April 8, 2001
To Trellor! An Adventurer's Account of Trade Running - By Deiad
Vito pulled his shadow cloak tighter, hoping to keep the rain off of
his shoulders. He smirked to himself and shook his head sadly. The
piece of black cloth had done wonders at keeping the monsters from seeing
him, but it certainly didn't do much for keep him warm. Vito seriously
regretted giving his old green riding cloak to a young adventurer. He
tapped his horse's flanks with his heels and clicked his tongue as he
pulled gently back on the reins. He eased the old gray bay back to the
covered wagon being pulled by a sickly looking brown horse that was
wheezing audibly at the pace Vito was driving it at. Vito carefully
lifted the thick wool blanket off of his wagon's cargo: a few boxes of
foodstuff he picked up for a song. Vito glanced at the canvas cover of the
wagon, wondering if maybe the food wouldn't get too wet without it. He
could use the extra warmth. Not that he needed it or anything, just
that it would be more comfortable that way. The rain dripping through
the canvas stayed Vito's hand. The food had to stay dry.
Vito heeled his horse forward and surveyed the area. The rain was too
heavy for him to see very far, but he could make out a town in the
distance. It wasn't Trellor, but in the driving rain, any shelter would be
welcome. Quickly, Vito attempted to discern what time it was. It was
near to dusk, or at least it seemed to be under the thick clouds. As
far as he could tell, he had another hour and a half of riding time.
Horses broke legs when it got dark. Adventurers did too. While it might
have been easier to just get an inn at this town, he knew another inn
was just an hour's ride from where he was. Every inch of ground he
covered put him ever closer to his goal... Trellor.
He took one more look at the town to the south. It was out of his way,
and he had no time to lose. The strange fiery stones had been falling
from the sky for a while, tearing Trellor apart. He had heard about
this from his friends in his clan, and he quickly decided to head out on
his own to make a fortune in there. Their storehouses had been reduced
to flaming rubble, and needless to say, the city would be willing
to pay huge sums of gold for just about everything. But only if he got
there first! Vito wiped the rain from his eyes and wondered if it
would just be easier to get to the town and use their portal to warp to
Trellor. But the harsh lessons he had learned taught him that was not an
option. The shifting clouds on that astral plane or whatever it was
made it so if he so much as took his hand off of his wagon, it would
become lost forever in that colorful fog. He had to do it the
Vito stood up slightly in his saddle and rubbed his rear. A full day
in the saddle would do that to you. He knew that far to the west was
the Fire Giant's Keep, but he would do well to avoid that place of
murder. Just a clubhouse for murderers, and no matter how curious Vito was
to what it was like inside, nothing short of a pack of dragons could
chase him into that stony death trap.
What Vito really wanted was a chance to stretch his legs, but he couldn't
spare even a moment for that... he had to hurry if he was to get a
decent deal for his goods. The recent depression had hit him hard. He
could barely afford to keep himself fed and clothed, let alone buy
magical equipment. Just too many merchants on the roads, and too many
merchants drove down the prices. An old adventurer he knew had told him of
days when you could sell trade goods for millions of gold, and a man
could get rich with only a little work. Vito longed for those days, but
those days were long gone. Now, every adventurer was being forced to
trade. The gods who kept an eye on mortals didn't hand out awards to
just anyone. In the old days they did... so long as you kept adventuring
to hone your skills, they would reward you with greater vitality and
spiritual power. Now you had to trade, prove yourself as a leader,
venture into those hellish caverns called Catacombs to recover eggs, and
even slay dragons! Now that was a laugh! Vito could say that no god was
going to make him go into some dragon's nest just for a slim chance to
be reborn. He had heard of others who had done the gods' bidding and
were reborn. Strange, they were. They used magic and weapons. But
Vito didn't need that! He patted his trusty sword, Anarchist, and
chuckled. He couldn't imagine himself using magic. Although he wouldn't mind
learning how those blasted mages turned themselves invisible. If he
could do that, Vito could ditch his paper-thin shadow cloak in exchange
for a nice, warm, wool riding cloak.
