[Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Weird red metals, dominions, immortals, hollow planets, invisible moons, and a lot of glorified magic zeppelins. It's all here.
The Book-House: Find Mystara products, Find Known World products.

Moderators: Gawain_VIII, Havard, Seer of Yhog, Cthulhudrew

[Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:27 pm

Image
The Handmaidens of Petra and the Shield of Halav
or
"How I Spent My Winter Festival Holiday"


Prologue: A Wager

“You must be gentle with my broom, Little Flower, or you will wear the bristles down to nothing, and then what shall we do to keep the snows off these temple steps?”

Jasna looked up at the old patriarch’s admonishment. She hadn’t been sweeping that madly.

“It isn’t like anybody ever attends services here, anyway,” Jasna muttered. At the old patriarch’s sigh, she immediately regretted having actually spoken the words aloud.

“I beg forgiveness, Father.” She actually meant the words that time. “It’s just… Elder Licinius is an ass.”

“Jasna! You mustn’t speak of church elders in such a manner.”

The girl stood a bit straighter. “Elder Licinius is a pompous ass,” she said.

“That is much better,” the priest of Koritiku said with a grin and a nod. “‘If you are to speak a truth, you must speak the whole of the truth.’ So, what does the blowhard have to say that has you taking your anger out on my poor broom?”

“i sort of… overheard him… discussing something with Sir Stick-in-the-Mud, who was asking about the Song of Halav again. Honestly, they insisted on fixing it in writing six hundred years ago, you would think the Thyatians would actually take the time to learn it.” The girl swung at a clump of snow, sending the blob arcing away towards the temple promenade.

“Jasna, the broom….”

She clutched the broomstick tighter. “Elder Licinius said that it was all a lie. A story, blown up by a scared people in the dark days before they made great cities and iron.”

“Jasna, my Little Flower, it is just a legend. Those events… if they did happen, happened thousands of years ago. Thousands, my dear. That is perhaps a hundred and fifty times the time you have even been alive. Twenty-five of my lifetimes ago. That is a very long time for a story to grow. You’ve been to the docks. You’ve heard the fishermen. And those are merely tales a few hours old.”

“So, you don’t believe in the Song, either?” The girl pushed at a clod of snow, nudging it closer to the edge of the step.

“I would be a bad Traladaran if I said I did not.”

“You cheated and stole before you became a priest,” Jasna said. “You are a bad Traladaran.”

The old man chuckled. “Yes, I suppose that is the whole truth.”

“It is true, though,” Jasna said, and the priest looked up at the fire in the girl’s voice. “Maybe not all of it, but the core of it.”

“Now you begin to sound like one of crazy old Sergyev’s Returnists.”

“It is true,” Jasna insisted. “And I’ll prove it to you!”

The old priest looked at the girl for a long time, until her breathing slowed and the color eased from her cheeks.

“Shall we make a wager, then?” he asked.

“What sort of wager?” the girl asked, her balance shifting, subtly, to the balls of her feet, taking her weight off the broomstick.

“Prove me wrong, and I will relieve you of snow-clearing for the rest of this winter.”

“And if I cannot?”

“Then you must tell that pompous ass Licinius that he is in the right.”

Jasna’s hands tightened on the broom handle, the knuckles going white as the snows she was supposed to be clearing from the temple steps.

“Very well,” she said. She spit on her hand and held it out to the priest, who spit on his own and then clapped his bony hand in hers.

“With honor,” she intoned, as they shook

“With honor,” the priest said, his own tone solemn.

There was a beat of silence between them, and then they both laughed as they broke the handshake, wiping hands on robe and tunic.

The priest made his way slowly to his feet. He waved off the girl’s offer to help. “Just finish the steps, and then you may be off.”

He turned, and shuffled back into the temple, letting the heavy wooden door creak shut behind him.

“Do you really think she will be able to do it?” asked the figure in the shadows by the door.

The old priest smiled, and kept walking towards the low altar at the front of the sanctuary. “I think she stands a much better chance than that lot of fools you have chasing this errand.”

“They seem better able than the pack of fools the Knights of the Griffon have scratching around,” the figure said. “What makes this ‘Little Flower’ of yours so special, that a child could succeed where grown adventurers keep failing? You think it is her conviction? If this venture relied on crazed belief, then Sergyev would have found the artifact himself thirty years ago.”

The old priest turned, leaning heavily on his crooked staff. “My dear Aleksyev, my Little Flower is certain because she knows something you or I do not. After all, we shook and declared the deal in honor.”

“As if there is any honor among thieves,” Aleksyev sneered.

The priest of Koritiku laughed. “That is precisely the point, my friend. Jasna will cheat, and I would expect nothing less of her.”
Last edited by RobJN on Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:48 am, edited 5 times in total.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:45 pm

Petra’s Home for the Wayward and Orphaned
**I**
“The timing is perfect!” Jasna whispered. “We can meet at Fiala’s father’s inn, and --”

“No, the inn is full to bursting,” Fiala’s voice sounded as if she sat on the bed right next to Jasna. Of course, she wasn’t. She spoke to the small red stone pendant that Silva had given each of them, which carried her voice to the matching pendants. On this night, the eve of the eve of the new year, Jasna spoke to all of the other Handmaidens in town, as well as the two from Eltan’s Spring, in the northern mountains.

“First,” Fiala continued, “all those strangers are in town from the southlands, then the Goblin-Crushers from the Duke’s Road Battalion showed up on that hush-hush Order of the Griffon business, and now the Baron’s feast…”

“I wonder what is going on with that?” Anya asked. “They always quieted down when Mother and I brought them food or drink.”

“That’s what we have to meet about!” Jasna said. “I think I’ve figured it out. Just… get to the marketplace in town, and I’ll contact you there.” The stairs down the hall were creaking. The matron would be by any moment to check that the girls were asleep. Jasna wiped the bead of blood from the stone, and it’s golden-red light flickered and went out. Just in time, she flopped over on her back, tugging the thick goose-down comforter up to her chin, her eyes cracked wide enough to see the glow of the lantern come and go by the doorway as the matron made her rounds.

Jasna curled deeper under the blankets, smiling. Dawn could not come soon enough.

