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Category: Story Time

Story Time: Klara

I kind of like the way cold weather sets a scene, you know? It makes the inn setting feel very cozy. In fact, perhaps that will influence our February story time as well.

If you’d like to influence February story time, I direct you to our Patreon, where for a mere twenty bucks a month, you can have my ear.

Let’s go!

*

Tessa wiped her brow and sighed, surveying the clean floor. It may have been a slow night in a strange town—strange as in odd, not unfamiliar—but at least the floor was clean. It wasn’t often she got the chance to properly scrub the place.

The inn had been following a trio of adventurers for a while now. It had been several years since Tessa refurbished and opened the Goblin’s Head, and she occasionally had to remind herself that it was not a normal life she was living, hopping from place to place. She rather liked this particular set of adventurers, a friendly, lively bunch. They seemed as though they’d had a difficult day, though; no sooner had the party arrived than they’d asked for their dinner sent up and gone to bed. Poor dears.

The odder thing, though, was the distinct lack of other customers. Only one or two had come through the whole day, and they had been furtive and wide-eyed, as if ordering a cider and a meal was some sort of illicit act. They hadn’t spoken to each other and they’d barely spoken to her, eating as if they were in a hurry, taking an insultingly short amount of time to savor their cider, and scurrying off.

At least it gave her time to clean the floor properly, which was satisfying even if it wasn’t profitable.

Right. A thorough scrubbing had kept her awake almost as long as a dining room full of guests, so it was time for bed. Tessa flicked the scrub brush dry above the bucket, put it in her apron pocket, and picked up the bucket to go dump it out behind the inn.

Knock knock knock.

Story Time: It’s A Party

For context on this story, be sure to listen to our bonus episode Session Zero! Otherwise it might not make much sense.

Remember, $20/month patrons get to suggest prompts for Story Time! Join up or upgrade today!

*

“So, what exactly is a Session Zero?” Michael asked, easing into his seat as deliberately as he did everything, with practiced precision.

“It’s like a setup session,” Teresa explained, placing her books carefully in front of her, less because she wanted them to be neat and more because she wanted something to do with her hands. Fun. This was going to be fun. “We’ll talk about our characters, and our expectations and hopes for the games.”

Story Time: Schoolkids

For this month, I am feeling in a very back-to-school mood (even though I am so grateful I’m not in school anymore). Let’s visit a pair of twins who also didn’t have a great time in school…

*

Zara kicked a rock in the road and watched it as it rolled off into the weeds, rather unsatisfyingly. She hated school.

You know, it wasn’t even school that she hated, really. It was the people there. If her teacher had left her alone to read a book, it would have been fine. But no. There had to be—

“Look, it’s the demon!”

—other students.

Story Time: Home

Hello everyone! A shorter story for you all today about baby Tessa. Enjoy!

*

There were a lot of things to be said about the Harvest Festival, Tessa thought. It was one of two parties that the orphans got in a year, for one. There was food in abundance, and it was the good kind of food too, not their usual thin vegetable porridges and bread that was somehow stale even when it was fresh. People got adopted during the Harvest Festival—not many, but a few. They got new clothes during the Harvest Festival. People seemed to give half a damn about them, which was a nice change.

The best part about the Harvest Festival, though, was getting out of Split River.

Story Time: Tell Me A Story

Guess who missed Fina! It’s me. Some mentions of alcohol and drunkenness in this one friends. Please take care of yourselves.

*

“Tell me a story?”

Ioan Butterbuns looked up from mending his shirt to meet his little girl’s eyes. “A story, eh?”

Fina’s eyes were huger than normal. Ioan had once heard some human say there was nothing cuter than a halfling child, and although Ioan was of the opinion that said human had no children and knew few halflings, where his own daughter was concerned, he thought they might be right. She blinked those big old eyes at him winningly. “Pretty please?”

Story Time: Friends Everywhere

Here’s a little story about real friendship, from everyone’s second favorite bard (after Fina of course). Enjoy!

*

Max has friends everywhere.

That was the first thing Killiker learned about Maximillian Allerus. It was a mutual friend who introduced them, a windblown storm cleric named Sunny.

“You’re gonna like this guy,” she’d told Killiker. “They’re seriously the best.”

“How do you know this Max fellow?” Killiker asked.

“Everyone knows Max!” she’d said. “He’s got friends everywhere.”

Story Time: How I Met Your Mother

Wow, I regret that title already.

Anyway, have a little Rashomon for your Thursday! Remember, if you have a story idea to suggest, you should definitely join our Patreon, and for a mere $20 a month you can bend my ear as much as you like.

*

KILLIKER
Ah, you want to know a tale about lost love? I have a sad story I can share, and unlike many of my stories, this one happened to me.

 

DARIA
Yes, I suppose it’s time I told you the rest of the truth. I won’t go into details, mind.

 

KILLIKER
You don’t want details? Ah, fine then, we will keep things…family friendly. It all began when I was traveling over hither and yon, seeking stories and fortune.

Story Time: The Mean Streets

March is my birthday month, and so this month I thought it was only fitting to write about the character in the Crew who is most like me personality-wise, Knowles. Content warning for usual policing nonsense, but no violence or corruption.

