Was I a fool? Why had I traveled all this way, so far from the land I use to call home, for the promise that
may have just been a lie?
The gypsies had spoken that the fertile land to the east helped foster magical gifts in young souls. Was
that just a lie to gain my trust, or did they speak untruths to gain my coin?
Why was I here? Why did I listen? Why was I so desperate to prove that the years spent studying the
arcane had not been wasted on a useless…
I stopped myself. Maybe tomorrow would be better. “I’ve only been here for a few days”, I reasoned,
“Perhaps later in time, this land will yield more tangible…results.”
“Placing your faith in things you can’t see yet again, Zarth?” The voice in the back of my head spoke,
“You use to mock those who muttered words into the air, asking for results that never came.”
“That was…different.” I reasoned, though I knew it was a lie. I growled at myself, and turned hastily to
I needed a drink.
Scowling, I made my way to the bar, and sat on the rough, wooden stool. A fair bar maiden approached,
with a glass of ale intended for other customer.
“What’s the matter, hun? Somebody got ya down?” The maid spoke, inquisitive about my slumped
demeanor. I looked up, and quickly flashed my perfect smile.
“Nothing you need to concern yourself with, my dear.”
“It’s my JOB to be concerned with my customers.” She spoke, and set the glass of ale down in front of
me. She placed a finger to her lips, a sign of silence, and then walked to get another glass for the other
customer. I gave her a silent cheer with my glass, and gulped down some of the rather sweet tasting
She came back a moment later to refill my glass. “Well, you look better than before, you sure piped up
“With a face like yours, I’m sure you could cheer anyone up quickly.” I purred, far too skilled at this
She blushed in approval, and beamed. “So where y’all from?”
“The Kingdom of Earth!” I waved my hands overdramatically. “Where the gems grow like wildlife, and
the people are forged from stone.”
“I’ve never heard of it! Sounds wonderful.”
“Less wonderful then you’d think.” I winked, gulping down a bit more of the ale. “Stone girls aren’t
nearly as friendly as you folks down here.”
“And what do you mean by ‘friendly’, sir?” The woman suddenly frowned.
“Hospitable, of course!” I quickly recovered myself. “I don’t even know your name, and you’ve already
served me what I assume must be your finest ale, and given me a chance to converse with one of the
finest waitress in all the town.”
She smiled once again. “You’re too kind, traveler. My name is Sethina.”
“Sentina.” I tested the name on my tongue. “It is very beautiful.”
She smiled, then grimaced as she noticed a few of the other customers growing restless waiting for their
drinks. “Gimme a sec, hun.” She spoke quickly, curtsied, and walked to refill the impatient customer’s
mugs. “Before I go though, I didn’t catch your name?”
“Zarth” I spoke, loving the way the z always tickled my tongue. “Zarth Earthkin.”
After enjoying a wonderful meal, I was later introduced to Bethla, Sentina’s friend and fellow bar maid.
After Sentina kindly explained where I had originated, Bethla had insisted I talk more about the Kingdom
of Earth, and what life was like back home with the Oreads. Of course, my past isn’t something of
comedy and lore, so I made it up on the spot. They believed every honey dripped word, and laughed
along with my tails.
“I swear, the king was twice my size!” I laughed, and listened to their laughter in turn. “How would I
return the crown without his knowledge? He would have had me hanged!”
Suddenly, my story was interrupted by a small man who suddenly burst through the door of the bar.
“The gods!” The man muttered, obviously shaken. “They’ve taken her! They’ve taken her!”
A giant man stood up from near the entrance. I was shocked I didn’t notice him before; it appeared like
he took up half the room. He wielded a giant, almost golden axe, blood stained into the metal. Everyone
flinched as he stood, and for once in my life I felt the fear that I once felt back in my youth.
“WHO IS HER?” The man stated, the room reverberating with his massive voice.
