This Friday, March 03, 2017, Tales of Arete, a short story collection for the Chronicles of Aerthe RPG by Rogue Blade Games and Feral Games, Inc., debuts in .PDF on DriveThruRPG.com when DriveThruRPG approves of our .PDF, which at the time of this edit (10pm EDT Friday, March 03,2017) was still pending.
It was my pleasure to join Rogue Blade Games in time to contribute a story to this collection and to be brought onto the team as their editor. After the successful kickstarter campaign for The Chronicles of Aerthe last year, getting this collection out to help players explore the setting through this stories was our top priority.
While Tales of Arete doesn’t release for a couple more days, I’d like to whet your appetite with both this teaser snippet of the art for my short story, “Uncommon Ground,” and an excerpt as well. Let me say it another way: I’m so excited, I “EE!”d at the art.
In “Uncommon Ground” a grizzled captain of militant religious order is on a mission with a few trusted men to trade a valuable smuggler for members of the Faith. However, because the smuggler’s destination is controlled by a rival faction, his guildmates harangue the militia men through Arete’s beautiful environs. This story aims to share a compelling adventure while exploring relations, politics, and features of the Chronicles of Aerthe RPG. And now, without further ado, an excerpt for you:
A Chronicles of Aerthe Tale
By Christopher T Nugent
Hrongar Lief, a captain of the Faith, yanked the iron chain running from his hand to shackles around the thin wrists of his prisoner, a Souran male from the House of Beggars in Ravenholme. “Pay attention, Peet. The smuggler’s horse is wandering. You keep her straight, Son.”
“Apologies, Captain.” Peet, who was one five guards present on this mission, moved his mount toward Hrongar’s, guiding the prisoner’s horse in closer as well. “The mind wanders on a long road, Sir.”
Hrongar tightened his grip on the prisoner’s chain rather than voice his frustration. “Keep your eyes on the path and Faith on your mind. Vigilance is the key to a long life of service.”
Shen, youngest of the group and barely out of training for the Faith’s militia, asked, “How much farther, Captain? Feeling mighty bum-sore, Sir.”
A couple of the other guards chuckled behind Hrongar, but he ignored them. “If we push past sunset, we’ll reach the halfway point between Fell-Gate and the free city of Ravenholme.”
Their prisoner, known only as Vinn, chimed in, “You really think Ravenites will give you shelter, Human? My guildmates will find me long before that.”
Hrongar grunted and shook his head. He focused on the road, which was little more than a wide dirt trail packed by cross-continental wagon trading. “Not going to Ravenholme. Just heading that way.”
But Vinn talked over Hrongar as if the smuggler’s words demanded the attention of all living creatures within earshot of him, “But even if my guildmates don’t, Ravenites would never challenge the House of Beggars. Our services are too valuable to the free cities.”
“You talk too much,” one of the other guards said. Hrongar glanced back to see Jorg bump his horse against Vinn’s. The militia man tore a pair of tinted goggles from the Soura’s light-sensitive eyes. “Keep your yap shut the rest of the day, and I might give these back.”
Vinn curled over the horn of his saddle, writhing to cover his eyes with his hands, which were bound to the horn by the iron chain Hrongar held. The Soura grit his teeth after a few moments of uncontrollable wailing. “Give them back now, or I’ll wail and carry-on until every breathing thing in the region knows where we are. This is swear, Human.”
“Jorg.” Hrongar turned his horse around. “Return the prisoner’s goggles. Direct sunlight damages Souran eyes, and we’ve been ordered to deliver him to the leader of Sinfria City unharmed.”
“What?” Vinn looked up, squinting past the tears watering one eye. “You didn’t say anything about Sinfria. They’ve got a price on my beautiful head.”
Hrongar scoffed. “We know. The Faith negotiated to get back several of our kidnapped missionaries from the free city in exchange for handing you over.” He gestured to the goggles in Jorg’s hand. “Alive and well. That’s the deal.”
“Sure.” Vinn accepted his goggles and fumbled through pulling them on with his hands stuck at waist height. “Rexxon only wants me alive so he can look me in the eye when he pulls out my entrails with his hands. You’re leading me to my death, Human.”