Inn-troductions, or The Journey Begins
rating: +29+x

n the corner of a busy inn, a blonde knight in modest armor bearing a strange, circular insignia on the shoulder pokes at a tankard of ale. His brow furrows as he idly spins the thick glass vessel around. Another man, slender and dark skinned, sits across from him. He eyes the cup, then the knight, then the cup again, and coughs.

"Are you going to drink that, or ask it to dinner?"

The blonde knight looks up, eyebrows raised. He nods curtly down at the glass. The slender man looks at the glass again, and then back at the knight. He, too, raises his eyebrows.

"I think I'm missing something."

The blonde knight sighs. "It's warm, Vinz. Warm. Only the Islanders drink warm beer. We're civilized people, and civilized people drink cold drinks from a frosty mug."

Vinzin stares at him, nonplussed. "I don't know what to tell you, Adrian. Maybe their icebox isn't functioning."

Adrian frowns. "Yes, there is no doubt of this. But why? This mystery must be solved." He glances around the room, his eyes catching those of a short, robed figure. "You there! Are you a wizard?" He frowns again as the man quickly averts his eyes, burying them in a large tome at his table.

"You could just drink it. It probably won't kill you." Vinzin says.

"Warm beer! It's an unspeakable sin." Adrian pauses. His eyes light up, and he looks at Vinzin. "Say, you can do it, can't you?"

Vinzin blinks rapidly. "Do what?"

Adrian gestures to the glass in front of him. "Ice this bad boy. Put some shimmer on the glass, you know? Gimme some of that good frost."

"Uh, no. I can't frost your drink."

"What kind of wizard can't frost a drink?" Adrian says, his blue eyes gleaming above a cheeky smile. He picks up his tankard and inspects it, rubbing his hand along the glass bottom. "It's barely lukewarm, actually. It wouldn't even be that hard."

Vinzin frowns. "I'm not a—

"I'm not a wizard, right?" Dr. Mohammad Scott said.

"No, technomancers aren't wizards," Dr. Nick Quinn replied, his head buried in a reference book. "You're more like a monk, sort of. You just have power over some technology."

—wizard, I'm a technomancer. Like a monk." He leans back in his seat. "I don't have a refrigerator built in or something like that."

Adrian sighs, shrugs, and takes a drink. "Beer is beer, I guess," he says, wiping his mouth and sitting the rest of his ale on the table. "When do you think the others will be here? I feel like we've been sitting here for—

"Just give me a few fucking minutes Elliott, goddamn," Dr. Vera Hadley snarled across the table as Dr. Elliott Emerson recoiled in fear. "Ok, so are my modifiers right?"

Nick peered up over the edge of his book. "For… what? You're rolling a berserker?"


Nick disappeared back under the lip of the book again. "Let's see… you made the adjustments to strength and dex?"

Vera nodded. "Yeah. I was going to ask about the intelligence though, like, I don't want her to be a dumb berserker or something, she's still a knight, right?"

Nick nodded. "You're all going to get a little intelligence buff before we start. Or… wisdom, maybe, I can't remember right now. We'll do that later. Let me see your sheet." He grabbed the piece of paper Vera handed him, and scanned it quickly. "Alright, this looks good. I think you're good."

—hours," Adrian says, interrupted from behind by the sound of a door slamming against the wall. He and Vinzin both spin in their seats and peer through the crowd to see the cause of the commotion. Adrian beams.

"Oh shit, that's her!"

Across the dusty inn stands a half orc woman, nearly as tall and as broad as the doorway. Her brown hair is in a long, tight braid, and thick muscles bulged beneath the same modest armor as Adrian and Vinzin. But where they each carry slender swords on their hips, this woman has an ax the size of a table strapped to her back, with what looks to be a rocket attached haphazardly to the back end of it. She peers around the room until she sees Adrian waving wildly in the back corner, and puts a hand to her face.

"You think she saw us?" Adrian says to Vinzin, not stopping his furious waving for a moment.

