The Legacy of Heroes

Submission

WORK IN PROGRESS

As the evening takes hold over Greyhawk, the party finishes their dinner at Pimpleton Manor. Thom is first to depart and heads on foot to the Inn of the Weeping Willow. At the Inn, Thom sees his tutor berating a female student for not being as capable as Chan. Chan plays his woodwind with expert precision. “You see, this is how it is done!” The student runs out in tears and bumps into Thom.

“You don’t practice, you waste my time! You see this face? It’s an old face, and I am an old man who has little time for ill commitments!”

Thom approaches the tutor’s table. “This here is a promising new student. What’s your name again?”
“Thom Drum, sir.”
“How could I forget, Thom Drum? Would you do us the pleasure?” he asks, laying out sheet music.
Thom begrudgingly accepts and aces the foreign beat. Lactile’s brows curl up as he smirks, nodding in acknowledgment (especially when Thom hits the difficult part.) “Excellent! A novice student could never have played that. It’s a testament to this man’s dedication and craft.”

A female student in particular, a red-haired ukeleliest, has keen eyes for him. Thom notices and begins to play a charming song while reciting a romantic sonnet. He fails unfortunately, much to her amusement. “I’m sorry, I haven’t attempted acting in ages. Practice makes perfect.”
“You can thank the gods this isn’t an acting class,” Lactile interjects. “I would like to spend more time with you. Chan tells me you’re an honorable man and your skill is apparent.”
“How about some wine then?” Thom asks
“Elvish is preferred. The rest of you be gone! Except for you, Chan.” Lactile Furlo’s students exit in silence, leaving only himself and his two prized students together at a booth.

“I take it you’ve had Elvish wine before?” Lactile notes. “I’m curious about your lineage. Where did you learn these skills?”
“When I was a child, I had a master tutor.”
“What kind of upbringing did you have that would allow for such studies, Tom Drum?”
“Early on, one of constant travel. Later on, I spent my days in the high courts of Greyhawk before traveling again.”
“Now I do believe I recognize you. You’re one of the Black boys, aren’t you? That would explain the refinement and skill. Well, the secret is safe with Chan and I. Operate under a pseudonym if you must.”
Thom silently tips his glass, careful to hide any discomfort at his teacher knowing more than he’d like him to know.
“What plans do you have this evening?” Lactile asks of Thom. “If we could spend some time speaking more about musical theory? Perhaps Chan can show you some of his native skills. You’re both the most impressive in my keep. You know, you and Chan will have to determine at some point who is my star pupil.”
“No plans to speak of sir, other than perhaps earning a bit of coin.”
Thom finishes his wine. Thom decides to perform for the evening in an attempt to earn some coin, beginning with juggling. He’s shaky, but his quick recovery only causes the audience to be more roused. The house raises his rate from copper to silver for being so engaging.

Back at the manor, Moira intercepts George’s tray for Vetnik and heads upstairs to find him.
“George, just leave it at the door,” Vetnik moans.
Moira creaks the door open and enters. “It’s not George.” She enters, armorless and dressed in casual white blousy linens, with her brilliant silver sigil resting on a chain down her bust.
“I noticed you didn’t come down for dinner. You seem so upset lately. Was it Lyssa?”
“I don’t appreciate her accusatory tone. I’m a nobleman, I wouldn’t do anything to offend you or dare take advantage of you.”
“I didn’t think you would. I know you’re a good man, Vetnik. You carry pain though, it’s unnecessary. You’re one of the few people beyond Cortox that I draw strength from.”
Vetnik stays silent for a moment. “It’s hard for me to talk about things like this, my upbringing—”
“I understand. I grew up in a city with the fathers I had. You grew up in a much harsher land.”
“It wasn’t just Granrud that was harsh. I grew up in a cold kingdom.” Vetnik cuts himself off before opening up too much. The pair sit in silence on Vetnik’s bed for a moment more or two before Vetnik hands her a letter. Moira accepts it, unsure of its contents but tucks it away discreetly. As she tucks the note away, she notices something in the corner of the room.
“Are those blacksmithing tools? Is my father—“
Vetnik looks up from his crossed arms and smiles with a bit of flush to his cheeks.
“You’re my father’s apprentice in more ways than one? That’s incredibly sweet and noble.”
Moira reaches across the bed and goes to embrace Vetnik, which he opens up for without resistance.
“I’ll leave you to your dinner. We’ll speak more in the morning.”
“Thank you, Moira.”
Moira looks at the gear and smiles and the pair parts ways.

