The early morning sun rose, glinting off weapons of all types, as Alexis stood in the line winding back through the cobbled streets of Toregarde. She looked down at the dagger in her hand and spun it, remembering. It was five years since she’s been forced to leave her home. Five years that forced her to grow up far quicker that she should have done. She hadn’t been prepared for what the outer world of the Big people would throw at her, but she’d learnt and quickly too. The line shuffled forward.
She looked around, taking note of the number of people here. She glanced briefly to the sky. Between the dark buildings, the sky was a narrow strip of cyan. Few clouds that she could see floated there, all of them wispy like a dream. She looked back as the line shuffled along again. It looked like it would be another perfect spring day.
As she stood there, idly twirling the dagger, Alexis wondered why she hadn’t done this a long time ago. This line that she stood in ended at a small building: an army building. The posters said that a great evil was sweeping the land. While this wasn’t her land – being of sandy soil and low growing shrubs – and she owed it no allegiance, the posters had promised regular pay, regular meals and the opportunity to kill some stuff. The line shuffled forwards again.
It seemed the right thing to do, in the long run. That’s why she didn’t know why she hadn’t joined an army long before. She had nowhere else she belonged, and from the look of this crowd many of them didn’t either. Her belly grumbled in synchrony with a cock welcoming the sun, and Alexis dipped into her pack breaking off a corner of a travel ration. As she popped it in her mouth she wished she could sit down. Dipping back into her pack she pulled out a water-skin, took a swig and replaced it carefully. The line went forward.
The sun arced it’s way across the sky, the line grew shorter, and the day passed. It was mid afternoon by the time a voice called out “Next” in a bored tone. Alexis walked into the office full of bravado.
Behind a desk sat a man, pen in hand and what looked like a ledger in front of him. He looked up and saw the office empty.
“Next!” he said, this time with irritation. Alexis coughed politely.
“Down here,” she said. The man leaned over his desk and peered at her.
“Oh,” he said, and sat down. “Name?”
“Alexis Dalliance,” she responded coolly. She’d long gotten use to being shorter than the rest of the world but at times it still irritated her.
“Adventurer.” The man wrote all this information down in his book.
“Miss Dalliance,” he said in a bored voice, “by making your mark, you agree to follow all the commands of myself, Captain Hengar, and any other officers higher than your self. You also agree to go willingly into battle even if it is a suicide mission. Failure to do either of these things and you will be charged with desertion and summarily shot. Also by signing, you will be henceforth known as Private Dalliance and be entitled to three meals a day and five gold per day to be paid in arrears on the last day of every month.” Now he slid the book across the desk, and waved at one of the big Orcs around the room. The orc took the ledger and a pen, and held them out to Alexis. “Miss Dalliance,” the captain continued, “Would you please make your mark and proceed to the next room where you’ll be given basic equipment.” Alexis turned to look at the book, seeing how many others had signed already. She glanced nervously at the orc holding the pen and book, the part about being executed running through her mind. Some part of her wondered if this really was such a good idea now, but a growl from the orc made her take up the pen and sign next to the information about her. The orc grunted in satisfaction and took the pen away from her, placing them back on the desk. He pointed to a door at the back of the room and as she walked towards it, Captain Hengar shouted out, “Next!”
In the equipment room, there were a couple of people trying on amour and picking out weaponry. The room fairly bristled with testosterone, with amour in marked barrels lining the walls, and weapons of all kinds hung on those same walls. In the corner there stood a Gnome who seemed to be handing out equipment, so she made her way towards him. As she crossed the middle of the room, an elf with an ambling gait almost trod on her.
“Watch it pal!” she said angrily, narrowly avoiding him. In her dodge she’d turned herself around, and at the sound of her voice, he did too.
“Huh?” he said, before noticing her. “Sorry!” he said raising a hand. Then she was turning back around and facing the gnome.
“Ah,” he said, a smile lighting up his face. “Another wee one like myself. Not often I get to meet another gnome.” he scrunched up his eyes for a moment, before opening them wide with shock. “Ah, forgive me lass! I hadne’ seen one o’ your kind in such a long while I forgot myself.” He smiled now. “E’n so, tis’ a delight to see another small folk. Let’s get ye kitted out then.” He led her to the far back of the room and rummaged around, finally bringing out a small suit of studded leather. He held it up to her, like a master tailor.
“Ah yes,” he said. “That should fit ye all right.” He thrust it at her and Alexis caught it in a bundle. “Now for a weapon,” He walked back to the centre of the room as more recruits came in. Deftly the equipment master directed them to what they needed, then turned his attention back to Alexis. He obviously liked her. He led her towards some barrels, fished around and drew out the shortest short sword he could. He handed it to her, complete with scabbard, and added it to her pile, before moving on and pulling a crossbow and quiver of bolts from two other barrels, also to be added to Alexis’ pile. When he’d finished, the Gnome turned his smile on her once again.
