Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Legendary Of Xarn

Latest Update: Saturday October 13, 2018 5:00 PM

Dedicated to the many days and nights of play as both a Dungeon Master and a Player Character in the pen and paper and digital versions of the game by TSR and Wizards Of The Coast: Advanced Dungeons And Dragons. To my friends Buzz, Pete (Legendary DM), Miles (Legendary DM), Ron, Darrell, Darryl (Legendary DM), Stephen S., Steve (Legendary DM), Scott M., Melkon, Dave and Chuck K and to SSIBioware and now Origin for their Dungeons And Dragons Online and Perfect World for Neverwinter Nights Online. More recently I'd like to thank Black Desert Online and of course the legendary Bethesda's Skyrim and Elder Scrolls Online, all of which has been a splendor for a renewed inspiration into the world of fantasy driven Tolkien-esque roleplay. By the way, where's our Willow reboot or sequel?

Dungeons and Dragons is like a school for learning the art of spontaneous creation and creative thinking. Both on a personal level and on a social level for both Dungeon Masters and Players alike who both must navigate the real world and the wonderful complexities of reality. Role playing is an impossible experience to describe. It has to be experienced to be understood and still one would fail to understand it completely and upon failing as such perhaps miss the opportunity to learn therefrom, to and by. For Women, Men and any Gender to come.

The Legendary Of Xarn

It was a dark evening and the wind picked up the dust and dropped on any out on that night. The roads of the lands were rarely traveled by the inexperienced. Only the most courageous or foolish would dare though one could often be mistaken for the other, but only one of them would survive certain death. Some might have said the Merchant Guard will preserve and protect though even their reach was not far as beyond the gates as most would prefer to believe. Beyond them and into the wilds there only existed darkness and the predators of the night who were many. Even the fiercest of predators had their own of the like making them prey as well.

The Plains of Harthgog fell beyond the gated farming communities on the outskirts of the city and the Canetes Lordship Keep. Beyond the plains were the Forests of Rigathsha, named for the ancient protector of the wilds who'd passed on centuries earlier during the War Of The Bones. There were the Tagrishan Peaks, the mountainous region beyond both the plains and the forest. This region was home to some of the larger and more dangerous of creatures in Xarn though they seldom left the range and only then in order to pursue the smaller prey of the wilds, for a quick meal or tasty snack. On the other side of the mountains was the Vast of the Dry, an aptly named desert which stretched for leagues. Then on past that were the Droons, a volcanic quagmire of molten rock that only a handful of travelers had seen with their own eyes. Far beyond the Droons was the coast and the Aspen Sea between which lay the tropical jungle of Kanar which was host to a variety of species both dangerous and docile. The Aspen coast settlements were scattered along a trade route that had existed for the ages. Most travelers along the coast would only travel with hired guard and definitely not at night. The regions beyond the known world had nay been traveled or mapped for that matter. Those valiant few who had tried had never returned, leaving the civilized Kingdom with only myths and nightmares of what could possibly lie beyond.

The warm nights of the season of Meru was upon them and would be for another three moons. Many of the farmers had in the prior moon had tilled and filled their land with the crop bearing seeds they would harvest a few moons on. The Meru market merchants had cleaned their stalls and were preparing for another positively profitable season. The Merchant Guard Barracks had once again begun their training drills under the setting sun, boosting the confidence of many to strode beyond the Keep's walled gates. The archers were perched atop the walls in their garrisons giving them a league's view of the land around them. It was under their ever watchful view that children were returning from their venture out into the fields surrounding the Lordship's Keep where they had chased butterflies and wallowed in the flowers of the field during the day. As the night approached, the two taverns slowly filled with off duty guards, farmers, merchants and mercenaries all seeking to throw off a bit of steam with a tankard of ale. Each tavern's residents would gossip about the other's in a friendly competition that would occasionally get out of hand whenever a regular customer from one of the taverns would make the mistake of going to the other.

