A brief tale reflecting on how some of the members of "In a Handbasket" guild met up. Katrionas met both Akladamas and Rainsinger before they were brought into the guild. Akladamas Stormcaller is my character, Rainsinger Stormcaller and Katrionas Vento used with their players' permission.
“Rain is such a stick-in-the-mud,” grumbled her twin and elder brother Akladamas. The wizard was walking through the streets of Stormreach, making distance between himself and where he had left his sister. He wrinkled his nose in distaste and spoke in an obnoxious falsetto, “Akladamas! Don't summon that greasy tin dog of yours in town! No, you can't have your Burning Sphere follow you around the city! By thunder, don't cast grease on that nun!”
The wizard finished his high-pitched rant with a snort, reaching up and folding his hands against the back of his head. He continued to stroll through the streets of the city, letting his sister's scolding voice fall from his immediate memory. Akladamas felt his irritations melt away, giving him peace of mind and even some measure of tranquility – which of course, was a dangerous thing. Without something to focus his mind, such as the o' so holy "nagadin," Akladamas's mind turned to all sorts of whims. These whims were only more outrageous with the knowledge the application of magic could allow him so many more possibilities.
A shrill whistle drew his attention away from the gray sky overhead that rumbled with the promise of his family name. Akladamas's eyes came to focus on a young woman that was moving at a quick pace toward him. She was wearing worn leathers over her clothes and a pair of hilts stuck out behind her; there were no crests or insignias on her, so that ruled out she was a member of the town watch. She was also carrying a backpack that jostled a little heavy, one of the telltale signs that she were an adventurer, much like Akladamas himself.
“Hi there, handsome,” the woman called out, offering a coy smile. Akladamas smiled back and was about to reply to her when she stepped in close and her hands caught the loose fabric of his robes. His blossoming smile started to sag with his confusion, his right eyebrow arching higher then the left. “I need to borrow you for a moment.”
“Buh?” Akladamas breathed; that was all he managed before he felt himself getting wheeled about. He let out an alarmed yelp with the sudden motion, the last bit of the sound melting into a brief grunt as his back met the cool brick of a building behind him. And then just as suddenly, Akladamas found the woman pressing her body against his, her lips kissing his feverishly. For a moment the wizard was rigid, taken by surprise by the turn of events. That didn't last long, and the wizard simply went with it, relaxing and letting a pleased sound escape him. He felt one of the woman's hands catch his left wrist, and his hand was guided somewhere. With a soft slap it was planted on her backside, and then her grip was gone. Akladamas needed little encouragement to continue on his own.
The sudden, intimate moment occupied much of Akladamas's attention, but it did not make him deaf to the sound of the whistle shrilly singing, or the sounds of armored men jogging past. Nor did it blind him to the guard uniforms that the men wore. They just weren't that high of a priority to him at the moment. The guards passed soon enough, and the echoes of their forced march melted back to the normal hustle and bustle of town life. He was able to enjoy the make-out session a few moments more before the inevitable happened. The woman reached her hands up and pressed them against his chest lightly, easing him back.
“Well, I certainly have to thank you for that,” the woman said coyly.
“Introductions, dinner, drinking, bed, tumble in the sheets,” Akladamas replied. He smiled as he regarded the woman. “You determine the order.”
This caused Akladamas's mysterious companion to laugh and saunter close again, slipping her arms around Akladamas's waist. “Katrionas,” she answered, and she leaned up to kiss his chin lightly. “And I might take you up on the rest of it at a later time, good mage.”
The embrace and that little kiss caused the man to wear a goofy grin, his eyes focused on the other adventurer as she turned and slipped away. She wandered a few steps before turning back again, giving a little wave. Akladamas continued to grin and watch her as she sauntered easily out of sight, shifting his weight and giving a distracted sigh.
“I wonder if she realizes she stole one of my tanglefoot bags,” he said dreamily, still smiling.
“It's... it's everywhere,” Katrionas exclaimed, horrified at the yellow-gray sludge that now coated her body and left her helpless. She had managed to get into a private little alleyway, well away from the prying eyes of commonfolk, or the pesky, no-good town watch. Yet her refuge was filled with the sticky substance that coated her and an acrid, alchemical smell; what was worse, she was actually glued to the spot! No matter how she tried to twist or turn, Katrionas couldn't get herself free. The remains of the bag rested nearby, with a handful of copper coins sewn into the bottom of the item. “Who the hell puts coins in the bottom of a tanglefoot bag?”
“My brother, for one,” a woman's voice called out, causing Katrionas to yelp and her muscles to tense. She turned her face as best she could to look at the speaker, and wide eyes strained when she could turn no more. Fortunately for her, none of the sludge had covered her face. The rogue listened as heavy footsteps came closer, leading an armored warrior into view. An armored warrior carrying a very big sword. A very big and painful-looking sword. “And I hope for your sake that you didn't lift it from him.”
“I hope so too,” Katrionas agreed softly, nodding a little and eying the massive blade. The woman then looked more at the weapon wielder, her brow furrowing a little. “You're not with the town guard.” She brightened a little, hope fluttering in her chest. “Think you could help me out of here?”
“I think not,” the woman replied, causing Katrionas's hopes to falter a little. “I am Rainsinger Stormcaller, Divine Warrior of the Storm, and Champion of All that is Good and Just.” She spoke the name and titles with an air of pride that could be mistaken for arrogance. A groan escaped Katrionas, and her eyes rolled away as she took it all in.
“Oh, great, a paladin.”
“Quiet, thief,” Rainsinger ordered. She shifted a little, causing the sword's tip to move; that certainly caught the bound woman's attention. “I shall bring you in for your pretty crimes.”
