Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Glenhaven's Son Enirich (A Short Story)

     A bit of a backstory first.  Since July 2017 I have been working on a D&D campaign with a few friends of mine.  Instead of doing a pre-written campaign I thought I'd homebrew it, thinking that we would play a few months.  Well, it's been over 6 months now and the story continues on.  Well, I'd come up with this sort of neat backstory that has been going on behind the scenes that my players will probably never discover.  So instead of letting it disappear into oblivion as the campaign continues, I thought I might jot it down into a short story that I might share in the future with the group once the story of Enirich ends.
     First off, you pronounce it "Ein-Rick", and he's a young man in his late teens/early twenties and I really feel for the guy, but as you read on you'll see why.  My players, however, see him as a re-occurring bad guy that they have to kill or get rid of somehow.  But in his point of view...well, I thought I'd share his point of view with you today....  Enjoy!

     The small town of Glenhaven was situated in the northern most lands to the south of the Black Mountains, in a small valley where the Black Oak Woods ended and a small stream fed the farms and made the land rich.  The mountains to the north, some two thousand years ago, swarmed with a breed of elves those that called themselves "Drow" but the Drow came out of the mountains into the dark woods and some of them set up a small town which was a haven from their lives in the darkness.  These Drow kept a mine filled with gold and other riches, and kept themselves wealthy as needed, and they eventually traveled to Southern lands and one family set up a city around a canal some five day's south.
     Humans of this area were peaceful with the elves, and for a few thousand years they remained at peace.  But the Drow were dying out, and those that were left behind in Glenhaven bestowed upon their human friends a secret to the mine that was the font of their gold and wealth.  They had hoped, as they departed this world for the next, that the humans would share the wealth and continue to live happy, prosperous lives in this land so close to the magic lands they had left so many years before.
     As it happens, however, human beings are petty, cruel, and jealous creatures and the ten men who were told the secret to the mine fought viciously for ownership of the mine.  Eventually only one family knew of the secret location and they would spread the wealth to others in the town, but in essence, the mayor's family guarded it with their lives and would not tell anyone of the location. 
     The Morden family would keep the secret for generations, until two sons were born.  The eldest, Mark, inherited the fortune.  The youngest son, Richard, was told that he would not get the secret unless something happened to his brother.  However, upon the death of their father, Mark, being a good man, shared the secret of the mine with his brother in return that he would stay and be the constable of the town and help keep its secret.  Richard, in his younger years, agreed to this arrangement and the town of Glenhaven was peaceful for a decade.
     Soon, Richard welcome his son Enirich into the Morden family.  His son was weak and got sick often, and for awhile they feared he would not make it past his fifth birthday.  Richard sent to Caspian, the town's wizard, for medicine, and eventually the young Enirich would become stronger as he grew.
     Mark, the Mayor now, also had a child, but his daughter Maribel, would be strong and willful and because she was in line as the heir to the mines, Richard became worried that he would lose the fortune if she married someone from another family.  He started training Enirich to follow in his footsteps as the town Constable, but the young man was still weak from his childhood.
     Enirich was sent south to the larger city where a soldiery school he could attend in hopes it would strengthen him.  Enirich did well at school, he grew stronger and fought to earn his stars as he spent a few years in training.
     After he earned his first star, he and a bunch of his buddies went out drinking at the local bar, the White Stag Inn.  They were fairly inebriated when a stranger came to share their table with them.  Enirich told him about the town where he grew up and that there was a secret Drow mine where there was tons of gold and his whole town was rich but that he wouldn't inherit the treasure because his cousin Maribel was.  So he had decided he'd just become the best solider he could and that he wouldn't bother to ever go back to the city.  He even held up a letter that he had penned to his mother telling her that he wasn't going to return.  The stranger said he was headed to Glenhaven himself and that he would be happy to deliver it for him and save him the money for the caravan post.
     Not being a very bright individual when drunk, Enirich gave over the letter to the stranger that evening and then went back to the dorms.  In the morning he had a hangover and had forgotten the incident.
     Meanwhile, the stranger continued up to the town, but as he drew near Glenhaven, his appearance changed....to look like that of Enirich.  He was, unbeknownst to everyone, a doppleganger.  And when he arrived in the town, he sought out the Constable Richard Morden and his wife Marge, and admitted to them, as Enirich, that he had quit school and had a plan to win Maribel's hand in marriage and that he would then inherit the mine.
     The Constable welcomed his son back with open arms and they never questioned his return, and since the actual Enirich chose to stay behind, they never knew their son had been replaced.  Instead they followed this new, smarter Enirich, and gathered up the tools to take over the town.  Enirich worked on wooing Maribel, but one day, as she used a mirror to brush her hair, it revealed to her Enirich's actual form (for it was magical, left behind by the Drow, but she had not know this) and so she turned him down, stating that she was going to marry the stablehand Matthew instead.
     When the doppleganger realized that she had seen him for what he really was, he decided to try to poison her.  But as the poison was taking hold, a group of adventurers came into town and helped Caspian with a cure.  Angrily, Enirich had to come up with a way to kill Maribel another way, but to get everyone else on board.  So he started a rumor that every one hundred years a member of the family would have to be sacrificed to the god of the Drow to keep the town prosperous.  He enlisted the help of a group of cultists that he had known during a previous journey, and they helped to convince the town of the truth of the rumor.
     It took a bit of convincing, but eventually the whole town believed, even the Mayor Mark (although it took a lot of magic and threats to do so) that Maribel must be sacrificed.  Unfortunately for the doppleganger, the cultists were found out by the adventurers who came into town and they came back just as he was plotting the murder of his 'cousin'.  The sacrifice failed, the adventurers came into the town and managed to kill the doppleganger...but also the Morden family who were under his magical control.
