Everquest: Online Adventures
DESTINY'S REVIVAL: THE STORIES OF THE MOUNTAINHIGH MARAUDERS
By Eric 'Erico' Lawson
As Recounted by Brindlehurst Forgelin
Glimspitter's Pub, Moradhim, Norrath
Many patrons came through Glimspitter's swinging doors, and the short statured barkeep fancied himself a bit of a social creature because of that. He was also an avid collector of stories, having heard some real and some abnormally inaccurate in his time. Liquor not only freed the spirit, the Dwarven pubmaster reminded himself, it loosened the lips. And, he chuckled, it loosened other things as well. His wife would waste little time in smacking him in the face with another frying pan, should he ever dare to bring up that little memory around her. She had been adamant that their daughter should not grow up knowing that she was conceived on a keg of triple distilled brandy.
Today had been quiet so far; things would pick up when the light of the sun died down and the element of society called 'adventurers' sought out refuge from the darkness and a warm meal and camraderie. Right now, there were only a few patrons, all of them regulars. Sergeant Gordison, over by the door, snuck glances out of the window every now and then in the direction of his post, trying to rush through his midday meal as quickly as possible. Felthion Lightleaf, an Elf seemingly out of sorts in the rugged hills of Moradhim, was also feasting, but on a lighter meal of barbecued goose, slowly taking his time as even during lunch, he hummed a melody to himself.
And then Glimspitter looked to a table in the very back corner of his pub, where a figure in dirty and wrinkled holy vestments calmly sat nursing a glass of ale darker than his beard, with the near empty bottle standing beside it. Glimspitter had to shake his head; of all the regulars he suffered, the one in the corner was the worst. He'd gone days without brushing his thick brown beard out, and there was a smell that pervaded around him despite his supposed holy aura.
More like an aura of rotten onions, the barkeep snorted to himself.
Every day, it was the same thing. The man would walk in, stumbling along with his wooden crook in hand and order a bottle of ale and an empty glass. This had been the pattern for the last month, and Glimspitter was beginning to wonder if he subsisted on anything else but the spirits he bought daily. He always left by midafternoon, not to return until the next lunch, always looking for more punishment.
He was already starting to look a bit woozy...then again, he hadn't taken his time today like he usually did. The constitution of a Dwarf could only be stretched so far, even for one as hardy as him.
The door to the pub opened up, allowing a new figure entry. Glimspitter blinked a few times, as did his first two patrons, at the newcomer's approach. It was a Halfling...an even stranger sight around these parts. Not unheard of, but...well, rare.
The male Halfling leaned his battle axe against the bar, then removed his slightly dented helmet as well. "It's been a long journey..." He grumbled to himself, reaching for his moneybag and pouring out a few tunar. "I'd appreciate something cool to drink, if you have it."
Glimspitter nodded and pulled the tunar back, reaching for an empty glass and a bottle of chilled summer wine in one smooth motion. The Halfling downed it slowly, savoring the mellow flavor before smiling. "Aah, now that felt good." He slid a few more tunar across the counter and leaned in closer, having little difficulty across the lowered surface. "Now then, for my other thirst...I'm looking for somebody. Perhaps you could help me?"
Glimspitter leaned in closer, his eyes widening as the Halfling whispered a name. Slowly, he pointed to the back corner, where the grungy looking Dwarf wobbled back and forth in his seat, between a state of sleep and awake.
The Halfling frowned. "You're positive...?" Glimspitter nodded.
"Aye, that'd be him, all right."
"Hmm. He's even worse off than I thought he'd be." The Halfling grumbled. He stepped down from the bar and strolled over to the table.
The Dwarf was barely aware of a presence coming until it spoke in a clear and concise tone, questioning. "Are you...Brindlehurst Forgelin?"
Eye bloodshot from weeks of alcohol abuse, the Dwarf looked up, trying to focus on the newcomer, able to, with some minor discomfort, focus enough to identify the stranger as a person about as short as a Dwarf, but not a Dwarf.
"Brindlehurst..." He said, his voice cracking after finally being used. "Aye, ye've got him." Borren noticed the dark black eyepatch that covered the space where his left eye would have been...he made a note of it before moving on.
The Halfling nodded. "Good...for a moment, I thought my search was in vain. My name is Borren, Priest Forgelin."
"No." Brindlehurst grumbled, shaking his head back and forth, trying to ignore the sensation of sudden vertigo. Damn, maybe he had gone through his drinks too fast... "I'm not a Cleric, Mr. Borren. I haven't been one...for some time now."
Borren pressed his lips together. "Now that was a shame...Maybe I have the wrong Brindlehurst. The Brindlehurst I've been told about was a strong-willed and stouthearted Dwarf with a fire that burned in his belly."
"And who's been feeding ye that nonsense, eh?" Brindlehurst chuckled slowly, shaking his muddled head, finally succeeding in clearing his thoughts somewhat.
"A friend of yours, I believe...a Gnome by the name of Bordapinch. Bordapinch Lochlinski."
