A late entry with the following choices:
A cynical warrior is desperately fighting Accepted Protector of the Naked Craft .
A confused conjurer is afraid of being recognized by an old acquaintaince.
a gregarious bride is seeking the Field of Darkness.
A Cold alchemist is seeking the Entrance to the Underworld.
A rebellious bard is out for revenge.
This is a loose modification of the last one.
The Bard’s Curse
Estill sat at the table across from Armill. A flagon between them, Estill was half into a mug. Armill was ready for some mead.
“I need you for a job,” Estill said.
Armill put down his mug. “What kind of job?”
“Drop off. Retrieval.”
“No. One location for the drop. Another for the fetch.”
Armill took time to think it through. Even non-lethal merchandise carried a risk. The most important question was why he needed to be the courier. Plenty of runners in Vevill Town area. His trade was playing and singing, not running packages.
“What’s the catch?”
Estill had a sly smile on his face by now.
“No catch. You drop a package. You pick up a package. Simple.”
“What’s the pay?”
“Four gold dragoons. When you bring the package.”
“Three now and three when I deliver.”
“One now and three later.”
“One now and four later.”
Estill thought it over.
They shook on it. Estill pulled out a thick purse and removed a shiny, golden dragoon. The coin was more than Armill made in any week and the purse looked full of these.
Armill met Estill a day later at the stables. Behind to be exact, Estill insisted. The dark man had a leather satchel and hid in the shaded part of the building.
“No questions,” he said. “Do not look inside. I will know if you do.”
At this Armill began to have second thoughts. His intention had nothing to do with intrusion. If the contents were that closely guarded, safety would be a concern.
“Do you understand? You will regret crossing me.”
“I understand,” Armill said. “I won’t look at your satchel. But…what is it? I mean, is it dangerous?”
Estill looked ready to strike.
“You will regret your existence if you open either satchel.”
Armill took the satchel carefully. Estill glared at the bard as Armill put the strap over his head.
The satchel felt heavy, heavier than it looked. Armill rode his horse to the designated location. It was just as the man said – the broken pine at the crossroad south of town.
Armill dismounted. The satchel was still heavy but now it felt like it moved on its own. He nearly dropped it when it swayed.
“What manner of…”
He put the bag down behind the tree and left hurriedly. It was near noon but the shadows looked long now even in the cloudless sky.
Armill swore the cave was not there a minute before. There it stood now, at least eight feet tall and very dark. The next package was supposed to be in there. He had no torch or lantern. He could see about two feet in and then total darkness.
“The satchel had better be close.”
He stepped to the entrance, peering to see as much as possible. Many shadows, many rocks that could be a satchel. He stepped in, examining everything as he went, not wanting to get in too far. That glow there, that wasn’t there before. He walked closer to the west wall looking to the object. This had to be it.
“I didn’t look in either one. I swear. I nearly didn’t see this one.”
“You did good,” Estill told him. He reached in that purse and pulled out four more dragoons. “One more thing. Forget this ever happened. Maybe take a long trip to the coast.”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
“We are done. Go.”
“What was in that first satchel.”
“Better you didn’t know. For all of us.”
Armill made it down the Peasant’s Road all the way to Dargo village. The sun was nearly set. Ahead was a light in what looked like an inn. The sign over the door had what looked like a dragon with a dripping cauldron. It almost looked like the one at the Leaky Dragon in Vevill.
He went inside. Not many patrons were visiting this evening. The innkeep looked up and asked what he needed.
“Food. Drink. Bed if you have it.” Armill put a dragoon on the counter. “I hope you can change this out.”
The innkeep’s eyes went wide, either from greed or fear, Armill could not tell. The man stepped back.
“I’m sorry, I might have something smaller.”
“No. That’s devil’s coin. You’ll have to leave.”
The coin was a gold dragoon. How was it possible this man saw it as a blacked piece of silver?
Armill grabbed the dragoon and left the way he came.
Outside, there was no sign of his horse or even the post he hitched it to. The light was completely gone now, even the inn’s light was hard to see now. No torches or lanterns burned on the street. Armill felt dizzy now, disoriented. As he fell to the ground, all he could see was Estill’s evil grin.