Katrionas felt a shiver race up her spine at the paladin's announcement, and her thoughts raced with fear. If she couldn't some how escape, being turned over to the guards was a very bad thing at the moment. And it wasn't like she could explain this to the paladin; this would only help fuel her self-righteous fire in bringing her in. It all looked like she was going to spend a long time in the stockade when suddenly another voice spoke up.
“Oh! Katrionas!” Hurried footsteps came down the alleyway. The paladin's attention shifted quickly from the rogue to the new speaker. Her resolve was muddied with confusion, and of all things the wizard from before came into Katrionas's view. He wore a look of mild concern and an apologetic smile. “Oh, dear heart, forgive me!”
“Dear heart?” Rainsinger parroted, looking blankly at him. “Akladamas, what are you going on about?”
Akladamas ignored the paladin, wincing as he looked at the bound woman. “I am terribly sorry,” he continued. “I thought I had given you the right pouch! Are you both alright?”
It was Katrionas's turn to don the mask of confusion at the wizard's words, but she didn't get the opportunity to voice it. Instead it was Rainsinger who spoke up. “What are you talking about, Akladamas? I'm perfectly fine, you can see that. What is this “both” nonsense you're sputtering on about?”
Akladamas turned, giving his sister a bashful smile. “Oh, Rain, dear sister... well, there's something I've been meaning to tell you.” His left hand lifted and covered his lips briefly, and he turned a beaming smile down at Katrionas. She stared back, wide-eyed and bewildered, wondering what the wizard's game was. He then caught one of her hands in both of his. “Oh, Kat, should I tell her, or do you want to?”
“Well, I think you should tell her,” Katrionas said cautiously, eyes flitting between the two siblings. “She's your sister, after all. Honey.”
Akladamas turned his smile back on his sister and leaned closer to Katrionas. He let one of his hands drift away, moving to press his palm against Katrionas's tummy and move in a little circle. “Rainsinger, sister, you're going to be an auntie!”
Both women were thunderstruck by Akladamas's announcement. Yet the sheer expression of abject stupification on Rain's face helped sober Katrionas. She managed to keep from laughing out loud at the paladin's expression, keeping it to a little grin. Her mind started spinning lines in her head, working with this fabric of deception that the wizard offered her.
“Just think about it, Rain! A precious little girl added to the family – oh, the signs are pointing to a girl, so she'll be your niece,” Akladamas continued.
“A girl?” Raincaller asked, bewildered.
“Yes, I just said so,” Akladamas reaffirmed. “A little girl, raised by me and my dear Katrionas – oh, just imagine it all! I wouldn't leave my sweet with the task of raising her alone, after all. Why, I can get a little bundle so I could strap her to my back when we go into dungeons!”
“Dungeons?” The Stormcaller woman called, a softer, more meek voice escaping her.
“Yes, dungeons; do try to keep up, sister. Now, we're still trying to determine a name. Kat here wanted “Synthia,” but I still like the idea of Mistmoon for our daughter. I mean, there's still time before the child is born, but it helps to be prepared.”
“No, no,” Katrionas chimed in, shaking her head a little. “Honey, we already talked about Synthia. I suggested the name “Rina,” remember?”
Akladamas played right along with it, leaning back and turning his face to the sky for a moment. “Oh, that's right! Do forgive me, dear heart.”
Just about then, the alchemical solution dried; it cracked and crumbled, allowing Katrionas to break free of her bonds. The thief's first impulse was to run, but she was savoring Rainsinger's horrified expression too much. Katrionas raised both of her arms with palms open, smiling warmly at the paladin. “Sister,” she called, and moved to embrace the other woman in a hug.
“Indeed,” Akladamas agreed, and he turned it into a group hug. “Well, she will be, once we perform the ceremony. Why, you could even conduct the rites and lead us in blessing!”
Rain gave a little whimper at that notion, seeming further distressed. Katrionas dropped the hug, and Akladamas shifted to put his hands on Rain's shoulders. “Come now, dear sister,” he coaxed the paladin, “you've got a lot to do! Why, I think you should include this new development in next letter home. I think that should pleasantly surprise mum.” The wizard then narrowed his eyes, and his smile seemed almost sinister. “And dad, too.”
Katrionas marveled as the other woman blanched and suddenly turned pale at mention of their father. The Stormcaller brother turned his sister and steered her down the alleyway, guiding her a short distance before letting her toddle off on her own. Rainsinger seemed so lost and bewildered that Katrionas almost felt a grain of sympathy for her. Almost. Rainsinger gave one final look back, and both Akladamas and Katrionas quickly stepped near one another, the wizard putting an arm around her shoulders, the rogue putting her arms around his waist. They both spared a hand to wave at Rain, until she was out of sight.
“So,” Akladamas began slowly, “now that introductions are out of the way... dinner, drink, bed, tumble in the sheets? Still in the order of your choice.”
Katrionas laughed and pulled away from him. “As fun and enticing as that all sounds, I think I want to get a bath to get the rest of this gunk off of me.” She paused to scratch at some of the dried goo, flaking some of it off. Akladamas gave conflicting signs; he shrugged, but nodded in understanding. He also made a vocal sound, disappointed, but understanding. The rogue still wore a smile as she moved down another alleyway.
After about ten feet or so, Katrionas stopped. She turned back to partially face the wizard again, folding her arms in front of her chest. Akladamas perked up with a curious sound, arching an eyebrow as the woman smiled. “Just going to stand there? I could use some help scrubbing my back.” Akladamas broke into a grin, and he trotted up beside the woman. He offered an arm, and Katrionas slipped her own around it before leading him away from the alley.
--- End ---