Every Stories Heroes
Every story has heroes. Those who start from humble beginnings and go on to change the world, or more. The heroes of this story don’t only change the world, not even the universe. These heroes affect every living thing everywhere, in every universe and plane of being, their story is the story of all life. Here we see a flash of blades. The wound from a familiar face. The descent into oblivion. The burning of flesh. But this is not where our story starts. Our story starts like many do, at the beginning.
Gravrin Stonesafe woke with a start. His wide dwarven frame barely lit by the moonlight that filled the small clearing he and his party had made camp in. It’s not until he rubbed the sleep from his eyes that he realized he was sweating. The dwarf had rusty red hair and a long beard that was intricately braided reaching toward his waist. Mumbling curses in dwarven he wiped the sweat from his brow and dug into a large pack that sat next to him, a clinking of metal as he brought out a flask of ale and drained it dry, tossing it aside and digging for his next one.
“Little early for alcohol isn’t it, dwarf?” Sitting a short distance away and hovering a short distance off the ground, Thamoir Elodar Alondrin didn’t even open his eyes to address Gravrin.
“Shouldn’t you be keeping watch, magic man?” Gravrin’s rough voice seemed even more harsh in the early morning.
“Your eyes are closed.”
“You never understood the concept of magic did you?”
“Obviously not.” He felt a cold metal in his large pack and pulled. Instead of the expected delivery of yet another flask of ale, a large hammer emerged from his bag. Gravrin sighed and looked over his old weapon. Chips were apparent over much of the head and the once tightly wound fabric on the grip was now loose and frayed. A small amount of movement in the corner of his eye sent Gravrin into ready position, his hammer at ready in front of him and his muscular stout build sturdy for his adversary. Instead of an adversary though, just four more bodies lay in front of him, now stirring into the wakened state. The first party member that awakened was a mountain of a man. Gravrin remembered being told about him, a mul. Muls are children born of a dwarf and a human, by a bizarre combination of genetic traits muls are larger then both. Standing at over six and a half feet and covered with mounds of muscles he was a perfect display of what muls are. Not that this one would know. When first meeting the party he was told that this mul has no memory, and a sizable hole in his head to explain why. All they know is that he has become primal and introduced himself as Enkidu. Stretching to his full height, Enkidu made no sound, just stared into the woods. Suddenly he took off into the wood, presumably to hunt himself breakfast.
“Tense?” Thamoir was no longer trancing, instead he was flipping through a spell book and nonchalantly leaning against a tree. “Have you been having the dreams?”
Gravrin scoffs at the mention of dreams, “No” he stated plainly. They told him about these dreams they were having that tell of a mysterious artifact. The dreams that brought them together and to his home of Hammerfast. Though he does remember dreaming of a strange object, he also remembers drinking a lot. “I’m just not used to working in a group.” Now was when Gravrin realized he was still standing with his hammer at the ready. Quickly composing himself, Gravrin hooked the hammer onto his back, followed by pulling out it’s twin and placing it right beside it.
“I gather that” Thamoir’s eyes turned the the three remaining members of their party who were just barely awakening. The intensity in the eladrin’s eyes could only be from a past rife with disappointment and destruction. Gravrin can’t comprehend what could give someone such eyes, and so he doesn’t ask. Looking over the mage, the eladrin features were very apparent. Much like elves, the eladrin are slim and around human height. Thamoir’s hair was long and waved like ghostly strands in the wind. He was actually quite strikingly beautiful, much like the rest of his race, and much like the rest of his race it was impossible to tell how old he could be. The way he held himself and treated others, Thamoir was obviously some kind of nobility, such an odd adventure for someone of nobility to take on. “Still,” He put his spell book into his robes. “You didn’t have to follow us after we departed from Hammerfast, we only hired you to take us further into the mountain, and yet you tag along just like the rest of these seekers.”
“I’m just out to find who jumped us in the caverns, I don’t like being beaten.”
