This turn was rewritten as part of Chapter 6. The rewrite includes a lot of liberties taken by the DM, so if you want to see original dialogue by the players, read this turn first.
After a joyous day, replete with good food, good company, and the opportunity to teach the folk of Grenzig a new dance or two, Sahlman listened to the words of the Burgher. He was somewhat sobered by what he heard. Perhaps some old memory was being jogged.
Ziedon silently listened to Balban's words and wondered if he had unwittingly usurpered the local authority and placed a man in a position where he could do further harm to the social order of Ziedon's home kingdom of Rang. As if to scold Ziedon for his thoughts, Ardith spoke her part.
“Thank you, Balban,” Ardith said. “I do not speak for the others, but for myself I do not desire your gold; only enough for a good bath, a hot meal with a flagon of good ale and a night's rest in a decent inn. I do not know how expensive things are in your city, but ten gold should be enough, yes?
“But I _will_ request recompense of a different kind. See that the temple is re-opened, and that the properly ordained clerics may hold worship there. And perhaps Balban himself may make a donation of, say, 100 gold, for restoration of damages to the Temple while it was closed. Use the remainder of my share of what you have offered to rebuild the town.”
Balban thought a moment and smiled at Ardith. “What you requested will be done. The temple will be re-opened today, and you will eat and sleep in my own home, with all your companions, for as long as you wish.”
“I, for one,” spoke Kay, “would like the gold. My pouch has been empty too often in the past, and I welcome an opportunity to fill it. Thank you, Balban.”
Brinn had been thinking over the possibility of a wife, but knew that the burgher could only offer him human maidens. “Yes, I too would like the gold.”
The burgher smiled at Kay and Brinn. “Here are two who know what to ask for. You will have your gold.”
The idea of gold did not appeal to Ziedon. He started to turn back to his own thoughts when Balban made mention of magic. Ziedon's hand tightened on his staff and his face turned absolutely neutral as he listened to the rest of Balban's speech. When Balban spoke of guards, Ziedon's other hand moved up and stroked his cheek.
When Balban finished, Ziedon spoke up from within the dark hood, his face hidden in shadows, and his voice once again becoming low and sinister.
“Balban, you say you are to unite the towns of Rang. What of the king?”
“The king never had control over the towns. He controls his kingdom, of which these towns are not a significant part. Dmerzig has been independent from Rang for seventy-three years, and Grenzig for fifty-one. What of your reward?”
“For my reward, I desire neither gold nor women. I ask to be taught new magical spells. Also I ask if I may speak with the guard that has befriended me.” Ziedon paused and leaned forward on his staff, towards Balban, “I would be very affronted if something had happened to him. Also, since you now control this town, I would think that you would remove the Official of Law that is present here. He is an old senile man and he does not do the position any good. Place a man of strength and character to ensure that all are treated fairly under the eyes of the law.”
Balban answered quickly. “Yes, I intended to replace him, and most other public officials. After the others make their requests, your friend will bring you to the sages of this town.”
With that Ziedon nodded and stopped talking, his throat burning because of the heavy amount of speaking he had done in the last day.
Sahlman sat, listening intently, as his companions asked questions of Balban, and requested their rewards. He became momentarily disoriented when he realized that his attention strayed to Ardith much more often than might have been warranted by her contributions to the conversation. Abashed, and with a warm face, Sahl refocused. Finally, it seemed that everyone else had asked all that they were going to, and had been compensated for the assistance rendered to Balban. Only one concern sat like a massive weight in the mind of the easterner, and he addressed it.
“Master Balban,” he began, his voice as firm as his eyes were piercing. “It is generous, this reward you offer. It is generous, this celebrating that you make for the folk of Grenzig. I would ask you for two things in return for my part in your victory. The first is very simple, me being only a simple man of simple needs, that you are helping me to supply myself for more travelling. The second is from my heart, and it is that, in all your efforts, in all the ruling and uniting you do, please, remember the smiles on the faces around us tonight. Be the kind of leader for them that they will always have reason to smile.” As Sahl finished speaking, Balban noticed the tear making its way down Sahl's face, the single monument to this foreigner's memory of the day he left his home forever, because of leaders who cared for the weight of their purses, not for the smiles on the faces of their people.
