The Road to Clerseau

Mistress of Time, Episode 2

A Wandering Story

*Note: This story is from a Warrior Heroes Adventures in Talomir, WHAT, Wandering Encounter. A Wandering Encounter (page 99) is used when your characters are traveling from one place to another. In this case, Zhu Paand and Fizzrelda are traveling from the village in the first episode to the town of Clerseau. The Encounter Rating is a 3 (page 43), since Zhu Paand and Fizzrelda are moving in the Wilderness toward the Interior of the Border Kingdom. The Encounter Rating is used to set the number of PEFs at the start of the encounter.

I was somewhat surprised the PEF resolved into an Interaction rather than into combat. I was even more surprised my character won the Interaction in part due to her feminine wiles.

Fizzrelda woke when the first rays of sunlight reached into their camp. She had slept surprisingly well with no one keeping watch. Zhu Paand was still asleep. With no one keeping watch, it would be easy to run away, Fizzrelda had had enough of this indentured slave business. But first, she had to pee.

As Fizzrelda approached the edge of the “circle of protection,” she could see the ground and plants along the circumference had been scorched confirming the flames she had seen last night were not illusions. So, if the flames had been real, did the circle really protect them through the night and, more importantly, if she stepped outside of the circle, would her head really explode? The thoughts worried Fizzrelda.

She picked up a stick and edged forward. “This is nuts” she thought as she stretched her reach as far forward as possible. “Damn witch” she muttered under her breath. In her experience, most magic was tricks of illusion, but she knew there was magic which was very dangerous. Fizzrelda was aware the closer she inched to the edge of the circle, the more she trembled, the more her heart raced with fear. Just as the stick passed the edge of the circle – she was pushed.

Fizzarelda hit the ground and quickly rolled over to confront her assailant, it was Zhu Paand. She reached for her dagger, Zhu Paand did the same. The dagger slid easily out of its sheath, but Zhu Paand didn’t draw hers. Instead, Zhu Paand pointed at her with widening eyes she exclaimed “Your, head, it’s expanding! Quick, come back into the circle!” Zhu Paand waved both hands motioning Fizzrelda to come to her while exhorting “Hurry, hurry!”

Dropping her dagger, Fizzrelda crawled as fast as she could to Zhu. She couldn’t think to stand or run, in panic, she could only crawl. She raced on her hands and knees back into the circle and hugged Zhu Paand’s legs. As her breath and reason returned, she realized Zhu Paand was laughing. She let go of Zhu’s legs, sat up and felt her head; running her fingers to the tips of pointed ears, Fizzrelda realized her head was the same size as it had been the day before.

“You should have seen your face, your eyes alone” laughed Zhu Paand.

“It’s not funny” Fizzrelda snapped. She stomped back outside of the circle and picked up her dagger. With sharp steel in her hand, she whirled around. There was cold steel, just as sharp in Zhu Paand’s eyes.

Zhu asked “were you about to run away?”

“No, I had to pee” replied Fizzrelda shoving the dagger bck into its sheath, “and then I was going to run away.”

“You were lucky the circle’s magic had dissipated” said Zhu Paand turning and walking back to where their bedrolls lay. “Sometimes it dissipates with the first rays of light in the sky, sometimes the spell lasts until the sun breaks the horizon. Go make water while I pack up, we have a long walk today.”

Roads to and from small villages were little more than dirt paths, they weren’t well maintained or even marked. The road to Clerseau was no exception. They did not speak to one another for hours. Fizzrelda was fuming over the early morning events and her lot as a slave. Zhu Paand was content to allow Fizzrelda to fume and stew. It was near mid-day when they topped a small rise; Fizzrelda broke the silence. “Look, a rabbit, cast a lightning bolt or fireball and we can have meat.”

“Why don’t you chase it down?” asked Zhu Paand, “I’ve told you before casting spells requires expending life force and I’ll not waste mine on something as frivolous as a rabbit.”

Fizzrelda responded “We’re too far away for me to catch it.”

“We needn’t go hungry, look above the rabbit” said Zhu.

“Crabapples! The staple of every goblin’s diet” said Fizzrelda. “Pick only the largest ones, eating the small ones will make you ill.”

They sat in the shade and made a meal of crabapples and bread. “These crabapples have very little flavor, and you say they are a staple for goblins? Do goblins not grow anything better?” asked Zhu.

“Everyone calls the north the Goblin Lands, but goblins are an oppressed people, we are ruled by Orcs, Hobgoblins and even Ogres. The best we produce goes to them, goblins live off of the crumbs. In our own lands, we are the weakest of all races – that’s why so many of us have settled in other lands all across Talomir” answered Fizzrelda.

“And in every land the goblin is reviled” said Zhu Paand standing up. Looking about, she said “There’s something out there.”

Fizzrelda laughed, “It’s a forest, there’s a lot of ‘somethings’ out there.” She rose to her feet and dusted off her skirt.

“You know what I mean, we’re being watched” said Zhu.

“Yeah, I know” replied Fizzrelda.

