I AM PLEASED TO WELCOME AUTHOR
TITLE: Off to See the Wizard
RELEASE DATE: March 20, 2016
AUTHOR: Clay Johnson
KEYWORDS: fantasy, mystery, magic, wizards, fairies, ogres, elves
CATEGORIES: Epic/High Fantasy/Adventure
PAGE COUNT: 373
BOOK PAGE: http://ravenswoodpublishing.com/bookpages/offtoseethewizard.html
RELEASE DATE: March 20, 2016
AUTHOR: Clay Johnson
KEYWORDS: fantasy, mystery, magic, wizards, fairies, ogres, elves
CATEGORIES: Epic/High Fantasy/Adventure
PAGE COUNT: 373
BOOK PAGE: http://ravenswoodpublishing.com/bookpages/offtoseethewizard.html
Clay Johnson received an MFA from an old man running a forged documents booth under the 8th street bridge. When he’s not out saving the world as an international super spy and master of kung fu, he makes graphics and animation for a TV station. Clay lives with his wife and daughter in New Hampshire.
BANTER – STUFF ABOUT YOU
Q: Tell me one thing about each of the four seasons you like. It can be anything.
A: Winter = I like being inside and looking out the window at the cold snow covered landscape while I enjoy something warm.
Spring = Seeing the leaves and flowers and grass coming back is nice, but really, when it comes to spring, I’ve always just loved the respite aspect of it. That coming out of a long cold winter tunnel kind of thing. That may be, however, because I had never previously lived in a place that had genuine seasons. We had only winter and summer, fall and spring were so short that they were more like placeholders. I moved to New England last summer, so this will be my first genuine spring, in which case I may love it for different reasons.
Summer = I love the beach. I love visiting little seaside towns and walking around, so summer is a great time of year.
Fall = That being said, fall is easily my favorite season. It’s a whole aesthetic thing. The weather turning chilly, apple picking, Halloween, festivals and farms and corn mazes. The reason is likely because I read so much Stephen King growing up, but fall makes me feel like I’m inside my favorite books.
Q: If you didn’t have to clean them, how many bathrooms would you have in your home?
A: Given the ability, I’d have an entire mansion made of bathrooms (and two bedrooms). The bathrooms would all be identical, and each would have a secret passageway (Clue style) that led to another bathroom. It’d be great to have the entrances to the passageways open slightly at the least movement. That way, those nosey guests who can’t help but go through your cabinets, would start to explore, come out somewhere totally different, in what seems to be the same room they just left. When they finally find their way back to the sitting room, there could be a fun conversation about what took so long.
How many if you have to clean them?
A: Oh, well if I had to clean them, then two. I’d say one, but with families that just leads to misery and someone hopping from foot to foot waiting to get in.
Q: If your life were a movie would it be considered an action film, comedy, drama, romance, fantasy or a combination?
A: Action film, definitely. Anytime there is a loud noise, I instinctively shift into a slow motion walk with my hair blowing gently about. I never understood it, and I got made fun of a lot as a kid, but the first time I saw a Michael Bay movie, I finally understood. My life was an action film, just, you know, sans action.
Q: Texting, love it or hate it?
A: I used to hate it so much, but the convenience has won me over. I still loathe the texting speak, though. I can’t stand staring at a screen and trying to figure out what exactly 6 consonants and a number are supposed to stand for. It’s like conversing only in personalized license plates.
BOOKS – ABOUT THE CRAFT
Q: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a book?
A: For me it’s the point at about ¾ of the way through. I’m one of those write by the seat of your pants guys. I found outlining never worked for me because if I knew where a story was going, I got so bored that I wouldn’t finish writing it. I just wait until I have a concrete image or line, and once I have that as a starting point I can pretty much wing it, finding the way as I go. Of course, that leads to a lot of rewriting, but I’m often surprised at how much I get right the first time around. Unfortunately, by the time I hit the 75% mark, I’ve usually got a much more solid idea of what I want, where I’m going, and the scenes I need to get there. It’s like my mind has been outlining behind my back the whole time, and against my will I find myself in the position of being too far in not to finish, but knowing too much to really fully enjoy the process anymore.
