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The Archives => The Crossroads (Archived) => Topic started by: khyron1144 on June 03, 2013, 03:00:46 AM

Title: The Adventures of Pious Harold, A Terran Story
Post by: khyron1144 on June 03, 2013, 03:00:46 AM
Pious Harold coughed skeptically.  “Let me get this straight, you're a Wizard?  A successful one who's built a tower and brought on apprentices and all that?  And you want me to go skulking about some dank hole in the ground to find the object of great and mysterious power?”

The bearded man in the dark blue robe nodded.  “That just about sums it up.  If you, Pious Harold, cannot accomplish this for me, I will seek out the aid of Blasphemous Peter or Agnostic Adams or Honest Jonathan or Sneaky Robert or Just Plain William.”

“Well, it's not me whose abilities I question.  I am wondering why you don't magic your way to the mysterious ruin and melt its monstrous guardians to slag.  I mean you are not just a Wizard but a powerful Wizard.  It seems easier to do it yourself than subcontract it to me.”

“One of the privileges of great magical power is the privilege to not use it, while resting comfortably at home and not missing the weekly poker game.  The High Priest of Pluto has a money bag greatly swollen with the proceeds of the Festival for the Dead; I wish to relieve his burden.”

That night at the tavern known as Strength (the sign depicts a woman riding a lion), Pious Harold scanned the crowd looking for someone that looked strong, well-armed, and above all naive.  Spying a lad wearing the leather breeches of the Barbarian North, rather than the proper toga of an Imperial citizen, Harold approached the youth.

“Come to the Empire looking for fame, wealth, and glory, boy?”

The youth scowled.  “Don't call me boy.  I've seen sixteen winters and survived the manhood ordeal.  I've killed a man.”

“No offense was intended.  I apologize.  I was merely wondering how a hale and hearty youth of the North came to dwell among the men of the cities.  Are you on the run from the law back home?”

“What over that killing?  Don't be absurd.  The man I killed was of a rival tribe and had my sister slung over his shoulder at the time.  No, I am here, as you said for wealth and glory.  I would marry my Chieftain's daughter and have my sons be Chieftains.  This is not possible until I have done great things and amassed great wealth.”

“I may be able to help you there.  I am known as Pious Harold and I have learned of an opportunity for brave adventurers to earn great wealth.”

“Great wealth?  How much really?”

“Oh, around 500 Gold Denarii each, after the split.”

“What split?”

“Well, there's me and you, and I think we will do better if you allow me to recruit two more.  So, a four way split.”

“Why not go it alone, and pocket all the money yourself?”
“My mentor, Four-Fingers Smashfiste, showed me what a man that takes on too many solo jobs looks like.  He had a stone arm that ended in a hand upon which two fingers had been replaced with short tentacles.  Said it once belonged to Clever Kent, who went into the Statuary of the Cursed Medusa alone.  If Kent had been wise enough to bring along a Priest or Wizard, someone might have unstoned and otherwise uncursed him.  Or at least warned him when to close his eyes and which objects not to handle.  Didn't want to split the take.  Some people are just too clever for their own good health.”

The next night at the Queen of Wands, Pious Harold and his companion, Sven the Beardless, looked for a Wizard.  Harold was looking for someone in the robes of an academy graduate whose beard hadn't yet gone white.  Sven was mostly gaping at anyone who could do tricks with his wine cup or make colored sparks appear.

Harold sidled up to a likely young Wizard.  “I am Pious Harold and I have a proposition to make.”

The young Wizard looked at Harold carefully.  “I don't trust anyone whose name is an adjective and a pronem of the modern vernacular.  Especially, when the adjective is a virtue.  You're always thieves for all that you claim to be Expert Treasure Hunters or the like.”

“You ever met anyone more expert at hunting treasure?”

“Well, in all fairness, Generous Henry could squeeze diamonds from coal dust, but Fortuna help you if you want him to contribute even a copper penny to the night's bar tab!”

“Yes, that sounds like Henry all right!  Still, it's a shame the way he got stabbed in the gut last week at the Ace of Swords.”

“The son of a woman still owed me three silvers.  'Tis a shame it wasn't my dagger that found him.”

“That's the shame of it all right!”

“So, your proposition, which you will no doubt describe as generous is what exactly?”

“I'm putting together a team to delve the Ruins of Mad Frater Stannum's Tower and retrieve the Orb of Significance.”

“You are as mad as Frater Stannum himself!  Such an undertaking would be suicidal.  What could convince you to do such a thing?”

“Well, for starters,the fact that it was Frater Timothy asking me.  The 500 Gold Denarii helped do some convincing too.”

“Frater Timothy!  Frater Timothy?  Well, I'll be.  I've been wanting to study with him for years.  I don't suppose you could arrange a meeting?”

“I think he'd be willing to meet my team after we hand over the Orb of Significance.”

“So, who else is on the team?”

“Besides me and you, if you're in?  Well, that Barbarian youth without a beard is our strong sword-arm.  I just need one more piece of the puzzle.”

Before he left, Pious Harold had the barman change a Gold Denarius for 200 Copper Pennies.

The next evening Pious Harold stopped by the Temple of Mercury on the Street of Wands and dropped three Copper Pennies in the donation box.  The God of Thieves, Swindlers, and Scoundrels smiled.

Pious Harold left his full name, date and place of birth and his intended destination with an attendant at the Temple of Pluto, along with a deposit of Fifty Gold Denarii.

“What'd you do that for?” asked Sven.

“Accidental death policy.”

“Like them folks what does the writing calls bugs down the drain?  If you kick off, your relative gets money?”

“Similar to life insurance in broad terms but a little different.  If this mission goes south for me, the Temple gets to keep the coins and a Priest of Pluto calls my soul back from the netherworld.”

“But it is glorious to die on the field of battle!”

“Glory isn't worth the inconvenience of being a shade.  Besides, we're not exactly expecting to be on the field of battle, as such.  It's more the dank hole in the ground that certainly has traps but only the vague possibility of mobile creatures that can be fought guarding it.”