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Category: Story Time

Story Time: Bittersweet

First story about one of the Lowlifes from their perspective! This story is for people who have already listened to 5.6, so if you haven’t done that, go on over and do that. See if you can connect the dots. Enjoy!

*

Idzy Rukes’ mind was made up. And it was honestly…really exciting.

They could feel the tremor of energy at the table like the beginnings of an earthquake, as their family chattered about travel plans and preparations.

“Oh, you can’t forget your nice set of quills,” Mom told them.

Idzy suppressed a smile. “They have quills and ink at the temple, Mom.”

“But these are your nice ones,” Mom urged, and Mother laughed.

Story Time: Meet Cute

I am not immune to Valentine’s Day.

Don’t forget, $20/month patrons get to suggest prompts, so if there’s a story you think needs to be told, you know what to do!

In the meantime…let’s get a little lovey-dovey. Here’s a story about Betty’s family.

*

Takhal listened to her friends argue with boredom.

“Humans are always trouble,” Agarkha said, swatting Gharath on the shoulder. “We can’t just waltz into a village and expect them to help us.”

“We have the gold!” Gharath returned. “The humans will help us for gold, they always do. My father—”

“I don’t need to hear the story about how your father has so many human friends,” Agarkha scoffed. “If you want to see the humans so badly, why don’t you go?”

“Well,” Gharath hesitated. “It would be…foolish. Foolish to go in alone.”

“Sure, let’s just let them think we’re a war party,” Agarkha said.

“Gruumsh’s name,” Takhal groaned, snatching the broken axe out of Gharath’s hand. “I will go, if for no other reason than to stop your incessant arguing.”

“Wait, Takhal,” Agarkha said, but Takhal wasn’t listening anymore; she left the tent.

The three of them had posted up in some remote woods as they were trying to catch up with the rest of the Triguut, but Gharath’s axe getting broken was a problem. None of the three of them had any skill in weapon smithing, but Gharath refused to go back to the clan with her axe broken, and they had already been gone a day longer than they were supposed to. The clan got worried and sometimes angry when young hunting parties wandered off.

Avoiding humans was a matter of course. Humans were afraid of orcs, didn’t understand, but the elders of the clan had regular enough dealings with them that Takhal figured it must be okay. And she was fairly good at speaking Common, and if Gharath could face neither her fear of shame from the elders nor her fear of being alone with humans, then Takhal could do it for her.

The village appeared on the horizon, and Takhal paused. Humans were scared of the very appearance of an orc. Takhal refused to change the way she looked—she liked the way she looked—but at the very least she could make it clear she wasn’t here to fight.

She took her own axe from her back, wrapped the head carefully, and stowed it in her backpack, and then carefully wrapped Gharath’s axe as well, until it could have been a short broom or something. No weapons. If need be she could get out with her fists. Thus prepared, she marched into the village.

Immediately, the humans were giving her looks. Not unexpected, but not comfortable either. Fear, uncertainty, a little anger as well. Takhal wondered if any of these people had seen an orc before.

The village had a few clearly labeled shops, and the blacksmith was one of them. Takhal didn’t read Common, but it was hard to misunderstand a hammer and anvil. The workshop was open-air, but low-built, so Takhal had to duck to enter. The blacksmith, a stocky human woman, was facing away from her, hammering a shovel head into shape.

“Hello?” Takhal said.

“Yes?” the woman asked, holding up the shovel to examine as she turned around, and then starting and dropping it as she saw Takhal. “Good gods, I—oh, you startled me.”

Takhal wouldn’t apologize for that, that wasn’t her problem. She reached for her knowledge of Common and formed the unfamiliar phonemes. “Can you fix a broken axe?”

The blacksmith raised her eyebrows. “Do you have coin?”

Takhal barely kept herself from rolling her eyes. “The question. For everyone, or just orcs?”

The woman’s mouth snapped shut. She seemed to consider this and then held out a hand. “Let’s see the axe.”

Takhal handed her the bundle and let her unwrap it, watching her expert eye appraise the damage. The blade was cracked, but it was an ornamental axe that Gharath honestly shouldn’t have been using for fighting. It just needed to be mended before she presented it back to her mother.

“I don’t know,” the blacksmith said doubtfully. “Do you want it functional or just in one piece?”

“One piece,” Takhal said. “It’s…” she hesitated, searching for the words in Common. “…for show.”

The blacksmith nodded in understanding. “I can fix this in a couple hours. You need it done today?”

“Yes.”

“Right, come back at noon. It’ll cost you two gold, easy fix.”

Takhal bowed her head in thanks, and seeing as the blacksmith didn’t seem to need payment in advance, wandered out of the blacksmith’s shop.