"BORDAPINCH?!" Brindlehurst exclaimed, looking up at Borren with his full attention for the first time. "You know me old mate Bordapinch, do ye? How is that little firecracker faring these days?"
"Oh, he's doing just fine." Borren said, nodding his head. "Local concerns have kept him busy at Klick'Anon, but that's the price of being a Wizard, I suppose."
"Aye." Brindlehurst groused. "He always went running home at the first call." He looked back down to his drink. "So, then. Me old pal Bord told you about me. And you decided to come out all this way to...to what? Swap stories?"
"Not exactly." Borren said, flexing his knuckles. "See, I belong to a...certain group that's just started up. We're out to make our names known, snag some loot, and become famous."
"That sounds about right." Brindlehurst mused. "A guild then, are ye? What do ye'all call yerselves?"
"We're known as the Mountainhigh Marauders." Borren explained. "A coalition of Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes out to prove that even those of short stature can make a name for themselves in this world."
"Quite an ambitious goal." Brindlehurst nodded, lifting his glass. "I'll drink to your success then."
Borren didn't look appeased as the Dwarf downed the last of his spirits. "I didn't come here for your approval, Brindlehurst. I came here for you."
Brindlehurst laughed at that, slamming his empty glass onto the table. "Ach. Don't tell a Dwarf stupid jokes when he's drunk, it only makes them funnier and he never remembers them afterwards."
"I'm serious, Brindlehurst. As a Cleric, you have incredible abilities that could be vital in helping us. Most of us are more martially inclined...we need somebody watching our backs, making sure that we don't croak out there because some meandering beast wanders by and interrupts a battle."
Brindlehurst rocked back and forth in his seat. "I used to...but not anymore, Borren. You're looking for a Brindlehurst that doesn't exist now. I gave up the life of a Cleric, and I can barely recite my incantations and spells anymore." He looked up at Borren. "I'd be of little use to ye. You're better off without having to worry about a member in your group that can barely pull his own weight."
At that, Borren's face softened. "Brindlehurst...you haven't moved on, have you?"
Brindlehurst Forgelin said nothing.
"Look, it wasn't your fault...I know what happened during that raid. Your brother was a fine fellow, and he fought his best...but those Orcs were too much even for you." Borren continued. "It wasn't your fault. The scouts dragged you back from there, and you were totally exhausted...you had no mana left in you at all. You had used everything you had trying to keep your brother Bramblehurst alive, and it still wasn't enough. I know it hurts...but you have to move on."
Brindlehurst's puffy eye began to water. "Me brudder...I couldn't even save me own brudder...They never did find his body, you know. Those accursed Orcs had to have dragged him off..." He sniffled for a moment and shook his head. "No, I'm not what you're looking for. You want somebody who's still got something left to offer."
Borren folded his arms. "So that's it then, is it? You're just going to sit here and what, drink the rest of your life away by poisoning your liver?"
"At least nobody will die because of my weaknesses." Brindehurst countered. "And we Dwarves don't die by the flagon. You should know that." He turned away from Borren, facing the wall. "I can't in good conscience take you up on your offer, Master Borren. You're better off getting a Cleric from my temple who is younger, more full of the stuff of life."
"Your beard isn't that gray." Borren snapped. "But if that's really the way you feel about it, then maybe I have wasted my time in coming here. I was looking for a Brindlehurst whom I had heard could cure any disease, could tend to any wound, and could, even in the darkest moments of battle, give his teammates the stamina and courage to live another morning." Borren shook his head and turned away. "Instead, I find a drunk who buries his problems in a tavern, wasting the rest of his life in self pity and self induced stupor. It is a good thing that you aren't the same Brindlehurst spoken of so highly by Bordapinch; I think your brother, were he still alive, would be ashamed to be related to such a waste of life."
"DAMN YOU!!" Brindlehurst roared, hurling his empty glass across the room. His vision was hardly as good as it could have been, so it sailed harmlessly past Borren and through the open window, shattering out in the street. Borren paused for a moment, then calmly went to the bar and retrieved his helmet, putting it back on.
"I will be doing a few errands here in town yet today, Mr. Forgelin. Should you find it in your heart to finally move on...You can find me by Coachman Doba. I will wait until five tonight before returning to Rivervale and the rest of my teammates."
He gave the bartender Glimspitter another nod, then grabbed his battle axe and strolled outside without further pause. The bartender watched him go out a fair distance and turn towards the entrance to the city, then looked to Brindlehurst.
"You know, that fella did have a good point, Brind." Glimspitter said softly. "I've never found it to be particularly helpful to any man to sit around all day and just wait for death to claim him. Especially with what you're capable of."
"What I used to be capable of." Brindlehurst replied dourly. "Back...back when me brudder Bramble was still around."
"What you're still capable of." Felthion spoke up, shaking his head. "These are harsh times, Master Dwarf, of that make no mistake. That is why it is so important that those of us in this land of Norrath that are capable of changing it for the better...must."
"Aye, that's what Bramble always said!" Brindlehurst shouted bitterly. "And look where it got him! Dead, killed, kidnapped, the devil if I know what!"
