Mistress of Time, Episode 1
A Recruiting Story
*Note: This story is from a Warrior Heroes Adventures in Talomir, WHAT, Carousing Encounter. It takes place in a small village in the Border Kingdom near its border to the Goblin lands and Goranth. The Encounter Rating is 3 and takes place in the village square and a Soft Building with a Structural Value of 1 and has 2 levels.
The village had been a welcome sight and as the sun reached mid-day, Zhu Paand spied what she was looking for across the square – the village bakery. Her mind was so much on bread while crossing the square that she was surprised to find a goblin secured in a pilory.
The pilory was designed to force the prisoner to hunch or bend over forcing the prisoner’s head to be lower. In this case, the goblin stood on a box in order to achieve the effect. Zhu Paand could make out that the goblin was female. Not able to see her face, Zhu Paand could only see a massive amount of red hair and the tips of green pointed ears.
Not known as an overly kind person, Zhu Paand decided to have a little fun at the goblin’s expense. She looked up at the sun shielding her eyes with her hand and remarked “Looks like it’s going to be a real scorcher today.”
The mass of red hair bobbed up and down as the goblin chuckled, “Oh, yes, it gets quite hot here this time of year. If we are lucky there might be a breeze later tonight.”
The goblin seemed to be in good spirits, so Zhu Paand continued. “The sign above your head says you are a thief” she said.
The goblin turned her head trying to get a good look at Zhu, but couldn’t. She replied “It’s good you can read, so many folk can’t.”
It was Zhu’s turn to snicker. “You must not be a very good thief to have ended up here, perhaps you should try a more honest pursuit” she said.
“Actually, I’m a most excellent thief. As to how I ended up here, you might say my past caught up to me, I believe they call it ‘karma.’ However, the truth is much more simple – I’m here because there were more of them than was of me” said the goblin.
Zhu was enjoying the banter with the goblin and chose to up the game. She bent down and placed one hand under the goblin’s chin and tilted her head up while brushing hair away from her face. Zhu was shocked, the goblin’s left eye was swollen shut, cheeks bruised, the bottom lip split and she had dried blood in the corners of her mouth. The desire to tease evaporated. “What happened to you?” she quietly asked.
The goblin grinned and replied, “I got clumsy and fell against an angry door.”
“How long will you be here?” Zhu asked.
“They didn’t say,” answered the goblin, “could be overnight or could be the rest of my life,” the goblin paused and added “could be both.”
A dozen questions swirled through Zhu Paand’s head as she let go of the goblin. Leniency for a goblin was practically nonexistent. Justice was based on race, wealth and gender; punishment even more so. But what could she do? She herself was a stranger in the village. Pushing all these thoughts aside, she crossed the square and entered the bakery.
“Welcome to my bakery” boomed a big voice from a big man, “I’m Luis Galruce, how may I be of service to you?”
Zhu smiled, “I’m Zhu Paand and I’m famished. I would like to buy bread for a meal now, and a couple of loaves for my journey. I ate the last of my bread before sunrise when I crossed the border.”
“Crossed the border, were you in Goranth?” asked a round woman appearing from the back room.
“Zhu Paand, may I present my wife, Margurite” said Luis. “But, Goranth, such an evil place to travel alone.”
“I had an escort who accompanied me to Zosix. I was there to interview Lady Istrea Zosix, the sorceress, the village is named after her tower. While visiting with her, the Innkeeper said my men were lured to a bad neighborhood by a pair of wenches” replied Zhu.
“What happened to them?” asked Margurite.
Zhu answered while counting out the coins for her purchase, “Judging by the bits and pieces of them strewn about my room, they met a cruel death. I took the hint and left as quickly as possible.”
“Would you care for any butter, jam or honey to go with your bread?” asked Luis.
She replied “Only if you have a spot of tea to go with it.”
Zhu sat at a small table with her bread and as Luis placed a tray with butter and honey in front of her, she brushed her ashen blonde hair away from her face revealing a pointed ear.
“An elf” said Luis with some surprise.
Zhu’s face flushed as she covered the ear, “Only half-elven, my mother was an elf” she said.
Margurite clucked her tongue as she placed a cup and small teapot on the table, “People’s race doesn’t matter here” she said.
“That’s not entirely true,” countered Luis, “my wife is correct in that race, skin color, religion, whatever, doesn’t matter to our family – but the rest of the village is not so understanding.”
“Is that what happened to the goblin?” Zhu asked.
Margurite sniffled as tears formed, pulling a handkerchief from her apron pocket, she murmured “That poor dear,” and left the room.
“She appeared here early this morning, a traveler like yourself” said Luis. “The headman says she stole three gold talos and ten pieces of silver.”
