“So, how’d you ever get into this line of work?”

“What, adventuring, or spellcasting?”

“Eh, both I guess.”

“Well, let’s see…I’m not from a long long of heroes or mages or anything impressive. I grew up in a little farming town you’ve never heard of. About a year ago, I was returning home from a trip to the next town over, at night, in a raging storm, when part of the road collapsed under us. I told my cousin we should have stayed the night there, but he was sure we could make it, the fool. When I came to, the cart had landed on top of us. I knew I was lucky to be alive, but I didn’t think I would be alive for much longer. I know a bit about medicine, and when my breathing hurt that much, I was sure that if I tried to squirm out from under the cart, I’d be stabbed to death by my own ribs. So, it was a question of whether I’d bleed to death before or after some wild animal started eating me.

Then I heard a voice. I couldn’t catch my breath well enough to yell for help over the rain, but I could hear this quiet voice as clear as a bell. Later, I realized I hadn’t heard it with my ears. It didn’t sound like a man or a woman or an elf or an orc or anything I’d ever heard before. It might sound like a god or a demon, I’ve never heard those. It sounded a bit like an echo, I suppose. All it asked is do you want power?

Now, I’ve read rather a lot, and I know the old stories. It’s hard to imagine any earthly prize that would be worth going to the Hells for, so I managed to gasp out ‘what do you want in return?’ It didn’t sound amused or angry, it just said to see what you do with it.

Well, what could anyone do in that situation? I said yes. The voice said then reach for it. So I struggled to reach with my one good arm…and a rat climbed into it. I would’ve laughed if it didn’t hurt so much, but then…

…hm. I can’t really explain what it felt like to suddenly KNOW something I didn’t know before. But it was glorious. With my first ever magic, I managed to heal myself enough to struggle out from under the cart, so I could limp three miles home through a rainstorm. All hail the conquering hero.

My parents thought I’d been attacked by bandits or an owlbear, but they were just glad I was alive. I was luckier than my cousin – his neck must have broken when he hit the ground, poor fellow.

At first, people were delighted with my new-found magic – Brother Zornos was old, and I could heal injuries just as well as his prayers could. And it’s not like I resented people lining up with broken arms or hangnails and skinned knees – people brought us gifts of food and clothes and even coin, sometimes. But I think Zornos was afraid of me. He said it was because I didn’t know the name of the god I ‘served’, but I think he was just jealous, really. Then he accused me of cursing him to fall off a ladder, just because I was walking by when it happened! How could I defend myself from an accusation like that? When I heard that, I knew I had to run away immediately."

“Well, did you?”

“Of course I ran away! I’m here, aren’t I?”

“No, I mean did you curse the old guy.”

“I’m not even going to dignify that with a response.”

“Uh huh.”


The Valley of Oosular arbane