Some unwanted people group up to become a guild of adventurers.
Guild of A.I.D.
Dila fell prostrate before a group of noblemen who passed him on the street, thoroughly soaking his dirty clothes in mud. "Please, I beg of you," he whimpered. The rain down-pouring made his sniveling form appear even more pathetic. The weather had been miserable the past few days and Dila was unable to sway any of the passersby to give him any money. He'd been living on the generosity of the people for nearly his entire life, but things had started turning for the worse.
The noblemen hurried away. "This weather permits us no time to dawdle on wasted coins," one of them stated in a huff as they made their way to the comfort of the buildings.
Dila pushed himself off of the dirt and shambled his way after them, begging for some money, but they paid him no mind and shut the door on him. Dila fell to the ground weeping. He lowered his head until he completely submerged his face in a puddle. Accidentally gulping down some of the water, he gagged as it choked him and he fell back onto his knees. In the waterlogged streets, he saw his miserable expression staring back at him. Dila couldn't face himself any longer.
How could it end so terribly for him? His father was a noble and respected knight who braved treacherous lands and unfathomable monsters, but this was where he was? Dila prayed to the gods- whoever would listen to him- to help him out of this dire situation and give him a calling. He raised his arms skyward through the rain, and cried out for release.
As he shouted, a group of travelers ran past him, completely breaking him out of his prayers. He looked up to see a couple knights, cleric, and a ranger enter the bar he lay beside. Dila pushed himself off of the ground and leaned against the window to see inside. The entire bar cheered as the travelers entered, raising their drinks in joy. The newcomers shouted something to the bartender and everyone went wild with excitement. Dila watched as one of the knights stepped up to a wall full of pages and pulled it off the board, handing it to a woman behind the desk. She gave a large smile and pulled out a pile of gold and silver coins, handing them to knight. He took them and brought them back to his party.
Dila fell back away from the tavern. That was what he needed to do; he needed to become an adventurer. Like his father's heroic and brave nature, Dila knew he could be a true hero who helped the poor, weak, and weary- aiding those in need and collecting rewards for defeating horrific beasts. He reached into his purse and extracted several copper pieces. This could work. He didn't have many coins, but if he could talk the storeowner down to trading him a worn and beaten-up weapon, he could defend himself in the wilderness. He searched for a safe place nearby to sleep for the night; tomorrow was going to be a brighter, more positive day.
Dila inspected the run-down dagger he'd bartered for from the shopkeeper. It wasn't much, but it was a start. The iron blade was rather dull and it didn't have a proper handle, leaving only a short, thin extension poking downward, but it was his and he was going to get bigger and stronger weapons along the way. Dila got used to the weight as he danced it around. He never held an actual sword, so a light dagger felt right in his palms.
The streets were full of puddles from the previous night's rain, but Dila's spirits were renewed. The sun burned down on him, something he used to hate as it made everything hot, but he wasn't too worried about it. His back was tall and proud as he strutted his way to the Hero's Pint. Some passers-by gave him an uncertain glance as he played with his knife, but none of that registered to Dila.
He entered the Hero's Pint and stopped straight to the board where the jobs were posted. A woman behind the counter called out to him. "Can I help you?"
Dila waved her off. "I'm just seeing about doing a job- don't mind me."
"I'm sorry, but those postings are for adventurers and we can't pay off just anybody."
Dila lost interest in the board and went over to talk with her. "I'm sorry, what was that?"
The woman pulled out a badge and showed it to Dila. "Each adventurer has one of these so we both know what rank they are and can identify them as such. If you want to be an adventurer, you'd have to either start or join a guild. Then you'd have to come back and complete a little test to see if you're strong, smart, and quick enough to be an adventurer. We can't just accept anybody; it's a lot safer this way."
Dila paled. "Are there any guilds looking for a knight?"
She glanced over the parchments on the table. "I've got some requests for archers and clerics, but nothing about knights. I'm afraid not. But please, either wait for a guild to stop by and request to join them, or come back when you have a guild and we can assist you on your journey."
Dila slumped out of the center. His plan to right his family name was thwarted again. He shuffled down the street, almost bumping into another passerby. The young knight sat himself against the side of a building, inspecting the knife he'd wasted his money on.
