Globe Hunters Option Cc: Stay in Town

Globe Hunters Story

One of the farmers, a short, ultra-skinny man by the name of Evan, pulled the short straw and ended up taking you to his house for supplies.

Mountain Sunset - Globe Hunters StoryAs he hands you cheese and bread from his larder, you ask him, “May I stay for the night? It’s awfully unwelcoming in the woods at night and the sun’s about set.”

At first he stares at you like you grew a second head, but then your words seem to sink in and he nods.

“Of course,” he says. “I should have offered in the first place.” He scratches his head like he’s trying to figure out why he didn’t make the offer.

You help him set the small dining table with ham and bread and then sit down on the bench to enjoy the meal.

You’re trying to figure out how to question him further about the dragon and the life fountain when he sits back and folds his fingers across his nonexistent belly.

“You’re right about the woods, but it’s not just at night that they’re unwelcoming,” he says.

“How do you mean?”

“Well,” Evan says, “there’ve been some terrible fires in the woods this year. You get caught on the wrong side and you’re stuck between the cliffs and the fire. Lost a couple people that way. The whole north ridge is black as coal right now from the most recent burn.”

“Wow,” you say. “That’s terrible. Lightening strikes?”

Evan snorts and sneers out a, “Dragon fire.”

Fire - Globe Hunters StoryThis causes you pause. Dragons can be mean tempered, vengeful even, but rarely will they set fire to their home ground. They’re smart enough to know that burning large swaths of land will drive away their food sources.

“Something happen to anger the dragons?” you ask.

“Not that we know of,” Evan says, “but we caught the worst culprit.” At this he points in the direction of the main square with the tethered dragon.

“That particular dragon’s been causing the fires?”

“Yup,” Evan nods. “That one’s gonna pay for its crimes.”

You’re torn between asking how they know it’s this particular dragon and asking if the rest of the town will be out there, working on her scales, all night. As he’s been talking, a feverish light has entered Evan’s eyes again. You judge the second question is the safest at this point.

“Naw,” he responds. “They’ll set a guard for the night and pick back up in the morning. Speaking of which, it’s time to turn in. There’s a bed in the lean-to on the back of the kitchen.” He points. “Sweet and safe dreams.” At this, he gives you a peculiar smile and then ambles up the stares to his own bed.

You watch his narrow back recede and then find your way to the bed in the lean-to. There’s just enough room for you to duck in and lay down but the bed itself is comfortable, so you stretch out.

You figure you’ll give it a half hour, maybe forty-five minutes, and then you’ll sneak out to investigate the town and the dragon.

The air in the lean-to is still, stuffy even, with the heat from the fire Evan has banked in the kitchen fireplace filling the room.

Before long, your eyelids droop and sleep disrupts your plans to look around.

The weightless felling you have tells you you’re dreaming but the sun’s out and the air’s filled with the perfume of mountain flowers. You’re standing in an open field, a glade surrounded by aspen trees. Directly in the middle of the swaying golden grass and splotches of vibrant color is a shimmering surface.

As you approach, you see water dripping from the edges of an iridescent bowl of silver laced with blue streaks. The urge to dip your hands into the water overtakes you and, before you can think about it, you submerge your cupped hands and bring the water to your lips.

It’s sweet and clean, and in the reflection of the fountain, you see yourself, young and flawless.

This holds you for awhile until something, Evan cooking breakfast in the kitchen, intrudes. You’re eyes snap open and, for a brief moment, you think you see something in the ceiling of the lean-to. Perhaps two deep brown eyes lined with green, but then you blink again and the illusion’s gone.

You rub your tongue on the top of your mouth in a vain hope that the fountain’s water still lingers but instead you find a dry, oaky flavor.

Your mind tries to capture this, knowing it means something to your hunter training, but then the desire for the fountain’s water returns.

You join Evan and help him finish cooking the bacon and eggs.Bacon - Globe Hunters Story

“This life fountain,” you begin, “do you have a location to build it?”

You expect some hostility from Evan but instead, he looks up with a radiant, childlike smile.

“There’s this glade just to the west of here,” he says, “with flowers and sun ripened grass…” the description he gives is so perfectly inline with your dream that your desire to taste the water returns again.

“Well,” you say, “can’t build it with out the dragon’s scales. Want help today?”

“Would love it!” he says.

With excitement, you follow him back outside to join the villagers in their task.

