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gmvader

Time to Run

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This is another story that takes place in our Dungeons and Dragons campaign and is a bit a direct sequel to A Knight of Pelor. The main character is a young girl that the adventurers run into occasionally. Her name is Misha and she and her partner, Merrywether, are con artists who travel around finding way to get money.

They’ve arrived at Pelor’s Light just a few days after the disaster of A Knight of Pelor and are claiming to be a traveling Cleric and his squire. The adventurers give them a bit of a lecture before fleeing for their own reasons. This story starts as Misha is trying to process what the party bard said to her.

Time to Run

Misha watched the backs of the adventurers as they hurried for the exit like they’d been caught, right out in the open. Time to run. She sighed. The words of the bard echoed in her head. You have the opportunity to be a real hero here.

Shrugging to herself she picked up the chains and leaned forward, dragging the weight down the stone corridor. Be a real hero? Us? Merywether always said, Heroes only get one reward, dead.

By the time she had hauled the chain to the stairs she was sweating and her back ached.

“Hero stuff is hard work.”

Heaving one end of the heavy chain she began to drag it down the stairs. “I bet Kovanora’s friends could have done this a lot easier,” she grunted, “some heroes, leaving us behind to do all the hard sh… stuff.”

The chain clinked and rang behind her as it tumbled down the steps. She glanced behind her in time to see the entire mass of heavy links shift and begin to flow down. She swore loudly and dropped the end of chain to sprint down the stairs as the metal clattered and jangled behind her like a metal waterfall.

At the bottom she tripped over a rug and sprawled across the floor, skinning her elbow. The chain crashed down next to her, links spilling out in a cacophony and the last bit slammed into her shoulder. Sharp pain bloomed immediately.

The swear words seemed to fall from her lips. Merywether said that kind of language wasn’t proper for a squire of Pelor but what did a squire of Pelor do when she was in pain?

“Are you alright?”

Misha froze. Gripping her shoulder she rolled onto her back. A pretty lady dressed in armor looked down on her. Guenevere, the Knight-in-Charge, or something.

Misha bit her lip to keep from swearing again.

“You look hurt,” Guenevere said, crouching down next to Misha. Misha tried to shrug but the movement sent a new shock of pain and she winced instead.

“Let me look at it,” Guenevere said, “it might be broken.”

“Oh, Nine Hells, thats all I need now.” Misha let her head fall back against the rug as Guenevere felt at her shoulder. “Sorry,” she said, “about my language. It’s my one sin that I’m praying to Pelor to take away from me.” She tried to make the sign of Pelor that Kovanora had taught her but could only move the one arm. She couldn’t remember it anyway.

Guenevere smiled, “I’ve heard worse.” Misha bit back another string of profanity as the knight’s fingers found the sore spot. “It’s broken, here, let’s get you to Inaros, he’ll patch you up.”

Guenevere helped Misha to her feet and Misha leaned in, her mind already trying out the possibilities. Holy orders were always generous. If she made it look bad enough…

You have the opportunity to be a real hero here.

That was going to really screw up her plans. Couldn’t heroes occasionally pull a con — like for the greater good or something?

“Your name’s Guenevere, right? I heard the other knights call you Major Claremonde, is that your title, like lord or master or whatever?”

“Yes, and you are Misha… the Cleric’s squire?”

The best way to lie, Merywether always said, was to not tell the lie to begin with.

“Can I call you Guen,” Misha asked instead of answering. “Guenevere seems kind of long and Major Claremonde is really long. I feel like we’re about to be friends and I’ve always liked the name Guen. I knew a Guen once, well, actually her name was Malagwen and she wasn’t very nice, not very nice at all. Actually she was a real…” Misha stopped, “well, I didn’t like her.”

Guen led her along the castle corridor, one arm firmly around Misha’s ribs to help support her. Misha leaned into it a little, it felt nice.

“It sounds like you’ve had quite a childhood,” Guen said. She looked down at Misha sadly. Misha felt a thrill of excitement. She loved that look. It meant adults would do almost anything she wanted as long as she kept up the act.

Real hero. Right.

Misha hugged her arm close to her side. Each step seemed to stab her shoulder like some kind of invisible fairy was sitting on her back and poking her just for fun. Maybe there was, how would she know?

“Yeah, I was an orphan. I guess, technically I’m still an orphan, I don’t have any parents but who needs ‘em, right.” She tried to shrug then gave a small cry at the explosion of pain.

“I love my parents,” Guen said. “I wish I could see them more. What about your friend the uh… cleric.”

“Holiness Merywether,” Misha said, feeling a bit of pride at remembering to add the counterfeit honorific. “He’s like my big brother and my boss all in one. He knows so much stuff, about almost everything. He always knows how far…” she trailed off. How far to go before we bugger out and run. That’s what she was going to say. This Guen was tricky, she made Misha talk about things.

Watch out for kindness, it can make you trust. Merywether was right. Don’t trust kindness.

“Right in here,” Guen pointed to an open door. Inside the tang of alcohol tickled her nostrils. Stacks of clean bandages were piled on a table and a plump man in a thick leather apron sorted them. Next to him a dark-skinned half-elf man turned toward her and squinted at her through thick spectacles that made his eyes look like they belonged on a gecko.

