Rudi's Story 01 - Where Rudi Heads Off To Find A Life of Adventure
The moon and stars shone down brightly on the farms nestled in the vale, tucked gently into the Brevoy Frontier. Somewhere in the distance, a cow lowed into the night, the clanking of its bell accompanying the soft, mournful sound. A gentle breeze picked up, rustling the leaves and crops alike, hissing as it picked up, and ultimately died down.
All in all, Rudi Tumblefar would’ve called it another boring night in the asscrack of the world if he weren’t stuffing himself into the cupboard of his only friends.
“Hello? Is someone there?” Barril called quietly. “Rudi? Is that you?” His breath caught in his throat as he clutched even closer in the cramped space. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing away the man that taught him how to swing a weapon when everyone else had been more intent on swinging at him.
“Why would Rudi be here, love?” Lessys asked. Beautiful, sweet Lessys. When he wasn’t stabbing hay with a pitchfork, either practicing Barril’s stances or working on the farm, she was teaching him to read, to write, to cast spells. He tried to shift as something dug into his side. Pulling it out, it was the small red book she had given him. Even in this dim light he could see the R engraved on the cover, hiding all the cantrips that she had worked hard to develop with him. He’s in bed, just the same as we should be.” She continued chastising her husband.
“I guess it’s just my consciencel. I’m just worried about him and the way we left things. You don’t think he’d actually go out there, do you?”
“No… he’s got more sense than that. He’d have to prepare, gather supplies, even a weapon.” He looked down sheepishly at the gold on his lap, the climbing kit draped over his shoulder, the bed roll pushing him face first into the side of the cupboard.
“I just wish he understood. What that bastard was pushing wasn’t glory, it was just a hardship and death. I wish he never came here.” Rudi peaked through the crack in the cupboard door to see Barril standing at the window, staring into the darkness with clenched fists. His wife wrapped her arms around him. The halfling felt like a voyeur watching the half elf couple, and looked back at the dark wall of his cubby.
“Is it really Rudi, or do you wish we had that life again?” Her voice was muffled with her face mashed into his back.
“Honestly? It’s been years, and we’re still not doing well . . . and it was simpler sometimes . . . But no. I’m just afraid of him getting in over his head.” Rudi heard him sigh and felt another stab of guilt.
“There will be time enough to explain it all to him tomorrow. He knows we love him like our own son. We have an early day though, so we should get back to bed.”
Rudi heard the quiet footfalls receding from him in the bungalow, and wanted to cry, to fall out of the cupboard and jump up like it was some sort of joke. But it was too late. He’d committed, and the truth was he’d have borrowed things from his actual parents if they had owned anything worth taking. Besides, he fully intended on paying them back however he could once he made a name for himself and won his fortune. But now, he needed to skip out on this hell hole. Getting eaten by some monster had to be better than another year of harvesting potatoes.
They just said they loved him, so they’d understand . . . Right?
Slowly, quietly, he untangled himself and crawled from the cupboard fighting back the tears that threatened to come. With no sign of his friends, he pulled himself to his feet, hauling his pack to the window he’d climbed in. He dropped it to the ground on the other side gingerly, careful nothing jangled, then followed it through. He sagged under the weight as he hauled it up onto his shoulder and turned from his old life, towards the pony waiting for him at the tree line.
The man he’d met, the gnome Pankas Lightfingers so called because of how he played the lute. He had sang songs of bravery, telling him of the opportunity at Oleg’s, of adventure in the plains and the forest of the Greenbelt, of danger and wealth to be found in the Kulgs, a name to be earned in the world. He was waiting for him in the forest, waiting to receive payment for the contract. Barril had threatened him, saying he was peddling empty promises and an early grave. He’d called Rudi a fool for listening to him. The words still stung, and his indignation flared again, evaporating any traces of guilt or sadness in Rudi.
To be fair, he didn’t know anything about the rakish gnome, and didn’t know if he could trust him as far as he could spit. But one thing he did know was that Pankas Lightfingers was his ticket out of here, his first step towards fame and fortune. Just have to deal with a couple of Kobolds, he said. How bad could that be?