“M-my wife, sir.” The man’s meager voice quivered in comparison. “I don’t know what to do, she’s all I
had, I can’t, I don’t know where she went, where she went or did, or-”
“PERHAPS A DRINK WILL CALM YOU.” The giant spoke, offering a mug of what I assumed to be a thick
“W-what you were drinking would probably KILL me!” The man backed away slowly. “Besides, there’s no
time to waste! They took her and I need her back!”
“Calm down sir, how do you know your wife didn’t just leave?” Someone spoke. I looked around for the
voice, when a woman in a robe seemingly emerged from the wall. She looked almost invisible compared
to the sleek, black interior of the bar.
“With the pot on to boil…?” The man whimpered. “After years of marriage, in the middle of the day?”
“SO YOU THINK SHE WAS TAKEN?” The giant’s voice boomed across the bar.
“It wouldn’t be the first time; people’ve been disappearing for months…people think it’s the orcs…”
“Disappearing, you say?” A short man with combed, red hair slipped off his chair. “I’ve heard of these
occurrences, and I was actually attacked by these beings recently, though I am unsure if they are orcs. I
shall help find you wife.
“AS SHALL I.” The Giant’s voice shaking the small, wooden Inn.
“Silence.” The robed woman spoke. She received confused looks from the men in the party. “We don’t
know anything yet. As inspiring as your bravado may be, we need to research more of what happened
here. Can you take us to your house, sir, so we can see what might have happened?”
“O-of course.” The weak man sputtered.
I jumped off my barstool, sensing adventure. After quickly grabbing my ale, I raced to where the strange
group was congregating.
“Well, don’t count me out of a quest; I can’t let you guys have all the fun! Shall we be off?” I spoke,
voice full of excitement and energy.
The woman in black looked annoyed at my intrusion, and then shrugged. “Yes, let us be off.”
As we left, I noticed the large man was leaving his ale on the counter instead of finishing it. What a
waste of what would be such good Ale! I quickly tossed a pouch full of silver coins on the table, winked
to the friends I had made at the bar (receiving curtsies from both in return) and nicked the large man’s
mug of ale and my own.
We made it to the man’s house, and let me tell you, calling it a house was an overstatement. His, well,
shed contained a fireplace, some of the tackiest dishware I have ever seen, and a small, one person bed
that looked horrendous. Not that I would have wanted to take something from someone so poor of
The man continued whimpering and explained the situation to the woman in black. She investigated the
house looking for clues, and the other men questioned the man about the other things they saw.
I finished the ale, and slyly slid the two mugs onto the counter. Suddenly, the woman in black rushed
back in the house.
“I found tracks leading into the forest! This is where she must have been dragged!”
“Excellent!” I exclaimed in unison, “Shall we be off?” I took a step outside, and my foot landed in the
farmland mud. The woman in black gave me an unearthly glare, and I reluctantly noticed I had stepped
in the tracks she had just found. I grinned sheepishly, and she just sighed annoyed.
“LET US GO.” The giant stepped out, obliterating the trail with his massive footsteps.
“Wait!” The man called out. “Not the forest! The orcs live there, it’s too dangerous, I couldn’t ask you
folks to go out there!”
“That’s the cool thing about us, farmer.” I said, getting out my musket, and loading it. “You don’t have to
“Before we leave, is there anything we can take?” I grinned my best “I’m-not-a-thief” smile.
“What!?” The man asked incredulously.
“You know, something to identify her by. Perhaps we can pick up her sent with a wolf or dog?”
“Um sure…” The man quickly searched his hut, then picked up a small silver cup. “She drank out of this
“Excellent!” I spun the cup on the tip of my finger. The man looked sick with worry, so I attempted to
distract him by tossing the cup along with a few other items from his house in a small juggling routine,
but for some reason it didn’t appear to make him at ease.
