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The Journey Begins

I pull myself up from my urine pool and look around at the gawking crowd of mismatched vagabonds that surround me. Their eager faces and anticipated nervousness reminds me of my first day here in Dereth almost three years ago. Oh how I was young and inexperienced then. But my first encounter with the fauna of this once strange new land taught me everything I need to know. I remember that day vividly. I stumbled from the Training Halls south of Holtburg starving and afraid. Along the road that leads to Holtburg I find a lone bunny. I drew out my deadly knife to snuff its life but the brown rabbit leaps up and snaps at me, sending me running for my life towards Holtburg, screaming like slapped pig. I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings, my vision clouded with the sweat from my brow and the tears from my girlishness, and stumbled into a swirling portal. After spewing what little I had in my stomach I found myself surrounded by two white catlike humanoids that began to treat me like a frail prison bitch. But enough of my colorful past, reminiscing like this gets me a little misty and teary eyes isn't what this group of vagabonds needs to see right now.

I begin to walk through the medium-sized group, inspecting each one to determine our chances of keeping the peace in Holtburg against the onslaught of crazed player killers. So far our odds are well into our favor. Each future killer is brandishing a practice dagger in one hand and a dozen or so darts in the other. Each dons off-colored ragged clothing, loud enough to confuse or even blind their enemy. Each vagabond, whether he or she knows it or not, possesses secret and powerful deceptive and trickery skills that will force the foe into a state of confusion, staring blankly at his lifestone like a bored dairy cow.

My inspection is nearing its end when I see a vision of beauty so profound that my overburdened legs collapse underneath me, my head dizzy with the pornographic thoughts of sinful lust. I look up at the angelic creature that has caused this stirring deep in my loins, a stirring that only compares to the day I got my genitalia caught in a mousetrap while trying to sex up some Swiss cheese. Her ratted brown hair lopsidedly crowns her misshapen head like an overused mop head would cap the end of a wooden stick. Her deep green eyes, like two pools of stagnant water, sit well below her sloped forehead and perhaps one inch farther apart than the average human. Her wondrous mouth, which is now smiling at me sprawled at her feet, house the oddest assortment of what must be teeth I have ever seen. All of this glory, her brick wall forehead, oddly spaced eyes, and mouth of greasy teeth, is contained in a head that is much too small for her eggplant frame. This is a woman who has taken the phrase "big boned" to the extreme, pushed the limits of femininity, and redefined the rules of social hygiene. I must talk to her.

I struggle back to my feet and try to think up the best pickup line ever. One line I have used in the past stands out above the rest, the one phrase I even used on my own grandmother successfully. Little is as rewarding as watching an 80-year-old drop her orthopedic panties after you utter a few words.

"So, you wanna lock crotches and swap gravy?" A sensual shiver runs up my spine, exciting myself with my own words. "You know, my taint and scrotum are known as the dark meat." If it weren't for my masculine shortcomings I'd have sex with myself. It's always fun trying though.

"Hello Unladen Swallow." She extends her hand to be shaked. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

"If you want to put that hand to some use…" I say, glancing down at her friendly gesture. "What's your name?"

"Oh, how careless of me." A ruddy embarrassment invades her excessively puffy cheeks; "I am Community Property."

"Well I don't mind sharing, that's for sure! But you should get a name." It's nice to finally be attracted to a woman with at least a little experience. My back is a little sore from digging up my last three girlfriends and my legs just don't move fast enough to catch the school children.

"No, Community Property is m…"

"Enough talk, woman. I'll put that pretty mouth of yours to work later. As you can see, if you're able to turn that weird head of yours and look around, I have some business to tend to."

I turn to the waiting vagabonds and explain what needs to happen to get us all safely to the Accursed Halls and more importantly, to the Altar of Bael'Zharon. Unsatisfactory mutters rippled through the group when I mentioned the long hike to Baishi but the disappointment turned quickly to relief when my squat vassal Jiggles McMankleman produced a learned mage who could open a portal to the Abandoned Mines outside Arwic. The wizard explained that there was a dungeon near the Mayoi drop-off that contained a portal to Baishi within. Seems easy enough.

"How did you come across this mage, Jiggles?" I know that a fat coin pouch usually follows the service of a powerful magic user and Jiggles doesn't carry a lot of pyreal.

"I simply offered payment for a portal to the Mines. This kind mage obliged."

"Payment? You cannot afford his services. How did you pay for the portal?"

"It's not important, Sir", Jiggles says nonchalantly while wiping off his right hand and wrist with a moist towelette. "Have a safe trip!"

The mage, dressed from head to toe in a rich silk robe, begins an incantation that I have witnessed very few times. Before his outstretched hands appears a swirling portal that hopefully wormholes its way to the Abandoned Mines. Reluctantly I jump through the opening, closely followed by the small army of vagabonds. The magical passageway spits me out into a large underground room filled with hundreds of people. I drop to a crawling position to empty my stomach but only dry heave. Damn it! I forgot to eat breakfast this morning. Looks to be the start of a miserable day.

As the last vagabond is deposited into this vast trading Mecca I began walking to the exit at the far end of the room and down the dark halls to the treacherous leap, a fall that I'm afraid that few of these vagabonds will survive. Along the way we pass small piles of rotting skin and bone, the remnants of the horrid Lich that occupy these passageways. At the bottom of the last stairway are three young fighters slaying the last festering Lich. We push past them and to the ledge that leads to the extensive portal hub below.

Like lemmings, the vagabonds begin leaping off the ledge into the darkness below. I grab Community Property's hand to stop her leap. "Patience, my inflamed foreskin. We'll need some padding to land on and these young trusting vagabonds are providing that for us now." A look of disgust crosses her face as she peers over the edge and notices the pile of crumbled bodies. "It should be safe now."

Hand-in-hand, we both leap off the ledge and onto the semi-soft hill of vagabond bodies. I walk over to the purple portal to Mayoi and wave the few surviving members of my deadly group to follow. We step into the gateway, ignoring the quieting screams of pain and help coming from the carnage pile left in the center of the room. The portal exits us on a small grassy hill overlooking the town of Mayoi and near the ruined dungeon portal, as promised by the mage in Holtburg. If the player killers of Dereth knew this group was half way to Bael'Zharon's unholy altar, there would be portal storms at the Altar of Asheron for the rest of the day.


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