Very late, but here’s the Summer 2010 chapter of Bardass!
Bardass! Quest 02 – Panacea Recipe #9
The Grand Panacea. It is a legendary drug that is said to be able to cure even the direst of maladies. It is believed that a man known as the Grand Sage concocted the miracle drug in order to purge a great plague from the land, and that its production was a secret known only to him and communicated to him by the gods. It is the goal of many alchemists to reproduce this drug; none have succeeded thus far.
In Astoria there lives a man who studies alchemy in secret. Bolstov is his name, and the pursuit of the Grand Panacea his eternal study.
Bolstov: For ages I have studied my craft and now am no closer to unlocking the Sage’s secrets than I was when I started. Of weathered texts claiming to contain the secret recipe, I have owned and tried eight, and all eight have failed. However, this ninth text, which I myself uncovered in a hidden ruin I know the Grand Sage once trekked, shows promise. Many of the ingredients have only recently been discovered to have healing properties, but there are four ingredients that no alchemist has made any sort of medicine from. These four materials are rare and difficult to obtain.
Brier: If I bring you these materials, wouldst thou concoct me a vial of the panacea?
Bolstov: Of course I would. As a test subject, of course. But what ailment do you have that could warrant such a need?
Brier: A curse, not a malady. If the Grand Panacea is as powerful as they say, it should free me from these hexes. But if not, I do have a variety of poisons.
Bolstov: Very well. Obtain for me the materials I need, and I shall spare a vial of panacea.
-End Quest Dialog-
Quest: Panacea Recipe #9
Recommended level: 20-25
Party Leader: Brier
Brier [Bard] lv. 17
Title: Dark Bard
Familiar: Arco [Newt] lv. 5
*Retrieve the Silver Hawk Egg
*Retrieve the Hardened Adennia
*Retrieve the Aged Flute Herb Root
*Retrieve the Platinum Leaf
*Turn in the materials to Bolstov
And so the young bard ventured into the wilderness, armed only with his Obsidian Lute and his trusty familiar.
The Silver Hawk is a ferocious beast that cannot be shot down by arrows nor harmed by magic. “Fury Lull” was all that was necessary to tame the hawk to slumber while a curious newt gathered its unprotected eggs.
The Flute Herb is a plant that looks just like a poisonous weed and grows side by side with them. The only way to tell them apart is a unique flute sound. “Air of Sharpness” magnifies sounds and made locating the herbs easy.
The Adennia is a flower that rarely crystallizes in the desert night. It must be harvested before daybreak or it turns into dust. The young bard traded some of his younger Flute Herb Roots to an inexperienced wanderer in exchange for the Hardened Adennia.
All that remains is the Platinum Leaf, which grows at the top of a legendary elder fir tree. This tree is worshipped by a large tribe of orcs deep in troll territory.
–End Quest Dialogue–
Brier: Okay, this one’s gonna be a toughie.
Brier: Think you can sneak through?
Arco: *shakes head* *squeak squeak*
Brier: Yeah, those orcs like fried newt. Too many for me to lull to sleep. I don’t think my songs will even work on them.
???: Sir, I do not believe this is the right way. Give me the map!
???: I’m reading the map perfectly fine, Mary. This is a shortcut!
From just down the southern path, two travelers were arguing very loudly, annoying our young bard. One was a brunette of about 40. She had a long face not yet weathered with wrinkles, but rather plain. The other was a younger man wearing light plate mail bearing the mark of the Astorian army: a black, ten-ray sun. The would-be knight carried a broadsword at his hip, but he clearly didn’t know how to handle it properly; the tip of the scabbard was covered in mud, showing he had used it mostly as a walking stick. His bright-eyed expression and clear complexion showed he hadn’t partaken in much training, either. He was likely a squire in knight’s clothing, or possibly a spy. A very slim possibility at that, of course.
Mary: Look, there’s a bard on the wayside. Go ask him the way, Valerie.
Valiant: It’s Valiant, thank you very much. And I’ll do no such thing. Look, he’s signaling his hands to his mouth. Clearly the man is a mute.
Mary: No, I think he wants you to hush a bit.
Valiant: Well, that’s quite rude of him, don’t you think? What kind of bard desires silence? Ho! Hail, young minstrel!
Brier: *facepalm* Hail, young ass.
Valiant: A bit cheeky, aren’t you?
Brier: Not so much as you, being an ass and all.
Valiant: Hmph. Well, not the most vulgar bard I’ve met as of yet, I’ll give you that.
Brier: Never mind that, just shut it!
Valiant: I will not! As a knight of Astoria, I command thee, state your name and business here or I shall thoroughly thrash you!