"Yeah, I think she did." Vinzin says, exasperatedly.

The woman strides across the inn, cutting a wide berth in its occupants as she does, until she stands at their table. Vinzin eyes her up and down skeptically, while Adrian stares, slackjawed. She squints and peers down at them, before taking a seat and grabbing the rest of Adrian's beer—

"Hey, whoa! I paid money for that!"

—and slamming it down.

"Oh shit, ok, yeah, go ahead."

She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand and burps, shaking the table between them. Adrian's eyes grow wide. Vinzin rolls his eyes.

"Fair maiden," Adrian says—

"Nope," said Vera, "try again."

"Exquisite specimen of the female form," he tries again—

Vera stared across the table at Elliott.

"I think what my friend here was going to eventually get at," says Vinzin, "is hello. Probably. I'm Vinzin Anderson, technomancer. The drooling character to my right here is Commander Adrian Light, paladin, for whatever that's worth. He was probably going to eventually ask your name, too."

The woman nods slowly. "I am Thunderfist Earthbreaker, the Ravaging Fury of—

"Mmmmmmmmmm," Nick said, sliding the book down into his lap, "that, uh probably won’t do. Trust me on this."

"What do you mean?"

Nick adjusted in his seat. "Just that 'Thunderfist Earthbreaker' probably wouldn't jive with this particular brew, even for an orc."

Vera glared at him. "What? That's a great orc name! A proud family name. She's the next in a long line of Earthbreakers, dating back to the great Whoregobbler Earthbreaker."

Nick winced. "Yeah, like I said, you're just going to have to take my word for it on this one."

She sighed. "Fine. Then I'll just be—

"Ash Labelle," the orc woman says, proudly, "of the glorious Tribe of Labelle, dating back to the great Whoregobbler Labelle." She glares around the table. "You are much smaller than I had anticipated."

Vinzin gulps slightly. "Yeah, I took programming instead of PE."

Adrian shakes out of his stupor. "Wait, what do you mean smaller? Look at this!" He flexes. "Look at these gains! These are some primo gains, my man." A single desperate muscle wavers and then disappears. Adrian looks down at it and pouts, defeated.

The woman nods. "Very well. Your gains do not go unnoticed, small humanman." She looks around, expectantly. "There were to be others before we go to the Citadel. Have you seen them?"

Vinzin gestures towards the other end of the room. "Well, there's Ella. She's in the bathroom." He pauses. "She's been in there a long time, though."

The questioning pause is ended when another commotion is heard from that end of the room, as a door is blown off the wall, followed by a cascade of flashing blue light. A man darts from the room, his hair singed and his clothes smoking, and scampers out the door. He is followed by a young, slight, dark haired girl who points accusingly at him as he quickly exits the establishment.

"That's right," the tiny girl shouts over the din, "that's what you get for trying to get to third base with me, Ella Ulrich! I'm the only one getting to third base around here." She turns back towards the mass of eyes staring at her and turns her eyebrows into a dramatic, violent V. "The fuck are you all looking at?"

The crowd immediately turns back to what they were doing, all ignoring the blue smoke billowing out of the bathroom. All but the innkeeper, who comes around the corner and shouts, "My bathroom! First the icebox and now my beautiful bathroom! What have you done?"

"Can I bribe him?" Dr. Mary Nakayama said, returning from her trip to the cafeteria bathroom.

"Uhhh… I mean, you did just destroy his toilet. Are you going to pay for the damages?"

Mary shrugged. "Look, I need to know if I can try and bribe this dude. I'm going to tell you right now, if I can't bribe him I'm going to kill him."

Nick sighed. "In broad daylight? In a crowded inn? You're a knight!"

"Yeah but I don't have that kind of money, Nicholas. What's the word?"

Nick looked down at his book. "Jesus Christ guys, we're not even to the intro yet. Hang on." He flipped a couple of pages forward. "Alright, so I guess, roll persuasion or something." He paused. "Wait, how are you going to bribe this dude?"

Mary rolled her d20. "I don't know. Probably offer to give him a handy or something?" She studied the die before her. "Alright, so that's… 5. Think that'll do it?"

"Look, keep, that was a nice bathroom, but I don't just have that kind of cash laying around. What say we work something out here, eh? Maybe we sneak back in there for a little something-something? Eh?"

"You destroyed my bathroom!" the innkeeper says, incredulous. "Also, aren't you like fifteen? I'm no creep! I'm a happily married man! Your—

—5 isn't going to do it, I'm afraid," Nick said, "though I'm going to tell you straight up that if you kill this innkeeper before the game even starts, I'm going to need some time to rework some things."

Vinzin scurries across the room, grabbing Ella and throwing her to the waiting Ash. "I'm sorry for the damages caused by my nineteen-year-old friend, dear sir," he says, humility dripping from every word, "and I promise we will make good on the repairs. Our employer, the Duke of Elmbeach, will be happy to pay whatever is required to, uhh, fix up this little problem here." He gestures at the smoking ruin of the bathroom.

The innkeep's eyes grow wide. "The Duke of Elmbeach? Are you Foundation Knights?" His eyes dart down towards the circular insignia on Vinzin' shoulder, and he takes a step back. "You are!"

"Wait a second," Mohammad said, scratching his head, "how does he know who we are?"

Nick shrugged. "That would probably be a question better asked in character my man."

Vinzin stammers out a reply. "Uh… yes… we are that. Foundation Knights, I mean. But shhhhhh, we're trying to keep that on the ole down low until the game starts, you feel me?" He pauses. "Say, how do you know who we are?"

The innkeeper smiles. "The Duke of Elmbeach is an old friend! He's stayed in my inn many times, and has always been very good to us. I know he is a supporter of the Knights, and any friend of the Duke is a friend of mine!" He glances towards the bathroom. "Uh, though there is still the issue of the facilities…"

"Ah, right, yes," Vinzin nods, "upon our return to Castle Elmbeach, I'll be sure to send a crew of laborers back to make the necessary repairs." He winced slightly. "Though, I'm not sure what we'll have to do until then."

The innkeeper laughs. "It's alright, small person! I have a wide selection of buckets out back of the inn for just such an occasion! Godspeed to you, I say!" The man turns towards the bar and walks away.

Mohammad stared at Nick, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Nick looked up from his reference material, looked around the room, and then coughed.

"Uh," Elliott said, hesitantly. "Is that it?"

"Well, yeah," Nick said. "The innkeeper is a big fan of the Foundation."

Mohammad did a double take. "A big fan of the Foundation? Mary just blew the man's toilet up because some random dude wasn't DTF. How big of a fan is this guy?"

Nick eyed him over, and then disappeared behind the book again. There was the sound of a rolling die, and then his head reemerged.

"He's a big fan." Nick said, shrugging.

Vera rolled her eyes. "Alright, cool. We've all met, we're all here. This is all of us, right? Just us four?"

Nick nods. "For now, yeah. You'll meet some other later, but they're in meetings right now. Dr. Bridge is going to be here in like, a half hour or so. We can at least get through the introduction before then, and I'll just fill them in later."

The group nodded slowly, and Nick looked around at each of them. "Alright, so, you'll probably want to tell each other about the characters you made first, right?"

Elliott sat up in his chair. "Right, absolutely, sure. I'll go first. I am—

—Ser Adrian Light, a Knight Commander of the Order of Foundation Knights, and-

"You don't have to do that in character, homie," Nick said.

"Oh," Elliott replied, dropping his voice. "Well, uh, yeah, so I'm Adrian Light, and I'm a human paladin. Adrian was… one of the 'Knight Paladins' for a while, but then he got promoted for bravery and dedicated service, or something. I'm the group's leader."

"Hang on," said Vera, bristling, "Adrian is the group leader? He's a ponce! He introduced himself by saying 'Hello fair maiden' to a half-orc berserker!"

"That's not canon," Elliott responded, holding a single finger up in protest.

