Tag Archives: D&D

Tik – The Heroes are Born® – A Zelda Fan Fic

“Tikkonetitarius, wake up. It’s time again to save the world.” The beautiful, female voice carried almost as if being sung. “Hyrule needs your help again. You must join the heroes meeting in Kakariko Village.”

A bright light dimmed and Tikkonetitarius could see again. The Light Wizzrobe’s large, yellow eyes blinked from beneath his large-brimmed wizard hat as he sat up and looked at his surroundings. It’d been years since he had seen the world, and everything felt like the first experience again. Though somewhere deep down, all things still felt as though they were presently as they once were before. He looked down as he ran his hand across the soft forest floor.

Grass, Tikkonetitarius thought. Light broke through the treetops in soft rays and wisps floated around him as he rubbed the spot beneath his eyes where his nose would be (Light Wizzrobes, being magical beings, had no features to their pure black faces), sniffed his glove, and looked upward. Sky. As the Cleric stood, the bottom of his oversized robes fell to the soft forest floor. He dusted them off and looked around once more. Trees. Birds. Music?

The Light Wizzrobe took up his staff and began following the sound. He ducked his head under a log and came out into a meadow where a small figure danced about on a stump, it’s body facing the other way and beautiful music coming from the flute pressed to its lips. Tikkonetitarius drew closer cautiously, not wanting to disturb the young child, but needing to understand… remember… what the creature was and why it was carrying on so.

A few steps from the log, though, Tikkonetitarius stepped on a twig, and the small creature looked over its shoulder at him. It too had yellow eyes with a beak and wooden features to its face. Before the Light Wizzrobe could get a better look, it vanished.

“Why are you following me?” a voice with the sound of a young child echoed in the meadow.

“Not following. Just looking.” Tikkonetitarius responded as he looked about, a magical energy carried on his voice.

“Are you looking for a friend?”

Tikkonetitarius nodded. “Friends are good.”

Chirps and woodland sounds echoed about him and leaves carried on the soft Spring breeze as the Light Wizzrobe waited patiently for a response. Suddenly leaves began whirling about another nearby stump and the small creature reappeared, this time donning a mask in the shape of a skull. An ominous look, but Tikkonetitarius was more intrigued than frightened.

“I love friends,” it replied. “I am Neci.”

“Oh yes. Neci is a Skull Kid. Tikkonetitarius is my name.”

The skull kid cocked his head to the side. “That’s a long name. I’ll call you Tik.”

“Tik… Tik likes this name.”

“Do you want to play a game, Tik?”

“Oh no time for games. Tik must go to Kakariko Village to meet the Heroes.”

“There’s always time for games. Catch me if you can!” The skull kid’s voice trailed off as he disappeared once again.

Tik scratched his head before shrugging and making his way back through the forest. He didn’t want to leave his new friend alone, but he had been summoned to do a very specific job. And he couldn’t be late to meet the heroes. As he walked through the forest, though, he began to notice that every path he took brought him back to the stump where Neci had been playing his flute. After a few attempts to leave the woods, he finally stopped and looked around trying to discern which way he had and hadn’t been.

“You aren’t trying to leave before our game is over, are you? I told you there is always time for games. Come find me!”

Tik listened closely and determined where the voice was coming from. He understood now that the skull kid had enchanted the forest, his memory of the woodland race coming back to him, and that he would have to find him to leave. Skull kids were known for their persistence.

The Light Wizzrobe rushed in the direction that he heard the voice and the bottoms of his eyes lifted as he grinned when he heard frantic footsteps heading away from him. Suddenly he heard a thump and a yelp before the skull kid came back into visibility. His mask skipped across the forest floor.

“Ow! You made me trip!” Neci said holding his shin.

Tik felt terrible. He didn’t mean to hurt his new friend. The Cleric walked over with a sympathetic look in his eyes and put his hand on the small abrasion on Neci’s leg. A light shone from underneath his glove and when he pulled his hand away, the cut was gone.

“You healed me. Thank you, Tik.”

“Neci is welcome. Tik won the game, so Tik must be going now.”

The skull kid frowned with a look of acceptance. “Well, okay. But you have to take a gift to remember me and all the fun we had.” Neci stood and spun in a circle before vanishing in another rush of wind. He left behind a small jar with a blue fire dancing about inside. When Tik picked up the jar, the flame began moving in a soothing and measured pattern.

