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Lore/Story [updated Dec. 2] Destiny's Arrival - A Wynncraft Choose-your-own-adventure-like Story

Discussion in 'Your Work' started by WithTheFish, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. WithTheFish

    WithTheFish Sentient Mud Pile Staff Member Moderator HERO

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    Minecraft:
    If said title isn't obvious, this is a fan-made story set in wynncraft. It follows several of the game's quests, along with some custom adventures. Long ago in the your work section there used to be tons of these fan-made lores and stories, until one day people stopped writing them. Maybe those days will return someday? No matter what happens, I'll have fun writing this.

    Now this story works a bit differently than other ones you may have read on here. It's inspired by those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, where you were the main character (second person perspective) and you had to sometimes choose what your character does.

    But honestly, this probably has more in common with one of those video games where all the choices you make matter in the end. This is because there are a few differences between this an a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book. For one, you aren't the main character, the story instead revolves around three different characters and their choices (first-person perspective). Their stories are separate, at least for now.

    ----

    HOW TO READ THIS

    This book (which isn't a physical book) is split up into pages. Each page is kept in a forum spoiler (No, each page will not be its own post). You start at page one, and at the end of page one you are given a choice and told to go to a different page, depending on what you chose. So if you chose the option that takes you to "Page 3", you would open up the spoiler for page 3, and so on and so on.

    Some of the choices will be links. Those will take you to another one of my posts on this thread, which will have the page you need to read next.

    ----

    Additional Notes:

    - Like most lore threads on the forums, I don't have the entire story written already. Every Saturday I'll post a couple more pages, and I hopefully will finish this story in the far far future.

    - Don't be intimidated by the amount of words, a full story will only use a small portion of all pages.

    - I will constantly be changing things around in the story until I'm satisfied with it. I won't make any gigantic changes, such as getting rid of a major character, but I will be certainly changing some small stuff. This is because my plans for the story are constantly changing, not to mention that Wynncraft is also still updating!

    - Naturally, I'm looking to get some suggestions and improvements. Since this is a bit different from other lores/stories posted here I'd really like to know what you think of its unique structure! If you have any ideas for the story itself let me know!


    Enjoy!


    -
    Your story begins in the province of Wynn. It is not a set story, but rather one with many twists and turns. The path first diverges here. Which hero would you like to be?


    Harrison:
    (Based on the Warrior/Knight Class)

    One of Wynn’s recruits who came from Fruma, Harrison serves as a low-ranking soldier in Ragni’s army. For the past two years his duty is to defend the front gate of Ragni, which is a much easier job than what he would make it out to be. You see, Harrison aspires to be a hero one day, to go down as one of Wynn’s legendary knights and guardians. This is a daunting goal, and Harrison still has a lot more to learn…


    Rilue:
    (Based on the Mage/Dark Wizard Class)

    At a young age Rilue ended up as one of Wynn’s many orphans, her parents killed during an undead raid on Almuj. She was sent by authorities to be cared for by her aunt and only known relative: a mysterious sorceress named Lodrona. For a few years she took care of her, but slowly she spent more and more time away from home, until one day she left for good. One of Wynn’s traveling knights later told her the truth: Lodrona dealt in the dark arts and has become a wanted criminal. In recent years, Rilue has been forced to fend for herself in the alleyways of Almuj, but how much longer will her luck last with limited skill in magic?


    Aledar:
    (Based on the Archer/Hunter Class)

    For his entire life Aledar has lived in Nivla Village, a tight-knit yet prosperous community. Despite being a relatively unknown place, it is still his home, and he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Nivla Village is a town that has been visited by many heroes, and Aledar is considered something of a local hero himself due to his skills in hunting and defending the village. Life there is perfect, but how long can prosperity last?

    - - -
    Choose Harrison, and go to [Page 2]
    - - -
    Choose Rilue, and go to [Page 3]
    - - -
    Choose Aledar, and go to [Page 12]
    - - -
    -
    You have chosen Harrison! Your simple life as a guard leaves you wanting more, but the world beyond the gates is more complicated than you might expect…

    -------------------------------------------------

    Ragni’s Front Gate, almost Midnight


    Today, the front gate of Ragni was attacked by fourteen undead, each of them appearing at a different time of day. The strongest of the bunch wore leather armor stained with blood, presumable from its previous owner. It also wielded a spear, but a mage killed the zombie before it got the chance to use the weapon.

    Defending the main entrance to one of the province’s oldest cities sounds like a task for the most elite of the elite. It really isn’t. Myself, a few other soldiers, and our sergeant mainly serve as an auxiliary force, acting as backup to the hulking Iron Golems and Mages that do most of the brute work. In total, the job was very boring, and no one had died in the last three years doing it.

    Now, my life was changing for the better. Due to my years of service at the front gate, I was being relocated to somewhere else. A place called Katoa Ranch that was apparently underdefended. Personally, I was hoping some sort of promotion or medal of honor, but this was better than nothing.

    “Well,” I say to Sergeant Norman, “This is it I guess. It’s been an honor serving under your command.” Truthfully, Norman wasn’t much of a leader to begin with. Maybe it was due to our easier than normal job, or maybe it was just the laziness I had noticed from him during my time here.

    “Best of luck wherever you go next,” my sergeant answers, “Which is… not very far from here.” He yawns. Apparently he’s as tired as I am. As I see the night watch arriving I decide it’s time to get back to the barracks for a good rest.

    At midnight, the streets of Ragni are nearly deserted. Aside from the night watch some drunken citizens heading home, you’re unlikely to see anyone around. Anyone else is probably up to no good. That was my assumption when I saw the silhouettes of two men standing in an alleyway. They’re speaking, but I can’t discern anything in the conversation they’re having. I am curious though. Could I somehow intercept a criminal plot?

    - - -
    If you decide to eavesdrop on the conversation, go to [Page 6]
    - - -
    If you want to leave them alone and continue to the barracks, go to [Page 9]
    - - -
    -
    You have chosen Rilue! You like to tell people that you’re a mage in training, but in reality you can barely cast a proper heal spell. Your mentor disappeared years ago, so it’s up to you to teach yourself the arcane arts.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Almuj


    My money is gone. For months I had been using this one alleyway to stockpile emeralds gotten from odd jobs. I would stash them behind loose bricks, and I was convinced that no one could find them. But now I have nothing.

    I begin to panic. This money is needed for me to get food. Although the budget store has provided myself and others with something to eat, it isn’t always enough. Here in Almuj, the supposed “jewel of the desert”, you need money to survive. And unless I sell my acacia staff that's used to cast spells, I don’t see myself getting any soon, unless…

    Almuj is known for numerous things. Its army, its oversized bank, its market, and most importantly, its thieves. A plan begins to form in my mind. If someone stole from me, why shouldn’t I steal something back? At this time of day, the local grand market is bustling with people. I could easily steal something, and sell it a day later to someone who doesn’t know I’m a thief.

    As I walk down the streets my plan becomes more consolidated. One of the few spells I know is “teleportation”, which will let me warp away from guards in the blink of an eye. Everything seems almost foolproof now; I grab something valuable, and then get out and hide.

    By the time I near the market my heart is racing, although it is also filled with doubt. Is a thief really who I am?

    - - -
    If you choose to visit the market and steal, go to [Page 4]
    - - -
    If you choose to remain where you are, and not steal anything, go to [Page 5]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 3)
    Rilue

    The market is absolutely packed today; with merchants I had never seen before shouting out their greats deals on exotic weaponry. I’ve lived in Almuj for nineteen years, and the market never ceases to amaze me. But as I stroll around, I know this trip will be different.

    One of the first merchants I see has an assortment of jewelry on display. Perfect. All I need to do is distract her and then teleport away with a necklace. But as I glance around at the numerous guards stationed at this part of Almuj, I begin to feel like jewelry theft is setting my sights too high. After all, many vendors are offering food. I could easily steal a loaf of bread or some fruit and have something to eat for the day.

    “Trying to decide what to spend your money on?”

    A guard with rusting armor strolls over to me. I’ve seen him around before; he’s an aged soldier who always seemed friendly.

    “I’ve almost made up my mind,” I answer as he strolls away.

    - - -
    If you choose to steal a necklace from a necklace merchant, go to [Page 7]
    - - -
    If you choose to steal food, go to [Page 8]
    - - -
    -
    (From Pages 3 and 7)
    Rilue


    When I was younger, Lodrona tried to raise me on the idea that the world is against you and that it’s the survival of the fittest. Well she’s long gone now, apparently wanted around Wynn or who knows what. “Dealing in the dark arts” they told me. If someone can be wanted for doing a certain type of magic, then I’ll easily be locked up for petty crimes. I decide to pass on the idea of stealing something.

    The slums of Almuj are filled with activity when I return to them. A crowd of people have gathered around a weary looking villager, who appears to be telling them something. Another storyteller, perhaps?

    “What’s going on?” I ask the human nearest me.

    “This man named Ormrod came to Almuj not long ago,” she answers, “He’s telling us about this tomb he encountered and how he got cursed. I have to say, he has one hell of an imagination!”

    “Oh its skin!” I hear Ormrod shout in a Gavellian accent, “It was pale and rotting, you could see the bone underneath! His head was wrapped in bandages, with only ghastly eye sockets showing! The mummy turned to me, its hand pointing the darkness to my location. I had no choice but to turn and run, there was no chance that I could fight such an abomination! But my ordeal did not end there.”

    When you spend enough time in the slums, you hear all sorts of tales about ancient tombs and mummies. However, none of the storytellers ever spoke as dramatically as this one.

    “When I got out of the tomb I was faced with a group of bandits! They claimed to be running a toll on the abandoned tomb, but to what end? Either way, I was forced to give up all my valuables for passage. Next, on my way back to Almuj, I was attacked by viscous scorpions and a howling wraith. By the time I reached the city the sun had already rose. I desired nothing more than to sleep at that very moment.” But I knew I had to report the instance of a cursed mummy to the Almuj army. After all, it is their job to deal with these issues, no?”

    “The army laughed at me. They thought that I should go away and return to the slums where I belong. Here I was, in a city that I don’t live in, being laughed at the guards for my misfortune. At this point I knew that I was cursed. I can’t comprehend any other explanation. Thank you for listening to me when the guards didn’t.”

    A few people clap. Others start talking amongst themselves. I’m not sure what to believe about Ormrod’s story. Maybe curses were real after all? A curse could certainly be the explanation for everything that had gone wrong in my life.

    “There’s only one way my curse can be broken. I must vanquish this vile creature, and I need your help in doing so.”

    “Oh shut up!” berates a frustrated observer. “You’ll send us to our deaths, and that’s assuming that the mummy is real! For all we know you’re a thief, trapping us in an old tomb to steal the bare minimum we have!”

    “Listen to me! If we don’t defeat this mummy now, who knows who else it will curse! The desert could very well be facing one of the biggest threats it has in decades. Give me a sword or spear, and I will lead you in a crusade to slay this monstrosity. When all is done, I’ll give my companions a generous sum from the banks of Detlas.”

    The residents talk amongst themselves. I, along with several others, would definitely appreciate having money in our pockets. But fighting a monster to do so?

    “I will join you!”

    The commanding voice belongs to Avery, one of the most skilled fighters I know. From what I’ve heard, she used to fight in Almuj’s military. She walks towards where Ormrod is standing and hands him a spear.

    “Excellent!” Ormrod says. “Welcome to the group…”

    “It’s Avery.”

    “Welcome to the group, Avery! Now, any other offers? Together, we will save the desert.”

    There are no offers. It probably isn’t because no one wants to save the desert, but because no one wants to trek across it to either die or be robbed.

    “Rilue!” Avery shouts. “Over here!”

    I’m surprised. Sure, Avery and I have spoken a few times, but everyone in the slums has. What would she want to speak to me about?

    I find the answer when I walk over to her. “We need someone with the power of magic. Healing magic.”

    “Me? I can’t do anything with this staff, except…” It dawns on me. I can’t summon a storm of fire or ice, but I'm good at mending wounds. Any group would want someone like me to help them.

    - - -
    If you decide to join Avery and Ormrod on their quest, go to [Page 17]
    - - -
    If you decide to remain in Almuj, go to [Page 18]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison

    There are a few crates outside the alleyway. Hoping that the two figures don’t hear me, I crouch behind them in hopes if hearing their conversation.

    “This city is a maze,” one voice says, “Nothing at all like Elkurn. There are half a dozen shops all dedicated to the same thing!”

    “Who cares? We’re leaving tonight anyway. That new guy had better show up quickly, I’m getting tired, almost too tired to ride on horseback!”

    “Then stay awake somehow, because if you fall of your mount we’re leaving you behind… Oh look, here he comes.”

    A third person has joined the shady ground. From my hiding spot I’m unable to make out who they are. That is, until I hear their voice.

    “Let’s make this quick,” he says, “Where exactly is your hideout?”

    Norman? What is he doing here?

    “Somewhere in the plains. I’m telling you no more than that, because we’ve given you an invitation to come with us.”

    “It’s fine Orini, I didn’t expect much more of an answer to my question. I promise that I won’t let you down, and I assure you that my skills in sword fighting and leadership will be of great help to the Resistance.”

    “Wait,” the un-named figure chimes in, “If you’re a sergeant, won’t they send someone to find you? You have a much more important life than a farmer or private would.”
    “Who cares? That fat old king has probably forgotten about me years ago.”

    “Sergeant Norman? What are you doing here?”

    Another familiar voice, this time belonging to Daren. He joined Norman’s platoon a few weeks ago, and like me he was one of the recruits from Fruma. He always gets nervous when fighting the corrupted, so I’m not sure if becoming a soldier was the best choice.

    “This is none of your business,” Norman answers.

    “Well I heard you saying some rather treasonous things.”

    I stand up at this point, now able to witness the scene that is unfolding in front of me. One of the figures moves towards Daren and punches him in the chest. “Tell no one what you heard!” he, now confirmed to be Orini, answers.

    The three men run off into the alleyway, Norman now having joined your party. I run over to my fallen comrade, who’s attempting to recover his breath.

    “Are you alright?”

    “Yes, uh, Harrison. Was that really Norman? What was he doing, joining something called the Resistance?”

    I don’t have an answer. Up until now, Norman seemed to be a predictable type of guy.

    ~ ~ ~​

    I fall asleep instantly. I’m not surprised, last night was more eventful than almost all of my days on guard duty. It feels as if as soon as my head hits the pillow, I wake up.

    Myself and fifteen other soldiers stagger out of bed, get dressed, and head to the mess hall to eat. I’ve never found breakfast to be appealing. The porridge that’s served tastes awful and is the last thing I would prefer to eat after a brief night’s rest. Unfortunately, I need to eat something so I can be energized while patrolling the Katoa region.

    Katoa Ranch! I remember that I’m transferring to a farm not far from Ragni, and I quickly stand up from my seat, heading to the armory. One thing’s for sure, I’m going to need a weapon to fight the undead.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 24]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 4)
    Rilue


    “Welcome traveler!” The merchant is a cheerful woman wearing all sorts of jewelry. Judging by what she’s wearing and selling, she definitely seems to like necklaces.

    “How much does this one cost?” I ask. The necklace I point to is stunningly beautiful. It is a golden scorpion tail with a string wrapped around it, with a large sapphire encrusted inside it.

    “125 Emeralds,” she replies, “And the tail of a golden scorpion. That’s how my business works! You get what I need to craft more charms, and I sell my existing ones to you. That staff and old robe of yours tells me you’re a strong mage, it must be easy for you to kill a small scorpion.”

    “Yes,” I lie, slowly reaching towards the necklace, “I’m a sorceress and an adventurer, I travel the land looking for secrets to uncover and monsters to slay. Say, is it okay if I take a closer look at this necklace?”

    “Of course!” she replies, “It isn’t every day I’m in the presence of a mighty adventurer!”

    As she chuckles to herself I begin to wonder if theft is the correct option. Once my life of crime begins, there may be no going back.

    - - -
    If you decide to go ahead and steal the necklace, go to [Page 10]
    - - -
    If you reconsider and don’t choose to steal the necklace, go to [Page 5]
    - - -
    -
    Rilue


    “Hello!” you say as you walk up to the market stand, “How much for a basket of leeks?”

    The vendor here is a young man who doesn’t look much older than I am. His eyes are half-closed and he rests his chin on the stall.

    “Uhhh… yeah. I have that, freshly grown.” He mumbles, taking a moment to register my presence. “What fruit did you say you wanted?”

    “Figs,” I reply, his exhaustion amusing me. He’ll be easy to steal from.

    “That will be ten emeralds.”

    “How much would it cost if I also purchased some leeks?” Almost there. I slowly grab a cluster of grapes and pull it towards my bag. Given how this boy is acting, he probably can’t muster up the energy to alert the guards.

    “Zero,” he finally answers. “Considering how you’ll just steal it from me anyway.”

    I freeze, not expecting this relaxed of a reaction from him.

    “Just take it,” he mutters as I lift up my staff. “Dad will be happy when I say someone ate his crops. It doesn’t matter how.”

    Before he can reconsider I grab the cluster, turning away to run. It occurs to me too late that I should have thanked him.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 19]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    Whoever these people are, they’re none of my business. I keep going and head towards the barracks. When I get inside I quickly take off my equipment and set it in the armory. I’m determined to get a good night’s rest before I head to Katoa Ranch.

    A few hours later wake up to the usual banter of soldiers; gossip about life in Ragni and whispered criticisms about an annoying lieutenant. My routine each morning is simple: put on my boots and head towards the mess hall. But I know today’s different. I’m going to defend unfamiliar lands.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 11]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 7)
    Rilue


    In the span of a few seconds I grab the necklace, point my staff behind me, and blink away from the market stall. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for where I would teleport to. I’ve crash-warped into someone else’s goods.

    “Guards!” I hear the jewelry peddler shout, “We have a thief over here!”

    I’m in trouble, although I guess I should have expected this. Three guards race towards me, spears in hand. If I try to fight back I’m sure they would try to use them, especially since I have the power of magic in my hand. I suppose I might as well use it again.

    I instantaneously travel up to the second floor of the city, which holds all the residential buildings. I definitely have a lead at this point, but a wave of nausea comes over me, making me feel sick as I travel. It only takes a few seconds to realize that I am very much lost. What part of the city did I teleport to? All the sandstone buildings look the same, and my heart beats faster with every noise I hear.

    I find myself running out of an alleyway and into a walkway near one of Almuj’s artificial rivers. I turn around to see a large wall, too high for me to safely teleport up.

    “Thief! You are ordered by Almuj to stop!”

    I’m trapped. There’s no way out of this except swimming across the river, which would be a good idea if I knew how to swim.

    The guards are closing in on me. “Don’t cast any spells!” one of them shouts.

    Spells! Why bother swimming when I can just teleport across? I point my staff at the other edge of the river when a part of the wall slides away, revealing a hidden passageway.

