I've decided to start a weekly article. The subjects will be vast and varied, sometimes serious, sometimes funny.
Issue #1 tells the origins of the Dire Cave Cricket.
The Rise of the DCC
Life in the cave was hard, but it was good. Jim had the isolation he wanted and needed to practice his music, not having to worry about others hearing his chirped attempts and making fun of him like the school crickets used to every day in music class. Here, in the cave, Jim didn’t have to listen to the yells and fights of neighbors, the construction noises of the Dwarven city, or the frightening nefarious screams of the city of Ix.
Jim was alone. Life was perfect.
Perfect, that is, until the day the Stone Mason decided to move into an old abandoned mine shaft half a mile down the old broken mountain path and set up shop.
Jim’s peace was shattered. It seemed that the Mason never stopped. Night and day, Jim could hear the echoed ringing of metal chipping against stone, of stone grinding on stone.
Chip. Chip. Chip. Chip. Chip. Chip--- the damn noise never stopped!
Five days of eardrum torture passed, and Jim couldn’t take it anymore. He walked down the old forest path, enjoying the beautiful shafts of sunlight breaking through the canopy and lighting the ground in a golden patches, trying his best to ignore the ceaseless chipping. Jim politely approached the Stone Masons shop, planning on asking him to stop working for a little bit of peace and quiet, but the moment the Stone Mason opened the door, his face filled with fright and he threw his pick at Jim!
The little dwarf didn’t even give Jim a chance to talk, and that pick hurt! Pain! So much pain! Jim scurried down the path and back to his cave, where he delicately removed the pick from his tender hide. Blood dripped to the floor, staining the Astridian rug he inherited from his mother.
Jim was hurt, annoyed, mad, upset, and livid. He fumed at the injustice of being treated this way. What kind of Dwarf would attack in such a manner? What did Jim do to deserve this? Why did the dwarf have such a look of fear and fright upon opening the door?
The Cricket brooded bloody thoughts to himself while bandaging his wound, fixed a cold dinner, and went to sleep. He slept restlessly, and awoke long before sunrise. He watched as the golden ray of sun peaked into his cave, inched across the uneven stone floor, climbed the wall, and rested momentarily on the picture of Jim’s great great grandfather: Bob, the War Cricket.
Stories of courage and violence rushed into Jim’s head, memories of his family legacy, passed from father to son for four generations, accounts of the almost invincible Cricket that turned the tide of the 2nd Great Dwarven War.
Jim had never thought much about his great great grandfather before. That morning, questions surged through his neurons. He had to know how his ancestor was able to stand alone against such odds. He had to know how great great grandfather Bob was able to withstand the pain of battle.
That day, Jim’s journey began.
He packed his travel case, walked to the Dwarven city, and hired a Caravan of Dreams to take him to the city of Ix. After much searching and bribery, he found a Necromancer. Jim paid the Necromancer to briefly raise his great great grandfather from the netherworlds so Jim could ask him about his secret. Unfortunately, the Necromancer had lied to Jim, for he was only a Journeyman Necromancer, not fully adept at his trade, and only managed to call up a Zombie. Jim left the city of Ix with no more knowledge than he came with and a few pounds of gold poorer.
He refused to let this stop him. The Cricket traveled across forest, plain, and mountain, searching high and low for an answer. Buried deep in a cave on the outskirts of the Far Wilds, Jim found a treasure chest containing two Runes of Shielding. With the help of an Arc Mage, Jim Melded the Runes into his hide.
The pain of the Meld was worse than anything Jim had experienced before, but he endured. It was a brief pain, but it was the last pain he ever felt. His new hide was almost impervious, and Jim knew that the little dwarven pick wouldn’t hurt anymore.
Nineteen weeks after the Stone Mason threw his pick at Jim, the Cricket returned home. His cave was just as he had left it, and the ceaseless sounds of the Stone Mason’s work echoed all around. Jim didn’t wait long before starting towards the Stone Mason’s shop.
He knocked on the door of the shop, but this time, things were different. He was a new Cricket, strengthened by his travels, empowered by the melded runes.
That night, Jim slept soundly—a dreamless sleep uninterrupted by the sounds of the Stone Mason’s work. There was no longer a Stone Mason to do any work.