Thursday, October 16, 2014

Online Novel Chapter 5 - The Adventure Begins

It was mid-afternoon when they stepped into the sunlight.  Nothing in the natural scene said anything about this being a fantasy scenario - birds chirped, bugs buzzed, and sweat trickled beneath a large sun.  Only the dusty roads and thatched roof buildings said this wasn't their home.

Tucker jangled when he walked - a product of his armor rattling around on him.  It complimented his frame well, and the sword on his hip seemed a part of him.  Unlike the others, he was the only one who didn't look back.

"Uh, anybody have any idea how far it is to this Wostrom place?" Ray asked.

"Three or four leagues, Mouline," Dan replied.

"What did you say?" Ray asked.

"I said three or four leagues, Ray."  Dan blinked.  "I did say that, didn't I?"

"You called him Mouline," Lisa observed.

"Well, that's his character's name," Dan stammered.  "I'm just trying to get into the spirit."

Some of the group looked at each other, but the rest shrugged it off.  They looked hesitant still...except for Tucker.  No matter the group's pace(or lack thereof), he continued walking down the road, dust being kicked up by his boots dragging the ground.

"Tucker," Lisa called, "that's quite a ways."

"Is that a problem?" he called back over his shoulder.

"Kind of.  Shouldn't we have horses or something?"

"Did we have horses in the game?" Tucker asked.

They all looked at each other anew.  It wasn't something they ever really thought about.  Their characters usually just answered a poster in a town or were already at the scene of their adventure.  Travel between towns wasn't something they gave a lot of thought to.

"A horse or two would be nice," Chris ventured.

"So would a BMW, but we ain't got either," Tucker said.  "So let's keep moving.  I want to get to Wostrom before nightfall."

The group trudged after Tucker.  The knight seemed almost to pull them after him, for he didn't look back.  All but Pat were lightly dressed - as a woodsman, Pat wore heavier leather and carried a crossbow - yet it was Tucker, clad in his armor and heavy helmet, that set the pace.  His growing silence was almost as unnerving as his speed.

Dan was the one who slowed the group.  Although he knew the town and was the one with the directions in his head, his blindness prevented a quick stride, and only his grip on Chris' robes kept him from stumbling.  He paused to wipe the sweat from his brow once or twice, but he kept his complaints to himself.

Although Tucker wanted to make it before nightfall, the sun was long down by the time they finally reached the tiny Hamlet of Wostrom.  To say the place was small would be an understatement - most rural towns in Texas looked like bustling metropolises next to it.  Flickering torches lined the main road - one of only two, the other being the intersection in the center of the village - and ramshackle wooden buildings were interspersed throughout.  All were tired when they arrived, except for Tucker who seemed to have gained superhuman endurance.

A tavern on the side of the road named "The Boar's Head" had a wooden sign hanging from chains over the door.  Into the wood was painted a large black boar's head, its tusks gleaming in the moonlight.

"A tavern," Kurt panted.  "Thank god.  I need something to drink."

"Get your head out of the clouds," Tucker chided.  "We have a job to do, and getting hammered isn't on the list."

"Listen, Varagorn, you might be able to go all day and night, but the rest of us are beat," Kurt squeaked.  "If I don't get some food and drink, as well as a night's rest, I'll be no good to you.  Good luck beating the dragons by yourself."

Tucker looked annoyed, but he finally nodded.  Relief spread through the group as they opened the front door to the tavern.

Inside were a dozen wooden tables watched over by twice that number of candles.  A dirty bar was perched against the far wall with a scruffy man in an apron wiping out a wooden cup with a rag.  His brow furrowed as the group walked in and found a table.

After a few minutes, during which the barkeep gave the distinct impression he was hoping his lack of attention would dissuade his newfound patrons from staying, the man finally made it over.  He snarled, "What'll it be?"

Getting into the groove of things, Pat said, "I could use a good stout ale."

"Sound good," Chris said.  "One for everybody."

That earned him a quizzical look from the barkeep.  "Aren't you a priest of Dimala?" he asked, pointing at Chris' robes.  "I didn't think you guys were allowed to drink ale."

Chris was at a loss for words when Dan leaned over.  "Don't stand out," he whispered.  "We don't want to draw questions."

"But I'm thirsty," he hissed.

"Then get some water," Dan hissed back.

Clearly annoyed, Chris looked at the barkeep and said, "Water, then.  And any food you have.  What do you have?"

"Some leftover cheese and bread.  I'll bring it out.  Ale or mead for anyone else?"

The rest of the group piped up.  Most ordered ale, but Ray and Dan asked for mead.  It didn't take long for the barkeep to return with the drink, and a second trip saw him return with two loaves of bread and a slab of cheese.

The group tore into the food.  After much slurping and smacking, Dan said, "Uh, don't we have to pay for this?  Anyone got any money?"

The barkeep over heard them and started making his way back to the table, his face growing red.  However, his march was stopped when Lisa pulled a pouch of gold coins from her belt and threw it on the table.

"Lisa, where did you get that?" Pat asked.

"We each have something," Lisa said.  "At least each of us should except Dan.  He wasn't a character in the game, but our characters had money."

Each member of the group felt in his or her belt and packs, each one eventually coming up with something.  They flipped a couple of coins to the barkeep who now looked considerably more relaxed.  As the man scooped up the coins, Kurt asked, "Is there any place to stay around here?"

"Sure," the barkeep replied.  "The Weary Traveler Inn is just two doors down.  For rich folks like yourselves, they've got good accommodations."

They thanked the barkeep, swigged down the last of their drink, and headed for the door.  Only Tucker looked annoyed; the rest of the group just looked beat.

They had to get the innkeeper out of bed, and he looked frazzled and a little frightened when they did so.  Even the money they showed didn't mollify him, but he gave them four rooms for a piece of silver each.  Once he passed out keys, he headed back to his tony room.

"Sleeping arrangements?" Pat asked.

"I would think it obvious - I get the sole room, and everyone else can share," Tucker said.

After a second of shock, Lisa said, "Um, I'm the only girl.  Shouldn't I get the single room?"

"Kurt's a girl too," Tucker said, barely concealing a snicker as he did so.  "I need the room for my armor."

"Come on, Lisa - it'll be fun," Kurt said with a leer.

"Bullshit.  Just because you have tits now doesn't make you a girl."

"Does in every anatomy textbook I've ever read," Kurt replied.

"You women bicker all you like," Tucker said.  "I'm going to my room to take my armor off.  I want us up by sunrise to get back on the road."  Without looking back, he swiped a key and headed to his room.

The rest of the group looked stunned.  Tucker wasn't normally like this.  Yeah, he was a jock and a brute sometimes, but he'd always been cool.  Still, most were too tired to care at this point.

They worked out the rest of the sleeping arrangements - Kurt and Lisa would share(reluctantly on Lisa's part), while Chris and Dan shared a room, and Pat and Ray took the last one.  They fell onto beds of straw sleep overtaking them as quickly as the dark.

Unfortunately, it was only three or four hours later when a loud noise awoke them.  It sounded like grunts and screams, and it was coming from the main road through town.

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