I wrote this as an introduction to a Play By Post game that I was in and it quickly died during March of 2005. I was inspired so I started to write, and this is much better than the Ceramic DM entries that posted earlier. At least I hope it is. There is a lot of DnD’isms that I am not going to explain, but I may someday try to explain or add definitions to it.
Morgan found the cool spring air refreshing as he stepped out of his house in the port city of Vormarsch. A breeze gently rustles his short, straight brown hair and cools an always cleanly shaven face that is commanding and strikingly handsome. Deep brown eyes take in everything and a keen mind that is not easily fooled keeps him safe and out of trouble. His strong and lithe body belies a surprising strength which is something that he has always used to his advantage. Morgan carries himself with a sure grace and presence that few common men will start a problem with. From his time growing up on the streets and his time in the militia he has seen a lot and not much surprises him. Today, however, he had a feeling that this all will change.
The sun has been out for almost a ten-day melting the snow that has accumulated on rooftops from a rather harsh and deep winter. The temperature has been wavering around the ice point keeping the snow around for longer than he wished. Morgan found the sun comforting and breeze gentle. The streets are wet and muddied from the melting rooftop snow. Ships bound from all over the known world have been bringing cargo sporadically for a little more than four ten-days in preparation for a new season of trade. The birds were singing and it was almost warm enough to wear a short sleeved-shirt. Morgan took a deep breath and slowly exhaled enjoying the scent of spring in the air. Life is picking up here in the capital city.
The town criers and the Fleeters were out and about doing their work. A dark blue tunic with the livery of a golden winged boot hails the coming and goings of the Fleeters and one just happened to be passing by. Morgan waved and said “Good morning, Faranis!”
“Hi Morgan! Happy sunshine!” the Fleeter responded and never lost stride to continue on about his delivery. Morgan smiled at this. A sense of familiarity and loss crept into his thoughts.
It is often said that Fleeters are the true harbinger of spring and trade and not the birds. The migrating birds have been early and late, or decide to settle elsewhere, but the Fleeters always seem to know when it is safe to start business for the season. They deliver packages and messages all around the city, or even to other cites if the price is right.
Morgan is one of the best Fleeters around. He knows how to handle himself and can swing a sword pretty well. Morgan carries and equips himself well enough that he does not have many problems, and if he does, he can take care of it. As the most senior member he is hailed by most Fleeters as almost a legend.
Endar hired him 4 years ago, during the first 2 months of Fleeter operation, after he saved one of his couriers from doom at the hand of one of Praga’s thugs. He is sad to see his prize Fleeter go, but the thought of expanding his business to other regions made him giddy and annoyed at the same time. In their time working together they have become friends of sorts, not close friends, but friends nonetheless. Endar respects Morgan’s common sense and clarity, while Morgan respects Endar’s business sense and influence. They have worked well together to build the Fleeters to what it has become today, and Morgan leaving is a great loss to Endar personally and professionally.
Saerra, Morgan’s wife, had just given birth to their baby boy, Shraen, a ten-day ago at the season’s first sunshine. He has talked it over with her and they have decided to make for Faule when the roads open for trade again. In preparation for this journey Morgan has saved some money and has purchased a wagon, begrudgingly, from Saerra’s parents. When the time comes they will pack up all of their belongings and head off for Faule to start a new life. He has made an arrangement with Endar to start a group of Fleeters in Faule, and then try to open a semi-safe route to Vormarsch. Besides, no matter what happens there it will be more than worth the trouble to get away from his in-laws.
Saerra’s parents do not approve of his occupation because he does not manufacture anything. Her father is a carpenter and carpentry has been in their family for generations. He can go around the city and show where his family has had a hand at helping to build the city. He says that “You will never be able to do that. You will not have anything to pass on to your children. No legacy! You will never have anything to show for your work At the end of a day you have nothing. Nothing.” her father says. “ I have a well provided for family, what more do I need to show for my work?” is what I say. Whenever I see them, which is not very often, they always look at me with eyes that are searching for news of a job change. They also worry because I take some of the more dangerous jobs. “Why not? Better pay and I am damn good at it!” Our home is in a better part of Griffon Ward than theirs and I think that contributes to their disapproval as well.
“Ack!!” A startled Morgan shouts, as he is yanked from his thoughts, as a smiling Fleeter appears in front of him. “Moooorgan!” croons the long haired blonde half-elven beauty that he has had not so innocent thoughts about. “Luria! It is good to see you!!” They both smile wide, obviously enjoying the untold knowledge of their mutual feelings. Her face shifts to a pout. “Endar told me to tell you that Vormarsch will announce that the roads will soon open for trade to Faule.”
“Great news! Thank you, Luria.” Morgan smiles warmly to her.