As you pass the dragon, her head swings around and you find one giant purple iris in your way.

There’s a tug at you. It’s a mental summons you know a dragon can exert on other creatures. That summons invites you to touch her, to open a mental connection so she can communicate. But such a move is extremely dangerous. The dragon can then control you for a short time if she wishes.

As you hesitate, the summons comes again and, this time, as you resist it, the dry, oaky flavor fills your mouth again. It means something but you can’t seem to place what.

Thin plumes of smoke trail from the dragon’s nostrils.

You want to build the fountain. If the town’s folk and your dream are correct, it can give you flawless life.

But her summons is insistent, desperate almost as more plumes of smoke escape her nostrils.

Do you…

Cc1: Touch the Dragon?

or

Cc2: Ignore the Dragon?

In the comments, vote for how you’d like to continue the story. Next Thursday, we’ll be back to see how this adventure ends!

Blessings,

Jennifer

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Globe Hunters Option C: Mountains

Mountain Trail

This vote was incredibly close! (Lesson to self, three options split the vote dangerously close to tying!) But the mountains came out on top…um, no pun intended =)

(If you’re counting, one vote came in on Facebook instead of the blog. Otherwise North and Mountains tied. Like I said, really close vote!)

Let’s see what kind of creatures we find in the rough mountains!

Globe Hunters Option C: Mountains

None of the choices will be easy. Your hand hovers over the globe while you mentally check your gear before you finalize your choice.

Rations. Check

Extra change of cloths. Check.

Knife. Check

Cup and bowl. Check

It’s a stalling tactic. You sigh and lay your palm over the glowing mountainous coast of the eastern continent. A small, cool breeze plays with the hair along your arm, pulling goose flesh in its wake. You shiver and close your eyes as the breeze brings with it the smell of salty water mixed with forest moss and leaves.

It grows stronger until you hear the air rustle in the branches above. Just before the study completely disappears, you hear a faint, “Safe journey, fellow hunter.”

You’re not sure if it’s Mark or the other hunter who spoke but when you open your eyes, tall oak trees and sharply edged rocks surround you.

Cliff FaceFrom previous journeys here, you know just to the east sits a massive cliff that drops to the ocean below. The faint pounding of the waves carries on the wind even where you stand.

A small town lies to the north but you’re not sure how far you arrived from it.

The town’s the only inhabited place you know of in this region. You turn north to follow the cliff until you reach it.

Your hike remains uneventful through the morning and afternoon but, as the sun starts to disappear through the trees, a faint bellowing joins the pound of the waves from the ocean to your right. You pause to listen.

The deep, hollow bellow comes and goes as the wind shifts but you can’t place what creature might be causing it.

It’s not an ogre because ogres snort more when yelling. They snort more in general.

It’s not a troll. Although they bellow, they have more voice and less wind.

Your breath stills as the sound comes again and a chill not caused by the breeze clutches your spine.

The bellow this time contains a hissing on the very end like fire hitting water and turning it instantly to steam.

DragonDragon.

Of all the monsters you’ve hunted, you’ve only faced one dragon before. It was not a successful hunt, either.

You swallow down your apprehension and continue toward the town. As you draw closer, the smell of smoke grows heavy on the air. Mixed with it is a heavy, moist feeling like the humidity is sticking the ash to your skin. As you walk free of the forest, the town comes into view in a small, protected valley below.

It’s not the scene you expected.

There is indeed a dragon.

Wagons are burning and the small river that runs through the town has been evaporated from dragon’s fire. A trickle from upstream is just now starting to refill the riverbed.

All this looks like a dragon attack.

Except the townsfolk have the dragon grounded with cables running from its legs, neck and tail.

The burning wagons have been shoved up against the dragon’s sides like the people were trying to burn it alive.

Since that didn’t work—dragon scales being fire resistant and all—now several of the men have stacked ladders against the dragon’s massive sides and are trying to pry loose the scales around its rib cage.

The dragon, a silver beast with hints of blue running through its wings and scales, lets out another pain-ridden bellow. Now that you’re closer, the deep cry shudders the ground beneath your feet and brings pain to your ears.

All people, as far as you’ve encountered, know how to kill a dragon, but these people are not going for the one soft scale over the beast’s heart.

Something’s horribly wrong.

You leave the edge of the trees and walk toward the crowd.