Thamoir cocked his head at the reminder of being attacked around Hammerfast. It is true that they were only saved by some sort of miracle and by all accounts, they should be dead. This would be enough to anger a dwarf, “Then again, anything would be enough to anger a dwarf.” Thamoir chuckled to himself at his little interior joke, apparently finding himself quite humorous. Still, he suspected something else was keeping Gravrin here.
“I don’t like being beaten either.” A new voice added. This came from another adventurer, Albrek Silvethri, or as everyone else called him, Si. Si was a shadar-kai, a race of people who would find home in the darkest parts of the world, living in a place that sits between life and death, the Shadowfell. Si was much like his home, dark and withdrawn. His body was adorned with numerous tattoos and piercings, for this is how his dreary world shows its life. Living in a place that naturally drains your happiness, the shadar-kai have adapted by seeking dramatic experiences to make them feel alive. Si has taken this to mean that he will travel seeking exhilaration by fighting and killing monsters. His most prized tattoo of the symbol of the Raven Queen is only seen for an instant until it is covered as he adorns himself in his cloth armour. From his pack he pulled as thin cloth. In one swift move his was tied around his low-light eyes, blocking them from the harsh sun that was just rising.
Behind Si was a horned tiefling fumbling with his supplies. Garrick was an artificer, meaning he carries many supplies so he can work wherever he finds himself. Though with his most recent group, Garrick found himself mostly coming up with potions to try to keep his self-destructive friends alive. The demonic heritage of Garrick was evident, his large horns and long tail distinguishing him in a crowd. Despite the hatred that is normally directed at the red skinned demonics, Garrick has kept an aura of curiosity and optimism around him. As he talks the sharpened, spike-like teeth of his ancestors are seen. “So I think that if we start walking now, there is no reason we can’t be in Fallcrest by dusk. Unless of course we run into more problems like last night, but the chances of that are extremely low right?” Garrick had a habit of talking, a lot. By now much of the party was rolling up their bed rolls and preparing on the long hike to the town of Fallcrest. It was Si who noticed that one of them was still sound asleep. He took a step over the prone form and callously let the flat of his full blade hanging off his waist thunk into the head of the sleeping figure.
“Hey!” Stral rose rubbing the area of his head that Si hit. His green skin skin taking on a yellowish hue in the early morning light. Stral had his russet hair cut short and ruffly styled on his head. He stood taller then the rest of the party, with the exception of Enkidu, but his gaunt githzerai frame displayed only stringy muscles on his body. Stral was a strange githzerai, which is an interesting thing to say about a people who live in the Elemental Chaos, a place of ever changing geography. Though not much is known about the githzerai, Stral explained once that they are spiritual and a monastic culture. Observing strict lives that pull away from decadence and wealth. It seemed evident to the rest of the party that Stral didn’t exactly follow the teachings of his people. He has already shown on numerous occasions his desire to collect objects and treasures. “You did that on purpose!” Stral clamored to his feet, showing his height advantage over Si.
“Yes I did it on purpose!” Si didn’t back down at all, even daring to step forward until his and the githzerai’s chests were almost touching. “You were told that we had to leave early this morning, I warned you that if you couldn’t walk up I would. Just be happy I used the flat edge this time.”
“Gentlemen!” Thamoir’s voice boomed through the clearing, Gravrin was fairly sure he used magic to enhance it. “If you don’t mind we would like to get to Fallcrest with all six of us alive.”
“He’ll still be alive”
“And in one piece!” Thamoir wasn’t sure how much more of these commoners squabbles he could handle. “Now where is Enkidu?”
Thamoir barely got the question out before a bound group of dead rabbits landed with a dull thud in the middle of the party. Enkidu slowly lumbered up to the group. “Enkidu can make stew.”
“That’s gross” Stral adds.
Garrick ended up being correct about the travel time, the party arrived at the edge of Fallcrest just as the sun hit it’s began it’s crest below the horizen. Fallcrest was a small town barely over a thousand souls lived there, mostly consisting of humans, halfings and tieflings. The surrounding countryside is mostly taken up by farmland. From where they are they see plenty of citizens wandering the street as it appears they have arrived in the residential area of the town. To the north the party sees great bluffs separating this district from the higher class area up on the hills. But what most interests the party is what doesn’t match the city. To the northeast, sitting on a plateau, is a great green spire. Appearing as a emerald spike jutting into the sky, it seemed like an odd sight for such a town to have. It was immediately evident that it had to be a wizards tower.
