Hood of Truth

After taking my leave of Gus, I followed his general, albeit slightly vague directions, winding along paths where bandits attempted to divert me off my course, until I spied what looked to be a rise in the distance. It was the only thing that looked like a pyramid rather than a hill or mountain.

I approached and made my way up the many stairs only to realize my only recourse was to come down the other side. It was a lovely view of the area, but as there was no form of entry it proved disappointing.

As I sat and pondered how to gain access, a throng of skeletons came to do me harm. They received liberal use of the flaming sword and were all reduced to cinder.

After picking through their charred remains and pocketing goods that might be worth a few coins, I was stuck with an idea.

Where were these boney minions coming from? They weren’t coming up the path. They weren’t sneaking out from behind the trees. They weren’t rising up out of a the graveyard, because no graveyard existed. Was there some secretive entrance that eluded me?

I sat and waiting for them to reveal their concealed hiding place. I even expedited the process with liberal taunts in their general directions.

Before crushing them to powder, I traced the path they chose to come annihilate me. Rounding the side of the structure, I found what looked to be an entrance, or at least something not an impassible stone wall.

However, there was no knocker and I was at a loss as to how I should announce my presence and desire for admittance.

A few well placed kicks only served to mangle my boots and fill the air with words I am embarrassed to repeat.

I then tried to bellow my adventurous intentions to the keeper who might be inside, but clearly the thickness of the walls prevented him from hearing my clarion call.

But all was not lost. As I threw myself down in utter dejection and exasperation, I discovered there was a lever nestled in the roots and vines. Always one to pull at a random lever, I gave it a try.

To my great delight, the door rolled to the side revealing an entryway. It was dank, and foreboding, but this is exactly the type of place someone would hide a Hood of Truth, so I entered with reckless abandon.

I twisted and turned my way through the narrow corridors and met with the caretaker. I can only assume he was not in the same fit state as when Gus last made conversation. He was a corrupted and infected soul with flesh peeling away from his body. It was a horrid sight!

Further, he ignored my greeting and salutation from Gus. Instead, he came at me with arms flailing and spitting a fetid slime at my feet.

The confines of the passageway were too close for combat so I made a retreat to a more open area. Leading this malcontent to his doom, I struck first with a barrage of blows. I gave him no quarter and felt it best to simply put him out of his misery rather than listen to him ramble on about he became such a miserable soul.

While a hideous creature, he was not a formidable one. With a little Thrust here and Double Slash there, he was down without laying a single decayed hand upon my person.

I listened to hear if he might have a confederate ready to spring upon me as soon as I rounded the next corner. Hearing nothing, I charged ahead and found a storage room of exciting treasure.

I also noted it was the final resting place of some poor saps who tried to abscond with my Hood of Truth. Serves them right for ending face down in their failed attempt to take what was mine.

As I looted the chest and smashed the vases merely because they were there, I realized there was an automaton monkey. This caretaker was indeed a terrible wretch. What sort of person steals another man’s monkey? The audacity!

I scooped up the little fellow, tossed him in my bag and retreated back to Gus.

“Outlander!” he said excitedly. “I didn’t expect you so soon. Allow me to cut some cheese for you.”

“That is most kind of you,” I said. “I have bad news, some good news and some good news. First, I found the caretaker. He had been turned into the undead and made off with your monkey. But fear not! I have retrieved the little fellow and have him right here.” At this, I handed over the automaton monkey I found in the chamber.

“That terrible man made off with my monkey and held him captive? Oh the horror of it all,” he said cradling his lost child.

“Sadly, he was not the same chap you knew before. That is unless you partake of the company of the undead.”

“The undead? Oh dear me no,” he replied. “He has indeed changed and taken a turn for the worse. I regret your encounter Outlander, I apologize for that.”

“Not your fault at all. Now, since that was both the bad and good news, I have more good news. I believe this is the fragment you sent me out to find.” I produced the cloth and held it out for inspection.

“Outlander, you never cease to amaze,” he said taking the helm and disappearing into his alcove.

“Why thank you. I get that a lot. But it’s usually after a table has been knocked over or someone has taken a tumble down the stairs.”

Moments later, he returned with an extremely fashionable Hood of Truth. The only one of it’s kind I might add.

“There you are Outlander. Wear it with pride. I dare say you will look quite fetching in it,” Gus said.

“You are indeed a generous sort and quite a hand at hat making. I certainly appreciate your efforts,” I replied. “I see I once again had to risk my life to obtain it, but that is how our relationship will be.”

I had a bite of the delicious cheese Gus offered then headed back into the night. I needed to pay a visit to the blacksmith at the Elven camp and I was still working on getting a fitting for one their stylish robes. I was hopeful another bottle of the Elven wine might get things moving in the right direction.

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Good evening! I say, is there anyone about? Your door knocker seems to be nonexistent and I believe you have a Hood of Truth inside with my name on it.