Zhu looked out the window at the pathetic figure in the pillory. “Such a trifle amount, they gave her quite a beating, why didn’t they just run her out of town?”
Luis replied “I’m afraid the worse is yet to come. I imagine once night falls, her skirts will be torn away and some of the lads will have their way with her.”
“Luis, why do I get the feeling that if I had entered your village early this morning, that I would be the one in the pillory?” Zhu asked.
The big man didn’t reply, he looked down to hide his embarrassment.
“Could someone redeem her, you know, pay a fine? Seems fair for an amount so small” continued Zhu.
“You would do that?” asked Luis, “That would save many of us much heartache.”
“Go fetch your headman and I’ll let the goblin know what we’re doing” replied Zhu.
Luis smiled and called “Jacques, come here boy.” A young man with a dusting of flour appeared in the doorway. “Jacques is my apprentice” Luis explained. “Jacques, go ask the headman to come here, this lady wants to free the goblin.”
As Jacques hurried off to find the headman, Zhu Paand went out to have a chat with the goblin.
“What is your name?” she asked. “Mine is Zhu Paand, the sorceress.”
The goblin raised her head and a bead of sweat dripped off the end of her nose. “I’m Fizzrelda, why?”
“Well, Fizzrelda, I am in need of a maid, more importantly, I need someone with your talent. I’m willing to pay a fine to free you. Here’s the deal, there’s two parts – interested?” asked Zhu.
Fizzrelda said “Do go on, as you can see I’m a captive audience.”
“One, you will serve me for a year and, two,” Zhu looked about and lowered her voice to almost a whisper, “two, after I pay your fine, you will steal it back for me.”
Fizzrelda laughed, “So, to escape imprisonment, I become a slave for a year? Still, it is the best offer I’ve had today, I agree Zhu Paand.”
Zhu returned to her seat in the bakery and was pouring herself another cup of tea when Jacques returned with two men. Luis led the two men to her table and announced “Mistress Paand, may I present our village headman, Master Jourdain Vetru and his associate Jean Bohmof.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you Master Vetru, would you join me in a cup of tea?” she asked.
“If you insist” he said sitting in the chair opposite of Zhu Paand. “I hear you want the goblin, why?”
Zhu smiled as she poured tea, “The directness of country folk always surprises me, Master Vetru.” She handed him the cup and continued, “As you may know, I lost my servants in Goranth and I’m in dire need of a maid to accompany me on my journey.”
“And, if you pay a fine for the goblin, you hire a servant for a cheap amount” added Jourdain Vetru.
With a quiet laugh, Zhu said “Own, Master Vetru, not hire. I will own a servant for a cheap amount.”
She could see the greed in the Headman’s eyes as he gulped his tea. He slammed his cup on the table and said “Twelve gold talos and the goblin is yours.”
“Twelve? That’s nearly four times what they say she stole” said Zhu.
Master Vetru huffed “It should be fifteen or twenty to fit her crime!”
Zhu smiled and said “I see your point, Master Vetru. Luis, pen and paper please, we have a bargain. Now, Master Vetru, if you will fetch the goblin, I can write the terms of her indenture, which she will sign, and I will pay your fine of twelve gold talos.”
Jourdain Vetru turned to his associate, Jean Bohmof, and ordered “Go get the goblin and her stuff.”
“But what about our plans for tonight?” Bohmof protested.
“Shut up, twelve pieces of gold changes things” Vetru hissed.
When Bohmof returned with Fizzrelda in tow, Zhu was finishing the document. He tossed Fizzrelda’s belongings on the floor and shoved her forward, “Here’s your goblin” he growled.
Zhu looked at the belongings, a near empty pack, a tattered blanket and a water skin. “Where are her weapons?’ she asked.
“Weapons?” asked Master Vetru.
“Come now, Master Vetru, thieves don’t wander the countryside unarmed,” said Zhu Paand as she drew a dagger from under her robes and placed in on the table, “Even I am armed and I’m just a traveler.”
Master Vetru glared at Jean Bohmof as to say “don’t screw this up.” Bohmof removed a short sword and its scabbard from his belt and tossed it on the floor.
“Very good” said Zhu Paand, “Now, Fizzrelda, if it is agreeable to you, you will sign the terms of indenture whereupon you will be my servant for two years in exchange for the payment of your fine and release from imprisonment.”
“Two years? Wasn’t it only for one?” Fizzrelda asked.
“As it was mentioned earlier in this room, the situation has changed, do you accept?” asked Zhu.