Suddenly Thamoir spun to face the group, his long cloak flourishing in the air, “Alright, how much gold does everyone have?” Everyone took out their pouches and began counting their money. After counting off the amount that they each possessed Thamoir extended his robed arm toward them. “Give it here.”
“Whoa hang on.” Stral began to protest only to be swiftly cut off by Enkidu’s crudely fashioned coin pouch being flung into Thamoir’s open hand.
“Enkidu trusts the mage.” The mul’s massive arms sat crossed in front of him.
Thamoir nodded at Enkidu with approval “Thank you Enkidu, now the rest of you need to trust me, this is an investment and I swear it will return to you ten fold.”
“Whatever,” Si tossed his pouch at the mage, his eyes now covered by a thin cloth to block out the harsh light, “There’s not much in there anyways.”
“I’m not really sure if I should trust all my gold to you,” Stral once again tried to plead to Thamoir only to once again to be cut off by a flying pouch, this one belonging to Gravrin. “You don’t even like him,” Stral pointed out, Gravrin merely shrugged and drank yet another ale. “Stupid drunk.” Stral uttered as he reluctantly tossed his pouch to Thamoir. Now all that remained was Garrick who looked carefully at his very beautifully designed money pouch. Sewn onto the skin of the pouch was the sign of Moradin, the god of artisans. Garrick thought for a short time then faced Thamoir.
“How about I just give you some of my gold?” He proposed.
“Oh come on!” Stral threw his left arm into the arm, his other still hidden amongst the folds of his cloak-like rags. “I even gave him all my money.”
“I just feel that I may have need of some currency in this town.” Garricks voice seemed to possess a softness to it that made it soothing to the ears, Stral wouldn’t be surprised if he could talk a wolf out of it’s prey.
Thamoir considered for a second, looking at the gold he already held in his hand. “All right Garrick, I believe I have enough here, you may keep your money.”
“Come on!” Stral turned his back to the group.
“I will be back in at dawn. Perhaps you should find a place to sleep tonight, and work, we need work.” Thamoir spun on his heel and began plodding away.
“And how are we supposed to afford a place to sleep!?” Stral called after the rapidly disappearing eladrin. Thamoir stopped, thought for a second then spun around and pointed at Garrick without a word. He then spun back around and with a wisp of his robes he disappeared into the crowd.
“See?” Garrick was quite proud in himself. “I told you there would be a need for my gold.” Gravrin grunted and wandered off deeper into the city, followed shortly by a silent Si, who only glared at Stral before spinning to face the direction the dwarf was headed. “I don’t think he likes you.” Garrick placed his hand on the githzerai’s shoulder.
“I don’t think he likes anyone.” Stral patted Garrick on the back before breaking into a slow jog to catch up with the two swiftly disappearing silhouettes. Garrick turned to look at Enkidu who was only staring off into the direction that Thamoir had disappeared in.
“He’ll be back in the morning, don’t worry big guy.” Garrick playfully punched Enkidu in his massive shoulder.
“Enkidu sees a bird” Enkidu was actually staring at a tiefling down the street who had a small colourful bird perched on his shoulder. “Looks good.”
“Right,” He noticed that the others were rapidly disappearing, “Come on Enkidu, we don’t want to get lost.” The two adventurers took off at a jog to catch up to the three figures.
They arrived just as Gravrin was pushing open the doors to a tavern called The Lucky Gnome. Inside they find a mostly empty room that’s also mostly clean. In one corner sat two male halflings, they appeared to be competing in some personal drinking contest that neither appeared to be winning. The large steins seeming even bigger in their half sized hands. A lone human stumbled past the party, bumping into Stral as he does. Outside they heard the sound of the human puking onto the ground followed by a thump just as the door closed. Gravrin makes a bee line for a table near the back of the tavern. Stral audibly sighs and they all make their way to the same table as the dwarf.
