“The Spoony Bard?” asked Shamira Galen as she stood before her employer's desk. They were in the city of Malkia, the a decently-sized port town in the country of Thidol. More specifically, they were in the office of Vincent Regule, head of a treasure-hunting organization known as the Rune Seekers. The organization constantly contracted mercenaries and other freelance opportunists that could be of use when searching for lost treasures. Hence why Shamira and four others stood before Vincent at the moment.
Shamira was a tall woman with a strong body, which wasn't a bit shock since she was a mercenary swordsman. She had long, flowing green hair which she had up in a lady-warrior ponytail with eyes that matched in color. She wore a flowing blue warrior dress, a simple and loose piece of clothing for easily movement. Around her waist was a leather belt that held her prized sword, the hilt of which her hand constantly rested on.
Beside Shamira stood Karen Mayberry, a skilled hunter and tracker. She was a blond with hair that hung freely and somewhat wildly, and possessed a pair of vibrant purple eyes. Her wore a white blouse with a short black shirt, all complimented by a brown cloak. Bulging out from behind her was a quiver of arrows, her bow strapped to the back of her belt.
Behind the two more eager hires was Praya Seraph, a traveling cleric. She had a more relaxed demeanor and possessed light blue hair which was weaved into a pair of pigtails as well as sparkling yellow eyes that seemed almost hypnotic. Having taken a vow of poverty, she wore a simple while dress with quite a few stitches and a brown cloak similar to the one Karen wore. Her staff, a wooden one made of oak, was held calmly in her right hand.
The last female in the group was Neylyn Hansvere, an outcast magician who'd gained that title by her ability to constantly miscast spells. She had jet-black hair which was loose and wavy as well as cool brown eyes. She wore a dark leather shirt which didn't cover her stomach and sported a red cape that was strapped to the shoulders. A skirt of the same material complimented the shirt, as did the black lipstick she wore and the long gloves on her arms. Believing herself to be an excellent sorceress, Neylyn carried no weapon, merely a small book of spells in a pouch on her belt.
Finally there was Jason Flayne, a known expert on archeology and dungeons. He had a shock of spiky brown hair and blue eyes which seemed a bit out of place on his bland face. He wore a green shirt with no sleeves, brown slacks, a red cloak and a pair of brown gloves. While not a talented warrior, he did carry a light mace and a couple of daggers on his belt.
“Yes, the Spoony Bard,” repeated Vincent, resting his chin on his interlocked hands as he sat at his desk. “Known for somehow always escaping danger. It was said he was once cornered by over a dozen armed guards but then somehow vanished. He hadn't been seen weaving any sort of spell, he'd just vanished instantly. It's believed that this tomb where he buried himself contains the answer to the mysteries surrounding him. I want you five to go to where it's supposed to be and bring back whatever you can.”
“I'm fine with that,” piped up Jason.
“You can count on me,” Karen said next.
“It'll be my pleasure,” added Neylyn. Praya merely nodded.
“Sure, sounds easy enough,” agreed Shamira.
“Excellent,” said Vincent, quite pleased. He reached into a drawer and produced a map, which he handed to Shamira. “You've got the most practical experience, so you'll be in charge,” Vincent announced. “However, Karen and Jason both have of some knowledge for navigating these sorts of places that you should take into account, and Neylyn and Praya both have abilities that could help counter any magic you may encounter. Good luck.”
* * *
The journey to the tomb hadn't been a long one, at least in terms of actual time. It had seemed much longer for all the members of the group save Neylyn, who'd spent the whole time complaining about why she'd been outcast. On more than one occasion Praya had even tried to use a sleep spell on the young witch, but it had granted them only a few minutes of peace until Neylyn had awoken and promptly continued as if nothing had happened. Shamira had been the most annoyed by the girl's prattling, as she was driving the wagon and couldn't go and hit the girl until she stayed silent.
The tomb of the Spoony Bard looked relatively unimpressive at first glance. It was a set of stone stairs leading up into a carefully designed entrance of some sort of unnatural cave. Jason declared that it was all made of marble, which just made everyone all the more impressed. Still, it seemed odd that no one had gone in during its entire existence. It was true that it was hidden somewhat by the trees of the forest that were next to the hill, but even surely someone else would of dared to explore it at some point...
