- Markshire PCs:
Life proceeded thus for Sun-Ok for many months, crafting, hunting, practicing. She was whole in the Way, improving her skills harmoniously in all she did. In her efforts to master tailor-craft, she branched into other areas—metalwork, tinkering, alchemy, woodworking and even food preparation—so that she might produce all she needed for tailoring, or at least understand its production: studs and wires, needles, dyes, tent-poles, and of course that wondrous enchanting oil.
She continued as well to have adventures and to do good in her small ways. She aided nuns and gripplis, orphans and travelers. She even helped Bognar, with whom she had nearly collided upon first arriving in Foothold, retrieve some special sand; despite that, he still stared at her in passing as he walked up and down the town’s main street, making her very uncomfortable. She even ran errands for Gustov, who had laughed as she slipped in the corral that first day.
Sun-Ok foiled evil rituals, orc forays, and bizarre plots. More precisely, she helped her friends do these things, and they helped her. Except, of course, for the time when Mez walked into Alec’s house—again, strangely, when she was at the tanning rack—and cast the tick-tock spell, the same one her father had used to catch her when she was young and misbehaving. Then, while she was stopped in time, Mez cast a horrible spell that sent her to Elvidnir. But of course it wasn’t her friend Mez, but a shape-changing impostor; after her cleric-friend Hilde brought her back and she retrieved her skins from Alec’s rack, they followed its trail outside, where it had taken the form of Alec, whom they’d just left inside. Eventually they lost its trail in the forest; there was a subsequent encounter, but as far as she knew the impostor was never apprehended.
Even with the mis-adventures, though, gradually she came to feel that she could contribute on a more even footing, and even act in turn as a mentor on occasion to her less experienced comrades. For she met new people all the time. Keli, a tough, tobacco-chewing fighter, reliable in a scrap and glamorously dressed outside one. Kamas, a brilliant elf mage, oddly popular with Markshire’s fey, with his own doubts about Markshire’s religion. And of course Traudek, the staunch narcoleptic dwarf fighter.
One of Sun-Ok’s most cherished memories of that period was taking Traudek, a new arrival but a quick learner, to the orc caves to practice his defense and her flanking attacks. The bandits had set a massive ambush in the forest, and the two of them fought their way in from the perimeter. Never one to shirk, Traudek charged ahead, right into the traps Sun-Ok had spotted, but neglected to warn him about—in the heat of battle, in particular, she often assumed, from modesty mostly, that others would be more perceptive than she. As he lay unconscious, Sun-Ok ran lightly to him, cursing her oversight.
There were bandits and traps everywhere, dozens upon dozens of each. She stood over his body grimly, her longbow seemingly seeking targets on its own and the bandits falling in droves. Traud came to, but she motioned to him to stay down—the arrows in both directions were thick in the air. Some bandits charged—none quickly enough. Some shot their own missiles at her—few pierced her tough dire bear armor. Some did not even see where her arrows came from, her slanted elven eyes more adept at spotting targets in the dim light. And eventually, the arrows stopped, for there were no more bandits to be seen.
It was a memory she cherished for several reasons. Because it proved to her that she was at last useful, and getting ever better in her arts. Because the fight itself had a story-book quality to it, defending a fallen friend against all odds, but it had that quality solely because they had erred so badly—she enjoyed the irony of that. Because Traudek, while waiting prone for the arrows to stop, actually dozed off. Because when he finally stood they “argued” for several minutes, each claiming responsibility for the trap fiasco. And because the forest was graced with beautiful shafts of light and dark as they peaceably strolled the battlefield afterward, he collecting loot from arrow-feathered corpses while she collected the bandits’ traps.