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They materialized inside the Waystation, just outside of the town of Burgtonshire Mill. It was a large town, bustling with seasoned adventurers and home of some of the most politically-important figures in all the land. It was the largest town in the Helldamont region, and centrally-located - a major hub of commerce, travel and adventure.

Megryd the Warrior led his companions down the short road to town. He pulled a small wooden whistle from his belt pouch, held it to his lips and gave it a brisk blow, and before he had finished putting it back in his pouch, his proud white stallion had materialized in front of him. He was unsure whether it was the whistle that was magical, or the horse itself - he knew that common people had to keep horses in stables and feed them, and the beasts had to walk everywhere. In fact, he had done a number of quests for stable owners in his younger days that had shown him these very things. But his horse came when he called, and disappeared when he dismounted. The same as every adventurer he had ever known.

He shoved these thoughts out of his head - he had business to tend to, and this kind of thinking was seldom productive. He heard the other three use their horse-whistles also, and turned his mount to watch them saddle up. TreeHugz the Druid had a horse nearly identical to Megryd's, and MiNtYzGuRl the Warrior rode a sleek black mare with a white star on its forehead. Bignugly the orc Shield-knight, in accordance with the customs of his people, rode atop a fearsome, bristly battle-boar, with reins tied to its massive yellow tusks and clouds of flies swarming around its snout and rump.

They rocketed the short distance to Burgtonshire Mill at top speed, sailing past and nearly trampling the townspeople and fellow adventurers who were walking or standing on the road.

A short distance away, Megryd noticed a muscular fellow with a mighty orc-make axe fighting a pair of men just outside the walls of the town. He shouted a loud curse and unleashed a fearsome arcing swing, disemboweling both men and dropping them. The victor calmly tucked his axe away, crouched down to rummage through the dead men's pockets, then walked a few paces east, pulled out a pickaxe and hammered at an exposed vein of Helldamont iron. He broke off a couple rocks, hastily crammed them into his pack along with the pickaxe, and then dashed off to the west.

The only reason Megryd noticed the little scene at all is because he had spotted the vein of Helldamont iron from afar. He would have dashed over and mined it himself, but the other fellow was fighting very close to it - in the unwritten rules of the itinerant adventurer, he had staked his claim. Had the man not mined the vein, Megryd would have had no problem ducking over and grabbing it.

The guards at the gate were as unresponsive as ever, and the group rode past them into the bustling markets of Burgtonshire Mill. The streets were lined with vendor stalls, most displaying fruit or drab women's clothing on dilapidated mannequin torsos.

"Hang on, I need to repair," Bignugly requested, bringing his mount to a halt in front of a food vendor. In order to qualify for a vendor license, the applicant had to offer certain services in addition to selling his wares - nearly every vendor in the known world was required by law to buy odd bits of junk and unwanted gear from adventurers, and their stalls had to house a device - possibly powered by some secret golem-magic - that mended rent metal plates, severed leather straps, sundered chainmail links, torn cloth from the coarsest burlap to the finest Actizzardian silk, bent and dulled swords, bowstrings and anything else crammed into it, instantly. Megryd assumed that the various bits of junk and discarded gear that they sold the vendors was somehow recycled into the repair device... but it was another one of those things he didn't like to think about too much. It made perfect sense that a fruit vendor would also be able to repair forged steel made by foreign craftsmen.

"Lol, ten thousand gold," Bignugly chuckled. "Normally I'd come out ahead by pawning junk, but that dick Charfonn rolled Need on literally everything, so I got nothing to sell."

"I can cover your repair costs if you need," Megryd offered. It would put a significant dent in his savings, but the life of an adventurer was generally a fairly profitable one. He had a good-sized nest egg.

"Nah, I got it," the orc said, waving him off. "Thx tho." 

"No prob," Megryd said, looking around the market court. He was glad he wasn't a vendor - these poor souls, forced to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, rain or shine, largely exposed to the elements. Even the ones that had indoor shops had to man them non-stop without so much as a nap or a sit-down meal with family. Worse yet, there didn't seem to be all that much money in it. The vendors mostly dressed the same as commoners, so if they were making a lot of money selling cheap wares in bulk to very wealthy adventurers, they sure didn't dress the part. Megryd could not understand why anyone would choose such a life.

"K, good to go," Bignugly announced, his armor once again whole. It hadn't really looked in that bad of shape, and looked no different now, but a ten-thousand-gold repair bill meant it had been nearly completely disintegrated and useless. And no wonder - the Demi-Lich had been a brutal opponent.

They continued through town on foot - no one was in a big hurry, and it gave them a chance to catch up on local happenings by listening to the steady din of idle adventurers. One fellow was looking for a group to challenge the Demi-Lich, another sought to join a good guild. One person cracked numerous tired jokes about bacon, others told him to shut his fool mouth. A couple of ne'er-do-wells, likely associates of the scoundrel that had contacted him outside the catacombs, were loudly promoting their illegal services; a few civic-minded adventurers shouted at these deviants to shut up and go away, but the criminals kept barking their heavily-accented message.

