Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mystery of the Yellow Robed Man

Once upon a time in Hobbington, an ancient and sturdy fortress-town built on a plateau along the side of Mount Zatok, there lived three young men who wished to become adventurers. So they joined the new Adventurer's Guild and sought training there. One was a Hobbit from the wealthy part of town, by the name of Ishcandar, one was a poor farm boy named Hermel, who had come up from the village at the base of the Mountain to make his way in the world, and the last was yet another Hobbit by the name Lido who was not satisfied with his father's meager life as village tanner and wished to achieve fame and fortune for himself.

The old Guild Master, who was recently arrived in Hobbington from the Guild Hall in far off Glendale, decided to accept the three young adventurer's and give them training, after which they were considered novice rank. He thought, when they came in for their initial inquiries that they showed some promise, not so much for their physical attributes, which were not necessarily so impressive all told, but for their wit and spirit of adventure. So he accepted their applications and put them to work training in the Adventure School there. Two of the young men decided not to join the Guild formally, but instead chose to learn their skills as Freemen, while the third joined as a full member and entered into the Thieving Class. They each wished to learn the skills of thieves, however, though Hermel also chose to learn a mystical healing power called Earth Healing. They studied there very hard for several months and finally graduated their courses and so were ready to begin taking missions from the Guild Master, an elderly pepper haired and rather grizzly fighter-sage. His name was Rothmon, a keen eyed, and solemn fellow who took his responsibilities seriously.

One day Rothmon and his two fellow Guild Masters arrived from a journey taken outside the town, and they seemed very excited about something. And so the three young men followed them, furtively as possible, to the library and listened in on their discussion. As it turned out, Rothmon had gone to investigate a report from some villagers who said that several farmers had been killed by "devils" on the north side of Zatok Mountain. When they went there to see, they followed three-toed tracks up along a difficult trail and came to a waterfall, behind which they found a cave. When they entered the cave they saw an iron bridge crossing a river that lead to some caverns deep within the mountain. At this point they decided to return and plan out their approach before proceeding and this was what they were discussing in the Guild Library.

When Rothmon noticed that the three boys had secretly been listening in on what the Guild Masters were discussing amongst themselves he was not angry, but instead invited them into the discussion, and explained the situation. He told them that they would be mounting an expedition to explore the cave, but it would probably be too dangerous for them, since "devils", or whatever the three-toed creatures were, might inhabit the cave, and they were really novices in the adventure game after all. He offered the boys several other possible missions inside Hobbington that would be safer. They were relieved, as "devils" didn't strike them as something they felt ready to tackle at any rate. He explained that the Guild's purpose was to acquire new information and catalog it in the Guild Library, adding that they would be paid fairly for any maps, or detailed information of interest that they should discover during the course of their adventures. The higher the quality information the more they would be rewarded. He then went on to describe several possible missions, and the boys chose the one that seemed the safest, since they were newly trained and really had no practical experience, yet. Better safe than sorry, they agreed, and so it was settled.

So they went off to find a mysterious man wearing yellow robes and a yellow turban who had caused a strange disturbance at the Palace Gate the day before, and this mission was named "The Mysterious Yellow Robed Man". They headed off immediately. Along the way toward the Palace Gate where they thought they might find information about the mystery man, while passing through the market, Ishcandar, who was always looking for an opportunity to practice his new skills, decided to try to pick the pocket of an old blind man that they were passing. Having succeeded at cutting the old man's leather purse from his belt without being noticed in the jostle and bustle of the crowd, he was quite pleased with himself, and offered his two friends an equal share of his victory. He was a wealthy Hobbit and had no real need for money, but in the pouch were three iron pieces, and so he gave each of his friends one and kept the third for himself.

Hermel, who received an Iron piece from his friend with a courteous bow, then suddenly turned about, saying he had left his bag behind and would catch up with them momentarily. He ran back to the market and seeing the old man sitting on his chair by the side of a market stall walked to him and and gave him three iron pieces, the exact amount that his friend had stolen. The old blind man was very appreciative. As it turned out he was a fortune teller, and so he offered to give the boy a reading of one card. Hermel, not especially superstitious, but humoring the old fellow, reached out and took one of the cards from the deck at random, and it was revealed to be the card of the Dragon. "This is a powerful card indeed", the old man croaked. "The Earth Force of the Dragon will go with you," with one hand raised and a slight bow of his head. With a quiet chuckle to himself the boy thanked him and ran off to catch up with his friends, most certainly none-the-wiser.

The boys sought information in the wealthy area of town known as "The Wall District" that bordered Palace gate. They asked a burly looking man with a great black beard if he had heard any news of the strange occurrence from the day before, and he said his daughter had seen the entire affair. And so he called down his daughter who happened to be a very lovely young woman named Elizabeth, and she gave them more information about the man in the yellow robes and turban.

"He was amazingly fast and moved in a very strange way", she said. So much so that the guards at the gate were unable to capture him at all, or even lay a single hand on the fellow no matter how hard they tried. No one was injured but after that the yellow robed man mocked the guards declaring that they were completely useless, and with a loud laugh, he vanished into the crowd in the direction of the Main Market. The boys surmised, being as the man was a stranger from outside Hobbington, that he might be staying at the Fountain Inn, on Market Street. Sure enough when they got there the yellow robed man was sitting at a table in the foyer of the inn, enjoying coconut-banana cocktail. They decided to send Hermel, who wished to practice his skill, to speak with the man, and offer him some meager information in the hopes of befriending him and finding out more. He did this, but did not make a great impression on the man, who told him that his name was Wutong of the Golden Plain, but otherwise gave him little to go on. He indeed moved in a very strange manner, with sudden gestures, and wide eyed glances and he had a rather peculiar habit of suddenly scratching his short cropped yellow beard like monkey. He was very strange indeed. But Wutong offered little information about himself or his intentions, and seemed to be neither afraid, nor concerned when Hermel explained that people in the town had heard of his exploits and were looking to find out who he was and what he was doing in the town. He only sat and listened intently, smiling widely, nodding his head emphatically, and giving out the occasional laugh at what Hermel was saying.

The boys decided to have two of them return to the Guild to tell Rothmon they had found the yellow robed man at the Inn, while Ischancar kept Wutong company at the table, drinking and trying to find out more information about him. However, it was just the reverse, as Wutong asked Ishcancar quite a few questions about the Palace its surroundings and whether or not the boy knew of any tunnel or way into the Palace other than the Palace Gate. Ischancar, though from The Heights, which was the wealthiest area of Hobbington and situated at the base of the Palace, didn't know of any tunnels that would lead into it from below. And so he drank merrily and babbled on with increasing joviality until the others returned.

Rothmon, when he heard the news came to the Inn very quickly, introduced himself politely, and began speaking with Wutong in a strange language that the boys did not understand. In the end both Wutong and Rothmon had learned something of one another, but they could not come to an agreement it seemed, and so Rothmon left with a final warming that any attempt to enter the Palace would be fraught with danger and cause a great deal of mischief. He would not help, nor would he interfere either. With this Rothmon thanked the boys for their help in finding the yellow robed mystery man, and told them they would be rewarded in the morning, and left with his broad brown cloak swirling behind him as he exited the Inn. When the boys looked back around they found that Wutong had vanished from sight.

The boys were puzzled by these events, but as they had completed their first Guild mission, they felt quite pleased with themselves, and so celebrated over a good meal and a few rounds of ale.




Previous Episode: Homeward Bound - Part 5

Next Episode: The Ghost Fish of Dunn's Brook


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