two Rogues, Byrus and Randyr, halted their trek to the frontier ruins
for a brief rest in a shaded glen. Randyr, the oldest of the pair, asked,
"Is he still back there?"
Byrus looked back over his shoulder, towards
the path that had brought them here. At the limit of his visibility,
a robed figure dropped into a relaxed sitting position. "Yup. He's still
there. Close enough to be annoying and too far away to effectively chase
off. Are you sure he's a Monk?"
"I'll put ten gold on it. I recognize the
robes," replied Randyr without obvious concern. He rarely seemed to
get excited about anything. Some attributed this to being uncommonly
cool-headed. Others just thought he was numb to the core.
"I've seen groups of them together in town,
coming from the Temple of Dauros," continued Randyr. "They travel in
a tight little group, going about their business without seeming to
notice much of what's going on around them."
Byrus plopped himself down on a mossy rock
to relax. He looked back at the seated Monk, who now seemed to be snacking
on some small tidbit he'd removed from his pouch. "So why doesn't he
just come up and say "hi"? Why follow us around? What's he up to?"
"They never say anything to anyone, as far
as I can tell. It's some kind of weird pact with their god, or something.
But I don't know why he doesn't…"
"Hey. He left," interrupted Byrus, glancing
back towards the Monk's previous position. "He was just there a second
"Hmm. Maybe he got tired of watching you
stop, every fifteen minutes, to smear that bunion with sheep fat?" replied
Randyr, in his typical deadpan.
Byrus' eyes narrowed. "Sure, and let this
get infected? You wouldn't like me much if it got infected."
"I don't like you much now…" quipped Randyr.
"Go grab your pack. We need to get going if we're going to make the
ruins by sunset."
Byrus gathered up his gear and got back to
his feet. Then he froze. "Hey! What was that?"
"Probably that freaky Monk, just responding
to nature's call."
"No…it was more like…"
Suddenly a scream erupted from a stand of
shrubs by the glen's edge. Like a furred projectile, a werewolf shot
into the clearing. It paused to take in the two shocked Rogues. The
creature waited only long enough to decide which of the startled adventurers
would be its first target. As its eyes locked with Byrus', it sprang
at the fear-frozen Rogue, covering the distance between them in a single
Byrus saw the huge jaws, mere inches from
his face. Then he heard the sound of cracking bone. "Wow – I never thought
the end would be so painless," he thought.
Painless for Byrus…not the werewolf.
Just as the creature leaped for Byrus, the
Monk exploded from hiding. As if performing a levitating ballet, the
Monk flew threw the air, foot-first. His heel slammed into the werewolf's
jaw, breaking it and knocking the monstrosity off its Rogue-bound path.
The Monk cleanly landed on two feet, ready to strike his next blow.
Before the werewolf could get back on its feet, the Monk pelted him
with a blizzard of precise, swinging fists and feet.
In seconds it was over. The werewolf lay
in a bloodied heap before the mysterious Monk.
Byrus slowly found his voice. "You,….um.
Ah…… Well, thanks?"
The Monk bowed deeply, then did a twelve
foot high back flip, disappearing in the bush. Two minutes later, he
appeared back in his old spot – close enough to be comforting, but not
too far that he couldn't chase any danger away. He removed the morsel
he'd been eating from his back, and continued to nibble away at it.
The two Rogues stood quietly for a few moments.
Then Randyr, still staring straight ahead with a goggle-eyed expression,
broke the silence. "You're gonna need to tell me again how much treasure
is in these ruins. And it better be a bigger number than last time you