It was generally fairly easy to tell the adventurers from the common townsfolk. For starters, townsfolk tended to walk from place to place, but adventurers mostly sprinted. In many situations, seeing so many people running full-out back and forth would indicate a state of emergency, but in towns frequented by adventurers, it was more often a sign of boredom. Compared to rational, calm villagers living ordinary lives, adventurers behaved rather psychotically. Megryd spotted one shirtless fellow near a bridge, jumping on the spot over and over. He stopped, ran up to another adventurer who was standing idly nearby, pulled a lute out of his invisible pack and played it for a few seconds, then abruptly stopped and ran off towards the market. Just across the way, a dwarf was sparring against an orc, each of them running in wide circles around one another and swinging their weapons wildly, careless of the people standing around them observing the fight. The orc managed to hamstring and trip the dwarf, then hacked him to a senseless, bloody pulp, winning the duel. A nearby gnome, who had been watching the duel and dancing lasciviously, ran over and squatted repeatedly over the fallen dwarf's upturned face.

The townsfolk paid none of this any mind. They went calmly about their ordinary business of sweeping doorsteps, silently arguing with one another, walking from place to place and all the various other trivial things that townsfolk did in their day-to-day lives.

"Who gave the catacombs quest?" MiNtYzGuRl asked, looking around. "I have like six to turn in here."

"The Mayor," Megryd answered, nodding towards the middle of town. "He's at the Town Hall."

The quartet hustled through the streets of Burgtonshire Mill at a good clip, brusquely shouldering aside any slow-walking pedestrians, narrowly avoiding head-on collisions with adventurers running in the opposite direction, and deftly ducking around the trampling hooves of racing horses. All paths to and from Town Hall were high-traffic.

They found the Mayor standing with his two aides on the raised wooden walkway out front of the Town Hall. Surely the man had offices inside, but he was a man of the people - he and his aides never left their street-side vigil, allowing anyone to come up and discuss important matters with him, or trivial matters, or just to say hello. Megryd had seen people - adventurers, all - walk up and slap the Mayor across the face in full view of the public. In fact, on one occasion, a group of four adventurers had clustered around the man and took turns slapping him. The Mayor had accepted this abuse with stoic resolve, unflinching as a marble statue, and had remained at his chosen post. Megryd admired that about him - he had stood his ground, and the people respected him for it.

Megryd, as the leader of the group, approached the Mayor first. The big man, resplendent in his fine silk clothing and broad sash, beamed at him with a mixture of surprise and recognition.

"Ah, you've returned," the Mayor said, beaming. "And the Demi-Lich is ended, for all time. His evil will be cleansed from the Valley of Helldamont, over time, and his vile taint forever removed from our land. The town of Burgtonshire Mill owes you a great debt, and I should like to give you my personal recognition of heroism and bravery. Please accept this gift as a token of my gratitude, and go forth with my most heartfelt thanks!"

The Mayor rustled his fingers, and one of his aides wheeled out a small display cart that contained three silk pillows, each one displaying a jewel-encrusted gold medallion. All three medallions appeared identical in almost every way, but one had a great ruby at its heart, one had an emerald and the third had a sapphire. Megryd picked up each one, weighing it carefully on his fingertips and feeling the balance. The sapphire-hearted amulet felt like it would best accentuate his fighting abilities - the cut of the sapphire made the amulet somewhat bottom-heavy, which would add momentum to a sword-swing that required the entire upper torso to pivot. And it was slightly heavier than the other two, which meant it would strengthen the neck muscles when worn for long periods. He removed the sapphire amulet from its silk pillow, and bowed his thanks to the Mayor, further accepting a small pouch of silver coins slipped ever-so-discreetly into the palm of his hand by the other aide. 

With the reward now in his hand, Megryd felt suddenly improved. Not his mood - just overall, as though he had overcome some milestone. He felt suddenly more hale and healthy, better able to swing his sword, stronger somehow. He felt ready to expand his repertoire of combat moves, and knew that he should speak to a trainer very soon to capitalize on this newfound vitality.

"Gratz, lol," giggled MiNtYzGuRl behind him.

TreeHugz was the next to take a turn.

"Ah, you've returned," the Mayor said, beaming. "And the Demi-Lich is ended, for all time. His evil will be cleansed from the Valley of Helldamont, over time, and his vile taint forever removed from our land. The town of Burgtonshire Mill owes you a great debt, and I should like to give you my personal recognition of heroism and bravery. Please accept this gift as a token of my gratitude, and go forth with my most heartfelt thanks!"

The Mayor's aide quickly replaced the sapphire amulet with another he had stored inside the cart, displaying it on its silk pillow in exactly the same fashion. TreeHugz, however, selected the emerald amulet (which was also quickly replaced with one from inside the cart - the Mayor must have had hundreds of the things on hand). It was the lightest of the three, and the green reflections of the emerald were calming and soothing, allowing a sharper mental focus - emerald was the traditional stone of magic-users, whether they be arcane, divine or nature-based.

