Over a hundred consecutive B.O.S.S.es. Whew, that’s a lot of brain space. In the strictest sense story 104 isn’t the two year marker. There were times when I did bouts of two stories a week. Notably when I released two Ambrosia (Two Hunters) chapters every week because I’m crazy like that.
This weeks story is a brand spanking new one, based on a challenge posed to me. I’ll mention the details in my first midweek post for June, but for now enjoy this quirky little introduction to four adventurers.
The Magician Jaymel
Kriss’ swing severed the kobold’s arm, splattering a spray of putrid blood against the cave wall. It yowled and staggered away.
Jaymel raised a hand, glowing with the thrum of arcane might. “I got this.”
The humanoid dog creature, commonly known as a Kobold clawed at the wall with its remaining arm. It whimpered piteously as the glow of magic filled the air.
“You know, you could just let me kill it.” Kriss said, shouldering his bloody sword.
“Quiet. Can’t get better at spells if I don’t practice,” Jaymel said, narrowing his eyes in concentration. His green mage robes fluttered against a surge of air and a sphere of flame conjured before him. He grunted, sending the ball towards the cowering Kolbold.
The Kobold screamed and the stench of burning flesh filled the air.
Kriss scowled. “You should’ve saved that spell for something edible.”
Blood trickled from tiny cuts across Jaymel’s palm. He cradled it. “I needed to use it on something easy to hit. I need to master it before I can hit something like a boar.”
“Seems like a waste of time to me,” Kriss said, shaking his sword clean of blood. “I can just do the killing. You can sit back with Helsa fawning over each other’s dresses.”
Jaymel narrowed his eyes. “It’s a robe. Not a dress.”
A smoldering flame lingered on the Kobold’s remains. Kriss approached, turning it over with an armored boot. The glow from the flames illuminated his scar covered face, handsome and rugged, and mingled amongst his dirty blonde hair. His bronze armor caught the light, putting a green tinted glow against the cave walls. “They never have anything good. Don’t know why we bother.”
“Because it’s our job,” Jaymel said. “Kobolds are ravaging the country side. If we don’t kill them, it means farmers lose their lives. No farmers, no food.”
Kriss clicked his tongue. “Yeah well the pay is lousy.”
A voice called from the other side of the cave. “Not this time. We hit pay dirt.”
The two men traded curious glances and walked further into the cave. Helsa, their priestess sat reading a tome under the glow of a floating globe of light. Her white robes stayed remarkably pristine in the dusty cave and contrasted her long raven-colored hair. She was pretty, for a human, but her permanent scowl made her hard to appreciate.
“Anyone hurt?” She asked without looking up.
“Nope,” Kriss said.
“H—hey. My hand is bleeding.” Jaymel held out his hand.
“Suck it up.” She flipped a page. “The light isn’t for your paper cuts. I mean real wounds.”
Kriss elbowed him. “Yeah, don’t be such a wimp.”
They walked past her. Jaymel folded his ears back in annoyance, glaring at Helsa.
The voice called from the cave. “Guys, take any longer and I’m keeping everything.”
“Hold your damn horses.” Kriss said, kicking aside the body of a second kobold. Knife wounds peppered its back.
Their rogue, Grisa gestured to a large treasure chest and wore a triumphant smile. “I just cracked this bad boy open. I figured I’d wait to open it till you guys were here.”
“Yeah because you tend to keep things without running it by us,” Jaymel said.
“Only cause of our stingy mage. Girl’s gotta eat.” Grisa planted her hands on her hips, grinning. She was tall for a dwarf, but still only came to Kriss’ chest. Unliike Helse, she was decidedly not Jaymel’s type. She had too much bounce and enthusiasm for his tastes. Her dusty brown hair, her oversized nose and crooked teeth did little to improve his view of her. It may have been petty, but most of all he hated thieves.
Kriss gave her an appreciative pat on the head and peeked at the giant treasure chest. “Whoa this thing is big. I bet there’s millions in gold.”
Grisa beamed. “It had quite the lock on it. I bet the Kobolds never touched what’s inside. I’ll let you do the honors, lover boy.”
Jaymel groaned. He had no idea what Kriss saw in her.