“Alright, let's go,” declared Shamira. It had been decided that Karen, being the most experienced with traps, would lead, with Jason and Shamira behind her and Neylyn and finally Praya covering behind. For light they had torches, but Praya had also taken the time cast a spell that would allow them all to see in the dark as well as they could outside. With no other preparations needed, the group entered the tomb.
“Thanks again for that spell,” Jason said a few moments later as the group continued down the passage. Praya's magic had worked and they could all see very clearly, the room seemingly illuminated as if the walls were made of glass and they let the sunlight shine in. Dust and cobwebs were naturally present, as were the occasional insect. Looking further down they could see what looked like a junction.
“I do what is needed,” replied Praya, her voice aloof.
“You know, I could of cast a spell too...” muttered Neylyn, clearly upset that she didn't get to demonstrate her power. The others in the group, save Praya, suppressed the urge to groan.
Sure enough, after two minutes of walking the path forked to the left and to the right. Glancing down both passages, the group could see that either way looked appealing. “Should we split up?” asked Karen.
“It could be dangerous, but I think we can handle that,” agreed Shamira. “Jason, Praya and myself will take the right path. You and Neylyn take the left. We'll meet back here in a few minutes, whether we've gone as far as we can or not.” Karen again resisted the urge to groan, as she was going to be paired with the annoying sorceress. Shamira felt sorry for her companion, but was just glad to be rid of the headache, even if it was for a few minutes.
With Praya leading the way, since she could sense any magical oddities, the group made their way down the passage. As they went deeper and deeper the party became more and more on edge, sometimes even fingering items that hung from their belts in anticipation of some sort of attack. Fortunately, nothing happened.
Just as Shamira considered calling for them to turn back, she spotted an exit up ahead. “Let's check that out,” she said, and the others agreed. Moving cautiously, the trio entered the room at the end of the hall. It turned out to be a simple square room with four small tables in the center. On one sat a book, another a pile of coins. On the third sat a pile of jewels, and on the last one sat some necklaces and other jewelry. It seemed to be the Spoony Bard's lost treasure.
“I sense nothing wrong,” announced Praya. “These objects should be safe to handle.” Taking that as a good sign, the three immediately began to study their find. Shamira began to examine the jewels while Praya opened the book. Jason, not interested in the coins, decided to have a look at the jewelry. The scholar shuffled through them until he came across a simple silver ring that had some sort of emblem on it. After glancing around and seeing the others were occupied with their own tables, Jason decided to presumptuously slip the ring on.
As Jason admired the decoration on his finger he got a better look at the emblem. “Is that a... spoon?” he muttered. As soon as he finished speaking Jason suddenly could of sworn he'd felt a breeze. It was then that the room suddenly became quiet. Curious, Jason looked over at Shamira. The warrior stood there, holding a handful of jewels in one hand and holding another up to her eye with the other hand. This didn't seem odd at first until Jason noticed that she remained that way for more than a few seconds, completely unmoving.
Confused, Jason turned to look at Praya. She held the tome in her hands, her staff leaning against the table. However, she was in the middle of turning the page with her left hand, and had apparently stopped in the middle of that action. Jason didn't understand. In curiosity he walked over to the cleric and finished turning the page for her. Praya's hand remained where it was as if the page was still there, though she was now turning nothing but air. Her face showed no reaction to this. It was as if she'd suddenly turned into a statue, though she looked normal, albeit a bit stiff.
Now greatly alarmed, Jason put his hands to Praya's face and lifted her head back up so she was looking straight ahead. She had the same glazed look on her face and remained completely motionless on her own. “What the heck...?” gasped Jason. He snatched the book from the cleric's other hand and put it on the table. The woman's hand remained where it was, just like the page-turning one had. In a desperate search for a response, Jason reached out and pinched the woman's arm. No reaction at all.