"Either way, Adrian doesn't strike me as the kind of character to do much leading at all. He's at a bar asking wizards to make his drink cold. He's the captain?" Vera glared at them both from across the table.

Nick snorted. "I mean, there are some politics that go into that, as well. He's from a noble house, after all."

Vera crossed her arms, defiantly. "Of course. Just more classism and racism designed to keep the little orc down."

Nick nodded. "You are seven feet tall, though. Anyway," he turned back to Elliott, "carry on."

Elliott took a drink of his own. "Right, yes, so I'm Adrian. I'm the boss around these parts. I've got pretty… pretty basic armor, and stats… I guess I'm pretty well rounded. Bonuses to some defensive stuff, I guess. Basic paladin setup, you know. Uh…" he peered over his character sheet, "oh! Right, yeah, I've got this magic sword, too. It's called 'Light', and it's the magical sword of my house, the Noble House of Light."

"And what does that sword do?" Nick said. "What makes it magic?"

"Uh… let's see. +5 melee damage against undead, gives advantage to saving throws against mind control, and… once daily I can perform an attack called 'Sophia's Light' that does… a lot of damage."

"How much?" Mary said, across the table.

Elliott studied his character sheet a moment longer. "It's… a lot."

Nick nodded. "Alright, cool. Adrian Light, paladin. Let's move on. Vera, let's hear about Ash Labelle."

Vera arranged her information neatly. "Yes. My character is Ash Labelle, and she's a half-orc berserker from somewhere called 'The Sultanate of Damascus', wherever that is. I'm pretty big, and I was once competed in a tournament and was named 'The Strongest Woman in the World', which was pretty contentious because I was a half-orc. Let's see… the berserker class gives me 'berserker's rage', which I can use at the cost of health per turn, gives me extra damage and movement… and I've got the ax! It's a, uh, it's a big ax, but it's magical. Only I can really wield it, since it's so heavy. And it has a rocket on the back, so you know, I just flick that switch and get… a bonus, or something. I can only use that once per encounter, though."

"Good, good," Nick said, folding his hands in front of him. "Mary, you're up. Let's hear about Ella."

Mary sat up, adjusting her skirt. "Right. So you all have great characters, but none of you would be anything without the wit and guile of Ella Ulrich, medical prodigy and Knight Physician extraordinaire." She paused for effect, glancing around the room expectantly. Mohammad clapped. "She's a human woman, and pretty… young… she's like eighteen-"

"Nineteen," Mohammad said. "I said nineteen so that's canon now."

"Yeah, whatever the age of consent is here. But she's fierce my dudes, and she is going to save your asses."

Nick nodded sagely. “It’s always good to have a healer, yes.” He looked down at his informatory materials, rolled a few dice, and then looked up. “Alright, you all gain a +2 intelligence modifier due to your station within the Foundation, which will be explained… shortly… as soon as you leave town.” He looked around at the players adjusting their character sheets, and as they finished up and looked up at him, he gave them an encouraging nod. When nothing happened, he gave them a more aggressive, encouraging nod. When nothing happened again, he coughed.

“You uh,” he said, hesitantly, “you can leave town now.”

“Oh!” said Elliott. “Well, then, let’s—

—get out of town, team!” Adrian says, drawing his sword in the crowded inn and pointing it towards the door. “Glory and adventure awaits!”

“Hey! Hey!” says the innkeeper from across the room. “I know we’re cool now, but don’t draw your sword in a crowded inn! That’s dangerous and you could hurt one of my patrons! My valuable, valuable patrons! The hell do you think you're doing?”

Adrian sheepishly sheathes his sword and strides quickly towards the exit, his retinue of fellows in tow. As they leave the inn, Vinzin turns around and furrows his brow.

“So uh,” he says, “where are we going?”

Suddenly, the three of them are overcome with the uncanny sense that they should be heading out of town, to the northeast, towards Castle Elmbeach.

“Alright, we get it,” Ash says, turning and heading up the street, “we’re going to the castle. Come on, kids.”