Q: Which element of book writing is most difficult for you?
A: For me, it’s the emotional component. I tend toward a dry humor because I have trouble taking things seriously. In writing, and in life, I can’t say serious, emotional or sensitive things with a straight face. I say it, or write it, and a little voice shouts, “Ha! Look, everybody, it’s a Lifetime Network Movie going on right here!”
Q: What is your favorite part of writing?
A: As I said above, when I write it’s like my mind is outlining in the back as I go, and somewhere along the way I will write something that suddenly links a bunch of disparate plot threads or seemingly throwaway moments, and it’s like fireworks in my head. I will have had a character kick a horse in anger early on, just because it seemed right at the time, someone else choke on an apple, just because I needed something to happen, and then later on, those two things will play into a man breaking a window, and the three will cause the assassination of a king. I’ll have a moment of, “Holy Cow, that’s why he had to choke on the apple, because if he didn’t, then character B wouldn’t have had the stick, he wouldn’t have tried to hit the guy who kicks horses (because he’s an ass), and that window wouldn’t have got broken when he missed.
If that makes no sense, fair enough, I’m making up the example as I go, since I don’t have a fast one at my fingertips. For a much better example, read Off to See the Wizard. Pretty much every connection made in that plot worked that way for me.
BOOKS - NOW LETS PROMOTE – STRUT YOUR STUFF
At the end of most heroic quests, after a plucky band of heroes has averted the apocalypse, all is well, and everyone lives happily ever after… (until the next book in the series.)
Now, for the first time, readers get an in depth look into what really happens after the quest. This is the collected case file of the Grand Inquisitor’s investigation into the Misery Reach debacle. Read first hand as the participants try to explain their actions and make their case. Did the Demon Lord Krevassius really try to end the world just to impress a girl? Would everyone be better off if the Wizard Galbraith hadn’t invented a quest in order to stave off criticism? And what about an elf queen peeing on a Minotaur? A swordsman’s losing battle with a young raccoon? And the transvestite assassin with a heart of gold?
Classic tale: villain starts apocalypse to meet a girl, people blame wizard, wizard invents quest to save himself, quest goes wrong, world goes to hell.
Testimony of Luthor Vonwick, Jailer in the 3rd Ring Dungeons at Hart Castle
You’ve got to understand, I never knew who the guy was. That’s what people kept accusing us of, like we’d just got a wild hair up our butts and decided to bring him out to see the show. Like we were testing the king’s authority, or something. The King was the one who wanted him brought out of the dungeons in the first place. Everything we did we did at the king’s order. To the letter.
Except for the splinter.
But, like I said, I never knew who the guy was, so how could I know I should freak out if he stopped to grab himself a souvenir? Right? I figured he was going to be dead soon enough anyway, so what’s the difference if he wants to go holding a genuine piece of Sir Mallory’s lance? I figured he was a fan. And, honestly, the king’s orders said the prisoner is to be delivered unarmed. They didn’t say don’t take your eyes off of him for a second, he just might pick up a splinter, or maybe a tiny pebble.
You see my head? I got this wound today on the way here. I still get attacked in the streets. They call me an assassin. As if I planned it. People need to remember, the guy was shackled wrists and ankles, and he was tied to the jousting post. Ok… admittedly, we could have done a better job of tying him up, but it’s not like we were slacking. We didn’t know who he was.
Have you ever been in the 3rd ring dungeons? It’s dark in there. And not dark like night. Dark like you’re swimming in some kind of evil tar. I mean, the guy was practically blind. And he had to be light headed because you don’t get much oxygen down there. They say a dragon died at the bottom of the valley, and it was too big to move. And dragons don’t rot. They just sit and become stone. So the Hart lord built the castle on top of it. And inside the dragon, that’s where they built the dungeons. So the guy was inside a dragon for who knows how long? With no fresh air and no light, and because we didn’t tie down every inch of him, we must have planned it? No way.