“You are crazy for leaving us… To Faule?.” Her pout grows deeper hoping that her concern will convince him to stay, but fully knowing otherwise.
“I know, but my family’s future is in Faule.” He smiles with a hint of playful regret.
Luria defiantly sticks her tongue out at him so hard that her eyes close in a wrinkled mass and then she gallops off out of sight. Morgan smiles, sighs, and then heads off to see Endar to prepare for his journey to Faule.
The streets of the Griffon Ward where Morgan lives are fairly clean, free of undesirables, and is lightly bustling with activity. People shopping for various supplies and seeking various services re scattered about the streets. The seasonal shops and businesses are gearing up for traders and travelers that frequent this city in transit to other destinations. His destination, the Fleeter Center, was on the other side of the Griffon Ward. The Fleeter Center was located at a very convenient spot – at the intersection of the Scepter, Griffon, and Candle Wards which are the areas from which most business is garnered. These three wards have modest prices for delivery and the prices to the other wards are a little higher, as is the risk.
The Fleeter Center is a busy building of people coming in and Fleeters running out. It is made of a dark unfinished drab wood and two double doors; one is used for entering and one is used for exiting. There is a double side-door for employees and cargo to be brought in. The double doors are rough and unfinished like the exterior, yet functional. The walls are thick and reinforced to prevent ‘trans-loctation’ magics from working. There are two magically reinforced windows in the building. A Fleeter talks behind one pane in the lobby and there is another pain in a client waiting room.
There are Fleeter guards milling about appearing to be not so vigilant, but their eyes and ears are always seeking for trouble. There is a single sign adorning the side of the Fleeter Center. It is of a modest size bearing a dark blue field with a golden winged boot in the center – the coat of arms for prompt and safe delivery. We Fleeters pride ourselves on the prompt secure delivery of our charge and proudly bear this as our coat-of-arms.
Morgan enters the building from the side door. The guards nod to him and clap him on the back welcoming him. He passes by several Fleeters which greet him and shake his hand. He sees that Endar is waiting for him as his corpulent midsection is the first thing Morgan sees as he rounds the corner to Endar’s office. Endar’s clothes are drab and functional just like his building. Made to not stand out and to just do its job. His short, straight black hair appears almost greasy and possibly combed. His face is chubby and wide, his fingers short and stubby, bearing but one gold band on his left pinkie.
Endar’s office is the size of a very large closet. Shelves line the walls are cluttered with papers and ledgers. An overflowing garbage is to the side of his desk and smells faintly of rotting food. Sitting not so comfortably in the chair next to his desk is an attractive female with long fine golden waves of well groomed hair. She wear is wearing a long, form fitting, red dress that compliments her voluptuous physique and she smells faintly of perfume. Definitely not Griffon Warder, most likely she is from the Scepter Ward. Morgan smiles and nods to the lady whose return smile is of a pleading polite nature, and then he nods to Endar.
“Morgan, welcome!” Endar smiles broadly and affectionately! Not wasting any time he motions to the lady. “This is Lady Phaelis.” and then he motions to Morgan. “Lady Phaelis, this is Morgan.” ‘This’ caught Morgan’s attention. He looks at Endar with confused and concerned eyes.
“As…we have agreed, Endar, at the first moment that roads become open to Faule I will be free to prepare for my journey.”
“Ye..Yes. Yes, of course my friend. My prize Fleeter.”
“He is perhaps the best Fleeter I have.” Smiling again hoping to appease Morgan’s fears. Endar clears his throat and a look of caution and hope cover his face.
“Morgan, we have an offer for you. One last job and you will not regret it!” Endar smiles broadly hoping that Morgan will play along and not make a scene.
“Oh, no! I will be transporting my family! I am not going to agree to anything that could endanger them! The last time you looked like this I was creeping around the Carrion Ward delivering a small unmarked package to an undisclosed location. I had to take a month off to recuperate from dispatching some of Praga’s thugs.” Morgan’s sarcastic smile made Endar scowl. Phaelis’ smile turned to surprised approval.
Praga is an infamous mafia boss trafficking in black-market goods and general thuggery. His code is brutal and so are his thugs. He is not a man to be trifled with unless you enjoy pain, suffering, and death. Fortunately, Endar smoothed that whole situation over so as to not start a war between the two organizations. Endar has tried hard to maintain his business as a solid neutral party so that everyone will feel safe using his service. Having Praga’s thugs following or accosting your delivery members or clients would not be good for business. “Taking care of it is just good business sense.” Endar said, and for that I am thankful.