    - - -
    If you decide to enter the hidden passage, go to [Page 14]
    - - -
    If you decide to teleport across the river, go to [Page 16]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    As one of the province’s largest farms, it was only natural that Katoa should have a good defense. I thought that made sense, but when I arrived at the ranch only three other soldiers were there. Two of them were leaning against the side of a barn, “slacking off” as Norman would say. The third one walks towards me, a map of the area in her hand.

    “You there!” she says, “You are the soldier Harrison, correct?”

    “Yes… uh, sir,” I reply.

    “Call me Jenprest. Given your two years of experience in Ragni’s military, as well as previous training apparently received in Fruma, you have been relocated to guarding the sewers of Ragni.” She hands me the parchment, which I unroll to find a map of the region. “Your job is to make sure nothing comes out, and if you see a hoard of ravenous undead coming this way, light a signal fire for us. Any questions?”

    Wait a second. Did she say that I would be guarding a sewer system?

    “A sewer system? What are you talking about?”

    Jenprest points to two ruined structure at the opposite side of the road, many meters apart from one another. They appear to be massive stone pipes; one their entrances sealed with iron bars. “Ragni’s sewer system is massive. It flows all the way out to the ocean, and there are two side entrances leading to it. Records state that the sewers were raided several times by the corrupted, and they are likely roaming around there to this day. Your job is to keep watch and make sure nothing crawls out of there.”

    “Okay,” I hesitantly answer. “What should I expect to come out of the sewers?”

    “Rats. Rats the size of dragons! They’ll eat soldier boys like you raw!” jeers an armed man walking towards me.

    “Excuse Boris,” says Jenprest. “To answer your question, we haven’t really had anything come out of the sewers in a long time. But there are the usual corrupted beings down there. The last person assigned to your duties quit after hearing too many unearthly screams, so feel free to move a few meters from the entrance if you get uncomfortable.”

    Well, this is great. I think as hard as I can, trying to remember if any heroes started their careers making sure something didn’t attempt to escape from a sewer.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 15]
    - - -
    -
    You have chosen Aledar! You’re a skilled archer from Nivla Woods, and to you the forest has always been much more than a spider-infested trail.

    -----------------------------

    Nivla Village, Early in the Evening:


    “The spider was massive, with legs almost as long as yours, Ceilo. And unfortunately it had noticed me. All of its large red eyes were pointed right at my hiding spot in the undergrowth, and I would be its next meal of the day.”

    “But you survived, didn’t you?”

    “Of course I did, I had already nocked an arrow onto my bowstring. I drew it back, released, and shot that spider right in the center of the head. And I won!”

    “That’s it?”

    “Yes, I had no more luck on my hunt, good or bad. That’s why we ended up having mushroom stew again tonight.”

    “Do you have any other stories?”

    In Nivla Village, life is a lot more exciting than somewhere else in Wynn. You would think that wouldn’t be the case, with such a small population, but everyone’s life in the village is an adventure. At a young age I was taught how to forage food and fend for myself, and in a few years my younger brother Ceilo would learn the same. For now, though, he had to settle for hearing about my adventures.

    “Are you sure? I’m bored, and Elder Oroak has told me all the stories he knows too.”

    “Not all the stories, he hasn’t told you the ones that you’re too young to understand!” I say with a smirk.

    “Oh come on! Why do I have to be a kid, there’s nothing to do here in these woods!”

    I can’t help but feel bad for him. When I was his age I felt the same way, impatient and wanting an adventure. And as his older brother, I suppose it’s my goal to him out.

    “Hey, Ceilo. Where’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled from the village border?”

    “Huh?” Ceilo’s eyes seem to light up; I definitely have his attention. “Uhhh, Hatath took me few minutes away from the village border once, I think that’s it. He needed help finding saccharum plants. Why do you ask?”

    “How would you like to go a little farther into the woods?”

    “Yes!” shouts Ceilo with unstoppable glee, “Finally, I get to go on an adventure! What do I bring? Should I bring a bow also?”

    “You don’t need to take anything with you, just make sure not to get in harm’s way. Meet me outside the house, I need to grab my equipment.”

    I never go anywhere outside the village without my bow and arrows. All the arrows were made myself in recent months. When my supply started to dwindle, I had to go out and find the stones and fletching needed to make new ones. There’s no store in Nivla Village to find something you need, unlike other parts of the province. As for the bow, I’ve had it for years. Dad gave it to me on my fifteenth birthday. He told me that my time had come, that it was up to me to look after the family now that he was growing older. I’ll never forget that moment; it was at that time when I knew it was my duty to be a hero. To be the guardian of the Nivla Woods.

    Once I’ve gather my equipment I creep down the stairway exit that spirals around a massive tree. I’ve gone “outside” my house an endless amount of times, yet the sight of the forest village never ceases to amaze me. It’s like walking right into one of the old stories about beautiful far-off places. And tonight, Ceilo will have that same experience, only he’ll be going somewhere that’s he’s never been before.

    “Are you ready?” I ask him.

    “Heroes of Wynn are always ready!”

    “You, a hero of Wynn? Maybe soon, but not today!”

    I turn around to spot a familiar face; my best friend Lannor. There are a few other boys among my age in the village, but none of them have an eye for adventure and discovery that Lannor does. Much to his family’s annoyance, he used to sneak out of the village boundaries at a young age and return with stories of the outside world. I’m shocked that he never got killed by a spider or undead while on his excursions. As soon as we were old enough the two of us tried to explore every inch of the woods, mapping out ruined towers and abandoned villages.

    “Al,” my friend says to me, “You’ll never guess where I was today.”

    “Umm…”

    “You see, earlier today Elder Oroak asked to speak with me, and I knew that something exciting was going to happen. I was right, he told me how to get into the old temple!”

    Elder Oroak had been the mayor of our village longer than anyone could remember. He had fought in some of the greatest battles against the corruption and had accumulated plenty of knowledge in both the world and methods of combat. After our village became famous due to The Legend of Bob, many heroes came to visit our home. Even though the great mage Ethe was no longer here, Oroak took it upon himself to teach them everything he knew, becoming a mentor to them. It was always enjoyable to see someone come to the village and leave as a far stronger warrior.

    It was always obvious that Oroak knew more about these woods than anyone else did. One of the strangest things in the forest was an old temple that was magically sealed shut. Lannor and I suspected that Oroak knew how to get inside, but he never told anyone. Until today.

    “He told me the incantation to open it, and I finally got to see what’s inside. Come on Aledar, this is your chance to see something few others have!” Lannor starts running towards the road that leads out of the village.

    “I know, but…” I glance over at Ceilo, who’s been watching our conversation with interest. I’ve longed to see what was inside the temple, but taking my younger brother there might be too dangerous.

    - - -
    If you decide to explore the temple, go to [Page 13]
    - - -
    If you decide to show Ceilo around the forest, go to [Page 66]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 12)
    Aledar


    “Sorry Ceilo, but the temple we’re going to is at least half an hour from here. I don’t want to risk having you being that far from home.”

    “Why not? I can prove myself.”

    “I’m sorry, I know you really wanted to do this. Why don’t we wait until tomorrow? It will be a lot brighter out then, okay?”

    “Okay.” I can tell that he’s trying to be calm, but I can spot a few tears running down his face. “I have chores to do anyway.”

    “I’ll see you soon, Ceilo! Don’t worry” I shout back to him as Lannor and I depart. There are sentries hiding all around the village, and if they notice us they don’t say anything. Both of us have proven our skill here in Nivla, and as soon as we’re eighteen we can officially join the village guard.

    “That was an awful thing to do.” I say once we leave the border, “He seemed so excited, maybe I should go back and we can visit the temple another day.”

    “Don’t feel bad,” says Lannor reassuringly, “There’s always tomorrow, and I doubt your brother had any plans. I mean, do you expect the forest to change tomorrow?”

    “Of course not.”

    “Well, he’ll be fine. Don’t worry about things like this.”

    I decide to stop talking about my brother and instead focus on finding the temple. At this time of day, it’s easy to get lost in these dark woods.

    “It’s getting pretty dark,” I say to Lannor, “Are you sure we didn’t pass the temple by accident?”

    “No. Remember, there’s a small path that leads to it!” He holds his palm outward and mutters an incantation. Slowly, an orb of fire begins to materialize in his hand, lighting our path.

    “If you bothered practicing magic,” he jokes, “You wouldn’t be worrying about getting lost.”

    “Magic is useless when you’re able to impale a boar from sixty meters away.”

    “You’ll run out of arrows eventually!”

    We continue onward for a while, and the sounds of the village die down completely. We’re left with nothing but the wind and the occasional sound of movement. I can’t tell if noises are coming from a small animal or a giant spider, and that’s why I rarely go out at night.

    “We’re here.” Lannor guides me to a large stone structure that I had visited many times. The temple, an anomaly in an already strange forest. The building is in decent condition despite being untouched for a while; it isn’t crumbling to bits like the old guard towers that overlook the main road. Two small stone statues stand near a sealed door, their false halberds doing little more than look impressive.

    Lannor touches the door and begins muttering words I’ve never heard before. This has to be the incantation to enter the temple, and there’s no way I’ll remember what he’s saying. I guess if I wanted to return here I’d rely on my friend, because a few seconds later the door slides open.

    A staircase is revealed, its steps beginning to crumble from neglect. Lannor holds his orb of fire out in front of him, and I slowly descend the stairs.

    “Come on,” my companion says, “It’s not like this temple is infested with spiders or anything.” I pick up my pace, continuing down the staircase until we reach a large circular room. Using his magical lamp of fire, Lannor lights several torches in the room, revealing carvings on the temple walls.

    “What is this?” I say in awe as I glance around the room. Chisled into the walls of the temple is writing I cannot decipher and pictures of events that I’ve never heard of. One image shows two figures fighting, one holding a spear and the other one possibly channeling magic. A different mural is far more unsettling with depiction of a skeleton cradling a child in its hands. I recognize a symbol above this picture: the emblem of Ragni.

    “I don’t know what any of this means either,” answers Lannor. “I guess the pictures look good, but what’s the point of writing in a language no one can understand?”

    “Maybe we’re not supposed to understand it.”

    “Then that’s just a load of cow dung. Maybe we should just head back to the village. There’s nothing in this room that I haven’t already looked at.”

    “Wait, let me just take a look at this one picture.” This one depicts two figures, one bowing to the other. But the most interesting thing here are what appear to be sketched trees. Could this be…

    I hear someone.

    No, I hear something.

    “Undead. They’re coming!” I nock an arrow onto my bow and Lannor prepares to launch a magic attack. Sure enough, a group of zombies begins to stumble down the temple steps, the group attracted to our presence. What they don’t know is that we’re stronger than some mere farmers.

    I launch my first arrow, which hits a zombie square in the head. It staggers for a few seconds and then crumbles to the ground, and its fellow corrupted waste no time climbing over it. I quickly fire more arrows, while my friend shoots small balls of fire beside me. One by one our enemies go down, their remains riddled with burn marks and arrows. We’ve won without a scratch.

    “Hard to believe that these monsters almost destroyed Wynn. Still though, let’s get out of here before more trouble finds us.

    The two of us walk out of temple and into the night. It’s pitch-black, aside from something in the distance.

    “What’s the glowing thing among the trees?” I ask Lannor, who turns out to be as confused as I am.

    “A campfire? That seems to be the only logical explanation. But wait… is it moving towards us?”

    Sure enough, the fire moves closer and I begin to make out its shape. The anomaly has two legs and head, but what’s really strange are the multiple arms sprouting out of its torso. It raises some of those arms, and they begin to flail around, channeling the fire that surrounds them into a sphere.

    “Get down!” I shout the Lannor. The two of us jump out of view just in time; the being shoots a massive ball of fire at us, which misses and explodes several meters away.

    “What is that thing? Some corrupted abomination?”

    “What do you think? Normal creatures don’t look like that!” Although there’s humor in Lannor sentence, I can tell that he’s worried about our situation.

    I look up to see another fireball arcing through the woods. As it lands closer to us than the previous on did, I become more worried myself.

    - - -
    If you decide to run away from the monster, go to [Page 67]
    - - -
    If you decide to stay and fight the monster, go to [Page 68]
    - - -
    -
    This isn't a part of the story, it's just a way to easily access a group of pages.
    [X] Pages 14-39
    [X] Pages 40-56
    [X] Pages 57-65
    [X] Pages 66-79
    [X] Page 80-81
    -
    Character List


    UPDATE 12/2/18
    - Added pages 80 and 81.
    - At the start of each page, I added a note saying how you got to said page. This change isn't presented for any of Harrison's content since that's being removed soon.
    Continue Reading at Page 40 and 66.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  2. TheStormLizard

    TheStormLizard Zane VIP+

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    Man that was awesome, insane idea, loved it. Except when it ended... I wanted to see if I died from stealing that necklace
     
  3. A Human

    A Human Definitely not an alien.

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    Same! Can’t wait to read more!
     
  4. TheStormLizard

    TheStormLizard Zane VIP+

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    What was your first ending?
     
  5. Skywalkinerate

    Skywalkinerate Anthony Skywalker / Darth Cinerate

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    An interestinteresting storystory ,li
    Love the story so far. Can't wait to see what happnes next. Check out my story as well ."For The Wynn" let's revive the fanfics . Lol
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  6. NoHaxxJustCake

    NoHaxxJustCake Titan's Legacy VIP+

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    Destiny's Arrival? Fits with the choose-your-own-adventure style while also feeling a bit mystic.
     
    WithTheFish likes this.
  7. WithTheFish

    WithTheFish Sentient Mud Pile Staff Member Moderator HERO

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    I really like that one, thank you for suggesting it!

    Thank you, this really means a lot to me! If you're wondering what will happen next, I plan on adding a dozen or more pages each Saturday. (Spoiler alert, no one's going to die this early in the story)
     
    Eric Yang likes this.
  8. FanceDance

    FanceDance ilysm nicktree <3 Builder

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    Loving it!
     
  9. Theeef

    Theeef Lurker of the Abyss HERO

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    Huh... I like these a lot. Please make more! I stole the food
     
    WithTheFish likes this.
  10. TheStormLizard

    TheStormLizard Zane VIP+

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    I stole the necklace .3.
     
  11. Theeef

    Theeef Lurker of the Abyss HERO

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    I would rather steal the food because if you do get caught you’ll get in less trouble. Also you don’t have to resell the necklace to get food.

    Also the necklace would be really loud and people would wonder where I got it if someone saw me with it after.

    Also @WithTheFish can you @ me when you make more or add additions pls?
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  12. WithTheFish

    WithTheFish Sentient Mud Pile Staff Member Moderator HERO

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    (From Page 10)
    Rilue


    I don’t hesitate before dashing into the hidden passage. It’s only when the door closes behind me that I wonder if there’s another way in or out. Either way, the guards can’t reach me here.

    “Hello? Is anyone in here?” My question is met with silence, but clearly someone else has been here recently. Torches are lit on the walls, and I can smell something familiar in the distance. Smoke.

    The passage twists and turns until takes me to a large chamber. It’s difficult to breathe, because some idiot villager has filled the room with smog from a campfire.

    “Sit down!” the idiot says to me. “The guards… you’re free now. They won’t find you here. They’ve never been able to find… The Black Market.”

    “Black Market?” I ask. “You mean the same Black Market from all those legends?”

    “The very same. Although… it’s not at its former glory. Sit down. Eat some roasted Wybel. It’s a delicacy where I come from.”

    “And where do you come from?”

    “Nowhere.”

    I sigh. Like most villagers I’ve met, he’s greedier than he is intelligent. But if he runs a black market, I should be able to sell this necklace to him without any guards noticing.

    “I have something for you, Mr. Black Market.” I hold up the necklace and his eyes widen.

    “Very fine craftsmanship. I would buy it.”

    “Okay, how much will you pay more it.”

    “No,” he replies, “I would buy it if I had enough money. I don’t have enough money. It would be dishonorable to give you the petty amount of money have now for such incredible jewelry. My Black Market has just begun. No one has brought anything from me, and I have little money. But I have items and rarities of great power!”

    “Like what? I’m not selling this necklace if I don’t know what I’m getting in return.”

    The villager takes a look at my staff before he gets up from his seat. “A book of the dark arts. I’ve learned a few tricks from it myself, although a dagger remains my weapon of choice.”

    He ventures into a storage alcove and returns a minute later with an aged leather book. There’s something strangely familiar about it, but I’m not sure what.

    “Can I take a look inside?”

    “Yes, but no funny business. Like I said, a dagger is my preferred weapon.”

    He hands me the book and I don’t hesitate to look inside. I gasp when I discover that my prediction was correct; this book was a journal written by Lodrona.

    “How did this get here?” Up until now, I believed that the Almuj guard had confiscated all of Lodrona’s journals and guides years ago.

    “I brought it from someone. I assume they brought it from someone else. Now are you going to trade me the necklace for this or not?

    - - -
    If you keep the necklace to sell emeralds, go to [Page 37] This means you won’t get the book.
    - - -
    If you decide to sell the necklace for the book, go to [Page 38]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    Katoa Ranch – Four Days Later



    A villager is approaching me. From a distance I watch it crawl forward, using its arms to propel itself and dragging its one leg across the grass. A sizeable chunk has been taken out of its head, but that hasn’t stopped its violent urges. Fortunately, the wound will prove to be an obvious weak spot.

    I never understood why we had mages and golems helping us fight the undead. If the past few days are anything to go off of, anyone who can pick up a sword can chop the head off some zombies. And if you have a spear, you might as well be immortal. As the zombie lumbers forward I thrust my weapon into what remains of its head. The monster crumples to the a few seconds afterwards.

    “Good job, Harrison!” says a voice from behind. I turn around to find two of my fellow soldiers, Shaun and Boris, coming toward me. I know it was Boris who had “congratulated me.” He’s always sarcastic and has been serving at Katoa for several years now. He didn’t like it when I joked about how he’s more scared of the sewers than I am, despite looking over them for much longer. Shaun on the other hand is a lot quieter. He has short hair and considers himself to be on the path to becoming a master archer.

    “It’s lunch break,” Boris continues. “Shaun scouted the area and says there aren’t any more of the undead in the area, so let’s take a break to eat some delicious hardtack!”

    I hate hardtack biscuits more than I hate the porridge at breakfast. Everyone says they last a long time, but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that they taste and chew like rocks.

    “Don’t worry,” Shaun says triumphantly. “I was told the Bylvis is cooking steak for us and Jenprest tonight.

    “It’s about time!” Boris exclaims. “I’m glad they purchased some new cattle after this incident with Drale.”

    “Drale?” I ask. “Who’s Drale?”

    “One of the soldiers who served here,” answers Shaun. “He was a very strange man.”