**II**
She dreamt of terror and fire. Of standing on high walls, a bronze-bladed spear in her hands, slick with the blood of her grandfather, from whose hand she had pried the weapon. Her brothers has been called to fight with the new king, leaving the old men and mothers and children to guard the clanhold. But the Beast Men had swept around from the south, around the relief column, and they howled and milled about at the base of the hill, gathering up the courage for another charge at the fortifications. The Queen had called it a ‘palisade.’ It was a blessing from the Immortals, and she did not regret the blisters she’d gotten in helping to make the tall fence of wooden posts. Another blister broke open as she tightened her grip on the spear. The howls had grown different, bolder. They were forming up into lines again.

“Tauros, in battle, guide my hand. If not you, then Tyche. And if my blood soak Terra’s land, I pray, Cthonos, to guide me.”

The Beast Men howled anew, and Jasna screamed her defiance right back--



“Jasna!”

She blinked. She was on her back. Not on the ground, but on one of the hard bunks. The circle of faces around her did not have snouts or sharp, yellowed teeth, just wide round eyes, mouths open in shock, not hunger.

“You’ve been dreaming,” one of the girls said.

“Loudly,” said another.

Jasna sat up. Her blankets were all over the floor. She shivered. Her nightgown was damp with sweat, and her hair stuck to her face and neck.

“Apologies,” she said. Her tongue felt swollen, her head stuffed with straw and cobwebs.

“Matron would have been by with the copper pan soon enough, anyway,” the first girl said. “We won’t have to rush to get down to the dining hall.”

“So glad my nightmare could be of some benefit,” Jasna muttered. She glanced down at her hand, which was still clenched as if she held the spear. She willed her fingers open, revealing the pendant, the red stone secured in the twining of gold.

“Well, isn’t that pretty?” sneered yet another girl. She was big, the eldest in their dorm. “If you don’t give me your share of porridge, I’ll tell Matron and she’ll make you give back that bauble from wherever you stole it.”

Jasna snapped her fingers closed. “I didn’t steal it! It was a gift.”

“What boy would possibly give you such a thing?” the bigger girl snapped.

“You’re just jealous because the only gift horses give comes out their hind end!”

Most of the girls giggled, and the elder one closed a thick fist. But the clanging of a wooden spoon against the big copper frying pan announced the presence of the matron on their floor.

**III**
Jasna sat, kicking her feet under the table, watching the stack of bowls at the back of the dining hall. Just a few more, and Matron would release them to go about the morning shopping. She turned the square of parchment about in the empty space before her on the table. Further down the length of the table, Sula, the big dark-haired Traladaran girl, met Jasna’s eyes and made a deliberate show of tucking into the second bowl of porridge before her.

Let her think she’d won. Jasna did not even like porridge, and she could get anything she wanted to eat at the marketplace, anyway. If it served to keep the older girl from bullying her or calling ‘thief’ to the Matron, then the scales came out even in the end.

Another three girls approached the Matron’s station at the back of the room, where the old woman stirred the big cook pot.

Please, Jasna thought, be finished. Do not ask for a second helping. One bowl was filled, two more joined the stack. Suddenly, Jasna wished she hadn’t given her bowl to Sula. Then she could have finished, added her empty bowl to the stack, and be free to pursue her task. She turned the square of parchment over. And, eventually, do her part in the day’s shopping for the orphanage.

Finally, another of the girls finished, and the matron clapped her hands. “All right. Those finished, you have your allowances. Those finishing, be sure to see the steward for your shopping money. I will see the kitchen detail in the back. And remember,” she said as benches scraped and the murmur of voices began to grow, “back for the lesson at noontide.” At the groans of dismay, the matron wagged a finger. “Does Ixion stop the sun shining, just because of the festival holidays? If he can work, so can you.” With that, she turned and went through the big door by the great hearth, her voice rising as she began to give orders to the half dozen cooks.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:56 pm

Mechant’s Square
**I**
Sollus had just crested the far ridges of the Altan Tepes by the time Jasna made her way to the gates of the temple quarter. It was nice to actually walk through them, rather than have to climb the scrubby lemon tree by the wall. She had to be extra careful in the winter, what with the branches being bare.

She was glad to be out of the stuffy dining hall, breathing the cold, crisp morning air. The sting of the cold against her cheeks was invigorating, and chased away the last of the stickiness clinging to her thoughts the past night’s dream had left. Surely, the dream was just a remnant of the memories in the tombs beneath Krakatos.

Jasna shook her head, and sucked in a deep, biting breath of air. It did no good to think of the fire and terrors beneath the ruins.

Beggar’s Way was her first stop, and she counted the bundles of shelters before she came to the fifth. She pulled the flap of canvas aside, quietly, and deposited the handful of kopecs the steward had given her on the way out of the dining hall.

She rose, turning, to see one of the bundles rise, the elderly man blinking up at her.

“Two days until I can get to you, Yosef,” she told the man. “And if you smell of wine, I’ll give you nothing.”

“You’re an angel sent from Chardastes,” the man mumbled. “Bless you, child.”

Jasna smiled, but made her way quickly from the alley. If Chardastes really did watch out for those men and women, surely they would not be there, but would have homes and families, and livelihoods. She wiped at her eyes. If the Immortals would not look after them, somebody needed to.

She made her way to the market square, dodging carts and mules and men and woman pushing barrows or balancing bushels. Many of the stalls had already gone up, and Jasna slipped among them. Four apples. Two turnips. She filched another, since the late harvest was rather scrawny. She glanced again at the list. The drawing wasn’t clear. There were letters next to it, but even when she strung them together, she didn’t recognize the word.

Another of the matron’s tests. It would mean she’d have to actually speak to some of the merchants. They would want coin, once they knew she was looking for something. It wouldn’t do to go back to the Beggar’s Way and take back a few of the kopecs. She bent her head against a stall canopy post, berating herself for not having done more than glance at the list before she left the orphanage.

It meant she’d have to steal money. For whatever reason, townspeople got more angry at that than theft of things like bread, or hotpies.

Her stomach grumbled. She knocked her head against the post again, this time for thinking of hotpies on an empty stomach. Hotpies, maybe with some clotted cream, and a leaf-baked yam...

She squeezed her eyes shut, wiping at her lips.

Khoronus, she prayed, give me patience. A patient thief was less likely to be caught, the old priest of Koritiku had taught her.

She opened her eyes, blinking in the sudden brightness. There, across the plaza: The young man’s stance was all wrong. The way his eyes moved, she knew he wasn’t a local. The locals knew where all their favorite stalls were set up. He was looking at all of them, indecisive. His boots, though scuffed, were certainly not travel-worn. The sleeves of his undertunic still had creases in them. Most importantly, the purse at his belt was velvet, not canvas or leather, the drawstrings not even tied.