Fizzrelda looked from face to face, there was compassion in the baker’s eyes, lust and hatred burned in Vetru and Bohmof, and Zhu Paand – Zhu Paand grinned like a cat who had just caught a small bird. She sighed and said “Yeah, whatever, I’ll sign.”
“Good,” said Zhu Paand. She pulled out her purse and began counting out the twelve gold talos while Fizzrelda signed her name. Zhu Paand pushed the coins toward Vetru and said “And now, Master Vetru, if you will sign attesting to the terms of indenture and receipt of the payment of the fine. And then, Luis, if you would be so kind to sign as a witness.”
Master Vetru recounted the gold as he placed each coin in his purse, which he then placed inside his vest. As he grabbed the pen from Fizzrelda, she hung onto it as he pulled her against his body. “Let go, you green wretch” he growled pushing Fizzrelda away. He signed the document and handed the pen to Luis.
After Luis laid down the pen, Zhu Paand blotted the signatures and blew on them to insure the ink was dry before rolling up the document. “Thank you, gentlemen, my maid and I will now be on our way to Clerseau.”
“Clerseau? Clerseau is nearly two days from here” said Luis.
“All the more reason to leave while there is still daylight left. Give my regards to Margurite, Luis, and thank you for the tea and bread” replied Zhu Paand.
Fizzrelda and Zhu Paand had been on the road a little over an hour when Zhu asked “By the way, do you have my money?”
Fizzrelda beamed a wide smile replying “Yes, here it is and you will find there is quite a bit more than twelve pieces of gold in the purse.” She handed the purse to Zhu Paand, and added “Shouldn’t we be moving a bit faster? Once he discovers his purse is missing, he’s bound to come after us.”
“I’m sure he will,” said Zhu, “if he recovers.”
“Recovers?” asked Fizzrelda. She went over everything in her mind and came to a sudden conclusion. “There were tea cups on the table, the tea -“
Zhu Paand laughed and said “My mistress taught me to never expend my lifeforce energy casting a spell when a few drops of poison will suffice.”
“So you used poison instead of, I don’t know, casting the fireball he and his minions deserved?” Fizzrelda asked.
Zhu Paand answered “Think of where we are, Fizzrelda, we’re in a Red Sun land. Any display of magic, especially by a woman, would attract Brethren witch hunters from a hundred miles away.”
They didn’t chat much other than small talk until they stopped for the night. Fizzrelda decided she needed to address the obvious topic they had been avoiding. “So, am I really a slave?” she asked.
“Yes, for two years, though I prefer to think of you as my personal maid servant” replied Zhu Paand.
Fizzrelda frowned and asked “Personal maid? Does that mean I have to do things like empty the chamber pot and wipe your ass?”
Zhu Paand laughed and replied “I suppose so, but I’m perfectly capable of wiping my own ass, if you please. No, Fizzrelda, you’re a thief and I need a good thief. The power I seek is often locked away and I will need the aid of your skills to obtain it.”
“What if I ran away – didn’t want to be a slave for any period of time?” she asked.
“Then, Fizzrelda, you will be hunted as a runaway slave and punished when caught. And being punished by a sorceress is harsh lesson to learn, believe me, I know” replied Zhu. “Besides this is only your first night as my maid, it isn’t that bad is it?”
“I don’t know, I think it’s the principle of the thing – being a slave, I mean” she replied.
“Fizzrelda, most of the people in the world are slaves to someone or something. I, myself, was a slave for fourteen years just to survive while learning sorcery” said Zhu Paand, “Now, don’t interrupt.”
Zhu began an incantation; she faced each direction pointing each time; she looked to the stars and raised both arms; at last she spun in a circle – pink flames flashed and soon went out.
“There,” she said “I’ve cast a circle of protection around us, we can sleep without fear of attack.” She studied Fizzrelda for a moment and then added “the circle works both ways, you can’t step out of it, if you’re thinking of running away.”
Zhu Paand began unrolling her bedroll. Curious, Fizzrelda had to ask “What if I accidently step outside of the circle?”
Looking up at her companion, Zhu Paand said “Why, your head would explode! Good night, Fizzrelda.”
Recruiting Fizzrelda was actually very simple in the rules. Zhu Paand’s stats are in the previous post, Creating a Character You Can Love, and her Charismatic attribute certainly helped in interactions. But I must confess at one point I stopped playing the game and just wrote the story. The interaction with Bohmof over Fizzrelda’s sword didn’t happen in the game for instance, and the entire last part after Fizzrelda signed the terms of indenture wasn’t in the game. The last part was written to conclude this part of the story and create a hook for the next encounter. The next encounter of course is a Wandering Encounter as Zhu Paand and Fizzrelda journey to Clerseau.
Let me know in the comments what you think of this episode. Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated.
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