“You speak more wisely than your accent would suggest. I owe you my life, twice over. You fought bravely before the thieves that attacked us on the road here, and you prevented my premature discovery today. It was because of you that I now control this town, and your plan that caused my victory to be so efficient. Be assured; these people will be cared for.”
The remainder of the evening was spent in celebration with the people of Grenzig.
Ziedon was escorted to the town's small library, where its two sages resided. They sat in a corner, mumbling to themselves and to each other like a pair of ants arguing over a crumb of bread. Each was at least seventy years old, but both had youth in their eyes. When they saw Ziedon, each, in turn, fell back in shock, and then apologized repeatedly.
Ziedon's friend told the two sages why Ziedon had come, and they danced with joy, pulling book after book from the surrounding shelves. They threw the books on a table, dove to them, and flipped through pages until they found the spells they knew.
Ziedon looked into the spell book and frowned at what he saw. The spells inscribed were those of an apprentice. He had not bothered to learn them, and had little use for them now. Nevertheless, out of respect for the burgher's sages who were clearly undeserving of their title, he humored them. The simple magic might come in handy at some time anyway. For three weeks, Ziedon sat and studied. His meals were eaten in the library, and he slept draped over books. He spent numerous hours copying from the sages' books into his own, and even more learning the complex language of the spells. Learning magic was not a pleasant experience for an adventurer, but its rewards far outweighed the lost hours of sleep.
During the weeks that Ziedon sat in study, the others enjoyed their stay in the Burgher's house. A plentiful feast awaited them each day, and their beds were comfortable. The adventurers were happy to feel their stomachs full with fresh, moist food that had been baked only once, and each day, they felt the cramps in their backs from many days of sleeping on the ground loosen.
On the fourth day of the second week, the burgher dined with them alone. Usually, there were dozens of public officials at the burgher's table, but at this time, there were only five. The reason for this became apparent soon after the servants had finished placing food on the table.
“My friends,” he began, after several toasts to their wellfare. “The conquest I have begun has only completed its first stage. Grenzig and the surrounding areas are now under my control, but there is much left to do. My next target will be Maelbourg and the smaller towns that line the northern and southern roads all the way to the Louthrob swamplands.”
Sahlman, Brinn and Kay listened to the names, accepting them without thinking on their significance. Ardith, however, recognized one of the names. The Louthrob were horrible, swamp-dwelling creatures. It was considered an honorable thing to return home from the swamps with several Louthrob heads dangling from one's belt, and apparently, the Louthrobs thought the same of humans, as many never returned from the swamps. Such a swamp area existed not twenty miles from Ardith's temple.
“I need to prepare the people of Maelbourg for my arrival, so they can act on my behalf after I finish with some smaller towns south of Maelbourg.
“However, before I can continue with my plans, I must convince the baron of this land that I pose no threat to him. Although he has no control over the towns, anyone with too much power in his domain is a potential threat. I would offer bribes, but my supply of gold is short. I would offer knights, but I have none, and the guards that I have are needed here. Already, Baron Huerten is watching me closely. If I successfully attack Maelbourg, the baron may find a need to stop my conquest, and I am no match for his army.
“You will probably leave soon, although any of you is free to stay as long as you wish. I know you grow weary of my hospitality, and each of you wishes a more exciting life than I can offer. However, if you can help my cause in any way, I have the means to reward you for your efforts. Maelbourg is a wealthier town than Grenzig, and its people can be taxed much more harshly than those here, and I will be able to offer a significant reward. Please, inform me of your decision before you leave.”