You should have seen him when we dragged him out into the sunlight. He looked like a corpse. He was so sallow and gray, and he had these dark spots and circles all over him, like he had the plague. The minute the light hit his face he shrieked and tried to run back inside, but we kept dragging him, and the guy kept sobbing and moaning, and we left a trail behind us where his toes dug furrows in the dirt. The king saw all of this. And the king waved us on. I’m not enough of a genius to plan some way of getting the king to wave us on.
Now that I’m saying all of this—
Sober, I mean. I’ve probably said it the-gods-know how many times over the years, right before passing out in a tavern alley…
But I’m starting to think he was faking. The guy we pulled from the dungeons, I mean, not the king. The king was as fired up as I’ve ever seen someone about this guy getting run through with Sir Mallory’s lance. But if the sun was really like a burning poker to the guy’s eyes, then how did he see the splinter to pick it up?
Though, as far as splinters go, it was a damned wicked looking thing. Probably more like a quill, or a ladies dagger, than a tiny sliver of wood. But what were we supposed to think? I mean, it’s not as if he could pick the locks on his shackles with it. And no matter how wicked the splinter, Sir Mallory still had a lance. He was still mounted on his great black steed. And he was still covered head to toe in armor. And the prisoner was still tied to the practice post. So when we dragged the guy into the tournament square, hollering his head off about the sun and how it pierced his eyes…
When we dragged him through the remains of hundreds of massacred jousting lances, and he said, “Ooh! Wait a minute…”
When he struggled free of our grasp and picked one out of the bunch and smiled as he clutched it in his hand… We were just happy he’d stopped screaming.
Suddenly he was cooperative. Once he had his souvenir, he quieted down, and he didn’t need more than a gentle squeeze on the arm to get him moving again. I guess we let our guard down. But we still tied him to the practice post. And we did it firmly. I checked the knot myself before we left to join the crowd, see if we couldn’t get our hands on a mutton chop or two and maybe some flagons of ale. He was stuck there. And stuck good.
He could move his arms.
In hindsight, I should have secured his arms at his sides. That might have prevented everything. But his hands were still shackled together, and even if he could move his arms, so what, right? Because by the time we got hold of some ale and mutton sandwiches and had jockeyed to a spot where we could see the action, Sir Mallory was bearing down on him. His silver and white spiraled lance glinted in the sun and gave the illusion that it was spinning. He was fit to drill straight through the prisoner. And the guy couldn’t dodge it. Yeah, he could move his arms, but what good are your arms when a half ton of horse and steel are bearing down on you with a lance aimed straight at your heart?
I looked over my shoulder then, and the king was hooting and hollering and acting very un-king like. This wasn’t just punishment. And it wasn’t a show for the citizens, nothing to keep them in line. The king hated this guy. And maybe the king was too excited to see it, maybe his vision was clouded by images of the prisoner getting run through, his guts exploding out the other side, but the prisoner didn’t care. When I turned back to the action, right before impact, I could see the guy was still standing there calm as could be. He wasn’t shrieking about the sun. He wasn’t quaking in fear. He wasn’t crying, or praying. He was just smiling.
And fiddling with that splinter.
Adjusting it with his fingers.
And then the lance rammed straight through the guy’s stomach.
Sir Mallory missed.
I don’t know how the guy did it. Not tied there like he was. But somehow, he arched his belly to the side at the last second, and the lance whiffed right past him. I saw the blur of the shackles and chains, and heard the rattle of the metal as the guy whipped his hands out and back in again. Sir Mallory screamed like a lamb being slaughtered and dropped his lance. As he rode past I could see that wicked splinter sticking out from the slit in his visor. Somehow the prisoner had managed to stab Sir Mallory in the eye through a one inch slit as the knight raced past.
Sir Mallory fell off his horse, landing in a loud tangle. The bang and clang of armor filled the arena, mixing with his screams of pain. He was up again almost as quick, ripping the splinter free with one hand and his sword free with the other. He rushed at the prisoner, slashing at the guy’s stomach.
The king shouted a long, “Nooooooo!” but Sir Mallory didn’t hear him. The king went from cheering like a drunk on the night they invented ale, to trying to save the guy. It didn’t make any sense. And then I saw.
