Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Paper Hearts And A Red Haired Tart
Of course Kevin K. Hanson’s crew wasn’t the only friends I had. There was my D&D group but spending my afternoons pretending to be a dwarven level 12 fighter was starting to lose its appeal. I wanted girls, I wanted my glory days to begin, I wanted wine and roses instead of soda and Cheetos.
...there was a dragon in the dungeon, at least that was what the legend said. The semi-noble, mostly famous adventurers known as the Swashbuckling Fellowship had decided to venture into the vast system of tunnels and traps in search of treasure.
“After all,” Thad the dwarf commented as he lead his companions through the catacombs, “what else is there to do in this lousy kingdom? It isn’t like there is any political intrigue, notable individuals with any kind of personality or even a viable economic system. Even the weather seems to be completely random and nonsensical...”
... “I swear to God Al,” Adrian glared at me from behind his Dungeon Master’s Screen, “all you do is complain.”
“I am just saying, that this could be so much better,” we were in Adrian’s parent’s basement as usual. There were new Boris Vallejo posters on the wall but the same old stains on the carpet. We sat in rickety chairs around an equally rickety card table. If you leaned something was going to come crashing down. “We’re supposed to be role-playing, this is like a computer game.”
“Interesting talk,” Daniel said, “coming from the guy that can’t afford a computer.”
That was a very interesting and clever observation so I told him, “Shut up.”
“Can we just get going here? I’d like the last game before I head off for basic training to be a little more fun,” Gordon shifted uncomfortably in his seat and then pitched over to the left, “GAAAAAA!”
“Are you sure you want to go through with joining the Marines?” I asked.
Harry looked up from the Doctor Who novelization he was reading and then buried his nose in the book again.
Gordon righted his chair and sat gingerly back down, “This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. I want to join the Marines and then work my way into special forces. The SEALS could use a guy like me.”
“Uh,” I said, “I don’t think you’ve got that quite right. The SEALS are...”
“Don’t,” Daniel silenced me with a gesture, “just don’t.”
“We’ve all tried already.”
...the battle with the hobgoblins left the Swashbuckling Fellowship bloodied but unbowed. Thad the dwarf cleaned his blade and surveyed the dank dungeon hallway, “I think we’ve lost our bearings again.”
“I thought dwarves had big bonuses,” Chemlar the elven thief’s voice became a scream has a level of experience was burned away, “Nooooooo! Not the piano lessons!”
Bruce the ranger shook his head pityingly, “What are these ‘bonuses’ you speak of? Is it some kind of elven metaphor for a penis?”
“Oooo,” Thad said, “I like the sound of that.”
“Yes, that’s what I meant,” Chemlar said expectantly.
“This way!” the Wizard With No Name pointed back the way they had come. He tossed his fifteen foot multicolored scarf over his shoulder and started walking.
The other’s shrugged and followed but Thad wondered aloud, “When did he get that?”...
... “I just thought it would be cool,” Harry K looked up from his copy of Doctor Who And The Giant Robot, “I like to imagine my character looking like Tom Baker.”
“Last week you said he looked like Merlin from Excalibur,” Daniel snorted with disgust and crossed his arms. Somehow this caused his seat to topple over, “EEEEEEEEEEE!”
“Guys!” Adrian stood and leaned on the table, “Be careful with the damn chairs-”
And it was at that point the table flipped over...
...the tremors stopped as suddenly as they had begun. Dirt fell from the stone roof but it held. The members of the Swashbuckling Fellowship stepped away from the walls they had thrown themselves against- all of them save for the Wizard with no name, he hadn’t moved. In fact, he was still standing casually in the middle of the passage and studying his book.
“I don’t think we’re even close to the dragon,” Chemlar said, “let’s go back to the town.”
“No way!” Bruce the ranger said, “I’m here for an adventure, not to twiddle my thumbs while you try to steal everything that isn’t nailed down.”
“You guys could help.”
“How?” Thad asked, “It’s not like we’re double classed... oops!”