In the evening, Grum heads to the Thieves Guild. The doorman recognizes Grum, citing Thurmin’s reference, and allows him in. Grum enters and sees the slim blonde Thurmin finishing his meal at a desk. He stands to greet Grum. “Welcome back, Grum!”
“My apologies for interrupting your meal.”
“Not at all. I haven’t seen you in a while. Operating out of the city?”
“Yes, but I’m back.”
“I am duty bound to remind you that even income from outside the city is subject to guild fees, so let’s just go ahead and say that I said that”, Thurman replies with a wink
Grum smiles ever so slightly, “Of course.”
“Very good. What brings you here tonight?”
“I came to train.”
“Very well. Let’s take a walk to the bazaar, we’ll be able to find some things that only come out at night.”

As Grum and his tutor exit the guild, Thurmin looks around before reaching into his pocket. In his hand, an object reacts with a small flash before he returns it to his pocket. “You answered just as I needed you to.”
Grum looks to Thurmin confused. “It was a test and you passed. You’re here with me, and I need more men of your calibre.”
“I’m not sure I follow” Grum whispers.
“We’re going to take down the structure. Nystra is weak and obsessed, and I’m looking for strong men of principle to operate a Thieve’s Guild, not a semi-political organization. Nystra keeps robbing this city and everything around us blind.”
“Can’t say I disagree with that.”
“Right answer, brother.” Thurmin says with a smile, waving Grum on to the bazaar.
The pair of men make their way to the bazaar and Grum watches as Thurmin surveys the booths. Grum spots a goblin, a strange sight for Greyhawk.

“Ahhh… hello, Thurmin. What can I do for you today?” the small, misshapen thing says with a jagged grimace.
“Bazox, this is my brother Grum.”
“Bazox help you Grum. What you come here for?”
“What have I come for?” Grum answers nervously. “Stealth gear perhaps, something to keep me cloaked in the shadows.”
“Yes… I have something you want.” Bazox says, pushing a jar of dark liquid. “It’s dye, makes anything you drench it in blacker than night. 500 gold.”
“Ummm”
“You bring me poor student, Thurmin!”
“I’m not poor, but thats a ridiculous price for non-magical dye.”
“You need to know the rules of the bazaar after dark!”
“What else do you have?” Grum requests
“These lock picks. They’re finest quality.”
Grum inspects them and sees them to be good but not excellent quality. “Sorry, goblin. It’s not what I’m in the market for now.”
“Fah! What else you want? You know any Necromancers?”
“Um… no.”
“Bazox try to help you, what you want?”
Grum tries to haggle for the dye, but the goblin bemoans his price. “There are thieves all across the realm who want my dye! You come here and spit on my business! Bazox might as well starve tonight!”
“So, 300 gold then?”
“Eh, fine. Take it! No more poor students, Thurmin!”
Thurmin and Bazox watch as Grum unscrews the jar and dips his gloves fingers into the lightless black liquid. He pulls his fingers out and holds them up, only to see them almost vanish and blend into the shadows of the bazaar. Grum turns to Thurmin and smiles, to which Thurmin responds with a smile of his own.