“It likes you, Tik. You’re a good person. Have fun on your adventure!”

The bottom of Tik’s eyes raised in a smile for a moment, but then he realized that he was still unsure of which way to go. Flickering light from the bottle caught his attention as the flame began to dance more erratically. Once his focus was on the object, it pressed against the side of the glass toward a path through the trees. For reasons unknown to him, Tik knew that the flame was showing him the way out of the forest.

After following the flame’s directions for a few short moments, Tik was in Hyrule Field. The Light Wizzrobe was relieved to have made it out of the forest so quickly and happy to have made a friend. He pulled the trinket into his robes and looked around for something to indicate civilization.

Strangely, everything seemed familiar to Tik. The roads, the trees, and even the rocks. Some things had obviously changed with time; the tree beside the boulder had decayed with age, the road had been freshly covered with gravel. After glancing about for a bit, though, he knew where to go.

“Tik is close to Kakariko, and close to Heroes.”

The trip to the village was short and peaceful. Tik used the time to conjure up old memories of times when he had helped the Hero of Time in the past. His favorite memory hung most dearly in his mind. The time was from his last incarnation when the Hero was flanked by two powerful foes and Tik used his magic to command the Darknut that was about to attack him from behind to drop its weapon. The Hero was saved and the Triforce secured once more.

The Light Wizzrobe sighed happily. Soon he was standing at the gateway to the village. He took a deep breath as he looked at the sign overhead before he entered. Tikkonetitarius was beginning the journey to fulfill his purpose once again. And this filled him with joy.

Cade: The Dragon’s Thief – A D&D Origin Story ®

We’ll never find one in this insufferable forest, the illithid thought, its gurgling voice resounding in its mind as it pervaded even the disgusting creature’s inner-voice. I’ve walked these trails numerous times. The only things here for one to find are trees and simple creatures.

The monster raised its slimy arm up to its octopus-shaped head as it attempted to block the Sun’s harsh rays from damaging its sight. Having lived in a cave for the past century, Gorkil had grown accustomed to darkness. Only on rare occasions did he venture out of the seclusion of his home. Often it was at night and at the bidding of its master, as was the case in this instance. But now morning was breaking, and it was forced to decide on calling it another failed mission, and risk the wrath of its master, or force itself to continue the search for another hour or two.

Bah. Gorkil trudged on as the sun began to pour through the trees around him in rays of warm light. This morning did bring it one comfort: The dew of the forest was moistening the monster’s skin whereas it would normally have to journey into a dampened part of its home cave to take a dip in a pool of cold, still water. This was preferable it decided.

Birds chirped as they scattered away when Gorkil crossed into a secluded meadow in the wood. Its frustration was peaking as it stopped to sit on a log; its final rest before exiting the forest. It’s apparent that this day will be unfruitful as well. I can’t face another failure. My calming spells will only work for so long before Zuulnok’s rage is beyond my capabilities to quell, or before he begins to become wise to my enchantments.

Suddenly it sat up straight as it picked up an impression in its mind. The illithid was able to call on its psychological powers to read other’s thoughts. This was what gave Gorkil its value with its master, and quite possibly the only reason it was still alive. The creature followed the waves in its concentration to a small hole at the bottom of a tree in the grassy area and pulled an animal out of the opening.

Gorkil let out a gurgly chuckle as it lifted a squealing raccoon up to meet its gaze, the animal clawing defiantly at the monster. This one. Yes, this one is no simple beast. The nasty tentacles from its mouth-area wriggled with joy as it realized its task had been complete.

I can read your thoughts, little one. Gorkil spoke telepathically to the raccoon causing it to pause its efforts to break free. You are only a few years away from realizing your true nature.

The illithid turned and looked back toward the mountain it called home, the forest it had roamed sitting snuggly at the mound’s base. It sent a telepathic message back to its commander, the ruler of the mountain. The simple message: I have found it. In just a few seconds the rocks shook and the ground quaked. A mighty rush of wind bent the tree tops as the massive creature took flight.

Gorkil laughed as he gave a final message to the poor creature before telekinetically raising him above the treetops: It’s time for you to meet your new master. The raccoon was only visible to the illithid for a moment longer before a giant shadow raced over him. When the shade passed, the animal was gone.