At first they don’t notice you but then a few at the edge glance your way and do a double take.

“Hey now,” one calls out. “We’ve got our own dragon. Shove off.”

You keep walking. With the crowd’s agitation, you suspect any hesitation on your part might cause them to be violent.

“Got your own dragon?” you ask as you weave your way through the crowd until you reach the base of the ladders the men stand on.

One of the men glares at you and bares the knife he’s holding like he’s planning on fending you off from his ladder.

“What’re you planning to do with your own dragon?” you ask him directly.

“Why, we’re going to build ourselves a life fountain.” He sneers. “ And you’re not welcome to it.”

“A life fountain?” you ask.

At this a feverish grin breaks out on everyone’s face. It’s so uniform you start to wonder about mind control.

“Build a fountain from the inside of a dragon’s scales,” a woman starts to explain.

“Fill it with water from the ocean,” picks up another man.

“And drink from it daily,” the woman continues.

“For eternal life,” they finish together.

The dragon swivels its head around to reveal one deep purple eye. She stares at you as if to ask what kind of madness has overtaken everyone. You lay a palm against her massive side.

“Why’d you try to burn her first?” you ask.

“Loosens the scales,” says the man on the ladder. “Now get outta here. We’re not sharing.”

You nod, “that’s fine. I just need some provisions and I’ll be on my way.”

Finally, a bit of sanity seems to take over as they all realize they haven’t given the usual mountain hospitality to a traveler.

While they decide who’s going to help you with provisions, you debate your next move. Usually you’re trips are straightforward. Find the beast terrorizing the people and kill the beast.

Except here, the dragon’s not attacking anyone. As far as you can see, it evaporated the river by breathing fire, but considering its head is pointed at the river, the fire could have been from its bellows of pain and nothing more.

The burning wagons were from the people. And there’s your problem. There seems to be something wrong with the people.

You could ask for a place to sleep for the night and stay in town to further question the people. The sun’s last rays are quickly disappearing over the valley rim.

Or you could head out of town and investigate the surrounding countryside, maybe see if something seems out of place. The people are not making progress on the dragon’s scales yet, so there is some time.

Do you…

Cc. Stay in Town?

Or

Cd: Leave?

As always, please leave your vote in the comments below. We’ll be back next Thursday to continue the adventure.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Globe Hunters

Globe Hunter Adventure Story

It’s definitely time for a new adventure! So without further ado, let’s dive in.

Globe Hunters

On the dark mahogany desk sits a globe of the world so detailed that it shows roads and landscapes, place names and times of day. In deep colors of green and brown, it displays crops and in glistening whites or muddied grays, the grip of winter or the swirling path of a storm.

You sit in the padded leather desk chair with your legs crossed and elbows on your knees, just watching the shifting temperament of the globe. At any moment a spot might light up with brief sparks, indicating an attack and, as a watcher, it is your duty to go help the locals deal with the dragon, ogre, troll or whatever else might be terrorizing them.

“Slow night?” asks a young voice from the office door.

You glare over the globe at Mark, the newest member of your ranks.

“Don’t ever say those words in this room,” you admonish.

“Why?” Mark sets a plate of eggs and hash browns on the desk beside the globe for you.

Before you can respond, sparks fly from the northern most spot on the globe. Then a dull glow suffuses the white, snow held land mass.

Before those initial sparks die, more flare from the islands in the southwestern sea and immediately behind those, more sparks from the mountains running the coast of the eastern continent.

All three locations glow with a dull, pulsing red light.

You glare at Mark again. “That’s why.”

He smiles sheepishly. “Oops. I’ll grab another hunter.”

“Yeah,” you agree.

While you’re waiting for him to return, you shovel down the eggs and hash browns. It might be your last warm meal for a while, so you savor the delicious mix of yolk and potato.

By the time Mark returns, your plate’s empty and you’ve shouldered your gear. He finds you staring intently at the globe with its three glowing spots.

“Lovely,” says the hunter Mark retrieved. The word drips with resignation as he runs a hand over his bald head.

“North’s going to be super cold,” Mark comments.

“Uhha,” you say, withholding a sarcastic reply.

“Island’s might be nice except for that storm.” He points to a swirling gray mass that’ll hit the islands within the next day.

“Yup,” you say.

“Then again, those mountains are rough terrain.”

“That’s true,” you agree, again the sarcasm hides behind your bland response.