At the apartment, Lyssa sees a large coiffer missing but sees nothing overturned or damaged, nor does she doesn’t notice anything pried open. She goes to the Eye of Modius and as she touches it, the orb begins to glow. Soon, the draw of the orb is all that seems to be of importance. The ornate bronze snakes that hold the orb up seem to coil underneath the orb, their gemstone eyes flickering with a red glow. Inside the orb, she sees a vision of small winged creature taking an item and leaving out of the nearby window. She begins to focus and attempt to gain more from the vision but suddenly a sharp pain cuts through her mind. With a white flash, she has an out of body flash back: she sees through Modius’s eyes him casting a spell over the winged creature, who is bound to his lab table. “I am the master, you must never forget that!” The creature groans in pained obedience. The vision cuts out and she returns to reality. She feels weakened. She quickly casts Wizard Lock on the window and casts the orb aside, which has returned to its smoky blackened state. She moves to the chest of three keepsakes and picks up the red glass dagger from Athis. As she contemplates over it, she is overwhelmed with incomprehensible memory of a dimension that shouldn’t exist, an abstract cosmic revelation seen in fragments and felt in powerful waves. The immensity of the thoughts are heavy, and while she is weakened, she realizes there is something deeper to the tales of Cortox. She sets the dagger down and takes a few much needed breaths before placing the dagger in her holster. She does one last check of the room before going to sleep. As she falls deeper into sleep, her rest becomes more fitful as visions of sand, desolation, and hardship flood her subconscious. Unrelenting heat causes her to toss and turn, sweaty through her sheets.

In the morning, the Black brothers come to the manor for a free communal breakfast. They are greeted by the entire Lyks family. Vetnik notices everyone at the table and sits across from Moira. She smiles at him, more intently than usual. He assumes she’s read the letter and suddenly becomes almost nervous.
“Weird that no one’s talking.” Trisoll breaks the silence. “What’d you do last night?”
“Made some coin at the Inn. You?” Thom replies, chowing down on eggs.
“Hung with friends at the House of Comfort.” Trisoll replies cooly.
“Trisoll! We don’t need to hear about this.” Zemilay yelps, uncomfortable by his son’s exploits.
“I didn’t go for that, father! I mean, don’t need to pay women for their company.”
“Mind your conversations more closely in front of your mother, boy.” Zemilay scolds before returning to his breakfast.
“How is tutoring going?” Zemilay asks, chasing sausage with a gulp of tea.
“Yeah, good.” Grum replies vaguely.
“I know you haven’t started with yours yet, Vetnik?”
“I haven’t felt like its the right time, sir.” Vetnik replies.
“My father will tutor him gladly, from one cavalier to another. He’ll be more than happy to pick up the sword again. It’ll be nice to have you around.” Moira responds in turn. Thom takes another sip of his morning drink, glaring at the questionable display of courtship at the table.
“What do you have planned then, Thom?” Zemilay says, noticing his expression.
“Shopping.” Thom says shortly, continuing to stuff his face.
“Anything specific?”
“Nothing particular.”
“I’ll be heading to church this afternoon, uncle. I haven’t tithed in a good while, and they could use some help with services today.” Moira announces.
“Do you need company?” Vetnik asks Moira.
“I’d like that,” Moira replies with a smile.

A knock interrupts their quiet conversation. George answers and comes back with a small letter, with a seal of Orlane addressed to Dim Razor. Zemilay laughs, “Dim Razor? Ha! You have your father’s sense of humor.”
Thom opens the letter and finds it to be correspondence from the Mayor of Orlane, Zakarias Ormond. He writes that the statue in honor of Cirilli Finla has been erected in the town square. She stands with a smile on her face and a key in hand, which is held aloft. It’s modest, but sits on a 5ft pedestal in the center of town.

Trisoll excuses himself, while Vetnik and Moira head to the church of Cortox. Grum takes the afternoon to soak his garments and armor in the uber-dark dye.