The raccoon’s eyes went wide as he looked upon his new owner. A mighty dragon held the animal up to his eyes as he inspected the creature with skepticism, its scaly fist tight around him. The sun reflected brightly off of its red scales as its massive wings beat back and forth, keeping it aloft.

“You are certain this thing is what we are looking for?” Zuulnok asked, his mighty voice booming loudly over the forest.

Gorkil sent its master the impressions it had received from the animal telepathically, reassuring him of its certainty. Satisfied with what he had received, Zuulnok gave a toothy grin and with a few beats of his massive wings returned home.

As if to further assure its master, and thus secure its life, Gorkil answered Zuulnok’s question in his mind. Yes, Mighty One. That one is what we are looking for. That one is… Hengeyokai!
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“Oi. Ye forgot ta take a bath again, didn’t ye?” a disgruntled dwarf asked his partner as they stood guard at the royal vault. “Ye filthy goblin’s kin. I can smell ye from all the way o’er ‘ere!”

“Leave me alone, Ovund. Me wife’s been hoggin’ the tub.”

“No excuse, Farmin. Get yer smellin’ caboose in there, or ye’ll be pullin’ this shift alone.”

As the two continued to bicker back and forth, a shadowy figure watched, crouched on a ledge above. A flicker of light caught the grin of the furry humanoid as he drank in the chaos. I sense a bit of hostility between these two. If I can just drop a match in this powder keg…

The creature lifted his hand with his first two fingers extended and as he waved them to the side, Farmin swung the blunt side of his axe into Ovund’s head, sending his helmet flying to the ground. Ovund’s face turned as red as his beard as he glared at the other dwarf.

“Ovund… I… I dinna know what happened.”

“Ye smacked me with yer axe, that’s what happened! C’mere ye stinkin’…” He threw his axe and shield to the ground as he threw a punch into Farmin’s face. After falling prone, the dwarf came to his feet in full assault. He couldn’t have convinced Ovund that he hadn’t been the one to make that swing, but that thought wasn’t in his infuriated mind at this time anyway. Both dwarves came in with matched fury as they pummeled each other with heavy blows.

Had the sound of their quarrel not drowned it out, they would have heard the snickering of the mischievous creature that watched on at the events he had set… or coerced in motion. He sat back in a relaxed position as the fight raged on, one leg kicking lazily over the ledge. As Farmin finally fell to the ground unconscious, he thought, And now we have our lucky victor.

The humanoid leapt into a flip and landed a few feet away from Ovund. The dwarf, panting from the exhausting battle, wiped the blood from his lip and with a confused look on his face, asked, “What are ye about? A raccoon man? State yer business!”

Cade bowed dramatically before the dwarf, his black and gray striped tail going into the air behind him. “I am here to collect something in that vault, kind dwarf. Now your commander has told me to ask you to unlock this door for me and you are report to him immediately.” A grin spread across his face as the dwarf looked back at him stupidly.

“Yes. Yes, of course.” Ovund pulled his keys from his belt, unlocked the vault door, and marched past Cade, unable to disbelieve what he had heard. With a smile and a salute to the perplexed guard, the thief adjusted the strap of his bag and marched into the room.

“I bet you’re wondering how I did all of that,” Cade says looking at you. “You see, that raccoon in the beginning of the story, that was me. I was whisked away by an evil dragon before I could turn into this form and be trained to be his numero uno thief. Hengeyokai live their first hundred years in their animal form. Now I’m 135, and don’t look a day past 120, so I can stand here and talk with you.

“That nasty creature with the calamari lips at the beginning of the story, that was Gorkil. He gave me these powers so I could do his master’s evil bidding. Whatever. I get to control people’s minds and take all of their valuables. I can’t complain.

“Oh. How am I talking to you right now? You see, Mystics (that’s what I am) can see more of the world than most everyone else. I happen to know that you are reading this right now and imagining what this mission must have been like in your mind’s eye. Shame on you! Don’t you have your own life to live?”

Perhaps you should get back to your quest, Cade? Your spell, Occluded Mind, only lasts for 5 minutes after all.

“Alright. Keep your skirt on, Princess.”