“You’ve got first pick,” says the third hunter before Mark continues to state the obvious.

Do you pick the snow laden North, the storm expecting islands, or the rough mountains?

A. North?

B. Islands?

Or

C. Mountains?

Vote in the comments which direction you’d like to explore. We’ll be back next Thursday with whichever option gets the most votes.

Thanks for joining the new adventure.

Until next time, blessings,

Jennifer

Set Up Option Aa1: Help Ezekiel

Magic Spark Lightening

We’re back for the last post in this adventure story! If you missed the first three parts, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Now let’s see if you survive this wizard’s duel.

Set Up…Help Ezekiel

Lightening strikes the road between you and the dueling wizards. In the brief moment of perfect brightness, Ezekiel’s tall form is outlined on the left with his hands upraised, creating a sort of shield around him. A moment later, you understand why he’s holding the shield.

The hair along your arms stands to attention and a buzzing pierces your ears. You jump from the rocks and land on the road just as a bolt of electricity shatters the boulders where you stood. Sharp splinters of stone ricochet off trees and rocks and hard packed dirt. Dozens of stings hit your skin.

Lightening StrikeA bubble, seconds too late, turns the chaos into a muffled mess around you. It stretches only a few feet in all directions with you at its exact center. Another lightening strike hits the top of the bubble directly above your head. The flash sizzles along the shield and dies in the hard dirt of the road.

A couple smaller flashes strike aimlessly into the nearby trees like the other wizard built up too much and realized he needed to discharge some before he lost control.

Those flashes reveal two things.

One, Wizard Ezekiel is only holding one shield. Perhaps he can’t control two at a time.

Two, the other wizard noticed Ezekiel is vulnerable and has turned to attack him.

“ZEK!” you shout a warning but can’t be sure in the storm if he hears you. You race for the other wizard and Zek’s bubble stays with you.

Bounding over a boulder, you land in the rocks where the attacker was standing. A sizzling tells you he’s near. You trust the bubble and the sound and charge towards that tell tale hiss.

Two blobs of faint light give a heads up that you’re slightly off and you correct your direction just as those two blobs turn into bright, hissing sphere’s of electricity. The wizard’s eyes widen as he sees you barreling toward him.

He tosses the two spheres he prepared for Ezekiel into your face. They hit Zek’s bubble and sizzle along the shield’s outline.

The timing is perfect. Just before the electricity dissipates into the ground, you reach the attacker with the outside edge of the bubble. It pops with a piercing zap that jolts the wizard off his feet. He flies backward and lands with a thud.

It’s like the gavel hitting the podium.

Trees and Night SkyJust like that, the storm vanishes. Fog, lightening, sound and all, disappear. Your ears ring with the silence.

A rumbling laugh breaks it a moment later. Wizard Ezekiel ambles up beside you to stare at the downed wizard. His huge frame shakes as he continues to chuckle.

“Zek?” he asks.

You shrug. “Needed something short.”

He snorts another chuckle. “You charged a lightening wizard. Guess you earned the right to Zek.”

He lifts the now senseless lightening wizard over a shoulder and motions for you to walk with him.

You check for the other downed man, Sam, but he must have regained consciousness at some point and ran.

“What about the others?” you ask.

“They’re pawns,” Zek says. “This one’s the mind behind the attacks. Give him to the King and let the King settle out the rest.”

***

Mug of Cider - Set Up Adventure StoryYou sit at a rough wood table in an inn that Zek recommended. It’s a small establishment that doesn’t seem to balk at the presence of a large wizard.

Across the table sits Zek. His large hands are wrapped around a clay mug of strong tea.

“Going to pay for that?” you ask.

“Already did.”

“Going to share?”

He grins and a second mug appears. You pull it toward you and sniff the contents.

“King arrested the innkeeper, the castle cook, and one of the stable hands last night,” Zek informs you. “The lightening wizard implicated them in his plans to kidnap the princess.”

“Why did he want the princess?” you ask.

Zek shrugs and takes a sip before answering. “No official statement,” he says. “My guess, they wanted to blackmail the King for some reason.”

“Hmm,” you grumble. It’s not a satisfying answer but it’s probably all you’ll ever know. You sip from the mug. “Gah!” You set it back down with a frown.

“Not cider,” you grumble.

“Not cider,” Zek agrees. With the innkeeper’s arrest, his cider is no longer available and not even Zek can make it appear.

