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The Man, The Myth, and Madness - Part 5

Several Months Later...


The forest is strangely quiet. No birds chirp. No bushes rustle, and no crickets serenade. The still air hangs without brushing against leaves as small puffs of cotton pollen sink directly to the earth. Ever so softly, a grey elf, a master at the art of shadows and thievery, tip-toed through the forest, keenly aware of his presence, and the presence of someone else. Where that someone was, he couldn’t hear them, not could his elven eyes see through the crisscrossed shadows of the canopy where they were hidden. As his hand reached out around a particularly stout cottonwood that was wider than an outhouse, his left hand touched a slimy stone surface. Peering all the way around the tree, he found a stone wall, covered in moss and vines, that hid within the forest all to easily. The wall was twenty feet or so high, with what looked to be a parapet that had but one shape, with the sun at its back, atop it that had drawn down a short bow on the elf.

“Who goes there,” came a booming voice from atop the wall.

The grey elf swallowed hard and choked back his immediate fear.

“Uh, I was looking for the Green Man of the Forest. You wouldn’t happen to know where I’d find him, do ya’?” The grey elf’s voice trembled slightly.

“Who’s asking?”

“I am Ronin,” spoke a second voice that stepped out from behind the tree, behind the grey elf. He was human, with dark black skin, a shaved and polished cranium, simple orange robes cover his body, and a pleasant smile grew on his face. “And this is,” as he gestured to the grey elf with and open palm, “Leaf.” The man atop the wall trained his bow on the all-too-obvious monk. “Would you be Nathaniel Blackheart, the Green Man of the Forest?”

“What do you want?”

“To offer you a job,” calmly spoke Ronin.

“Yeah, we’ve even got money for it,” came the happy voice of the elf, who seemed more relaxed after his companion introduced them.

“What makes you think that the Green Man of the Forest is for hire?”

“We’re going after,” began Ronin, “the Shadow King.”

“Well,” said the man atop the wall as he lowered un-knocked his arrow, “I might be interested, but tell me why you’re after him?”

“He only wants to remake the entirety of the Prime Material Plane.”

“Ha! He’s not that powerful.” The man atop the wall turns to walk away from the unlikely pair below.

“With Shadowguard in his possession, anything is possible,” Ronin countered, which stopped the other his tracks. Nothing was said for what felt like and eternity to Leaf, but as though they were never silent, the forest came to life with birdsong, the rustling of small creatures in bushes, and the wind through the leaves.

“Follow the wall to your right all the way around to the side gate, I’ll meet you there.” The man atop the wall vanished from view.

This was the beginning of an adventure that George, Lee, and I played together, with Dan, another crypto tech like myself, who was our Dungeon Master, from January of 94 to July of 94. Every day during after dinner for nearly six months, we campaigned. Up until about 2014, it was the greatest adventure I had had in roleplaying, and with two men I was closest with at the time. We would often just game near the smoking section, since we were all smokers, and from time to time, we’d rent a room for the weekend in Augusta, Georgia, just to get away from base, but then there was this one time towards the end of Spring, where everything changed for me. There are the facts that I recall, then there are the memories I recall that were corroborated by someone who wasn’t George and Lee, and then there is my memory, or lack thereof, of what happened.

Things were about to get real strange.

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