Ziedon, only a day later, had a similar request made of him. The sages that were his temporary and undeserving masters required a particular stone for a concoction they intended to make. The stone was brown, and had the unusual quality of glowing when in contact with metal. If Ziedon could find the stone, they would direct him to a more advanced master who could reward him properly.
At the end of Ziedon's study, he met with his companions and they discussed the three weeks' events and their current options. They could easily travel north from here without paying attention to the Burgher's plans, or they could move south back to Dmerzig. There was also a narrow road going east through hilly plains. Naturally, they could also accept one of the jobs offered them. They spent the next day thinking about what to do and how to proceed with doing it.
I appologize AGAIN for sending in a late turn. Last turn, I asked all of you to hurry up with your responses, and then I ended up late. :( I had a lot of work to do, unfortunately, and this turn turned out to be harder to write than I expected. I had to find ways to move the story on, and for some reason, it didn't come to me until today. Oh well.
For the next turn, please tell me what you chose to do, and how you procede to do it. Also, each of you should tell me whether you mind splitting off from the group. If all of you want to remain together, I will probably base what you do on the majority decision (with the leader's or DM's decision breaking ties). If there's anything you want to do that's not meantioned in this turn, or anything you want to buy while in town, or anything else at all, you can, of course, do that too.
Only two people voted this time, so I will leave Ardith as the leader by default. If anyone has an objection, please tell me. I reccomend you use netmail, so that you don't offend Ardith. My netmail address is 1:101/265. You can also E-mail me at [removed], or at [removed]. I will get your mail faster at the first address.
Ziedon: The spells you learned were Cantrip and Unseen Servant. Also, I'm sorry, I tried to fit your dialogue into this turn, but I could not. It was full of cliches, and seemed quite out of character. So far, Ziedon has been portrayed as a grave, quiet, and somewhat frightening mage. That dialogue showed him to be a jovial salesperson. Even in this turn, you wrote “Ziedon speaks up from within the dark hood, his face hidden in shadows, his voice once again back to a low and sinister- sounding voice.” If you have a different idea as to Ziedon's personality and skils than I do, please tell me, and explain Ziedon more to me. From what I could tell, however, that piece of dialogue did not fit anywhere into the turn, and did not fit Ziedon's character.
Don't think I ignored the dialogue just because it's not included in the turn, however. If I had included the dialogue, the guard would have enjoyed seeing you, but refused to join you on adventures based on responsibitities in Grenzig. He will remain loyal to you at least until the charm spell wears off, if you chance apon him at another time.
By the way, did you realize that you only have a 40% chance to learn a non-necromantic spell? (70% for necromantic). You chose a pretty low intelligence score for a mage.
Brinn: You've missed two turns in a row. Please respond to this turn, lest you be dropped into the same bottomless pit that Kay slipped into by stepping on a banana peal accidentally dropped right next to the pit by a careless DM who shal remain unnamed. :)
Ardith: I told you you'd control Kay for turn #10, not #9. That's why I didn't use your text for Kay in this turn. Remember that, even when you control Kay, I can overrule or add to anything you submit in her name.
Despite the minor complaints above, I amazed at how well the three of you turned a boring question/answer session into a good, interesting turn. Thanks for your efforts at making this a fun game for everyone!
Anyone have any problems with the way I ran the first chapter? If you have any problems with the content, style, or quality of writing so far, please tell me. If you have problems with another player, please tell me via private netmail to 1:101/265. If you have suggestions, questions, concerns, or anything else, please tell me. If you have any problems and don't tell me about them, I'll have to assume that everything I'm doing is perfect, and whatever you don't like about the game won't change for the next chapter. If, in fact, everything I'm doing is perfect already, fine, but I'd like to hear any criticisms you have. By the way, nothing you say to criticize me will affect how I treat your character in the game, unless it gets out of hand and becomes a flame-war. As your characters continue to exist in the Zioth campaign, they should grow and expand, becoming more interesting and fun to play with each new turn. The same is true for me. Although I don't have a player to control, I would like to improve my DMing with each turn.