    “Strange is an understatement Shaun,” Boris chimes in. “After a few years here he started becoming obsessed with cows. Like a crazy cat lady, but with cows. No, he must have been crazier than a crazy cat lady! Because one night he fashioned himself a cow costume, snuck into the barn, and freed all the cows! Jenprest told us he’s not allowed back here again. But that doesn’t matter, since we’ve never seen him or his cows again. I guess he moo-ved on to other things!”

    “You know,” Shaun says. “You would do this army a favor by quitting and sailing far away too.”

    As my compatriots bicker back and forth, my attention is turned to something in the distance. Far off at the ocean, I can see a ship approaching the coastline. It isn’t a giant merchant’s vessel, but it seems larger than the average fishing boat. And there’s something drawn on its sail too.

    I get up from where I’m sitting and run a little way down. As both I and the ship get closer to the coast I can make out a skull and cross-bones. Pirates! What are they doing here?

    “There’s a pirate ship heading our way!” I shout back. Shaun and Boris quickly run to my vantage point.

    “I’ve never seen them in this part of the province before. They must be looking to rob the villagers who live near the shore, or maybe even attack Katoa ranch!”

    I’ve been told that the merchants and farmers who live here are rather wealthy and would be a prime target for pirates. And unlike cities like Nemract, we aren’t as equipped to fight attacks from fellow humans.

    “A ship this size will have many crewmen,” Shaun continues, “We’ll be outnumbered. Our best chance at victory is to defend Katoa ranch from an uphill advantage. We can send one of Bylvis’ kids to Ragni’s garrison to fetch more troops.”

    We decide to hold out on Katoa Hill, where Shaun can fire a volley of arrows on the attackers. But at the same time, what’s stopping the pirates from raiding houses closer to the coast? The pirates would be more likely to attack them than a fortified ranch. One of these houses in particular catches my eye; it’s only a short run from where I stand. If I hurry now I could help the family that lives there get to safety.

    - - -
    If you decide to go and help the family, go to [Page 21]
    - - -
    If you decide to remain at Katoa Ranch, go to [Page 22]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 10)
    Rilue


    Once again, the power of magic comes to my advantage. I instantaneously appear on the other side of the river, and it will take a while for the guards to catch up. I’m only a minute away from the slums, but I have a feeling the guards would try to look for me there. Maybe I could escape into the desert? No, that would be too risky…

    My right hand is suddenly filled with excruciating pain. It’s as if it is on fire, but at the same time it doesn’t feel burnt.

    “Ice magic,” says a voice from behind me, “It surprises rodents like you every time. They know the cold of the desert, but would never expect to feel it in broad daylight.”

    A man in a light blue robe is walking towards me with one of Almuj’s guards flanking him. In his hand is a staff made of a blue metal, with what appears to be an orb of water ebbing and flowing around its tip. Despite holding the staff at an angle, the water never loses its spherical shape.

    “Give up,” states the guard. “I doubt you’ll win a fight against one of Almuj’s finest mages. Now give us the necklace and you’ll go easy.”

    I start to panic. I’ve been caught, and a spell won’t save me this time. Maybe I could trick them somehow?

    “I’m sorry, but I believe you have the wrong person. I purchased this necklace a week ago as a present for my grandmother. I was just delivering it to her when you decided to stop me.”

    “Nice try. If you’re just delivering a necklace, then why did I see you teleport across a river? I’m sure if we speak to other guards, or even the merchant you stole this necklace from, you won’t seem like a kind girl helping her grandmother. Now give me your staff.”

    I can’t disobey his order. Any form of resistance will just lead to a bigger problem, although a wave of dread passes over me as I give up my acacia staff. That was my only chance at ever preforming magic, and now it’s gone.

    “Don’t be sad,” taunts the guard. “You aren’t the first wannabe mage to end up in prison.”

    - - -
    Go to [Page 23]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 5)
    Rilue


    “Excellent!” Ormrod says. “Now, would anyone else like to join us?”

    We glance around at the civilians. None of them look the least bit interested, and I can’t blame them that much. I’m not even sure if I’m making the right decision going on this adventure.

    “No one?” Once again, Ormrod is met with silence.

    “Well then, the three of us shall rid Almuj of this mummy! Just you wait, a few days from now we shall return victorious!” A few people clap, and Ormrod turns to us. “Avery, what do we do now? Do we get new horses? Mine was stolen by bandits, so I’m not sure if horses are the best idea.”

    This adventure might not be as heroic as he plans.

    ~ ~ ~​

    For the first time in my life, I’m leaving the city of Almuj. I would always hear travelers say how alluring the city looked from a distance. I now understand why they think that.

    Ormrod’s plan was to make it to the tomb by nightfall, but the desert is two vast and we have to be careful where our horses tread. Every sandpile could hide a dangerous scorpion that could cause a lion to collapse. After a few hours we decide to stop for the night, and Avery ventures out to find something to eat.

    “So,” says Ormrod after a long silence, “You’re a mage, aren’t you?”

    “No,” I answer. “I just know a few spells.”

    “Ah. Well, I suppose you have to start somewhere. Are you an apprentice to anyone?”

    “Also no. I’m what you call self-taught.”

    “Well, if you need a master to teach you, I would recommend going to Gavel. Everyone there is taught magic at a young age, and you could hire someone for cheap. Besides, my home city of Llevigar is a lot like Almuj. You would like it there.”

    “I hate Almuj, “I say, correcting him. “And I already plan to sail to Mage Island, wherever that is.”

    “Ah, it seems like you’re confused. You don’t go to Mage Island if you know little magic, you go there if you know a lot of magic. They’ll send you right back to where you came from.”

    I pause. Not once did I hear that bit of information about the island. Lodrona always said the mages there were pretentious, so I guess it could be true.

    “If all villagers are taught magic, then why don’t you teach me?” I ask.

    “Like you, I’m not the best at magic. Besides, I don’t have a wand.” His explanation is reasonable, but the way he quickly speaks suggests that there might be some other reason.

    “Shhh… keep it down.”

    “Avery!” I half-shout. “Where did you come from?”

    “From the desert. Unlike you two, I’ve been keeping it quiet. We don’t know what creatures are out here. Anyway, I found a cave nearby. It’s a safer place to spend the night. And I hope you like cooked scorpion, because it’s the only food I found.”

    Of course I like cooked scorpion, especially on an empty stomach. Everyone in Almuj does, although it seems I can’t say the same about outsiders. When we’re all settled around a campfire in the cave, Ormrod barely touches his food.

    “Don’t like scorpion?” Avery asks.

    “I’m not hungry,” Ormrod tells us. “I’m too tired to eat anything. It feels like ages since I got a good night’s rest.”

    He pauses, taking a minute to stare out of the cave and at the stars.

    “Are you sure you both can do this? I feel like I’m sending you to your deaths. When danger arrives, there’s no way I can help either of you. My magic is pathetic, I’m not great with a sword, not to mention that my curse might get us all killed. I shouldn’t have dragged both of you into this. Tomorrow we’ll go back to Almuj.”

    “No,” Avery says, staring right at Ormrod, “If you truly woke up an ancient cursed being, then we need to stop it. At the very least, we’ll reach the tomb tomorrow, and figure out a strategy there. Speaking of which, we’re all tired and need to get some sleep. Rilue, you’re on lookout duty for the first four hours.”

    “Alright!” I’m not the best fighter in the group, but I can yell loud enough to wake Avery up. Better to get guard duty out of the way now and not have to be woken up in the middle of the night.

    I stand at the edge of the cavern, looking out into the endless expanse of sand. I hear nothing aside from our horses occasionally grunting. As far as I can tell, I see nothing either. It’s just me and my tired companions.

    The life of an adventurer seems a lot less exciting than I thought, but that’s not a bad thing.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 56]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 5)
    Rilue


    “I’m sorry,” I respond, “But I don’t think I’m cut out for this kind of job. I'm not any sort of hero, and I'm sure there are a lot of better sorcerers who will help you for free."

    Avery looks at me, her expression having the slightest hint of disappointment. “Don’t worry about it. I wouldn’t want you to get killed out there. I’m sure Ormrod and I can find some Mage in the city to aid us.”

    Avery says her goodbyes and then heads off with Ormrod deeper into the city, leaving me alone. Well, not really alone. The slums are always filled with activity, especially at this time of day. Flodur from the budget store is here, providing food for people like me. Today he’s made delicious soup, and I can’t thank him enough when it’s time for my meal.

    When I’m done eating I decide to practice a few spells. In the old stories, the hero Bob practiced magic every day for five years before he became a master of the art. I had practiced magic a few times a month for five years, and all I knew where the most basic spells.

    I flip through my spellbook, looking for something that could be safely cast in a populated area. I eventually reach a page labeled “Ice Snake.” As I read the description however, this spell becomes more familiar to me. I tried learning it a while back, but I have no idea how to “channel the cold” or anything like that.

    I turn to another page. “Chain Lightning” sounds like it would accidentally kill a lot of people.

    “Rainstorm?” No, too complex for someone at my level.

    Eventually I realize that I probably need more space. I grab my book and walk deeper into the desert, but close enough so that I could quickly teleport back to slums if needed. Now I have space to try a new spell; “Quake.” For someone like me, it would cause the ground to shake a bit. For someone like Lodrona, it could cause a stone wall to collapse.

    As instructed, I lift my staff in the air and concentrate on angry thoughts. I think back to this morning, when I realized I was penniless; and swing my weapon down. Nothing happens, except the sands around my feet shift a bit. But that could just be the wind. I’m about to raise my staff and try this spell again when I notice something in the distance.

    It appears to be a group of people. Bandits? Merchants? Either way, they’re headed towards the slums. I run back and let the guards know that a group is approaching. If they are travelers, it is our duty to give them a place to rest, even if our living space isn’t the most comfortable. If they’re bandits… we’ll fight to the death.

    It turns out that they are neither. It is a group of villagers dressed in what looks like mining equipment. One villager in particular appears to be their leader, and his acolytes gather around him as he prepares to make the second speech of the day.

    “Citizens of Almuj, Gavel gives you its greetings!” he says. “My name is Vade, and I belong to an organization from Gavel. We go by the name of Wynn-Excavation.”

    - - -
    Go to [Page 20]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 8)
    Rilue


    There are a lot of things I hate about this city, but boy is it beautiful. One of my favorite things to do is sit on a ledge and look down at the market, a perfect activity to do while I eat my fruit. From my vantage point I see the guards looking for criminals, the bartering of merchants, and that one merchant boy I got my food from. Maybe one day I’d become a part of the market’s network. I would sell magical objects and weaponry – after I rose to fame as an archmage of course.

    Sadly, that plan is nothing more than a fantasy. But the thing about fantasies is that you wish they were real. To become in archmage, or any sort of powerful sorceress, I’d need to be taught magic. And the only known place where I can do that is Mage Island, located who-knows-where in a faraway land. Then again, do I even want to travel there? Lodrona always said the mages there were a bunch of aristocrats who never even preform magic.

    When I’m done eating I slouch against the wall and relax. It’s perfect outside; warm but not blistering like some days in the desert. I lay there for a long time before I head back to the slums.

    ~ ~ ~​

    Something is going on. When I return to the Slums of Almuj I see a crowd of people gathered around a group of villagers.

    “Greetings!” one of them says. “My name is Vade, and I belong to an organization from Gavel. We go by the name of Wynn-Excavation.”

    - - -
    Go to [Page 28]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 18)
    Rilue


    “Your whole lives you have known only part of your own province’s history. Let me guess, most of you consider it a land of danger, the land where corruption holds you in its grip?”

    Vade’s description may be overdramatic, but it’s true. The corruption made Wynn what it is.

    “Look around!” continues Vade. “Buried in the desert, and all around the province, are relics of the past just waiting to be uncovered. Who knows what secrets will be found! Now I have an offer for you all: join us in excavating an ancient temple in this desert. We need more workers, and if you help us we will provide you with protection, water, food, and money. No longer will you have to rely on the charity store to get what you need. Join us, and we will work towards a brighter future for the province.”

    This statement caused quite the reaction. Apart from charity, food was hard to get without money, and that’s what Ormrod offered.

    “You want me to join?” an older human exclaims. “Then I’ll join! I have lost faith in Almuj, and here you come giving us a chance. Take me to your excavation site.”

    He’s met with cheering, and Vade can’t seem to help be smile.

    “Welcome to Wynn-Excavation. We’re about to set off back to our site, anyone who chooses to join us is free to, and you will receive everything I’ve talked about.”

    The caravan of villagers turns around to head into the desert, and a sizeable group of men from the slums join him.

    “Rilue, please don’t go with them! You’re young and still have a future ahead of you. I know what will happen if you join them. Gavel won’t care if your blood is in the sands.”

    Nick is standing behind me. He’s a strange man, but also considered one of the leaders of our part of Almuj. I won’t deny that Wynn-Excavation sounds like it would help me. After all, I finally would have a job, a source of income, a way to survive.

    - - -
    If you choose to join Wynn-Excavation, go to [Page 40]
    - - -
    If you choose to remain in Almuj, go to [Page 43]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    Despite the loud warnings of Boris and Shaun, I break into a run in order to reach the coast-side house. At this point the ship has landed on the shore, and there’s a possibility that the pirates have seen me.

    “Hello?” I shout as I arrive at the house. “Is anyone home?” I knock on the door repeatedly, until an older woman opens it. She doesn’t look happy about being disturbed.

    “I’m sorry, but your house is under attack,” I explain.

    “Okay. You’re a soldier and all, so why are you standing around talking when you should be defending?”

    “Yes, but these are pirates we’re talking about here. They outnumber me by a vast majority. Their ship is close by and you need to leave the area.”

    “What’s all this noise!” I hear footsteps in the house, followed by the appearance of a wrinkled man, with the hint of a grey beard on his face.

    “This young man claims that we’re under attack by pirates!”

    “I’m not claiming anything,” I reason, “The pirates are real, step outside and see yourself!”

    I turn to the right and sure enough, around a dozen men are standing around on the shores, their boat anchored nearby.

    “See? Now please, come with me to Katoa Ranch. We’ll be safe there.”

    “I’ve worked on this farm for fifty-two years,” says the old man. “I’m not going to just abandon it.”

    I have a feeling that this family isn’t going to leave their house anytime soon. I might as well return to my post before Jenprest realizes I deserted, but I can’t leave these farmers behind. What if the pirates kill them?

    - - -
    If you decide to stay at the farm, go to [Page 29]
    - - -
    If you return to Katoa Ranch, go to [Page 30]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    The farmers at Katoa Ranch are used to living in a world besieged by corruption. But when they see the three of us run towards Bylvis’ house, they get a feeling that something is very wrong.

    “Jenprest!” I shout as we enter the house. “A pirate ship about to land on the coast!”

    “Pirates?” the sergeant says in astonishment. “What are they doing here?”

    “I have no idea,” Boris responds, “Maybe they got lost? Don’t laugh, there’s no other explanation!”

    “Well we’re in trouble no matter what.” Jenprest turns to us. In this hour, it is up to us four to defend the coast. “Harrison, I need you to find a vantage point to watch the ship. If they do anything strange or start to ‘explore the coast’, report to back to us. Boris and Shaun, tell the farmers to get inside, and see if any of them are good with a bow or spear.”

    Reconnaissance has never been my strong suit. Actually, it’s something I’ve never even done at all. That’s more of Shaun’s thing, I’m the man who charges in with the sword and shield. But orders are orders, and I exit the ranch and crawl towards a hilltop tree overlooking the shore.

    "I told you," complains one of the pirates, "We should have just called it a day and sailed back to the cove. But no, you just had to keep us sailing, and now we're... where are we, exactly?" The pirate turns to a short figure looking over a map.

    "Karl... I think we're in Wynn. You know, Wynn's coastline. Somewhere near that Ragni city."

    "Ragni!" screams another pirate. This one is wearing an ornate hat and jacket, has a short brown beard, and when he speaks all the other pirates turn to be at his attention. "We're in unknown territory here. Karl, Owen, Martin, scout around the area. See if you can get some food and other supplies that we need. Treasure is the least of our worries here. We need to leave before the cavalry comes."

    “Aye aye, Captain Larkster.” Three of the pirates break away from the main group, two of them heading east and the other west. The rest loiter on the coast, with seemingly no plans to attack. I might as well go report back now.

    “Harrison!” Jenprest says when I return. “What did you find out?”

    “There are eleven pirates total. Eight of them are at the beach right now, but three of them split away from the group to find, or more likely steal, supplies. They aren’t looking for gold or anything in particular. I think they got lost somehow.”

    “Interesting. Shaun, I’m sending you to keep an eye on them. Boris, I’m sending you out to the countryside. Let the farmers know that there are criminals in the area. Harrison, you’ll be staying here. Once we get more men, we’ll confront the pirates.”

    It doesn’t take long for reinforcements to arrive. Off in the distance, I see four warriors on horseback approaching, all heavily armored and carrying spears. As they get closer I notice who they are: the knights of Ragni.

    “Knights!” one of the Katoa farmers exclaims. “We’re saved!”

    The horses gallop up to our group. “We got a report about a pirate attack,” one of the says. “We’re here to set things right.”

    “The pirates are a little way down at the shore,” Jenprest states. “Follow me. One of our archers is positioned up on the hill, ready to help if needed.”

    The knight nods, and gestures to his companions to continue. They begin to head toward the shore, with Jenprest and I following behind as infantry.

    “Pirates!” the Knight shouts as we round a corner. “You are ordered by the armies of Ragni to leave this province!”

    From far away I can hear one of the pirates shout something and see crewmen moving around. At first I think they’re going to attack, but instead they grab all their supplies and rush onto their boat.

    “Looks like we took them by surprise.”

    I don’t even know if they bothered to retrieve their mates that ventured out into the farmlands. Either way, they’re gone now, and Ragni is victorious once again.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 48]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 16)
    Rilue


    In less than a day my life has burned to the ground. I thought losing my money was bad, but this? This is a nightmare come to life.

    Almuj’s prison is a lot smaller than I expected, considering how famous the city is for crime. I guess all the captured bandits get sent straight to the gallows. Still though, it is an intimidating sandstone structure, with plenty of guards and prisoners. As soon as I enter a mage scans me, making sure that I don’t have any pins or lockpicks hidden on me. They find nothing. I don’t know if that makes me a good citizen or a bad criminal.

    Afterwards, I’m sent to my cell, which is one of many located in a large room. Each cell fits two people, but doesn’t have nearly enough space for them to be comfortable. Most prisoners lay in bed or pace around, others gaze at the guards and I but don’t say anything. I wonder how many other petty thieves like myself they see arrive here, likely to never return.

    “This is your cell,” one of the guards tells me after we stop walking. “There will be two meals given to you each day. Any attempt to escape will lead to punishment.” He unlocks the door and gestures for me to go inside. I’m willing to oblige given the sword at his belt. As soon as I step in the slams the door beside me, locking me inside.