Cade stepped into a glittering room filled with mounds of gold, gems, and magical items. Any normal thief would have been taken back by the sheer amount of wealth and begun immediately lining their pockets. Cade just shrugged as this wasn’t his first burglary, and that wasn’t his primary objective. He was here for the pseudodragon statue. (Though a few baubles would likely end up in his Bag of Holding)

The thief looked around the room for a moment before his eyes fixated on his target. It sat on a pedestal at the back of the room inside of a glass dome. “Convenient how they always put these things in plain view, huh?” He walked up and looked over the glass suspiciously. Dwarves have a tendency to put protective runes on their most treasured belongings, but that didn’t seem to be the case here. “I guess they thought it was well enough protected. Wrong again!” Cade lifted the casing gingerly and sat it on the floor to the side.

“Easy enough.” After inspecting the statuette and placing it in his bag, the Hengeyokai replaced the glass and turned about to leave, dusting his hands in apparent victory. He stopped quickly as he saw his way blocked by a handful of dwarves, one an angry-looking king. The effect of his charm having worn off of Ovund before he reached his destination, he quickly alerted the king to what had happened to him; a variable Cade hadn’t planned on.

“Hey, so I made a mistake. Shozar makes mistakes too. The common denominator is our creator. Namely you, Shawn.”

Watch it, raccoon, or I’ll give the dwarves magical swords and shields.

“Easy. I’m just making a statement.”

“Ye think ye’ll be taking all me gold, eh?” The king shouted approaching the would-be thief.

“Relax, Puffy, your gold is safe. I’m just here for this.” Cade pulls the statuette from his bag and dangles it in front of the dwarf’s face. As the king reaches to grab it from him, the thief quickly pulls it away. “Ah, ah, ah.”

The troublesome Hengeyokai’s characteristic grin spreads across his face as a thought comes to mind. Any rational person would hand the item over and beg for their life. Even in Cade’s situation where his punishment might be worse from the dragon having returned empty-handed from the mission, a person would be inclined to hide the object and try to escape. But Cade couldn’t resist the temptation to swindle those in power. It was a bane that had almost cost him his life more than once. But he chose to entertain the urge once again.

“Tell you what, Kingy,” he says as he pulls some dice from his bag. “You beat me in a game of dice, and I’ll give you everything in this bag. I win, I keep the statuette and walk free… with a couple handfuls of treasure.”

Now King Dorgrim had the obvious advantage with more men and the exit blocked, but Cade had his focus on his Conquering Mind discipline. This made him more persuasive than the average person. Still, the king was no fool. Cade could see the dwarf had his doubts. With a quick shift of his gaze to one of his lackeys he forced him to coerce the king.

“Do it, Yer Majesty. Ye can whip this idjit. It’s just dice.”

“Quiet. Of course I can.” The king raised his brow as he looked back to Cade inquisitively. With a smile, the thief waved the statue in one hand and the dice in the other. “Bah. Let’s get on with it.”

They sat on the ground with their legs crossed as Cade sat the statuette on one side of their playing area. “We’ll put your statue over here.” He acted like he was setting something invisible on the other side. “And my freedom over here.” With an outstretched hand, he offered the dice to the king first. “House starts?”

Dorgrim snatched the dice from his hand and scowled as he shook them about next to his ear to test their authenticity. Cade smiled knowingly causing the king humph as he tossed them tumbling about to the floor. The bone dice bounced about as the dwarves watched on with wide eyes until they finally came to a stop.

“Ha. Eleven,” Dorgrim said, crossing his arms confidently. His guards behind him hooted and high-fived at their king’s apparent victory.

“Wow. I don’t know how I’ll beat that,” Cade said with feigned resignation as he grabbed the dice from the ground. What Dorgrim didn’t see, though, was his switching the dice out for a pair that was rolled up in his pant legs. A special pair.

Cade rolled the dice around in his hand for a moment before throwing them to the ground. The dwarves watched the dice with excitement while he watched the short, bearded folk with a mischievous grin. After bouncing and rolling, the dice fell and the dwarves’ mouths fell open.

“Twelve?!” Dorgrim asked angrily.

“Well, would you look at that. I did roll a twelve. Lucky me.”

The king reached for the statue, but Cade was quicker, snatching it first and tossing it into his bag. “Give it back, ye filthy…” Dorgrim growled.

“Yer Majesty,” one dwarf stopped the king with a hand on his shoulder. “Ye gave yer word.”