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Treasure! And scoundrels that tried to steal my Hood. And a monkey! But let’s not forget, treasure!

I’m quite sure I won’t be able to get that vase into the pocket of my leggings.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

After retrieving a bevy of family heirlooms from the bandits, locating several absconded bottles of Elven wine, putting an end to some vigilante violence and being on the giving end, rather than the receiving end, of a warrant, I felt I had put the citizens of the Outskirts mind’s to rest. However, it turns out there was another in need of my assistance, but not really a citizen at all.

In my many traverses from one side of the refugee camp to the other, I stumbled across a different sort of refugee, perhaps even an escapee based on his tale. It was a late evening when I collapsed into his makeshift shanty, a head full of psilocybin. I was astonished to see, what I mistook for, one of the Tour Guides from my earlier explorations of the realm. In my delirium, I asked if he was in possession of yet another fetching hat and if I might perchance have one.

He merely laughed and said he put those days behind him. He offered me a medicinal libation and a whiff of smelling salts to get me to my senses. It was then that he offered me a seat in his small abode.

“You may call me Gus. I have heard much of your exploits in these parts,” he began. “You are a pillar of this little community, setting right all manner of discourteous wrongs.”

“I am pleased to help,” I replied, still a little out of sorts from the fungi that lurk at the entrance to his home.

“I wonder if by chance, you might be able to help me?” he asked.

“I can certainly give it a go,” I replied.

“Even though I am merely an automaton rather than a refugee and may have beeen responsible for putting your life in danger one too many times in search of a chapeau?” he asked.

“But, of course,” I said. “I have to admit though, I could have done without you skulking about by that fire chicken. That is all in the past though. And truth be told, I’ve taken a few knocks to the head, so I barely remember those days.”

“That is indeed good to hear,” he replied.

“Are you on the run my metal friend? Are you in need of a man to scuttle you away to parts unknown due to some legal entanglements? You didn’t get caught up in that salt running fiasco did you?” I questioned.

“Oh no, nothing of the sort. But, as you guessed, I spent some time welcoming Outlanders such as yourself, then graduated to a full time Tour Guide. I then had an epiphany, and to make a long story short, I left the Tour Guide service and moved into these wonderful caves.”

“You have done well for yourself,” I commented.

“Why thank you. But there is one small problem,” he said, looking rather sad and forlorn. “I have misplaced some of my children due to the bandit trouble I’m sure you’re aware of.”

“Children?” I said a little taken aback. “I didn’t you know you had such ways with the lady automatons.”

He merely looked at me with a puzzled expression. As puzzled an expression as a metallic face can give.

“I built them you see. Lots of little companions to keep me company. Have you by chance seen any of them in your travels?” he asked.

“Little automatons running around the woods? Afraid I haven’t. I’m quite sure I would have noticed something like that.”

“Actually, no. They are little automaton monkeys.”

“Monkeys?” I questioned. “Um, very well. Not for me to question. But, oddly, I believe I may be able to help you. I don’t often say this Gus, but I have a monkey in my leggings with your name on it.”

Gus clapped his hands with glee and gave a cheer as I withdrew the little automaton monkey I had found.

“That is some handy work Gus. That is a quality item with a fine eye for details. I was wondering where the little nipper came from.”

“You are a true gentleman!” he exclaimed. “The light of truth surrounds you Outlander!”

“I’m quite sure that’s the haze from those exploding mushrooms you have outside, but I thank you all the same. That being said, if I do find any more of the little rascals, I will be sure to bring them home to you. How many exactly did you lose?”

“Oh dear me. I’m not entirely sure. I’ve made quite a few to be sure. I suspect there are several more out there,” he replied.

“Very well, I shall keep an eye out. I have few more small jobs to complete, but rest assured, I’ll be back.”

“Well, because of your good deeds, I am liberty to give you a reward,” Gus said excitedly.

“The beverage and sanctuary from those mind altering mushrooms is plenty thanks enough. It’s much better than the slap in the face I normally get when stumbling into a strangers home.”

“I have something far better than that!” he exclaimed.

“Do go on,” I said.

“I believe I know the location of an ancient item that might be of use to you. And I think it suits you. The Hood of Truth!”

“Hood of Truth? What might that be? It’s not like the Burlap Sack of Shame is it?”

“I believe it is a hood and represents the virtue of truth,” he explained.

“All right. Very well. If you want to be literal,” I replied.

“Now, I believe it is located a short way from here in a pyramid. There is a caretaker there. If you say Gus sent you, I do believe he will give you the item in question. If you bring it back here, I will spruce it up for you, using my previous hat making experience and fix it right up.”

“Very well Gus, I accept this challenge. I will search for this pyramid and retrieve said garment. If I find it, more monkeys or some of that Elven wine, I will bring it back and we can divvy up the spoils.”

“I shall anxiously await your return,” he said. “In the mean time, I shall be here playing with my monkey.”

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I don’t often say this Gus, but I have a monkey in my leggings that might interest you.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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