He just wanted the money - he didn't need to be reborn! He had his eye
on a sword he had seen older adventurers auctioning off in Medievia
City. It seemed to be made of ice, and the sellers said it could rend a
man better than any sword of simple steel. They had proven that, too,
slicing and dicing some poor mercenary to bits with that icy sword. He
wanted it, so much it hurt. But they wanted a lot of gold for it -
more than he had. But if this trade run proved successful, he could
easily buy that sword. Then he could get his revenge on those blasted
dwarves in Riverton. Vito rubbed the scar beneath his chain mail. He had
gotten that from one of their bloody pick axes, and had it not been for
a kind-hearted cleric, he probably would have died. In his mind, he
replayed the fights he'd had with the dwarves. He could kill them
easily, and with that sword he could carve through a whole cavern of them
like they were nothing.
A loud roar echoed across the valley, snapping Vito back to reality.
Something was on the road ahead. He slowed his horse and began scanning
more carefully for danger. It suddenly grew very dark, and Vito looked
A huge red dragon was circling just overhead. Vito stood frozen in
fear as he watched the monstrosity flap its wings, then spiral in for a
landing just around the bend he had recently navigated. Fumbling through
his mind, Vito remembered what the grizzled old adventurer in his clan
had told him about dragons. They would only stop chasing you for two
reasons: if they killed you or if you killed it. Vito wasn't too
confident of his odds.
Vito quickly pulled a small metal tube out of his backpack. As softly
as he could, played the haunting elven melody he had heard from the
Elven Merchant, and he shimmered brightly then faded from normal sight.
Vito smirked. He'd bet his sword that the dragon wouldn't find them
invisible! His cloak would have done the same job but it was still
recovering its power after he'd used it when a doglike beast had tried to
kill him earlier.
With a smirk of a man victorious, Vito heeled his horse on, away from
the evil dragon. His heart leaped into his throat every time his
horse's hoof stepped on a twig or the wagon hit a bump, but the dragon was
nowhere to be seen.
Then the huge reptile plunged out of the woods, nearly on top of Vito.
Cursing himself, Vito realized that his freight was not invisible. The
beast reared and smashed Vito in the side with a swipe of its tale. He
was thrown from his horse nearly fifteen feet into the woods. Before
he could recover, the dragon tore through the woods to land nearly on
top of him. With a whimper, Vito crawled backwards until he banged his
head loudly on a tree. The evil dragon stepped forward, almost regal in
appearance, and then leapt into the air, coming down right on top of
him. The sudden impact tore the ground beneath the adventurer wide open,
and Vito plummeted into darkness, landing with a heavy thud on
hard-packed dirt. He felt around blindly at his waist and held a lantern up to
see what he could.
He had landed in a small niche in the wall of a long tunnel going
nearly straight down. Above him, the dragon was clawing furiously at the
ground. Every now and then it spewed flames from its mouth, but they
passed harmlessly down the tunnel. Vito weighed his options. If he just
waited the monster out, he would probably live. But Vito didn't have
time to waste. He pulled a burning gold rod from a pouch on his hip.
He had intended this one for only the most dire of emergencies, but Vito
was sure that this qualified. With a flick of his wrist, the rod
hummed and a bolt of lightning danced from the tip of the rod up the tunnel.
Vito heard the dragon inhaling deeply for another gout of flame, then a
squeal, partially of pain, and partially of surprise. Vito peeked up
and saw the dragon spitting blood from its mouth, clawing at the burns
on its face. With a cry of rage, the dragon unfurled its wings and
flapped furiously, flying away.
Vito sighed with relief. That dragon was the worst possible thing that
could have happened to him on this trading adventure. Now it would be
smooth sailing to Trellor. And at Trellor, he would find the gold he
needed to buy that wonderful sword. With a grin, Vito pulled himself up from
the tunnel and back into the rain. He glanced around, and the dragon
was nowhere to be seen. He hurried back to his horse and freight, which
were both still spooked from the dragon's sudden arrival. Vito soothed
both horses, stroking their noses, then mounted up and headed on down
Now he was home free. If a dragon couldn't stand in his way, nothing
could! Vito wiped some dirt and leaves from his cloak, then inspected
his boots for any signs of wear. Fortunately, those old boots had held
up well. Vito wondered if he could find someone in Trellor to make him
a pair of boots that would be more comfortable than what he had. After
all, what good was a new sword if your feet were too sore to fight?
And those accursed dwarves still had to answer for the scar on his chest.