Who said the Immortals didn’t answer the prayers of the needy?

**II**
She had to time it just right. A trip, a nudge, and one or the other of them stumbling towards a cart would be enough distraction to get her hand near his belt. Jasna readied herself, paced the next cart coming down the Market Way.

“Jasna!” a familiar voice called from the driver’s bench.

She didn’t glance up, skipped a few steps ahead of the cart.

“Oi! Jasna!”

She darted a glance over her shoulder. Petra smiled and waved, pointing to a gap in her teeth. “Look! It finally fell out! Oi! Jasna--”

Jasna skipped further ahead. The skip turned into a running step. She’d have to make like she was going to dart out ahead of the cart to cross the way. One more step…

Her stomach growled again, and the tall young man turned at the sound. The velvet pouch slid to the side, and Jasna’s fingers slid along a length of supple leather belt. The young man’s eyes widened, going from her face down to her hand, then back to her eyes, his own narrowing. One hand closed -- painfully -- over her wrist, the other reached for the dagger across his other hip.

Jasna didn’t even have time to swallow at the dread threatening to crawl up and out her throat. She felt the blush creeping up her cheeks.

“No plan is ever perfect. When one goes bad and you can’t run, don’t bother trying,” the old priest had taught her.

She let her breath out as a shout.

“Guards! Somebody, please help me!”

**III**
Sergeant of the Guard Arthol Yurinov scowled at the three youths before him. Two of them he knew, one much better than the other. The other, a tall, dark-haired youth, he didn’t think he’d ever seen. The hand-shaped welt across his cheek didn’t help much in identifying him.

“So,” the watch sergeant said, “let me get this straight. You, Mistress Morozovna, wish to charge this young man with assault with intent to draw blood. You,” he pointed to the young man, “wish to charge her,” he pointed back to Jasna, “with theft and assault, and this one,” he pointed to the smaller, gap-toothed girl, “with assault? Is that right?”

The young man raised his hand, pointing towards the welt on his cheek. Red marks, with a noticeable gap, dotted the back of it. “That one slapped me, and she bit me!”

“I’ll bite you again if you try to hurt my sister!”

“Threats!” the young man said, his voice rising. “You heard her. She threatened me. Threatening of a nobleman is a high crime.”

“Yes, about that,” Arthol said. “Where was it you said you hailed from again?”

“My father is-- is… a very important man in… Penhaligon!”

“You’re an awful long way from Penhaligon,” the sergeant said. He leaned to the side, looking around his small desk. “Let’s have a look at that cloak again.” He grunted as the young lord stood. The bottom hem showed a series of long, irregular cuts.

“Newly Sheared. You’re no longer a part of your father’s family. His influence can’t help you here.”

The young man’s face paled. He sat down heavily, clutching at his cloak. “It is a stupid tradition,” he grumbled. He sighed. “All right, then look through our possessions. See if what you find there won’t change your mind.”

Arthol opened one of the small boxes on his desk, rummaging around in it. “Well, I can see why she chose you as a mark. You must have half the Grand Duke’s mint in your coin purse.” He rummaged around again, came across the heavy gold ring on the chain.

“Are you certain you want me to take this… evidence… into account?” the sergeant asked. “Perhaps you’d like to take it up with the baron himself?”

The young man squirmed again. “I… no. No, I don’t think that necessary.”

Arthol lifted out the coin purse and shut the box with a hard snap. “Very well then. Guards!”

Two red cloaked guards peeked through the doorway. “Yes, Sarge?”

“Deposit this in the town treasury.”

One of them stepped forward, giving a surprised grunt as he took the purse.

“You can’t take that!” the young man said, rising to his feet.

“Entering town without surrendering your weapon to peacebonding is a fifty coin fine. Assault with that weapon is a Class 4 crime. You can keep your coin, if you like, and spend a year in the Baron’s dungeon instead.”

“A year?” The youth sat down hard. Then he pointed towards Jasna. “What about her? What punishment does she get?”

“You all three agree that she didn’t take any money. So what, precisely, did she steal?”

“Then what about this?” He pointed to his cheek again, and then at the smaller girl. “She bit me! That’s a… Class 1 crime. Unarmed assault!”

“I was merely defending myself, and Petra also acted in my defense. Sergeant Arthol,” Jasna said, “I believe you call those 'extenuating circumstances.'”

The sergeant rubbed his eyes. “There is only one place a girl could learn those words,” he said with a sigh.

Jasna smiled brightly. “The Matron insists that education is a way of keeping us wayward girls out of trouble.”

“That wasn’t precisely to whom I was referring,” the man muttered.

A commotion in the outer office drew his eye towards the door. Two more blonde heads peeked around the guard attempting to block the doorway. The girls wore long brown skirts and cream colored serving aprons.

“Jasna! Petra! You weren’t answering our calls! We thought you might be in trouble. Thank the Heaven of Waters you’re all right!”

Arthol waved a hand at the two girls seated before him. “Off you two go.“ He pushed two of the boxes towards the edge of the desk, and Jasna and Petra collected their few personal belongings, each slipping pendants bearing red stones over their heads. “Those trinkets better not invite any more trouble for you girls,” the sergeant said, as they made for the door. “Though, Ixion knows there are adventurers aplenty here in town this week, if you need rescuing again.”

“Not today, Sergeant,” Jasna said. “And these,” she dangled her pendant on a bit of the chain, “are meant to keep us out of trouble.”

“I see how well they work for that,” the sergeant said with a roll of his eyes.

“What about me?” the young man said. “You took all my money! What am I to do now?”

“You can always run along home to your father,” Arthol said, with a pleasant smile. The smile fell. “Perhaps you can explain to him why you were to draw steel on young girl, and how you forfeited your coin to pay the heavy fine because you couldn’t be bothered to follow town law?”

“In the city, at court--” the young man began.

“This is not the city! And you are not at court! This is a peaceful town that abides the Grand Duke’s laws. Now I suggest you get out of my sight and find some day work so you can pay your way out of here by tomorrow morning.”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:46 pm

**IV**
“This is it? Only four of us?” Jasna asked, as they walked up the Market Way from the garrison’s house.

“Magda’s pig is about to farrow,” Anya said. “Irina is still snowed in at Verge. And Evelina thinks she can do more good by sticking close while the baron talks to those knights.”

Jasna pursed her lips, nodding. “And I suppose it is a bit early to expect the girls from Eltan’s Spring.”

Petra tugged at the girl’s sleeve. “He’s following us!”

