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Introductions

Going forward, I want to transition my campaign summaries to take more narrative liberties. This will be practice for my fiction writing skills. Critiques on style, pacing, characters, and writing are greatly appreciated.

Part 1: Line of Fire

The train station officer in Goldfield demurred as he waved them over into his neatly arranged wood-paneled office space. Hopping up to take a seat in his tall chair, he held his hat in hand, his shoulders just barely above the top of his desk. “Our most venerable train company is most appreciative of the initiative you four took and would like to offer you all…” he spoke in a thin, reedy voice.

 

“A reward?” Val cut in.

The train official continues, “… Free passage on the Line of Fire for your lifetimes, or one hundred years, whichever should come first. Also, if the luxury car is open on a trip, these special tickets will allow you its use.

We would like to thank you for your services rendered in our time of need. Formalities aside though, I have a car-load of paperwork to complete over this and I already climbed up into my seat. So if you could show yourselves out?”

Uncle Marv breaks away from a boisterous conversation with the guards to stride up to Lia before speaking in a low voice, “I have to go and drop off a certain map to get copied in the city, but if you go to Red’s place, she’ll get you hooked up with some supplies for your journey and the name of our contact in Refuge.”

Settled in the midst of golden fields and rolling hills, replete with extensive copper and gold veins, the uncreatively named Goldfield was once the capitol city of the allied free cities which now serves as the economic hub of the northwest of the Colossi Principate. Stepping out of the train station, a bustling mix of different peoples bustle about. Some are laying out woven garlands of spring flowers while others set up stalls or hawk their wares. A young boy in a stand no larger than a grown adult shouts, “Yousall look a little lost, maybe I could help! Of course, a growing kid like me’s gotta eat, so donations are the price of information”.

“Oh god, I will pay you money to stop talking”, Gwen blurted out.

“I would be interested in what he has to say,” interjected Deadclaw, fishing out a silver coin.

The child continued, “Thankya… sir? Sir. As I wassaying before the rude interruption. I can give you the lowdown on the city. We’ve got shops over down this way and a decent tavern down on Carl’s street. If you’re lookin’ for work, talk to Davosi the mine supervisor at that tavern, Bottle Board and Staff, about a spider infestation. And for a little more coin, I could tell you about…”

“Aaand he’s wasting our time with gossipy nonsense, I agree with Gwen”, shushed Lia, “Let’s take our chances wandering around to find our way to Red’s”.

“Brrrng”, the old man behind the counter attempted to vocalize, “Welcome to Text & Eagle, I am Doug the Curious, sorry the bell’s out.”

“Doug my good man, we have recently come into the possession of a number of unique items that we would be willing to part with for a mere pittance of their worth,” said Val, extending a hand forward. Mentally, he noted the apparent value and location of the knick-knacks filling the deep shelves covering every inch of the walls. “We would also inquire as to any notable items you might be purveying on this fine day.”

“Of course, give me a moment to step around the counter and I’ll gladly show you my various collections and curios. Here is the finest collection of hand-blown glass marbles this side of Zhelaza, on this shelf are various magical scrolls that have come into my collection from the estate of a late hedge-wizard you might not have heard of, see he was operating just outside the wastes studying the arcane interactions of non-…”, intoned Doug, pausing every few words to wet his lips.

“Way to bury the lead there Val. Listen, Doug, we have some items to sell and our sorceror and cleric friend are waiting outside. They get bored easily, especially Gwen, so while we’d love to sit and hear about all of your collections, it will have to wait for a better time. Can we get the quick version?”, said Lia while shouldering Val. Val’s hands pulled back from the small baubles he had been sizing up.

“Rest assured, good lady and sir, Doug the Curious would not dream of wasting your time. But as you are in a rush, and if I may presume a price range from this collection of eclectic goods you no longer wish to own… hmmm, might either of you be interested in a copper dagger or perhaps some basic magic scrolls? I can offer a good deal,” spoke Doug, stroking his greying beard.

Val and Lia strode out of the store richer but unsurprised to find Gwen and Deadclaw missing. Scanning the crowd, the elf and dragonborn could be seen through the glass windows inside a nearby apothecary. The two darted across the busy street. It wouldn’t do to lose their financial gains so quickly.

Red’s place wasn’t hard to find once they got in the area, “Red’s General Store” was emblazoned across a large sign hanging on the long side of the two story, cobblestone and wood structure. Before Lia could even knock, a middle-aged woman with short, slicked back hair opened the door and pulled her into a hug. “Well, you’ve certainly grown since I last saw you, your Uncle Marv has been light on the details of what you’ve been up to, but I’m glad you’re joining the family business,” Red glowed, “Come on in and introduce all your friends here.”

With everyone inside and Lia finished talking, Red clapped her hands together, “Reminds me of the good old days with your Uncle. Speaking of which, your uncle requested that I not send you away empty-handed. I’ve got rations, water skins, and crossbows for each of ya.”

“I’ve already got a bow, but thank you”, Lia said.

“No thanks,” shouted Gwen.

“Shortbow works better for me,” murmured Val.

“Wish I had known, I already bought a crossbow back in Corona before coming on this trip,” Deadclaw grumbled, “but I’ll gladly take any food or ammunition you’ll toss my way.”

Just about to reply, Red turns to the door with a grin. A boisterous and greying half elf saunters into the store, shouting, “Hey Red, that wife of yours still smokin’ hot?”.

Red raises an eyebrow, and an open hand, pulling Marv into a handshake turned brotherly hug, then whispers, “You know it.”.

Almost as soon as she finishes the phrase, two snowballs fly in from the adjoining room, beaning Red and Marv in their heads. “Dammit woman, that one had ice in it,” shouted Red, grinning. From the other room, an lilting voice sings, “You know the rule about temperature puns…”. She stands in the doorway with a tray of tea, blue-white hair tied back in a bun, asking, “Anyone besides these two idiots interested in iced sweet tea?”.

“Oh, yeah, Lia, Deadclaw, Gwen, Val,” Red starts, pointing to each in turn, “this is my wife, Ivalea. Ivalea, Lia is Marv’s niece and these are Lia’s friends. Now, Marv, you had reached out to me about that crazy map of yours. Didn’t believe you for a while, even with all that gold you’ve been slinging out to everyone with a library writ who’ll listen, but Lil’ Robby found something. Damn idiot couldn’t leave the Wastes well enough alone and retire like the rest of us. I think he might have gotten himself in trouble, because he hasn’t been responding to my messages the last few days.”

“Idiot has more curiosity than the two of us put together, and you were the one that insisted on stealing that idol. Lucky break your name works for both sexes and your wife only made you sleep on the floor for what, a year?” Marv smirked, “But either way, I’ve got business to tie up here before I can join you all in Refuge. Why don’t you all get a head start finding out what happened to the barking-mad fool and head out for Refuge in the morning?”.

“Only made Red sleep on the floor because she smashed the thing after it changed her, otherwise we could have had the whole thing looked into by a cleric. Keep tellin’ her not to let her temper take over.” Ivalea chimed, “But I’m sure you four are going to be more careful. Any more tea before you go?”

On their way back to the common-room beds Deadclaw had rented for the group at the Bottle, Board, and Staff, the scaled cleric broke the silence, “I am confused by the curse they were referencing, Red seemed quite healthy and attractive for a middle-aged human.”

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