“I’m really worried about you folks. I love my wife more than myself, but you should really consider the
risks of this…”
“WHATEVER LIES IN THE FOREST WILL BE NO MATCH FOR US.” The giant roared, as if to challenge
anything foolish enough to challenge him that existed in the forest. There was no hint of any weakness
or insecurity in his voice; his booming voice only exuded extreme and undeniable confidence.
‘Gotta hit it off well with this guy…’ I gulped to myself as he stomped through the path to the forest.
Once we reached the forest, the woman in black took the lead and appeared to be looking for some kind
of trail. Perhaps she was a sort of tracker? I honestly didn’t know. The sky looked pretty today.
I bounded up to the big man, determined to make a good impression.
“So, where are you from?” I asked, jubilantly.
“Far, far away, where few would dare choose to roam.” He rumbled ominously.
“Why did you choose to ‘roam’ there?”
“I would never have chosen to roam there.” He sighed heavily. Unnerved, I didn’t pry any further. I
bounced up to the woman in black, who was looking intently at different trees and shrubs.
“Hey, we’re not lost, are we?”
“Of COURSE we’re not lost. Look around you, we’re clearly on the trail.”
I looked around, but I saw no evidence of a trail.
She cursed under her breath, and continued walking. I shrugged and did the same.
We walked in silence for a while longer. Suddenly, the woman in black yelled for us to stop. I froze in
place, along with the dwarf, but the giant man took no heed until he was a few yards ahead of us all.
“WHY HAVE WE STOPED?” He rumbled.
“There’s a marking on this tree.” The woman said simply. We all gazed at the marking, but it had no
special meaning to me. Perhaps it was a drawing of some sort?
“Hey guys, look at this!” I called, convinced I had found something far more interesting. There was a
small, almost shining patch of blue moss underneath the over grove of a large tree. I had never seen
moss this exact shade of blue, and I almost felt like it meant something. Something itched in the back of
my mind…was it a divine sign, or an important alchemical ingredient from long ago?
“It’s moss.” The woman in black sighed in frustration. “It’s all around us. Congratulations for finding
some. Can we stop wasting time and get moving?”
“INDEED.” The large man roared. I slumped over disappointed, realizing that the bluish moss was
actually insignificant, as a further look revealed the odd colored moss was all around us.
“Well, we could always smoke it!” I laughed, trying to ease the tensions of the group, along with making
myself appear more competent. No one laughed, and I sunk a bit in my cloak.
We walked awhile longer, and it grew late. The sky lit up with beautiful shades of pink and yellow, as the
sun began its wondrous decent into the horizon.
“Are we going to walk at night?” I wondered aloud.
“Why wouldn’t we?” The woman responded.
“Well, we won’t be able to see as well. And I like seeing. It’s one of my favorite things to do.”
“Are you afraid of the dark?”
“No, of course not.”
“You’re afraid of the dark!”
“I am not!”
“Oh my gosh, you are a child.”
“I am NOT a child, and I am NOT afraid of the-”
“THE DARKNESS SHALL FEAR ME!” The large man roared. We both flinched as his voice reverberated
across the forest. We both gulped in unison and shut up.
Suddenly, I felt a searing hot pain in my shoulder, as if someone stuck a red hot poker inside my arm.
I howled in agony, gun waving accusingly into the forest. I glared into the woods, but my attacker was
nowhere to be seen. I whirled around, and backed up to a tree, where I assumed I would be safe.
It was an arrow. An arrow was INSIDE me, inside my shoulder. I winced in acknowledgement, and stared
slightly from the tree’s cover to try to spot my attacker.
The large man spotted him first. It was a hideous looking goblin dressed in nothing but a (thankful)
loincloth, wielding a wicked looking longbow. He streaked with pleasure at hitting is target, getting the
unfortunate attention of the large man.
The man ran up to the tree, and smashed his great axe against the branch the goblin sat upon. The
branch exploded in splintering wood, and the man re-introduced the goblin to the ground, head first. It
didn’t move again.