Kriss approached the chest and popped it open. Dust poured from it when he swung back the lid, sending the three into coughing fits. Jaymel cast a spell of wind clearing away the dust. Laying in the center of the chest was a single set of armor.
Grisa peeked into the chest and scowled. “Really? Just armor? I wonder if we could sell it.”
Stooping over, Kriss pulled the chest piece from the box and blew away the dust. “I dunno. It looks durable.”
“Tell me you aren’t planning on trying it on,” Jaymel said. “The odds of it fitting are slim and none, the armor you’re wearing now had to be custom tailored.”
“Helsa. I got something for you.” Kriss said, calling into the cave.
Grisa raised a brow. “What? Helsa don’t wear armor.”
“Nah. I’m just having her check it for curses or whatever. I’m gonna try it on. Here hold on to it while I strip.”
“Oh, sure thing.” Grisa took it from him, grinning with her crooked little smile.
“I can check for curses too you know.” Jaymel narrowed his eyes.
Kriss spoke as he peeled off his armor. “Yeah but Helsa can do it without exploding into a cloud of blood. I’m sick of hearing you whine about it. So yeah, Helsa’s doing it.”
“Whatever. I’ll just make sure no more Kobolds are coming, I guess.”
Helsa walked into the tunnel, scowling. “Identification? Really? I’m here to mend grisly wounds, not be a weapon catalogue for you.”
“It’s not a weapon. It’s armor.” Grisa said, keeping her eyes on Kriss. “If it’s good armor it’ll make your job easier right?
“Great.” Helsa rolled her eyes. “So I can be even more bored? It wouldn’t hurt to overlook a trap or three Grisa. Some of us actually like doing substantial work. Give me that armor.”
She held up the armor and closed her eyes. A faint glow enveloped her, filling the room with sacred light. She shook her head. “It’s enchanted, not cursed. It is a spell of protection to prevent wounds.”
“Yes, more things to make me feel useless. Remind me to pack a tea set on our next mission so Jaymel and I can sit around and do even less.”
“Hey. I’m useful too.”
“You’re right. I can hang undergarments on your ears after washing them. That’s something.”
Jaymel grunted. “I could dry them with magic.”
“Wonderful. You’ve found your true calling. A laundry elf.”
“He just wants to touch your undergarments,” Kriss said, pulling off his greaves. “I bet he’d prefer you hanging them on his ears.”
“Quiet you,” Jaymel said. Cure my masochistic urges.
Helsa offered the armor to Kriss and he slipped it on over his simple tunic. It didn’t quite fit, surprisingly a little on the large side. The armor glistened with a faint glow once he put it on; the enchantment activated making the dull iron sparkle like silver.
“Hmmm, I dunno,” Kriss said. “Maybe I could give it a try for the next fight?”
“Absolutely not,” Jaymel said. “Why would you wear ill-fitting armor into battle?
“I think it’s a fine idea,” Helsa said, nodding. “Worst that could happen is he gets a few scrapes and bruises. Maybe he’ll get an arm lopped off. I can put it back on.”
Grisa nodded, agreeing. “Oh but keep the scars. They’re sexy.”
Kriss’s eyes lit up. “Really? Wow. Never got an arm lopped off before. I bet that’d make a great story. We’d need an ogre or something really big.”
“Are you all insane?”
“We’re not being serious.” Kriss punched Jaymel playfully, but looked at Helsa warily. “I think.”
The way Helsa glanced away, wordless, left Jaymel with his doubts.
“Besides, if things went sour you’d handle it with a big spell. You were just complaining about me doing all the work right? You’re the back-up plan. Besides, didn’t you say you were going to scout for more Kobolds? Or you could wait for me to finish getting dressed if you’re too scared.”
“I’m not scared,” Jaymel said. “Try on your stupid armor. I’m going.”
Helsa nodded. “I’ll go too. He might get wounded.”
“Nice. Privacy,” Grisa said, grinning.
His scowl softened. “T-thanks Helsa.”
She grinned deviously. “There are a lot of rocks on the cave floor. You might trip and split open your skull.”
Jaymel sighed, leaving the hall with Helsa close on his heels. Why did I ever join this band of fools, anyway?