The prisoner repeated the slithery doge he’d used to avoid the lance, and the sword missed. At the same time his hands shot forward, and he rotated them, one over the other, and tangled the slack of his chains in the sword’s hilt guard. Suddenly Sir Mallory wasn’t holding the sword anymore. With a fancy spinning move, like a fool juggling fire sticks, the hilt was resting comfortably in the prisoner’s hands. He whirled it left and right, like he was warming up, and the ropes parted around him.
The prisoner stepped smoothly off of the practice post’s pedestal. The king hollered like a kid who has lost his favorite toy. The prisoner darted in quick, jabbing the tip of the sword through the same slit in Sir Mallory’s visor. The knight wiggled in place for a few seconds. His fingers twitched, and then the prisoner withdrew the blade and Sir Mallory dropped.
“Kill him!” the king roared, “Now! Kill him now!”
The whistle of crossbow bolts filled the air, and the prisoner tumbled forward, somersaulting beneath them. The king let out the last roar of frustration he would ever have as every bolt missed, thunking harmlessly into the dirt around Sir Mallory. The prisoner rolled onto his feet, flinging the sword forward. It whipped through the air, end over end, and stopped hilt deep in the king’s throat, pinning him to his throne.
When the king catches a sword in the throat, everybody looks. Everybody. Even the trained soldiers. Even the king’s personal guard. Not for long. Just a second to think, “Umm… Boss is dead.” But apparently it was all the guy needed, because after that second’s pause and the audience sharing a shocked gasp, everyone with a sword sprang into action, shouting, “Get him!”
But he had vanished. In that instant of misdirection it was as if he’d never existed.
And all eyes turned to me.
Testimony of Galbraith, the Wizard
Keep in mind that no one has even seen a blood chalice in like five-hundred years. The last guy to hold one in his hands has been dead for ever. No one even knows what a blood chalice does! When I was at the university learning to be a wizard it was just one of those ambiguous whispered threats, like: “Blood Chalice! Ooh, sssspooky!” It was one of those items we swore Headmistress St. Pierce kept in her closet to catch her monthlies, and if she found you in the girl’s hall she’d curse you with it. Though, we had no idea how or exactly what that curse might be.
So, yeah, when that stinking crowd of bucktoothed backwoods villagers showed up throwing shit at my house, waving their pitchforks in the air, and shouting for my head, I might have winged it a little.
No. Do you have any idea how long it takes to cast a spell? And I’m not talking about some massive, earth shattering, split the crust and swallow a town kind of thing. I mean something simple, straightforward. Like levitating a glass of milk from one end of a room to the other, or lighting a candle with your mind. Do you know how long that takes? Weeks. Literally weeks.
Oh, sure, for the actual spell, for the action of the thing, it’s mere seconds. A snap of the fingers, a few words in obscure languages. But even those pathetic little parlor tricks take weeks of chanting and gathering energy and waving yew branches over holly smoke to set up. It’s ridiculous.
And if the rest of the world knew that, wizards would be tiptoeing around in constant terror, getting our asses kicked left and right. We’d be the slaves of anyone who can throw a stronger punch, which is everyone. But that doesn’t happen. And the only reason it doesn’t happen is because we’ve carefully cultivated our image over the years. Do you realize how much of my life is swallowed by hours of meditation and recitation and those damn yew branches and holly smoke? At any given moment I’ve got no fewer than five spells ready to let loose. Hence, the impression that I can call down a storm of lightning without the slightest provocation.
The upside is that no one tries to kick my ass. Except for a jackhole batch of villagers, but I can forgive them— for that— they had just been soaked by exploding bird goo after a week of their neighbors popping left and right with no warning, so I can suffer them a small freak-out.
The downside is that people think I’m all knowing, or something. Like I can just waggle my eyebrows and call down an answer to all of life’s questions out of the clouds. But, I didn’t have a divination spell ready and waiting at my fingertips just then. And you know what it would have told me if I had? Blood chalice. That’s it. Just the name. Not a description, not a picture. Just blood chalice. The spell would have written it in ashes on the wall of the fireplace. Know how I know that? Because once we’d set out on that dumb ass quest, I set to preparing the spell, and boom (I say that sarcastically, because talk about underwhelming…) what does it tell me? Blood chalice.
