Kristo Avgerin is a large man, even by human standards. Large and muscular, not large and overweight. He always has his brown hair tied back in a ponytail.
He walked into the backyard of his business, also known as Kristo’s Orestone as well as being his personal residence, and he took survey of the resources, glancing around at the raw materials he had in stock.
“Mason! We’re running out of iron ore again. It looks like a trip back to the quarry is in order.” Kristo shouts out to Mason. “I think it’s time to get the gang together again. You know how much they enjoy making that trip.”
“They? I love it, Kristo! I’ll go let everyone know.” Mason exclaims.
“Later, Mason. Right now, I need you to help me pile this loose stone back into a manageable pile first.”
Mason and Kristo begin piling the stone back up. They finish after one half hour.
“Well, I’m off to find the others.” Mason states.
“Don’t forget Firlindra.” Kristo says.
“Now why would I forget her?”
Mason Hammerstorm walked the streets of Ironfast regularly. He loves this town for its climate, people and location. Born here, Mason has worked his way up through Ironfast’s ranks of guards quickly, and now is second in command of the defenses of Ironfast behind only Captain Olford. Mason Hammerstorm has been given the duty of protecting the merchant-trader Kristo Avgerin on his expeditions up to Skyrange Quarry. It’s an honor Mason enjoys.
“There you are, Glib. Whatcha up to?” Mason inquires.
“Not much my friend.” Glib states, slowly working a whetstone across the blade of a two-handed sword. Glib wasn’t as large a human as Mason, if fact he is a small, wiry man, but he knows how to wield that two-hander to be sure. “I was waiting for you to show up. How long has it been since the last foray to the quarry anyway? I knew you two had to be getting low again. I can almost time your resource use by the sun.”
Mason laughs out loud. “You sense how our business runs almost as good as Firlindra senses ore. Speaking of which, have you seen her around lately?”
“I saw her yesterday at the marketplace, but not since.” Glib says. “I suspect she’s at home.”
“Okay. You coming along?” Mason asks, knowing full well what the answer will be.
Glib gives him the eye and wry smile. “Why do you keep asking me that?”
“I enjoy the sound of your voice. Come on. Let’s go.” Mason chuckles. “Any word on Draven?”
“Yeah. Last I heard, he was still working on armor, and failing miserably. His research so far into creation magic isn’t quite up to the task I think, but I give him credit for the effort.” Glib mentions.
“I have faith he’ll get it eventually. He’s not one to give up on it now after everything he’s been through.” Mason says.
The two travel across the street and down three houses to a small house. Both men walk up to it and knock on the door.
“Draven! You home?” Mason shouts, looking into the window.
The door open abruptly. A small man, smaller than Glib, stands in the doorway. His eyes are bright and wide, and he appears like he’s about to say something as his mouth is agape.
“I think I’ve got it! Glibby, do you mind?” Draven utters, looking as if he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
“Well, I…” Glib retorts.
“Excellent! Stand perfectly still. This shouldn’t hurt…” Draven instructs.
“Shouldn’t!? Now wait a minute, Dra…” Glib says nervously.
Draven begins moving his hands around Glib in a fashion he immediately recognized. “Oh, alright Draven. Give it a try. Again.” Draven concentrates, and after about ten seconds of his unusual moves, a pulsing gray light emits from Draven’s hands and encapsulates Glib in a shimmering, silvery radiance and then fades away and dies. Mason, caught by surprise, immediately looks anxiously at Glib. Draven beams with excitement at first, then frowns.
“Glib, how do you feel?” Draven replies, curious and nervous at the same time. “You alright Glib?” Mason inquires simultaneously.
“I feel fine. It didn’t work again, did it Draven?” Glib states.
“No. It’s not supposed to fizzle out like that. What am I missing?” Draven says, contemplating his failure.
“Listen Draven. We’ve got another quarry run to make for Kristo. You in?” Mason asks. “Yeah, of course. I can always hope to find more testing reagents. Do you think Gemini will be there?” Draven says, curiously.
