by Ted L Glines
So there I was in the snowy realm of Mountain Path, when I ran across this fully armed soldier, moving aimlessly in the snow drifts. He says he should be guarding a trading outpost just to the south, but complains that he is stuck out in the snow killing rats. Says he has never seen so many rats before. I could see the soldier just wanted to bend my ear, so I gave him a slap on the shoulder and told him I would check on the trader for him as I journeyed south through the white tundra. Rats, indeed.
Only a short distance southward, I ran into a mercenary battering something in a snowdrift. "Rats," he exclaimed, "I've never seen so many of them!" Right. It was hard to believe that someone was hiring this fighter to kill rats.
Hell, let the rats eat snow and freeze to death is what I always say. But the "Rat Slayer" said he would pay me if I would stay long enough to kill ten rats for him. Paid for killing stupid rats? Well, why not? The axe of the Reborn Dragon would have no problem with a few flea-infested rodents.
Oh, did I neglect to introduce myself? Sorry. They call me the "Reborn Dragon" so that is my name, and killing monsters is my game (hustler humor there).
Finding ten rats was no problem. Would you believe the "Rat Slayer" gave me 25 pieces of gold for killing the blamed things. Well, as much fun as this was, I took my leave and journeyed south and east to find the trader spoken of by our complaining soldier.
Never did find that trader, lost somewhere in the blowing snow. I would say "Que sera sera" if I was Mexican, or an oldies singer. Yep, I am trite enough to say things like that. Along my trek, I spotted natives here and
there, and they acted highly ticked off about something (natives getting restless?). Maybe they had rats in their britches.
Before too long, I stumbled across a small encampment pretending to be a village. At least they had an outhouse. In case you do not know, armor is great for fighting monsters, but armor was never meant for answering those calls of nature. Many is the knight who went poopy in his iron pantaloons. So a sheltered outhouse is always
As I am reaching for the door, this Indian dude comes out, all buffed out in warrior stuff. He looks me up and down, compliments my equipment but says I must prove myself by slaying ten natives before he would talk to me (or allow me to use his private outhouse). Killing natives is not my style but, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go, if you know what I mean. What is one native more or less among friends? Easy come, easy go. It was not difficult to find ten irate natives milling about in the snow.
I killed ten of them. Let's face it, really ticked off natives do not have the sense to fight.
The warrior was more impressed than me and he wanted me to see his Medicine Man in a nearby cabin. Soooooo ...
The Medicine Man showed me this little doll-fetish with an elongated head. One of his villagers had found the thing. What was it? He wanted to know. I was tempted to tell him about the fabled curious cat. However, I just happened to know a Scholar at a nearby trading post, and since I happened to be going that way ...
It took only a bit to reach the Scholar. He was still sitting on a trunk in his shelter. Snowstorms are not overly good for business. "Ah," said he when I described the mysterious fetish, "it sounds like a Goblin ritual item. There is a Rangers' tower and those Rangers know all about Goblins." So, off I went again through the driving snow, wondering where I ever got this idea about helping people? Must be a disorder of some kind.
For those unfamiliar with Gandalf, or Rangers in general, take it from me that they are a dark lot, always dressed in flowing robes with heads cowled so all you see is the pulsing gleam of cold eyes. I think they do it for effect, but it takes more than that to frighten the Reborn Dragon. You betcha. Anyway this Ranger dude tells me to rest a bit and rebuild my stamina, and he gives me this vial of evil smelling liquid. I was to return to him when feeling tip-top and he would tell me where to find the Goblins. So I caught a bit of beauty sleep. As instructed, I quaffed the vial of liquid (I would have named it "Stinking Rat Potion") and returned to the Ranger for directions. At least, I told the Ranger I had drank that stuff. Actually, I poured it out into one of his potted plants. By the time he had directed me to the Goblin Caves to kill a Lesser Goblin Shaman, and then go tell the Scholar that the Shaman was dead ... the potted plant was looking mighty poorly. I sympathized with it as I walked out into the snow and made my way to the Goblin Caves.
Finding and slaying the Lesser Goblin Shaman was a piece of cake. I caught him right in the middle of an evil hexing spell and ... SPLAT ... he never knew what hit him. The Reborn Dragon can do a hundred of these before breakfast.
It took a while to hike back to tell the Scholar at the trading post. "You killed the Shaman," he screamed. Nerds are sooooooooooooo emotional. He was so happy. If he had been wearing armor, he might have poopied himself.
Then he told me that the Shaman had cast a spell that brought out all the rats. The rats ate up the native's tents, and ate up the native's food, but, worst of all, had gobbled up an especially evil-looking wig worn
by their Medicine Man (natives are impressed by such stuff). No wonder the natives were restless. Now that the Goblin Shaman was dead, all would return to normal. The rats would return to their winter snooze and the natives would live happily ever after.
Sounds like a fairy tale to me ...