Mad Mage Chronicles – CH4

Breakfast With a Plan

This story is part of a longer series based on the published adventure “The Dungeon of the Mad Mage”

The bar is silent at sunrise. It is a also a mess with tables flipped to their side, a thick layer of sticky smelly mud coats the floor, and a young tired man lazily sweeps up the bits of broken glass scattered throughout.  A few patrons sleep off the night of drinking, slumped over on the floor or over a table. They snore loudly as the few disgruntled looking employees carefully clean around them. It’s quite a sight to see The Yawning Portal in it’s tranquil state.

Diljaris and Roakala are the first to come down. Diljaris in her usual chipper deadener gleefully galops down the steps while Roakala slinks behind her slowly. Her eyes half closed in her exhaustion. Her feet drag over the wooden boards. They sit at a table and Diljaris orders breakfast as Roakala’s slumps over the table and hides her face in her arms. “Why so early? We are the only people up this early” she says in a tone muffled by her current position.

“Well my dear” Diljaris responds as she begins setting up her workplace “We have a lot of dungeon to uncover and we are really behind.” She begis to neatly place before her books and journals and pens. Each placed neatly in their designated location.

Roakala raises her head slightly, her chin still touching the table. “I’m just here for the money, is there a way I can just join up with you later”

Diljaris smiles “So your intention is to join then?”

“That’s not what I meant” Roakala hides her face in her arms again.

“I need to see how well you do in combat before we can properly talk about you joining my group” Diljaris says as she studies her half conscious partner.

There is no response from Roakala except some heavy breathing.

A few minutes pass before Drungar and Gorak come down. “Good morning! I hope we haven’t been keeping you waiting long” Drugnar says extatically, his voice filling the room.

Diljaris who had been busy writing responds “I wouldn’t make tardiness a regular thing but it’s fine. Please join us eat we will depart after breakfast.” Before her, the table has already been set with a small feast of eggs bacon and toast.

The two men sit down at the table, filling their plates with the assortment of food. Gorak points to Roakala “What’s wrong with her?”

Without lifting her head Roakala lets out a muffled response. “It’s too early” is what the party can make out.

They begin to eat breakfast in silence. Diljaris writes in her journal, taking small nibbles here and there. Eventually Roakala lifts her head and eats from a plate Diljaris set aside for her. “So” Roakala begins, her mouth still full of food “you got a plan princess?’ Bits of egg  spray out from her mouth to the table.

Diljaris looks at the bits of discarded egg with disgust. “I am not a princess!” she responds, sounding a bit annoyed. “Of course I have a plan”

“Are you gunna share it with us or is this a you thing?” Gorak chimes in.

“Oh you meant for today. Well we are going to go down into the dungeon and find a few monsters to fight. I want to see how compatible we are as a group.”

“How much are you paying us for that?” Roakala asks.

“Well if we find anything while we are down there, we’ll split it evenly. Remember, I have yet decided on your membership status”

“This is a lot of danger for a test princess. I think it’s fair that we get a bit of compensation. Maybe some collateral in case you don’t make it back.” Roakala adds, reaching to get more eggs.

“Well I did pay for your meals and lodging and I did save you from that mob you incited. I think I’ve compensated you plenty”

Roakala looks at her plate full of eggs, thinking for a moment before letting out “I could have taken ’em”

“Well” Diljaris says smiling “There shouldn’t be much danger for someone of your skill set. If what you say is true that is.”

“Hey” Roakala responds, slightly agitated “You don’t have to worry about me. I ain’t just talk.” There is a moment of silence as the three stare at the half-orc who wears a pugnacious look on her face. The scents of breakfast fill her flared nostrils. She seems to calm and sighs “All I am saying, moving forward, Ima need more than just breakfast.”

There is a small lift that has been built against the old well at the center of the bar. It is made from a small system of pulleys that attach to a wooden platform big enough to hold a small party of adventurers. The party finds itself in front of its sleeping operator. He is a older man with grayed mangled hair and an untrimmed beard and an untidy appearance. He sleeps soundly leaning against tower wall.

“Excuse me sir?” Diljaris says as he pokes the man gently. He jumps suddenly, staring back at the party who now surrounds him. It takes him a moment to regain full consciousness before finally asking “What do you want?!”

“We would like to go down, can you please give us a lift?”

“1 gold each” he grumbles.

“1 gold? You have to be kidding me? What if we take the ladder?” Gorak points to an old dirty ladder that goes down the side of the wall.

“It’s a gold either way. Are you going or not?” the man snaps as he stares down the party.

“Can we give you 2 gold and take the stairs?” Drugnar asks as he starts counting coins in his purse.

“Look I don’t make the rules. I just sit here and charge the fee. If you have an issue, take it up with Durnan. Pay up or leave” The man was clearly in a foul mood.

The party looks at each other with undecided looks in their eyes. Roakala is clearly angered by the man’s disposition. Her first ball up tightly as she takes a step towards the man, but before she could say a word, Diljaris interjects “Alright that’s fair” She pulls out her coin purse “4 gold it is.” Diljaris hands over the four gold and places the purse back in her pocket. “But we would like to use the lift”

“Yeah yeah, hurry up. Hop on” The man says, putting the coins in his pocket.

The party squeezes into the small wooden platform. The wood is worn and dirty. The wood creeks as it bears the weight of the party. Despite it’s rugged appearance, the lift is well built.  The man begins to work the pully and the party begins its slow initial decent into the dungeon bellow. The darkness begins to hug them as the echoes of their decent bounce about the stone creating the a mountainous melody of their first adventure. They watch as the bar moves farther and father away until it is a small skylight. They land on the soft murky sand with a jolting thud. Gorak lights a torch. The light washes over the darkened walls revealing an explosion of colorful graffiti. Here the, names and words written in all the languages come together to form the story of the countless adventurers that have walked over this sand and through the old wooden doors. Confined in this small room, isolated from everything the party stands in admiration and excitement as boots crunch into the dirty sand. Fingers trace against the crumbling colored stone while Roakala digs through the pills of discarded refuse.

Her old glove digs through. Her fingers stop as they touch something hard. She pulls out a dirty clumping ball, perhaps something ceramic? She wipes it on her tunic, spitting on it every so often. The sand and mug begin to fade under her diligence, revealing an ivory colored orb. On closer inspection, she makes out a blackened iris. Staring back at her, a finely made glass eye sits on her hand.

“What did you find?” Drugnar asks as he moves towards the orc.

Roakala turns the iris so that it stares back at the dwarf. “Looks like someone is walking around with half their eyes.” She chuckles as she palms the eye and places it gingerly in her pocket. “What do we do now?”

The party looks at each other as the echoes of the lift returning to the top encapsulates them. They turn to the door. It seems out of place within its place on the wall. Surrounded by old dirty stone sits a freshly stained door on new hinges. A minute goes by before Drugnar finally breaks the silence. “I guess let’s see what’s behind door number 1.”

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