Inktober Writing Gauntlet 2019

These texts have been written for Worldanvil’s Inktober Writing Gauntlet 2019. They will eventually find their way into their own articles but are kept here for now until then.
As I need to restrict myself a little to be creative all of these writing prompts will be fulfilled with myths and legends of this world in mind. The plan at first was to restrict myself a little, though as I started to write the second day prompt I had already changed my mind on that. While I enjoy writing myths and legends there will be more than that. At this point I’d call the results of the prompts trivia for the world.  

Day 1: Ring

The Fallen Sea holds many secrets. Many of which may never come to light. One of these secrets concerns the Ring of Orscia. A mysterious chain of islands hidden somewhere in the Fallen Sea. According to legend, the Ring consists of a few larger and hundreds of smaller islands. The few who claim to have visited the Ring of Orscia and returned, tell inexplicable stories.
One man spoke of animals as large as castles. Another spoke of monsters that ate whole battle ships. One woman claimed to have spoken to her loved ones. People who had been dead for several years at the time.
One part of their stories is always identical though. They speak of a whirlpool in the centre of the island chain, dragging their ships to the floor of the ocean. But instead of drowning, they found themselves in the ruins of a once great civilisation. They could breathe there. Walk around. The ruins were in perfect condition. If they weren’t below the surface one could mistake this for a functioning city.
Though they all speak of an abandoned city, they all reported a meeting with a strange creature. Like a fish. And yet ... not like a fish. It spoke to them in a strange language. Its words didn’t seem to bear any hostility. The creature seemed kind and friendly. Kind enough to return those who tell these stories back to the surface. And as they do so, the survivors report that the island chain had disappeared. There was only ocean. Some of them managed to hold onto driftwood. Others were lucky enough to have magical items in their possession to call for help.
All survivor accounts had another thing in common. There was only ever one person to report back about these events. And never was any trace of the ship or its remaining passengers ever found again.
As these accounts piled up, the Ring of Orscia became infamous. Infamous for swallowing whole ships and letting only one person escape each time. The nations with borders at the Fallen Sea have taken action a few centuries ago. They declared the general area of this mysterious island chain a prohibited zone. Magical buoys warn ships that get too close to this zone.
Scientists, scholars and mages have all tried investigating the Ring. From afar of course. Staying at the other edge of the zone, they watched to see if there was any sign of an island chain. But the Ring of Orscia never showed. Over the years, the people who have visited the Ring have all died. Some in accidents. Some in gruesome crimes. None of them of old age. This local phenomenon has over the years become a legend known far and wide. And as such it has become one of the nine Grand Quests that adventurers struggle to complete. Only the gods know if this quest will ever be completed. And what awaits the heroes searching for the Ring of Orscia.  

Day 2: Mindless

Mindlessness. Vagari Sine Mente. Which roughly translates to ”Without the mind to wander”. This infliction is the number one cause of death in many elven communities near Vyris Peak. The forest that covers the Vyrismir Mountain Range and its valleys often lie in thick fog. For 420 out of 504 days per a year it’s impossible to see further than 30 feet. Often the visibility lowers to as little as 5 feet.
Many consider this fog to have a magical cause, though the source has yet to be found. The elves in the area have adjusted to these conditions though. Their skills as hunters by sound and smell are unparalleled and have yet to find their master. The fog also serves as a natural barrier to all enemies.
Life near here could be described as ideal, if not for Mindlessness. So far it seems this illness only affects humans and elves. Human children below the age of 12 and elven children below the age of 17 seem to be immune as well. While there are no accounts for all half-human and half-elven creatures, it is likely that these are also affected by Mindlessness.
The first symptoms seem harmless and are therefor often ignored. Short of breath, higher average heart rate, forgetfulness. When the illness progresses so will the forgetfulness. Instead of misplaced glasses or forgotten minor tasks, the victims will forget more important things now. The path to an important hunting spot. The way back home. The birthday of one’s children. This forgetfulness continues to worsen through the stages.
What gives this illness its name is the fact that the victims don’t even seem to notice their worsening state. The first few symptoms might still be noticed, but due to being too minor simply ignored. While they keep forgetting more and more about their life and themselves, the victims will keep going. They will continue living their daily life, continuing the major tasks in it as if being controlled.
In the final stage of the illness the victims are reduced to mere shells of their former selfs. The only thing differentiating them from more dangerous undead is their heartbeat. Technically still alive, the victims now only complete the most necessary tasks to survive. They act and react with only their instincts guiding them.
The illness seems to be coming from the fog as it has only shown in the Vyrismir area. No functioning cure has been found yet. Though magical research has produced a concoction that at least slows the process. Not coming into contact with this fog so far seems to be the best solution against avoiding this illness. Though not all people who came into contact with it also fell ill.
As such the disease of the Mindless Wanderers will continue to be a mystery yet to be solved.  