A piercing whistle echoed through the woods, and suddenly I heard the snarling of wolves. I turned
toward the sound of the whistle, and I felt the far too familiar feeling of an arrow slide into the muscle
of my back. Warm blood guzzled out my shoulder, and I gritted my teeth to prevent from screaming out.
I whirled around to face my attacker: a smaller goblin sitting in a nearby tree. Perhaps it was the arrows
in both shoulders, and the pain coursing through my veins, but my first shot barely even grazed him,
drilling a hole through what must have passed for a collar bone.
A wolf leaped from the bushed at me, and sank its teeth into my leg, dragging me to the ground. The
dwarf rushed forward and smashed the wolf with the broad side of his sword, stunning it momentarily.
I attempted to use the dwarf’s distraction and roll away, but the wolf noticed my less than elegant
escape, and managed to claw into my stomach before I could roll into safety. The dwarf swung at the
wolf again, missing, but by now catching its full attention.
Cursing my ill luck, I tried frantically to re-load my musket. I swirled my head to see the large man smash
one of the larger wolves into the tree, splintering the tree and killing the wolf with his massive hands.
My hands methodically loaded the musket, and once it had been loaded properly, I took desperately
focused aim (as this could have been the death of me!) and fired at the goblin in the tree.
RIGHT THOUGH THE CHEST! His smoldering remains flew from the tree, and crashed against the ground
nearly twenty feet from where he was hiding.
I turned, and once again re-loaded my gun. The dwarf was locked in combat with the wolf, obviously
not faring well. I frantically hastened my reloading, when the large man came tearing out of the
undergrowth, smeared with blood that surely wasn’t all his.
“HAVE WE WON!?” The man shouted, and then turned hastily at the sound of the remaining, snarling
wolf. “NOT YET, IT SEEMS!”
The wolf jumped at the man, and he used the blunt of his axe to impale the wolf’s skull. It instantly
ceased movement, it’s skull in a hauntingly unnatural concave state, with red goo oozing out of the side.
“Is everyone alright?” The woman in black called out. I tried to speak something witty, but sputtered a
bit of blood instead. I collected myself, and then attempted to respond again.
“Yeah, thank the gods you were there! Who knows what would have happened if you hadn’t hid in the
bushes. One of us could have been shot!” I sarcastically motioned at my collection of arrows.
“Hiding?! I shot one of the one’s aiming directly at you! My bolt went straight though his tongue!
Without me you would have been even more of a pin cushion. I admire the porcupine style, by the
“It’s slightly more uncomfortable then high heels, I admit.” I winced.
“It’s amazing they can sink that far into you. How far is that, 4, five inches?” She snickered, eying my
back. “That’s impressive, and it’s going to feel great ripping those out.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” I grinned, in a sickly way. I promised myself then, no matter how dire
the circumstances, there would always be room for a laugh.
“You guys look a bit…rough.” The dwarf spoke up. “Perhaps we should rest for the night. There’s a small
over grove here where I think the goblins camped out. We could use that for today.”
“Why would we stop? We can still go on in the dark.” The woman spoke.
“Well, as fantastic as I feel, I’m worried I would break these priceless arrows if I pushed myself further.”
“Ah, suck it up.”
“INDEED!” The giant spoke, “LET US CONTINUE. WE WASTE TIME STANDING HERE.”
“Look, neither of you-” The dwarf spoke, looking at the giant and I, “-look to great right now. Let’s camp
here for the night, heal our injuries, and continue.”
“…fine. I could use my beauty sleep.” The woman hissed reluctantly.
“You could use a heck of a lot more than that!” I quipped. She shot me an evil look.
“HAS THE DARKNESS BECOME A WALL!?” The giant rumbled, “WHY ARE WE NOT PROCEEDING!?”
“We cannot see in the dark. The trail will have gone cold for the night. We will be more productive and
strong in the morning.” The dwarf concluded. “We should have someone to keep watch though. Which
one of us-”
“I WILL TAKE ALL THE WATCHES!” The giant man shouted.
