With a deft throw, the thief hurled his last dagger with all his might. The tiny blade sailed across the room gracefully until it hit its target.
“Yes! Another bullseye! Beat that!” the thief said.
A few moments later, a huge battleaxe flew across the room and hit the dartboard, splitting it in two.
“I still say that’s cheating.” the thief said.
“And I still say pay up, loser!” the barbarian said.
As the two began to argue, their wizard friend entered the tavern. After knocking the dust from his boots, he walked over to his two friends.
“I got us a job!” the wizard said.
“What’s the pay?” the thief asked.
“Same as last time.” the wizard replied.
The thief slapped himself on his forehead. “You have got to learn to negotiate better.”
“Nevermind that. What’s the job?” the barbarian asked.
“The king wants us to investigate rumors of a rising power on the eastern edge of the kingdom. The rumors say someone calling herself the Queen of Dusk is amassing an army…”
“Pass.” the barbarian said.
“What? What do you mean, ‘pass’?” the wizard asked.
“This past year alone we’ve fought the Shadow King, the King of Darkness, the King of Shadows, the King of the Night, and the Shadow King of the Darkest Night’s Shadow. I’m not fighting another one of these ‘plunge the world into eternal darkness’ nutjobs.” the barbarian said.
“Oh come on. This will be easy!” the thief said.
“That’s the entire problem! We’ve fought so many of these guys that there’s no challenge to it anymore!” the barbarian exclaimed.
“I guess that’s a fair point. Once you have the right weapons and know the proper spells, it does kind of become a little too easy.” the wizard said.
“Exactly!” the barbarian said.
“So what, you want me to go back to the king and tell him that we want to cancel the job?” the wizard asked.
The barbarian thought for a moment. “No, I guess not. We need the work, and we don’t want to risk getting on the king’s bad side. But next time, I pick the job!”
“Oh no you don’t! Every time you pick, we either end up fighting a dragon, or something with a name that’s impossible to say!” the thief said.
“That’s how you know it’s going to be a challenge! The harder it is to say the name, the tougher the monster is!” the barbarian said.
“Tough! I’m picking the next job!” the thief said.
“Fine, whatever.” the barbarian said.
The three of them sat down at the nearest table and ordered a round of drinks. When the waitress left, the thief turned to the others.
“You know, you really shouldn’t count the Shadow King and the King of Darkness separately. They were the same guy.” the thief said.
“Not quite. See, the King of Darkness came from a reality where the Shadow King’s son had never been murdered…” the wizard started.
“Please don’t go in to that nonsense again! The last time you explained it to me, I had a headache for three days.” the barbarian said.
“You sure that wasn’t from the time you took a gian’t cudgel to the head?” the thief asked.
“No, if anything that helped. I didn’t have to listen to you for a week.” the barbarian replied.
The waitress returned with three tankards of ale, which the three adventures drained slowly. When the tankards were empty, the wizard turned toward his companions.
“How do we want to go about investigating the Queen of Dusk?” the wizard asked.
“I say we just do what we did the last time.” the thief said.
“Are you sure? That was pretty messy.” the wizard said.
“It was messy, but it worked like a charm. I say we go for it.” the barbarian said.
“Oh, very well.” the wizard said, turning to the thief. “You start it.”
The thief stood up and raised his tankard.
“Down with the vile and despicable Queen of Dusk! May her eyes rot in her skull!” the thief shouted.
The barbarian rose from his seat as well. “May her flesh fall off her wretched bones!”
“May her pe…no, wait, that one wouldn’t work for a woman.” the wizard said.
A man in black robes arouse from his seat at the opposite end of the tavern.
“Death to the enemies of the Queen of Dusk!” he shouted.
“Tarethor Valithieri.” the wizard said, pointing at the man.
The man in black screamed in pain as he burst into flames. As he desperately tried to extinguish himself, another man rose.
“Death to the…” he started.
The thief’s dagger hit the man in the eye before he could finish. He screamed as he fell backwards, hitting the floor with a heavy thud.
Another man in black robes rose from his seat. “Death…”
The barbarian’s battleaxe buried itself in the man’s chest. The man was dead before his body hit the ground.
“That went a lot faster than last time.” the thief said.
“Well, it helps that they were sitting in the same spot as the guys from last time.” the wizard said.
The thief quickly scanned the tavern. “Are there any more?”
“No, I think it was just those three.” the wizard replied.
“Well that’s depressing.” the barbarian said as he went to retrieve his axe.
“Hey, the faster this goes, the faster we get paid.” the thief said.
“I guess you’re right.” the barbarian said.
“You ready with that scrying spell?” the thief asked.
“Of course I am.” the wizard said.
The wizard knelt before the three dead men in black robes. He pulled a pouch from his robes and sprinkled a fine brown dust over their bodies.
“Corolari Delithenu.” the wizard said.
The three bodies glowed with a pale blue light. Soon, the wizard’s eyes started glowing with that same light.
“These men arrived in town just last night on horseback. Their horses are still in the stables. If we take their horses, we can make it to where they came from within a day.” the wizard said.
“See, this job won’t be so bad after all! We already got some free horses!” the thief said.
“Whatever. Let’s just get this over with.” the barbarian said.
And so, the three adventurers walked out of the tavern and began their grand, epic quest to do the exact same thing they had done about a half dozen times before.