Writers note: This is the first three chapters of a fantasy story I am writing. Any feedback would be appreciated. Also, any encouragement if you would like to see more of this story would be quite helpful. I hope you enjoy…
The Wizard of Ounces
Chapter 1: In the Beginning
With a pluck and a whoosh, the first volley of arrows arced through the air. Then, there followed the clink of armor and the thud of flesh and bone. Bob looked to his right. Francis had been struck and fell to the ground. This is it! This is the test, thought Bob, now running toward the enemy line. This is what all that training was for. Another volley of arrows arrived. Bodies once in motion were now slumped over on the bloody ground. Bob continued to race to the line of dull armor standing at attention. Must make it to that line. Must meet the enemy in noble battle, thought Bob between huffs and puffs. Bob, just for a moment, looked to the side. An arrow had snuffed out a comrade in arms. No time to look to see who it was. I must make the line. Another onslaught of arrows came. Hey, those went over my head. I must be passed where they are aiming at!
The fighting raged. Having escaped the archers, wave after wave of swordsmen poured into the frontline of battle, only to be exposed to the polearms of the defending army.
Am I crazy? thought Bob. Get that thought out of your head before you lose it. I must stay focused. Bob’s sword cut deep into an enemy soldier, piercing his body where his armor needed to be repaired. Blood started to seep into the soil. Bob looked for the next body to engage. His ears rang with the clank of metal and the thud of bodies. Everywhere he saw the dull gleam of what peasant soldiers call armor in motion. There! Bob thought. A hole! There is a hole in the enemy line! This is my opportunity. I must complete the mission before it is too late. Where is that package again?
Bob turned. Please don’t anyone hit me in the back! Run! Run as fast as your encumbered legs can carry you! An arrow raced past his ears. A second arrow hit the ground. They see me! I hope they don’t think I am running away.
The cart was now in front of Bob. There it is! The package is still on the cart. I guess everyone waded into battle after all. I hope that doesn’t mean we are losing?
Bob picked up the package and swallowed hard. Now, I have to go back into that battle. I could die. But, we were told we could all die if this package was not delivered. There are things we must do. It is just my turn.
The package was curled up in his arm as Bob raced back toward the battle line. A few scattered arrows fell here and there, none of them close. Their archers must be thinning. They are not taking much aim against me.
There! There is the hole in the line!
And, that is when Bob tripped. “Oof!” A body? Did I just trip over a dead body? Wait! Something has me by the leg? He’s not dead yet!
“Sam! Sam! It is me Bob. Let me go. I can get the package through the line!” Did the grip just get tighter? I don’t think I can get up.
“Sam, you gotta let me go. I have gotta finish the mission. All our families depend on its success. You heard what they told us. We were talking big about it just last night!” Come on, Sam, let me go! “Sam! Let me go!!!”
“Thunk!” Suddenly, an arrow landed close. I can’t talk anymore.
Dagger in Bob’s hand, a hand was removed from his leg. So sorry, Sam, but this is bigger than the two of us.
Now, I have to run with one eye forward and one eye on the ground.
With a huff and a puff, Bob was lost in his thoughts as he ran through the opening in the battle line. I can totally picture some bard writing some funny song describing how this lumbering oaf of a peasant soldier ladened down with my makeshift armor juked and jived through the battlefield but I will leave that to somebody with better words than I.
But, all I want to do is complete the mission. Maybe, even a clever bard couldn’t quite get it right.
On the other side of the line, Bob had the training song go over and over again in his head.
Head to the border
My dear soldier
Turn right at the gate
Stately go to the estate
Of my dear cousin
And receive your reward
The song filled his head and he ran as fast as his legs could carry his armor burdened body. Maybe if I gave up my shield and my helm I could get there faster? My liege’s whole kingdom depends on me! Bob! And then, he saw it in the distance, like a calling from God, it was the spire of St. Bessy, the patron saint of his noble’s cousin’s domain. At this pace, I could arrive within the hour!
The inside of his armor drenched in sweat, panting – no gasping – for sweet breath – he finally reached its gates. The gatekeeper seemed to be expecting him because he said, “What took you so long?”