Guen introduced the gecko man as Inaros and assured her that he was a great healer.

Misha wasn’t so sure about that. How could any man with eyes that huge know how to heal people.

She didn’t scream much when his hands forced her bone back into place. She did curse, though, a lot. She may have even called him a son of a motherless gecko-faced crocodile lover… among other things. She felt bad for the bloody nose, but, it was a reflex. He didn’t even warn her before he gave a sharp tug and her fist flew and her mouth followed.

It still hurt, sharp and present, throbbing with her heart beat. The sling that Inaros gave her got in the way but she could probably play it for some sympathy meals for at least a couple weeks.

She wandered around the castle until she found her pile of chain and sat down on it. She huffed out a sigh of frustration. Be the real hero.

“Heroes only get one reward…,” she muttered, scuffing her foot on the rug.

Outside Merywether was trying to organize a work crew to rebuild the wall that looked like it had been pulled down into the swamp. He wasn’t being very successful.

Merywether wasn’t good with people, not like Misha. He was smart and he always knew what to do. When to run. When to stay. But not what to say.

When the bard told him this was his opportunity to be a hero it spoke to his soul, she saw it turn his plans around. It spoke to Misha’s soul too, she could feel it even now, burrowing into her like a purple worm through soft clay.

“There you are. Inaros said he was done with you.”

“Guen,” Misha put on a weak smile, out of habit she let the smile pull into a wince, for sympathy. “I had a plan to help but now it’s all gone to sh… it’s all gone.” She gestured to her sling with her free hand.

Guen sat down on the pile of heavy chain and patted Misha on her good shoulder. The gesture felt so pure and kind that it almost brought a tear to Misha’s eye.

“What is it you were trying to do?” Guen asked.

“Well… I saw a machine once, in Vorlaxia, the scalies…, the lizardfolk, used it to lift rocks, like, huge ones, boulders. I thought I could build one to help get some of the pieces of the wall back in place.” Misha looked at the pile of chain and realized she was probably lucky it hadn’t crushed her.

“You really want to help, don’t you,” Guen said.

“Yeah, I’m just really… bad at it, you know.”

Guen nodded. “I know.”

Misha looked at her, a pit of panic forming in her stomach. Something about how Guen had said those words…

Guen nodded again and brushed a stray lock of hair behind one ear. “I know that you are not a squire and Merywether is not a cleric. I don’t know why you’re here. It doesn’t matter.”

“Then, why haven’t you tried to capture us, or chase us away, or… some other kind of…” Misha bit her lip. Not swearing was hard.

“General Crunch was the best man I ever knew. He died this morning, actually he was killed but… that part isn’t important. He taught me so much,” Guen’s voice broke and Misha squirmed, uncomfortable. “He was a terror on that wall, you know, if undead could feel fear they would have fled from him. He really was the best of us.” She wiped a tear away from her eye. “This chain is really uncomfortable.”

“Yeah,” Misha said, “but you’re changing the subject. I knew a girl that did that all the time, her name is Kovanora and it’s a good sign she’s hiding something. I’ll figure it out some day. Hidden things always come out, but it would be a lot easier if you just told me.”

Guen smiled at her and Misha felt a wash of warmth in her belly. That wasn’t the way grown-ups usually smiled at her. It was more like how two friends smiled at each other.

Are we friends? Misha felt a jolt of almost panic at the thought.

“Crunch believed in giving people the freedom they needed to find their way. ‘They’ll find it eventually people will choose to do good.’” Guen shrugged. “That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m giving you a chance to do good.”

The opportunity to be a hero.

Misha felt like… crap… was that a swear word? She had come here hoping to con these people but they were nothing but good.

“Merywether has a saying, it’s kind of a code we live by.” Misha said, shifting her seat where her butt was going numb. “Sometimes you run, sometimes you stay. The trick is knowing what time it is.” She looked over at Guen, “He’s really good at it.”

“Sometimes you run,” Guen repeated. She nodded slowly. “Sometimes you stay.” She turned to Misha and gave her a quick hug, joy lighting her face. “You are a gem, Misha, you are Pelor’s holy messenger.”

Misha shook her head vigorously, “No, I’m not, I thought you…”

“Today you are.” Guen nearly leaped to her feet. “Now is the time to run, Misha. The Knights of Pelor need to run. The horde of undead is out there and we need to hunt it down.”

“What? No. That’s not what I was saying at all.”

***

Misha sat on the back of a wagon that rocked gently underneath her weight. The knights, armor clanking, marched out the gates of Pelor’s Light.

“What now?” she asked with a sigh.

Merywether chewed his bottom lip and patted her on the back softly. He sighed as well. “We do the best we can, my child.”

Misha rolled her eyes. “They’re all gone, you don’t have to be Holiness Merywether any more?”

“In these dark times, sometimes the light of our hope is all we have to cling to,” Merrywether said.

Misha snorted and rolled backward in the wagon, laughing, “You sound like a pompous a—“

Merrywether held up a warning finger, “The Knights of Pelor will need a home to return to. We will make sure it is here for them.”

Misha sat up. “Yeah. I guess we could do that. So. Time to stay?”

Merrywether nodded, his face solemn, “Time to stay. For now.”

Edited by gmvader
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