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Undercover in the wastelands!

Hey, while I should be working hard on my  memoir, I have been sidetracked by needing to do a bit of fantasy RPG prose. In my D&D game, I am making use of their off the Earth pathfinder background materials a bit, and mostly though of course making a lot of stuff up as I go. it's how I "roll," as a DM, to put a pun on it, as nerd rules require.

My gang of adventurers, recently found a beautiful golden ship in a Dragon's Hoard. the ship was on auto pilot and took them through space to another world called Aucturn. The last game had folks landing there at the end, and to be continued.

We ended up due to scheduling, and human real life business not being able to play for almost two months. for these same reasons, two players had to cancel last minute before the game this last Sunday. the others still were up for playing, so i concocted quickly that the two missing players' characters in the game were also missing in the game. the two player characters who played had to work out, where they were, how to find their friends. And we had a hoot doing so, and in D&D tradition, they found them at the right to be continued moment, for next time when hopefully everyone can play.

This background piece tells the story of how the two players' characters ended up where they were fond at that end of game moment. It's been raging in my brain all week to write this down so I did. A bit of fantasy RPG/FIC for you from my D&D game. Enjoy.

the non player character telling the story is a reporter from a city on the other side of a very barren world,... he is doing a story on 'life in the wastelands.'

Excerpted from The RatGnomen Free Gazette

Undercover in the Wastelands part 3

As everyone knows, the wastelands are going through a now longer than average drought season. It has been more than 15 years since the last rainy season. The longer the dwellers of the desert have to subsist on water wrung through magic and technology that no one understands, out of the blood of animals, and more often than not each other, the more on edge we all are. It’s not like people are cutting back their intake of ‘water.’ Which, is mostly alchemicalized into beer or spirits in most of the wasteland.

You need to get yourself a bit drunk, when you are hydrating yourself with the blood of insects, magical creatures, monsters, and possibly people you used to know. As you likely also know if you have been reading the Gazette the last couple of weeks, I have been holed up in the only bit of civilization, I have thus found in my journey through the dry silicate hemisphere sized desert known as The Wastelands; a tavern/oasis called The Last Watering Hole. It truly was an oasis for me, expecting it to be as dingy and barely populated as the few other trading post/watering holes that I had come upon through my roadless journey. 

The Last Watering Hole, is a metaphorical blast of fresher air than you can find anywhere in the wastelands. You feel transported to a tavern somewhere deep in the hipper parts of the “The Loving Place,” people are laughing, and telling old stories. There is even a Seer, seated in the corner like the watering holes of olden times, when the rains came every year. I was seated with the seer, who as tradition demands wouldn’t tell me his name. 

He was a bit taken aback to be speaking with an educated and well spoken RatGnomen. Here in these rural areas, most of my people live underground, and almost every single one of them from a young age, works in the mines. Many see the light of day, such as it is, only during the Holy month, as tradition allows. Most of the RatGnomen see me I think with suspicion, being a Free Rat, and being able to ply a trade of the mind, and not the hands.

I was going to ask the Seer whether he knew any RatGnomen alchemists or sorcerers, as I can’t imagine, that even here in the bleak mining communities, there wouldn’t be some of us drawn to the old ways. And, there must be some thieves, maybe even a guild hidden somewhere deep in the sands. 

But just as I was about to figure out my phrasing of those questions, we all in the tavern turned our heads to the windows, as a skyship landed with a very unpracticed thud upon a sand dune maybe only 100 yards to the East. A big and very old ship, that appeared in the dawn-ish light to be of true gold and Aucturan design. In all my years in the city, I have ever only seen ships half that size, many dozens, but from a distance, tethered to spires, that for centuries have held skyships when in port. I know they can sail upon the sands, and in the salt lakes near the southern pole, as well as the aether that some call outer space.

Everyone except the Seer (who seemingly never leaves their chair) went outside to cautiously investigate. At first it seemed a ghost ship, or perhaps, like some stories I have heard it was a dead ship returning on ‘auto-pilot’ to whence it came. Aeons ago there was a great city in this very spot, but the sands of time have long since covered it over, now the domain of ‘miners,’ monsters, and the odd rascal looking to get rich.

As people edged closer, everyone was sort of on edge, as the morning air was thicker and harder to breathe than usual. No one was running to check it out. Eventually two beings emerged from this ship we were beginning to think was as empty as a water-well in the wastelands. They turned out to be Earthers, of all things. I myself had only ever seen full bred Humans or Elves in drawings or holograms from olden times when trade throughout the solar system was more robust. They carried exotic swords/longbows, and wore armour that marked them as wealthy adventurers, ‘maybe bounty hunters,’ one of the Miners whispered to me, before remembering that I am a city rat, and not talked to, as she scurried back into the tavern.

They introduced themselves, and the Human identified himself as “Slash McPherson, Terror of The High Seas.” He said this while squinting, concentrating and as the common spelling of the word ‘Terror’ shone bright red upon his forehead. Some sort of magical tattooing, it seemed. Many of the miners, RatGnomen like myself scattered at seeing this glowing red forehead, as tattooing here in the hinterlands is still a forbidden art for many. It made me glad that my ‘dancing dwarfkin lady’ tattoo was covered by my sleeve. This seemed to be the effect that Slash was going for. Though he won’t be finding any seas to terrorize on this side of the world, he seemed to enjoy inciting some terror, everywhere he went though.

His friend, politely introduced his pure bred Elven self as “Tanis, Warden of the Old Lands.” The bartender gripped each of their forearms in warrior handshakes and bade them welcome to Aucturn and the Last Watering Hole of the wasteland.

