They conceived a plan for getting their treasure back. It was risky, without a doubt. After some discussion, most of the group agreed that Chess should go in, since his character was a skilled thief. And robbing the constable had, after all, been his suggestion.
Entry through the locked but unguarded door of the town hall had been easy, Chess thought, but now his character inched along the darkened hallway within. Playing the thief in his imagination was not quite as exciting as actually running from guards in real life, but the minutes were still pretty tense.
“Better watch out for the constable himself,” Pete hissed, noisily gripping his chip bag. “He wouldn’t leave that treasure alone there.” Chess just shrugged tensely.
“Up ahead, you see a square of light spilling out of a side room into the passageway,” the Game Administrator intoned with a smile. He seemed to be enjoying himself. “As you get closer, you see what appears to be a marble plaque over the doorway, but you can’t read it from your angle of view.”
“Must be the constable’s office,” Chess reasoned, picturing the scene. Now, he rolled his dice. He preferred real dice to using an online probability tool. It just seemed luckier to him. And so it was: he was able to find and creep away with their lost treasure without being seen. A unanimous sigh of satisfaction emanated from the group of players. But then, as Chess was making his way out of the building, the G. A. informed them that the constable had returned to his office and given a cry of alarm.
The guards pursued, but running was Chess’s second-best skill, and the luck of the dice stayed with him. After a circuitous race through the walled city, he met his fellows just outside the arched gate.
As they all emerged from hiding places in the dense thicket that surrounded the city wall, Chess’s character tossed the bag of treasure to the group’s fastest runner. And here, the other player’s plan went into action. They all began to make for the forest, with the entire complement of city guards in pursuit.
“Are you sure it’s all here?” the player now holding the treasure asked.
“Positive,” Chess answered with a wild grin. “As sure as I am that half of my share goes to the beautiful indigo priestess. May she and the goddess she serves be ever-pleased with my humble gifts.”
One of the other players snorted derisively, “Have you ever even met a girl?”
“This has to work,” Pete gasped, actually sounding out-of-breath, “or we’ll all have to enlist.”
“Just run,” Chess snapped. But, unexpectedly, Pete’s words jarred his mind away from the game for a moment.
He was reminded that he had a job interview tomorrow: a fact he had been trying hard not to think about. He tapped his fingers against his soda can. But why worry about it, he reasoned, when he would be just one interviewee of many, for one precious job that he had very little hope of getting... and then what would he do? He shook his head in exasperation and forced his attention back to the game.
Every player at the table was frowning now, or staring intently. Some gripped whatever was close to hand: link-phones, soda cans... Everyone seemed tense, in fact, except the Game Administrator, who seemed to be enjoying himself greatly. Gazing into a space beyond his eye-link glasses and perhaps beyond the room, the G. A. sounded nearly poetic as he described the action that was taking place…
In a close group, with the treasure-bearer in front, they raced into the edge of the forest. The moonlight began to grow dim under the canopy of trees. Suddenly, to their right, a loud growl was heard... and then another. The growls turned to barks and howls as the group ran, the sound intensifying to a deafening chorus until it seemed that the forest was filled with wolf-like monsters.
“The entire city guard has now entered the forest behind you,” the G. A. declared, “at a distance of about two hundred meters, and gaining.” Chess could actually feel his heart pounding.
“And here come the barmons to greet them,” the player who had come up with this part of the plan announced, and eagerly rolled his dice. “Yes! We climb the trees!” he cried.
Chess’s company disappeared into the overhead greenery as the dog-beasts launched their attack.
Continued next page...
…behind her the doors at the other end were opening, and there was a short dark figure, and there was a rod with a little pilot flame on the end, and…
"Look out! Behind you!" Vimes yelled.
His wife stared at him, turned round, dropped the buckets and started to shout something. And then the flame blossomed. It hit Sybil in the chest … And Sybil dropped to the sandy floor as, all down the lines of pens, dragon heads rose on long dragon necks. Their nostrils were flaring. They were breathing in.
They’d been challenged. They’d been offended. And they’d just had their supper.
"Good boys," said Sybil, from the floor.
Twenty-six streams of answering dragon fire rose to the occasion.
Thud! A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
To gain a broader understanding of the origins of Fantasy fiction, including D&D, I think it helps to read other genres, like centuries-old European literature, history, and definitely mythology. Actually, when I was deep in the midst of reading different genres and encountering a variety of ideas, and wanting both to hold onto and share many of the things that I had read, the idea of writing fiction began to interest me again.
I tend to enjoy novels where it is obvious either that research was done or the authors have a personal interest in the foundational subject matter. Christopher Moore, Jacqueline Carey, Mary Stewart, and Neil Gaiman come immediately to mind. There are countless other current Fantasy authors, of course. (And science fiction authors who understand the science they are expanding upon are a whole other category!) So I figured that it couldn’t hurt my story to do more research. But this strategy did give me a few unforeseeable difficulties…
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