Tales of the Dying Earth

A Modest Beginning

Ichiga stepped into the tavern with his newly formed acquaintances. They were weird folk, small and overly animated. He left them to their own devices, and trundled up to the bar, ordering a bowl of berries. Ichiga gingerly picked up berries one at a time, pinching them between his enormous fingers before popping them into his mouth. His jaw worked clumsily as he crushed each berry.

Ichiga turned around and watched Serra in the corner of the tavern, gambling with some locals. She had an animal friend, and he liked that. It looked like a little dog, but Ichiga was pretty sure he’d seen it move pretty fast — almost instantly — from place to place.

Ichiga sat and thought about the dog for a minute, and went back to eating berries. His reverie was soon interrupted. From the other end of the bar, Un’Dir the Resplendent was at work, bringing the full force of his personality to bear on a raggedy looking weasel of a man.

“Indeed, surely if you found this wizard’s manse, you’d have something to show for it. Not to call you a liar, I would never demean someone of such noble personage! Rather, I must express intense curiosity as to what sort of bibelots a wizard would keep in his manse. I must say, I’m simply an ignorant backwoods fellow. Someone in your position could certainly teach me a thing or two.”

Ichiga grunted and kept watching. The man’s robes were a deep purple touched with intense gold hemming. He like to watch them move while Un’Dir gesticulated.

After gazing at the robes for a while, Ichiga returned to his berries, and ordered some nuts to go along with them. Before long, he was interrupted once more. Rosalyn sat down next to him and watched sidelong while Serra pried information out of a drunken guard.

Ichiga, by virtue of his upbringing, was always close to nature. He could feel something akin to that in Rosalyn, but in a different sense. Ichiga knew the earth and the trees, but Rosalyn knew the nature of something else, and he could see it in her eyes. He went back to eating his berries.


Serra lowered herself quickly down the hatch. Ichiga had a strong grip on the sewer entrance, but it did seem pretty heavy. Better to move fast than risk blunt trauma. Soon she was on the ground, inside the tunnels. They were rank. A sour fug assaulted her, and Mr. Shimmers whimpered in the dim light. The others made their way down, and finally Ichiga descended with a soft grunt, slowly lowering the sewer grate above them.

“Let’s get this over with,” said Rosalyn brusquely, moving carefully to keep her mauve silks out of the grime around her. Serra opened her mouth to make a rejoinder, but that’s when they heard it. A skittering sound filled the darkness.

A dark shape flitted down from the ceiling above them, and Serra whirled around as Un’dir released a strangled cry. The spiders had found them.


Un’Dir approached the manse with a spring in his step and a whistle on his lips. He grinned broadly and rapped his knuckles smartly upon the door. To the west, the dying sun had slipped beyond the hills. Everything was briefly bathed in a deep, wine-stained red, and then darkness fell.

“Ho, within, I bear alchemical wonders beyond your ken! Open up, for surely the baron would like to see what liquid strength I can bestow!”

The door swung open slowly, and a guard eyed him warily.

“Aye, perhaps…let me bring the captain.”

Yes, a welcome development. Bring the captain — bring the whole watch! Un’Dir grinned to himself while he rummaged around in his bag. Which first? Let’s start with orange.

“What’s this, then?” A hirsute man appeared at the door with the previous guard.

“Ah, finally, a man of true taste and discernment, this I can tell from state of your armor! I believe I have a potent effect within one of these bottles to suit your needs, friend.”

Pulling out the flask of orange tinted water, Un’Dir began his display. “Now this, this potion will grant you…”


Rosalyn eyed Ichiga with distate as he vomited on the floor. The oaf should have known better than to down half a barrel of wine. She backed away haughtily and arranged her silks around her shoulders, to better accommodate her snake. She was already upset, having torn some of the fabric clambering in through the side window. The manse was large, but the baron was foolish enough to leave his windows unlocked. With luck, the key would soon be theirs.

Swiveling on her heel, she snapped her fingers in Serra’s direction. “Let’s go, I don’t know how long the charlatan can keep them busy. He might have a fast mouth, and the guards might be stupid, but time continues to tick away.”

With a wry twist of the mouth, Serra shrugged and dragged Ichiga towards the door, easing it open.

Rosalyn peered around the frame. Out in the foyer, she could hear Un’Dir, prattling away. She slipped through the door, and across the open space, without rustling her silks. Serra followed suit, dragging Ichiga along.

Beggars can’t be choosers, she thought to herself.


The baron’s room was opulent. Crystal glasses rested on tables, and leather bound books sat on shelves. Silks and drapes hung from each window, and the baron himself slumbered beneath a green and brown striped duvet, filigreed in silver. He snored and tossed in place, upsetting his pillow. Serra caught a brief glimpse of a silver worked ring.

Taking an arrow from her quiver, Serra stripped it of feathers. Rosalyn and Ichiga stood nearby in the door frame, breath caught in their throats as Serra crouched low, sidling towards the bed.

She held out the feathers, and gently tickled the baron’s nose…

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