“We were met by the Army of Xanderiah, and seeing our beloved banner, started slinging arrows. Fortune was mine because I was able to see an opening in the lines and ran the package through. For all I know all has been lost on the battlefield.”
“Well we better get you to the Duke then. He told us to tell you your can claim your reward.”
A guard led Bob to a grand room. I have never seen such a large place, thought Bob. Look at those tapestries! And, colors! How did they make such colors! And, blankets on the floor. I have never seen such fancy before. These nobles really do think differently than us. Must be blessed by God, they are!
“Get on your knees, soldier,” the guard bellowed, “Your reward may depend on your piety and loyalty.”
How long have I been on my knees, thought Bob, they are really beginning to throb and ache. Eh? What’s that sound? A bugle? I hope that is announcing the Duke’s arrival. I don’t know how much longer I can sit like this. I fear my legs are too long to sit in this position. Oh good! The door is opening.
A bugler stepped through the door first. This was followed by the Duke’s personal bodyguard. One, two, three, maybe a dozen, thought Bob. And then, a young lady walked in. She’s so beautiful! Her skin is so clean! Then, and lastly, a man passed through the door. He must be the Duke, he has a fancy hat on! All the important people have fancy hats!
The lady who took baths took the seat on the right, and the man in the fancy hat sat in the seat on the left. They were sturdy wooden chairs. Do they have cushions? Thought Bob, I’ve heard about such things in tales but never before had I thought I would see such things with my own two eyes.
“You may stand, come forward, and kiss my ring,” said the man with the fancy hat.
Bob did as he was told.
“You have a package from my cousin?”
Bob was about to speak when a guard hit him with a club from behind. Hey now, thought Bob, at least it did not hurt, I guess it was just to get my attention. That is the way it is in the army. They know we are not smart enough to understand words.
Bob got down on one knee and presented the box to the man in the fancy hat, the Duke, Bob’s liege’s cousin.
The Duke opened up the box and pulled out a bag. He put his gloved hand into it and pulled something out.
Bob blinked his eyes. Was that a sandwich?
Bob started to mumble something.
A guard hit Bob. But, the Duke put up his hand and the guard stopped.
“I want to thank you soldier. You have been brave, even capable, please speak.”
Bob looked down. He mustered his bravery. But, his head was still kind of blank. “Is that a sandwich?”
“This is not just any sandwich. This is two slices of bread lightly toasted with butter. A thin slice of salted meat is then placed on top. And, it is garnished with shredded green vegetable and a round slice of red vegetable. It is delish.”
“We engaged the enemy sir. Their arrows tormented us. Their swords decapitated many. The worst were the polearms. My friends became kebabs.”
“I am really quite sorry to hear that. But, I guess you and the survivors will just have to make more babies to replace the soldiers my dear cousin has lost. That should be fun, don’t you think?”
“See, as my dear father said, the spoils always go to the survivors.”
“Sir, I am sorry, I know I don’t speak well, but I was told I would receive a reward.”
“Of course, brave soldier, would you like a bite?”
“Sir, a bite?”
“It really is a fantastic sandwich. You won’t find any more better.”
“It is okay, sir, I don’t want a bite.”
“You are wise, good soldier, it would probably ruin the rest of your life having tasted such pleasures just once, and then never being able to satisfy them again. I will certainly say a good word about you to my cousin.”
“Bob? What kind of gibberish is that?”
“Name, sir. My name is Bob.”
“You have no other name?”
“No, sir, just Bob.”
“What a pity? Oh well.”
What a pity? What does that mean?
Bob could see the young lady of the bath whisper something to the Duke.
“Well, Bob, my daughter has a suggestion. We will now call you Bob the Brave, or just Bob Brave. What do you think?”
“Sir, as you say.”
“Good. Then, it is decided. And, what a reward? A name! I am really far too generous.”
Bob walked out the Duke’s stronghold gates as Bob Brave. He began his walk to the border, putting one foot in front of the other on the cobbled walkway, lost in his thoughts, shivering, till the cobbles ended and the dirt path and the woods that lined it started.
The sun set and the dusk descended on the path. The tweeting song of birds became more clear. There was a rustling sound. And, then a half-orc on either side of the trail stepped into the path.
“Stand or fight?” said the one on the right in a deep voice.
