Hero’s Tale VYA – Part 3

I’ve closed the comments. For the results, go check out the Shopping List. Thanks everyone!

This is the third part of a Vote Your Adventure story. More information is here. If you need to catch up, go read Part 1 and then Part 2 to see where we’ve been. Voting will close early Saturday, February 4, 2012. Enjoy the tale!

With the massive snake ready to strike, Bardulf made the biggest mistake he could have. He hesitated. In that split second of indecision, the serpent rammed him. He grunted in pain as he was knocked across the room.

All the commotion alerted them, and the guards rushed into the room with their spears ready. Bardulf had to give them credit, because neither delayed when they saw the creature. One was able to throw his spear, it bounced off the hide of the serpent and clattered to the ground. The other didn’t get a chance, as the snake swung its head into them. They crashed into the wall opposite Bardulf with sickening crunches. The other spear skittered near to Bardulf. With its spiked tail, the serpent swung at the doorway, and partially collapsed the entryway.

“You have ssslowed down over the yearsss.” The serpent drew close to Bardulf and scented the air. It seemed to laugh. “You have had sssomething to drink it ssseeemsss. Have the yearsss been that harsh that you have taken to sssspiritsss?”

Bardulf winced as he coughed, and felt his body. He grimaced when he touched his ribs. A few were broken. He needed to keep the snake talking while he formulated a plan. He had a dagger, and two spears for weapons. There might also be some stone where the doorway was he could make use of.

“Why didn’t you kill me? You said no witnesses.”

The slitted eyes narrowed as the head lowered to Bardulf’s height. “Thossse who know about the misssssion wesst need to be eliminated. We can’t have people sssspoiling our planss.” The tongue flicked out, almost touching Bardulf. “I thoughtss I would asssk you to join usss. We could ussse another Ranger.”

Bardulf paused, his plan stopping mid thought. “Another Ranger?” He frowned. “Calyn Solym is working with you?”

“Yesss.” The creature closed its eyes, affording Bardulf the chance to snatch the spear by him. “You won’t join, will youss?”

“No, I trained to kill abominations like you.”

The serpent’s eyes snapped open. “Then you die.”

As the serpent lunged forward, Bardulf brought the spear up, and caught the serpent in its mouth. It immediately jerked back, pulling the spear from Bardulf’s hands.

It shook its head, trying to dislodge the spear. Bardulf pulled out his dagger, and prepared to dodge the coming attack.

The spear flew across the room, and Bardulf watched it rear back, and then lunge forward. In that instant, he jumped to the left and sliced at the serpent’s head. He felt the dagger dig into flesh, and a roar of pain echoed in the room.

“Myss eye!” the serpent cried. As the creature writhed, Bardulf saw that he had cut the creature’s right eye, blinding it. The remaining eye turned its gaze to Bardulf, concentration evident. “You willsss pay. I willsss hunt you Sssyvani!”

It turned, and unfurled its wings as it slithered out the window. Bardulf rushed to the window, but it flew into the night with screams of pain.

The rest of the evening flew by. The ruined entrance didn’t stop anyone, just slowed them down. Guards and servants entered the study and helped clear things out, and then got Lord Alain and the injured guards taken to the infirmary. Bardulf went there as well, and had his wounds bandaged.

Only the steward of the house was allowed in to see Lord Alain. Bardulf was able to talk to Lord Alain through the steward. Lord Alain was surprised to find out that the creature was somehow linked to the mission. Bardulf told him that he would find out what happened, provided Lord Alain upheld his part of the bargain. The steward came out, “Lord Alain asks that you go see him. I will be back in a moment.”

Bardulf entered the room, and found Lord Alain lying in bed, covered in blankets. He was sweating from the venom in his system, and the location where he was bitten was a deep purple and swollen. “Come closer, Bardulf,” Lord Alain whispered. He closed his eyes to rest as they spoke.

“How do you feel, Lord Alain?”

“Everything hurts. My physician is doing what he can, but without the venom…”

“That monster has a vendetta against me now. I will get a sample when I meet it next. Please stay alive until I can return.”

Lord Alain smiled. “I intend to. Thank you for your service, Bardulf. For what you have done, this payment will be sufficient. My steward is getting the money right now, and I will instruct him to send servants to help on your farm. He is getting the map as well.” He took a slow breath. “I have one more request for you.”