You resign yourself to tea and take contentment in having your name cleared and gaining a wizard for a friend.

The End

Thank you for joining this adventure. I look forward to seeing you next time.

Until then, many blessings,

Jennifer

Set Up Option Aa: Ambush the Ambushers

Foggy Woods - Set Up Adventure

We’re being brave this week and attempting to catch those who set you up for the dowry heist.

If you missed the first two parts of this adventure, here’s the quick rundown. You were the only one to survive a heist that stole the princess’ dowry. The wizard, who was supposed to protect it with you, didn’t show up for the transport because he was told the wrong details. Now he wants to clear both your names. When you investigated the woods, you found a contract for two more jobs. One of those jobs is happening now and you’re about to ambush those who ambushed you during the first heist. (Sheesh, that’s a bit confusing. If you’d like to read the first two parts, you can find them here and here.)

Now, let’s see what happens.

Set Up…Ambush the Ambushers

Trees tower in dark columns as night falls and obscures the fine detail of their shapes. Above, a small sliver of a moon peeks through the canopy but it’s the mass of stars that appear with it that give you any real light. Their silvery cast turns the road to a light gray pocked with shadow.

Much earlier in the day you and Wizard Ezekiel picked out two locations in which to hide. Now, you’re hunkered in a deep gray cloak as you sit on the hard ground. You blend perfectly with the boulders to the right and left of your position.

Tree tops - Set Up AdventureAcross the road sits the Wizard. Before night fell you could just pick out the rounded gray top of his head covered by his own cloak but now, even knowing his location, you can’t exactly say what’s him and what is the rock surrounding his position. He stays unnaturally still.

You keep half an eye on the road and half an eye on his general location. He set up several signals in which to communicate and, although they’re all sound signals, you strain to keep track of anything coming from his spot.

This diligence pays off when two cricket chirps pierce the stillness. There’s a pause and two more echo into the trees.

Two men spotted on the Wizard’s side of the road.

Movement catches your eye. It detaches from the trees and settles into the rocks to your right.

You blink and see another shape join the first. The darkness hides much of their outline but you blink again to be sure. Something else is making it hard to see. Then you feel a chill touch your exposed face and moisture beads against your skin.

You give two chirps, pause, and give two more to tell Wizard Ezekiel about the men on your side of the road.

He immediately responds with three chirps.

You’re stomach rolls with new apprehension. There’s a second wizard out there. That explains the fog that’s rolling in now in waves. Even with the dim light, which is dimmer now than before since you can’t see the stars, you can make out gusts of fog rolling around you.

Wagon Wheel - Set Up AdventureThe crunch of coach wheels on the hard packed road fills the eerie pea soup. By now it’s so thick you can’t make out the shapes of the men to your right but you can tell the coach is close.

You brought your sword but with the current weather, you don’t want to simply attack anything that moves.

Instead, you fall back onto the other plan you and the Wizard discussed.

“It’s an ambush! RUN!” Your shout breaks the quiet like shattering glass.

A muffled curse comes from your right, followed by the ringing of steel as it’s drawn from a sheath.

There’s the crack of reins and the whinny of horses and then the coach hurtles past your position.

All of this is drowned out by the sudden, blinding crack of lightening. You see it streak through the fog and crash against the road behind the sudden shadow outline of the coach. Then everything goes dark again. The outline of the lightening bolt is printed on your eyes and this almost makes you miss the approach of one of the ambushers.

At the last moment, you blink and catch movement to your right. Instinctively, you faint back and pull your own sword free. Your attacker’s footing on the rocks proves unstable as he overcommits and loses his balance. He cries out and in the next flash of lightening, you see him wind milling toward the ground.

He grunts as he falls.

You wait, ready for him to rise and attack again, but he doesn’t move.

“Sam?” someone hollers. “Sam, you there?”

“Sam is down,” you inform the person.

Another flash of lightening illuminates the scene. Two men now stand in the rocks with you, each with their own sword drawn.

Sam lays crumpled in the rocks with a welt swelling his temple.

There’s another flash immediately after the first. One of the men drops his sword and runs, fleeing up the road from the way the coach just came.

In the darkness that follows, you hear another sword clatter against the rocks and the pound of more running feet.

You could pursue and maybe capture them.

