Questing for Adventure! by Jean Marie Romana - HTML preview

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By Jean Marie Romana
Questing For Adventure!

Hello, young adventurer! My name is Darren. Darren the Dark Elf. I once took part in an adventure so incredibly epic it reaches past the scope of human imagination and understanding! But I will try to put it into words you can understand.

It all started this one night when I was sleeping in a tree. Down at the base of the tree slept my traveling companion, Gary the Dwarf. His arms were curled around Smitey, his trusty Battle-Hammer. Paprika the fairy was curled up in his beard.

It was just me in the tree. Me and the snake. “Where did that snake come from?” I thought frantically. It slithered closer.


And closer!


Then I gave it a swift kick with my black leather boot. Whump! It landed below.


Gary let out a shriek.


“Ahhh!” He yelled. “Ohmygod, ohmygod, it’s a snake!”

“Here I come, Gary!” I hollered, and jumped swiftly and nimbly to the ground like some kind of elven ninja. Which I was. Only around here they call us “Rogues.”
I landed softly and pulled out my daggers with a flourish. I waved them around in front of me a few times to show the snake who was boss. The snake growled in return and bared its teeth.

“Take THAT vile snake!” I yelled, and slashed a zig-zag pattern into the snake’s skin.


“Hiss!” yelled the snake, and lunged straight for my throat!


“Oh no!” yelled Gary.

Just then Paprika woke up. Quickly, she pointed her fairy wand at the snake. “I cast fireball!” she shouted, and cast a fireball at the snake!

Poof! Went the snake, and became nothing more than a line of ash.


“Phew! That sure was a close one!” said Gary.

“You got that right, Gary!” I agreed. “What a close call! I bet this is just a taste of what awaits us in our travels!”

“How do you know that?” asked Gary.

“Being a Dark Elf means more than just looking awesome and wearing cool black leather armor,” I explained. “It also means being sensitive to things. Like when the forest is crying out in pain!”

“And is it crying out in pain?” Gary asked in wonder.


I listened for a moment. “Yes,” I nodded.


“Goodness gracious!” said Gary.

The next day we set out for the heart of the forest to see what was making it cry out in pain so much. When we got there, the sight before us was so shocking that if I had been a regular elf and not a Dark Elf, I would have wept.

“Oh no!” cried Gary. “What happened?”

Where the heart of the forest was supposed to be, there was a large clearing with a big stump in the middle.

“I’m searching for clues,” Paprika said, and started searching for clues.


“Here’s a clue!” she called over to us. “There’s a stump where the big tree used to be!”


“You’re right!” I exclaimed. “What happened to the big tree that used to be here?”

“It was cut down,” said a voice from the shadows. A mysterious robed figure with a beard and hood that obscured his face, stepped out of the darkness.

“I am Gorgoblax the Elden,” the mysterious figure said. “And I bid you tidings.”

“And what sort of tidings would those be?” I asked. “Dark tidings,” Gorgoblax hinted darkly.
Everyone gasped, except Gorgoblax.
“The forest is in pain,” said Gorgoblax.
“I suspected as much,” I confessed.

Gorgoblax continued. “You must find out what is causing this pain.”

“We were already doing that,” I explained. I had a sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with the tree being cut down.

“You must find out who cut down the tree, and for what purpose,” stated Gorgoblax firmly.


“Will you help us?” pleaded Gary.

Gorgoblax shook his hooded head no. “I cannot. You must use the skills you already possess.” Then he lifted his arms into the air, and his voice boomed: “You must venture forth to the Caverns of Treachery and find the source of this evil! That is your QUEST!”

Then, with a puff of smoke and a shrill whistling noise, the man was gone!

“He’s gone!” shouted Paprika.
“He sure is,” I agreed.

“Well, I guess it’s time to get to the Caverns of Treachery then!” said Gary. “Last one there’s a rotten egg!”
We arrived at the Caverns of Treachery, but Paprika couldn’t fly fast enough to keep up so she was the rotten egg. “That means you carry the treasure,” I said.