The king scowled at the Hengeyokai for a moment, before waving his men to the side. The one thing a dwarf values more than treasure is his honor. Cade stood and bowed low before scooping a couple of handfuls of treasure into his bag and trotting happily out of the room. The dwarves watched with animosity as their prized possession waltzed away before their eyes, unable to do a thing about it.

Now to get back to ol’ Fire Lips, Cade thought as he walked on with a smile.

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Cade’s knee was beginning to become sore from sitting knelt over for so long. A large, golden, reptilian eye peered down on him, its gaze felt like an anvil sitting on his back. Zuulnok had already been debriefed on Cade’s mission and had been given all of the stolen merchandise. But he was a fickle dragon, and the Hengeyokai had lied to him more than once. A foolish feat that the mischievous creature couldn’t resist from time to time.

Cade had to hide the disdain from his eyes as he looked over at Gorkil standing fat with complacency next to his master. The illithid could read his thoughts and would be more than happy to convey them to Zuulnok to ensure Cade’s punishment as he had displayed before. Even now he could feel the mental probing from the disgusting creature. The thief’s powers were growing stronger, though. He was able to resist more and more of the intrusions, but the dragon had grown wise to that too. Hence the need for this silent interrogation.

With a deep sigh, Zuulnok laid his head back on a mound of gold, confident Cade hadn’t hidden anything from him. “You may go, my Hengeyokai. Return when you have pilfered more treasure for my hoard.”

Cade held back a sneer as he stood at attention, turned in place, and walked toward the exit of the giant, glittering treasure room. His shadow flickered amongst the baubles as the purple light from the brazier by Zuulnok, the one that was used to summon Gorkil, danced about giving little light to the area. The world seemed to brighten around him as he felt the tingling sensation of the illithid’s probing powers leave his mind.

Finally. I’m starting to think that squid gets a little too much enjoyment from hanging out in my thoughts. Guess it’s to make up for a lack of having his own.

As he rounded a massive pillar, a glinting light passing over his face caught his eye. He stopped and looked down at the curious, white light peaking through a pile of gold. With a quick glance in both directions, he knelt down and dug away the treasure covering the object and lifted it up for inspection. It seemed to be a simple orb made of brass, but it was covered with strange runes that had oddly stopped glowing when the object was dug out. The mischievous Hengeyokai grinned as he looked around once more to ensure no one was watching before stuffing it in his bag and walking out of the treasure hall. The thief had little use for the piece, but he was intrigued and it took little to convince him to take something for himself.

Within moments of the piece of treasure leaving his trove, Zuulnok’s eye shot open, his ears flipped up, and he raised his massive head. Fire leapt from his nostrils as he realized something from his collection had been removed.

You dare to steal from the mighty Zuulnok, thief?!?!

Cade stopped with a leg raised at the thundering sound of his master’s voice. He had thought taking a simple little object from such a massive trove would go unnoticed by the beast, but a dragon’s sense of what is in its hoard is uncanny. They know everything down to the value of what is there… or in this case what is missing.

“Well that would have been nice to know before now.”

You didn’t ask.

“You’re writing this thing; you should have told me!”

Aren’t you the psychic here?

“Whatever. Just get me out of this mess.”

Realizing that giving the object back now would do nothing to sate the monster’s rage, Cade broke out in a dash toward the exit. Now was as good of a time as any to make a break for his freedom. He didn’t know where he would go once he got out, where he could hide from a red dragon, but he knew he had to get out of this cave and away from this mountain. He ran down long corridors and avoided as many large rooms as he could to stay out of the dragon’s sight. The ominous sounds of the beating of huge leather wings, the rush of the wind from beneath them, and the angry roars of the betrayed dragon drove him harder into his escape.

When Cade could finally see the daylight in a door across the final room of the complex, he saw a flicker of orange light on a beam ahead of him. The thief quickly plastered himself against the wall inside his tunnel just before the flames entered that would have burnt him to a crisp. When the fiery attack stopped and he looked back into the room, he saw Gorkil standing in a tunnel above with a smug grin on his putrid face. Or as much of a grin as an octopus-mouthed creature could have.

The calamari tracked me! He’s gonna regret that.