Across the road there’s a thud and a crack like a boulder hitting a tree. Lightening streaks through the fog and you can see the outline of the two wizards facing off. There’s no upper hand as far as you can tell.

You could help Wizard Ezekiel gain the upper hand.

Do you…

Aa1: Help Ezekiel?

Or

Aa2: Pursue the fleeing men?

Thanks for joining the adventure this week! In the comments, let me know which option you’d like to explore. Whichever one gets the most votes will be explored next Thursday.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Set Up Option A: Investigate the Woods

Forest Trail

(Read the first part of this adventure here.)

The sun plays in and out of the forest above onto the pathway as you walk. Compared to the evening you were ambushed, it’s a quite place, peaceful. Birds chirp and a squirrel chatters loudly as you get too close to his tree.

Squirrel - Set Up AdventureBeside you the wizard walks with surprisingly soft steps for his size. His large hands stay stuffed into the pockets of his robe and his eyes stay fixed on the road, on the sides of the path, and the forest surrounding you, like he’s just waiting for something to go awry.

In the inn he looked like a large man. Now, walking beside him in Mirrorland Forest, he’s a giant. Several times as you walk he ducks to avoid hanging branches from the trees. No wonder whoever took the dowry made sure he never even met up with it.

He introduced himself as Wizard Ezekiel. You wonder if calling him Zek would be an offense.

“The transport was ambushed just ahead,” you say and point up the road to a spot where several large boulders encroach on the path.

“What do you remember?” he asks in his rumbling deep voice.

“Shouts,” you answer. “I was the rear guard. When I heard the others shouting, I rushed to join them. Someone caught me there,” you point to an oak tree that overhangs the road, “from above. Dropped on top of me and, the next thing I knew, I was being woken by the King’s men who were sent to find the transport when it didn’t show up on time. Rather un-heroic moment for me.”

Wizard Ezekiel doesn’t respond to your last admission. He walks underneath the oak and stares up into its heavy branches.

“Piece of hair,” he holds out his hand.

“What?”

“I need a piece of your hair.” He snaps his fingers. It startles the birds into silence for a moment.

You hesitate. “No toads,” you remind him.

He snorts and shakes the large hand he’s holding toward you. With a resigned sigh, you pull a strand of hair and give it over.

“This isn’t enough to turn you into an amphibian anyway,” he gives a devious half grin as he twirls the single strand between his fingers. Chuckling at your consternation, he turns away and places the hair onto his large palm. He holds it up toward the tree’s overhanging branches and gently blows the strand into the leaves.

Just like that, you’re looking at a hazy image of yourself running down the road. In the oak sits a cloaked figure. With the cloak and his absolute stillness, he blends almost perfectly into the leaves of the tree. It’s only his hazy outline and the fact you know he’s there that you spot him.

You and the wizard walk around until you can see the figure’s face.

“We know him,” you say in shock.

“Hmm,” Wizard Ezekiel agrees.

The innkeeper’s face is lined and focused but his usual friendly smile is not in evidence. Instead, he’s staring at your running figure with consternation and a kind of guilty realization.

“I think you’re alive because he knows you,” the wizard says. “I’m starting to think you were not supposed to live.”

“What’s that?” you point to a piece of paper sticking out of his breast pocket.

Contract - Set Up AdventureWith gentle fingers, Wizard Ezekiel pulls the phantom paper free and unfolds it like it’s made from brittle bark.

“Contract.” He tilts the yellowed page for you to see. Orange stains pock mark the paper, making you think of the man’s cider.

“For the dowry—” you trail off as you read the rest, “and two other jobs.”

“One of which happens tonight when the princess leaves for her wedding,” Wizard Ezekiel points to the date.

The hazy memory image dissipates like smoke.

“This,” the wizard gestures at the tree where the image just stood, “is not enough to convince the King of the man’s guilt. He does not trust magic evidence. We need something more.”

“We could ambush the ambushers tonight?” you suggest.

“Or let the princess’ guards know about the ambush,” Wizard Ezekiel offers back.

You shake your head. “Both of us are under suspicion from the first job. The guards are not likely to trust us. We might be able to get the innkeeper to turn to our side if we confront him.”

Wizard Ezekiel shrugs. “You’re better with people. Which option do you fancy?”

Aa. Ambush the Ambushers?

Or

Ab. Confront Innkeeper?