“I don’t know. We were going to head to her house next to see if she is there.” Glib mentions.
Glib, Mason and Draven move out towards Gemini’s residence. The sunshine of the morning is now replaced by light showers that wets down the stone path as well as the three adventurers.
Mason walks up and starts to knock on the front door of Gemini’s home, and the door opens before he can strike the door the first time. It’s Firlindra.
“Why hello there, Firlie.” Mason states. “Is Gemini and Nishika here?”
“Please don’t call me that. You know I hate that nickname.” Firlindra remarks coolly. “And yes, they are both here. Come in! You three are soaked.”
“Hey Firlindra.” Glib says. “Greetings again, Firlindra” utters Draven. Both men greet her almost at the same time.
“Good to see you two again as always. So, what brings you?” Firlindra queries.
“Kristo is running low on ore and stone again, and he asked if we’d like to make another trip up to the quarry again for him, with pay of course.” Glib continues. “Safety in numbers and all, so we thought we’d swing by and see if you would want to come.”
“What a silly boy. Of course I’m always up for a foray to the quarry. It gives me a chance to practice and refine my talent. When were you planning on leaving?” Firlindra asks.
“As soon as we can meet up with everyone to see if everyone can go.” Draven utters.
At that moment, Gemini and Nishika stroll out of the back room. Gemini’s face is radiating. She seems wonderfully happy about something. Nishika is also smiling and looking at Gemini. Everyone greets everyone else as Gemini and Nishika enter the room.
“You seem quite happy today Gemini.” Draven says steadily.
“Yes! I think I’ve finally learned my first spell Draven! Nish and I have been comparing symbols all morning long, and I think one of her reagents is what I need for me to be able to cast it, at least, I hope so.” Gemini beams.
“Lightning Bolt? Wasn’t that the one you were striving to learn for so long?” Draven asks.
“Yes. That one and Fireball. Why are you three here? Don’t tell me. Kristo needs help at the quarry again.” Gemini quips.
Mason and Glib both smile. “So, can you come along again?” Draven interrupts, hopeful. “We’re all going up there.”
“I take it you three have heard the reports then?” Nishika comments. Looking at the quizzical look on their faces, she continues. “It looks like you haven’t. A Raknar attacked the quarry workers yesterday and killed seven men.”
All three men stood silent for a moment.
“You all still eager to go up there?” Nishika inquires.
“A Raknar? Oh great. That’s just what we need.” Draven stammers. “How are we going to slay a Raknar?”
“I’m not afraid of them.” Mason utters confidently. “I’ve heard what they can do in combat, but I’ve also heard they die pretty easily too.”
“Oh, that makes me feel so much better, Mason. Thanks.” Draven adds. Glib interjects. “We should go talk to Kristo about this. I doubt he realizes there’s a Raknar up there.”
The six gather their things up and move out into the rain towards Kristo’s home. No one really says much during the trip. Finally, Gemini pipes in after glancing around at all the furrowed brows and deep in thought stares.
“I understand everyone’s nervousness with this mission, seeing how a Raknar may be up there. Admittedly, I’m very nervous too, but I like to think the nine of us are more than a match for it.”
“Oh sure Gemini, I mean what, you with your one spell should be more than enough to make it flee in terror.” Draven says nervously.
“Well then Draven, you don’t have to go if you’re so afraid. Besides, I’m sure Kristo, if he truly needs another shipment, will pay more for this particular trip seeing how a Raknar could still be up there.” Gemini spits. “And if he doesn’t pay more for this trip, he can go get his own ore, or better yet, we’ll enact the little plan we all thought up a few minutes ago.”
Draven and the rest of the group nods in agreement to Gemini. “You’re right, of course. Let’s just get there and see what he has to say.”
The rain slows and eventually stops upon arriving at Kristo’s home. Little rivulets of water stream down the middle of the street in various paths. The six stop at the door and knock. The door swings open quickly, and Kristo ushers the group inside the house.
