Old Stories

The initiation

The young druid stood at the entrance to Kithicor Woods, preparing himself for what he felt was the biggest day of his life so far. He had to ask to join the guild, and after a few days of not hearing anything, word came that he was to appear for an interview. He was told that he was to meet with the guild's representative in the morning at the Burnout House between West Commons and Rivervale. So, with his well-washed and starched tunic and pants, he stood there stiffly waiting for someone to appear.

The air shimmered a bit to the left of him, and there stood a tall erudite woman, guarded by two human monks, and at her feet was the largest white wolf he had ever seen. "Good morning," said the lady, "I am glad to see that you are prompt. You have asked to join our ranks, and we have had a chance to check out a bit about you. What we have heard is very promising. But I will be honest and say there are those who would like to know a bit more about you. So, therefore, we have set up a bit of a quest for you, which we feel will lay to rest any question of your ability to fulfill a role with this guild. Is that acceptable, my dear druid?"

"Yes, M'lady, it is," he said. "I appreciate the opportunity to show that I can be a worthwhile member of your guild."

"Then, druid, you are asked to bring to me three things. In Everfrost, just past Blackburrow, there is a vendor there; from him, you are to buy a wooden wand. Then, in Upper Guk, you will find the second vendor that you are to meet; from him, you are to buy a human sports cap. Finally, in Butcherblock Mountains, near the chessboard, you will find your third vendor. The last thing you are to buy is an elixir that is in a pickle jar. We are giving you three days to perform this task, and we will meet you here again on the fourth at this same time. Good luck, druid." And with that, the air vibrated and crackled blue around her party, and then they were gone.

Standing there alone, the druid took stock of what just happened. The quest that they gave him seemed pretty straightforward, and he decided to head to Highhold Pass to set himself up with provisions and funds, and find a room so he could get an early start on his new adventure.

The next morning, before the birds started chirping or the gnolls stirred from their lair to hound the east gate, the young druid was already halfway down the pass in East Karana. He went quickly across the wooden bridge, then along the mountains in the north, then West Karana. He finally reached Qeynos Hills and, nearing Blackburrow, just as the guards from the night shift were going home, he stopped long enough to cast a few heals to those that were sitting at the entrance. Then, on through the gnoll's lair to Everfrost, which lay on the other side.

After passing through the winding tunnel out into the open sky, the young druid saw, to one side, a stall in which sat a halfling toasting his toes by the open fire. His wares on display ranged from weapons to armor and even food. "Hello," said the druid, "do you sell wands?" "Yes, I do… yes, I do!" came the response. "I have one of a kind, and I'll sell it to no one but you, at the bargain basement price of 100 plat!" "Ouch!" thought the druid, for that was almost half his funds, but he fished out the coins and handed them over to the halfling. The halfling then produced a magnificent wand that had alternating diamond and emerald stones down its shaft held together by gold. "This is nice," said the druid, "but I'm afraid it's not what I seek, for I was sent to find a wooden wand." "Ah, then it's the guild wand that you want!" And with that, the halfling brought another one; this one had a dull stone jammed into the wood at one end, and the wand itself was nothing more than an oversized twig that had the word PALIMAX scratched into its side. "Actually, this wand is on sale for only 98 plat, so I owe you some change," said the halfling as he handed the wand over. "No, please keep it as a tip, and thank you for having what I need," said the druid as he handed back the unneeded wand and put the right one in his bag.

The druid sped back through Blackburrow and was approaching the Karana pass when he spied a gnome that was sewing the loose folds of his robes. "Hail, druid!" the gnome said as he came close, "hail, druid, may I ask a boon of you?" "Sure, how may I help?" The gnome's story was that he got a teleport to Odus and had to take the boat from there to Qeynos because his friend had an emergency and had to go help someone else. He was to meet his friend near the wooden bridge in North Karana, but he wasn't familiar with the territory and wondered if the druid wouldn't mind keeping him company till they got there. "I would be honored," said the druid, and with that, he cast SOW on them both, and off they went. The gnome was a spell-caster, and both he and the druid swapped stories as they ran along the path. They had the last set of shops in sight in West Karana when out of nowhere, a hill giant popped up! He stomped the ground hard where the gnome and druid almost stood, sending both sprawling, then, with his mighty fist, he whacked down hard on the gnome, taking almost half of his life! The druid cast two quick heals on the gnome and tried to snare the giant, but it seemed to make the giant move even quicker. "RUN!" said the gnome. "I'M A GONER!" he cried. But the druid wasn't about to give in so easily. He cast every damage spell he had, knowing that if he got the giant to turn his interest on him, the gnome would have time to run to the zone. But just then, the gnome's robe came unraveled, and the poor guy tripped over them; WHACK! went the giant, then WHACK! Again, the gnome was almost dead. The druid quickly spent the last of his mana on giving the gnome a heal and, without thinking, pulled out the wand and frantically squeezed on the end. All of a sudden, the whole ground shook, even causing the giant's knees to quiver, and out from the end of the wand came a fiery bolt that pierced through the giant's heart! A gambling man would probably lay odds as to who was the most surprised at that moment, but my bet would be the giant, for on the ground, he lay dead. "Oh, thank you!" said the gnome, "if it wasn't for your quick actions, I would surely have been dead." "No problem" was all the druid could mumble, for the power of the wand had left the druid totally in shock. They continued on their journey, and just as the sun was setting, they saw the wooden bridge, and there stood the gnome's friend. "If there is any way I can repay you for the kindness you have done, please call on me anytime, my friend." And the gnome waved goodbye to the druid as he and his friend disappeared across the bridge. The druid then pulled out his roll and lay down for the night. He managed to screw up the first part of the quest, he hoped the second part came out better.