Valiant: It’s Valiant, madam. Every letter is as important as the other.
Brier: Now you’ve done it. In the bushes! Now!
Brier took great pleasure in grabbing the mouthy knight’s head and shoving it into the ground. Without saying a word, his familiar lit a small batch of leaves nearby. The woman quickly followed suit, leaving her bag in the walking path. A small group of patrol orcs came by and took the abandoned goods, then returned to camp. The three re-emerged from their hiding.
Mary: Blast it! That was my entire stock!
Valiant: If not for this bard, I would have taken the whole lot of them and prevented it!
Brier: Young ass, are you fully aware of just where you are?
Valiant: Indeed! The Astorian forest, just north of the capitol!
Brier: That it is. But you went out of the way, didn’t you? Tried to cut across through the middle instead of taking the outer paths?
Valiant: What of it?
Brier: You’re dead center in orc territory!
Mary: Wait, so this is… Oh! That enormous tree! That’s the Platinum Fir!
Valiant: The tree that the orcs revere?
Brier: The very same. Are you aware of the orc’s death cry? It’s absurdly loud. Kill one and we would have hundreds of orcs upon us within two minutes.
Mary: But they have my goods!
Brier: Well, it’s their goods now, sweetheart.
Mary: I think not. It took me a great deal of effort to bring those exotic foods in, and I’m not letting it go to waste!
Valiant: Indeed. And my knight’s honor shall not go unappeased!
Brier: I see. Well then, I have a suggestion. Join up with me. I need to retrieve a Platinum Leaf from that tree, and that many orcs is a bit much for me alone to handle.
Valiant: Ah! So, a united charge! Excellent idea!
Mary: You overestimate our chances at that.
Brier: I have a better idea, of course. But do you trust me?
Valiant: What choice do I have?
Mary: I trust you more than Val.
Brier: Then it’s settled.
Party members were added!
Valiant [Knight-in-Training] lv. 9
Title: Iron Man (+5 Dex)
Mary [Grocer] lv. 14
Title: Entrepreneur (2x sale price)
Brier: With a good enough army this would be no problem, but… Well, we’ll just have to make due. Mary, what items do you have on you?
Mary: I have five potions and a few grasses.
Brier: Is that all?
Mary: Well, that and knife.
Brier: No powders?
Mary: No. What purpose would that serve?
Brier: Depends on the powder. So, what kind of grasses did you pick up?
Mary: Just some pretty ones. Nothing I could sell, but I could maybe put in a vase when I get back home.
Brier: Do any of them have discolored leaves? Ones that are red on the underside?
Mary: Yes, one of them.
Valiant: Hmph. You say you have a plan, but you really don’t.
Brier: No, not really. More of an idea. This grass can be ground and burned to make a sleeping smoke, but it’s not enough to put even half of those orcs to sleep. And that’s only if I use my “Wind’s Melody” song to spread the scent across the camp.
Valiant: Hmm… I see! Then we must reduce their numbers first, then use the sleeping smoke!
Brier: So you can think!
Valiant: Hmph. Well, the problem with that is how to reduce the numbers in the first place. And if their bloodlust is aroused, it will be even more difficult to put them to sleep.
Brier: That’s why we have to draw them out.
Valiant: What do you have in mind, bard?
* * *
Valiant: Look at me, I’m making a scene! Rarrr! Rarr! Rarr!
Brier: A person like him is an annoyance, not a threat. So they’ll only send a small patrol group against him.
Mary: But he can’t take on even that many, I’m sure. Even if he could, that death cry…
Brier: And that’s why I’m using this song!
The bard played “Maiden of Echo,” a song that carries one source and carries it to multiple areas. Thus, Valiant’s annoying voice appeared to be coming from ten places at once. Orcs, being idiots, were unable to realize the trick and sent nine additional patrols to silence the knight, leaving only a small group behind at the camp.
Brier: And now for the sleeping smoke.
Arco: *squeak squeak*
Brier: That’s right, Arco. Straight up and down. The effects don’t last long. Mary, you as well. Take your goods and bring them up before Arco finishes gathering the Platinum Leaves I need.
Mary: How much time do we have?
Brier: Oh, about 45 seconds. Better hurry.
Brier played “Wind’s Melody,” a special song that allows one control over a slight breeze. Aside from the limited use of such a song, the singer didn’t need to sing it particularly well so long as he got the words right. The bard got the words right, and it’s best that we leave things at that.
Arco: *squeak squeak squeak*
Brier: Sorry, Arco. Mary, how about you?
Mary: They helped themselves to a few fruits, but most of the goods are still intact.
Brier: Then let’s run like mad! The path is this way!