Well. Now what? Going all the way back to the others without the axe would just start another argument. But staying here in town…

Ah, wait, human villages had public houses. Inns. Takhal scanned the dusty little street and spotted one with a sign painted with a boar’s head. It was either a pub or a butcher. She headed that way.

It was in fact an inn, but Takhal regretted walking in the moment the door shut behind her. There was a group of rough-looking young toughs hanging out at the bar that immediately fell silent when she came in.

“What in the gods’ names is that?” one of them said, in not-quite-a-whisper.

Takhal narrowed her eyes as she sat down at the bar. That sounded like mockery.

“They just let savages wander into this town now?” said another of the young toughs.

“Look at her tusks!” squeaked a third.

“Would you shut up?” the young human behind the bar barked at the toughs at full volume. He set down the tray of glasses he was carrying with an alarming clatter. “You won’t speak that way about any of my patrons if you want to keep eating here. You ought to be ashamed.”

Takhal raised an eyebrow and watched the toughs for their reaction.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Calvin,” one of the toughs denied innocently.

“Like hell you don’t, Felix,” Calvin spat back, leaning out over his bar. “I should go tell your mother how rude you’re being.”

Felix sputtered, and the other young toughs got up and started to leave.

“We didn’t want to eat here anyway,” one of them grumbled on the way out.

“Yeah, good riddance,” Calvin said, arms crossed.

Takhal waited until the toughs had cleared out, and then raised an eyebrow at Calvin.

“Sorry about them,” he said, suddenly sheepish. He was very cute in that way humans were cute, all soft and stout and round-faced. “They’re idiots. Can I get you something?”

“Beer?” Takhal said.

“Sure,” Calvin answered, taking a glass from his tray and then immediately fumbling it. “Ah—gods. Sorry. I’m…sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?” Takhal asked.

Calvin changed color, turning red. Ah, he was blushing. “I don’t…sorry, I’m nearly as bad as they are, it doesn’t matter.”

Oh. That was…interesting.

Well. He was cute.

She smiled at him. “I’m not sorry.”

He managed to turn even redder. “Oh.”

“You are Calvin?” she asked, trying the name out. The v was a little hard to wrap around her tusks.

“Yes, what’s your name?” Calvin quickly drew a beer from, Takhal assumed, a tap under the bar, and placed it on the counter.

“Takhal,” she said, and took a swig. It was good beer.

“Oof, that’s a little hard to say,” Calvin said, leaning on the bar next to her. “Maybe I can call you Betty? You look a little like a Betty.”

“You think ‘Calvin’ is easy?” Takhal scoffed. “Call me my name.”

Calvin paused. “That was…thoughtless, I’m sorry.”

Takhal dipped her head in acknowledgement of the apology. It took courage to admit fault. “Betty. It’s pretty.”

“I’ve always liked it,” Calvin said, looking relieved. “So. Are you here for long, or…”

“Until noon. Needed a blacksmith.”

“Ah, not very long, then.” This seemed to be disappointing news.

It was funny. Takhal was a little disappointed too.

She took a slow, thoughtful drink of her beer and shrugged. “Maybe I’ll come back.”

A slow smile spread across Calvin’s face. “That’d be…that would be really nice.”

Takhal had to smile too, it was contagious. “Good.”

“Takhal,” Calvin attempted. “Is that right?”

“Close,” she said, resting her head on her hand

“I’ll keep practicing,” Calvin promised.

Story Time: Animals Like Me

So I was sitting there, wondering what I should write, and a phrase occurred to me that I couldn’t get out of my head: teenage Tode. And you thought middle school was bad for you! Try being raised by wolves! Try being a long-lived race with a decades-long childhood!

Enjoy this little coming-of-age story featuring teenage Tode.

*

Tode sat on a log in a clearing, thinking. He had a question he’d never had before: what kind of animal was he?

He had left the wolves. It was scary, and he was scared, but it was the sort of fear the wolves never seemed to feel, the fear of things that hadn’t happened yet but could. Tode had stopped trying to talk about this kind of fear with the wolves. They said he was a fool to borrow trouble, that they had enough to keep them busy without wasting time thinking such things.

They also told him that he was getting too old to do more playing than hunting, and they might have a point, because Tode still felt like a cub in some ways, even though the wolves who had found him were dead, and their children were too. The pack had less and less obligation to him as time went on. Tode could not blame them. He knew he was not a wolf.

Story Time: Potluck

We are solidly in holiday season, with us Americans just having celebrated Thanksgiving and with wintery get-togethers on the horizon. There’s nothing I like better than hanging out with my family in the kitchen. I thought I’d give the Crew that feeling too.

Just so y’all know, we’ll be taking December off of story time, but that’s because we’re hard at work preparing season five! We’re so close!