“Well darn,” shrugged Paprika.


“I’ll scout out ahead of you guys, using my stealth ability,” I said, and turned kind of invisible.

I tiptoed up to the entrance. The cavern mouth was shaped like a monster mouth with pointy rocks instead of teeth. It was really spooky.

“Yikes!” I thought.


I poked my head around the side and peered into the cave mouth.


“It looks good from here!” I shouted to the others. They both gave me thumbs-up.

Then I checked for traps. Picking up an acorn, I tossed it inside. A squirrel ran out from somewhere and snatched it up, then ran over to a rock and started eating it.

One thing about adventuring is: you can’t be too careful. I checked the squirrel for traps too. I turned visible again. “It’s all clear,” I said. “Paprika, you go ahead. Gary, you cover the back.” Gary and Paprika nodded, then all three of us marched in solemn formation into the cave mouth.

“Gosh, it sure is spooky in here,” said Gary “Shh!” I said. “Did you hear something?”
Just then a loud rumbling noise started up. “Is that coming from inside the cave?” I asked.

“N-n-n-n-no!” stuttered Gary, pointing a shaking finger at the forest we had just come from. Scampering out from the trees at full speed came five more squirrels!


“It’s an ambush!” I shouted.


Then the squirrels did the strangest thing. They lit up with a blue light and rose into the air.


“Darn it!” yelled Gary. “Magic squirrels! Now we’re really done for!”

The squirrels started chittering and shot blue lightning bolts from their eyes. The bolts hit Gary full force in the chest!

“Youch!” he yelled.
“Nooooo! Gary!” I yelled, and fell to my knees.

“It’s okay, I’m only about half dead,” he said. “I’ve still got a lot of fight in me!”

“Then fight on, brave friend,” I said, wiping a single tear from my eye. “And I will make sure you do not fight in vain.” I got back to my feet and pulled out my daggers. “It’s showtime,” I said darkly.

“I cast Woodland Explosion!” yelled Paprika excitedly. She waved her wand and cast Woodland Explosion. All the squirrels exploded in a shower of sparks.

I smiled victoriously and slid my daggers back into their sheaths. Then I patted them softly.


“Hooray! We did it!” Gary shouted.


I put my arm around him. “Yes we did, my friend. Yes we did.”


“Hooray,” said Paprika.

We decided to make camp for the night at the cave entrance. When we woke up the next morning, Gary had healed. However, we suddenly discovered we no longer knew where we were!

“Where are we?” asked Paprika.


“I don’t know,” I muttered darkly. “But it’s not where we set up camp last night.”


“Then that must mean…” Gary trailed off, waiting for me to finish his sentence.


“Someone, or some thing, must have moved us!” I concluded.


We all gasped, including me. Sometimes I surprise even myself.

“But who – or what – could have done this?” Gary mused aloud.
“Perhaps I can answer that,” said a figure from the shadows.

We gasped and turned toward the figure. “Gorgoblax…?” I ventured?

“No. I am Gorgoblax’s brother, Charlie the Elden. And I must tell you that my brother is evil! He sent you here to your DOOM!”

“What? Gorgoblax? Evil???!!!” I threw up my hands in despair. “How can I know who to trust anymore? How do I know I can trust you?” I asked savagely, turning to Gary.

“What? Me?” asked Gary. “C’mon Darren Darkevil, it’s me, Gary Thunderstone. Your best friend!”

“But how can I know?” I wailed, with tears streaming down my face. “How can I know anything anymore?”

“You must trust what’s in your heart,” said Charlie the Elden, and disappeared.

“He’s right, you know,” I sniffed, wiping my face with my gloved hand. “I guess I knew it in my heart all along. How could I have doubted you, my brother-in-arms?”

“Best friends again?” asked Gary.

I nodded. Then we hugged in a manly way. I thumped him hard on the back with my fist. “Never again will I lose faith in my companions,” I vowed.

“Yay,” Gary and Paprika cheered.