Jasna sighed, and stopped, turning around, her hands on her hips. The young man took three more steps before he finally stopped, still well out of arm’s reach.

“Stop following us,” Fiala said.

“W-we’ll call the guard again,” Anya said, glancing to the left and right. Save an old man and a donkey drawing a cart more than a block away, they were alone on the street.

“I am not following you. I have to return to the inn, so I can fetch my belongings. I have a few things I can sell. Unlike some people, I won’t stoop to stealing.”

“And just what do you mean by that?” Jasna asked.

“That chain is good gold. You can tell by the way it swings. And the stone… Well, those rubies might be on the small side, but they would probably still fetch a decent price.”

Jasna closed her hand over the pendant at her neck, as did the other girls.

“I would never sell this!” she gasped.

“They aren’t rubies,” Petra said. “Silva says they’re called ‘dragonstones’ and they are rarer than cockatrice teeth!”

“Petra!” the two serving girls pinched the younger girl’s arms.

They turned, and started again up the Market Way, at a somewhat faster pace. The boot steps behind them were also noticeably quicker.

Jasna turned again. “What?”

The young man nearly ran into the girl. He stopped, his nose nearly brushing the top of her head.

“I--” he started, and swallowed.

“Yes?”

He stepped back, placing his hands behind his back, like the soldier Varis would sometimes stand.

“I would also… like to… apologize. Though you might have been a thief, you are still a… a lady. And a gentleman must never treat a lady with disrespect.”

“All right,” Jasna said. “And I am very sorry, too.”

“You are forgiv--”

“I am very sorry that I got caught. We could have had a very nice lunch with what I planned to lift from your purse. Now I shall have to rely on the good graces of my friends.”

As if on cue, her stomach growled. It was echoed by that of the young man.

His cheeks flushed, and he turned, straight-backed, and began to march down the Market Way.

Fiala frowned, and nudged Jasna. Anya did the same, from the other side. The other girl sighed. “Fine,” she muttered.

“Oh, come back!” Jasna called after the young man. “It’s unladylike to let a gentleman starve his first day in town.”


**V**
The four girls and the young man huddled around a small table in the corner of the kitchens at the Hook and Hatchet. As loud and crowded as the common room was, the kitchens were even louder. Extra serving boys and scullery maids dodged back and forth around the usual staff, all of them directed by the head chef, at the top of his lungs.

“Fiala,” her father said, looking down at them, “this is not a charity house. I cannot have you bringing in strays that will eat me out of business.”

“I’m small!” Petra said. “I don’t eat much!”

“Dishes,” the innkeeper said. “This strapping young buck probably eats three times what you do.”

“I can work, goodman, to pay off anything I incur,” the young man said, around a mouthful of bread.

“Those are not the hands of a serving boy,” Fiala’s father said. “And you don’t much have the look of the working class about you.”

“Horses,” the young man said. “You have a stable. Many of these men staying here are knights. Their mounts will need a certain measure of care above what the normal draft horse might get. I happen to be familiar with just that sort of thing.”

The innkeeper nodded after a moment’s thought. “Don’t talk very much like the working class, either. Very well. And you,” he said, shifting his glare towards Jasna. “You will help here in the kitchens.”

Jasna sat up straighter. “I can help Anya and Fiala at the tables--”

“No. Your fingers will go nowhere near the common room floor. When you finish your meal, there is a mop and a broom waiting for you.”

The girl sat back, sulking. “Why do I always get stuck with sweeping?”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:42 pm

**VI**
At the sounds of shouting and breaking crockery, Jasna was suddenly very glad to be away from the common room, sweeping up after the midmorning baking.
When the rapping at the wide delivery door went unanswered by any of the cooks, who huddled against the swinging doors into the common room, apparently placing bets, Jasna slid the bolt clear, and peeked out.

“Hullo, Jasna.”

“Brynne!” Jasna heaved the door open, stepping out to give the taller girl a hug.

Brynne coughed at the puff of flour that sprang up between them, patting the younger girl’s back.

“That sounds like quite a row,” she said. “If we hurry, we can get these barrels rolled in and--”

“You just leave setting things down to the Town Guards,” Katarin said, from her place at the back of the delivery wagon. “Although, they may need my help once the dust settles in there.”

“If I can’t have fun, you can’t either,” Brynne said. “Your Maga said no weaving without her present.”

Katarin stuck her tongue out, and the brewer’s daughter returned the sentiment.

“Those barrels are as big as we are,” Jasna said.

“It’s cake and pie,” Brynne told her. “We just lower these two beams.” She drew a long thick plank of wood from a slot along the bottom of the wagon, and then another, creating a long, gently angled ramp from the wagon’s deck to the cobblestones of the alleyway. “And then use the ropes up there to ease the barrels down. Katarin and I have been doing it ourselves all morning.”

“I’ve had to heal her blisters twice,” Katarin said.

Jasna raised an eyebrow. “No weaving?”

Brynne scowled, and made a show of pulling on a pair of heavy gloves.

The draft horses gave winnies, and cantered to one side as a man crashed headlong into the side of the delivery wagon. The girls screamed, and nearly lost control of the barrel they were inching down the makeshift ramp.

The man gave a shout of his own, though it was somewhat reedy, as he pushed himself away from the side of the wagon. He groaned, his fingers purpling. He’d been clutching a big leather box to his chest as he ran.

“What’s this thing doing here?”

“You think the beer just rolls itself on over to the taproom?” Brynne asked.

“There wasn’t supposed to be a delivery today. This alleyway was supposed to be empty! Brefrick said we would be alone.” The man felt at his nose, wincing.

“He… may be detained,” Jasna said, glancing over at the open kitchen door. The brawl had quieted down, but she heard Arthos deep voice, inside.

“Maybe we can help you?” Katarin offered.

The man’s watering eyes narrowed. “Did Brefrick give you my payment?”

From up the street, there came a distant shout. The man looked back, hissing as he turned his neck too quickly. He leapt into the alley, inching along the wall between the cart and the building across from the inn.

Another shout went up from the far side of the alleyway, the gap crowded with three or four shadowed figures.

“There he is!”

The man by the wall froze, eyes darting one way then the other.

The group of men from up the street grew closer. They were dressed in breastplates and scarlet cloaks.

“Whatever trouble you’re in, sir, don’t worry, it looks like the town guard is on the way,” Katarin said.

Brynne was busy watching the other group of men. Two strode up the alley towards them, hands on sword hilts. Two more blocked the escape, holding crossbows loosely in their grips.