Until then, enjoy!

*

“What do you want to do for your birthday next week?”

Zara turned to Rosie with her eyes practically bugging out. “How did you know?”

Story Time: Haunted

Please ignore the fact that ghosts are a literal monster in D&D. It’s spooky season, dangit. We’re pretending.

Enjoy!

* * *

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

Knowles couldn’t help but note the tiny quirk of mischief at the corner of Cybilene’s mouth as she asked the question. They were fairly sure that Tode noticed too, although he opted to mirror the look, ready to join in with mischief of his own. He was doing that more and more, falling easily into step with his twin. It was probably healthy, Knowles thought.

“I mean, it seems silly to dismiss the possibility, given everything I’ve seen,” Castor posited.

“Still though, like, ghosts?” Rosie waved a lackadaisical hand. “I don’t really know. There’s plenty of weird stuff that’s real without adding spirits. Like the actual undead.”

“You don’t believe in ghosts? Really?” Killiker asked. He was laying down beside the fire and had been whistling up until that moment, a lonesome song that Knowles could feel kneading the stress out of their shoulders. They were sorry he stopped.

Story Time: Solitude

This month’s story is a little bit short. Just like Tode. Who it’s about.

I’ve been very busy! Who hasn’t! So I find my mind turning to Tode, the king of disappearing for years in the woods. Until, of course, he doesn’t. Enjoy!

* * *

“Cousin Tode, do you like parties?”

Tode wasn’t surprised by the appearance of little Helix on his stroll through the woods; he knew he was being followed, and she was not very subtle. He was surprised by the way she just appeared beside him and started asking questions. Questions were, he suspected, her thing.

“I don’t know,” Tode said. “I’ve never been to a party before.”

Story Time: Contact

Just a short one this month, as I’m still very busy finishing up our crowdfund fulfillment, but I would never neglect our loyal newsletter subscribers. Thank you for being with us through our long hiatus, and enjoy Sterling!

*

Sterling was in his office, trying to make a rota for a shift change for the guard, and was failing.

It wasn’t sleep deprivation. He’d been sleeping very well, in fact, resting in the knowledge that he was being useful and doing what was right, and that he was never far from a friend. It wasn’t boredom—on the contrary, he’d give anything to focus on the task at hand.

It was just a strange feeling. He felt itchy and uncomfortable in his own skin. It reminded him of how he felt before he’d met his Gang, wandering alone and full of anger and shame.

Minus the anger and shame, of course. What was it?

Story Time: Our Friend Velune

It was pointed out to me that there is a severe lack of Velune content! Which we must rectify immediately!

*

Relasti tip-toed through the hall of the abbey, knowing full well that something was about to happen and trying not to let the dread show on their face. “Velune? Are you here?”

A snicker bounced around the stone walls, echoing. Relasti gritted their teeth. The worst part was the anticipation. “C’mon out, okay?”

“I’m in here.” Velune’s voice was tiny and merry, laughing at them. It was coming from the door to the workshop, which was slightly ajar.

Relasti examined the door carefully for tripwires, even taking the time to try a Detect Magic spell. Velune couldn’t do magic yet, as far as Relasti knew, but maybe they’d picked up something new. But Relasti detected no magic, so they took a deep breath and opened the door.

Story Time: Five Fish (Part Two)

The second part of our exploration of How Meltyre Is Great At Fishing. (If you missed part one, it’s right here.) This story time includes an animal death. That seems obvious to say, but better safe than sorry. The animal is a fish.

*

Meltyre was ten years old. Still.

It was funny, he thought, stealing from tree to tree, how long it took to get to your next birthday. Theoretically, Mother had said, Dad would be home just after his next birthday. She had in fact been saying that like a mantra, and Meltyre was so sick of hearing about his birthday.

He was tired of waiting for it too, he thought, taking one last look around. Okay, the coast was clear.

Casually, he moseyed up to the magistrate’s private pond and sat down, pulling a line out of his pocket and looking for a bug to bait the hook with.

Story Time: Five Fish (Part One)

That’s right, a two-parter! We have a longer set of stories today and next month. Tune in to the newsletter next month for our next story, or join our Patreon to get it in just a week or so! All patrons get early access to Story Time every month. Let’s go!

*

Meltyre was eight years old.

“And you just sit still and wait for the fish?” Meltyre asked his dad. The two of them were laying on their stomachs on a bank overhanging the lazy little stream that bordered their farm.

“Just sit and wait for the fish,” Dad confirmed. “Now fish are cautious creatures. They usually like to test the bait before they eat it. So you can’t pull back on the line when you first feel a nibble. You have to wait until they actually take a bite.”

“How do you know when they take a bite?” Meltyre asked, voice hushed.