It was upon this night or one very much like it that five travelers strode the road having just emerged from the Forests of Rigathsha. They'd traveled far to reach a similar keep, much like that of the Canetes Lordship though its occupants were much different by nearly any measure. Its walls were constructed entirely of hardwood, drawn from the tree trunks cut directly from the Rigathsha Forest. During the day no children would be found playing outside of this keep as its residents had none. There too were the ranged guard upon the walls who instead of bows were armed with deadly hooked javelins. They watched carefully and on their guard as the travelers approached the gate. Even with the onset of night the Keep's denizens could see nearly as clearly as if it were day.

The first of these travelers strode in front and boldly so whistling a tune as he did. His hand resting upon the pommel of his sword which sat comfortably in its sheath. His features were hidden by a cowl and cloak that also covered the scale armor he wore beneath. Beside him a much larger and powerful man loomed keeping his vision leveled on the approaching gate. He too wore a cloak which concealed his armor beneath, a large two handed hammer slung across his back. Across from him was a smaller figure both in height and breadth. He too wore a cloak and both his hands bore a wealth of rings of various color and size. He looked around keeping a steady eye on both the path before them and to their sides. Behind these three were two women, one walking struggling to bear the weight of both her armor and shield. Her long and beautiful golden red hair crept out from beneath her helmet. Beside her the other lady too was struggling, carrying a large sack filled with a variety of wares most of which were too heavy for her small frame. Her features were quaint and subtly beautiful as well though her hair was a little shorter and darker. Perhaps as if through some lack of confidence she tried to appear as inadequate as she felt. Too distracted to concern herself with her esteem, she tried with little luck to keep the contents of the sack from their clanging.

"You missed a verse." the man with the rings said to the one whistling.

"Nonsense." the whistler stopped long enough to speak before continuing.

"You did. It goes: to the wealth of the land and the wing of the feather, Magravarta made a stand and the kingdom came together... You missed that part." the man of many rings corrected the whistler.

"Well that's not how we sing it in Velshald." the whistler stopped once again only long enough to speak before continuing to whistle, though much more annoyed.

"Are we almost there yet? This load is far too much for us." the lady of golden red hair spoke.

"Yeah. And why did we have to carry this anyway? Aren't we supposed to have a mule or something?" the short haired lady spoke.

"We do have mules. Two of them and far prettier I'd have to say!" the man with the rings spoke.

"Watch it or you're going to be eating this sack of loot." the sack carrier replied.

"Shhhush! Quiet. We're here. Follow my lead and you'll all live." the whistler told them.

They'd arrived at the gates to the keep where two Gollucks stood guard. Gollucks were large horned and muscled creatures smart enough to wield weapons and armor and build keeps but not much more. They stood sneering at the group before one of them spoke.

"Shajkuck kuck nook SHrrrack!" it yelled up to the parapet.

"Kral dack shuck kuck KKuck!" another yelled down from above.

A moment later they heard the sound of a crank and wynch turning and the gates to the keep opened to reveal a larger more elaborately dressed Golluck. It was bracketed on either side by larger guards whose gauntlet covered hands rested upon the pommels of their weapons. As a group they approached the five travelers through the gate. It was the elaborately dressed Golluck who spoke first.

"You have traveled a long way for her. I knew you would when I smelled her. She smelled rich and of noble blood. Her guards were a tasty meal for me and my men." the elaborately dressed Golluck spoke in their tongue.

"You waste my time with idle talk, Wark. I brought what you asked for." the whistling man spoke in a harsh tone.

"Then let me have a see of it little man." the Golluck stepped closer peering down at him.

The largest of the travelers stepped forward matching size easily with the Golluck, one hand on his hammer. The whistling man put his hand out to block his fellow traveler from intervening.

"Give her over to us first. Then you can have your prize." the whistling man told him keeping his ground.

"GKTarthshik! Mckack Tuk!" the Golluck yelled back to the Gollucks beyond the gate.

They spread apart and an opening revealed the girl they'd been keeping as their prisoner. One Golluck had each of her arms, restraining her by force. She was as beautiful as the tales of her had said. She struggled against the grip of the Gollucks.

"Ahhkk! See. There she be. Alive as you can see. Now hand it over. Now!" the Golluck demanded.

"Alright. Myrizar. Give it to them." the whistler turned and told the ringed man.