“What is it?”

“If you are able, go through the village of Ruelinthal’s Edge. Ask for the blacksmith. He will be able to help you as you venture into the Wilds.”

“That should be the most direct route. I will do that, my lord.”

“Good. Before you leave, come kneel beside the bed.”

Bardulf frowned, but didn’t question the request. Lord Alain put a wavering hand on Bardulf’s head and began to pray in a quiet voice. “Holy King, please protect this man. Give him the strength he needs for the task ahead. Protect him.”

Inside his mind, Bardulf winced. A blessing like this was not just unneeded, but unwanted. Religion was for those with weak wills. He stood as Lord Alain removed his hand. “Thank you, my lord.”

The doctor stood just outside the door. “I heard you say you are going to find the creature that poisoned him?”

“Yes. How long does he have?”

The man wiped his hands on his robes. “It is hard to tell, as I have never seen this type of venom, I can’t do much. I have heard that there is an elf druid in Dawncrest, though. I sent a runner to request help in treating it, and finding an anti-venom. You know how the Fae are, though.”

Bardulf nodded. “I will be seeing that creature again. I’ll bring back the poison glands.” He looked at the frail man in the bed. “He is one of the few nobles I have met who is truly noble.”

He turned, and almost ran into the steward as the man approached. A pouch of coins and the map were in his hands. Bardulf took them. “Tell Lord Alain I will leave in the morning.” The steward nodded.

Bardulf told his wife of the events of the evening when he arrived home. She protested at first, which was expected. But as he explained everything she fell silent.

She poked his bandages, and watched at him as he winced in pain. “That is for what you will put me through while you are gone, Bardulf.” She smiled. “You have been restless farming all these years. If I could keep you safe here, I would. But, you are too reckless to be able to do that.” She took her necklace off, and gave it to him. “To remind you of me.”

The small silver heart in his hand was a gift to her after they were married. She always gave it to him on his journeys. He kissed her head. “I won’t be able to forget.”

In the morning, Bardulf gathered some blankets for a bedroll, his hatchet, and a traveling cloak. He also found his flint and steel. His bow was functional, but the string had broken. He was also running low on arrows. He would get some if the fletcher had a decent price. His wife gave him enough food to get him to Ruelinthal’s Edge. He saddled his horse, and stowed everything in its appropriate bag.

With a final goodbye, he ventured into the market to purchase the last few items. He payed 12 coins for a new bowstring. The arrows were too expensive, and Bardulf knew he would be able to make some as he traveled.

The general store was selling rope and grapples, which might be useful. They also had some travel rations. He had enough food until he hit the Wilds, and then he could find food as he went. But it would be nice to not have to.

The herbalist pulled out some medicinal herbs for him to look at, and they were relatively cheap. With his current injuries, they would be helpful.

The mapmaker was selling an older, but fully functional, compass. But the bigger find was a map of western Karathon. It even extended into the wilds some. “I can’t part with that for anything less than 125 coins,” the mapmaker said when Bardulf asked. He had made his own maps before, so Bardulf could respect the expensive price. When the mapmaker heard where Bardulf was going, he changed his mind. “Listen, traveling into the Wilds is rarely done, and I have heard you know how to make a map. If you promise to map more of the area as you travel, I will knock the price down to 50 coins. But when you return, I want that map. I will even pay you for your work.”
“A more detailed map than what I have, tempting. I’ll think about it.”

Bardulf didn’t want to spend all the money at once. The remaining 88 coin payment from Lord Alain needed to last. There was no guarantee that he could get more money as he traveled. He would have to pick what to buy carefully.

Inventory: bow, 4 quivered arrows, hatchet, dagger, flint & steel, traveling cloak, heart necklace, 88 coins in a pouch, food for traveling
Health: broken ribs

What should Bardulf purchase before he leaves (pick as many as you want, up to 88c worth)
A) Travel Rations – 5 days rations for 23c
B) Medicinal Herbs – 5 packets for 10c
C) Rope – 9c

D) Grapple – 17c
E) Compass – 22c
F) Map of western Karathon and the Wilds – 50c
G) Nothing

Hero’s Tale VYA – Part 2 Decisions

Thanks again for the comments! I’m having fun writing this. But, I have a problem that I can (luckily) blame on all of you.

