Another violent encounter. I always thought to leave the army meant that I wouldn’t have to do any more murdering. Ratface, wish I knew his real name, was the first life I had taken since leaving the military. I should have known becoming an Adventurer doesn’t stop you being a killer.
Just another in a long line of being stabbed, beaten up, or straight up nearly murdered. Some days I think I need a better day job. Still, I committed another heinous act to protect my life, how will the Trinity see me when I leave this plane. Will I be one with It or will I be grabbed by Amordous of Abysuss? I might find out soon.
Enough thinking of that sort of thing. This was the day I became an Adventurer …
One good thing about Lake Merrin, it is not hard to find your way around. Looking down at the dead Dock Boy at my feet and the unconscious brute with his head up against the wall.
“You know Ratty; you do bleed a lot.” Spying a water barrel I wash off the worst of the blood, “You should have just ignored me in the bar, and you still would be kicking.”
Once clean, I look at the unconscious half-breed. I pull my knife out; my hand is shaking. I haven’t committed blatant murder since the army. I did hate being a scout, taking out sentries who were not aware of you was not fun.
Sheathing my knife. “You are lucky today, not starting a day off with an honourless murder.”
Following the smell of the blacksmithy, I look over and think over that fence will take me to the Craftsman District and beyond that is the Bazaar, then one little hop I am at the Hall.
Looking back at my two fallen foes, I give them a salute. Stupid but brave.
As I jump the fence and head back towards the sounds of the crowd, I marvel at the industrious craftsmen who are working. Contraptions being operated on, whirling and buzzing sounds from different workshops. If I walked a different path, I might have become an Engineer. Working with intricate clockworks, or making new materials for everyday use.
Still, I would have to get used to the smell. Walking past a fabric factory, you can hear the clickety-clack of the loom inside or the hissing of molten metal in a local blacksmith for a new house frame. An apprentice powered buzz saw; look at that seat with wood pedals, makes you think, not many woodworkers around but they do make a lot of money, with wood being so rare.
Not many traders in here, most use this area to create and then take it to the shops in the Great Bazaar to sell their goods.
The hustle and bustle of the early market day. The smells of baked goods, the fishmongers yelling out their wares and no Malik or Dock Boys. This is not their territory, it is for the Wilted Flower Gang, and they are more about the subtle approach to thievery. Pickpocketing and the like.
There is a team now, I love seeing them in action. Four walk up and bump. Those pickpocketers always walk away with a poor sods wallet. Been on the end of that a couple of times, until I made them realise why I should not be messed with. Ratty and Dwarf-spawn found out the hard way.
What a beautiful day. Living through that death trap, appreciating life, and now off to the Hall!
Is that a pie cart I spy, and it sells beer too? My lucky day. Lukewarm beer, a questionable meat pie, and if I can join a Charter today as well, it will be the most perfect day ever!
Looking over to the other side of the Market Bazaar, I can see the solid browned bricked building that looks like a tiny fortress in the middle of the city, just lurking on the street, the Hall. That is where I will make my name, and I won’t just be white-bred or a bastard. I would be an Adventurer.
For one of the smallest buildings in Lake Merrin, it reeked of history. This is where the first goblinoid ear was handed in! Where Saint Jara lived for ten years, protecting us from the monsters of the Wild Lands.
I should know about those lands, with its endless forest of trees as a half-elf its part of my heritage. Yet I just think that it is just unnatural, all those trees in one place. Give me a little park or a plantation. Clean, organised and safe.
Walking into the Hall on the corner of Market and Coin, this place always gives me goosebumps. The feeling of history seeping into you. This is where the great heroes who made their names here, and the money to be made. Just being here makes me think I could be one of them.
Ancient banners, relics thought lost to time and bountiful chilled ale. There is always a sight to see. As I look around, some random people are beating on each other in the duelling pit. I like the look of the armoured one. His moves are crisp and precise, far more skilled than his opponent. Maybe a bet is in order? But wait! Is that, no, couldn’t be, Order of the Shield?
What is a member of the Order of the Shield doing in here? I’ve only ever seen them on the battlefield. Once a prat, always a prat! Always ordering us mere soldiers around like we were nothing. I wonder why he is here? When you join, it is for life. Is he a Shield? The armour is a dead giveaway. But still, by the way, he is moving with that fellow with the hammer, I can see he has trained in their ways.
Half-breeds and other scum like me never had that level of training. We were wall-fodder, as long as we could swing a sword and not die, our commanders like Shield-Boy didn’t care. But being a halfie, gave me more opportunities than others. I now know.
Nevertheless, I would still put some slips on him, no matter how much they are up themselves. Their skill with a sword is always top-notch.
Now a travelling Halfling Bard has come in to share his talent—gotta love free music.
Best day of the week is the sixth one. Buy two cups of ale for the price of one. Such a bargain. It might even be cheaper once you are registered. I am so looking forward to that sixth day now! I do love me some beer or an excellent ale, as long as it is cheap or free.
In a wink of an eye, the fight is over, or was I thinking too long about beer? I’m too late to put any money down on the match. If I did, I would have won. The Shield mopped the floor with his opponent. Oh well, off to talk to the administrator.
As I head for the administrator, the big hammer fellow is getting dragged past me by a tough-looking guy and—hold the presses! —It’s Lana from the Travellers. Wow, I’ve only heard stories about them. Are there any other members of that Charter here? Can’t wait to see all of them.