"Really?" Myrizar confirmed.

"Yes. Really." the whistling man confirmed.

"Ok..." Myrizar answered sounding as if he didn't agree with the whistling man's choice.

Time slowed to a crawl and Myrizar's hand shot forth and a small bubble flew forward from his hand. It slowly arced towards the ground and when it impacted it exploded to create a thunderclap of such proportions that the Gollucks were stunned, most clasping at their tiny ears in pain.

The whistling man drew his sword and a moment later the Golluck he was speaking with lay on the ground with a wound to his throat. By that point the larger one had drawn the two handed hammer from his back with one hand swinging it down upon one of the Golluck guards. The guard fell to the ground dispatched. They continued forth leveling guard after guard in a vicious display of combat prowess like none had ever witnessed. The whistling man's skill with a sword was truly incredible and beyond mere mastery alone.

"Here we go again." said the girl with the golden red hair rolling her eyes.

"Yeah great. More loot for us to carry. Maybe they'll make the Princess there help us." the other girl spoke.

The whistling man swung his sword bringing down the last of the guards holding the Princess.

"Milady. I am Barandan at your service. I'm here to rescue you." Barandan bowed before her.

"And what am I? I stopped most of those guards you know?" Myrizar interjected.

"I'm sorry Milady. This is my page and squire Myrizar..." Barandan was cut off.

"Page? Squire? My friend merely jests Milady. Myrizar Silt at your service." Myrizar bowed throwing it on thick.

The lady with the long golden red hair put her finger in her mouth gagging herself.

"I can't believe this." the other rolled her eyes.

Behind the Princess a distance away a Golluck stood atop the parapet winding up with his hooked javelin. He threw it full force at the Princess, It screamed through the air as all hooked javelins did sometimes terrifying those of lesser experience. The large hammer bearing man reached out with one fist catching the arrow in mid flight. In the same motion he then drew a small spiked disk from his belt pouch and threw it. It flew at the Golluck who'd thrown the javelin hitting it square between the eyes. The Golluck fell dead dropping from the high wall to the ground with a thud.

"And I am Thendandol, Sage Of The Hammer." Thendandol offered up the javelin to her as a gift bowing.

"I am totally not going to carry this loot anymore!" the loot carrying lady said dropping the sack and kicking it a few times.

"It looks like we are victorious Milady. Your freedom has been acquired and your..." from behind the Princess there arose an army of Gollucks which had come charging from the barracks where they'd been sleeping moments earlier before the skirmish.

"...Run!!?" Barandan screamed in fear.

There was a moment of disarray amongst the Princess and the five as the Gollucks charged at them.

"Wait! Wait! I'm Barandan. I'm supposed to be a brave heroic fighter of the wilds and a path guide. I wouldn't run!" yelled Dane at Trev, their games master.

"You just rolled a one! You failed the morale check. That means that you're a blubbering mass of fear on the battle field and you're fleeing. Just be thankful that you had time to yell run before you did." Trev replied.

"Is this really how every game is? What was up with making us carry all the loot? We didn't even get to use our characters." Janet asked Dane and Trev.

"Uhhhh. Its like... you know. An initiation." Dane told Janet.

"That's some initiation. Making us carry all the loot? I think you did it because we're girls." Denise came to Janet's defense.

"Look the truth is that you guys... and girls can't just start out a game like that. It's just not right." Trev told them.

"I thought my character concept was pretty good. A Sage Of The Hammer. A half Droon Walker who'd learned the lore of the gavel." Mick said looking over his character sheet.

"So is Myrizar Silt. A bard acrobat. Come on? Hitting them with that Sound storm spell was priceless!" Ken put up his hand and slapped Dane's in reaction to their plan in the game.

"Look. It wasn't that the characters were bad, though it was bad of you guys making Janet and Denise carry all the loot. Come on? It was their first game. It's that you can't start out at the top. You have to begin you know... at the bottom." Trev explained.

"Why?" asked Ken.

"Because... That's the way it is. You know, I'm a pretty good games master but I'm not the best. If we had Nelson, here... you'd see." Trev explained a little disappointed that the game hadn't worked out for everyone.

