Desperately poor, David tries to survive in a world of magic and bloodshed.
|It is a sunny day in the bustling market town of Fairspring, the air fresh with many exotic perfumes on display, including such diverse scents as assorted fruit, flowers, and even novelties like crushed dragon scales and various monster pheromones, which are said to improve one's fertility. Displayed in the very large, busy market stalls is almost anything a prospective adventurer could need, provided he or she has the coin, of course. There are glistening armor sets, battle axes, clubs, swords, and shields for aspiring warriors, as well as spell reagents, beautifully leather bound spellbooks, magic scrolls of every description, colorful potions, and painstakingly handcrafted wizard staves of oak, mahogany, pine, and more. The quality of the items on display is matched only by the exorbitant pricing.
"Please understand, ma'am. I've lost almost everything. I just need this to get back on my feet!" The young man in a ragged tunic and old, worn out boots pleads with the clerk at the general store. She is a mature, cynical, and fairly attractive woman in a silky blue dress, black leather shoes, and fishnet stockings. Her name, according to the messy nameplate in front of her, is Adrienne. The poor youth's face is blemished and gaunt from missing a few too many meals, and he brought a few trinkets to the counter: an amulet, a few copper coins, and a little stuffed animal of a lovably mischievous goblin.
"Look, kid. David, right? Whatever. I can't go giving stuff away every time a washed up adventurer-wannabe asks." The clerk nonchalantly counts the coins and jots down a few notes on parchment with her quill pen after inspecting the amulet and stuffed animal with a practiced green eye. "I'd go out of business fast around these parts that way." She points at the line of other young men and women also in rags for outfits behind him for emphasis, and a few walk away dejectedly. "I'm afraid this is the best I can get you for that junk. Just don't come crying to me when an underground ogre paints the masonry with your blood." She picks out a thick, bright green cloak and a sharp iron dagger and lays them on the counter in front of David.
Gratefully he takes the items after thanking her profusely, seemingly oblivious to her mockery. He puts on the cloak and wears his new dagger on his side. David takes a moment to appreciate the smooth, luxurious texture of his flowing green cloak. It smells faintly of lavender. Soon he would go into the dungeon to risk life and limb for the promise of wealth and power. After a suspicious house fire killed all three of his siblings and destroyed almost everything he had of value, he had simply nothing left to lose, and he heard stories of people who went into the cavernous dungeons underneath Fairspring and came back with dazzling riches. At least if he does die down there, he will die in style, he thinks to himself. Finally he leaves the marketplace. Adrienne watches him leave and sighs, quietly lamenting the absurdity of an economy based on adventuring.
David makes his way through town square, a lovely spot with stately stone architecture and tulips and freshly cut grass surrounding the neat cobblestone pathways. At the center of the pathway is a granite fountain with sparkling magical healing water. Some distance away and tucked in a dark corner is an ornate doorway leading down, labeled as the way to the Fairspring Dungeon. On an inscription near the entrance, the dungeon is described as the oldest and largest structure known to man or elf kind, stretching so far down underground that nobody has found the bottom, not even the best equipped and skilled adventuring parties, despite untold decades of trying. David takes a small drink of the fountain water to prepare himself mentally and physically for his journey.
The water gives a very nice feeling as it goes down to his stomach. An old scar on his arm disappears. He feels refreshed inside and out, and he can tell he is about as ready as he will ever be. He creeps up to the strange door and looks for a way to open it. The sturdy old wooden door features inscriptions describing the dungeon's history and the ancient culture that built it. At the end, there is a passage explaining somewhat vaguely how to open the door. "Whoever dares enter must pay tribute to the dead." Respectfully, David genuflects on one knee and bows his head. After a few moments which feel like eternity to him, the door loudly slides open, punctuated by the sound of old gears turning. Beyond the door lies a small room with a spiral staircase going down. It seems to have been built relatively recently. Our hopeful adventurer readies his new dagger and ventures down the steps into the depths below.