“There ya are lass. You take care now,” he said, slapping her on the back and directing her through a second door which lead to barracks.
Slightly stunned by the equipment master’s brusque manner, Alexis walked until she found a bunk that appeared unoccupied. Here she dumped the pile the friendly gnome had given her, along with her pack and looked around. The room was long, and seemed to be filled end-to-end with bunk beds much like the one she had stopped by. It was also filled with the reek and sounds of many people living together – there was the putrid reek of orc and the tang of metal, the jeering calls of men and the laughter of women. This was not the first time she had been in such a situation, she should not be impressed by the cacophony and the activity but yet she was. Still, she shook herself and began to don her new armour and weapons.
Then through the noise Alexis detected a different sort of sound – voices raised in argument and protestation. Ever curious, she slipped away from the bunk, shouldering her pack as she went and followed the voices.
Walking confidently, she moved back through the press of people in the barracks and then the equipment room towards the front office. Stopping in the doorway, she saw an elf arguing with the head orc. She couldn’t quite catch the argument, but then noticed there was also another, maybe half, elf and a human joining in the argument. Whatever they were fighting about Alexis was sure she didn’t want to be involved, and made to turn back. But to late, the captain had spotted her.
“You,” he said pointing, “step in here.” Obediently she stepped forwards. “I suppose you heard all that?” he asked. Alexis shook her head.
“Not really,” she said. “You ended it just as I got here.” The Captain looked at her with a mixed expression for a moment before standing tiredly.
“I need a break anyway,” he muttered to himself, before adding, “Vrog take over here for a while. You four, come with me.” So saying, the head orc moved over to the desk. Alexis followed behind as the human and elves followed the captain through to an adjacent room.
The four stood around another desk as the captain shut the door behind them and moved to pour himself a drink. With a sigh he sat down and took a sip. Using the lull in proceedings, Alexis took the chance to look around. Even though it was mostly austere, with bare walls and the plain desk, the homely touch of spirit decanter marked the room out as the Captain’s private office. Alexis glanced to her new comrades. The human was dressed in skins and had flaming red hair and beard braided with bones and feathers. A barbarian then, she thought to herself and turned to study the elves. One was slightly shorter than the other marking him out as a full elf while the other was half human, half elf. The half-elf was dressed in greens and carried a bow and quiver of arrows over one shoulder. Forest ranger, Alexis categorized him. The full elf however was a bit of a puzzle. He was dressed in peasant rags and smelt of hay and dung. An elven farmer? Alexis was sure that wasn’t possible. In her experience elves were arrogant and luxuriated in the finer things in life. She was sure none of them would ever stop to being something as base as a farmer. Perhaps she should keep an eye on this one.
Presently, the captain was refreshed and began speaking.
“I have a proposition for you all,” he told them. “As you may know, we have started this recruitment drive on information that Firetop Mountain, a dwarven settlement a few leagues away, has become over run by goblins under the leadership of an evil wizard named Zagor. However, I am reluctant to lay siege to this place or approach it under the banner of war without knowing what I am sending my troops into.
“You four have recently come to my attention as potential candidates for a special mission, especially you little one,” here he stopped and looked pointedly at Alexis before continuing. “The basic is this: I would like you four to infiltrate Firetop Mountain and gather reconnaissance. This is completely voluntary and if you wish, you may leave this room now.” This is like what my mama did, Alex thought, sneaking around and all. I shouldn’t betray her memory by backing out of something so important. She glanced to the others. The ranger looked thoughtful, but none of them moved so she stood her ground too. The captain studied their faces one by one and finally smiled.
“I’m glad you al feel that way,” he said. “Come to this office first thing in the morning and I will give you the particulars of this mission. Now go get something to eat and some rest.”
The four of them silently walked back to the barracks. The barbarian stopped by the end of two empty bunk beds, and turned back to the rest.
“My name is Ithanor Togeral. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintances.” The burly man looked at each of them in turn. He seems slightly surprised by Alexis’ appearance, but then she had come to realise that not many of her kind walked in the world as she did. She smiled anyway.
“Alexis Dalliance,” she said.
“Richard Tetherson,” said the elf who smelt like a farm.
“Nathardrin,” said the ranger. The introductions made, the new group set off to the mess hall.
Go to Firetop mountain with Yastromo, a wizard, and meet up with two others: Bastet, a dark elf and Victor with a Monocle, a human wizard who gets drunk by doing parlour tricks. The group goes in the back way, through the sewer system and up through the levels of the fortress, to confront Zagor. The battle does not go well, though Zagor is killed, the party is all rendered unconscious.
They wake again in a dark elf mine and proceed to escape with a number of other prisoners in tow. The prisoners disperse, Nathardrin leaving with them, and the group turns around and heads straight back to Firetop mountain again with Zagor! Stupid bloody litches. Kill him dead for real this time, phylactery all gone. The group sets some dwarves free and they, Yastromo and the dwarves go back and defeat al the goblins in the court yard. the dwarves stay to look after Firetop and reward the group with mithril stuff. They decide to look into why it’s called ‘Firetop’ and find a red dragon. It agrees not to eat them if they can find a blackguard and kill him. Losing Ithanor.
next comes Toregarde again burning this time, with the blackguard challenging Richard. However they defeat him by convincing him to commit suicide (something about his mum dying and she wouldn’t want him to be evil) for the pain of forsaking his god.
Help fix up Toregarde then off to troll tooth pass and to defeat the evil Zharradan and acquire Three, a flesh golem. Next to Castle Dire and to defeat Balthaus Dire. Say good bye to Three though.
Some celebrations and onward to is port Blacksands for a legit reason, but also the discovery of a cult called ‘the eye of Myurr’. reporting back to the captain and Yastromo about said eye cult.
Group are sent to the desert to destroy a temple and portal conjured by the Eye cult. there they meet Kypris the copper dragon and save him from being killed. Here also we meet Hassan Abdul, and also find the eye cult again searching for the same temple as the group. there is an artefact that will help find it, a shiny dagger, that Alexis buys while others are gambling drinking etc. eye cult finds out that Alexis has artefact and big battle ensues. After killing the Eye, heading off to find temple.
in temple, kill all the scary lizard people and destroy temple to shut down portal.
on to Unnamed Village 2, Richard’s home town, to find the Eye has been up to no good – turning the village against Richard and killing what’s left of his family. but group stops the spread of discontent, kills [again] the Eye baddies and Richard gives much money to his cousins to keep his farm going.
return again to Port Blacksands, hear tell of adventure in far off lands and step aboard with Captain Bloodbeard. Woe and misfortune at sea though, as the ship is wreaked and the team think themselves stranded by the captain.
but life twists again and the island they are on is in fact Quillox, a giant turtle, who says the magicians of Atlantis want a word with the group and speeds off to an island in the middle of the sea.
Dropping us off and leaving, somewhere we acquired Goregut Bloodfist. Set off to talk to the wizards and encounter many nasty traps along the way. the last trap Alexis gets squished dead, but the wizards bring her back a-okay.
Nicodemus tells the group they didn’t do a very good job with destroying the portal, the Eye are back to their tricks trying to bring Prince Myurr, demon snake god, through to this world, and they need to go back and do it again.
Sent back with CJ, the transport wizard, and a nifty little device, the group kill all lizard people again and set the device going. poor Bastet succumbs to the dark side though and at the last minuet reverses the device to activate the portal. Thanks to Alexis though, a wish ring turns back time and stop Bastet before she can start. portal destroyed forever, CJ sends the team into the dessert town and to Hassan again. Bastet gets Brian as a slave and sets him free, but he serves her anyway.
back through the lands, it’s been a while since the party saw home. In Toregarde ale and food flows free, the townsfolk listen to tales of the group’s derring-do. Doblin Grinnockle, bard, takes it all down and pledges to follow and record from now on. Swap Doblin for Brian and party stays as 6. The world saved and it’s up again in the morning [plus hangovers] for the next assignment.
Those naughty Lizard men are back to their tricks, the Eye spurring them on [they’re such a nuisance], and the team heads way south to take down yet another temple.
Help out local army, Doblin dies killing lizards. must cross big swamp, Alexis talks to the trees. Wurzel Mosslicker, druid, and his friendly Ent Mudwood help the party cross only to confront them with a big big wall. Nasty lizards are behind though, so the menfolk fix a way to bring it down.
and down it comes. Benevelor, holy cow, Richard and Goregut charge. Victor hangs back with many flaming spheres, while Bast and Alexis seek how to bring down the temple. Outside battle goes well. Kinda. Lost Goregut and Ben is down. Richard strives on with support from victor. Alexis and bast steal plans for the subjugation of the world. outside all is won, lizards – women and children – giving up, but what happened there? Richard kills them anyway. Victor’s voice is apparently poison.
Richard is bent on crusade, drags the team to Backsands. New member on the team – another red haired barbarian, helps Richard get a boat and men for the crusade. Bast and Victor vanish into Blacksands’ seedy underground never to be seen again. Richard and Alexis fight about the crusade, Alexis says it’s stupid and she has a better offer but Richard won’t be swayed. Bastet and Victor vanish into Port Blacksands’ alleys, Alexis runs away, Richard takes his army into battle.