After that last poem, I spent almost two years writing nothing but notes for my weekly D&D game. I can’t really explain what happened. If I am as honest with myself as I can be, I guess I just quit trying.
I no longer remember what prompted the exercise I’m posting below, either. One day in June of 2004, I saw the picture below (by Larry Elmore – please don’t sue me!), and was struck by the urge to explain it. What resulted is what you see below.
The location names and backstory are all, to the absolute best of my knowledge, my own creation. I have even added on to this setting over the years, though not with any significant additions. I’ve mainly been fleshing out the world itself, for use in a tabletop roleplaying game.
I hope you enjoy it.
The shopkeeper yawned. It was long after dark, and long after he should have been asleep, yet he always felt an obligation to balance his ledger before retiring for the night. The oil in the lamp on the counter was getting low; he figured it must be close to midnight. Yawning again, he stretched, and was about to shut the ledger, satisfied with his day’s work, when he heard his door open.
Looking up, he saw two cloaked figures walk in. Both stood a head taller than he, even if he was standing. From his unfortunate vantage point in the stool, they seemed to loom above him like the soaring Flamespur Mountains to the west of town. Wordlessly, they walked in, leaving the door open, as if to show him how unconcerned they were that someone would see them.
Taking them in, the shopkeeper was surprised to notice that neither wore any outward sign of weapons. His thoughts of fighting the men evaporated when he saw the second one’s moustache. Beginning under the intruder’s aquiline nose, it ran in a slight angle around his lips and across his cheek, meeting his sideburns in the dark recesses of the hood. The lower jaw was left bare, in the style of the high-ranking members of the town’s ruling Sorcerer’s Circle.
This fact paled in comparison to the other figure. Having entered first, the first intruder was already completely around the counter, standing no more than two feet away. While the second intruder had a distinctive moustache, this first one had no features at all. It wasn’t that they were obscured in shadow; there wasn’t anything to reflect the light from the lamps at all. This sank into his heart like a lump of cold iron. The first intruder was none other than a Fetch.
Fetches were common knowledge, for everyone liked fairy tales and fireside stories. Supposedly servants of the Dark God of Night, Noctis, they were his elite henchmen. Nothing could escape them; heroes had fallen to them before. None had been seen or heard from in nearly 500 years, when the last war against the Eternal Darkness ended. Yet, here in his shop, one stood within arm’s reach.
The shopkeeper stood up to run away, but the figure reached out a hand, hauntingly humanlike, and pushed him back down. Seated again on his stool, the shopkeeper grasped the key to his locked bureau that hung on a chain around his neck.
He knew why they had come. He had watched over it carefully since it had become his responsibility long ago. It had been a secret all this time, but that had changed, and with dramatic consequences…