Now it was time to get my bearings. I looked around for a sign of some sort. Then I saw one. “Hey guys, check out the sign under that giant mushroom there.” I pointed. It said ‘Elemental Plane of Fungus’.

“Is fungus an element?” asked Gary.


“I think so,” I said cautiously. “Don’t let down your guard. Anything could happen in a place like this.”

I squinted my eyes suspiciously in case any monsters were watching. ‘I’m on to you, monsters’ is what that look said.

Little did I know then who was actually watching us!


I found out a few minutes later, when some guy stepped out from behind a mushroom.


“Hi guys,” he said. “I’ve been watching you. My name is Dave.”


“Hi Dave,” we said, and waved.


“So what brings you three to the Elemental Plane of Fungus?” he asked.

“We don’t know,” I said darkly. I could tell Dave was impressed with our mysteriousness. I slowly drew a dagger out of its sheath and pointed it at Dave, glowering. “How do we get out of here?” I asked in my most menacing voice.

Dave gulped. “Take it easy stranger, no need to get violent.”


“You’re right,” I said, and put the dagger away. “Forgive me. My manners are abhorrent.”

“Anyway,” said Dave, “There ain’t no way no how to get out of this here Elemental Plane. I’ve been living here for eight years!”

That’s when we noticed Dave was crazy. He was also foaming at the mouth a little.

“Just me and my mushroom friends,” he continued. His mouth stretched wide and showed all his rotting teeth. “Blargh!” he yelled. “Blllarrrghhh!!!”

I drew my dagger back out again. “This is no time for fooling around,” I said. “I’m not fooling around, I’m very serious,” said Dave. “Blargh!” Then he lunged forward! “Bllaaargh!”

“Ieee!” I cried while jumping back.
“Yeep!” squealed Gary the Dwarf.
“Blargh!” yelled Dave.

“Yaaaah!” screamed Paprika. “I go for the throat!!!” and hurled herself at Dave’s neck. There was a great ripping and tearing and Dave’s screams turned to screams of agony, then gargles.
Gary prodded Dave’s dead body with the toe of his chainmail boots. Something fell out of Dave’s pocket.

“What’s this?” I said, and swooped down to pick it up before Gary could.

It was an envelope. I saw the wax seal was already broken. I felt glad because that meant it was okay for me to read it.

“I think it’s a letter,” Gary said as I withdrew and unfolded the paper inside.

“Perhaps,” I said, and started reading.
“Dear Sir or Madame” It started.
“Yep, it’s a letter,” I said, then continued:

“Thank you for your interest in applying for a position at Magical Mushroom Land, located conveniently in the center of the Elemental Plane of Fungus. Unfortunately, we are not accepting applications right now. Your application and résumé have been filed…”

“A clue!” interrupted Paprika excitedly.

“Yes my little sylvan friend, a clue indeed,” I said darkly. “Come, we must make haste to Magical Mushroom Land!”

“Which way do we go?” asked Gary.

I pulled a map out of my pocket. “Elemental Plane of Fungus” it said at the top, but the whole map was fogged grey except the uppermost left corner. This corner was labeled “Entrance to the elemental plane” and also “You are Here.”

I jabbed a finger at the foggy center of the map. “Magical Mushroom Land is probably here,” I said. So we go… South-West.”

“South East,” corrected Gary.
“South East,” I echoed.

“Which way is that?” Paprika tinkled, buzzing around my head like a hummingbird in a meth lab. “That way,” I guessed, pointing at a nearby mildew field.

“Lead on,” Gary said with a gesture. I took the front and Gary and Paprika marched behind me, all of us whistling our theme song in three-part harmony as we ventured into the fields of mildew.

We emerged from the other side stinky but otherwise fine. Before us stretched a wide valley filled with mushrooms shining with blue, green, and purple phosphorescent lights like some kind of hippie disco.

Far off in the center of the valley we could just make out a thick, spongy wall of giant mushrooms. A dark castle loomed from the center of the mushroom ring, obscured by a thick haze of spores that hung like green smoke.
“That must be Magical Mushroom Land,” I said. “Let’s break for lunch and cross the valley this afternoon.”