Bob put his hand on his sword. He felt all his muscles tighten. Something wet appeared on his forehead. Am I sweating?
“Hand over your money and you will not be harmed, human.”
Bob did what his training told him to do. Pull his sword. Except he didn’t. His hand was still on the hilt, but his arm didn’t work. He tried again. But, again his hand, well gripped on the hilt, didn’t move. Sigh.
“What is your answer? Your money or your life, human?”
I don’t think I can fight. I have lost my will for it. All my life I craved a moniker like Brave, and now I can’t fight.
“You can have what is left of my armor, and my sword. It is all I have left of value. I am sure you will find it useful, or you may sell it for scrap. Either way, please take it in exchange for my life.”
I guess that is what money is for: to save your life from thieves.
“We are good Orcs. We gave you our word that we would save your life if you offered up your money. And, we will keep our word. Strip human. Leave it all in a pile and walk away.”
Orcs? I would swear they were half-orcs.
Bob did as he was told. He dropped his sword and commenced with removing his armor. It took nearly an hour, but soon there was a pile on the path, and Bob and his rags started the trek home.
I am going to have to find a new way to make a living.
When he got back into town, he saw a handwritten note on a tree.
Looking for mates to play in me band.
Go to the Red Rooster
Order a Lager
Entreat the Publican
I need to make a coin just to get a job. But, at least it is a plan. I need a plan.
Chapter 2: Band on the Run
After working for a day hauling bags of wheat, Bob had a few silver coins to go to the Red Rooster with. Bob was familiar with the Red Rooster. It was a little famous for being the watering hole for some local laborers and the students at the local Bard College. Sometimes, there were fights between the two groups, but for the most part they got along alright.
Bob walked in and went up to the bar and ordered a lager. When the publican brought it over, Bob asked if someone was looking for a band member. The publican looked him over and said we don’t assist adventurers with jobs here. Try the sword and shield near the river. Bob looked at his muscles. He was definitely bigger than even the average laborer here. Actually, he was exceedingly stronger.
“Nah, man, I ain’t no adventurer. I’m a drummer.” Bob then pulled out two sticks and rat-a-tat rapped them on the bar with impressive dextrous skill.
The publican’s eyes grew large. “Yeah, I think I know a guy who is looking for a drummer. Just a minute.”
The publican sauntered back with a slightly sauced half-elven looking guy. “This is Jazz Lee Starr.”
“Oh, I forgot, some call me Bob Brave. I can drum.” And, with that Bob did another rat-a-tat-tat with his sticks.
“I dig it,”Said Jazz,”Yeah, you’ll do. Put a little make up on you and you’d fit in just fine.”
Bob and Jazz started getting together nightly in a little practice place behind the pub, as they worried that their loud jams might annoy others, especially before they got them right.
“Hey, we are getting pretty good,” Bob said.
“Yeah, we can get a groove on, can’t’ we?” said Jazz, “So, what should we call ourselves, Jazzy Jazz and the Brave One?”
“How about Waking the Dead?” suggested Bob, “We are loud.”
“Nah man. That can really happen. You don’t want to test fate,” said Jazz.
“Well then, let’s call ourselves one,” said Bob, holding up a single finger. “Since, we are going to be number one!”
Jazz laughed. “Nah man, round here, we better call ourselves Twenty, that is more what people want,” said Jazz, still laughing.
Bob laughed as well. “Well, how about Hope, that is what people really want.”
“Hmm…it is a little too simple. How about Hope on the Run, that is more likely what people find,” countered Jazz.
“We could always abbreviate it H.O.T. Run!” suggested Bob.
“I guess that works for now,” said Jazz, “everyone needs a start with a run of hope if you ask me.”
“Cool. Being a musician is so much more fun than being a soldier,” said Bob.
“Were you a soldier, Bob?”
“Umm…I just like the name Run of Hope. So, what do we do next?
“There is a big talent show coming up. The prize money is really huge! But, it costs a gold piece to enter.”
“A whole gold piece! The two of us could work for a month and not get that kind of money. Why is it always so hard to start things?”
“Maybe we really do need a run of hope!”
Jazz and Bob started to laugh.
