… in Castle Grof! Except it’s not exactly the sort of party most people would want to go to…
Okay, let’s back up a little and give you some background on this story.
This installment of the story started out as an attempt at online tabletop roleplaying in a thread on the (now defunct) Authonomy site. I was GM, creating the initial story line and the maps, and there were three players. We got as far as the fight in the Tavern (which is one of my favourite scenes) when we realised it wasn’t going to work.
By this time, however, I had my muse Puff sitting on my head (he likes to do that) and whispering than this could be another story to fit with “The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning“. So I asked the other players if they were happy to let me run with their characters. They were, so off I went…
… and Party at Castle Grof was born.
The book has been re-released today as an e-book on Amazon. It’s about a pair of adventurers being inveigled into cleansing the Dungeon near the city of Valdez in the kingdom of Valdier:
Castle Grof has claimed the lives of many already, but Lord Harnaz of Valdez is determined to clear the menace of the dungeon underneath the ruins completely.
Drawn into the quest with a barbarian warrior, a monk of Tyr and an old friend, Aranok and his half sister, Ariana, begin to wonder if they will actually return to their home in the elven realm of Alethdariel alive…
“Which one is your friend?” the half-elf asked, looking over at the fight.
“Grald the Barbarian.” Shilir started to panic and grabbed the half-elf’s arm.
“The big guy? You’re worried about the dwarf beating him up. He looks like he can handle himself,” the half-elf laughed.
“You don’t understand. He’s been drinking Wizard Wingdangs Original Ale… it weakens him to the point where a kitten could maim him with one swat of its tail; even a feather could knock him over. Please help him.”
“Why should we help your friend? I don’t even know why the fight started.” A feminine voice floated over his shoulder. Shilir turned to see the white robed mage he had bumped into.
“You took your time, Ariana,” the half-elf said, without turning round.
“The Guild wanted to hear my report. It took a little while,” Ariana replied, irritation etching her elegant face.
“If it had taken any longer, you’d have been peeling me up off the floor.”
“Well, if you didn’t drink human ale, Aranok, you wouldn’t need my hangover potion.” The mage looked over at the fight in the corner. “The barbarian does seem to be coming off worse in his fight with the dwarf.”
Shilir looked at Ariana hopefully. “Can you help?”
“I used most of my mana up on illusions during my report. Sorry, big brother.” She shook her head. “I haven’t replenished my mana potions yet.” Ariana tilted her head to one side and smiled at Shilir. “Unless you have a spare one?”
Shilir groaned. “I haven’t restocked yet either. Grald and I only arrived this morning.”
Grald was starting to wonder if responding to the dwarf had been a bad idea. An insistent trickle of blood from a cut on his forehead interfered with his vision, dripping through his thick eyebrows.
“How about we talk about this?” he asked, wiping his eyes again.
The dwarf growled and slammed a fist into Grald’s chest. Grald gasped and staggered back.
“Maybe not then,” he wheezed, grabbing the dwarf by his chest plate and attempting to drop kick him through the window. Unfortunately his befuddled body barely allowed him to lift the dwarf off the ground.
The dwarf leaned back in his grip, planted a foot into Grald’s stomach and used the other one to kick at his nose. Grald lurched backward, sat down hard on a bench and dropped the dwarf at the same time.
The dwarf landed on his chest and took the opportunity to punch Grald in the mouth. The bench tipped from the movement, sending the labourer sitting on it flying through the air into the window and spilling both Grald and the dwarf onto the straw strewn cobbles.
The window smashed as the labourer flew through it and landed on a table. The occupants of the table, a group of bakers having their lunchtime game of cards, swore as the cards and coins scattered under the man’s landing.
The table broke, all the tankards on it tipped over and the bakers left trying to gather up their coppers and piled onto the unfortunate labourer.
“I’ll be adding that window to your friend’s bill.” The Tavern Keeper carried on polishing his tankards calmly.
Sighing, Aranok pulled a field tip arrow out of his quiver and twisted on his stool to face the fight. The crowd around the bar drew back as he sighted along it and threw it like a dart.
Grald stood up and stared in shock at the result of his near miss with a dwarven boot.
“Did I do that?” he murmured, swaying a little as the dwarf tried to trip him up.
Something brushed past his ear, so he turned to see what it was. Tripping over his own feet, Grald fell over and landed on the next table. The boards splintered under his weight and as Grald hit the floor, he knocked himself senseless on his own mace.
“Hah! That’s what ye get for spilling ale on Avinger McCraken!” The dwarf laughed and kicked Grald in the balls. Then he stomped away, shouting, “I ain’t standing for that kind o’treatment. I’m gonna get the Watch!”
There are two places that you can read the full story and find out how the rest of the book turned out. The first is in the ebook:
The second is in the Omnibus Book which is available in both print and electronic forms: