An Introduction to the New Party

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by Neil B. Lilley

A tough, battle-hardened warrior threw back his head and drained the last of his brew. He gasped to draw a breath, but instead a mighty sigh escaped him. The tarnished and dented silver goblet slipped from his grasp and rolled across the scarred oaken table. His small companion, sitting next to the charred wooden keg, drew another pint of the dark liquid and slid the goblet back to the aging fighter. Old Man Zach toyed aimlessly with the once-ornate cup. He was alone in the world now, except for the ugly little Gnome sitting across the table. Certainly Hylax was a true friend and worthy adventurer, but Zach would miss the companionship of real men, whose feet reached the ground. Perhaps a few more droughts would wash away the feeling of loss, for foul tidings had been brought to Teufeldorf this day. Five of their follow adventurers were gone...dead without a saving throw.

Monsters had been slain, treasure claimed, and no small amount of revelry made by the seven Defenders of the Realm; who would have thought the most recent foray into Teufeldorf Manor would be the last for most of them. The sturdy Lord Treadway, a ranger whose skill rivaled that of Sir Zachary himself, was gone with out a trace. Treadway had been a great leader, and many a time his bravery had saved a member of the party. Gone as well was Count Demoney III, the master of stealth. None of the group had believed in his noble background, but no one would deny his effectiveness in the shadows or his ability to plant his rune sword in the back of an unsuspecting victim. The whining Father Guido Sarducci and the honorable Condor the Cleric had disappeared with the rest. Condor often forgot his spells, though he tried hard, and Father Guido seemed to have a death wish. Nevertheless, Zach always seemed to sustain more injuries than most fighters, and the two clerics had saved his life many times over. The final member of the party was a bit of a mystery. No one really knew Ikcin Namffoh, but he and Zachary had built a kind of silent friendship; Zach was sort of sorry to see him go too.

Zach turned to the Gnome, "Rax, I blame myself. I'm practically a Knight of Teufeldorf, and as Champion of the party, I'm responsible for its success and survival." Hylax drew his face into one of his little Gnomish scowls, "Its my fault, too. I'm starting to wield impressive power now that I've stopped angering the gods with that silly magic of illusion and become a real spell caster. We should never have let the others go on that adventure by themselves..."

*****

Gregory, Paladin King of Teufeldorf, surveyed the audience chamber and thought of the loss to the City-State. After all, willing and able Defenders of the Realm were getting scarce these days, and he had been especially fond of this party. Finally, his gaze rested on the two standing before him, and he addressed the party, "Sir Zachary, I am not pleased. I have relied your group for years, and this is a time sore need. One who aspires to become a Knight of Teufeldorf should not let his companions perish without saving throw."

Zach was crestfallen. After all, he was already going to be the oldest swordsman ever ordained as a Knight of Teufeldorf. Now it seemed he might never be anointed as a Knight at all. For a moment, just one moment, Zach forgot his noble bearing and knightly honor. He raised his face to the King and pleaded. "You should blame Hylax, too!"

King Gregory looked at the Gnome as if for the first time. Hylax was already drawing his face into one of his little Gnomish scowls again. "Zachary, you know that Hylas cannot be considered a leader of men. After all, he was a companion of Herecles before coming to Teufeldorf. Nevertheless, I have a task which, if completed successfully, will redeem you in the eyes of the Knighthood."

Zach began to feel his courage return, but Hylax was still irate about the reference to Herecles. When would they forget about his past and accept him for Gnome he was? The King signaled to the guards, and five young and green adventurers were led into the chamber.

"The Demons are gathering their forces and will soon strike into the Reaches. The armies and all available defenders have been sent out to meet the challenge. Your party is needed, as well, but now you are too few. The charge given unto you is to prepare these five newcomers for the defense of the Realm."

The King then turn to the new group, "I present Sir Zachary, Aspirant to the Knighthood and Hylax the Barker, sorcerer. It is their party that you all will join." Then the King turned back to Zachary, "I present your new companions. The first is a Ranger, Blackfoot. His associate is Sirfexx Ivancevio, a Scout. Their fighting abilities and woodcraft should serve you well. Next is a worthy Cleric from the Temple of Orion, Zephaniah the Good. Oddly enough, he reminds me of Condor. The last is obviously Elven, though he is half Human. He is known as Falstaff, among other names, and is a member of the Order of Druids." After hearing an irritated grunt, King Gregory added, "Oh, and the little fellow is U-Gene the Dwarf."

*****

Falstaff was with The Party enjoying a few brews one evening at Zach's place, when suddenly he felt faint. The Druid looked up and saw that Sirfexx was fading in and out. Zephaniah and Blackfoot were shimmering, and Hylax disappeared altogether. Falstaff tried to stand, but then it all went black.

When he awoke, he was atop a stone monolith. He looked around and saw his companions on other parts of the huge stone circle. They all climbed down, and tried to figure out who was who and where they were. Zach said that somehow he knew that his name was supposed to be Mickey Spicoli, and that he was a great warrior from a town called Godot on an island somewhere. The others had similar strange memories. Falstaff recalled the name Calypso Serpent Strangler. Sirfexx was Hacker the Wild, and Blackfoot was Rico the Chosen. Zephaniah thought his alter ego's name was Argentina, and U-Gene claimed to be simply, The Dwarf. Lastly, little Hylax appeared as Roxanne of the Garter, an Elf maiden. This only increased the worries of the new party members that the Herecles rumors might be true.

Then the party saw men approaching from a distance. The leader was an old man in a hooded blue cloak. He stepped forward and said "Welcome heroes of Godot. I am Orriel of the Blue Hood."

Here begins the adventure on the Isle of Godot...