The ruby amulet was likely favored by the more lithe, footwork-based fighters (including Shadowdaggers, Spearmen and Archers) for its perfectly-even balance, light weight and flashy colors, which could distract an opponent enough that he might let his guard down just enough for a well-placed stab or bow-shot to find a chink in his defenses.

MiNtYzGuRl got the exact same speech, and selected the sapphire amulet. When Bignugly stepped up for his reward, he waved off the Mayor's thank-you speech with an impatient "get on with it" gesture and a roll of the eyes, and snapped up the sapphire amulet also. Megryd put his amulet on, placing his old one in his pack to sell later. MiNtYzGuRl and Bignugly stashed theirs dismissively into their packs.

"Thxs for the group, all," TreeHugz said. "I'mma go hit the hay."

"Thank you for keeping us healed, TreeHugz," Megryd said gratefully. He gave an elaborate, respectful bow.

"No prob. Sorry about Charfonn," TreeHugz offered. "That was a dick move."

"Bign and Meg, you guys wanna do anything else?" MiNtYzGuRl asked. "I have a bunch more quests for this area. I gotta turn a bunch in first, though, lol," she added with a girlish giggle.

"I'd be happy to," Megryd said. "I also have some unfinished business in the Helldamont region."

"Yeah, I have more quests to do here, too," Bignugly said with a nod. "I'm a bit under-lvl for most of 'em."

"And you're gonna need the experience for Goldsharp Caverns on Thursday," TreeHugz reminded him. "The guild is scheduling a run."

"You should come with us, Megryd," Bignugly said. "You know what you're doing in a fight and our guild is recruiting."

Megryd, who had been a lone wolf since he had been born, gave this serious consideration. He valued his freedom, his independence... but lately he had run into too many Charfonns and not enough Bignuglys or TreeHugzes. He liked these new friends, they worked well together and there was more to gain than to lose. And what's more, he was quite touched by the offer.

"I'd be honored to join your guild," he said proudly.

"K hang on," Bignugly said. "Lemme find an officer." He went stock-still for a moment, but Megryd knew he was communicating telepathically with the other members of his guild. That was one of the many benefits - a psychic link to every other member.

"I'm off," TreeHugz said with a yawn. "Later guys."

"Later," MiNtYzGuRl said. She pulled out a long scroll of parchment and a quill with fresh green ink on the nib, and hastily wrote TreeHugz's name on the scroll. "Added you to my Friends list"

"Aye, later," Megryd said gratefully. "And thank you."

TreeHugz waved, and dematerialized before them. The psychic bond faded with him as his spirit drifted off to the land where heroes slumbered, a realm known as Auph'leine.

"Bign told me to send you a whisper," a voice spoke in Megryd's ear. He knew the speaker's name to be Jarbol, and assumed he was the officer Bignugly had contacted. The voice came with the image of a friendly sideways smile. "You want an invite to the guild?"

"Yes, plz," Megryd said, evoking his own sideways grin. An instant later, he felt the beckoning thought of a group of minds, urging him to become one with them. He opened his mind and allowed the thought to take root, and he was instantly overcome with a sensation of brotherhood and belonging. A new psychic gateway opened in his mind, connected to his new brothers wherever they might be in the world.

"Welcome to Brother's of Kaoz," Jarbol said, his voice carrying along this new psychic pathway. "BoK for short, lol."

"Welcome," said Bignugly along that same channel. He began dancing energetically again, arms flapping and feet kicking up clouds of dust, and he fixed Megryd with a great, terrifying grin that would have looked quite friendly on a human. Several others echoed this sentiment (but not the lively dancing), welcoming Megryd to his new brotherhood.

"Hi," he greeted them, trying not to sound intimidated or overwhelmed. "Thnx."

It had been an eventful day for Megryd. He had faced the Demi-Lich and came out the victor. He had come within touching distance of his ideal belt, only to have it ripped away by a selfish villain. And now, he had broken his long run as a lone wolf by joining an adventurer's guild - truly a day of changes.

"Let's get going," MiNtYzGuRl said, dashing away. "I only have a few hours before I have to go Auph'leine."

"We're right behind you," Megryd said, running a hand over his spiky green mohawk and letting it spring back to full height. 

"AYE!" shouted Bignugly. The three of them headed towards the market where the other questgivers waited, a spring in their steps.

And though it was a day of change and big events for Megryd, a voice whispered in his ear, reminding him that the world was still the world it was, for good or ill:

"Hi friend \/\/ \/\/ \/\/.WOWGOLDS-BEST-OK dot ( 0 |\/|, cheapest gold 1m = $6 US lvl 80 powerlevel = $19.99 fast friendly, bestdeal!"

Here ends Level 55 of the Epic Adventure of Megryd. His adventure continues in Level 56: The Mid-Game Grindeth Ever Onward.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Jeff Sproul, known by many as The Grumpy Gamer, has an undying love for The Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic. There must be something about MMOGs based on classic trilogies...