Day 3: Bait

While many kingdoms across Asteria use bait for hunting, some do it a little different. In one such kingdom hunting is reserved for nobles. Only those of higher birth may go on the hunt. Part of the country’s yearly spring festivities is the Great Hunt. An activity during which nobles and their respective parties get together with others to hunt. The more exotic and dangerous the creature the higher the prestige one has to gain from participation. As these activities can turn out to be rather dangerous, several sets of guards are often taken along.
The morning of the Great Hunt begins with a lavish breakfast. During this, food is shared between the nobles, the guards and all other participants of the hunt. Afterwards, the hunting party heads to the temple of the Creation Deity of the Hunt to pray for their success. In some cases the party also visits the local deity of hunt.
After these ceremonial events are over the actual hunt begins. The creatures that are being hunted are often determined when arriving on the hunting grounds. The nobles mind their horses. The footman take their spears. The guards secure the back. And the handlers set the bait free.
The bait is one of the reasons the Great Hunt has been outlawed in all but this one kingdom. During the Great Hunt Halflings, Gnomes, Demi-humans and other Demi-creatures as well as cripples and outlaws are being used as bait. In this kingdom’s society all these creatures are seen as worth less than the majority. To put them to use they often live as slaves or servants. And some end up as bait. Those that are fast and lucky have a chance to survive. If they can lure the monsters out and to the hunting party, they succeed. And those that succeed in their duties get set free. Though within the last 20 years, out of a total of almost 1.000 creatures used as bait, only three have been set free.
The Great Hunt is one of the most deadly sports in the world. Less so for the nobles on their horses, but for all other participants. Those used as bait rarely stand a chance against the fast, hostile creatures hunting them. And if one decides to run from the hunt, they end up being the hunted.  

Day 4: Freeze

While most societies suffer during the coldest, darkest days, some thrive. One of those is Olessia. Also known as the Frozen City. It marks the capital of an empire between the northern pole and the most northern parts of the largest continent. Most of its lands are always under a thick layer of ice and snow. But Olessia counts as special even under these conditions.
Rumours say that this grand city once had a more tropical climate. Though after the protective wards and spells broke, ever lasting winter followed. At first people thought this empire to be ending with their capital falling. But instead of doing so, Olessia bloomed and with it the whole empire.
The city is completely frozen over, some newer buildings completely made out of ice. The temperature in all rooms is lower than any human would like for prolonged periods of time. Though the winter elves who inhabit Olessia don’t seem to mind. Over the centuries they have grown accustomed to their surroundings.
As such there is no form of heating to be found in any private housings in Olessia. Some public buildings do have heat sources, though they are only lit up for visitors from warmer climates.
If you have now thought of burning the city down, be warned. For once, the city’s guard is watchful and strict. Any acts against Olessia or the empire are immediately dealt with. Second, all buildings, architecture or other structures are protected by powerful charms. As such, ice in Olessia simply doesn’t melt.
If you are now thinking of planning your vacation here you’re not alone. While the empire itself has its issues with foreigners and often stays by itself, Olessia is different. The city is open to visitors from all over the world. And even more so, it calls itself a tourist city.
Among favourite signs are the Olessian Ice Palace, the Winter Keep and the Mourning Bridge. Another beloved and often visited spot is Ice Peak Bay. Here both air and sailing ships land and it is often the first thing visitors get to see. The port is completely made of ice, not supported by any other material. It is often called one of the nine wonders of the Creation Deities.  

Day 5: Build

Wenn it comes to building and defensive measures no one can hold a candle to the dwarves of Corlaan. Their most impressive wonder may very well be their citadel. Lying deep within the Kirkan Mountain Range it was build into the mountain.
It took a whole generation to build this monument. But the dwarves of Corlaan would say it was worth it. In there ever lasting conflict with the Giants and Orcs they were close to losing. But then they decided instead of rebuilding their old settlements, they would create a monument. Carved out of the stone it was going to be a settlement that would last eons.
Citadel Kirkan runs several kilometres deep into the mountain. The dwarves carved several defensive structures into the outside face of the stone. High towers, defendable positions for ranged attacks, slick textures on the outer walls. The latter made it harder for intruders to climb up the walls. Another defensive measure was the possibility of pouring hot lava down the walls. As the citadel lies close to a magma vein getting such resources would be easy enough in an emergency.
The last but not most effective measure against their usual enemies were magic wards. While the dwarves worked on the slick outer walls, they hired mages to imbue the raw stone with magic. As such it is almost impossible to enter or leave the citadel by magical means. Even more so charms and other mind influencing magic has no effect inside these walls.
Though this has proved to be unimportant with the Giants and Orcs. In the unlikely case that their enemies do enter the citadel, the dwarves are prepared. Almost all hallways are build at angels. In case of emergencies, massive boulders roll into motion, chasing intruders. Between the most important sections of the citadel, massive stone doors block passage. The gatehouses of these gates are well guarded. Only if one is expected or has reason to pass through are they allowed to do so.  

Day 6: Husky

You’ve made your decision. You started looking deeper into the shadows. Now you cannot hesitate. And you must not be afraid. The creatures that await you can feel that. They smell it. Some call them monsters, other saints. They have many names. Wise-Ones, Truth-Speakers, Death-Bringers. Those that know of their abilities in more detail though call them Oracles. The adventurer who first encountered one of these creatures named them Husks.
Why, you ask? They don’t seem to have a clear shape, other than the one given to them by the long black cloaks they wear. They are mysterious and no one has ever seen below their hoods. Though the adventurer gave them this name simply for the sound of their voice.
But back to you visiting them. You have questions. Numerous ones. If you can decide which to ask them you can go ahead. But beware! Their prices are high. And they don’t tell you this upfront. In their culture it’s implied that you agree to pay an equal price. And kind of price is always decided by the one providing the service. What no one will tell you though is that these creatures only ever ask for one type of price. Years. Your years. So if you don’t have many then rethink your decision of asking them any questions.
But if you have years to give and require an answer, go ahead. Their answers might be mysterious at times, but they are always true. The Husks don’t lie. Some even say it is physically impossible for their species to lie. And they seem to know answers to things they shouldn’t know. Those willing to pay anything for an answer, always search for a Husk.
Their most impressive feat might be something different though. Their ability to see past a current state and into what could be, what would be and what will be. Though they are never clear about what version they are giving you. Even if they don’t lie, take their words with a grain of salt. Or a whole pot.
Now. You know of their abilities. And the dangers. If you still wish to ask your questions of them go ahead. And if you ask too many questions ... well. We’ll make sure the husk that’ll be left of you.  

Day 7: Enchanted

Spellcasters often count towards a kingdoms most capable people. Though another profession is equally powerful. Enchanters. Often used to support armies. But just as often required in every day life. Especially countries who rely on magic items, value their enchanters.
Their skills vary but all have one thing in common. They all imbue items with magical properties. The most common enchantments are of protective nature. Items that give you an extra layer of protection. Items that make fire or ice have less of an impact on you. Items that work as shields even though they aren’t.
Another common type of enchantment are useful enchantments. Their isn’t a strict definition but if something isn’t defensive or offensive nature it is usually a useful one. Often looked for are search enchantments as well as warning enchantments. Only then come enchantments of offensive nature. Those that deal damage.
Those that make you more dangerous in a fight. In many kingdoms these enchantments aren’t allowed to the general public. Only kingdom approved enchanters may create these. And only for people who have their king’s approval.
One of the most famous enchanters was Dunnel Lers. His skills compared to no one else. Sought after by many kings and queens he travelled the lands for years. He was also quite popular with adventurers. Making special prices for them and even ignoring a kingdom’s enchantment rules. Many items that are nowadays considered artefacts or valuable magic items have once been enchanted by Dunnel.
Many young enchanters have taken Dunnel as an example. Striving for both his popularity as well as his power. One of his last known enchantments was the Dunnel’s Tower of Trials. To this day no one has been able to get to the top of the tower.  

Day 8: Frail

Strong. Powerful. And clearly capable. Warriors and adventurers alike are often idolised. After all, nothing can beat them. And in the end they’ll save the day. Though there is one thing even they can’t handle. Some underestimate it, mistaking it for something far simpler. But once taken by this ailment you will suffer. It doesn’t care about your wealth. Or your power at that.
Vizray Sea Sickness. Anone travelling over the Vizray Sea is in danger of being affected. It often starts as normal sea sickness. But the nausea won’t go away. It will continue sapping away at your strength. Dizziness will follow. You won’t be able to walk in a straight line anymore. And, oh? You’re not on the ship any longer? Good for you. But once you’ve caught Vizray Sea Sickness it doesn’t just go away.
You start to rest more. Hoping it’ll go away. And for a while it will feel as if it did. But then you try to get up again. Your body now barely holds together.
Your skin is pale and leathery. You feel at least a hundred years older. And then you bump your elbow against the corner of a doorframe. You hear a snap and feel a sharp pain. Some bone in your arm now broken. And as you pay more attention, you realise all your bones are like that. Breaking like twigs.
Over time if left in this state, your body will continue to grow frailer and frailer. In the end there will only be a husk of your former self left.
Luckily, Vizray Sea Sickness only appears on the Vizray Sea. The contents of the sea are the cause. When they evaporate and get into the air it becomes dangerous. The only thing to do once you’ve fallen ill is the opposite of what your body tells you.
Instead of lying in bed you should continue with your every day life. Do eat. No matter how often you will vomit it out again. It becomes important for you to continue strengthening your body. Only if you do everything to keep your strength you will withstand the illness.  

Day 9: Swing

One of the most tense and long battles in history was that of the Three Plains. The battle between two grand kingdoms over a simple ruin. This simple ruin was a once great city of the ancient civilisation that came before all we know today. The meaning of this ruin lies in the magic and treasure hidden within. People say, those who get their hands on such a ruin, could rule the world. As such it was only natural that a fight over such a ruin would be started.
More surprising though was that these two countries started a thirty-year-long lasting war. Several countries were pulled into this war on either side. During the first year the winner seemed clear. But with the other side drafting more spellcasters and enchanters into their army it wasn’t as clear. Magic continued to influence this war.
With the formerly clear winner also including mages the war was back at a stalemate. They were the ones to start including magical artefacts. Considered to be too dangerous to be used in a war, they had so far been ignored.
But as that was over, the war took another turn. A magical arms race began. In the end this race took almost thirty years, the favour constantly swinging from one side to the other.
What ended the war wasn’t the inclusion of a magical item. Or spellcasters. Or enchanters. It was the inclusion of one man. One man who had decided to side with one of the two countries. They won the war but ... there weren’t any true winners.  

Day 10: Pattern

While ancient ruins and dungeons and the like can be found all over the world, some are special. The Elder dungeons are known to contain powerful artifacts and other magical tools. Many have set out to find and conquer them. Though only few returned. It is unclear why these dungeons were build and why in this way. But all that have been discovered so far have certain things in common.
First. They are perilous death traps. The first dungeon alone has cost the lives of thousands of people. Most of them soldiers sent by their lords to conquer the dungeon. A few were adventures with no care for their own safety. And a few ended up inside the dungeon by accident.
Second. The creator of these dungeons remains unknown. To those that live today, the dungeons have always existed. Only few remain that still remember a time without the dungeons. And those that still remember don't often - if at all - talk about those days.
Third. All dungeons appeared suddenly as if growing from the ground. This was recorded in history books of old. The dungeons rose from the ground like massive trees. Their appearance changed landscapes. Though no settlements were ever destroyed.
Fourth. While their creator remains unknown, their contents do not. Though there is no confirmation for this until all dungeons have been cleared. Many believe all dungeons to be similar in their contents. The one who clears a dungeon receives access to a powerful artifact. Rumours are these artifacts change worlds. Additionally riches in gold and art, jewellery and magic items await the capturer.
The exact challenges and dangers that await one in dungeons though seem to differ. Currently there have only been six dungeons cleared. Some of these people are known to the public, others are shrouded in mystery.  

Day 11: Snow

Some areas of the world have never seen snow before. To others it is a common occurence. One such place is the High North. A region far in the north of the Main Continent, remaining almost untouched.
Few people even dare to set out on a journey to the High North. The cold, wild animals and few to no roadside inns turn this place into a perilous environment.
Only some scientists and crazy adventurers find their way there. While the former are interested in the culture and lives of the people in the High North. Adventurers often care for the riches. According to legend and science the High North was once a luscious grassland.
Underneath the snow lie the ruins of the civilisation that once lived there. There were few adventurers crazy enough to make the journey and skilled enough to return. But those that did spoke of great riches lying underneath the ice.  

Day 12: Dragon

Most creatures on Asteria believe in and worship the Creation Deities. Though there are some that believe in an even higher power. The mother of the Creation Deities, the one overseeing it all. This creator has many names. Some of which as simple as "Mother" or "Creation Mother". Others more elaborate.
Coincidence or not, many cultures believe this creature to be a dragon. As such it is often called "Creation Dragon". Legend says this dragon has no scales. It's skin is soft like fur. And a blinding white. Some say the Creation Dragon doesn't have an actual body. That it is a collection of light.
While most gods came into contact with their followers at some point, the Creation Dragon has not. As such a few people even doubt its existence as a whole. While there is no proof though many still believe.
Some say that the creature doesn't interfere and only wishes to watch. With war, chaos and bloodshed on the world though many wonder why. They say the Creation Dragon has abandoned this world and moved on. While this could be true, most mages do not think so.
Vaarus, the creation deity who's domain is the arcane, might have let them to believe so. He is known to show himself to mages he favours and converse with them. And these claim that while he was being cryptic he clearly referenced a greater power.
This power is believed to be the Creation Dragon. This creature might stay a mystery for all ages. Though it will never stop people from trying to prove its existence.  

Day 13: Ash

When speaking about the Ashen Plains many people still grieve. Today these plains are uninhabitable. No plants grow there, no animals live there. Sometimes it is fittingly called the "Dead Lands".
Hundreds of years in the past the biggest war in known history was fought there. Approximately 2,000,000 people died in the war. Though there may have been more vicitms that weren't accounted for. What made this war special and so much more deadly than previous ones was magic. This was the first war were magic was widely used in warfare. All sides armed themselves with mages and magic items. Everyone was looking for ways to completely annihilate their opponents.
Up until that point this war also lasted the longest. With the use of magic, illness and hunger were reduced to minor issues. Soldiers could last longer and their morale also held up longer. Only the loss of a mage on the battlefield was still considered a tragedy. As such this war lasted 18 years.
The longer the war lasted the further magic research got. Some even go as far to say that the war was necessary for today's world. Without the war many of the magical items and theories of today wouldn't have been possible.
The war created many heroes, and killed many more. Though the one who ended the war would never be seen as a hero. After 18 years of almost constant battles many wished for this to end. But with the advances made in the field of magic, this wasn't going to happen soon. At that point many soldiers were once known to be great adventurers. Delmar Amabile was one of these adventurers. It was thanks to him that his side could still compete. Many of the magic items he found during his adventurers were used in magical research.
In the end Amabile used a magical artifact, one he had kept hidden from both sides. When he used it, the explosion could be seen and heard over miles. The explosion cost the lives of all soldiers on the battlefield as well as the lives of the kings on both sides.
This explosion also turned the formerly lively plains into an ashen wasteland. For years it was completely impossible to even get close to it due to magical fallout.
Even nowadays it still lies waste and no one knows what dangerous it still holds.  

Day 14: Overgrown

Few spaces in nature are as untouched as the Syl Groves. Though it wasn't always like that. Hundreds of years ago the Syl Groves were a known place of magical power. As such stone rings and circles, statues and the like were built there.
The fey that lived on the material plane maintained these with great care. And while they did so the nearby villages turned into towns as they prospered.
About 600 years ago though this came to a halt. With the "Fey Restriction Act" fey were no longer allowed to perform any form of magic. At first those that maintained the Syl Groves simply ignored this act.
Though this turned into a tragedy. The fey that refused to comply with the act, were sentenced to death. The Inquisition while originally not founded for this, was sent out to deal with the fey.
During the next 20 years many fey found their death. And with it the Syl Groves lost its guardians. Over time nature took the Syl Groves back, covering the traces of magical power.
The towns that had prospered, now suffered. They were forced to become smaller again, returning to their old state as villages.
While the Fey Restriction Act is no longer executed it is technically still valid law. As such many fey still avoid the countries that apply the act.  

Day 15: Legend

You remember the story of the Ashen Plains? What a silly question. Of course you do. Everyone does. But the war on the Ashen Plains didn't just mark a new form of warfare and magic research. It also marked the end of a legend.
Delmar Amabile. A name revered by many people back then. A man of legend. An inspiration to many. Despite his actions at the end he is still considered a legend even today.
And this legend started when his name first made its way out into the world. He was still a young boy back then, no older than fourteen. At the time while many people had grown accustomed to the Elder dungeons, none were captured yet. Many countries were craving to be the firsts. No one was able to tell what was waiting inside. Only that it was a deadly endeavour. No one had returned from those dungeons alive until that point.
Not even Darian Amabile. The older brother of a certain younger boy who would later become famous.
As the number of soldiers that were available continued to lower, a solution had to be found. The crown conscripted any able bodied man in the country. And when the men weren't enough, any boys old enough to be conscripted as soldiers were also called.
Many were scared. Some were excited. Delmar ... was neither. Having lost his father to war and his brother to the dungeon he had no interest in that place. His only wish was to take care of his mother and the small village they lived in. He managed to evade the conscription for several months.
Though his luck ran out when soldiers came to pick him up. He didn't know at the time that it would be the last time his mother would see him off. But he had made up his mind. If he had to go into that dungeon, he would conquer it. And he would use whatever he found inside to protect those dear to him.
No one could have prepared for what was awaiting him inside. And many even today doubt these stories. Too fantastical and too grand they sound. But eventually the dungeon collapsed. Leaving behind only a boy and mountains of riches.
Becoming the first person to conquer a dungeon was what started Delmar Amabile's legend. Though many adventurers would follow. Turning him into one of this world's grand heroes.  

Day 16: Wild

While the wild and nature surrounds almost every city in the world, only few are truly feared. Most places on the Main Continent are seen as rather civilised. Though there is one place which is only known as the Wildlands.
Not just lands but a whole continent, regarded as a savage area. Travel between the Main Continent and the Wildlands is rare. And most people spend their whole life never getting into contact with it. Only the coastal cities of the west see its influence. Those cities who's countries allow for slavery flourish because of the Wildlands.
People originating from there are seen as exotic and strange. Some say they used to be beasts that transformed into humans. They are strong and resilient. As such, many nobles like to buy them as slaves.
There they can only dream of their homeland. And despite what people say, let me tell you, it is a beautiful place. It is not at all like what people say. Of course there are untouched areas. But it is not a savage, wild continent. People live there. Cultures developed there. It is simply an amazing place. I would recommend to visit.  

Day 17: Ornament

I will have to make this quick. Have you heard of the wonders that the imperial jewellery can accomplish? If you haven't I don't know where you have been until now.
The imperial jewellery consists of a necklace, a bracer and of course a crown. Each on its own is already impressive. My theory has always been that these were artifacts or at least magical items. And I was right. The imperial crown is decorated with intricate ornaments that remind me of the old days. If you look close they almost seem to be telling a story.
Even just holding it I can feel the magic power coming from it. Please, don't ask why I'm holding it. With this I already feel a hundred years younger and refreshed.
The imperial necklace sharpens my senses. I can hear the guards, smell the fire of torches, feel the cold blow of wind on my neck as I sit on the tower.
And the imperial bracer. I felt a little daring so I put it on and let me tell you. It's even more amazing. Power surges through me. I'm quicker, more reactive. Jumping higher and further.
I would like to tell you more but this will have to wait. For now I will have to find a way to not lose my head to the imperial guards.  

Day 18: Misfit

My journey has brought me to a quiet village today. For once there isn't much I can tell you about where I am. So on this rare occasion I will talk about myself.
You may have been wondering, who I am and why I'm doing all this. The answer begins at some point in my childhood.
I was born as the son of a general and a barmaid in a small village. I rarely ever even saw my father but my mother was dear to me. She was a kind woman. And gentle. She never raised her voice and she never hit me. When I did something she disliked she simply told me so.
When my father was home he was much stricter. I know he still loved me but strict he was. He scolded me for my mischief. And he more than once told me that bard was no proper occupation.
I never had much talent for singing. But I loved telling stories. And I was good at it. My dearest mother eventually died of a plague running through our village. Left with only my father I knew I would soon have to join him as a soldier. But even if I would never have considered traveling, I knew I would never be a soldier.
And so, instead of joining my father, I went out into the world. I started traveling. First by myself. Sometimes alongside great heroes. And I always looked for the next amazing thing. My adventures have brought me a lot of joy. And the reputation of causing chaos wherever I appear.
A few years ago I decided to start writing down my stories. The book that, once finished, this will turn out to be is what you are currently holding in your hands.
But enough of myself. Let's get back to the stories.  

