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A few months ago, Eien-chan roped me into my first tabletop RPG campaign with some friends of ours. I've been kinda learning as I go and having plenty of awkward beginner's moments, but I've really started getting into it.

It turns out a side effect of really starting to enjoy it is that it's prompted my writing brain to sit up and take notice. As a result, there are scenes that show up during RP that make me think in the back of my head, "Gee, that could make an interesting story or a cute little drabble." And, well, I've let my brain run with it a little. I still feel a little dopey for doing it, but, well, it is kinda fun to flesh things out and take what happens during RP and turn into something more resembling a story. There's also one portion of one of the missions that I think could be turned into something less of a drabble and more of a short story. I'll see if I run with that or not.

So, for the innately curious, here are the three that have emerged so far, arranged in chronological order according to the campaign:


Tesni smelled Geg before she saw him. The little dinosaur was no slouch when it came to acquiring unusual smells, but she was quite certain that he had managed to outdo himself this time. Preceding him was the rancid odor of death and bodily fluids and possibly also newly freed organs, strong enough that when she first smelled it, she instinctively tensed up, certain the odor was heralding another onslaught of the hobgoblins that had set up camp inside the dungeon. She tightened her grip on her staff.

She blinked a couple of times when it was her companion who darted around the stone corner, cocking his head this way and that to scan the area for any potential opponents (or prey) that might have appeared in his absence. Satisfied, he shifted his gaze to Tesni, his jaws parted in what could almost pass as a ghoulish grin. His body was covered, quite literally, from head to toe in blood and ichor. There was a lump of flesh that could have passed for a hobgoblin finger still clinging to his back, threatening to dry up and stick there.

He looked like he had clawed his way out of the Demonlands themselves. She was fairly sure he had never looked more pleased.

Tesni’s jaw worked a moment before she finally opened it and asked, “Geg? Geg. What. In the name of Avestra herself. Happened to you?” Geg responded with a trill and a widening of his mock grin.

“He was a little too close.” Tesni flinched in surprise as Alexei stepped out of the shadows, his preferred method of making an entrance. Unlike Tomas, she thought wryly, who couldn’t make an unobtrusive entrance any more than mushroom could jump out of the ground and dance. Alexei was a bit on the dirty side, as were they all, but he also wasn’t covered in gore quite to Geg’s extremes.

Morbid curiosity forced her to ask, “Close to what?”

Alexei shrugged as he wiped blood off his shortsword, “To the hobgoblin I was stabbing, “ he said, so matter-of-factly he could have been talking about what they would eat in the evening, “It didn’t last long.”

Tesni looked again at Geg, who was licking his snout in an attempt to get at a particularly annoying glob of flesh perched on his nose. “What did it do? Explode?”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

She let a moment, then two, then a third slip by in silence. Alexei was always a hard one for her to get a read on, but looking at him, she was pretty sure there was a hint of smug satisfaction behind his normally stony face.

Finally, she put a hand to her forehead, letting out a soft groan. “Oh, Mother. Geg, if we ever get out of this dungeon, I’m throwing you in the bath and scrubbing you within an inch of your life. Next time, when I tell you to help Alexei, be sure to stay out of the way if he’s looking like he’s about to enthusiastically dismember a hobgoblin, okay?”

Geg responded with an energetic leap into her arms.

***




Tesni stopped before the crunch of her footfalls gave her away. The fresh snow seemed to have brought everyone out, she thought, as she happened upon Tomas standing just off the path, silent, his back to her. He looked almost like he was praying, what with the way his face was pointed toward the heavens. It made sense, she supposed, given the clean white starkness of the landscape, a perfect natural backdrop for an impromptu prayer to Amielle, The Knight. Normally the man radiated goodness and purity enough that anyone with even a quarter of a brain in their head could tell that he was destined to Do Positive Things, but now, it was like he was emitting so much perfect goodness that he could jump the border into the Demonlands and clear out the entire realm all on his own. She wouldn’t be surprised if birds started coming out of the trees to bask in the positive light and flowers started popping up out of the ground of their own volition.

This had to stop immediately.

Learning how to throw a perfect snowball was one of the first things her father taught her the first snowfall after she was old enough to walk. Years later she realized it had been good practice for someone who was destined for army, and then Forester life, even if at the time she was merely intent on pummeling her father with snow. Still, it was good to know that even this simple skill could be put to relevant use beyond slinging rocks. She knelt down in the snow, scooping up a handful and forming it into a ball.

She waited only a moment, long enough for Tomas to detect the presence of someone watching him, before she reared back and with a “HEY TOMAS!”, let the snowball fly. It hit true, catching him in the side of the face as he turned, serenity turning to shock and then to annoyance.

“Tesni!” he bellowed, brushing snow out of his hair, “That wasn’t funny!”

“Oh, Mother, it totally was,” Tesni replied, laughing, “You should have seen your face!” She attempted an exaggerated imitation of the paladin’s reaction, which only prompted her to lapse into a fresh set of giggles.

“I’ll show you funny,” Tomas muttered, a faint smirk coming over his face as he plunged his hands into the snow, piling it into a ball large enough to qualify as a small boulder. “A freshly built snow druid. Now that’s funny.”

With a grunt, he heaved the snowboulder in Tesni’s direction. He hadn’t counted on it sailing as slowly as it did, though, and with only a slight ‘eep!’, Tesni easily sidestepped it. “Oh, come on, you can do better than that!” she shouted, “I know for a fact that you can actually hit things! Occasionally!”