Jasna squinted at the guardsmen. She recognized most of them by sight. The old priest had made her spend weeks watching the various different patrol routs. This alleyway was not on a normal route, and there were too many men in the group for a regular foot patrol. Brown hair hung from beneath two of the helms, and another sported a patchy beard. Guardsmen in Threshold all wore their hair in the Thyatian military cut, and were either clean-shaven, or wore the short, well-tended beard in the style of the Emperor. There was no in-between. The two men in the lead closed hands over hilts. Sword hilts. Town guardsmen were issued long, stout clubs, not swords.

“Give us the book, Gregor,” one of the ‘guards’ snarled.

“Hand those filthy Halavites the book and it will be the last thing you do, Gregor.” This from one of the men coming down the alleyway. His voice had a distinctly Glantrian lilt.

The man, Gregor, sidled a step further up the alley, just out of reach of the guardsmen beginning to crowd closer to the wagon.

“We will pay you double whatever the knight promised you,” the Glantrian said.

“Dead men spend no coin,” the guard growled. “Give us the book and we’ll actually let you live.”

The man glanced back and forth between the groups menacing him.

“Jasna! Jasna, they sent me to check on you and-- eep!”

Petra stopped short at the kitchen doorway stoop, eyes wide as she took in the scene. She sucked in a deep breath, but before she could voice a scream, one of the Glantrians reached out, grabbing a handful of the girl’s hair, dragging her from the doorway on tiptoes, a gloved hand clamping over her mouth.

**VII**
“Pull!” Brynne yelled.

Without thinking, Jasna and Katarin heaved at the ropes the’d been using to guide the barrel down to the street.

Brynne let her line go.

The barrel pivoted, the beer sloshing it further off balance, and it turned as it rolled down the ramp, right towards the two Glantrian men.

They shouted, leaping aside as the barrel crashed into the wall. Though it wasn’t going fast enough to break the wood, several of the seams split, and the beer began to bubble away from the bottom of the barrel, washing over the cobblestones in a yellowish, sudsy wave.

The man holding Petra let the girl go, and she leapt towards the wagon, scrambling underneath it with a squeak.

Several of the guardsmen had lunged, and were struggling with Gregor, pulling at his arms and sleeve to get him to release the leather box.

A sharp crack-twang sounded from the far side of the alley, and Gregor screamed, suddenly releasing the box as a black-shafted bolt shattered against the wall near his head.

The guards stumbled backwards, the box suddenly freed, and it tumbled over their grasping hands.

“Close your eyes!” Katarin shouted, and Jasna and Brynne flung their arms over their eyes as a surge of wind howled down upon the alleyway. Winds buffeted the girls from all directions at once, and the air was filled with the flapping of loose papers and the surprised cries of guards, Glantrians, and girls alike.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:40 am

**VIII**
There was another snap-crack of a boltsting as Katarin’s gust of wind died down, and one of the guards screamed.

Jasna looked up over her sleeve, to see the Glantrian snatch the leather box from the guardsman, and take off running up the alleyway.

Brynne made to leap down after the man, but Jasna hauled at her arm.

“They have crossbows! Do you want to be a pincushion?”

Katarin did not hesitate, but climbed awkwardly over the side of the cart, her long white gown snagging on the slats.

“Stop!” she called, as the other guards made to drag the wounded man away. “Do not move him!”

One of the guards reached for his sword.

“If you want your friend to die, then by all means, keep going,” Katarin said. “Draw your sword, if you think you can strike me down before I make the wind into a blade of my own.”

The four other men glanced uneasily at each other.

“Nobody will die here today, if you step back and let me work.”


Once the boltmen turned away from the alley, Jasna sprang from the back of the wagon, barely missing the growing flood of paper-strewn beer, charging down the alleyway after the man with the book.

Commotion in the direction of the inn yard left little doubt which way the men had gone, and she sprinted around the corner, only to skid to a halt, pressing herself against the wooden fence as the men raced by on horseback.

She peeked around the corner, to see the young man picking himself up, brushing dust and hay from his tunic. She dashed into the yard.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

“No,” he said. “Those men stole three horses under my care!”

“Well, what are you waiting for?” the girl asked. She grabbed the reins of the last horse still in the yard, a big broad white thing still decked out in the Order of Griffon blue and white. She hauled on the reins, but the horse did not budge. “Come on you stupid horse! They’re getting away!”

The young man took the reins from the girl. “It’s a trained warhorse, it’s not going anywhere without it’s master.” He swung up into the saddle with practiced ease.

Jasna frowned up at him. “You are definitely not a Knight of the Griffon,” she said, hands on her hips. “And that means you are going to steal this horse.”

"You were going to steal it!"

Jasna pointed at the open gate. "'Extenuating circumstances.' The longer we talk, the further away they get!"

"You stay here. Those men were armed. It's too dangerous." The young man snapped the reins, catching the horse’s ear as he did so.

“Hey!” Jasna cried, as the horse began to trot from the inn yard. "I could tell you a few things about 'dangerous!'" She jogged after, bounding up a short stack of bales, to leap astride the horse, nearly pulling the young man from the saddle as she locked her arms around his waist to keep from falling off herself.

“What are you doing?” he gasped.

“A theft like this is a Class 3 crime!” she shouted, as the horse began to pick up speed.

“You’re going to turn me in?”

“Turn you in? I’m going to help you! Now hurry up, they’re getting away!”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby Chimpman » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:20 pm

I'm really enjoying this side story Rob. It's actually a big help in understanding who each of Silva's girls are and what they're about. :cool:
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.
User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
 
Posts: 7549
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Location: USA, California

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:40 pm

Chimpman wrote:I'm really enjoying this side story Rob. It's actually a big help in understanding who each of Silva's girls are and what they're about. :cool:

I'm glad to see it! (Thought for a bit that I was just churning out stuff that nobody was lookin' at!) Silva's Army (or rather, the "Handmaidens of Petra" or "Defenders of Threshold" -- depending on which of the girls you ask) is such a great group of characters. Having to scrounge up names for each of them and give brief thumbnails for inclusion in the adventure-ized version of the first few days of the Chronicle really made them take root in my brain and start percolating this story idea.

Aurora's offhand comment about the Temple of the Shield and Zadreth was what made me crack open my box of "Hail the Heroes." Once I started reading the background, with an eye towards Thorn-izing things.... well, you'll see .... :twisted:
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby mister c » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:39 am

This is superb. I also struggled a bit to work out who was who amongst the girls, this really helps. Keep up the good work.
mister c
Ogre
 
Posts: 237
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:21 pm

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:20 pm

mister c wrote:This is superb. I also struggled a bit to work out who was who amongst the girls, this really helps. Keep up the good work.