“Ahoy! Bar wench! I desire my ale!” Gravrin proceeded to slam his fists on the table and make as much noise as possible.
“You have a backpack full of ale.” Stral made a grab for the candle that rested on the center of the table being bounced around by Gravrin’s pounding.
“It’s the principle of it!” Gravrin’s pounding become more rapid and Stral worried the table would break in half. Si merely sighed with annoyance and removed the cloth from his eyes, the dark of the tavern being more soothing to his light sensitivity. Enkidu suddenly stood up, nearly knocking the smaller Garrick out of his seat.
“Enkidu dislikes the sitting. Will hunt.” Without another word the mountain man left the tavern. It was Si who was the first to speak.
“Well, he just does that apparently.” Si leaned back in his chair as the door slammed shut from the exit of Enkidu. From the shadows of the Lucky Gnome came the scuttling of feet and a lady dwarf arrived at their table. Even by dwarf standards, this was an ugly dwarf. To describe her would be to destroy all hope of sanity and to use the word homely was in fact a compliment.
“What do you want!?” Her rotten teeth seemed to be leaking some type of greenish-blue fluid. Garrick felt the rabbit stew start to work it’s way back up his throat, even Si seemed paler then usual.
“Ale wench! And do not delay you horrid beast.” Gravrin’s social skills shined in his response. The barmaid scoffed, a sound which was likened to a pig dying, and spat on the ground.
“Watch your tone before I use your beard to wipe the floors.” Her voice reminded Stral about hearing the sound of two floating mountains grinding against each other, a pained expression was shown on his face.
“Why don’t you use your face, it can’t make it any worse!” Gravrin was now standing.
“If I use yours we might be able to cover that unfortunate sight with dirt!”
“I don’t see you getting my ale wench!”
“I spit on your ale!” This exchanged continued for another twenty minutes. The rest of the party could only look on in awe.
“Are they flirting?” Stral’s eyes flicked between the two dwarfs.
“I…I don’t know,” Garrick couldn’t keep up with the flurry of insults being thrown between the two. “Is this a mating ritual for dwarves?” He turned his eyes to Si who merely grunted and crossed his arms. Finally it appeared as though Gravrin was done his banter with the hideous being.
“Get me my Ale!” Gravrin harshly waved his hand to dismiss the barmaid and threw himself back into his seat. The woman muttered something in dwarven and hobbled off on her gnarled legs.
“I think I’ll see if the bartender knows of any jobs.” Garrick said. His tail leaving a small trail in the dust on the ground as he made his way to the dwarven bartender busily cleaning glasses.
Stral leaned his body closer to Gravrin and said, “You know, I think the barmaid likes you, Si agrees.” He motioned to the stone faced shader-kai.
“I really didn’t say anything.” He responded to Stral by flicking a small shell on the counter at his head, only to have the gith make a small movement to avoid the projectile. Stral stuck his sharp tongue out at Si. “What kind of monk are you?”
“From a monastery, not a monk.” Stral corrected. From behind him a sickly sweet smell slowly wafted into his sensitive nose. Turning around he found the source of the smell to be the barmaid. Up close Stral could count every mole on her face and every stringy, greasy hair on her scalp. The smell emanating from this creature felt like a mixture of a dead boar and rotten fruit. Stral instantly had to cover his mouth to keep from vomiting and Si noticed his skin become a lighter shade of green.
“Here’s your ale!” She slammed the stein down, sending three rats skittering from under the table.
“About time wench! Leave before you make the drink curdle.” Gravrin and the barmaid then started on another lengthy verbal bout. Si and Stral were about to fall asleep when the barmaid spun on her heal stomping off across the tavern yelling dwarven phrases back at Gravrin. Though neither of them understood the dwarf language, it was quite obvious these were some heavy curses, the small amount of paint on the walls started to peel from the ferocity of the swears. Finally the barmaid disappeared into the back of the tavern, leaving the three adventures to sit in silence.
“Test the ale!” Gravrin pushed the stein across the table toward Stral.
“That’s not going to happen.” Stral pushed the stein at Si.