“Anyway, I think I know where we can get the money,” said Jazz, “Lefty is always generous with the loans.”
“Who or what is Lefty?”
“Lefty and Mute Mike are two cats that hang out in front of the Student Union at the Bard College. Mute Mike don’t say anything. Mike says he is funnier that way.”
Bob mouthed: cats? funnier that way?
“Well, they are not really cats. Mute Mike is not even human. He is a puppet.”
A puppet? Mouthed Bob.
“Yeah, a puppet. Lefty said the nobles really enjoy his act. He says they think it is real original that the puppet can’t speak. They say it is so different that they love it!”
“If you ask me, the nobles around here are a little screwy.”
“Shh…don’t say that. We’ll get into trouble if someone hears us.”
“Aren’t bands supposed to get into trouble? Aren’t the most famous Bards the one’s that know how to make fun of the nobles the best?”
“Nah, bands only get into trouble if it makes them money, and we haven’t made any yet.”
Bob looked to the ground with that.
“Anyway Bob,” Jazz said, “Lefty has connections. And, if the students at the Bard College need anything, they go to Lefty. It comes at a price, but he’s pretty affordable, and my fellow students tell me there is nothing he can’t get. I’m sure he will lend us the money.”
“Yeah, but how will we pay back Lefty?”
“With the prize money of course.”
“What if we don’t win?”
“Good bands win. Bad bands get in trouble. Either way we win.”
“Can I shout: the nobles aren’t!”
“Only if we lose, Bob, only if we lose.”
Bob and Jazz headed off for the student center at the Bard College. There they see this short
creature with a hoodie over his face, slouched, seemingly bobbing to some unheard music. He had a puppet on his right hand.
“Hey lefty, what’re you dancing to?” asked Jazz
“Bouncing Bard. He kicks,” responded Lefty
“Yeah, he’s alright.”
“Alright? No one slays a lute like the Bouncer!”
“Yeah, but that’s my point. He still plays a lute. That is like so yesterday.”
“No point ruining perfection, man. What can I do for you anyway? I don’t think you are here to discuss music history with a low life like me.”
“I guess you are not looking for tickets to Bouncing’s concert, can I get you some Madness enthused Wine?
“What’s up with you are you shy? You need some company for the evening? Something unusual? Is that why you’re shy?”
“Just umm…a gold piece.”
“A gold piece! Yeah, I can get that for you. When can you pay me back?”
Lefty pulled out a little bag, and pulled out a coin. It gleamed in light. “Here you are. A whole gold piece.”
Bob stepped forward. “Can I ask a question?”
“No.” said Jazz, shaking his head.
“What’s up with the puppet?” asked Bob.
Jazz’s face fell.
Lefty’s face beamed. Then, Lefty lifted his left hand with the puppet toward Bob’s face. The puppet’s mouth opened and closed a few times.
“What’s it saying?” asked Bob.
“Bob!” said Jazz in a muffled screamed.
“He is saying mind your own business. You overgrown turnip. You are so dumb, you think a book is something to wipe your bottom with. If you were a vegetable, you’d be a rutabaga”.
“A rutabaga?” questioned Bob.
“See. You don’t even know what a rutabaga is. That is how dumb you are.”
Bob turned to Jazz. “Did that puppet just insult me.”
“I am afraid so,” said Jazz.
“Can we put the puppet in our show, Jazz?”
“I don’t think we can afford him, Bob. Maybe after we win the contest.”
“Got it. Nice to meet you Mute Mike. Stay mute. I don’t think speaking is your best suit.”
The puppet still in Bob’s face started opening and closing its mouth.
“Now, what is the puppet saying?” asked Bob.
“Bob! Stop asking what it is saying!” said Jazz.
“Mike here is just saying that your judgement is so poor, your ma asks how many cockroaches you want with dinner.”
“Okay, I get it,” said Bob, “never talk to a puppet.”
“Yeeeaaah…” responded Jazz. “Come on. We got our gold piece. Let’s get ready for the contest.”
“You nervous?” asked Jazz.
“I’m good. We’ve been practicing nearly around the clock. We rock,” responded Bob.
“Hey, that sounds like a good idea for a song! Anyway, we really sound good, so don’t worry.”
“When are we up?”