    The cell is dark, with only one barred window looking out into the dimly lit room that holds all the prisoners. It’s also small, with only a small toilet, two beds and… is someone else in here?

    “Welcome to the prison,” my cellmate jests. She’s a young woman, likely only a bit older than me. She speaks with a smile, yet her eyes suggest a hopelessness I’ve seen too many times back in the slums. “What are you in for?”

    “I stole a necklace.” As I talk, the fear in me spreads. This has to be a bad dream. Maybe if I lay in one of those bunk beds and went to sleep, I would wake up in the slums.

    “I stole a magic potion. I drank to hide the evidence, and then tried to fight the guards who cornered me. I didn’t hurt any of them bad, or else I’d be hanging in the gallows right now!” She gives a half-hearted chuckle. How in Wynn can she joke about this?

    I glance around, making sure that no guards are nearby before I ask her a question. “Have you ever thought about escaping from here?”

    “At first I did,” she answers. “But then it became clear that I’m not escaping. There’s no hope and no light in these dungeons. You aren’t getting out, and no one is coming to free you either.”

    “Shut up.”

    I lay down on one of the bunk beds. It may be old, but it’s no less comfortable than the bedroll I sleep on. And that’s great, because I need to rest. I need to calm down, and not listen to some prisoner scream about the end of the world.

    My cellmate is wrong about one thing: I am escaping. She doesn’t know that I know magic. The guard don’t seem to have made any accommodations for my magic. Sure, I’m missing my staff. But skilled mages don’t need a wand to preform feats of the arcane. I suppose I don’t either.

    Hope begins to flutter inside me. There’s a chance, a tiny chance that I could get out of here. Magic is worth a try. I’d rather get caught than spend ten years of my life stuck here.

    “Well,” I begin. “If no one’s coming to free us, then I guess it’s up to me.”

    “Hilarious. And how are you getting us out, exactly? Will you pick the lock with your fingernail and then waltz out?”

    “No. I’m using magic.”

    “That’s even more insane. If you had good enough magic to break out of here, then you probably would be skilled enough to not get caught in the first place.”

    “Well, I’m not skilled yet. But practice makes perfect, and I remember some magic from a book I had. Do you mind if you stand aside? I need to practice.”

    I move away from the bars of the cell, not wanting any of the guards to figure out what I’m doing. However, it quickly becomes apparent that I don’t know what I’m doing. Some spells, like summoning can be done simply by muttering incantations and waving around your hands. Others, like healing, causing an earthquake, and teleportation, require a staff or wand unless you’re an extremely powerful mage.

    “Hah, I knew it!” my cellmate says after I spend a minute staring at the wall, “You don’t know any magic, do you!”

    “I know magic,” I respond, not wanting to point out that I’ve only learned two different spells, “I just need to get my staff back to cast them.”

    “Good luck with that.”

    Even though magic won’t work, I refuse to give up. I’m not spending the rest of my life in a moldy prison, and I’m dedicating every minute to getting out.

    “I guess I’ll have to change tactics. Did you ever hear those old stories… uh … whatever your name is?”

    “Liv Zetea,” she replies, “And you are?”

    “I’m Rilue.” I don’t bother saying my surname, as far as I know no one else in my immediate or extended family has lived inside Almuj for years.

    “Whatever you’re going to suggest, you had better not try it.”

    “Why?” Liv’s stubbornness is really beginning to irritate me.

    “Because when the guards inevitably catch you, they’ll suspect that I was involved. And then I’ll be sent to the gallows for a crime I didn’t commit. So please, don’t try to escape.”

    There’s no way I’m following the request of someone I’ve known for less than an hour. One way or another I’m breaking out of here. Liv is just a small problem I’ll have to deal with.

    - - -
    Attempt to befriend Liv so you can both escape. [Page 74]
    - - -
    Ignore Liv, and focus on getting yourself out of jail. [Page 75]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    As one of the province’s largest farms, it was only natural that Katoa should have a good defense. I thought that made sense, but when I arrived at the ranch only three other soldiers were there. Two of them were leaning against the side of a barn, “slacking off” as Norman would say. The third one walks towards me, a map of the area in her hand.

    “You there!” she says, “You are the soldier Harrison, correct?”

    “Yes… uh, sir,” I reply.

    “Call me Jenprest. Given your two years of experience in Ragni’s military, as well as previous training apparently received in Fruma, you have been relocated to guarding the sewers of Ragni.” She hands me the parchment, which I unroll to find a map of the region. “Your job is to make sure nothing comes out, and if you see a hoard of ravenous undead coming this way, light a signal fire for us. Any questions?”

    Wait a second. Did she say that I would be guarding a sewer system?

    “A sewer system? What are you talking about?”

    Jenprest points to two ruined structure at the opposite side of the road, many meters apart from one another. They appear to be massive stone pipes; one their entrances sealed with iron bars. “Ragni’s sewer system is massive. It flows all the way out to the ocean, and there are two side entrances leading to it. Records state that the sewers were raided several times by the corrupted, and they are likely roaming around there to this day. Your job is to keep watch and make sure nothing crawls out of there.”

    “Okay,” I hesitantly answer. “What should I expect to come out of the sewers?”

    “Rats. Rats the size of dragons! They’ll eat soldier boys like you raw!” jeers an armed man walking towards me.

    “Excuse Boris,” says Jenprest. “To answer your question, we haven’t really had anything come out of the sewers in a long time. But there are the usual corrupted beings down there. The last person assigned to your duties quit after hearing too many unearthly screams, so feel free to move a few meters from the entrance if you get uncomfortable.”

    Well, this is great. I think as hard as I can, trying to remember if any heroes started their careers making sure something didn’t attempt to escape from a sewer.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 25]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison

    Katoa Ranch – Four Days Later


    A villager is approaching me. From a distance I watch it crawl forward, using its arms to propel itself and dragging its one leg across the grass. A sizeable chunk has been taken out of its head, but that hasn’t stopped its violent urges. Fortunately, the wound will prove to be an obvious weak spot.

    I never understood why we had mages and golems helping us fight the undead. If the past few days are anything to go off of, anyone who can pick up a sword can chop the head off some zombies. And if you have a spear, you might as well be immortal. As the zombie lumbers forward I thrust my weapon into what remains of its head. The monster crumples to the a few seconds afterwards.

    “Good job, Harrison!” says a voice from behind. I turn around to find two of my fellow soldiers, Shaun and Boris, coming toward me. I know it was Boris who had “congratulated me.” He’s always sarcastic and has been serving at Katoa for several years now. He didn’t like it when I joked about how he’s more scared of the sewers than I am, despite looking over them for much longer. Shaun on the other hand is a lot quieter. He has short hair and considers himself to be on the path to becoming a master archer.

    “It’s lunch break,” Boris continues. “Shaun scouted the area and says there aren’t any more of the undead in the area, so let’s take a break to eat some delicious hardtack!”

    I hate hardtack biscuits more than I hate the porridge at breakfast. Everyone says they last a long time, but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that they taste and chew like rocks.

    “Don’t worry,” Shaun says triumphantly. “I was told the Bylvis is cooking steak for us and Jenprest tonight.

    “It’s about time!” Boris exclaims. “I’m glad they purchased some new cattle after this incident with Drale.”

    “Drale?” I ask. “Who’s Drale?”

    “One of the soldiers who served here,” answers Shaun. “He was a very strange man.”

    “Strange is an understatement Shaun,” Boris chimes in. “After a few years here he started becoming obsessed with cows. Like a crazy cat lady, but with cows. No, he must have been crazier than a crazy cat lady! Because one night he fashioned himself a cow costume, snuck into the barn, and freed all the cows! Jenprest told us he’s not allowed back here again. But that doesn’t matter, since we’ve never seen him or his cows again. I guess he moo-ved on to other things!”

    “You know,” Shaun says. “You would do this army a favor by quitting and sailing far away too.”

    As my compatriots bicker back and forth, my attention is turned to something in the distance. Far off at the ocean, I can see a ship approaching the coastline. It isn’t a giant merchant’s vessel, but it seems larger than the average fishing boat. And there’s something drawn on its sail too.

    I get up from where I’m sitting and run a little way down. As both I and the ship get closer to the coast I can make out a skull and cross-bones. Pirates! What are they doing here?

    “There’s a pirate ship heading our way!” I shout back. Shaun and Boris quickly run to my vantage point.

    “I’ve never seen them in this part of the province before. They must be looking to rob the villagers who live near the shore, or maybe even attack Katoa ranch!”

    I’ve been told that the merchants and farmers who live here are rather wealthy and would be a prime target for pirates. And unlike cities like Nemract, we aren’t as equipped to fight attacks from fellow humans.

    “A ship this size will have many crewmen,” Shaun continues, “We’ll be outnumbered. Our best chance at victory is to defend Katoa ranch from an uphill advantage. We can send one of Bylvis’ kids to Ragni’s garrison to fetch more troops.”

    We decide to hold out on Katoa Hill, where Shaun can fire a volley of arrows on the attackers. But at the same time, what’s stopping the pirates from raiding houses closer to the coast? The pirates would be more likely to attack them than a fortified ranch. One of these houses in particular catches my eye; it’s only a short run from where I stand. If I hurry now I could help the family that lives there get to safety.

    - - -
    If you decide to go and help the family, go to [Page 26]
    - - -
    If you decide to stay and defend the ranch, go to [Page 27]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    Despite the loud warnings of Boris and Shaun, I break into a run in order to reach the coast-side house. At this point the ship has landed on the shore, and there’s a possibility that the pirates have seen me.

    “Hello?” I shout as I arrive at the house. “Is anyone home?” I knock on the door repeatedly, until an older woman opens it. She doesn’t look happy about being disturbed.

    “I’m sorry, but your house is under attack,” I explain.

    “Okay. You’re a soldier and all, so why are you standing around talking when you should be defending?”

    “Yes, but these are pirates we’re talking about here. They outnumber me by a vast majority. Their ship is close by and you need to leave the area.”

    “What’s all this noise!” I hear footsteps in the house, followed by the appearance of a wrinkled man, with the hint of a grey beard on his face.

    “This young man claims that we’re under attack by pirates!”

    “I’m not claiming anything,” I reason, “The pirates are real, step outside and see yourself!”

    I turn to the right and sure enough, around a dozen men are standing around on the shores, their boat anchored nearby.

    “See? Now please, come with me to Katoa Ranch. We’ll be safe there.”

    “I’ve worked on this farm for fifty-two years,” says the old man. “I’m not going to just abandon it.”

    I have a feeling that this family isn’t going to leave their house anytime soon. I might as well return to my post before Jenprest realizes I deserted, but I can’t leave these farmers behind. What if the pirates kill them?

    - - -
    If you decide to stay at the farm, go to [Page 31]
    - - -
    If you return to Katoa Ranch, go to [Page 32]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    The farmers at Katoa Ranch are used to living in a world besieged by corruption. But when they see the three of us run towards Bylvis’ house, they get a feeling that something is very wrong.

    “Jenprest!” I shout as we enter the house. “A pirate ship about to land on the coast!”

    “Pirates?” the sergeant says in astonishment. “What are they doing here?”

    “I have no idea,” Boris responds, “Maybe they got lost? Don’t laugh, there’s no other explanation!”

    “Well we’re in trouble no matter what.” Jenprest turns to us. In this hour, it is up to us four to defend the coast. “Harrison, I need you to find a vantage point to watch the ship. If they do anything strange or start to ‘explore the coast’, report to back to us. Boris and Shaun, tell the farmers to get inside, and see if any of them are good with a bow or spear.”

    Reconnaissance has never been my strong suit. Actually, it’s something I’ve never even done at all. That’s more of Shaun’s thing, I’m the man who charges in with the sword and shield. But orders are orders, and I exit the ranch and crawl towards a hilltop tree overlooking the shore.

    "I told you," complains one of the pirates, "We should have just called it a day and sailed back to the cove. But no, you just had to keep us sailing, and now we're... where are we, exactly?" The pirate turns to a short figure looking over a map.

    "Karl... I think we're in Wynn. You know, Wynn's coastline. Somewhere near that Ragni city."

    "Ragni!" screams another pirate. This one is wearing an ornate hat and jacket, has a short brown beard, and when he speaks all the other pirates turn to be at his attention. "We're in unknown territory here. Karl, Owen, Martin, scout around the area. See if you can get some food and other supplies that we need. Treasure is the least of our worries here. We need to leave before the cavalry comes."

    “Aye aye, Captain Larkster.” Three of the pirates break away from the main group, two of them heading east and the other west. The rest loiter on the coast, with seemingly no plans to attack. I might as well go report back now.

    “Harrison!” Jenprest says when I return. “What did you find out?”

    “There are eleven pirates total. Eight of them are at the beach right now, but three of them split away from the group to find, or more likely steal, supplies. They aren’t looking for gold or anything in particular. I think they got lost somehow.”

    “Interesting. Shaun, I’m sending you to keep an eye on them. Boris, I’m sending you out to the countryside. Let the farmers know that there are criminals in the area. Harrison, you’ll be staying here. Once we get more men, we’ll confront the pirates.”

    It doesn’t take long for reinforcements to arrive. Off in the distance, I see four warriors on horseback approaching, all heavily armored and carrying spears. As they get closer I notice who they are: the knights of Ragni.

    “Knights!” one of the Katoa farmers exclaims. “We’re saved!”

    The horses gallop up to our group. “We got a report about a pirate attack,” one of the says. “We’re here to set things right.”

    “The pirates are a little way down at the shore,” Jenprest states. “Follow me. One of our archers is positioned up on the hill, ready to help if needed.”

    The knight nods, and gestures to his companions to continue. They begin to head toward the shore, with Jenprest and I following behind as infantry.

    “Pirates!” the Knight shouts as we round a corner. “You are ordered by the armies of Ragni to leave this province!”

    From far away I can hear one of the pirates shout something and see crewmen moving around. At first I think they’re going to attack, but instead they grab all their supplies and rush onto their boat.

    “Looks like we took them by surprise.”

    I don’t even know if they bothered to retrieve their mates that ventured out into the farmlands. Either way, they’re gone now, and Ragni is victorious once again.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 51]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 19)
    Rilue


    “Your whole lives you have known only part of your own province’s history. Let me guess, most of you consider it a land of danger, the land where corruption holds you in its grip?”

    Vade’s description may be overdramatic, but it’s true. The corruption made Wynn what it is.

    “Look around!” continues Vade. “Buried in the desert, and all around the province, are relics of the past just waiting to be uncovered. Who knows what secrets will be found! Now I have an offer for you all: join us in excavating an ancient temple in this desert. We need more workers, and if you help us we will provide you with protection, water, food, and money. No longer will you have to rely on the charity store to get what you need. Join us, and we will work towards a brighter future for the province.”

    This statement caused quite the reaction. Apart from charity, food was hard to get without money, and that’s what Ormrod offered.

    “You want me to join?” an older human exclaims. “Then I’ll join! I have lost faith in Almuj, and here you come giving us a chance. Take me to your excavation site.”

    He’s met with cheering, and Vade can’t seem to help be smile.

    “Welcome to Wynn-Excavation. We’re about to set off back to our site, anyone who chooses to join us is free to, and you will receive everything I’ve talked about.”

    The caravan of villagers turns around to head into the desert, and a sizeable group of men from the slums join him.

    “Rilue, please don’t go with them! You’re young and still have a future ahead of you. I know what will happen if you join them. Gavel won’t care if your blood is in the sands.”

    Nick is standing behind me. He’s a strange man, but also considered one of the leaders of our part of Almuj. I won’t deny that Wynn-Excavation sounds like it would help me. After all, I finally would have a job, a source of income, a way to survive.

    - - -
    If you choose to remain in Almuj, go to [Page 39]
    - - -
    If you choose to join Wynn-Excavation, go to [Page 40]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    “If you won’t come with me, then I’ll just stay here.”

    “No,” the woman declares, “You aren’t staying in our house. Now get out, unless you want me to report you to your commander!”

    I don’t know what I expected. I guess I thought all the country folk would revere me for my role as a soldier. Maybe I was mistaken. Either way, I step away from the doorway, and walk around to the side. I crouch behind a few barrels and I’m set. Neither farmer nor pirate will notice me, yet I’ll be ready to defend. I’m used to waiting, after all, it is my job.

    After many minutes of waiting, I hear something rustling through the wheat fields. One of the pirates perhaps? I can’t tell if any of them moved; my position doesn’t give me a view of their ship.

    “Show yourself!” I call out.

    A man pokes his head out of the field and turns around. He clearly didn’t expect someone to spot him.

    “Who are you?” he asks.

    “I am a soldier of Ragni. And you, my friend, are a pirate. Leave our province or face the might of Ragni!”

    “You’re mistaken. I’m no pirate. The family here recently hired me to work their fields. I didn’t know soldiers were allowed to hide in people’s farms and question innocent civilians.”

    His attempt at a bluff was good, but not good enough. “You ask who I was earlier. If you lived around here, then wouldn’t you recognize the uniform of Ragni’s army?”

    The presumed pirate flinches. “Fine. You figured me out. Let me live, okay? I haven’t done anything bad on Wynn’s shores. Just let me go, and our crew will leave. You can forget any of this happened.”

    - - -
    If you let the pirate go free, go to [Page 33]
    - - -
    If you try and capture the pirate, go to [Page 34]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    I can’t stay. I shouldn’t even be here to begin with. The farmers will be alright, and I’d better return to my post before Jenprest notices I’m missing.

    As I run up the hill, I glance at the group of pirates. They seem to just be standing around and talking, so we should have some time to prepare our defenses.

    Jenprest is waiting for me when I return to Katoa Ranch. Boris and Shaun are standing behind her, along with a few farmers armed with spears.

    “Where were you?” she shouts at me, “You can’t just run away from your post for no reason!”

    “But the farmers…” I try to reason. “They aren’t defended! I needed to warn them so they could escape to Katoa ranch. I didn’t want them to be collateral damage.”

    “But they are,” rebukes Jenprest. “Given that you deserted them too.”

    She has a point and it hits me hard. I’m no longer there to defend them. If their house is attacked and they die, it’s my fault.

    “If one of the corrupted attacked them,” I say, “Wouldn’t it be our duty to help them? Why would this be any different?”

    “I know both of those farmers. Both of them know the corruption. If they’re attacked, they’ll stay inside until a soldier can help them.”

    “But what about me? Aren’t I the soldier helping them?”

    “Forget it! This conversation is over! Get in back with the rest of the fighters. When reinforcements from Ragni arrive, we’ll charge the pirates and force them back into the sea.”

    I stand still for the next few minutes, waiting for help to come. It doesn’t take long. Off in the distance, I see four warriors on horseback approaching, all heavily armored and carrying spears. As they get closer I notice who they are: the knights of Ragni.

    “Knights!” one of the Katoa farmers exclaims. “We’re saved!”

    The horses gallop up to our group. “We got a report about a pirate attack,” one of the says. “We’re here to set things right.”

