Suggested Audio Elixir:
Jeremy Soule “Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim Themes”
You ever received a full palm death slap from an orc barbarian? Hitched a ride on the back of an ember dragon and fast regretted it? Waded through the Swamp of Despair only to find yourself in the Forest of Desperation? Contracted joint rot from a blighted mosquito a minute later? Got a little trigger happy with a quiver of steel arrows and accidentally fired one into the explosive barrel your associate is currently using to tie their boot laces against? Been surrounded by a clan of tone-deaf goblins with but a lute to fend them off with? Become tangled in unbreakable gossamer, cast the wrong spell, and supplied the gargantuan arachnid scurrying into your personal space with a full minute’s fire resistance? Had your amber brew confiscated for farting in a crowded tavern? Leveled up while going hell for leather with your Staff of Self-Anointment? Been date-raped by an ogre? Been impregnated by an ogre? Given birth to ogre triplets? Attempted to breast feed ogre triplets? Waited all weekend for an ogre to call before realizing it’s the middle ages and telecommunication hasn’t been invented yet?
If the answer to the above posers is yes, then consider yourself qualified to embark on the following adventure. I have no idea where it will lead us, cannot ensure your safe passage, may well get inebriated and trade you for an abacus, and make every misinformed choice I can to usher us directly into certain doom. But it will be an adventure. Granted, it may seem little more than a romp, caper at best, but even the most valiant of crusades need to begin somewhere. We can’t be expected to wake up, stretch those arms, and reach down the side of the bed to retrieve the Cuirass of Protection. That shit must be sniffed out, quests need to be planned and executed, dank caverns traversed and enemies equalized before we get to the real meat and gravy. That means starting with just the bare essentials and no social status whatsoever. We are strangers in this town, mere blow-ins from the nearby sand dunes, and fully expected to perish horrendously the very moment we set off into the thicket.
Don’t know about you but I’m more than comfortable with being underestimated; less snivelling fishwives pleading that you spy on their duplicitous others for a handful of copper coinage. Insignificant chores such as these won’t see us conquering the tyrannical high priest currently scheming to overthrow the kingdom. A true champion cannot hope to flourish in a filthy loin cloth alone. Protective armor is required, two-handed blades need to be forged, ore traded for luck potions, and low-level irritants defeated before this can classify as a true adventure. So I suggest we take a glance over the world map, select a route, deviate from its path, and land ourselves deep in hot water. Apparently that’s the best way to learn and I could do with the chest hairs to be honest. All being well, I’ll grab a few strands for my balls too while I’m at it. You see, got it all figured out me, you could even say that I’m the ideal travel companion and no intermediate should leave home without one of these in their ranks. The world outside can be both harsh and unforgiving, seldom will we not be prone to pitfall, and heads will most certainly need to be on swivels if we’re to come out of this medieval mess as heroes. Two heads are better than one right?
I’m gonna miss this place you know. That barmaid at the local grog shop promised me a hand job if I stick around and, had it not been for the lesions on her knuckles, I likely would have agreed to her terms. That’s where you come in as my own personal entourage, I can’t be expected to go pillaging catacombs with a full tank of ale now can I? Fret not as I shall return the favor, delve into that dense 1570s bush, and locate the hidden treasure. Teamwork is key here as the threat will no doubt arrive from all sides and failure to confederate historically never ends well. No need for a show of hands as I vote myself party leader; not because I’m some sort of fascist you understand. The buck needs somewhere to stop if it all goes tits to the skies and I’m more than happy to play scapegoat should we sheepishly scuttle back into town with tails between our legs and a thousand gaping flesh wounds to slather. Of course, any riches we happen across will be distributed fairly – one gold bullion for me, one copper cobblestone for you, one elixir of invincibility for me, one vial of fungal bacteria for you – fifty-fifty all the way. So whaddaya reckon? Shall we venture off into the unknown? You ready for an adventure of epic proportions?
Unless my map reading skills are all off-kilter, I believe we are approaching our very first subterranean grotto. I shall take the lead but fully expect you to have my back if we unleash some kind of pent-up evil within. Word to the wise kid, we will be unleashing some kind of pent-up evil within. That’s how this works and the pile of hollowed-out skulls by the entrance is our clue to the kind of gnarled monstrosities that lurk in the lower levels. For starters, I suggest we take a quick poke around up here, tool ourselves up for the descent as down equates to dirge and it’ll unquestionably all go Radiohead once we trigger one of the many cunningly placed traps in the sub vault. Whatcha got as a weapon? Harsh language huh? Here, take my iron broadsword and watch where you point it as the last thing we need is friendly fire and that thing looks like it weighs almost as much as you. Tell you what, over by that rock cluster is a pretty docile looking millipede, give it what for and I’ll review your performance from back here. Don’t be freaked out by the number of limbs or mysterious green glow; it should offer precious little resistance to your burly blade and you may just earn your first level up in the process.