Valiant: DON’T YOU THINK YOU’RE FORGETTING SOMEONE?!
Brier: No, I think not. Part of the plan was that you would stay behind to cover our escape!
Valiant: I disapprove!
* * *
The three managed to flee the area. Of course, as soon as they were out of orc territory they entered troll territory. Luckily the trolls, though tall and freakishly strong, spent more time intimidating and railing untruths at passersby than actually engaging in physical combat. Every now and then, a traveler would be so incensed at this behavior that they would walk up to the trolls and engage in an argument, at which point the trolls slaughtered this person and feasted. Surprisingly, Valiant had heard of the trolls and shut his mouth during the trek through troll territory.
Brier: Ugh… such viciousness!
Mary: How terribly inhumane of them!
Troll: What’s that sword you’re carrying for? Sticking in your pussy? HEE HEE HEEE!!
Troll: Bard? That’s a pussy class! Melee ranger, bitch!
Troll: The Astorian Knighthood is vastly overrated! Sakar Clerics could whip their asses!
Valiant: Let us walk faster. I can barely restrain myself.
Brier: I’m surprised you’re restraining yourself at all.
Valiant: My mother always warned me never to feed the trolls.
Troll: Mama’s boy!
* * *
The three braved the insults of the trolls and made it outside the danger zone. Valiant and Mary were headed to the capitol while Brier needed to return to the alchemist Bolstov. At a crossroads they parted ways.
Brier: Well, that turned out well. I got what I wanted thanks to you two.
Mary: If you’re ever in town I can give you a discount. Of course, it’s only good for a single purchase.
Valiant: Young bard, I can put a good word in for you with the Astorian Knights.
Brier: I’ll pass. On both the knighthood and you saying anything about me.
* * *
Bolstov: Yes, these are exactly the ingredients I needed! Excellent job, young one. The process takes three days, so return in that time and I should have the medicine ready.
The young bard retired to the inn where a tall young woman was waiting for him. Her name was Svennia, a native of the Harl Kingdom and formerly the Dark Lord Balken’s chambermaid.
Svennia: Master, have you completed your quest?
Brier: Almost. How have things been on your end?
Brier: It may be dull work, but we need all the gold you can earn to continue on.
Svennia: Being a maid in such a tiny inn is child’s work compared to the castle. Oh, how I wish things were as they were… Lord Cyrus would brighten up any day no matter how bleak, and Lady Ranka was always a joy to talk to.
Brier: Cyrus was a drunken oaf, and Ranka only had two things on her mind.
Svennia: Don’t say that, Master. I know you miss them too.
Brier: Whatever gets you through the day. Dinner ready?
Svennia: Oh, yes! For you and Arco both!
Svennia: How long is Arco going to be like that?
Brier: Hopefully for only three more days.
* * *
After three days, the bard returned to Bolstov’s lab and was shocked to see the alchemist hopping around with more color in his face and hair than before.
Brier: I take it the potion worked?
Bolstov: Not nearly as miraculous as I’d hoped, but well enough, boy! Oh hoh!
Brier: Then the vial…
Bolstov: Of course! Of course, lad! Here you go, as promised. Have two! Just in case. You brought enough ingredients, after all!
Brier: There should be more old men like you, Bolstov. Well, here goes!
The bard downed half a vial of the Panacea. He experienced no change.
Brier: Blast it! It didn’t work!
Bolstov: What ails you is a curse, not an illness. The Panacea would not have any effect, especially since this is the “imperfect” Panacea.
Bolstov: Not quite perfect, but close enough. It’s not miraculous, but it is a wonder! It’s as close to the True Panacea as I deem possible. However, even the True Panacea likely won’t cure a hex as complicated as yours.
Arco: *squeak squeak*
Brier: Arco, you want to try? Alright, but I want you to have more poisons after this. We don’t want you curing people with your bites, now.
Arco: *nod* *nod* *squeak* *sluuuuurp*
A miraculous change came over the newt familiar. It grew in size. Memories of a more majestic form flooded its mind. From its back sprouted great wings. Arco took on a new form: that of…
Bolstov: Ye Gods! A winged newt!
Arco: *squeak* *flap* *flap*
Brier: Wings, huh?
Bolstov: Oh… Yes! Yes, yes, that gives me an idea for a slogan! Yes, yes! “Bolstov Panacea: You’ll be high in no time!”
Brier: Er… good luck with that.
Received 1x Panacea B.!
Familiar evolved from [Newt] to [Flying Newt]!
In the next episode of Bardass! Brier’s precious Obsidian Lute is stolen! Now completely helpless, he must rely upon hired adventurers to accept his quest! Can Brier survive being relegated to mere NPC status?