    “The pirates are a little way down at the shore,” Jenprest states. “Follow me. One of our archers is positioned up on the hill, ready to help if needed.”

    The knight nods, and gestures to his companions to continue. They begin to head toward the shore, with Jenprest and us soldiers following behind as infantry.

    “Pirates!” the Knight shouts as we round a corner. “You are ordered by the armies of Ragni to leave this province!”

    From far away I can hear one of the pirates shout something and see crewmen moving around. At first I think they’re going to attack, but instead they grab all their supplies and rush onto their boat.

    “Looks like we took them by surprise.”

    I don’t even know if they bothered to retrieve their mates that ventured out into the farmlands. Either way, they’re gone now, and Ragni is victorious once again.

    “We did it!” I shout to Jenprest, “We won!”

    “Indeed. Now get back to your post, soldier. We have the corruption to fight.”

    - - -
    Go to [Page 41]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    “If you won’t come with me, then I’ll just stay here.”

    “No,” the woman declares, “You aren’t staying in our house. Now get out, unless you want me to report you to your commander!”

    I don’t know what I expected. I guess I thought all the country folk would revere me for my role as a soldier. Maybe I was mistaken. Either way, I step away from the doorway, and walk around to the side. I crouch behind a few barrels and I’m set. Neither farmer nor pirate will notice me, yet I’ll be ready to defend. I’m used to waiting, after all, it is my job.

    After many minutes of waiting, I hear something rustling through the wheat fields. One of the pirates perhaps? I can’t tell if any of them moved; my position doesn’t give me a view of their ship.

    “Show yourself!” I call out.

    A man pokes his head out of the field and turns around. He clearly didn’t expect someone to spot him.

    “Who are you?” he asks.

    “I am a soldier of Ragni. And you, my friend, are a pirate. Leave our province or face the might of Ragni!”

    “You’re mistaken. I’m no pirate. The family here recently hired me to work their fields. I didn’t know soldiers were allowed to hide in people’s farms and question innocent civilians.”

    His attempt at a bluff was good, but not good enough. “You ask who I was earlier. If you lived around here, then wouldn’t you recognize the uniform of Ragni’s army?”

    The presumed pirate flinches. “Fine. You figured me out. Let me live, okay? I haven’t done anything bad on Wynn’s shores. Just let me go, and our crew will leave. You can forget any of this happened.”

    - - -
    If you let the pirate go free, go to [Page 35]
    - - -
    If you try and capture the pirate, go to [Page 36]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    I can’t stay. I shouldn’t even be here to begin with. The farmers will be alright, and I’d better return to my post before Jenprest notices I’m missing.

    As I run up the hill, I glance at the group of pirates. They seem to just be standing around and talking, so we should have some time to prepare our defenses.

    Jenprest is waiting for me when I return to Katoa Ranch. Boris and Shaun are standing behind her, along with a few farmers armed with spears.

    “Where were you?” she shouts at me, “You can’t just run away from your post for no reason!”

    “But the farmers…” I try to reason. “They aren’t defended! I needed to warn them so they could escape to Katoa ranch. I didn’t want them to be collateral damage.”

    “But they are,” rebukes Jenprest. “Given that you deserted them too.”

    She has a point and it hits me hard. I’m no longer there to defend them. If their house is attacked and they die, it’s my fault.

    “If one of the corrupted attacked them,” I say, “Wouldn’t it be our duty to help them? Why would this be any different?”

    “I know both of those farmers. Both of them know the corruption. If they’re attacked, they’ll stay inside until a soldier can help them.”

    “But what about me? Aren’t I the soldier helping them?”

    “Forget it! This conversation is over! Get in back with the rest of the fighters. When reinforcements from Ragni arrive, we’ll charge the pirates and force them back into the sea.”

    I stand still for the next few minutes, waiting for help to come. It doesn’t take long. Off in the distance, I see four warriors on horseback approaching, all heavily armored and carrying spears. As they get closer I notice who they are: the knights of Ragni.

    “Knights!” one of the Katoa farmers exclaims. “We’re saved!”

    The horses gallop up to our group. “We got a report about a pirate attack,” one of the says. “We’re here to set things right.”

    “The pirates are a little way down at the shore,” Jenprest states. “Follow me. One of our archers is positioned up on the hill, ready to help if needed.”

    The knight nods, and gestures to his companions to continue. They begin to head toward the shore, with Jenprest and us soldiers following behind as infantry.

    “Pirates!” the Knight shouts as we round a corner. “You are ordered by the armies of Ragni to leave this province!”

    From far away I can hear one of the pirates shout something and see crewmen moving around. At first I think they’re going to attack, but instead they grab all their supplies and rush onto their boat.

    “Looks like we took them by surprise.”

    I don’t even know if they bothered to retrieve their mates that ventured out into the farmlands. Either way, they’re gone now, and Ragni is victorious once again.

    “We did it!” I shout to Jenprest, “We won!”

    “Indeed. Now get back to your post, soldier. We have the corruption to fight.”

    - - -
    Go to [Page 42]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    “Fine, I’ll let you go. Just promise that your crew leaves right now, okay?” What I’m doing is undoubtedly illegal. I mean, making agreements with pirates? Even though I’m trying to help Ragni, this seems like the sort of thing that would be frowned upon. But the other part of me feels like I’m helping the pirates. He’s right, I haven’t seen him do anything bad yet.

    “Thank you. I will inform our captain that it’s time to leave.” He turns around and runs, hopefully returning to his ship.

    “What’s all that noise?”

    I twist to the right to see grandpa farmer. He must have heard the commotion going on next to his house.

    “It was a pirate,” I answer. “One of the ones I mentioned earlier. Don’t worry, you’re all safe now. I convinced him to go away.”

    “Very creative excuses,” he sarcastically replies. “With an imagination like that, you should quit your job as a soldier and become a travelling bard. Now get away from my farm or else I’ll tell Jenprest that you’re sticking your nose in other peoples’ lives!”

    More intimidated by him than a pirate, I leave the property and begin my walk to Katoa Ranch. As I get farther uphill I look down at the pirate ship: it looks like the crew is loading supplies on board. I did it. I saved Katoa…

    “Where were you!”

    Jenprest is walking towards me, flanked by four men on horseback. Their armor is shined and helmets cover their faces. They must be knights.

    “The pirates, they’re going away. You see, I was at that farm over there, and convinced them to leave.”

    “You… what!” Jenprest looks more astonished than I’d ever seen her, although I hadn’t known her for very long. The knights may have looked equally surprised under their helmets, or maybe they had been trained to look emotionless.

    “It’s true!” I reason. “Look over there, they’re boarding their ship!”

    The knights turn their heads toward the shore to find that the pirates are preparing to depart. It looks like the man I encountered was an honest one.

    “Harrison,” Jenprest orders, “Keep a lookout until the pirates leave.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Yes I’m sure! That’s your job as a guard, Harrison. What did you expect, the king hosting some grand ceremony for you?”

    As she strolls away, I ponder her question. Although I did feel like I was helping Ragni out, I also had wondered what it would be like to be praised for the saving the coast from pirates.


    - - -
    Go to [Page 41]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    “If you come in peace, then why are you sneaking through someone’s farm? You’re up to no good, I’m sure of it! In the name of Ragni, you’re under arrest.”

    The pirate does not seem pleased at my command. “Back off,” he tells me. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with.”

    “You’re dealing with the armies of Ragni! The knights are on their way now, and they’ll defeat you brigands in a heartbeat. Now put your hands in the air and follow me.” I point my spear towards the intruder, letting him know that he shouldn’t be so stubborn.

    “Fine, you got me.” He begins to raise his hands up, but then in a flash he reaches towards his belt and pulls out a knife. I quickly jump to the side, and just in time too. The thrown blade finds itself imbedded in the wall behind me.

    The danger still isn’t over yet. The pirate pulls another dagger from his belt and rushes toward me. I lunge forward with my spear in a counterattack but miss, my opponent sidesteps me and slices my arm.

    I feel a burst of pain that makes me panic. This enemy is much stronger than the undead I was trained to fight. I step forward and attempt to jab the pirate. I miss; he’s too far away. I take a few more steps, my spear pointed at him defensively. He smirks, stepping back as I step forward. Then he breaks into a run, heading into the wheat field.

    “Coward!” I instinctively shout. But maybe his departure was a good thing. It wasn’t smart of me to fight a rogue using an old spear.

    “What are you doing here!”

    I twist to the right to see grandpa farmer. He must have heard me shout after the fight ended.

    “I got attacked by one of those pirates, you know, the ones I warned you about.”

    “Given that your arm is all bloody, you must’ve lost.” He chuckles to himself, and then gestures to me. “Come inside. We’ll get you healed up.”

    Rather polite for a man who told me to get away from his property, but I can’t refuse aid. He leads me inside to a dining, and tells me to sit down on a chair. My arm is in pain and blood is beginning to soak the sleeve of my tunic. I don’t know how this man plans to heal me, but it had better do the job.

    “Martha! I need your magic!” the man shouts to an adjacent room.

    “Coming!” Marsha, the woman who told me to leave her property, comes into the dining room. Her expression turns into a frown of disappointment when she sees me.”

    “You again?” she exclaims. “You have some nerve coming back here.”

    “He got injured in an attack with pirates. He needs you to heal him.”

    “Pirates? They were the source of the shouting I heard? I refuse to believe they were real. But that’s an awfully bad wound you have there. I suppose I have to help.”

    Martha holds her hand near the cut, and blue smoke begins to rise from it. Slowly, the wound begins to close, and the pain recedes somewhat.

    “There you go,” she says after finishing. “I’ll let you spend a few minutes of rest here, but I won’t let you stay overnight!”

    “Thank you. I am very grateful that you could help me.”

    I lean back in the wooden chair, closing my eyes and attempting to ignore the pain. I almost begin to drift asleep when I hear yelling from outside.

    I stand up and opening the door, making sure to use my uninjured arm. When I step outside I’m greeted with a chaotic battle. Knights are fighting toe to toe with pirates, and the pirates are losing by leagues. From a distance, Shaun and a few other archers are firing arrows.

    “Retreat!” I hear one of the pirates call out. “Everyone, onto the boat!” Upon hearing the order, the scattered crew rushed towards their ship, which is a little way off the coast. The knights don’t bother chasing them. The pirates learned their lesson today.

    “Harrison, what are you doing here?”

    One of Ragni’s fighters lifts up the visor of their helmet, revealing Jenprest inside.

    “I’m sorry, Sergeant. I got into some trouble. You see, I thought I someone should protect the farmers over here, and I got into a fight with this one pirate, and I got this one wound, but luckily it was magically healed…”

    “Well, that’s what happens when you’re reckless,” she scolds. “I thought you were the type of soldier who follows orders, but it seems I was mistaken. Either way, the pirates are gone now, but they did put up a pretty good fight. You said there was a mage in that farmhouse? A few of the knights got badly hurt.”

    “Yes, there was.”

    “Understood. Now back to your post, and guard it this time!”

    Jenprest’s tone is furious. Boris had told me that she was very strict the day I arrived, but I guess I never thought much of it.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 49]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    “Fine, I’ll let you go. Just promise that your crew leaves right now, okay?” What I’m doing is undoubtedly illegal. I mean, making agreements with pirates? Even though I’m trying to help Ragni, this seems like the sort of thing that would be frowned upon. But the other part of me feels like I’m helping the pirates. He’s right, I haven’t seen him do anything bad yet.

    “Thank you. I will inform our captain that it’s time to leave.” He turns around and runs, hopefully returning to his ship.

    “What’s all that noise?”

    I twist to the right to see grandpa farmer. He must have heard the commotion going on next to his house.

    “It was a pirate,” I answer. “One of the ones I mentioned earlier. Don’t worry, you’re all safe now. I convinced him to go away.”

    “Very creative excuses,” he sarcastically replies. “With an imagination like that, you should quit your job as a soldier and become a travelling bard. Now get away from my farm or else I’ll tell Jenprest that you’re sticking your nose in other peoples’ lives!”

    More intimidated by him than a pirate, I leave the property and begin my walk to Katoa Ranch. As I get farther uphill I look down at the pirate ship: it looks like the crew is loading supplies on board. I did it. I saved Katoa…

    “Where were you!”

    Jenprest is walking towards me, flanked by four men on horseback. Their armor is shined and helmets cover their faces. They must be knights.

    “The pirates, they’re going away. You see, I was at that farm over there, and convinced them to leave.”

    “You… what!” Jenprest looks more astonished than I’d ever seen her, although I hadn’t known her for very long. The knights may have looked equally surprised under their helmets, or maybe they had been trained to look emotionless.

    “It’s true!” I reason. “Look over there, they’re boarding their ship!”

    The knights turn their heads toward the shore to find that the pirates are preparing to depart. It looks like the man I encountered was an honest one.

    “Harrison,” Jenprest orders, “Keep a lookout until the pirates leave.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Yes I’m sure! That’s your job as a guard, Harrison. What did you expect, the king hosting some grand ceremony for you?”

    As she strolls away, I ponder her question. Although I did feel like I was helping Ragni out, I also had wondered what it would be like to be praised for the saving the coast from pirates.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 42]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    “If you come in peace, then why are you sneaking through someone’s farm? You’re up to no good, I’m sure of it! In the name of Ragni, you’re under arrest.”

    The pirate does not seem pleased at my command. “Back off,” he tells me. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with.”

    “You’re dealing with the armies of Ragni! The knights are on their way now, and they’ll defeat you brigands in a heartbeat. Now put your hands in the air and follow me.” I point my spear towards the intruder, letting him know that he shouldn’t be so stubborn.

    “Fine, you got me.” He begins to raise his hands up, but then in a flash he reaches towards his belt and pulls out a knife. I quickly jump to the side, and just in time too. The thrown blade finds itself imbedded in the wall behind me.

    The danger still isn’t over yet. The pirate pulls another dagger from his belt and rushes toward me. I lunge forward with my spear in a counterattack but miss, my opponent sidesteps me and slices my arm.

    I feel a burst of pain that makes me panic. This enemy is much stronger than the undead I was trained to fight. I step forward and attempt to jab the pirate. I miss; he’s too far away. I take a few more steps, my spear pointed at him defensively. He smirks, stepping back as I step forward. Then he breaks into a run, heading into the wheat field.

    “Coward!” I instinctively shout. But maybe his departure was a good thing. It wasn’t smart of me to fight a rogue using an old spear.

    “What are you doing here!”

    I twist to the right to see grandpa farmer. He must have heard me shout after the fight ended.

    “I got attacked by one of those pirates, you know, the ones I warned you about.”

    “Given that your arm is all bloody, you must’ve lost.” He chuckles to himself, and then gestures to me. “Come inside. We’ll get you healed up.”

    Rather polite for a man who told me to get away from his property, but I can’t refuse aid. He leads me inside to a dining, and tells me to sit down on a chair. My arm is in pain and blood is beginning to soak the sleeve of my tunic. I don’t know how this man plans to heal me, but it had better do the job.

    “Martha! I need your magic!” the man shouts to an adjacent room.

    “Coming!” Marsha, the woman who told me to leave her property, comes into the dining room. Her expression turns into a frown of disappointment when she sees me.”

    “You again?” she exclaims. “You have some nerve coming back here.”

    “He got injured in an attack with pirates. He needs you to heal him.”

    “Pirates? They were the source of the shouting I heard? I refuse to believe they were real. But that’s an awfully bad wound you have there. I suppose I have to help.”

    Martha holds her hand near the cut, and blue smoke begins to rise from it. Slowly, the wound begins to close, and the pain recedes somewhat.

    “There you go,” she says after finishing. “I’ll let you spend a few minutes of rest here, but I won’t let you stay overnight!”

    “Thank you. I am very grateful that you could help me.”

    I lean back in the wooden chair, closing my eyes and attempting to ignore the pain. I almost begin to drift asleep when I hear yelling from outside.

    I stand up and opening the door, making sure to use my uninjured arm. When I step outside I’m greeted with a chaotic battle. Knights are fighting toe to toe with pirates, and the pirates are losing by leagues. From a distance, Shaun and a few other archers are firing arrows.

    “Retreat!” I hear one of the pirates call out. “Everyone, onto the boat!” Upon hearing the order, the scattered crew rushed towards their ship, which is a little way off the coast. The knights don’t bother chasing them. The pirates learned their lesson today.

    “Harrison, what are you doing here?”

    One of Ragni’s fighters lifts up the visor of their helmet, revealing Jenprest inside.

    “I’m sorry, Sergeant. I got into some trouble. You see, I thought I someone should protect the farmers over here, and I got into a fight with this one pirate, and I got this one wound, but luckily it was magically healed…”

    “Well, that’s what happens when you’re reckless,” she scolds. “I thought you were the type of soldier who follows orders, but it seems I was mistaken. Either way, the pirates are gone now, but they did put up a pretty good fight. You said there was a mage in that farmhouse? A few of the knights got badly hurt.”

    “Yes, there was.”

    “Understood. Now back to your post, and guard it this time!”

    Jenprest’s tone is furious. Boris had told me that she was very strict the day I arrived, but I guess I never thought much of it.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 50]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 14)
    Rilue


    “No, I won’t trade you the necklace. I need money, not a book. Maybe when I’m financially secure we can make a deal, but that moment is far away.”

    The villager is not pleased. He glares at me, and then returns the book to his alcove.

    “There’s another way out of here,” he says when he comes back. “Just take the left passage and follow it until you reach the exit. You’ll come out somewhere in the streets, so make sure you aren’t caught.”
    “Thank you,” I tell him as I leave, “for saving me from the guards.”

    He doesn’t respond, but he does pull a level on the side of a wall, opening up a doorway for me. Light floods the black market, and I can hear voices in the distance. I step outside, book in my hand.

    There are only a few hours of sun left when I return to the slums. There are guards posted throughout Almuj, and I had to take several detours to avoid them. It’s all worth it though. I’m rich! Well, rich enough. Tomorrow, I’ll journey through the desert to get to Ternaves, where no one is hunting for me and can earn a few emeralds blocks. For now, though, it’s time to rest. The future is ahead, but I can wait a few more hours.

    ~ ~ ~​

    I wake up to the sound of yelling. Not the type of yelling when two merchants argue, but the shouting that causes you to flinch, that tells you that a fight is about to begin.

    “Go away! I’m not who you’re looking for!”

    I’m still tired, as I usually am when I’m woken early. But something feels urgent. I can sense it.

    “She’s over there!”

    I recognize that voice. It belongs to a younger woman from the slums, and I don’t know who she’s talking to.

    “Freeze!”

    Two guards are heading in my general direction. Oh great Bovine, how did I not think the guards would look for me here? I lift my bedroll up, revealing the necklace I hid below. If I want to avoid the guards, I need to get going now. My plan is to head west until I reach Almuj’s massive wall, which I’ll follow until I reach its edge.