At the break of dawn, the young druid had run down to the stone bridge and crossed into North Karana, running past Paws and the Aviak tree. He was at Lake Rathetear in no time. The waters of the lake were cold, but the druid was a powerful swimmer, and he crossed the lake, took a few moments to dry out, then headed on through Rathe Mountains. He followed the path in Feerot to almost the bridge, then followed the river to Cazic Thule's Island to avoid the ogres guards. He then swam across to the other side and stayed south of the lizardmen camp until he reached the path for Innothule Swamp. He crossed the swamp and then headed slightly north, and there was the entrance to Guk. Standing at the entrance with a couple of rocks pulled together to form an odd-looking table, was a troll that was hawking maps and other miscellaneous sundries. "Excuse me," said the druid, "but, by any chance, do you have a human sports cap for sale?" "AYE me do," replied the troll, " cap guild thinggy, special resurrection effect, sell 80 plat!" The druid began to worry that this adventure was going to leave him broke, but he gave the troll the money, and in return, the troll gave him a very plain-looking cap that had a brass plate on it with the word TOLNIK written on it. "By the way," said the troll, "No go South Ro crazy God Minions make go crash." "Ah, that's normal, thanks for the information," replied the druid, and off he started to make the return path. It was still very early in the day, so the druid knew he had time to go around.

Passing back through to Freerot, the druid was passing close to Cazic Thule's domain when he heard an incredible sobbing noise. Taking a quick look, the druid saw a female ogre standing over another ogre's dead body. "What is the matter?" he asked. "My mate dead, and can't come back," she told him and related this tale. She and her mate had been hunting near the specter's secret camp. He was going to get her a pretty stone so he could get a jeweler to make him a ring that he was going to give her as proof of his love, when out of nowhere came the Lord of Fear. Apparently, it was the Lord's turn to put out the trash, and he spied her mate standing there and killed him on the spot. The problem was that her mate was bound in fear itself. And when he came to Cazic's minions, they held him until the Lord showed up. The Lord of Fear then proceeded to kill the poor ogre over and over again until all that was left was his spirit, which he placed in a jar and put on a shelf. "Me must make permanent death too," she said, "can't live without mate, and now there is less than an hour before his body rots! When mate goes, I go to!" to which she returned to her sobbing. "Just a moment, maybe there is something I can do," said the druid, and barely being able to believe what he was about to do, the druid drew the cap from his backpack and firmly placed it on the dead ogre's head. "ARISE, OGRE," he shouted with as much flair as he could muster, and then he and the ogress stood there agape at what happened next. The bronze plate on the cap seemed to bubble and then turned green. A strange yet very rhythmic music emanated from the cap, and the green goo crept quickly over the dead ogre's body and began to glow brighter and brighter as the music got louder. Then, with a gasp of someone who had nearly drowned, the ogre lurched up and began to breathe. "HE LIVES!" shouted the female ogre quite ecstatic, then they heard the roar. The ogre that was dead said, " I know that roar that be Cazic himself!" Again the roar came, but this time, it sounded much closer. "RUN," said the ogre, "RUN 'CAUSE HE'S MAD!!" And not really being the type to yet take on a god, the druid followed the ogres and ran as fast as they could. Through Freerot and back through Innothule, up through South Ro, and not until they reached the Oasis of Marr did exhaustion finally overtake the adrenaline rush. "Thank you, druid; me thought was goner forever," said the ogre. "Me will do a favor for you anytime!" and gave the druid what remained of his cap. "Glad to help," said the druid a little remorsefully and waved goodbye to them and continued on to Freeport. So far, he had managed to screw up this quest, and he hoped that the guild would at least understand. Hopefully, the last leg will go on without a hitch.