Day 19: Sling

If you have ever wondered if "sling" is an acceptable word in Artemya then let me tell you it is not. Do not ever use that word while you are there.
I did make this mistake earlier. What followed was an eternity of silence. People staring. And then ... the Artemian warriers started moving. They grabbed their spears, came running over and surrounded me. Let me tell you. There is nothing more frightening than a group of Artemian warriors surrounding you. Especially when they are pointing their spears at you.
So, now you may be wondering what sling exactly means in the Artemian language. And I would love to tell you. I really would. Only, I never got to find out what it means.
All I know is that they brought me to this lovely waterfall and nudged me over the edge. So whatever sling means. Do. Not. Use. That. Word. In. Artemya.  

Day 20: Tread

On my travels I have seen many treacherous places. Many have cost countless lives. But none were as terrifying as her home. We only know this place as the „Hag’s Bog”. I never ended up in there. Luckily. But countless rumours have warned me of it.
It is said that if you walk along the wrong paths in a dark forest, you will find it. You will find yourself in this bog. Barely able to move forward. And not able to go back. All sunlight is drowned out by the thick trees. And the water on the ground soaks into your every pore.
The cold takes away your very will to survive. And if you’re lucky and the hag doesn’t eat you immediately ... you might still die to her minions. Or rather, those creatures that enjoy the bog as their home.
Ogres, Ettins, Bullywags. They all pose a great danger there. And be warned. If you try and find a way to kill the hag, the bog itself will go against you.
So tread with care. When you pass through a forest. When you feel it‘s just a little too dark. Whenever you feel watched. Avoid short cuts. And stick to the main roads. Then I’m sure, everything will be fine.  

Day 21: Treasure

When you are travelling with an adventurer you always end up finding treasure. One way or another. And when I say find, I of course mean acquire in slightly dubious ways.
Though there was one treasure even we didn’t wish to touch. The rumoured “Treasure of the Depths”. When we first heard about it, we were of course still very interested. We made our way to the city where it was rumoured to be hidden.
After asking around, we found out that the treasure was supposedly hidden below the city. We prepared. Food. Water. Tools. And then we made our ways to the under city.
And my god, let me tell you. That place is pure horror. The air is stale. It is damp. And our clothes felt soaked through within minutes.
But we still continued on. Further down. And when we eventually reached the treasure room, we were happy. We had reached our goal. And we ignored the warning of that ethereal dragon. What would he know, hm?
We weren’t alone on our expedition this time. A few soldiers had come along. After all the treasure belonged to this city. Our share would still be big enough, so we didn’t mind much. But when the first soldier took one of the gold coins ... that’s when the horror started.
Within minutes blood started flowing from his eyes like tears. He screamed in pain. Begged for someone to release him. And then we all heard that voice. That voice that said, ‘Your mortal greed will be your end. For you and all those that come after you, will never be able to keep what they had earned.’
After that we left the treasure. Well ... we kind of did. That’s a different story. After returning to the surface, the soldier was feeling better. But I later heard that he and his family had fallen into poverty. I didn’t check back on him again but I’m afraid his bloodline has fallen into great misfortune.  

Day 22: Ghost

Among the many things and people I’ve encountered, one stuck in my mind. Of course I remember most encounters. But this one was special. It was a time where I was looking for guidance. When I wasn’t sure if I was on the right path. And then I found her.
I was visiting a small village at the time. The villagers had warned me not to go near the old ruins of a long abandoned mansion. And of course I ignored their warnings. At first the ruins seemed harmless. Nothing there was still recognisable as a once grand mansion. But then things started moving. Not literally. At first I heard a voice. Asking why I was there. If I would harm her like others tried. But I had no reason to. And when I said so, she took form in front of me.
A ghostly woman. Still beautiful in her etherealness. She looked uncertain. Insecure even.
And then she smiled. She must’ve had many suitors when she was still alive. And then we started talking. I had grown up to not judge people on first look. On the contrary. I always wanted to get to know the person. Not the rumour.
This woman could tell amazing stories. And I listened to her every word. And as I did and she eventually finished, she asked me if I had a wish. I didn’t have to think much. There was only on place I had never been able to go to but where I wanted to go to more than anything else. Celibar. The magical flying city.
And all she did was smile and say, ’So be it.’ The next thing I knew I stood in front of the city gates at Celibar. The. Magical. Flying. City. And I was there. I do not know who that woman was. But it taught me that it always pays off to show kindness and understanding.  

Day 23: Ancient

There are many things in our world that are thousands of years old. But none are as old as the Mother Tree. It’s a massive and ancient tree that lies within an untouched forest. A few elven tribes have build their villages there. And those tribes take care not to harm the nature.
In the middle of that forest lies the Mother Tree. It’s size is impressive all by itself. But what really makes this tree an ancient wonder is its soul. Hundreds of thousands of small fey lifeforms have been absorbed into this tree. And over time, the tree developed a personality.
Nowadays, when you bring some goods and a request, you’ll receive an answer. Wise and all knowing. But not always right. You will still have to decide yourself what the Mother Tree is trying to tell you.  

Day 24: Dizzy

During my journeys I've come across many different kinds of illnesses. One that seems fairly widespread though even took me down once. Magic Deficiency Syndrom. It's not nearly as dangerous as it sounds. But it is quite the bother. I'd suggest taking proper precautions.
Depending on your talent, your type of magic and your training you can only handle so much magic during a day. Some magic is better suited for continuous use, and only requires the caster to rest for a short amount of time before being fit again. Others require more rest, preferably a good night's sleep.
What happens when you reach your limits is what we call Magic Deficiency Syndrom. The limit is, as I said, dependant on your personal situation. Those that draw their magic from a pact with a powerful being for example are known to need far shorter rests than those that studied magic. Most likely due to the fact that they don't draw upon their own life force to cast but from a greater power.
But once those limits are reached, casters will be unable to cast anything but the most simple of spells. These spells that don't tap into your magic limits are called Cantrips. They are often very simple, yet quite useful, considering they don't cost you anything.
Additionally to being unable to cast complex magic, when Magic Deficiency Syndrom sets in you will notice it by your vision going blurry, dizziness setting in. A quick solution is to sit down and rest a little. For most casters this just leads to a marginal recovery. Not enough to cast spells, but enough to get rid of that disgusting dizziness. Despite our best efforts, so far no one has been able to find a proper antidote or cure against Magic Deficiency Syndrom, other than rest.  

Day 25: Tasty

If you've ever been in a dire situation and got to taste a Hero's Feast, I'm sure you understand what I mean when I say there's nothing better. Even though people often say their mother's or grandmother's cooking is the best, to me personally, nothing beats a Hero's Feast. Created by magic, rumour has it that the food is created by Fey creatures who receive some magic life force in return. having visited the Feywild before, I can assure you that the taste is rather similar.
The amounts of food and different types of food that a Hero's Feast brings is also quite impressive. Meat, fruit, vegetables. Anything your heart desires. Though I have never seen fish, now that I think about it. All of it gets topped off with the finest of the fey wines. It's sweet taste lingers on your tongue and in your mouth, long after you've swallowed it. The alcohol in it is barely noticeable and many people have fallen into this trap, drinking one too many glasses.
The most important thing about a Hero's Feast though, and what makes it taste even better, is the fact that you're having food with friends. People you care about and people you will stand together with against a common enemy. Personally, I'd say a meal with friends beats any cook, no matter how amazing they are.  

Day 26: Dark

One of the few places that still lets shivers run over my spine despite all my adventuring experince, is the Underdark. Somehow it has always been there. Even if it's hard to imagine that there is a whole other world right beneath ours. Some say that the Underdark was originally the surface world and only due to disasters became burried underneath.
The underdark itself is structured into different three layers. The Upperdark reached roughly up to three miles below the surface. The more reputable of the Underdark inhabitants lived here, such as gnomes and dwarves. Though in recent years the gnomes have come more to the surface, as their tunnel systems were always in danger of collapsing due to their experiments. The Upperdark was also the place where surface dwellers and those that lived further down in the underdark would encounter each other. More often than not in less than friendly ways. The Upperdark also wasn't one massive connected tunnel network. While all of it was connected to the next lower level and the surface, the different parts of the Upperdark weren't connected to each other. Only where trade routes where created, those tunnels and connections were artificially created.
The second layer of the Underdark (and what is most often referred to when spoken of the Underdark) is the Middledark. It stretches down from the Upperdark all the way to ten miles below the surface. Most of the Underdark cities were located on this layer and the less reputable races made their homes here. Most notably the Dark Elves (often known as Drow) and their gnomish and dwarven equivalents. The Middledark was often more connected than the Upperdark. Countless tunnels lead up to the Upperdark, but also further down. Both for trade as well as military purposes, countless tunnels were created between the differen locations in the Middeldark. And some tunnels were created by monsters that ate through the stone.
The deepest layer of the Underdark, the Lowerdark refers to everything ten miles or more below the surface. The Lowerdark was heavily connected, mainly due to Aboleths and the like eating their way through the planet. But it was also a place, rarely anyone ever went to. The most dangerous and oldest of monsters lived here. And some rumours even said that the entrance to hell lay open in the Lowerdark.  

Day 27: Coat

Many creatures in this world are either fabled, or have something that makes them special enough to be worth hunting. The Golden Stag had both. Nowadays a tavern is named after it. It's a pretty good one. Or several. No matter where I went I always found the Golden Stag there. Some say they are different taverns that work together. Others, myself included, say that it's the same tavern. One that has its own little pocket dimension.
But back to its naming patron. The Golden Stag is a fabled beast. Twice the size of a normal stag, it's hornes massive enough to lift up an ogre. And its coat shimmering in the finest variations of gold. The stag was often hunted. Hundreds if not thousands of people tried to hunt it down. But it always escaped. Some say it did so by simply disappearing into thin air. Others say that the stag is simply much faster than normal stags, due to its shere size.
Legend says, that the stag ran from its hunters all its life. Until one day, it stopped running. It settled on the ground, sheding its beautiful coat, and offered the cold and hungry hunter a warm bed for the night. Whether this is simply made up by the owner of the Golden Stag or it's actually true, no one knows. I like to think that the Golden Stag is still out there. And who knows. Maybe one day it will shed its coat again, to save someone from the cold and hunger.  