    Unfortunately, that seems unlikely. A guard on horseback appears from the west, riding towards my vicinity and blocking my planned escape route. The only unguarded exit is the southeast, which would take me into the dunes. The guards would never follow me there. They would expect the desert to swallow me up, for me to become one of the many travelers who thought they wouldn’t be bitten by a rattlesnake.

    Maybe if I went west and made a break for it? I still have my wand. It saved me before and it could save me again.

    - - -
    If you decide to teleport past the guards and into the west, go to [Page 46]
    - - -
    If you decide to escape into the southeast desert, go to [Page 51]
    - - -
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  13. Theeef

    Theeef Lurker of the Abyss HERO

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    Wow this is a lot longer. I like the path for Rinue from stealing the necklace. Although there is one thing I’d like to point out.

    Edit: I read the remaining Rinue dialogues and absolutely loved them. Still though, the stealing food path is rather short, and I see why you didn’t combine 19 and 20
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2018
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  14. A Human

    A Human Definitely not an alien.

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    Yay, time to work for the monsters kind people at WynnExcavation.
     
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  15. Ragni The Planet

    Ragni The Planet Satan Laughs As You Eternally Rot

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    Wow this is brillant.
     
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  16. WithTheFish

    WithTheFish Sentient Mud Pile Staff Member Moderator HERO

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    Minecraft:
    An update for my extremely massive and dedicated fanbase: I'll be away from my computer next saturday, so no update then. There will be one the week after though, I promise!

    Anyway, as far as content goes, I've made a list of all the characters in the lore right now. I've seen other stories on here do that, so why not do it too? After all, there will probably be a lot of different characters in the end.

    Harrison:
    (Male Human, 24yrs old)

    One of the many recruits who came from Fruma to Ragni, Harrison serves as a guard. He has dreams of one day becoming a renowned hero.


    Rilue Actani:
    (Female Human, 19yrs old)

    An orphan in Almuj who was raised by her aunt Lodrona. But now Lodrona is gone, and Rilue has to take care of herself. She has an interest in magic and dreams of one day becoming a great mage.
    Boris:
    One of Ragni’s soldiers who defends Katoa Ranch.

    Captain Larkster:
    One of the many pirate captains that sails the ocean between Wynn and Gavel.

    Gordon:
    One of Ragni’s new recruits, assigned to defend Katoa Ranch after a pirate attack.

    Jenprest:
    A sergeant of Ragni’s army. Commands a small group of men including Harrison who defend Katoa ranch and the old decrepit sewers.

    Norman:
    A sergeant of Ragni’s army. Leads a group of soldiers which formerly included Harrison, but his trust in Ragni may be fading…

    Orini:
    A member of the mysterious Resistance. Comes from Elkurn and is friends of Norman.

    Shaun:
    One of Ragni’s soldiers who defends Katoa Ranch. Is skilled with a bow.
    Avery:
    A retired Almuj soldier who now devotes her time to helping anyone in the desert who needs aid.

    Lodrona:
    Rilue’s aunt, who raised Rilue for many years before dissapearing. She is now considered an enemy of the Wynn province for use of dangerous and illegal magic.

    Olival:
    The current owner of the Almuj scroll shop.

    Ormrod:
    A merchant from Gavel who is visiting the province of Wynn. During his stay he encountered a powerful mummy, who supposedly cursed him.

    Sebastian:
    A young man who sells his family’s crops at the Almuj Market. Harbors a major regret.

    Vade:
    A villager who leads a desert excavation team. His allegiance is to Wynn-Excavation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
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  17. A Human

    A Human Definitely not an alien.

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    Just wondering, could you tag me when you update the story?
     
  18. WithTheFish

    WithTheFish Sentient Mud Pile Staff Member Moderator HERO

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    Sure!

    (If anyone else wants to be tagged too, feel free to let me know!)
     
  19. nightbaker

    nightbaker Proud Melee Archer and DPS Guardian Player HERO

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    me, this is a really well-thought out post
    keep it up
     
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  20. WithTheFish

    WithTheFish Sentient Mud Pile Staff Member Moderator HERO

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    (From Page 14)
    Rilue


    “It’s a deal.”

    I hand him the necklace and he hands me the book. He breaks into a smile as he holds it in his hand.

    “Now, is there another way out of here?” I ask. “I don’t have any more reason to be here.”

    “Yes,” he says when he comes back. “Just take the left passage and follow it until you reach the exit. You’ll come out somewhere in the streets, so make sure you aren’t caught.”
    “Thank you,” I tell him as I leave, “for saving me from the guards.”

    “A thief always helps a fellow thief.”

    He pulls a level on the side of a wall, opening up a doorway for me. Light floods the black market, and I can hear voices in the distance.

    ~ ~ ~​

    There are only a few hours of sun left when I return to the slums. There are guards posted throughout Almuj, and I had to take several detours to avoid them.

    Still, I have enough time to read Lodrona’s texts. To anyone else, the book seems like any old tome with a leather cover. They wouldn’t suspect that it has information about the dark arts inside.

    Dark magic. Forget stealing a necklace, this sort of crime would get me in bigger trouble. Yet I need to look inside this book. Not because it can teach me magic, not because I bought it, but because my aunt wrote it.

    I was very young when my parents died. Both of them were soldiers, from what I heard. They died defending Almuj and Bremminglar from one of the largest undead attacks in decades. Since I had a living relative in Lodrona, the government sent me to be with her. To me, she became my mother. She would tuck me in at night and read me tales of the provinces. On the last day of the week, she would take me to the market and show me all the wonders this world had to sell.

    She was also a teacher. Every day, we would have lessons on writing and arithmetic, and lessons on the foul history of hour province. Later on, I learned how to cook and have good manners. It was at this time where she started leaving Almuj for extended periods of time. She never talked about where she went off to, but I didn’t mind that. What I did care about was that she spent more time in isolation, more time without me. Lodrona would spend hours in our house’s library, presumably reading. From when we first met to the moment I saw her last, I was never allowed inside that room. And I did not know what she did in there for a long time.

    Now I know. Lodrona worked with the forbidden dark arts. She read and wrote about magic right her in this book. It’s time to find out the truth.

    I open up the cover. Nothing but a blank piece of parchment. I turn that page over. Here’s something, information about a spell I’ve never heard of before.


    Fleris’ Wrath


    Normally, fire magic is channeled in shooting a fireblast at your opponent, or conjuring a meteor. This method of fire is a lot more dangerous than the others. It can be considered a far stronger version of the basic fireblast. Point your staff or wand at the enemy (attempting to cast the spell without a magical weapon has never been successfully done and may lead to severe burns) …


    All of the pages I read are like this. They describe a complex spell, and at the bottom of each page Lodrona wrote a few notes to herself: “Forbidden at any magical tournament”, “Not cast since 987P, where it was used to decimate a village.” There’s nothing in here about Lodrona’s personal life, her journeys, or me. I do notice one think as I read: all the spells are unbelievably advanced.

    As the type of person who prefers to stay out of the fight, I’ve never had any reason to learn aggressive spells. In the end though, I suppose I might need to. Magic is just another form of fighting in the world. I hide my new spellbook under my bedroll, burying it in the sand and grabbing my normal spellbook. I doubt that anyone would want to look at some old tome, but you can’t be sure out here.

    It only takes me a few minutes of wandering before I find a large spider crawling through the sand. It isn’t as large as the Gavellian spiders Lodrona once told me about, or the arachnids that live in Nivla Woods, but it’s still the size of a small cat. I hastily open up my book of basic spells, hoping that the spider doesn’t notice me.


    Offensive Air Magic


    The simplest of five forms of elemental magic, but many scholars consider it to be the least powerful. Wind is simply less destructive than fire or lighting in small quantities. To channel air into an attack, swing your wand or staff in the direction the wind is blowing, similar to how you would swing a sword…


    Seems easy enough. I hold my staff with both hands, and concentrate on the wind blowing around grains of sand, and swing. Something seems to come out of my staff, almost like a beam of smoke. Did it work? I’ll have to test it on the spider.

    I walk closer to the creature. This probably isn’t a good idea. The spiders here can eat small children, and approaching one without a proper weapon isn’t a good idea. Time to find out if my staff counts as proper. I step around the spider until the wind blows forward, and then I attack. I feel something, a small gust of wind, but it isn’t the attack I witnessed earlier.

    “That’s not what I expected.” The spider turns around, ready to defend its territory or eat me, I’m not sure which. But I am in trouble. I attack again, making sure my magic is in tune with the wind. Nothing happens, and the spider doesn’t look the least bit fazed as it stalks towards me. “Stay calm, Rilue,” I tell myself. I concentrate, pretending that the spider isn’t there as I attack again. This time something happens. The beam of smoke is back, and the spider reacts to it. It staggers backwards, and I attack again. Success! It begins to dig into the sand in an attempt to retreat. As soon as it makes its escape I run back towards the slums, filled with pride by advancing in magic.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 45]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 28)
    Rilue


    Maybe Nick is right. I’ve never seen this group of supposed excavators before, so why should I follow them into the desert?

    I watch as Wynn-Excavation goes away, their group appearing to have doubled in size. Hopefully the Almujians won’t get themselves hurt out there.

    Anyway, they’re gone now. I can rest, it has been a longer day than usual. I’m just about to lay on my bedroll when I see someone familiar in the distance.

    It’s the boy I saw in the market, the one who gave me the fruit. What’s he doing here? Did he change his mind about giving me free food?

    “You!” he shouts at a distance. “You’re the girl I saw at the market, right?”

    I’m not sure what to do. Should I reveal myself? Should I stay where I am? My choice doesn’t really matter, since he’s walking towards me.

    “I’m sorry, but I ate the food.” I retort, “I can’t give you your money back, alright?”

    “It isn’t about the money. I need your help.”

    I’m surprised. “Me? Why would you need my help?”

    “You’re a mage and you seem to take big risks. I’m looking for someone like that.”

    By big risks he must be referring to how I tried to steal his food. But a mage? “I’m no mage,” I tell him.

    “You hold a magic staff. I’m assuming you have some magic abilities.”

    “Sure, I have magic. But you haven’t even told me what you need with.”

    “It… it’s something not exactly…” he leans in and begins to whisper, “…legal.”

    “Huh.”

    “Come with to my farm. I’ll tell you about it there.”

    “Your farm?” What is this! I’m not going out into the desert with some stranger, no one does that. For all I know, he’s a bandit trying to rob me of what little I have.

    “Please,” the boy begs, “Come with me, you can trust me. I’ll even give you my dagger, so there’s no way I could attack you out there.”

    - - -
    If you decide to remain in Almuj, go to [Page 52]
    - - -
    If you decide to go with the merchant boy, go to [Page 53]
    - - -
    -
    Rilue


    The excavation site is more impressive than I expected. Humans and Villagers gather around a pit of sandstone, mining away in the hope that they’ll discover something. It seems they’ve already made good progress; I see the ruins of multiple pillar-like structures. Massive wooden cranes have been constructed, right now one of them hauls up a large crate to an area filled with many tents.

    “Your work doesn’t begin until tomorrow,” Vade tells us. “Take some time to familiarize yourself with the area. Before you do that though, I have a few rules. Breaking them will be met with punishment.”

    When we’re all at Vade’s attention, he begins to stroll back and forth, speaking to us as a group. “Any relics or artifacts discovered are property of Wynn-Excavation, and must be presented to us. No one is allowed near the tents, they are for Wynn-Excavation members only. Do not attempt to steal anything from a Wynn-Excavation member or another miner.” He goes on for a while, talking about the utmost authority Wynn-Excavation has in the desert.

    “Water will be passed around every hour, and there will be a food break at midday…” As he speaks another villager comes over to our group, passing around pickaxes or shovels to everyone in our group. The pickaxe I get is surprisingly heavy, with its hilt somewhat fractured. I’m beginning to wonder if I made the right choice coming here. Hard work like this has never been my strong suit.

    “That is all. Now get to work!” The newcomers spread out, most of them heading to the deeper part of the site.

    With no direct orders other than to smash rocks, I move a few feet away from where I stand and begin to dig into the ground. I lift my pickaxe up, and then swing it down, leaving a small crack in the earth.

    “Hey, what do you think you’re doing!”

    A muscular man with a scimitar and knife at his waist stomps over to me. “Did I do something wrong?” I ask him.

    “We’re excavating over there,” he says, pointing to where my fellow Almujians went. “You’re just senselessly smashing the ground with your pickaxe. This is the walkway to the lower part of the site, you know!”

    “I’m sorry, I just arrived here.”

    “An excuse from a moron! Why don’t you run home to your mom, little girl? Men are at work here?”

    I’m about to say some dumb comment at what he said, but I become distracted by a tattoo on this guard’s arm. It’s a jackal, a dog native to the desert, marked in orange ink. I’ve seen this tattoo before, and never on anyone pleasant. It’s the emblem of the Creden Tibus, a group of bandits with numbers in the hundreds. How did one of them end up as my superior here?

    “What are you looking at?” He starts to reach for the knife at his belt. I panic, thinking of a way out of this situation. And then I spot it.

    “That guy over there, is trying to escape?” Farther away, near the entrance to the camp, I see a figure hastily mounting a horse.

    “Are you…” To my luck, the guard turns around and see the man also. “Men! Someone’s getting away!” He and a few other guards run up the slope to try and catch the escapee, but they don’t make it in time. One of the guards, who’s dressed in what appears to be an ornate robe, mounts a horse and takes off after them.

    “Did you see that?” I whisper to a miner as I walk downhill, “Someone just tried to escape the mines?”

    “Hush,” he whispers back, anger present in his voice. “This place isn’t an excavation site, it’s a prison. They won’t let us go until we uncover whatever Wynn-Excavation is looking for, whatever that is. It has to be some all-powerful weapon if they’re keeping the place this well-guarded.”

    A feeling of dread rises in me. Coming here was not a good idea.

    “Now get back to work, before you end up in big trouble.”

    - - -
    Go to [Page 80]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison

    Katoa Ranch – Two Weeks Later

    “Harrison! I have a task for you.”

    “Yes, sergeant?”

    “The sewers have a blockage that needs to be removed. I asked a few people if they wanted the job, and they refused. That means you have to do it.”

    Jenprest’s face is emotionless, but I guarantee she’s laughing on the inside. I doubt she asked anyone other than me; this must be some punishment for leaving my post.

    “Here’s the brief. You go in, find the blockage, and set some small explosives there to dislodge it. Step away and activate them, and get out. Got it?” She hands me a heavy sack labeled “Danger: Explosive,” but that’s just a label. For all I know this bag is filled with rocks, and the whole task is just some military exercise. But I can’t disobey orders. Once Jenprest finishes talking to me, I head up to the ranch.

    “Gordon!” I shout to a young soldier-in-training, “I need your help.”

    “Yes?” Gordon is one of the newest members of Ragni’s military, a private stationed here to help defend the ranch as he practices. Ever since the pirates attacked, Jenprest made sure we got more men on hand.

    “I need you to keep a lookout at my post. I’m heading away on a mission for a bit, so someone needs to do my job.”

    “Me?” he asks, “Are you sure, Harrison? What about Shaun, or even Jenprest? Or one of the other new recruits?”

    “Shaun and Boris are investigating something. Jenprest has more important things to do, apparently. Come on Gordon, you’re the best of the new recruits. You decapitated that zombie with ease the other day.”

    “Alright, alright.” He picks up his spear and I guide him to my post.

    “If I’m not back by tomorrow, tell Boris and Shaun to rescue me.” The two soldiers had become some of my best friends in the past few weeks, and I desperately wished they could join me in this foul adventure. “I won’t die in there, I’ll just be hiding in a corner from the monsters!”

    ~ ~ ~​

    There are two entrances into the sewers. One is a pipe that used to flow into the lake near Katoa. It’s been sealed off for decades with iron bars, and part of my job is to make sure that nothing comes out of there. The other entrance is a stone brick passage that carved through and into the mountain range. A bit of sunlight touches the inside, but as I went deeper into the passageway I found myself relying on a torch. It warded off the darkness, but did nothing to keep away the awful stench that became more prominent the deeper I got.


    As I progressed, the more unnerved I became. The sewers were ancient; it was fortunate that they had run efficiently for hundreds of years. Blockages like this were a just an occasional minor problem that soldiers like me had to solve. No one wanted to venture into the sewers. Long ago, the citizens of Ragni hid in the sewers in an attempt to escape the corruption. Many of them still were slaughtered in the end, and the undead were said to roam these sewers even today.

    Eventually I reached the end of the passageway; a large iron door the opened up into the pipes themselves. It was locked tight, presumably to keep the undead from breaking out. The key sat on a shelf on the wall, it was old and probably dull to begin with. It had served many soldiers before me, and now it would serve me.

    I undid the lock and heaved the door open to find myself on a small ledge in a large pipe. The sewers were a lot larger than I expected. I imagined that would need to crawl through a small pipe, but this would be easy. All I have to do is climb down a frayed rope ladder, deploy some of my explosives, and get out.

    The clog isn’t far away. It’s a mass of dirt, rock, and feces, and the stench is more horrifying than any of the undead I’ve met. I open up my bag to find a few rods filled with gunpower, complete with a match to ignite them. Here goes nothing. I light one of the rods and toss it at the blockage. Luckily, it lands right in the dirt, rather than a puddle of water that would put the match out. Hastily, I light a second one and throw it too. Hopefully this works.

    I run back to the ladder, and begin my ascent. Unfortunately, the ladder snaps the second me other foot is on one of the rungs. It falls to the ground, and now I have no way to make back up to the ledge. And as I hear a loud blast, followed by the sound of something liquid moving, I realize I’m in a lot of trouble. A wave of previously blocked sewer water rushes towards me, and my armored self is helpless against it. I’m flung from my position and sent spiraling down yet forward, breathing in the sewage-filled water by accident.

    TO BE CONTINUED
    -
    Harrison

    Katoa Ranch – Two Weeks Later

    “Harrison! I have a task for you.”

    “Yes, sergeant?”

    “The sewers have a blockage that needs to be removed. I asked a few people if they wanted the job, and they refused. That means you have to do it.”

    Jenprest’s face is emotionless, but I guarantee she’s laughing on the inside. I doubt she asked anyone other than me; this must be some punishment for leaving my post.

    “Here’s the brief. You go in, find the blockage, and set some small explosives there to dislodge it. Step away and activate them, and get out. Got it?” She hands me a heavy sack labeled “Danger: Explosive,” but that’s just a label. For all I know this bag is filled with rocks, and the whole task is just some military exercise. But I can’t disobey orders. Once Jenprest finishes talking to me, I head up to the ranch.

    “Gordon!” I shout to a young soldier-in-training, “I need your help.”

    “Yes?” Gordon is one of the newest members of Ragni’s military, a private stationed here to help defend the ranch as he practices. Ever since the pirates attacked, Jenprest made sure we got more men on hand.