Doubly glad that I decided to publicize this side-story, then...


Any guesses as to the young lord's identity? :mrgreen:
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby Chimpman » Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:55 pm

RobJN wrote:Any guesses as to the young lord's identity? :mrgreen:

Well... I have to admit I'm not a huge expert on Karameikos, and I know next to nothing about the Penhaligons... however I have the feeling the boy might not be being entirely truthful about his parentage. If I had to wager a guess I would say it's actually Valen Karameikos. [By the way, that is exactly what I did in my daughter's game, although I had Valen use his mother's maiden name of Prothemian. ;) ]
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.
User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
 
Posts: 7549
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Location: USA, California

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:09 pm

Fogor Island

**I**


“Go left!” Jasna shouted, over the ringing of hooves on cobblestones. “Left!” She reached up and hauled on the reins. The warhorse veered to the left, off the stretch of the Market Way they’d been galloping.

“Let go!” the young man called. “Are you trying to get us killed? This isn’t the way they went. We’re going to lose them!” The horse thundered down an alley barely wide enough for it to fit.

“Those men are from Glantri,” the girl said. “Foreigners. They don’t know this town any better than you do. I know a shortcut. Go right here. Right!”

The young man didn’t need help this time, and the horse rounded onto another broad avenue that was clear of people.

“Temple Way,” Jasna said. “Nobody ever goes to temple this early on Loshdain. Now make this horse go faster!”

The young man dug his heels into the horse’s flanks, it stretched to a full gallop.

“Fifth alley down, take another right. “No faster than a trot.”

“They were four or five blocks ahead of us. We need to--”

“We need to listen to someone who knows their way around this town. Do you? Does the horse? No? Then who does that leave?”

The young man sighed.

“Why, yes, that does leave me,” Jasna said. “Now turn here. You nearly missed it.”

“Are you always this grumpy? Or is it that phase of the moon?

Jasna ground her knuckles into the young man’s ribs.

They emerged from the alleyway at a trot, on the western edge of the market square. The Glantrians struggled to weave their mounts through the throng of carts and foot traffic crowding the Southway Road.

“You see?” Jasna said. “Now we just need to--”

“I know what to do,” the young man said, and he guided the horse with a few tugs of the reins and nudges with his knees.

They paced the foreigners along the western edge of the market, checking their progress down the long lanes of stalls.

“Hey!” one of the merchants shouted. “Hey, you can’t bring that beast through here!”

The shouting drew the attention of one of the Glantrians, who motioned to the others. Two crossbows swung up.

The young man kicked the warhorse hard in the flanks, and it rose up, steel-shod hooves flashing.

The merchants cried out, diving into their stalls as crossbow bolts shattered against the paving stones.

“What are you doing?” Jasna shouted.

Rather than running either way to evade, the young man charged up the lane of stalls, as the boltmen hauled at the bowstrings.

He leaned to the side, snatching up a long post holding up a canopy, calling apologies over his shoulder. He clasped the end of the post between his arm and ribs, the tip wobbling as it projecting past the snout of the charging warhorse.

“You are not going to tilt them!” Jasna called.

“On my mark, lean front with all your weight,” the young man said, his voice nearly lost amidst the cries of vendors and ringing of hooves.

“Stop this horse! I will not-- did you call me fat?”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby Chimpman » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:29 pm

:lol: I love it!
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.
User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
 
Posts: 7549
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Location: USA, California

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:32 pm

Chimpman wrote::lol: I love it!

I do so love doing banter. :D
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:58 pm

**II**
“Lean!” the young man called, and half-rose in the stirrups.

Jasna leaned as far forward as she dared, and it felt as if the makeshift lance struck a brick wall. There were screams a plenty, and a gurgling cry, nearly drowned out by the whinnying of horses.

“Hold on!”

“As if I had any choice!” Jasna could barely hear herself over the ringing in her ears.

The warhorse had continued on, down the lane of stalls opposite the Southway road. Through the stars wavering in her vision, Jasna saw shocked expression after expression flash by. The horse slowed, and the young man guided it around the next opening between lanes. He hissed as Jasna tightened her grip. She made to slip her leg over the horse’s rump, but a hand tightened on her wrists.

“Oh, no you don’t. We’ve still got three more to catch.”

The horse’s pace picked up, and then they turned onto the Southway Road. The fleeing thieves had cleared long swathes of the street, and the young man took full advantage of the open space.

“You're hurt!” Jasna said. Her arm was getting damp, the stain soaking into her tunic sleeve a deep red.

“My brother’s done worse to me on the training field,” the young man said. His words came out short, clipped, each breath a sharp intake. He wasn’t riding nearly as smoothly as he had been before the charge.

The Glantrians veered off to the right, onto the North Bridge Road.

“Hold on to your teeth,” the young man gritted. The warhorse leapt a low hedgerow and then another as he cut through a private garden. They gained another half-block on the men.

They thundered over the arch of stone and timber that spanned the waterway between the mainland and Fogor Island. Docks flashed by, and then the buildings to either side abruptly closed in, with barely enough room for two to ride abreast. The bright gray of the overcast morning dimmed to something closer to twilight in the wooden canyons of the buildings. They zigged and zagged, turning right, then left, then right again. Twice, Jasna nearly swallowed her tongue as they barely squeezed between an oncoming cart and the walls of buildings badly in need of paint. Or knocking down.

They rounded another corner, the young man brought the warhorse up short, nearly sitting the beast down in order to avoid smashing into the high stone wall. He turned the horse in a tight circle, to find the Glantrian with the crossbow covering them from a side-street. The two others sat opposite, bare swords across their knees.

“We are done with the playing chase, now, children,” one of the men said, and gestured with his sword for them to dismount.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:00 pm

**III**
“This is a fine pickle you’ve gotten us into,” the young man said.

“Me? Look, here, Lord Stableboy, I told you to stop that horse. You should be in this ‘pickle’ as you call it, by yourself. You got me into this.”

“You were chasing armed men. Somebody had to protect you.”

“I’m quite capable of protecting myself,” Jasna sniffed. “You, on the other hand, my Lord Stableboy--”

“Would you stop calling me that?”

“Besides, this is nothing. Why, just a few months ago, I got kidnapped by some crazy kobolds. They at least had the good sense to use chains, not rope.”