“Should be soon. At least we don’t have to follow any puppets.”
“Good point. We’ve got to win. Otherwise we are going to owe Lefty a gold piece. Then, what?”
“Best to not think about it. Anyway, I am not worried I think we sound pretty good!”
“Yes, we do, don’t we?”
“Exactly. Let’s kill ‘em!”
“What? With my sticks?
“Yes, but with a rat-a-tat-tat that you do. Your adventuring days are done.”
“I never told you I soldiered.”
“You didn’t have to. I went to Bard College. I can tell.”
“Okay, that is us. Time to work.”
Bob started to beat on his drums. From nowhere a light fell on Jazz. His arm went up…as if to strum his lute, but it didn’t go down.
“Jazz,” whispered Bob, “you going to play?”
Jazz’s hand once again lifted up.
“Jazz!” more audibly whispered Bob. “You are supposed to come in.”
Before Jazz’s hand came down, he turned and ran off stage.
The crowd started to boo.
Bob stopped drumming. Those faces don’t look happy. I am out of here, too.
The MC jumped on stage. “Let’s hear it for the Band on the Run!”
A scattering of claps and boos emanated from the audience.
“And, an act I think you will really like Babenksha and his dancing Psuedo Dragon!”
Chapter 3: Exit Stage Fright?
Bob used his arm to move the curtain out of his way. There’s a glimpse of Jazz! “Jazz! Jazz! Hold up!”
“What happened, Jazz? We practiced. We had it all down! We were smooth. We rocked.”
“Yes, stage fright. I suffer from stage fright.”
“What kind of Bard suffers from stage fright?”
“I guess a not so very good one.”
“A not so very good one! You could have told me that earlier! We’ve been practicing for weeks! We sounded real good. Man, of all the Bards, in all the bars of the world, and I had to find one with stage fright! And, we owe Lefty a gold piece, too. Now, what do we do?”
“You look real super strong. I can do some magic with my instrument. Let’s go on an adventure. Maybe, we can kill an Orc and take his gold piece and pay back Lefty?”
“You crazy! I ain’t going to kill no Orc. It’s wrong. What is up with people these days? Money problems? Easily solved. Just kill a monster! What kind of plan is that? Sounds lawless and evil to me!”
“You think monsters don’t sit around thinking, you know I am hungry. Let’s go BBQ some humans? Trust me it is them or us!”
“Orcs are scary, too!”
“Scary? They are about the easiest monster out there to kill? Look at you. I am not sure if I have ever seen anyone so strong. Either we kill the Orc or Lefty is going to kill us.”
“Argh…okay. But, we need some equipment.”
“We can ask Lefty. He can get anything…he’s cheap, too.”
Why do I think it will be Lefty who will bury us?
“Hey Lefty, we want to return your GP but first we need to go on an adventure and kill an orc. You think you can get us a sword and some armor?”
Lefty looks them over.
“Don’t worry, Lefty, look at those muscles on Bob,” said Jazz, “And you know I have magical abilities with my music.”
Lefty starts nodding. “Yes. There is some money in adventuring, isn’t there? Probably more than a gold piece, too!”
“Yes, more than a gold piece is definitely possible,” said Jazz
Yes, slaughtering Orcs is a great business, thought Bob.
“Hey, you two. I know I loiter around here and engage in some petty crime. But, I have dreams. I want to be a legitimate businessman. Actually, I really want to help people. I have dreams of selling aftershave to Half-Orcs and Dwarves.”
Jazz had a funny look on his face.
Bob silently mouthed: Half-orcs and Dwarves? Why?
“The only difference between me and a legitimate businessman is capital. With capital, I could be even richer. How about I join your quest?”
Bob looked confused. Jazz looked relieved. Either we succeed, get killed or kill Lefty. Any which way we win!
“Yeah, sure, Lefty. That’s a pretty good idea.”
The three of them armed and armored set off out of town looking for monsters to shakedown and take their treasure.
“The wood is pretty thick outside of town,” said Lefty.
“Yeah, you’d think with all the taxes we pay, they would at least hire someone to keep this trail clear,” said Jazz.
“Who pays taxes?” laughed Lefty.
“Good question,” said Bob.