A passing figure noticed the downtrodden Dila and walked up to him. "Excuse me," he stated, startling Dila back to reality. The man was part-bat, part-human; a chiroptera, with a short, white robe on. He pointed to the knife in Dila's hand. "Would you like me to fix that up for you? I'm very good with my hands, but I've been pretty restless lately and I think that repairing something would fix that problem." Dila said nothing and just stared at him. "I have a shop about a block away. Come with me." He motioned Dila with him.
Dila was uncertain on trusting the chiroptera, but he had nothing to lose, so he followed after. "Are you a blacksmith?" Dila asked the other man.
"Actually, I'm into apothecary, so I work with medicine over steel." He opened a door to a pretty well-maintained store with bottles and flasks full of liquid medicines and ground-up powders. The chiroptera pulled out a candle and lit the wick. "But I've always been very good with my hands, so I can fix up that beaten handle and sharpen the dull blade." He stretched out his hand, requesting the knife.
Dila handed it over. "So you can make it better?"
The chiroptera scoffed. "I'm sure any respectable blacksmith could make you a better knife so much better with proper tools," he stated as he measured up the wooden handle, "but that'd just waste the potential in this knife." He reached onto one of the shelves and grabbed a wooden block around the same size and a carving knife. "Name's Crescent Moon." He handed Dila's dagger back to him. Making careful chiseling motions, he began to carve into the block. "Sit."
"Dila Crue." He was uncertain about this Crescent Moon, but heard good things about chiroptera as a whole, so he obeyed and rested on one of the chairs.
"Nice to meet you." Nobody said much as he chiseled away at the block, indenting a grip for the knife. "The knife's not a family heirloom, is it?"
"No, I just got it."
"Why would you get something so worn down?"
"It's all I could afford."
"But why did you need it? The streets becoming too dangerous?"
Dila shrugged. "They've always been dangerous, but I'm actually aiming to be an adventurer and I needed a weapon."
Crescent Moon stopped chiseling the outside and began digging at the top, creating a little hole. "An adventurer, huh? I suppose I never thought about trying that."
Dila cocked his head. "Excuse me?"
Crescent Moon returned to his cutting. "Oh, I mean, as I said, I've been very bored recently and I've been trying different things to keep me moving, but nothing's been that exciting. Maybe I should join you."
Dila sat up in his seat. "You'd be an adventurer?"
Crescent Moon chuckled. "Yeah, why not? We all die eventually, right?"
"So if I were to start a guild, you'd join me?"
"Unless I can find a better team that could help me along and we don't get into too dangerous a situation, sure, why not." Crescent Moon blew off some dust, rather satisfied with how the handle was turning out. "There. Can I have the knife back?" Dila did as he was told. Crescent Moon slid the thin side of the knife into the hole at the top. It fit inside, but the top poked out an inch, leaving an awkward-looking knife. He picked up the candle and dripped the wax onto the handle, letting it slip in-between the dagger and the wood. Crescent Moon used enough wax that it started to puddle out the top and thicken up the blade.
"That should help it alright." Crescent Moon kept the blade upright, but handed it to Dila. "Just keep it from dripping out and let it harden." Dila took it and inspected it. The handle felt a lot smoother in his grip than before. "Don't let it get too hot or the wax'll melt and the blade would fall out."
Dila felt a lot better holding a more proper weapon. Maybe this crazy idea would work afterall. "Thanks, Crescent, was it?"
"Crescent Moon, if you will."
"Thanks Crescent Moon." Watching the wax turn a whiter tone, Dila began to sway the blade around in slow, smooth motions. It felt right in his hand. "I'm sorry, but I don't have anything to pay you in return for your kindness."
Crescent Moon smirked coyly. "Let's make a deal." Dila turned his head to Crescent Moon in suspicion. "Like I said, I'm willing to join your guild, so as long as we split commissions for jobs that I'm a part of, you can take it for free." Crescent Moon began pacing around the table to sidle up next to Dila. "My practice is going well, so I figure it would be appropriate for me to put my efforts back into the community to help out those who need it most."
Dila couldn't help but smile. This was exactly what he needed to start his job and reclaim his family's name. He stretched out his arm. "It's a deal."
The two left Crescent Moon's store, heading towards the recruitment center. "So what's the plan when we get into a fight?" Crescent Moon asked, following behind Dila as he led the way back. "It's not like we'll be dealing with cuddly bunny-rabbits- there's real monsters out there to worry about."