Phaelis caught the moment of uncomfortable silence and began to speak to Morgan. “Mr. Ashfall. All I need is to be escorted to Faule. I do not, in any way, expect problems. I have lead a modest and quiet life as have my family. There should be nothing that you should have to worry about. I will ride on a horse separate from your family’s wagon if you are concerned. I will just feel… better… if someone is watching over me. A woman of my station does not travel alone, and it is hard to put a price on peace of mind, don’t you think?” Definitely a Scepter Warder, her tongue silvered probably from practice at court. Morgan scrutinized her looking for any form of deception….. None to be found.
“Why, in the name of all that is holy, are you going there? I could not imagine a reason that a ‘woman of your station’ could find anything in that frontier town.” Morgan’s look of distrust and scrutiny did not phase the woman in the slightest. Her face remained calm and unmoving. It then melted into sadness and despair, her eyes begin to tear up. Phaelis is quiet for a moment and then slowly her face begins to return to a practiced calm. The tears that welled up in the corners of her eyes are the only thing that betray her now serene face.
Phaelis’ voice cracks a bit as she starts to speak “My little brother has run away to relatives in Faule. I seek to bring him back where it is safe. We have family there that will escort us back. Please Mr. Ashfall!! Please!!” Seeing such a beautiful woman in such pain caused Morgan’s stalwart walls to break down. Even through the suspicion his mind caved in and that very moment irritated him This feeling was plainly shown his face. Phaelis smiles pleadingly and thankfully with a look of hope in her eyes.
“Promise me that he was not kidnapped. Promise me!!” His eyes were stern and seeking any untruth in her following words. A wide and very relieved smile washes over her and she says “I promise you! You have my word.” She sighs and takes a few breaths. “Thank you!! I will give you the full two thousand gold pieces now, Mr. Ashfall!! I know that I can trust you.” She hands Morgan a dark velvet jingling pouch. He looks into it and sees 3 smaller pouches containing gems, platinum, and gold and silver respectively.
She lightly courtsies and then quietly begins to leave, a trail of delicately sweet perfume dances in her wake. She stops at the door and then turns to Morgan “I have made the arrangements for us to join a caravan leaving to Faule in a fortnight. We will be leaving with the Markin Company’s caravan. I will seek you out the night before.” She smiles again, nods good-bye, and then leaves.
Morgan looks to Endar. “If anything happens to my family. I will hunt you down and……” He let that thought trail off. Shaking his head, he turns and leaves. “What have I done?” He asks himself quietly… Saerra is not going to be happy.”
The night sky is clear and full of stars. All is quiet in Griffon Ward except for the lone sound of a horse cantering on the cobblestone street. A brisk breeze pulls at the rider’s hooded cloak which is pulled tightly about its body and face keeping the cold night air at bay. The rider goes on for quite a while and stops at a tavern, tethers the horse, goes inside and melts into the boisterous crowd. After a while it melts back into the street seeming not quite the same as it did before it entered the tavern, somehow smaller and its clothes have changed colors and style. The figure walks down the street into the night leaving the sounds of talking, drinking, and the clanging of glasses in the distance. The path it follows weaves and wanders in a seemingly random path throughout the Griffon Ward sometimes crossing back on itself. The meandering trip finds its end at a familiar home, the home of Morgan and Saerra Ashfall. The figure cautiously looks around and knocks on the door.
As the door opens the figure’s form, melts into something more familiar, to that of a taller, well-dressed, blonde haired, perfumed, noble woman named Phaelis. Morgan opens the door to see the familiar sight of Phaelis and in a nonchalant manner says “Come in.” There is a tension visible in the air as she slowly enters. Phaelis smiles, nods and then brightly says “Greetings Saerra!” who looks up from tending to the baby. She looks at the baby laying quietly in its crib and says “How beautiful!! Congratulations.” Saerra smiles proudly and affectionately says “Yes. Yes, he is.” Out of the corner of her eye, Saerra spots Morgan cautiously looking out of the window. After a few moments of that he seems to be satisfied that there is no trouble following and returns to stand before Phaelis.
“Have a seat and make yourself comfortable. Would you like something to drink? We have water, a little bit of honey ale, or Black River Tea?”
Phaelis’ friendly smile turns to something more sinister and arrogant. Saerra and Morgan let out a muffled yelp as short blades quietly sheathe themselves into the flesh of their backs. A look of shock and utter horror fills their faces as they look to each other and then to their new born son, their life slowly fading from them. The bodies of Saerra an Morgan slump quietly to the floor to reveal two figures enshrouded in shadows behind them with bloodied blades in hand. They soundlessly sheathe the blades and their forms shift to that of Morgan and Saerra. They pickup the two bodies and lay them in bed covering them in blankets. Their movements making not a sound. When they finish with that they return to the main room and all three surround the baby, Shraen, laying wide-eyed in his crib. Soundless moments pass as the three do not move, their eyes fixed on Shraen. Phaelis passes a hand over the quietly cooing child and it falls asleep.