The Elf carried a bow of such beauteous design that it would be at home in a museum, while Slash had very ornately smithed swords, with dragons on the hilts, and scabbards worth enough in the city to live for years in luxury. They would need to be careful in a place as lawless as the Wastelands, carrying about so much obvious wealth.

Once inside, both seated themselves at the bartender, old Bynger, the smoothest talking Triaxian you ever met, who serving with all four arms, often covered everyone seated at the bar in one sweep. Slash, and to a lesser extant, Tanis peppered Bynger with questions about where exactly they had landed. It seems that indeed these fellows were stout adventurers, as they found the skyship in a Dragon’s hoard that they had managed to find and claim. It was unclear whether they had slain the Dragon, or just some minions. But either way they had climbed aboard ship without realizing that they had set the auto pilot in motion whilst doing so. The Ship had been hidden in the hoard in an underground lake on earth, apparently under a desert much like this one, but with more breathable air, and many more Oases.  

The group, two of whom were still on board the vessel could not figure out how to control the runaway skyship, and eventually found themselves where they are. The odd thing they said was that they couldn’t wake their companions, trying magic, shaking them, and splashing them with water (Water!) 

Many heads turned at that proclamation and a few of the miners slunk out the front door, running towards the ship. Slash cottoned on that these RatGnomen meant to loot his ship of water, and maybe whatever they could lay their hands on. Both he and the Elf ran out the door into the barely breathable late morning air, and choked their way, jogging to the ship. But the RatGnomen were nowhere to be found. 

They were not on the ship (which it turns out has gallons and gallons of reasonably fresh Earth water, worth more perhaps on Aucturn, than the vessel itself) nor anywhere nearby. It seemed odd to everyone, and Slash and Tanis were about to go back in to negotiate the sale of some of the blessed water to the bartender. Both the Barkeep and Slash had metaphorical dollar signs in their eyes. Folks who love to get rich quick; I can always spot them. Just as they reached the tavern, though; A Giant Sand Spider lunged up from under the shifting grains and grabbed Slash, and Tanis, injecting them with it’s paralytic agent from it’s horrifying gaping maw, and burrowing back under and away before anyone else could react. I feel like the spider got lucky, being able to catch two such warriors off guard.

But why take just those two beings, maybe their uniqueness as pure bred Earthers makes them more delicious smelling? I shook my head, at such an interesting pair of folks being lost to The Spider God. But people rarely interfere with the Spider God or her followers. Not worth spilling your blood that you could be better sold to make wine or beer. I went back inside and sat at the bar, and finished Slash, and Tanis’ drinks, as the bartender nodded and shrugged at me. None of us liked to see any liquid go to waste. 

As I finished, Two more Earthers came through the door, two Humans, one obviously some sort of witchy, wizardy lady, who had a small blue creature flying in and out of her elaborate hairdo. It took me some time to realize that it was an actual bird, feathers and all. No bird has flown or sung on this world, except in zoos in the city, for millenia. everyone was in awe, and staring as much at the bird as at the beautiful lady, who turned out to be named Kali, and was indeed a witch. 

The other, burly Human, was a gladiator, or as they say on Earth, a Barbarian. Here such nomenclature is a bit rude. Hans Crukas, “Call me Crukas” he said, and looked expectantly around the bar, as if waiting for a cheer, a few of my RatGnomen kin recognized this look from the fighting pits, and cheered him: “Crukas,” they croaked in their pidgin common. He smiled, and soon went back to drinking. These two also questioned the barkeep, who for some reason didn’t give them the entire story, but rather sent them to the seer, where they ‘discovered’ that Slash and Tanis had gone off to find some hallucinogenic spider toxin, that the hard core wastelanders sell and use. 

Bitter Tears is too poisonous to turn to water, but it can be diluted and magicked enough just to get you stinky high. The seer must have known through their divine visions that this story, the outlanders would easily believe this the truth, because they did, and they even bought the idea that they could rescue Slash and Tanis, maybe even get some help from old Monster Lake, who you will remember from my first part of this series in the wasteland, how he cut off my tail, and took one of my claws just for a giggle. Mean Ogrekin SOB, that one. 

I was and still am kind of shocked that the Seer, was lying in this fashion...usually neutral in every situation, I realized that the gift from the stars of an antique SkyShip, full of water was too much temptation even for the Seer. Everyone was in on fleecing these Earthers, without any actual plotting, everyone just agreed to the “your friends are the drug dealers you think they are” story that the Seer fed them. 

The Seer even helped raise a series of warding spells on the ship, to mollify the fears of the Witch and the Gladiator. Little do they know what magics lie under those spells. The pair were sold, at a decent rate I might add some hover stones, which were hilarious under the feet of the very superstitious Crukas. His fear of magic is odd, considering his companions. If they survive Monster Lake, or he is in a good mood, they will then visit the Cavern of Bitter Tears (where Lake gets all his ‘Bitter Tears’ he cooks up to sell and use) and try to somehow defeat the Spider God, and her undead minions in time to save Slash and Tanis.

This reporter doesn’t usually take sides, and to save my own skin, I never told the adventurers what really happened to their companions, in fact  tried hard as I could to blend in with the local RatGnomen, the whole time. I am ‘under cover,’ sort of. But what I am trying to say is that I hope these adventurers are warrior enough to make it out of this story alive, as I want to be able to find out more about them, and see where they go and what they do. To that end, I am slipping out, and onto my own hover stones when the midnight occurs, and heading for the Cavern of Bitter Tears, and part 4 of this series will be my tale of what I discover of the fates of these intriguing Earthers, who I hope haven’t travelled all this way to their immediate doom.

Yours, in the sand and in the salt, under the ground 

- Bhari Greenstone Ace Reporter & Publisher of the RatGnomen Free Gazette.


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