale or two about you over at the Gallup Inn up in Kerren's Landing,"  Thelonius replied.  "Ahh, I see." said Behr tersely.  "A bunch of gossips if there ever were up in that miserable town."

"So are you a druid Sir?" Elsa asked quietly, somewhat in awe as she had heard of druids but never actually met one nor knew anyone who had actually met a druid.  He looked as if to be sorely cross at the question, then Jack the skunk mewed something briefly.  Behr took it into consideration for a moment then sucked in air quickly and blew out his cheeks.  After the process, he looked as if his mood had changed.  "I suppose Jack's right.  There's no  point in not being honest, though I would rather have not had it brought up at all.  Usually I introduce us Heimdall and Petey, the striped cat."  Behr admitted.  Jack looked him up and down then mewed again.  "Yes, I know you hate that.  I don't look all that nordic either, do I?  Of course not. "

"Ok, here's the deal kids,"  Behr said, evenly, sitting down on the semi-circular bench among them.  "Yes, I am a druid. My responsibility is steward of the Kindred Woods.  They are my woods and I am their druid.  However, not many people live to talk about it for the most part because it's supposed to be unspoken.  Kind of like being involved in organized crime and having a wife and family.  If the wrong people find out, it just spells trouble sooner or later.  We'd rather just let people think of us as a couple of beekeeping, mead-making, tavern operators if you don't mind.  You seem like a good bunch so I'm really taking a chance here.  Though now I'm going to have to do something about those loudmouths who somehow managed to use those tiny minds of theirs to put two and two together."

"No problem at all Sir," said Douglas, speaking for the first time.  He too was awed at having met a real druid.  "So, what brings you folks down here in the middle of a thunderstorm?" queried Behr.  "well Sir, it's not a long story, but it's not a pleasant one either.", Thelonius spoke again.  "We had all met up responding to a 'Help Wanted' poster looking for adventurers.  We met with the Mayor of Kerren's Landing who is seeking people to kill a variety of dangerous animals in the nearby wooded areas so that the town can expand."  "He WHAT!?" Behr nearly shrieked as he bolted up straight, nearly knocking the table over at the same time.  "Why that dirty, no good pile of trash.  How dare he!"  Behr was stalking about the room now, seeming to be in a fine rage.  Ranting without pause.  "I'll give all of those imbeciles reason to hide under their mother's skirts for ages once I'm through with them!"  He stopped suddenly, turned to face them and becoming calm again as if nothing had happened, he said, "So, what happened then?"

"Well," Douglas started nervously. "Some other group of adventurers came into the Inn and apparently knew the mayor.  They came right up to our table and began negotiating as if we weren't even there.  The Mayor seemed to go along and pretty soon, not only did they have the deal we had been trying to make, they had taken the Mayor and went to another table."  "Mikal spoke up again, "at that, I approached them to let them know their behavior wasn't appreciated and a brawl began during which most of our money had been stolen from or packs and when it was all over, the Sheriff and his deputies told us to get out of town or they would toss us all in jail.  They essentially robbed us and then ran us out."  He looked ready to brawl all over again at the end of his comments.

"Oh ho my friends, we have a score to settle with the not-so-fine folks at Kerren's Landing.  They've pushed me too far this time.  If I get there and they've harmed those woods even a little bit, they're going to sorely wish they hadn't. Are you interested in going with me and getting your money back?"  Behr said quietly, with a devious grin as he asked them.

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