Jasna and the young man were bound hand and foot, and had been dropped through a trapdoor onto mouldering bales of hay and burst sacks of some sort of grain.

“So you’re saying kobolds are smarter than our captors?”

“At least they don’t have any ogres. You didn’t see any ogres, did you?”

“Ogres and kobolds are just fairy stories. We’re being held by foreign agents!”

“Foreign?” Jasna asked. “Those men aren’t foreigners. They’re just Glantrians. They’re practically neighbors. And I’m not telling fairy tales. Your cities might be nice and safe, but up here in the mountains, there are kobolds and ogres. And worse.”

“What could possibly be worse than an ogre?” the young man asked.

“Two of them,” Jasna said, her nose wrinkling. “Talk about a smell.”

The young man laughed.

“And what’s so funny?”

“It’s just-- you--” The young man sucked in a breath. “You were serious?”

Jasna nodded.

“You saw two ogres, and lived to tell of it?”

“Three,” the girl said.

The young man burst out laughing again.

Jasna lashed out with her feet, connecting with the his hip, sending the boy rolling from atop the pile of sacks. He flopped onto his back, gasping and spitting
hay. “What was that for?”

“Don’t you call me a liar, Lord Stableboy.”

“I didn’t--”

“I’ve seen kobolds and ogres. Trees that walk. Aflame, yet unburnt. Ask anybody, here in town. I helped to save them. Ask the baron himself. He’ll tell you.”

“I’ll do that. First thing, once he rescues us.”

“If you’re hoping to sup with him, you might want to tighten your belt,” Jasna said.

“Well, his guards, then. Surely they would have followed us. They seem quite keen on stamping out trouble.”

“And you caused plenty of that at the marketplace with your lancing, Sir Stableboy.”

“You seem to cause quite a bit of that on your own,” he shot back. “And stop calling me that!”

“And how shall I address his Lordship?”

“Stop that. I’m no lord. Not anymore. Stupid tradition.”

“It is not.”

“It is!”

“And what is wrong with making your own way in the world? At least you have a family to go back to. Eventually.”

The young man sucked in a breath, then let it out, the tension flowing from his shoulders. “Apologies,” he said, the heat gone from his voice.

“I don’t want your pity.”

“I wasn’t--”

“You were,” Jasna said. “Everybody does. Except Silva. She understands.”

“Who?”

“Silva. My sister.”

“But… you said you didn’t--”

“Never mind. It would take too long to explain.”

The boy looked around. “I don’t exactly think we’ll be going anywhere any time soon.”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:02 am

**IV**
“That,” the young man said, “is probably the best story I have heard in quite some time.”

Jasna struggled to turn herself around. “It is not a story!”

“Keep your voice down!” the young man hissed. “They’ve stopped moving about up there. I think they’ve gone to sleep.”

The weak sunlight that had been drifting through the slats in the floor gave way to the warm glow of lanterns. Now that light was dim, nearly gone, and touched more with the silvery glow of Matera, which rose full.

“This is a fine way to spend the turning of the new year,” Jasna muttered. “Not at all what I’d planned.”

“Yes, you were supposed to’ve had lunch and then afternoon dress shopping at my expense.”

Jasna made a face, barely visible in the gloom. “I already have two dresses, and that’s two too many. Why should I want another one?”

The young man tried to shrug. He sucked in a sharp breath instead. “That’s just-- what girls do.”

“Maybe in Penhalligon, but not at Petra’s Home for the Wayward and Orphaned. Do you know how hard it is to run in a dress?” After a moment’s thought, she said “No, I suppose you wouldn’t.”

“Perhaps my sister could give you lessons,” the young man said. “She spends quite a bit of time running from suitors. And chasing a certain knight.” He paused. “Knights, actually. I--” he bit back on a scream.

“What?” Jasna asked.

“Something…. just… crawled over my fingers. And--” he stifled another shriek. “Vanya’s garters, get it away! Get it away!”

Jasna craned her neck. Something hulked in the darkness behind the young man, and she heard the telltale gnashing of small teeth. Or what would have been small teeth, on a regular sized rat. Moonlight reflected off two reddish eyes, gleamed off the ends of whiskers nearly as long as Jasna's hands, stretched full.

“You don’t believe in giant rats, do you?”

“Giant what?”

“Rats. The size of dogs?”

The young man made a strangled groan and tried to shimmy away.

“No! Sit still!” Jasna hissed. “It’s probably not hungry enough to eat you, anyway. Sit still and it might loose interest and go away.”

“Might?” the boy’s voice cracked.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby mister c » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:25 pm

This gets better and better. Thanks for sharing.
mister c
Ogre
 
Posts: 237
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:21 pm

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby Chimpman » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:40 pm

:lol: At least it wasn't an ogre!
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.
User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
 
Posts: 7549
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Location: USA, California

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:08 pm

Chimpman wrote::lol: At least it wasn't an ogre!

Not yet, anyway ;)
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:43 pm

**V**
The young man may as well have been cast in stone, so still did he keep himself. Except for the panting. And whimpering. He flinched, as the creature’s teeth nipped the flesh at the base of his thumb. Not hard enough to break skin. The boy’s sudden movement caused the bindings around his wrists to snap, most of the rope having been chewed through.

He turned to swing at the beast, but it danced out of reach, chittering and hissing, before scuttling away into the darkness.

“And don’t come back!” he whispered harshly after it.

Only after he was sure the creature wasn’t going to return did he work at the knots at his ankles, and then turn his attention to the ropes binding the girl. She politely ignored how much his hands shook.

They climbed to the top of the pile of hay and grain below the trap door, but it was well out of reach. After a second tumble when the boy tried to lift Jasna onto his shoulders, they lay, panting, staring up at the faint square outline of light.

“Why don’t we try finding where that rat disappeared to?” Jasna asked.

“How about we try one more time to boost you up?”

Jasna hauled herself to her feet, placing her boot in the young man’s cupped hands, her hands on his shoulders.

“Ready?” he asked.

There came a sudden flurry of squeaking, and the young man glanced feverishly about in the gloom. But the squeaking came from above them.

Lantern light flooded the cellar, and Jasna squinted up into familiar face.

“Brynne! Fancy meeting you here.”

“Hullo, Jasna. Oh, is this a bad time? I didn’t mean to interrupt anything.”

The young man blushed, and leapt away from the younger girl.

“I didn’t-- I would never--” he sputtered.