The ground shook as Zuulnok landed with his face in the opening of the tunnel, rage burning in his eyes. Smoke barreled from his nostrils indicating another fiery breath attack and Cade reacted before he could think. With a leap he mounted the dragon’s snout and rushed up along his back, his speed augmented by his powers. “This is stupid, this is stupid, this is stupid.” Zuulnok reached back and snapped at the thief, but Cade had jumped from his back and was descending toward the tunnel Gorkil was in.

The illithid wore an expression of terror as it rushed to fire off a mental attack. Cade could feel the pain onset of the ability, but it was too late; he was already airborne. He drew back his fist and threw a strong punch into Gorkil’s squishy head, sending the unconscious creature to the floor.

You can’t escape, Cade! There is nowhere in the realms you can go that I won’t find you!

The speed-enhanced thief rushed out of the door and down the side of the mountain as he looked frantically for some avenue of escape. A few cities dotted the green landscape. He considered them as a hideout for a moment, but he knew they would soon be incinerated by the outraged monster. A guilty thought that he had to bury for now. Then he saw a fishing boat passing on the river below.

If anything is going to give me a chance at putting some distance between us, it’s that. It will take him an hour to get out of that mountain. But I doubt the humans onboard the ship will be comfortable around a raccoon-man. Cade paused for just a few moments and grunted as his body contorted. He got down on all fours as he shifted back into a regular raccoon. With a chittering noise, he ran on down to where a portion of the mountain overhung the river. As the boat passed underneath, he leapt onto the back and crawled into a barrel unnoticed.

Inside his hiding place, the fat, little raccoon was delighted to see that he was sitting on a shipment of nuts. They won’t miss a few of these. He grinned and rubbed his belly as he tossed a handful in his mouth. Though the thief was happy to be alive, he couldn’t help but shutter as he heard the angry roar of Zuulnok one last time before the dragon came out of his cave.  He would have to find a location to hide, and fast.

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“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Cade said as he slammed his fists on the table before him. “I got everything you asked for: The gold, the weapons, even the Cloak of Disguise. You said you’d let me join if I brought you this stuff.”

A half-orc dressed in fine clothes sat smiling smugly across his fine, wooden desk at the Hengeyokai. Light from a nearby candle gleamed from his gold tooth against the soft light of the room. “Did I?” Torg asked, putting his boots up on the desk. “Well the terms have changed. We need another hunnerd gold and another of them magicky items if you want to join the guild.”

“That wasn’t the deal, Torg,” Cade said through gritted teeth, his rage beginning to boil over.

“Like I said, deal’s changed.”

The psion raised a brow as he began focusing his powers of the mind on the half-orc. His determination to ‘persuade’ Torg was only fueled when the creature’s grin deepened at the recognition of what Cade was attempting. Torg let out a bellowing laugh that startled his two kobald henchmen guarding the door behind Cade. The half-orc held up a stubby finger with a ring sitting just past his first knuckle.

“I heared o’ you before ya came, Psion. This thing’ll keep ya outta my head.” Torg slammed his fist down on the table, his demeanor quickly shifting to anger. “So don’t go gettin’ any ideas!” As rapidly as he became mad, he relaxed back into his smug attitude as he leaned back in his chair once more. “Now if ya don’t mind, I got things to do. So take the offer or leave it, but it’s time for ya ta go.”

With a snap of his fingers the half-orc commanded the two kobalds to ‘help’ Cade out. As they began to move toward him, though, the psion’s scowl deepened, his gaze remaining on Torg, and one of the small reptiles rammed its crude spear into its partner’s neck. It looked helplessly at the blood on the end of its weapon as if it didn’t know what had happened but a glowing dagger quickly embedded itself in the unfortunate creature’s forehead, replacing the look with one of pain.

As Cade gave an angered glare to Torg, the half-orc’s expression went from shock to amusement. He laughed with his belly jiggling before setting a dangerous gaze on the Hengeyokai. “You wanna try that with me?”

Cade drew his other dagger and brought it across in an attack on Torg. The half-orc was able to get his hand up between them just in time for the blade to slice off his finger. With a grin, the thief lifted the severed appendage and removed the Ring of Mind Shielding from it. “Thanks, Greeny. If I’m not going to be able to join your crew, I’ll at least get something out of all of this.”

Torg’s chair flew into the wall as he stood and swung his axe at Cade. With a simple leap, the nimble thief soared over the attack. Upon landing, he grabbed the bag with the items stolen for the half-orc, and with amplified speed, burst through the door.