Dila stood tall in pride. "No problem- I'll take lead with fighting or whatever and you'll be my backup in case I get in trouble." As they spoke, a shadow in the alleyways shifted closer.
"Are you sure you can handle it? All you've got is a dagger and I'm not much or a fighter myself," Crescent Moon admitted. At worst, if they found themselves in way over their heads on their first mission, he could just stop and return to his shop.
Dila stopped their advances and faced his partner. "Then Mr. Moon..."
Dila shrugged. "If you don't think you can fight whatever is out there, you take care of yourself and run away. It's not like I'm going to run out and get myself killed." Dila's resolve burned through his eyes. "I'm not going to die until I make a name for myself and restore my family's honor!" As he continued to make his speech, the shadows dancing in the alley collided together and grew into a humanoid form that towered above both of the adventurers by a few feet. The figure stepped forward with deathly silent steps on the unsuspecting duo.
Just as it was upon them, they both turned to see who had approached them. A soft strum of a lyre's cords rang out from beside them. "A chance encounter worth its weight in gold," the figure sang with a soft yet hearty voice while plucking at the instrument. "Our heroes stand at the edge of a deal to be sold." Dila and Crescent Moon stared in confusion by the Teifling that stood before them. Her violet skin was covered by a light blue robe with a white trim that went down to her knees and she held a small, black lyre proudly before the adventurers. She had yellow eyes with two straight horns nearly three feet long and medium-length, dark-grey hair. "You wouldn't happen to be adventurers, would you?"
Dila watched her carefully. Despite her Teifling heritage, her eyes felt warm- something that Dila felt uncomfortable about due to their usual nature. "We're on the way to sign up as such, yes."
She put her lyre by her side and stood up straight and more direct. "I'll make a deal with you two. I'm in need of a tale to weave to my adoring fans, however I am unable to come up with a story for them; so I am requesting that I tag along on your exploits and write ballads over your deeds."
Dila and Crescent Moon glanced around each other. "Can't you just make a story up?" Dila suggested.
The female Teifling sighed with a pitiful frown. "I've tried to weave a tale to entice listeners, but everything I create lacks depth and they all end up departing." Her sharp-toothed grin slowly returned. "But tales of heroes slaying eternal evil and ridding the world of wrongdoers- how the young and adventurous treasure them. If I could regain a story yet untold, surely my practice could regain its former esteem."
Crescent Moon awkwardly shifted his weight. "I don't know. Are you armed? It's very dangerous out there."
"Fret not for my safety, for I am equipped with a dagger upon my person." She patted a lump in her clothing along the side of her hip.
Internally, Dila was torn in two. On one hand, he couldn't believe it. A bard to regal his heroic deeds to the people? Surely his family name would ring through from the mountainside of the west to the seashore of the east. Otherwise, he felt wary of her full intentions. It was too easy for someone to take advantage if their offer seemed too good to be true. He decided to feel her out. "What percentage of the commission do you want?"
She shook her head. "I need not any wages for I shall be noting your triumphs."
Dila didn't feel either side change. He gave her a faux smile and pulled Crescent Moon aside. "Should we trust her? This offer seems suspicious."
"I feel the same way as perhaps there's more to her words than she lets on." He put a hand to his chin in thought. "But I personally think everyone deserves a chance. Who knows, she might be helpful to us."
Dila bit the inside of his lip. He didn't want to get taken advantage of, but at the same time, Crescent Moon could be right. "Fine, but we should keep an eye on her."
"Of course," Crescent Moon stated as he rolled his eyes and turned to the Teifling. "Miss... I'm sorry, what was your name?"
She smiled her toothy smile. "Chatative."
"Welcome aboard, Chatative," Crescent Moon held out his hand. "I hope you get the material you need for your work."
The Teifling shook his hand with an unexpected jitteriness and squealed in excitement. "You won't be disappointed! I shall herald your names as men of glory and gods of men!" She reached a hand out to Dila.
The human was hesitant to shake, but did so eventually, bobbing up rapidly from her enthusiastic movements. He still felt uncertain about her intentions, but a little relief filled his chest; they had a third member to watch their backs. Maybe she would be useful and not dangerous to their cause.