My apologies about the whole millipede thing. How was I to possibly know that it possessed just as many dripping fangs as it did getaway sticks? Sit still and I shall patch you up good as new in just a shake or two. Quick question? Did you see where the little rapscallion carried your sword arm off to? Took your left leg too I see. Never mind that bollocks, here comes another one. Hop dagnabbit! I would advise against glancing into your slipstream as you bounce as it appears to be midway through metamorphosis. Would you look at those wings. Ain’t they pretty? Heads up, you may wish to duck about now, as it seems to have designs on your helmet. I guess it would be a good time to step in and save your hide. Begone winged millipede, I insist that you cease attempting to peck out my associate’s eyeballs at once. See this can of whoop? Hold on, I could have sworn I brought it with me. How was I to know that I picked up a tin of baked beans? The labels are remarkably similar. That said, they are a rather glorious source of fibre. Perhaps if I guzzle them down, I won’t feel so dreadfully lethargic. You got a naked flame handy? A little predisposed are you? No dramas, I’ll eat them cold.
Well they were simply delightful and I’m feeling all galvanized and ready to save my beloved comrade from a fate most ghastly. Where did you get to? This is no time for hide and seek. If you insist, I shall follow the thick blood trail leading back to the dark crawl space, just to humor you mind. Found you. Okay, you want the good news or bad? Shit, you want the good news. Erm… well… this cavern has awesome acoustics. Pull my finger and we’ll soon have a smile back on that face. Not feeling it? Tough audience. So I guess you’ll be wanting that bad news then? I may have forgotten to save our progress before we ventured inside this hell hole. It’s not the end of the world, I’m fairly sure a good night’s rest will see you right as rain in no time. Please allow me to assist you back to your foot. No really, it’s the least I can do after failing you so miserably with the whole airborne millipede debacle. Guess I underestimated the personnel a dash. That said, the top-level is now looking secure, and I’m sure we’ll find some potions of healing if we just soldier on as best we can. One more thing, I forgot to get my boot heels cobbled before we departed town, and you don’t appear to have any use for the one on your lefty.
On the plus side, I’ve just located the entrance to the lower level, and reckon it’s high time we rove a little deeper and grab us some supplies. There is just one potential snag and I really don’t wish to put a dampener on things but it seems to be securely fastened. If it’s not too much trouble, I thought you may fancy testing out those famed lock picking skills of yours as I think I have a migraine coming on. You know the kind, right behind the eyes, a real humdinger. I’ll just take a seat here for a second until it wears off. You carry on regardless, sounds like you’ll have it open in no time. Just throwing it out there but it’s pretty stuffy in here and I could really benefit from a dash of fresh air to aid my recovery. I can see you’re not keen and the last thing I want is to toss a wrench into the works. After all, just look how far we have come already. Granted, we may have suffered a few minor setbacks en route, but I can almost smell the wealth of riches behind that large oak door. Give it a tug and I reckon we’ll soon be on easy street.
Riches, witches – I wasn’t a million miles off. Not the most attractive of hags admittedly but I managed to smuggle a tankard of ale from the tavern. Knock it straight back and I promise you that those edges will soon soften. I don’t know what you’re complaining about, I’d give anything to be surrounded by groping wenches. Tell you what, I’ll give you a little privacy, let you negotiate the getting to know you phase in peace. Should you need me for anything, don’t be bashful, and just give me a holler. I’ll be right outside, picking herbs for tonight’s celebratory meal. Better yet, I’ll make a quick dash home and fire up the stove. You all appear to be getting on famously and I’m thrilled to witness such a definitive case of group bonding. Looks like you may want to stay for dinner after all as their cauldron seems to be simmering up a treat. Their broth is legendary around these parts you know. I have to say it has been a distinct pleasure accompanying you on your very first adventure and I trust it will be the first of many, judging by the animated look on your face. No need to see me out, I know you have your hand full. Speaking of which, I finally located your misplaced lefty. I’ll take it with me for safe keeping. Sure I can find a use for it while you’re gone. Good job I scavenged that Staff of Self-Anointment. Time for a different kind of adventure entirely methinks.