Baffled, Jason drifted over to Shamira, who stood just as motionless as Praya, still intently examining the jewel in her hand. Deciding to be a little more bold in his attempts to find out if they still had any conscious reaction to his actions, Jason casually grabbed Shamira's rear and squeezed. Just like Praya, there was no reaction. They both appeared to simply be frozen.
Concluding that he'd somehow just stopped time, Jason decided to experiment some more. He plucked the jewel from Shamira's hand and let go. The jewel hung in the air, right where it had been when Jason had let go of it. Now Jason was certain it was like a time-stop spell, which only elite wizards could cast. Next Jason casually flicked at the small pile of jewel's in Shamira's other hand. The gems hit by his finger moved, but promptly stopped when the push from his finger stopped, suspended in mid-air.
Having solved the mystery of what had happened, Jason realized he had no clue how to make time start again. The scholar attempted to think of what he'd been doing when it had happened, but his thoughts instead drifted to Shamira's ass and how nice it had felt. Giving into temptation once more he groped the woman's behind with one hand while his other hand stroked her face. Jason, despite his better judgment, would get lost in this and proceed to feel up the warrior for a couple of minutes, at least by his estimate. Finally realizing he should try to fix the situation, he ceased his erotic play after planting one final kiss on Shamira's lips.
Deciding that the tome the bard had left would probably be the key to his questions, he picked up the volume and flipped it open, discovering to his annoyance that he'd have to completely turn a page himself, rather than letting gravity do it for him. Then realizing he could let the book sit in mid-air, Jason let go and began to read.
If you are reading this it means that you've either overcome my traps or they've worn away somehow. Regardless, you've stumbled across one of the greatest treasure collections of all, collected by me, the Spoony Bard. Besides the jewels, jewelery, gold and other valuables, this book and my magic ring are also great treasures, though the ring is perhaps one of the greatest relics of our time.
The Spoony Ring, from which I gained my name, possesses a great deal of enchantments that shall not fade for millenniums. The power comes from a great battle that took place between the Time Wizard Spoonius and the Arch Wizard Yerzel. The two dueled for days and nights until at at last Yerzel managed to trap Spoonius inside a simple silver ring. Unfortunately Yerzel had also managed to get himself caught in the spell and both were sealed away. Given the odd emblem that appeared on the ring I decided to call myself the Spoony Bard by combining characters from the two names.
I spent several years solving the secrets of the ring. By saying the word 'spoon' I discovered I could stop time. To start time again you must say 'ius', as apparently to recite only part of the wizard's name unleashes a fraction of his power. Similarly, by saying 'Yer,' whoever you say it to while wearing the ring will take whatever you say next as a command. To stop commanding them, say 'Zel.' I also discovered you can combine these spells together, though you must start time again for the mind control to take effect...
The ring's third power of which I've discovered was actually the one I discovered first. By saying the name of a wizard in full you can unleash a different spell for each. 'Spoonius' will cause time to merely slow down, and to fix it you must merely say the word again. By simply saying 'faster' or 'slower' you can change how fast the flow of time is, and like with the other spell stop it by saying 'stop.' You can also make time flow faster than normal, though until you say the main word again time will not go back to normal.
The second Yerzel spell will create a shield that can reflect a single spell back at the original caster. This applies to more than just typical wizard spells too, but magic caused by monsters.
That is all the secrets that this book contains. The spells that have no doubt consumed the poor souls that entered before you were not cast by me, I'm afraid. Still, you should have a bit more gold to work with than when I first got this ring...
Finished reading, Jason couldn't believe it. Just like that he'd become one of the most powerful magicians in the world! He now had a new respect for the Spoony Bard, and considered what to do with his new powers. That's when he realized what had been said about traps... Neylyn and Karen had gone down the other passage!
Relaxing upon remembering that time was stopped, Jason took time to think about his next move. Ultimately he gathered up what treasures he could and stuffed them into his pouches, as well as tucking the book into his waistband. Next he took Praya's staff and wrapped her fingers around it, ensuring she had a grip on the item. Jason then proceeded to tip Praya over, causing her to hover in the air, her feet no longer touching the ground. The scholar quickly did the same with Shamira and proceeded to drag them through the air by their arms. The move proved to be fairly easy.
