I decided to skip posting the rest of the prologue to keep the way it ends a surprise. Anyway, here’s a portion of chapter 1.
They all met in a cliché
They all met in a jail cell. The cunning wizard, the sneaky thief loveable rogue, the powerful fighter, and the surly dwarf who resents people that confuse his race and his profession. When Magus’s hangover had finally worn off, he looked up and saw a group of clichés people, who conveniently filled the above descriptions.
In the corner, there was a leathery skinned kobold that appeared to have not had a good meal in some time. His beady little eyes swishing back and forth whenever anyone moved and his forked tongue constantly flitted in and out, tasting the air. Sitting on the wooden cot, there was a dwarf with blue eyes. His beard was so large that no other features on his face could be made out, but it was not ragged, like a thistle patch, but well taken care of, like a shrubbery. He was wearing flowing robes of purple silk, coated with hanging rings and menacing spikes, but they were stained and tattered, making it obvious their owner had fallen upon hard times. Standing in the corner there was a tall, Nordic looking woman with the stance of a fighter.
At this point, normally I would go on about naked blades and chainmail bikinis while talking to the cover artist until whoever was reading the book would have to go lie down, but sadly, such things are rather impractical in combat. Anyone who goes into a melee wearing metal underwear deserves when their blood ends up decorating the walls, and thus the warrior was simply wearing serviceable chain mail over some of the itchy garments most peasants call clothes. The cell itself was spartan, using the bar and stone motif that has been used to keep people in one place since the beginning of time.
After the round of introductions, Magus learned that the dwarf was named Petrov, the kobold was named Ibn-Abda, and the woman was named Aeringaner… Eringorner… Araran… Eowin… Look, can I just call you Erin?
“No. My name is Æringunnr Geirssdóttir.”
How about Kelly? That’s a nice name.
But I can’t pronounce that! You know what, screw this. It’s not like you can do anything to stop me. Anyway, after a conversation with Erin—
Whatever. Anyway, after a conversation and an inspection of some napkins he had scribbled on while drunk, Magus discovered that not only had he sworn to avenge himself upon the empire for something or other, but that the people before him had been drunk enough to think swearing loyalty to him was a good idea. At this point, elated by their hopes, Magus got up, and walked out to a new dawn. Or at least he would have if there weren’t all those bars and things in the way.
After a bit of conversation, they realized that must have done something while drunk, as all of them were in the tavern when it burned down, with the exception of Abda who was in there for Grand Theft Onion. While they were arguing about whose fault it was that they were in trouble, the warden, a portly man with red cheeks and an expression of indifference, walked up with a couple of nameless, redshirt guards and managed to cuff our heroes and drag them out before anyone noticed.
“Yebut!” Petrov said. “Look at trouble you’ve gotten us into!”
“Me!” replied Magus. “You were the one with the vodka! How else do you think that place got burned down?”
“You did it!” shouted Petrov.
“How!?” Magus said. “Do you think I just waved my fingers and blew the place up?!”
“Da. You’re vizard. Zat’s what vizards do.” replied Petrov.
“Well played dwarf. Well played.”
And so, as the argument raged, the warden and guards dragged them roughly along until they reached the office of the captain of the guard. The guard in front respectfully opened the door, and the warden took them in and pushed them down into some chairs in front of the commander’s desk. The commander, a grizzled old man with a graying mustache shuffled some of the strata of paperwork on his desk and gave Magus a sidelong look.
“Well well well. Magus. Magus Breeman. I hope you realize how hard you are making my life.” he said. “Five people are dead because of you.”
Suddenly, the last scraps of the hangover faded and all of a sudden, Magus remembered everything.
He was Magus, apprentice to the wizard Sinyeĭ. When he was ten, he went out to chop firewood when he met a man wearing a suit with a voice like a sword on a grindstone. The man offered to take Magus with him, claiming that it was the call to adventure. Magus refused. He still remembered the man’s words before parting: “The call knows where you live.” When he returned to the town, everything was in flames, burned down by the imperial army. His master, with his last words, passed his staff along to Magus and then died right before revealing something important about Magus’s parents that would probably take years for Magus to figure out on his own. He spent the next twelve years in solitude, preparing for his revenge.
He knew he would need allies, so he got them the way any adventurer would. He put on a cloak and sat in the corner of the bar looking into his beer. They all met in that tavern. Save the town they had figured. Kill the imperial oppressors, and tear down the flag that had appeared so often in Magus’s nightmares. Perhaps they should have considered that just because the troops were the enemy did not mean they had no family. The party attacked the garrison and slaughtered the inhabitants. Afterward, they came out, burned the flag that Magus had seen with hatred ever since that day twelve years ago, and announced to the townspeople that they were free. They had expected congratulation and praise. Not hateful looks and tears. They drank that night in an attempt to forget what had happened. While they were in a drunken stupor, the townspeople saw them helpless and attacked. Magus knew he was lucky that the remains of the law enforcement stopped them from just being lynched on the spot. However, he had no clue where they were now or how they got there.
“Now then, if you’re done with your part of the exposition,” said the commander, “I’ll fill in the blanks for you.” The commander coughed, and when he spoke again it was in an odd, foreboding voice. “While you were unconscious, the remaining guards”- Suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, the commander had a coughing fit and when he regained his voice he said: “God that dramatic voice hurts the throat. Screw drama, I’m telling the rest the normal way. Anyway, you were loaded up on a cart and brought over to here, the capital of the barony. You’ll be jailed for a while, and after that you’ll get a trial if there’s any lawyer who can plead for you with a straight face. A few days later we’ll have the execution and everyone else can live happily ever after.”
“Not jail! I’m too pretty for jail!”
“Shut up Magus.” responded the commander. “Despite popular belief none of our inmates are named Hump and weigh six hundred pounds. We do have a five hundred pound inmate named Hump but he’s already got a cellmate. SERGEANT!”
“Yes sir?” said the portly warden as he walked into the room.
“Take the inmates down to the cells. And Fred, I know they’ve done a lot of horrible things but we’re doing this by the book, so make sure they don’t fall down the stairs or anything.”
So, the mortally obese sergeant walked them down to a cell and rudely shoved them in, slamming the door with a very final clang. Their surroundings were dismal, with several wooden cots on the ground, and a urine encrusted, malodorous chamberpot which, after one slosh, would cause any sane man to allow his bowels to explode. Naturally, the bottom had a hole in in it. Below, there was a growing brown stain on the floor.
“Hey, you! Guard!” shouted Abda. “Any chance of you walking in arm’s reach with the keys on a big dangly ring attached to your belt?”
“That’s never gonna happen,” said the guard. “Sarge keeps the only set locked up in his desk.”
“Let me try,” said Petrov. “I nobility. I know how zis goes. Allo! Guard! How much for you get us out?”
“Figure out how much money you have. Then double it.”
“I hate you too.”
“Oh, you don’t hate me just yet. But you will. Believe me, you will.”
Petrov turned around, looked forlornly at the group and said: “I sorry Magus. Nothing more I can do. This is a very honest oblat.”
So, the group waited, until suddenly, Abda jumped up, rushed over to the wall, said “Vhat’s this?” He pushed several unrelated rocks, and then stood there, waiting for something to happen.
“Well? What was it?” said Magus.
“Nothing. I was joking.” As his speech continued, the kobold sounded more and more sullen. “We’re all going to die.”
“Well, since we’re all about to die,” said Magus, turning toward Aran… Aarawen—She Who Can Not Be Pronounced—with a grin on his face. “We might as well-”
“Try something and I pull your spleen out through your throat.”