    “I need you to keep a lookout at my post. I’m heading away on a mission for a bit, so someone needs to do my job.”

    “Me?” he asks, “Are you sure, Harrison? What about Shaun, or even Jenprest? Or one of the other new recruits?”

    “Shaun and Boris are investigating something. Jenprest has more important things to do, apparently. Come on Gordon, you’re the best of the new recruits. You decapitated that zombie with ease the other day.”

    “Alright, alright.” He picks up his spear and I guide him to my post.

    “If I’m not back by tomorrow, tell Boris and Shaun to rescue me.” The two soldiers had become some of my best friends in the past few weeks, and I desperately wished they could join me in this foul adventure. “I won’t die in there, I’ll just be hiding in a corner from the monsters!”

    ~ ~ ~
    There are two entrances into the sewers. One is a pipe that used to flow into the lake near Katoa. It’s been sealed off for decades with iron bars, and part of my job is to make sure that nothing comes out of there. The other entrance is a stone brick passage that carved through and into the mountain range. A bit of sunlight touches the inside, but as I went deeper into the passageway I found myself relying on a torch. It warded off the darkness, but did nothing to keep away the awful stench that became more prominent the deeper I got.

    As I progressed, the more unnerved I became. The sewers were ancient; it was fortunate that they had run efficiently for hundreds of years. Blockages like this were a just an occasional minor problem that soldiers like me had to solve. No one wanted to venture into the sewers. Long ago, the citizens of Ragni hid in the sewers in an attempt to escape the corruption. Many of them still were slaughtered in the end, and the undead were said to roam these sewers even today.

    Eventually I reached the end of the passageway; a large iron door the opened up into the pipes themselves. It was locked tight, presumably to keep the undead from breaking out. The key sat on a shelf on the wall, it was old and probably dull to begin with. It had served many soldiers before me, and now it would serve me.

    I undid the lock and heaved the door open to find myself on a small ledge in a large pipe. The sewers were a lot larger than I expected. I imagined that would need to crawl through a small pipe, but this would be easy. All I have to do is climb down a frayed rope ladder, deploy some of my explosives, and get out.

    The clog isn’t far away. It’s a mass of dirt, rock, and feces, and the stench is more horrifying than any of the undead I’ve met. I open up my bag to find a few rods filled with gunpower, complete with a match to ignite them. Here goes nothing. I light one of the rods and toss it at the blockage. Luckily, it lands right in the dirt, rather than a puddle of water that would put the match out. Hastily, I light a second one and throw it too. Hopefully this works.

    I run back to the ladder, and begin my ascent. Unfortunately, the ladder snaps the second me other foot is on one of the rungs. It falls to the ground, and now I have no way to make back up to the ledge. And as I hear a loud blast, followed by the sound of something liquid moving, I realize I’m in a lot of trouble. A wave of previously blocked sewer water rushes towards me, and my armored self is helpless against it. I’m flung from my position and sent spiraling down yet forward, breathing in the sewage-filled water by accident.

    TO BE CONTINUED
    -
    (From Page 20)
    Rilue


    Maybe Nick is right. I’ve never seen this group of supposed excavators before, so why should I follow them into the desert?

    I watch as Wynn-Excavation goes away, their group appearing to have doubled in size. Hopefully the Almujians won’t get themselves hurt out there.

    It has been a long day, and it’s time to settle down and relax. Or at least try to relax. I accomplished nothing today. I lost all the money I owned, and I don’t know how to get it back. The only way to survive in Almuj is by being optimistic, but I can’t find any hope tonight.

    The sun has only just begun to set, but I’m exhausted and ready to sleep.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 44]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 43)
    Rilue


    “Wake up!”

    It’s hard to get a good night’s rest in the slums. Someone is always arguing, or telling some campfire story. Whenever half of the place is asleep, the other half is awake. But I’ve never been woken up by someone else before. I thought only servants and slaves did that to their rich masters, or vice versa.

    Sunlight fills my eyes, but I can tell the person who woke me up is a young boy I’ve seen around the slums. “An important man wants to talk about you,” he informs. “He told me he was looking for a mage, and you’re the only one here that I’ve seen do magic.”

    “Alright alright.” I wearily answer, “Show me where he is.”

    The boy leads me to a middle-aged human wearing simple clothing. He’s constantly looking around at the slums, as if he’s never been here before in his life. I know some of the wealthier merchants haven’t.

    “Ahh, you’re the mage who lives here?” he asks me.

    “Yes, I guess?” I didn’t occur to me that I was the only magic user in this part of the city. I suppose that most mages are villagers or people from more prominent families.

    “Good,” he answers. “I am Olival, a merchant who sells scrolls in this very city. I am looking for someone with magic abilities to become my apprentice, and help me out in my job.”

    A job offer and a chance to prove myself? I’ve been waiting for this for years!

    “If you help me, I will pay you twenty emeralds each week, and you will be provided with a place to rest and eat. The job entails that you help me manage my supply of scrolls and help me sell them. Are you up for this?”

    “Yes!” I exclaim.

    “Good. Now, follow me to the shop. You’ll need to take a test to prove that you have proficient knowledge in magic. This is an important job, and it isn’t for everyone.”

    A test? I wasn’t expecting this. I’m in big trouble, because I know next-to-nothing about topics like the history of magic or obscure spells. Panic slowly settles in me as I realize I might not end up as an apprentice.

    TO BE CONTINUED
    -
    (From Page 38)
    Rilue

    The Slums of Almuj, Early Next Morning


    “Wake up!”

    It’s hard to get a good night’s rest in the slums. Someone is always arguing, or telling some campfire story. Whenever half of the place is asleep, the other half is awake. But I’ve never been woken up by someone else before. A part of me panics. Did the guards find me? Does someone know about my book?

    Sunlight fills my eyes, but I can tell the person who woke me up is a young boy I’ve seen around the slums. “An important man wants to talk about you,” he informs. “He told me he was looking for a mage, and you’re the only one here that I’ve seen do magic.”

    “Alright alright.” I wearily answer, “Show me where he is.”

    The boy leads me to a middle-aged human wearing simple clothing. He’s constantly looking around at the slums, as if he’s never been here before in his life. I know some of the wealthier merchants haven’t.

    “Ahh, you’re the mage who lives here?” he asks me.

    “Yes, I guess?” I didn’t occur to me that I was the only magic user in this part of the city. I suppose that most mages are villagers or people from more prominent families.

    “Good,” he answers. “I am Olival, a merchant who sells scrolls in this very city. I am looking for someone with magic abilities to become my apprentice, and help me out in my job.”

    A job offer and a chance to prove myself? I’ve been waiting for this for years!

    “If you assist me, I will pay you twenty emeralds each week, and you will be provided with a place to rest and eat. The job entails that you help me manage my supply of scrolls and help me sell them. Are you up for this?”

    “Yes!” I exclaim.

    “Good. Now, follow me to the shop. You’ll need to take a test to prove that you have proficient knowledge in magic. This is an important job, and it isn’t for everyone.”

    A test? I wasn’t expecting this. I’m in big trouble, because I know next-to-nothing about topics like the history of magic or obscure spells. Panic slowly settles in me as I realize I might not end up as an apprentice. I’ll have to at least try the test though, if I don’t join Olival I’ll definitely not get the job.

    “Sure, I follow you,” I tell him. “Just let me get something first.”

    The shopkeeper nods and I run back to bedroll, lifting it up to find Lodrona’s book underneath.

    “What’s that?” Olival asks me when I return.

    “A book of spells… someone important to me gave me it.” I can’t let him know that this is an illegal spellbook. If he opens the cover and reads the incantations inside, I’ll be arrested for knowledge of the darks arts. I’m additionally wary about telling him about my relationship with Lodrona. The mention of a dark sorceress could easily ruin my chances of a better life.

    TO BE CONTINUED
    -
    (From Page 37)
    Rilue


    There’s no time to say goodbye to my home. I clutch the necklace in one hand and my staff in the other, and I teleport towards the western part of the slums. One moment I’m standing next to my bedroll, the next… I crash into someone else’s tent.

    “Don’t move, mage!”

    I turn around to see an archer standing and ready to fire an arrow should I take a step. I’m not sure if he would actually shoot me just for shoplifting, but I’m not ready to find out. I drop my staff and put my hands in the air as another guard moves towards me.

    “Hand over the necklace,” he orders. I comply, rubbing my finger over its jewel one last time as I pass it on.

    “You caught her! Thank you, kind warrior!”

    I hear a familiar voice in the distance, and a few seconds later I see the same villager from the black market. What’s he doing here?

    “This is your wife’s necklace, correct?” the guard asks him. “Thank you for letting the city of Almuj know about this criminal.” He hands the necklace to the merchant.

    “Thank you,” he responds, faking gratitude. “My wife will be so pleased to have this back!” For a second, he turns his head towards me and winks.

    That snake! Why didn’t I expect something like this? The old legends about thieves and black markets were filled with betrayal. But this isn’t one of the old tales. This is real life. I’m a criminal now, and I’m being sent to jail.

    ~ ~ ~​

    Almuj’s prison is a lot smaller than I expected, considering how famous the city is for crime. I guess all the captured bandits get sent straight to the gallows. Still though, it is an intimidating sandstone structure, with plenty of guards and prisoners. As soon as I enter a mage scans me, making sure that I don’t have any pins or lockpicks hidden on me. They find nothing. I don’t know if that makes me a good citizen or a bad criminal.

    Afterwards, I’m sent to my cell, which is one of many located in a large room. Each cell fits two people, but doesn’t have nearly enough space for them to be comfortable. Most prisoners lay in bed, but others gaze as me, wondering how I ended up here. Some of them are merely petty thieves who don’t deserve this, but from what I’ve heard many prisoners are bandits who have evaded execution somehow.

    “This is your cell,” one of the guards tells me after we stop walking. “There will be two meals each day. Any attempt to escape will lead to punishment.” He unlocks the door and gestures for me to go inside. I’m willing to oblige given the sword at his belt. As soon as I step in the slams the door beside me, locking me inside.

    The cell is dark, with only one barred window looking out into the dimly lit room that holds all the prisoners. It’s also small, with only a small toilet, two beds and… is someone else in here?

    On the bottom bunk bed, a girl is in a deep sleep; she hasn’t stirred at all since I was taken here. She doesn’t look much different from me, although her hair has grown long and unkempt. Trying my best not to wake her up, I slowly climb into the top bunk. I might as well get some sleep.

    Or at the very least, try and get some sleep. My mind wanders to all the events of the day. It seems like so long ago that a total stranger stole my money. Maybe they’re in this prison right now, and while I’d love to punch their head right into this stone wall, I don’t want to be a worse person than them. Or am I already bad, for committing crimes of my own?

    - - -
    Go to [Page 76]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 37)
    Rilue


    There’s no time to lose. I pick up my staff and teleport southeast until I feel drained. Not just physically drained, but mentally drained too. The book of spells talked about this; it said that casting too many spells can harm your “Mana,” whatever that is.

    As soon I catch my breath I look behind me, checking to see if the guards have lost interest in me. They have. I should feel relieved, but I have bigger problems on my hand. It’s night and I’m in the middle of a frigid desert. If only I could conjure flames with magic like other mages could! Prison is bad, but at least it might be warmer.

    And then there’s the creatures that lurk in the desert. Spend enough time in Almuj, and you’ve learned about every monster that lives in the sand. The wraiths, the horrors, and worst of all the Dune Beasts, human-like reptilian terrors. The desert and its civilizations are an awful place.

    As time passes, it becomes clear that the temperature is my biggest worry. This cold is painful, and magic can only heal me for so long. I feel like I’m about to collapse. How did I get here? Just yesterday I was sleeping next to a fire. I never should have stolen that necklace.



    Someone’s coming.

    I hear their mount first; a horse travelling through the sands as if its life depends on it. Then I see the rider heading straight for me. At first they gallop at the fast rate, but when they see me they fortunately slow down. The rider is a villager, and he seems confused as to why I’m out here.

    “Who are you?” he asks.

    “I’m… a traveler.” I don’t want to reveal anything about myself. What if he’s working for the guards, and was sent to track me down?

    “You don’t look like a very good traveler. You’re shivering. Need someone to warm you up?”

    He gets down from his steed and begins to conjure a ball of fire in the palm of his hand. It’s small at first, but as he sets it on the ground it slowly grows into a blazing bonfire. I knew villagers were naturally adept in magic, but this? Lodrona would be impressed.

    “Thank you… whoever you are,” I tell him. “I would be dead out here if you hadn’t come to help me.”

    “No problem. I haven’t been in your province for long, but I have found that it’s still my duty to help anyone who needs aid. What happened to your people with the Corruption, I’m so sorry.”

    “Don’t be sorry. The portal opened millennium ago and there’s nothing we can do about that.” I sit down on the sands, the fire already warming me up. “Why are you out here in the desert anyway? You seemed to be in a hurry before you found me.”

    “I was scouting the area. One of my associates said they were going to scout the area. They weren’t back by sundown, so I went to find them. I searched but could find nothing, but then I saw you in the distance. I thought you were the human I was looking for, but I was mistaken.”

    “That’s nice of you to look for your friend, whoever you are.”

    “Call me Amadel.”

    “Okay, Amadel. I’m Rilue.” We pause, spending a few moments each in silence. I realize that I don’t know where to go from here.

    “Amadel,” I begin, “You mentioned that you had an associate. What exactly do the two of you work for? You don’t strike me as a bandit.”

    “I’m a member of Wynn-Excavation,” he explains. “A Gavel-based organization that seeks to uncover the ancient mysteries of your province. We have a site right here in the desert. If you want, I can take you there. Where else is there for you to go?”

    - - -
    If you decide to travel through the desert on your own, go to [Page 71]
    - - -
    If you decide to go to the Excavation Site with Amadel, go to [Page 72]
    - - -
    TO BE CONTINUED
    -
    Harrison

    Katoa Ranch, Two Weeks Later

    A rider is coming through the coastal trail, rapidly approaching my position. From my vantage point I can tell that the traveler is a villager, and that they wear no armor or protective gear. Are they a farmer? Why would a farmer be travelling here in such a hurry?

    “You… there…” she gasps as she brings her mount to a stop, “Are you one of the generals?”

    “Calm down, calm down!” I say to her, “You’re exhausted from riding. Take a minute to rest, we’ll take your horse to the stable. GORDON!”

    “Yes?” The soldier-in-training named Gordon runs down from Katoa hill, having heard my shout. Ever since the pirates attacked, Jenpest has wanted additional guards for the ranch. Ragni sent a few new privates such as Gordon, who would learn from the experiences of men like Shaun and I.

    “I need to take this horse to the Katoa stables,” I order. “You know where those are, correct?”

    “Yes, Harrison.” Technically, we’re the same rank, and neither of us are in any position to give each other orders. But at Katoa Ranch, everyone tends to put the workload on someone else if they can. I’m guilty of this.

    “What’s going on here?” Jenprest has heard our commotion, and is coming down the hill as well. “What brings to Katoa Ranch, traveler? How can Ragni assist you?”

    “Assist me?” she grumbles, “Your army has done nothing to assist me. There’s usually a group of soldiers positioned near my farm, and guess what, they’re all gone!”

    “Gone?” Jenprest asks, “What do you mean gone?”

    “Less than a day ago, a group of corrupted creatures moved towards my farm. I’m just a simple country woman, and I can’t fight them off with my minimal amount of magic. So I went to a nearby Ragni outpost, and guess what? It was abandoned? I don’t know why. What I do know is that my farm is in danger! I need Ragni to act on this, now!”

    “Please calm down,” I say to the woman, “I will go to your farm and save it from the corrupted!”

    “Thank you, soldier!” she says, thanking me. “It is people like you that restore my faith in the people of Wynn.”

    “Wait just a minute, Harrison,” objects Jenprest. “I can’t have you go running out alone, facing an army of the corrupted. Shaun and Boris will go with you.”

    “Are you sure?” Shaun and Boris had become close friends over the past two weeks, and there were no other people that I would rather have fight the corruption with me. At the same time, our departure would leave Katoa Ranch relatively unprotected.”

    TO BE CONTINUED
    -
    Harrison

    Katoa Ranch, Eight Days Later

    Magic is truly a wonderful thing. It has been over a week since the pirates attacked and my arm got injured, yet I can barely make out a scar there.

    “Harrison,” Boris says, coming over to my position, “Jenprest is back from the city. She’s in the barn and says she needs to speak with you. It’s an order.”

    “Did she tell you anything else?”

    “I’m sorry, she didn’t. I doubt it’s anything to bad. Look on the bright side, she might be giving you some official honor for facing off against the pirates!”

    “Hilarious.” I pick up my spear and head over to the ranch. Just as Boris told me, Jenprest is inside, standing near a pile of crates with a piece of parchment in her hands.

    “For what purpose did you call me here, Jenprest?”

    “Do you remember Norman,” she asks me out of the blue. “Your previous sergeant?”

    “Of course,” I answer, “How could I? I knew him for two years. Not personally, just as an aquaintance.”

    “You see; Norman has been missing for almost two weeks. He disappeared one night and hasn’t come back since. No one knows where he is.”

    “That’s strange,” I reply.

    “Whatever happened to Norman, that isn’t why I called you here. I called you here because your behavior was reckless and alerted the pirates to our position.

    You jeopardized what would be a coordinated attack. For this, I have spoken to my superiors, and by order of general Alfred, you are hereby discharged from the military of Ragni.”

    I can’t believe what I’m hearing. This isn’t real, it can’t be.

    “I don’t think you understand. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

    “Yes you have, I just listed everything out. Are you incapable of listening too?”

    Jenprest has some nerve. I’ve served Ragni since I arrived in Wynn, and I refuse to stop my duties because of some mistake. Did I not put forth my full effort in the past? Possibly. But it’s the past, it’s over now.

    “I refuse to accept this! I have fought in the name of Ragni for two years, and I won’t step down over a mistake!” I’m furious now. I don’t even care about glory or fighting the undead anymore, I just want to right this wrong.

    “By the orders of general Alfred and myself, you are to return your supplied armor and weaponry by the barracks tonight. Unlawful possession of them will lead to your arrest.”

    “Fine.” I walk out of the farm, unsure as to where I’ll go next. One thing’s for sure, I’m not giving up my weaponry. I came to the province as a warrior, and I’m not going to give that life up.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 54]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison

    Katoa Ranch, Eight Days Later

    Magic is truly a wonderful thing. It has been over a week since the pirates attacked and my arm got injured, yet I can barely make out a scar there.

    “Harrison,” Boris says, coming over to my position, “Jenprest is back from the city. She’s in the barn and says she needs to speak with you. It’s an order.”

    “Did she tell you anything else?”

    “I’m sorry, she didn’t. I doubt it’s anything to bad. Look on the bright side, she might be giving you some official honor for facing off against the pirates!”

