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The day begins like any other day... With the smell of adventure wafting into my nostrils!
...or perhaps that's the scent of my dashing mustache?
And so, I journey to the one place I know adventure awaits, the Epicenter of Epicness, the, um.. the Awning of Awesome, the... Hub of Hubris?
The market stalls of New Magincia! I follow that whiff of adventure up one smelly row of animal vendors, and down another row of grinning, sweating men who want to "Buy my wares", barely managing, through sheer force of gallantly mustachioed will, to track that alluring adventuresome aroma through the competing odors of spices, armpit, and beetle dung.
And my persistence pays off! The scent comes clearer as I come closer and closer to a mounted, wand-wielding mage, the scent takes on definition, the piquant flavor of adventure I'd followed all the way here begins to coalesce. Swirling into my snuffling nostrils, it seems to take on shape and even color!
Did you ever wonder what color the Smell of Adventure has, friends? Well, let me tell you. The Smell of Adventure is...
I move closer to investigate, and there, in the pack of the horseback conjurer, I find the source. The wellspring of that scent I'd followed all the way here. A katana? Nay, not just any katana! A PURPLE KATANA!!
This arrogant fellow seems not to know the value of what he carries! What does he, a spellslinger, need with a katana at all? Much less this lovely razor-sharp, aromatic, violet-hued beauty! As sometimes happens, when an item is languishing in the possession of someone who cannot fully appreciate it, this Katana calls to me!
"Oh, Brave Henry!" it cries, "save me from the confines of this evil wizard's pack!"
"Very well!" I respond with all the confidence I can muster from the depths of my mustache. I reach out a helping hand, and....
The guards! On high alert, after finding a series of unattendend packhorses loaded with Explosion Potions, the city watch of New Magincia mistake my friendly gesture for one of ill intent! They introduce me first to their halberds, then to their lightning, and then to the very dirty floor of their market town, where I take an undesired (and undeserved) nap!
I wander, in the grayscale dreamscape of Napland, until I find a kindly old man, who takes some cheap shots at my morality, and then slaps me awake. I return, as quickly as my groggy legs will carry me, to the scene of my inadvertent snooze.
The katana-bearing mage still calmly sits his horse, seemingly unmoved by my recent bout of guard-induced narcolepsy.
I bend and quickly gather my belongings, only to discover...
This nefarious Ne'er-do-well has rifled my possessions! He has taken from me what was mine and stowed it in the smelly recesses of his own pack! And now, to add insult to injury, he speaks down to me from atop his mighty (smelly) steed!
"Henry," he condescends, "if you get me a taming ring, I'll give your stuff back."
I should have known. The guards must be in the employ of this scoundrel! No wonder they so quickly unlimbered their halberds at my innocent helpful gesture. The whole thing was a setup. No good, filthy, dirty bribery and a trap for hapless, helpful Henry Swift.
But I know this type, I've seen this kind of arrogance before. And I have an idea.
I ride swiftly to my house and sort through a box of rings I'd collected at a recent IDOC. It isn't long before I find what I'm looking for. A ring to assist this mage with his taming (and very little else ^^). Although I quiver with rage at this extortion, I know the Bazaar Guards are in this wizard's pocket. (and not in the completely innocent way I was). My revenge must be swift and subtle if I hope to sneak it under the noses of the City Watch...
I return to the smug wizard, a humbled grin distorting my elegant mustache.
"I have a ring for you sir," I simper. It's important to my deception that he thinks I'm beaten.
And as I step close enough to hand him this bauble, I take the opportunity to get a closer look inside his pestulant pack. The Purple Katana of Adventure still awaits my help, but it is, alas, much too heavy. There is no way I can liberate it from this dastardly mage (tamer?) with the eyes of his City Watch thugs so close and keen. But I do spot something else.
A mediocre bracelet to replace the mediocre ring I'm about to hand over! Not a perfect revenge, but then, it's not a perfect world is it?
I inspect my belongings before consenting to hand over the fruits of this wizard's extortion scheme. It's all there and shockingly unmolested. We make the trade, and with a little sleight of hand, a quick stumble, an innocent bump,
The mediocre bracelet is mine! My items are now returned to my possession, and the ring this swindler blackmailed from me is now replaced with a bracelet of similar (low) value.
"I hope we can all walk away from this having learned a lesson," he says with a condescending little smile.
"Oh certainly!" I reply with a hearty chuckle, "and this mediocre bracelet I've just found has brightened my day! No hard feelings, then, eh?"
His eyes squint, just a little, but I see it. His smile tightens, just barely, but I notice. The swindler who thought he was swindling a swindler just got counter-swindled right in front of his guards and they didn't see a thing!
He knows he's been beaten now, and can't help but acknowledge a superior talent. He raises an eyebrow, thinking through what has just happened, and concedes defeat.
"I could use a talent like yours" he says, and drops a small pile of gold on the ground at my feet for me to "find".
"These yokels aren't worth what I pay them, but a man like you could really go far around here."
"I'll give it some thought," I lie. I have no desire to be chained in the employ of a second-rate racketeer, but it wouldn't do to stir him up again, now that I have him where I want him. There's still that katana to come back for, after all.
"Well, next time you're in town, come and talk to me about... your job." He smiles, eyes pointing quickly down to the pile of gold on the ground at my feet. The wizard rides away, thinking he's set his hooks in me, and hoping to see me return soon, begging for his employment.
And I will return! But not for his handouts, oh no. I'll be following the scent of that lovely purple katana,
waiting for a spot away from the prying eyes (and halberds) of the City Watch! Take heart, Katana. You will be free,
I swear it,
Someday, you will be free!
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