Farther along the way, Vito came across some mutilated carcasses
scattered about the road and a horrible stench a little further on. He knew
that smell well: trolls. Vito hastily dismounted, tethered his horse
to a tree and his wagon to another, then stepped into the woods. He
carefully made his way through the woods, keeping a wary eye up ahead for
any trolls. Then he saw them. Two trolls, standing in the center of
the road, one carrying a huge axe and wearing tattered leather armor,
the other wearing dirty gray robes and a shabby pendant shaped like a
sword. A cleric and a warrior. Not ideal. The warrior wouldn't be much
trouble... trolls might be bigger than men, but they didn't fight much
better. The cleric, though, used magic. He had seen human clerics
make men's flesh wither and rot, make flame erupt from the earth and even
raise the dead. The cleric would be trouble.
Fate smiled upon Vito, though. The rain began to subside, and in its
place a steady drizzle of fire. He had seen this before, and this fiery
rain meant that the cleric wouldn't be able to use magic. That made
him as weak as a babe. Vito drew Anarchist with a toothy grin and
charged onto the road, knocking the warrior troll flat with a shoulder check.
The cleric looked shocked and took a step backwards, but Vito had no
time for the cleric. The warrior was the main threat now. He slashed at
the warrior three times before the lumbering monster pushed itself back
onto its feet. It was bloody and wounded, but still eager to fight.
Before it could swing with its mighty axe, Vito slashed twice more, one
nicking the creature's shoulder, and the other opening a deep wound on
The troll faltered for a second longer, and Vito capitalized on this
with a hard kick to the monster's kidney. Now it swung its axe, slashing
Vito's left arm open. It swung a second time, but Vito easily parried
its attack. This time the troll was wide open to attack. Vito feigned
and attack to its face, and when the creature reacted, he hastily
twisted his wrists and rammed his sword into his foe's gut. With a grunt,
he pulled it up as far as the chest wound he had already inflicted where
it tore free. The gutted troll coughed up some black blood, then fell
heavily onto its side and died.
The cleric was less trouble. Vito opened the fight by removing the
troll's left arm at the elbow then tore its belly open with a wild swing.
The troll stared at him for a moment with glassy eyes. That stare
ended when Vito bashed the troll over the head with the hilt of his sword.
Much to his delight the troll didn't get back up. It simply remained
where it fell, its black blood slowly pooling around its head.
Hurriedly, he wiped the blood off of Anarchist with the cleric troll's
robes, because everyone knew that troll blood would pit and tarnish
steel, then returned it to its scabbard and ran back to his horse. When
he arrived, the bay gave him an odd look, then jerked its head a bit.
Vito unhitched his wagon and horse, then mounted the horse and lead the
animals at a more grueling pace than before. It was then that he
realized how badly his arm hurt. He dove into his saddlebags and produced a
small green vial. He quickly worked the seal off and quaffed it, and
the wound on his arm closed up with a slight tingling sensation. He
heeled the gray bay forward as he passed the bodies of the two trolls he
had slain, looking back only to see if his wagon was keeping up. The
brown horse was doing exceptionally well, considering the pace. When
Vito returned his gaze to the road ahead, he noticed a very large troll in
the way. It could only have been a troll captain. Vito knew that if
one killed the captain, any others would run away. He heeled the gray
into a gallop and pulled Anarchist free from its scabbard, holding it
back for a killing stroke. The troll captain bellowed loudly and
produced a 7-foot long, jagged, rusty sword and hoisted it to meet Vito's
swing. Had the captain done it a second sooner, he would have succeeded.
But instead, only the tip was there to meet the full force of Vito's
mighty attack. Anarchist knocked the larger blade aside and tore through
the troll's neck, spurting black blood. Vito was too concerned with
making up for lost time to wipe the blood from his clothes or Anarchist.