"Nelson? Nelson? He'd never play with us. He's like a legend games master. I played with him once. It was awesome!" Mick said to them.

"I'm in his math class. I could ask him." Janet told them.

"You're in Nelson's math class? Could I have a piece of your shirt? Please?" Mick said in awe grasping at her sleeve.

Janet punched Mick in the shoulder playfully.

"No. I'm serious. I could you know, ask him?" she said adding the charm to her beauty.

"You mean like a dungeon date?" Ken asked.

"As long as you promise not to make us carry loot in the next game. If you do, I'm not playing any more." Denise said drawing a big X through the inventory list on her character sheet.

"Yeah. Let us play the characters we want to be instead of giving us these pre-made ones." Janet said in negotiation.

"We thought it would help with the learning curve." Trev said.

"You mean that because we're girls that you think that we're..." Denise began.

"Slow?" Mick answered.

"Nebish?" Ken continued.

"...Intellectually impaired?" Trev finished.

"Watch it. We're none of the above. Let us borrow the player manual until next game. You guys already know it by heart. We'll get Nelson as the dungeon master for a whole campaign." Janet said extending her hand in preparation for a bet.

"An entire campaign?" Mick said falling over in his chair.

Trev looked at the group who all approved. He then took Janet's hand and shook.

"It's a deal!" Trev shook her hand firmly.

"That would mean you'd be able play a character with us, Trev." Ken reminded his friend Trev.

"That's going to be awesome!" Trev said very excitedly once again giving Ken a high five.

"I'd like that Trev." Denise said trying to keep her crush on Trev obscured.

"Thanks Denise." Trev smiled back at her uneasily unsure of how to approach the situation.

He may have been a great games master, but he'd still had much to learn of life. More so on how to feel comfortable being himself around members of the opposite sex. Especially one that he liked.

There was a moment of awkward silence in the room.

"Alright. Consider this another chance. We'll finish this chapter tonight. If we get Nelson as games master, we'll can this campaign and start fresh in his world. Take another shot at that morale die roll." Trev offered the gamers.

Dane picked up the twenty sided die he'd cast only moments before attempting once again to beat the odds and keep his cool in the midst of the Golluck onslaught.

The die spun and tumbled for what seemed an eternity.

Moments later Barandan yelled at the top of his lungs.

"...Run!!? We're hopelessly outnumbered!!!" he cried pushing the Princess out of his way to escape.

The two ladies had dropped their loaded sacks and had made a head start down the road. Barandan who'd been sprinting like a world class athlete to escape the Gollucks tripped over one of the sacks falling to the ground. Thendenol himself running paused long enough to pick up Barandan in his arms and throw him over his shoulder.

Myrizar checked his six to see that the Gollucks had already captured the Princess and were still in pursuit of them.

"By the cold of Frald, they're going to catch us for sure!" he yelled to Thendenol.

The girl with the red hair pulled a flask from her belt pouch and threw it towards the Gollucks.

En elixir of slippery oil exploded from the flask covering a large area behind them as they fled. As the Gollucks stepped onto it, they slid and fell to the ground, covered in a slippery and sticky oil.

"Denise? Care to add to that?" asked the girl with the long red hair.

"I certainly do." the shorter girl replied, pulling a bow and arrow from her back.

She armed the bow and drew back with all of her might as the red haired girl lit the tip of the arrow ablaze with a flint box. She fired the arrow which flew threw the air arcing perfectly into the oily goo. It exploded ablaze, spreading the substance and fire for tens of yards around their pursuers. The Gollucks had been halted.

An few hours later the five of them walked casually into the Canetes Lordship Keep. They were led by two ladies, one of long red hair and the other shorter with dark hair and a bright smile. Behind them Thendenol, Myrizar and Barandan carried their sacks of loot.

After a trip to the general goods dealer, they spent the night at the Feisty Rabbit Inn, drinking ale and mead while dividing up their share of the loot.

Barandan, Myrizar and Thendenol would be joined by three new compatriots in a story where six travelers would learn why sometimes you have to start from the bottom.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2015 Brian Joseph Johns