“Don’t even think about it.” Si slid the stein back to Gravrin. From the bar Garrick returned to the table, taking his seat.
“The bar man says that the Lord of the city, Faren Marklehay, is searching for adventurers.” Garrick said. “He needs a team to deal with some troublemaking creatures on the edge of Fallcrest and, get this, is willing to pay handsomely for anyone that can help him with this problem.”
Stral perks up at the mention of payment, “Well this sounds like just our kind of job.”
“I’m sure I can find something to experience in there.” Si’s mouth twisted into a smile at the adventure to come.
Gravrin slammed the large stein into the table and rose it high in the air, “Tomorrow we begin a new quest!”
“May we find our answers!” Garrick lifted his fist into the air.
“And our experiences!” Si’s fist joins.
“And our treasure!” Stral laughed and placed his fist in the air as well.
“To victory!” Gravrin roared through the empty tavern and they all cheered. Gravrin took a swig from his stein, followed quickly by spitting it out. “Yes she definitely spat in it.” He places the stein on the table and wiped his mouth on his sleeve.
“We should probably see if they have rooms to rent here. ‘Oy! Barkeep!” Garrick turned his body to face the dwarf standing at the counter. “Do you have any rooms to rent?”
“Plenty!” The dwarf said, “Two gold for one night!”
Garrick turned back to the group, “Well I’m fine with that, here is two gold for each of you.” He put the coins on the counter with a sharp clink. “I shall see all of you in the morn.” With that the tiefling retired to his room.
“Rest well friends, we will hunt soon.” Si grabbed his two coins off the counter and made his way to his room on the upper floors, leaving only Gravrin and Stral to remain.
Gravrin slowly made his way to the barkeep, ale in his backpack clinking with every step. “Now, you wouldn’t happen to have any cheaper rooms would you?” He leaned on the counter expectantly, “Just a dwarf to dwarf favor?”
The barkeep thought for a short while before speaking, “While there is one room, but we recently had a group of goblins rent it and…well it’s covered in poo quite honestly. There’s room on the floor, but it’s still poo.”
“How much?” Gravrin said with no hesitation.
“Gravrin!” Stral was dumbstruck.
“It’s free” The barkeep said.
“I’ll take it.” Gravrin shook hands with the barkeep and headed off to his room.
“Gravrin!” Stral made long strides to catch up with the dwarf. “It’s a poo room.”
“It’s also free.”
“But it’s poo!” Stral watching in amazement as Gravrin marched up the stairs and into his poo room.
“Will you be staying with us?” The barkeep asked.
“No,” Stral began to leave, “I’ll find something to do.” Leaving the front of the tavern into the night air he instantly noticed the large footsteps of a mul leading away from town. Wrapping himself deeper into his rags, Stral began following the prints away. Around him Fallcrest was preparing for bed. People of all types where shutting their windows and snuffing out candles. Somewhere a dog barked and else where a group of birds perched. The prints eventually lead to the edge of the forest where Stral found Enkidu placed against a tree. “Hey big guy.” Stral approached the figure, who only seem more menacing in the pale moon light.
“Hello green one, was work found?”
“Yes, we will visit the Lord tomorrow to formally accept it.”
“Good, Enkidu require little sleep, green one can rest while I keep guard.” Enkidu motioned to the bed roll already set up under a nearby tree. Stral reminded himself that muls only require sleep once every three days and it was no difficulty for Enkidu to stay up tonight, he probably even preferred it.
“You are a wonderful being Enkidu.” Stral placed himself on the bedroll. Enkidu nodded
and wandered off into the wood. The githzerai sighed and laid back on his outdoor bed. Looking at the stars in the sky like a thousand fires doting the world above him, Stral couldn’t help but think about the adventure that lays before him. The dreams that the party seemed to be sharing flashed into his mind, followed by the mysterious artifact and his new teammates. He thought of Hammerfast. He thought of the artifact they found there. He thought of the ambush. Sword tearing through flesh. The assuredness of death. Survival. His mind kept racing through all that did happen and all that will until all of a sudden the thoughts stopped, and Stral slept.