He rushed on, and farther down the road found thousand of tiny
footprints: obvious signs of Kobolds ahead. Vito surveyed the area and noticed
a steep ridge to his east. He knew that ridge sheltered a tributary
stream that fed the river that wound all the way to Trellor. The horse
pulling the wagon refused to leave the road at first, and Vito couldn't
get the horse to leave the road for even a shiny red apple from the
food in the wagon. He even tried pulling the horse physically off the
road, but the sickly horse showed surprising resolve, and simply dug its
hooves in. Then the roar of the dragon shattered the silence. It was a
ways in the distance, but Vito didn't want to risk another run in with
The roar of the dragon had forced Vito to give up forcing his freight
off road. The Kobolds would be gone in a while, and after he escaped
from the dragon, he could continue on. Vito forced his horse up the
slopes of the ridge as fast as possible, only slowing when they were at the
crest of the ridge. Vito's jaw dropped when he saw the renowned Fire
Giants' Keep little more than a few miles distant, standing triumphant
amidst a maw of jagged mountain slopes. Trellor was still a ways to the
north of that, along the river that ran past the keep. He glanced at
the sky. Small streaks of light split the clear night sky. Then he
heard the furious roar of the dragon, closer than it had been. He whipped
around and looked over his shoulder. Sure enough, the massive creature
was silhouetted against the moon. Vito needed to find cover until the
monster gave up.
With a grunt, Vito's horse sped towards the imposing Fire Giant's Keep.
Vito had heard that in there, the mandate of the gods held no sway, and
that adventurers killed and looted one another for little more than
sport. Vito was willing to risk it though. No adventurer could be as bad
as a dragon!
Vito dismounted and led his horse up to the keep along the rocky path
through the jagged slopes. He reached the massive doors and ever so
carefully opened them, peering inside. Darkness pervaded the interior of
the keep, but it seemed empty. Vito quickly tethered his horse to a
post, then walked quietly inside.
As Vito figured it, the dragon would only chase him for another half an
hour before it decided there was better game to be had elsewhere. So
if Vito just found a quiet corner and rested up, he would be fine.
Reassured, Vito strutted down the immense hall, glancing into the shadows
every so often to keep an eye out for any danger.
Then Vito's foot caught on something and he fell flat on his face.
With a groan, he rolled over, and the moon-shaped blade of an axe crashed
down into the floor next to him. Above him stood a man three times as
large as himself and a head taller, with short graying brown hair. Two
more men seeped out of the shadows on his left, and three came from the
shadows on his right. Vito whimpered piteously.
One dressed all in black with a long black cowl stabbed at Vito with a
dagger, but Vito squirmed out of the way. Two more swung with swords,
and those missed him by no more than a hair. One of them chanted
loudly and summoned up an invisible wave of force that smashed into Vito's
chest, forcing the breath out of him and shattering the granite floor
Vito coughed and spat up blood then quickly realized that unless he
ran, he was done for. He kicked his legs up, tucked his head, and rolled
under the axe-wielding man's legs. The group gave a surprised grunt,
then turned to him. Vito didn't give them a chance to react and ran,
despite the ache in his chest and the soreness of his feet. Fireballs
singed the air around him, and Vito thanked the gods that it was only the
air. Still, he racked his brain to find a way out of the keep. When a
man wearing jet-black platemail appeared at the end of the hall, Vito
dove into a door and landed with a heavy thud on a thick, ornate red and
orange carpet. As the man stepped into the doorway, Vito kicked the
door shut, smashing the man in the face. His assailant shouted loudly,
then shoved the door open again, clutching a bleeding nose. Vito felt
around the floor for something, anything he could use to defend himself.
Then his hand happened upon a very large toe. He arched his neck and
looked up at a very angry looking female giant. She growled and smashed
at the man in the door, not paying Vito any heed. The man side-stepped
it neatly then returned the favor with a swing of his sword. Vito
decided to run while he could.
Outside of the room, he saw at the end of the hallway the doors that
would take him out. He broke into a mad dash. Back outside, no other
adventurers would chase after him out here. He ran as he had never run
before, each step taking him closer to freedom and safety. Then he
heard a shout behind him and the same chanting as before, and a wave of
force exploded the floor just a step behind him. A woman appeared from
the shadows, wielding a massive spear. She lowered it at Vito and
grinned victoriously. Vito heard the mage chanting again, and heard the
crackle of invisible energy shooting through the air. With a grimace, Vito
The wave of energy smashed into Vito's back and hurled him through the
slightly ajar doors. He fell to the earth and rolled a few rocky feet
before coming to a halt. Waves of pain worked their way through Vito's
back. Odds were that it was broken. He didn't put that beyond any
mage he had ever met. He eased a handful of green potions from his belt
pouch and downed four before he could move again. A fifth deadened the
pain, and a sixth eased his breathing.