Meanwhile, Lyssa wakes up feeling oddly (but thankfully) refreshed and the apartment undisturbed. Despite feeling refreshed, her mind still races with the images and feelings the red glass dagger seemed to trigger. She is left with the feeling that all the stories she’s heard Moira tell of her god, Cortox, might actually have more merit than even the paladin knows. Looking to get out of the apartment, she makes her way to the guild.
“Who are you here to see?” the reception at the guild asks.
“Ebevaria.” Lyssa replies.
“Proceed to the sacristy. She is in her in chambers in meetings but will see you shortly.” he replies, pointing beyond the main chamber.
Lyssa finds the seating area outside Ebevaria’s offices and sits on a bench, flipping through her spell book and fiddling with her newly acquired glass dagger. Suddenly, she realizes an hour has passed and becomes impatient. She stands and puts her ear to the large wooden door. She hears the occasional growl of a large beast and realizes another 20 minutes pass. She knocks and hears no answer. Another 30 minutes pass before Lyssa slowly opens the unlocked door. She peers through the cracked door and sees the flaming silhouette of a large creature roaming about the grand office. Before she can react, a giant glowing hand of magic energy bursts through and drags Lyssa into the room.
“I am impressed. I would’ve thought you would’ve been more impatient given the stories I’ve heard about you.” Ebevaria says sitting in her chair. With a flippant wave of her hand, the glowing hand restraining Lyssa dissipates and Lyssa falls to the ground.
“Well, those stories are based on someone who was suffering from demonic possession.” Lyssa replies, sitting up.
“Oh, I know little butterfly. I’m the one who banished your ‘visitor’.”
A large glowing lion with a mane of fire sniffs and snarls around Lyssa. Lyssa reaches out and finds that the flaming mane produces no noticeable heat.
“What is it?” Lyssa asks, curious about the beast.
“Carthis? He was one of my disobedient students, little butterfly. You’ll take care not to disobey lest you end up like him.”
As Lyssa inches her hand closer, Carthis snarls in displeasure. Ebevaria snaps her fingers, a command that sends the lion strutting back to her side. “So they tell me you’ve been channeling the raw essence of magic. Misfires, mistakes. You seem to be able to cast without components and reciting magical verses.”
“It’s still happening. I thought being freed of that demon would set me right again, but I’m still—“
“Misfiring?”
“Yes.”
“Well, you’re here now, little butterfly. You are now an acolyte.”
“What does that mean?”
“You’re a student of mine, you fool! You know, little butterfly, this branch of the school would not exist if not for me. I was the first here after the White Event, and it was I who dedicated my time to understanding the wild surges and fixing broken dolls like yourself.”
“Why have you taken interest in me?”
“Ha! I haven’t. You are a favor. Thank the druid, Zemilay Lyks. It was he who requested you get some help. And all that’s required of you while you’re under my tutelage is patience… and obedience.”
“I can give you patience.”
“I demand obedience. I can turn you into a master, but to do so you will submit to me. You do not question me. I am the teacher, you are the student.”
“I guess we’ll see about that.”
Ebevaria’s calm and slightly cocky expression sours. With a snap of her finger, she silences Lyssa. As Lyssa struggles to conjure sound from her throat, Ebevaria glides over to the young mage and places her hand against her face. Lyssa feels a slight warmth under her palm before she removes her hand. “I have marked you, little butterfly. No one can see it but us. Let it serve to remind you that you are mine.” Ebevaria snaps her fingers again and choking sounds suddenly emerge from Lyssa’s mouth, the silence spell having been lifted. “Calm yourself, little butterfly. I was like you once. I understand ypur anger, it is why I provoke you. I aim to make you better than your hate,” Ebevaria remarks as she slinks back to her chair, passing her fingertips through Carthis’s fiery mane as she takes her seat.
“Fine.” Lyssa says before dashing out of the room. Outside of Ebevaria’s chamber as Lyssa makes her way out of the guild, she notices in the reflective panel in the hallway a fiery orange glowing sigil etched into her cheek. The sight of this only serves to anger Lyssa more, even provoking her to draw the glass dagger. She grips it tight in her hand and does her best to curb her temper. Once she reaches an acceptable calm, she looks into the reflective panel one last time before sheathing the dagger and stomping out of the guild.

