Friday, January 26, 2018

The Start of a New Adventure (and campaign book)

It’s been forty years since I’ve come to this place. Fifty since the war broke my people and made them slaves. I’ve grown numb living here. I’ve even taken a human name. I cannot adequately describe the shame I feel for having survived that war. I saw century long friends die at the hands of beings that towered over us. Cut through like a thousand stocks of corn. The fear I felt then is a taste that will never leave my mouth.

When I fled, I was convinced it was because I would not face an unbeatable enemy at the behest of well-to-do men that didn’t deserve it, but even then I was lying to myself. I knew there would be no next battle. We were broken. In truth, the rumor that my people were being made slave soldiers was already spreading. Even as we made our way home, the tension was palpable. I was a coward.

I should have died a hundred times already. If not for you, Oswin, I would have fallen on my sword decades ago. This business with the murders was too much. A week in the dungeons has reminded me so keenly where I stand. I will always be an outsider here. I am thankful for the friends I have made, few that there are, but it is time to return home.

Do not fear for me, I will not go alone. Antak will join me. My only regret is not having your company. Damn the short lives of your people. We will have to meet again in the Halls of Waiting, my friend. Perhaps you will be reborn a Thrymm and we will battle side by side in the next life. Take care of yourself.

Forever your friend,
Kirantukh (Magnar)

PS. Hazel, this note is for you. I will not see your grandfather again in this life but if your travels ever take you east, know that you will always have a friend there.

Hazel read out loud to Oswin and was barely able to finish. Choking back tears, Oswin reached for the letter but instead took her hands and gently patted. “Shhh, shh, now. I always knew he would go back. Be glad Antak is going with him.”

Oswin groped the objects on the table until he found the mug of coffee and lifted it to his lips. “Stop crying, dear. Here, do something to take your mind off of it, go to my room and look in the closet.” He waited a few minutes and listened for Hazel to put down the letter and leave the study. “Do you have it open?”

“Yes, grandpa. What am I looking for?”

“Knock on the floorboards,” answered Oswin.

“What?” Hazel replied as she dropped onto her knees, but she didn’t wait for an answer and began knocking on each plank of wood.

Without a word, Oswin waited for Hazel to find the hidden compartment. It wasn’t long before she exclaimed, “What is this?” There was a sound of wood knocking together and soon Hazel returned to the fire lit room with a long box. “What is this grandpa?”

“Open it,” he replied.

For a few moments Hazel stared at Oswin. He was up to something. Emotional turmoil turned to eager curiosity. Hazel put the wooden box on the floor, undid the latches, and lifted the lid. Inside was a sword, shining as if recently polished. “It’s a sword. Why do you have a sword? And who’s is it?”

 “It is an old family heirloom. The Goddards come from a long line of warriors. Your strange old grandfather decided he liked books more than swords and ruined it.” Oswin chuckled as he spoke, “That is Anmod. It was my father’s sword. I once let Magnar use it. He enjoyed it so much that when he finished with it he immediately gave it back to me and said to never lend it to him again or he wouldn’t be able to give it up.”

Hazel picked up the blade and looked closely at it. “It’s enchanted.”

“Ha!” Oswin exclaimed, “You’re sharp girl! Yes, it is, but it’s not for you.”

She turned the priceless weapon in her hand all the while her eyes never left the blade, “I didn’t think it was grandpa. I’m no warrior.”

“Oh, but you are. You just don’t fight with swords and spears.” Oswin was beaming now. The old man leaned back in his chair and sipped his coffee again. “Now I’m going to say this only once. Are you ready?” Hazel nodded. “Go find Magnar and give him that sword. He is forever emotionally connected to it. You can track him with it easily. I trust you can take care of yourself, too.” Hazel started to protest. “No. No. I can feel it. I know you want to go. I may be blind but I know you care for him and he cares for you too.”

“I can’t possibly leave. Who would take care of you?”

“You don’t think I can take care of myself?” Oswin snapped his fingers and a plate of stew flew to his outstretched hands. “What is there for you in Westhaven? I will not have my granddaughter throwaway years of her life watching me waste away of old age. Go pack your bags. You leave in the morning.”

“But grandfather?!” Hazel was indignant but couldn’t help the excitement from creeping into her voice. She knew once her grandpa decided on something nothing would dissuade him.

“You will leave or I won’t eat. You got that?” Oswin replied crossly.

When Hazel eventually gave in, Oswin leaned back comfortably again. “Now that we got that out of the way, here’s something for you.” Oswin snapped his fingers and a black wooden staff floated over to Hazel from the corner of the study. “This is Daron. Daron protected me on all my adventures, now he will protect you.”

An hour later they finished dinner and Oswin went off to bed. Hazel sat in the study with the two priceless artifacts and looked around the room, spying things she would miss. She was excited, scared, and sad all at once. What will the future hold? Will she ever be back? And would she be ready?” 
With those thoughts running through her head she dozed by the fireside dreaming of adventure.

Arthur Rackham

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