A warm welcome to you, heroes! And congratulations on once again heeding my call to adventure—as you did many moons ago, when our journey first began.
You stand at the start of our final quest.
What happens now, you ask? That, my friends, is up to you.
Step into the world below. See through our protagonist’s eyes. And then make your choice.
At The Five Corners Inn
The air, thick with smoke. My lungs filled with it.
Inns. Always the same. The face of the person next to me is hidden. Cloak up too high to make out anything beyond the pooled shadow and strands of blonde hair.
The blade they carry, though… that I recognise. Difficult to miss, laid out on the table like that. A shard of black steel, smooth surface incised with blinding green markings. Runes, maybe. I don’t know. Don’t care. Just one more weapon to me. Even if they run their hands over it constantly, like they’re calming an anxious horse.
They’re speaking; can’t figure the voice, either. Not clearly a man, or a woman. Not an elf, or a dwarf. Could be anyone, or anything, under there. More troubling is the fact the sword seems to echo the words. Each time they speak, there’s a soft chiming response from the table. I try not to stare at the blade.
‘Hobgoblins left the Mistmurk. Chased out, so they say. By something vast, and dark.’
I nod. Sip my beer. It’s swill, but at least it means I don’t need to talk. I prefer not talking, if I can.
‘Say it came up from beneath the old tower. You know it?’
I nod again. I know it. Spent some time in Mistmurk forest. Hiding. The tower has stood there almost as long as the trees. Stone sprouting from the ground, striking against the forest canopy, breaching it, letting sunlight through. But it still feels dark there. You can feel old wrongs. Feel the past settling around your shoulders, like a noose waiting to be drawn tight.
‘They’re looking for someone to venture that way. Find out if the rumours are true. Find out what’s nasty enough to scare hobgoblins out of their homes.’
Another sip. Trying not to look interested. It’s been too long since I had something to do beyond hacking at the rats in the cellar of this bloody tavern.
‘I hear you used to be… handy.’
Can’t not talk now, so I look up from the beer, the colour of old parchment, and say:
‘Still am. Especially to those who ask damn fool questions.’
The cloaked figure, and the sword, laugh.
‘I can see that. Seems a shame you’re working here.’
‘Got to work somewhere,’ I say. Trying to keep the temper controlled. I can feel the rage in the stomach, struggling to rise. Keep it down.
‘True. But there’s money in this job. And maybe some interest from the song makers. Heard you were well on your way to being bardsung once. This might get you moving that way again.’
I don’t know where this information is from, but it’s true. Been a long time since the bards were granting me names, beginning to compose tunes in my honour, but they did. At the bar, the landlord is shouting me over again. Something about rats in the cellar needing dealing with. Glory awaits.
‘Duty calls,’ says the cloaked figure, and the sword whines like it’s been struck with a hammer. Mocking me. ‘If you change your mind, I’ll be here for another hour. Then I’ve my own song to be writing. You understand.’
I start to move through the crowd at the bar, forcing them aside.
Keep the rage down.
Keep the rage down, by the gods.
Take the dæmonbladed stranger up on their offer?
Keep your head down, and head to the cellar as the landlord asked?
So, what will it be, heroes?
You have until 08:30 UTC on November 26 to share your choice in the Kickstarter comments.
Then, if we have reached £689k, the most popular choice will be set in stone, our path set, and our next step revealed…