“Your letter it surprises me to see someone so… courtly, be so bare and raw in one’s emotion” Moira comments to Vetnik as the pair walk side by side through Greyhawk towards the church of Cortox.
“Well, that was my upbringing. I had to be noble for my father, not show my feelings. But my mother nurtured me. Encouraged me to have a heart.”
“I’m glad to see that side of you. You’re a sweet man.”
“Don’t tell anyone.”
“Hahaha. Your secret is safe with me. Have you ever thought about coming to services at the church?”
“As much as I hate to decline the invitation of a beautiful woman, I’ve got enough on my plate.”
“I understand, but Cortox…”
“I know, I’m familiar with the White Event.”
“Well, there’s no need to try and be afraid or shy away from the truth.”
“I have my reasons.”
“Well, it’s a pity. Cortox loves us all.”
“It’d be a disgrace to him. I’d spend the whole sermon paying attention to you.”
Moira blushes and chuckles to herself, and the pair continue on to the church in pleasant quiet.

At the bazaar, Thom continues to look for blades and unusual weapons. There, he spies his tutor, Lactile Furlo, who appears to be poking around for things himself. Thom introduces himself.
“Hullo, Thom Drum! I take it our talk provided some insight to you. What do you seek here today? I’m here just looking for something nice.”
“I’m looking for something curious, sharp, and deadly.”
“Four eyes are better than two!”
The pair of men find mostly plain daggers, which don’t interest Thom. His hunt is for more exotic blades. Suddenly, Furlo stops Thom and pulls him towards a smaller booth operated by a small and shaggy looking gnome, much thinner than the common gnome. At the booth there’s a kettle.
“Don’t deal with the mad gnome! Look at my goods!” a nearby vendor calls out.
“This is a kettle of heating. He wants 3000 gold but we would never pay that. It’s far too much, don’t you agree Thom Drum?”
“No…no, this is a kettle of heating for 3000 gold no less!” the disheveled gnome calls out.
“Why is it worth so much?” Thom asks.
“I demand a smaller price!” Lactile interrupts, leaning in with a strange sort of charisma in his haggling.
“1000 gold!” the gnome cries out, intimidated by the old man.
“Now I think we may be speaking at a price more acceptable.” Furlo says to his pupil.
“I can’t do less than that!” the gnome informs.
“Do you have the coin on you boy?”
“No, but I do have this bracelet worth a 1000 gold.”
“What say you…?” Lactile begins, fishing for a name.
“Galbeth!” the gnome shouts.
“Galbeth, look at this fine example of craftsmanship. It’s a fine piece indeed, just look at the finery of the metalwork. And the gems! Come now, Galbeth, this is an exceptional piece and worthy of a trade.”
“Yes, yes, I will take it!” he says throwing the kettle at Lactile.
Lactile leans in and informs Thom that the kettle is no mere kettle of heating, but in reality it is a kettle of drumming. “Stretch a skin over the kettle and create the most impressively fearsome sound outdoors! This will make for a fine trophy. You come to the Inn tonight and show me what you’re made of. If your skills find favor, the kettle may be yours. A trophy!”

Vetnik heads to the Steelshaper home and finds Vortis not at home. Vetnik leaves a note for the cavalier and heads back to the manor. Once there, he finds Thom gathering drums together furiously. Vetnik comes in and asks if he needs help.
“Yes, have you seen my mother’s drums?” Thom asks rummaging through his things.
“Perhaps they’re at the warehouse. I’ll ask Master Lyks.”
“They’re the larger ones.”
“I recall, many of our bards in the North used similar drums in their acts, though they were probably much cruder than your mother’s.” Vetnik goes to see Zemilay in his office and returns to the parlor moments later with a set of keys in hand. “I’ll return soon!” Thom silently waves him off as he continues to prepare for the evening ahead.

Suddenly, the front door swings open. Seconds later, Lyssa stomps inside, the energy radiating off of her is palpable and something Thom can’t be bothered with. “Lyks!” she calls out from the foyer. Thom rolls his eyes and heads upstairs to his chambers while Xanti enters to greet the heated mage.
“No need to yell, dear.” Xanti calmly begins.
“Who are you?” Lyssa bites back.
“Dear, I am Zemilay’s wife, Xanti. You must be Lyssa, we have not been properly introduced.”
“Where is he?”
“I will take you to see him. Do know, we have not been able to see each other in many years, and in the interest of keeping a peaceful home, I will neglect to mention your acerbity as long as you come with me calmly.”
“Fine.”

