This is part of the ongoing narrative of our D&D campaign, which is graciously being run by Proud Lion, a fantastic comic shop in Cheltenham. Their RPG Encounters nights are a lot of fun, and give me some entertaining material to work with.
[Before reading, please be aware that there may be spoilers ahead for the D&D campaign books. Equally, our stories are fluid, so things may not follow the books too directly]
[DISCLAIMER – there is NO WAY I’d ever be able to repeat the glorious “Ciderquest Incident” of our actual game session, where we had our DM crying in laughter for 5 minutes, but I’ll give it a go]
The door opened into another dark corridor, and the companions could see a figure sat immobile in the centre of the corridor, wearing what seemed to be robes of a well-off monk. He hadn’t noticed the group, so they could see his “simple” garb had the trappings of the noble classes, and his wavy blonde hair looked surprisingly good for an adventurer in this deep dungeon.
The group advanced to him, wary of who this figure was, and could see he was a human, meditating in the most common of monk poses. A little eyeroll from Kalashnikov showed that he had already decided his opinion of this “humble” monk, but the rest of the party kept an open mind.
“’Ello there monk-o, what brings you to these…fair…parts?” Burian called out when they were only a few steps away, but his words fell on deaf ears, the monk seemingly oblivious to the world.
<Look forward!> Kalashnikov demanded, delivering his words directly into the mind of the monk, blasting him out of his trance as an incredibly loud and surprised swear erupted from the monk’s mouth.
“Who are you? Why are you disturbing me? And why did one of you just yell from what seemed to be inside my head?!” the monk blurted out as he stood up and retreated from the threatening party.
“Ah, um, sorry for my brother, I gather he must have used that bloody irritating mind-speak power he annoys us with”, Burian stumbled out an apology whilst glaring at the Rowntree brother.
“We’re exploring this castle in the name of a grand quest, you see,” Drenk said rather politely for a burly half-orc, before hardening his gaze, “but you’ve gone and got yourself in the way. Who are you?”
“I am Trystan Rand, of the Rand family. Can you not tell I am a monk? I was meditating…” the monk responded, before being cut off once again.
“And how ain’t you dead? You look, what, eight pounds? Any one of these rats could have taken you, even if you’d been awake.” Drenk followed up, looking critically at the slight monk, though spying some musculature under his garb.
“Well now, I think you’ll find I’m quite a lot stronger than…” Trystan was cut off again as Enna walked into his view.
“The amount of times that I’ve told you to be more calm and collected,” Enna despaired while separating the bickering dwarf brothers, “At least save it for the monsters, Eldath knows there are a lot of them down here.”
“Oh are there? I haven’t really noticed many…” Trystan tried to interject, before jumping as Jester tapped him on the shoulder from behind.
“So what brought you into this citadel, monk?” the half-elven rogue asked, his silver tongue cutting off Trystan yet again.
“Well actually, I’m part of an archaeological exploration brotherhood…” the bewildered monk started.
“Oh, archaeology eh? Well now, I’m sure we can help you get along and map out some of this ‘ere place then boyo, can’t we brother?” Burian mentioned, and Kalashnikov chimed in with “for a price, of course.”
“Hmmm, well, I don’t have much coin…” Trystan said, worried for his coin-purse, but was reassured by the consoling look in Enna’s eyes as she took his hands in hers.
“Don’t worry about them, we’re all here for the same thing really. If you’d like to accompany us and make your maps as we go along, you’re very welcome” she told him as a sense of calm spread from her fingertips to his palms.
“And what is it you’re…” the monk started to ask, before being interrupted by the brothers Roundtree and Rowntree.
“Apples! Magical apples!” one said, “apples that will either make you immortal or kill you!” the other expanded, before a retorted “no, brother, it don’t make you immortal, it just heals you of all your ills.”
“Well anyway, we’re hunting for the goblins that usually bring them apples up to Oakhurst, so we can find the source and work out their system. You see, right, these two magic apples, one gold and one deathly white, they bring ‘em up at winter solstice and midsummer’s night, we don’t know which at which time, but we reckon they could make a mighty fine brew.” Burian expanded in excitement, “it’s a true Ciderquest this one!”
“Yeah, I’M going to be using BOTH apples to brew a fantastic life-or-death cider, gonna be a bit of pot luck for the taste tester eh?” Kalashnikov boasted, drawing further ire of his druidic brother, and the two tussled off to the side.
“Actually, that’s not the reason we came to Oakhurst in the first place” Drenk interrupted as he manoeuvred past the monk, “we were hired by a member of the Lord’s Alliance faction to find some fancy rings that some of his members lost in this hole of a place.”
“They were signet rings, my simple friend,” Jester continued, “and each one is worth one hundred and twenty five gold! Plus, if we happen to find a Sir Rafford, or Braford or Bradford, we can bring him back for an additional reward. He’s apparently got a magical sword called Shatterspike, so could be a helpful fighter to have in a pinch.”
“NO!” an exasperated Enna finally shouted, “that is NOT what we were hired for! We are here to find the OWNERS of those rings that Drenk mentioned, Talgin and Sharwin Hucrele, who were accompanied here BY Sir Braford, a paladin of Pelor, and a ranger named Karakas. Not a ciderquest, hot a hunt for missing rings, can we finally move on?!”
“Um, let’s go back to the apples for a minute,” Trystan said, his eyes gleaming with an enthusiasm that had never been there before, “could these, perhaps be…smoked?”