Aerie

While walking the streets of Aerie looking for Kyle the Blacksmith so that I might show him the bonesteel I was sporting, I was assailed by a guard who peppered me with a barrage of questions that left me dazed and confused.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “Where did you come from? Are you the Outlander, PeteWi TheDisoriented?”

Thinking that all the absconding with ceramic mugs had come back to haunt me, I made a desperate bid for freedom. I leapt into the Lunar Rift, only to realize too late that it was merely the closed door of the alchemist shop. The crash rendered me nearly unconscious and an easy target for her follow up questions.

“I’ve heard about your exploits and have something to give you,” he said as the swirling figures of three guards loomed over me.

“Not the irons!” I pleaded.

“Beg pardon?” he replied.

I realized my mistake and steered him in another direction. “It is it a mug of ale to soothe the calamity going on in my head?” I asked.

“No, not quite,” he answered. “It’s a key!” His exuberance took me by surprise.

“A key? Well, that is indeed something. Does it unlock some sort of wondrous store of treasure allowing me to live out my days on a secluded tropical island?”

“Um, no. It’s the key to the Courage Club,” he said proudly.

“Courage Club? What manner of trickery is this? I simply cannot stand the idea of belonging to any sort of organization that would have me as a member!” I said tersely.

“I’m not sure I follow,” the guard said. “But, you have taken a pretty savage knock, so perhaps that accounts for your delirium. Allow me to explain further,” he continued.

“Yes, by all means. Please explain this Club of yours. What manner of ridiculous rules and regulations are you going to hold me to?”

“Well, the Courage Club is where you test your Courage and Valor by engaging in acts of strengths and cunning is an underground and undisclosed location. Your acts of prowess in defeating those thugs have earned you a spot in the arena and I was sent to give you a key.” The fellow beamed with excitement.

“Arena? Acts of courage?” I was still dreadfully confused.

“I’m sure if you got up out the street, things would certainly be clearer for you,” the guard said.

“Oh, yes, that would be a step in the right direction.” With that the guard helped me to my feet and pressed a rather stylish key into my hand.

“What you need to do is go to the guard station, sneak around to the side and open the hatch. Once inside, you will meet the referee who will confirm you are indeed in the right place and set the challenge upon you. He will then track your progress and make a judgement about your Valor in combat. Easy,” he explained. “So, good luck and if you need another key, you know where to find me.”

With that, he continued on his rounds without looking back.

Rather intrigued, I took the short walk to the guard house, snuck through the bushes and discovered the aforementioned hatch. Making sure I wasn’t observed, I slipped through and lowered myself into the basement.

I was greeted by the referee and was asked to produce my key. Satisfied I wasn’t there under false pretense, he wrote my name in the ledger. When you are ready, you will face several challengers and I will note and report on your valorous behavior. Merely open the gate with your key and let the trial begin.

“Trial? Oh no! I was never there and I know nothing of what happened!” I blurted out.

Before I could protest further, he gave me a stern shove, hurtling me into a confining room. I was on the point of scrambling up the latter when a wall slid aside to reveal a rather grim man staring at me. He wasted no time in bringing forth an attack.

He struck a mighty first blow. Instinctively, I readied myself, crouched in my combat position, summoned my strength and lashed out. In two savage swings of the blade, he was down. Thinking it a job well done, I tried to retreat up the ladder.

Suddenly, another adversary appeared, more ferocious than the first. Realizing I was amidst my trials, I lunged forward and got in the first strike. This was followed by a stunning Body Slam and an absolutely debilitating assault on his kidneys that caused him to crumple like dead weight. Which he was.

I readied for the next opponent, building up my resistance and fortitude. It too was a mighty battle with flame charring the chamber, but I proved victorious. Just barely though.

When another, even mightier challenger appeared, I was at the limit of my fortitude and he made short work of me. I was pummeled and beaten with reckless abandon. He took no mercy and it was my turn to crumple like dead weight in the corner.

This setback called for the reviving powers of banana bread. Without giving my adversary an opportunity to strategize against me or gloat, I readied myself, leapt into the arena and set the entire confines ablaze.

That miserable sod and everything else was instantly consumed in fire. And with my web of confusion in full swing, I unleashed a relentless attack of multiple styles, working up to another devastating Body Slam and a healthy dose of Flaming Sword that went right into his backside.

The victory was mine and with no other challengers to puncture my vital organs I went to the referee to see how I faired.

“Well done indeed!” he said. “And to show your valor by participating in unsanctioned and unsupervised fights to the death in this secret and underground compound, I give you this most excellent banner that you can proudly display and then deny all knowledge of receiving.”

With that, he handed me a pendant and ushered me outside. “Come back any time,” he said. “But don’t tell your friends. That’s the first rule of the Courage Club,” he continued as he closed the hatch.

“I knew you were going to force me to obey a ridiculous set of rules!” I bellowed.

SotA_12-09-17_23-38_1

Yes, well, good evening. I’m here to inquire about the feats of srength and valor.

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Do you happen to wash out the arena between matches, the air is a bit thick in here.