Arcs of power bled from the dwarf in a kind of agonizing reverse Quickening, leaving him a sobbing, urine-stained wreck. “Really?” Thad said in disbelief, “I soiled myself?”
“Who soiled themselves?” the Wizard With No Name looked up from the tome he was reading.
Once the dwarf had cleaned out his armor the band of adventurers began marching again. Their path took them across more and more hobgoblins that they dispatched with a combination of swordplay and magic- assuming the wizard was paying attention of course.
Just as they were about to give up hope they found the first real signs that they were getting closer to their goal, yet it was also a terrible setback...
... “A dragon turd blocking the hallway?” I said, “Really?”
“Really,” Adrian insisted.
Bruce had been looking at his character sheet, “How the hell are we going to get past it? Can we climb over it?”
“Too slippery,” Adrian laughed fiendishly.
I wasn’t done complaining, “Pee and poop. Is this what the game as come to?”
“Bitch. Bitch. Bitch. I should call you Bitchy Bruno.”
Daniel grinned, “Bitchy Bruno! I love it!”
“We should dig a tunnel through it.” Harry K suggested.
“Ew!” Daniel said, “My character is too cool for that.”
I looked back down at the sloppy map we had made to trace our route through the dungeon, “Maybe we can double back.’
Now it was Daniel’s turn to laugh fiendishly, “I have a better idea...”
...before anyone realized what he was doing Chemlar pulled the potion of mind control from the Wizard With No Name’s back pack and took a gulp. Mystical power flowed through him, “Now I command you Thad to burrow through that dragon turd.”
“You assho-” the dwarf began to say but then all resistance faded from his features, “Eep.”
The other members of the Swashbuckling Brotherhood watched him start digging with cruel glee, disgust or disinterest.
“Eep,” Thad the dwarf said as he pawed doglike through the muck. Occasionally he would come across the bone of an unlucky adventurer or hobgoblin and toss it aside, “eep.”
Finally the ranger had seen enough, “All right, that does it! I’m going to put a stop to this.”
“Oh hey Bruce,” the Wizard With No Name said as another mind control potion was pulled from his pack.
Mystical energy flowed through Bruce The ranger and he said, “I command you Thad the dwarf to throw crap at Chemlar!”
“Oop,” the dwarf did as he was ordered. He grabbed a fist full of dragon poop and sent it flying at the elven thief.
Chemlar’s lightning fast reflexes saved him from a face full of feces but some of the brown muck landed on his feet. His features, much like his boots, darkened. He took another drink of his mind control potion and ordered the dwarf, “Lick my boots clean!”
Not one of the members of the Swashbuckling Brotherhood noticed the five Neo-otyugh drawing closer and licking their foul lips...
...as you can imagine things went downhill from there and our characters died once again. Gordon started packing up his books and papers, “This was the worst game ever.”
“It certainly left a bad taste in my character’s mouth,” I said with a shudder.
“Not my fault you guys are such crappy players,” Adrian tried to sound smug as he crossed his legs but doing so caused his chair to fall over, “GAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!”
I helped him up, “Well I think we were doing fine until Daniel started screwing around.”
“I was not screwing around! I was playing my alignment!” Daniel banged his fist on the table for emphasis, causing it to collapse spectacularly.
“Well,” Gordon said, “this is it for me for a while anyway. I’ll try to come by after I finish basic training.”
Harry K finally put his book down, “Yeah. Good luck and everything.”
“Yeah, good luck,” Adrian said dismissively, “and now I have to find a new player.”
“I’m going to have to bow out of the game for a while too,” I explained.
“I’m starting college,” I said, “and a new job.”
Adrian wrinkled his nose, “Hey! I’m working, going to school and getting more pussy than you’ve ever dreamed about.”
“I dunno about that, I can dream a lot.”
“Anyway...” Gordon took this moment to shake each of our hands, “I figure I’ll finish basic training early. I’ve been practicing my push ups and reading Mac Bolan novels.”
I cleared my throat, “I don’t think...”
“Don’t,” Daniel silenced me with a gesture, “it’s not worth it.”