With Ash leading the pack, and Adrian, Ella, and Vinzin not far behind, the scene suddenly pans back, and then back again, until all that is visible is the countryside of the Kingdom of the Silver Coast. As it does this, a voice echoes across the land, almost like a sort of introductory voiceover, and it says the following:

”Legends say that a thousand years ago, a terrible STAR fell from the sky and threatened to destroy the world. But eight GREAT HEROES stood against the STAR with mighty COSMIC WEAPONS, slowing its impact and ultimately saving the Earth at the cost of their own lives. This event, which altered the path of history forever, is called the GREAT CALAMITY.”

”As the weakened STAR struck the world, a fierce GREY STORM was created, destroying civilizations and interfering with electromagnetism across the globe. During this time, the great vaults and prisons of the world were thrown open, loosing an army of monsters, demons and angels upon the earth. For a long while, humanity huddled in the dark places of the world, silent and fearful of the devastation above.”

”But as the STORM began to subside, and the skies began to clear, humanity emerged from their hiding places and took their first tentative steps towards civilization. As they began again, and as mankind started over after losing its history and its humanity, they were fostered by a small force of individuals who had collected knowledge of the before times, and who worked to make safe the fledgling civilization of humankind. They were the FOUNDATION KNIGHTS, an order of noble fighters and fierce warriors determined to protect the people of this new world and ensure that the disasters of old would never cripple them again.”

”Bolstered by the new powers of arcana unleashed by the fallen STAR, humanity rebuilt itself, slowly, ever under the watchful eye of the FOUNDATION and its KNIGHTS. A thousand years have passed, and now the world is controlled by vast and encompassing kingdoms and nations; the mighty CENTRALIAN EMPIRE and its ruler the IMPERIALIS REX to the west, the REPUBLIC OF EYKEYA to the north and its leader CHANCELLOR MACKENZIE, the CASPIAN STATES and their various BARONS to the east, and the immense SULTANATE OF DAMASCUS ruled by the SULTAN ORION CADENZA to the southeast, to name a few.”

”Outside of the civilized world is a planet ruined by holocaust. Dangers abound in the far corners of the world, such as the EASTLANDS, where an invisible sickness hangs in the air from a war that took place long before the GREAT CALAMITY, or the BADLANDS to the south, an entire continent broken and ruined where the STAR is said to have struck the Earth, and the LAND ACROSS THE SEA to the far west, from whence none have ever returned and every rumor speaks of untold horrors.”

”But for the civilized folk of the world, life goes on, and it does so under the watchful eye of the FOUNDATION, who continue to carry out the mission of the GREAT HEROES; to protect the world from the horrors of the unknown, even at the risk of their own lives. Guided by the mysterious and enigmatic OVERSEER and their mouthpiece, the COUNCIL, the FOUNDATION carries on, a light in the darkness.”

”You four are FOUNDATION KNIGHTS, great warriors from noble houses or humble beginnings who use their skill, cunning, and knowledge to fend off the nightmares that plague the world. You each received orders from your outpost commanders to meet in the town of Beachside in the lands of the Duke of Elmbeach, a minor lord who is part of the KINGDOM OF THE SILVER COAST, a small but influential nation to the south of the EMPIRE and the home of the secretive FOUNDATION. Once meeting at the inn with your new leader, Knight Commander Adrian Light, you were given instructions to travel to Castle Elmbeach to receive your new orders.”

”As you venture forth, you are filled with the excitement of a new journey; and though dangers and trials await you, you are emboldened with the knowledge that you are carrying on the proud tradition of great warriors before you, for you are FOUNDATION KNIGHTS!”

As Nick finished, and Mohammad, Mary and Vera all smiled at each other, the silence was shattered as Elliott opened a bag of chips and took a big, crunchy bite. As the rest of his teammates turned to glare at him, he flashed a celebratory jazz hand and smiled through a mouth full of chips.

“Yaaaay,” Adrian says, beaming. “Foundation Knights, woo.”

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