“Come in, my friends, come in! It’s nasty outside.” Kristo mentions.
“So Kristo. Mason says you need another shipment of ore and stone.” Glib says.
“That’s right, my boy, and the same price as last time still applies!” Kristo mentions, smiling as he always does.
“Well, Kristo. There’s a problem this time.” Nishika informs. “I take it you haven’t heard then.”
“Heard what, Nishika? Quit being so secretive and just say it.” Kristo spits, curious and irritated that there could be a problem with this particular shipment journey.
“Raknar.” Nishika states matter-of-factly.
Kristo pauses and then sighs. “Seriously? Damn bugs. What happened?”
“Apparently, a Raknar attacked a work crew up at the quarry and killed seven people.” Glib responds.
“Oh okay. Now it makes sense. I went to the tavern earlier and people were clamoring on about something, but I paid it no attention. That must have been what it was.” Kristo says. “So. I guess the obvious question for you all now is are you still interested in getting my ore for me?”
“I don’t know Kristo. A Raknar changes things. More risk and all, you know.” Mason chimes in. The others all nod in agreement with Mason.
“I hear you, Mason. I’m willing to sweeten everyone’s wages for those still interested in going up to the quarry and killing the Raknar so you can bring me the ore.” Kristo says.
“Really. Is this the same tight Kristo we’ve always known? The one that refuses to buy new shovels until the old one literally snap in two?” Gemini mocks. “If so, what amount of sweetening did you have in mind?”
“Well, as you all are aware, the standard contract wage is 50 copper nuggets per trip each, but this time seeing how there’s a Raknar to be dealt with, I’ve decided to increase it to 2 silver nuggets for this trip, and I’ll even throw in new shovels and picks, Gemini.” Kristo grins towards her.
All the friends look around at one another and nod. “Alright Kristo, but we have one condition over and above your generous offer.”
Kristo looks at them all with eyebrows raised. “Yes, and that would be what?”
“That you come along with us this time.” Mason utters.
“Mason, everyone, look. You know that is not part of the contract deal we worked out. I’m not suited for adventuring life, and even if I were, I’m quite sure I’d be more of a hindrance than an asset up there.” Kristo objects.
“Well Kristo, that’s the deal. We’ve all talked and we all think that no matter how much you sweeten our wages, it’s time you see just how dangerous and strenuous our missions for yourself can be, and I’m not just talking about encountering Raknar.” Mason says. “Look. The rain is even stopping for you, for us, on our journey up there.” Mason grins.
Kristo pauses, and then looks to Mason. “Fine, fine. I’ll go. But just this once only!” He stomps off into one of the back rooms to pack.
The seven make their way into the Skyrange mountain foothills towards the quarry. The seven have loaded up with seven large sacks, some shovels and picks, some food and water as well. Some signs of passage are noticed by Glib and Mason. It appears someone else has made their way towards the quarry recently. Two sets of human footprints.
“So Kristo. When are you going to get us a wagon to haul all this gear to and from the quarry for you? I heard someone in King’s Gate invented one finally. You really should head down there and see if the rumors are true.” Nishika remarks sternly. “Or, better yet, we could all go for you. I don’t think you’ll find a single one of us that would object to a trip to King’s Gate in order to make our job for you easier.”
“My dear Nishika. That would take a lot of money to do, and I’m just getting by paying you for your trips to the mine for me. And now that a Raknar seems to have halted production, how could I ever afford a trip to King’s Gate?” Kristo replies awkwardly. “Besides, the production would slow again if you took such a trip. Perhaps later my Lady.”
Nishika smirks and then rolls her eyes at Gemini and Firlindra when she notices them looking at her. They both smile and nod. They’ve all heard that same, lame argument of his for too long.
After traveling for about twenty minutes, they all spot the quarry entrance up ahead and a fight! Two humans are engaged in fierce combat with a Raknar!
“Oh boy. Here we go!” Glib utters, removing his two-hander from its sheath. Mason follows suit and removes his massive two-handed hammer and barks out orders.
“Glib, Draven, you’re with me!” Mason shouts. “The rest of you stay back and fire from distance or take cover!”
The three men charge towards the Raknar, which is firmly engaged with the other two humans. One wields a battle axe and the other a pair of daggers. Both men are fiercely flailing at the Raknar, trying to keep it at bay. Other men lie on the ground scattered around the quarry. All three men close in on the Raknar. It looks badly wounded, as it is bleeding some greenish ichor from multiple wounds and is missing one half of one leg.
The two men currently fighting the Raknar briefly acknowledge the help incoming, and move to position themselves accordingly. Surprisingly, the Raknar also takes note of the new arrivals, and quickly repositions itself as well, scuttling back and up into a larger boulder within the quarry. The two men takes quick strikes at the Raknar as it reverses course and moves back onto the boulder, but miss.
Mason, Glib, and both of the new humans move forwards to the boulder while Draven stays back a bit. Then suddenly, the Raknar pounces off the boulder and directly at Draven!
“Draven, look out!!” Glib shouts out, but it was too late. The Raknar’s leap was expertly timed, and as it lands, its two huge, wicked-looking forward legs slash Draven in a downward motion, and both viciously impale poor Draven to the ground. Hissing and making clicking noises, the Raknar tosses the now-limp form of Draven from its legs, throwing his body a good twenty meters away towards the two strangers.
“Nooo! You monster!!! Die!!” Mason shouts in anger and charge back towards the Raknar. Glib follows, leading with his two-hander. The other two men duck and dodge the human body flung towards them, but one of them fails to avoid the body entirely, and is hit by one leg, knocking him prone. The other man charges the Raknar again.
Missile fire comes in from afar, shot by Gemini and Nishika. Two crossbow bolts strike the Raknar in the hind quarter, puncturing its abdomen, and causing it to stagger slightly backwards. It hisses again, this time towards Gemini and Nishika, but continues to focus on the immediate threats in front of it.
Mason and Glib reach the Raknar and strike. Mason’s blow strikes another leg of the Raknar, shattering it in two with a loud, sickening crack. The Raknar lets out a spine-tingling scream as it lurches back away from Mason, but it’s too slow, and Glib lunges and strikes it solidly at its midsection, causing more green ichor to fly up into the air. The creature screams yet again, and hisses, but now it is clear it is in distress. One of the two men steps to the side and throws a pair of daggers with amazing skill, as both daggers imbed themselves in the Raknar’s head, one just above the mouth and the other through its right compound eye.
The Raknar, clearly badly wounded, slumps to the ground and twitches, letting out a series of curious sounding clicks and hisses. The other man, moving forward with another battle axe in hand, swings it in an arc down upon the twitching Raknar’s head, cleaving it in two and throwing a shower of green ichor everywhere. The Raknar stops wiggling.
“Draven!” Glib shouts, as he rushes over to his friend. Mason, Gemini, Nishika, and Firlindra quickly move over to where Glib is holding Draven up. The other two men slowly approach the scene as well. “Oh Draven, I’m so sorry.” Glib says, his voice shaky.
The other two men come close. “Thanks for saving us. I’m Barandur and this is Ketoz. We were holding our own against that vile monster, but your arrival changed the fight. I’m so sorry about your friend. At least he went quick and didn’t suffer.” Barandur says solemnly.
Kristo slowly approaches the scene as well. Finally. “Good of you to join us, boss. The Raknar killed Draven.” Glib states sorrowfully.
“Yes Glib, I can see that. One less worker for the mine too.” Kristo says coolly, then realizes everyone is looking at him poorly. “What? Yes, I’m sorry for Draven. It wasn’t my fault he died!”
Mason moves towards his employer in a manner meaning ill-intent, and as Kristo slowly backs away, he catches movement out of the corner of his eye. “Why you little….look out!” Mason shouts defensively.
Coming from Mason’s right, something moves and leaps into the air. It’s large. Instinctively, Mason shoves Glib and Ketoz out of the way of whatever it was lunging in. It’s another Raknar! The Raknar lunges in a similar maneuver as the one that impaled Draven towards Kristo, and both legs hit Kristo square in the chest, impaling him to the ground as the other one has done to Draven.
“Kill it!” shouts Glib, picking up his two-hander and moving towards the Raknar.
“Glib!” Mason shouts out, but he was too late.
Barandur launches a double dagger throw attack at the Raknar, both of which bounce off and deflect past the Raknar, one of which impales Glib in the leg.
“Foolish boy!” Barandur shouts out. “You’re going to get yourself killed!”
Everyone watched as Glib moved with amazing speed to the Raknar, took the dagger hit in stride, and proceeded to strike the Raknar with vicious efficiency, decapitating it in one fell blow. The others stop mid-stride, and look at Glib with shock, especially Barandur and Ketoz.
“Someone isn’t afraid of a good standup fight.” Ketoz states, somewhat dramatically. “Who taught that boy how to fight? Doesn’t he know to leave some for others?” Ketoz laughs out loud, as Mason and Gemini move to Glib, followed by everyone else except Kristo.
Impaled to the ground, Kristo died instantly, and even if he hadn’t, the weight of the Raknar falling upon him would have done so most likely.
“Great. We lost a good friend and our employer all in one fight.” Mason says, a bit sad.
“Your employer?” Barandur asks as he moves to pick up his two missed daggers and the two from the other dead Raknar. “He was our employer too.”
“Kristo hired you to come here?” Mason queries Barandur.
“Yes he did. Ketoz and I were in the tavern when he came in and heard about the attacks at his mine. So we asked him if he needed any help with his mine problem.” Barandur mentions.
The others stand around looking at one another incredulously. Nishika lets out a breath.
“That son of a bitch. He sold us out.” Firlindra states coldly. She moves over to his corpse. “If you weren’t dead, I’d kill you myself.”
Barandur and Ketoz stand confused. “So, I take it he hired you all too?” Ketoz asks quietly.
“Hired? Yeah, he hired us alright. This was his mine, and we are his workers of the mine. We didn’t think he’d go behind our backs and hire others to do the job we contracted out for. He said he’d never do that.” Mason spits.
“Well, it doesn’t matter now that he’s dead.” Ketoz says.
“Mason, we need to bury Draven. He deserves that much.” Glib states.
“Agreed. Kristo can rot in the bushes for all I care.” Mason says bitterly.
For the next hour, the group digs a grave for Draven and takes his possessions off his body and buries him with a short ceremony. Kristo, they loot his corpse and throw his body off into the bushes downwind of the quarry. Nishika and Gemini cut and fillet the two Raknar corpses for possible reagents.
“So, it looks like we’ve inherited a quarry and house.” Nishika states. “We’ll have to check with Ironfast to make sure we can claim both, however. I don’t think Kristo has any living relatives, at least I’ve never heard him speak of anyone.”
“I would like the mine and to be everyone’s new employer.” Firlindra states.
“I say if Firlindra wants the quarry, we give rights to it to her.” Glib says confidently.
“I accept if no one else is interested in it.” Firlindra speaks. “If nothing else, I can use it as a means to refine and improve my skill. I’ll treat you all much better than Kristo did, I promise.”
No one from Kristo’s group objects, though Barandur and Ketoz do speak up.
“We’re not really interested in the quarry itself, but now that Kristo is dead, we’d still like to get paid for our time.” Barandur utters softly.
“Of course. Kristo offered us 2 silver nuggets for another trip for the ore and to kill the Raknar. Would that suffice?” Firlindra queries.
“Yes, that would be fine, though we wouldn’t mind hiring on with you full time.” Ketoz says.
“Anyone object?” Firlindra asks.
Silence. “Okay then. Welcome aboard, Ketoz and Barandur. Let’s get to know you both better.”
The group slowly packs up its scattered gear and makes its way back to Ironfast. Little is said other than a quiet conversation between Firlindra, Barandur and Ketoz.