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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.
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I say C. Having a conversation with it would be interesting. Besides he can always attack if the talks don’t go well.
Wow, exciting, or terrorizing depending on the point of view. 🙂
I’m going with B) Attack the creature.
If the creature is poised to attack Bardulf, then he should attack back, or at least defend himself. In the process of attacking he can also call for the guards. However, with Bardulf shouting as the creature crashes through the window, the noise from the crashing window, and Lord Alain calling out in pain, I’d imagine that since the guards are right outside they might already be on their way in to see what is going on. They are guards after all, and it is their job to be on their guard and protect the lord.
I have some concerns about attacking a large winged serpent with only a dagger. I suppose it will have to do if it is the only option. Are there other objects available in the room that could be more effective weapons or good for defense?
I don’t think talking to the creature is the best idea. It obviously didn’t come there to talk. It came to kill. It is difficult to talk to a creature that is trying to kill you.
This is fun Brian!
I say B). I want to see a “healthy, but a bit drunk” guy facing “a massive serpent with wings” with a “dagger”…
I would say C. This is after all why the rich man is hiring him; his wits, his skills far above the normal peasant. I am certain with such a crash, the guards are already mobilizing.catching this thing alive may render information, but I doubt his survival as much as I doubt the rich man’s. Very nice start to things!
Having a conversation would be interesting, but the thing has attacked and is preparing to attack again. “No witnesses” is a particularly assassin-y thing to say. So I’d say, talking is unlikely to get anywhere (assassins generally have an idea not to explain what’s up), and isn’t likely to be the instinctive response. I agree that the guards are almost certainly on the way in already. So I’d focus on the fight, and say (B). How much this is actually attacking, and how much ‘draw your dagger just in time to get a slice in when it leaps at you’, we’ll see. But if we either avoid getting poisoned ourselves, or delay the thing a few seconds while the guards come in, it’s likely to leave when there are more and more witnesses showing up.
And it might just look better to be fighting instead of chatting, not that that’s entering the character’s thoughts in the half-second.
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B) Attack the creature.
The winged serpent recognizes the main character and intends to harm him. It also doesn’t seem like the kind of beast to carry on a civil conversation of any kind. Information could always be extracted from it as the attack ensues.
I will go with C. After all, diplomacy is the best policy, is it not? And I’m not sure how much good a dagger will do in this scenario… Besides, both A and B are still options if conversation fails. 🙂
My instinct was to go for B, but I would be curious to see if anything can be gained by talking to the creature. Unlikely, I’ll admit. Where’s a snake charmer when you need one? 😉
I’ll vote C.
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