Let me know in the comments which option catches your fancy. Next Thursday, we’ll see what happens next.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

Set Up

Mug of Cider - Set Up Adventure Story

It’s been a couple weeks, so it’s high time for a new adventure!

Set Up

Lute - Set Up Adventure StoryThe dim interior of the inn allows patrons a small bit of privacy. Like the dimness dampens sound, everyone talks in hushed tones and the music being strummed from the bard’s lute is soft, almost hypnotic.

You watch his fingers move across the strings from where you sit in the corner with your own fingers wrapped around the warm clay of a mug full of cider. No one speaks to you, which suits you just fine. You chose this inn for its quiet atmosphere, for its out of the way location and its delicious cider. The cider’s a weakness of yours but the innkeeper’s kind and lets you have it in exchange for odd chores around the place.

It’s been months since you’ve stopped in, however, and this time he simply nodded to you and set the mug on the table with a, “First one’s on me.”

Perhaps he sees the weariness in your eyes or maybe he can feel the disappointment eking from your pores. Either way, he hasn’t bothered your table since he gifted you the mug.

You sip the cider and savor its warm, spicy flavor as it washes down your throat.

“Cider’s soon gone,” says a deep voice. “And then you’ll have to face the day again.”

You look over to find a large man sitting in the chair across from you. He wasn’t there a second before. You didn’t hear the scrape of the chair or see him sit down. He’s just there.

You frown.

He’s a weather worn figure but then, most in the inn are. It’s the heavy brows and the spark in his eyes that makes you lean back in your chair for that extra inch of distance.

“Not looking for company,” you tell him.

His eyes crinkle in mirth but it’s a knowing mirth. “Didn’t figure you were.”

Mug of Cider - Set Up Adventure StoryA mug appears in his hand. The innkeeper didn’t set it there and moments before that hand sat flat against the rough grained wood of the table. But now steam rises from the clay and he raises it for a small sip.

“Ahhh,” he sighs. “It does lift the spirits, doesn’t it?” The mug thumps softly as he sets it back down. “I’ve got a job for you,” he says.

“Don’t want a job,” you say. You just finished a job. A job that set you up to take the fall for something you didn’t do. A job that left your name in the mud.

“Didn’t figure you did,” the man says. “But this job might fix things for you.”

“Fix things?” you ask.

“You were hired to transport the princess’ dowry across the boarder,” he ticks this off with a finger, “that transport was given a five man escort,” two fingers, “and was attacked in Mirrorland forest,” three fingers, “only one left alive was you,” four fingers, “so you take the fall as the inside man on the job. Am I about right?”

You sip from your mug.

“I’m right,” the man says. “Here’s the other side of the coin. I was hired to protect that dowry too.” At this, he extends his left hand across the table until the sleeve pulls away from his wrist. There, in faded blue and black ink, is etched the tattoo of the country wizards. “But my reporting instructions were wrong and I didn’t meet up with the transport before it was taken.” He pauses to pull his sleeve back down. “We were set up.”

You gesture at the mug in front of him. “So make the dowry reappear.”

He snorts. “I know these mugs exist right there in the back room of this inn. I know the cider’s in that pot over the hearth. Thus,” he gestures and a third steaming mug appears on the table, “I can move those items to this table.”

“You don’t know where the dowry was taken?” you guess.

He touches the side of his nose. “Just so.”

“What’s this got to do with me?”

“Wizard law allows me to produce,” he gestures at the mugs, “the dowry because I was hired to watch it. Nothing more, nothing less. I will do just that once you figure out where it’s being hidden.”

“Why me?” you ask again.

“No one will talk to a wizard.” It’s a flat statement. “And you have a vested interest in securing that dowry.”

Toad - Set Up Adventure Story“Last man I knew to deal with a wizard got turned into a toad,” you say.

He shrugs, “vested interest.”

“No toads,” you say. “No turning me into anything.”

He huffs, “fine. It’ll be a boring job.” He extends a hand to shake on it.

You hesitate and then shake with him, feeling his hand engulf your own and wondering if you just agreed to your own demise.

“I figure,” he says, “we can either investigate the woods where the transport was ambushed or question the King’s Captain who set up the transport. What’s your poison?”

A. Investigate the woods?

Or

B. Question the Captain?

Thank you for joining this adventure. In the comments, let me know which option you’d like to try. Next Thursday, I’ll post whichever one gets the most votes.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer