Campaign of the Month: May 2014
Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Story - Trent - Childhood Memories
Note: This story takes place about ten years before the start of the campaign.
“Boys, don’t wander too far. Dinner is in an hour”
“We’ll be back in time Mom,” Andrew shouted back as he ran off with his younger brother, Trent. They were laughing as they ran, leaving their squalid shack behind them and heading towards where their friends were waiting. Despite Andrew being 15 and Trent being 13, they shared many of the same friends, who themselves were a varying range of ages. Here in the shadow of Chi-town, having friends who were all your own age was a luxury not afforded most children.
The first day of summer, the longest day of the year, was just around the corner. This was a time that those who used magic could take advantage of as the summer solstice increased the rampant magical energy on the planet. Because of this the Coalition stepped up their patrols through the ‘Burbs and most everyone was on their best behavior. Almost everyone.
As Andrew and Trent rounded a corner, they ran smack into a gentleman running the opposite way. The man clipped Andrew as he rounded the corner and ran smack into Trent, knocking him down and falling down on top of him.
“Hey, get off me,” Trent screamed as the man lay on top of him, stunned. Andrew ran over to them, ready to rip the guy off of his brother, when the man came to his senses and quickly got up, apologizing.
“I’m… sorry… kid…” Out of breath, the stranger helped Trent get up on his feet. He looked around nervously and then kneeled down in front of the now standing boy. “Please… take this… and hide it…” He reached into a pack that was slung over his shoulder and removed some kind of weird device about the size of a baseball. It was wrapped in a crisscross mesh of wire and had a few crystals protruding through to the surface. He put the device in Trent’s hands who just stood there, dumbfounded.
Andrew angrily shouted at the man. “Get your hands off my brother!” He ran forward and pushed the man off. The man stumbled back but smiled at the two boys. “I’ll be back later for that” he said to them, then with another quick glance behind him hurried off in the direction he was originally heading.
Andrew watched him go, clenching and unclenching his fists until the stranger was out of sight. Then he turned to Trent. “Are you okay T?”
“Yeah Drew, I’m okay.” Trent finally seemed to come to his senses and became animated again, brushing himself off. “I dunno what that was about though.” He stared at the thing the man had given them.
“As long as you’re okay, then I don’t have to chase him down and beat the crap out of him.” Andrew gave a sigh. “What the hell is that thing?”
“You’re not going to keep it, are you?”
“Why not? It looks cool.” Trent took his backpack off and placed the thing inside it. “Race you to the field!” Trent yelled as he took off. Andrew quickly sprinted after him and the two raced to where their friends were already playing.
Five minutes after the kids left the alley, a Coalition soldier leading a pack of Dog-Boys walked deliberately through the alley. The humanoid dogs were sniffing at the air and ground, trying to detect traces of their quarry.
“There was a scuffle here” the larger dog half growled, half spoke to the soldier after about a minute of surveying the scene. ”The enemy continued on, and the two he fought with ran off back that way.” He pointed in the direction Andrew and Trent went.
“Our issue is with the mage,” responded the officer. “Once we catch him we can deal with the others if we need to.” He motioned to the pack to continue on and the four of them moved off in the direction the stranger had gone.
The next morning Andrew woke up to find Trent sitting on the edge of his bed, already awake, examining the strange device. “Well, what is it?” He asked.
“I dunno. But it feels… cool to hold and roll around in my hand.”
“Let me see,” Andrew asked. He held out his hand for the ball, and Trent reluctantly gave it to him.
He rolled it around a bit in his hands. The light reflected a bit off of the gems, but it didn’t make him want to get up early just to play with it. “Hmm, this don’t seem to be anything special. A little weird-looking, but it just feels like a ball made of wire that someone’s been holding for a while.” Drew tossed it back to Trent. “Whatever. I don’t’ think you should tell mom though.”
“Because she’d probably shit a brick if she found out that a stranger had given you something. Can you imagine how she’d freak?”
“Well I’m still not getting rid of it. If she asks me about it, I’ll tell her I found it somewhere.”
“And what if that guy comes looking for it?”
“Then I’ll probably give it back to him. He did ask me to hold onto it. Maybe he’ll even pay me.” Trent smiled and slipped the ball back into his backpack. “Let’s eat breakfast. I’m starving.”
After Andrew and Trent ate their breakfast and promised their mother they wouldn’t wander too far, they left the house to go find someone to play with. It wasn’t long before they found a couple of their friends and a game of rock ball (a combination of baseball and dodge ball, but with rocks instead of a ball) was started. They played it in an alley for most of the morning. As lunchtime neared, they left to head back home.
Cutting behind a tent area, they heard what sounded like a fight going on in an alley ahead. They took a quick glance at each other and ran forward together. Stopping just at the edge of the alley, they cautiously peered around the corner. The two of them quietly gasped at what they saw.
The man who ran into them the other day was backed into the far end corner of the long alley with no escape. Cornering him in there were a dog boy and a human in full coalition armor. A mace was in the dog boy’s hand and a sword in the other’s hand; both of them were threatening the cornered man with the weapons. On the ground about halfway into the alley were two dog boys lying on the ground. Neither appeared to be moving.
The man in the corner mumbled quietly to himself and a blinding flash of light emanated from his hand, bathing the area in intense light for a moment. Trent made a startled noise when he saw this. The coalition soldier and the dog boy both turned away from it, trying to shield their eyes. Seeing the opportunity he was hoping for, the man lunged forward between the two while they were distracted. He ran quickly back to the entrance of the alley, where Andrew and Trent were.
A few moments later the dog boy and the soldier came to their senses and quickly scanned the area. Seeing their quarry running away, the two gave chase. As the man got closer to the edge of the alley he noticed Trent and Drew. Urgently he shouted at Trent, “Quickly, give me the ball!” Trent and Andrew both stood still, startled by the events unfolding. The man shouted again. “Hurry!”
Trent snapped out of it and, realizing what the man was asking for, shrugged his pack off and grabbed the ball out of it. This caused Andrew to also react, by trying to stop his brother. “What are you doing?” Andrew asked. “He’s some kind of evil wizard. He’ll use that thing to turn us all into frogs or something.”
As Trent grabbed the ball and pulled it out he said to Andrew, “I don’t think it’ll be bad for us. Let’s see.” He tossed the thing towards the man, who caught the ball. Immediately it started to glow. He reached the entrance of the alley with the dog boy and soldier quickly closing the distance from behind him. The man tossed the glowing orb back down the alley and dove for the boys, shoving them down as he dropped on top of them. They all had barely hit the ground when a muffled ‘fwoosh’ sound came out of the alley, followed by a blast of frigid air.
When the gust died down the man got back up, just as Andrew tried to push him off. “Get away from us” he spat at the mage. The mage paid him no mind and cautiously looked down into the alley. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief at what he saw. The boys also looked down the alley to see. They saw the entire alley coated in ice and right in the middle was the soldier and the dog boy, frozen solid and encased in thick blocks of ice.
“What did you do to them?” Andrew asked angrily.
“What I had to,” replied the mage. “It was either my life or theirs. And once they realized you two were here, they wouldn’t have thought twice about killing you too.”
Andrew spent a second or two thinking about a way to express his anger towards the mage, but before he could speak the man spoke again. “We better leave now; if any more patrols were in the area they might have noticed that discharge of magic. We’re all in danger if we stay here.”
The man brushed himself off and briskly went back down the alley and picked the ice-free orb up off the ground. It no longer glowed. He put it away in a pocket and turned to look back at the boys. He told them, “My name is Lars. Thanks for your help there.”
“Get the hell out of here!” Andrew shouted back at him. The man gave a short nod and took off at a trot away from the alley and the boys. He was lost to sight within seconds. Andrew turned to get his brother and leave, only to see Trent still staring down the alley at the ice-encased patrol members. He had a look of awe on his face. “Come on Trent, we better take off too. Do you want to explain to mom that we were late for lunch because a Coalition patrol was asking us questions about a dirty stinking mage?”
That statement snapped Trent out of his daze. He looked at Andrew and said “You’re right, let’s go.” The two of them took off running until they were both a good distance away, then they slowed down to a brisk walk. As they walked Andrew was replaying the events in his mind, how that mage had thought nothing of murdering all those dog boys and that soldier. He was angry that they had some part in it, and that made him feel guilty, which only made him feel angrier. He wished they had never ran into that monster in the first place.
Trent seemed to be in a daze too, staring ahead while not really looking at anything. Once, he mumbled just under his breath the word “Lars.” Andrew turned to him and said “What?”
“Nothing,” Trent replied. “Nothing at all.”