A short time later Jason had entered the alternate path, along with his frozen companions, and soon found his missing allies. Neylyn and Karen both stood in the center of the passageway, fixed in place. However, they were not only immobile because Jason had stopped time, but because they were no longer flesh and blood. Instead the bodies of the two women, their clothing included, now appeared to be solid gold.
Leaving Shamira and Praya behind, Jason carefully walked up to the pair and saw that the tile they stood on had been lowered slightly. Choosing to not touch it, Jason instead reached out and pulled the two golden statues off of the tile. The floor panel did not shift, but Jason figured it would when he started time again. Neylyn and Karen had both been caught in casual walking poses, one foot in front, the other lifted. One arm forward, one arm backwards. Neylyn's mouth was open, though that didn't surprise Jason one bit. “I guess we've got some extra trophies now,” muttered Jason.
Deciding no more could be done with time stopped, Jason first reposed Praya and Shamira so they now stood in the hallway, their arms at their sides and their legs spread evenly. Recalling the trick to controlling minds, Jason decided to give it a try. “Yer,” said Jason. “Shamira and Praya, you will both remember me volunteering to carry our prizes and have no problem with that. You will also remember coming back down the hall to find these two.” Jason stopped for a moment, contemplating whether or not to add more. “You will both enjoy my company no matter what. Zel.” His spell finished, Jason proceeded to place Neylyn and Karen so they faced the other two women and then picked a spot for himself to stand. “Ius!” shouted Jason.
All at once Shamira and Praya began to move, walking up to the two statues. “What sorcery could do this?!” cursed Shamira, looking somewhat sad as she touched the face of the golden Neylyn. “I should not of suggested splitting up...”
“If you hadn't we'd of all become like they are,” pointed out Praya in her usual neutral voice. She studied Karen for a moment. “I believe I can restore them with my magic. However, after I do this I suggest we return to the Rune Seekers with what we have found. It could prove too dangerous to continue.”
“I agree,” chimed in Jason.
“Alright, then lets get on with it,” said Shamira.
* * *
Hours later the party had returned Malkia, all members in the flesh and fully mobile. With Praya and Shamira backing him up, Jason had found it easy to convince Karen and Neylyn to leave with what they had. Jason had to admit he was glad Praya was able to restore them, as both were valuable allies. In fact, they'd be quite valuable for the plan Jason had cooked up...
The group returned to the Rune Seekers office and went straight to see Vincent. As he was the local overseer for the organization, he also would be a key part in his plan. Jason and the rest of the party entered the office after knocking, Shamira standing at the front. “We've returned from the ruins,” she told Vincent flatly.
“Oh good, here I was worried you'd returned from the pub,” chuckled Vincent. “So what did you manage to find?”
“Spoon!” shouted Jason as Shamira opened her mouth to reply. Instantly all sound faded away as everyone in the room was rendered motionless. Jason smiled to himself. “Yer,” he said next as he walked over to Vincent's desk. “Vincent, you've decided to break away from the Rune Seekers and form a new guild. You'll use the treasures from our recent venture to fund this. Since I found the treasure, you'll give me the position of benefactor, making me your overseer, though you handle the day to day jobs as normal. The new guild will by called the Spoony Bard guild, and you'll like it.”
Jason next faced the four frozen women. “You four, Shamira, Praya, Karen and Neylyn, will all join the guild and act as permanent members. You'll all enjoy working with us and be happy to do as we order. You'll also remember that you were all turned into gold statues and I saved you with my magic. I also found the treasure thus I should get the credit for the quest.” Jason paused and eyed Shamira. “You'll all be fond of me to the level that you're eager to kiss me when we're alone.” Jason then glanced at Vincent. “Ah... Karen, you'll also be in love with Vincent. Vincent, you'll be fine with knowing that I fool around with them in private. Whether or not you love Karen will be up to you. Oh, and you'll call in other Rune Seekers members later so we can tell them about our plans for the Spoony Bard.” Chuckling at what he'd just created, Jason sat on the corner of the desk and leaned back. “This is going to be fun...”
the Spoony Bard guild gets their first big mission when the Princess of Thidol goes missing! Will the guild be able to find her?