(Remember, Patreon supporters get first dibs on Story Time every month, and $20 patrons can even suggest prompts!)

*

“Let me go,” the child said, struggling mid-air, throwing punches in vain.

Knowles rolled their eyes. They were holding up the child by their vest, which was the only piece of clothing Knowles was certain was sturdy enough to hold the kid’s weight. They were ragged and dirty and looked like every kid Knowles had known growing up. “This is what happens when you steal.”

“No it ain’t,” the kid spat. “This is what happens when you get caught.”

Knowles had to concede this point. “And what do you think happens next?”

Story Time: Adventures in Babysitting

A little light AU for your reading pleasure! For those of you who are unaware, it is 100% canon that if Tode and Cybilene grew up together, they would be Creepy Twins. We get to explore that through the eyes of their cousin/babysitter Augie. Enjoy!

*

Bartholomew and Cybilene aren’t normal.

Yes, obviously, “normal” is kind of an insulting concept, I know, Kibs. Like yes, the big folk are the weird ones, and definitely need to get their priorities straight about creativity and community and joy, yes, blah blah blah—

But that’s not what I’m talking about, okay? Bartholomew and Cybilene. They’re just…strange.

January Story Time: Ascendance of the Chief

This one is a morose sort of story, but I missed Betty. If your new year hasn’t started well, then she’s here to commiserate. Content warning for discussions of death, grief, and reference to (and brief description of) corpses.
(Remember, our Patreon supporters get first dibs on Story Time every month, and they can suggest prompts too.)
*

A teenage Betty walks away from the last camp of her clan.

Orc clans are semi-nomadic. They might go to the same places year after year, but they never stay. Eventually the weather changes, the hunting and gathering conditions change, the trade changes, and they move on. Betty knows she must do the same. The wind direction could change any day now, leaving this spot, which currently huddles in the lee of a hill, exposed to precipitation.

 

Orcs do not bury their dead. Betty considered it even so; better not to see them anymore, better to honor her human mother by adopting her practice for honoring the dead, since apparently Betty is not orc enough to die.

She decided against it in the end, because she knows that the other clans will hear of this tragedy, will come to pay respects, will be puzzled and perhaps angered to find them stuck into the ground like potatoes. They will find out that she is chief—old Darguuz, the last elder left, handed her the necklace with her dying gasps—and they will cast judgment on her actions, because all orcs cast judgment on their chiefs as a matter of course, and an orc is not afraid of anything, much less critique. And furthermore, how is Betty to know if the poison of their illness will not seep into the ground and spread?

So Betty burns them, as is tradition. It takes a long time, and several fires. Betty keeps her mind carefully blank as she works, and after the task is done, she won’t remember anything of it except the end, watching the fires to be sure they don’t spread, fashioning herself a mask to keep out the smell.

The fires burn for days, and Betty watches them, only falling into fitful sleep when the last one is burned down to embers. She sleeps for nearly a day and a night.

She leaves behind her pits of blackened detritus, as well as the still-pitched tents of her people. She scratches a warning on an exposed rock face on the hill, so that other orcs will not be tempted to go into the tents and catch the same disease, just in case the smoking bones are not warning enough. So much lost. So much left to lose.

She camps, avoiding people, because the darkness of night and the sounds of its denizens are a comfort in her solitude, her grief, as she whispers the stories a chief is supposed to know over and over, wracking her brains for the bits she can’t recall until the wee hours of the morning and then sleeping into the day, only to keep walking, following the same roads as her people always have.

One road travels along a human trade route. Normally the clan reaches this place just in time for a slew of caravans to trade with, or fight with, but either way it’s welcome company. Betty doesn’t see them when she reaches the road; perhaps she’s traveled too fast, without the herd of her family to temper her speed. She meets only one person, a human, with a donkey-drawn vegetable cart.

“Hey! You!” the human calls. A man, she thinks, a human man, who looks at her without the tenor of fear that her people usually get. He recognizes her as merely half-orc, Betty is sure of that.

He speaks Common, and Betty responds in kind. It’s not her first language—it’s nobody’s, not even the humans—and the words are thick on her tongue. “What do you want?”

“You look like a strong girl,” he says, and waves a hand at his cart, which has a wheel stuck in a rut. “Can you help me lift this out?”

A chief cares for her own people, but a chief also parlays with outsiders, and one good turn deserves another. Betty shrugs and lifts, digging in her heels and finding it hardly a trial with the man’s help. She sets it on solid ground, where it will not be stuck again.

“Thank you kindly!” he says, wiping his brow. “I thought I was going to be in trouble there. Say, can I offer you a silver piece for your trouble? Or perhaps a ride to the city?” He throws a thumb over his shoulder, the wrong way.

Betty considers, and then looks back over her shoulder. The smoke has long faded, but she remembers where her people lay.

She didn’t have a plan. She followed the paths of her forefathers blindly, grief-stricken, with no motivation or need to do anything different. But she is chief, and no chief would let a single emotion rule them, not without considering all angles. A chief has a plan. A chief is not moved by whims, but does what’s best for the clan. Even if the clan is only one person.

“Both?” Betty suggests, looking back to the man.

The man smiles and digs a coin out of his pocket. “It’s a deal. Hop on!”

This is the first coin Betty makes as chief. It will not be the last.