There was once a time in Metamor when anyone could do anything. The most common of farmers could fight off a warband of a dozen lutins when caught by surprise and using nothing but a shovel and probably with a hangover to boot. Many could even do this while playing a high stakes game of poker or talking about the daily gossip. Some of you called it the Superman Syndrome, some of you thought it was silly, but it was one of the things that drew me most strongly to MK. This may almost certainly be filed as non-canon, but this story is to remind you that this used to be true and that maybe... for some people... it still is.
It was early morning when I was awoken by a rapping on the door. I stumbled forwards to answer it and found what appeared to be a stork holding a scroll of paper. Another time long ago I might have stared at the stork, but such sights in Metamor are common, and if I wanted to look at a freak of nature... well there was a mirror in the room behind me. So instead of staring at the stork, I stared at the piece of paper.
In my defense I have never been a morning person, but evidentally the stork got tired of waiting and grabbed my hand, put the scroll in it and left with me still staring blearily at the paper. I managed to snap out of it and opened the scroll which read,
"You are cordially invited to attend your annual mandatory local patrol. Occasion is casual wear, but you should bring a weapon of choice. If you do not have a weapon, or indeed armor, a loan will be provided. If you do not have experience with fighting, well... good luck. Not every patrol encounters lutins after all."
The scroll was signed with a smiley face at the bottom and underneath were more detailed instructions of where and when to go. Grumbling tiredly, I stumbled to the kitchen and a few cups of coffee later felt human again. Relatively. My assignment wasn't for a few hours from now but I figured that there was no time like the present, the early bird catches the worm (even if I wasn't a bird) and other similar expressions.
So off I set into the castle and after a few mishaps with a bar, a priest, and low hanging sign, managed to find my way to the armory where I had to explain to the attendant that because I was a mage I did not need a sword. He started going on about rules and regulations and various forms and paperwork about how it wasn't permissable to go on patrol without a properly recognized weapon and I just decided to take the sword. I've learned that no matter where you go, bureaucrats will always be the same, and it's always a bad idea to mess with bureaucrats.
A little while later we were joined by a porcupine I recognized as a local seamstress in the town with a penchant for using her quills as tools named Elaine. She went into the backroom where the attendant was and it wasn't long before I heard arguing. From what I could gather, Elaine wanted to use her quills as weapons and they didn't count as a 'properly recognized weapon'. It wasn't long before the arguing escalated into shouting and shortly after that there were some loud sounds, a bang or two, and Elaine came flying out of the back room followed by a sword much like the one that I now had where she landed in a heap on the floor. Peering cautiously into the room from where I was sitting I saw the attendant looking incredibly pleased with himself and adjusting his tie.
Elaine started grubling about narcs and regulations and picked herself (and the sword) up off the floor, choosing to sit next to me. Right about then the door opened again and we both turned to see another porcupine, this one with a coloring of zebra stripes garish enough to make Elaine flinch away from her. It was painful, but you come to expect that sort of thing when a porcupine sits next to you. I recognized the newcomer as the keep's alchemist, Pascal who apparently had done this before and went straight to the back room where she requested a sword and came back out almost immediately.
From there time seemed to pass quickly as were given our instructions and sent on our way. Pascal and Elaine didn't seem to get along with each other all that well so it was a rather terse mood as we strolled along the scenic path. It was almost a relief when a band of lutins popped out of a nearby bush and challenged us. Pascal stepped forward with one of many vials she had on her person and tossed it towards the lutins. It landed halfway between our two parties and shattered revealing something yellow which started to slowly expand.
For a few drawn out seconds, nobody moved. We were plain confused and I think the lutins thought it would explode if they weren’t careful. However, as it continued to inflate, it soon took on the form of... a... “So THAT’S what happened to my rubber ducky!” exclaimed Pascal next to me rushing forward to collect her wayward item.
This seemed to convince the lutins that the yellow object was NOT some arcane spell of exploding and that it was safe to attack which they promptly did. A volley of arrows and one sword launched into the air at the alchemist. I began to prepare a spell to stop them in the air but before I could an equally large volley or needles and another sword launched into the air as well. I looked back to see Elaine standing there shading her eyes to follow the progress of her throw.
I have no clue how she managed to throw so much in so little time, but as I watched, the needles impaled the various arrows, knocking them to the ground. The sword from our side sliced another arrow clean in two and the sword from their side was hit by a needle. It wobbled a little before landing in the ground in from of Pascal, impaling the rubber duck. I turned back to Elaine. “Did you have to throw the sword?”
She shrugged, “They did it first.”
I raised an eyebrow and was about to comment that lutins were hardly a role model to follow in intelligence when I was stopped by a scream from Pascal. “My DUCK!!” she screamed, “That was my favorite duck! Do you know how hard it was to make that thing?” she asked, glaring at the assembled lutins. “Well come on then, who did it?”
The lutins milled about uncertainly. The enemy wasn’t fighting them and wasn’t running away, which meant they weren’t sure what to do. Pascal was silent a moment before she spoke again, her voice turning cold and razor sharp, “Who threw the sword?” Her words were cold as ice, but looking from the back the very air around her seemed to light on fire.
The view from the front must have been even scarier because the lutins looked absolutely terrified and as one they all stepped aside saying, “Grog’s fault,” and pointed at another lutin near the back who didn’t have a sword and was sheepishly pointing at the fellow next to him.
With a scream of rage, Pascal tore forward, grabbing the sword and rushed him, swinging wildly. I’m guessing she didn’t know how to USE the sword because when it connected with the lutin’s skull it was the flat that knocked him unconscious. She continued to beat up anyway with many winces of sympathy from the on-looking crowd before winding to a halt, standing up. “Anyone else?” she asked, looking around. They shook their heads and Pascal stood up brushing off her pants and walking back over to us. “Excellent,” she said. “Shall we continue then?” she asked Elaine.
The other porcupine nodded, “I think we shall,” and the two of them leapt forward while I continued staring in shock. As Pascal launched vial after vial into the slow to react crowd, Elaine reached back and pulled a long quill from her back and modified it with a brief charm until it looked like a serviceable staff which she twirled and started to bash heads with.
It was all over in a minute with all the lutins either knocked unconscious, pinned to some tree by needles through the softer parts of their armor, or entangled by something else entirely. Some were snared in some kind of webbing, some had burn marks, and one or two were covered in hardening goo.
“You know, you’re not so bad with those needles of yours. Think you could teach me how to do that with mine?” Pascal asked Elaine, looking at her handiwork in satisfaction.
Elaine smiled and replied, “You’re not so bad yourself. I particularly liked the fireworks.” She considered a moment and continued, “Tell you what, I’ll teach you a few tricks if you let me do something with those stripes of yours.Yay, tI think I can make them look pretty decent if you let me.”
Pascal looked at her coloring which admittedly that day were particularly garish and replied with a smile, “Deal,” walking off with Elaine. “You know, I think this may be the start of a beautiful friendship...” and then they were gone, leaving me in a clearing full of incapitated lutins.
This... chaos was an average patrol? That was the most casual I had ever seen anyone be about battle with possibly only one or two exceptions. All in all, I was left with one though running through my mind.
‘But... I didn’t get to DO anything!’