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Burn like blazes you miserable sod! We have no quarrel, but that makes no never mind!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

After selling a myriad of looted items to the Aerie blacksmith, the bank guard grabbed my attention and pulled me to the side. She was in need of help and my reputation for acquiring trinkets preceded me.

"I don’t know what’s transpired in there, but I had nothing to do with it," I assured her.

"Beg pardon?" she replied.

"Nevermind, I spoke too soon," I said. "Do go on. How may I be of service? It’s not often a bank guard looks to me for assistance."

"I have heard you find things and don’t ask many questions. I need to find the key to the vault. In my drunken merriment, the key has escaped me and I’m not a liberty to leave my post and look for it."

"The vault key?" I questioned.

"Yes, where we store all the gold. I misplaced the key. Will you help me locate it?" She did indeed look desperate.

"Well, that is indeed quite a responsibility. But, very well. Describe said key and I shall make the magic happen."

She described the key and pointed toward the Dry Flagon, the location of the disappearance. When I arrived, I located a key in the street, and returned to hand it over. I put aside the temptation to use the key for my own gains as that would be dishonest, the Oracle would frown upon my wicked ways and it would be extremely difficult to explain to Alley why Stinging Tree had a new privy made of solid gold.

Much to my distress, the guard explained it was the wrong key. She begrudgingly admitted it might be boudoir key of her dance partner the previous evening.

"Say no more! I shall discreetly swap the keys," I said. I then returned to the tavern, explained the mixup to her companion, James, gave him a bit of wink and a nudge for putting the lass in such a state and asked for the proper key.

Again, my good deed was thwarted as he didn’t have the key either and must have given it to his Elven drinking companion.

"Egad man! What manner of tomfoolery went on last night? And where, pray tell, is this mysterious Elf you speak of? Let me track him down, retrieve the key and be on my way. I have vigilante plans to thwart."

James, send me to the Wetlands where his Elven drinking confederate took up residence.

"Steady on, he lives in a swamp?" I asked.

"He’s fallen on hard times," James replied.

"Very well, I’ve been to worse places. I will grab the key, toss him a few coins and be back by dusk. Still plenty of time to clobber some vigilantes," I replied.

Even if the poor chap had fallen on hard times, there were better places to take up residence than this gaseous wasteland. I resolved to offer him a place in my basement until he could improve his situation. That is, if he had the key on his person.

While in the wetlands, I discovered the real reason he was hiding in the swamp-black market mushroom farm. As I drew close to his crop for an inspection, the alarm was raised and dozens of ruffians came out to pummel my prying eyes.

The joke was on them though. While they sat idle in their little huts, I have been out honing my skills and quickly dispatched the lot of them. I hadn’t contended on their use of Caiman to protect the crop and was nearly drowned.

I quickly regained my bearings and turned the cheeky miscreant into material I can use for boots. From there I made my way into the main camp and put a damper on their mushroom watching vigil.

I must admit, the spores were starting to get to me and I began to see dozens of locations where this ring leader Elf could be hold up. Aiming for the one in the middle I surged forward and as the effects wore off, I found his ramshackle hut. I kicked the door off the hinges and demanded he hand over the key. I wasn’t interested in his mushroom farm and would say nothing to the Aerie guard if he cooperated.

He immediately broke down and told me the hiding place of his key. He gave me the usual sob story of being a real estate and when the market took a downturn, he had to seek other means to sustain himself.

I frowned up his new found choice, but my task was to get the key. As I rummaged through his small room, I found the blueprint of his rather simplistic bank heist plot. I took the plans and confronted him with the evidence.

"I see what you were going to do," I said angrily. "It’s one thing to nab a wayward chalice or candelabra, but it’s bad business to try and make off with gold from the vault. If you want to run a mushroom farm, that’s your affair, but stealing gold to finance the operation is not something I can condone."

"Mushroom farm?" he exclaimed in surprise. "What mushroom farm?"

"Don’t insult me by denying it! And here I was taking pity on you to the point of given you a damp corner of my basement and blanket to tide you over. But no more! I’m taking this key and returning it to it’s rightful owner. And I’m destroying these ridiculous plans of yours. Everyone knows a bank heist is a three man job and you go in from the roof you imbecile! Front door indeed!"

I stormed off through the rank water, punched a few thugs that had regained their senses from my first thrashing and headed back to Aerie.

"Your key my good lady," I said to the guard. "And we shall speak no more of it. I’m sure you aren’t the first to lose a bank key to the wily ways and smooth talk of a tavern patron. But, let us hope it is the last."

"Wily ways? Smooth talking? Just what are you implying? It was an honest mistake. How dare you …"

"A good evening to you dear lady. While uniquely engaging, this little side venture has kept me from keeping justice and order in the realm. With night falling, the thugs come out and I need to be there to greet them. So if you will excuse me."

Her words of appreciation and admiration trailed off as I made my way out of town.

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Oh my, what do we have here? I’m beginning to see why this mysterious Elf is in hiding within this swamp.

SotA_12-06-17_21-13_1

This must be harvesting and processing facility for their nefarious crop. Trying to throw me off the scent with their fishing cabins. There is no fishing in a swamp! This won’t fool anyone!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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