What problem, you ask? Well, let’s look at the results of the voting for Part 2, shall we?
A) Call for the guards. – 0 Votes – 0%
B) Attack the creature. – 4 Votes – 50%
C) Attempt to talk to the serpent. – 4 Votes – 50%

50/50? Well, I wanted close, but I didn’t think I’d get that close. Guess my idea of giving you three choices this time backfired, since no one picked A. So… What to do?

Well, that’s what I need to figure out. You won’t find out till next Monday or Tuesday, though. I’m going to try posting Part 3 during the week and then do writing over the weekend to see how that goes. I just want to see if any more people vote or not. If there’s no difference, I’ll probably go back to the way it was. I find that I write better during the week.

So, I hope to see all of you in about a week!

Row80 1/23 Check-in

A day late checking in here. I had a busy weekend with family and some skiing yesterday. And I was way too tired afterwords to get anything posted. So, short and sweet.

I got Part 2 of my VYA posted. Today is the last day for voting, so please go do so, if you haven’t.

The other big thing was blacking out my blog Wed, Jan 18th in protest of SOPA. Other than that, it’s been quiet. I haven’t been able to get to all the other blogs in ROW80 this week. I hope to have more on Wed.

Hero’s Tale VYA – Part 2

Comments are closed now. I’ve posted the results, so go check them out. Thanks for reading!

This is the second part of a Vote Your Adventure story. More information is here. If you need to, catch up with Part 1. Voting will close early Tuesday, January 24, 2012. Enjoy the tale!

“I will go see Lord Belmont tonight.”

The servant nodded. “Should I go now, or do you want me to wait?”

Bardulf looked at the reports for a moment. “It wouldn’t be good to keep Lord Belmont waiting.” He picked up his reports, and stashed them in his satchel. The two of them walked towards the doors, and Bardulf stopped the serving girl as he walked by. He fished the last two coins out of his pouch, and handed them to her. “Thanks for keeping the ale coming.” She called out her thanks as Bardulf and the servant left.

The night was cold, and Bardulf found himself wishing he had worn a warm cloak. Their path was illuminated by the moon as it rose into the sky. It was a very peaceful evening in Belmont Acres.

When they arrived at Belmont Manor, the guards outside let them pass without question. As the servant led Bardulf through the halls, he admired the tapestries and statues that Lord Belmont had collected over the years. They arrived at a doorway on the second floor and stopped. “This is the Crimson Study where Lord Belmont works. Wait here, and I will come get you in a moment.” He knocked on the door, and a muffled voice on the other side asked him to enter. The servant opened the door and stepped in.

Bardulf admired the suits of armor that stood guard outside the doorway while he waited. They were crafted in a style from ages past, mostly made of chain-mail. But what really caught his eye was the tabard. The symbol embroidered on it was a scarlet dragon on a field of gold, the symbol of the previous kings of Karathon. Any more thoughts were lost as the door opened, and the servant motioned for him to enter.

Bardulf immediately understood why it was called the Crimson Study. The whole room was decorated with red. Lord Belmont stood out in the room as he paced the floor in a deep blue cloak. The lord’s hair had gone silver with age, but was still streaked with the darkness of his youth. Bardulf noticed a fire behind the worries in Lord Belmont’s eyes as he entered the study.

“Lord Belmont,” said the servant, “may I introduce Bardulf Sylvani.”

Bardulf bowed low. “It is a pleasure, my lord.”

“You may retire for the evening, Daniel,” Lord Belmont said to the servant. “Thank you for your service this evening.” Daniel bowed and left in silence. Lord Belmont looked past Bardulf, “I would like some privacy for this meeting.”

Bardulf turned and saw two guards at the doorway. He wondered how he had missed them. “We will be right outside, m’lord.” They closed the door behind them.

“I hope I am not interrupting anything this evening Bardulf.”

Bardulf nodded. “Only a quiet evening reading reports in a tavern, Lord Belmont.”

“Please, call me Alain, or Lord Alain if you must.” He smiled. “It has been too long since I have been able to enjoy a simple drink like that. I trust you are sober? It would do no good to have you passing out on me.”

“I confess that I would have rather waited until morning for this meeting, but I am sober enough.”

Alain nodded. “Good. Let me get right to the point, Bardulf. I need your skills as a Ranger.”

