How to be an Adventurer—An Introduction (Footnote: Unlike many readers, Yenrab was kinda enough to start his reading at the very beginning.)
‘Welcome to a new world, neophyte and be prepared to delve into its depths. In this place, we exist precariously between planes of existence, as I hope you know. We live in a land full of terrible, yet beautiful, magic. Power that infuses everything, though it is often unnoticed. You can find great things by wandering these lands. And you have already completed the first and most important step in any star-destined adventurer’s journey—take this. It is dangerous to go alone!
So, on to step 2. It is simple, really. Find companions! A tavern is the standard go-to for the man on a quest for an adventure. As the gods have willed, it is the divine cliché of our world. Go to a bar, get people drunk, talk to the bartender, hear some rumors about some cache and easily gather together a well-balanced party of clerics, wizards, fighters and rogues with which to slay monsters and gather treasure. The most important thing here is to have fun and remember, in the bar, on the eve of your first adventure, always trust these armed adventurer neophytes because, well, that’s how it always goes. It is as the gods have told it to be.’
It had been some days since his fateful exodus from the tribe. Yenrab felt a small and lingering sadness, but he didn’t dwell upon it.
It wasn’t his way.
He’d been lumbering forward ever onward, not sure of his destination. He trusted in the Great Bear to deliver him there. After all, that bug buggy Ursine in the sky had always delivered before.
He marched and marched, pausing only to sleep, to sup, or to relieve himself, reading lines from the tome as he did so.
How to be an Adventurer.
It was a strange book. It seemed to mock the whole premise and yet, if he were truthful to himself, that was the way these things always worked in ballads.
Also the language was quite peculiar. He doubted that the book was written in Orcish. (For those of you not in the know, Orcish is simply English, but written very badly and with an accent.) Orcs didn’t really adventure so much as get killed by adventurers.
It had to be a glamour of some sort. Magicked pages made to fit the eye of the reader.
He wondered what would happen if an illiterate paged through it. Perhaps the end of everything? Or maybe a massive tome full of wonderfully descriptive pictures?
Chapter one made it pretty clear what had to happen next. Yenrab was working his way down the west coast of the Reaches, searching for one of those many outposts and colonial towns created by hardened ogres, humans and occasional demihumans of Icegard. Their nation was in the midst of a half-millennium-long civil war and so people who got sick of the fighting were more and more often tasked with making new lands for their gardits on these wilder shores. Maybe these lands would bring them peace. More likely, they’d give them new things to fight about.
Still, the settlers had something that Yenrab sought. He had to find a tavern, whatever that was. The tome’s cover gleamed in his head as he thought about his future. How to be an Adventurer. Find a tavern. Get people drunk. It didn’t say I have to get drunk though. Lucky that.
And so, on the fifth day of travel, he shaded his eyes against the magnificent brightness of the sun and its resounding glare off of the waves of the Athatian Ocean. It was all so beautiful and yet so lonely. He sighed an orcish bellow of contentment. Birds scattered up and outward from the trees, chirping in protest.
“My lord,” a balding, middle-aged man stated. He rose out from seemingly nowhere as he hunched over a longish pipe. How he had gotten it to light was anyone’s guess.
“Holy Bear alive! (The scriptures are fuzzy on this point, but the Great Bear at one point entered a cave and did not come out again for five to seven months! It was a true miracle.)” Yenrab stammered. Everything had been so quiet for so long now that he’d fallen into a kind of introspective fugue state. He couldn’t remember much of what had transpired on the way. Still, even with that chasm in his memory, this didn’t seem right.
“I’m not the Holy Bear, but I might know a thing or two about him. So, this is where it all begins, eh?” The man rubbed the shadow of beard at his chin and coughed as he spectated about appreciatively. It started to get on Yenrab’s nerves.
“Ya know, I think, with all that just happened here, with the appearing and the lord part and now the ‘oh, this is where it all begins’ nonsense, maybe I deserve an explanation?”
“Humph,” the pipe smoker snorted and considered the young barbarian’s face. “Maybe, young Yenrab, if you would hurry the pace, you’d find out! A magic book about becoming an adventurer doesn’t simply fall into the lap of any passerby.”
The man paused. “You can read the book, yeah?” he asked with some hesitancy.
“Yeah, I’m reading it. Most of it isn’t there though. I thought, well, ya know, it would appear more and more to me as I did whatever it wants me to do.” Yenrab reached thick fingers through his rough strands of hair, scratching at his head. “But maybe it’s broken.”
“Everything is as it should be, Yenrab. Now, get a move on before it is too late! Oh and get a job, you lazy bum!”
Those final words seemed to echo and diminish after they were said. Yenrab just stared, trying to stamp down on the feeling that his life was becoming overly dramatic and not just a bit cliché.
And then the portly middle-ager was gone. Which was a shame because, while Yenrab had expected such to happen, he had also expected sparks, smoke, or magical rainbows to play the man out. As magical visitations went, this didn’t rank highly (Footnote: His worst though was the time some fairy tried to take his fallen tooth from under his pillow. He’d been saving that for dessert).
Tracing equations through the air, he thought on the matter—on how one could nail a scroll to a post near the ceremonial pit where people could rank goods and services of other tribesmen. Then he mentally crumpled the paper with sorrow. The tribe would never allow it. They never let him do any of his ideas. And he had left them anyways.
Everything had been so slow and gentle these fine days and he almost didn’t want to get to a tavern or town. Once he got to that town, whichever it was, life would pick up.
He knew this.
Everything would change.
He knew this as well.
And he wanted it to. He really did. Especially after Ghost Dad, or whatever the hell that was, had made a point of chastising him for his plodding.
But, you know, tomorrow. Not today. Or maybe the day after.
He walked slowly along the edge of the ocean bluffs, occasionally pausing to peer over the edge into the waves or to try to piss on some crabs scuttling through the sandy dunes. He laughed when he finally got one. He was a little sad when it stopped moving and sort of just slumped.
That seems like something I should get checked out, he thought, as he pulled his trousers back up from the ground. He was the sort of guy who dropped everything to his ankles when he peed. Easygoing, they’d say back in the tribe.
Raising his hand to shield his eyes against the glare of the sun, he could see a settlement in the distance. “Time to stop dragging my feet,” he said aloud. He shook his head and chuckled to himself before breaking into a jog forwards.
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