"So now you're telling me you're afraid of death, Brind, is that it?" Glimspitter retorted. "Funny, I've never thought that us Dwarves could be cowards."
"You take that back, Glim, or I'll have your beard for me breakfast..."
"Comment aside, my point is simple." Glimspitter shot back, interrupting Brind's angry brewing rage. "Your brother never once backed down from a fight. He may have come back with a bloodied nose, a puffed up eye, maybe even bruises or a broken bone to show for it. But he never quit, Brind. And there was a time you used to never quit either."
Finally, sense made some headway into Brindlehurst's addled brain. "Aye..." He looked up at Glim. "So then, what are you trying to tell me? That I should forego everything...everyone...I've ever known...and go chasing this Borren fella on his crazy crew's gallivanting?"
"I've noticed an aura of guilt around you for many a day now." Felthion spoke up again, looking to the bartender apologetically for the interjection. "Guilt is not healthy, by any measure of my experience. If, for nothing else...look on this as a chance to cleanse yourself of that guilt, and to finally finish your grieving. You alone emerged from that ambush, and though there was a time to grieve for your lost brother, it has long since passed."
"The Elf's got a point, Brind." Glimspitter agreed quickly. "Bramble would never forgive any of us if we just let you sit around here and mope forever. And he would never stand for it himself. Seeing as he's not around to beat some sense into you, I'll do it myself; get your tubbish little ass out of me pub, and get back out there. Look at this...as your penance. All you religious fellas are big on that sort of thing anyway."
"Penance..." Brindlehurst slowly mulled over.
His eye brightened up as he clenched a fist and put it against his chest. "Aye...Bramble wouldn't give up either." He glanced around the room. "There was a time that the name Forgelin stood for something in these hills."
Brindlehurst stood up and wiped a last bit of alcoholic foam from his beard, his brown eye shining through his stupor with a newfound sense of purpose.
"It's high time it did again."
Coachman Doba, Later That Evening
Borren the Halfling Warrior glanced about, watching all sorts of people wander by. Mostly, it was the Barbarians from the North and Dwarves, with a few rarer exceptions. But as the sun dipped even lower and signaled the destined hour, his rounded features fell. No sign of Brindlehurst at all...
"I suppose his sorrow runs too deep for any person to pull him from." Borren murmured softly, turning about and walking for the stables behind Doba, where his steed was waiting for him.
Before he could open his mouth to speak, he felt a strange impact hit against the back of his helmet with a shattering sound, stunned as a shower of glass exploded behind him as well as underfoot. And then came a whistle, so loud it was meant solely for gaining his attention.
He turned around, a little surprised to see Brindlehurst standing thirty feet up the road from him, lofting a second glass tankard from hand to hand with a bemused expression upon his rosy, but no longer intoxicated, face.
"Brindlehurst, you came!"
"Aye, I was wondering when you'd notice." Brindlehurst said with a gruff smile. "Too bad, though...I was looking forward to throwing the second at ye. Oh well..." He reached behind him and unslung a massive leather backpack, loosening the knot and putting the glassware away.
Borren looked at him closely; before him stood a completely different man. His beard, once unkempt had been thoroughly groomed and trimmed, his hair had been braided, and his Cleric's robes and vestments had been cleaned and polished to a new day shine. Most importantly, the thick mace that dangled from his waist looked fully ready for action, and underneath Brind's sleeves, Borren could see the faintest hint of a lining of chain mail.
"I apologize for keeping ye waiting, laddie." Brindlehurst said, walking towards him. "But I thought to mahself, if I was really going to go through with this, then it had best be in style."
"Do you have everything you need, Master Forgelin?"
"Aye." Brindlehurst responded, motioning to his backpack. "I've forgotten most of me spells, so I had to go and buy the scrolls again until I get 'em all rememorized, that was the main thing. And...I had to get this."
He turned around and hefted his backpack up, allowing Borren to catch a glimpse of metal underneath, scabbard and sword.
"It was me brudder's." Brindlehurst said softly. "Though I can't use it meself...Bramble always said that Orcsbane...that its' name, ye see...was happiest in battle. It was all that was left...after I lost him."
"Are you going to be all right?" Borren prodded. Brindlehurst nodded, his eye shining.
"Aye. I'll have to be twice the Forgelin I ever was to make up for the both of us, but I'll be fine. And who knows? Maybe some day, I'll find somebody deserving enough of Orcsbane that I can give up my charge to it."
"One can hope." Borren said with a smile. He turned towards the stables. "Come then. I have a steed waiting for you."
"Very well." Brindlehurst said with a faint chuckle, bounding up beside Borren and prodding him in the shoulder. "Say, this Rivervale...where we're going?"
"Does it have many taverns? I'm feeling a wee thirsty for some sacramental wines."
Borren tried not to roll his eyes. "Brindlehurst, my good Dwarf, you're going to fit right in."
Those passing by the small entry point to Moradhim as the two unlikely associates rode out into the night could have sworn they heard the beginnings of an unusual uptempo melody being hummed by the Cleric. They also would say later in Glimspitter's tavern that the Halfling with him was trying his best not to become too annoyed.