With the emotional scarring of removing troll toenails quelled by mugs of ale and jugs of whiskey, I stumbled my way to Tenebris Harbor to converse with the Drunken Ritualist and remove these horrid relics from my inventory. Plus, seize hold of my reward.

Not only did the ritualist prove a hard man to find, because so many answer to the call of drunken ritualist in these parts, he conducted business next to some truly unsavory chaps who did more than cast a suspicious eye to newcomers.

Doing my best to avoid the evil eye contact, I dashed into the ramshackle bungalow of the ritualist. But before I could bring up the topic, our business was interrupted by a pole arm wielding miscreant who demanded satisfaction for an injustice I’m quite sure I never committed.

Menacing stares, as well as a barrage of incredibly foul and hateful words were exchanged before the situation escalated to the point of no return.

Many items in the store were broken, including the rogue’s arm, knees and neck. Adding to the confusion was a fire elemental who tried to set me alight for the mere sport of it.

Dispatching the fire elemental brought me no joy, except in regards to my skin no longer blistering with pain. I have regret over the incident as she reminded me so much of Señora Caliente, but my fire elemental would never cause me such harm.

With the ruffians summarily looted and kicked to the side, I engaged in my business with the ritualist, although I confess to a great deal of fear and hesitation.

Is it possible to trust a sober ritualist let alone a drunken one? What sort of man needs the toenails of a troll? What unspeakable horror would be unleashed once he had these trophies in his possession? Further, what sort of reward would recompense me for the horrors I had face in bringing them to him?

With glassy eyes and swaying countenance, he relieved me of the items and declared, “perfection!”

“Egads, man! You really are a drunken ritualist,” I replied. “Have you seen the grime? Have you seen the dirt build up? Have you protected yourself against disease?”

He paid me no heed, swept behind his counter and before I could question his methods or motives, he told me to step forward into the circle.

“Oh nay nay!” I protested. “The last time I stepped into a circle, many bad things happened. Most of which I can’t recall to this date, but I am sure I don’t want to go through them again.”

“Your reward awaits,” he slurred.

“Oh? Is it a magical circle that conjures treasure chests of loot? That would be fantastic!” I exclaimed.

“Step forward to receive the magical incantation,” he said with a gesture.

“Would it be too much to ask to be compensated in coins? I’d also accept a fabulous sword of smiting if you have one. Or even some gauntlets that allow me to crush mine enemies would be nice.”

“Into the circle,” he repeated.

And then it happened. There was a blinding flash of light, a terrible rumble, and the weakening of my innards. But before I could protest to my treatment or offer apology for sullying the floor, it was over.

“There! You are blessed!” said the ritualist. “Come back any time.”

I quickly checked myself for burns, trauma and new appendages. Feeling nothing, I was relieved but stated, “I’m not sure anything has happened.”

“Oh, it has happened. While I am in no fit condition to give you the sword of smiting you seek, I am perfectly capable of instilling combat proficiency. At least for a limited time.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” I replied.

“You now bathe in the glow of combat proficiency. You will have the grace of a cat, the stealth of the cobra, the speed of the mongoose.”

“Sorry? A what? What strikes a cat?” I asked.

“You!” he bellowed. “You are the cat! You will cast your combatants aside like peasants!”

“Oh, I am now able to smite mine enemies with great vigor and proficiency?” I asked.

“Indeed. Now go. I have much drinking and conjuring to do, but feel free to fetch more toenails of trolls and bring them back any time you like.”

“I think I would rather die,” I replied.

“I believe the chaps outside are plotting just that,” he countered looking out the window and sipping from his bottle.

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I have to say, I am full of disappointment that we did not get an invite to this little soiree. Looks like they had a fabulous time without us, although from some of the charring, things may have gotten a little out of hand.

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Quick man, make haste! Shut the door, we are under siege! That is the worst place and this is the worst time for a privy break!

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I absolutely will not step inside that circle as you call it. I disagree that is a circle and I’m quite sure that is blood.

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All right you arrow flinging purveyor of villainy, let’s see what these new skills can do!

Oh good gravy! Who told the urchin it was safe to play on the dock when grown ups are hurling fiery arrows at each other? The Oracle is surely going to frown upon this little blunder.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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