And no one knows what one does. Or how to work it. Or how to stop it. No one. No one. No one. No one!
Well, yeah, except for the guy that started it. That goes without saying. But other than him. No one. And he only knows because his stupid reach is built on top of all the damn instruction manuals. Talk about an advantage.
But I didn’t know that. I didn’t know the blood chalice still existed, or that the Demon Lord of the Misery Reach had activated it. All I knew was that a village full of angry people, who had apparently never met a bath they liked, was standing on my lawn, threatening me with bodily harm and demanding to know why this was happening and why I hadn’t stopped it. What would you have done? They’d already chalked it up to my absence at that damn dinner party, so I’m pretty sure that saying, “I don’t know, give me a week and I’ll get back to you,” was off the table. I could have melted them all, then and there. I had that spell prepared. But then what spell would I use to defend myself from the king’s soldiers when they came to find out why I’d melted a village for just for asking questions? I had to buy some time.
So I fibbed.
Ok, a lot. Yes, I invented a quest. But it’s not as if I could tell them, “Oh, yeah, I’ve got it figured out. It’ll be over in no time. Just go back home and curl up with a nice hot cup of tea. Maybe enjoy some nice leg of lamb.” Long before I finished the divination spell, they’d be back, demanding an answer, wanting to know why people were still popping. I needed a huge chunk of time.
And what takes more time than walking to Misery Reach? That’s rule number one of a quest. Especially a magical item quest. Seriously, there are rules. There’s actually a class at the university on it. One of my best classes. Yeah, I know, you wouldn’t think that based on the way this all turned out, but I aced that class.
Rule number 1: Always walk. If there are other ways of reaching your destination that are faster, safer, and more likely to ensure success, ignore them. Always walk.
Rule number 2: Always bring some nobody kid. Preferably a doof from the kitchen staff. Some innocuous little turd that everybody else picks on. Tell him he’s special, and make him carry that ever so important magical item.
Rule number 3: You need a swordsman. Best if he’s of questionable character.
Rule number 4: Vagueness. There are few things so important as being incredibly vague about what must be done and why. At no time should a wizard fully explain himself. It’s always advisable to keep your team members as close to completely in the dark as you can get.
And Rule Number 5: Bring along a friendly girl. Not really one of the ironclad rules. More just a personally rule. A recommendation, really. I can’t tell you how many quests throughout history have been derailed by the hero stopping to get some strange along the way. So I like to bring my own.
Testimony of Harvey, the greatest swordsman in the world
I believe my father wanted me bullied. I think the endless harassment was his goal. I can think of no other reason one might name a child Harvey. Especially when he wanted me to be a swordsman. That much was obvious from the start. I was never meant to be a musician. I was never destined to awe or astound with naught but my voice and a lute. He’d been putting sharp edged instruments of varying sizes in my hands from the moment I first had the strength to grip them. But a man who knows he wants his kid to be a swordsman, also knows that swordsmen need names like Kartoth, or Strom, or Dakathor. Not Harvey.
You’re the Inquisitor General, so you have to have traveled, yes? I’ve traveled all over the place and I’m still trying to figure out what the hell a Harvey is. I’ve never met another Harvey, never even heard of one. Have you? Either of you? I’ve met plenty of Stroms. I’ve killed four of them. I once fought two Dakathors at once using a pen knife. I disarmed one of them with it, and I used his blade to kill them both. I dispatched a Kartoth with a very unripe banana. But I’ve still not met a Harvey. Not as a swordsman, or as a knight. And not as anything else. I thought maybe it was the sort of name you find on a blacksmith, or a stable hand. Eventually, I started hoping I’d at least find a latrine scrubber called Harvey, because that would explain why anyone who heard my name tried to take a knife to me.
But I think it’s just the name. A guy hears “Harvey, the greatest swordsman in the world,” and he wants to giggle. Or he wants to kill the Harvey for making him giggle. Because violent men do not giggle. It’s unbecoming.