“It is dark, too,” said Jazz.
“Yeah, no continual light spells cast on unlit torches to lit the way, either. This town needs a better Mayor,” said Bob.
“Or a better Thief’s Guild.,” said Lefty, “at least they are trained to take taxes.”
“Yeah, but they would just keep it themselves,” said Bob.
“Yeah, maybe,” said Lefty with a shrug of his shoulders, “does it really matter?”
“It might,” said Bob.
“But, either way, this path ain’t clear and there are no torches with continual light cast on them to light the way,” said Lefty.
“Hey, what is that?” whispered Jazz, lifting his arm out as if to stop the others from moving forward.
“Looks like a golem,” said Bob.
“And, it is carrying a chest!” practically squealed Lefty.
“I think I can see through it. At least,it kind of gleams like a life sized candy,” said Bob.
“Yeah, I think it is a crystal golem,” said Lefty.
“It seems to be just carrying the chest, without a care to the world. I have a shatter spell. I can shatter the crystal golem and then we can take its chest,” said Jazz.
“My lucky day,” said Lefty.
“Go for it Jazz,” said Bob.
Jazz walked up to the crystal golem and then put up his hand to strum his lute. But, the hand never went down.
“Strum your lute,” said Bob.
“Then, we can get the loot,” cried Lefty.
Jazz just stood there with a goofy grin on his face.
“He has stage fright,” said Bob.
“He has stage fright?” said Lefty.
“Yeah, he can practice and sound perfect but once there is pressure, he totally shuts down.”
“I wish I were.
The crystal golem just walked past Jazz as if he weren’t there.
Lefty looked Jazz up and down. “Do you really have stage fright? What kind of bard has stage fright?”
“Nobody’s perfect? Shooting two arrows and hitting with one is not perfect. Missing a trip wire is not being perfect. It occasionally happens to the best of us. A stagefright bard is a fatal flaw. You are literally no longer a bard, you are just an irreligious cleric who can fight slightly better than a peasant!”
That is when they all heard the voice.
“Hi there guys. I’m Juan, Cleric of Peter the Chase. And, with that he put his hands over his crotch.
Six eyes looked at him. He was fairly tall, with long, flowing blonde hair, a square jaw. He had that rugged handsomeness.
“How can I help you?” asked Juan.
“Well, there is a crystal golem over there in the distance and he is carrying a chest. That is our chest. Could you do something?” asked Lefty, winking at Bob and Jazz.
“It would be my honor to assist,” said Juan with a tip of his hat.
Juan got on his knees and pulled out a rosary and started to chant something that no one else could understand.
“Look,” said Jazz.
“Yeah!” said Bob.
“The golem seems frozen,” said Lefty.
Juan walked over to the golem.
About 20 minutes later, he returned with the chest.
“I don’t believe in killing, make love not war, so I just took the chest,” said Juan.
Make love, not war? Thought Bob.
“Let’s open it,” said Lefty, rubbing his hands together.
“We better check it for traps first,” said Jazz.
“Okay, let me give it a try,” said Lefty.
Lefty pulled out a long, thin strip of tin and started to probe the lock, when suddenly he shouted, “Ouch! I’ve been pricked.”
Almost immediately his finger turned blue and started to swell.
Juan got back down on his knees.
The blueness started to spread down Lefty’s arm.
At the end of Juan’s chant, the blueness disappeared from Lefty’s arm.
“Are you okay?” asked Jazz.
“I guess I am not perfect,” replied Lefty with a smile.
“At least you’re not dead,” answered Jazz with a laugh.
“Anyway, I think I know what I did wrong. Let me at that chest again.”
Juan took a seat on the ground. He looked tired, even winded.
Lefty probed the chest lock with his metal stick and this time there was a click. “I got it!” shouted Lefty, “That is no tragic flaw.”
Lefty opened the chest.
Bob, Jazz and Lefty peered in.
They saw two bags.
Lefty picked up one bag and opened it. Inside he saw some coins.
“One, two, ten…Ten gold pieces!”
“Who-hoo!” shouted a suddenly animated Juan. “Let’s get some girls!”
“Girls?” asked Bob, “I thought you were a Cleric of Peter the Chase.”