Zhu Paand asked “When will they show themselves?”

“When they think they have the advantage” answered Fizzrelda.

They chatted as they walked on, a marked difference from earlier in the day. Fizzrelda was astonished Zhu Paand wanted to know so much about the Goblin Lands, it was as if she were planning a foray into the north. The afternoon temperature soared, it had become quite hot.

“Mistress,” the word made Fizzrelda want to barf as she said it, “I thought witches, err, magic users, all wore big round hats with pointy tops.” She was slowly, reluctantly, coming to grips with being Zhu Paand’s servant.

“Some do, most don’t” replied Zhu, “I had one, but had to leave it behind in Goranth.” There was a long pause, then Zhu Paand sighed and said “I miss that hat.”

Fizzrelda asked “Since neither of us have hats, do you think we should rest in the shade until the heat of the day passes?”

Zhu smiled and said “Why, Fizzrelda, that’s very thoughtful of you, something a good maid would suggest.”

“Don’t get carried away with the ‘maid’ stuff or I might just slit your throat while you sleep” replied Fizzrelda.

“Good, you’re taking the first watch” said Zhu Paand.

It was Fizzrelda’s turn to smile as she said “Yeah, but keep your weapons at hand.”

Fizzrelda watched clouds float by, felt a short breeze, and listened to bird and insect alike – then she heard a twig snap. Out of the corner of her eye she watched Zhu Paand wrap her hand around the hilt of a dagger. Fizzrelda’s sword lay across her knees. With her left hand she quietly drew her own dagger as well. When she felt they were ready, Fizzrelda decided to invite the intruders in – she closed her eyes and bowed her head pretending to fall asleep. With the sound of the next steps, Zhu Paand and Fizzrelda lept to their feet brandishing their weapons.

The sight of steel caused the brigands to stop in their tracks. There were three men, two with scraggly beards and one with a full beard black as night. The bearded man was bigger and appeared older than the other two. The two younger men exchanged nervous glances. It was the big man who broke the silence, “My lady, if I may call you a lady,” Zhu Paand nodded, he continued “you can not win; it will be easier if you surrender as our captive.”

“Why would I do that?” asked Zhu Paand, “What are your intentions?”

“Why?” laughed the big man, “There are no men here to protect you.”

“That is true” said Zhu, “None are needed.”

The men laughed. “You travel with a goblin, which can only mean you are aligned with the Black Moon” the man continued.

“Also true” said Zhu, “Come to the point.”

“The point is, there is no one here to save you,” he grinned, “just put down the dagger and come with us to our camp where you will be the camp whore.”

“And my maid?” asked Zhu.

“If anyone is desperate enough to hump a goblin, she can live” he answered.

“And this is your plan? This is something from an oaf who thinks with his cock” snapped Zhu Paand.

“But lady, we are stronger than you” the man implored.

“Stronger, but not more powerful – ‘hou hwahjay'” commanded Zhu and a ball of flames appeared in her hand. “I can guarantee my maid will gut at least one of you and that fine black beard and the face it is on will be a heap of ashes before you can take another step – and if I’m feeling generous, I’ll allow the third one to run away.”

“A witch!” exclaimed one of the younger men.

Zhu Paand responded “Of course, idiots, what kind of woman did you think would travel alone in the company of a goblin?”

Fizzrelda added “Now would be a good time to drop your weapons and beg for your lives.”

The two young men dropped their daggers and ran. “Looks like you’ve won, this time, my lady” said the big man tossing his sword on the ground and turning away.

“Wait,” said Zhu Paand, “what is your name?”

The big man answered “My name is Guiddonne, my lady.”

“Walk with us, Guiddonne, and tell me about yourself” said Zhu.

“As a hostage, my lady?” asked Guiddonne.

“As hostage and escort” she replied. “My name is Zhu Paand and this is Fizzrelda, my maid.”

“Why are you showing me this kindness?” Guiddonne asked.

“You are a leader of the brigands?” Zhu Paand replied with a question of her own.

“One of a few,” answered the big man.

Zhu said “I wish to strike a deal with you. I plan to use this road again and I want to arrange for safe passage for myself and whoever travels with me.”

When the last of the light failed, they reached the edge of the forest. “Look, mistress, the lights of Clerseau” said Fizzrelda. This time she didn’t feel like barfing when she said “mistress.”

“This is where we part Guiddonne” said Zhu Paand. She looked at the big man and added “If you were to tame that beard, you might actually look like someone a woman would lay with.”

Guiddonne laughed, “I hear you, my lady, and if I’m hearing right, I must decline. Nothing good ever happens to a man who humps a witch.”

A smile crept across Zhu Paand’s face, “That is very true” she said.

“Fizzrelda, let’s find an inn, I’m famished.”

I hope you enjoyed this episode. Please let me know in the comments what you think. Your comments are always appreciated. In the next episode Zhu Paand recruits the rest of her band.

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Mistress of Time, Episode 2

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Previous Episode – Episode 1 Zhu Paand & Fizzrelda

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