Day 28: Ride

I had always considered the Wildlands to be a somewhat savage place. Apart form the fact that I was completely wrong, the Wildlands have much more to offer. Something that seems to exist in abundance on that continent are unicorns. Not just your standard white ones. No, all sorts of them. They live in big herds in the wild, in peace and quiet.
And once every year, when the foals have grown old enough, the tribes of the Wildlands hold a big festival. Young members of the tribe head out to capture their own wild unicorn. Usually this is a three day festival. During the first day the warriors of the tribe create a big pen, just to make sure the herd doesn't run too far. In the evening a big feast is held. The tribes come together, eat and tell stories. Music and dance are also a great part of it.
Then comes the second day. The most important day for the young warriors. They move into the pen, only armed with a rope. On foot they make their way over to their target. From then on the techniques differ. Some first throw the rope around the unicorn's neck and then jump onto its back. Others jump onto its back from behind first and then throw the rope around its neck. Others simply hold onto the unicorn's mane and try not to be thrown off. Only if they can stay on the unicorn's back without falling off until it calms down, can they call the creature theirs. They will then ride back over to the tribe's camp and present their success.
The third day is a full day of celebration and the first hunt. The young warriors head out with their unicorns to head game for the feast and usually don't return until they caught enough. And then they drink. A lot. Like ... a lot lot. After witnessing this festival once, I have come to realise that there are no better riders out there than these people who ride without a saddle and without reins.  

Day 29: Injured

Do you remember my story about the Ashen Plains? How that battle ended with a certain hero having to make a terribel choice? Most people consider Delmar a murderer for what he did back then. I can see the situation more neutral. At the time, many more lives could've been lost if that war continued. Civilians getting dragged into the war. Young men getting conscripted into the military. Mages to support the war efforts. Everything was at a stalemate at the time. Neither side could show anyhting that would lead to a deceisive win.
And Delmar saw that. At the time, I was traveling with him. We had lived through many grand adventurers. He had become the first person to ever conquer a dungeon. We had done many silly things, and many more dangerous. Our adventurers led us into kingdoms and palaces, to distant continents and far below the earth. Together we made many friends, and saved many more. While I stayed almost unchanging, I watched him grow up and grow into a man that I knew would be remembered for ages to come. He had a legacy.
And yet, in one simple moment, Delmar managed to destroy all of that. He will never be remembered for our adventures. What he will be remembered for is how he exploded a magical artifact in the middle of a battlefield and turned that battlefield into a sea of blood and pain. Those of us that he would call his closest friends knew what he was going to do. And most of us agreed with him. And stayed with him. On that battlefield.
I didn't. I was angry. I didn't want him to throw his life away like he did. And never did I regret anything as much in my life as I regretted that simple decision.
By the time I changed my mind, the artifact had exploded. And as I arrived, the sight in front of my eyes was a devastating one. Dead bodies and blood everywhere. Those that were close to the explosion weren't even recognisable as humanoid bodies. Except ... for one. No one could've expected that it would go that way. But, the item that Delmar brought from his very first dungeon, had protected him from the explosion. But when I found him I knew he would still die.
Splinters from the explosion had caused deep wounds and when I got to him, resting his head on my lap, he was already drowning in a pool of blood. I couldn't say anything. After all, I was the one who didn't stay with him until the end. I could only sit there silently, watching my oldest friend slowly die. And as he took his last breath, I will never forget his last words, leaving a faint smile on his face. A simple, 'Thank you, my friend.'  

Day 30: Catch

After that last story, I don't feel quite up to telling another one just yet. So, instead, I will give you some useful trivia for your very own trip into the feywild.
First. Despite there being evil fey, most fey have a tendency to be polite and their version of good. And please, their version of good. This doesn't mean they are what a human or elf or dwarf would consider good. But the good fey are probably the best a fey can get.
Second. Fey love to bargain and trade. The good ones pride themselves in doing equal trades only, while the evil ones will try and get the better end of the deal. Be warned though. They don't usually tell you this up front. In their culture it is indeed implied that you agree to a trade following the conditions of the one you ask something from. And there is nothing worse than denying a deal that was agreed upon. Even if it was only an implied agreement.
Third. Don't ever be in debt to a fey. If you can avoid it, then by all means avoid it. Fey aren't in a hurry so they usually tell you to take your time. And most likely you will forget about your debt to them. But they won't. Years later they will come to collect their debt. With interest of course.
Fourth. They have the greatest wine.
Fifth. If I wasn't obvious enough for you up until now ... all Fey deals, come with a catch. Don't ever expect there to not be one. All. Fey. Deals. Come. With. A. Catch.  

Day 31: Ripe

Now, as this is the last that I will be writing for some time, I believe I should go back to how it started. Not this story. Not everything. Just ... my adventurers. My adventurers started with a young, reckless man. One who seemed to be loved by the gods. Who had more luck than was good for him. One who became a friend to me.
We once sat under a tree and started comparing people to the fruits on that tree. Each and everyone of us only exists because someone made the decision to come together with someone else. But from there we grow as our own beings. At first we aren't capable of living by ourselves. But we continue growing despite that. We are supported by so many things around us. And eventually ... we're ripe. And when we are ... well people don't get plucked. But that wasn't the point.
The point we were trying to make was, that despite us being out there on adventurers, we were far from being finished beings. We were still developing. Still growing. Still needed the support of others. And while I couldn't wait to become ripe, my friend was different. He said, he hoped to never become ripe. As he wouldn't want to live in a world where he wouldn't depend on the support of those around him. After all those people are the ones who form us into the people we became.

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Cover image: by Stefan Keller


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