Life was bad there for a while. Because there are a lot of bullies. Especially when you’re five. And there are a lot of places that don’t allow swords. Especially when you’re five. But all of the places that don’t allow swords still allow bullies. In order to survive, I had to learn to use anything at hand as a weapon.
I’m sure that was Dad’s plan, along with a bit of sadism mixed in. He never seemed to like me the way he did my shiftless younger brother. But mostly he wanted to make sure I never relaxed. He wanted me always prepared to disable someone with a head of cabbage, or a spoon. Though, I have no idea why.
Don’t rush me. Please. I’ll get to it. I just want you to understand that a lot of what happened on the wizard’s quest had to do with my name, in one way or another. Maybe not directly, but almost every poor decision I made can be traced back to what seems like a bottomless set of insecurities that all originate with my name. For instance, that terrible lava through the village incident. All because of a pissing contest between me and Galbraith. Galbraith. Now there’s a name. Man!
Ok, so where was I? Oh, right, the joust.
Testimony of Krevassius, Demon Lord of the Misery Reach, continued…
This is off the record, correct? Well, of course, it’s obviously on record. I can see your assistant here and his diligent note taking. But is it a public record? You aren’t planning to tack it to notice boards across the realms, or alert the town crier, or… share all the juicy details over a pint at the tavern?
I never set out to destroy the world. There’s no profit in it. If you wipe out everyone else, then you end up scrubbing your own toilets. I don’t want that. I hate scrubbing toilets.
I know that when taken as a whole, the course the curse took makes it seem as if I was trying to accomplish mass scale annihilation. But the apocalypse was not my intention. Well, no, it was I… I suppose. But not the way you think. Give me a moment; I’m making a mess of this.
There was this woman…
Testimony of the Sorceress Nestra
Everyone I know assumes I was sentenced here. I am viewed as one of them. So, when I’m calm enough to sit back and see it through their eyes, I can understand why Krevassius might have chosen to woo me the way he did.
He could have done something as simple as giving me flowers, though, because I like flowers as much as the next girl. More, really, when you consider that I live in the Misery Reach. But once a person starts down the road of overwhelming displays of power it’s nearly impossible to step it back to something as simple as bouquets and chocolates.
Testimony of Illena Borovcheck, seamstress and girlfriend (of the wizard), continued…
My sister? Yeah, she’s a bitch.
Hey, like, I’m not trying to be uncharitable here, or anything, but do you have any idea what the holidays are like at my parents’ cottage? She skinned a guy alive. With her mind. She shucked him like an ear of corn and got sent packing to the Misery Reach.
Me, of course, I’m the whore; don’t ask about me. But, like, when my father talks about his, perfect little angel he’s still like, all, “I’ve got a daughter went to the university.”
She skinned a guy alive! And she started the end of the world. Ok, maybe she didn’t start the end of the world, but that didn’t stop her from jumping the guy in the middle of the desert as zombies rose all around. And I’m the whore.
Testimony of Tonray MacKillity, Matchmaker of the Misery Reach
Oh, my friend, there are some business opportunities that present themselves gift wrapped and ready to make money. The Woman of The Reach was just such an opportunity.
Before the Sorceress Nestra arrived at the Reach, matchmaking pretty much boiled down to arranging private time between the Barbarian Zorch and Sitka the assassin. Long ago, Sitka hired a wizard to make him like look a woman so he could sneak undetected into the temple of nuns and dispatch the troublesome Mother Ellisa. Unfortunately, Sitka got caught before the wizard could reverse his work. Hence, the Barbarian Zorch’s fascination.
For years, that was my life. A gold coin here, a gold coin there, and a handwritten note saying hey, Sitka, got a minute? It was a simple business to run, but less than lucrative, which surprised me. Considering the barbarian reputation of raping and pillaging and always ready and raring to go, that even with only one customer I should have had a booming business.