“Who wants cupcakes?” sang Gary, shaking the picnic basket he had been carrying this whole time. “I know I do!”

Gary and I set up the picnic blanket and plates and Paprika buzzed off to collect some mushrooms to add to our meal. “Do you want your cupcake, Paprika?” Gary asked aloud after she had left. “No? Oh well, more cupcake for me!” He smiled and swirled his finger in the pink icing.

I wasn’t feeling so playful myself. I was thinking serious thoughts about our serious situation.

Why am I doing this? I thought. Why am I even on this quest? I looked over at Gary, who had pink icing on his beard.

Do I still need to find out what happened to the heart of the forest? Gorgoblax sent us on that quest, but he turned out to be evil. What am I to do?

Gary looked up at me just then. “Aren’t you going to eat your cupcake?” he asked.


“I can’t eat,” I said. “I am filled too deeply with pain and confusion and self-doubt.”

“Goody!” said Gary, and ate mine too.
Just then Paprika flitted back heavily with an armload of mushrooms. “I got mushrooms!” she shouted.

Gary patted his bulging belly. “Thanks, but I’m stuffed,” he confessed, a crumb dropping from his beard. “And Darren’s too busy brooding to eat.”

I nodded, because this was true.
“Where’s my cupcake?” Paprika asked.

“It wouldn’t be fair for you to get all the mushrooms AND a cupcake,” Gary explained. “So I had to eat it.”

“Okay,” said Paprika, and popped a mushroom in her mouth. Her pupils swam open to double their size.

“Who’s going to do dishes?” Gary shouted. “Onetwo-three-not-it!”

We slogged through the glowing valley for six hours, the dark castle growing larger and larger on the horizon. And then suddenly we were there, the thickly-packed mushroom wall looming over us like ghosts. Like ghosts of giant evil mutant mushroom monsters. The thought made me shiver.

“How will we get in?” Gary craned his neck so far his head was practically upside down.
Paprika, who had been trailing behind again, buzzed up smeared in neon warpaint.

“Check it out you guys,” she droned. Her eyes were like little black marbles ringed in thick circles of phosphorescent purple mushroom dust. “I’ma racooooon.” She waggled her glowing fingers as she said this.

I didn’t think her disguise was that great, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

“I’ll stealth around the parameter of the wall and see if there’s a way in,” I said. “You two stay here and wait for me.”

Gary and Paprika nodded in solemn agreement.

I crouched down and made a “vwoom” noise and I was kinda invisible again. Very slowly I circled around the dense fungal wall.

Just after I’d circled far enough that Gary and Paprika were out of sight, I bumped into something. I looked around but didn’t see anything.

I stretched out my hand to try and feel what the invisible barrier was. My hand struck something solid. At that same instant something unseen glommed onto my face and groped my nose.

The shock startled me out of stealth. Whatever is was I bumped into must have de-stealthed too, because suddenly I had a gloved hand blocking my vision.
“Mrph,” it said. Startled, I moved my hand off its face.

It pulled its hand down too and I took a long, stern look at my assailant.

She was an elf. And not a dark elf, either. A blonde. And she STANK.

“How did I not SMELL her before bumping into her?” I thought. “Does her stealth work on STINK too?”

She looked REALLY pissed off and that’s when I realized I’d said my thoughts out loud.


“Whoops,” I said.

“Don’t give me this ‘stink’ crap,” she snarled. “I’ve been stuck on the Elemental Plane of Fungus for a week and a half without a change of leather. What the hell do you expect?”

“My humblest apologies,” I said, bowing. I spied a bag on the ground next to her boots.


“M’Lady dropped this,” I said, scooping it up and presenting it in my open palm.

“Give me that.” She snatched the bag out of my hand and, hunching her shoulders protectively, counted the clinking things inside.

That’s when it occurred to me that she must be a thief-type rogue. Not everyone realizes that there are many types of rogues, like thieves, assassins, and swashbucklers. I, for example, like to call myself a “shadowslipper.”