Oh my Trinity, there is a bloody line-up. Now I have to play the waiting game. I played that game a lot in the army. We wait here; then we wait over there.
As long as you looked busy, the Captain didn’t care. But you had to look busy when the Sarge walked around. If you were wasting time, she would find something for you to do. Sarge busted me slacking off all the time! The number of latrine holes she made me dig; marching drills for hours on end, that wasn’t fun; and I never saw her have a drop of grog ever—not even once!
Even if she was weird, I did learn a lot from her. Wouldn’t be here today if she didn’t save me from the wrong end of a sword. From that day, I always have one silent toast in her honour.
After a stroll down memory lane, I can only think of free beer and the sixth day two for one.
I’m just standing here; there is no one in front. Thank you, tired brain, for making the queue go away.
I walk over, and the administrator Royce looks at me with bloodshot green eyes that look like they are cresting the dark bags beneath them and says in a raspy voice, coughing up phlegm, “Come on, lad, been watching you stand there doing nothing for five minutes now. What do you want?”
That was shocking. Five minutes? I shrugged. Oh well, no queue.
“Come on; I haven’t got all day to watch you daydream. If you don’t tell me what you want, I’m going to ask you to leave!”
I shake my head and apologise, “Sorry, was jumped by some goons earlier today. Must be a little frazzled still, or it could be the pie.”
I can see Royce is becoming a little annoyed by the way he’s tapping an idle scarred thumb on the top of the table.
“Sorry. You don’t care. Um, I’m here to sign up!”
He looks me up and down with a professional grade sneer that says he’s seen all sorts. “Do you wish to start a new Charter or do you want to apply for an opening in an existing Charter, if one is available?”
“Just wanting to pay Hall’s dues and put my name down for any open spots.”
I stood there just grinning.
“What’s so funny, boy? You look like some grinning idiot. Take this paperwork and fill it out. The annual fee is four gold slips.”
Every time I come into the Hall and ask about Charters, Royce gives me the same speech and then forgets me. Bloody senile old human.
“This does not guarantee you a spot in a party, just allows you to apply for jobs and covers the administration of your documents …”
Wow, this guy can prattle on. I can’t stand listening to people who think they are smarter than me. Or annoying people. Like this guy.
“And after you are done with that there—”
He suddenly stops and looks at me.
“Did you hear anything I just said, boy?”
“Of course I did! All this paperwork isn’t going to do itself. Here are the four slips, and may I borrow a quill and well to finish this?”
As he passes the writing kit over, I spy an empty table. Time to fill out this unnecessary paperwork. Looking at the forms, there are some interesting questions. Place of birth, okay. Name, I can do that. Skills and ability, well, that will be a short list. I can swing a sword, take orders, march, and scout—can’t forget that one.
Being a half-breed, they just give you the ‘fun’ jobs. Okay, I can see in the dark—so? Bloody typical, racist lowlifes, making me scout out enemy positions in the dark and cold of night! I can ride a horse too. Well, my horse. I loved that horse. The only one that would come near me. Can’t remember its name now. Another typical fantastic trait of my half-breed background.
A bit of sand to help it dry and done! Back to Royce. Such a bothersome administrator.
“With all your lollygagging, I thought this would take you longer.” He smiles and looks down at the form.
“Let’s have a look at this … An army boy, haven’t seen that much action.” He chuckles to himself, flicking through the pages as if they offended him personally. “This all seems in order. Here is your receipt. So, do you want your name in the pool for open Charter?”
“Are no Charters are looking for anyone at the moment? I’m willing to do any sort of job, even if they don’t want a new signing member. Ready to be signed on for a job or two.”
“I have a group upstairs looking for a few members. I can put your name down but …” He pauses to point to a strong Folk and then to an armoured knight from the pit before. “Those men seem to be more experienced than you. You are—no offence—a bit on the ordinary side.”
Wow, try being told that you are pretty much useless—well, average. Mela, Jara, Jenell! When I served, I might not have been the cream of the crop, but I still wasn’t one of those ‘special’ cases, who didn’t know their left from their right. They were good for one thing: following orders, as long as you took the time to explain it to them thoroughly.
“Come on. Okay, I’m not like that knight in shining armour or that savage, but don’t dismiss me. There must be people looking for someone, even just a body to fill a sentry spot.”
“Come back in a few days, see if any other parties are coming through these parts.”
Such a waste of time. I turn to leave, but Royce is still talking. “Well, there is one job on the Board. I don’t think they will mind too much for a solo to petition for this job!”
He coughs a little, and I think, wow, do all older men have a phlegm factory in the back of their throat?
“As I was saying, the town Watch patrol is looking for bodies to fill the ranks for an upcoming tour of the Duke. Three days’ work, good pay, and they aren’t too worried about experience.”
Well, it is a job from the Hall. Beggars can’t be choosers, or is it lazy people like money, hmm?
“This would help me get out of a jam. Put my name down!” I exclaim. “So, what are the chances of me getting this job?”
Royce looks up. “I send over the parties that wish to do the job. I put you as ‘Lone Solo’. Not much of a name, but it will do.” He’s doing that old man chuckle; more phlegm and coughing than laughter. “They seem a bit rushed with this, so your chances are good.”