Oh, my friend, I should have had a constantly revolving door as Zorch ran in and out wearing his wolf pelt loin cloths and horned helmets, thinking with either his prick or his sword, whichever he happened to have in his hand at the time. Between you and me, I think we know which one that would be. But Zorch was like a bear stocking up for winter hibernation. Months and months of no contact, and then suddenly he’d appear every day for a week straight shouting, “Bring Zorch Sitka, now! Woooomannnn!”
The man was the very picture of eloquence.
And, my friend, this caused problems you wouldn’t believe because Sitka felt that if he was stuck spending the rest of his life as the only remotely female creature in this hellish rock, doling it out to a dimwitted barbarian who’d glued hooves to his helmet instead of horns, then he at least deserved a little romance. He demanded that I provide some sweet nothings whispered in his ear. If you will, imagine the mangled remains of romantic platitudes flowing forth from Zorch’s silken tongue. Eloquence, as I said.
First I tried writing them down, but Zorch can’t read, something I should have realized before I spent all day transcribing one of my more brilliant verses of passion, if I do say so myself. So I tried to help him memorize it. I wasn’t giving him a novel or a five act play. I provided a manageable fifteen lines of glorious ardor and pure yearning put to rhyme, and after a full day’s work, Zorch managed to boil it down to the words, “Fart napkin.” As a result, Sitka felt he was entitled to half the take.
With those two words of spoiled poetry and one demand of payment, I was no longer a matchmaker. I was but a pimp.
And then the Sorceress Nestra arrived.
Testimony of the Sorceress Nestra, Continued…
That’s where Krevassius got the idea to end the world? Hmm. I don’t know if that makes me feel better or worse about the whole thing, but it explains a lot.
Strange items started showing up on my doorstep the minute I arrived at the Misery Reach. I got dead weeds, severed animal heads, and some dark and jagged rocks that looked like blood diamonds, but smelled like they might be kidney stones. Romantic gestures, I suppose, but for a time I thought someone had put out a hit on me. The creepy, old “matchmaker” even brought me something he claimed was a poem. As best I can tell, it was some kind of three dimensional art, because I mounted that thing on my wall and stared at it for hours, and the only words I could ever make out were fart napkin. I get the distinct impression that he thinks he’s literate.
But this explains so much. A man who hands over that “poem” and advises a group of degenerates to leave such an horrific assortment of paraphernalia in front of my door has been in the Reach way too long. It’s only natural that his great romantic gesture would be something like ending the world. Once he’s made the assumption that I, like all of the others, was sent here as punishment for some evil plot, then naturally the best way to win my affection is something cataclysmic. Nestra loves flowers. But “The Sorceress” Nestra… she needs carnage.
It might have taken Krevassius much longer to work up the courage, but he would have got around to it eventually, and I can’t help but wonder what his grand gesture might have been without such bad advice.
Testimony of Krevassius, Demon Lord of the Misery Reach, continued…
I don’t know.
I was thinking… maybe flowers? I know that comes off as ill-conceived, The Demon Lord bringing a bouquet of flowers. How does one even dress to deliver flowers? And what would I do, find some baby’s breath with which to accent the bouquet? To make matters worse, they only grow in one tiny jagged outcropping on one treacherously steep cliff face. That’s the level of value flowers hold in The Reach. I cannot imagine showing up at her door, my hair slicked back, having donned my finest cloak, saying, “Nestra, here, these are for you. I climbed a cliff one thousand feet tall to find them.” She would have laughed in my face and slammed the door.
Given that all of my ideas seemed to fit within that narrow, sappy approach, I felt I needed the advice of an expert. That’s why I approached the matchmaker.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a line weaving in and out of the streets of what passed for our town. Weaving around the guy with the pretzel cart, only he wasn’t manning it. He had joined the line, as well, touching himself behind Lothar the Destroyer. The line weaved below the sign for the barbershop, around the side of the building and through the alley behind the tavern. I felt certain that a line that long had to contain far more than the actual population of the Reach. Thieves and brigands seemed to be marching in from the surrounding areas, and I was fairly certain they sought the hand of Nestra, same as I. So I cut in line. Lothar might be the Destroyer, but what’s the point of being the Demon Lord of you cannot steal a few spaces?
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