“Just joking,” said Juan, “I just wanted to test you all.”
“Actually, I thought the idea of trying to meet and impress some girls sounded like a good idea,” said Lefty.
“Yeah, that is what I was talking about,” said Juan.
“What do you think meeting and impressing some girls means?” asked Bob.
“I don’t know,” said Juan, “maybe find some sweet young thing walking down the street, and impetuously buy some flowers and then offer the bunch to her, and ask her if she would like to go to the festival with you. And, then buy her whatever sweetmeat she wants, maybe some wine, and then when the festival winds down ask her if she has some place to spend the night?”
“For charitable reasons?” asked Bob.
“Of course, for the most charitable reasons,” responded Juan, “and if that doesn’t work, I say we get some whores!”
Jazz was the first to break out in laughter. Bob and Lefty followed. Soon, Juan joined them.
“Did I tell you that my nickname as a kid was ‘Randy’” said Juan.
“I am sure it was well-deserved,” responded Lefty.
“What’s in the other bag,” asked Jazz.
“Let me see,” said Lefty, pulling out the second bag.
Lefty opened the second bag and pulled out a sandwich.
“No way!” shouted Bob.
“A sandwich?” asked Jazz.
“Is it toasted with butter, with a slice of spiced meat and garnished with green and red vegetables?” asked Bob.
“Yeah, that looks about right,” said Lefty.
“I don’t believe it,” said Bob.
“How did you know that?” asked Lefty.
“I used to be part of our Noble’s guard, and I was sent on a suicide mission to deliver a package to our Noble’s s cousin the Duke. Everyone died but me. But, I delivered the package and it turned out to be a sandwich just like this one.”
Everybody looked at the ground for a while.
Finally, the Bard looked up. “This is strange indeed. There must be more to these sandwiches than meets the eye.”
“Either that or the Nobles around here are stark raving mad,” said Bob.
“Actually, both are possible,” said Lefty.
“I know this tavern. The beer there is exquisite; nothing quaffs your thirst as well as their light lager. The pilsner is the perfect party drink. And, the hard ale will put a nice edge into the night,” said Juan.
“What does that have to do with anything?” asked Bob.
“Oh,” said Juan, “the publican has hired this Halfling baker. Some of the best home baked breads, dripping in creamery butter and liberally lavished with honey. It is best with a punch of whiskey and milk.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Bob.
Gurgle. Everyone could hear Bob’s tummy rumble.
“Well, I have been told there is a Wizard that hangs out there, and has been talking about strange goings on in the bakery world. I’ve been told that for 10 gold pieces, he tells pub tales and answers questions. Maybe, he knows something about this sandwich,” said Juan.
“Did you say 10 gold pieces?” asked Lefty. “You mean the same amount as in the first bag?”
“Yes, that does seem like quite the coincidence,” said Jazz, “tell me. Is this tavern headed in this direction?”
And, with that Jazz pointed in the direction the crystal golem was headed.
“Yes, more or less,” said Juan.
“Well, I think the fates have sent us a mission,” said Jazz.
“To try the beer sampler,” asked Juan?
“No! I mean yes. We could do that too. I mean we could always kill two birds with one stone. But solve this mystery,” said Jazz.
“Can we try and pick out some girls?” asked Juan. “I mean can we distribute charity to the less fortunate of the fairer gender?”
“Juan, you are going to get into trouble if you go on like this,” said Bob.
“I know,” responded Juan, “but let’s face it if I were less randy, I’d probably never be an adventurer. Fate takes away with one hand while giving back with another, don’t you think?”
“Maybe,” said Jazz. I wonder what fate has to offer me?
Bob, too, looked pensive. I guess it is like having a heightened sense of smell when you are blind. I wonder why his god made him so randy? And, why am I no longer brave?
Lefty broke the silence, “All my life I have had to work in the shadows. I have learned much about the shadows in the process. But, I have a plan. Someday, I will own my own business. I will sell scent to those who need it the most: Half-orcs and dwarves. I can imagine a day when the beast among us find their beauty and they will thank…me: Lefty! I really believe this is the way I will realize my dream.”
By killing monsters? Thought Bob.
“Let’s go find that wizard,” said Juan. I just know he will be the answer to all our problems.