Early the next morning, the druid caught the boat at Freeport and crossed the Ocean of Tears. The dock at Butcherblock Mountains was busy but posed no problems for the druid, who quickly found the path and was on his way to find the chessboard. Nearing the city of Kaladim, the druid stopped to pick up what was a strange-looking coin. Made out of jade, it had a copper ring around the edge, and engraved on its face was a picture of some emperor from long ago. He came upon the crossroads and took the path heading towards Greater Faydark, and just before reaching the pass, he headed north until he came upon the chessboard. On the outer edge of the board, there was a dwarf sitting on top of a caravan wagon, cheering and jeering the skellies and heroes and drinking Tumpy's tonic as he watched them make their moves. "Hello," yelled up the druid, "can you tell me if there is anyone selling stuff here?" "Hey, I'm your man," came back the dwarf, and he deftly jumped down and opened the side of the wagon to display his wares. "I am looking for an elixir in a pickle jar," said the druid. "Aye - that I have, and it's yours for only 50 plat." Fifty plat! The druid was worried because he believed he had barely 40 to his name. As he rummaged through his change purse, the coin that he picked up fell out. "OOH! What a beauty!" said the dwarf, "Do you know how rare that is? That is the engraving of King Ironpit from a few centuries ago." "Would you be willing to buy it? For I am afraid that I am short on funds, and I really do need that elixir," replied the druid, "give me the coin and six coppers, and the elixir is yours, my friend," stated the dwarf. Finally, it seemed the luck was on the druid's side. He gave the dwarf the coin and the six copper and thanked him profusely as the dwarf gave him the discolored pickle jar that had some red liquid in it and the word CANTRA etched in the glass. The druid then ran back to the docks to wait for the boat, glad that his quest seemed to be near its end.

"BOAT!" went up the shout, and the druid, with several others who were waiting, boarded and settled in for the trip to Freeport. A couple of bards played their music, and a dark elf, ranger, shaman, and a dwarf cleric were swapping tales when suddenly the sky darkened, and a most foul storm kicked up its heels. The boat tossed violently in the gale, and many feared that it might overturn, but the captain brought about all his skills to keep it on keel. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there appeared a specter! It seemed to be confused as it hovered over the deck as if it did not know how it got there. Everyone backed up as to not aggro the thing when it quickly turned around, and the wraith-like creature laid a death touch on the dark elf and passed through him! Then it was gone, swallowed by the storm's misty gloom! The dark elf gasped and fell to the deck; his skin paled and slowly changed to a sickly orange. The life drained out of him slowly but steadily. The shaman used every mixture and potion that he had, but they seemed to have no effect. The cleric and the druid could not cast any cure spells because of the motion of the boat. And everyone chipped in all the bandages that they had, but they did nothing to abate the ebbing of life from the dark elf. "The Isle of Erollisi is close!" said the ranger, "both the shaman and I can drag him there, but it doesn't look like he is going to make it!" And the cleric applied the last bandage he had, but still, the dark elf's life drained and was below the last bubble now. The druid knew that the dark elf's body would probably be lost, never to be found, and hoping that he was about to do the right thing, took out the elixir out of his pouch and drained it down the dark elf's throat. The dark elf suddenly stopped breathing! "I've killed him!" thought the druid. What happened next was amazing. A golden glow shimmered its way down the form of the dark elf, and an overpowering smell of roses and thyme filled the air. This caused even the storm to muffle then dissipate. The dark elf's life at first barely began to increase, and the color of skin came back until it was bluer than the ocean itself!

A cheer went up on the boat, for the druid had been able to save the dark elf's life. "Look, Freeport's docks," someone said, and it seemed that the journey was finally at an end. On the pier, the dark elf thanked the druid and all who tried to help him. "And remember, young druid, if you ever need a hand, be sure to call on me, for I owe you!" he said. The druid went to the Seafarer's Inn and bought a couple of bottles of mead. Renting a room there, he quickly drank the first bottle and was slowly nursing the other as he lined up his trophies on the dresser top. A used-up wand, a burnout cap, and an empty pickle jar. Definitely not what he was sent to bring back, and the druid felt that his chance of joining the guild was definitely doomed.

He had for a moment thought of going to the leather and hide shop and having the cap repaired and stopping at the smithy to have a cheap brass tag made up. He also thought of stopping at the local apothecary shop and having them mix up a potion that was the same color as the elixir he had used. Then he could have gone to the meeting and faked having the stuff that the guild had wanted. However, this was dishonest, and the druid wasn't about to do that. He could have avoided the meeting completely, and if anyone asked him, he could have said that he realized that this guild was not for him. But then again, the druid could not, for this was also dishonest. So there stood the druid at the appointed time, waiting to face his judgment. As if on cue, there appeared the erudite woman and her entourage. "Well, druid," she said, "the time limit is up. Do you have the things that were required?" The druid laid the items at her feet and said, "my apologies, M'lady, but although I have the things, I have failed to bring them in the shape you have asked." "NOT SO!" boomed a voice, and there in front of the druid appeared the master of the guild! The high elf was dressed in the finest silver and gold suit of armor. His crown was made of elven silver and was in the shape of two dragons chasing each other. On the high elf's breastplate, there were rubies embedded in the emblem of an eye with a large, brilliantly blue sapphire representing the iris. "You may think you have failed, young druid, but you have not. Each time you could have taken the items you needed and kept them, but each time you were given a choice, and instead, you decided to sacrifice your needs for the needs of others." And there beside the Lord of the guild stood the three people the druid had helped! "Druid, we would consider it an honor to have you join our guild, for there are many zones and planes in which we are going to fight, and there are many quests that must be accomplished. Having you at our side would be an honor and a privilege!

This is how the druid became a member of this guild.

Take care and quest well,
Mystikos Samaritan

© Copyright 2023 Kenneth G Brennan

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