June 28, 2004
There we were, all crammed into the heaving Daemon's Forge Tavern in the City of Medievia. You know where I mean, just off Daemon Street in the southeast corner of the Warrior's Quarter. That's right, with the dragon's head outside. Anyway, we were having a fine time, telling inflated tales of our last heroic exploit and planning our next expedition into whatever dark corner of Medievia that needed clearing of monsters next. It was an unusual night in the Forge. It was filled with not only the usual assortment of rough, tough warrior types, but also a number of men and women from other parts of the city. Old Navaar was there, in his regular seat right next to the bar, telling his old tales of when he and his band of merry men were the most respected in all the land - must have been a very long time ago, that one! There were a load in from the Defenders of Faith on one side of the bar, exchanging all manner of funny looks from a group from the Crimson Council on the other side. I heard the next day the matter was resolved in the warriors pit, > but that has little to do with this particular story...
Anyway, the ale was flowing freely, and even Olaffson was now swapping stories of his heroic conquests from the days before the Daemon's Forge ever opened. There was even a group in the corner wearing cloaks with their hoods up that I swear looked just like a group of elves from the Alendora that I had received the beating of my life from a couple of weeks back. I was just about to go over and make some enquiries, when an incident at one of the tables distracted me.
Apparently, the wizard Eladrial had told Gurril 'ironfist' Grimli that his sword and shield was no match for the forces of magic. Now, as you can probably understand, this didn't go down to well with Gurril. He was never the biggest of men, Gurril, but he was built like a stone outhouse and he had a monster of a beard, all plaited and braided. He jumped to his feet, pulled out his great axe, and poured his drink right over the bald head of Eladrial! Just what the rambling buffoon deserved, if you ask me! Now, Eladrial started waving his hands all over the place, and Gurril pulled his axe back, when the doors flew open. By the way, if there had have been a fight, my money was on Gurril any day.
Anyway, the doors flew open and everyone turned to look around, and who should walk in but Nogen. Nogen is a big, tall man who always wears a big fur coat, because he says it's colder here than in the city of Trellor. I don't know about the weather over on the east coast, but I know that as far as warriors go, Nogen is as tough as they come. Legend goes that when he began his training, he wandered into the animal preserve, broke his sword, and strangled three wolves with his bare hands! Anyway, Nogen commands a lot of respect, and he had come to that bar with one thing on his mind; a good drink, and may Vryce help anyone who was going to stop him. So, in order to calm down the situation and get on with some serious drinking, Nogen walked right up to the two men, sat them down, and talked sensibly about the situation. No, only joking, he banged both their heads together, sat them down, and then bought them both a mug of ale!
After that little incident, it was pretty relaxed in the Forge from then on, and talk got round, as it always does, to who was best equipped for The Job. The Job, as you may or may not know, was how we in the Forge referred to the daily activities of killing all manner of horrible critters, plundering their lairs for booty and treasure, and then getting back home in time for last orders. Now, of course we all like a good job, but there were some of us who got pretty high and mighty about the words 'plunder' or 'steal'. Take Sigman, high councillor for our lord Vryce. Now, I'm not sure who exactly gave him that title, but he could tell you a thing about killing, marauding, cleansing, and looting all manner of evil lairs, yet he still wore his old threadbare robe, and apparently kept not a gold coin for himself - although I wouldn't have minded a little lookie around his chambers, just to make sure. Anyway, it was his high and mighty attitude that got us round to the topic of who was the best at The Job. Someone or other accused him of not knowing his stuff, and that sparked up a great debate.
To be honest, now that my heads a bit clearer than it was back then, I can't see any real way to work out who was the very best at what we all love to do. Sure, Nogen was pretty much unbeatable in a straight fight, and Magnus the Red casts the best spells in all the land. People like Syrus can sneak around in shadows and keep hidden from everyone, and Sigman, for all his airs and graces, will keep you alive with his clerical spells when you really need it. Now all these people alone have there own failings and weaknesses, but when put together ... what a force! A group strong enough to slay the most powerful of dragons, save the most fair of princesses, and lace Olaffson's pockets with the finest gold after their exploits. I didn't realize all this until Mortion stood up to say his piece.
Now, Mortion is a superb fighter, and he's also got a bit of magical blood running through his veins. He's got a reputation for not drinking, so he was sober as a judge when he got to his feet, still wearing that silly wide-brimmed hat he always does. He's also got a quick wit and a rapier-sharp tongue, so everyone stopped to listen. Even though he never drank, he liked to visit the Forge from time to time to keep up with the news and rumors. Back then, he seemed to be amused by the argument and surveyed us like a teacher would naughty schoolchildren.
"Please, all of you," he called with his sharp, piercing voice, "this argument is futile, there is no answer to who is the very best dispatcher of vile creatures in this tavern tonight. You, I, everyone is a good warrior in their own right, and who can truly say who is best out of us?"
"I am!" Nogen shouted, jumping to his feet. By then he had drank more than just a few, so everyone knew not to take him too seriously. Everyone except for Mortion, it seemed, who stared daggers at him as everyone tried to quiet the big warrior down.
"Ah, my fur-clad friend," Mortion said quietly, "so you are the strongest, most powerful warrior to have ever walked the land?"
"That's right!" Answered Nogen, "an' I'll take all of ye on anytime!" Some of the boys looked a little bit upset by his outburst, but then knew not to worry about him when he was surrounded by as many empty tankards as he was on that night.
"Best with a blade?" Queried Mortion.
"Prove me wrong," came the confident reply.
"Strongest of them all?"
"Most powerful wizard?"
"Preacher of the Lord Vryce?"
"Nimble as a cat?"
"Put like that..."
"Lord of all healers?"
"Learned in the ancient arts?"
"Able to blend into the shadows?"
"Find a secret door or disable a trap in a trice?"
Mortion grinned that wolfish grin of his from beneath his wide-brimmed hat, and began walking towards the door; he had made his point and he knew it. He had really struck a chord with all of the present company: clerics, mages, warriors and thieves from all corners of Medievia were nodding their heads in agreement and cheering whenever a trait of their own profession was mention. He turned back to face the assembled men as he reached the door, and left us all with some last words of wisdom.
"We are all invaluable. There is no one among us who is more important that the others. We all have powers, skills and equipment that can save us from defeat in the darkest of caverns. No one adventurer here is better than the next. Alone. we will die horrible, lonely deaths against the monsters we seek to destroy. Alone, bleeding on the floor in a cold corner of a den of evil. But together, ahh, together we become stronger. Together we become unbeatable! Together we unite our powers and we are invincible! The key is to make sure that next time you enter the darkest of dungeons that you have a little bit of everything. Warriors, to go toe to toe with enemy, thieves to get you past doors and traps, mages, to bombard the denizens of darkness with spells and clerics, because even the most powerful fighters get hurt sometimes. Everyone has a part to play, and no one fighter can take the starring role. Goodnight, gentlemen, or should I say, good morning!"
And with that, Mortion tipped his hat, swirled his cloak and he was gone, into
the night. We all sat quietly for a moment, sipping our drinks, and it was then
that I decided. Next time I go to pillage, plunder and destroy, I'll be sure
to have a little help with me, else you never know what could happen...
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