July 4, 2001
A Story's Worth - by Yarhj
The city of Medievia bustled with activity, and in more than one place
the clash of steel on steel could be heard where a few brave
adventurers had decided to challenge a guardsman. The Janitors were going about
their task with the usual speed and diligence, giving their lives to
clean the streets of refuse. The Town Crier was shouting out the latest
announcements, which were mostly ignored by the denizens of the fair
city. The glowing shield that protected the city from the whims of nature
bathed everything in a yellowish light, and above the clamor and
activity the shield hummed deeply as it deflected yet another tornado.
Yarhj was oblivious to all of this as he sat on the marble steps
leading up to the castle. The cleric sat on the cold steps with his quill,
occasionally scribbling something on a tattered parchment, then moments
later furiously scratching it out. He had always coveted those mystical
talismans he'd seen worn by so many of his seniors. He had asked, and
learned that there were few ways to obtain these treasures. One either
had to be immensely wealthy, or quite gifted with the quill. Seeing as
the banelars seemed especially fond of him, especially salted with
onions, it was rather unlikely that he would be able to come up with that
type of cash.
"What could I write about, that hasn't already been done?" The wiry
spellcaster mused to himself. "No one wants to hear about my travels
throughout the world, no one cares about the places I've been to, and no one
wants to hear about the catastrophes I've seen - because they've
already been through the like! How am I supposed to do this?"
"Yarhj!" said Droketaz, over clantalk. Yarhj brightened considerably,
Droketaz was one of the other clerics in his clan, and always searching
for something to kill. Maybe whatever Droketaz had planned would give
him an idea for some sort of story.
"What's going on?" Yarhj responded, hurriedly packing his quill into
the worn backpack he always carried.
"Some adventurer has stumbled on the entrance to the catacombs, what
say we head over there and see what they're really like?"
"Sounds good, maybe something will happen to help get rid of this
"All right, the entrance is in the Lords of Discipline clantown. I'll meet
you there, Yarhj."
Sadly, it didn't turn out quite the way Yarhj had hoped. Before much
time could pass Yarhj had arrived at the portal, but as he stepped into
the shimmering darkness everything seemed to lurch sideways, and the
world spun madly. The cleric cursed to himself silently as he hurtled
through the mysterious alternate plane of the portals.
"Zero serving zero!" boomed a voice from beyond the fog.
"Do we HAVE to play this game?" complained another voice. "You always
win, and it takes so long for them to get to my side of the table!"
"Oh be quiet and play, you're the one who said you were the master of
portal-pong yesterday," said the first voice, sounding slightly amused.
"No fair! While we were talking he got off the portal!"
"Too bad. You should have been paying more attention. My point. One
serving zero." The voices faded away, and Yarhj was pitched unceremoniously
onto the cobblestones of some unknown town. After getting up and
dusting himself off Yarhj vowed he would never again eat the mushrooms he
found in the Great Tree.
"Where are you?" Droketaz asked, impatiently.
"Just misportalled, I'll be there soon."
After another long ride through the portal Yarhj found himself in a
rather busy-looking town. Mobs of people ran in every direction, searching
for the entrance to the catacombs, presumably. Yarhj fell into line
with Droketaz and they began their own search. A dragon began circling
overhead, looking for prey, and Yarhj squinted into the sun in an attempt
to discern what color it was. His foot caught on something and he
sprawled onto the ground. Or would have, had there not been a large hole in
the middle of the road.
"Ugh.. Who would put a waterfall there?" After pulling himself out of
the cold water Yarhj looked up to see Droketaz rolling on the floor,
"Looks like we found the catacombs, eh? Hah, you should have seen the
look on your face!" Droketaz managed to say, in between guffaws. After a
while he managed to stand again, and the clerics started down a dark
tunnel. Suddenly Yarhj felt something tugging at his foot. Wary of his
last fall, he backed up and glanced down, then shrieked and fell to the
floor. Droketaz sighed, then muttered a few choice words and upended his
waterskin on Yarhj's face."
"Oooh... huh?" Stammered Yarhj, slowly coming to. He regained his
composure and stood up, then looked down once more.
"EEEK! Get it off me! Get OFF I say! OFF!" He shouted, hopping around
on one leg, and madly shaking the other.
"Cut that out, you're giving me a headache! It's just a sprite!"
"It's not my fault this thing just-" Yarhj's lament was cut short quite
abruptly as he slammed face first into a low stalactite. Droketaz
moaned and covered his face with his hands. Eventually Yarhj managed to
regain his composure, and after Droketaz threatened to leave him there they
continued through the dark tunnels.
"Be quiet now, I think there's something up ahead," whispered
Droketaz. They continued on in wary silence, Yarhj doing his best thief
impression. There were slight sounds echoing from further in the tunnel, and
as they got closer...
"I thought I told you to be quiet!" Droketaz said.
"Well this sprite is really heavy, and..." Yarhj trailed off.
"Squeak!" added the sprite.
Droketaz just rolled his eyes and continued on. They rounded the corner
and Yarhj ran right into the chest of a rather large bear. Droketaz
whooped and sent a barrage of spells at the beast, while Yarhj spat out
fur, and continued to try to pry the sprite off his leg. After several
hectic minutes they managed to defeat their foe.
"Wow," said Droketaz. "Look at all the eggs this thing dropped! We're
in luck!" Immediately the two set to gathering the prized objects of
their search. Yarhj looked up for a moment from his task, frowning.
"What's that noise? It sounds like wind or something."
"Wind?! Get down!" shouted Droketaz.
"Huh?" queried Yarhj. He fell to the floor, trying to avoid landing on
the sprite, but not fast enough. A piece of flying debris smashed into
him, crushing the bag he had put his eggs in.
