Tales Untold

Aritaeus' Adventures - Chapter One

Of Rats and Pies

My dearest Father,

Ah, the smell of fresh leather and the satisfying creak of a book’s spine breaking. This is my adventure journal! When my journey has come to an end, and I am known the world over as a Hero of Pylor, it is my hope that I can read to you from this book when you are in your twilight years to give you comfort, amusement and pride that your Son grew up to be such. Then with the rest of my years, I will write great stories from these journals and send them across the continent.

I graduated from the Hands of Emerys, along with my dear brother Callidus. Callidus doesn’t seem to think this is as great an accomplishment as I feel it is, so much so that it was quite the chore trying to get him out of his bed. He was deep into his cups the night before our final test, and fell into a drunkard’s sleep in front of the fire. Zanna threw a fur hide over him, and made me aware when I came down at first light for breakfast. I shook him awake, and he promised me he’d be ready in plenty of time before retreating to our shared accommodation to get freshened up. Time passed, and I was growing concerned, so I withdrew upstairs to check on him, politely tapping on the door (for I did not wish to catch him in a state of undress!) and each time he assured me he would be just another few minutes, and yet many minutes passed and he still did not awake.

I couldn’t bear to leave without him, it had been a long two years as Thumbs together, I wanted to do my final test with him! So eventually I plucked up my resolve and went into the room proper, (averting my eyes at first) to find him fast asleep in bed! I was so angry, yet even as I expressed my upset, he mumbled just being another few minutes! Well, I emptied a small tankard of water over his head and told him that we would most surely be late, and the rogue had the cheek to ask for breakfast before we left, yet had not even taken the chance to change his clothes. He is the devil, but I cherish him dearly.

By the time we arrived, we had to fight against the tide of Thumbs (the equivalent to an initiate in the Hands of Emrys) that were already on their final Trials, their tasks known. Indeed, by the time we came to find Olasha (our Half-Orc Huntress and Tutor) and the other Hunter Masters and Mistresses, there were nearly no more quests left. I could have died of shame when they began to tease and mock us for being tardy, and were reluctant to let us undertake our own quest. It was only by my persuasion that they finally relented and let us have a rather ignoble quest, to rid a local Tavern of an infestation of rats. Hardly the calling of a Nobleman and his brother, but by this point I would have taken anything I could get!

When we arrived at the Crooked Wheel, just to the right at the end of Smithee Street, we rapped on the door to find no answer. Going to the tradesman’s entrance, we found the chef, a young Gnome who Zanna claimed was her Cousin. They set to talking in their strange little language for a while, before Cal cleared his throat and reminded them of our presence.

We were pointed to the cellar in the yard, taking a torch in hand, as Zanna promised me a fine family-secret pie upon my return. Well, Father, these were just the largest rats you had ever seen! Easily as big as a huntsman’s hound. A crack in the walls led directly into the sewers that run under the main street proper, and these rats squeezed their bloated bodies into the cellar from there. Once inside, they faced a veritable vermin treasure cove! The little blighters were worrying the barrels of ale and other such stores. I think that Olasha undersold the endeavour somewhat, and I suddenly knew why Zanna’s Cousin was covered in bandages, having previously just thought him a clumsy cook indeed!

We made short work of the rats, stacking their foul little bodies by the steps leading to the surface. Cal and I shifted a heavy, old cupboard in front of the crack until the Masons Guild could come out and make right the crack with their artisan repairs. And whilst this fixed the immediate problem, Cal had the good presence of mind to suggest we find the nest and put an end to it rather than half-complete our quest.

He carried (or rather, dragged) the brace of half a dozen or so rats to the surface with us, sending me to find the nearest entrance to the sewers as he informed the Cook that his cellar was clear. I came back to find him in the yard with a tidy sum of coins. The Hands usually don’t charge for these trials, so I was quite mystified where the coins could have come from. Cal said not to worry, that the Cook was just very generous. He also said he threw the rats into the gutter, for I commented that they were missing. I hope they don’t clog them up and cause any flooding.

Well, Father, I shall spare you the needless details of what a sewer looks and smells like, nor what Cal did to a rag of cloth to shroud his face, but suffice to say he supplied the chief ingredient! Once we were over the worst of the smell (and that was not a short while, I assure you), we managed to find the crack in the wall from the other side. It looks like the little devils chewed through the masonry. Can you imagine such? Their teeth must be hard as forged iron! We followed the line of droppings to find the brood mother, an especially larger rat that was barely mobile. A few unpleasant bites from her nest-mates, but we dealt with the issue at large. I have been watching the small injuries for any signs of infection, but I believe I have ‘lucked out’.

The rest of the day was spent thoroughly bathing, and I had Zanna run home to fetch me fresh clothes at once, and made sure she took another set for spares in future. Giving her my soiled clothing after a trip to the bathhouse, I felt almost human again. I had to pay twice as much for Callidus to get entry, the owner was most insistent. Then again, he did turn the water of his bath a very dark brown colour. If only Mother was more tolerant of him around the house, he might get to wash more often.

We celebrated that night at the Crooked Wheel, where our bill was paid for by the owner! I had two cups of wine before I felt a bit dizzy and stopped, and the pie was indeed great. I couldn’t identify what meat it was, and the Cook refused to tell me. Still, everyone seemed to enjoy it. Of particular note is that during the evening, we spotted a tiefling. Not hugely uncommon, but she had very dark, almost midnight blue skin and silver eyes. We didn’t speak with her, but this became relevant in my next writing…

Proud Hunter of Emrys,

-Ari

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