Vito scanned the area. At the base of the rocky slopes lay the carcass
of a huge red dragon. Somebody had killed the thing! Now he was free
to head to Trellor. Then he would sell his freight and be rich, and
then he could finally buy that precious sword. Vito unhitched his horse
and mounted up. He fumbled in his saddlebags and pulled out several
scrolls, sticking all but one into his belt. He heeled his bay on and
unrolled the scroll, reciting the arcane words. As he finished, the
scroll burnt away in his hands, and he felt a renewed vigor, as if he were
just starting off after a full night's sleep. The horse looked
refreshed and eager too. With a click of his tongue, Vito started his horse
back to his freight as quickly as possible. He galloped back over the
ridge and to the road, where he unhitched the sickly brown horse and
started it following him once more. The Kobolds were nowhere to be found.
Vito would make it! He would be the first one in Trellor with those
badly needed supplies - and then he would be rich!
Vito hurried along the road and over a series of bridges, growing ever
closer to Trellor. The ground was no longer the gently rolling, wooded
hills he remembered around Trellor. Instead, the land was pitted with
craters. In the distance, a streak of red light crashed into the
ground with a titanic explosion. Sheer power ripped the road to shreds
beneath his feet. The horses stumbled, but they kept their balance. The
flaming balls from the sky fell more frequently. Now and again, he
could feel the heat from the explosions. One even knocked him from his
mount. He landed awkwardly on his elbow, banging it hard against the
scorched earth. He dropped three scrolls, but didn't bother to pick them
up. Instead he hurled himself back onto the gray bay's back and set it
dashing again with a yell and a slap on the horse's flank. He pulled
himself into the saddle and saw on the horizon the dome of the Temple of
Trellor. Vito's goal was within reach!
A huge fireball came down no more than fifteen paces in front of Vito.
His bay reared and almost threw him to the ground again. The wagon and
other horse came to a quick stop a few paces behind him. Vito reigned
the horse hard and forced the bay to go around the smoking crater.
There were a few more close calls, but now Vito could easily see the walls
of Trellor. Broken in some places as they were, they still instilled
him with a sense of awe. But there was no time for awe! Vito was so
close he could taste it. All of that money would be his! He could wait
out this rain of fiery stones in the tunnel under Rose Hill, where most
of the other refugees would be. He'd be safe and have a wonderful
market for his goods. He would make it! Then he'd be rich, get his new
sword, and the dwarves would all...
A ball of flame crashed down within arm's reach of Vito, on his right.
The explosion tossed him from his horse and sent him crashing into the
road. He felt the bones in his left arm shatter, as well as a few
ribs. He fumbled in his belt pouch for a green potion. After all, what
was a broken arm? He certainly didn't need his arm to walk! Vito felt
a pang of panic when he realized the fall had shattered all of the
vials in his belt pouch. Vito tried to look around, but couldn't see his
horse anywhere, or his wagon. He closed his eyes and cursed himself for
being so foolish. Then, darkness overtook him, and the pain was lost
in a sea of infinity.
Vito pulled his wagon into the Trellor Trading Post, plodding behind
the cleric's wagon. The cleric had been kind enough to heal his arm,
after all. Most would have left Vito for dead. Vito was glad to be
alive, but still he was very upset over the delay. The sky was blue and
besides the craters, there was no sign of those horrible stone fireballs.
The cleric emptied out his wagon, mostly spices and carpets, and handed
them to the merchant. He in exchange gave the cleric a sizable chest
of gold coins. Vito's heart soared when he realized now he would be
rich! It was his turn to sell his valuable food to the needy city! Vito
proudly unpacked his freight, which had held together remarkably well,
and gave it to the merchant. The merchant raised an eyebrow as he
looked over the foodstuffs, then handed Vito a chest.
Throwing the chest open, Vito quickly counted out how much he had made.
The chest held about a quarter of a million golden coins. Vito turned
angrily to the merchant to accuse him of swindling him, but the
merchant merely shook his head.
"If you wanted more, you should have gotten here last night, when we
really needed that food. With all the traders, we have more in our
stores than we'll ever need. It's supply and demand, kid. You should have
Vito buried his face in his hands and began to cry, moaning over and
over, "... all that for nothing... for nothing..."
FRONT PAGE |
MEDIEVIA HOME PAGE
Copyright (c) 1992-2018 Medievia.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Mudslinger is a trademark (tm) of Medievia.com, Inc.
No portion of the MudSlinger may be reproduced without the express written consent of Medievia.com, Inc.