Jasna frowned at him. “So I’m ugly, as well as fat?”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:02 pm

**VI**
“Hurry up, already!” another voice called from above. “I can’t hold this shield up all night.”

The young man leapt at the knotted rope that Brynne had lowered. “Allow me to assist you!” he called, as he hauled himself up.

Jasna swarmed up after him.

They emerged into what looked to be an inn or taven kitchen, long since boarded up and disused. While most of the surfaces were clear of dust, the cobwebs and grime had simply been pushed to the corners, rather than truly cleaned up.

“Brynne!” The other girl’s voice called from the front room. “It’s slipping!”

They rushed into the common room, lit by two oil lamps on either end of the single long table. A group of adults sat in a circle, their backs to each other, hands bound, with wads of what looked like their own cloaks stuffed in their mouths.

One man, with wavy red hair and coppery skin, glared around a mouthful of his yellow longcoat. A slender woman with long blonde hair slumped next to the man, her own glare just as withering.

Their attention was directed at another blonde girl, who stood with her hand outstretched, unfazed by the scrutiny of the captives. She wore a simple flowing white dress, the sleeves long and billowing. The cuffs, like the bottom of her dress, was embroidered with seven colored bands.

The young man blinked. “I don’t understand. There is no armor here…”

Brynne pushed past him, snatching up a polished oaken staff another six inches taller than her. With a practices twirl, she brought one end down on the red-haired man’s head, and then did the same to the woman. Both slouched, their features going slack.

“You just beat defenseless prisoners!” The young man made to grab for Brynne’s wrist, but she stepped back, batting his hands away with another twirl of the staff.

“And they are hardly defenseless,” the girl in the dress said. She spoke as if she’d just spent the past hour hauling water up and down flights of stairs.

Jasna ignored them, kneeling on the bench, looking over the sheaf of papers that covered half the table. She pushed several aside, revealing a stained and age-spotted calfskin.

“Ah! Finally something without so many words on it!”

The girl in the dress breezed past the young man, and then stopped. “Show me your hands,” she said, her tone sharp. When the boy did -- without hesitation -- her gaze flicked to his right side. He gave a shiver, tried to snatch his hands back, but the girl tightened her grip.

“Hold still, it won’t take but a moment.”

“Don’t you dare use your witchery on me!” the young man gasped. He sucked in a hissing breath, and the crease in his brow lessened. He took another breath, and another. The snarl faded into slack-jawed amazement, which just as quickly crumpled into suspicion. “What did you do? Why doesn’t it hurt any more?”

“I just mended your third rib, which was badly cracked. I also soothed the two torn muscles in your shoulder, as well as the bruises that would have made for some very painful fists in a few hours time. Oh, and dear Petra’s little bite from this morning, as well.”

“Little?” the young man said, wrenching his hand free. “Look what she--” He stared. The gap-toothed marks were gone, as if they’d never been there. Again, the amazement warred with suspicion. “You--” he began.

The girl held out her hand. “You may call me Katarin,” she said. “Company healer.”

The boy took her fingertips, bowing over them. He looked up. “Company?”

“Yes, we are the ‘Company of Maidens.’”

“No, no no,” Jasna said, looking up from the calfskin, waving her hands. “We are called the ‘Handmaidens of Petra.’”

“I thought we were going to be the ‘Defenders of Threshold,’” Brynne said.

------------------
Bit of a (somewhat oblique) nod to Rafe, Havard and the crew over at the Comeback Inn ;)
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:11 am

**VII**
“That is Brynne, our Sergeant at Arms,” Jasna said. “Our treasurer is snowed in at Verge. The secretary-- where is Petra?”

The two other girls glanced at each other, and then through the slats of one of the windows, where Matera’s full moonlight painted silvery lines through the dancing dust motes and on the floor.

“It’s her … time of the month,” Katarin said.

The young man rubbed his hand. “No wonder her temper was so short.”

All three girls stared at him.

“There’s no going near my sister during the new moon.”

“That’s not precisely--” Katarin began, but Brynne gave her a nudge in the ribs with her staff.

Jasna frowned. “Well, we’ll just gather all this up for her to go through in the morning.”

“You could try reading some of it,” Brynne said.

The girl at the table pouted. “But there are so many words! Look at this: page after page of them! What could possibly take so many words to say?”

“If you bothered to read them, you would know, Jasna.”

“I’m supposed to be the wise one,” Katarin said. Brynne stuck her tongue out at the girl.

“Um, excuse me…” the young man said.

Jasna looked up at him. “We recognize Lord Stableboy of Penhaligon. What is it?”

His cheeks colored, but he took a deep breath, his lips moving, as if counting to himself.

“I told you. I am no lord. My name is just… Justin. Justin Promethian.” He bowed. “At your service.”

Jasna’s eyes narrowed slightly at the slight hesitations at giving his name. But she smiled brightly nonetheless.

“Very well, Lord Just Stableboy. You can start by herding all of them into the wagon outside.” She pointed past him, to the group of bound Glantrians.



Sergeant Arthol looked up at the ringing of the bell by the guardhouse’s front door. It had been a long day -- first the business with the orphan and the young lord, and then the debacle they caused in the market square. He was not yet halfway through the vendor’s petitions for recompense to the baron, and the moon was well past it’s zenith. It was most definitely not how he meant to spend his Year’s End eve.

The bell rang again, sounding as if the ringer was using the bell pull for a skipping rope.

He snatched up a truncheon as he made his way through the front guard room. It never hurt be too careful at this time of night-- unless you were on the receiving end of the club, that is. The sergeant chuckled at his private joke, and unbolted the door. He nearly tripped over the tangle of bodies on the stoop.

He reached down, and picked up a note, written with charcoal on a scrap of old paper. The neat, courtly lettering read:

“Happy New Year. A present from the” -- here, several different groups of words were crossed out: “Company of the Maidens” and “Defenders of Threshold” -- the words “Handmaidens of Petra” was spelled out in a different hand, much bigger, the letter ‘e’ having been scribed in reverse. It was signed “With Apologies, Lord Justin, et. al.”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby Chimpman » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:48 pm

RobJN wrote:“I told you. I am no lord. My name is just… Justin. Justin Promethian.” He bowed. “At your service.”

:mrgreen:
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.
User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
 
Posts: 7549
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Location: USA, California

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:26 pm

Chimpman wrote:
RobJN wrote:“I told you. I am no lord. My name is just… Justin. Justin Promethian.” He bowed. “At your service.”

:mrgreen:

I an not above stealingborrowing good ideas :mrgreen:
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Next

Return to Mystara

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 6 guests