Lyssa magically shuts the door behind her and Xanti takes a small breathe before calmly leading the young mage to her husband’s study. Inside, Zemilay sits with a stern look across his face.
“My love, Lyssa is here to see you.” Xanti says smiling.
“Can you give us a moment?” Lyssa asks Xanti.
“Of course,” Xanti softly replies. She kisses her husband gently on his bearded cheek and exits the study.
“What brings you here to my home, raising your voice in such—“
“Who is Ebevaria? Who have you signed me away to?!” Lyssa interrupts.
“She is a favor to you. Your powers need to be controlled and she is the best at the guild equipped to deal with you!”
“You’ve put me in the care of a mad woman! Do you see what she’s done to my face?” Lyssa says, pointing to her cheek.
Zemilay leans forward and glares. “What do you mean, child? There’s nothing on your face! Stop this boisterous nonsense! I have done you a favor and you continue to be ungrateful. Take your leave of my home and do not return until Ebevaria’s burned some sense into you.” Lyssa looks around and notices a mirror. In it, she still sees the glowing mark, which only serves to confuse and enrage her more.
“George! Grunnis!” Zemilay calls out from his seat. Moments later the study door opens again, with George Pimpleton entering and a large bear following behind.
“I don’t need to be escorted out by your lackeys.” Lyssa proclaims. As she storms out, her temperament causes all of the burning flames in the manor to be extinguished. Candles, fireplaces, lanterns, boilers and all. Zemilay remains seated and hears the front door swing open and slam shut. George and Grunnis stand in the entryway, silent and a bit stunned.

“She doesn’t know that we couldn’t be together because of her!” Zemilay mutters under his breath.
“None of them know, master.” George says, approaching and consoling Lyks. “Is there anything I can get for you.”
“A stiff drink.”
“I’ll get one for the both of us then.” George replies before he and the bear take their leave.

“Ah hell, what happened now?” Thom mutters to himself, drum in hand, as he watches Lyssa storm out of the manor, candles and lanterns extinguishing as she passes them.

Xanti enters to console her husband, who continues to sit and mull over Lyssa’s latest tantrum. “Dear, don’t let her get to you. We’re together now, it’s over.”
“It’s never over. She serves as a constant reminder.”
“My love, it’s not her who kept us apart. Only what inhabited her.”
“Every time I look at her I can’t help but be reminded of what happened, of why I spent twenty years hobbling around alone in this house, waiting for the day you’d be able to return to me!” Zemilay takes his wife’s hand and looks into her eyes. “Do you see anything for her? A glimmer of hope?”
“Her path is dark, there’s no question about it. But her anger has a base, it’s not—“
“I’m not her father, I shouldn’t have to deal with it.”
“Sadly, his burden is yours to bear. Modius was your friend, and she is his daughter. For better or worse, if you wish to do right by him—”
“For worse apparently. I pulled all the strings I could, they wouldn’t even take her if not for me!”
“I know, my love. Her life was not a good one though.”
“Nor was mine!”
Xanti sighs and continues to hold her husband’s hand in silence, comforting him.