"Ewwww. That was a new bag too," complained Yarhj. "Well, it looks like
I'll be having scrambled eggs for dinner."
Droketaz and the sprite exchanged glances, then rolled their eyes.
Yarhj sat on the steps of the Castle Medievia, no further with his
story, and sporting a nasty bruise to boot. Paper after crumpled paper he
tossed onto the ground, blind to the disapproving looks of a weary
janitor. Absently the cleric rummaged through his backpack and pulled out
"Well, at least these eggs taste pretty good."
"Squeak?" Asked the sprite.
"Sure, have some." Yarhj replied, handing the sprite a plate.
"What do you mean they taste horrible! That's my gourmet cooking you're
"Squeak" snickered the sprite.
Yarhj continued to eat his eggs, absently staring into the fountain. A
sudden inspiration came to him, and he had just grabbed his quill when
he was cut short by a loud SPLASH! The would-be writer dashed
backwards, but not quick enough to avoid being inundated by cascading water. He
looked over to see what had happened, and watched as Scruff bounded
back out of the fountain, carrying a rather large tree in his mouth.
"Oh great, the Gods are playing fetch with Scruff again." mumbled
Yarhj. "I better get out of here before-"
"Owwww," thought Yarhj, from under the tree.
After he had been pried out from under the log Yarhj decided it might
be best to get out of town for a while. He gingerly stepped over the
corpse of a weary janitor and headed for the east gate. As he got farther
out into the wilderness he began to relax. In time he came to a small
intersection, in the center of which a kindly old man was walking in
"Where are you bound, good Sir?"
"In all my years I have never heard of that place." The silver-haired
"Excuse me?" Yarhj was a bit put off by this odd reply, and waited for
the grizzled veteran to elaborate. After a long, awkward silence Yarhj
tried again. "Where might you be headed?" The query was met with the
same odd answer, and another long pause. The battered cleric decided it
wasn't worth the trouble, and turned his attention to the lovely
outdoors. The sun sparkled off of the spires of the city in the evening and
Whssssst! A fireball slammed into the ground in front of him, and a
banelar leapt out of the underbrush, hissing ferociously.
"Oh stop it. Spare me the theatrics." Yarhj rolled his eyes.
"Hissssss," said the banelar.
"I said cut it out! Don't make me send my sprite after you!"
"Squeak!" affirmed the sprite with surprising loyalty.
"Hissssss." The banelar shrugged, and stomped back into the brush to
wait for another victim.
The threat having been averted, Yarhj decided to see if he couldn't
think of something to write about in the calm outdoors. Immediately he set
to rummaging through his ratty backpack.
"Where's my blasted quill? I know I left it in here!" he muttered under
Yarhj's silent companion perked up at these words, and quite suddenly
said, "The Mighty Cutter Mystara is South from this intersection. It's
on the horizon." Yarhj gave the kindly old man an odd look, and then
went back to rummaging through his backpack. He finally gave up and headed
back into the city, to resume his search for a story. Upon arriving at
his spot on the castle steps he reached into his pack to fish out his
quill, but when he pulled his hand back out it was covered in thick,
black ink. So much for the "leak-proof" ink jar he had bought on a recent
auction. In between curses he heard dimly the announcement for one of
the many small tournaments that the gods of Medievia occasionally held.
"Maybe this will give me an idea for some sort of story," the tired
cleric muttered. Suddenly he was transported into a small arena, and
before he could get his bearings he was viscously stabbed in the back, then
hurled across the room by a powerful shockwave, and the world went
Yarhj woke under a pile of fetid garbage, and somehow clawed his way
out from under the rank mound.
"Squeak" squeaked the sprite.
"I don't need any comments on my appearance, thank you."
"Squeak," said the sprite, all too innocently.
He tried again, this time managing to score a hit before being pummeled
into the dirt. After a few more painful losses he gave up, and returned
to his seat on the steps of Castle Medievia. He was quite a sight - a
large purple bruise across his face, his clothes were torn and dusty,
his left arm covered in black ink, and bits of rotting garbage were
tangled in his hair. He grimaced, and decided that enough was enough. He
pulled out his quill and began stabbing randomly at his paper...
Yarhj's quill eviscerates a piece of paper!
Yarhj's quill demolishes a piece of paper!
Yarhj's quill injures a piece of paper!
A piece of paper horribly maims Yarhj!
A piece of paper viscously rends Yarhj!
A piece of paper disembowels Yarhj!
A piece of paper eviscerates Yarhj!
A piece of paper demolishes Yarhj!
A piece of paper decapitates Yarhj!
Yarhj is DEAD!!
A month later...
Yarhj stepped into Excrucior's office, trying to control his
"Um, hello?" Yarhj said, wondering where everyone was.
"Squeak?" queried the sprite.
"Chitter?" came a squeak from below a large mahogany desk.
"Oh, hello. Pleased to meet you, Mank. I'm Yarhj. I wanted to submit a
"Chitter?" queried Mank.
"Well, no, I don't have an appointment, but can't I just drop it off
somewhere? I've been working on this thing for ages, and If I don't hand
it in now I'll have to wait until I come back from my vacation to
Trellor, and if I lost it somehow I don't think I'd ever be able to think up
"Squeak!" agreed the sprite.
"Oh, Trellor? Well, I heard they have tours of the Penitentiary, and
the beaches are supposed to be fabulous. I was also planning on visiting
"Really? You were roomies with Poseidon?"
"Chitter!" affirmed the firelizard.
"Wow! Thanks for the tip. I'll tell him Mank sent me. Anyway, about
"Really? Thanks! Here you go. Um, are there any forms I need to fill
out or... um... ah... er..." Yarhj trailed off as Mank stuffed the entire
parchment into his mouth.
"Um... ah... Is there... I mean..." stammered Yarhj
"Urp," replied Mank.
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