Torg roared in the distance behind Cade as he threw his desk out of his way and charged after him. With a glance over his shoulder, the thief couldn’t help but chuckle at the sudden turn of events. That smile quickly vanished when he looked back forward and came to a screeching halt before a monstrous being ahead. He scratched his nose when the hair from the minotaur’s chest tickled it as he looked up to see its hideous snarl.

“A little on the stinky side, friend. You might try bathing once in awhile.”

Dropping to the floor, Cade dodged the minotaur’s crushing hug, and his dive to the side saved him from Torg’s overhead chop. He burst down the hall into a sprint in search of another path only to be met by a group of kobalds wielding spears. “Does this place have an endless supply of baddies or something?” Without losing stride the psion ran high along the wall, the stone and bone spear points bouncing about as they tried to pierce his furry flesh.

“Furry in a manly way; not some cute bunny-type way…”

As Cade rounded the last corner, he was relieved to discover that the front room was empty. His escapades in the back apparently drew some attention; all of the attention. Without hesitation he burst out of the door and into a dark alleyway. A quick scan of his surroundings found him a wood plank, hanging loosely from a hole in the neighboring abandoned warehouse. With a quick swipe of his short sword, Cade jerked it free from its perch and shoved it through the brass door handles to Torg’s building.

The thief dusted his hands with a smile, thinking himself quite clever as he walked away. Just as he was about to pass into the streets, he stopped and glanced down at his furry hands. Whew. That was a close one. Don’t want the good folks of Trachtenberg getting spooked by a raccoon-man. His body contorted momentarily and his fur sunk into his body as he took on his human form. With silky, blonde hair, muscles toned from years of daring thieving campaigns, and shining, blue eyes, he was the picture of charm.

“Sound hot, don’t I?” Cade said with a wink.

As a pound on Torg’s door drew the Hengeyokai’s attention, he began to quickly devise a plan to get the thug’s off of his scent. “Gotta do something about this get up. They’ll recognize it immediately.” Then he had an idea. He pulled the Cloak of Disguise from his pack and threw it on. “Guess it’s time to give this thing a try.” He watched as the hue of his clothes shifted from leathery brown to green then royal blue before shimmering and turning into nobleman’s clothes. “Much better.” Then he looked at the severed finger in his hand, the ring that once adorned it mysteriously missing. As an unknowing goblin merchant passed by, he sat the appendage on top of his pack and began walking away with his ears focused on the scene behind him.

Torg and his band of miscreants burst through the door and began pouring into the streets. “Find ‘im!” the half-orc shouted, his veins protruding from his neck and forehead. The thugs began looking frantically until a kobald stopped the goblin that had happened by Cade.

“Boss. This uns got yer finga, but he ain’t a coon.”

Torg tore the finger from the kobald’s hand and grabbed the goblin by the collar before he could scurry away. “Course he don’t look like a coon. He’s usin’ that cloak ta disguise ‘imself, ya buffoon.” He tossed the poor creature into his pack of followers and began storming back into his hideout. “Bring ‘im downstairs, boys. We got some talkin’ to do.”

Cade shuddered when he heard Torg reference downstairs, thoughts of the horrors the poor creature would soon be subjected to coming to mind.

“Wait,” the goblin squealed out in vain. “My name’s Tuktok. I’m a goblin, not a raccoon. Please you got…” his voice trailed down the alleyway as he was carried away.

The Hengeyokai sighed in relief as he turned away before stopping quickly. “Hey don’t look at me like that. It was me or him. You would’ve done the same thing.”

The ones hunting him alleviated from his concerns, for now, the thief looked at his surroundings. “I’ve gotta find somewhere to lay low until I can come up with another plan, since that last one went so swimmingly. Now where do the thieves go to hide in this city?” Just as he finished his sentence, he noticed a shifty character in old clothes making his way through the merchant stands that were scattered about the area, obviously looking for an opportunity to make away with something valuable. With a grin, Cade pulled a gold piece from his pouch and began focusing on it. After a few minutes, he relocated the thief and walked by him, dropping the piece on the ground.

The man stopped as he walked past and smiled as he picked up the coin, the gaps in his teeth highlighting the dishonesty in his grin. “Gotcha,” Cade said happily.

