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In A Single Blow
In which our hero, through muck and rain, finds a calling.
Dear Veronica and I had been boarding for the past few weeks in a unique venture of a town on the edge of the elven lands called Thysial. Our luck took a turn for the up when the call went out for adventurers. Adventurers! They may of well have wrote our names up there on that flyer: adventurers. In rising to that challenge, our first challenge awaited... the dreaded interview.

His name was brother Hastings, a birch-thin administrative sort from the local order of paladins, the Order of the Even Hand. He asked the usual questions, the ones that don't make sense to ask. Anyone up for adventure knows how to handle themselves, after all. Either that, or that aren't up for adventure for very long. Like a good card left in a thinned out deck, if someone comes looking for adventure then It is a safe assumption that they have lived it before.

In any case, something was wrong across the river in Eirae. The normal here and there of traders and wanderers had come to a stop. Why a town of paladins could find it in their rank to check it out on their own... it says something, I guess, about the order. They had been on Nica and I for playing friendly games of cards with the locals since we arrived. Strong on particulars, it seemed, but not so willing to get their own hands dirty. Mr. Mason Trewether, their appointed tag-along, seemed to suit this. Young, inexperienced, and shining with apprehension. Looks like I would have to step up and take charge if we wanted this done right.

Off we went, along the river, into the wild lands. It was rainy and miserable, and land around us was a flooded marsh. No wonder the elves were willing to allow foreigners to settle here. It wasn't pretty enough, or tamed enough, for their tastes.

Our camp was made on a wet patch of hill, barely above the river and aside the road. Nica and I fell into routine. Well, alright. I did. Set the watches. Clear and area. Eat a bit, and rest... and stay dry... where we can.

That night we were set upon. Tiny, foul little creatures akin to goblins but ruder and with an evil eye. They came on us quickly, and they seemed to focus on Veronica.

I'm... not exactly sure what happened next, to be honest. I saw them threatening her, trying to kill her and gibbering something about gnomes... and death. One of the foul creatures was upon me as well, wielding his crude dagger and clumsily trying to introduce me to its sharp end. My own sharp friend was still on the ground beside my bedside, just out of reach. I felt a wellspring of emotion at that moment; panic, fear, anger... and guilt. The grinning little goblin creature was between me and my sister... so I steeled myself and did what needed to be done.

I gathered myself up and I punched him in the chest.

I punched him so hard, in that one single blow, that he fell over dead. In one short moment his entrails had become... well... his extrails.

I didn't exactly realize this at the time, of course. I was caught up in the battle, grabbed my sword and sent it plowing through the ones threatening dear sweet Nica. I think... I think one of them I cut in half with a single announcement.

The battle was ended soon after. We had one cornered and captured, but despite my gift for language we couldn't follow his reasoning for the attack; he didn't seem quite smart enough to know why he was there without his warband leader. The excitement of the battle faded and, fatigued from my exertions and setting our captive free, I quickly fell asleep.

It was the next day, as we continue through the rain and the muck, that I had time to reflect. I had become, well... a murderer, hadn't I? I should feel guilty, I should feel remorse. By the other hand, I had acted in defense. I need to speak to my sister about this, of course. She has the ear of dear grand papi, thanks to her calling, and can offer a word or two of his wisdom on the subject.

I was telling myself that, despite what I had done, that if I hadn't of fought back then surely those creatures would have killed us. Killed me. Killed dear Nica.

And so it went, back and forth, two thoughts in my head talking over each other, ignoring a third, wordless feeling that sat in the back, ignoring the other two.

You see, I felt good that morning, plowing through the muck and getting lost in a foreign floodplain. I felt great, in fact. There was a weight upon me that was lifted when I leapt to action in defense of our lives. I realized that, for the first time in ages, I hadn't been looking for Victoria out of the corner of my eye, as I almost always seemed to do. What had happened, that unleashing of my burden, that necessity that made me fall wholly and completely into action, had made me feel free.

---

Before I proceed I want to be sure to clarify something. It wasn't the act of killed that lifted my spirits. I know such things come around, in the end, even if done in self defense. It was the act of protecting and of defending Veronica and my companions. Action and ahead-to, not frozen inaction. Something was wrong and I did something about it.

But we are here, dear journal of mine. Arrived at the town of Eirae after a few more run ins with the croaking terrors of the wildlands, but not, strangely, these wildlands. Those giant killer frogs belonged in Curmeah, not these border lands of Tel-Tenauril. Also, made a new friend by the name of Thogg, a giant frog man. He was, naturally, impressed with my own mighty and intimidating warrior's croak. Who wouldn't be?

He is lost, not knowing these lands or how he came to them, and I feel sorry for him in a way. A lost soul in need protection, and I will, of course, do what I can for him.

Associated Regions: Thysial, Eirae
From the journal of Reginold Brandish

Contributor: Shawn Nicolen