The trio stood before the training arena with excitement pumping through their hearts. They entered through the large wooden door into a thick darkness, only held back by torches along the stone walls. Dila licked his lips and crouched forward in preparation. Only the sounds of footsteps against stone floors could be heard in the echoing corridor with only pale darkness to see through. It wasn't as long of a walk as he had expected as another large wooden door appeared at the end of the hallway. Dila leaned his head against the door, waving Crescent Moon and Chatative to silence themselves and listening inside. He couldn't make out any sounds expect for an errant step. Dila calculated what he could, but couldn't figure how many people were inside.
Without much recourse, Dila grabbed the handle and swung the door open quickly. The interior was a rather large room about thirty feet long with a statue of a knight in the right hand corner and a door on the other side. Three zombies near the opposite door rolled their heads to see the intruders, groaning in angry and intimidating moans. They all had short swords with tattered leather armor hanging off of their decaying skin and shambled their ways towards the novice adventurers.
Dila withdrew his dagger and took some deep, controlled breaths, watching the zombies as they moved. He sprinted towards the nearest zombie and stabbed the dagger into its skull, downing it before it had the chance to even swing its weapon. The other two wound up to attack, but their slow and awkward movements made it easy to avoid and back away.
Crescent Moon ran up to one of them and pierced its chest with his own short sword. The zombie swung down at him, but he jumped back in avoidance, leaving his weapon embedded in the decayed body. He bit his lip upon losing his sword. Crescent Moon knew he couldn't stay unarmed for long and watched the zombie's actions to find the opportune moment to recollect his weapon.
Dila took a stab at the other zombie and impaled its neck, cutting through the weak muscles and tendons. It sputtered and tumbled to the ground lifeless. Wasting no time, Dila dove against the zombie Crescent Moon was dealing with and forced it to the stone floor, dropping its weapon uselessly against the ground. The chiroptera took the opportunity, withdrew his shortsword, and penetrated the zombie's forehead.
"After their creeping of careful prowl," Chatative sang and plucked her lyre as she skipped nearer to the battle scene. "Our heroes did battle with zombies most foul."
Dila rolled his head toward the Teifling in annoyance. "That's the best you got?"
Chatative stuck her tongue at him. "I'm doing you a favor by heralding your endeavors- don't question my lyrics." She gave a large smile, but muttered to herself through sharp teeth, "T'was the best of my ability..." Chatative felt a pit swell in her stomach.
The two adventurers picked themselves off of the floor and inspected the bodies. Dila picked up one of the zombie's sword. "Pretty worn. Doubt it would survive another fight." With a shrug, he pocketed his dagger and picked up the short sword as his own.
Crescent Moon took back his own weapon and walked towards the door. "Guess this is the only way to go." He opened the door without care and began to walk into the next room.
Dila wiped the dust off of his body and hurried after the chiroptera. "What are you doing? You shouldn't just wander off into the next room without watching out for zombies or whatever might be here!"
Crescent Moon took a double-take at Dila's explosion. "I'm sorry?" he stated in confusion. "I was just going into the next room." He shifted awkwardly on his feet.
"We're walking into dangerous and deadly situations out here! You can't go off on your own like that- You'll get yourself trapped and killed!"
Crescent Moon bit his lip. "I'm sorry, I guess. I was just going into the next room."
"One wrong move and either one of us could be sliced to ribbons, impaled by traps, or fall to our deaths. We have to keep an eye out for each other to keep ourselves safe out here." Dila sighed and rubbed his head. "Just stay with the group and we'll make decisions together." He glanced around the room. "What do we have here?"
The room had another wooden door against the other side of the wall with several suits of armor lined up against the walls, each one holding up a weapon of some sort. There was a sword, spear, shield, mace, axe, and the one near the next door held a spell book. Along the wall behind every suit had a torch burning the room with sufficient light.
"Knights, I guess," Crescent Moon stated. He went to the door and tried to open it, but it was locked tight. In the center of the wood was a plague with a riddle on it. "'To attack is to defend.' Wonder what that means."
Dila muttered the phrase a bit, checking out the room and inspecting the armor. "Maybe we have to fight them?" He yanked at the sword on the nearest suit, but it was locked in place and the armor refused to move. Dila grunted and pulled harder, but it wasn't doing anything.
Crescent Moon put a hand on Dila's shoulder. "Easy. It doesn't look like you can move the suits." Dila stopped pulling and turned to face Crescent Moon. "Besides, that's not used to defend yourself."
