Archive for the “Asheron’s Call Chronicles” Category

 

Ah, the beach.  Sunshine, cool breezes, valuable real estate, and of course tons and tons of hostile creatures.  It’s a shame that there are so many monsters on the beach that the average Sho farmer cannot take a day off with his family to go enjoy the ocean without losing one of his kids to a sand shark.  Ever financially savvy, Mu was looking ahead to the day when the beach would be safe to relax at, and so was scoping out the terrain for patches of real estate he might one day purchase.  Unfortunately, the only piece of developed property in the area seemed to be a large, weatherbeaten fort which was used as a cabana by about a thousand or so drudges and mosswarts.  Apparently the club was members only, as Mu received a somewhat less than hospitable welcome when he dared set foot on the grounds.  (You can see a few drudges on the battlements, no doubt betting against him.)  Mu decided to try a less populated area for his investment speculations.

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Far, far from Shoushi proper, across a wide river and through the grazing fields of the Auroch bulls and reedsharks alike, is a great fortress in which myriad drudges, mosswarts, and armoredillos make their home.  So great in number are they that many a brave adventurer who had intruded upon their grounds in order to seek his fortune met his demise instead.  This was a big warning flag to Mu, who much rather preferred the relative quiet of the nearby tower, inhabited by this "traveling archmage", no doubt yet another charlatan who merely used a title in order to attract customers to her pitiful stock of spell components.  However, she was pleasant enough, and did not immediately kick Mu out of the tower, which was far kinder than any other such person had been to him thus far.  He was, however, not allowed to sleep on her futon, which was all he really wanted.

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"Hail friend," called out the warrior with the green tower shield.

Sashi turned around, startled out of his daze in the grotto.  He was doing the grotto run, as he so often did, half-asleep… the grotto was far too routine for him now to be of much use as a learning tool, but there was scant else to do around Shoushi these days.  Mu had fallen into a routine:  go out, spy on a banderling/drudge meeting place, draw them out one at a time if possible, kill them quietly in close combat, see if they had any pertinent information about the relationship between the two tribes, and then run through the grotto like a zombie.  Truth be told, he never managed to find anything out from the banderlings, as they were usually dead before they could be questioned, and it was not as if Mu could speak bander.  However, they did occasionally litter their various meeting places with interesting scraps of paper, some of which were informative.  If any of this sounds in the least bit interesting to the reader, it should be noted that Mu had garnered absolutely nothing in the way of further leads from these assassinations, and would often turn down an opportunity to cull the banderling herd in favor of chatting idly around the mage shop, an activity which seemed like the height of excitement at this point..

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As he progressed along the mage’s path, Mu began to feel more and more the worst drawback of magery.  It was not the physical weakness that went with the territory, as he had diligently applied himself to a home-exercise program, eventually allowing him to wear a modicum of uncomfortable, odor-trapping armor without causing his knees to buckle.  It was not the constant need to replenish his stock of smelly, foul spell components.  It was not even the obvious inferiority of mages to swordsmen in combat.  The worst part was the fact that after engaging the enemy in battle, he was required to simply sit around for long stretches of time, waiting for mana to return to him, waiting for the universe to begrudgingly dole out the resources allowing him to stand and fight the most banal of enemies without having to run away like an idiot.  The scarcity of mana was a constant problem, and seemed to often occur in the middle of combat.  At such times he was often forced to fall back in desperation to his pathetic hand-to-hand training, a tactic that always left him breathless and wheezing, only effective after the target had been weakened to the point where a grazing blow from his arthritic fists would be noticed.  The thought of retiring, maybe starting anew as something sensible like a swordsman, had often crossed his mind, but through a combination of laziness and his irrational curiosity for magical knowledge, he continued to struggle along, hoping one day to be able to team with a group of able adventurers without forcing them to stand around all day while he meditated.

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It seems that no place is safe from that most pervasive and evil scourge of all, idiotic adventurers.  While travelling through the grotto, Mu witnessed a Galorn, 2nd level adventurer, running away from a gnawer shreth.  As he ran past Mu, the shreth turned on Mu (they have very short attention spans), and out of self-defense and in the spirit of aiding someone who appeared to be in trouble, Mu dispatched it.  This immediately drew the ire of the champion sprinter, who began shouting his displeasure like an idiot.  As if to pound his point home, he attempted to later attack a drudge that Mu was engaged in combat with… fortunately, his skill with blades was so poor he had little effect on the combat.  Mu watched Galorn dash ahead up the ramps to the temple, where Mu was heading himself.  On the way up, he was treated to the sight of Galorn running for his life again down the ramp, with a pair of Drudge Prowlers in hot pursit, bashing away with maces.  Out of respect for Galorn’s wishes, Mu simply whistled as he walked past the fray, looting the temple rather than interfere with Galorn’s glorious battle/foot race.

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Eastham… a decidedly barbarian town, what with all the pleasant yet undeniably foreign Aluvian shopkeepers and cattle out in the open being raised for indelicate meals of stinking beef.  Sashi Mu was no altruistic saint, and could not avoid feeling a bit uncomfortable in these surroundings, but Eastham did have a number of things going for it, namely a well-stocked mage shop and those super-soft overcomfortable Aluvian feather beds!  Like most towns, Eastham was full of hard-working craftsmen… so hard-working, in fact, that they never seemed to go to sleep.  This was much to Mu’s advantage, as it was relatively simple for one of a Sho’s relatively diminutive stature to sneak up the back stairs of the blacksmith’s shop and quickly doze off into a refreshing, restful sleep.  It had been quite some time since Mu had slept like this… dreaming of being able to cast magic that worked well, of earning his black sash in unarmed combat, of being able to hold onto his money for more than a few days, or finally getting that hot girl at the Shoushi grocer to notice…

"’Ere!  Piss off, you lot!"

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Although Mu’s resolution to restrict his hunting grounds would undoubtedley lead to boredom and repetitiveness, occasionally something new would spring up to try and kill him.  For example, these little fellas, named Gnawer Shreths by some insane zoologist, certainly appear to be fearsome critters, what with their spiked carapaces and bizarre clown noses.  However, they were not much more dangerous than your average drudge skulker, especially when dealt with in the standard method for honorable adventurers:  unloading attacks on them while their backs are turned.  Chivalry ho!

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"Hey!  Wake up you lout!"  A sharp kick in the thigh snapped Mu out of his slumber, and he stumbled into consciousness as he scrambled to avoid falling off the Spire of Serenity, where he had dozed off.  Sachiko, the spire’s caretaker, was most displeased, and she was as bad at maintaining decorum at such times as she was good at maintaining the Spire’s immaculate cleanliness.

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The 7th happened to be the day of the big in-game event which, like most RPG in-game events, consisted largely of a bunch of monsters attacking towns and lag becoming really bad.  Loose fellowships were formed, and Sashi Mu found his little level 3 sorceror self in the middle of a bunch of guys who were way more powerful than he.  Luckily, his crappy studded leather made it easy for everyone to know who to shout at when they wanted a drink or their armor polished.  However, Mu’s luck was shining today as usual, and after a couple of minor Banderling attacks, he felt his connection slipping.  Disgusted, he wandered off through the rest of the "big event", cursed to watch a rerun of "Arliss" until he felt it was safe to return to Dereth.

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