     The only person who knew the doppleganger's true nature, besides Maribel, was Matthew, who's father, the Stablemaster, had hoped to also gain access to the mine.  He had spent many years playing both sides of the Morden family, and had fingers in both sides, hoping to either get in on the Constable's scheme, or to marry his son off to Maribel.  However, he also discovered upon searching the house of the Constable, that Enirich had written a letter that he had stayed in Waterfordshire.  So the Stablemaster sent word to Enirich, thinking the boy might still be alive.
     And thus, a week or so later Enirich discovered that a group of murderers had killed his mother and father and that the town he loved was in tatters.  He initially thought of returning there, until lo and behold, the murderers in the Stablemaster's description were in Waterfordshire!  He didn't think he'd find them so quickly, as murders tend to hide and not stand out in the open as this group did.  But he discovered a small urchin boy following him, and when the boy admitted to who hired him, he brought him back to that same small inn where it had all started.
     That was when he came face to face with the murderers.  They looked innocent, a black haired elf, a tall cloaked male, a dwarf cleric and a black dragonborn, but these were the murderers, he just knew it, and when he talked to them, they didn't deny his allegations.  Rather, they started to argue with him that his family were all evil, that they had done terrible things...his parents, do something evil?  How twisted were these people?  But the General and the Constable in this town refused to arrest them as they had been helping with an investigation.  Instead they said they would send word to Glenhaven to investigate.
     Enirich sent the fastest messenger north, praying that the murderers would not escape town before he got back.  He paced and hoped and prayed and the town was filled with zombies and a necromancer was ravaging the town but Enirich could only think about his family and how much he missed them and had wished that he had not sent that letter, that he had gone back to see them just one more time.
     When the messenger returned less than a week later, he told the tale of the adventurers who killed his parents without stopping to think that they might be under a spell, that they had killed other townsfolk who had also been under the spell.  Enirich went with the messenger to relay the information right as these 'adventurers' slayed the necromancer and thus became the town heroes.  He thought, perhaps, that they were maybe good after all...maybe he was wrong, maybe they were innocent, that they were only doing what they thought was right...
     But they disappeared that night with a bunch of pirates and were gone without facing their trial.  Enirich was upset, he had been fooled...the whole town had been fooled.  They'd saved the day, killed the necromancer, saved the town from hundreds of dead zombies wandering the streets, and how could a bunch of heroes be murderers?  The Constable and the General decided that it would be unwise to follow them, to let it go.
     Enirich couldn't.  He knew it wouldn't bring his family back, but after weeks...he just wanted to see justice had, to know the truth, to see for himself what these people were about.  So he asked a friend, another solider named Gerald, to accompany him as he placed wanted posters down the Main Road to Centralia.  Eventually they had to end up there, as everyone ended in the central city.  Gerald agreed, and as they traveled south they formed a band of rag-tags and mercenaries and other travelers, hoping to make some of the gold that Enirich promised on his wanted posters. 
     They traveled at a good pace, but it slowed as they gained more of their band.  And then as they came to the small Tinnigel Village, a group of three men came running in, telling him that they had just seen the murderers from his wanted posters.  They formed a larger band from the village then, and headed at top speed to follow them.  He hired on a ranger, and half-orc merchant also decided to tag along to see what money he could get once the reward was had.  They traveled a few days, following the horse tracks.
     But then, they stopped.  He wasn't sure what happened, but the Ranger investigated what seemed to be a murder scene...but discovered it was a ploy, and as they spread out to see if they were set up for a hijack, discovering nothing, they traveled on.  That evening they came to a small caravan clearing set up outside of a town that had been destroyed recently by a traveling group of gnolls.  Setting up a guard and enjoying a peaceful evening with a few other groups of travelers, a strange creature appeared in the clearing.
     Suddenly a great wave of water washed into the clearing, knocking Enirich and a few others to their backs, and from another direction a small storm erupted, sending the clearing into darkness as the campfires were blown out.  The creature roared and moved to attack - killing the first man that came after it.  Chaos ensued as Enirich tried to get to his feet.  He came suddenly face to face with the dark-haired elf that had sent the urchin to spy on him.  She told him to stop following them, to leave them alone....
     "Leave you alone?!  You killed my family!  My mother, my father, in cold blood!"  Enirich attacked, hitting her with his sword and then getting knocked back again.  The elf showed no mercy as she attacked him, and Enirich suddenly realized he was no match for this woman.  He fumbled for his bag, as he'd been given a special scroll in case he ever needed to escape.  He turned to see Gerald fall, as other innocent bystanders ran from the clearing and a group of six men were knocked dead instantly as they huddled in fear.... he was outmatched...and he would never be able to revenge his parents like this.
     The scroll.... he read the words, praying with all his might that Caspian had not failed him in its creation.  And then he stepped forward, and stepped out into the woods some thirty feet or more away from the clearing.  From there, he ran.
     Enirich didn't look back, but he knew from the sounds behind him, that it wasn't long before the men who had followed him were mostly, if not all, dead.  He regretted sending these innocent men after these powerful murderers.  Scared, he ran until he came to a burned out building that still smelled from fire that had caused it to fall.  Enirich hid within the fallen beams and shivered as the storm passed overhead and fell asleep, scared for his life.
     In the morning, buzzards swarmed overhead.  He decided to find the main road again, and followed it from a distance in the woods.  Alone, scared, and not sure what to do, he continued south, hoping perhaps, that the knights in Centralia would somehow be able to help him kill these murderers before they reached the central city and wreaked more havoc there.  He also hoped he might find some of the others that escaped... there were witnesses this time, after all.

(First draft - I may have to revise this later, so I apologize for the choppiness of the writing and any errors... I'll try to work on it some more later.  And of course, also when the game progresses I'll add more!)

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