    “Hilarious.” I pick up my spear and head over to the ranch. Just as Boris told me, Jenprest is inside, standing near a pile of crates with a piece of parchment in her hands.

    “For what purpose did you call me here, Jenprest?”

    “Do you remember Norman,” she asks me out of the blue. “Your previous sergeant?”

    “Of course,” I answer, “How could I? I knew him for two years. Not personally, just as an aquaintance.”

    “You see; Norman has been missing for almost two weeks. He disappeared one night and hasn’t come back since. No one knows where he is.”

    “Wait,” I suddenly remember something, an event that happened not long ago. “I think I have some idea as to where Norman was. You see, during my last night in Ragni, I was walking back to the barracks. I heard voices, and they belonged to these cloaked figures I saw; one of them went by the name Orini. And then Norman joined them, there was something about a Resistance too, it’s all a blur.”

    “That’s interesting,” says Jenprest, “Ridiculous, but interesting.” Her expression shifts from amusement back into a frown.

    “Whatever happened to Norman, that isn’t why I called you here. I called you here because your behavior was reckless and alerted the pirates to our position.

    You jeopardized what would be a coordinated attack. For this, I have spoken to my superiors, and by order of general Alfred, you are hereby discharged from the military of Ragni.”

    I can’t believe what I’m hearing. This isn’t real, it can’t be.

    “I don’t think you understand. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

    “Yes you have, I just listed everything out. Are you incapable of listening too?”

    Jenprest has some nerve. I’ve served Ragni since I arrived in Wynn, and I refuse to stop my duties because of some mistake. Did I not put forth my full effort in the past? Possibly. But it’s the past, it’s over now.

    “I refuse to accept this! I have fought in the name of Ragni for two years, and I won’t step down over a mistake!” I’m furious now. I don’t even care about glory or fighting the undead anymore, I just want to right this wrong.

    “By the orders of general Alfred and myself, you are to return your supplied armor and weaponry by the barracks tonight. Unlawful possession of them will lead to your arrest.”

    “Fine.” I don’t move. I don’t want to. I’m too upset to do anything right now. I though Wynn would be my future, and it wasn’t like I had a choice otherwise.

    “I’m sorry Harrison,” Jenprest tells me. “I believed in you. I really did.”

    I somehow walk out of the farm, unsure as to where I’ll go next. One thing’s for sure, I’m not giving up my weaponry. I came to the province as a warrior, and I’m not going to give that life up.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 55]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison

    Katoa Ranch, Two Weeks Later

    A rider is coming through the coastal trail, rapidly approaching my position. From my vantage point I can tell that the traveler is a villager, and that they wear no armor or protective gear. Are they a farmer? Why would a farmer be travelling here in such a hurry?

    “You… there…” she gasps as she brings her mount to a stop, “Are you one of the generals?”

    “Calm down, calm down!” I say to her, “You’re exhausted from riding. Take a minute to rest, we’ll take your horse to the stable. GORDON!”

    “Yes?” The soldier-in-training named Gordon runs down from Katoa hill, having heard my shout. Ever since the pirates attacked, Jenpest has wanted additional guards for the ranch. Ragni sent a few new privates such as Gordon, who would learn from the experiences of men like Shaun and I.

    “I need to take this horse to the Katoa stables,” I order. “You know where those are, correct?”

    “Yes, Harrison.” Technically, we’re the same rank, and neither of us are in any position to give each other orders. But at Katoa Ranch, everyone tends to put the workload on someone else if they can. I’m guilty of this.

    “What’s going on here?” Jenprest has heard our commotion, and is coming down the hill as well. “What brings to Katoa Ranch, traveler? How can Ragni assist you?”

    “Assist me?” she grumbles, “Your army has done nothing to assist me. There’s usually a group of soldiers positioned near my farm, and guess what, they’re all gone!”

    “Gone?” Jenprest asks, “What do you mean gone?”

    “Less than a day ago, a group of corrupted creatures moved towards my farm. I’m just a simple country woman, and I can’t fight them off with my minimal amount of magic. So I went to a nearby Ragni outpost, and guess what? It was abandoned? I don’t know why. What I do know is that my farm is in danger! I need Ragni to act on this, now!”

    “Please calm down,” I say to the woman, “I will go to your farm and save it from the corrupted!”

    “Thank you, soldier!” she says, thanking me. “It is people like you that restore my faith in the people of Wynn.”

    “Wait just a minute, Harrison,” objects Jenprest. “I can’t have you go running out alone, facing an army of the corrupted. Shaun and Boris will go with you.”

    “Are you sure?” Shaun and Boris had become close friends over the past two weeks, and there were no other people that I would rather have fight the corruption with me. At the same time, our departure would leave Katoa Ranch relatively unprotected.”

    TO BE CONTINUED
    -
    (From Page 39)
    Rilue


    “I’m sorry, but I’m not some hero for hire. I won’t help a stranger who doesn’t even tell me what he wants me to accomplish.”

    “Okay, I understand… thief.” The boy turns away from me, clearly agitated.

    “Thief! I’m not a thief, you willingly gave me your food!” He ignores my rebuke and walks away, maybe going to his home, or maybe looking for someone else to help him.

    I’m tired. Between attempted thievery and mysterious villagers, this day has been a lot more intense than what I’m used to. I spend the last few hours of daylight loitering around and listening the stories of old, and then I drift off to sleep.

    - - -
    Go to [Page 44]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 39)
    Rilue


    “Fine,” I tell him. “I’ll go with you.”

    He breathes a sigh of relief. “Thank you. Follow me, we need to get to the caravan before it leaves.”

    He beckons me forward, guiding me to the direction of the Almuj Caravan. “I live in this city, remember?” I tell him. “You don’t need to show me around.”

    Located behind the city’s massive bank, the Almuj caravan is a group of wagons that go from Almuj to the Pezel river, and vice versa. The convoy is guarded by a group of soldiers in order to ward off bandits. Plenty of people have farms along the river, so this is probably how this merchant boy makes it to the market each day.

    There’s still room in one of the wagons, and the two of us climb inside. A few minutes later we start moving, and our journey begins. I quickly come to the realization that this is the first time I’ve ever left the city. I always dreamed that I would one day take a caravan out of the desert, but here I am now, heading inside it.

    “So, what’s your name?” The boy speaks for the first time in a while.

    “Rilue.”

    “Ah. I’m Sebastian. I’m very thankful that you could assist me.”

    “You still haven’t told me what I’m helping you with!”

    “I’m waiting until we return to my family’s farm. There are ears everywhere around me.”

    “There isn’t even anyone else in this wagon!” I exclaim. “Do you think the driver is listening? Maybe his donkeys? I heard they’re in league with the baron of Almuj!”

    “Do you always act like an idiot when talking to others?”

    “No. And you should be politer, given that I’m travelling half way across the desert.”

    He doesn’t continue this argument, and we spend the rest of the trip in silence. As we travel I gaze out at the expanse of sand. The desert is just as boring as I expected. Occasionally there’s a patch of cacti or a mound of rock, but mostly it’s just sand. An endless expanse of sand.

    And then the sand changes to grass. We’ve arrived at the Pezel River, and it’s infinitely more beautiful than the gardens in Almuj. I step out of my caravan to find trees overlooking a river that stretches as far as the eye can see. At the other side of the water I spot a farm; one of many that uses the river to irrigate its crops.

    “Welcome to better part of the desert,” Sebastian says as he exits the caravan. “From here, it’s only a half-hour walk to my family’s farm.”

    A half-hour? How long is this trip going to take? Then again, do I have anything better to do instead?

    “Here, this way. Keep an eye out for scorpions, or the undead. You know basic offense spells, correct?”

    “Uh… not really?”

    “We have some books about magic back in our house. For now, just be careful, I don’t want to be responsible for you getting hurt.”

    Our journey continues on foot. It’s nice to be walking on grass rather than grains of sand, and the trees provide much-needed shade. There are plenty of strange creatures out here, like Zebras, the horses with black and white stripes. While I take in the sights, Sebastian is constantly glancing around for any type of threat. It’s pretty unnerving.

    “We’re almost here,” Sebastian says after a long while. “I suppose it’s time I tell you why I brought you here.” Finally. “Promise you won’t tell anyone about this, okay? Promise?”

    “I promise.”

    “Thank you.” Sebastian takes a deep breath, and then exhales. For a few seconds he doesn’t speak, possibly so he can collect his thoughts.

    “I need you to help me break my sister out of prison.”

    TO BE CONTINUED
    -
    Harrison


    In all my life spent in Wynn, I had never actually been to the coastal town of Maltic. As I approach I can tell that I hadn’t missed out on anything; the large town seemed entirely uninteresting. Maybe it was because it was late at night, or maybe Maltic was too much of a sleepy coastal town to do anything exciting. Even the corrupted rarely came here.

    I, however, had nowhere else to go, and little idea as to what I’d do next. I could become a warrior for hire, which was the first thought that popped into my mind. Or I could become a farmer like a good third of the province. The only flaw in that plan was that I didn’t know anything about how farming or crops worked. They didn’t teach you that back in Fruma.

    But for tonight, my journey took me to a local inn. I needed somewhere to spend the night, and any dusty place would do the trick. I also needed a decent meal, for I had become far too used to Bylvis’ cooked dinners. Anything would do, and I was starving.

    I walk inside to find the tavern fairly quiet, with only one other villager in the room. He’s eating an unidentified stew that looks delicious from the table that I sit down at.

    “Hello,” says a serving girl who walks over to me. “Welcome to the White Fish Inn. Do you plan on staying the night?”

    “Yes,” I respond, “And I’ll have a bowl of stew too, whatever the villager over there is having.”

    “Mushroom Stew? We can give you that, along with a room at the inn. It only costs one emerald block.”

    An emerald block? I didn’t have a single emerald, let alone fifty of them merged into one. I had forgotten how villagers made you pay for everything.

    “I’m sorry, but I don’t have the money. Could I possibly repay you in the future?”

    “And trust the word of a stranger?” objects the server. “We don’t do that here.”

    “You won’t need to pay, Harrison. The meal is on me.”

    Two cloaked figures approach my table. The one who offered to pay for my dinner pulls down his hood, revealing exactly who I expected. It’s Norman, my former sergeant. So Jenprest was right, he did leave the army for some unknown reason.

    “Norman?” I ask him as he pays the server two emerald blocks, “What are you doing here?”

    “I could say the same about you.” He and his comrade sit down at the opposite side of the table.

    “I’m out of the army now. Jenprest discharged me for good, all because I ruined the knights’ moment of glory.”

    “Now, now, don’t get angry. I understand how you feel, and that’s why I’m offering you a second chance.”

    He pauses as the server returns with three bowls of stew. The other cloaked figure finally pulls down his hood, revealing a bald man that I did not recognize.

    “You see,” Norman continues as soon as the girl is out of earshot, “Orini here and I belong to an organization. We call ourselves The Resistance, and over the past few months we have been gathering members from all over the province. We’re looking for skilled fighters like you; people with decent morals but ideals of rebellion as well.”

    “Rebellion?” I say. This isn’t the Norman I remembered. Or maybe I didn’t know Norman to begin with, he did desert the army after all.

    “We aren’t a rebellion,” Orini objects. “We’re so-called vigilantes, fighting for what the leaders of Wynn won’t.”

    “Tell me, Harrison,” begins Norman, “Have you ever heard of Wynn-Excavation?”

    “No. Who are they?”

    “A Gavellian organization that claims to seek to uncover the mysteries of the province. They arrived at Wynn a few months ago, with a group of over a hundred villagers. They’re more than simple archaeologists, they’ve set up sites all around the province. The abandoned mines, the tundra, even the jungle right outside Troms; they all are under excavation for who knows what purpose. Our leader believes that they’re up to no good. Furthermore, a report recently came in stating that they made a pact with a one of the bandit clans of the desert.”

    “And you want us to stop them somehow?” I ask.

    “All I’m saying is that the world is changing. It’s been a thousand years since the portal has opened, and while the corruption has been slowed down, I believe that there are still worse events that have yet to come. It’s only fate, and sooner than later it will be the hour of destiny’s arrival. And it’s up to us to stop it.”

    This is a bit too much for an evening meal. It’s been a long day and all I was looking forward to was a nice rest in some Inn.

    “Are you willing to join us or not?” asks Orini. “After all, you have nowhere else to go.”

    - - -
    Join the Resistance. [Page 64]
    - - -
    Don't join the Resistance, and go your own way. [Page 65]
    - - -
    -
    Harrison


    In all my life spent in Wynn, I had never actually been to the coastal town of Maltic. As I approach I can tell that I hadn’t missed out on anything; the large town seemed entirely uninteresting. Maybe it was because it was late at night, or maybe Maltic was too much of a sleepy coastal town to do anything exciting. Even the corrupted rarely came here.

    I, however, had nowhere else to go, and little idea as to what I’d do next. I could become a warrior for hire, which was the first thought that popped into my mind. Or I could become a farmer like a good third of the province. The only flaw in that plan was that I didn’t know anything about how farming or crops worked. They didn’t teach you that back in Fruma.

    But for tonight, my journey took me to a local inn. I needed somewhere to spend the night, and any dusty place would do the trick. I also needed a decent meal, for I had become far too used to Bylvis’ cooked dinners. Anything would do, and I was starving.

    I walk inside to find the tavern fairly quiet, with only one other villager in the room. He’s eating an unidentified stew that looks delicious from the table that I sit down at.

    “Hello,” says a serving girl who walks over to me. “Welcome to the White Fish Inn. Do you plan on staying the night?”

    “Yes,” I respond, “And I’ll have a bowl of stew too, whatever the villager over there is having.”

    “Mushroom Stew? We can give you that, along with a room at the inn. It only costs one emerald block.”

    An emerald block? I didn’t have a single emerald, let alone fifty of them merged into one. I had forgotten how villagers made you pay for everything.

    “I’m sorry, but I don’t have the money. Could I possibly repay you in the future?”

    “And trust the word of a stranger?” objects the server. “We don’t do that here.”

    Dammit. There goes my chances of a good night’s rest. I get up from my seat and I’m just about to exit the inn when I notice two people wearing familiar cloaks. I’ve seen them before, a few weeks ago in the barracks.

    “Harrison?” one of them says. I recognize that voice, for it belongs to my former sergeant.

    “Norman?” He was the last person I expected to see here, especially right after I told Jenprest about his desertion. I guess we now have something in common. “What are you doing here?”

    “I could say the same about you.” He and his comrade sit down at the opposite side of the table.

    “I’m out of the army now. Jenprest discharged me for good, all because I ruined the knights’ moment of glory.”

    “Now, now, don’t get angry. I understand how you feel, and that’s why I’m offering you a second chance.”

    He pauses as the server returns with three bowls of stew. The other cloaked figure finally pulls down his hood, revealing a bald man that I did not recognize.

    “You see,” Norman continues as soon as the girl is out of earshot, “Orini here and I belong to an organization. We call ourselves The Resistance, and over the past few months we have been gathering members from all over the province. We’re looking for skilled fighters like you; people with decent morals but ideals of rebellion as well.”

    “Rebellion?” I say. This isn’t the Norman I remembered. Or maybe I didn’t know Norman to begin with, he did desert the army after all.

    “We aren’t a rebellion,” Orini objects. “We’re so-called vigilantes, fighting for what the leaders of Wynn won’t.”

    “Tell me, Harrison,” begins Norman, “Have you ever heard of Wynn-Excavation?”

    “No. Who are they?”

    “A Gavellian organization that claims to seek to uncover the mysteries of the province. They arrived at Wynn a few months ago, with a group of over a hundred villagers. They’re more than simple archaeologists, they’ve set up sites all around the province. The abandoned mines, the tundra, even the jungle right outside Troms; they all are under excavation for who knows what purpose. Our leader believes that they’re up to no good. Furthermore, a report recently came in stating that they made a pact with a one of the bandit clans of the desert.”

    “And you want us to stop them somehow?” I ask.

    “All I’m saying is that the world is changing. It’s been a thousand years since the portal has opened, and while the corruption has been slowed down, I believe that there are still worse events that have yet to come. It’s only fate, and sooner than later it will be the hour of destiny’s arrival. And it’s up to us to stop it.”

    This is a bit too much for an evening meal. It’s been a long day and all I was looking forward to was a nice rest in some Inn.

    “Are you willing to join us or not?” asks Orini. “After all, you have nowhere else to go.”

    - - -
    Join the Resistance. [Page 64]
    - - -
    Don't join the Resistance, and go your own way. [Page 65]
    - - -
    -
    (From Page 17)
    Rilue


    “Ormrod, Rilue, wake up!”

    Sunlight has entered the cavern, and it’s time to finish our journey. Ormord doesn’t hasn’t woken up yet despite Avery’s shouting; even on hard stone ground he can catch up on lost sleep.

    After a few hours of keeping watch, I switched places with Avery in order to get some rest. It was enough, and the first few minutes of our journey will pass in a groggy haze.

    “Ormrod? We need to get moving. The sun has barely risen and this is the best time to travel.”

    “Gahh!” Ormrod suddenly jolts awake. I’m not even sure if he heard us. “The mummy… I could see it! Sallow skins covered by bandages, locusts crawling out of its flesh… it was going to kill me!”

    “Calm down,” Avery tells him, “You’re safe now.”

    “No, I’m not safe! I won’t be until I break this dreaded curse. Bring me our mount, today we will defeat this monster.”


    ~ ~ ~


    With newfound determination we continue north across the desert, taking only a few breaks for water. Our work is soon rewarded; we eventually arrive at the mountain range that surrounds the desert.

    “Where do we go from here?” Avery asks Ormord.

    “I’m not sure, I remember the tomb being nestled in one of these mountains.”

    “That’s very descriptive.”
    “I’m a simple merchant. I don’t need to spend my days memorizing which way the sun sets or anything like that.”

    “There’s an oasis that’s probably an hour away from here,” I chime in, looking at our map. “We should head there, and see if we find the tomb while we travel.”

    My companions nod in agreement and continue onwards into the desert. As we travel we gaze in awe at the great mountain ranges. I’ve never seen them before, and despite the horrific tales of the desert it looks very beautiful. Yet at the same time there’s the heat that beats down on us.

    Ormrod looks as if he’s going to collapse by the time we reach the oasis. To our dismay, we see tents marked with the insignia of an orange jackal around the lake. The Creden Tibus bandits got here before us.

    “Not good,” says Avery, putting my thoughts into words. “What are we going to do? Knowing them, they’ll charge a toll on the water here.”

    “What?” groans Ormrod, “You can’t do that…”

    “Welcome to the desert,” I tell him, “Look, we might have a chance. I spot three bandits, and I’m sure that the two of us can fight them. After all, you have military training, right Avery?”

    “Yes, but it’s been a while. I haven’t tried to fight in years; I don’t know if I’ll be helpful or a hindrance.”

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018