Bardulf frowned. “Daniel told me that you got a message today before you asked him to find me. I presume that it is related?”

This time it was Alain’s turn to frown. “He told you that? He is new and needs to learn his place in my household and hold his tongue.” He paused a moment. “But, you are correct.

“Six years ago, a scholar came to me requesting funds for an expedition. He had been studying the legends of the lost kingdoms of the west, and wanted to try and discover them. I agreed, and we gathered a team of adventurers and explorers for this purpose. They left five years ago.”

“Wait, five years ago?” Bardulf thought for a moment. “There was a former Ranger who came through around then and said he had a job. He couldn’t tell me what it was, though.”

“It was Calyn Solym, I believe?”

“Yes, that’s him. He studied some of those legends.” Bardulf paused. “Do you want me to find them?”

“Yes, and no.” The older man sighed. “My last message from them was four years ago. I presumed they all perished. The message I received today was from a servant of mine who went on the mission.” He held out a letter.

Bardulf took it, and looked over the letter. It was all gibberish to him, most likely a code. He looked up and handed it back. “I can’t read it.”

“Only a select few of my servants can read or write it. That is a code I developed.” He looked at the message. “It doesn’t go into detail, but it says that they discovered people living out in the wilds, and found some amazing artifacts. Whatever they found, one of their party took control and has imposed his will. There is something dangerous going on, but my servant didn’t say more than that. Bardulf, I feel responsible for this. I need someone to go and discover what is going on.” He held out something else, which Bardulf took. “This also came with the message. It is the location of where they are at.”

Bardulf gazed at the map. Wherever they were, it was deep into the mountains to the west.

“If you go, I will give you a 100 coins to buy supplies, as well as send help for your farm while you are gone. When you return, you will receive payment of 2,000 coins for your troubles.”

“2,000 coins as well as help on my farm? If I may be so bold, why so much?”

Lord Alain didn’t answer for a moment. He finally replied, “My son went on that expedition. I need to do something.”

Bardulf was quiet for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. He gazed at the carpet, his eyes following the patterns. He finally looked up to speak, and noticed a strange shadow in the window behind Lord Alain. He shouted as a large creature crashed through the window, sending glass flying. Lord Alain covered his face to block the shards.

What looked to be a massive serpent with wings crashed to the floor, and pulled itself up to a height of two men. Large leathery wings folded up as it looked around the room with dark eyes. The creature had a small horn on its snout, and Bardulf saw spines running down its spine. The tail ended with an arrowhead like spike.

Seeing Lord Alain, it struck as fast as lightning, biting him on the shoulder. It drew back, and stared at the man as he cried out in pain. “No witnessssessss,” it hissed. The serpent turned its scaly head and looked at Bardulf. There was a hint of surprise in the eyes. “Ranger Lordssss.” Bardulf readied himself as the serpent drew back to attack.

Inventory: satchel with reports, dagger, empty coin pouch
Health: healthy, but a bit drunk

Bardulf only has a split second before the creature attacks. What should he do?
A) Call for the guards.
B) Attack the creature.
C) Attempt to talk to the serpent.

Hero’s Tale VYA – Part 1 Aftermath

First, to all of you: Thank you! When I posted this on Friday, I was nervous. Will people like it? Will they vote? You have all exceeded my expectations. So again, thank you. Unfortunately for me, I’ve set a bar that I have to uphold. Time to start lifting!

So what were the results for Part 1?
A) I will go tonight. – 11 Votes – 100%
B) I will go in the morning. – 0 Votes – 0%

It seems I made the case for A too compelling. Sorry about that. I will make sure future choices aren’t that easy. I will include some of the ideas that you made in comments. You’ll see which later this week. And as a tidbit, a couple of you hit upon something that will be happening.

Lots of great comments, and I wanted to comment on two of them:

Loree – I would rather see this character sober up, but taking a risk is a lot more interesting than sleeping off an evening’s over-indulgence.

This is as close as we get to someone choosing B. And as one of my early readers, I know she was leaning that direction before I made some changes.

Mike – If he was *that* drunk he’d be slurring his words and/or joining in some bawdy sing-a-long. I reckon he’s good to go and can handle his drink – never keep a lord waiting!

That would have been quite funny, actually. Too bad I needed him functional and not passed out on the streets.

Come back on Friday for Part 2!