Son Tower, the Mad Mage of Palmia, could not get the memory of Arark out of his head. The way she wielded her sword. The way she leapt and dodged the blows from that adamantine golem. The way she rescued him from that pack of Tyrannosaurs. He had to see her again! Before she had left, Son Tower had showered Arark with gifts and trinkets. Nothing too impressive, but hopefully enough to remember him by.
“Will I see you again?” he had asked.
“I’m sure our paths will cross again,” she’d replied with a smile. “North Tyris is not such a big country.”
But it was big. And it was deadly. And Son Tower hated the idea that he would have to face it without her.
For a few months, it was business as usual for Son Tower and his enterprising band of misfits. Escorting wealthy individuals along the dangerous highways, doing a few procurement jobs, massacring drunken revellers. Son Tower had even managed to topple a few bastions of chaos, though nothing of the magnitude that he’d been able to with Arark’s help. But it was paying the bills and refilling the coffers that the swordmaiden had emptied. Tower had even managed to amass enough platinum that he could finally be done with the Thieves guild. Being taught how to steal and disarm traps had been useful tidbits that could help him in some of the sticky situations he’d gotten himself in, but Tower was a magus at heart (though his band of merry maidens often worked more magic with steel and gunpowder than he with his tricks) and the great library in Lumiest was calling to him.
Forfeiting his right to call himself a thieves guild “thug”, Son Tower dropped off a sizable donation of occult literature he had been translating, hoping that the Mages of Lumiest might welcome a dangerous freak such as himself. Entry qualifications are rather harsh and demanding, however, so it might be awhile before his membership actually came through.
Before leaving the city, Son Tower decided that he would ask around about Arark. Had anyone seen her since they parted ways? He couldn’t hold against her that even she hadn’t been able to kill that damnable Golden Bell. Did she hold it against him? He hoped not as he stopped off at adventure office near the Pub.
He’d never asked after the other adventurers in North Tyris. He knew that there were individuals who kept track of them (whether for tax purposes or something else, he wasn’t sure; the information was generally provided free of cost to the public), but until now, he’d never had a reason to ask.
“Excuse me,” Son asked hesitantly, “I was wondering if I could see the roster of sanctioned adventurers registed in the kingdom.”
“Knock yourself out.” A surly gentleman in exquisite blue finery handed Son tower a list of several dozen names with locations written beside them. The Kingdom’s top diviners tracked the activities of all sanctioned adventurers and fed that information out to the adventure offices in cities around the kingdom. Whether they liked it or not, adventurers had to accept the fact that the Kingdom knew where they were at all times, and anyone wanting to hire them on had the opportunity to find them.
Son Tower began by looking at the bottom of the list and scanned upward. About 10 names up the list, Son Tower saw himself, smirking that he’d managed to keep such a relatively low profile while amassing such wealth. His flippant attitude towards certain work had likely been a contributing factor, but the last thing he wanted was renown. The higher your name was on the list, the more people were out there looking for your head, if not your help.
Son kept scanning upward, but could not see the name of the lady whom he sought. Until he reached the top, that is. There, at the very top of the list, Son Tower saw the name of his beloved Arark. She was considered (officially by the Palmian government) the most powerful, most successful, and most sought after adventurer in all of North Tyris, and he had fallen in love with her! And she was at the Palmian Embassy!
“That’s near my holdings!” Son Tower cried. Indeed, Son Tower had carefully established his lands in highly desirable plains between the Capital and the government office complex (likely the real seat of authority in North Tyris) just to the north of Palmia.
It would take him a few days to reach his home from Lumiest, so Son Tower set out at once. Unfortunately, he would prove to be too late. Arark’s business at the Embassy was likely brief, perhaps just paying taxes on her various incomes which, judging by her contract price, must have been substantial indeed.
Surely she couldn’t have gone far, though, Son thought. Maybe she was still in Palmia?
Son Tower immediately raced south, stopping only briefly at his home to drop off a few things and gather what cash and light-weight valuables he could. Once within the walls of Palmia, Tower made a bee-line for the local adventurers’ office.
“Tell me!” Son demanded excitedly as he barged in. “Is there a swordmaiden named Arark in town? I have to know!”
“Easy, there!” an attendant checked him. “You can see the list and look for yourself, just like everybody else.”
Son eagerly and violently grabbed the scroll from the attendant. Top of the list: Arark – location: Palmia.
“She’s here! She’s here!” Son jumped for joy. “Oh, no! I… I need to get some gold, fast!”
The sad reality was, even if there was something between Son Tower and Arark, she was way out of his league. She was the most sought after hero in all of North Tyris. There was no way that she’d just give that up to live with him and go tagging along with him into boring muddly little holes. She was the sort of woman who wanted real adventure, to laugh at danger, and to swim in the mountains of wealth and treasure that being the number one adventurer in Tyris had made her accustomed to.
The one way he could for certain get her to spend time with him on his terms was to sign her on for another contract. They’d have all week to talk about things, kill monsters and bathe in their hoardes of treasure. He knew that she’d like at least two of those things. Hopefully all three. They HAD hit it off the first time they talked when she stopped by his estate to pay her respects to one of Palmia’s up and coming nobles. He tried to deny that it had anything to do with the fantastic sword she carried. But if he didn’t genuinely care about her, why did he help her uncurse that stupid tower shield she’d been stuck with? Yes, he cared about HER, not the sword. It was HER that saved him from… how many dinosaurs was it? Three, at least. Not the sword.
As the most sought after adventurer in North Tyris, Arark’s contract was not cheap. The kingdom made sure of that, especially since they wanted their piece of it. Son Tower would need to make a lot of money and quickly while Arark was still in town.
“I have no idea what these are for,” Son mumbled to himself looking over the several dozen scrolls of wonder and oracle he’d been keeping for just such an occassion. “Some wizard I am…”
It took stopping at nearly every merchant in Palmia, selling almost everything magical of substantial value he had. He briefly wondered what effect his action must behaving on Palmia’s economy, having taken over one hundred thousand gold out of the hands of the capital’s merchants in a single day.
“Please let her still be here…” Son whispered over and over as he hurriedly looked about the city for the object of his desire. She was not in the palace plaza, nor in any of the shops, nor the temple, nor the inns, nor the pubs. Arark seemed to have vanished. Earlier in the day, Son Tower had seen her gazing into one of the fountains in the main square, but he had been afraid to approach her.
Son was forced to ask around. Yes, she was still in town, but no one had seen her. He was about to leave in desperation, when walking down an alley in the southeast residential district, Son saw the pale face, framed by flaxen hair, of a woman in white.
The woman gave Son a quizzical look before a smile of recognition broke on her lips. “Son Tower? Is that you? How are you!”
Arark bid Son come into the small house outside which she had been standing.
“I’m staying here while I’m in Palmia,” Arark explained. “What have you been up to?”
“Oh, well, a little of this and that.”
“Adventuring? Anything real exciting?”
“Some. Nothing like some of the stuff we faced, though.”
“I know! I mean, who would have thought that dragons hunt in packs? And those minotaurs?”
“Oh, yeah, who could forget?”
“Actually, Arark,” Son Tower swallowed hard, trying to quell the nervousness that was building in his stomach. “That’s kind of what I wanted to talk with you about. I have a job that I’d like to hire you on…”
Arark and Son Tower are on their way to another level 30+ dungeon. While Arark will have no trouble here, it might be a bit of a struggle for Son Tower to stay alive while winning over the affections of his beloved.