“Thom, I can hear you out there.” Zemilay calls out, rubbing Xanti’s aged hands back.
“I don’t know what happened!” Thom says, nervously entering the study.
“Care for a drink, boy?”
George enters and slides the second drink to Thom on Zemilay’s command, and goes to the kitchen to get his own. Xanti excuses herself to join George but not before leaving Zemilay with another kiss to the cheek.
“Where is your brother?” Zemilay asks.
“Not sure. Sleeping?”
“I take it you saw Lyssa storm out of here? ”
“Yes, and take the candle flames with her.”
“Bah! Impetuous girl. She comes here accusing me of leaving her in incapable hands at the Mage’s Guild. They weren’t even going to take her in! They are accepting new students all of the time, and she was only one they were hesitant on. I had to pull many a favor for her!”
“Well that’s her loss then.” Thom says, sipping on brandywine.
“I don’t need children yelling at me for the favors I extend to them.”
“Then put her down, let her know who’s in charge. Or let it blow over like her other fits.”
“Sage advice, you’re sound like a father. You’ve adventured with her, what were your dealings like with her.”
“Hmph. I suppose it’s like… sometimes you have to let a bear be a bear. I just give her my distance and my respect.”
“But she respects no one!”
“I don’t seek her respect. I only seek her skills in dire times and ask her share of the load. Instead of pointing her at my friends, I point her at my enemies.”
Trisoll enters the study unannounced. “What’s going on?”
“Lyssa stopped by and decided she had it in her to throw another one of her fits and curse at me.”
“Wow… she’s got balls.”
“It’s a child’s temper. One that will have George spending the rest of the afternoon relighting all of my fires around the house.”
“Sounds like she’s just expressing herself. In her own heated way.”
“Well, she can express herself elsewhere. I refuse to deal with it until she can behave like a sane woman.”
“Ok dad, I’ll stop by the apartment and have a talk with her,” Trisoll obliges.
Thom takes another sip of his wine before speaking up again. “I have to say, there isn’t much that unnerves me, but demons… that’s a part of her life I don’t envy.”
“Can we not talk of demons.” Zemilay curtly asks. “I’ve had my fill of them for a lifetime.”
As Zemilay takes another drink, Trisoll leans over to Thom. “I’ll tell you about it later.” Trisoll looks behind Thom and sees a set of drums plus a variety of sticks. “What are you doing with all those?”
“Oh, I’m having a drum off tonight!” Thom reveals.
“Oooh, can I go to the drum off first? Before I head to Lyssa’s?” Trisoll begs of his father.
“Why wouldn’t I let you? You’re not being sent to task to see Lyssa. As a matter of fact, I’d love to come cheer you on as well, Thom. It’s been far too long since Xanti and I have been out for an evening, we could use a change of scenery for a bit.”

As Thom finishes packing up, Moira and Vetnik return separately. Vetnik returns with Silhouette’s drums while Moira returns from her afternoon at the church of Cortox.
“Is this what you were looking for?” Vetnik asks. Thom finishes up casting a ritual spell over himself, Cat’s Grace, and eagerly welcomes the cavalier in. “Yes!” he replies as he places his drumsticks in his quiver. He changes into his drumming uniform, an ornately embroidered silk robe and headband.

“This is so exciting. How did you get to be a part of this drum off?”
“I went shopping, ran into my mentor. Had some cash to buy him a magic item and he decided to put it up as a prize between me and his other prized pupil.”
“What’s the prize?”
“Kettle of drumming. It’s supposed to be pretty effective outdoors.”
“If I were to extend Cortox’s blessing to you, would that be cheating?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Well, the offer is on the table.”

Later at the Inn, the crowd cheers as Thom marches in in drumming garb and masses of drums. Thom goes first, battling first against a student of lesser ability. He drums an impressive beat. Thom steps up and plays the snare part to Greyhawk’s Anthem. His opponent struggles to keep up with Thom’s abilities. The student picks up his momentum and gives the performance of his career. Furlow asks the men to create their own coda, but Thom manages to smoke him. Thom shakes his hand and his opponent is gentlemanly in his loss. Meanwhile, Chan slays his opponent with ease and grace. It was no competition for him at all.

The matchup between Chan and Thom is tense. The first measure, Chan enchants the audience but the second measure isn’t executed as deftly. Thom gets the edge in the second and the third, he begins to juggle his sticks against the drum in a display of showmanship. It’s enough to ignite the patrons and fellow students. Even Zemilay and Xanti are cheering, holding each others arms, the happiest anyone in the party has seen Zemilay. Thom finishes with the end of the piece, closing tightly and cleanly. He rouses the other musicians to follow suit. Even Chan, whose is both humbled and impressed by Thom’s skill, begins to drum with Thom and the competition soon turns into a celebration. Moira runs over and gives Thom a kiss on the cheek. Vetnik picks Thom up and lifts him above the crowd while Lactile comes over and hands him the kettle. Thom takes Vetnik’s ale from him and chugs while lifting the kettle above his head in triumph!

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