I also like to call myself “The Prince of Shadows” but Gary’s the only one who ever remembers to call me that. And he doesn’t remember very often.

“My name’s Darren, Prince of Shadows,” I said, extending my hand in peace. “And M’Lady’s name is…?”

“Priscilla, Queen of the Daffodils,” she snorted, and stuffed the sack into some tiny hidden pocket. It disappeared without making a bulge.

“Well, Priscilla,” I said, “Your expertise may be useful to my party on this quest.” My hand was still extended, and Priscilla just glared at it, unmoving. “Would you care to form a temporary alliance?”



“Pretty Please? You’ll get a fourth of the treasure we find.”


“They’re pretty much cleaned out in there anyway,” she confessed.


“So you’ve been inside? That’s where you just came from?” I asked excitedly.


“Yeah, took me forever to get out again,” she said.

“That’s great!” I yelled, and she jumped. “You can show us the way in! You can escort us inside!” “I don’t think so,” she said darkly. “I work alone.” She turned her head and looked dramatically into the wind.

“Why?” I asked, breathlessly.

“Because I can’t trust anyone. Not even myself.” She let a shadow slip across her face as she said this. “That’s something I learned the hard way.”

“That’s not true!” I shouted earnestly, clutching my hand into a fist. “You must learn to trust what’s in your heart!”

“I don’t have a heart,” she said, and turned away.

“Priscilla,” I said, grasping her shoulders, and turned her to face me. “I have a quest for you. You must learn to believe in yourself. That is your quest.”

“Quest accepted,” she said, wiping away a single tear. “Does it give good Experience Points?” We both laughed heartly for a few minutes.

“Let me introduce you to my fellow party members,” I said, then put my hand on her shoulder. “Our fellow party members,” I corrected.

She smiled.


“Gary and Paprika, this is Priscilla, Queen of the

Daffodils.” I introduced a few minutes later. “Priscilla, this is Gary the Dwarf and Paprika the Fairy.”

“Pleased to meet you, your highness,” Gary bowed. “Um, actually…” the elf-girl corrected with her eyebrows raised. “Just call me Alledriel.”


“I will if you call me ‘Tiger’,” said Gary. “Ho ho ho.”

“Your friend’s funny,” Alledriel whispered to me. “It is one of his many virtues,” I whispered back.

I turned back to my companions. “Alledriel has agreed to lead us inside the Magical Mushroom Land,” I announced.

“Oh, by the way,” she asked, “what are you looking for in there?”

“Um,” I said. “Oh yeah.” I pulled out the letter we found on Dead Dave’s body. “We found a clue that lead us here.”

Alledriel looked at the letter. “Okay. But what are you looking for?”

“Specifically? Hm.” I looked at Gary for help, but he just shrugged. I looked over at Paprika. She was facing the other way for some reason.

I turned back to Alledriel. “I guess we were hoping to find a way out?” I said.


“You mean a way out of this Elemental Plane?

Nuh-uh.” She shook her head. “I scoured that place. If there was a way out in there, I would have found it.”

Gary piped up. “Well thanks, sweety, that saves us some time,” he said agreeably. “Any idea where the real exit might be?”

Alledriel pulled out her own map. There was only one foggy area left, in the lower right-hand corner. “That’s the only place I haven’t checked yet,” she said. “It’s gotta be there.”

“Darn,” I said, looking up at the fungoid wall. “I really wanted to visit Magical Mushroom Land.” Then I caught another whiff of Alledriel and changed my mind.

“Let’s take a little eue de toilette break before we head out,” I suggested.

“Fine with me,” Alledriel agreed. She pulled a little can of something out of a pouch, shook it, and sprayed herself for about thirty seconds straight. The cloying vanilla fog stretched out and settled in a greasy film on my face.

“Ooh!” Gary cried, grabbing Alledriel’s elbow. “Can I braid your hair?”

