I write this with the hope that it will never be read.
In the event of my death or sudden disappearance, I intend for these chronicles to be used as evidence. By following my movements, I hope it becomes clear who has been tracking me, and why. Just know, for now, that I am innocent.
It is mid-winter and I have found myself in the town of Seagrad. Lovely place, if you like that sort of thing. Small-town living; a breeding ground for gossip and rumours; everyone’s moves known by all; not a decent drag club for miles. Nothing like my city life, but I know that’s all over. At least until I can clear my name.
My tale begins, as so often they do, with a brutal beating.
I had returned from my day’s activities to my humble abode, an abandoned, unused, unloved shack, which I graciously adopted as my own to love and inhabit. Draughty, leaking and dark; it was home. About to turn in for the night, a vicious blow struck me from behind. Savages.
I awoke in the dreary shadows of a cell, surrounded by other caged beasts, locked away like a bold child, in a most uncivilised manner. I was done for, I knew it. They had finally caught up with me; my disguise could only protect me for so long.
But it transpired that I would live another day.
My captor, it was revealed, was Lord Davron Imright. The bastard.
Summoned before his majesty, he seemed to take great pleasure in announcing the weak reasoning for his kidnappings. I had been arrested for crimes of petty theft and squatting. Squatting! Bit of an exaggeration, but I played his game. No choice really; he had guards everywhere, of all types. Half-orcs, dwarves, humans, all hideous.
I wasn’t the only charge either. The other caged beasts were now uncaged and stood in line with me before Imright and his entourage; a black dragonborn druid who looked sheepish during the entire summons; another druid, this time a woodelf, who couldn’t quite seem to filter her thoughts before voicing them to our kidnapper; another woodelf, a ranger, who did nothing but moan about her missing pet wolf, who I presume is imaginary, and a tiefling barbarian who stood miles above me with huge muscles like bulbous ugly growths. He was one to watch out for.
Imright gave us our options. Imprisonment and death or do his dirty-work for him. I’m good with dirty-work. The choice was not hard.
He gave us the details of our first mission.
“Goblins are raiding the town’s trade caravans,” Imright drawled to us. “It’s not good for business.”
So we were to be released into the town to go on the hunt for the goblins and the missing inventory, which was to be returned to Imright. We’d see about that.
All set to make my escape with false promises of bloodshed and the return of monetary goods, a voice interrupted my proceedings.
“No,” said the druidic woodelf who, for some reason, could not be silenced. “I’m a pacifist. I won’t be killing any goblins.”
This one was Aurora, I later found out. Her pacifism would not last long.
“Then you choose death,” Imright stated, callously. I swear I saw him examining his cuticles as he said it, but my imagination may have been acting up in outrage.
“Listen,” Aurora continued, lyrically, every syllable like its own naïve little song. “I’m sure we can come to some reasonable understanding; my family is very rich, you see.”
He has no need of money, I hissed at her telepathically. He has his own dungeon, for Kord’s sake!
Poor silly elf.
Poor silly tall elf. Probably strong. Probably easily-manipulable. An idea struck.
“Perhaps I might intervene?” I heard myself speaking up. “If I might speak on behalf of the babbling elf girl?”
“Please do.” Imright’s attention was turned to me. Shit. This may have been unwise. His gaze made me want to break something.
“Give her to me. I have the intent to kill and she has some height, which sadly I am lacking. With some muscle at my side, I’ll get the job done.”
Imright raised a bemused eyebrow and cast a glance over the woodelf, as if in search of this alleged ‘muscle’.
“Very well,” Imright declared, seemingly bored, “she is your responsibility now.”
Fabulous! A pet. She seemed likeable; she would make an excellent puppet, I was sure.
He dismissed us and we were led to a side room to retrieve our weapons. Five chests awaited us, all identical, and in one of them rested my gear.
Finally! Freedom! See ya later, Suckers.
But not yet.
Before I could make a move in the direction of the chests, Imright’s minions branded us with bejewelled metal necklaces… which would have made excellent additions to my accessory collection if not for the trackers in them. That, I was not keen on.
Shit, I reiterated to myself. I’ll actually have to get the job done now.
My woodelf charge protested some more as Imright’s human (Vex, he called her) secured her into the tracking device.
I’m going to have my hands full with this one, I noted, shocked by the feistiness beneath her saccharine exterior.
As Vex wrapped her arms around my neck to lock me under Imright’s authority, I smiled at her; a smile so sickly sweet it could kill a man. She did not seem to care.
Next, I moved quickly.
I began to rummage through chest numero uno. Not mine, but some good stuff in there; a wand, most notably. That could come in handy.
Next chest: still not mine, but Holy Kord, there was a trident in there that was twice the size of my entire halfling body! And I was willing to bet my entire halfling body that this chest belonged to the overly-muscled barbarian beast. He could kill me with ease at any moment, either by stabbing me like a forkful of food or just by tripping up and falling on me. I thought it best to stay out of his way.
Third chest. Quickly, move on! Get to the third chest!
This one was mine. There lay my leather armour, my pack, my sling, my daggers, my shortbow; like little members of my tiny weapon family. Reunited, at long last.
The trident still played on my mind.
I wonder what the rest of these brutes have…?
Without much pause for thought (perhaps too little), I moved on to the next chest. Before I could get a look inside, however, there was a sudden flurry of movement all around me like a hurricane, and in an instant, everyone had retrieved their gear before I could get a look at their haul. Rude.
And then, speaking of rude, the dragonborn was suddenly, and quite inexplicably, getting very naked. Her bare scaly butt wiggled around in plain view as she shed her garment and replaced it with her armour.
Following her strange lead, we all then got naked, but behind the privacy of individual folding screens. I wrestled my way out of my prison rags and into my leather; it was like slipping into my own skin. It felt so right.
I re-emerged and directed my attention to the argumentative woodelf.
“Right, elf, you’re with me,” I reminded Aurora. She cast a worried eye toward the other woodelf who was still lacking her “wolf companion” and kicking up a fuss about it.
“What about her? She has to come with us; she’s one of my kind. We must stick together.”
I considered shortly. “What are you good at, other elf? Why should we keep you as our companion?”
“I can shoot,” she said meekly, brandishing her longbow.
“Well then, show us. Prove yourself.”
She readied her weapon of choice and aimed her arrow at a stack of glass bottles.
This should be good, I thought. An explosion of glass shards would be a nice parting gift for our charming host, Imright.
The elf inhaled deeply, like she meant it, and released her arrow with poise, grace and confidence. Unfortunately, the arrow barely grazed the bottle that topped the pile. It wobbled for a moment, teasingly, but it regained its balance and stood tall once more. The elf lowered her bow, defeated.
Well. Her shooting won’t be much help with those goblins. But I like that she takes orders.
“Right then,” I sighed. “I guess we could use someone to carry stuff. You’re in.”
“I’m Bailey,” the newcomer announced, seemingly pleased to have been adopted into the fold.
“Summer De Light,” I returned. My stage name would do for now.
“I’m Aurora,” my primary woodelf sang.
This worked out very conveniently, I thought to myself as they talked and probably bonded over woodelvin things. Bodyguards. Two of them. Taking my every command.
I could get used to this.
The dragonborn and the barbarian didn’t introduce themselves, at least not to us. They seemed to become a pair in themselves rather quickly, which suited me fine. At least I could probably take the woodelves if it came down to it.
We were led into town by Sylas, one of Imright’s human minions, who seemed agreeable enough for a terrible savage. And then he returned to Imright’s side, like the puppy dog that he undoubtedly was.
So, here, I suppose, is where the adventure began.