Dila shifted on his toes. "Well, it could be."
Crescent Moon approached the shield and tried yanking it off. It too refused to budge, but as he pulled, he twisted and it started to turn. A click rang out at the door as the lock seemed to undo itself. Crescent Moon smiled at Dila. "You just gotta use your brain." The chiroptera walked over to the next door.
Dila mocked Crescent Moon's tone and followed after him. "Wait!" he cried as he grabbed Crescent Moon's shoulder. "What about Chatative?" They turned back, but the Tiefling slipped into the room after them. "What were you doing?" Dila questioned.
Chatative smiled. "The statue back there was of King Phyllandine: the first king of Glaowden!" She seemed to hop at the knees in excitement and began to pluck at her lyre in song. "The man of legend who gave us our land, he took over the realm with an iron hand. His journeys went far, his journeys went wide; the Brush defended, but either enslaved or died."
Dila gave Crescent Moon a look. "Thanks for the history lesson, Chatative," he stated and pushed the chiroptera to move forward.
The next room was a long hallway, blackened to near darkness. As Dila stepped forward, he noticed the floor begin to slant downwards, dragging the heroes deeper into the corridor. There were no more torches lit up ahead, making it difficult to tell where they were going and avoid bumping into things. If not for Crescent Moon's white robes, Dila never would've been able to make the chrioptera out.
When they reached a edge of the path and were about to turn to the right, an errant step caused a loud click to ring out as Dila's foot descended slightly into the ground. A heavy rolling sound echoed all around them. Dila, Crescent Moon, and Chatative glanced around in fear when the light from the other room was blocked by a giant boulder crashing down behind them. The trio took off, running downward on the sloping corridor. They sprinted as fast as they could away from the large, looming boulder.
The group was beginning to get winded from running, but the slope was helpful to their descent. Luckily the ground's angle wasn't too steep, so they were able to keep ahead of the boulder, but as the boulder rolled, it began to pick up momentum. There were three turns before they found a study-looking wooden door with two torches hanging beside it.
"Through there!" Dila shouted. He bashed his shoulder against it, nearly dislocating his arm, but didn't appear to do anything to the door. The man fell back and quickly thought through what he could do to break in.
Crescent Moon helped Dila to his feet. "Let's do it together." He gave a glance to Chatative who nodded in stern acknowledgement. The three of them stood beside one another. "On three!" Everyone prepared themselves physically and mentally. "One! Two! Three!" he shouted just as the boulder turned the final corner. The three of them ran towards the door, Dila yelling a war cry.
With the combined force of the adventurers, the door buckled at their ramming speed and crashed open, causing the three to fumble onto the ground safely inside the room. A single candle was lit against the far left wall where an elf was rolling up a scroll. There were several bookshelves full of leather-bound books, scrolls, and papers and a desk covered in parchment and vials of magical ingredients behind the elf.
"Congratulations," he stated in a dry, almost bored voice. "I'm the wizard Fleecreck: Â Keeper of Scrolls, and Appointer of Heroes. You've proven yourselves to be resourceful enough to survive the challenges laid before you. What lies ahead will be rougher and far more deadly, but with practice, training, and time, you'll be prepared for whatever comes your way." He said a spell on several pendants with tiny glass containers in the center, inscribing a bit of dirt inside them. The elf stood up and began handing out the pendants to the adventurers. "Your level is Dirt- it's the lowest level. You will be unable to attempt certain missions until you level up to Stone. Go and push the boulder back to the top- I'll fix it later."
Dila accepted his pendant gracefully, but quizzically glanced at the wizard. "Are we going to be able to push it up? It's literally an uphill battle."
Fleecreck sighed. "Yes, it's an easy job. It's not even a real boulder."
Chatative opened the door to see a dark-grey mass blocking their path. She gave a small poke to the boulder, her finger sinking in softly against a leathery hide. It's a balloon.
Despite feeling rather annoyed that he was having to help the wizard out, Dila did as he was told and rolled the light boulder upstairs. Inside, his pride beamed brightly through the darkness of the hallway. He'd finally started his journey to becoming a hero of the realm. With Crescent Moon watching his back and Chatative proclaiming his deeds, he was sure to be the greatest hero the realm had ever seen. For once it was all starting to work out for him.