Dana Alfped sat in her house and smoked a pipe and read, as she had done almost every day that she didn't go to market for the last six months. Often, she read a book, usually a romantic novella, with generic human characters following the same few plotlines. They were entertaining and didn't take a lot of thinking to enjoy, so she read them anyway. Some days, she read a letter from her cousin in Silverhold. Every month there were new updates on gossip, family drama, interesting events, and so on. Today she had received a letter, so she was reading that. But this letter felt different from the others. The tone was off. Words her cousin didn't usually use were thrown in, usually referring to the freshly ascended queen. As Dana wasn't allowed back inside Silverhold, she couldn't find out what was going on directly, but she could ask anyone who'd been there recently what it was like. A human's perception of any changes in Silverhold would be hard to trust, as the subtleties of dwarf culture were often lost on even the most immersed human, but anything obvious would help.
While she mused on that, her gaze shifted to the trophies on her walls. Mostly they were the pieces she couldn't make into armor or weapons, or sell as trinkets. She had planned for early retirement, and so she'd liquidated most of her potential souvenirs, and now she realized her mistake. She wasn't ready to retire. She wanted to be out there, hunting linnorms and collecting red and black horns from the enemies of civilization. The whole time she'd been an adventurer, she thought she'd wanted to stop and feel safe, but she didn't realize how much she needed the thrill of the hunt to feel like life was worthwhile. She needed something bigger. A real capstone, something to brag about that others could not. Something to put on her wall that would look decent and stay there long enough for her grandchildren to admire.
She stood up, and, pipe still inside her mouth, walked to the weapon rack she kept by her front door. She gently removed her axe, "Scale-render," and stroked its haft thoughtfully. Then she gently placed it back on the rack. She looked to Gnossir, who was lying on the floor, asleep a minute ago, but now staring with one open eye. "Hey, Gnoss?" she said. Gnossir lifted his head and waved his tail. "I'm coming out of retirement." In response, Gnossir made an inquisitive grunt and tilted his head to one side. "It means we're going hunting again. Are you ready boy? Are you ready for another hunt?" By now, Gnossir was standing on all fours, tail wagging excitedly. "Good boy, Gnoss. Good boy. Now, where did I put all of our hunting stuff…?"
Sobriety did not agree with the baron of Draganyr. A day earlier, his lovely, lovely wife had told him "I need you to stop drinking. It's bad for Christopher to see you like this." He'd agreed, until he passed a large puddle of water on the street and saw… shapes within. After that, he headed to his favorite tavern, and been turned away. Then he'd been turned away at the other tavern. And every booze merchant in the markets and docks. They all said the same thing. His wife had gone to all of them. He begged, wheedled, cajoled, and even threatened, and he was, when he wanted to be, a very threatening man, but none would budge. He'd apologized before moving on to the next vendor, until he ran out of ideas. Whatever they'd been promised or threatened with by Delara, she'd been more convincing. But there was not a single drop of alcohol available to him. Frustrated, he returned home to sit at his desk and sulk. Delara met him at the door, disappointment in her eyes. Once inside, he closed the door, fell to his knees, and wept before her. Half-formed apologies broke through his sobs as she caressed his hair. Tears dripped down her velvet dress as he clutched the edge of her skirt and pulled his face to her body.
Hours afterward, he had bathed, changed into his armor, and eaten. He'd packed for a few days' travel, and readied one of his horses, and vowed to be a hero again for his son, if it took the rest of his life. But he sure as hell wasn't going to be a hero anywhere near water, so he decided to head south and see who needed help further inland.
Now he rides, and seeks.
It was already day again when Unyal Vandergriff emerged from the darkness of the cave, so he removed his goggles to let his eyes adjust. Another dead lead, but at least he'd gotten out safely again. This one had been full of giant centipedes, and he'd had just enough of that to last a lifetime, which, for an elf, was really saying something. Now that he was out in the light again, he checked his map, drew an X over the one he'd just cleared, and looked at the next closest one on his route. Then he sat down and pulled out the half of the staff he had with him.
After a few minutes of concentration, and letting the staff spin on his finger, he checked his map again. Well, that would be a hike, but he hadn't come this far to give up. Maybe the next cave bent in that direction after the entrance. Only one way to find out. He picked up a stone and scratched a big X in the stone wall just inside the cave entrance, in case he came back here by mistake. Then he looked up the side of the mountain, planning his path in his mind before committing his feet. It wouldn't be too long before he had to venture back to civilization for supplies, but he had one more cave's worth of pitons and crampons and rope and rations and such, so long as it wasn't a particularly big cave, and if it was, well, he'd just have to make sure he had enough resources to spare that he could leave safely and return, wouldn't he?
Dame Odiera Hesroth woke slowly, in a comfortable feather bed, with soft blankets and satin pillows, and a long, silken nightgown, stretched her arms, and let out a long yawn. It was probably ten in the morning, and she was fond of sleeping in when there were no pressing political matters. She sat up, hair an absolute mess, and smirked as she released a long fart. I may have been born to be a duchess, she thought, but they can't make me stop being a sailor on my own time. She left her bed, spent an hour or so on dressing, bathing, and grooming herself, and opened the door to her bedchamber appearing every bit as regal and proper as she was supposed to be. Except for the rapier and scabbard, which never left her side. It had been a long time since she'd had to use it, but it was good to have visible as a reminder to others that she was not to be pushed around like one of the more sheltered nobility. Any day now, she swore she'd find an excuse to set foot on a ship again, and sail up the Sassaran to at least as far as Camor Castle, and hopefully back to the sea. But for now, she'd wait, and be good, and be the leader her people needed. That was more important.