“I resent that!” Tomas called back as he prepared a fresh, smaller snowball. “Come on then!” He dodged the next snowball that Tesni threw and let his own fly.

*

The yelping and shrieking of the combatants was enough to rouse Tama from his doze, opening up one eye and letting out a low, disdainful grumble in their general vicinity before he shifted his position on the barracks steps and went back to his cat nap. That in and of itself was enough to pull his master out of a particularly fascinating chapter on astral plane focal points. He looked up, frowning at the scene of one half of the human part of their team locked in a fierce snow battle on the barracks landing, both now peppered with snow. He groaned, shaking his head. “Unbelievable.”

He flinched at the sound of a reptilian shriek coming from behind them as Tesni’s companion was also roused by the commotion. Geg charged out of the barracks, using the space between Tama and Rhys to launch himself into the snow before scampering into the fray. He quickly joined the proceedings by relentlessly attacking snowballs that missed their mark. Rhys let out a long, slow sigh.

“Ah. ‘Combat practice’, I see,” said a voice behind him. Rhys turned to see Alexei leaning against one of the support beams, a bemused expression on his face.

Rhys turned back to the battle. “Is that what it is? I’m not even sure you can tell who’s winning.”

“Whichever one accumulates the least snow, I guess.” Alexei mused. “Anyway, the Forester Major’s called for us. Care to call the children to come in?”

“And let them rope me into that mess? No, thank you,” the summoner replied, “Let them wear each other out first.”

Alexei let out a grunt of agreement as Tesni took a snowball in the back. “Might be a while.”

***





Tesni glanced in the direction of the town, barely visible in the darkness. The dim yellow lights of homes flickering through the snow were the only reason she was sure they were in the right place. Shivering, she turned back to her companions. Tomas had already given Alexei and Rhys the enchantments they would need to endure the cold that night, and they were all the better for it. They looked almost comfortable on their horses, even as flurries whirled around them. She pursed her lips as she pulled her cloak closer, keeping her jealousy to herself.

“I’ll be sending a check in message every hour or so,” Rhys said, “We’ll investigate what we can without making ourselves known.”

Tomas nodded, a little more vigorously than usual. Undoubtedly cold, Tesni thought, but the lug was too stubborn to admit it. “Keep close if you can. You never know when our murderer might show up to make things head south for us.”

“I wouldn’t mind if they headed south,” Tesni muttered, “It’d be warmer there.”

“Try not to get into trouble we can’t help with, then,” Alexei said to Tomas, “If he does make an appearance, surprising him with four extra combatants will give us a significant edge.”

Tesni let out an uneasy sigh. “Right. We’re off then.” This was the moment she had been dreading. The thought of not having their team together left a bad taste in her mouth. There was always the anticipation of waiting for Rhys’s next check in to make sure nothing horrible had happened to them, and not being there to help, to not even know was a sickening feeling. She turned her attention to the small dinosaur that had taken up residence in front of her on the saddle, poking his head out of the folds of her cloak as he huddled against her for warmth. She pursed her lips in contained anxiety. Not that she wasn’t assured of the velociraptor’s ability to take care of himself, but the cold was a concern, and being significantly separated from her companion felt like she was leaving a limb with the other half of their team.

She stroked his head feathers with a gloved hand. “Okay, Geg, you be good, alright? Don’t go killing anything you shouldn’t, and behave for Rhys. Keep him out of trouble.” Geg chirruped in response, his talons digging into the fabric of her clothes.

Tesni looked up at the summoner. “Make sure he stays warm. It’s way too easy to get frozen out here. He’s not really built for cold weather.”

Rhys nodded. “Right.”

“And if he starts to get hungry, give him a couple of slabs of jerky. He gets disagreeable if he hasn’t eaten in a while.”

“Feed Geg so he doesn’t gnaw on people, got it.”

“And make sure he doesn’t neglect his preening.”

Rhys rolled his eyes. “I’ve got it, Tesni! Relax, we’ll be fine.” He glanced down at Tama, as if to ask, “I’m not this bad, am I?” The extraplanar cat looked away to keep his face from betraying his thoughts.

“Okay...” she coaxed Geg out of his hiding place, holding him for just a moment longer before saying, “Go to Rhys!” Geg affectionately nipped at a lock of Tesni’s hair before focusing on Rhys. With a flying leap, the little velociraptor launched himself in the direction of the mage, landing in his saddle. To Rhys’s credit, he managed both to handle Geg’s landing and keep his horse from panicking at the sight of a clawed, feathered, lizard leaping in his direction. Almost immediately Geg burrowed into Rhys’s cloak to hide from the wind.

“We’ll be in touch,” Alexei said as he and Rhys turned their horses into the woods, leaving Tesni and Tomas to continue their journey into town alone, just a couple of army investigators sent to pick up where the guards left off.

Tesni’s gaze lingered in the direction of where their companions disappeared as the pair started in towards town, until she had to face forward to guide her horse. She furtively tugged on a sprig of pine in her hair, her brow furrowed. Sensing eyes on her, she glanced up to see Tomas looking in her direction.

“They’ll be alright. They know what they’re doing,” he said with the tone of assured finality in his voice that suggested he knew exactly what the state of everything was in the world. They probably taught that in paladin school, she thought. Normally, his invocation of that tone made her want to lash out at the fact that he didn’t know everything, and thinking he did frequently got them into trouble. At the moment, though, having him make his usual declarations quelled her nerves, even if she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction.

“I know.”

***

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