Cade stepped behind some crates and closed his eyes. His conscious shifted from his mind into the coin in the man’s hand. The psion could hear everything said and see glimpses of the scene around the man through the cracks in his fingers. The coin’s new owner stepped up to a shop door and knocked.

“Whaddya want?” a voice called from the other side as two beady eyes peered through a slot in the door.

The world around Cade’s view-hole swirled as the man looked about, a look of concern on his face. “Speakeasy, Scully,” he finally said. The eyes in the slot looked him up and down before disappearing into silence for a moment. Suddenly a sliding sound came from inside the building and the thug manning the door jerked the coin’s owner into the building.

“Fine. Get in, an’ ‘urry up. Don’ wan’ anyone ‘earing ya!” As the man walked down some stairs and into an apparent hideout, Cade let his mind return from the coin. He opened his eyes with a grin. A gambling ‘man’ himself, the prospect of running a few tables and gaining some winnings excited him; the winning more than the reward was most stimulating.

Cade stepped away from the crates and cast his cloak wide as he turned around them for dramatic effect. Because you know, he’s a diva. “Hey! Watch it with the name calling. I’m only a product of your imagination any way.”

Just calling it as I see it.

In his stride, Cade accidentally bumped into a man and knocked him to the floor. The shout from the victim stopped the thief in his tracks.

“The mark. It’s gone!” the mysterious man shouted. Cade’s face contorted when he caught a glimpse of a white, reptilian face beneath the hood of the fallen creature before he ran off. A strange pulsing sensation drew Cade’s attention away as it began tingling the thief’s leg from the pouch where he bumped the man. Lifting the lid to the pouch beneath his cloak, Cade saw that the orb he pilfered from Zuulnok had begun to glow as it had when he saw it initially beneath a pile of gold. Oddly he felt a strange magic had been absorbed by the object when he made contact with the man, though he couldn’t explain why. And he wouldn’t have the time to investigate now. When he noticed that others had begun looking at him, he quickly closed the pouch and made his way through some back alleys and around the back of the building that the man he was originally pursuing went into. His wide path gave him confidence that he didn’t have anyone tailing him.

I still have to get into hiding. I’ll have to revisit this later, he thought with his hand on his pouch.

After shaking his head, he strolled up to the door, knocked, and leaned confidently against the frame. When the window slid open, the eyes on the other side were even less inviting than they were with the man from before, if that is even possible.

“Yeah?” the voice called.

Cade cleared his throat, “Speakeasy?” The eyes narrowed as they looked the disguised Hengeyokai over. Cade felt a chill run through him as the thought that the thug was seeing through the spell from his Cloak of Disguise came to him, though he wouldn’t let his demeanor belie it. He had spent too many years deceiving others and working on his Poker Face to let that happen now.

“I ain’t seen ya ‘round here before…”

“Oh come now, Scully! You know me. It’s me Salvatore.” Cade hid a smile when he saw the shock in the eyes as he spoke the man’s name. It always gave him pleasure to see his craftiness have some success. After one more look-over, the window slid shut and the door came open. Remembering what had happened to the man before him, Cade slipped into the room quickly; he preferred not to be handled by other miscreants, particularly since he wasn’t entirely sure how the spell from his cloak worked.

Once inside, Cade made his way about the numerous gambling venues. The weaknesses of each host were glaringly obvious to him, so he chose his table carefully. Once he found the most proficient dealer, he worked his way smoothly into his seat.

“I bet you’re wondering why I didn’t go with the newbie. Hey, he told you I like the challenge. It’s your fault for not following the story closely.”

The Hengeyokai played a few rounds and watched some fights that the club hosted between giant chickens for some time, though the fights pained him more than he would admit. Being an animal himself, it grieved him to see others suffer at the hand of pitiful humans. But he would deal with that soon enough.

He let a plan for where he could go next brew subtly between hands. Just when the perpetuity of all of his running began weighing on his mind, he felt the orb begin to pulsate in his pouch as it had before with the strange man in the market. He looked up to see what the orb could be reacting to when he noticed a couple walking into the building together. He couldn’t explain it, but he knew that they were his ticket to freedom. This mark that the man lost, had to be present with them as well.

When the man approached the barkeep, Cade smiled and made his way over to ‘introduce himself’.