“Love the enthusiasm big guy…” The woman rolled her eyes sarcastically. “But let’s be realistic here. You
don’t look as handsome smeared in blood, and the mage over here is a pin cushion-”
“A SEXY pin cushion!” I chimed.
“…Whatever. Let’s not tire you out for tomorrow. You can take first watch along tiny over here, I’ll catch
the second, boom-stick over here will catch third.”
“Fair enough.” I wandered around, and noticed some potions had fallen on the floor. They were all
different colors. I remembered a bit from my alchemy training in the Earth Kingdom, and started
identifying them. “Hey guys, look at these potions! This one is ‘hide from owls’, this one is ‘cure light
fear’, this one is ‘bear’s knowledge’, and this green one I think is ‘eagle’s poison’-”
“Give me those before you hurt yourself.” The woman spoke, snatching the potions. “Oh for god’s sake,
they’re LABLED. This one is cure light wounds, and a few of the others… these aren’t even close to what
“I almost got the cure light wounds one! Cure light fear was close. Fear, healing, it was close!”
“You thought that one was the BLUE one!” She rolled her eyes. “You’re going to get us all poisoned or
worse. Take the cure potion at least, you look like shit.”
“And yet…I feel so much worse.” I hummed, thankfully taking the potion. I almost took a swig, when the
dwarf bumped me hard, getting my attention.
“You need to take the arrows out first, son. Do you want help…? I am a Paladin; I have been trained in
healing. I can do so without causing much more damage than has already been done.”
“NAAAW, I got it.” I grabbed the first, arrow, and tugged. It came out rather faster than I expected,
making a sickly “Shllllick”. I winced in pain as warm blood oozed out of the wound, and I began to feel a
bit more light headed. “See? I got this!” I said confidently.
The dwarf began to look pale as I grabbed the second arrow. I pulled on it roughly, put it stayed impaled
in my back. My vision blurred momentarily.
“I got this, I got this!” I gave it another tug, and the wooden part of the arrow tore itself free from my
back. I still felt the stone arrowhead lodged inside myself, but after some digging I managed to pry it
“Easy stuff.” I panted, feeling suddenly warm and carefree.
“Here, let me take a look at your back…” The dwarf stuttered, walking around me. His eyes grew wide
at the sight of my blood soaked armor. Quickly grabbing a leaf and soaking it in his own saliva, he
attempted to glue the sticky leaf upon my wound to stem the bleeding, but to no avail.
“You can take that potion now, son…” The dwarf’s concerned voice washed over me like a small wave.
“The potion in your…hand.”
“Hmmm?” I looked at my hand, and sure enough, I was suddenly holding a potion. “Huh. If you say so,
because… I trust you, man. You’re like…you got that face, of someone that…that you trust, you know?”
“Just drink the potion.”
“Yessir…!” I poured the potion into my mouth, and almost instantly felt my wounds stabilize themselves,
and the holes in my back harden into scabs. “AAaaaaaaaaugh. Oh. Oh man. I needed that.” I blinked,
suddenly more lucid.
“Evidently.” The dwarf shook nervously. “The name’s Barum, by the way.”
“Zarth!” I twirled around, bowing sarcastically.
“AERON!” The giant roared behind us, making us both jump in surprise.
“Not caring.” The woman mumbled, making it obvious she was trying to sleep. “But it’s Tatya for the
“Nice to be acquainted with all you fine folks!” I bowed again, in my false royal mockery. “And I shall
be off to sleep. Does anyone call the bed? No? Well, I suppose I shall be the one to suffer in its warm
“Bed? That’s little more of a mess of furs…” The dwarf commented.
“Good enough for me!” I laughed, diving stomach first on the mess of fur. It was just as comfortable as I
pictured, and I warmed myself under the disorganized pile of pelts.
I smiled as I drifted to sleep. The woman had called me a mage… ~