Evening was just setting in. I left my traveling companions, old and new, behind me for a few minutes and wandered away from the temporary camp. I felt it was time for some more introspection.
As unofficial leader of the group, it was time for me to think the important thoughts about our quest.

Charlie the Elden said that Gorgoblax sent us here to our doom, I thought. I wonder what he meant by that?

“Oh, if only Charlie the Elden were here to help us understand what’s going on!” I cried aloud. I waited for a mysterious robed figure to step out of the darkness. It didn’t.


“Well, darn,” I said.

When I returned to camp Alledriel and Gary had finished doing eachother’s hair. Gary had two fat braids in his beard. Alledrial had a ridiculous French braid that started above one pointy ear, snaked across the top of her head and dangled limply behind the other ear. It looked like Gary had braided a few ribbons in, then gotten bored and added a few twigs and mushrooms as well.

They were chatting and giggling when I walked up. “Did he really?” I heard Alledrial whisper.

“Shh!” shushed Gary. They both looked at me and giggled, then started coughing violently.

I was glad to see my fellow party members working so harmoniously with eachother. All the same, I kept my “serious” expression on so my companions would know I’d been thinking troubling thoughts.

“What’s the matter, Darren?” Gary asked. He obviously noticed.

“I was just thinking about something Charlie the Elden said to me,” I told him. “I think maybe we’d better be on my toes.”

“On your toes?”
“On our toes, I mean,” I said.
“What did Charlie say to you?” Alledrial asked.

“He said that Gorgoblax the Elden sent us here to our DOOM,” I explained.


“Well crap, I’m outta here then. See ya,” Alledrial said, rising.


“No, no, I kid,” she explained to our shocked faces, and sat back down. “Nevermind. Go on, Darren.”

“So we should be on my toes.”
“Our toes.”

“Right.” I felt like I may have lost some control of the conversation. “Anyways. The night is still young! Let’s head out. Whatever dangers may await us, let us meet them and be ready!”

“All right!” cheered Gary. “…You wanna be torchbearer?”

“What? Why can’t you be torch-bearer?” I asked. “I’m carrying Smitey. And the picnic basket. Remember?” Gary shook the basket. It clanked.

“Fine,” I said. “Gimme the torch.” But when we looked around we couldn’t find one.


“Alledrial?” I ventured. She shrugged.


“Nope,” she said. “I never remember to buy those things.”

Just then I spotted a glowing rear end sticking out of one of Gary’s beard-braids. Paprika was squirming around trying to get her head out. I grabbed her by the legs, popped her out of Gary’s beard, and held her aloft.

“Whooop!” said Paprika dizzily. Her phosphorescent warpaint glowed almost as bright as a torch, and twice as moodily. I mentally congratulated myself for my cleverness.

“Onwards – to our destiny!” I cried, brandishing my makeshift torch; and led/carried my companions into the night.

A long march, a short slog, and a brief period of frantic running when we thought we were being chased by bees later…

I crested a large hill and then stopped short. Gary and Alledrial both crashed into me and went “Oof.” “There it is,” I breathed, pointing with the hand that wasn’t carrying Paprika. “That must be what we’re looking for.”

Straight ahead loomed a weird purple mountain range. A crumbling city spread before it like a grotty welcome mat.

The city was purple citadel however, looked mostly intact.

Alledrial unrolled her map. The lower-right hand corner had de-fogged. “Yep, this is the place,” she said, and pointed. “The Soggy Bulwark,” she read. “Eew. It also says, ‘Exit to Caverns of Tretchery’”

I looked again at the citadel. Its bulwark certainly did look soggy.


I gulped, loudly. “Well,” I said. “Time’s a-wasting. Let’s go.”


“Don’t you want to take a little break first?” Gary asked hopefully.

“NO.” I stated as firmly as I could. “We need to get out of this plane as soon as we can.” I didn’t tell him I was afraid of getting boot rot.

“Do you want to scout ahead, or should I?” I asked Alledrial.

She put away her map and peered at the moldering city below us. “It looks totally empty fro